While I was writing the earlier blog entry on what is worth saving, I remembered an announcement that Vibal Publishing made recently. Their excellent site, Filipiniana.net, indicates that they are in the process of digitizing as many primary sources – texts on the Philippines (its literature, culture, history, and related topics) – as they could, with the goal of providing FREE ACCESS to all researchers and interested individuals. This saves rare publications from the wear and tear of physical access.
One particular primary source of note is the 1907 publication “The Philippine Islands: 1493-1898” by Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson, known to many simply as Blair and Robertson. Here’s another interesting description of the books. There is one actual full set at the University of the Philippines Main Library, the rest are with other universities, local historians or collectors. Our family’s copies are the Cacho Hermanos facsimile reprints from the early 1970s which compressed the original 55 volumes into 19. These are considered rare because apparently the Cacho warehouse burned down shortly after the reprints were made. My mother bought ours from writer Alberto Florentino prior to his move to the US.
Filipiniana.net, as mentioned above, is putting together a “fully indexed and full searchable” full text collection for free. Jeroen Hellingman, however, is also digitizing his personal copies and putting them on the Project Gutenberg Philippines site. So far he has uploaded 25 out of the 55 volumes. This undertaking is HUGE, I have to admire that kind of passion and dedication. Other institutions are offering the digitized books for as much as USD 49 the set (exclusive of shipping).
The number of online academic Filipiniana sources is growing, and that’s a good thing. Citing Wikipedia alone in one’s paper just DOESN’T make the grade.