I feel like a traitor, peddling books from outside my country to my fellowmen. I sell preloved books you know, and I get them from thrift shops. And here’s what’s worse — it’s what parents are looking for. There are people like me.
You see, I love classics, living books and other books that are excellent but are not listed among booklists as either living or classic (or what have you). So I stock up on such books. I also hoard workbooks like those from Evan Moor. And quite recently, I’ve been scouring titles written and illustrated by Racey Helps, Hans de Beer, Shirley Hughes, Arnold Lobel, Leo Politi and Jill Barklem, to name a few.
At a time when people are suffering from a different kind of identity crisis never before experienced in the present magnitude (Are we Kapuso or Kapamilya; Red or Yellow) and more children in the private schools speak English confidently while their public school educated counterparts smart-shame them (I have evidence) for their funny tongue, my action is treason.
I do believe though that a healthy balance is not atrocious to the cause of my nation, although I feel like I am not doing anything to do my part as a Filipina mom. I look at my shelf, and lo and behold, so many books are by those wonderful writers from the West that if there were a war between titles in my house, my Filipino books will suffer bitter defeat in their homeland.
How Are We So Far?
So what to do, what to do? I have to address this issue once and for all! But first, the reasons why I sometimes find it easier, or more practical and convenient to get imported books more than the books of our Filipino authors. These are my observations as a bibliophile with regards to workbooks and textbooks ONLY and if you don’t agree, enlighten me please.
- Aesthetics – Imported books win in this regard, generally. Yes, I say that with sadness.
- Content – We are doing great here but some books are still low on the quality so no, we don’t win here yet.
- Price – Hmm, well, I saw a newsprint textbook that costs 1,300 pesos and I couldn’t quite get why. Do you have any idea why? Booksale, Chapters and Pages and Books for Less have good books as cheap as 30 pesos… 😦
So there, that’s just my unsolicited and amateur assessment. But wait…
I was looking for good textbooks for my child last weekend when I saw a workbook made by a local publisher and it just blew me away. A spark of hope was lit. Yay! So I’m looking forward to more books that are big on aesthetics and content while easy on the pocket.
Meanwhile, let me just share that Mr. Robert Magnuson’s Duck and Croc series from Anvil are great. My daughter loved them to pieces that I had to actually rescue them from impending obliteration because she took them to her bed and literally slept on them for like a week.
The rhyming words of Magnuson’s book are especially appealing to my beginning reader and the illustrations are awesome too, that I wish there more of Duck and Croc’s crazy adventures to see print in the near future. An added bonus is a character lesson tucked in every book which you can discuss with your child during a teachable moment.
By the way, let me just share that I dislike Filipino authors’ titles landing on bottom shelves almost hidden from view, like you can actually see them only when you bend to pick up something you drop on the floor.
The Big Reveal
What follows is a big reveal, you know, and I’m sharing this to prove my point that I am still very loyal to my Filipino writers and illustrators whom I look up to.
So anyway, I saw these Duck and Croc books displayed in NBS on the bottom shelf and since I already have the latest three from Mr. and Mrs. Magnuson I didn’t buy anymore. I just helped myself with the hero complex and dislodged other books at the middle shelf and put the Duck and Croc and other books from Hiyas and Lampara and the like where they are supposed to be just so children can see them at eye level and parents can check them out without straining their backs and necks.
Well, I hope my love for my country is a justifying circumstance, if my activism is a crime!
Here, let me show you the wonderful autograph Mr. Magnuson made especially for my daughter.