For seven out of 10 residents of the Philippines, the most read book is the Bible.
A survey conducted by the government’s National Book Development Board revealed that 72 percent of those surveyed said the Bible was their most read book in the past year, UCANews reported.
Children’s picture books and storybooks came in second place, ranking at 53 percent. Romance books scored 48 percent, reference books 48 percent, and leisure, entertainment, and hobby books 46 percent.
But Bible readership is the top choice in all age brackets and is up since 2012, when a similar poll showed that 58 percent said It was their most read book.
Even Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, who has clashed on several occasions with the nation’s predominant Catholic Church, has recognized the Good Book’s importance, declaring January National Bible Month.
Bishop Arturo Bastes of the Diocese of Sorsogon called the survey results “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 fruit.”
“The Bible is indeed the most read book in our country,” he said. “By the power of the Word of God, may the Philippines be transformed into a real Christian nation.”
Evangelical Bishop Noel Pantoja, chairman of the Philippine Bible Society, welcomed the survey results showing the Bible’s continuing relevance.
“It reveals [the Filipino people’s] desire to know God and make Him known all over the country and around the world,” he said.
The result of the readership survey also revealed that Filipinos still love reading, with 80 percent of those polled saying they read books.
Among readers, however, the price of books is a concern, with most respondents saying they prefer to spend only about US$4 for a book.
Bishop Bastes, who used to head the Episcopal Commission for the Biblical Apostolate, said that the Philippine Bible Society used to have a campaign to sell copies of the Bible in different Philippine languages at about $1 each.
He estimated that over the past 10 years 10 million copies of the Bible have been distributed to Filipino families.
“If families have an average number of five members, 50 million Filipinos have a chance to read, pray and share their insights of the Bible,” said Bishop Bastes.
This week, Filipinos are celebrating National Bible Week. It is being marked, among other ways, with a Bible quiz. Some 40 elementary and high school students from different parts of Northern Luzon will participate in a Bible competition November 10 covering the Pentateuch, the first five books of the bible, and the Gospels. A national Bible quiz will be held in January.
Last year President Rodrigo Duterte declared January as National Bible Month.
“The state recognizes the religious nature of the Filipino people and the elevating influence of religion in human society,” read Duterte’s Proclamation No. 124.
The Philippine leader said history bears witness to the “profound impact of the Bible on the life of nations.”