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The Mario Feir Collection

The photo above was taken at Mario Feir's residence in Makati City last September 2007. Mario had left a comment on my blog during the previous year, saying that he was retiring, going back to the Philippines with his books, and willing to open his library to researchers and bibliophiles by appointment.

I had, of course, heard of book collectors, but one who actually went out of his way to invite people to use his collection was quite unusual. And so, of course, I made an appointment to visit when I returned to Manila last year, and found a Filipiniana collection that is more complete and better preserved than those in many public or academic libraries in the Philippines. The environment is much more comfortable, too.

True, the books are neither cataloged nor arranged in a manner library users are accustomed to, but since the collection is relatively small and there is a certain order to the arrangement of the books, it is in fact possible to find specific titles. You can also just turn to Mario and he'll point you in the right direction.

But what I liked most was the fact that I did not have to make any requests for books to be brought to me—which is what usually happens at most closed-stacks Filipiniana sections. Instead, I was free to examine and handle the books. Very few were the rare kind that crumble when you hold them; many were reprints because, as I understood it, the "collection policy" (though the term was not used) was to have a complete collection, and not necessarily to acquire first editions.

Anyway, if you or anyone you know is doing research in the Makati area, keep the Mario Feir collection in mind. Contact information is as follows:

Unit 11-A One McKinley Place
26th Street Crescent Park West
Fort Bonifacio Global City

Phone: (02)856-0957
[Please call during office hours, Monday-Friday.]
Visit the website of Asian Rare Books for more information. And remember that you need to make an appointment ahead of time.

And if you're into stamps, ask to see Mario's stamp collection. I found the stamps in the photo below interesting because I did not realize that stamps had been issued in 1949 to raise funds to rebuild the National Library. If you look carefully, you'll see that the stamp in the middle actually features Filipino librarians. Guess who? =)

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