This year’s Manila International Book Fair meant a lot more than just splurging on books. Rather than being excited and giddy about the experience, the trip made me think of and question a lot of things about myself.
The night before, I was seriously contemplating whether or not I should go to MIBF. It was the last day of the expo and the weather was finally permitting me to commute to Manila. However, I didn’t have anyone to go with.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t go alone. Being a young adult has taught me that I would really have to do some things independently and I would just have to deal with it. It’s just that, recently, I learned that even the most mundane things become a lot more interesting if you do it with the right people. (And if you’ve found the kind of company, being alone would now feel lonely.)
Now, at the prospect of doing things alone, I would have to really want the experience. If someone wanted to go with me, I’d already be happy with the idea of making that someone else happy. (That was how I feel happiness most of the time – through someone else’s. As a consequence, I struggle with making myself happy on my own.)
I saw things in a new light: I would go through the hassle of riding a bus for two hours, enduring the rain and spending money just for transportation. I’d be going around a big building for hours, surrounded with way too many people that would drain my energy. Everything about the expo would stimulate my senses and eventually tire me. My introvert self needed serious motivation to get through all that.
But, surprisingly, after all that internal debate and an hour or so of pep talk from my sisters, I found myself riding the bus to Manila the next day. For some reason that I still didn’t understand at the time, I chose to go.
When I got to MOA, my first agenda was to eat lunch. I initially wanted to eat at Sbarro’s but eating a big slice of pizza alone felt like I was pushing it. I also tried to look for Wendy’s but my sense of direction, like it was for most days, wasn’t working. Instead, I found KFC, and since I’ve been a KFC girl because of DLSU graduate studies, I decided to eat there and get the familiar comfort I got from eating Fun Shots doused in gravy.
I may have indulged too much because I ordered way too many food. I ended up packing leftover fries and hiding it in my bag (oops!).
Immediately after eating, I decided to go to SMX. It was a good call because when I got there, the line was just starting to form. The people gathered pretty quickly and if I wasn’t quick on my toes, I would’ve been in a farther position than the one in the photo and I would’ve waited for two hours longer.
It was hot and I was sweating but thankfully, it only took less than hour for me to get in.
The expo in itself wasn’t that new to me. It was my third year. I knew which booths to check out and which booths I really wanted to visit. But, just in case there was something interesting, I went around the whole ground floor to survey.
Since I was a sort of “suki” already, I covered a lot of ground quickly. I didn’t really stick around in booths I knew I wasn’t going to find stuff I liked. Also, I was doing a PHP Challenge suggested by my sister, where I had to stick to a budget I gave myself instead of splurging (which I’ve been guilty of for the past two expos). That meant I was more critical of my buys so I didn’t scan for everything but only for my types of books.
A surprising and pleasant addition to this year’s expo was the Pop area for fandoms! (YEEEEEEEY!) Some merchandise were overpriced and with my PHP Challenge, I couldn’t really afford to buy some of them but I was happy with the idea that other fans like me had a place for their fandoms. There were actual comic artists there too, drawing live along with indie artists getting their stickers and works out there.
I left the expo after an hour and a half. I bought four books in total, two for me and two for pasalubong. Then, I headed home.
I was so tired after everything, to be honest. For someone who had full classes on the next day, I knew I over-exhausted myself instead of resting on a weekend. But, despite making a big fuss about going, I don’t regret it.
I was no longer a little girl and I’ve had my fair share of book expos. I knew I didn’t come just to purchase another book. I came because I wanted to prove something.
I wanted to challenge myself in going places alone. I wanted to prove to myself that even if I’m on my own, I could make myself happy. (Oops! Seems like one of those existential crisis things again.)
At the end of the day, I met up with friends to give their ubongs. I ate good dinner. I went home happy. I realized that I was capable of making myself happy. Every decision I made that day was for my happiness. It was good. All was good.