Quintin Jose V. Pastrana, the man behind Library Renewal Partnerships (LRP), a coalition that builds community libraries, didn’t do well in school. It wasn’t delinquency; young Quintin was simply more comfortable reading books outside of his classrooms. He got so comfortable in the activity he would cut classes.
“I think that [reading] was my salvation in school,” Quintin told Xandra Ramos-Padilla, the managing director of National Bookstore and the president of Anvil Publishing, during the Heroes and Titans campaign shoot of ANCX. “I think that’s what carried me through earning my way back into better grades.” Quintin and Xandra are both advocates of literacy, and they talk about their efforts to make sure people are reading and learning in this weekend’s Heroes and Titans episode.
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- Xandra Ramos Padilla: “I think my role is to be the keeper of Nanay Coring’s legacy”
Quintin’s deep affection for reading brought him beyond just having better grades in school. In 1994, he graduated with a degree in Political Science, minor in French Studies at the Ateneo de Manila University. Later, he earned three Master’s degrees: in Literature (from Oxford University), in International Relations (from Cambridge University), and in Business Administration (from Georgetown University).
It was during his years at Georgetown University when he wrote a paper on third spaces, an inclusive space that is impervious to demographics, financial status, sex, religion, beliefs, etc. He wrote it in the context of the Philippine setting.
“There’s not a place that can really welcome you,” he says. “Even you if you go to the mall, you have to pay for something. But the library, whoever you are, you’re welcome there. So that’s the concept we’re trying to build.”
The core of Quintin’s library-building work is a reflection of his personal journey. While in one of the graduate schools he attended, he found out he has attention-deficit/
“Any social enterprises naman,it starts with solving a problem,” he told Xandra. “In my case, my problem was I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t tap my entire potential to become a better person.” He realized that it has always been in libraries that he finds a form of solace, “with the quietness, with the resources, and the wisdom.” It is where he is allowed to explore his imagination and his curiosity. “From my experience to other kids’ experiences, it’s the same thing. If you don’t provide them access, you’re going to waste the potential of the generation,” he concludes.
Building the Learning Spaces
To implement his vision for LRP, Quintin taps the resources of local and national government, and builds partnerships with the private sectors. He calls the government units to action by invoking Republic Act No. 7743 (An Act Providing for the Establishment of Congressional, City and Municipal Libraries and Barangay Reading Centers Throughout the Philippines, Appropriating the Necessary Funds Thereof and Other Purposes.). He also used crowd sourcing as a tool to acquire enough books for his libraries. Then he collected donations from local and international publishers and companies, including National Bookstore. He partnered with experts to provide capacity building events and literacy programs for the stakeholders.
In 2010, Quintin built the Library Renewal Partnerships with the goal of putting up 200 community libraries by 2020. It’s now 2019. The group has already built 998 libraries, and are working on their 1000th one, a mobile library, by the end of the year.
Quintin believes his projects are products of his ability to blend worlds. Before starting LRP, he had worked for the Senate and the House of Representatives. He also runs a renewable energy company and an independent publishing house. Add to that the he is an author and a business news anchor for ANC. He also co-founded a small investment house that focuses on start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
“Literature and business seems to be very strange bed fellows,” he says of his wide range of skills and interests. But thank heavens for books and libraries Quintin found his way to combine the two and make it work.