Hello, Filipino Book Bloggers! I was so excited when I found out that Camillea wanted to do a feature on Filipino Book Bloggers! I know there are a bunch of us in the blogosphere, but we are a minority in the book blogging community. Well, this is an awesome opportunity to connect and get to know everyone in this teeny tiny community!
For those who don’t know me, I was born and raised in the Philippines but I’m currently in the US right now. I also wanted to show the vast difference in my experience as a reader before as compared to today.
See, I grew up in a small city in the Visayas – Dumaguete City. That’s in Negros Oriental. Keep in mind that my elementary and high school years were spent in the 90s, so this was way before the internet and ebooks.
Our tiny little city boasts the famous American school, Silliman University. I went to this school from early childhood to college (LOL). At one point, this University boasted the biggest library in Asia. As such, you would expect us to have access to books, right? Unfortunately, the answer is no. We only had reference books and periodicals available for borrowing. Yes. We did have a library in the elementary campus and high school campus, but the selection left much to be desired.
Sure, in 3rd grade I stumbled upon this awesome gem of a book called A Wrinkle in Time at the elementary school library and I also borrowed the classic Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books, and a bunch of other kid lit books. But the selections were not as great. Plus, most of the titles weren’t even new titles.
You would think that having limited access to fiction books would automatically make me a non-reader, right? Wrong. I was a reader since I was very young. Mostly, fairy tales, Disney books, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and the Sweet Valley series – but still! I was a bit luckier than most since my mom was able to send me books from the US. But since mailing usually took months, I would usually burn through the 5-10 books that she sent within a month! My only other option was to travel to Cebu City (it’s the next island, by the way) to purchase books. We usually do this about once a year. That was not enough in my book!
We also had two book rental establishments where we could borrow books for a fee and pay a yearly membership fee. This saved my sanity in more ways than one, but then again, borrowing books cost money, so that was also limited.
It wasn’t until the late 90s when a second-hand bookstore opened in our city. This bookstore was in a renovated garage/living room. This bookstore would eventually change my bookish life. This was where I picked up my very first Harlequin Historical Romance and I was hooked to the romance genre.
Sadly, this used bookstore closed a few years later. Fortunately for us, The National Bookstore opened a few years later. I can still remember the very first book I preordered – Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows!
I visited my hometown last year and was quite disappointed with The National Bookstore. They have downsized a bit and most of the items they sell are school supplies and such. They do have an okay selection of YA books and half a shelf of romance titles. Sadly, the choices are very slim. I have to say that their Filipino section is a little bit bigger than I expected.
As someone who reads a lot, my besties and cousins ask me for book recs. As much as I love recommending books to them, it’s quite unfortunate that some of them can’t even purchase them because they are just not available.
I’m currently located in California right now and I have to say that acquiring books is easier than it was before. In fact, we have an awesome library system with an extensive selection of books, ebooks and audiobooks. I still have a book budget but it is significantly bigger than it was before.
Zeee is a 30-something bookworm who has been reading since she was really young. She was born and raised in Dumaguete City, Philippines during the 90s and loves angsty music and classic rock. She reads YA, NA, and Adult Romance. She is a registered nurse and currently lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and 2 cats. She blogs at I Heart Romance & YA.
What are your experiences as a reader in the Philippines? Is it still as bad as it was years ago? If you aren’t living in the big cities, how easy is it to get books?