In the middle of the bustling food hub that is Maginhawa, is a haven that book lovers know very well. Before the food stalls, the long lines, the traffic jams, and everything else that the busy block is now known for, is a store so small yet so magical, so mesmerizing.
And seemingly glowing under the brightly lit shop, there you see, towers of books—all inviting you to smell its ol' vanilla scent that's truly addicting.
Welcome to Bookay-Ukay.
Eight years ago, this independent bookstore was first of the few that took the chance and set up shop at the now well-known street. With only carinderias as neighbors, Bookay-Ukay boomed along with Maginhawa. It saw restaurants being constructed, thoroughfares getting crowded, and many of their suki graduating from college, even getting married.
Flashback to 2006, one of the founders, Dan Gaffud, used to just sell books on the streets. Armed with only a banig, a blanket, and a bag full of books, he takes his usual spot along the busy Padre Faura Street near UP Manila.
Cliché as it seems, the phrase "Started from the bottom, now he's here" perfectly fits him.
Fast-forward to 2015. Gaffud's second store was born. Located in Project 4, Quezon City, near the Quirino Memorial Medical Center, is BookFellas. Just like Bookay-Ukay, BookFellas also buys, sells, and trades books.
Bookay-Ukay and BookFellas owner Dan Gaffud
Bookay-Ukay and BookFellas, both standing strong despite the advent of ebooks. Now, who says print is dead?
"Print is not dead because through social media, books are being promoted, so mas maraming nagiging curious sa isang book, kaya hahanap sila ng kopya nito," asserts Gaffud.
And if you thought independent bookstores like these two have no place in a world filled with big-name emporiums, think again. For Gaffud, there's no competition between indie owners like him and major stores. "Walang competition kasi mas masaya pag maraming nagdidistribute ng libro. Ibig lang sabihin nito ay mas marami ang nagbabasa," he shares.
With tons of titles to choose from his two bookshops, we asked Gaffud to recommend his 10 must-read books—and connect three words to it. Hurry, bookmark this page for your next book hunting.
1) The Godfather by Mario Puzo
Family. Loyalty. Honor
2) The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
Innocence. Love. Authenticity.
3) Art of War by Sun Tzu
Strategy. Tactics. Intelligence.
4) Being There by Jerzy Kosinski
Fun. Satire. Media critique.
5) The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Alienation. Innocence. Hypocrisy.
6) Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl
Subtlety. Irony. Surprise endings.
7) The Stranger by Albert Camus
Detachment/non-attachment. Amorality. Absurdity.
8) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Human psychology. Great writing. Strange character.
9) Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy
Human condition. Death. Enlightenment.
10) Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Isolation. Pain. Misery.
Bookay-Ukay is located at #78 Maginhawa st. Teachers Village East, Diliman. Quezon City. Store hours: Mondays to Sundays at 10:00 am to 11:00 pm. BookFellas is located at #114 J.P. Rizal Street, Brgy. Milagrosa, Project 4, Quezon City. Store hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays at 1:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Photography by Tessa Porqueriño