FOUR prominent literature personalities visited the University of Santo Tomas for the USTingan, a round-table discussion on issues concerning Popular Literature, held at the Tanghalang Teresita Quirino of the Benavides building last September 22.
National Book Development Board Director Atty. Andrea Pasion-Flores, Don Carlos Palanca Awardee Asst. Prof. Paolo Manalo, UST AB Communication Arts Graduate Nida Ramirez of Visprint Publishing House, and writer-TV host and poet Lourd de Veyra were the guest speakers of the event.
Atty. Pasion-Flores presented demographics of the Filipinos who read from years 2003-2012 and concluded that as years pass, the number of the Filipino readers goes down. She also laid out proportions showing that 80% of the populace read books.
“What is the reason why Filipinos read?” she asked. “They read for two things: number one, to gain knowledge and, number two, as an entertainment source,” the chic literature author further concluded that more and more people turn to books as a source of entertainment other than a source of knowledge.
The fiction writer also enumerated the three most read books: the Bible, romance, and cook books.
Asst. Prof. Manalo defined Popular Literature in terms of cognition and said that it is the product of popular imagination.
“If man is the measure of all things, then deep inside us, at least we are pattern-oriented people,” explained the University of the Philippines professor.
He said that fan fiction is everything except popular literature. “The kind of popular imagination that we have is what makes it easier to anticipate and to predict.”
Ramirez, coming from Visprint, publisher of the famous Bob Ong books, also defined Popular Literature.
“It is characterized by the taste and preferences of the reading majority. It is the product of social realities including predominant social status, ideology, economic conditions, history, and social memory,” she said.
The last speaker of the event is “Evening News” host Lourd de Veyra. He talked about the celebrity authors and their best-selling books which topped the 33rd Manila Book Fair.
He wondered if Ramon Bautista, Tado Jimenez, and Stanley Chi were considered as “celebrity authors” because of their books or that their books are marketable, considering the authors were famous before writing them. Being a writer himself, he asked if people buy his books just because they’ve watched his videos.
The “Word of the Lourd” host talked about his experiences as a writer and said that he often received negative comments from anonymous people.
USTingan is organized by the UST Center for Creative Writing and Literary Studies and was attended by Thomasians and representatives from the Far Eastern University, Philippine Women’s University, De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, De La Salle University, and San Beda College-Alabang among others.
By Charry Fatima D. Garcia
Photo taken by Justine Fay Refuerzo