I’m not sure if my event recap introductions ever get too common for y’all because it feels like I’ve been writing stuff like this for years. But just last Sunday, August 12th, marked the end of this year’s Philippine Readers and Writers Festival hosted, as always, by the lovely people from National Bookstore. And for the second time in a row, I was once again invited to be a part of a panel! This year, my Bookworms Unite PH team and I were lucky enough to be given the chance to talk about our little Filipino YA community and how it all started. And I also met Erin Entrada Kelly and Adi Alsaid for a signing! *gasps enthusiastically* Read on for a complete rundown of my #PRWF2018 experience.
Okay, I think we’ve already established that I almost always wake up at around 4 to 5 o’clock in the morning whenever there’s a bookish event, so there’s that. I met up with my friends Miel and Inah (both are co-founders of Bookworms Unite PH), at around 7 at McDonald’s Cubao, Quezon City. After grabbing a quick breakfast, we took a cab and went straight to Raffles Makati, and since it was a rainy Sunday, it took us less than half an hour to get there.
Once in the venue, we immediately lined up to register. (I was the third person in line for the Adi Alsaid signing, and the second for Erin Entrada Kelly’s.) Once we got our signing passes and panelist badges, we went straight to the Sampiro Lounge to finalize and talk about our presentation for the Bookworms Unite PH panel. Of course, we couldn’t wing such a good platform where we can talk about this inclusive community and so this definitely entailed more effort and planning.
While we were there, we met Ms. Nancy Silberkleit, the Co-CEO of the Archie Comic Publications, Inc. She asked us about the stuff that we, as bloggers who help promote books in general, do for the community. We also briefly talked about the new Archie character named Scarlet and we’re hoping to collaborate with her and promote Archie comics in the future, so be sure to stay tuned for that partnership.
Once we were finished running through our presentation, we immediately roamed around the venue to offer free books (!!!) to people in efforts to let them know as to what Bookworms Unite PH is, and also just to gently invite them to the panel scheduled later that day. *laughs* We obviously had tons of books to offer to everyone and we gave out a total of 25 books right then. Then, of course, we checked out the books that were up for sale with up to 20% discounts!
After roaming around and grabbing lunch, we then went to the venue for Erin Entrada Kelly’s Author Spotlight. She was such a positive force, and the audience loved her for her wisdom, her humor, and just her overall light-hearted being made the rainy day event a whole lot brighter. I unfortunately have not read any of her books, and so I didn’t ask her any questions, but I did get a book recommendation from Hazel to read Hello, Universe and so I bought a copy of that and had it signed by Erin. Here are a couple of photos during this segment, along with the book that she signed for me:
Since our panel was scheduled right after Erin Entrada Kelly’s signing, we then immediately went to the Namayan Function Room once we got our books signed. After a quick set-up, and a few Bookworms Unite pre-event rituals (also known as giving free books to the first 15 people in the room), we then proceeded with talking about our small, but growing YA community of readers. We loved the energy and participation that the audience contributed to our session and we most certainly hope to see most, if not all of the people at the next Bookworms Unite event. Here are a few pictures from the panel:
The Author Spotlight for Adi Alsaid was scheduled right after our panel and so we headed straight to Ballroom 2 once we were done. We had a few minutes to get settled before Adi arrived and he was wearing such a casual outfit when he came. He was laidback and he felt really comfortable while he was being interviewed, I loved how at-home he seemed. Here are a couple of things that I remember from his segment:
- Adi, in the past, have read reviews of his books on Goodreads, but he never lets this affect his writing, whether he get to read negative or positive reviews for his books.
- Since he developed a love for cooking, specifically Mexican cuisine, he wanted to incorporate that love into the books that he writes. And it was a good thing that it worked out.
- Adi doesn’t know if he has lived a life that’s worth shaping into a story. He believes that he’s living an interesting life, but he doesn’t necessarily believe that there’s a story worth telling in there.
- The recipes found in every chapter heading from North of Happy are actually his own inventions, and some were fusion recipes all revolving around different types of cuisines.
- He went on a food-trip session at Binondo, Manila, the day before and he was excited to get a preview of the food scene here in the metro.
- When he was asked if he had a book that changed his life, he answered with Yes Man by Danny Wallace. He read it while he was in college, and he feels like reading it changed his behavior..
- Adi started writing Let’s Get Lost only with Leila in mind and he filled in the other characters during the outlining stage of his writing.
- For Adi, the best feedback from his readers would have to be those that are unfiltered. He’s received tons of gushing messages from his readers saying that they’ve related to some of his characters, and they don’t even intend to ask questions about the book. They just want to let him know that they somehow related to how his characters felt. And this is the best for him because he can relate to that feeling.
The host then announced that the first 5 people to ask Adi a question will win an ARC of Adi’s upcoming book from Ink Yard Press, Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak, and I was the fourth one to ask, and so I ended up with a copy! Here was the question I had for Adi:
You’re one of the contributors for Heather Demetrios’ upcoming YA Nonfiction anthology entitled Dear Heartbreak. I know it’s not coming out until after December 2018, but could you share with us your process for writing your letter for that? And also, could you talk about how it felt to write to a real-life teen with a real-life problem?
And to that, he answered:
- He’s been admiring Cheryl Strayed’s Dear Sugar for a while, and so when he got an email invitation to be a part of a project that aims to answer letters and / or give advice to teens, he immediately said yes. He was sent so many letters from teens right after.
- Heather, the editor, then asked the contributors to select a topic that they would be comfortable giving advice about. And because of who he was as a teenager, he wanted to give advice about unrequited love because he feels like he can talk about it.
- After reading 5 to 10 letters, he was able to select the one that called out to him the most, that he felt he could respond to.
- And then he showed the letter to his wife, asking “what should I say?” and she really helped Adi put together the best advice to this teen, and just everyone in general because he feels like by the time that this anthology gets published, the topic and advice that he’ll be giving might not apply to the person who wrote the letter anymore.
- And so in the end, he made sure that he was extra careful and mindful about the advice that he’ll give since there might be other teens who might resonate with his advice as well.
Right after the interview, and the photo taking, came the signing proper. I got to talk to Adi about his time in Manila, and he told me how excited he is to get to explore the rest of the country for two whole weeks, care of National Bookstore. I kept on telling him to ride a kalesa, though given the weather, he might take a rain check on that. Here are a couple of photos during the signing segment, along with the books that Adi signed for me:
I loved every single moment of this amazing experience! I wish we had more time to spend with Adi, but of course I can’t hog him to myself for too long. Before leaving, though, I caught up with and took some photos with my friends. Here, if in case you still haven’t had enough of me and my crew:
Now for the thanks:
- Thank you so much to the people at National Bookstore, again, for inviting us to speak about Bookworms Unite. It means a lot to us that you’ve provided us with a huge platform to help promote our advocacy towards leading a reading nation. And also for taking the time and effort to bring Erin Entrada Kelly and Adi Alsaid this year. Thank you! You the real MVP!
- Thank you also to the two authors, Kelly and Alsaid, for patiently signing our books and acknowledging everyone’s love for the same books that they wrote. Your compassion towards the Filipino reading community means the world to us.
- Thank you also to the people who attended our panel. You powered through heavy rains and floods to get to the festival, and if that’s not dedication, then I don’t know what is.
- Thank you to Hazel, Miel, Inah, and Bianca for being great co-panelists. Like I always say, trying to establish a non-profit organization with only a select number of people is for sure going to be hard, but working with you guys is a delight and so I’ll happily endure everything again as long as I’m with you.
Were YOU at the festival? Did you also get the chance to meet Adi Alsaid and/or Erin Entrada Kelly? Tell me all about your experience via the comments section below!
Until the next one!