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Pages from the past

LIKE ALL other transactions involving money, buying books is governed by the rule caveat emptor — let the buyer beware. In the case of children’s books, the buyer is usually one of the parents. The more “book-wise” parent, of course, is often the one who also devoured a lot of books as a child.

A stunted market for kids’ books

YOU CAN tell which generation a person belongs to by how they learned to read and the books they loved as kids. For the prewar generation up to martial law babies, it was either Pepe and Pilar in English or Nene at Benito in Filipino. These books also caused several generations of dogs to be named either Tagpi or Bantay, although sometime during the ‘60s, children in private schools began learning to read without the help of Pepe and Pilar or Nene and Benito, but may recall John and Jill, and a dog named Spot.


What is your favorite book?

SUCH a wonderful time to be a kid — a kid who reads, that is.

Now bookstores offer an enclave for children’s books, where children of all ages can lounge and browse their favorite books for free. And the selections are as varied as the kids who drop by.

No chicken feed profits

WOMEN’S literature has been around for ages, but the subgenre now known as chick lit didn’t really come to life until the late 1990s. Here in the Philippines, industry insiders place its debut to have taken place in 2002, which is about the time Summit Books began publishing English-language novels for young, female urbanites. Since then, chick lit has become one of the top moneymakers of the local book industry, with its books having print runs far beyond those of other local titles. The usual print run for other books is 1,000 copies each. Summit, which is credited even by its rivals as having gotten chick lit going, has printed at least 10,000 copies of each of its 12 chick-lit titles. Three of these have enjoyed second print runs.

Chicks rule!

N.B.S.B. (No Boyfriend Since Birth). Love hurts. Hearts heal. Relationships are overrated. Marriage or living in? Promiscuity versus loyalty. Every girl needs a gay best friend. Better pay or fulfilling job? M.U. (Mutual Understanding). Shopping! Vacations. Self-worth and confidence. Self-love. Single — not an old maid. Falling in love with your male best friend. The search for Mr. Right. H.D. (Hidden Desire).

You think superficial. I say, quite interesting. Useless crap, you say? I think, give it a chance.

Speaking in tongues

THE NATIONAL language of the Philippines is no longer Pilipino but Filipino. And as it evolves with its modern alphabet, Philippine literature is expected to develop along with it. But the latter is a task that could be difficult to accomplish especially with such government rulings as Executive Order 210 that has once more made […]

A nation of nonreaders

WHY IS it that despite our supposedly high literacy rate, many Filipinos can barely read and write? Why haven’t we been able to develop a reading habit among Filipinos?

Straightforward questions about something so fundamental. Yet there are no easy answers to such a complex problem. Worse, the problem of nonreading lies at the heart of why the Philippines is so uncompetitive in the world economy and why so many of our people continue to live in poverty or barely escape it.

Libraries of hope

THE SHELVES are filled with new books, and there are colorful tables and chairs ready for readers. There is even a storytelling nook strewn with mats and pillows for those who would rather stretch out as they flip through the pages of their favorite books or while listening to tales being read aloud to them. On one wall is a mural that livens up the room all the more, while children’s artworks are proudly displayed on another.

Read all about it

WE’VE always made much of our being a highly literate people, but somehow that hasn’t made us into a nation of readers. Surveys have shown that our primary sources for information are radio and television, and years of annual book fairs have done little to prop up our ever-struggling local book industry.