Read, read, read

MINI CRITIQUE - Isagani Cruz (The Philippine Star) - January 6, 2016 - 9:00am

If you are still looking for a New Year’s resolution, try this: Read, read, read.

It really does not matter what and how you read. You can read Miriam Defensor Santiago (yes, the senator and presidential candidate), Bob Ong, Ramon Bautista, or other bestselling authors. You can read Judy Ann Santos, Alex Gonzaga, Juan Miguel Sevilla, Bianca Gonzalez-Intal, and other non-writer celebrities. Or you can read the books that have been nominated for or have won National Book Awards. Or you can read “The Alchemist” (in English or in Filipino translation), “The Martian,” “The Boys in the Boat,” “The Wright Brothers,” or any of the books that have been on the New York Times bestselling list for weeks. These days, you do not have to be embarrassed if you are caught reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” (in English or in Filipino translation).

You can read books in their printed form, in ebook form, online for free (on Project Gutenberg, Onlinebooks, Beststackroom, or other such sites), online for a fee (on Amazon, for example), on Wattpad or WritersCafe or Figment or other writing community, on blogs, on iBooks, or just about everywhere on the Web. You can read on your mobile phone, your tablet, your computer, your smart TV, or whatever. You can read in a library (yes, there are still libraries in 2016), in a vehicle, in bed, wherever.

The National Book Development Board, using a survey done by the Social Weather Stations, reports that Filipinos love to read the Bible, romances, and cook books (in that order). Four out of every five adult Filipinos still read books other than required textbooks. The preferred language of Filipino readers is Tagalog-Filipino.

In short, if you start (or continue) reading books in 2016, you are joining the vast majority of Filipinos. Four out of every five adult Filipinos cannot be wrong. There is a lot you can gain from reading. Read, read, read!

NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS: The Manila Critics Circle gives CITATIONS, aside from the annual National Book Awards. For 2015, a citation was given to a series published by De La Salle University. Here is the citation:

Citations are given to sets or series of books that push the frontiers not only of writing but also of publishing. The series in Literary / Cultural Studies of the De La Salle University Publishing House entitled “Critics in Conversation,” conceptualized and edited by David Jonathan Y. Bayot, has put the Philippines on the world map of literary theory.

So far, the series consists of “Catherine Belsey in Conversation,” “Derek Attridge in Conversation” (co-published with Sussex Academic Press), “John Schad in Conversation,” “Jonathan Dollimore in Conversation,” “Kenneth Goldsmith in Conversation,” “Rachel Bowlby in Conversation,” and “Susan Stewart in Conversation.”

The board of judges for the 2015 National Book Awards included National Artist Virgilio S. Almario, Ruel S. de Vera, Dean Francis Alfar, Joel Pablo Salud, Shirley Lua, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Alice Sun-Cua, Rogelio Mangahas, Priscelina Legasto, Charlson Ong, Nerisa del Carmen Guevara, Allan Popa, Leoncio Deriada, Gary Devilles, Emil Francis Flores, Jose Wendell Capili, Guillermo Ramos, Grace Gorospe-Jamon, Ma. Mercedes Planta, Joselito Zulueta, Felipe Jocano Jr., Ruben de Jesus, Ma. Luisa C. Delayco, Timothy Dacanay, Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, and Marco Nemesio Montaño.

The trophies were designed by Mulawin Abueva.


I wish that, in May, we will vote into office someone who does not think of what we can do for him/her, but what s/he can do for us.

I wish that, in June, the schools offering Grade 11 for the first time will take seriously the experience of schools that are already offering Senior High School. There are so many lessons we have learned since 2012 from the model Senior High Schools; what a waste it will be if we repeat their mistakes or if we do not continue what they started right.

I wish that the government will start following what the Constitution says about colleges and universities (Article 14, Section 5.2), namely, that “Academic freedom shall be enjoyed in all institutions of higher learning.” The Supreme Court defines the term “academic freedom” this way: “The essential freedoms subsumed in the term academic freedom encompass the freedom of the school or college to determine for itself: (1) who may teach; (2) who may be taught; (3) how lessons shall be taught; and (4) who may be admitted to study.”

The central office of the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), in its policies and standards, is always very careful to respect academic freedom, but sadly, the regional offices are often not as aware of the constitutional limitations of their authority. The same sad reality also exists with some of the regional offices of the Department of Education (DepEd), which appear not to have read issuances from the Central Office.

For myself, I wish only for health, since I already have a great family and a great circle of friends (both actual and virtual). I could wish for world peace, but that, sadly due to the intellectually-challenged leaders of various countries, seems to be unattainable in 2016.

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