Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dear Librarian: Baking At The National Library

This month's Dear Librarian feature is a blog post from Barefoot Baklesa. He does not need any advice, but his blog post on the state of the National Library of the Philippines is worthy of discussion. Here is an excerpt from his blog post ( which can be read below). The full article is linked here.

As I went into the reading rooms, and through the stacks to look for what I needed, I could not help but stare at the state that place was in. The place was clean as libraries go, but the disrepair, the poorly maintained stacks, and the general atmosphere of the place akin to that of a backwater town that government funding forgot.

As I walked those halls, It did not seem to me that this was the place that held almost everything about the world since the first movable type. What is this place to be for some impressionable youth seeking to fuel himself in the arts and sciences? One could argue that what really matters is what is inside those books and not the place that hold them. But if the place lacks the very books that can take them onto this journey -No, that the one that sends Bastian into Fantasia but you get my drift- then what?


Is this neglect associated with the priorities of every government that came and went? In the middle of my research I composed a text message that I sent to my mentors in the hopes that they may at least help me make sense of the experience.

“Sitting here at the National Library, a week after elections and just before the new come to take office, I wonder what will a new president really do for the Arts? To be specific, what does it matter to my art now that the people seem to have found hope and change in a man who is also of the old order?”

And this was the most disturbing reply

“Anak, ano ba naman ang alam niya sa Sining natin? The Arts have always been the least of any leader’s priorities since I can’t remember. If anything, the Arts to him may be just like tonight’s latest “gossip” that would be replaced with another juicier one by tomorrow. Palibhasa gossip rin lang naman ang alam ng kapatid niyan and I’m afraid they may play the Arts card when it is to their advantage like a badly acted teleserye”

And there I was, sitting on one of the wooden tables at the end of the Filipiniana section telling myself once again, that a place such as this should be the beacon for those wide-eyed youth seeking to be inspired, seeking to understand the world, and be fueled to contribute to the Sciences and most especially the Arts. No matter how disheartening that text message was.

Watch out for my reply and a guest blogger's response in the next few days. I have invited a librarian from the National Library of the Philippines to do so.


the barefoot baklesa said...

i'll be posting people's comments from my facebook page regarding that blog post:


I could not even remember the last time I went to the national library, but yes, its current state is very appalling. It is very sad to reflect on the fact that for years this country has concentrated all of its "muscle" in becoming westernised (I refuse to term it developed, for such is not the case as I see it).

The Arts in this country is in its death throes. And there are only a few of us trying all that we can to resuscitate her.

It is a laughable thought that Filipinos would rather be entertained by the same formulas of Philippine Cinema or by the "repackaged repackaged" plots of local television series. Don't get me wrong, the West has its share of faults, but I am just zeroing in on this country's so-called "Culture".

Where is Art in this country? Beats me. I think she might have left when everyone, the youth of this new generation most especially, became as exciting as watching paint dry.

Mostly I blame it on technology and the fact that this country is trying so hard (and miserably failing) to compete against its Asian neighbours when it could not even address even the simplest of its national dilemmas.

There are no more artists, only celebrities. There is no more art, only cheap entertainment.

"Those who find meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
"Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope."

-Oscar Wilde

the barefoot baklesa said...

here are some others from my Facebook Notes page:

Peque Gallaga:

"Nothing changes. Everything remains the same. What else did you expect? Even the National Commission for Culture and Arts was headed by a hustler"

Ricardo Eric Cruz of the CCP:

"There are quite a number of institutions in the arts that need priority. It is so difficult to work in an institution that relies on government funding because no matter how tedious defending the budget in congress, it will always be cut. to make matters worse, replacing efficient people with friends who only care about themselves makes it more difficult.

looking back, i missed the days when i was branded as a martial law baby."

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