Events honoring one of my favorite hobbies — reading — don’t happen often in my country. So you can only imagine how excited I was to participate in this year’s Filipino Reader Conference aptly entitled United We Read. I was there last year along with a couple of friends and I enjoyed it a lot that I wanted to join this year… And true enough, my participation this year was more than I originally imagined.
Unlike last year, I only made it to the Filipino Reader Conference in time for the afternoon segments because I got home late from work the night before (since Fridays on a payday week in Makati City are always a pain in the a**). The crowd was packed; I think it’s twice the number compared to last year. I saw familiar faces and a lot of new ones. I came just in time for the live book discussion of Flips Flipping Pages (FFP) wherein they featured Pacific Rims by Rafe Bartholomew, who participated via video conference. How cool was that!
As soon as the FFP discussion ended, me and my five other friends went down to The Main Library, which is at the basement of the Filipinas Heritage Library, to prepare for our live book discussion. Yes, you saw it right, “our” book discussion. I’ve shared in my other blog, wherein I have posted my responses to the Filipino Friday meme, that I formed a private book club with my friends late last year. Our book club, The Mysterious Reading Society (TMRS), was one of the four featured book clubs invited to host a live book discussion. Our chosen book: Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
When I met up with my TMRS friends around lunch time, I learned that we were moved to The Main Library because only several people registered for our session, which was not enough to fill the Hallway. I told them that it was fine; it was the venue that we jokingly preferred anyway during our preparation meeting post our Austenland discussion, as it reminded us of the Red Room of Pain. Kidding! I was looking forward to a relatively intimate discussion, and I guess even the rest of my book club mates welcomed the idea also. It didn’t help that my voice wasn’t cooperating at all and as the designated facilitator, I feared that I’d struggle addressing a huge crowd in such a confined space. You can probably imagine our surprise at the turnout.
So we forged ahead: we introduced our book club and our guest panelist, Kate Evangelista (author of Taste), and discussed our featured book. I wished at that moment I could do a live tweet about the discussion but someone took care of it. The tweets only scratch the surface of the discussion because our book club and those who participated lived by one rule: what happens in the basement, stays in the basement. 😉
Towards the end of the discussion, our book club sponsored a contest wherein those that were laced up… errr… participated during the discussion proper got a chance to win a signed copy of Taste by Kate Evangelista. The game: write on a piece of paper the number of times the phrase “Oh my!” was said in the book. One of the participants, Justine, answered correctly and got to have her copy of Taste signed by the author herself.
We (TMRS) stayed a bit after the discussion to help out a student from Ateneo (gosh, his name escapes me as of this writing) who was covering the Filipino Reader Conference for the school paper. I hope we were able to give him the answers that he needs.
After packing up our things, we head up the Hallway to witness the 1st Filipino Reader’s Choice Awards and arrived in time to see Mina Esguerra’s win for Fairy Tale Fail. It was great to see Filipino authors whose works are honored by Filipino readers; I can definitely foresee my wallet breaking within the next few months as I mentally listed down the local books I wanted to buy.
After the awarding ceremonies, it was time for socials and raffle prizes. There were so many books to be given away that literally everyone who were inside the Hallyway got to take home a book.
Aside from facilitating a book discussion, my personal highlight for this year’s Filipino Reader Conference is getting my books signed by Mina Esguerra! It was one of those moments where I felt tongue-tied especially since the Little Boss was also with her. I wasn’t looking at her while she was signing my books; I only looked at the messages afterwards and I found myself grinning from ear to ear.
Like all good things, the 2nd Filipino Reader Conference came to an end but on a very high note. The organizers and volunteers really outdid themselves this year. Congratulations is much deserved and I’m definitely looking forward to the more Filipino Reader Conferences in the years to come. Mabuhay ang mambabasang Pinoy!