Now on our third pit stop — the National Library of the Philippines (NLP).
After our rendezvous at Cinematheque, it was almost noon and thought it was the best time to have lunch. We had a feast of chicken, steamed rice, and a glass of soda at Wendy’s TM Kalaw. While waiting for our order, we munched on salad greens to stave off hunger. We also engorged on a good conversation about life and its complications. Chos!
Going further the block, it was like an obstacle relay of people waiting in line. It was a good thing that I knew how the façade of the National Library looked that I was able to recognize it from afar.
We approached the guard on duty and perhaps recognizing our language, he asked us where we were from. Bicol, we said. He gave us a good laugh and told us that he was a Bicolano, too. I’m from Magarao, the town of manghihilots, he confided. Oh, that’s why he understood every single word we said. We then asked him how we can gain access to the library materials. He asked us if we had our National Library Cards already. Nope, we replied. He told us that to be able to gain entry to the different sections of the library and borrow reading materials for room use, the library card is required. It costs PhP 100.00 and has lifetime validity, he added. Not bad, I said to myself.
So, to gain access to the reading rooms of the National Library, first things first: obtain a National Library Card. After getting our National Library Card, we easily found our way to the Filipiniana Section. From the pre-visit research I did I found out that this particular section is the repository of the two greatest manuscripts in our history: Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. Yup, Dr. Rizal’s writings still exist and conservation efforts are on the way!
Yup, even though I had to shell out PhP 100.00 and convince Khai to do the same, we both went for it. We actually got more than we paid for! Why? We were able to get a glimpse of the country’s rare manuscripts safely kept within the walls of the National Library. We also witnessed the conservation efforts of the library staff.
While they were seriously busy doing their jobs, we got busy taking photos. Don’t get us wrong. We had seek permission first before we took pictures.
Since the whole building was undergoing a retro-fitting, construction was going on all over the place. Were it not for the guards on duty, the conspicuously placed tarpaulins showing directions to what and where, and the friendly NLP staff, the place was generally chaotic. The chaos was temporary as it will (hopefully) be back to normal as soon as the construction is over. We still had a good run at the library where we met a security personnel who hailed from Magarao, and a bevy of books and manuscripts from nineteen-kopong kopong.
The National Library of the Philippines (Pambansang Aklatan) is located at the Ermita portion of the Rizal Park in Manila facing T.M. Kalaw Street. It is open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more info, visit their website. They are on Facebook and Twitter as well. 🙂