Manila’s famed underpass bookstore will return soon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 2) — Books from Underground, a quaint space filled to the brim with a wide selection of literature in an underpass in Manila, was a beloved spot for bookworms looking to snag a cheap deal on books — until the store became a casualty of Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso’s clearing operations.

“Our physical bookstore in the Lagusnilad underpass was recently demolished and we're currently putting our stock into order causing some delay in the processing of orders and for the moment for shipping only. Please bear with us,” Books from Underground said in its Facebook page last month.

But the bookstore, once located at the Lagusnilad underpass where avid readers can find selections ranging from popular young adult books like Veronica Roth’s Divergent to influential works of great thinkers like Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, might make a comeback in Manila’s underbelly.

‘Wag ho kayong magalala,” Moreno said Friday in a briefing. “Matapos namin ‘yan linisin, bibigyan namin siya ng pagkakataon na ma-legitimize ‘yung kanyang existence.”

[Translation: Don’t worry. Once we’re done cleaning up, we will give it the opportunity to legitimize its existence.]

Prompted by a comment on social media, Moreno said he has given advice to the bookstore owner and his mother on how to become “legitimate businessmen.”

Kaunting araw na lang ‘yan dahil ang gusto ko po ang pagtitinda sa kalye kailangan may dignidad … Gusto ko naghahanapbuhay tayo na mataas ang noo natin, na wala tayong naagrabyadong kapwa,” he said.

[Translation: It would take just a few days because I want our street vendors to have dignity … I want us to do business with our heads held high and without inconveniencing anyone.]

Books from Underground owner AJ Laberinto told CNN Philippines that he and his mother were invited to Moreno’s office on Tuesday over lunch.

Laberinto said Moreno allowed them to return to the underpass once they secure all the necessary permits. They will occupy a space that has a roll-up metal cover.

“We deeply thank the mayor for providing us space,” he said. “[We’re] doing our part in imparting knowledge to Manileños in the heart of the city.”