Rough Cuts | The missing original copies

Some three weeks back, we wrote in this space our unexpected telephone conversation with former (and possibly come-backing) Davao City second district congressman Vincent Garcia.

We did not talk about politics. Instead he gave me some insights on an item we wrote about Davao pre-war journalists who have chronicled the former undivided province and then the newly chartered City of Davao.
Our discussion centered on the item I wrote about the editor-publisher of the pre-war publication “Davao Directory.” The subject person was Nicolas V. Pacifico who, to our opinion, should have more than qualified for a nomination, even if posthumously, for the prestigious Datu Bago Awards given during the annual celebration of Araw ng Dabaw.
According to former Congressman Vincent, he was hoping that the source of my article was an original copy of the pre-war publication because he has long been searching for it. Of course we told Vincent that we only had a reproduction of that 1934 edition.
It was in that telephone conversation that we learned one of the former second district congressman’s passions. That is, collecting historical items including publications, pictures, and other old manuscripts about Davao.
But what an unexpected opportunity opened for us in that call. Vincent committed to secure other copies of Pacifico’s Davao Directory, his other publications, and some manuscripts that would help anyone interested to learn about the old Davao and its people.
After our talk Vincent said he was living for Manila to look into information that there were copies of Pacifico’s publications and manuscripts in the library of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, the Vargas Museum also at the UP Diliman, and at the Ateneo de Manila University library. And he promised us he would photocopy all of those and give us a copy each.
Actually, we almost forget about it because we have doubt as to the availability of time for the former lawmaker from the second district to go to those libraries and endure the hassles of requesting for the entrustment of the already deteriorating pages of the publications and other manuscripts.
But last week Vincent called us up again so we could pick up his promised copies from his residence.
We were so honored thinking that here is one man who, many think, is a member of Davao’s elite society working to fulfill a commitment.
And indeed we got a reproduction copy each of Pacifico’s 1937 and 1939 editions of the “Davao Directory,” and also a copy of his bi-monthly publication Davao Review, August 19, 1939 issue which was a special edition to honor the birthday celebration the late Philippine Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon.
But one revelation that former congressman Vincent made that down-hearted both of us was the information that there are original copies of Pacifico’s publications that are now in the possession of the library of Yale University in the United States.
According to Garcia he communicated with Yale University library requesting for confirmation of the report, and if possible he can secure an electronic copy of the same. Yes, the university library confirmed its possession of the Davao journalist’s publications. However, he was advised the library would charge the requesting party a fee of US$260 for the electronic reproduction. In other words, it would cost about P30 thousand from Vince pocket. Apparently, former congressman Vince decided to defer his request for copies from the original.
Given this information, we cannot help but raise these questions: Does our own City Library, or perhaps the Museo Dabawenyo, have copies, or even a single copy of the originals of any of Pacifico’s publications? Is there no single old family in Davao who possesses original copies or copy of the same?
If there is none, then it is a shame just even to think of non-Davao entities like the UP library, the Vargas family museum, and the Ateneo de Manila University library having possession of some important documentary testimonies of Davao’s rich history while the local government of Davao City does not have any. And perhaps even more shameful is the fact that a US-based institution has preserved copies of those important documents chronicling the evolution of Davao in a particular period of time. Worst is the apparent putting into oblivion the persons who wrote and caused its publications.
And talking of Vincent’s passions the former congressman showed us a few framed photos of some important landmarks of pre-war Davao that are part of his collections.
According to Vincent he is planning to put up a photo exhibit of the old Davao hopefully in time for the Kadayawan festival. He will display some 500 framed photos from his collection of about 3,000 old still documentation of the city from as early as the American occupation in 1903 up to the years immediately after the war.
He is also contemplating on holding a contest for oldest best photos covering the period. In that contest, photograph owners are encouraged to lend their old pictures and allow the organizers to scan them prior to evaluation by the board of judges. The scanned copies will be included in the photo exhibit.
Of course this, according to Vincent, is still in the preparatory stage. But it would be better that this early, those who are in possession of such old pictures should now express their willingness to enter their old photos and have it scanned. Initially, interested persons can go to the residence of the former congressman along NCCC Subdivision Drive in Bajada or get in touch with Cell No. 0939-2980435.

Posted in Opinion