Inspiring Pinoys

Get to Know the Man Behind the 24/7 Home Library in Makati!

Metro Manila

Gari Sy Rivera
Gari Sy Rivera | Oct 17, 2019

Photos by the author, KierNiel Francisco, and Rachie Cailao

Si Mang Nanie po ako sa aklatan sa bangketa ng Barangay La Paz,” says the man who has opened his house to the public for nearly 20 years as a library for those who want to read.  At 68 years old, Hernando Guanlao, or “Mang Nanie” as locals would call him, shows no signs of retiring anytime soon, armed with plans to sustain his advocacy for a lot longer. “Matagal-tagal pa siguro kasi wala pa akong reliever (Probably a while longer, I don’t have a reliever yet.),” he jokes, "This is a project that gives me energy, this is my strong area.”

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Mang Nanie had known from an early age of his love for literature, beginning at 7 years old when he would trade stamps and candies for his classmates’ reading materials. “Napansin kong mayroon akong charm sa libro,” he shares, “Before recess, sasabihin ko sa kanila “akin yung komiks mo ah!” he laughingly reminisces. (I found a certain charm in books, I would tell my friends to trade their comic books with me before recess.) In college, he took the opportunity to work as an assistant librarian. Not only did this help him in his expenses for school, but this also served as a way to live his dream of managing a library.

After attaining his bachelor’s degree in accounting and working in this field, Mang Nanie shifted careers several times before pursuing what he knew that he was meant to do. From baking cakes and churning ice cream, he was directed towards his original dream in the year 2000. “Inisip ko kung anong pwede kong gawing simpleng project na mapatunayan ko yung kung papaano kong magagawan kahit wala akong puhunan, o wala ako investment kung ‘di ang lakas ng loob at tapang,” he recalls, “at ayun nga, namigay ako ng libro.” (I was thinking of a simple project to prove that I could start something without any investment but my strength and courage. That’s when I thought of giving away books.)

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The smell of both new and old books naturally fills the area, covering every square inch of the walls, floors, and corners of his two-story house in Balagtas Street, Makati. Starting out with 50 books laying around at the home he had inherited, the aklatan sa bangketa (sidewalk library), also known as the Reading Club 2000, was born. The story that he was giving these books away for free spread, bringing about the growth in the donation of books throughout the last two decades. Instead of running out of books to give, Mang Nanie received more through word of mouth around their neighborhood.

Today, Mang Nanie accepts novels, digests, textbooks, and all kinds of literature from people all over the Philippines. He shares that the books are donations from students of different schools and universities who want to support his advocacy to encourage education and happiness through one’s reading. Because of the success of his project, Mang Nanie now aims to extend the Reading Club 2000’s reach, taking the responsibility of hosting outreach programs to different areas in the Philippines to provide books for the communities in need.

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Though his career doesn’t exactly reward him in financial gain, he still finds purpose and fulfillment in the works of Reading Club 2000. “If I was able to survive financial problems until now, why would I question what I’m doing?  Simple lang naman ang gusto ko sa buhay- to have something done unto my neighbors,” he adds, “’di pwede sabihing wala akong pera para magsimula ng pagtulong sa kapwa.” (All I want in life is simple. I can’t say that I don’t have the money to start helping others.)

Find more information about Mang Nanie and Reading Club 2000 on his Facebook page  

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