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.