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The State of Filipiniana

In "Filipiniana Online," I quoted from an article published in Sanghaya 2001 (Manila: National Commission for Culture and the Arts, 2001). I would have wanted to reprint the whole article then, but I was unable to get in touch with either the authors or the publisher. Well, I was finally able to get the authors' permission, so if you'd like to know more about the state of Filipiniana as of 2001, please read on.

The State-of-the-Art of Filipiniana Collections in the Philippines
by Salvacion M. Arlante and Rodolfo Y. Tarlit

From November 24 to 26, 1992, the Philippine Librarians Association, Inc. (PLAI), held a national convention which focused on the Filipiniana collections in the country. The convention was in line with the national efforts to make librarians aware, fully understand and appreciate the nature and importance of building and developing special Filipiniana collections. The success of the convention may be gauged from the number of queries received concerning Filipiniana materials by the convention organizers. There can be no doubt that librarians became aware of the worth of Filipiniana materials for scholars and researchers.

In July 2000, a meeting was arranged to respond to such queries between Dr. Serafin D. Quiason, consultant, Eugenio Lopez Foundation, Inc., and Mrs. Salvacion M. Arlante, University Librarian, University of the Philippines Diliman. Soon after, Carmelo Lopez, director of Library, Ateneo de Manila University; Dr. Irene D. Amores, director of libraries, Polytechnic University of the Philippines and head, Committee on Libraries and Information Services, National Commission for Culture and the Arts; and Prof. Rosa M. Vallejo, former Dean, UP Institute of Library Science, joined Dr. Quiason and Mrs. Arlante in conceptualizing a seminar on the State-of-the-Art of Filipiniana Collections in the Philippines.

The seminar was held at the Eugenio Lopez Center in Antipolo City on November 29, 2000. It was meant to follow up the PLAI national convention in 1992 and also to address these following objectives: to survey the state of Filipiniana materials in the major libraries and institutions in the Philippines; to consider new methods of developing Filipiniana collections; to focus on the practical and theoretical aspects of conservation; to explore the computerization of Filipiniana holdings; and to address problems and issues related to inter-library cooperation.

The seminar drew more than 100 participants from all over the country, including two Spanish nationals and Dr. Jaime C. Laya, NCCA chairman, Dr. Pablo Trillana III, chairman of the National Historical Institute, and Dr. Benito F. Legarda. According to Dr. Quiason, the papers presented “are precious stones, strung together to form a tapestry showing the nature and extent of Filipiniana collections” in the following university libraries and institutions: Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City; Central Philippine University, Iloilo City; De La Salle University, Manila; Filipinas Heritage Library, Makati City; Lopez Memorial Museum, Pasig City; Mindanao State University, Marawi City; The National Library, Manila; Silliman University, Dumaguete City; University of San Carlos, Cebu City; University of Santo Tomas, Manila; University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City; and Xavier University, Cagayan de Oro City.

The seminar produced a remarkable amount of information on the state-of-the-art of Filipiniana collections in the country, resulting in “new lines of thought and programs.” The participants were made “aware of the issues and concerns relating to Filipiniana collections throughout the country.” Most important of all, the participants unanimously agreed to form the core group that would, as stated in Dr. Quiason’s closing remarks, “reaffirm the burden of our responsibility and commitment to collect, organize and serve the Filipiniana materials to our scholarly clientele at the most expeditious way and preserve them in whatever form for posterity.”

Nature and scope of Filipiniana materials

According to Vallejo, the term “Filipiniana” is derived from two root words: Filipinas for the country and “ana” or “aniana” for “collected items of information, especially anecdotal or bibliographical”, e.g., Americana, UPiana, Rizaliana, La Salliana.

Two views emerged as to the scope of Filipiniana: one comprehensive and the other specific. The majority of the participants acquire Filipiniana according to any one or all of the following criteria:

The printed books in the Philippines, irrespective of subject matter, because all of them are indispensable to the complete study of typography in the Archipelago (See Wenceslao Retana, Aparato Bibliographico dela Historia General de Filipinas, Madrid: M. Minuesa de los Rios, 1906);

Those that deal with the Philippines in whatever language they may be written and place were they may have been printed, because they are more or less needed for the study of said country;

Those published by Filipinos, about any topic, regardless of the publication’s imprint, because they are very helpful in providing us information on the extent of the intellectual faculties of those born over there, their industry, their likings, inclination, etc;

Those written in the Philippine languages regardless of the subject of the author, and the place of publication (See Luis Montilla, “A Brief Survey of the Bibliographical Accomplishments of the Past: A Plan for a New Philippine National Bibliography,” 1940);

All those printed in the Philippines prior to American rule, irrespective of authorship and subject matter;

Works containing distinct chapters or passages on the Philippines useful for local historical investigation and research; and

Books and non-book materials about the Philippines, produced in or outside the Philippines, by Filipinos or non-Filipinos, in any of the Philippine languages, or in a foreign language (See Isagani Medina, “Collection Building: Filipiniana.” In Developing Special Library Collections, Filipiniana: Proceedings, November 24-26, Camelot Hotel, Quezon City, Manila: Philippine Librarians Association, 1992).

Some participants follow strictly Medina’s definition of Filipiniana. One library, the De La Salle University Library, has a unique definition of Filipiniana. As reported by Ms. Fe Verzosa, the scope of Filipiniana at the DLSU is as follows: all book publications about the Philippines, its peoples and culture, regardless of author, imprint and language; generally works written by Filipinos except works by De La Salle University faculty, administrators, and students/alumni, theses and dissertation, faculty or university publications, La Salliana materials, and works and other original research studies on universally accepted knowledge, such as chemistry, mathematics, physics, biology, etc.; books written in Philippine languages; Philippine government publications and yearbooks, except publication by Philippine corporate bodies the subject matter of which does not have anything to do with the Philippines; publications containing substantial portions or chapters regarding the Philippines (publications with only a small portion or a chapter on the Philippines are not considered Filipiniana, but analytics are provided for that portion or chapter); and works dealing with the application of scientific thought and methodology to Philippine and local needs and circumstances.

In a survey conducted by Vallejo of 14 academic libraries and the National Library, nine libraries consider Filipiniana based on the criteria of subject, imprint, author, language, etc.; five libraries do not consider imprint as a criterion, and another two libraries do not consider author/writer as criterion for inclusion.

Because of the perceived dearth of Filipiniana materials, which are scattered in diverse locations, it was agreed that librarians, historians, libraries and institutions should not confine, limit or restrict their collection development program of Filipiniana to any one of these definitions. Rather, in building their Filipiniana collections they should consolidate/integrate the salient points from these definitions for a comprehensive Filipiniana collection in keeping with their respective institutional mission and objectives.

The Filipiniana collections of the 12 university libraries and institutions that participated in the seminar come in various forms. Aside from books, monographs and periodicals, these libraries also collect, maintain and make available a substantial number of special collections in the form of government documents and publications, theses and dissertations, cartographic materials, pamphlets, music, sound recordings, motion pictures and video recordings, graphic materials, three-dimensional artifacts and realia, microforms, and the very latest electronic resources such as CD-ROMs and other online databases both textual, visual, and bibliographic. Most guarded collections are rare books and archival papers of individuals as well as corporate entities.

The combined Filipiniana book collection of the 12 institutions is approximately 350,000 volumes with the UP Diliman contributing 25 percent. The collection covers a broad spectrum of topics, with the social sciences and the humanities extensively represented, particularly culture and history, politics and government, social conditions and art, languages and literature. Unbelievably, books on the natural and applied sciences constitute, perhaps, a measly 10 percent or less of the total book collection.

The libraries are very proud of their respective rare book collections. These are their most treasured Filipiniana holdings. The Filipinas Heritage Library holds around 2,000 rare books and manuscripts, the oldest of which is the Proceso de la Demanda de Nulidad de Matrimonio, published in 1647 on characters no longer used today. Of the 215 Philippine imprints published from 1597 to 1800 in Manila and other key towns, the Eugenio Lopez Library has 12 rare titles; 69 rare items for the 18th century, and 777 titles for the 19th century. A rare gem is the first edition of Belarmino’s opus Doctrina Cristiana (Manila, 1620) translated into Ilocano (Libro a Naisuratan Amin ti Bagas...) by Father F. Lopez and printed by Antonio Damba, a Pampangueño, and Miguel Saixo, a Japanese.

Another jewel is Pedro Chirino’s Relacion de las Islas Filipinas (Rome, 1604). The Eugenio Lopez Library also holds various early and rare works on the different languages of the Philippines. The National Library boasts of having in its Filipiniana collections the first known book written about the Philippines, Maximilianus Transylvanus’ De Moluccis Insulis, a very tiny, 30-page book measuring 7 1/2 x 15 centimeters and 1/2 centimeter thick. It was written in Valladolid, Spain, in October 1522. It is about Magellan’s voyage to the East based on testimonies of the few survivors of the Magellan’s expedition. Also priceless are Antonio de Morga’s Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, which was printed in Mexico in 1607, Antonio Pigafetta’s First Voyage Around the World, and the facsimile copy of the Doctrina Christiana (1593), an incunabulum by the Filipino printer Tomas Pinpin, and one of the extant eight incunabula in the collection of The National Library.

Most libraries that participated in the seminar have also the facsimile edition of the original Doctrina. Books and documents comprising the Filipiniana Rare Book Collection of the UP Library number 3,441 titles with imprint dates ranging from the 16th century to the early 20th centuries. Most of the materials are on history (57 percent) and social sciences (30 percent). The rest are on general works, philosophy and religion (13 percent) and science, agriculture, technology and bibliography (6 percent). Most of these have been microfilmed.

Special collections are rare, unique, out of print, unpublished ephemera or fugitive materials as well as non-textual materials. These collections supplement or offer information on various subjects not readily available in books and periodicals. Most are donations from individuals as well as corporate entities. Many of these collections contain primary sources such as correspondence, reports, diaries, etc.

The collections of Amado V. Hernandez, Gabriel Bernardo, Sixto de la Costa, Frank H. Golay, Arturo B. Rotor, Trinidad H. Pardo de Tavera, the American Historical Collection and the Women’s Writings Collection are in the Ateneo de Manila University.

The collections of Lopez-Bantug, Ambeth Ocampo, Literary History of the Philippines Collection of regional literature, International Corpus of English-Philippine Component Project Collection, Bitanga-Valero are in the De La Salle University.

The Maisie Van Vactor Collection of Islamic and Philippine Muslim Materials is in the Gowing Memorial Research Center, Dansalan College Foundation, Marawi City.

The Rizaliana Manuscripts, Philippine Insurgent Records, Philippine Presidential Papers, the Tabacalera Collection and the collections of Lope K. Santos, Julian Cruz Balmaseda, Raymundo Banas, Cirilo Honorio, Anita Garcia, Amado V. Hernandez and Atang de la Rama, Camilo Osias, Encarnacion Alzona, Leonora Orosa Goquingco, Benigno Zamora, and Paul Verzosa are in the National Library. The World War II Records/Papers of Negros Oriental are in Silliman University.

The historical papers of Carlos V. Ronquillo, Teodoro A. Agoncillo, Philippine Insurgent Records, Luther Parker, Japanese Occupation Papers, Jose Llanes (Guerilla Papers), Panay Guerilla Movement Papers, Delfin Jaranilla, People’s Court Papers, the Communist Party of the Philippines Papers, the Literary Collections in various Philippine languages (Faustino Aguilar, Florentino Collantes, Alberto S. Florentino, Hermogenes E. Ilagan, Julian Cruz Balmaseda, Tomas E. Remigio, Bikol Collection, Sugbuanon Collection, Hiligaynon Collection, Ilokano Collection, Pampango Collection), Philippine Radical Papers, Local History File, H.H. Bartlett Collection, Harry Whitfield Harnish Collection, the UP Presidential Papers, and other papers of UP’s outstanding alumni, faculty and administrators are in the University of the Philippines.

Other special collections are separately maintained because these require special handling and storage. Such collections include theses and dissertations, maps, vertical files, CD-ROMs, university publications, faculty files, audio-visual materials, music, pictures, stamps, biography files, posters, speech files, and art works.

Of special interest is Filipinas Heritage Library’s Photo Archive, a subset of the library’s photo archives which is a treasure trove of images of Philippine life, history and culture from the fifteenth century to the early 1970s. The black and white photographs numbering around 9,747 scanned images are already available online. The beta site can be viewed at this URL address (www.fillip.or.ph/retrato). The database includes engravings, lithographs, drawings, and other modes of visual representations as well as original photos gathered and annotated by the Ayala Museum Research Department over several years.

Issues and concerns

One of the objectives of the seminar was to find out the problems of librarians concerning their Filipiniana collections. The papers presented and the ensuing discussions during the open forum yielded these observations and concerns:

Collection Development. There is an apparent difficulty in the selection and acquisition of Filipiniana materials due to lack of reviewing media and systematic listing on published Filipiniana materials. There is also a dearth of authors and publishers on Filipiniana materials. Another problem is the limited printing of Filipiniana publications due to a limited market and the apathy of Filipiniana users.

Organization. Filipino librarians use the Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, the Library of Congress Subject Headings, the Library of Congress Classification System and the Dewey Decimal Classification System to organize their Filipiniana book collections. However, the librarians’ concern was that these tools are inadequate, aside from the fact that some are very difficult to use or understand. Some do not provide provisions for local applications. Difficulty in cataloging and classification also arise out of the uncommon characteristics of many Filipiniana publications, e.g. information on the place of publication, name of publisher, and date of publication is not always available.

Reference Services. The librarians agreed that there is a lack of Filipiniana materials that would easily answer bibliographical, biographical, historical, geographical and facts-and-figures questions posed by library users. The participants also deplored the limited indexing services for Filipiniana materials. Most participants, however, know of the services provided by the UP, Ateneo, and the Mendiola Consortium.

Usage and Access. Policies on access to Filipiniana materials, particularly rare materials and special collections, are definitely wanting. Users may not be able to access such materials due to some restrictions imposed by donors of special collections or due to the deteriorating physical conditions of rare materials. Some librarians are in a dilemma whether or not to allow duplication of Filipiniana materials. The reason is that photocopying or other forms of duplication expose the materials to harm that could permanently damage their original physical conditions.

Preservation. Most librarians worry about what to do about the deteriorating and decaying physical conditions of their Filipiniana materials. They are worried that in due time such materials will be lost forever. They expressed the need to have trained personnel to undertake the preservation of their Filipiniana collections.

Copyright. The Filipinas Heritage Library worries about questions on copyright ownership of digitized materials and how to protect such resources that are freely and easily downloadable. Participants would like to know if printing of images from websites constitutes copyright infringement.

Use of Information Technology. It was observed that most computerized Filipiniana databases are bibliographic in nature. There is a clamor for more text-based databases. Another problem concerns some media which become inoperable and their contents inaccessible after sometime. Moreover, some digitized information may be lost when converted into other media, e.g., print, microfoms, etc.


One of the unexpected results of the seminar was the formation of a core group made up of the seminar participants themselves to look into the many problems that concern the acquisition, organization, servicing, and preservation of Filipiniana materials. Many participants consider this development as a big step towards real inter-library cooperation and networking among libraries and institutions in the country.

No individual or institution was named, but it was suggested and unanimously adapted that a reviewing medium to aid librarians in the selection and acquisition of Filipiniana materials be set up.

Computerization of bibliographic information of Filipiniana holdings throughout the country can start with the ARALIN database as suggested by Corazon M. Nera who started the development of such a database. ARALIN is a computerized bibliographic database of Filipiniana titles available in many university, college and school libraries in the country. From there, the core group could work towards shared creation and global access to one national Filipiniana database.

About the Authors

SALVACION M. ARLANTE received her M.A. in Library Science from the University of the Philippines. She is the University Librarian and head of the University Archives and Records Center of the UP Main Library in Diliman, Quezon City.

RODOLFO Y. TARLIT is the head librarian of the Filipiniana section of the UP Main Library. A senior lecturer at the UP Institute of Library Science, he has also served as president of the Philippine Librarians Association.

Category: Filipiniana Online

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