November 25, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

Free books and roses at Dia del Libro

EVERYTHING’S coming up -- roses and books -- in this year’s Dia del Libro.

Instituto Cervantes, the cultural arm of the Embassy of Spain, is again inviting book lovers to celebrate Dia del Libro or International Book Day on April 22.

This year, thousands of discounted books from top bookstores and publishing houses will be made available at the Ayala Triangle in Makati City, and free books will be given away by Instituto Cervantes. Following the tradition in Spain, every book purchase entitles the buyer to one free rose

One of the highlights of the day will be the inauguration of the exhibition The Prado de Museum in Manila, presented by the Embassy of Spain, Instituto Cervantes, and the Prado Museum. The traveling exhibit will be displaying more than 50 life-size reproductions of masterpieces from the Prado Museum in Madrid. This is an opportunity to view works by some of the greatest masters from the 12th to the 19th centuries in the form of high-definition photographs. Among the works are a reproduced version of Filipino artist Juan Luna’s Cleopatra.

In addition, the Embassy of Chile will present an exhibit on Chilean writer Gonzalo Rojas, one of the great Latin American poets of the 20th century.

Meanwhile, the pop-up library The Book Stop will be returning to Ayala Triangle. Designed by the WTA Architecture & Design Studio, The Book Stop is a non-profit library where visitors can borrow books in exchange for another. It is also a hub where fellow readers can discuss their love of books.

Visitors to Instituto Cervantes’ Dia del Libro will also be treated to poetry recitals, contests, games, and an opportunity to meet National Book Awards authors.

Visitors will also be challenged to join a Quixotic attempt -- to write Don Quixote de La Mancha by hand. Instituto Cervantes is searching for 500 volunteers to take part in the “Rewriting of Don Quijote,” with each volunteer given two minutes to write a few sentences. This will start at 11 a.m. and run until 10 p.m. Participants will also receive a rose.

Children’s activities include storytelling in both English and Spanish, and painting workshops, among others.

There will be a number of book presentations including the launch of EUNIC and Anvil’s anthology of European short stories, Layag: European Classics in Filipino. The bilingual book (in Filipino and Spanish) entitled Jose P. Rizal: Konseho ng mga Diyoses; Sa May Pasig, published by as part of the Aklat ng Bayan series of the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF), will be launched on the same day and be sold at discounted prices. The Silver Way, a book about how the Manila Galleon affected history, will be presented by one of its two authors Juan Jose Morales, at 4 p.m., while the Vibal Foundation’s Flora de Filipinas will be launched at 5 p.m.

At 3 p.m., the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino will host a Balagtasan, with the poet-debaters showing off skills in arguing in verse about issues of the day.

The Spanish Cultural Center will provide free entertainment in La Noche de los Libros, an evening filled of leisure and activities. This includes a feast of Spanish food, games, jazz music, poetry recitals, and free Spanish classes.

Capping off the night is a free concert by the Manila Symphony Orchestra featuring classical Spanish and Filipino pieces at 7 p.m.

The Spanish ambassador Luis A. Calvo Castaño said during a press conference on March 30 in Makati announcing Dia del Libro, that it is appropriate for Spain to bring the tradition of Dia del Libro to the Philippines as it is one of the top publishers of books in the world.

“Spain... has a more powerful book industry in the world, with about 90,000 books published every year. Books make up almost 40% of all the cultural industries in the country,” he said.

The Dia del Libro tradition, which began in Barcelona, was first introduced in Manila by Instituto Cervantes in 2006. The tradition is commemorated on St. George’s Day (April 23), during which men and women exchange roses and books. This also honors two of history’s greatest writers -- Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare -- who coincidentally died on the same day, April 23, 1616. This prompted the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to declare April 23 as “World Book and Copyright Day.”

The event was first brought by Instituto Cervantes to Manila in 2006.

Admission to all Dia del Libro activities is free, but on a first-come-first-served basis. For more information, call 526-1482 or visit or Facebook page, -- CAMA