Press Release
March 3, 2009

Announces signing of National Book Development Trust Fund bill

Senator Edgardo J. Angara today underscored the value of reading as an avenue of success and national prosperity as he leads the launching of the second phase of Berso sa Metro, a promotional reading campaign initiated by Instituto Cervantes in Manila in collaboration with the Filipino-Hispanic Friendship Day Committee, the National Historical Institute, Light Railway Transit Authority (LRT) and Metrostar Express (MRT).

"Books play an integral part in a country's intellectual, technical and cultural development. They are the most effective and economical tools for achieving educational growth, imparting information and recording, preserving, and disseminating the nation's cultural heritage. Unfortunately, only few of the books in our libraries and bookstores are of local publications," said Angara who chairs the Senate Committee on Finance.

The Philippines has the lowest output in terms of book titles compared to our neighbors in Southeast Asia. According to statistics released by the Philippine National Library, the number of books published [based on the number of International Book Numbers (ISBNs) issued] since 2000 is an average of 5,326.5 per year only.

He added, "Furthermore, authors based in the National Capital Region, where most of the big publishers are based, write most of the local books. Many of our talented authors and writers from different regions of the country can put in writing their knowledge and local histories and some scientific and technical books that lit their local contexts while others can translate classic works into the local languages. Some authors have begun manuscripts or research works that are taking too long to finish because of lack of resources and because they are preoccupied with earning a living for themselves and their loved ones."

Angara said that in a study by the Social Weather Station (SWS) commissioned by the National Book Development Board (NBDB) on Filipino Book Readership, Reading Attitudes and Reading Preferences in 2003, statistics shows that 91% of respondents who read non-school books did so to get information or gain additional knowledge, rather than for plain enjoyment or amusement. According to the same study, those respondents who read non-school books, preferred the Bible, followed by romance novelettes and there was no data for literary titles.

The Senator, an ardent supporter of arts and culture, said that the launching of the second phase of Berso sa Metro comes amid exciting and challenging times. The promotional reading campaign, he said, complements the efforts initiated by the government to bolster reading awareness in the country.

He announced that the National Book Development Trust Fund Act, which he primarily authored in the Senate, is due for signing by the president. Once approved, the interest of this Trust Fund would be able to finance annually at least sixty five (65) grants, which would be distributed equitably among the regions. This measure would also create a dynamic book trade within different regions that could contribute to the rich literature pool of the country.

"We should strive to make reading part of every Juan's lifestyle and this must be complemented by our efforts to strengthen our country's book industry," added Angara.

Angara is also the author of the Philippine-Spanish Friendship Day Act, the law which created the National Commission for Culture and the Arts and National Museum, and the Chairman of the Philippines-Spain Parliamentary Friendship Group.

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