In my last visit to Tanauan, Batangas for Sambat Trust's library project there, I had the chance to meet its scholars in Sambat Elementary School. There were around fifteen of them from the grade school level. I met them at the library that Sambat Trust had set up, one of the first libraries that grew in the community. Mrs. Delante, principal of Sambat Elementary School was so thankful of this donation to the learning community there.
When the scholars arrived, I asked them their favorite book. One girl replied, Sleeping Beauty. I could not help but fracture the tale from this well loved classic. Rousing herself to sleep, apparently the wicked witch died of a heart attack and the curse was broken, she fixed up her castle and freed the dragon in the dungeon. The prince came and proved himself worthy to stand as her equal by taming the dragon himself. The kids were amused. They waited for more so I rendered stories from my repertoire.
I realized my formal Tagalog is very rusty. Filipino that's spoken in Manila is a convoluted mix of English and Tagalog. Nevertheless, I knew the kids had fun from their authentic smiles and waves of goodbye. I came to Sambat to assess the status of the library and to continue its out reach activities there. I came back to Manila with the realization that there really is a reading problem in the country.
I ask myself where to begin.