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Publishing rural literary works

By: Johnny Dayang

The passion to help countryside writers who want their works published was given impetus decades ago when lawyer Dominador D. Buhain was the first board chairman of the National Book Development Board (NBDB).

The idea, borne out of respect for creative rural authors, was not just about recognizing hidden talents, but also integrating their ideas in mainstream publications. Publishing the works of lesser known writers, help expand the realm of literary art outside the works of jaded writers.

Buhain’s campaign, though, was a subject some of his NBDB colleagues did not fully appreciate. Thus funding for rural writers’ projects was subjected to certain limitations and became difficult under the Board guidelines for independent farm boys to compete with their urban counterpart writers.

The need to discover new talents, be they literary geniuses or historical finds, comes at a time when research has become more dependent on cyberspace. The demand for rare facts on the ground, for instance, has become as scarce as the occurrence of the blue moon.

Publishing countryside manuscripts hews closely to Buhain’s dream of preserving the Filipino-ness of books published locally, especially in recording what remains of heritage traditions and local history, which makes it even more compelling.

The book development law or Republic Act 8047, in its Declaration of Policy, states: “It is recognized that the book publishing industry has a significant role in national development, considering that books which are its products are instrumental in the citizenry’s intellectual, technical and cultural development – the basic social foundation for the economic and social growth of the country. Books are the most effective and economical tools for achieving educational growth, for imparting information and for recording, preserving, and disseminating the nation’s cultural heritage.”

Buhain, a world traveller and chairman-president of the Rex Group of Companies, has underscored the importance of promoting literacy and culture, which serves “to expose what can be seen in communities (local and foreign)” that enables Filipinos to better appreciate the richness of cultural variations.

In Buhain’s perspective, books coming from remote Philippine regions should be honoured because they document orally transmitted traditions, the wisdom of which, if unpreserved, will eventually be lost.

Buhain’s aspiration to see Filipino ideas crystallized and preserved in books, especially concepts about people far from urban setting, is something the publishing industry, given its links, deserves revisiting and reassessing.