By Leslie Ann Aquino
Church leaders have praised the results of a recent survey showing that the Bible is still the most-read book of Filipinos, saying that shows that Filipinos are still a God-fearing people.
Two bishops –Arturo Bastes of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, and Noel Pantoja of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches – in separate interviews with the Manila Bulletin, were commenting on a 2017 Readership Survey showing that the Bible is the most popular to Filipinas (72.25 percent).
The study, commissioned by the National Book Development Board, also showed that picture books and children’s books were the second most popular reading material.
“It is good news! The survey shows that the Filipinos are a God-fearing people. It also reveals our desire to know God and make him known all over the country and around the world,” Bishop Pantoja said in an interview.
“Inspite of all the trials we have as a nation, our hope is in the Lord. He will guide the country towards our destiny to be a blessing to the world as evangelists proclaiming the good news,” he added.
Bible ministry work
Sorsogon Bishop Bastes also welcomed the news as an affirmation that the work of ministry leaders like him has paid off.
“This is very good news! This is very rewarding especially for me because my very special ministry in the Church is to promote the Bible among our people. This means that the collective efforts of all persons engaged in the biblical ministry have borne fruits,” said the former head of the CBCP Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate.
Bastes recalled that when he was still the head of PBS, they introduced the MTBO (May They Be One) Biblical Campaign, which sold complete Bibles in different Philippine languages at a subsidized rate of just P50 a copy.
In the past 10 years, about 10,000,000 copies of the Bible were distributed to Filipino families, he said.
“If families have an average number of five members, 50,000,000 Filipinos have a chance to read, pray and share their insights on the Bible, putting the word of God into action in their lives! Hence, the Bible is indeed the most read book in our country,” said Bastes.
As a missionary of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) in Mindanao, Bastes also founded the Paul VI Biblical Center in Davao City and as its director from 1985 to 1988 our Center distributed 10,000 copies of the complete Bible to almost all dioceses in Mindanao.
Bastes then thanked PBS and other groups that are publishing Bibles, among them the Claretians and the Society of St. Paul, for saturating our country with copies of the Holy Bible.
“May the Philippines be transformed into a real Christian nation by the power of the Word of God,” he said.
In the 2012 Readership Survey, the Bible topped the list of the most read books genre at 58 percent, followed by romance books and cook books with 25 percent and 21 percent, respectively.