MANILA, Philippines —Everyone can agree on one thing: we’ve all got a National Book Store story to tell. After all, the beloved book store has been around for 75 years, and it has been a part of each of our lives, one way or another. Whether it be as simple as visiting your neighborhood branch for your annual school supply run (with a notebook set to rival last year’s, of course) or a post-lunch weekly trip with your family, National Book Store has managed to figure into our personal histories.
For me, my National Book Store story involved giving a copy of my favorite book to my high school crush with the hopes of finding some common ground with him. He unwrapped his birthday gift, a copy of Freakonomics that I bought at NBS Shangri-La (after saving up for it for weeks!), and said, “Oh, thanks. I don’t really like reading though…” I was heartbroken, but my love for reading could never outweigh puppy love. Goodbye, crush.
We wanted to know what it is that makes National Book Store so beloved to each of us, so we asked National Book Store’s Xandra Ramos-Padilla, along with some of our favorite creative personalities, to share just how the country’s favorite book store has touched their lives. From being the place to discover what would become their favorite authors to being the source of joy for the less fortunate, we learn just how NBS has become not only a book store, but a family, too.
Xandra Ramos-Padilla Managing Director, National Book Store
“I remember when I was just in first year college, my lola (Nanay Coring) took me to the book fair in New York. I thought it was amazing. The people there rolled out the red carpet for her, but it really showed me how she dealt with publishers and people in the book world. I guess it was my foundation for how I handle trade shows now.”
“A fresh start”
Leon Camacho High school student
“I was bored one day heading home from school on a Friday with nothing to do. This thought made me pick up one of the books I did a report on before called The Little Prince. I soon got the bright idea to buy more books to read. I went to my local National Book Store to look for books to read.
When I got there, I realized that I didn’t really know what book I wanted. I asked someone at the store for book recommendations. She directed me to an aisle full of fictional work. We looked through the books and my eye was caught by an author named Haruki Murakami. I didn’t really look through the novel but I thought his name was really cool so I decided to buy it. That evening, I read through it and instantly fell in love with the way the story was retold in my head. I came back the next day and bought one more.
I soon started to come back every other day to check in on more books and things I wanted to read next time I came back. One of those days I stayed for around an hour just being glued to one of the open books. I read it on the floor but the store staff didn’t mind. I came back a lot during summer. Ever since then, I’ve been reading a book a week and walking to my local National Book Store to refill on books when I run out. It’s safe to say I’ve totally fallen in love with reading now.”
Esme Palaganas Fashion Designer
“My parents are at fault of my love for reading and bookstores in general. I remember going to National Book Store Shangri-La for summer reading classes of some sort — Adarna books being read to us kids. Got a bit older, became a Potterhead, and back then there was a Harry Potter Trivia board game for Chamber of Secrets and I think I represented a certain branch, North EDSA maybe, for an inter-branch competition in Megamall. Our group didn’t do well, because we had two people (in our four-member team) who just watched the movie. (Didn’t read the book. Shame!). Well, at least I got a Fluffy three-headed dog figurine… Grew up a geek like that because of NBS and reading.”
“Every bit counts”
Artu Nepomuceno Photographer
“When my friend Carlo Delantar and I had a mission to Tawi-Tawi, Mindanao for Waves for Water, we were accompanied by a few other humanitarian groups with their own set of objectives. One of which was National Book Store, who gave out free school materials, textbooks, fiction and non-fiction material; they were quite generous as well in terms of quantity.
Most of us tend to speculate where donations go especially when it’s from big companies. Admittedly I still do for many. But after our trip, I took National Book Store out of the list.”
“A chance encounter”
Victor Platon Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation
“Growing up, my reading habits were limited to textbooks prescribed in school or Choose Your Own Adventure books passed down from my older brother. All this changed in 1993 when I serendipitously passed by the old National Book Store in the old Quad on my way to Glico’s (my references date me, I know) and a book caught my eye. On the cover was an attractive teenage boy not unlike the pinups I collected from Bop and Tiger Beat. After reading the synopsis, I knew I had to buy it. The book was Ryan White: My Own Story, an autobiographical account of a teenage hemophiliac who contacted HIV through blood transfusion. It was the first book I ever bought using my allowance; it was also the book that launched my quarter-century love affair with literature.”
“A trip worth having”
David Aquino Serious Studio
“Well, I’ve always loved drawing and the arts. When I was little at home, all we had was pad paper that I got from the corner store and Mongol pencils. The first time my parents brought me to National Book Store to buy school supplies, it felt like I walked into a candy store. Up to this day, whenever I walk into National, I always leave with something. I just came from there earlier, actually, and bought a clutch pencil sharpener.”
“All in the family”
Andrea Ang Homeroom Creative Co-op
“My parents lean toward engineering and numbers more than words and poetry, but they understood how important it is to be a reader, so they made it a point to make us love reading. Growing up, we would head to the National Book Store on Katipunan, where my siblings and I would be allowed to pick a single book each. It was a regular habit, but it was exciting every time to go around the store and narrow it down to one book that you were genuinely interested in. That’s how we discovered books like Harry Potter and writers like Diana Wynne Jones. It was so empowering. And I guess it worked — my brother is the editor of his generation, and I ended up a writer.”
“Too cool for school”
Maine Manalansan Creative director,Young STAR
“My grade school life was especially interesting because we had three other students living in our house. Whenever it’s school supplies shopping season (a.k.a. the best season), I’d help my mom pick out school materials for me and them. I out-Virgoed my mom and arranged special school bundles which included pad papers, scented ballpens, and a box of 36-piece Crayola set because why not?”
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