Campus changes pose challenges to DLSU’s in-campus enterprises

Concessionaires are a familiar sight on campus but these stores often undergo changes as the years pass. Animo Food Haus, a cafeteria located in St. La Salle Hall, closed its doors in 2013 and was replaced by Perico’s. Zaide Canteen, which had serviced the University for over 35 years, was replaced by the Animo Business Innovation Zone (BIZ) following renovations to the Br. Bloemen Hall in the same year. 

But food retailers are not the only establishments inside the campus that have been replaced. Last August 19, it was announced that the longstanding Animo Bookstore would end its service contract and be replaced by a National Bookstore (NBS) branch.  

New faces 

The Animo Bookstore, long a fixture of the University, had resided in Br. Connon Hall, also known as the SPS building, before renovations to the more than 30-year-old building forced the store to move to its final location at the ground floor of the Yuchengco Hall in 2016. Following the termination of the store’s contract with the University last August 31, NBS has since taken its place as the go-to establishment for school supplies in the Manila campus. The Animo Bookstore, however, still continues its services in the Laguna Campus. 

Only a few months since NBS began operations, NBS Junior Assistant Manager Melinda Santos shares positive sentiments on student interactions she has witnessed so far. “Mababait naman  [ang students]. [Kapagsinabi mo ngang ‘wala,’ mag-th-thank you pa sila eh,”  
she expresses. 

(The students are nice. Even if you say that their desired item is unavailable, they still express their gratitude.) 

She says that the only difficulty she faces are incomplete items delivered to faculty and administrators. To order from the bookstore, one needs to prepare a Bookstore Requisition Slip, which requires a lead time of two weeks as products would have to be delivered from the NBS Head Office in Mandaluyong City.   

Santos also shares her experience with students buying copious amounts of items from her store, especially ahead of major events. Days before the Lasallian Personal Effectiveness Program, students came to her store to purchase items. “Katulad nung gunting ko na 50 pieces, sa isang araw lang ubos nakaya nakakatuwa,” she recalls.  

(In one instance, my stock of 50 scissors were all purchased within a day—it was delightful.) 

Learning on Wheels, NBS’ mobile store, is currently parked between St. Joseph Hall and Central Plaza, while renovations are still being completed in Yuchengco Hall. The mobile store will cease operations once their permanent stall is finally refurbished. 

Point of concern 

Although Animo Bookstore’s fate was sealed due to the end of its contract, food concessionaires, on the other hand, are being challenged by stricter requirements imposed by the University. Sandwich Corner, one of the few surviving establishments from the historic Zaide Canteen, is currently at odds with the new rules. Lito Abines, one of the owners of Sandwich Corner, highlights that the Health Services Office is requiring each kiosk at the Br. Bloemen Hall to have one Safety Officer and one First Aider. 

But Abines argues that one Safety Officer and one First Aider is enough for all the food kiosks. “Kung sa akin kasi maliit lang naman [kiosk] namin sa [Br. Bloemen Hall], kung puwede i-consolidate nalang sa loob ng Bloemen Hall ang isang [Safety] Officer at isang First Aider kasi maliliit lang [kiosks] namin sa [Br. Bloemen Hall]—minsan dalawang empleyado [oisang empleyado [lang sa isang kiosk],” he expresses. 

(If possible, one Safety Officer and one First Aider should be enough to attend to all the establishments because the kiosks are small—with some having only one or two employees.) 

Abines surmises that training a Safety Officer would be costly for a kiosk of their size. “Nagtanong kasi ako sa [Office of the Associate Vice Chancellor (AVC) for] Campus Services, mahal ang training ng Safety Officers. P9,000 [ang training],” he shares. 

(When I asked [the Office of the AVC for] Campus Services, I found out the training fee for Safety Officers costs P9,000, which is expensive.) 

In the past years, concessionaires around campus faced problems in paying for the different fees that come with renting spaces inside the University. In a previous article by The LaSallian, it was revealed that one of the reasons why Zaide Canteen left DLSU was because they had difficulty paying rent. 

Looming hurdles 

For student patrons of the University’s concessionaires, perceptions on the shifts are mixed.  

Psalm Nathan Co (II, BS-CE) explains that he preferred the old bookstore because of familiarity and its accessibility to students and faculty. “Oftentimes, professors would ask for materials that the old bookstore exclusively sold, such as La Salle’s exclusive test booklets,” he elaborates. “This made the Animo Bookstore very convenient and a go-to shop for students in need of necessary stationery or materials.” 

As of press time, students may now purchase the University’s exclusive test booklets from NBS mobile stores situated inside campus.  

Bryan Presillas (II, CAM-LGL), meanwhile, admits that he prefers NBS, highlighting some problems he had with the old bookstore. A disorganized arrangement of materials and the lack of basic supplies were some of his gripes. “While the old Animo Bookstore did sell University-exclusive merchandise, like lanyards and ID laces, I believe that other stores exist for this purpose, like [The Store at DLSU],” he says. 

For Co, concessionaires are a point of pride for many Lasallians as it showcases their creativity and ingenuity in marketing their products. With continuous efforts for campus renewal still awaiting completion across the University, changes are sure to remain a constant within DLSU, a challenge that even the University’s service providers must continue to contend with. 

John Robert Lee

By John Robert Lee

Isabela Marie Roque

By Isabela Marie Roque

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