Monday, July 9, 2012

Aicha in Manila: Reading Club 2000

Hello everyone!

I've been gone for some time.

I'd blame being busy with work, but that's unimaginative. And partly untrue. I blame new hobbies. I also blame the old.

In any case, July was welcomed with a happy trip to Manila. Being from Davao, the sights and sounds of this metropolitan city is both familiar and foreign. Like coming home to your idyllic childhood home only to find blinding solar panels at the roof and a lot of metal furniture in the once-cozy living room. Davao is urban but with a countryside feel, but Manila is one of those perfect urban jungles. All those cars and all those expressways and high-rises!

I was glad for this vacation, it gave me a lot of walking! *huff~ and a lot of food trips! And since reading this news feature from The Philippine Daily Inquirer about a Reading Club in Manila that gives out free books, I swore to visit it no matter what!

The Reading Club 2000  Manila

After dropping by Cafe Noriter in DSLU, I committed to a whole lot of walking just to get to Balagtas street. Naturally, I made a mistake in estimating how long it would take. I'm not from here so Google Maps was the only thing saving me from total lost-age. I was lucky enough to finally get to the train tracks along Osmena and walk some more blocks.

And behold, it was a sight for sore eyes. (feet were relieved too!)

The Reading Club 2000

I almost cried manly tears. Well actually, I did. It was beautiful. The Reading Club 2000. It was the bookshop of my dreams. I was so kilig!~*

I immediately lauched to full-force hunt mode. There were so many books for such a small corner lot. Rows upon row, shelves upon shelves. Hardbound, paperbacks, new copies, tattered ones, slightly damp and thoroughly dry, magazines dating from the early 1990s, NEW freaking COPIES of Kazuo Ishiguro NOVELS, & ETC ETC ETC. ASAJKDSDDFJAS---I felt like the whole place was made for me.

I kept on my little hunts! I didn;t even know what I was looking for, but I was 1000% I was to find it if I looked diligently enough.

I felt like was sharpening my nails like this cat: (isn't his markings so minimalistic? I loved him!)
I can't imagine how anyone at that single time could have been as honored as I was to meet Sir Nanie Guanlao, the founder of the Reading Club. He was just right beside his pushcart when he took a little notice of me and inquired about where I was from.

I told him I came from Davao and I read the article from PDI online newspaper that there was this special place in Balagtas street that was meant for me promoted literacy through free books made available for children and adults alike.

My Tagalog is so very... endearing. I can't speak it very fluently, and I have this lilting Davao accent that makes it funny for native-born Tagalogs to hear. But he spoke to me in English so I was comfortable. I loved everything this club stands for!

the library on Balagtas Street
reading club 2000 on Balagtas Street

Isn't this place so magical? So Inspiring? I am so glad to know that there are also clubs like this in other parts of the country as referenced by this picture:
For every paper tacked above, it is a corresponding area of the Philippines where there's active Reading centers, you can see that there is one from Tagaytay, in Muntinlupa and more! Sir Nanie also invited me that maybe I could be the one to start in Davao. Wow, imagine that. To be part of this wonderful drive to promote reading and love of books. I am seriously considering this you guys. There's always my friends from the Davao Reader's Club to make this happen right? :D

give books manila reading clubfree books manila reading club 2000

The main problem that the Reading Club faces is that the rain showers that is prevalent in summer is terrible to the books. Sir Nanie and his companions do their best in making sure that when there's a chance of rain, they bring out protective clear covers! But it is more important that these books are taken home by somebody that would care for very well.

balagtas street free books

I finally found some books I wanted to read! My hunt is successful :)

I took the books to ask Sir Nanie if I could get the lot. He told me I didn't even need permission! Just take what you want! Enthralling! I also left my email address to be part of the Reading Circle email group. This way, I can know the activities of the club even if I am far away.

And here are my books from The Reading Club :)

I am still in awe. I will treasure these books for as long as I live!


  1. This is such a beautiful project... Hope we'll have something like this here in Davao... I'm with you! Who else is in? :)

  2. Anonymous9:55:00 PM

    I have met Mr. Guanlao last Monday and I was like dreaming that i could get any of the books that I want to take home with me with no rules at all and guess what I'm looking forward to be part of reading club 2000 I want to touch the lives of every people by means of sharing my knowledge with them :D

  3. that was awesome i hope i could visit that place when i go to manila
    thanks for sharing!!

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone!
    You can visit the library during regular daytime hours. :)