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Happy New Year, all you book lovers out there!

Trees, fresh air, and books. Students take a reading break at Minoyan High School, Murcia, Negros Occidental. (Photo courtesy of Ms. Marivic Diga.)

In the Philippines, 2020 began with a big bang. Literally. A report from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PhiVolcs) confirms that since Mt. Taal’s first eruption of ash, steam, and sulfur dioxide on January 12th, 738 earthquakes have been reported in the main island of Luzon, which is north of Panay Island, the Woods and Books home base.

The Philippines, one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, lies in the pathway of at least 20 typhoons each year. Our archipelago also lies in the Pacific Ring of Fire, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur with more frequency than anywhere else.

On the bright side, Filipinos are resilient, creative, imaginative, and have a strong sense of community. If one lives with disaster upon disaster all throughout the year, one learns to cope and cope well.

And so, with hopeful hearts, we welcome yet another New Year, not with fear and sadness, but with confidence and determination, believing that whatever comes our way, we will overcome.

(Middle) Our oldest and our youngest volunteers–Art and Akim–flanked by representatives of our newest partner organization–AlDubNation Western Visayas. (Left) Ruth Lujan and (far right) hubby Nereo Lujan.

We’ve added another partner in our growing network of supporters—Aldub Nation Western Visayas (ADNWV). From a virtual fandom to an advocacy group and a grass roots social service team, Aldub Nation across the Philippines has been responsible for acts of kindness, compassion, and charity. In Western Visayas,  ADNWV members pooled their resources and raised funds for their BookLat Project: Books for Learning and Teaching. Woods and Books was a proud donor of books and materials for their very first Book Drive.  In August 24, 2019, ADNWV donated books to the Doroteo Lujan Elementary School in Cabatuan, Iloilo. In September, they donated books to the Villafont Elementary School and the Dr. Luis E. Baraquia National High School in Sibalom, Antique.

ADNWV volunteers sorting books. (Photo courtesy of ADNWV.)

Teachers at the beneficiary school get to sort through the books as well. (Photo courtesy of ADNWV.)

Finally, students get their hands on the books! (Photo courtesy of ADNWV.)


Our reward? “Thanks!” from ADNWV and the beneficiary schools. It’s appreciation like this that keeps us going.

At around the same time, back at the California Montessori Project, Ms. Maria and Ms. Pam, hardworking and kindhearted staff of the Elk Grove campus, not only bought our Li’l Creatures to fund our campaign, they collected books for us as well.

Thank you, Ladies, for thinking of us and wishing us well!

Meanwhile, also in August, upper elementary students and high school students in Murcia, Negros Occidental got their book boxes and started reading inside and outside their classrooms. Thank you, Ma’am Star Garzon for facilitating the distribution. Ma’am Dobey Love Nudalo and Ma’am Marivic Diga, we truly appreciate the pictures, too!

Small group, independent reading at Minoyan Elementary School. (All photos of elementary students courtesy of Ms. Dobey Love Nudalo.)

Whole group guided reading with classroom teacher. 


Minoyan high school students in their “open-air” library. (All photos of high school students courtesy of Ms. Marivic Diga.)


By the end of 2019, volunteer Casi, traveling around Western Visayas as part of his NGO duties, was able to connect with teachers at the Libertad Central School and Libertad National Vocational High School in the province of Antique. Thank you, teachers and students for making volunteer Casi feel at home and giving our donated books a new home!


We closed 2019 on a hopeful note, grateful for a generous gift from Eirene Marie Fabion. Eirene, an architecture student of volunteer Faith, a professor at the University of the Philippines, was inspired by our dream of building a children’s library. She designed an alternative learning center for children for her project and shared it with us. She also offered to help us any time we’re ready to build our own Children’s House. Thank you, Eirene! We hope you build your Children’s House in your own community as well.


Volunteers Faith (l) and Doray (r) presenting Eirene’s design concept for an alternative learning center for children at the Woods and Books annual meeting.


Volunteers Rommel and AiAi with Eirene’s conceptual design of a children’s play area by the library.

The Woods and Books version of a roundtable discussion.

As we keep saying—and believing—somewhere, someday, we will build this safe and welcoming space for children!

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