If it isn’t obvious enough, ‘Augvocacy’ is a silly play on the words ‘August’ and ‘advocacy’, which can already give you a somewhat clear idea of what this event aspires to do: to bring together like-minded individuals in actively forwarding a particular advocacy throughout the month of August, which will hopefully carry over in small, indirect ways for the rest of the year. Participants of said event are referred to as Augvocates (💖). You can learn more about the origin of Augvocacy 2018 (or #Augvocacy2018) by reading my event launch post.
For 2018, twenty-four* (24) Filipino readers, bloggers (like me!), and authors are dedicating this month towards emphasizing a single message, that is, the importance of fostering a culture of reading in the Philippines.
* That’s 24 not including myself, by the way!
While all Augvocates have written their own personal narratives on this advocacy, which I’m sure they’re very excited to share with you (psst, don’t forget to check out the event schedule later!), I’ve also taken the liberty of interviewing them, which I’m incredibly ecstatic to share with you!
Without further ado, allow me to introduce you to three of our amazing 2018 Augvocates: Rosemarie, Shannel, and Ynnah!
When did you start reading?
Shannel: I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember. My family bought me tons of books when I was a kid, usually ones with princesses and fairytales and whatnot. No surprise that my favorite genre ended up being fantasy! Fun fact: I actually still have most of my childhood books with me! I just can’t bear to part with them. Hahaha!
Ynnah: I’ve been reading ever since I was a kid like maybe 7 or 8. I would read books and articles even though I [didn’t] understand most of them. However, books haven’t really been that accessible to me and I have no idea which books are “in” or something. When I was in elementary school, I had a liking of ghost stories and started saving up to actually buy Philippine Ghost Stories books. I haven’t realized it then, but I guess I’ve always been passionate about books because I remember talking to our school administration if I could set up some sort of club where we’d fix the abandoned library of the school. Anyway, I think the most I’ve started to read was when I was 12. That’s when I’ve been introduced to all platforms about reading like the online fanficiton world, blogs about books, [and] everything about books.
What motivates you to keep reading?
Rosemarie: The sole reason why I read is because I want to escape reality, even just for a moment. But what really motivate me to read [are] my friends from the bookstagram community, as well as my love for criticism and also writing.
Shannel: Life does. Seriously! Real life is so lame and stressful. Reading is my escape. I’m incredibly fond of fantasy worlds, myths, and magic. Books allow me to transport myself to new places and go on incredible journeys with people who may not be real, but feel real enough to me. Plus, I’ve always been a huge daydreamer and reading is basically like stepping into another person’s daydream, which is always fun!
Ynnah: I actually really learn a lot from reading way more than I do when talking to people, I dare say. And the stories that I read, besides coloring my bleak reality, actually really [help] me become more emphatic and that’s a trait that I really value. Reading has helped me become more understanding and [has] taught me of endless possibilities. I could say that the knowledge reading gives me is really what motivates me in reading. Oh, plus, it keeps me from being bored.
Do you think that Filipinos should go beyond academic or required reading and explore reading books for leisure? Why or why not?
Rosemarie: Of course! You don’t learn everything in [life] through the pages of your textbooks! You learn from personal experience and through reading books. Books don’t only contain fictional worlds and character, unrealistic characters and romance, but they contain lessons that you don’t encounter in your textbooks or assigned reading. Some books, nowadays, are written by people who experience the worst in life, and some [share] their experiences through writing books. That alone would give us a better perspective in life.
Shannel: Yes, yes, yes! Reading is not only super fun, but it also has tons of benefits. It strengthens comprehension, focus, memory, and encourages analytical/critical thinking. And immersing yourself in a book is always a nice way to relax after having a stressful day! You don’t have to be the mega reader type that devours twenty books a week. Even just one can make a huge difference.
In your opinion, are there values reading has that other forms of entertainment (e.g. television, films, video games) cannot really offer?
Rosemarie: Personally, I love the feel of having something to hold and flip through and books gives me that kind of satisfaction. I won’t bash on those forms of entertainment, but [from] my own perspective, I find more connection with the characters more in books that in any form. Others might [disagree] to that but that’s how I see it.
Shannel: Vocabulary and grammar, that’s for sure. Writing and speaking are important when it comes to communication. You don’t have to be 100% perfect at them, but improving your skills is always a good thing! Besides, who wouldn’t want to impress their teacher/boss/friends with their extensive and impressive vocab? 😉
Also, reading definitely helps encourage people to be more imaginative. Unlike TV shows, movies, and video games where everything happens on a screen, all the action happens in your head. It’s up to your own creativity to visualize the characters, the world, and the various scenarios you’re reading about.
In your opinion, why is it important to foster a culture of reading in the Philippines?
Rosemarie: I believe it is important because our countrymen need to see that books, aside from educational books, have value too. They have lessons and facts that would give us a better understanding in life. They can teach us too.
Shannel: Knowledge, education, and self-improvement. You can learn a lot just by reading. It doesn’t really matter what you read: biographies, self-help, fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary, historical, the bible– there’s always something to be gained from a book. Knowledge and education are invaluable and heck, schools can only do so much. And I think it’s especially important in the PH because plenty of Filipinos can be rather ignorant, though through no fault of their own. It’s pretty obvious that what education we do have isn’t enough.
Ynnah: Honestly, our country is so beyond the other countries in a lot of aspects. I believe that the reason why we aren’t [as] progressive as the others is because we have this certain mentality that just keeps us from conquering the world (in a good way, of course). Somehow, we’re getting stuck in that mentality as if that’s all the choice we have, which is wrong. Reading has helped me think of a lot of possibilities and helped me [become] creative. I think if we have a culture of reading in the Philippines, we’ll realize that there are a lot more doors and windows we could open that will lead to many great things.
Do you think there are downfalls to or negative consequences of a culture that is disinterested in reading?
Shannel: I hope this doesn’t sound harsh but I think it’ll make for an primarily ignorant and close-minded society. Language and communication skills will possibly decline. There will definitely be lack of awareness of the past too since literature does document history and culture. Actually, there might even be a lack of awareness in general. Our scope of the world is limited, and reading gives people a broader perspective on people, places, and cultures that exist outside our borders.
What can be done to encourage more Filipinos to read? In line with this, what is your personal contribution to this advocacy?
Shannel: There are so many factors that play a part in this, to be honest. A good starting point to jump off of, though, is making books more accessible to readers. I’m privileged enough that I can buy my own books, but I know many people can’t afford to. As for local libraries, they’re either not well-maintained or have mostly academic books. Doubt too many people would want to read those for fun!
It might also help to promote the idea that reading can be social. Filipinos have a strong sense of family and community (if our dozens of titas, titos, lolas, lolos, ates, and kuyas are any indication). “Pakikisama” is part of our culture. Reading doesn’t fit into it because it’s seen as a solitary activity, but that isn’t always the case. Book buddies, book clubs, read-out-loud sessions can definitely make reading a more sociable hobby!
Ynnah: I think the best way to get Filipinos to read is to actually make reading accessible to them. Make sure that they know how to access our public libraries and such. As I am still only a student, I think the only contribution I could do for now is to keep blogging and encouraging people to actually read like, send them my hyped vibes or something.
How has reading shaped who you are as a person?
Rosemarie: It [has] actually made me more sociable. It [has] made me go out of my comfort zone and it made me want to try [things] that fierce book characters are doing. I have actually conquered my fear of heights because of books that tell me how great it is to let yourself have fun and not worry too much about the fear. Reading made me see and understand this world more. If you know me, I honestly don’t understand the whole LGBT+ thing and when I got the chance to read a book that has that theme, I understand it all and it gave me a different view in life and [of] them.
Shannel: Reading has definitely helped me become more empathetic and self-aware. Ironically enough, despite being a rather solitary activity, it has also helped me become more socially aware by broadening my perspective on things. I think that many of the values I live by I developed because of reading since whenever I would find a character that I admired, I used to try emulating their positive qualities and ask myself, “What would [character] do?” to gain a bit of self-confidence!
What books have made the biggest impact on you as a reader?
Shannel: The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which showed me the value of imagination and how it’s okay to retain a your inner child even when you’re an adult. I love this book to pieces. Also, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, which gave me a protagonist I could relate to and taught me to embrace myself. And lastly, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, which made me realize how important diversity and representation is when it comes to books and media.
Ynnah: Cliche but I kinda grew up with them so I’d say The Hunger Games series, Harry Potter series, The Chronicles of Narnia, the Twilight series, Percy Jackson series and almost all Rick Riordan, John Green books such as Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars, and the Shadowhunter series. There’s also this book that I absolutely think everyone should read at least once in their life and that is Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. I learned A LOT reading these books and I have no regrets.
Featured Augvocates of the Day:
Rosemarie has been in and out of reading. Just two years ago, she found the bookstagram community and her love for reading, surpassed! Since then, she’s been reading her heart out and she’s been trying out different platforms to spread book awareness.
Shannel is a book-hoarding introvert with a thing for Disney and cats. She spent her childhood believing she was a princess, had her dreams crushed when she realized she wasn’t, then turned to reading because anything is possible when you have a book in your hand.
Ynnah (or Tyv, whichever you prefer as this girl practices being the girl with a lot of names) has always been an avid reader ever since she learned how. She has been juggling from genre to genre, discovering books and stories that will make her simple life extra. She’s also a fangirl who, most of the time, has no shame in being crazy and really extra when it comes to the things she’s passionate about. Ynnah/Tyv is also an occasional bookstagrammer and blogger.
(Image not working? Try clicking here.)
And there you have it: a whole lot of insight from our very own Augvocates! Any thoughts on their answers? Are you looking forward to the succeeding batches of interviews? I know I am!
Let me know what you think in the comments below, and don’t forget to enter this year’s giveaway! I’m giving away beautiful paperback copies of the highly acclaimed, award-winning The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly to one lucky winner from the Philippines and to one equally lucky international winner (provided that Book Depository ships to you).
Good luck and until next time!
P.S. Like this post? Then share it on social media platforms (see buttons at the bottom of this post!) or maybe consider sending a cup of coffee my way?