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A Filipinas Heritage Library in Cebu?


Around 1 o’clock in the morning last Sunday, my car was deliberately bumped on the left rear side by a taxi with plate number GXU 113. Moments earlier, the idiot taxi driver made a U-turn right from the outer lane abutting the Archbishop Reyes intersection leading to Ayala Center unmindful of the green traffic light as I was approaching, on my way home to Banilad. I had to stop and allow this idiot of a driver to carry out his traffic violation or else meet his taxi head on. After doing the U-turn to reach the vicinity of Infinity Bar, he intentionally backed his taxi off to hit my car, leaving a long white scratch and my car’s bumper slightly awry. Even the public utility jeepney on the opposite lane had to stop very near the side of my car or else it too would have been hit!

The idiot then proceeded to pick up Korean passengers as I alighted from my Toyota Innova to see the damage and go after him across the street. Like a typical idiot, he immediately drove off but not before I got the plate number and saw the Korean passengers inside looking back at me, clearly frightened and thinking that I would chase the taxi till hell freezes over.

Make no mistake, I do not drink when I drive—and the people who know me know that I do not drink liquor or alcohol or beer at all, not even in a party, meeting or some occasion. I had in fact just dropped off some friends at the resto bars of Mango Avenue because I disliked going there.

I did not run after the driver because I had no plans of stooping to the level of idiocy that taxi driver, probably high on drugs, demonstrated before foreign tourists and the security guard of Infinity Bar. I do not even want to press charges since insurance can pay for the damage to my car. Besides, if I complain, that idiot would be fired by the taxi firm and he would simply move on to another taxi firm to be the same idiot that he was. Such is the political economy of public utility driving in this country!

I just wonder why idiots get a license to drive. And boy, there are plenty of these drivers who think they own the city and can do whatever pleases them on the road. My only hope is that he will meet a driver not as unforgiving as me. When that happens, may God have mercy on his soul; that is, if he has one!

* * *

During the inauguration of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) Museum Cebu in September 2011, Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama, whose office was just across the museum and Plaza Sugbu, suggested that the top floor of BPI Magallanes where the museum was located be turned into a new home for the city library. (The Rizal Memorial Library would then be converted into a grand venue for the visual arts a la Singapore Art Museum).

The request was quite frank but not forceful, more of a tease, knowing that the building, constructed in 1940 to 1941, had a top floor that had long been unoccupied and given over as a huge, high-ceilinged storage space for antique as well as modern banking equipment and furniture (which made the object acquisition for BPI Museum Cebu quite an easy task for me and my team).

Unbeknownst to everyone, BPI Foundation Inc., which bankrolled the museum as well as that of BPI Museum Zamboanga a year later, took Mayor Mike’s suggestion seriously. More seriously, in fact, that I think the Cebu city government won’t even have to shell out a single centavo and be gifted with a branch of the venerable Filipinas Heritage Library which until late last year, occupied the old pre-war Nielson Tower in Makati City. To the uninformed, Nielson Tower was an airport tower in the pre-war years which was converted in 1914 by the Ayala Group of Companies into a home for the Filipinas Heritage Library (FHL).

FHL is both a library and a research center complete with a gift shop. It closed last Nov. 1, 2012 to facilitate its transfer to Ayala Museum and is set to open on March 23, 2013. Its book shop, Libros Filipinos, is the best place to find current Filipiniana coffee table books and trade books. (USC Press, the academic publishing arm of the University of San Carlos, sells its coffee table books there, too!)

The branch in Cebu is slowly unfolding at BPI, based on designs by archtect Ellis Puerto, who also worked with me and BPI Mango branch manager Caloy Apuhin in the making of BPI Museum Cebu. I have a feeling that this library will unveil in time for the 76th Charter Day of Cebu, a fitting gift for the Cebuano people.

The library, however, is being strategized to serve as a full-service research and even a heritage training center not just for Cebu but the whole of the Visayas and Mindanao.

After 161 years of banking in the Philippines, BPI and its major stockholder, the Ayala Group of Companies—which marks in 52nd anniversary in March—still continue to go beyond banking.

Let us await with bated breath then the coming of the Filipinas Heritage Library to Cebu!

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Tags: Cebu , driving , Filipinas Heritage Library

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