#FeelsFest: Mamser, Pag-Ibig

You can’t read romance without having your feelings go all crazy, more so if you write it. #romanceclass #FeelsFest is all about the hugot and the kilig and everything that goes with it.


October 22, 2016 was a long anticipated day by the community of writers and readers that make up #romanceclass. There have been many smaller events in the past, such as April Feels Day, (Trinoma thing), and workshops that helped writers be more attuned to their craft (and enjoy some time with LI and MC pegs).

The event was hosted by the Ayala Malls, who tapped the #romanceclass to help support their Little Library. Guests of #FeelsFest who donate books to the cause get to pick from a selection of ebooks, all penned by RomanceClass authors, in exchange.

Here are my Top 5 Things about FeelsFest

5: Donate a book, get a book
FeelsFest was hosted by the AyalaMalls, who tapped the #romanceclass to help support their Little Library. Guests can donate books to the cause and get the same number of ebooks from #romancelass writers, in return. It’s a great way to get something new to read, even if you’re on a budget. You’re also helping people get more books to read through Ayala’s Little Free Library.


Just a few of the books you can get for free with your book donations!

4. Games
Registered guests can join in the games. There’s the Photo Scavenger Hunt, where you have a list of things you need to take a photo of. Mind you, it’s not just simply taking a picture. I looked through the list and some of them will require guts, if you’re a shy person like me.

Then there’s the RomanceClass Bingo. You’ll have a grid of descriptions, and you’ll need to find someone who fits those. You can’t have someone filling in more than one box at a time, so even if you know someone who can fit many of the descriptions, you’ll have to find someone else. It was a fun way to get to know the RomanceClass community.

3. Community
Turnout to #FeelsFest was amazing! I arrived past noon and there were already quite a few people going around. Past events were pretty well attended, but the venues were smaller. We had some reservations at holding it in a bigger and much more public place, but fears were laid to rest when people came, stayed, and had a great time. While majority of the crowd were friends, family, and fans (yes, there are those!), there were a few curious onlookers who came by, and hopefully got a copy of the books!



There is no clear division between writers and readers. A lot of the writers are readers themselves, and quite a few of the readings are also diving into writing, inspired by the enthusiasm of the writers. Then there’s the people who support them: friends and family, people who contribute to the books as character pegs, knowledge resources, cover and layout artists, editors, inspirations, actors…

2. Live Readings
Mina had this idea of having parts of the book read. A year ago, she tapped the help of theater actors Gio Gahol and Rachel Coates to read excerpts. It was only for a class, but it grew and grew until now we have several actors and actresses. The first time, it was for the writers, and it was a fun way to see how their work was interpreted by other people.


Here are the books that were read:

  • The Hometown Hazard by Dawn Lanuza
  • Sweeter by the Second by C.P. Santi
  • Tempting Victoria by Mina V. Esguerra
  • What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra
  • Save the Cake by Stella Torres
  • Keep the Faith by Ana Tejano
  • When Sparks Fly by Ines Bautista-Yao

It also proved to be a great marketing tool, because people flocked the book merchandise table to buy what has been read, and more! Some of the books were sold out halfway through the event!


1. New Releases
FeelsFest was the venue for eighteen new books. Considering that there was no recent romanceclass held, this was a big thing. Many were new releases from romanceclass veterans, but some were from first timers. It was awesome to see their works being snapped up and gushed over.


Here’s the list of new releases. You can get ebook copies from Amazon.

New #romanceclass releases

Here’s to more feels!

Travel Flashback: Sydney, Australia

It’s been a year and a half since my visit to Sydney. It was a surprise business trip slash holiday, one I never expected to have when I signed on to join Canva.

Off to Sydney!
We’re off to Sydney!

I knew a little about Sydney thanks to my aunt Ruth and her daughter Miel, both of whom visited the coastal city before. I learned a lot about kangaroos, koalas, and Cadbury chocolates, but none of their stories prepared me for the awesomeness of the place. I had fallen in love with the city from the get-go.

In front of our hostel, before exploring Taronga Zoo. Photo by Thea Cinco.

I suppose part of the attraction had something to do with the fact that our trip wasn’t purely a tourist thing. We had plenty of locals (our Sydney counterparts) who took us around their favorite places, often away from the usual tourist destinations. Sure, we did what tourists did, but we also did what locals did.

I loved every place we went to, but my favorite places were Katoomba, Newtown and Surry Hills. Katoomba reminded me of Baguio, only smaller, neater, and much colder. Newtown was like Cubao X on steroids. Surry Hills was near the CBD, but still laid back enough for you not to feel hurried.

Sightseeing in the Blue Mountains

Bondi in autumn. Empty and cold.

In fact, Sydney on the whole didn’t feel very much like a city I’m used to. The whole vibe was laid back and chill. By day until the evening, people went about their business. However, since shops closed by 5 pm, there were less people around. On our last day we walked along the streets and was surprised that it was empty by 2 am. In Metro Manila, things were just starting to get lively by then.

IMG_2015-05-06 08:53:39
Walking along the streets of Sydney at 4 AM

The best part of the whole trip of course was getting to know the Sydney team. As a newbie then, it helped me become more familiar with the people I was working with, not just the local team, but also the one across the ocean. We totalled to about fifty or so then. Now, the number has doubled.

When we could still easily fit into one frame

Selfie before heading back to Manila

More than a year after, I still can’t forget Sydney. I’ve done a lot of things in the two weeks but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Here’s to another opportunity to visit.

The Book Stop by WTA Design Studio

Last May 6, Kate and I went to Ayala Triangle to check out the Book Stop.


This is a project of the WTA Design Studio as part of their Architecture of Ideas project. From their website:

As part of our Architecture of Ideas campaign, we have launched a non-profit initiative to build a free public library called The Book Stop. The Book Stop serves as an open library and book exchange where everyone is invited to come and grab a book. It will be placed in venues like malls, parks, commercial centers and other similar public grounds.

This pop-up library will provide a space where people can enjoy reading, interact in lively discussions with fellow readers and share their love for books by donating their own. Eventually, it can provide data to measure the need for more public libraries in the country.


I love the idea of a reading nook in a public space like a park. The idea of being able to go to one, grab a book and have a safe spot to read it is very nice. We don’t have enough public spaces like parks, and goodness knows we don’t have enough public libraries where people can indulge in reading without having to spend money to get a book.

Nancy Drew!

We got to talk to some of the team behind this, which resulted in them interviewing us. I told them that I was a library & information science student and that I used to work in a library. We talked about the idea (like I said it was very good), the collection (it was a mish-mash of random books that they don’t take inventory of but just count at the end of the day), and what things they can do to improve on it (the idea that people can freely take books builds a trust among the people).


I would definitely love to see more places like this around the metro. I think it would be a great idea for the firm to partner with librarians to plan more spaces that are bigger, more accessible, and have more services that people can avail of. Come to think of it, that would make a great thesis. Hmm.

Semana Santa: Memories of my grandmother

I’m not into the usual Holy Week stuff now, but it feels comforting to see traditions being passed on. Reminds me of the time when my grandmother would pull us kids to join it. Sunday now, the time when Jesus rises from the dead. The Salubong is now happening, and the procession just passed by the house.

There are two processions: One with the men and the statue of Jesus, the other with the women and the statue of Mary (which was, IMO, creepy covered up with dark cloth). They go in different directions and meet up at the town plaza.

There, a little girl dressed up as an angel is lowered from a high platform. The statue of Mary is placed directly below her, and as she descends, she’ll take the cloth off Mary. Her mourning is now over as she sees her son alive.

When I was a kid, my grandma would wake us up to see it pass by our house, then we’d go back to bed. Only once did I recall actually joining it with her. She woke us up early, then we waited for the women’s procession to pass by. My brothers, young as they were, joined us.

I realise that the length of time my grandma is gone is almost as long as I’ve had her. Her influence is still strong though. Miss her terribly at times like these.

My First Graphika Manila Experience

I had long wanted to attend Graphika Manila. To me, it was the design and art event to be at because of the guests who would be there to give a talk. Last year they had Seb Lester and in 2014, Jessica Hische.

This year, I decided to take the plunge and get a ticket. I got a student early bird discount so my ticket was cheaper than the one advertised. I expected to go alone, but thankfully a bunch of people from work were going. In the end, I was the only non-designer in the group, but it was fun to hang out with them. I was inspired not just by the people talking onstage, but also by the ones I was with. No bull guys. 🙂

Here’s a few pictures from both days.

IMG_1458Gemma O’Brien

IMG_1442Timothy Goodman ends day 1 with a bang

IMG_1524Everyone enjoying Harvey Tolibao’s presentation on day 2, which was really brilliant, in a stand-up comedian way.

IMG_1485Simone Legno

IMG_1542Simone, Gemma, and Timothy

Looking back on Graphika Manila, my favorite lessons came from Matthew Encina of Blind.

At one point he three points that he takes to heart when it comes to his passion:

  1. Be yourself
  2. Start before you’re ready
  3. Learn it, teach it, own it.

But of all three, what stood out the most for me was “Start before you’re ready.” All too often we wait inspiration to strike, or for the “right time” to come before we do something. Then again, how do we know when we’re ready? How do we know when the time is right? His advice is close to Nike’s “Just do it”. It will happen.

He also said, “Embrace your passion. You’ll never know how it’ll play out.” Many of the speakers showed how they started out without having formal study of art or graphic design, but it was something that they wanted to do. They indulged it and kept working with it, until they got to the point where they were considered experts in their field. A lot of people start with an interest in art and design, but not everyone sees it through. So keep at it, keep doing, and who knows where you’ll end up.

Filipino Friday #3: Five Ways I Can Support Filipino Authors


For the 3rd week of Filipino Friday, we’re asked:

Let us know what are the Five (5) ways you can support Filipino authors? Buying their books is definitely the best way to do so, but what more can we do?

The most obvious is to buy their books, especially the indie and self-published authors. Unlike authors who don’t have a contract with publishers, they don’t get any earnings until their book is sold. I know a lot (if not most) of these authors don’t write for the money, but it’s great that we can still purchase it. Believe me, seeing that someone bought your book is such a thrill, and even if that’s just $0.99.

Spread the word! I find that the best way to get other to purchase and read a book is to talk about it. While authors do their thing for publicity, as a reader you can do your part. Some people may not want to pick up a book because of its cover, or its genre, but if they hear you talk about it (why you liked it, you know the author, or for whatever reason) there’s a bigger chance that they’ll buy it and read it.

Give it as a gift. Buying a copy of a local author’s book and giving it as a gift helps create awareness about it. You can give it to anyone, be it an ebook copy or a physical copy.

Join and host giveaways! A lot of giveaway mechanics have people follow social media accounts of authors, and one share equals to one entry. While it may sound a bit trite, it’s pretty effective. When you share the link to the giveaway, there’s a hug chance that people who follow you will be curious. That’s already one extra person who’ll know about it.

Attend events. While authors love it when you buy their books, they love it even more when they get to meet you. So if the author says he or she will be at this event for a talk or a book signing, go (schedule permitting, of course). You can tell them up close how much you enjoyed their work. From the writer’s POV, it’s really cool when you get to talk to someone who has read your work. They’re appreciative of you, and they feel a humble pride that someone has read and liked their book.

If you enjoyed reading the book, tell others about it.

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.