I came down from a bus one Wednesday afternoon, arriving in Walter Mart here in Santa Rosa, Laguna right from Manila. As usual, I welcomed the coldness of the small mall, walked on the clean, white-tiled floor, and went right away to my favorite place there—Booksale.
I did my usual peeking into the shelves. I started amusing myself with the books at the front (which are mostly Christian literature). I continued with looking into the pocketbooks at the box beside the shelves. Then, I entered inside the stall, towards the books inside a skimpy spot there, where I bent my knees to see the spines of those books piled together at one side. These have been the usual things I do whenever I arrive at Walter—to look into Booksale, to saunter and take a break inside that secondhand bookstore.
Even a cashier there has known me for a long time. We usually converse, and at those times—of course—he begins the talking. But at that particular time, he informed me of something that I almost thought of before: the bookstore will pack up and close. This month will be their last, and maybe at the time this is published it is clearing up its area.
The Booksale in Walter Mart is the nearest I could get to a bookstore, but sooner it would not be anymore. I just have to take a tricycle or two, then a jeep to the nearest Booksale, in SM Santa Rosa. The cashier and I will most likely get to see there once I no longer see the Booksale in Walter.
I will do miss that place. I don't know if another store will replace it, though that would be good. But I will miss it for one simple reason: It was my sanctuary. It's the place where I encountered and bought books on my own for the first time, thanks to my commuting as a high school student.
It was there where an interest in books bloomed, and sprouted out. I remember the first books I purchased there—three Reader's Digest condensed books (which I haven't completed yet!), and the first books I purchased and finished—a non-fiction about former US President Jimmy Carter. Since then, I have bought a lot of books there; until I realized I cannot read them all anymore, mostly due to my 1) decreasing interest in science fiction, 2) my increasing interest in Christian literature, and 3) my lack of willingness to read what I bought and to control how many I buy.
And out of this interest in books, combined with inclination to newspapers and inspiration from authors and people around me, I gained an interest in writing.
Booksale, this bookstore that offers good finds (if you're willing to "hunt") for very affordable prices, has been a part of my adolescence, and—at the risk of sounding corny—my life.
So long, Booksale. Thanks, and see you in SM and—hopefully—in Times Plaza (at UN Ave.) and Mall of Asia.