The First Filipino Reader Conference is closer than ever. Thanks to the Manila International Book Fair and other sponsors for their valuable support. This is the 3rd week of the special Filipino Fridays meme. Which I of course screw up and turn into Filipino Sundays!
Week 3 Question:
How hard or easy is it to be a book lover in the Philippines? What are some of your frustrations as a Filipino reader? And what are the positive aspects of being a reader in the Philippines?
The short answer is: I can’t complain. For Pinoys who love books, there are more venues now than ever before in terms of buying, discovering, and discussing books. I’ve always have friends who are avid readers but lately I’ve also been exploring the more social aspects of being a reader in the Philippines, such as participating in the Filipino Goodreads Group and Filipino Book Bloggers. Even in that short time, I’ve had my horizons broadened. Having the opportunity to talk passionately–and even bitchily–about books is priceless.
However, I don’t get to read foreign titles when it’s still “hot,” such as when Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad became the talk of the town last year or when Lev Grossman’s The Magicians and The Magician Kings became the subject of much discussion on blogs I read regularly. Part of this is because I’m cheap, wary of buying books for the full price in hardback just in case the hype is just hype. This isn’t an unbearable thing because I have a very large backlog of unread books. If anything, it’s an embarrassment of riches.
The thing I probably regret is that the Philippines is hardly a place that writers from other parts of the world get to visit often. I think the exception to this is the indefatigable Neil Gaiman. I would love to go to readings and forums that’s focused on literature, but save for venues such as universities, I don’t know if those kinds of things would thrive at all.
There is also the matter of public libraries in the Philippines and the lack thereof. I’ve mentioned in my last Readercon meme post that the library was a big part of my evolution as a reader. It breaks my heart that not all kids get the opportunity to experience that spark. Not everyone turns out to be book lovers, but chances should always be there.