‘Books from Underground’ may re-open at Lagusnilad Underpass as legitimate business, Isko says

Rosette Adel - Philstar.com
âBooks from Undergroundâ may re-open at Lagusnilad Underpass as legitimate business, Isko says
Composite photo shows "Books from Underground" in Lagusnilad Underpass and its closure last July 15.
Manila PIO / Facebook, AJ Laberinto / Facebook

MANILA, Philippines — The city government of Manila on Friday said it would allow the return of the well-loved thrift bookstore called “Books from Underground” inside Lagusnilad Underpass, this time as a “legitimate business.”

In his “The Capital Report” which aired on Facebook live, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said he heard the appeal on social media to bring back the famous bookshop and so the city government coordinated with the owner to legitimize the business.

"Books from Underground" was among the stores demolished during the clean-up last month of Lagusnilad Underpass, which connects Manila City Hall and Intramuros.

“Kasi may mga netizen na nagsasabi sa atin na may natanggal tayo doon na matagal na matagal nang bilihan ng libro na nakakamura ang mga estudyante and so on and so forth and all these things," Moreno said.

(Because there were netizens who told us that we removed a bookshop where students could buy affordable books and so on and so forth.)

"Huwag po kayong mag-alala. Matapos namin 'yang linisin, bibigyan namin siya ng pagkakataon na ma-legitimize 'yung kaniyang existence at you can ask him (owner) at pati ang nanay niya, tinayuan na namin sila kung paano sila magiging legitimate businessmen," he added.

(Do not worry. After we cleaned that up, we will give him a chance to legitimize the bookstore’s existence and you can ask him (owner) and his mom, we already told them how to operate as legitimate businessmen)

The humble bookshop owned by AJ Laberinto has been catering to students, bibliophiles and passersby of the Manila underpass for a decade now. He has been selling there with his mother until his stall was removed last month.

Laberinto previously lamented how his business depends on politicians in power. He said he was hoping for a negotiation with Moreno before the clean-up but he and the fellow underpass sellers did not get the chance to do so.

“Lahat ng may pwesto kay Isko aapela. Lahat pinaalis na. Ang Lagusnilad na lang ang natitira. Sa Lunes kayong lahat na natitira at si Isko takits. Lumipas ang Lunes. Dumating ang Martes,” Laberinto said.

(All of the sellers will appeal to Isko. Everyone was asked to leave. Lagusnilad was the only thing left. On Monday, you and Isko are the only ones left. Monday went by. Tuesday came.)

“Wala na. Winasak na. Nakalutang ka pa. Buhay ang Maynila pero di ka kasama,” he added.

(No more. It’s destroyed. You are floating. Manila is alive, but you are not there anymore.)

READ: Notes from the underpass: Underground bookstore laments that income depends on politicians

Laberinto last month also announced that he is looking for a new physical store for the bookshop.

The demolition of stores at Lagusnilad drew public ire as some mourned the sudden closure of their beloved bookshop.

Moreno, however, said "Books from Underground" will re-open in no time.

“So, konting araw na lang ‘yan dahil ang gusto ko po ang pagtitinda sa kalye kailangan may dignidad. Gusto ko nag-hahanapbuhay tayo na nakataas ang noo natin, nang wala tayong inaagrabyadong kapwa,” the Manila mayor said.

(So, we’re only counting a few days because what I want businesses to have dignity. I want us to work with our heads held high and without abusing anyone.)







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