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The Printed Words

I used to love typhoons. I did when I was very young. Typhoons did not scare me. I actually welcomed them. I suspect, my brothers and my sister welcomed them, too. Because typhoons provided opportunities for us to get hold of very interesting books, not at home but in another person’s home.

We used to live in a small nipa hut. On days when the weather is rough, we would huddle in one corner of the hut and listen to an old radio that loses its reception from time to time. Alerts of a strong typhoon ripping into Northern Samar would make our parents prepare us for “evacuation.” They would worry our small hut might not withstand the battering of strong winds. So amid heavy rain, our family would troop to my uncle’s concrete house. My father would leave us there and go back to our humble hut to guard it. (To this day, I wasn’t sure what he was guarding it against. Thieves? We really didn’t have any valuable thing in our house. No furniture pieces. No electronic appliances. No jewelries. No money.)

We loved being in our uncle’s house. His wife, a teacher, was a very generous woman. She would always prepare snacks for us. Snacks were already a luxury because we were not used to having snacks at home. But the best thing about being in my uncle’s house were his wife’s books. She had lots of very interesting books. We were allowed to borrow them and bring them home any day, but to sit down and read near a shelf full of books was a different experience. I remember looking up at the shelf and dreaming of having my own shelf filled with books.

It was from my aunt’s bookshelf that I met the classics. I enjoyed the Greek epics. The Roman mythology. Some of Shakespeare stories. I may not have had understood them as a reader should understand these masterpieces, but I was glad to have been acquainted with the characters. I’m sure I’ve learned a thing or two from reading them.

I have recollected these memories last Sunday when I visited the Manila International Book Fair. I watched as people went in and out of the venue and I was happy to see children asking their parents to buy them books. “The printed words will live,” I thought to myself.

But my thoughts wandered to various places in the Visayas and Mindanao whose children don’t have access to events like this or to libraries. If the source of my data is correct, there are only 688 public libraries in the Philippines. I was told that the ideal number is at least 1,851β€”one for each congressional district, city, and municipality. Still a long way to go, I guess.

For now, nagtitiis na lang muna ang maraming bata, lalo na sa ilang public school, with the small number of books they have in their library. Or perhaps they’re whiling away time in “bookless” and shabby space like the photo of a reading center I posted above.
And, speaking of books, Tsinelas, an award-winning group of young people in Cebu needs your help. They have lunched a project called Their Books. They’ll be selling books to fund various projects for the children of Cebu. So if you have books you no longer want, don’t let them rot away on your shelves. Click the hyperlinks above and see how you can help. Big, big thanks!

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 12:31 pm.


44 Replies

  1. wow..
    lottsa books..
    unfortunately i wasnt able to go nung sunday sa MIBF πŸ™ change skeds…

    nways, wouldve loved to help with the book campaign.. kaya lang po ive given away my old books sa ibang book campaign drives here in the cordillera region..

    ill just help by spreading the word..

  2. nortehanon Sep 21st 2010

    Thanks, Yanah! I greatly appreciate it. My friends in Cebu will be happy to know they’ve gained another supporter.

  3. Miss N. Love ko din ang Bagyo nung bata ako kasi walang pasok kung my bagyo…hehehe….

    ang dami naman books yan, dito naman ang mahal kahit gaano ko pa gustong magbasa…

    Keep on reading. Pag nagbabasa tau marami taung natututunan..

    See yah, till next time…


    Napdaan lang….

  4. nortehanon Sep 21st 2010

    haha, oo nga ano. sige na nga, isa na rin yan sa reason ko kung bakit gusto ko ng bagyo haha!

    Hmn, talaga bang mahal ang books dyan? Next tima na lang bafore ka magpunta dyan, mamili ka muna dito ng baon na books hehehe

  5. yeah! typhoons are always welcome those days for they offer respite from lotsa schoolwork

    like you, i also love books. nung bata nga ako naubos ko yatang basahin books sa library namin.. lucky me.. there are several books to choose from..

    kaya lang ngayon, parang mas convenient alternative na ang TV and the net…

  6. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Wow, ang galing naman, halos naubos mo ang mga reading materials sa library ninyo. Sana gayahin ka po ng mga bata ngayon.

    Convenient nga siguro ang TV at internet pero para sa akin, iba pa rin ang printed words πŸ˜‰

  7. Haha, I read books pero mas lamang ako sa TV. hehe. Ganda naman ng memory mo nung bata ka, mga Greek epics na agad. Noong bata ako puro textbooks. haha. Puno buong bookshelves namin dito sa bahay ng textbooks eh. Anyway, I’m already starting collecting books, the novel ones. =D

  8. nortehanon Sep 21st 2010

    Hi Pao, wow, nice naman nagsisimula ka na ng collection mong books. Maraming bagay tayong mapupulot sa mga aklat πŸ˜‰

    Siguro teacher nanay mo kaya marami kayong textbooks hehehe. Kaunti lang ang textbook ko nung nasa elementarya pa ako. Hindi kasi one-is-to-one ang ration ng textbooks sa probinsya noon. Sa isang textbook, minsan lima o anim kami. Kaya rotation kung sino mag-uuwi πŸ™

  9. Books. Weakness ko talaga yan. But sadly, I wasn’t able to attend the fair.. πŸ™ nitong mga nakaraan, dahil wala ng time pumunta ng bookstore, nagpiprint nalang ako ng mga ebooks.


  10. nortehanon Sep 21st 2010

    Naleyn! You surprised me with your visit. Salamat. At nagtataka ako why your comment was subject for approval. Hmn, bakit kaya?

    Marami pa namang bookfairs na darating kaya marami pang chances to buy books πŸ˜‰ Yes, helpful din ang mga ebooks. They’re right at your fingertips πŸ˜‰

  11. mas nakafocus ako dun sa pic, pero binasa ko po yung story, the figures were sad about the public libraries pero we’re hopeful.

    books are best source of infos and kailangan talagang maginvest ang gov’t natin para dito likewise mga NGOs

    heartwarming po yung pic kasi yung pagstrive ng mga tao dun para magkaroon ng built-in library kahit nipa hut lang ay something to be proud of.

  12. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Yes, sad nga. Siguro ay dahil hindi pa talaga developed ang kultura ng pagbabasa dito sa Pilipinas. Pero, tulad mo, I am also hopeful.
    Unfortunately, Pong, hindi ko masabi kung ang reading center na nasa larawan ay pinakikinabangan pa. Sa personal kong palagay, sa kanyang itsura, ay hindi na.

  13. This is a lovely post, Miss N.
    It is most important for children to have access to books.

  14. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    I agree with you, Pam. All children should have access to books. Unfortunately, that is not the case yet in my country, specially in the far-flung areas.

  15. ako ren napapasmile ako kapag nasa bookstore ako and i see little kids asking their mom and dad to buy for them… iba yung feeling, i have e-books but i still prefer the hard copy actual book;P low-tech na kung low-tech;P

  16. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Ah, yes, I can relate to that, Deth. Iba pa rin yung books which we can touch, smell, and hold in our hands πŸ˜‰

  17. Its funny how I love rainy days or typhoon too when I was little back in Tondo, We always get our own “pool” or a pond when water starts to rise along our road. Yes, I used to be one of those kids who swim on dirty waters.

    Those were the days also that I sing along with my sisters upstairs until storm subsides.

    The book? They became my friends when I reach college.

  18. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Ang sarap din ng memories mo noong kabataan. Life seemed so simple then. You have gone a long way, Nalen. You have gone gone a long way from your life in Tondo. And I’m sure na dahil iyon sa iyong pagsisikap.

  19. ako hanggang ngayon nag-wiwish na sana may madalas na book fair sa kinaroonan ko.. weakness ko to… sa province namin wala akong access sa bookstore, kelangan pang magtravel nng 5 to 7 hours para makapunta sa pinakamalapit na tindahan ng libro kaya nang magkolehiyo ako, sa libro nauubos ang allowance ko..hahaha, pangarap kong magkaron ng sariling library..at sinisimulan ko na ngang mangolekta.

  20. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Saan ka po ngayon, Ms. Ani? Sana nga ay magkaroon din madalas ng bookfair sa area ninyo para mas maraming tao ang mapalapit sa mga aklat.

    Wow, 5 to 7 hours na byahe. Sasadyain pa pala talaga ang tindahan ng aklat sa probinsya ninyo. Bilib ako sa mga taong nagtitiyagang magbyahe para lang bumili ng aklat.

    Nakatutuwang pangarap mo rin magkaroon ng library at sinisimulan mo na ngayon. Balitaan mo ako kapag dumating ang araw na mabuo mo na ang iyong library. Manghihiram ako ng aklat sa ‘yo πŸ˜‰

  21. Like you, my husband and I are dreaming of having our own library when we build our house. We instill in the hearts and minds of the three kids a love for books and for reading. I am happy to have started it with Ate Kara, who, once, we were chatting, shared with me that one of her greatest fantasies is to be trapped inside a bookstore, Powerbooks, for one. hahaah! I found out we have a common fantasy. And I guess our effort at making reading a very important part of the kids’ lives, is paying off. Even the two toddlers drool at books. Yung bible nga pagnakukuha nila kahit na walang picture, pinagaagawan, basta alam nilang libro. hahaha! And when people ask me what gifts to give them during special occasions, I answer them with any nice picture books. πŸ™‚

    Like you, too, I have always loved reading. It not only enriches my vocabulary, it also takes me to faraway places and enhances the power of imagination, which is also why i am almost always disappointed with books turned to movies. They just don’t compare to the images you paint in your mind while reading a book.

    And like you, I went to the MIBF. I was there on opening day, Wednesday. Sayang pala at di tayo nagmeet. hehe. Our company had a program in partnership with Adarna. Unfortunately, we were there at past 1 na and we had to finish our program at 5pm. So from 5 pm to 8pm lang ako nakapagikot. Sobrang kulang na kulang na kulang ang tatlong oras para magikot! What was good about that day, was there were few people pa lang so I was able to take advantage of the books much better than if I went there weekend. Although the books’ prices were still high ( a lot offered just 20-30% off), my aim was to take home lots of storybooks for the kids, and I was able to do just that! πŸ™‚ So when I arrived home, I got the exact reaction I was hoping for from the kids: Maraming wow! hahaha! Both of them could not contain their excitement upon seeing the books and coloring books I got them. For myself, I just got cookbooks. hehe. Marami pa kasing mga libro sa bahay ang binili ko before na di ko pa rin nababasa hanggang ngayon.

    Ay sorry naman at nobela na ito. But like you I know that the printed words will live. There’s nothing like holding a book in your hands and turning each page as you savor the words written on it.

    Ms. N, I am sending the pencils today. Will email you when I have already sent them. πŸ™‚

  22. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Haha! Nakakatuwa naman yang fantasy ni Ate Kara! Sana maraming bata ang ganyan din ang nais. At pareho pa kayo ng fantasy ha. Mag-ina talaga kayo πŸ˜‰

    Yours and Kuya Bong’s effort definitely is paying off. Sana gawin din ng ibang magulang. Yun imbes na nasa sugalan at inuman, ibili sana ang mga aklat nila ng mga aklat. Marami nang murang aklat sa ngayon. May mga 20 at 35 pesos pa nga. Kahit paisa-isang aklat lang sana. Kaya uulitin ko na naman ang madalas kong sinasabi sa iyo, masuwerte ang mga anak ninyo dahil kayo ang naging mga magulang nila.

    Wag kang mag-alala kung maging nobela man ang iyong komento. kahit maging dalawang nobela pa ay oks na oks lang πŸ˜‰ I very much agree with what you said, iba pa rin ang humawag ng aklat at ma-enjoy ang printed word. Nagbabasa rin naman ako ng mga ebooks, kaya nakikita ko ang pagkakaiba nila. Saka iniisip ko, kung puro ebooks na tayo, magkakaroon pa kaya ng bookfair at book signing?hehehe

  23. ako mula pagkabata bilang lang ang libro ko. sa totoo lang nakagraduate ako ng hindi nakakabili ng libro. ngayon lang din ako nagsisimula pa lang mangolekta ng libro kapatid at sana magkaroon din ako ng pagkakataon para mamahagi nito.

  24. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Pareho tayo, Busyok. Bilang ang mga aklat. Good luck sa pangongolekta ng libro. Pagdating ng araw, ikaw naman ang mamimigay ng mga libro πŸ˜‰

  25. ms n,
    ang ganda naman ng post mo.
    babalik ako.

  26. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Uy, napadalaw si Pilosopo Tacio. Sana ay hindi ka katulad ni Pilosopo Tasyo sa Noli Me Tangere hehehe. Welcome at good luck. Ituloy lang ang pagsusulat πŸ˜‰

  27. miss n! tama ka…kulang na kulang ang libraries sa atin. kung meran man, it is not enough. i hope the government would allot budget for this cause. reading is such an important activity!

    natawa ako sa childhood kwento mo. ganun din ako noon…di takot sa typhoon. in fact, masaya ako kasi walang pasok! laro lang kami ng laro ng mga kaibigan ko! πŸ™‚

  28. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Yes, I agree with you. Sana ay pagtuunan ito ng pansin ng ating pamahalaan.

    Haha! Marami rin palang katulad kong nag-i-enjoy sa tuwing bagyo πŸ™‚

  29. I love books… alas… nowadays it seems I don’t have enough time to read them. I guess I am spending too much time in front of the computer πŸ™

  30. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Hi Sidney, the books are just waiting for you πŸ™‚

  31. hello… just passing by yourwebsite

  32. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Hello back to you, Rose. Thank you for passing by.

  33. oo nga.. walang mga ganyan na events dito.

    the childhood memory of yours are wonderful… i can almost feel how you feel. ganun kasi ako sa books. πŸ˜› hihi. dito naman… our public library located in our sanggunian building.. wasn’t much. yes, meron syang mga encyclopedias.. but wasnt impressive for me. puro kasi encyclopedia. HAHA. (when i was there… nung high school ako…so im not sure of its current state. )

    at tsaka not much ung mga public libraries dito…. di maganda collection. *sigh* at dahil dyan.. im building my own library. hihi at home. in my room.

    oh there was one library i enjoyed. my school when i was in elementary… it was private. and it has a massive collection of hardbound books of nancy drew and bobsey twins. and other classics in hardbound. grabe yun.

  34. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Hi Little Sis!
    Masaya na rin ako para sa mga bata dyan sa inyo. Dahil kahit paano, may public library. Malaking tulong na rin ang encyclopedias. Naalala ko noong bata pa ako, may kapitbahay kaming may isang volume ng New Book of Knowledge enclyclopedia. Hay, grabe ang pagkagusto kong sana ako rin magkaroon nun hehehe. Mabuti na lang very kind yung kapitbahay naing yun. Pinapayagan kami ng mga kapatid ko na mag-research sa books nila.

    Wow, you’re building your own library! Saya naman nun!

  35. natutuwa ako sa karamihan ng andito sa site mo are avid book readers.ako,hindi naman masyado.may mangilan ngilang libro akong nabasa,mostly,mga hindi sikat pero masasabi kong worthreading.

    pagka kasi sikat yung gumawa,usually mahal.till recently yung mga libro ni bob ong.affordable na rin kasi sa presyo nila at saka may sinusuportahan din syang mga charity kaya worth buying.

    sana,sana….dumating ang araw na lahat ng batang filipino,marunong magsulat at magbasa.lahat may access sa mga librong mahahalaga sa pagpapaunlad ng kanilang dunong,at matutunan ang halaga ng pagbabasa at pag aaral.sana,sana…

    magandang araw miss N. ang ganda nung picture,kitang kita yung kaayusan ng paligid kahit pa nga sobrang payak nung reading center.masarap pa rin magbasa ng libro sa gnayan kase maaliwalas.sana nga lang may mga libro ring mababasa.

  36. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Ako, kapag bumibili ng aklat, hindi ako masyado sa kung sikat ang author or hindi. Basta nagustuhan ng panlasa ko, yun na yun πŸ˜‰
    Katulad mo rin ang nais ko: na sana’y dumating ang araw na walang Pilipinong hindi marunong bumasa at sumulat.
    Salamat, Duking. Oo, payapa nga ang paligid na yan at masarap magbasa. Kaso, walang mga aklat na available πŸ™

  37. I also love books. Actually I’ve quite a few here pero would you believe na halos karamihan sa kanila e di ko natatapos? Ewan ko masyado akong pre-occupied and I only have limited time to do every thing. Hehe. I’m so happy that my kids have started to like reading na rin especially my eldest. They promote reading here a lot. As a matter of fact, in every zone meron silang mobile and public library. Sabagay maliit lang naman ang SG. And in school it’s compulsory to bring a storybook to read inside the classroom during short breaks. I’m reading Eat Love Pray by Elizabeth Gilbert for almost 2 months now. Paunti-unti. Malamang naipalabas na sa cinema yun e di pa rin ako tapos πŸ™‚


    Gusto ko rin ng ulan. Miss ko na nga ang bagyo e. Palibhasa walang bagyo dito eh πŸ™‚

  38. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    Di ko pa nababasa ang Eat Love Pray but I’ve read good reviews of the book. pag naubos ko na siguro basahin yung mga nakapilang books sa bahay saka ko na yan bibilhin hehehe.
    I take my time in reading a book. Para kasi sa akin, diversion ko yan sa tension o pressure sa buhay. So kung pati sa pagbabasa ng aklat ay mapi-pressure pa ako, hala, hindi na maganda hehehe. Kaya okay lang yang paunti-unting pagbabasa. Anyway, wala ka namgn deadline at wala ka namang exam na hinahabol pagkatapos magbasa hehe.
    I am happy for your kids. Yes, yan ang unang-una kong nakita nung napunta ako sa Singapore. Ang pagpapahalaga nila sa pagbabasa. They have good reading programs there. One of the speakers I’ve listened to was from the National Library of Singapore. Bumilib ako sa reading programs nila. At na-wish ko na lang na sana, may ganun ding ka-intensive na reading program para sa mga batang Pinoy.
    Sarap naman dyan, walang bagyo. I wish I can say that about Pinas, lalo na about my province na laging dinadaanan ng bagyo πŸ™

  39. Hi sis. pwede ba ang mga old school books? may mga natitirang books ang mga bata dito, yung iba nga nabaha lang eh. speaking of baha, gusto ko rin naman ng ulan sino ba ang hindi wag lang level ng bagyo ang buhos ng ulan.

    salamat sa pagbisita. — Ate Yami

  40. nortehanon Sep 27th 2010

    I’ll ask them, Ate Yami. But I think the idea is to sell the books for fund-raising. Baka mga nobela ang hanap nila. But I’ll try to ask din. Kung hindi naman pwede sa kanila, just let me know kung wala kang ibang pagbibigyan, ako maraming pwedeng pagbigyan ng old school books πŸ˜‰

  41. Tulad ng sabi ko dun sa nakaraan mong post, nandun din ako noong MIBF… :))

    Natutuwa ako dun sa Tsinelas, kaya lang, sana may ibang option ng pag-donate bukod sa credit card. Hindi naman kasi lahat may credit card. Sana magkaroon ng bank transfer and others. πŸ˜€

  42. nortehanon Sep 30th 2010

    Hi Visyel! Welcome back to my blog! Na-miss kita. Kumusta? Tapos ka na ba mag-board?

    Tsinelas has other projects. Yung through credit card, isa lang yan sa fund raising nila. There are many other ways one can help Tsinelas without using his or credit card. You can send books. You can also send a child to school for only 2,000pesos (parang World Vision) at pwedeng sa bank ipadala ang money.

  43. Ah. Yung 2000 pesos, per month po iyon? Mga taga-saan po yung mga batang ‘yon? πŸ™‚

  44. nortehanon Oct 26th 2010

    Yung 2,000 pesos is for 1 school year na. So, imagine how far 2,000 can go. Isang taon na yun na pag-aaral ng mga bata sa Cebu who are under the program of Tsinelas.

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