Filipino Man Makes Library in His Home

13 March 2024

"A good book is easy to find." That is the message on a sign at Hernando Guanlao's home in the Makati area of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.

Guanlao has turned his home into a free public library. Visitors can borrow the books inside for free.

Guanlao says he hopes his library will inspire people to read, especially the young. The 72-year-old told reporters that his library includes books that all students can enjoy – from young children in Kindergarten to older students in grade 12.

Hernando Guanlao, 72, sits in front of his home library in Makati, a metro area of Manila, Philippines, Feb. 7, 2024. (REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
Hernando Guanlao, 72, sits in front of his home library in Makati, a metro area of Manila, Philippines, Feb. 7, 2024. (REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

Guanlao says his library has books for readers of all interests. He spoke to reporters at his home, which is filled with thousands of available books.

He calls his library Reading Club 2000. It contains many different kinds of books, or genres.

Genre is a group of artistic, musical, or literary works that share a particular style, form, or content. Some genres in literature are poetry, non-fiction (or real stories), and fiction (or imaginary stories). Then there are "sub-genres" such as cookbooks, science fiction, and mystery, to name just a few.

Guanlao added, "There are also spiritual books for those who are looking for religious knowledge, hardbound and softbound books, autobiographies, and many different genres that one can enjoy, all for free."

He started his library more than 20 years ago when he set 50 books on the walkway in front of his home. Guanlao's collection has grown greatly over the years -- thanks to a continuous supply of books from donors.

Speaking of donors, he said, "They just leave boxes of books outside my house." He has also started donating books himself. He sends reading materials to public schools in far-away communities.

Guanlao's efforts come at a time when reading ability among students in the Philippines remains low. The Program for International Student Assessment reports that reading scores in the Philippines are among the lowest in the world. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development runs that program.

Students in the Philippines are also facing learning delays in math and science.

Guanlao is firm about his goals: "My mission is to give away used and donated books to others at no cost," he said, "and to promote education through literature."

I'm Anna Matteo.

Adrian Portugal and Karen Lema reported this story for Reuters News Agency. Anna Matteo adapted it for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

inspire – v. to stimulate to greater or higher activity : make spirited

literature – n. written works having excellence of form or expression and ideas of lasting and widespread interest

mission – n. a preestablished and often self-imposed objective or purpose

promote – v. to help (something) grow or develop