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Home NEWS Events Filipinas Heritage Library: Fourteen Years of Promoting Literacy and Philippine Art, History, and Culture

Filipinas Heritage Library: Fourteen Years of Promoting Literacy and Philippine Art, History, and Culture

The Nielson Tower has had numerous permutations since it was built in 1937. From being a passenger terminal to becoming a tower, to serving as a police headquarters, and even a restaurant, it has served different purposes throughout its existence. In 1996, it became the home of the Filipinas Heritage Library. This August 23, 2010, the Filipinas Heritage Library celebrates its fourteen years of serving as a catalyst for Philippine culture and literacy.


The Filipinas Heritage Library began in 1974 as part of the Ayala Museum through the donation of materials from the Ayala Corporation and the Zobel de Ayala family. In celebration of the centennial of the 1986 Philippine Revolution, the library was given a new home in the Nielson Tower, marking the Ayala Foundation’s commitment to providing a knowledge network on the Philippines.

Its rich collection of material on Philippine art, culture, and history is the heart and soul of the library. Aside from maintaining and expanding its collection, the Filipinas Heritage Library offers more than traditional library services. It has evolved into a one-stop electronic research center on the Philippines, promoting and providing access to the wealth and dynamism of the Filipino national heritage through the latest in information technology and telecommunications. Its extensive catalog of Filipiniana books and vast collection of photos has been readily accessible through the internet since 1996. Moreover, it has positioned itself as well as a gateway to other databases in and on the Philippines via its Library Link program with other major libraries in the Philippines. Through this, researchers, both local and international, have been able to access Filipinana resources online. Thus, just as the Nielson Tower connected the Philippines to the world in the 1930s, the Filipinas Heritage Library now links the country internationally through the information highway.

In its dedication to advocating Philippine art, culture, and history, the Filipinas Heritage Library has also ventured beyond the realm of librarianship, and has been actively involved in various events and projects that showcase Filipino artists and artistry. It holds lectures on these subjects to create awareness and understanding of Philippine culture and art. It also organizes writing and photography workshops that are facilitated by notable instructors and practitioners in their fields, and sponsors exhibits in the library Alcove as well as elsewhere. Furthermore, the Filipinas Heritage Library was at the forefront of this year’s Bravo! Celebrating the Filipino, the Ayala group’s salute to Filipino ingenuity and artistry, which featured notable Filipino musicians, designers, filmmakers, writers, and visual artists through a series of events that showcased their work to the public.

In the effort to expand and enrich learning in the country, the library has also created projects that focus on education. The My Library project, for instance, is geared towards the improvement of collections, facilities, and services of other private or public libraries in schools, cities, and municipalities, and creates activities and programs that promote the love of reading and learning. The library has also initiated the Teens Read, Too! Program to strengthen the young adult genre in Philippine literature. The workshops and contests included in the program are aimed at encouraging teens to read. On the other hand, the Trade Roots program focuses on teacher-training for the teaching of Philippine history from the perspective of trade. It emphasizes the active and central role of the Filipino people in shaping their history instead of the predominant belief that they are merely a product of the imposition and influence of foreign forces. To spark an understanding of reading techniques as wells as to promote Filipino culture at a young age, the library has published two children’s books on Filipino art mythology, Wigan Becomes a Sculptor and Tominaman sa Rogong Becomes a Painter, based on folklore from the Ifugao and Maranaw tribes.

By creating a venue for information dissemination and spearheading cultural events, the Filipinas Heritage Library has transformed itself from being merely a storehouse of information into being at the forefront of disseminating that information. After fourteen years of promoting arts and culture, and literacy, it is at the threshold of becoming a true leader in such endeavors, and will continue to strive for the success of its advocacies in the years to come.