Mario Feir Filipiniana Library: A Christmas Visit & Gift
Amidst the towering business and residential structures of THE FORT in Taguig can be found a modern sanctuary for Filipiniana lovers. No, I am not talking of another shopping mecca where tourists can shop for Filipiniana trinkets but a place for any serious student of Philippine history.
My long overdue visit came after Mario had just hosted the 2012 Christmas Feir family reunion where sixty-one members of Mario’s clan somehow found themselves walking in and out of his 11th floor condo at One McKinley Place. I wonder how all the books survived!
I’ve read about Mario’s excellent library in many blogs and have met him during the annual conferences of the Manila Studies Association. Soft-spoken and warm, his eyes brightened up as he proudly showed me his Filipiniana collection which really just started as a stamp collection and morphed into a huge collection of books, postcards, photographs, prints, & magazines. All waiting for a stouthearted librarian’s cataloging skills. I just didn’t know where to start and thus I allowed Mario to unravel the mystery of his collection. Before I visited, I did send Mario a list of my research interests from Sampaloc, to cemeteries, to 1904 World’s Fair, to the Mountain Province (where Mario’s family roots started as well) to Tarlac. Initially, Mario showed me a few samples of books related to my research interest (two Spanish era novenas, postcard album collection of the Manila Carnival). Later on, a commemorative book about San Miguel (1890-1940) increased my heart’s palpitation as I saw some photographs of personalities prominent in the history of Sampaloc. So, that was how Gonzalo Tuason and Albino Goyenechea looked like. As the afternoon progressed, Mario continued to provide me a glimpse of his precious collection with the two of us murmuring excitement as we went over an American soldier’s scrapbook of early American colonial period postcards, photographs, and newspaper clippings. How I wanted to write about this unique album but told Mario my hands were already full with my own history projects.
I shared a late afternoon coffee (Ethiopian) with Mario and Stephen and continued with our discussions of much historical importance (Pacquiao as a national icon and condo and shopping malls construction as a national obsession). I found a kindred spirit in Mario as we shared a common love of Rizal and would have gladly exchanged modern day living for a chance to go back in time and visit Rizal during his lifetime (I preferred Rizal’s Dapitan days rather than his Fort Santiago days). And yes, Mario keeps a good number of Rizaliana in his collection.
Soon the afternoon was almost over, but at least I kept a promise to visit Mario’s library before 2012 ended. The year 2013 is just around the corner and I made a promise to return to continue my research. Of course, Mario’s researchers do not end their visit without signing his guestbook and getting photographed for posterity. Thanks Mario for giving me a nice 2012 Christmas present – getting a chance to visit your beloved library.