For 10 years, Ramil has been working with companies and NGOs in bringing books to children in far-flung corners of the country
It all started with an invitation to speak during the commencement exercises of his alma mater in Baloy Elementary School, Nueva Ecija on April 1, 2011. Ramil Sumangil didn’t want to go empty-handed so he asked his family what he can bring during the event.
“Books!“ They unanimously suggested. So Ramil brought his three sets of encyclopedia which he and his wife bought in the past for their oldest child. His teachers were very glad to receive the books as the school still doesn’t have a library.
Upon the request of his former teachers, Ramil encouraged his friends to share their pre-loved books when he went back to Manila and before the week ended, he received another batch of books which were immediately sent to Nueva Ecija.
From there, a library and the Books for a Cause (BFAC) were born on April Fool’s Day.
Books for a cause
Books for a Cause (BFAC) is an advocacy that aims to provide precious knowledge to every Filipino and increase literacy through continuous learning, especially in remote areas where the internet and technology are almost impossible.
With the help of social media, BFAC became the talk of the town. Different companies collaborated for their CSR activities, NGOs brought the initiative to communities they’re helping, and books just flowed in from in and out of the country.
“News spread like fire that before 2011 ended, almost all the 52 barangays of my hometown received books from BFAC. A few more months, BFAC has covered not just my hometown but also different schools and communities around the country,” shared Ramil.
The youngest of four, Ramil was born and raised by his farmer parents in Baloy, Cuyapo, Nueva Ecija. He grew up with a fondness for books.
“I have been in love with books ever since. I remembered owning one, a Bible storybook. It was supposed to be for sale but my mother couldn’t pay. I was really crying for not being able to have the book at first. Finally, it was given to me for free.”
Going to school was a challenge for Ramil and his family. In high school, he had to walk 18 km as there was no decent road from their barrio to the town proper. College was even tougher that his elder sister had to work as a domestic helper in Hongkong so she could help him pursue his business course in Luzon Colleges, Dagupan City.
Despite all the hardships, Ramil’s love for books never faded even when he came to Manila for work. In fact, he bought a book by Og Mandino from his first salary, and since then, every payday, he’d buy a book until he was able to build his very own library at home.
He was lucky to have worked with some of the biggest companies in the country from banks, TV, to a publishing firm, but he had to give up his career in human resources a few years ago so he can manage BFAC full-time.
“I just thought that this is a chance of a lifetime. I can only do this advocacy now that I am still strong. I might not be able to do it when I am already old and weak,” he explained.
That fatal accident
Most people don’t know that Ramil is currently struggling with a disability from a road accident in 2017. On his way to pick up a book donation in Sta Rosa, Laguna, Ramil’s car was hit by a closed delivery van. His car’s rear end was totally wrecked. But worse, the accident caused his slipped disc.
Because of the injury, Ramil cannot carry anything beyond 3 to 5 kilos. His legs are now affected and he could hardly walk, too. But despite this disability, he never stopped doing his advocacy.
“It is only my physical body that’s affected. I can still think. I can communicate and use social media. I can still gather book donations!” he says.
Thankfully, Ramil learned that there are many people who want to help, but they just don’t know how and where to start. For those who want to donate, BFAC accepts all kinds of reading materials – from children’s storybooks to encyclopedias, K to 12 textbooks, magazines, references, fiction, non-fiction, etc., as long as they are in good condition.
BFAC also accepts stuffed toys, and even music and movies, and computers and gadgets that may still be used and shared. All donations must be sent to the following address:
Books for a Cause c/o Ramil Sumangil
413 – Barcelona, Vista de Lago Villas
Bagong Calzada, Brgy. Tuktukan, Taguig City
Facebook: Books for a Cause and Munting Aklatan
Originally published in My Pope Philippines on April 6, 2021.