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This ‘book exchange’ in Nabunturan is a home for bookworms

Feature ⬝ Real Jhon Castillon

Books have a special way to forge inexplicable connections — whether with the characters of the books we’re reading and or with a fellow bookworm whose taste in books is the same as ours, we can’t help but form a mini book club thereafter. The latter being true especially for this little yet emerging book exchange community in Nabunturan, located in the Southern part of the Philippines.

Recie, the co-founder of the Nabunturan Exchange, handing in her the Magic Strings of Frankie Presto.

The Nabunturan Book Exchange, which aims to cultivate a community of readers while normalizing the culture of reading and to foster love for literature, was launched last 2019 by Chad Arellano together with Recie Lambo in the Municipality of Nabunturan. Chad Arellano is a film programmer and a passionate volunteer in Nabunturan Independent Film Exhibition (NABIFILMEX) and at the same time, a public senior high school teacher. His co-founder, Recie Lambo, is an Information Officer designated in their respective municipality. Both of them find comfort in between the pages of the books and getting lost in every chapter which undoubtedly led to the existence of the said initiative.

The mechanics is pretty simple: one will just have to exchange a book with someone and the cycle goes on. You just have to take good care of the books, of course.

Among the favorite genres of the community which is mostly participated by young readers are Young Adult (YA), Fiction, Filipino works, and Literature. Right now, the book exchange is unfortunately put on hold due to the government restricted lockdowns brought by the global pandemic.

Ace Abina, studying at Assumption College of Nabunturan, shares his two favorite books from RL Stine.

However, what may seem to be a promising initiative lies a devastating reality — the lack of access to information in some of the small communities in the country such as Nabunturan. Thus, the need to establish a public library or even nearby bookstores.

The Middle Mag PH has caught up with Chad and Recie and talked more about Nabunturan Book Exchange, their favorite books, volunteering, and more. 

Hi, Chad and Recie. Can you tell us more about Nabunturan Book Exchange?

Chad: Nabunturan Book Exchange started when my co-founder, Recie and I decided to exchange hardbound books. Mine was All the Light We See by Anthony Dooer, hers was the Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom. The whole idea was to start a community of readers here in our locality.

Recie: Nabunturan Book Exchange is a community where readers or book enthusiasts can share their books and swap with others. We, in the Nabunturan Book Exchange, serve as a platform for readers (young and old) to exchange books for free. Since there is no public library, and bookstores are hardly found in the municipality, we have come up with an idea where readers can engage and spread the love for reading!

Anjelica Joizelle donated two books for the book exchange.

What’s in store for the regulars or patrons of this book exchange in the long run? 

Nabunturan Book Exchange: We envision to have a monthly book hunt and a weekly book reading. The book hunt will be participated by anyone who has a thirst for adventure and reading. Meanwhile, the book reading is where readers gather to share, appreciate and criticize novels. It is also a great way to create bonds and explore different truths that are reflective of today’s society — and also to have fun!  

Tell us at least 3 of your favorite books and why. A series is counted as one though. 

Recie: The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende. This book is a beautiful depiction of South American literature as it explores feminism and social norms. The narration and integration of local colors is also vivid and colorful as magic realism is embedded in every page.  

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. What I love about Hosseini’s works is its unparalleled imagery of war, chaos, and hope.  It is evoking and heart-rending, as it depicts strength (especially in women characters) despite tragedy.

Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan. Greek myths really fascinate me, so did this Percy Jackson series. It’s a delightful read as Riordan takes us into the world of demigods in the real world. The creativity and ingenuity of every chapter is also captivating.

Chad: I would love to share how I love this book, but I do think the best way to describe them are those quotable quotes that somehow resonated with me when I was feeling down, these quotes became my golden compass when I was feeling lost at times.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. “So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.”

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. “It's not about how to achieve your dreams, it's about how to lead your life... If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself, the dreams will come to you.”

Mary Rose, now taking up AB English, got this Cassandra Clarke Series.

What’s keeping you busy and occupied lately? 

Recie: COVID-19-related issues and concerns.

Chad: Aside from being a volunteer Covid-19 front liner, I am currently doing a Teach Tech Nabunturan, a webinar/zoominar that helps public school teachers, here in our locality, learn how to utilize technology in coming up with a more insightful learning environment.  

Any advice to the young readers? 

Recie: READ. READ. READ. Because reading never gets old.

Chad: Read and exchange books with other readers.

Any advice to those who haven’t built the habit of reading yet?

Recie: Reading is something that comes naturally like breathing. And it should never be a burden. To those who are planning to read, explore different genres that would suit your taste. Like choosing what to eat, we all have that favorite flavor that excites our palate. So never give up and keep exploring!

Chad: Reading is fundamental. Knowing how to read, is knowing where to go, what to do, and it helps you to have a better understanding of the world around you. Reading opens windows and doors of unimaginable opportunities.

Jazmine Loberanes got David Levithan's "Everyday" series from the book exchange.

You may visit Nabunturan Book Exchange’s Facebook page here.

© The Middle Mag PH