BOOK lovers came in droves to the Ayala Triangle in Makati City as Instituto Cervantes celebrated Día del Libro.
Instituto Cervantes de Manila Cultural Department Head Jose Maria Fons Guardiola said Filipinos have a very deep appreciation of books, despite having the option to do other things during a weekend that was filled with many events.
“Most of Manila cultural street events have to do with food, with gastronomy, which is wonderful. Yet, for once, the book is the main feature,” Fons said.
The event, which run for 12 hours, featured more than 4,000 books, which were made available to the public along with the opening of a pop-up library. It also had poetry readings, dance performances and a concert.
Fons said the pop-up library, built by WTA Architecture Studio, will remain in Ayala Triangle until May 7 and afterward will be transferred to Intramuros.
“The whole idea is to highlight the importance of reading and the relevance of free-access libraries. Now, with the new technologies, we tend to forget how important public libraries are,” Fons said.
He added: “You can download Noli Me Tangere on your cell phone, but have you met anyone who has read it on a smartphone? When we talk about accessibility to culture, we should not forget that it is not only about content, but also about spaces.”
Fons said there is a need for free access libraries in cities, as much as there is a need for bicycle lanes or gardens near the clusters of buildings in business districts.
“Books are, perhaps, the best tool to help generate committed citizens. I would love to see more of these pop-up libraries all over the country,” he said.
The pop-up library has a catalogue of 300 volumes, with a few of them donated by Instituto Cervantes itself along with Goethe Institut, and the National Book Development Board.
Individuals can borrow books by leaving an ID or exchange books by taking a volume and leaving another one in its place.
Book lovers—like Mark Enojo, 35—took time to buy books during the event. He grabbed a book about Pablo Picasso—a Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer, poet and playwright.
“I started going to this book fair three years ago. This time I bought this Picasso book,” said Enojo, a support consultant in SPi Global. As part of the tradition, Enojo received a free rose after his purchase.
Vibal Publishing Events Coordinator Thea Sanchez said they were able to sell more than 500 books during the event.
Sanchez said they have a good relationship with Instituto Cervantes and have been participating actively in the annual event for several years.
Among the performers during the event were the University of the Philippines Singing Ambassadors and the jazz group Dingdong Fiel and Friends.
With report from Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco
Image credits: Nonoy Lacza, Alysa Salen