From research to popular books
It was with a special sense of pride that I welcomed the news of the release of Bookmark’s Women of Science series, a 10-book collection for children written by Didith T. Rodrigo. It was refreshing to see informational books that present science to young readers for the interesting field that it really is. It did not glamorize science but instead highlighted how the curiosity of individuals led to research and experiments which are making all the difference in their lives—and the rest of society. These would easily qualify as excellent classroom materials of a quality that, sadly, does not appear to characterize the textbooks that public school children are familiar with.
My particular interest in this series is that it is the most recent book project under the National Book Development Trust Fund (NBDTF), the author Dr. Ma. Mercedes T. Rodrigo having been a grantee in 2014. Her proposal for a collection of short stories of women in science was for the gender studies category for that cycle of grants. One of the advisory committee members, Dr. Blesshe Querijero, had recommended the study on women of science who have accomplished so much but remain largely unknown and unacknowledged. Supporting the same sentiments were the committee chair, then DTI Undersecretary Adrian S. Cristobal, and Dr. Judy Taguiwalo.
To this lover of children’s literature, it is especially noteworthy that the target audience of students is addressed with this series. For far too often, academic research is left unread on library shelves, great for professional ranking and credentials but ignored by the general reading public. It is the first time that a NBDTF research proposal has been transformed into children’s books.
The NBDTF founded in March 2009 by virtue of Republic Act No. 9521 was envisioned to encourage the local research and writing of books for publication, especially in the areas of science and technology and the many other subject areas where locally authored books are few or nonexistent.
RA 9521 authorized the creation of a P150-million trust fund under the National Book Development Board (NBDB) and presently managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines. Counterpart amounts were from the General Appropriations Act, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
The grant of P200,000 is meant to assist the writers to complete the writing phase of a book-length manuscript until final publication. It is not an easy project to undertake, thus NBDB’s feeling of accomplishment and triumph when a piece of research becomes a book for the general public to appreciate. To date, there are eight NBDTF books—and yes, we are keeping score.
Ma. Florina Orillos-Juan. “Kasaysayan at Vulnerabilidad: Ang Kabihasnan at Lipunang Pilipino sa Harap ng Pananalanta ng Balang, 1569-1949,” De La Salle University Press, Manila, 2014.
Lilian de la Pena. “On the Night of Sendong,” Capitol University Press, Cagayan de Oro, 2015.
Anna Christie V. Torres. “Histories in Memories: Remembering the July 16,1990 Earthquake,” Cordillera Studies Center, Baguio City, 2015.
Ma. Mercedes G. Planta. “Traditional Medicines in Colonial Philippines, 16th to the 19th Century,” University of the Philippines Press, Quezon City, 2016.
Ariel Tabag. “Panangsapul Iti Puraw
A Kabalio,” Saniata Publications, Quezon City, 2016.
Amado C. Bajarias Jr. “A Field Guide to Flight: Identifying Birds on Three School Grounds,” Ateneo de Manila University Press, Quezon City, 2016.
Ma. Mercedes T. Rodrigo. “Women of Science Series,” Bookmark, Makati, 2017.
Hermilinda Bulong. “Kalinawa,” Saniata Publications, Quezon City, 2016.
The latest cycle of NBDTF grantees in 2015 were local history and culture, food science and technology/traditional/integrative/tropical medicine, and popular science. There is much to look forward to!
Neni Sta. Romana Cruz (nenisrcruz@ gmail.com) is chair of the National Book Development Board and a member of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.
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