Through the newspapers and blogs of some friends, I found out that MV Doulos, the world’s largest floating bookstore was making its last voyage. It was actually here last December 2007 and that was supposed to have been its last trip to Manila but they decided to extend their Asian trip and return in 2009.
Right after the Krispy Kreme event in Makati, the 3 kids and I traveled to the Port Area where we were directed to the ship. We had to walk a short way, line up (thankfully lines were reasonably short), pay P10 each (M2 was exempted due to his age), then work our way up the steep ladder to the ship itself.
Here is some trivia about MV Doulos and its last trip to the Philippines:
* Doulos is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s oldest active ocean-going passenger ship.
* Doulos is owned and operated by Gute Bücher für Alle e.V. (Good Books for All) – a charitable trust, registered in Germany. The ship is registered in Valetta, Malta, and so the Maltese flag is displayed at the stern of the ship.
* It has received over 20M visitors, made 500 ports of call, visited >100 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and many island nations
* Its volunteers (over 300 of them) come from 40 countries, mostly young people who dedicate 2 years on board.
* No crew or staff, including the captain, receive compensation. In fact, each one of them has to raise the funds to cover the expenses of their stay on board.
* MV Doulos is supported in the following way: Half of the funding comes from the volunteers themselves, their family, friends and supporters; 25% comes from the sale of books and other items on board; the last 25% comes from gifts and donations by individuals, trusts, foundations and community groups.
* On this last voyage to the Philippines, the Doulos volunteers tutored 36 hearing-impaired students in Cebu. Prior to these lessons, the kids were also taught woodworking, welding and soap-making at their school.
That was a terribly humid afternoon and the bookfair area was NOT airconditioned. But despite it being on its last few days in Manila, the bookfair still had so many visitors, including children. I noted that most of the books were Christian books and books for young children although they had other books on health, the arts, food, sports, science and philosophy. CDs were also being sold (mostly Christian) as well as Doulos souvenirs.
We came away with a Doulos souvenir book, a Doulos plastic glass and M1’s book on scientists. Not much, really. We could easily have bought that in an ordinary bookstore. But I wanted the kids to experience Doulos because of its historic significance and because we may never get this chance again. I think the kids appreciated the experience as well because they did not complain as much as I expected. M2 even went up to one of the foreign volunteers before we disembarked and chatted him up. He was told that there could be plans to transfer the bookstore to another ship. Let’s hope so…
Here are some pictures of that afternoon.