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    Speech of Vice President Sara Duterte for National Library of the Philippines 32nd Library and Information Services Month (LISM) Opening Ceremonies

    Assalamualaikum. Magandang araw sa lahat.

    I am very honored to be invited today, and it is my pleasure to help kick off the observation of the 32nd Library and Information Services Month.

    And may I congratulate the National Library of the Philippines and everyone here today who are representing libraries across our country for the inspiring work you are doing as literacy partners of the Department of Education.

    While I have seen how some Philippine libraries have evolved through time to keep up with technology and the exchange of information that travels at the speed of light, our libraries have protected the foundations upon which they were built.

    You have maintained the integrity of libraries as learning hubs for Filipinos — offering the public relevant, verified, reviewed, truthful, and reliable information.

    And this is not an easy task. Not in this day and age.

    Today we are virtually swimming through a vast, endless ocean of digital information. And just like an ocean, the information that can be had through digital information is breathtaking as it is abundant. But it is not without dangers.

    Those waters are often perilous. Like the deep blue sea, the digital world has an ecosystem that — if not managed well, if not utilized well — may confuse the public, steal away the quality and truthful information, contribute to miseducation, and lead them right down its darkest parts.

    We have seen how accessibility to online information has diluted depth and quality — or how convenience watered down hard work, diligence, and thirst for knowledge.

    There is an over-reliance on digital platforms as a source of information. This encompasses sectors, gender, age, and class.

    Ang sabi nila, “i-Google mo lang yan.”

    And true enough, you only need to go to Google, and all the information you supposedly need would come streaming before you in seconds. You only need to click a link you think is relevant — you feel is relevant but not sure if it is relevant. But that’s not a problem. You can find another link if you are unsure. And then another. The next step is — highlight the text. Press Control plus C to copy. Press Control plus V to paste. And that’s it. Research done. Whether the information was reliable or not is not a guarantee.

    I find this part of technology worrisome. As a mother of three very young children with access to technology and online information, I am aware of the possibility of them wandering around the dark side of the online world.

    Meanwhile, at the library, you have to go through a process as ancient as time. At kahit saan ka tumingin, makikita mo ang mga poster na may nakasulat na “silence” — in bold letters.

    There are sections with computers offering online information, but you are at the library for the books. And sometimes, you may find yourself lost in the middle of a labyrinth of reading materials — literally and figuratively.

    But lest I will be misunderstood, I am not demonizing technology and digital information. The Department of Education is, in fact, cognizant of its role in improving the learning experience of Filipino children, and we recognize our private partners who are committed to assisting DepEd.

    And at the height of the pandemic, Filipino learners relied on online education.

    However, it’s a given that online information can be skewed. It can be incomplete or erroneous. It can be curated and produced to provoke a particular reaction, incite hate, and peddle lies and misinformation.

    In the case of online education, DepEd maintains that it should only serve as a support to in-person instruction.

    And this brings me back to the relevance of advocating for the importance of libraries, given that they are founded on the idea of a real community organizing a wealth of information and serving for the personal enrichment of the people.

    As a repository of knowledge, libraries play a crucial role in ensuring that our people are well-informed, making them assets to our schools, communities, and nation.

    During the pandemic, with the shutdown of schools in Davao City, the Davao City Library launched the program “Share a Book” for people undergoing quarantine at the temporary treatment and monitoring facilities.

    The Davao City Library also continued the implementation of the Book Lending Program to give community children educational activities while the city was on lockdown.

    Through the Davao City’s Mobile Library — a bus loaded with books and other reading materials — books were delivered right to the barangays. And children were asked to choose which books they want to read.

    We know that the National Library of the Philippines has spearheaded outreach activities in public schools, organized storytelling activities and reading challenge sessions, puppet shows, and other activities that show your commitment to promoting intellectual freedom, access to right information, and infinite learning continues to enrich the minds of Filipinos.

    You have safeguarded our national treasures, guided the success of our students, educators, and researchers, and preserved intergenerational connectedness with a shared passion – providing equal opportunity for self-education or personal development for all.

    May this gathering deepen the importance of our libraries in connecting various communities and enabling inclusive social development.

    And may you continue to ensure that libraries are safe spaces for Filipinos, especially our children, to learn.

    Lastly, may I say that the magical world of knowledge hidden in every library can only be genuinely unlocked if one has mastered the Dewey Decimal System.

    And please, don’t forget your library cards.

    Shukran. Maraming salamat.

    Posted in VP Sara - Speeches on Nov 04, 2022