Message of Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda during the Philippine Book Festival – Simula: A Celebratory Ritual

April 25, 2024

The books we read shape our thinking, forge our beliefs, and teach us to imagine, beyond our lifetime, and sometimes for generations.

I am glad that we have initiatives like the Philippine Book Festival. I also would like to take this opportunity to share that the Philippines is the Guest of Honour country to the 2025 Frankfurter Buchmesse. It was in 2015, when Karina Bolasco approached me, and introduced the Frankfurt Book Fair. Immediately in 2016, we ensured adequate funding for the Philippine participation at the Fair. Since then, I have consistently supported the Frankfurt Book Fair and pushed for the Philippines to be the Guest of Honour country, a platform where we can promote our local authors and books. We are privileged to host officials from the Frankfurter Buchmesse and a delegation of German publishers, who are here with us today as we give them a glimpse of the rich cultural and literary heritage of the Philippines.

But also, and as important, this festival allows our Department of Education leaders and the public schools to check out our local titles, appreciate the breadth and depth of their coverage, and be empowered by them. Let us provide our young people with the best books possible— engaging stories told in remarkable ways.
I urge DepEd to prioritize the procurement of books for public school libraries and library hubs. All students and young people deserve the same opportunity to discover new worlds, broaden their horizons, and increase curiosity through literature. Let us not underestimate the value of promoting Filipino content in our libraries.

I also encourage our writers and publishers to innovate approaches, especially in textbook writing, to make it more engaging and insightful for our learners. We should creatively integrate arts and culture in our textbooks for Filipino, English, Science, and Mathematics. We can hit two birds with one stone, as they say, so why not use texts from our history as we drill students on subject-verb agreement? Why not use our heirloom ingredients, like batwan or langkawas as we instruct our students on how to count, add, and subtract? When we teach comprehension activities, identifying the main idea and supporting details, we can use stanzas from our epics. When we write textbook content this way, we are not just teaching our students how to read, write, count, and learn science, but we also introduce them to our culture and traditions, make them more familiar with our shared heritage, and as a result, a deeper appreciation of our national identity.

As co-author of the Philippine Creative Industries Act, rest assured that I will always support the creative sector. Together, let us ensure that we will be able to increase readership, and improve the comprehension skills and literary interests of our younger generation.

It is said “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.” For our children and students, find the books worth reading, those that stretch imaginations, that help make sense of their own lives, those that encourage them to reach out toward people whose lives are very different from their own.

Thank you at isang luntiang Pilipinas sa ating lahat. ###