In my four years at Catanduanes National High School (CNHS), we were blessed to have good librarians and they wanted the books in the hands of students sitting inside the library. Readers need a cozy place for reading. An ain’t-so-fine book for one can be a good book for another; it depends on the taste and preference of the reader.
There is a book for everyone, somewhere among the cabinets arranged near the wall in the library, once the kind librarian opens it for you.
The CNHS Library, circa 1964-68, used to be our place for different intentions: to borrow books to answer our assignments, to find our classmates, look for our crushes and sit across them at the table, etc. The first two books I borrowed from the library were by Edgar Alan Poe: the poem ‘Annabel Lee’ and the short story ‘The Cask of Amontillado’. If my memory is still 85 percent functioning today, the librarian then was Ma’am Abundo, the sister of our principal.
That day, I discovered another world existed when I turned the pages of the book. That day changed everything in me: my fondness for books came into being, as if a seed was planted in my mind and started to grow. If this didn’t happen, I wouldn’t graduate at the same time as my classmates in Batch 68 of CNHS. At the time of our story, my gambling habit was becoming an addiction (like the cellphone is now for children, grown-ups and even seniors, endangering their eyes and health early in life due to radiation). Father was angry and disturbed for he had pinned a dream on me to what I should become in the future. And his hope was dark if my bad habit will not be discarded for the better.
That night at home, I read many times ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ and tried very much to memorize the poem “Annabel Lee”.
That night was a good start for a decent and a promising future for me.
Borrowing books, especially those recommended by our librarians, became a new normal for me. I started memorizing poems like “Invictus” by Wiliam Ernest Henley, “The Arrow and the Song” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and inspiring quotable lines from authors which for many years later had served me in my teaching at CatSU, Catanduanes College and now on my new hobby writing.
One quotation bubbled up to the surface of my mind: “Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate but strong in will, To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield”- ” Ulysses” by Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson.
What I remember about our CNHS library before it was relocated near Pilot Elementary School was the table and benches that can accommodate eight students facing each other, and both ends of the table were empty of chairs/short benches for it serves as an aisle. Students in those days were more behaved with less conversation, such that you can hear if a Mongol pencil drops to the floor. The flooring of the library was made of hardwood. In some areas of the floor, there were some imperfections and a hole can be noticed but I ignored them, even told jokes and stories about it.
I was plain lucky to have another source of brandnew books of all types of genres: war, horror, fiction, non- fiction, biographical, legal or courtroom drama, detectives, etc. It was in the eighties when the personal library of ex-Kagawad Pio ‘Apyaw’ Gianan was opened to me. We were both kagawads of Virac, relatives and I was a part-time teacher at Catanduanes College.
NEIL GAIMAN a New York bestselling author said,
Books are important.
Reading is important.
Librarians are important.
One of my favorite writers wrote, ” If you’re going to get anywhere in life, you have to read a lot of books”.
Please visit Booklatan at Ardci Mart Weekend Market from Thursday to Sunday from 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm.