Words by Ian Raphael Lopez
Photos by Juan Sebastian Evangelista
In an environment like the university, we all need get our hands once in a while on a good book. There’s that cliché saying that books transport us into worlds previously unknown; but more than that, books can also inform and push us to think critically about the real world. Perhaps, you may even need one to serve as a handy reference material for that course that has been bugging your academics.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the bookshops around UP Los Baños that will surely satisfy your book cravings, whether you’re finding something to pass the time or to get adept with your courses.
10397 Lopez Avenue, Brgy. Batong Malake, Los Banos, Laguna (near Agapita Road and Alfamart)
There’s a sense of being transported back to an idyllic time when one goes inside Storbuks. The store has two floors: on the first is an assortment of antique and collector’s items: vintage furniture, potter ware, old clocks and artworks, and much more. The rustic atmosphere goes up to the second floor, which contains a voluminous, yet organized, trove of vintage books. Fiction and non-fiction books are organized by category and authors. There’s a separate shelf for reference books, too. There is also an exhaustive collection of news and consumer magazines. National Geographic magazine collectors often troop to Storbuks to find a missing issue.
Lorie Baclao has been working for the store since 2012. She said that Storbuks was put up 21 years ago by Grace Cariaga, whose husband was once a professor in UPLB. From a previous location that was nearer to UPLB, they transferred in Agapita because of an unforeseen growth of customers and a need for a bigger place that can cater parking.
Even Ate Lorie, as she is called by regular patrons, was once a regular customer of Storbuks herself. “When I was a student, I would often buy pocketbooks here because they were cheap,” she said. “During a dark period of my life, especially when my family fell apart, I read more pocketbooks to pass the time and help me heal.” Now, having been working in Storbuks for 7 years, Ate Lorie was able to send her children to school. She enjoys interacting with the store’s regular customers, especially students who still flock to Storbuks to find a good read.
Books, Crafts and Coffee Shop
Corner Ruby and Data Sts. 4030 (Along Raymundo), Brgy. Batong Malake, Los Baños, Laguna
The bookstore is away from the cacophony of noise in Lopez Avenue, literally an escape from reality. The bookstore is bathed with pastel colors, making it look modern and inviting. Books and Crafts offer much more recent books, some of which are shipped from overseas. There is an interesting selection of fiction, non-fiction and reference books. The store also has lifestyle magazines and an impressive collection of Reader’s Digest issues. There’s also a variety of books written by Filipino authors. It also has craft materials, and one can order coffee and pastries while reading their newly bought books. Aside from this, the shop also offers workshops and events to develop creative talents among its patrons.
The bookstore was established by Yolanda Catalla in 2015. In their Facebook page, Mrs. Catalla shared why the store was established: “I was left with three huge boxes of books – soft and hard covered. The idea of thrashing them horrified me! Books are meant to be read!” It took a few months before the store gained a foothold among its target customers of college students.
Book buffs often stay at the place because of its interiors, says Beth Caña, an employee of BCC. “Because of our extensive collection, students and adults alike go here to buy popular books.” “Ate Beth”, in her third year as the shopkeeper, also had a personal affinity for the bookstore. “My son would often go here and read books while I was looking after the shop,” she said. “For me, I wouldn’t mind spending money for books especially for my children. It’s a habit worth inculcating into their minds while they are still young.”
Graduate School Complex, U.P. Los Baños (near DL Umali Hall)
Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm
UPLB has been known for its excellence in agricultural education. What better way to fortify this reputation by establishing its own bookstore, with a focus on agriculture. Established in 1986, the bookstore has been known for a comprehensive catalog of technical guides, academic studies, and journals on agriculture. These books are arranged by cluster or category, which makes it easy to navigate. The office which maintains the bookstore, the UPLB College of Agriculture Publications Office, still churns out the Aggie Green and Gold—the predecessor of today’s UPLB Perspective—as a journal of events relevant to the college, along with other biweekly newsletters and AgriTourist magazine. This has been a stop-over for students, professionals and academics wanting a good reference collection on agriculture.
Venecia B. Batain has been the collecting and sales officer for the bookstore since 1987. She is part of a staff that has virtually worked in the bookstore since its inception. Batain acknowledged that the bookstore is a must-go for academics and other state universities and colleges (SUCs), cementing CAFS’ reputation not only in the Luzon area but also across the country. Asked if what is lacking among the collection, she said that there should be more books in Filipinos, especially for farmers who “need it”. “While farmers have been generally receptive to our English books and guides, no doubt that we can reach more of them through our own language,” Batain said.
UPLB University Bookstore
Basement, Student Union Building, UP Los Banos
Hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm
Yes, you’ve read it right: our university also has its own bookstore. It has a healthy trove of reference materials, textbooks and reviewers. It also has a collection of law books, UPLB journals, farmer reference materials, even coffee table books all handsomely arranged in several bookshelves.
Most of its clientele are universities who flock to find cheap reference books for their libraries and students. A notable thing about the UPLB Bookstore is that it was borne out of a cause. “The bookstore was established by the UP Foundation Inc. in 2010. They initially donated books from UP Press and the Publication Office. The catalog has expanded since,” says Fidel Lantican, the sales administrator and the sole person responsible for the UPLB Bookstore. Speaking of causes, 10% of sales go directly to the UP Foundation.
But according to Lantican, it faces a major problem: you can’t literally find it above ground. The bookstore is in the farthest corner of the Student Union Building basement. “Honestly, I’m not comfortable,” he said. “It would have been better if this store is located somewhere else, in places where people are most likely to see it. This could have been also a good part of our library, where people could really stop by our bookstore and not only face the prospect of just borrowing books.” Obviously, the ungodly location still doesn’t deter academics from other parts of Luzon to buy books in bulk from this bookstore. [P]