Life is a Journey

by Ysabel Cacho & Betina Libre

A couple of minutes away from De La Salle University, just behind the Manila Hotel, lies Manila’s south harbor where the Logos Hope is docked. The Logos Hope is part of a non-profit organization based in Germany; it sails ships around the world to bring knowledge, help and hope to others.

It has over 400 volunteers from around the world as part crew, ready to assist, guide and clean up after the guests. This month, the Menagerie takes you on a tour of this ship, which hosts the world’s largest floating book fair.

Anyone could attend the floating book fair, for a meager fee; visitors over twelve years of age must pay an entrance fee of twenty pesos.

The ship’s visitors come from all ages and walks of life. There are children squatting in a corner, flipping through coloring books, while nuns and students browse through the shelves. Many parents also took time to take a peek and browse through the wide array of books the fair offers.

Every corner of the fair has a small box for small donations to support the Logos Hope’s cause.

Though not as grand and as huge as the Titanic, visitors, upon entry, have plenty of room to wander around, take photographs, drink a cup of coffee or two, and sit comfortably.

Boarding the Logos Hope, you will see that the entrance room is divided into two.

At the right side, some seats are red, designed in such a way that anyone who sits on the chair looks as if he or she is sitting inside a rowboat. Lifejackets are hung on the corner of these “boats” to make the scene more convincing.

Before anyone enters, each has to go into a small viewing room with a large projection screen, showcasing everything that can be found on the boat. A short introductory video is continually looped, showing the different features inside the boat as well as the boat’s initiative to help the less fortunate. After the presenting the video, crewmembers proceed to explain a few rules and regulations before allowing the visitors to proceed.

At the left side of the entrance, a station features a steering wheel and a screen with computer-generated waves. This area in particular seems to draw the children, who enjoy twirling the wheel, and pretending to sail the ship across strong waves. Moreover, this side of the boat has a wall decorated with pictures of the boat with various descriptions, revealing the history of The Logos Hope from 1970 up until recent years. The wall is also home to various displays such as instruments and boat parts.

Pass the entrance, and one will come across the store that welcomes all visitors for a shop. Each shelf in the store is organized according to a particular genre of books, and a noticeably, large section is allotted for children’s books. The store also sells toys, stickers, inflatable globes, activity books and other items.

The book fair also offers souvenirs. Visitors can get Logos Hope mugs, paintings, post cards, journals, ballers, and t-shirts, just to name a few.

Moreover, the fair tries to cater to music lovers. It has an entire section devoted to music. The section contains CDs of various bands, instrumental music, worship music, and select artist music. While browsing through this section, one would also hear loudspeakers playing gospel music.

The offer of shopping in a ship is not the only unique experience the fair offers.

Instead of using Pesos, the Logos Hope uses units to count the cost of their merchandise. Rates differ per country; for the Philippines, one peso is equivalent to one unit.

A walk through area can be located after passing the store. The area’s walls have bright colors; the art depicts a modern take on The Prodigal Son. A crewmember then approaches visitors to guide them through the area, explaining the moral of the tale.

After walking and shopping for books, visitors can take a break at the International Café. The café window seats have a spectacular view of the Manila Bay. The café  has everything from popcorn, ice cream, chocolate bars and cookies. While dining, a pianist entertains the guests. The establishment also boasts a kids’ section, where children can play with toys the ship provides.

Next to the café is a show called Life X-Perience. Visitors wear earphones, walk through the theater to listen to a story of a man who has HIV. This show enables people to understand what it is like to live with HIV. A wall covered with yellow Post Its can be found a few feet from the show where people can write how they felt after the show. The wall is filled with inspirational messages and insights.

Towards the exit, a small donation box is placed on a table to encourage visitors once more to find it within their hearts to give donations before their adventure ends.

There is a sign on the boat, which says, “Life is a journey. We’re all going somewhere but where are we going?” The Logos Hope knows exactly where and how. It travels to different parts of the globe, bringing not only books, but a whole new experience as well. It is smaller than the other ships in Manila Bay, but its mission is of Titanic proportions.

Photos by Ken Koo

Betina Libre

By Betina Libre

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