Sunday, March 4, 2012

MV Logos Hope: Books, Bibles and Blessings at the World's Largest Floating Book Fair

Logos Hope - Sunset at Pier 15
After Doulos sailed off into the sunset, Logos Hope picks up where it left off
I haven't fully realized how relevant the story of the prodigal son in these modern times until I saw the "Journey of Life" exhibit inside the MV Logos Hope currently docked at Pier 15 of Manila's South Pier.  We came on a Saturday afternoon expecting to see shelves after shelves of affordable books much in the same way we expected from trips to the late, lamented MV Doulos everytime it included Manila in its ports of call.  We were pleasantly surprised by what else is on board.
Logos Hope - Father and Son at the Journey of Life Exhibit
For some, the trip was a bonding moment for families
To begin with, Logos is a much bigger ship than its predecessor which was decommissioned two years ago after serving a long, fruitful life (built in 1914, it was the oldest active ocean-faring passenger ship at the time of its retirement).  The numbers speak for themselves:  400 unpaid volunteers of over 45 nationalities work onboard Logos Hope while the expansive book fair carries over 5,000 book titles, inheriting the title "largest floating bookshop/library" from Doulos.  This maybe a different ship but the vision and purpose remains the same: to bring knowledge, help and hope to people everywhere it sails to.

Upon entering, there's a theatre used for orienting new guests before proceeding to the book fair which occupies a sizable portion of the floor.  There were shelves and shelves of books alright and the prices are very reasonable (books are tagged in units; with 1 unit equals to 2 Philippine Pesos).  I gravitated towards the travel section where I found a coffeetable book by Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman (500 units = P1,000).  Alas, I didn't bring enough cash with me to bring it home.  Ditto Logos Hope mugs to add to my Doulos ones.
Logos Hope - Cafe
The crowd cools off at the International Cafe
Exiting the book fair, I find myself in the Journey of Life Exhibit, a well-lit, excellently-laid out series of installations dramatizing the story of the prodigal son set in the present times.  I just hope the message wasn't lost on most visitors who were busy having their pictures taken against the installations for their FB and Twitter updates.  A second theatre lies next to the exhibit, used for cultural presentations.

If there was a mad scramble for books in the fair, there was an equally mad scramble for cookies, coffee and ice cream at the international cafe.  Too bad, the X-Perience section where presentations on one man's experience with AIDS are done, was tucked in the corner of the cafe, almost invisible to passersby.  The message this presentation brings is too important to be ignored especially during these times.
Logos Hope - X-Perience Stickies Wall
Message of hope at the X-perience Wall
While I wasn't able to buy anything, I did get to people watch while enjoying a cone of soft ice cream.  Most of the kids were just too excited to experience stepping into a real ship, probably for the first time in their lives.  Some families, I observed, used the time to bond together.  Exiting, I saw streams of smiling people lugging their Logos Hope purchases.  I guess, even with the Kindles and iPads of the world, books will always have a place in our lives.  In the larger scheme of things, Logos Hope is like a metaphor of our own selves -- we sail through life and find ourselves headed to different destinations, hopefully we realize we have a mission to help others, enrich their lives and eventually, help bring them safely to our heavenly port.

Info:  MV Logos Hope will be docked at Pier 15 of Manila's South Pier until March 14, 2012. It will sail to Subic Bay on March 15 and stay there until April 8.  It will move on to the Subic Bay Shipyard Works Project on April 9, stay until June 25 before sailing to Indonesia. •  The ship is open to the public from 10am-9:30pm (Tuesdays to Saturdays) and 1pm-9:30pm on Sundays  • For more info, visit www.logoshope.org

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