In his article that appeared today in the Daily Inquirer, one of my favorite writers, Conrado de Quiros, talks about his experience in an airport while on a nine-hour layover in Bangkok en route to the Philippines. He talks about his observation that Filipinos have not grown accustomed to reading to while away the time. Instead, they go shopping, "window or otherwise". Not a good sign for our sagging economy considering that these shoppers are purchasing products not produced in our country.
I have had the same impression everywhere I go. While I enjoy reading, amid puffs from my cigarette, while waiting, say for a friend, I also observed that most Filipinos would go to malls and shop rather than be caught with a good book in hand, mesmerized by the information, awed by the beauty of language and how this is used, that can be had while reading. I do not know how many students are reading a book not because it is required but because he/she enjoys reading per se.
I have often told my children how beneficial reading can be. To my disappointment, I don't think it is sinking in. Except for my eldest, the other three would not even touch a book that is not required reading in school. They'd rather go to the internet and do something else. My only wish is that they have not yet realized how fun reading a book can be.
Reading takes us to a wide gamut of adventures; prepares us to face the unknown; gives us first hand information that cannot be had from any other source; teaches us how to analyze, think and express ourselves in a clear, cohesive and organized manner;shows us how others think and respond to certain stimuli, among other things. If only I can motivate my children any further...
Interestingly, to the very few who do read, what kind of books are being read by Filipinos? Fellow blogger and online friend Gilbert reproduced an article written by Queena Lee Chua which discussed, among other things, some facts about reading and the Filipino. We find what kinds of books are being read, how much time is being spent on reading, etc...
With the internet coming of age, I wonder what effect this will do to reading. How will the future generation read? Will the computer strengthen reading or have we seen its further decline? What is the effect of having an information readily available at a simple click on the mouse, where such can be given in a short, comprehensible manner? Will this eliminate the thirst for more knowledge making the reader lose some information that can be vital?
But then, what am I worried about? As Conrado de Quiros has observed, we are not a country of readers anyway. What is there to lose?
I say, a lot!