Adorned with a glinting yellow parol in front, the door to the library was already open as about a dozen children were inside hovering over books and an intense game of chess. Several flew from shelf to shelf as their eyes zoomed from Science to History to Art in our simplified categories of selections. With around 10,000 books in our arsenal of learning, the smaller kids would usually pull up chairs to retrieve reading treasures shelved in nooks taller than them. And they would nestle themselves in the tables in the first floor. Going up the staircase, I smelled new varnish layered on the surface, and saw some more boxes of new books stacked in the corner. To my left was a wide space with a conference table and to my right was a busy computer room with three veiled Muslim girls chatting over their newly-made e-mail accounts. I then took a peak into a wide, clean guest room fit to be occupied by our visiting volunteers in the future. Finally, a little boy ran past me to go down to the comfort room. After he left, I checked out the two new comfort rooms for both genders whose glinting blue tiles and fixtures were kept clean for the kids.
Today, KRIS Library - Manicahan is not just a hub of reading and learning; it is now also an internet oasis in a quiet town where our beneficiaries have at their fingertips so much instant information and so many opportunities. Today, the library is not just a library: it is a complete home -- of literacy, of joint learning, of peace.
This is the spirit of expansion displayed not only by the library there, but also by the KRIS Library organization as a whole. Including Manicahan, we now have five libraries. KRIS Library - Quezon City has been remodeled with a roof and new shelves of books to accommodate the multitude of children coming from Barangay Holy Spirit's vast slum areas. Meanwhile, the foundations for the libraries in Brgy. Tungawan and Brgy. Timbabauan (that both stand near MILF camps in Zamboanga Sibugay) have been forged. Construction will hopefully be underway in 2012. Furthermore, KRIS Library - Rizal, built in the relocation area for poor victims of Ondoy and fire incidents in Metro Manila, is up and running thanks to our partnership with several Claretian missionaries. And beyond the libraries, thousands of smiles have been sparked and a hundred minds ignited with our numerous books and school supplies distribution, and our prolific scholarship fund that has already given 101 scholarship grants from elementary to college.
Definitely, much has been done. We have taken our advocacy to new frontiers. We have reached further. And we owe it all to you.
KRIS Library, without its sponsors, media partners, volunteers, and many supporters, is nothing. Your every book, your every peso, your reaching hands have gone a long way to uplift education for thousands of children in the Philippines. You, dear KRIS warrior, have made an impact in the life of a child who could be the next Jose Rizal, Albert Einstein, or Mahatma Gandhi; you had helped us give the opportunity of a lifetime. Peace, they say, is a long, complicated process. But we believe this is a good start.
More than three years ago, my family and I arrived here in Zamboanga City. After the long ride from the airport to the town of Manicahan, the first thing I sought to do was to arrange logistics for the upcoming soft opening of KRIS Library - Manicahan. Back then, we were unsure if we could keep the advocacy running. Back then, we couldn't believe we could reach this far. But then we found out the many amazing things people go all the way for to be able to help out.
Now, I am typing from an internet-connected computer in KRIS Library-Manicahan. The place buzzes with life even as Noche Buena is a few hours away. Two of our KRIS scholars huddle between a group of younger lads and teach them the alphabet. Upstairs, veiled Muslim girls who knew nothing about computers three years ago are now expertly discovering their way online.
I have no doubt: this joyful season, KRIS Library owes itself to you, because the wishes of many children this Christmas have already come true.