|Miss Auras by John Lavery|
The National Book Development Board (NBDB), in partnership with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines and Vibal Foundation, commissioned the Social Weather Stations to conduct the nationwide 2012 NBDB Readership Survey. It is considered the most comprehensive study on the reading habits of Filipino adults, taking into account the way the study covered 1,200 respondents who evenly came from the different regions of the country. Last year, NBDB released the results of the survey.
Here is the catch, though. The results showed a decline in the number of Filipino adult readers in the country--94 percent in 2003, 92 percent in 2007, and 88 percent in 2012. The 2012 figure represented a total of 49.2 million Filipino readers. Blame my business reporting training at Sun.Star Cebu, but my instant thought was the impact of this fact to my favorite bookstores, including La Belle Aurore Bookshop, National Bookstore, and Fully Booked. Will there be significant decline in their inventory? How often will I get to see new titles or arrivals? Will there be lesser than less book events in Cebu?
|An Old Woman Reading. 17th century, Imitator|
of David Teniers the Younger
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For me, a lot of things are happening behind these figures, which is why I was quick to nod with NBDB chair Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz when she said, as quoted by Manila Bulletin, that she wished the readership data is “neat and so compartmentalized” so her team can attribute the decline to electronic media that has become an “expected alternative or distraction”. But I guess such is not the case, and so I move to present my hypothesis that the decline of readership is largely due to lack of promotion or advocacy of reading, something that parents should consider in their mental how-to-raise-a-well-rounded-kid manual.
Take this scenario, for example: A teacher of 60 elementary students (public or private school, take your pick) who does not know the difference between their and there or quite and quiet will end up spreading the mistake to 60 more people whose young minds are like delicate sponges. Unless this is immediately corrected by succeeding teachers or by parents, the scenario becomes a vicious cycle. One way to correct this, I believe, is to encourage the young to read, let them appreciate the value of reading, let them discover good writers for their list of role models, and continuously expose them to good writing. Based on my experience, I can say with confidence that reading can teach us proper grammar, which in turns makes our expressions on paper clear and understandable, which in turn makes us conscious of our grammar when speaking.
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Dino Tabaña, my classmate in Advanced Grammar and Composition (whom I will miss after he completes his comprehensive and oral exams this month and claim the title of a full-fledged graduate in Master in Media Studies), mentioned that writing and speaking, particularly broadcasting, are two different modes of communication, hence there are differences in the tone and composition but he was quick to point out that the difference does not excuse them from observing proper grammar. And this brings into mind the recent humorous column of former teacher and colleague, Lorenzo Niñal. He shared a story of a radio intern who inadmissibly, repeatedly pronounced debutante instead of deboto to refer in Cebuano the devotees of Sto. Niño. Of course, naturally, Niñal practically turned hysterical, something I understand from a college teacher’s perspective.
During the same discussion in class, I raised the hypothetical question as to what could be the possible factors that make the younger generation of mass communication students more inclined with broadcasting than print writing. We theorized that the new media, which makes use of diverse visual materials, is one factor. Another could be the fast pace of living that builds the appetite in us to watch a one-minute condensed TV news rather than spend five minutes of our time reading the same news in print just so to save time, although we lamented the way grammar is poorly used in broadcast in more than one occasion.
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At the end of the day, if we keep saying our young is our country’s future, then so much still needs to be considered and done. The decline of readership and (observed) quality of writing and broadcasting, for instance, have brought for the next batch of full-time teachers, including myself, a new wave of challenges, which, from personal experience and observation, calls on for fresh approaches that go beyond the traditional red ink and circled test scores.
Let’s advocate reading, writing, and good grammar in between!
- Nancy -
P.S. This was submitted as a final reaction paper in Advanced Grammar and Composition class.