Aklatan 2013: The First All-Filipino Book Festival

Book fairs aren’t an unusual thing here in the Philippines, what with the Manila International Book Fair happening every year, and smaller reader and book cons organized by book enthusiasts all over the metro. Last September 7 was The Day for Filipino book lovers, Aklatan 2013.

What makes Aklatan notable is that it’s the first all-Filipino book fair in the country. Writers Ricky Lee and Eros Atalia said in a panel with Lourd de Veyra and Carlo Vergara said that they wanted to have a book event where local writers and their works were the stars. Ricky Lee felt that many local writers were often sidelined by foreign writers even in local events. Bookstores, while they carry Filipino titles, often lump them together as “Filipinana”, and making them more invisible to the public.

With Aklatan, Filipino writers, authors and publishers as well as their readers, are the stars.

I arrived just in time for the contemporary writer’s panel featuring the aforementioned writers. As expected, it was a laugh-trip talk but full of insights into these particular writers’ minds. In between the jokes and stories of Sir Ricky, Eros, Carlo and Lourd, were pieces of advice that were worth noting.

Depth vs. Variety
Ricky Lee is known to many Filipinos first and foremost as a screenwriter, and the books he had published were related to that field (“Trip to Quiapo” was an invaluable resource for me back in college). But to the younger generation, he is known as an author, a fact which he is pretty thankful for.

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This Book Life: 34th Manila International Book Fair

I deliberately skipped the Manila International Book Fair for the main reason that my finances will not support the foray into book heaven (or hell, whichever you prefer). Aklatan proved to be friendly to the wallet, as I concentrated on getting only two books and the ebook bundle, but I feared that MIBF was fiercer.

I ended up going there yesterday before lunch just so I could make the cut-off for the Harry Potter raffle. I was an hour late meeting my friend Ching (and I got reprimanded for it), and it was raining like hell. Not to mention that the MoA area was crowded: probably thousands of people were there for different events: MIBF, Best of Anime, the UAAP Cheerdance Competition, the SM 3-Day Sale… chaos.

Luckily, the line for tickets were short. I used my student discount, and once I was in, I made a beeline for the National Bookstore section. With the crowd, I was waffling on getting a copy of the new Harry Potters, but at the last minute I did, and I got a raffle ticket. Ching got one as well, and she also got a poster (which she later gave to me! Weee!). There were a lot of collectibles and Harry Potter memorabilia too, though I wasn’t really able to see them *sad face*

Times like these I wish I stayed more active in the HP community.

Potterheads
Potterheads surround the booth

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