Monday, December 17, 2012

Hernando Guanlao: The Book Guy

Image Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The president of my high school and about half of the teachers there hated me. I don’t know why. Actually, I do know why but I just don’t give a fine f$%^. However, to serve as an intro to this piece, I will recall one of the many reasons they would have loved to have killed me, mutilate me and then sit on my lifeless body while laughing.

One of the things I clearly remember as the source of their hatred is my consistent record of reading books. Yes, they hated me for reading books. Alright, I need to explain this a bit.

I liked and still like reading books. Most of our teachers were fresh graduates and most of them weren’t good. They were so bad, they inspired me… to sleep. I developed an unprecedented skill of in the middle of lessons. But I passed my exams because I got everything they were teaching through books. When I got sent to the Principal’s office, I told the Principal they’ll save money if they just give us books and fire the teachers.

I got suspended. I spent my free time reading more books… and watching Voltes V.

I passed more exams and I told my teachers it’s because I read.

The next time I rented books in the library, the librarian looked at me like I had a d!ck attached to my fuc#!n’ forehead. I was “discouraged” from borrowing books… essentially from going to school ever again. I had no problem with not going to school but my parents did and between my parents and the entire faculty and admin of the school, I’d rather face the wrath of the school 1million times over.

So, I continued going but I never read another book from the library.

Since my parents didn’t have a lot of money, I hardly read any other book outside of the textbooks I was furnished in school. It was incredibly stupid of my high school. They have closed own.

Although there are libraries near our place, it’s almost impossible to borrow books. Even our National Library doesn’t lend books. It’s an incredibly intelligent concept, libraries don’t lend books. Astounding.

Fortunately, there are still some people in this country like Hernando Guanlao who actually gives a sh!t about reading.

Guanlao worked an ordinary job and lives an ordinary life but he has an extraordinary brain and heart.

After his parents died in 2000, he wanted to be able to do something more for other people. He could have ran for office and get rich in the process. I know it doesn’t make sense for public officials to get rich considering they are not supposed to run private businesses but you know our country has a devil-given gift to defy science and logic. Occasionally, we defy simple math too.

Guanlao didn’t go for that. He decided to share something he loves, reading.

The problem is that he didn’t have a damn cent to build a library and it seems incredibly Ludacris to sell books because 2000 wasn’t exactly the best year when it came to our economy. People could hardly buy a d@mn underwear, why the hell would they buy pieces of papers with something already written on it?

He decided to do the only logical thing, he brought his books outside his house and told everyone they could read, borrow, take, share, and do almost everything and anything they want for as long as they do something and they don’t need to pay a darn cent.

The concept seems suicide. You see, the country is known for taking things that are well guarded. In fact, a president led the country for 24 years and did nothing but take things that didn’t belong to him. To this day, nobody could find what he took.

Imagine what would happen to stuff that are out in the open and free for everyone to take.

He didn’t really care. He already read all the books he had, he was ready to part with it. He didn’t have any plans of memorizing every d@mn word anyway. It was better for someone else to take it and read it.

However, the most incredible thing happened. He started accumulating more books. People started coming to his open library or book club as he calls it but for every book they borrow, they bring more to replace it.

Before he knows it, he has become the go to guy for children looking for textbooks and older people looking for rare books.

His book cart has expanded. He is now using his front yard, garage and inside his house. Anyone can come in and look for books. They don’t need to log in anything and they don’t need to make a commitment to return it. He doesn’t care if the books are returned or not for as long as people take books from him.

He started with his personal collection, 100 books. He now has more than 20,000.

The even more incredible thing is that about ten people have copied his concept. He helps them all. He donates books to them. Some of those who have decided to copy his concept is going a step further by offering free reading and writing sessions.

BBC, ABC, CNN, and countless other international news agency have taken notice of his efforts. His concept has been celebrated internationally which has resulted to many other people from different countries getting inspired to copy his concept.

He didn’t have and didn’t need to have millions to help other people. He didn’t even have an office chair and table. All he needed was books.

Now that… is badass.

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