Filipino Friday (2): Kids and Books

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This week’s Filipino Friday question is something close to my heart. Well, it is books so that’s a given, but it’s also about children’s books (which I’d include young adult fiction).

What were your favorite books as a kid or while you were growing up? Do you still read children’s books? If you could give your younger self a book to read, what would it be?

Difficult, difficult question. I had a lot of favorite books when I was a kid. Every weekend my parents would let me buy one toy or book, and my godmother/aunt would give me books every birthday and Christmas. Not to mention the people I could borrow books from: other aunts and uncles, friends, the library.

I suppose if I had to trim it down, my favorite books would be the works of Enid Blyton, my Lolo’s big book of stories, the Nancy Drew series and Sweet Valley Twins. Enid Blyton was the first British writer I’ve ever read, so at a young age I was already aware of pixies and brownies and lorries and bobbies. Her stories were those of mischievous kids and other-world beings that spoke of grand adventures, treasure hunts and mysteries.

Nancy Drew, of course, is a classic. To a young girl, she embodied the “girl power” kind of mantra. Because Nancy goes out and solves mysteries, fights bad guys and always wins in the end. The Sweet Valley series gave me glimpse into a world very different from my own. Middle school (or in my case, Intermediate) for me didn’t have cliques or bullies or cheering squads. Girls and boys don’t date (but crushes are all right) and we were still kids by Pinoy standards, but in Sweet Valley, twelve seems so mature.

The book my grandpa had was one he brought home from the time he studied in the U.S. It’s a very thick book filled with hundreds of stories: some fairy tales, some excerpts from other works, some adaptations and the like. Unfortunately, someone borrowed it and lost it, which breaks my heart.

Ok, I’ll stop at these because if I don’t, this post will reach a thousand words. 😛

Young Adult Books
Couple of YA books that I have, still fairly new. The rest I’ve got stashed back in Zamables.

Continue reading Filipino Friday (2): Kids and Books

Hello 2013

Final 2012 Project

My favorite new year greetings from one of my favorite people in the world, Neil Gaiman. I did this just today. I hope you like it.

Here’s to 2013. 2012 was a very bumpy ride, and it wasn’t exactly the best. But I believe that it was meant to happen for a reason, and that come what may, I, my loved ones, my family and friends will come out triumphant, happy and stronger.

Peace and happiness to you all.

Neil Gaiman in Manila: Book signing

Yesterday was a good day. I managed to do some of my errands in the morning, even though I failed in finishing what I was supposed to do when I took the day off.

I headed off to Rockwell later that afternoon, hoping to get a chance to see Neil Gaiman again and get my books signed. Thankfully, I did! I got my number and boy, I knew I was in for a long wait.


From the third floor. The line to get a number was shorter now. People were just milling around, waiting for the event to start.


This is what Neil refers to as “Neil faces.”

I decided to walk around a bit and find a nice spot to sit in while waiting for my turn. I checked out the mini exhibit of the Revelations art contest finalists (you can read about the winners here, then I went to the cinemas on the 3rd floor and found an elderly couple checking out the movie schedules. They didn’t look like they normally went to watch movies, and it took them a while to decide but they finally did. I wanted to ask them what they were going to watch.

It was way past 4 PM when Neil arrived. I had a nice seat and I was really, really decided on staying put, but damn, that man’s pull is too strong. So I got up, snapped some pictures and went to find a different place to sit as I was expecting my chair to be occupied.

Someone loves me again because the seat was empty. So I went back there and decided to stay put because I knew that it was going to be a while.

It was an interesting spot. I had a clear view of Neil as he was signing, and watching his interactions with his fans was something I didn’t get tired of. He was always cheerful, even though clearly he was tired. He had something to say to everyone, even though probably a lot of the questions were ones he already answered in his blog or in interviews (then again, one can’t be expected to keep track of all of that, and there’s something really cool about hearing it directly from him, than just reading about it).

Almost every female, even some guys, asked for a hug. A lot gave him something to take home: books, drawings, cards, toys, food, drink, etc. In his recent blog entry, Neil says he’s got two boxes to be shipped home, but he took a few of the things along with him, including one box of chocnut, a package of dried mangoes, a book and a bottle of local rum (lambanog, given to him by a guy who looked like an expat himself. Hi, if you read this, I want to know your story ^_^).


He comes in, he waves and he starts signing


Some girls made this sign and was on the mall’s 2nd floor. They called Neil and for a few seconds he stopped signing and waved at them with both arms.


This guy can draw fast, and the likeness, even though it’s such a simple sketch, is evident.


I still have a long way to go


I’m about the 4th person from this girl


Watching him from the sidelines as I waited my turn, I couldn’t help but think about why people love him so much. His works are great, one I’ll admit even though I’m not a fan of all his works. I haven’t finished “Sandman” and I prefer the stories and books he wrote that was geared for kids (Coraline, The Graveyard Book, Odd and the Frost Giants, etc). But seeing how he interacts, how he takes time to connect with each person in that very long line (300 plus, with at least a thousand books), it isn’t any wonder why he’s so popular.

What’s funny is that while he was still gracious and polite and chatty, it’s the people around him who were not. I understand the pressure and the stress of organizing and handling such an event though, and how tiring it is to wait for your turn, but it’s the least we can do for a chance to talk to him, right? I just hope no one felt shortchanged. I don’t, even though I never got a hug (because I didn’t ask for one, boo to me, hehe).

When it was my turn, I had already lost some of my nervousness because whilst he was chatting with the girl ahead of me, he turned to include me in the conversation and looked at me straight in the eye. It was only for a few seconds and he won’t remember it, but I was so floored. The conversation flowed easily between them then on to me, like he was just talking to one person.

The girl said she was eighteen when the Sandman series first came out. Neil replied, “Well neither one of us is eighteen now,” then we laughed (yes, umeepal na ako sa point na to haha). He pointed at his hair and said that someone told him “You’ve got grey hair that wasn’t there five years ago,” and that was when he looked at me.

They talked for a bit and she went on. He slid my books near and said hi to me. I patiently stood beside him before I blurted out, “Have you ever considered learning to write with your left hand?”


Thanks to Erwin for taking these pictures. He and the other photographers were there as long as Neil was.

Neil replied, “I did, actually,” but he it looked so different, plus he mentioned that he injured that hand. “My signature is actually a series of muscle movements,” he said, and the injury made it hard to try it with his left. He moved the pen to his left hand and showed how he couldn’t bend the hand to write properly. “It wouldn’t really look the same,” he said. I quipped “No one would believe that you wrote it.” He replied, “Exactly.”

With that, he finished signing my books. I took them, smiled and him and said, “Thank you.” He replied, “Thank you for coming.”

Exit, stage left.

When I arrived home, the boys were playing a racing game with this new USB steering wheel they got. I see the electric bill rising again.

Here are my books.

Note: I shall edit the photos later on.

P.S. To my friend, Elise, soon it’ll be your autograph I will line up for.

Neil Gaiman and the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards

I managed to make it to the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction awards last night without much problems. I was hesitant to go because I’ve seen news of the massive traffic jam along Ortigas/C5, which would’ve been my route to Rockwell.

I decided to take a chance anyway, figuring that 1) I might get lucky and the trip won’t be too bad and 2) the event will start later than 7 anyway.

Someone loves me because I got both of them. My ride from Eastwood to Cubao took about twenty minutes. I walked from Puregold to the MRT station (even had time to sneak a quick peek at Booksale haha). I got my MRT ticket in 5 minutes and another 5 minutes for the train to arrive. When I got to Guadalupe, I made a small mistake of walking to the wrong stop, but I managed to get on a jeepney to Rockwell. I also got off the wrong stop so I walked a bit farther than I would’ve if I didn’t, but who cared? All in all, my trip took me an hour and thirty minutes, which wasn’t really bad at all!

Surprisingly, there wasn’t much people at the tent. At least, it was lesser than what I expected. About a hundred or so people were milling around outside, buying last minute stuff they hope to get signed and all. I signed up at the registration booth, hoping to win one of the 100 slots open for the autograph signing later in the event.


Waiting for the event to start

A little past 7PM, they let us in. It was an hour before the program started. Jelly of RX 93.1 hosted. I saw several people I was familiar with through blogs and various interactions in the past. I introduced myself to Gerry Alanguilan, and I was a total spaz (sorry po!).

Around 8, the program started. Jamie Daez introduced Neil Gaiman. Backstage, several people with Neil Gaiman masks stood and as the camera zooms on to them, they step aside. I was so busy turning and looking for him that I didn’t really get to catch this on video. People were screaming and yelling, you’d really think he was a rock star (makes me wonder now if it’s like this in other countries or just us, home of the now infamous “Wall of Sound”).

Neil went onstage, and said a few words. He said that it was “very strange” to see all those people with his face. He showed off the jacket he was wearing, saying it was the Kambriel made for him and the one he wore at the Oscars. Wow! I never thought I’d see it up close. The ones who got near him for the autograph signing were lucky. They actually got to see that amazing work up close. And it’s got buttons! I’m still loading the video of that.


Here Neil reads one of his poems.

He read “Locks” from his book Smoke and Mirrors, then he read a poem his just wrote recently. It was so new he hadn’t had time to publish or read it to a proper audience. It was so cool.

Here Neil reads a poem he recently wrote, one that he’s never read to a “proper audience” before.


Neil gives his feedback on the stories/comics/films that won.

For the winners in each category, Neil gave his thoughts and impressions. It was great to hear how favorable he found many entries, and how it encouraged people to send in entries for the next competitions. His favorite word for the night was “glorious,” as he used it several times as he talked. I find it rather apt.


Winners of the comics category. Manix Abrera should’ve won first place but his work got published during the duration of the contest, so he forfeited the award. 🙁


VIP ako haha.

I stood for three hours. Who cares?


The winners of the 3rd Philippine Graphic/Fiction awards. Neil was waving his hands.

Some of the names were familiar, namely Dean Alfar and Kenneth Yu, but it was nice to see some new people joining the winner’s ranks. I’ve been a fan of Dean Alfar for some time now, and I think he ought to be inducted to the awards’ hall of fame haha. Congratulations to the winners! You can view the entries here.

Various personalities read aloud passages from the winning entries. Nyko Maca (who read “Cherry Clubbing” so beautifully, I got chills), Quark Henares, Wawi Navarroza and Gabe Alipio were among them. Nyko Maca also performed.


Signing for 100 people (about 200 books) that night


People milling around outside the tent

I got home pretty late, because the bus parked in front of Galleria for about 30 minutes. Obviously, no one was going to ride, but the driver didn’t seem to care. Pfft.

Weird and kind of funny dream

I had a weird dream last night. In it, some people were in our house and taking over. They weren’t bad people. I mean, anyone who looked like Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer couldn’t be, right?

My house was initially this castle-like structure that had a lot of passageways, nooks and crannies. When we heard the “invaders” (for lack of a better term) coming, I immediately told my family to leave, and they did. I squeezed myself into a small space underneath a stairwell. I was wearing a really fancy dress with a huge balloon skirt. How I fit in there, I don’t know, but I ended up being thought of as a big, furry dog. One that looked like a cross between Barkley of Sesame Street and the Luck Dragon.

The house evolved into a small apartment. One night, when the invaders were out for a book signing (it was Neil and Amanda after all), everyone who was hiding came out. We cooked, had dinner, watched TV, but did our best to make sure that we didn’t leave anything that would tell the invaders that any thing happened during their absence.

However, they arrived earlier than expected. People were still milling about at the small balcony, drinking beer and eating the remains of the sizzling sisig. I stuffed the dog costume (the dress) down the back of the couch, threw the dirty dishes on to the sink and tried to clean up the mess as best as I could. Y’know, sort of like when you had a party and had to clear all evidence before your parents come home?

In the end, the invaders (now a pet name for them) didn’t mind. They joined the other guys and became chums before the night ended. The only thing that worried Amanda was the dog was missing. I never told them the truth.

Possible causes: Watching Queer Eye earlier (because the dream apartment was really nice and well designed), excitement for Neil Gaiman being here in Manila, exhaustion for the the design project and probably too much sugar in my system.

BTT: Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Booking Through Thursday

This week’s question from Debbie: One of my favorite sci-fi authors (Sharon Lee) has declared June 23rd Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers Day. What might you do on the 23rd to celebrate? Do you even read fantasy/sci-fi? Why? Why not?

I think that everybody has read at least one sci-fi and fantasy book once in their lifetime, sometimes not even knowing that they did. Look back into your childhood reads and the familiar stories of Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and Peter Pan would count as fantasy works. As for sci-fi, well, that may be a little hard to think of haha.

I definitely read fantasy. I read sci-fi too but I’m more into the realm of the magical and mystical than the technical and industrial (although there are many books that wonderfully combine the two).

Among my favorite fantasy writers are *drumroll please!* Neil Gaiman (Stardust, The Graveyard Book, Coraline), Diana Wynne Jones (Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Air, The Magicians of Caprona), J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter series), David and Leigh Eddings (The Belgariad, The Mallorean, The Elenium), Jostein Gaarder (The Solitaire Mystery, Sophie’s World) and even Isabel Allende (City of the Beasts, Kingdom of the Golden Dragon, The Forest of the Pygmies).

I suppose my sci-fi readings belong mostly to the manga and comic book section. Somehow, I never really enjoyed reading those kinds of stories but if its accompanied by illustrations, I’m more liable to read it. One of my favorite manga is Moto Hagio’s They Were Eleven. My favorite mangaka Rumiko Takahashi also delves into the world of sci-fi and fantasy with many of her works.

And that has yet to include the paranormal and sci-fi themed works that the other authors I read write. Nora Roberts for one, and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

What sci-fi and fantasy works do you read?