Category Archives: My Life in Books

Parting Shot#1: As Seen In…

Look, I'm in National Book Store!

Back when I still updated my Livejournal, I used to have a regular feature that I called Picspam Thursdays, where I just basically dumped photos on my unsuspecting readers.

Obviously, I’m now taking that here, but limiting it to just one photo per week. And for this debut offering, let me be a little vain douchebag and allow me this little spot of self-promotion. National Book Store is using an article I wrote in their stores! This one I took at the National Book Store in SM San Lazaro, and a while ago I saw another one at the National Book Store at SM Mall of Asia.

My MIBF loot report#2

Things didn’t let up even during the last two days of the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF). Over the weekend, it seemed like I was still scurrying to and fro either attending talks or interviewing authors. If not that, I was scurrying off the the other end of the metropolis for an entirely different work obligation.

As such, I didn’t really get to check out as much of the other booths at the MIBF. I mostly just hovered at the National Book Store booth as they had some of the most noteworthy events — interviews with Alexander Yates, Samantha Sotto, and Rachel Ward! — and as a result got most of the books I bought there.

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My MIBF loot report

We’re past the halfway point of the biggest event of the year for Filipino bibliophiles, and I’m quite proud to say that I haven’t spent myself into the poorhouse just yet. And let me tell you, it’s not because there wasn’t anything worth buying. There was a lot of books I wanted to get my grubby little hands on, but my job — thankfully — got in the way.

For instance, most of my first day at the 32nd Manila International Book Fair was spent in the meeting rooms located on the third floor, listening to the talks during the first Filipino Reader’s Conference. I also got to hover uncertainly around the guys from Flips Flipping Pages and tried not to get too much in Blooey‘s way while I tried to work from the SMX Convention Center.

My second day pretty much looked the same as the first, except the talks I were going to this time around were organized by the University of the Philippines and mostly centered around language, literature, and teaching English in the Philippines.

I didn’t even get to go to the MIBF yesterday, as I had to interview author Alexander Yates early in the afternoon, and then some last minute work requirements forced me to ditch any plans of going to the Mall of Asia and blowing some cash.

The fact that I also had to go back to the office during those first two days also helped out a lot in keeping me above the poverty line as I had no occasion to loiter around and find a book that may just strike my fancy. That doesn’t mean, however, that I didn’t amass myself some loot.

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What’s up at the Manila International Book Fair

You can’t call yourself a Filipino bibliophile if you haven’t at least a passing knowledge of the Manila International Book Fair. Going on for 32 years now, it has become the highlight of every Filipino book lover’s calendar, and it looks like this year’s edition isn’t going to be any different.

Aside from a number of foreign and local authors dropping by and talking to Filipino readers — National Bookstore has already announced a forum featuring authors Alexander Yates, Andy Mulligan, and Samantha Sotto — there are also a lot of other events held simultaneously for those that may want a little time away from the books on sale at the SMX Convention Center.

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Readercon Filipino Friday: Week 4

Of course, it’s on the last week of this particular meme that I actually put up a post on time.

As everyone probably knows by now, this Filipino Friday meme is brought to us by the guys behind the first Filipino Readers Conference. This week’s question is:

“Do you read Filipino literature? If you do, tell us your favorite books by Filipino authors and name a few that you’d like to recommend to fellow readers. If you don’t read much Filipino lit, then tell us why.”

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Readercon Filipino Friday: Week 3

Yes, I know, it’s almost a week late, but the past several days have been really hectic, I swear!

Anyway, it’s week 3 of the Filipino Friday meme hosted by the organizers of the first Filipino Readers Conference! The question for this week is:

“How hard or easy is it to be a book lover in the Philippines? What are some of your frustrations as a Filipino reader (e.g. availability of books)? What are positive aspects of being a reader based in the Philippines (e.g. book prices are lower here than they are abroad)?”

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Readercon Filipino Friday: Week 2

 It’s week two of the Filipino Friday meme hosted by the organizers of the First Filipino Reader Conference! The question for this week is:

Your Reader’s Story

How did you become a reader? What factors influenced you to take it up as a hobby? For instance, was it your mom who read to you every night? Or was it a high school friend who started lending you books? Or maybe it was a really inspiring teacher whom you wanted to emulate. Whatever it was, we hope you tell us all the story of how you became a leisure reader and what it is about reading that you enjoy so much.”

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Readercon Filipino Friday: Week 1

Yes, yes, I know I’m late. But as the cliche goes, better that than never! This meme is from the organizers behind the First Filipino Reader Conference that is going to be held during the Manila International Book Fair, which is so close (September 14 to 18) you can practically taste it.

The first week of the meme goes like this:


This being the first topic, let’s all get to know each other better. Tell us what kind of reader you are. What are your favorite genres and books? Do you have a comfort read? And what’s the best book you’ve read so far this year? You can also include links of where other readers can find you online, such as your book social networking sites, etc.”

Continue reading Readercon Filipino Friday: Week 1

The return of the Book Blockade?

Everybody probably still remembers the Great Book Blockade of 2009, where our Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the Department of Finance (DoF) tried to block books from being sold and distributed here in the country unless a tax was paid on them. This, of course, flew in the face of The Florence Agreement, which calls for “the free flow of ‘educational, scientific, and cultural materials’ between countries and declaring that imported books should be duty-free.”

I wrote an article about it for the newspaper that I work for and actually got to talk to Undersecretary Espele Sales of the DoF — and boy was she shady. She refused to be recorded during the interview, and insisted that I eat the lunch that they prepared even after I declined several times over. During the whole lunch she kept on making these “We’re friends now” overtures that I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a mafia movie and becoming slowly indebted to its most corrupt Don.

While a lot of people thought that it was over when UNESCO itself called out the DoF and the BoC on its bullshit and then President Arroyo ordered the scrapping of taxes on imported books, a lot of people on-the-ground say that the situation is anything but changed.

My friend Blooey notes in her blog that as far back as December of the same year that the Book Blockade supposedly ended, the BoC was once again arbitrarily levying taxes on books being imported into the country. (Do check out the other links in that particular post as it provides a neat timeline of the Great Book Blockade of 2009.)

And now we have this: Customs tightens rules on entry of imported books.

I quote:

“‘Applicants for importations under the Florence Agreement must first secure a certification from the UNESCO Office in the Philippines attesting that the importations of educational, scientific and cultural materials are among those included Florence Agreement,’ Alvarez said.”

There’s also this:

“‘Applications for the duty-free importation of books by non-stock, non-profit educational institutions must be accompanied by a certification from the Department of Education (DepEd) or the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) attesting that the importations are economic, technical, vocational, scientific, philosophical or historical books,’ the new guidelines also said.”

The new rules still recognizes The Florence Agreement, so it’s not an outright strangling of book imports like the one that happened in 2009. However, making the importation of books harder for everyone is always a troubling thing. Why are books always the favorite target? Why not tighten rules on tobacco and liquor instead, which quite frankly are only educational and cultural in the sense that cigarettes teach you about lung cancer and alcohol makes “cultural exchange” easier?

And let’s not forget this little gem from De La Salle University College of Law dean Jose Manuel Diokno when we interviewed him recently:

“There are many indicators of corruption in any office. For example, kapag maraming red tape ang isang opisina (when there’s too much red tape in an office), there will be enough opportunity for corruption. If there is too long a delay in the processing of any kind of application, malamang meron din ‘yung corruption (there is probably corruption there).”

In case it’s not clear enough, what I’m saying is are these “tighter” rules in place just to cover up corruption? Just saying.

Sale at the National Book Store!

If you guys are anything like me — which I hope you’re not, because I am weird — then you’re probably feeling a little faint because National Book Store just started their almost month-long (It goes on until August 21!) cut-price sale on selected books.

I haven’t gotten around to a National Book Store yet — my work week has been crazy — but I’m going to be scouring the shelves and hopefully stumble upon some prize finds. Or maybe get myself a cartful of Tagalog romance novels.

What about you guys? Any particular book you’re hoping to find discounted all the way to 75 percent?