Posts Tagged ‘library’

knowledge center

November 18, 2008 4 comments




The best place to be? I’ll answer with conviction that it is the library. Nothing equals the free knowledge that the library could offer. Aside from its sacred silence, the aura of the piles of books that invite readers is pervading. All you need is curiosity and you will realize how the library can be a great source of wonder.

When given ample time, I always see to it that I visit the Provincial Public Library to browse through interesting books that pique my attention – especially at the Filipiniana Section. It has been my ritual now to praise Filipino writers especially if their masterpieces depict a cogent aspect of Filipino culture and history. The librarian, who became my friend a week after I applied for a borrower’s card, asked me why I am so enamoured by Filipiniana. I couldn’t give her the best answer except that famous Aristotelian line: “I want to know more.” But after a month of personal research, I told her that Filipino literature is also a good source of entertainment. In bolder terms, more like “showbiz”.

Let me put it clearly by giving examples. The scholarly yet imaginative works of Teodoro Agoncillo creates a great shift of how history could be presented. His Revolt of the Masses revolutionized the imagination’s role in retelling the alacrity of the past by making it contemporary for the reader. It is not just dates or hard facts but the creation of atmosphere that draws the reader to a certain event in history that enables reading to become worthwhile. Now, let’s shift our attention to his student, Ambeth Ocampo (although I only read 3 of his books: Mabini’s Ghost, Looking Back, and Luna’s Mustache), he made history a sort of textual sitcom. I don’t want to elaborate more about his work of how Mabini jocularly danced with his rocking chair because he could not walk for a polka or how Francisco Balagtas could be so jingoist but fairly loved sex; it’s up to the reader to read the books themselves. So it is no wonder that he was awarded the National Fellow for Essay by the University of the Philippines for two consecutive years.

However the ones who are creating stories have also personal stories to tell. I wish to state some of my discoveries here and I hope will not be charged libelous by some of my conjectures. Did you know that Agoncillo and Ocampo were/are numero uno chikadoros? They both criticized the faculty of history in UP of having been mediocre in their quest for local and national history. Agoncillo never wanted to teach in UP had it not for his wife convincing him. “Nang hindi pa ako nakalikha ng libro, bakit hindi nila ako nilapitan para magturo sa kanila?” And then when he started teaching in Diliman, his colleagues, who all held doctorate degrees in philosophy, asked him, “Sir Agoncillo, why did you not take a doctorate degree?” He stood up and walked up to them, “Who will teach me? Ikaw?” Ang yabang! Although that was meant to be a joke, it bore the truth of his pride. This incident led UP to endow him the Honoris Causa. While Ambeth laughing to hear this, he admitted to Agoncillo something that seems blasphemously creepy, “Sir, the reason I entered the Benedictine Monastery… it was not a vocation but the desire to access their library which is not open to the public.”

In the case of litterateurs, there are actually eternal disputes among their pacts. When Nick Joaquin was on his peak, he looked down on the two groups of young writers from Sto. Tomas and University of the Philippines. He pinned down particularly Francisco Sionil Jose as blabbering young writer who used to quarrel with his boss. When Jose had etched his name as a professional writer, he avenged his pride, labeling Joaquin as a writer who lived luxuriously under the Marcos wings.

In one of the coteries of social gatherings the two writers met. Having them praising each other’s prowess, they came to the point of bickering whether Jose Garcia Villa was the best Filipino writer. Nick Joaquin argued he was, Sionil Jose refuted the claim because Villa never wrote based on the Filipino setting but in western paradigm. When Villa who was staying in the US heard this, he signified aid to Nick Joaquin’s camp pronouncing Jose as an insecure pen-ass. When Isagani Cruz, a good friend of Jose became conscious of this feud, series of critics had been published against them, thus the start of endless bickering and shenanigans. However, regardless of endless hurling of criticisms, they were right on the affirmation that each of them writes very well. But I doubt if the review of Joaquin on Jose’s work was authentic.  And now that  Nick Joaquin  has  finally passed for his eternal repose, I just hope that they are  in peace with each other especially that Christmas is nearing.

This discovery proved the wide array that the library could offer us. No matter how dearth the resources are, it always serves as the sanctuary of learning. If people only realize that this is one of the essential structures in the society that needs constant visitation and support from concerned people, then our library could truly be a great place to be. Although I could spot regular visitors, which I could make a mental note of their faces, they were nonetheless students who came to study and not to read. They were the same students who always occupy the same table. When I inquired the librarian (to confirm my conjecture) if they were researching, the librarian replied they were not. “What can you expect from nursing students but money? I hope you could make tsismis out of that,” she chuckled.


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