The 33rd Manila International Book Fair
As a self-proclaimed bookish geek, I’d never miss this year’s Manila International Book Fair at SMX Convention from Sept. 14-16. It’s like the much-awaited Maroon 5 Concert to be conducted this year, equivalent to a book-lover’s standard of a very, very big event.
My friend and I went on Sept 14 and 15, mainly for media reasons. We were assigned to cover a talk of Eros Atalia about “Laughter behind Reading” and another different speaker about “Careers in Animation Industry”. We were basically doomed because we missed Atalia’s talk but the fear of facing our mentor’s ‘wrath’ didn’t dampen our spirits to explore the fair and have fun which we didn’t fail to get.
Also, we finally got that chance to meet our beloved Filipino authors! It was so amazing! I have a share of experiences meeting famous celebrities and artistas any Filipino would die to meet for but I never felt the same exhilaration before meeting these amazing writers whose humility inspired me more than their great works did. I guess it’s because I’m an aspiring writer myself, and I recognized how the country’s literature is flourishing because of these guys.
And on the last day while I was lining on the queue on Anvil Publishing booth, there’s this familiar man in front of me who’s got a stack load of books he bought. He’s talking with another man, about ABS-CBN Scriptwriting Caravan and stuffs. That’s when it hit me. THIS WAS RICKY LEE! One of the greatest script-writers of all times! I was actually seeing Ricky Lee. Unable to speak, I made a face and I think he noticed me. That’s when I uttered in a bit strangled voice that I want a picture with him.
He smiled at me and said it’s perfectly alright. God, I can’t believe I was the only one who recognized him! Can you imagine the uproar and the excitement of all book lovers within the area if they realized that Ricky Lee is in their midst?
I also bought his book to be signed. I didn’t buy his bestsellers, “Para kay B” and “Amapola”. Instead I bought an old edition of his Scriptwriting manual “A trip to Quiapo”. (Quiapo is a local place in manila known for its colorful stores and the ancient Quiapo church) In this book, he symbolized Quiapo as a long-desired destination every writer spends his lifetime to reach. In his dedication to me, he wrote: “Never give up on reaching the Quiapo of your dreams” Yes sir, I darn well promise you I won’t!
The writer in me was singing in joy when I left the book fair. But I also felt kinda sad when I passed through the glass doors and threw one last glance on the books stacked up on the shelves. For two days, I’d been happily exploring it, never minding the fatigue and hunger as long as my eyes feast on happily at the opened books, books of my childhood, books which are my favorite right now, and books that I know will influence some spectrum in my life once I brought them home to devour.
And yes, I will go to the next MIBF, even if it’s on SM this and that, no matter how far it was from Marikina. As Saul Bellow once said, “People can lose their lives in libraries and books” I’d happily lose mine on book fairs.
PS. I now leave you guys with a picture of two best buddies, Jayson and Rizal. (Note their physical similarities)😄