Reading books, for some, is an opportunity to escape the daily grind and experience a different kind of life. For some, it's leisure and relaxation. But for Hernando "Mang Nanie" Guanlao, reading books means so much to him that he turned his home into an educational haven.
Located at Brgy. Dela Paz in Makati City, Mang Nanie's modest abode became a communal library brimming with books of all kinds and ages, providing the residents with an essential resource, especially the street children.
Inspired by a deep love of books and a steadfast commitment to literacy, this innovative project has transformed a private home into a vast center for learning— which he calls the Reading Club 2000.
Age is just a number in making societal change
Mang Nanie's own library started in 2000 with a modest collection of 50 books from his college and high school days. During that time, he believed this number of books would spark societal changes.
"I was in my younger years during childhood [when] I had this law of attraction with the books among my friends in school. Going back to this, I thought during that time that this would create something out of these old secondhand used books we use in college," the 72-year-old man said during an interview with PhilSTAR L!fe.
Over the years, the little collection has grown exponentially that he was able to set up a small reading center in front of his house.
But the books are not bound to the little nook, the 72-year-old also gives them out for free to remote areas, especially in tribal groups.
"As of this date, I'm still here, very active in doing some of my programs like books to reach the remote places in the Philippines, sending books to different provinces that seem to be a record for my project. It's not that easy. But surprisingly, I was able to achieve that until today," he told L!fe, adding that he reached as far as the Cordillera Region and island provinces in Catanduanes, Sulu, Jolo, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, and currently in Palawan.
"That makes me full of energy and keeps me at this age to continue my vision of book giving," he added.
Reading Club 2000 is managed solely by Mang Nanie himself. Unlike conventional libraries, his library operation is "unstructured" as there is no catalog to help readers locate titles.
Anybody from all walks of life—students, professionals, and other interested individuals—can borrow as many books as they want from this library and even keep them. Visitors can also bring more books in exchange to ensure Mang Nanie does not run out of titles.
Basic rule in life: Serve the humanity
My basic rule in life is to serve humanity. We failed to explore that area [as] we are educated more on material destiny which is very regretful in the end.
Previously working in financing, Mang Nanie now finds energy with his "Book Walking" concept where he would give street children storybooks.
"I initiated a book walking concept that when I go out because I cannot afford the high cost of transportation, I walk with books tagging along with me, and chances are there are kids that I will be sharing this and making them happy," he said, noting that when his everyday mission was accomplished, he gets energized.
"Yung mission mo, once accomplished, you will also get energized. Yung feeling mo na, yung result na ginawa mo sa mga bata, expressive yung mga bata, tatawagin kang 'tatay, lolo' tapos may gesture pa na magmamano po eh alam mong matitikas yung mga street children."
Mang Nanie's eldest daughter, and now his partner in this project, Lyell Guanlo, also shared with L!fe that he is very supportive of his father's commitment to the community, saying that she let Mang Nanie do this thing as it makes him "stronger."
"Kung ano ang gusto ni daddy okay lang sakin, yung mother ko dati nagrereklamo siya, sabi mag-work, mag-focus sa family. Pero para sakin kasi, kung ano gusto ni daddy, walang problema sa'kin," Lyell said.
"Kung 'di siya lalabas ng bahay, nanghihina siya. Kaya di ko siya pinipigilan. Exercise niya na rin 'yun, andito siya sa bahay nakahiga, lalo lang manghihina katawan niya," she added.
More than these, helping these kids has become the basic rule in Mang Nanie's life, "My basic rule in life is to serve humanity [because] we failed to explore that area [as] we are educated more on material destiny which is very regretful in the end."