[Filipino Fridays] Intro + New Discoveries: Surprise, Reader!

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And we’re back! Can’t believe it’s been almost a year since the last ReaderCon. It was my first time to attend, and boy did I ever participate. I’m excited for this year, because the theme is something pretty close to my heart. Filipino ReaderCon 2014: Readers Turned Writers.

We count down to the event itself through the weekly Filipino Fridays. Click on the link to learn more about it. This week’s question is:

Surprise, Reader! Hello, it’s the first week of Filipino Fridays 2014! Whether it’s your first time to participate or not, tell us a bit about yourself. More specifically, tell us about your favorite book discoveries for this year. Any author you started reading this year that you can’t get enough of? A book you didn’t think you’d like, but you ended up liking/loving? Any book series that you just have to get your hands on? Have you discovered anything new from Filipino authors this year?

It’s my second time to join FF, and the past year has been an amazing ride of new reads. I had plenty of new reads this year, but I thought I’d share what my favorite books are from Filipino authors. In the last year, a few friends released their self-published works, which immediately became part of my must read pile. Then there’s the writing workshops I participated in a few months ago. I never got to finish my story, but the others were able to successfully finish theirs, so my reading list grew.

Kids These Days (Stories from Luna East Arts Academy Vol. 1) – Various authors
A few of the writers are my friends, so it was a given that I read their work right? Reading this threw me back to my high school years, where every encounter with my crush/es was something worth writing down in your journal. Or, Sweet Valley (twins, not High, ironically). I enjoyed the various points of view of the stories, and each one has little surprises that keep you wanting more.

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All the Doctors at Cosmania 2014

Well, we finally did it. All the Doctors and the FemmeDoctors in one event.

All Thirteen - Homme & Femme Doctors
Photos by Cali Ynoviel & Bex P., background edited by BJ David. Yes, we are aware we made a mistake with the ordering.

I tried to recall how this all came about. My research brought me to a post in the Whovian PH group where a few ladies talked about making a group for the femme Doctors. It grew from there until we had a complete line-up. The girls were able to debut an incomplete roster last May during NexCon.

In the months that followed, everyone (and by that I mean the guys and the girls) worked together to complete all twenty six. We found people who were willing to play the Doctors, and helped them get their props and costume together. There were many sleepless nights where people stayed up to finish things, fueled by coffee and a lively Facebook chat group.

Somehow, we pulled it off.

And it wasn’t just the cosplayers. It was also friends who worked with us in shopping for materials, making accessories and the like. We had a trip to Divisoria to buy cloth and other stuff. Some braved torrential downpours just to help sew coats. Others actually learned how to sew, and even got their families onboard to finish things. And then there were the photographers.

Our companions were awesome too. We had Amy Ponds, Clara Oswalds and a Rose Tyler. We also had a Dorium Maldovar (hi Moses!). We were in the minority during the event as the crowd was mostly into anime, but we got recognized by a few people, and that was enough for us.

More photos from Day 1 can be found here. I’ll discuss the costumes and how everyone made theirs maybe in the comments. :)

Lessons from Library Work

When I was a child, I thought that working in a library would be the best thing in the world. I’d be surrounded by books that I can read whenever I wanted to, and best of all, there wouldn’t be that much contact with people because hey, I’m dealing with books. Friends who are book lovers or know my love for books and reading would agree and express their delight that I am actually now working in a library.

It couldn’t be more further from the truth.

Fact 1: Not all the books in the library are materials you want to read
I work in an academic library, one that caters specifically to engineering students and faculty. Almost all of the books we have in the collection are technical books. I haven’t seen a single fiction or leisure reading book, unless you consider handbooks and technical materials leisure reading.

However, the library also has some special interest books, like website design, game design, management and the like, that I wouldn’t mind reading during my spare time. But that makes up just perhaps 10% of the whole collection. There are also some books that are useful for my masters, but again, not really leisure reading.

The magazines are another matter though. While we have a lot of specialized magazines, journals and periodicals dealing with engineering subjects, there are also general interest titles like Time, Reader’s Digest and National Geographic. Those are the ones I definitely want to read.

Fact 2: You will handle books and people
My first designation when I started the job was with the circulation section, where we handle the borrowing and returning of books, among other things. I handled books, but I am always in contact with the people using the library. Sure, I could probably just not talk to them as I go about my tasks, but since the library is a service oriented institution, you have to talk to them.
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Enter if you dare: UPCAT

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Tomorrow is one of UP’s biggest events: the UPCAT. Thousands of students from all across the country will go to the different campuses and testing centers, take the exam to try and get into the University of the Philippines.

I honestly cannot remember much about the exam itself, but the events around it are pretty clear. My exam was on the morning of the first day, Saturday. My dad came all the way from Zambales to accompany me, and I was relieved even though my tita was ready to take me.

Pa woke me up at 3:30 AM. I said it was too early, considering that we lived fifteen minutes away. But he insisted, and thirty minutes later we were on our way to a lugawan in Sikatuna for breakfast. He said I had to eat, even though I wasn’t hungry. Good goto though.

By 5:30, our car was parked in the parking lot in front of the College of Economics. Later, Pa told me that the other parents were asked to vacate the parking lot, but since he was early and he wasn’t sitting in the car, he wasn’t asked to move.

A little aside, my dad had years of practice waiting for me to finish stuff. My classes, my taekwondo lessons, JS Prom, hair treatments. He’d just patiently sit there and wait til I’m done. Thanks Pa. <3

Anyway, I was in line to get to the room, but we weren’t assigned one. Our permits were plain white papers (not the color printed ones the kids taking UPCAT tomorrow have), and there were no room numbers. Instead, we were asked to line up by permit number and counted off til a room was full.

I ended up in a room with a classmate of mine. By then, I was already feeling cold. The room had aircon, but I was the only one shivering. What the heck, I have a slight fever while taking the UPCAT. Can’t remember much after that.

Monday my classmates and I were exchanging stories about our UPCAT experience. Then everything was forgotten until the results came out.

A few years later, I went with my parents to accompany my brother and his classmates for their turn with the UPCAT. Last year, my cousin took it and tomorrow, a friend’s daughter will take the plunge.

Best of luck to all the people taking the UPCAT this weekend! Good luck with the traffic too. That’s the stage one of your test. ;)

[Book Excerpt] The Real Score by Kesh Tanglao

A talented group of writers broke into the chick lit scene a little over a year ago and gave us fabulous reads since. It’s been a busy time for all of them, but let’s take a break and look into one of my favorite books from this bunch, Kesh Tanglao’s “The Real Score”.

The Real Score - Cover

I met Kesh during one of the Philippine Volcanoes’ rugby games here a few years ago. While we bonded over the game and its players, I never realised that she was such an amazing writer too. When “The Real Score” came out in 2013, there wasn’t any doubt that I would read it.

So what’s the book all about?

Caitlin’s friendship with Marcus, the de facto frontman of the world’s biggest boy band Gezellig, has long been an object of scrutiny by almost everyone–their friends and families, the media, and his fans–ever since they “went public” a couple of years back. Who wouldn’t be interested? She was a nobody, catapulted into the limelight of his fame when he struck an unusual friendship with her.

To both Caitlin and Marcus, what they have is a “perfect little thing.” But then something comes along and threatens it.

In a no-holds-barred interview, will they finally be forced to settle the score?

I won’t be reviewing the book, but instead I’ll let you take a peek into its pages. Here’s an excerpt from “The Real Score”.

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10 Reasons Why NexCon Rocked: Part 2

Continued from 10 Reasons Why NexCon Rocked: Part 1

5. The awesome panels
Most cons here are about the merchandise, cosplay and stage events. It’s only in book or comic related cons do I get to see any panels. NexCon had three of them, and each one was something worth attending. I managed to go to the Komiks Reborn and Cinema Fantastica. I know a lot of people were hoping to see foreign guests (actors particularly), but the NexCon panels were jampacked with Filipino greats in the field of comics, movies, and literature.


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4. Geekfight
Geek trivia game amped to the higher level! Fellow Whovians made a group of six and named it “Gallifrey Stands” (represent, Torchwood Manila as well). We didn’t win, but it was a respectable finish all the same. It was also their 5th anniversary, so the game was pretty intense. Lots of laughter and shenanigans, and thankfully I don’t have to turn in my geek card.


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10 Reasons Why NexCon Rocked: Part 1

It’s been a while since there has been an event dedicated specifically to sci-fi and fantasy. There are a lot of cons happening yearly around the Metro, but anime usually dominates over other fandoms. There was New Worlds a few years back, but nothing in recent history.

That is, until NexCon. Held last Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1, it was a gathering of fans of sci-fi and fantasy, be it a TV show, books, video games, name it and they were there. The Bayanihan Center was home to these geeks for the weekend, and boy, was it ever crazy.

10. No crowds
I’ve long stopped attending local cons on a regular basis because of the crowds that overwhelm me every time. I usually go there to look for merchandise, but leave as soon as I got what I wanted. Most cons here are anime-centric, and while I was an anime geek from waaaaay back, I haven’t been keeping up with the new stuff these days.

NexCon was a refreshing change of pace. Aside from being able to recognize plenty of characters, it was a place where my favorite TV series was able to make an impact. There were a lot of people, but there’s still plenty of space to move around. The numbers may not have been the same as that of past cons, but still very respectable.

9. A place for everything
I like that the Bayanihan center has different halls and rooms. Merchandise and exhibitors were located in one hall, while panels and other events were located in their respective rooms. There was even space for cosplayers to place their baggage (a fact that was made known to us after the event haha).

8. NexCon Rocks
Did you stay til the end of day 2 and went to the concert featuring Stereodeal, Peso Movement and Paranoid City? We partied to amazing music, danced and pretty much celebrated our geekdom.

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Stereodeal

Peso Movement.
Peso Movement

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Paranoid City


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[Book Review] Finding Mr. Write by Adelaide Penne

Apologies first and foremost, because this post was supposed to be up last April 30. I blame all
the Justin Timberlake posts of “It’s gonna be May” on my Facebook timeline. Nah. I just plain
forgot.

Finding Mr. Write is one of the five books under the label #BuqoSteamyReads Sizzling pack. I
hope you were able to get this bundle, as well as the others, early on because now it’s P45 per
story instead of P45 for each book. No worries though, as you can check out the giveaways my
fellow book lovers are doing (link:

http://bookjunkieblogtours.blogspot.com/2014/04/blog-tour-buqosteamyreads-sizzling.html)

Finding Mr. Write by Adelaide Penne

Finding Mr. Write

Sometimes the best things come from the past…

Marcia Pelaez has it all: the curves, great friends, a successful career, and a loving boyfriend.
Or so she thought. After getting dumped by her boyfriend of three years, her best friends set her
up with blind dates from hell…until she meets Mystery Guy Number Three.

Clark has finally gotten everything he worked so hard to achieve: money and a successful
career. But he has never forgotten the woman who had stolen his heart eleven years ago. And
now that he finally has the chance to win back the feisty and independent Marcia, he’s willing to
pull out all the stops.

In a battle of wits, and between the sheets, will they both finally triumph and find a love that could
last forever?

I first thought that the main female protagonist (MFP) of this story was a writer and who was looking for her Mr. Write because, y’know, she was Miss Write. Play on words and all that. Imagine my surprise when I found that it was the guy who was a writer, and of erotica to boot. Not an unusual occurrence, but still pretty surprising.

I like that Marcia was portrayed as a strong, intelligent woman who doesn’t take any bullshit from people, both in her personal life and at work. At the same time, she’s still human and has a vulnerable side that she tries hard to cover.

Her friends rally around her, and that’s something all women can relate to. But my favorite character, if only for just one line, is Yaya Belen. I’m sure that at one point in our lives, we’ve had someone like her: One who isn’t a blood relation but cares for you like you were. Her “Stay the night!” comment had me laughing. It also reminded me of Mulan’s grandmother who said, “Would you like to stay forever?”

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[Book Review] The Best Friend Hook Up by Suzette de Borja

A few months ago, I participated in a writing class lead by Mina Esguerra and Buqo. I never got around to finishing my story, but quite a few of my classmates have and the results have been amazing. You can get the books from Buqo, a local online ebook store.

The first five books are bundled as “Sizzling: #buqosteamyreads Vol.1″, which you can get at the store for only P45! Five awesome reads for that price, it’s a bargain. But if you want to take a chance and win copies of the ebooks, you can check out the giveaways fellow book lovers have on their blogs.

The Best Friend Hook Up by Suzette de Borja

The Best Friend Hook Up

A bridesmaid in distress…

Mara is desperate to find a “hot” date for a beach wedding she has no wish to attend. The groom is her almost-boyfriend and the bride, her hated cousin. Her list of available, eligible men is virtually nonexistent. What is a girl to do?

Enter scorching hot Ian Stapleton, Mara’s best bud and go-to guy, to the rescue. Seeing his best friend in a red bikini for the first time is triggering a lot of reactions in Ian, the non-platonic kind! Does Ian dare take their friendship to a whole new level?

I’m a sucker for friends-turned-lovers stories, which is what got me reading Suzette’s story. There’s something quite satisfying about seeing people who know so much about each other stumble about falling in love and then getting it on.

I love Ian’s character. He seems like the kind of guy all girls want to have as a boyfriend and all the guys want as a buddy. On the other hand, I can relate to Mara because of my moments of insecurity and lack of self-confidence. Yet she found herself, and got the guy to boot. Let’s not forget that hot encounter by the beach and… Whoops. Spoilers.

Some parts of the story tend to run into each other, to the point where I got confused. Perhaps it was the book’s formatting, but at one point I didn’t know if what I’m reading was a flashback or an event currently happening. I guess it’s the limit of the words (10,000 or less, if I remember it right) that makes it seem that way.

That aside, the story is a fun, fast read. Personally, I couldn’t help but cheer for Ian as he pushes his way through Mara’s defenses, and it was endearing to see Mara become more confident in herself (even if she’s a bit of a drama queen). If you’re interested in a friends-to-lovers story with a lot of sweetness, this one’s for you.

Disclaimer: Story copy was received for review. No compensation was given.

 

Jars of Clay and Gungor Manila 2014

The eve of my birthday was full of fun, great music and positive vibes. Shabby and I were back in Bonifacio High Street for Jars of Clay, who the people of Church Simplified brought back for this year’s Walkway. Gungor is with them this year.

The concert started off with the talented Church Simplied band, whetting the crowd’s musical appetites with upbeat and positive tunes.

Gungor was a revelation. I’ve been living under a rock so I haven’t really heard their music, but I was blown away by their performance. Michael Gungor, lead vocalist and for whom the band was named, said that they don’t believe in genres, and it shows. In their hour-long performance I’ve heard them do rock, country, blues, jazz and even some sort of dubstep mix.

Shabby and I were trying to figure out who he sounded like. I thought Chris Martin of Coldplay, but in most songs he sounded like Dave Matthews.

I enjoyed all their songs, and according to Michael it was a different sort because Lisa, his wife and music partner was back home (pregnant and ready to give birth soon. Wishing you the best!).

Favorite songs: I Am Mountain, Let It Go

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