The University of Santo Tomas, through the Department of English and the
Department of Literature, hosted the 6th International and 48th National
Conference of the Reading Association of the Philippines (RAP). With the theme “Literacy towards Civility,” it was held from August 2 to 4, 2018 at the Auditorium of the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex, UST.
The keynote address was delivered by University of the Philippines – Diliman Chancellor Dr. Michael A. Tan. The conference consisted of plenary
sessions on: preservation of heritage, tolerance in the midst of diversity, impact of literacy advocacies, integrating indigenous knowledge in the curriculum, respectful reading education, informed decision making, critical reading of mass media, and ethics in social media.
Part of the conference sessions focused on inclusive education for learners
and learner-centered literacy. Speaker Myra Tantengco of the University of the Philippines – Diliman College of Education, who specializes in inclusive education, special education, and talent development of gifted individuals, emphasized, “There is no such thing as a ‘normal’ classroom. Diversity is the norm in [Philippine] classrooms.”
She debunked the notion of a classroom where every student has
the same learning style, the same access to resources, and the same level of
“When you provide the same things, there will be some students who will be able to keep up, but there are those who will not,” Tantengco said. In order to avoid this imbalanced status, she encouraged teachers to provide multiple means of representation, action and expression, and engagement to create a welcoming and supportive classroom for resourceful, knowledgeable, strategic, goal-directed, purposeful, and motivated learners.
In a succeeding talk, former President of the Singapore Reading and Literacy Society Ms. Yin Mee Cheah, Ph.D.,
challenged teachers to expand their repertoire of skills and negotiate the
curriculum given learners’ various needs. Presently the principal consultant and partner for Learning Ventures, a Singaporean company that specializes in continuing education and professional development for English language teachers, Cheah reminded the participants that any second language carries cultural significance and meaning that can be
reinforced by the materials and teaching methods, thus, one of the crucial roles of the teacher within the classroom is to be a “mediator between materials and students.”
In the Philippine context, De La Salle Philippines President and former
Secretary of the Department of Education Br. Armin Luistro, FSC, shared insights on the conference’s theme “Literacy toward Civility” and issues and concerns of reading in challenging times. He urged the participants to “accept that responsibility [to develop a new generation of able
and eager readers] as part of the reading teacher’s goal and mission.”
Making literacy accessible and relatable is crucial, as Br. Luistro shared, “Filipinos are better with reading today than in the past decade… because access has made reading a habit [for more] Filipinos.
Other conference speakers and discussants were: Dr. Maria Serena Diokno,
Dr. Eufracio C. Abaya, and Prof. Maria Hazelle Preclaro-Ongtengco of the University of the Philippines – Diliman, Carolyn Bumanglag of the Lilok Foundation, Dr. Rizalina Labanda of the International Literacy Association,
Dr. Lydia Liwanag of the Philippine Normal University, Dr. Ani Rosa Almario of the Raya School Manila, Dr. Lornita Wong of the Hong Kong Institute of Education, UST Literature Department Chair Dr. Joselito Delos Reyes, Ya-Huie Chen of the National Taiwan University, blogger Jover Laurio, author Weng Cahiles and illustrator Aldy Aguirre.
RAP aims to develop among the citizens a consciousness of the importance of reading, worthwhile reading tastes, and a lifetime habit of reading that will make everyone a reading Filipino; to act as a clearinghouse for information on research, instruction and training and other matters related to reading and to establish and maintain contacts with related national and international organizations and with individuals interested in promoting the purposes of the Association for mutual understanding, cooperative work and enlightenment.