Readercon Filipino Friday: Week 2

 It’s week two of the Filipino Friday meme hosted by the organizers of the First Filipino Reader Conference! The question for this week is:

Your Reader’s Story

How did you become a reader? What factors influenced you to take it up as a hobby? For instance, was it your mom who read to you every night? Or was it a high school friend who started lending you books? Or maybe it was a really inspiring teacher whom you wanted to emulate. Whatever it was, we hope you tell us all the story of how you became a leisure reader and what it is about reading that you enjoy so much.”

I wish I had some heartwarming story about how my mom, despite working long hours at her job, would somehow still find the energy to sit by my bed, pat my tiny head, and read me some bedtime story about fluffy bunnies until I fell soundly asleep.

But the truth is, I have “Matud Nila” to thank for me becoming a reader.

You see, every summer when I was a wee little boy, my parents would send me packing to Marinduque, where I would be shacked up with my relatives. I don’t know what the palce is like now, but back when I was staying there, the only things to do was either listen to countless renditions of “Matud Nila” on the radio or grab a book and read.

Obviously, I had no interest in listening to “Matud Nila”, because I dug into my cousin’s sizable collection of Sweet Valley High novels and versed myself in the times and troubles of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. I was with it until I got to “On The Edge” and Regina Morrow’s untimely death from one snort of cocaine. I was through with Sweet Valley High after that.

As for the rest of my reader’s story, let me go back to my very first blog post:

“From there, I would move on to Greek mythology and Edith Hamilton. I would often find myself in the high school library of the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati, trying to will myself to become Athena because she had an awesome breastplate and was incredibly smart.

From mythology, the next logical jump for me was the world of fantasy, and Terry Brooks was my author of choice. I plowed through the first three Shannara books: ”Sword”, “Elfstones”, and “Wishsong” and saved and scrimped to buy the books that followed.

It was during this particular time in my life that I began to show my penchant for thievery whenever books were involved. I had managed to get myself “The Scions of Shannara”, “The Druid of Shannara”, and “The Elf Queen of Shannara”, but just couldn’t afford to buy “The Talismans of Shannara”. So what I did was take P500 that was given to me by my cousins to give to my father to pay for their part of the rent and use it to buy the book.

Let’s pause for a moment here while you all clutch your pearls to your chest.

In my defense, I didn’t have the guts to push through with buying the book. Halfway to the bookstore I turned back and gave back the P500 and bawled my eyes out. Oh, those halcyon times.

C'mon, like I could deny that face?

When I was about 16 or so I took to shoplifting with gusto. Unlike my other classmates who favored restaurant trays, I took books. The first one I ever stole was an unauthorized biography of Ewan McGregor entitled “Shooting Star: The Ewan McGregor Story”. I had chosen to skip Citizen’s Army Training (CAT) and go to the mall instead in my CAT uniform. This proved to be a great decision because I was able to stuff the book in my rolled-up military jacket.

Because all of these acts were so easy to do, I just kept on doing them, especially when there was a book I really liked and I had no money to buy it. A few weeks after stealing “Shooting Star” I would steal Terry Brooks’ “Running with the Demon“, and about a couple of months after that I stole Anne Rice’s “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty“.

After that, my predilection towards shoplifting just died a natural death. I had started to work and was earning enough to buy the books that I wanted to, and stealing just seemed a needless risk.

Another far less noble reason was that my copies of “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty” and “Beauty’s Punishment” were borrowed from me and never returned, so I guess I took that as a sign that karma was coming my way if I didn’t stop.”

ETA: I forgot to answer why I enjoy reading so much!

The tritest answer is also the truest one for me: When I read I get to experience something that I may not be brave enough to take part in in real life. Maybe that’s why I don’t really have a set genre which I specialize in — I read books that have something to do with things that I may be too afraid to experience for myself, or something way too out of reach for me.

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9 thoughts on “Readercon Filipino Friday: Week 2”

  1. Wow, how brave of you to admit stealing books! Well, you’re not alone. I did it in college with a friend. We did it for fun in a book warehouse in Cavite. Haha! We always think it’s okay because we thought the books there are smuggled illegally. And it’s so easy to hide the books!!! I buy one book but took home five or six books! It was fun but of course, we stopped those because it’s bad XD

    1. Oi, how’d you manage to steal five to six books at once? Hindi ko na-accomplish ‘yun ever! TEACH ME YOUR WAYS! 😀

      I’ve also done the “buy one book while stealing another one” thing to assuage my conscience. I actually bought “The Vampire Lestat” when I stole “Running with the Demon”. XD

      1. Haha! I just put in my bag. I intentionally use the big bags I have whenever I visit the warehouse. Funny, there’s one time that I don’t have a bag but I ran out of money to buy two books, I bought one but guess what? I hid the other one, uhm, in my pants. Haha. It’s a warehouse so it’s really easy to get in/out books without paying for it. (Evil, I KNOW! But I stopped already. Hah! Why am I so defensive!)

        Sometimes, these books are making me crazy.

        1. I’ve also done the pants thing. I was wearing cargo pants so the extra pockets were very helpful. XD

          Yes, why are you defensive? XD

          1. I’m find myself guilty and I swear, I’m not doing it again (even if given a chance stealing all graphic novels at FullyBooked haha!). Anyway, it’s one of the fun experience I had as a reader and also became a problem. I didn’t realized the growing TBR. Hehe

            we should meet and book-hunt. 😀 no, we’re not stealing anything :p

  2. What is it with parents and sending kids to provinces? We would always go to Pangasinan during our summer vacations but I guess I was okay with that because I had cousins to play with. Good thing you had your cousin’s collection of books! What is it with Regina Morrow that made you stop reading the entire series? 😛 Sweet Valley is pretty tame compared to the YA novels that are available out there nowadays.

    1. I really don’t recall what was it about Regina Morrow’s death that made me stop reading! I should have been more shocked at all the incest and parricide I was reading about in the Greek myths!

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