Sunday, October 02, 2011

Books, not flyovers

IT’S not possible to read all the books in a human lifetime.

It’s possible to let others read the books you can’t read in your lifetime.

That didn’t come from a fortune cookie but from four years of “Their Books”.

A brainchild of accidental journalist/children’s rights revolutionary/baby blogger extraordinaire Insoy Niñal, “Their Books” is sustained now on its fourth year by the campus volunteers of Tsinelas Association Inc.

Composed of students, teachers, professionals and just about anyone who believes every child should be entitled to at least a book, an education and a life, Tsinelas cooks up a lot of schemes to put public school students through high school AND college, set up reading centers or libraries, discover drawing, theater and other ways to release their inner artist, or just play, laugh and have a good time, rare and endangered for many children in difficult circumstances.

For the past two years, Tsinelas timed their book sale for a cause on a weekend coinciding with Sept. 21, anniversary of the declaration of martial law in the country and the local celebration of Cebu Press Freedom Week.

A few weeks ago, though, Joni Sarina Mejico, president of the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu chapter of the Tsinelas volunteers, posted an invitation on Facebook for donations to generate the cache of books, magazines, textbooks and other references that will mostly be put on sale to the public when “Their Books” is held on Nov. 17-19, 2011, at the Ayala Center Cebu, their corporate partner over the years.

Mejico posted that textbooks and children’s books will not be included in the sale but donated to Tsinelas’s beneficiary schools for reading centers or libraries.

This year’s poster is slick and avant-garde (I suspect award-winning artist and hardcore book lover Josua S. Cabrera has let loose again his inner child to play around in a virtual playground. The design shows a curtain of black slashed by a stylized, inverted number “4” and a plain sheet that reflects the reverse image of the letter “B”. The slashes creating number “4” expose, as if through rose-tinted lenses, an image of book spines arranged on a shelf.

The image is either voyeuristic or poignant. If you thinks reading is better than sex (lasts longer, doesn’t entail making a soul-tearing choice between natural or artificial methods of restraint, allows several trials if your first attempt to connect with the author flopped), the sight of “Their Books” will ignite the fantastic collision between the male-electric and female-magnetic forces infusing all acts of creation.

In plain words, “Their Books” gives every fan a chance to own a book once held, read and collected by idols, icons or objects of fantasy. Want to peek into the novel editor emeritus Cheking Seares brings along when he sits in his favorite daytime nook, downing several cups of coffee and stirring bottomless vats of stories-behind-the-stories? Stab for luck and get your hands on the extremely beautiful, inside and out, specimens that journalist-and-fictionist Isolde Amante reluctantly lets go each year from her collection. Pine for Mitch So, for whom the word “hunkess” should be invented? At least, get closer to her aura by picking up one of the novels competing with “From Junquera with love” for this editor’s gimlet-eyed attention.

For all the orgy of senses stirred up by “Their Books,” there’s a particular poignancy to the yearly efforts of student volunteers from UP, St. Theresa’s College, Don Bosco Technology Center Cebu, Southwestern University and Cebu Technological University, as well as “Their Books” donors and patrons, to raise funds and give more than a fighting chance to students in mountain barangays and urban inner cities.

Do you think our children deserve more than flyovers and erroneous textbooks? Call Tsinelas volunteers to pick up the crates of books you’ve not read for more than a year. Or see you at "Their Books" on Nov. 17-19.

( 0917-3226131)

*First published in Sun.Star Cebu's Oct. 2, 2011 issue of the "Matamata" Sunday column

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