In 1986, when 20 years of tyrannical rule by Ferdinand Marcos was brought to an end by a four-day bloodless revolution, the people of the Philippines were swept up in a wave of optimism for the future. In many ways, the Filipinos' dreams have been realized. Political prisoners were released, relatively free and fair elections have occurred, the Communist insurgency has all but ceased to exist and a peace treaty has been signed between the Government and the separatists in Muslim Mindanao.
Economic opportunity has increased since the Marcos years but the economic boom achieved in other countries of the region - such as Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Thailand - has proved elusive in the Philippines. The great majority of the population continue to live at a bare subsistence level.
The Philippines consists of 7107 islands of which 2000 are inhabited. Only about 500 of the islands are larger than one sq. km and 2500 aren't even named. The province of Aklan is located on Panay, the fourth largest island, approximately 220 miles south of Manila.
Cecille Gonzales Gomez was born in the Municipality of Numancia located just outside of the provincial capital of Kalibo. When she was four years old, Cecille emigrated to California with her parents and two older brothers. She was raised in Fresno and schooled at the University of California at Berkeley.
As a child, she contracted kidney disease and as a young adult, she lost her kidneys. She fought hard and maintained an incredible spirit over the subsequent years of dialysis and an operation that gave her a transplant and a new lease on life.
For more than five years, she lived a full and vivacious life but ultimately, her body rejected the transplanted kidney. In 1992, at the age of 29, she passed away.
Cecille was an incredibly generous and caring individual who, despite her illness, consistently thought of the well-being of others before herself. She often talked of returning to the Philippines to live for some time in order to get in touch with her roots and to help bring opportunity to her compatriots. Among Cecille's passions was a love for books and reading.
Despite the presence of a number of schools in and around Kalibo including Aklan College, Northwestern College and the Garcia College of Technology, books are largely unavailable. There are no bookstores in or around Kalibo. In sharp contrast, in Manila, a wide variety of quality books published domestically are widely available both in Tagalog and English (the Philippine school system uses English in the classroom).
The goal of the Project is to get these books to Numancia and make them available to the general public. Additionally, books will be shipped from the U.S. and elsewhere.