As Instituto Cervantes de Manila marks the 10th anniversary of Día Internacional del Libro (International Book Day) on April 23, it will be giving 100 books for free. Around 4,000 book titles will also be gathered at the Spanish cultural center.
Introduced in Manila by the Spanish cultural agency in 2006, the tradition of Día del Libro really began in Barcelona, Spain. It was inspired by an old legend involving chivalry.
The tradition is commemorated on St. George’s Day, every 23rd of April, when gifts are exchanged between sweethearts. Thus, the tradition encourages booklovers from all walks of life to come together and ignite their passion for reading literature.
This date also commemorates the deaths of two of history’s greatest writers—Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare—who coincidentally also died on the same year, 1616.
Instituto director Carlos Madrid said Día del Libro was one of the most important celebrations in Spain, where people exchanged books and roses. He added that, aside from Christmas, Día del Libro was the time when the Spanish book industry reached the peak of its sales.
“I think that it is important to have special days closely related to reading, learning and writing,” he said. “Culture plays an increasingly relevant role in modern societies because it is the most human aspect of our identity.”
Night of Books
For this year’s celebration, Instituto Cervantes will hold La Noche de los Libros (The Night of Books), where guests would enjoy a feast of Spanish food, games, music, poetry recitals and free Spanish classes. The fair starts at twilight.
The book fair will feature top exhibitors and bookstores that will be selling a wide selection of books at a 20-percent discount, including dictionaries, children’s and Young Adult titles, fiction and nonfiction novels. Every book purchase would entitle one to a free rose.
The first 100 people to come to Instituto Cervantes for La Noche de los Libros will receive a free book or a rose upon entrance. Those who would sign up for a membership at the Instituto library would also get a free book.
Writing ‘Don Quixote’
This year also marks the 400th year of publication of the second volume of Cervantes’ immortal work, “Don Quixote de la Mancha.”
Instituto Cervantes will organize the “Re-Writing of Don Quijote,” to which 500 booklovers are invited to join in literally “handwriting” the novel.
Each volunteer will have two minutes to write by hand a few sentences of the novel.
The “writing session” will be at 4-11 p.m.
The final handwritten book will be deposited in the Library Miguel Hernández of Instituto Cervantes.
People interested may reserve their time slot by writing to this e-mail
“Chivalry is a key component in the Spanish character; we even coined quijotismo, quixotic,” Madrid said. “But ‘Don Quijote’ is more than a chivalry novel. It is a book that has the virtue of telling new things every time you read—that is why it is a classic.”
Día del Libro is organized by Instituto Cervantes de Manila in collaboration with the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines and Spanish Agency International Cooperation for Development (Aecid).
Admission to all Día del libro activities is free on a first-come, first-served basis.
For further information, log on to: Instituto Cervantes’ website www.manila.cervantes.es or www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila, or contact Instituto Cervantes de Manila at (632) 5261482 local 111.