Tuesday, September 05, 2006

27th Manila International Bookfair (A narrative report)

Before I go into the details of whatever happened to me at the grand book fair, let me summarize the experience, thus: This is the greatest thing that has happened to me in Saint Joseph, yet, this is the last time I would experience this (I can always make myself go there, then).

Okay, on with the details.

The day of Friday, well, is like the usual days that have passed me over the past fifteen years of my life. But on the day of September the first, well, it’s just like the other days, except for the “chosen ones” of the Book Lovers’ Club (the “chosen ones” being the Club officers, the most active members of the Club, and me). We are actually going to an event that is on my mental list of “events to celebrate before you die”. Not that I would want to die already, but to be truthful, this event is the only item in my list.

The event, named and proclaimed The Manila International Book Fair, is probably one of the greatest things hitting literary fanatics around the Philippines and, also, around the world (it’s been around for 27 years, meaning this is one big event). Everyone seemed to have come to gawk and enjoy at the random selection of books, pamphlets, and other literary paraphernalia they can purchase. The place of the event was at the World Trade Center Manila in Roxas Blvd., just a short drive away from the CCP Theater.

Anyway, the trip to the fair is not as pleasant as the Book Fair itself; in fact, it’s the worst transportation scene in my life. I wouldn’t go into there; it’s much too yucky to write.

So, there we are, in front of what seemed to look like a warehouse. From the entrance gate I saw the huge billboard of the event, in screaming red letters it said The 27th Manila International Book fair. There were people outside, and not just Filipinos you would push onto a path of oncoming traffic in case you’d meet them elsewhere (no, wait, that’s a joke. I’m just being sarcastic.), but I also noticed that there are also many people of various races, religion, and, I don’t know, clothes? (Yes, there were also people wearing funny outfits there). We went in and bought our tickets to the entrance, right after we deposited everything we own (the management is afraid there could be people who would sneak unpaid items out, but maybe they could benefit from item sensors), and then we went in.

My first reaction: Whoa! Where am I? Am I still on earth? This place might be just, well, rows of booths from book companies and publishers, but for me (and everyone else who loves to read) it’s heaven (whatever happens I will not let my soul get detached from its vessel, I said to myself). Well, before I even noticed the marauding party had vanished. Well, this when the real adventure begins.

There I was walking around like an idiot and mesmerizing at the beauty of the millions of books displayed before the masses, waiting for someone to pick it up and buy it. Unfortunately, I’m on a very limited budget: I could barely shell out cash for coloring book. Fortunately, in most of the booths, they were selling bargains and big deals: Buy 1 Get 1 free promos, discounted books, and piles of old books, many of which hide rare and unknown books and literary paraphernalia (many of them which contain very great, uh, contents). Since I wouldn’t want to waste the precious time being here, I decided to buy two dirt-cheap books: one being compiled essays/ranting/reviews by Jessica Zafra (I don’t consider her a hero – or a goddess – but I consider her my spiritual guide); the other one being stories inspired by anime/manga/games/Japanese stuff.

Because of shelling out, I could barely afford transportation now. And since there’s still a lot of time before we depart, I decided to check out the remaining books.

There were a lot of books and literary paraphernalia there, and of different genres (not just the genres of horror, action, drama, angst, etc.). Children’s books, books for teens, novels, short stories, how-to books, textbooks, encyclopedias, informational, magazines, audio books… a lot.

At 12 noon, the Book Lovers’ Gang went out to have lunch. I must’ve seen every booth that was in there. Our departure is still at three in the afternoon. And I was afraid I would suffer atrophy from the long wait I have to endure.

Fortunately, the roaming around part did well in my time wasting; I re-interrogated the booths and before I was halfway through, BAM! We’re due to leave. It did felt like I only wasted one hour.

Too bad this is the last book fair I could attend with the Book Lovers’ Gang.

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