Thursday, July 23, 2009

Filipiniana research in Spain

While figuring out how can I put new entry on this blog, I found out that it was a year ago when I had visited Spain and had promised that I wanna continue to post about my travel experienced here. Accidentally, I found out this hanging story and lucky enough to grab this time for it to get published.

This time around, I wanna share to you one reason why we were in Spain-... we went there for several reasons but the most important purpose is on vital research materials we discovered in this very historic place for our project. We wanted continue our dreams to enrich its contents and remain free to all Philippine studies researchers and students.

While in Spain, we roam around the old streets of Barcelona, Madrid and even to its country side. We find time to make our stay valuable and memorable. If I have the luxury of time, this travel is worth several blog post since it has really a wide Philippine related stories to tackle. Anyway, what makes this travel so exciting is that our limited days of stay makes us do a thing such as seen in the movies like "National Treasure" and "Indiana Jones" :). We do our research Proxy-Connection: keep-alive
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d try to trace the location of an old bookstores, museums, old houses, old hotels, universities and national libraries just to find out materials for the digital library.

Someone might consider us crazy for doing these and to think that our national government has its agency to do this job. But don't worry, we are not doing this for a repetitive work that's why we called it as research. As a private entity inside a foundation, I think, we also have to help our government in doing some of its functions specially if it is also for the common benefit of its people. Since, we have the capacity and luxury of time to do it, why wait if the opportunity is already here for a reason. Government and private entity should work hand-in-hand to support the needs of its citizens and for a scholarly research, this is where take its lead.

Anyway, while our team is on its way to the FTFK Conference held in Barcelona , we have found ourselves at the gate of the Universitat Pompeau Fabra. It is considered as the best university in Catalan. We have finally met in person Ms. Gloria Cano, a known Spanish scholar who studied about Philippine history. Ms. Cano as far as our research is concerned is the only Spanish historian who had an intensive studies and research on Philippines studies. She made a new revelations about the 55-volume records written by American scholars, Blair and Robertson and because of that, her name now rings around the Philippine historian circle.

Gus, who is an avid fan of Retana and history buff finally finds his match in the study of Philippine history during the Spanish colonial period. Gus and Gloria are acquaintance by phone and only this very moment that they got a thorough discussions on their personal take in the field of Philippine studies. Ms. Cano presented her paper and discussed to us her latest findings on the role of James Leroy in shaping the written documents about the Philippines.

One of the best thing that excite us is her announcement that the university has acquired a rare book that we might be interested in. No one uses that book except her. She told us that this is the University's newest acquisition and she thinks it is very valuable in Philippine studies. She invited us to see it. This is the second time that this book has been opened for Filipinos. It was first seen by her newly found scholar friend and an institution in Philippine historian circle, Mr. Reynaldo Ileto.

We passed by the central library and proceeded to a specialized collections that only Ph.D candidates has access. She brought us into the old remnants of the Olympic building were it was converted into a research library. The library has 4 floors and was organized based on the field of studies.

So, we go up to that very secured area, where stairs are as narrow as what we can found in a bell tower. This area if for rare book collection and only a lone librarian was present. He showed us to the vault and Gloria brings out an old box that contains that old book that was securely wrapped in a cushion plastic. As we move to a more spacious room, she excitedly lift the 4-inch thick and very fragile looking book and a 1-inch thick record book. Upon seeing its title, we have concluded that really, this book has a lot of secrets that should be revealed in the future. It has a concrete dates and descriptions of what had transpired during the 17th centuries in terms of Real states ownership.

Gloria, indeed got a rare find and according to her, she was thankful that her boss got this in a old book sale and ask her if it is valuable enough for her studies. This book, if studied page by page can reveal more stories about that era in Philippine history. With those records, it would also tell how hacienderos during that time and some of familiar family names had acquired vast of land in our country.

While inside a library section and as Ms. Cano narrates about her priceless asset, I have found out that this library is really has a massive collection of books on Philippine studies. They also have the entire collection of Blair and Robertson, Islas Independencia de Filipinas and other stuffs that any Philippine historians or history buffs would salivate if they see these collections.

If we got enough time, we can have flip through each pages of the book but we are in a hurry for the opening of the Free Technology, Free Knowledge Conference in Fira de Barcelona. Besides, my Spanish is very limited and find it hard for my limited brain to digest. She now frequented Manila for ICOPHIL and featured one of her paper in our published book entitled " More Hispanic Than We Admit".

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