(filed under Fangirl Corner because history is a subject I fangirl on)
As part of Augvocacy spearheaded by Shealea from That Bookshelf Bitch, I decided to tackle the root of fostering a reading culture here in the Philippines for which I believe is HISTORY. Why history of all the subjects? Why not Filipino or any other subject? It is for the simple reason that history is what binds us all together. I believe that fostering a reading culture here in the Philippines can start with more stories that focus on our own history. How, you may ask when the subject that Filipinos don’t like is history? (Quote my Sociology professor on that.) Easy. You fight fire with fire.
There is a hidden beauty in knowing how things came to be, for the past is always linked to the present and the future. But sad to say, majority find the subject of history boring. There’s a stigma that when you learn history, you have to memorize tons of useless information. “Do I really have to know when Ferdinand Magellan left Spain?” Probably not the best information to keep in your brain forever, and I agree. I used to think that as well. But little did I know, I was just asking the wrong questions. “But why did he leave? How did he leave? Where did he head off next?” were the right questions, and it leads to more questioning, and in the end will give me the power to deduce what his character was like based on his actions with the events that surrounded him. Which is why when my Philippine History professor explained to us how Ferdinand Magellan executed his quest to find the Spice Islands, it played like a fantasy story in my head.
And that’s all it takes really. Think of where George R. R. Martin got his inspiration in writing Game of Thrones. It was the War of the Roses, an infamous war that left England in a constant civil war for the throne. Why can’t we do the same? It’s always easy to associate history with fantasy because it plays like one. After knowing that it was inspired from real-life events, I delved into history books that explain how it panned out. That’s what makes history so interesting because it fuels you with a ton of ideas. For example:
- What if Jose Rizal actually had magical powers and the societies that he joined in were actually composed of powerful Filipino mages that migrated to Europe so that they can learn how to control their powers without the Spanish friars watching their every move?
- What if during the Philippine-American war, two lovers were torn apart by both the terrain and the conflict for one is an American soldier and one is a leader of the resistance residing in the mountains of Sierra Madre?
- What if we had more stories exploring the tales of our own gods and goddesses, each with a story that visits their love and tragedies?
The answer is easy enough. Now since Filipinos have a flair for the dramatic and the romantic, the way to encourage more people into reading and understanding our history is by creating fictional stories that are set and inspired by the different time periods that shaped us into what we are today. It has always been ingrained in our culture that we have always loved stories that delve into the supernatural and the paranormal, no matter how brutal our history may be. Why don’t we have more stories that revolve around our diwatas, the mananaggals, or kapres? Or maybe tackle how our present-day issues can have an effect on our future? What would it be like to live in the Philippines if this happened? With that in mind, who wouldn’t hesitate to pick up a book and find someone like themselves in it? The possibilities and the empowerment that comes with stories that feature a Filipino main character are endless.
It’s not that I have a problem with what we have in the market today. (Although sometimes I do think that it is over saturated by romance and mistresses.) But hey, sometimes all we need is a good story and maybe more historical fiction or Philippine-inspired fantasy is the way to go. (*side eyes* Or you know ban a book because Filipinos do have a rebellious spirit. I mean, you guys do know that boosted the sales of Noli me Tangere back then, right?) Picking up a book that revolves around our culture would be amazing to read. That’s just my two cents on the subject. I mean come on, give me my badass Katipuneros that fight with the paranormal on their side.
Two winners, 1 PH reader and 1 international reader (as long as TBD ships) have a chance to win a paperback copy of The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly. The giveaway runs from August 1 to September 1. (Click the book button.)
Essentially, Augvocacy aspires to bring together like-minded people in actively forwarding a particular advocacy. Held annually on the month of August, this project aims to forward a different, yet nonetheless important, agenda each year.
And that’s my take for this year’s Augvocacy. With that said, what genre do you think can encourage more readers? Any YA books that you can recommend to me that feature a Filipino MC?