MIBF 2018: Honorary Birthday

Here’s a picture of the event’s logo because heaven knows I’m bad at taking selfies!

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.

Comfort food at a not-so foreign place: KFC is for Manila

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!).

Compared to last year, the wait was shorter this time around.

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.

Fandom areas are always the best!

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.

Look at all the people I had to share the same space with. (I’m sorry if that sounds like I’m dissing the rest of the book-y people 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.

This is the smile of a girl who didn’t overspend!

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.

Advertisements

#MIBF2017: Second time’s a charm

This year’s MIBF felt different for a lot of reasons. (I’m still trying to decide if it was a good kind of different. Kinda overwhelmed still about the experience.)

For one, it’s been a while since I rode a bus to Manila. I didn’t miss the bus per se. I just missed sleeping in the bus (using my not-so swabe moves). Initially, Tiff and I shared stories about what’s been happening in our lives, but after a while, I fell asleep. The “sleep” involved a lot of head banging and me eventually relenting and laying my head on Tiff’s shoulder.

Bus ride @ 10:20 AM. We were supposed to leave at 9:00 AM.

When we arrived in SM MOA, it was a little after lunch already. Our main goal was to eat first (though Tiff insisted that “food is life but books are life-er”). We went around for quite a while before choosing to eat at Yoshinoya.

It was my first time to eat there so I challenged myself to eat stuff I wouldn’t usually order. In that case, it was steamed siomai and California maki. (I prefer my siomai fried and I don’t really like seafood unless, well, unless I like it.)

“For a change” lunch date

After filling our stomachs, we headed to SMX. When we arrived, we were welcomed by a ton of people. And by a ton, I mean 10x the number of people that was at MIBF last year. There were four layers of lines around SMX on both sides of the building. (I’m so proud of all the bookworms that endured the long lines. We’re so awesome!) It took us more than an hour to just get it. (I have never been more grateful for aircon when we reached the entrance.) (Note to self: Bring water and a fan.)

Hello, fellow bookworms!

Our initial plan was to go through everything per row. But when Fully Booked caught our attention, we just headed inside, disregarding said plan.

As expected, it was packed with people inside. It was really hard to find magic-y indie children’s books because of the crowd so I just stuck to my gut when it came to finding a book to buy. (But, in fairness, this year, their paying system was a lot better and faster.)

I bought Beautiful Blue World by Suzanne LaFleur. Other than the aesthetically-pleasing blue cover, it said:

…where kindness can be a weapon, and children have the power to see what adults cannot.

The second stop was at National Bookstore (1st floor). The space was less crowded so my introvert self held up pretty well. It was there that I found the feel I’ve been looking for in children’s books. There, I bought Sharon Creech’s Walk to Moons.

I picked this up because 1) the author was the author of a poetry book Gianne gave me and 2) it felt right. (This is the problem with being an emotion-based spender.) Here’s a random quote from the book:

You can’t keep the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can keep them from nesting in your hair.

After going around the ground floor and not really seeing fiction books that we wanted to buy, we decided to go up. (I did see a lot of things I could give to a certain friend as pasalubong but I decided to just look around first before making a final purchase.)

Upstairs, it felt more fandom-y and for kids (which made it awesome!!!).

There was another National Bookstore there so we visited it just in case there were new books. Thankfully, the kind of books I couldn’t find downstairs were there. I found The Earth-Healers by Cyan Abad-Jugo and I just couldn’t not buy it because 1) it’s good Pinoy work and 2) Cyan Abad-Jugo! I read one of her books from my MIBF haul last year.

They looked at each other, unable to talk, for the spell of understanding had already faded. Still, what need were words among friends?

Afterwards, we wandered to the Make-a-Wish booth. There we donated for a cause and took a picture with Storm Troopers. Though I’m not really a big Star Wars fan (I did play the computer game though), I liked the experience because, not only did I help, but also, I was reminded of my childhood.

Yes, I look like a potato.

Just nearby was a HP-themed photobooth. It took us quite a while, lining up (we’ve been doing that the whole day) but in a fangirl sense, using the props and taking pictures was worth it. (My hair was deflated already though.)

Wearing a Hufflepuff cloak, I realized that maybe I am a Gryffindor.

It was already around 6 PM when we got out of there. By then, we just had a quick go-over of the rest of the booths upstairs. Adarna publishing quickly caught my eye because I’ve been trying to look for it downstairs earlier that day. From there, I bought Raissa Rivera Falgui’s Woman in Frame.

Perhaps what drew the young woman to this painting was the incongruity of a girl, grave and formal, set within the vibrant, flowing curves of the carved art nouveau frame. Perhaps it was the sense of kinship she felt. For the young woman, Ning, was the daughter of an artist, dreaming of becoming an artist. She knew nothing of the girl in the portrait, only that the intensity captured in the glimmer of its brush-stroked eyes reflected her own.

By the time I’ve finished paying, I started to feel the need to end the day. It was six something and we’ve visited almost all there was to visit.

By then, I’ve only spent PHP 768 for four books (which was not a bad bargain at all). I only needed to check one last booth for the pasalubong  I wanted to buy.

I went down to UP Press to check out a certain book. However, when I got there, I found poetry books that I wasn’t able to find the first time I scouted the area. I saw about five poetry books that I liked but the problem was, I didn’t have enough money anymore. (The struggle was so intense!) I also found a ton of books that I wanted to gift to people (but then again, I couldn’t afford to give a book to all of them).

After much internal debate, I bought three books (and went over-budget). I bought one poetry book I really connected to, Merlinda Bobis’ Accidents of Composition and two others as gifts. (Due to this single purchase, I spent almost as much as I did from 2:30 – 6:30 PM. MIBF just wouldn’t let me leave as a responsible adult.)

Book haul! Not a bad bunch at all.

After that, it was time to travel back home. Tiff had work so I went to Lipa on my own (and almost got lost INSIDE THE BUS TERMINAL).

I over-exhausted my introvert body and soul so I almost couldn’t feel it on the bus ride home. As expected, I was knocked out to oblivion when I fell asleep.

Overall, I felt more in control with my choices this year. I knew what I wanted and where I wanted to go. I didn’t binge-buy for the sake of remembering that I went to a certain booth (unlike last year). I also knew how to survive expos this time so I knew what to expect.

I just wish there were more indie publishers this year. I really looked forward to their books. I wanted to meet them again too.

You can read about my first MIBF experience here.

My First Book Fair (37th Manila International Book Fair)

My body was sore when I woke up in the morning, and I’ll admit, it was pretty tempting to sleep in for a while longer despite the temptation of books that await me at the SMX Convention Center. Thankfully, I wasn’t that tired and insane to bail out on my friend, Gianne and so I rushed to meet her at McDo Buendia after a very slow morning prep session.

The mood had been different the day before. It was on Friday when I was filled with a primal craving for the printed word. I just couldn’t stop myself from smiling during random times of the day at the thought of being surrounded by books. I wanted to swim in them. (I just really, really, love books.)

The feeling was slow to creep back in that Saturday and it only really became real when we were on a multicab ride to MOA. Suddenly, my pulse sounded louder and I felt my true self surfacing. I was a writer, going to a book fair with tons and tons of books and awesome writers. This was home base.

When Gianne and I entered SMX, we kind of fumbled about for a bit. We went in at one entrance then we got out then in another before finally lining up for registration. To be fair, there were tons of people and we were too excited.

When we got in, I didn’t have a chance to have my first thought or reaction. It wasn’t a sea of books or a big library, and I wasn’t expecting it to be like that since I already saw photos, and still I was a bit overwhelmed with how big the publishing industry was. There were so many booths to visit, granted that they weren’t all fiction or my type but they were still books and I love the physicality and smell of them.

Trying to go about this smartly, Gianne and I came up with a game plan. The original game plan was to actually introduce Milktea Fiction, a publishing thing that Gianne and I came up with (milkteafiction.wordpress.com) while being our bookworm-selves. But, since I failed to print out le cards, we just decided to enjoy the fair and buy books.

In the morning, we planned to go around, take note of the stuff we want and then eat lunch to rationalize our would-be decisions. Then, in the afternoon, we’d splurge. Easy enough.

The morning was, well, overwhelming. Half of my mind was floating, reeling at the experience, while the other half was just so energized and excited that my body couldn’t keep up. With a mix of both, I was like a caffeinated zombie that my body, at times, was hesitating to function (haha).

Like I said earlier, it wasn’t all a sea of fiction books (which was the kind of books that first comes to my mind at the mention of a book) but it was really interesting to get a feel of the publishing scene in the Philippines. We’re a mix of educational, religious, mainstream and indie publishing. Romance was there, self-help too and some were even very cultural and with a distinct feel of Filipino.

There were also all sorts of readers in the market, I realized and the whole book fair was just really a reflection of their (our) needs. The publishers there exist and thrive, no matter how different their books are, because there are people looking for their kind of content. (This is valueable market intel for me and Gianne since, you know, we’re aspiring to be published and taken seriously.)

One of the best parts was chatting up with people at the Indie Publishing booth. (I could be there all they, chummy-ing them up if only I wasn’t too potato.) Shoutout to Sir RR of Lira and Ms. Mina V. Esguerra of Romance Class. You guys showed me that stories can come from anywhere.

If anything, it made me feel like there’s a solid chance for my dream to be a legit writer. At least I know that this industry, though it’s not exactly as I hoped for, is alive and that people really do come from all sorts of places just to buy books and read.

Aside from that writer-ish epiphany, I also had an enlightening experience as a marketer. I work for Fiera de Manila, Inc. and we specialize in events. Since I already have a bit of a background on tradeshows and conventions, I also saw MIBF from an organizer’s perspective – the booths, the layout, the suppliers, the programs and everything. It was a nice feeling to be so familiar of things like that.

When afternoon came, Gianne and I were prepared to make bad decisions. (Read: We were totally screwed.) We both set ceiling spend amounts and listed the things we planned to buy.

Having reasons to spoil myself a.k.a. having September as my birth month, I allowed myself to go over-budget. (Read: I lost self-control.) I ended up with 10 books, though three of them were for free.

  1. How Sound Becomes A Name by Marc Gaba (Indie Publishing) – This was the first book I bought and it’s a collection of poems. I got it because I felt a connection to the title. It felt like this guy wrote through the senses just like me.
  2. LÁMANG edited by Edgar Calabia Samar (Indie Publishing) – I got this for free and I was like, aw. You could tell that they were not only for the sale but also for getting their content out there. That’s the heart of indie, folks.
  3. Aninaw edited by Ronaldo Carcamo (Indie Publishing) – Second free book! Are these people awesome or what? (They are people from LIRA and they write Filipino poems, which honestly, I’ve been hesitant to tackle before they gave me the idea.)
  4. Pag-aabang sa Kundiman: Isang Talambuhay by Edgar Calabia Samar (Indie Publishing) – The author was there when I bought this so I got it signed. Ugh, he seemed so cool and I wanted to ask for his card but I hesitated. I couldn’t tell him that I knew him because I didn’t… yet. Anyway, I’m looking forward to read his collection of Filipino poems (and to stalk him… este, know more about him online.)
  5. Rurok edited by Enrico Torralba (Indie Publishing) – It’s another Filipino poetry book for free!
  6. Paper Planes Back Home by Tara Frejas (Indie Publishing) – This one stood out from the Romance Class side of the booth. Other than being blue, I bought it because it didn’t feel like the usual contemporary books I used to buy. This one had a solid synopsis, almost poetic and I wanted to see how that fits into the whole publishing world. (Let’s see how I’ll fit in too.)
  7. The Looking-Glass Tree by Cycan Abad-Jugo (Anvil Publishing / National Bookstore) – Okay, shoutout to JC Galang because his illustration was the one that convinced me. It was so haunting and simple and the lines were beautiful. It felt so Filipino and mystical and I haven’t been promised that before. I’m really looking forward to this.
  8. The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo (Fully Booked) – Anything with a blue cover, the word ‘magic’ and a distinctness to it could win me over. Gianne also told me that the author wrote with a kind of innocence and I wanted to feel that. (In the first place, I wanted to write like that too.)
  9. M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman (Fully Booked) – It’s obvious why I bought this. Plus, Neil Gaiman is awesome. I thank Gianne for speaking so highly of him that I was persuaded to read his works.

Just a quick segway before I list down the last book. The Fully Booked journey had been a battle. Gianne and I had to line up for 15-20 minutes in a crowd of energized sweaty booklovers (I understand the passion) before we got to the cashier. We only got two books because we didn’t understand the concept of how the sale worked. (Read: We thought the full price was already the discounted price.)

  1. Moving Onwards and Upwards (Adarna) – The cover was, you guessed it, blue and it had pretty typography and art alongside the story. This was a feel good buy, despite it going over budget.

In the end, I spent a lot, exhausted my feet and shared the same air with more people that I could imagine. But, I’m happy with my haul (they were mostly blue) and I loved the alive-ness I felt inside MIBF. The memory was the best part and I’ll keep that forever. (Thanks, Gi.)

Here’s more shoutouts to Tahanan, Rex Bookstore, Summit Media and the Filipino-feeling booths got to visit at MIBF! Thank you also to the organizers for doing this every year. I’ll be back for the 38th.

(The lesson was this: keep the dream alive. You’ll get there.)