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The city government of Manila allows the return of “Books from Underground” thrift bookstore inside Lagusnilad Underpass, as a “legitimate business.”
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said in his “The Capital Report” which aired on Facebook live, that he heard the appeal on social media to bring back the famous underground bookstore. Thus, the city government coordinated with the owner to legitimize the business.
During the clean-up of Lagusnilad Underpass, which connects Manila City Hall and Intramuros, “Books from Underground” was among the stores demolished.
Mayor Isko said, “Kasi may mga netizen na nagsasabi sa atin na may natanggal tayo doon na matagal na matagal nang bilihan ng libro na nakakamura ang mga estudyante and so on and so forth and all these things.”
In addition, he said, “Huwag po kayong mag-alala. Matapos namin ‘yang linisin, bibigyan namin siya ng pagkakataon na ma-legitimize ‘yung kaniyang existence.”
“At you can ask him (owner) at pati ang nanay niya, tinayuan na namin sila kung paano sila magiging legitimate businessmen.”
AJ Laberinto owns the bookstore. He has been of service to students, book lovers and passersby of the Manila underpass for a decade. He has been selling there with his mother since 2009 until his stall was removed in 2019.
Laberinto stated how his business depends on politicians in power. He said he was hoping for a negotiation with Isko Moreno before the clean-up. But he and the fellow underpass sellers did not get the chance to do so.
“Lahat ng may pwesto kay Isko aapela. Lahat pinaalis na. Ang Lagusnilad na lang ang nalalabi. Sa Lunes kayong lahat na natitira at si Isko takits. Lumipas ang Lunes. Dumating ang Martes,” Laberinto said. “Wala na. Winasak na. Nakalutang ka pa. Buhay ang Maynila pero di ka kasama,” he added.
Laberinto also announced that he is looking for a new physical store for the bookshop.
Consequently, the demolition of stores at Lagusnilad drew public ire. Some are saddened by the sudden closure of their beloved bookshop.
However, Mayor Isko Moreno said “Books from Underground” will re-open in no time.
“So, konting araw na lang ‘yan dahil ang gusto ko po ang pagtitinda sa kalye kailangan may dignidad. Gusto ko nag-hahanapbuhay tayo na nakataas ang noo natin, nang wala tayong inaagrabyadong kapwa,” the Manila mayor Isko Moreno said.
Furthermore, Manila City Engineer Armand Andres said in a Manila Public Information live stream that the rehabilitated Lagusnilad Underpass will be unveiled by the end of August 2020.