Vibal Foundation, UST Library launch book on 19th-century printing, publishing

The Vibal Foundation, in partnership with the University of Santo Tomas Miguel de Benavides Library launched the “Imprenta Ramirez y Giraudier: A Story of Late Nineteenth-Century Philippine Intellectuality,” which was written by historian Lino L. Dizon, Ph.D. The event was held on March 29, 2023, at the ground floor of the UST Miguel de Benavides Library.

Imprenta details the establishment of the influential publishing firm Imprenta Ramírez y Giraudier (IRG) and how it became one of the crucial engines of Spanish-speaking society in the Philippines during the late nineteenth-century.

Founded by Don Manuel Ramírez y Carvajal and Baltazar Giraudier y Ortega, IRG’s newspapers, novels, magazines, and journals paved the way for the birth of important social movements such as the development of the Ilustrado class, the Propaganda movement, and the Philippine Revolution.

The launch was attended by the Philippine Ambassador to Austria Evangelina Lourdes Arroyo-Bernas; Chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Dr. Victorino Manalo; Director General of the National Museum of the Philippines Mr. Jeremy Barns; National Library of the Philippines Director Mr. Cesar Gilbert Adriano; National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman of the Board Dr. Emmanuel Calairo, and NHCP Board Members Dr. Rene Escalante, Dr. Earl Jude Cleofe, and Dr. Lisa Guerrero Nakpil

Also present were, NHCP Executive Director Ms. Carminda Arevalo; National Book Development Board (NBDB) Director Mr. Anthony John Balisi; UST Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Louie Coronel, O.P., EHL; UST Prefect of Libraries Rev. Fr. Ángel Aparicio, O.P.; UST Archivist Rev. Fr. Gaspar Sigaya, O.P., and Vibal Foundation and Chairman of Vibal Group and Mr. Gaspar Vibal.

            In his welcome message, Fr. Aparicio discussed Manuel Ramírez, who served as director of the UST Press from 1848 to 1857, before collaborating with Baltazar Giraudier at the IRG, as the reason why Mr. Vibal chose the UST Library to host the event. According to Fr. Aparicio, these publications nurture the inquisitive minds of those who became fathers of the land. He also said that it is the sacred duty of those engaged in publication and research to preserve the precious heritage and make it accessible to each one interested in culture and spur the hearts of those who have a say in promoting culture in the country. 

National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Chairman of the Board Dr. Emmanuel Calairo  said in his message that the press played a significant role in the intellectual enlightenment that led to the Ilustrado movement in the 19th-century Philippines.  During this period, the publishing firm Imprenta de Ramírez y Giraudier, was one of the first lithographic presses, which paved the rise of various printed materials and further became the venue of Filipino-Spanish intellectuals who echoed Filipino sentiments for reform and independence. Significantly, to understand the history of the printing press, the author presented different viewpoints to understand the history of the printing press in the Philippines. Furthermore, Calairo said that this book would add to the growing number of references on the subject matter and the firm produced various publications, including influential periodicals, and will serve as the foundation for the modern field of Philippine studies.

Vibal, in the Publisher’s Message, introduced the book as the dream project of Dizon, which has come to completion as the remarkable renaissance and translation of the mid to late nineteenth-century Spanish-Philippine intellectuality. He added that this book joins the rostrum of books that investigate Philippine intellectuality, including national artists, propagandists and Ilustrados.

Vibal also encouraged everyone to examine UST’s special exhibition. Mounted were special IRG rarities, exhibited for public display. The brochures contain QR codes that can be scanned on mobile phones and could be easily flipped to examine these forgotten books as living artifacts.

Dizon said that the project focuses on the production of knowledge and intellectual development of the period through the Imprenta de Ramirez y Giraudier, and this is a topic that Vibal Foundation and himself believed is very much lacking and wanting in Philippine colonial scholarship.

The highlight of the program is the presentation of the first copies to the selected distinguished recipients. 

Part of the activity was the awarding of the token of appreciation to Ambassador Arroyo-Bernas by the UST Library Administrators together with Secretary-General Rev. Fr. Lourie R. Coronel for gracing the occasion.

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