Manila – The Philippines has one of the highest literacy rates in Asia, with 97.5 percent of its estimated 100 million population able to read and write.
Despite being able to read and write, however, many children drop out of school to support their families. As of 2013, about four million Filipino children and youth aged six to 24 were considered out-of-school.
From there, they are unable to continue their education, limiting their career options. Retired accountant Hernando Guanlao, however, found an innovative way to promote the love for learning by setting up a reading corner outside his home 15 years ago.
That reading corner has now turned into a public library, and he has distributed books free of charge to poor and out-of-school children.
“As a Filipino who didn’t have the opportunity to go to other places, I wanted to do something before I turned 70 that would help other Filipinos,” he said.
“And books are my means to do that, so I can bring people joy, and help them not feel left behind.”
Stella Monsanto, 14, comes by as often as she can to the library. Her parents can no longer afford to send her to school, and she now helps them to earn a living by scavenging through rubbish.
“When you read, you forget time. Because the pages take you away. And you can learn about other things through these books,” she said.