I didn’t have Barbies when I was a kid, nor did I have stuffed toys, except for that one owl holding a diploma, which was my parents’ gift back in fourth grade. I didn’t play with the owl because it didn’t look friendly and the diploma doesn’t exactly look like a playdate invite. So it stayed wrapped in a clear plastic sittting, collecting dust in one corner of our wooden divider. Instead of toys, my parents bought a lot of books for me and my brother along with sporadic toy purchases from Tupperware, of which my favorite was the red and blue shape sorter. That’s how my love affair with the printed word started (no, not with the shape sorter, the books).
Until this day, I can still see the white paper with colorful images of blond children kneeling beside their beds, reciting their nighttime prayers while an angel hover above them; or the brownish paper with Jonas inside the stomach of the big whale or of baby Moses in a basket floating in the river. Yes, my first books were Biblical stories and prayers. Then as I started school, I got introduced into the local classics like Ibong Adarna, the fables like Ang Pagong at Ang Matsing, then Pambata comics and other educational comics. Then when I was 7 or 8, my mother would take me with her to our local bank (a credit cooperative) on weekends and there I started to read The Philippine Free Press. I read about the Allan Gomez-Aileen Sarmenta case on The Philippine Free Press, as well as the Angel Alquiza rape case. My parents didn’t enforce censorship as long as my reading materials were seemingly legit. So yeah, you can see where and how my trust issues started. (Hah!)
I read practically everything then, Readers’ Digest, Health & Home (The Seventh Day Adventist’s magazine), Philippine Journal of Education, The Modern Teacher, Women’s, The Woman Today, Mod Magazine, Sweet Valley (SVH and SVU), Sweet Dreams, Mills & Boon’s, Harlequin, Sillhouette, Sidney Sheldon, Danielle Steele, Liwayway Magazine, Tagalog pocketbooks, the Nido classic fairy tales (loooove those), Arthur Maxwell Bible Stories Vol. 1 to 5, my father’s Teacher’s Board reviewer, film synopses on VHS tapes and so on. My parents blamed my poor eyesight on too much reading.
Back in 2009, the apartment I was staying in, in Marikina got flooded. The place was submerged in water and so were my clothes, photographs, my books (my printed and hard bound college thesis, my classics esp, Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby and my friend’s Murakami), a few furniture and DVDs. After the flood, there was an outpouring of support from my friends and family. A lot of people donated clothes, money, food, furniture and most of all, books. I remember how happy I was when my friends gave me the books. I mean, after a disaster, the usual donations are for basic needs to help you survive and get back on track and then they gave me books. After Ondoy, those books became a promise to me, a well of hope that things will be back to normal, if not better.
When I learned about Air Juan’s book drive for Yolanda kids survivors in Eastern and Western Samar, as well as Iloilo, I just knew I had to get involved. I could only imagine what the world of literature can offer a young mind who just went through a tragedy. Maybe it can offer relief, healing, hope, a chance to dream, knowledge or if they’re not into reading, maybe a page they can tore and make paper planes with. Well, hopefully, not.
If you would like to donate books, (textbooks, children’s stories, dictionaries, young adult fiction, etc.), you may drop them off at these locations:
NFR, Rm. 205, PHILDHRRA
59 Salvador St., Loyola Heights, Quezon City
ESI Bldg., Miriam College (Mar 24-28)
Handuraw Pizza, 1A Masunurin St. cor. Anonas Extn
Sikatuna Vill., Quezon City
You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or text at 0906-487-3234. I can pick them up wherever it’s convenient for you, granted, of course, you’re based in Metro Manila 🙂