Underground Bookstore Returns as Manila’s Lagusnilad Underpass Gets a Makeover

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Image Credits: Mayor Isko Moreno

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.

Coming soon, mga Batang Maynila! 😊 #BagongMaynila

Posted by Isko Moreno Domagoso on Sunday, August 16, 2020

During the clean-up of Lagusnilad Underpass, which connects Manila City Hall and Intramuros, “Books from Underground” was among the stores demolished.

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Image Credits: AJ Laberinto

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.”

Updates on our new Lagusnilad Underpass. Murals sa mga pader para maaliwalas para sa mga dadaan.Manila, God First! (Photos by K R De Asis/MPIO)

Posted by Isko Moreno Domagoso on Monday, June 29, 2020

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.

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Image Credits: AJ Laberinto

“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.

Knockin' on heaven's door.

Posted by AJ Laberinto on Sunday, November 24, 2019

Laberinto also announced that he is looking for a new physical store for the bookshop.

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Image Credits: AJ Laberinto
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Image Credits: AJ Laberinto

Consequently, the demolition of stores at Lagusnilad drew public ire. Some are saddened by the sudden closure of their beloved bookshop.

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Image Credits: AJ Laberinto
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Image Credits: AJ Laberinto

However, Mayor Isko Moreno said “Books from Underground” will re-open in no time.

"Kelan ba magbubukas?""May awa ang Dios."

Posted by AJ Laberinto on Friday, October 18, 2019

“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.

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Image Credits: Mayor Isko Moreno

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.

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