Like every April 23, Instituto Cervantes, the cultural arm of the Embassy of Spain, will once again be abuzz with cultural and fun activities, as it celebrates Día del Libro (International Book Day).
Around 4,000 book titles will be gathered around its premises on Ayala Triangle, featuring top bookstores and publishing houses that will be selling a wide array of books at a 20-percent discount. Following the tradition in Spain, every book purchase would entitle one to a free rose.
First introduced in Manila by Instituto Cervantes in 2006, the tradition of Día del Libro began in Barcelona, Spain. The tradition is commemorated on Saint George’s Day, during which men and women exchange roses and books.
This date also honors the deaths of two of history’s greatest writers in Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare—who coincidentally died on the same day—April 23, 1616.
These significant occurrences prompted the Unesco to declare in 1995 that April 23 will be “World Book and Copyright Day,” to instill the love of reading among the young and to promote respect for the rights of authors over their literary and artistic works.
April is also the birth month of classic Filipino poet Francisco Balagtas and to honor him, the National Center for Culture and the Arts declared April the National Literature Month.
This year’s edition will be held from 1 to 11 p.m. at the Ayala Triangle Gardens, a fitting venue for the event, making it a bigger and better experience for literature enthusiasts.
Makati City will play host for the first time-ever to Día del Libro. And for the occasion, Instituto Cervantes and the Embassy of Spain have joined forces with the National Book Development Board, Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino, Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, Ayala Land, WTA Architecture & Design Studio, Spanish Agency International Cooperation for Development, La Cámara and the National Library of the Philippines.
Apart from the book market, visitors will also be treated to poetry recitals, dance performances, plays and concerts, as well as activities for the children, including a puppet show.
One of the main features of the day will be the inauguration of a pop-up library—“The Book Stop.” The project, designed and built by WTA Architecture & Design Studio, is a nonprofit library for the entire community, where visitors can interact in lively discussions with fellow readers and share their love of books, borrow volumes for free and exchange books.
At 3 p.m., the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino will host a balagtasan, with the poet-debaters showing off skills in arguing in verses about issues of the day.
It will also present performances of the University of the Philippines Singing Ambassadors’ Filipino folk songs and the Teatro Tomasino of Jose Rizal’s plays El consejo de los dioses and Junto al Pasig.
The bilingual book (in Filipino and Spanish) of the same plays, titled Jose P. Rizal: Konseho ng mga Diyoses; Sa May Pasig, and published by KWF’s Aklat ng Bayan series, will be launched on the same day and sold at discounted prices.
At 4:30 p.m. is the launching of Relatos, a compilation of short stories by the Batangueño writer Enrique Laygo. The same day will see some other book launchings, including the volume Jaime Gil de Biedma in the Philippines.
This year’s celebration will include a twist with La Noche de los Libros (The Night of Books). Through it, the Spanish Cultural Center will provide free entertainment for an entire evening of leisure and activities, including a feast of Spanish food, games, jazz music, a poetry recital and free Spanish classes. Photo buffs may also submit their best photos taken during Día del Libro.