MANILA — The National Book Development Board (NBDB) has launched its Book Nook project where it was able to set up 52 indigenous and remote reading spaces all over the Philippines in just six months.

In a virtual event on Wednesday, NBDB chairman Dantes Francis Ang II said they are hoping that through this Book Nook project, nation-building and cultural empowerment in the country will be further strengthened and enhanced as NBDB offers reading centers in inaccessible areas. 

“These spaces also serve as a resource for children, their parents and teachers in order to reinforce critical reading and writing their own stories. May this launch signify our commitment to better serve our country with our branding ‘Aklat Para sa Lahat,’” Ang said.

In the same event, NBDB executive director Charice Aquino Tugade shared the inspiration behind this project.

“There is a magic number and it is 24:1. This is our import-export disparity. There are 24 more times foreign books that enter the country than what we send out. If you go to our libraries and bookstores, our own content is relegated to a very slim Filipiniana section. My question is whose voice do we give primacy to? Shouldn’t we give our own voice a chance?” she asked.

With the Book Nook project, Tugade said the NBDB envisions to provide more access points to local contents and creations so that people around the Philippines are able to read their own books in their own language, their own culture and look at their own experiences.

“We really want to engage communities to just be more inspired and not look outwards to find inspiration. We really want something a little bit more holistic. No matter what Philippine language you speak, you will find that connection with other communities,” she said.

Meanwhile, Department of Education Secretary Leonor Briones lauded the NBDB for its Book Nook project, saying this effort will help parents and teachers in encouraging more children and students to read literature from different regions.

“With the establishment of the 52 sites, we hope that more areas will be served in the next years of implementation of this project. Crucial in the expansion of reach and impact of this project is the collaboration among local government units, civil society organizations, NGOs and the academe,” she said.

“There will be more than a thousand Pinoy books per site. But we need more books such as children’s literature, young adult’s stories and novels, contemporary fiction, graphic novels and comics and history and culture in Filipino, in English and in the regional languages. This is why collaboration among agencies and institutions is necessary for the success of this project by pooling resources to buy books,” she added.

Aside from setting up reading spaces, Briones is also looking forward to the different events in all the Book Nook sites such as storytelling, arts and crafts workshops and book club meetings.

“With these events, we hope that Philippine literature as well as the culture of reading will thrive,” she said. “The DepEd would like to encourage each and every one to be a reader of our nation.”