Nearly abandoned Tacloban library gets help from booklover
Booklover Jaclyn Sano expressed shock when she stepped inside the People’s Center and Library in Tacloban City, Leyte, for the first time.
Worn-out books gathering dust are in disarray. There is barely any lighting inside. That the library, the biggest in Eastern Visayas, is in a state of disrepair is an understatement.
“Any booklover who will see the books gathering dust and in bad condition will have the immediate reaction to clean these up,” said Sano, 30, a native of Abuyog town in Leyte.
The sorry state of the library spurred an idea in Sano, who wasted no time putting it into action.
On Jan. 12, Sano and two of her friends started a campaign to clean the public library and inventory all its books.
Renoir Dauag, regional representative of the Presidential Commission on Good Government, said the clean-up drive is a big help.
“We don’t have a librarian and enough personnel to help maintain the cleanliness and restore these books in their original shelves,” said Dauag.
Aside from Dauag, who holds office in one of the 16 rooms in the library, only a security guard and a janitor man the facility.
The People’s Center and Library was built by former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos during the Marcoses’ last years in power.
After the ouster of dictator Ferdinand Marcos from power in 1986, the library was among the pieces of property of the Marcoses in Tacloban that were sequestered by the government.
It was believed to have contained more than 55,000 hardbound books. Some of these by renowned authors like William Shakespeare, James Joyce, Leo Tolstoy, Mark Twain, Alexandre Dumas, Stephen Hawking.
It even has the original copy of “Noli Me Tangere” by Jose Rizal.
Of course, books and journals written by the late dictator also abound in the library.
Last year, 522 people used the library and 85, as of Jan. 26.
It is open to users for a fee of P20 that comes with an ID good for six months.
Dauag said while the library is competing against the Internet as a source of information, the facility continues to draw researchers, particularly students.
“We still have some reference materials that are not available or could not be found on the Internet,” Dauag said.
He admitted that he also goes to the library to read books during his spare time.
Retired government employee Francisco Arpon, 60, is one of the library’s frequent visitors.
He said he goes to the library everyday except Sunday when the facility is closed.
Arpon learned about Sano’s efforts to clean up the library.
Since Jan. 12, Sano and her two friends—Coreene Ann Cular and Ypille Mia Tirse—visit the library from 9 a.m. to noon every Tuesday and Thursday to clean the books.
Sano said they could not work on the project full-time since they also have other commitments.
Sano is married and is on her third year in law school at St. Paul’s School of Business and Law in Palo town, Leyte.
Since the start of the clean-up campaign, Sano and her friends were able to clean books in four out of the 16 rooms in the library.
And their initiative is starting to draw support.
On Jan. 24, 50 students from Eastern Visayas State University went to the library to clean the books from 9 a.m. to noon as part of their National Service Training Program activity.
Sano is inviting more volunteers to help preserve “part of our heritage.”
She said the library is so huge and has thousands of books to be cleaned that it might take her and her friends a decade to finish the job.
“We hope we could gather other people, booklovers especially, to help us clean up the library,” she said.
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