ReaderCon Filipino Friday: Week Two

The meme continues, thanks to the good people of ReaderCon.

How did you become a reader? What factors influenced you to take it up as a hobby? For instance, was it your mom who read to you every night? Or was it a high school friend who started lending you books? Or maybe it was a really inspiring teacher whom you wanted to emulate. Whatever it was, we hope you tell us all the story of how you became a leisure reader and what it is about reading that you enjoy so much.

Three people started me off in the world of books.

 Mamma: she’s a former public school teacher. I saw how her teaching style at home was hardly any different from how she was at work. My brothers were too old for preschooler books by the time I was around and I couldn’t tell if I was a difficult student or not. But, since I came to love reading, my guess is I was okay enough.
 Pappa: compared to Mamma, he’s a private reader. He has certain spots and seats in the house that he deems conducive to reading. Place him anywhere else and he probably won’t. Pappa was Mamma’s alternate when she couldn’t read for me. He worked at the local printing press and he introduced me to various processes of how written word becomes printed.
 Lola: before she retired, she sold printed material. So she knew the value of the printed word, both figuratively and literally. She was Mamma’s other alternate. But since her eyes weren’t as good as before, she read only stuff that had big font sizes.

Our home had an enough number of books. But it increased when our neighbors—a pastor and his whole family—went abroad. They left with us a whole bookcase of books! Okay, most of those books weren’t exactly kid-friendly: think scholarly and technical books. Thank goodness he had school-age kids, which meant a few schoolbooks and storybooks. They weren’t meant for my age then but it was close. And I could easily settle for that.

When I became too old for preschool but too young for the class Mamma taught, she’d leave me at the library. On most days, it’d just be me and the librarian. Sometimes, I’d be alone [read: all by myself] at the library for hours! One whole afternoon wasn’t enough to flip through all the tomes. And I came across favorites that, even though I have read them before, I’d read them again.

Since, sometimes I was alone at the library, I’d read aloud to myself. I love it when the book has dialogues between characters. I’d read them using different voices. I’d be so into the moment that I’d be so loud, you could hear me from two doors down the hall. One time, I was doing exactly that and only stopped when I felt someone was watching me. And there was someone watching me! I immediately became quiet. I may even have put back the book I was reading. I don’t remember much about what happened next because I felt embarrassed by the stunt I pulled.

That same afternoon, when Mamma and I went home, she said she was proud of me. I was at a loss why. Turns out that the person watching me that afternoon was no other than the school principal! She asked around to know whose kid was reading at the library. When she learned of my identity, she told my mom that I was good, that I should keep reading, and that my mother was doing a good job teaching me and her class.

[Little side note: I no longer remember the title of that beloved book. I have been trying to search for it but I just cannot find it. Well, if you have better luck than me, maybe you could help. All I could tell you is that it was about a boy in a room (I think it was an attic) with a supposedly magical and painfully colorful parrot that granted all his wishes. The one name I’m sure of is Old Septimus.]

School library was one of my usual haunts, since there were very few kids who’d be caught dead there. There were a few friends who were also readers but we differed too much about our choice genres so we didn’t bother swapping books. But that was back then. Now we’re more open to other types.

Fast forward to college and I loved four out of seven classes I was enrolled in. That’s because the requirements for those classes were to read (then write). I still remember lugging around a full copy of Beowulf. It was about four inches thick, about foot and a half tall, and ¾ of a foot wide. And it was old, really old. And reading those old books and stories fanned a great frustration; had the option been available to me, I would’ve been a mythologist-folklorist.

Color me geeky but I enjoyed all those reading assignments. It was always a flood but I loved drowning in it. And that’s how, I believe, I came to be drawn to anthologies. Usually, there was something for everyone there.

It’s a no-brainer that school would require reading. It so happens that, in my case, church did so too! Our weekly gathering at church included in its programs the review of lessons that were read for the past six nights. Plus, by practice, our family reads a morning devotional together. Usually it’s Pappa who leads the devotional. It’s one of those short moments that bonds us a family.

Reading is, by itself, is a wonderful childhood memory for me. It contains the smells of new paper, old leather, and dried wood, the sounds of rusty gears, howling winds, and noisy chickens, and the sights of people and places that I have come to love and remember.

Books are a fountain of youth whereby I become a kid every time I read and grow up every time I finish. Reading is my age, the youth that would never fade nor die.


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Chachic says:

    Yay to parents and grandparents who encourage kids to read! I loved my reading assignments too, I read all of the required books all throughout my school years, from grade school to college. 🙂 I remember in high school, a lot of my classmates would read only the CliffsNotes editions of the books assigned and I’d get frustrated because they weren’t enjoying the experience the way I was.

    And LOL at your experience of being caught reading out loud in the library. Good thing the principal didn’t invite you to read in front of the class or something like that.


    1. matiserrano says:

      I just feel really lucky and blessed that I am in such a family. It’s great to be around wonderful people who would provide support and guide.

      Oh yes, I know where that frustration is coming from. But I guess they’re the type of kids who just were never into reading, even if the book/story was remotely appealing to them. They miss a lot.

      That discovery part could still make me feel embarrassed. I guess it’s the guilt because, even back then, I knew that one shouldn’t talk loud in the library and yet I just couldn’t help myself. No one was there but me and the immediate vicinity was awfully quiet. And I was just into the swing of reading. I really got caught up in it.


      1. Chachic says:

        Yep, not everyone enjoys reading as much as we do. It’s one of the reasons why I was so excited when I discovered the book blogosphere. It felt like I found my people. I can finally talk about the books that I read with like-minded people.

        LOL I know what you mean about not talking inside libraries. I was reprimanded several times back in college whenever I had discussions with classmates inside the library.

        Hey, I don’t think your blog is listed in the Filipino Book Bloggers site? Just wondering if you’d like it to be added there. 🙂


        1. matiserrano says:

          I was reprimanded more in HS than in college. That’s because back in HS, our library was smaller so conversations were easier to hear.

          At the risk of sound like a noob, although I have been reading a lot all these years, I have been kind of the lone reader for most of it. I mean, personally, the book blogosphere is a totally different realm from book clubs, that’s why I could easily get lost there. If it’s even possible, I’m not 100% familiar with my own blog. But yes, I’d like to be added there. Oh, and I’m going to say this while I still have half a mind to say it, any Shelfari-like sites you think I could join? I daring to wade in deeper waters, so to speak.


      2. Chachic says:

        Yes, please add your blog to the Filpino Book Bloggers site! Instructions are in the site’s sidebar. It started out as just a directory for Filipino book bloggers but has then moved on to become a community with regular meet ups and discussions. It’s different from a book club though because we don’t discuss specific books.

        Oh and if you want a bookish social networking site, sign up for 🙂 I’m Chachic over there and Patrick also has an account, I’ve added him as a friend.


        1. matiserrano says:

          Thanks. Will check that after this. I guess that’s a good kind of development.

          Okay. I’ve heard of that from Patrick but never really got the nerve to join. Thanks so much. You’ll see me there later on.


  2. Patrick says:

    That experience with the principal is awesome! I’m happy to hear you have a family who recognizes the importance of reading.

    I never had a class in college where I was required to read any literature and this still bums me out.


    1. matiserrano says:

      Although I had to feel a great deal of shame before knowing the result, it is awesome. Because, seriously, I really thought I would get in trouble. And knowing that it was the principal meant it could also be trouble for my mother. Thank goodness there wasn’t any for both of us.

      Yeah, it’s great to be in a family who reads and loves books.

      That’s too bad. But you can make up for that now (I guess) and even more. If you want, you could look up some of the reading lists of classes that you would’ve taken up.


      1. Patrick says:

        Yeah, I will. I hope to begin dipping into some classics this year.


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