Cynthia Sumagaysay-del Rosario (5th from left, standing) holding the certificate of recognition from City DepEd for The Book Bridge project. With her in photo is City DepEd Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Loida Adornado (6th from left, standing) and other officials.

A decade-long book project, The Book Bridge, pushes to continuously strengthen the reading habit of local learners after its recognition as one of the best reading program implementers in Puerto Princesa.

The recognition was given by the Department of Education (DepEd) Puerto Princesa Division to recognize reading program implementers in the city.

Cynthia Sumagaysay-Del Rosario, founder of Book Bridge said that their project is one of the names which topped their surveys conducted on students and teachers, asking where their books came from. From a home library, it expanded to different parts of Palawan even in remote and island areas starting in 2012.

“Ang aming ideal beneficiary would be the areas na talagang hindi maabot ng DepEd, doon kami pumapasok–sana magkaroon sila ng reading habit, love for reading, the younger generation. Ang mga teacher sana ay magkaroon din sila ng oras. Dahil may encouragement from DepEd para maging habit na siya, bigyan ng time,” she said.

Their team also utilizes a carroza, or a vehicle drawn by a carabao, to transport books to beneficiaries in remote areas.

She believed that the creation of libraries was not given enough priority, especially in the initial stages of the project’s implementation. Due to a lack of classroom space, libraries have also been transformed into learning environments.

She anticipates that the increased emphasis on reading hubs will aid in stimulating learners’ reading habits. It is required because learning poverty became more apparent during the pandemic when schools decided to switch to distance learning.

“Mas naging lantad o obvious ang learning poverty–I think the rate was already dismal even before pandemic, mas naging highlight lang nitong nagka-distance learning dahil marami ang walang internet. Mas tumaas pa ang rate ng learning poverty. Prior to pandemic, mababa na rin talaga, maraming factors ang basehan noon,” she said.

The project is supported by books donated by donors and responds to requests from all over the province. The book genres and types available aim to reach all levels of readers, but the majority of those who benefit are elementary students. There are also books for teenagers and college students.