“A country is not only poor because of limited financial resources but can also be poor due to knowledge or information deprivation.”
Sometimes, it pays to browse the many channels on social media.
One item that caught my attention was a country comparison on the number of books being published by various countries.
According to this report, our country turns out about 1,500 books annually compared to Malaysia and Thailand with more than 15,000 each.
The United States, which came in as number one on the other hand, rolls out more than 150,000 books every year.
There is no surprise there since people in the US are always writing their memoirs.
With a population of about 110 million people, 1,500 books is an awfully low number and my initial reaction was that the data could not be accurate.
We should be publishing a lot more but, unfortunately, it does not seem to be the case.
Malaysia and Thailand with a population of about 31.5 million and 70 million respectively, are publishing 10 times more.
Of course, we do not know whether the figures posted are accurate or where the data came from but, assuming the figures are accurate, this does not paint a good picture for the country.
This miniscule number of publications could mean a lot of things.
Perhaps, there are really not too many people writing novels, other literary works, or their life experiences.
For instance, while our country went thru many convulsive events in the last 40 years like EDSA 1 and the many coup attempts that followed, not one of the principal characters of those historical events wrote about their participation, depriving the nation of valuable knowledge.
A country is not only poor because of limited financial resources but can also be poor due to knowledge or information deprivation.
Sometimes, this can be reflected in the depth of a country’s sophistication or lack of it especially when people are easily swayed by the many postings they read on social media.
A well informed, intelligent, and discerning population is the foundation of a strong and stable society.
It has often been said that books open the world to those who love to read.
This is one important reason why we should have more people writing books and a public devouring these books because knowledge enriches the country in many ways.
Unfortunately, this does not appear to be so.
What we seem to have is a public that do not have the luxury of time to be reading books because they are perhaps too busy working, do not have the time to read or simply cannot afford to buy the books.
Over the years, I have always made it a habit that when I go to the malls, I always go to the book stores to see what books are available.
There used to be several book stores offering many selections of books.
Today, however, only the National Book Store seems to be around and the books available are so limited with not much to choose from. This could only mean that many book stores had to close shop because people are no longer buying books. This is really a shame.
Since the momentous events of EDSA 1, we have had EDSA 2, and maybe about 9 coup attempts.
We have also conducted six presidential election since 1992. Yet, as far as I know, there are not many books written about these events.
Surely, if Malaysia and Thailand could turn out more than 15,000 books each every year, we should be able to exceed that number by the sheer size of our population.
Among the principal characters of EDSA 1 for instance, only former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile is still around. Former Presidents Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., Corazon Aquino, and Fidel V. Ramos all passed away without leaving us their versions of events leading to those four earth-shattering days of February 1986.
Most of the military officers who played significant roles have also chosen not to write anything except for a few like the former Senior Aide to former President Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr, the late Colonel Arturo Aruiza who was not only quite decent but was also a first class gentleman.
What sometimes filter out are verbal recollections or interviews by participants during anniversary celebrations which do not end up being recorded for posterity’s sake.
The few books that have been written and published by academics and journalists that I have come across are good but we need a lot more from the direct participants.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why the number of books coming out of the printing presses have declined over the years.
Could the pandemic that has ravaged the country for almost three years have something to do with it?
I do hope that the government can do something to rekindle the interest of the public to take up reading and that it will not do anything to discourage people from writing books.
Otherwise, the country will be in a lot of trouble.