Filipino Friday #2: Five Things I Wish as a Filipino Reader

This week’s Filipino Friday asks: “What are the five (5) Things You Wish as a Filipino Reader?”


Here’s mine, in no particular order:

    • I wish Filipino books are better displayed in bookstores. While I understand the idea of putting them all under the brand of ‘Filipiniana’, it doesn’t bring the books out to the attention of the browsers. It’s difficult when you’re looking for a particular book and you’re expecting to see it under the categories other non-Filipino authored books are, but they’re not there. Why not do a variation of this? Place the Filipino books in the same area as the other genres (like, put Romance in the Romance, Fantasy with the Fantasy and so on), but separate them in their own shelf next to the others? I hope that made sense. This is so that when someone is browsing through the Sci-Fi books by foreign authors, they’ll easily spot the Filipino books next to it.
    • More writers who seek help with editing, and are open to suggestions to make their work sound and read better. I love the fact that there are more writers now than before, and there are so many works being published. However, it irks me that a good chunk of these books have a lot of grammatical mistakes and questionable content (meaning: lack of research, unbelievable events, illogical sequencing, etc). Worse, a lot of these writers won’t listen to professional and seasoned editors on how to make their work better and improve on their craft. A little humility would be nice.
    • More book events outside Metro Manila! I used to live in Baguio, and I was always missing out on fun events in Manila. These days there are more efforts to bring such happenings across the country, which is awesome.
    • More libraries! Not everyone who wants to read can afford to buy books. Libraries offer an alternative to that, and those that are well stocked, well maintained and well manned will be a haven for anyone who loves reading. Not only that, it’s a place where activities can be held, regardless if it’s for reading, writing, or comics… Libraries are the ultimate hangout places. I could go on and on about this.
    • Lose the stigma. In some discussions I have with author friends, certain books have certain er, ‘reputations’. I wish people would stop saying, “Oh, but that’s such an easy book to read” or “But’s not real literature” when hearing/talking about a certain book (or genre). It’s a book, read it then react. This is especially true for Filipino authored books. Maybe it’s not the kind of book that you read, but don’t be too harsh on it.

Book Review: Learning to Fall by Mina V. Esguerra

Learning to Fall

“Go out with a stereotypical romance novel hero WHO ISN’T YOUR TYPE.”

Avid reader and art student Steph is participating in a monthly blog challenge to Live Like Fiction, and this was the task for October. When Grayson, former co-captain of her university rugby team, walks into her class, she knows it’s meant to be – she has to go out with this guy. Even if she’s never been attracted to big, hunky, athletic types. With Grayson’s “player” reputation off the field, Steph thinks he’ll be good for one date that’ll be worth blogging about, and that’s it.

But you know how it goes: Soon, it becomes more than just one date – and Steph and Grayson are caught up in “living like fiction.” How long can they keep playing their roles before reality steps in?

Disclaimer: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book in return for an honest review. I also suck at doing written reviews which is why this is such a late post.

So, Steph. At the start, I thought she was going to be a bratty girl. However, she hooked me on the fact that she’s a book blogger, albeit an accidental one at that. I’m not a book blogger (although I tried to be at one point), but I felt an affinity with Steph because of several things:

  • She loves to read. She once read forty books in a month and hey, I can do that too.
  • She’s a struggling artist. I get the impression that there’s a disconnect between what she
  • She has confidence issues/self-doubt about what she can/cannot do.
  • She is crushing on a rugby player but not really knowing much about the sport (though making an effort to learn). I don’t have to explain this, right?

I have always been a fan of Mina’s work, and Learning to Fall is now on the top spot for my favorites. It’s got a nice balance of a flawed yet endearing female lead, and a strong but not overwhelming male lead. The story is also a believable one. Steph’s problems are real, not overly dramatic, but enough for a reader not to suspend his or her belief while reading it. She’s practical, but has issues that a lot of us can relate to.

Grayson, well. A certain rugby player has become the peg for him while I was reading this, and no, it’s not my go-to guy, which was a surprise considering how much I can see myself in Steph. The fun thing about Grayson is that he’s doesn’t have that attitude you get from a lot of superstar athletes, which his character is. He’s privileged and pampered, yet he remains grounded. Knowing who Mina’s inspiration for him is (or at least the guys she spoke to for her research) makes me love Grayson more.

Putting these two together, and how Mina delivers their story makes up for an enjoyable read. It was nice to see a glimpse of the other characters we’ve met in Addison Hill, and there’s this anticipation that there could be more. Is there? We’ll just have to wait and see.

You can purchase Learning to Fall from Amazon. Leave a review at the books’ Goodreads page.

The Illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Just last night, one of my book lover friends posted a photo of her copy of the illustrated Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The book has been on my wishlist since news of it came out some time back.

On my way home from work today, I thought I’d go look at the bookstore if it was available. Turns out it was, and without second thought, I got it.

A photo posted by Kat Sales (@saberkite) on

I was lucky. Many of the books were reserved beforehand, and it wasn’t even on display at the store. Luckily, I asked one of the sales ladies, and she pointed me to the customer service section of the store. The books were still in boxes!

The Illustrated Harry Potter and the Socerer’s is undoubtedly beautiful. The story is familiar, like a friend you’ve known for a very long time and see often. Yet this is the first time that the story has been fully illustrated. The Scholastic versions have an illustration per chapter, but this one has one on almost every page. While I have my ideas on how people and places in the Potterverse appear, Jim Kay’s illustrations offer a fresh perspective on the story.


The artwork is breathtaking, but it’s the details that got to me. There were these small things that made me go “A ha!” because it was so clever I can’t help but think if it had been in the book or not. The chapter about Diagon Alley made the place more real, as well as the illustrations of Hogwarts. I loved the cheekiness of some of the drawings, particularly on pages 20 and 21. And I swear that the illustration on page 24 is a nod to a very popular board game. Blooey says it’s “a gift that keeps on giving”, and I can’t help but agree.


One of the cooler parts of the illustrations were the portraits of the characters. Not everyone was portrayed though, but the ones that are there are very striking. Dumbledore is one of them, and when I saw his page I literally got chills.


I also liked the pages that were ‘excerpts’ from other books in the Potterverse. Dragon eggs and a guide to trolls are there, as well as various landscape illustrations of Hogwarts.



Copies of this are available in Fully Booked and National Bookstore. So far, it seems that only the US version is available here. I bought this for P1,690 (or something like that) at the National Bookstore Cubao. I heard it’s already out of stock in Fully Booked. So many eager Potterheads.

I can’t wait for Chamber of Secrets!

P.S. Do check out Blooey’s giddy report about her copy!

P.P.S. Here is an interview with Jim Kay at the Pottermore website, plus more illustrations!

Harry Potter is a trademark of J.K. Rowling. No copyright infringement intended.

Yearly Challenge: NaNoWriMo

October has just started but writers all across the world are now gearing up for the yearly NaNoWriMo challenge: Write a complete novel of 50,000 words or more in 30 days (or less).

Last year, I had the good fortune of winning the damn thing, and by winning, I mean that I reached the 50,000 word count. Let’s not talk about whether or not the story finished. :p

Because of that win, I was declared Newbie of the Year by the MLs of NaNoWriMo Philippines. It was a big suprise even though I had been doing NaNo for 10 years.

Below is a screenshot of the message that was sent out to our local mailing list. Here’s hoping that it will provide inspiration to those who want to give NaNoWriMo a try, or have tried and never finished, or have finished many times before.

NaNoWriMo Pep Talk

My pep talk for NaNoWriMo Philippines after winning it last year.

And I guess I’m a sucker for punishment because I’m going to give this another go. See you at the finish line.

The #BuqoYA Experience: Writing Under Pressure

I have a soft spot for YA books. It was what really got me into reading. My shelves were crammed with books like Sweet Valley Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Enid Blyton, to name a few. These days, YA has expanded to include so many other genres. I’m not even sure if I’m classifying it correctly.

I was still high from my NaNoWriMo win so I decided to sign up for an online writing class with Mina V. Esguerra. Mina’s been making waves in the local romance writing and publishing industry, as she’s been promoting books and encouraging authors. Call it an advocacy, and it has been paying off. It’s my second class with Mina, the first being #flirtsteamyreads wherein I failed miserably. This class is about young adult romance fiction, and it was sponsored by digital distributor, Buqo.

The reward, other than the satisfaction that you have finished a story, is a possible distribution contract with Buqo. How’s that for amazing?

Because of my schedule, I couldn’t attend the face-to-face meetings. I tried to keep up with the classes through email, Facebook, and Twitter. Social media certainly has changed the trend of writing. It used to be solitary, and writers suffer through challenges on their own. Now, if I’m stuck, or if I need inspiration, a quick status update with the hashtag buqoYA would net me responses of encouragement, suggestions, and silly stuff that would make me laugh.

While I consider one’s drive and desire to finish the story as one of the biggest factors in finishing a story (aside from having a story to write of course), having a community also helps. It makes you feel less alone, and in a way, it makes you competitive. When you see others improving or accelerating, you want to do it too. And because you’re with people who have the same interest, you’re not so shy anymore when it comes to telling the world what you are writing.

The workshop ran from January 19 to February 28. Stories follow certain guides as set by Mina, and should be a finished story of at least 5,000 words long. Personally, I think the deadlines helped because it forced me to write. And not just put down words, but also to make sure it’s coherent and well written. While writing with a deadline doesn’t appeal to everyone, in some cases it works. I became more conscious about the passing time, and I managed my time so I can finish my tasks AND be able to write my story. It hasn’t improved my style or my writing habit drastically, but I know better now. It has also helped me become more familiar with how I write, and what I want to write.

I would definitely recommend joining a class hosted by Mina. Not only will get your work done, you can also pick up tips and ways on getting your work out there. You’ll meet new friends, and hey, you will most likely end up with a few new stories to read.

If you’re interested, there’s another workshop coming this April. Contemporary New Adult (NA) romance, and those who finish may get a publishing contract with Anvil’s Spark Books. Sign up, sign up for the SparkNA workshop!

Eating in Kota Kinabalu (Part 2)

Continued from Eating in Kota Kinabalu (Part 1): Cultures Crashing

One of the things I loved about Kota Kinabalu is that the food was very affordable. On the average, the meals we ordred cost us around RM 8 each, and that’s with drinks. We splurged a bit at Kedai Kopi Lotus and Upperstar, but it was still well within a reasonable range. The servings are also good, so we didn’t feel shortchanged. We forgo eating at fast foods, the only time we did was when i ordered a Zinger from KFC to get rid of the quesy stomach I had after drinking teh tarik one time. In my opinion, skip the fast food and go eat local.

Kedai Kopi Lotus
I was beginning to think that most food places around Kota Kinabalu are called “kedai kopi”, so long as they have coffee and tea to go with the other stuff.

This place was outside of the KK City Center. I wouldn’t have gone if our friends didn’t bring us here. It’s a restaurant, but stalls owned by other cooks are stationed outside. One offers dumplings, another sells grilled seafood and chicken wings. Order food from any of them, and once it’s delivered, you pay on the spot. It’s a popular place for the people who live nearby, and many of them drop by to buy food rather than cook.

I never got the name of the dishes we ate. We had an almond pudding, a noodle dish with some chicken and veggies, dimsum, chicken wings, and grilled fish with shrimp paste and kang kong.

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We also had dinner at a similar place a day later. It had a fascinating story, because it was located in a place in KK where the houses were on stilts.

More noodles
We had a free day, so we decided to strike out on our own for lunch. We decided to try Kedai Kopi Yee Fung along Gaya Street. Luckily, it wasn’t crowded. I wanted to try the claypot chicken, but it was out of stock so I decided to try their yee fung ngau chap. Had a glass of kitchai ping go to along with it. The noodle serving was smaller than Nountoun’s, but the drink was in a tall glass and I was happy.


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Booking Through Thursday: Cold Weather Reading

This week’s question on Booking Through Thursday is weather appropriate.

When the weather is cold and blustery, would you rather read something is equally wintery? Or something to take you as far away from the snow as possible?

The Philippines, while a tropical country, still experiences bouts of cold weather around November to February. I used to live up in the mountains, and when it hits 15C that’s pretty cold for me. Doesn’t seem like much for folks who actually experience winter, but for us, that’s close to freezing. :)

My choice of books isn’t affected by the weather at all. I don’t quite care what I’m reading so long as it’s good read. Although of course, it stands that many of the books I would purchase around this time usually has a Christmas or winter theme, which is probably a marketing strategy by publishers.

Bottomline, good book + cold weather = good times.

Eating in Kota Kinabalu (Part 1): Cultures Crashing

The food of Kota Kinabalu has elements of the familiar mixed in with the novelty of new flavors. Perhaps this is so because our similar roots, and that the climate and topography is also quite like ours, their ingredients are quite like the ones we use ourselves.

Kota Kinabalu has a strong Chinese community, with many restaurants carrying Chinese dishes alongside the Malay and Indian ones. They have European influences too, particularly British, as the Malaysia was a colony of the United Kingdom for a long time.

Food was not something Shabby and I planned for on this trip (then again, not a lot of it was really planned). Like our activities, where and what we eat was done on the fly, and was mostly based on the recommendations of our hosts. We went to places that the locals particularly liked, and more often than not, it was almost always packed.

Day 1
Our first meal in Kota Kinabalu was at this small kedai kopi (which I believe translates to “coffee shop”) place near our hotel. It was open 24 hours, so it was a good spot for us to grab something to eat when hunger pangs striked. The food was laid out carinderia style, but you can always order rice meals off the menu on the wall.

First meal in KK

I don’t remember the names of the dishes that we ate. We had noodles, hainanese chicken, some cold cuts, and a dish of pork innards that went really well with the noodles. For drinks, we immediately got teh tarik, the famous pulled tea that Malaysian food is well known for. Over ice, it was refreshing.

First meal in KK

Of course, no one really told us that the area we were stayingin had a somewhat seedy reputation, which was probably why some people looked at us funny when we went there for a midnight snack. Anyway…

Tanjung Aru Beach
According to our friend and erstwhile guide, Tanjung Aru Beach is the to-go place for everyone who grew up in KK. Think of it as that resort everyone has to go to at least once in their lives. We went there to complete a mission for Ingress, but as it began to rain we decided to hang out for a while and let it pass.

Tanjung Aru Beach 1

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Finally: NaNoWriMo win

Note: This was supposed to be for November 2014, but there were a lot of things that needed to be prioritized, hence the delay.

After ten years and countless beginnings, drafts, heartbreak and frustration, I’ve done it.

I finished writing 50,000 words in 30 days and finally have that purple bar on my NaNoWriMo profile proclaiming me a winner.

A photo posted by Kat Sales (@saberkite) on

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