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Pinoy Kasi

Remedial reading

/ 04:20 AM April 19, 2022

With the pandemic, there have been growing concerns over learning losses, not just a decline in what students learn but a regression, an actual loss of what was already learned before the pandemic.

The problems are partly the result of the limitations of online learning, but another important reason for learning losses is the decline in reading during the pandemic. Add on the increased reliance on the internet with all its misinformation and disinformation and we have a major problem that affects not just the young but also adults.

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Use the summer for remedial catch-up reading and what better time to start than World Book Day, which is on April 23, a Saturday. Make it a point to treat the family to bookstores.

Also, why not surprise special friends and relatives with a special book gift, accompanied by a note to explain the importance of getting people to read books.

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In fact, I’m making a World Book Day resolution to recommend good books, publishers, and bookstores at least once a month, especially the more obscure ones that deserve more attention as the pandemic wears on.

For this World Book Day, I want to feature the University of the Philippines Press and Milflores Publishing.

Milflores is an interesting small publisher founded by the late Antonio Hidalgo in 1999. Go to the website (milflorespublishing.com) to look at their books but make a stopover to read its history, including how the name Milflores came about.

I want to recommend two books from Milflores. One is a reprint of Nick Joaquin’s “Rizal in Saga: A Life for Student Fans,” with a new introduction by Ambeth Ocampo. Using Rizal’s writings, Joaquin traces Rizal’s development, from the insecurities of youth to the self-confident thinker and fighter we know today.

The other Milflores publication is “Harvest Moon: Poems and Stories from the Edge of the Climate Crisis,” which taps an array of noted international writers to highlight the climate emergency we face today and which has been the subject of many dire warnings that seem to go largely unheeded.

The project around “Harvest Moon” is spearheaded by a local nongovernment organization, the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, which produced, some years back, “Agam: Filipino Narratives on Uncertainty and Climate Change,” centering on the climate crisis in the Philippines. To put the book together, they sent photographs depicting the climate crisis to writers, together with a list of terms—mainly scientific jargon—NOT to be used in their contributions of prose and poetry.

That same strategy was used for “Harvest Moon” and the result is a book lavish with photographs, accompanying the international literary masterpieces that appeal to both mind and heart, with stories certain to be shared and retold.

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UP Press has been around for years and has published hundreds of books. For today, I want to push the first two volumes of “A History of the University of the Philippines,” each chapter devoted to a UP president, but the books are definitely not vanity books written just to praise the dead men (yes, so far it’s been all men).

The books took more than a decade to produce and were researched by Leonora M. Fajutagana and Rosario Cruz-Lucero for volume 1 (covering the years 1908-1943) and Cruz-Lucero again, together with Ruth Pison, Mila Aguilar, and Alexander Dacanay for volume 2 (covering 1943-1975).

The volumes make for a pleasant read, full of vignettes, for example, the first women graduates from the UP College of Medicine and rare photographs including those of UP faculty, students, and alumni who were in the underground, many losing their lives fighting the Japanese.

At the same time, the books cover many of the important developments in UP’s history that help readers to understand why our national university developed the way it did, taking off from American liberalism and humanism, yet veering away from the original intention of the Americans to create Filipino professionals in their own image, with a powerful impetus from nationalism.

A third volume is in the works, which will take us to even more recent times.

Both UP Press and Milflores take orders online with UP Press now in the 21st century, courtesy of Shopee. Go quickly, especially for “Harvest Moon,” which is still available at a bargain, a subsidized price of P599.60.

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TAGS: Michael L. Tan, Pinoy Kasi, remedial reading
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