Libraries are some of our favorite places in the world. All of us at Eskritoryo Pilipinas have known afternoons curled up at a corner of our grade school library, reading a book and discovering new worlds. Libraries have fueled our passion for reading.
Filipinas Heritage Library is a special library dedicated to books and other materials authored by Filipinos or about the Philippines, with a focus on history and culture. For the past 16 years, it was housed at the Nielsen Tower on the corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues. But in keeping with its pursuit of scholarship and access, it has reopened at its new location at the Ayala Museum. It’s turned a new leaf, so to speak, now establishing itself as ‘a contemporary space for the contemporary researcher.’
Last March 18, Eskritoryo Pilipinas attended the FHL re-opening and got a peek at the plans and activities that the new FHL has in store. First was the new logo (an image of an open book, with the cover reminiscent of the Ayala Museum facade and the inner pages done in the colors of the Ayala Foundation of which the library is part). Ms Mariles Gustilo, Senior Director for Arts and Culture of the Ayala Foundation shared with us the goal to make the Ayala Museum the heart of culture in Makati. The inclusion of the Filipinas Heritage Library into the museum is a significant step in the right direction. After all, she pointed out, all major museums in the world have a library, and “scholarship is the mandate of a museum.”
Ms Suzanne Yupangco, manager of the FHL, delved into the details. Aside from having over 10,000 books on Philippine culture and history, FHL also houses rare books from as early as 1608, maps, microfiches of rare publications. A photograph archive can be accessed at http://www.retrato.com.ph. Over 1,000 digitized songs can be heard at http://www.himig.com.ph. FHL also allows researchers access to an online union catalog of Filipiana materials from over 100 library-members nationwide.
Efforts towards digitization are also underway. We were a given a tour of the premises and we even saw the new Atiz book scanner–the only one in the Philippines–at work. It’s equipped with two DSLR cameras that can scan a page in seconds and produce high-quality images. The images are then turned into flipbooks through partnership with Trade Channel Philippines. According to the librarians, a 400-page manuscript can be scanned in two hours, excluding editing.
There’s much to look forward to, now that FHL has been integrated into the museum. Many of the museum’s projects now include forays into literature, music, and photography, not just art and history. In fact, we at Eskritoryo Pilipinas are excited over the writing workshops that will be held during the summer for both kids and adults.
If you’re new to FHL, head to the Ground Floor of the Ayala Museum to secure a library pass. Admission is P50 for students and P100 for professionals, though serious researchers may want to get an annual membership that includes admission to the museum for P1,000. Leave your bags (especially if they’re larger than 10″ x 7″ or if they contain food and drinks) at the entrance. Don’t worry; FHL will provide you a bag for your valuables and other personal materials. A librarian will then accompany you to the 4/F, where a special elevator will take you straight to the library on the 6/F. The librarians will assist you in obtaining the books that you wish to read.
We encourage you to visit the Filipinas Heritage Library soon and rediscover our nation’s rich culture and history through the extensive Filipiniana collection there.
Filipinas Heritage Library
6/F Ayala Museum, Makati Ave cor Dela Rosa St, Greenbelt Park, Makati City
9:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Tues-Fri)
10:00 AM – 7:00 PM (Sat)
Tel (632) 757-71117 loc. 36
Fax (632) 757-3588
Eskritoryo Pilipinas thanks FHL for the warm invitation. All images are courtesy of FHL.