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San Fernando City's literacy champion is 2023 National Library of the Philippines' Hall of Fame awardee

La Union province continues its streak of individuals excelling in their fields in the national scene, as Michael C. Nagas, Officer-in-Charge of the City of San Fernando Library, bagged the Hall of Fame and Loyalty Awards at the recently concluded 2023 Search for Gawad Pampublikong Aklatan (GPA) of the National Library of the Philippines (NLP) on August 25.

The NLP’s Search for GPA is the highest and most prestigious award given to library staff, administrators and public libraries throughout the nation for giving the highest standard of service to the public amidst societal challenges and difficulties.

The Hall of Fame award is unexpected according to Nagas but is particularly impressive given the strict requirement of the NLP to have at least eight major awards received before a nominee is qualified for the award, not to mention competing with librarians all over the nation.

Hindi ko po inasahan [na manalo] kasi marami tayong katunggali sa buong Pilipinas pero nagpapasalamat po ako sa NLC na nakita nila ang ating mga pagsisikap, sakripisyo at mga best practices dito sa City of San Fernando Library,” Nagas said.

Exemplary performance over the years

Nagas ‘literacy champion’ label was well deserved, after years of significant accomplishments, including proposing and initiating several programs and projects commensurate to the priority thrust of the City Government of San Fernando, La Union.

Among his many achievements include being the brainchild and prime mover of the Book Saves Program, launched in July 30, 2020 as a book drive in celebration of the National Children’s Book Day which led to the provision of 110 books for adult patients and children in the COVID-19 isolation facilities of the city government.

The book drive earned Nagas an Unang Gantimpala for the Non-Professional category during the NLP’s Gawad Parangal sa Natatanging Tagapaglingkod sa Pampublikong Aklatan on August 25, 2020.

The initial success of the program led to the expansion of the book drive’s coverage in the City of San Fernando, to include the Book Saves: Storytelling Books for Children which was launched in November 23, 2020 and distributed 2,773 storytelling books for children worth P500,000 to the 59 barangays of the city in celebration of the national Library Month and Children’s Month.

Nagas’ advocacy extends well beyond the confines of children as attested by the establishment of a Mini-Library for Persons Deprived of Liberty (PDL) at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in the city on March 26, 2021 as part of the city’s 23rd cityhood foundation anniversary, with the intention of easing the boredom of PDLs brought by their idleness and incarceration.

The establishment of the mini-library did not only ease the PDL’s boredom but also led to the cultivation of the norms and values of around 42 male and five female PDLs in the city jail.

Michael C. Nagas, OIC of the City of San Fernando Library, poses with his Hall of Fame Award during the 2023 Search for Gawad Pampublikong Aklatan (GPA) of the National Library of the Philippines (NLP) on August 25. (Photo credit: Mr. Michael C. Nagas)

A mini-library was also set up on July 27, 2021 through the efforts of Nagas in partnership with the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSDWO) at the NASUDI Center for Women and Children, catering to the educational needs and encouragement of women and children, especially the abused.

A total of 642 books were donated by the city library to the said facility.

In the short period that the above-mentioned programs and services were put up, it has already catered to around 40,120 beneficiaries  and has received book donations from various stakeholders worth P3.8 million.

Mr. Nagas credits his faith with God and his own passion for learning and service to the people as the necessary ingredients to his professional success. (Photo credit: Mr. Michael C. Nagas)

Service with a heart

Although Nagas said that he initially did not envision himself being the head of a library and leading various advocacies for the promotion of education, lifelong learning and values formation, he said that the shift into loving the profession was swift after he was transferred to the City of San Fernando Library in 2002.

Noon talagang wala akong passion dahil ako ay nagtapos ng AB Economics at noong nagsimula ako ay sa office administration ang trabaho ko. Ngunit noong ma-transfer ako ay pinagbutihan ko talaga at kumuha ako ng Bachelor in Library and Information Science,” Nagas said.

His zeal for learning led him to finish two bachelor degrees and a master’s degree in Library and Information Science, a feat he credits to his belief in God and service to the people.

Nagas also believes that in doing service, it is inevitable that problems will arise but sees problems as situations to be solved, turning problems into opportunities for learning and further improvement.

Noong nagsimula ako dito sa library ay naging mahirap talaga ang transition, kaya ako nag-aral ng mabuti at nakita ko ang epekto ng serbisyong aking ibinibigay sa mga kliyente namin at pati na rin sa aking mga staff,” Mr. Nagas said.

On his advice to people who looks up to him and his many achievements, Nagas says that the most important recipes to success is being true to one’s self, loving work wherever they may be assigned, focus on the tasks at hand, and to not forget to enjoy.

Advocacy on reading books

The pandemic has nonetheless shifted the way people do things, sometimes to dire consequences because of their inability to do the normal activities they did before and this has sometimes led to mental health issues for people regardless of age.

Recognizing this, Nagas advises people to hold on to their faith in God and to also use the various ways and means that God has given for us to while away time in seclusion, with a particular focus on reading books.

Manalig lang tayo sa Diyos at isipin na ang mga problemang ating kinakaharap ay mga pagsubok lamang at lahat ng ito ay mayroong solusyon and I suggest that they read books para madivert nila ang kanilang atensyon sa mga bagay na maari pa nilang pagkunan ng bagong ideya at kaalaman,” Nagas says in closing. (JCR/MJTAB/CCMT, PIA La Union)

About the Author

Chester Trinidad

Information Officer III

Region 1

Chester Carlo M. Trinidad is the Information Center Manager of PIA La Union. 

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