Sunday, January 13, 2013

on books and more books

This is another re-post from Mordsith's former blog at i.PH. This was triggered by the news I saw a while ago that NBS is opening (or has just opened) a branch in Makati and it looks like it's cozy than the usual branches that they have. Mapasyalan nga.


Last week, I went to a place which claimed to be the largest mall in Asia, yes, the Mall of Asia (MOA). I was on a hunting for a gift to an old woman who would be celebrating her 80th birthday. Where else could you have the highest probability of finding a gift than the biggest mall in the country—it’s all rolled into one, isn’t it?

I did find a gift, but after long walks and strenuous searching. My companion and I first went to the department store to get ourselves an idea of what I could possibly get to entice (too strong a word) the birthday celebrant. After searching from one floor to another, I decided that I would get her a spiritual/religious book, and as suggested by my companion, it should be in Filipino. Imagine my relief when I finally had an idea of what I would buy. Immediately, we proceeded outside the department store.

Fortunately, my companion knows his way through MOA (after a hundred times of being there, I still take the longest route from one place to another). I thought to myself that in a few minutes, we would already be heading home. First stop: Books for Less. The books here were cheaper, relative to the price of the bigger bookstores in the country. Before searching for the gift, I delighted myself first with the books in front of me, browsing through the columns of book and looking for something to buy for myself. Then, I decided that I could do that some other day. I looked for a Christian book in Filipino, and voila, there was none. Miss, do you have a Christian book here in Filipino? No, ma’am. All we have are in English. I did not expect that.

Off to National Bookstore, I was pretty sure that I could find something here. After all, it was the most popular bookstore in the country, with hundreds of branches nationwide. And in MOA, National Book Store was an actual bookstore—with books. In most malls, National Book Store is a department store concealing itself as a bookstore. And so I began my search for the book. After several aisles of books, the only Filipino read that I can find is the bible in Filipino. What? It’s not possible. The customer service personnel said that they do not have any religious book in Filipino. Then it is possible! Bummer.

I think we only stopped by Fully Booked for a few minutes then left to go to Power Books (which was owned by National Book Store, am I right?). At this point, I was already losing hope of finding a gift. I was already thinking of getting the celebrant a cake. I no longer have the energy nor the enthusiasm. This would be another futile search. At the religious book section, I only found the same books that I found in National Book Store. I was tired and frustrated (mostly because I was already hungry). But to my surprise (yes, I was already surprised), there were Filipino religious books placed at a table near the back! Although the books were written by a single author, I was still glad that I found these books. Of course, I was happy that my tired feet and my hungry stomach can already go home. But more importantly, I found a Filipino book published in Filipino and sold at a Philippine bookstore.

It was only then that I realized the scarcity of books in Filipino sold in these big bookstores. But can I blame the commercial bookstore industry? I think not. If there were more demands from consumers of readings in Filipino, perhaps there would be more of those in the bookshops. Do we also lack writers of books in our native language? I don’t know. It just saddened me that this is the current state of Filipino literature (and nationality?) in the country, perhaps stemming from the overwhelming effort to be fluent in English. Where did this get us?

And look at this entry.


PS: Now, if you find yourself in a similar situation, consider e-books, there are audio books online here. :-)

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