Losses at Nat'l Library

Manila Bulletin, May 30, 2008 | Go to article overview

Losses at Nat'l Library


A Manila court will sentence this week a key figure in this scandal, a former division chief of the library from whom hundreds of stolen documents were recovered when her nefarious activities were uncovered by the NBI.

***

The one who opened my eyes to the systematic vandalization of the library was Mrs. Adoracion Bolos, director of the library from 1992 to 1994, now happily retired. It was Mrs. Bolos who was instrumental in stopping the thieving activities of the above-mentioned division chief and in catching her accomplice selling documents to an antique shop in Ermita.

This fence has a 12-year sentence on his head but has managed to elude authorities for l3 years.

***

I dug deeper into this scandal by talking discreetly with employees of the National Library and found out that the looting of the library started in the 70s. When President Marcos began writing his book on Philippine history Iginuhit ng Tadhana, he was assisted in the research work by a team of eggheads.

Members of this group took out, against library rules, many books and documents to do their job. I was told that many of the books and precious documents were not returned.

***

In a different case, a consultant of the library took out several Rizaliana items but has not returned some of them until now, one of them the original manuscript of one of Rizal's novels. This guy is a journalist who parades himself as a historian.

The library employees told me that a former director of the library has appropriated many valuable books and made them part of his collection at home. He had morphed into a historian of note.

Many bibliophiles have donated their private collection of books and documents to the library but some of these collections have also disappeared, so I am told. Among the donors were Pardo de Tavera and Maximo Kalaw.

***

Adoring Bolos is an unsung heroine. When she took over as director of the library in 1992, she suspected widespread pilfering going on and sought the help of the NBI. They were able to track down a former researcher of the National Historical Institute, Rolando Bayhon, as the chief culprit.

Bayhon was arrested as he was about to sell 42 historical documents at R1,000 each to an antique store in Mabini. …

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