Manila International Book Fair 2011: New Year, New Experiences

Tata Francisco (Ex-Libris Philippines) pretty much summarized what the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) is for me: "It's like Christmas in December."  Well, at least in the last two years.  While I admit to being a leisure/casual reader cum book hoarder, participating in book fairs/conventions was never my cup of tea.  For one reason: I hate large crowds as I constantly feel the need to apologize/excuse myself every time I pass through.  Perhaps, it's largely out of fear that I get Mad-Eye Moody-like stares for accidentally hitting someone or I'm the one getting hit.  Not even the lure of discounts and books fresh out of the box would persuade me.  However, as time would have it, my curiosity about the MIBF got the best of me and I've been going since 2009.  Not that long ago but I guess we all start somewhere.  :)

My first MIBF experience in 2009 was largely due to fandom-related activities as it pertains to The Hunger Games & The Twilight Saga.  First, I was one of the participants in the Live Action Role Play (LARP), which was done as part of the launch activities for Catching Fire, Book 2 in the said trilogy. Afterwards, I was a panelist for the book-to-movie adaptation discussion of New Moon by Twilight Coven Philippines.  Given the hectic schedule that day, I didn't have any time to browse/buy books but I did get an ARC of Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink from Meann.

A year later, I went to the MIBF for business reasons.  I was excited at the prospect.  I attended an English language conference with Claire, an ex-officemate/friend/fellow bibliophile.  While we visited the book fair after our conference, unfortunately, there wasn't any book that caught my attention... or perhaps, I was tired.  In a way, it somewhat reinforced my first impression of the book fair: that it seemed to cater more to educators/non-fiction readers given the huge spread of booths selling books for their market.  I don't find anything wrong with that, truth be told, as it helps educators get updated on materials they can bring to their schools.  I guess I was expecting a variety of books which would attract different markets/crowds to be in the fair.

Those experiences made me think twice about visiting this year.  However, through stories of friends and social media networks, I learned about some key activities that even compelled me to file a leave in the middle of my work week.  While I only visited for only two days out of five, I can definitely say that I came, I saw, I pimped... and bought... I lined up and listened... more than any of the years I went to the fair.  I noted that there were a lot more authors invited to sign their books; there was even a web chat and signed books raffled off.  The books available were more diverse and accessible, price-wise; even titles that weren't supposed to appear were sold already. Suffice to say, I had fun this year.  My photo slideshow below covers some of my personal highlights, which include:
  • Attending the 1st Filipino Reader Conference;
  • Buying more books, of course, to add to my growing pile;
  • Meeting and having my books signed by two authors, namely Samantha Sotto and Alexander Yates, and listen to their experiences in a panel discussion sponsored by National Bookstore & Random House entitled "Life of a Novelist"; and
  • Sharing those experiences with good friends and fellow bibliophiles.

    Note: All images uploaded in this slideshow were taken by me.  Should you download
    them and use in your site, please credit accordingly.  Thanks!

    On that note, I'll end this blog with a big kudos to the organizers of the MIBF!  It's getting better each year. Keep it up! I'm looking forward to more books, more authors and more activities in the years to come. :D

    ETA: Some photo captions in the slideshow were already edited in the full album prior to publishing this blog post. It seems like Photobucket is having some problems synchronizing my updates.  I will try to fix this the soonest. My apologies.

    A Meme & A Wish

    Only 3 nights to go before the 1st Filipino Reader Conference!  I'm pretty excited.  I'm all set and looking forward to meeting fellow Pinoy readers, especially those whom I've gotten to know through the Filipino Friday memes.  Speaking of which, I still have to post my answer to the final installment wherein it asks about expectations during the event...

    What do you hope will happen in the Filipino ReaderCon? What are you expecting from the event?

    If I were to base it from the program, I'm definitely going to learn a lot from the event.  I don't expect it to be perfect or anything given that this is going to be the first venture but I do hope it's not going to be the last.  I look forward to meeting fellow bibliophiles and get/share book recommendations.  I've been reading for as long and as much as I could so learning from the experiences of fellow Pinoy readers would be such a trip.


    Since the BER months have ushered in, I've been wondering about what do I get myself this Christmas.  While Sydney would've been my delayed birthday gift, I've been toying between a couple of gadgets and with my brother leaving for a business trip in Canada, it seems all the more plausible that I get this little thing for myself...

    (Image Credit:

    To be honest, buying a Kindle was the least of my gadget priorities... until recently.  A new camera was supposed to be my next target gadget specifically this one...

    (Image Credit:

    However, since we got a new camera as a freebie for the package my brother and I got for our laptops, the thought of buying one suddenly became less of a priority.  Plus, as my daily commute to & from the office averages about 3 hours, I need something to pass the time by minus the bulk of traditional books.  This notion alone is quite odd because if you'd ask me a couple of years ago about my thoughts regarding a Kindle and I'd probably say that buying it is a luxury.  Now, I feel that it's no longer the case.

    I fear for my wallet, I really do, because it's going to do a whole lot of work for several months. Wish me luck! ;)

    Another Blog In The Works

    Over the last few months, I've been secretly nurturing the desire to put up another blog.  And no, it won't be similar to this blog, content-wise.  This is time it's going to be a bit straightforward as to the type of posts that I plan to publish.  As this will be hosted in a different site, I still need some time to design the look and feel of it, as well as study my options for this new blog.

    When I put up one via LJ a few years back, I enjoyed its privacy options and the insurmountable amount of communities that it has.  But it all became just that and nothing more after a while.  I still access it but not for the original intent when I signed up for it.  I think, despite the nature of this blog, I've managed to ensure that my posts would not generate that TMI effect.  After all, there are still a lot of things about any person's life that's not meant for public consumption.

    This only means that I'll be doing double-time for both blogs soon.  I think I can handle it especially after getting some inspiration from a training summit I attended two months ago.  And that alone fuels me, even if it takes me one widget at a time to build up this new blog.  I do hope that you'll like it as much as you've supported this little one.  I'll announce it when it's up and running. :)

    Readercon Filipino Friday: Weeks 2-4

    I know this is 2 posts delayed but I feel that it's better that I did it than never. Having Sydney in my life is going to make a difference and making this post -- as well as others, in the near future -- would be one of the many changes.

    Okay, done apologizing/rationalizing and on with my answers to Readercon Filipino Friday... ;)


    For Week 2's installment, it's about my story as a reader...

    How did you become a reader? What factors influenced you to take it up as a hobby? For instance, was it your mom who read to you every night? Or was it a high school friend who started lending you books? Or maybe it was a really inspiring teacher whom you wanted to emulate. Whatever it was, we hope you tell us all the story of how you became a leisure reader and what it is about reading that you enjoy so much.

    When I was young, I always see my dad and my mom read every morning in our living room, either holding on to that day's paper or a pocketbook. But I was never interested to pick up reading as a hobby until I was ostracized by my classmates during 1st grade for not being able to speak Filipino/Tagalog well. In my haste to get away from them, I found myself in our school library. I found the silence comforting thus, I stayed. One of my teachers, Mrs. Ferrer, who was checking papers, saw me and asked why I was there. I think I cried and told her about my situation thus, Mrs. Ferrer decided to let me stay and gave me some books to entertain myself. From then on, I became one of our school library's frequent patrons and that's when I picked up reading as a hobby.

    What I like about reading as a hobby is its ability to stretch your imagination and appeal to your emotions through nothing but words. Reading fiction allows me to relax, momentarily forget about my worries and somewhat live vicariously through the characters.


    For Week 3's installment, it's about my challenges as a reader in our country...

    How hard or easy is it to be a book lover in the Philippines? What are some of your frustrations as a Filipino reader (e.g. availability of books)? What are positive aspects of being a reader based in the Philippines (e.g. book prices are lower here than they are abroad)?

    When I started reading leisurely as a kid, I didn't feel challenged at all because most of the books I wanted to read were available in our school library. I think I didn't find any challenge in reading because I didn't have a favorite genre and I hardly discriminated on books. To me, as long as the story seems good enough, I'll read it.

    When I shop for a new book, I randomly pick it off the shelves: I look at the cover and the title, read the synopsis and a few pages just to get a feel of the writer's voice. If I like it, I buy it. If I don't, I put it back. I used to shy away from the bestseller shelves; that was pretty anti-mainstream of me. Thus, it took me years before I read, as an example, Harry Potter. But when I do like something that's considered mainstream, I overcompensate. I think I read all 6 Harry Potter books in a span of a month and bought all original DVDs of the movie adaptations afterwards.

    The fun thing about being a reader in the Philippines, which I agree with the question above, is that the books are sold relatively cheaper than the posted USD/CAD SRP. I don't know how our country manages to do that but I'm grateful. However, it would take a while before new releases for specific genres to get to our shores. This can really test a reader's patience especially when you see reviews posted about the books you wanted to read but are not available. I don't know how the Powers-That-Be decide on what books to carry in their shelves but there has to be more variety to cater to a lot more Pinoy readers.


    And lastly, for this week's installment, it's all about Filipino Literature...

    Do you read Filipino literature? If you do, tell us your favorite books by Filipino authors and name a few that you'd like to recommend to fellow readers. If you don't read much Filipino lit, then tell us why.

    Honestly, I don't read much Filipino literature not because I think that the stories are bad but mostly because it feels like required reading. Most of the Filipino literature I've read were done as part of school work thus, it lost its appeal to me. I like seeing Filipino references though in the books that I read and it's a thrill to see such.

    While I did say I don't read much Filipino literature, I do have books from the following Filipino authors -- Francis Kong, Arlene J. Chai, Bob Ong & Samantha Sotto. I would recommend that you read any of their works especially The Last Time I Saw Mother, Before Ever After and Stainless Longganisa.


    Whew! I did it. Thanks for reading my meme post and do check out The 1st Filipino Reader Conference on September 14 at SMX Mall of Asia.

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