By Roy Mabasa
Instituto Cervantes, the cultural arm of the Spanish Embassy in the Philippines, will lead the celebration of Dia del Libro (International Book Day) coinciding with the commemoration of two of history’s greatest writers – Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare.
In a celebration to be held at the Ayala Triangle on Saturday, April 27, top bookstores and publishing houses will be selling a wide array of books at 20 percent discount and following Spanish tradition, everyone who buys a book will be given a rose.
One of the highlights of Dia del Mundo is the rewriting of Don Quijote to commemorate the Day of Miguel de Cervantes.
Instituto Cervantes has invited visitors to copy Don Quijote de La Mancha by hand. Published in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is known as the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon.
Every year, around 500 book-loving volunteers hand-write an excerpt from the timeless novel of Cervantes. After years of contribution from volunteer writers, it will be deposited in the library of the Instituto Cervantes.
First introduced in the Philippines in 2006, the Dia del Libro tradition began in Barcelona, Spain to celebrate St. George’s Day every 23rdof April, during which men and women exchange roses and books.
This date also honors Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare who both died on April 23, 1616.
This significant coincidence prompted the UNESCO in 1995 to declare April 23 as “World Book and Copyright Day” to instill the love of reading among the youth and to promote respect for the rights of authors over their literary and artistic works.
In the Philippines, April has likewise been declared by the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA) as National Literature Month in honor of renowned Filipino poet, Francisco Balagtas who was born in the month on April 2, 1788.