… and five weeks’ worth of Filipino Fridays! (*groan!*)

I know, I know, I’m really late in the game on this one, but my schedule has been impossible for the past four weeks, in addition to that throat infection that sent me out of commission (in bed, too sick to do anything) for five days.

But it’s better late than never, and for those attending the Manila International Book Fair, Filipino Readers Make it Social: The 1st Filipino ReaderCon organized by the Filipino Book Bloggers and slated on Wed, is really one of the must-not-miss highlights of this year’s book fair.

Before I start with my Filipino Fridays, let me clue you in on the event details.

Here are the official event details:

Filipino Readers Make It Social, the first ever Filipino Reading Convention, an event for all Filipino readers, book bloggers and book club members.Get updates from the ReaderCon website: http://filipinoreadercon.tumblr.com/ as well as the Twitter account: https://twitter.com/#!/PinoyReaderCon.We would also like to thank our co-presenter, Vibal Publishing House, Inc. for making sure we won’t go hungry on the day of the event. Thank you, Flipside Digital Content for the sponsorship, Scholastic Philippines for the books that we are planning to give away and Primetrade Asia (organizers of the Manila International Book Fair) for our venue.CAN’T MAKE IT TO THE ACTUAL EVENT? Don’t worry! You can still participate through the blog posts and memes that we have lined up. There will also be live tweets during the actual event and you can join the fun by tweeting your own comments or questions about the panel discussions.
Some important announcements:
1) Entrance to the ReaderCon is P50.
2) Entrance is FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED. Only 70 people can be accommodated in the venue.
3) Snacks will be provided for, courtesy of Hizon’s catering. A food stub will be included in the registration kit.
4) Raffle prizes will be given away during the socials period. There will be 5 prizes for Filipino Friday participants, 1 for a lucky Twitter follower, and the rest for onsite participants. Each raffle winner can win only once.

And, deep breath, my five-week Filipino Friday post. Here it goes, and feel free to read the bits that interest you.

FiliPINO friday #1: Introduce yourself.

I am Blooey Singson, aka Sumthinblue, aka the owner, author, and all-around house-elf of this site, Bookmarked! I’ve been blogging since January 2009, although I had been posting reviews on my old Multiply site since 2007. I started this blog on Blogger, because my book club friends kept book diaries, and I wanted to chronicle my adventures in reading, too, but didn’t want to write it by hand. A few months later, I discovered the joys of moving into my own domain through a blogger friend, and here you are now, reading my 564th post.

You will never catch me without a book (or two, or three) in my bag, regardless of whether I have time to read it. I feel naked when I don’t have a book on standby, in case I find myself with some spare time to read (idle without a book — I consider that an emergency). I read whenever I can, wherever I can, and it’s a mix of genres, mostly fiction: contemporary fiction, historical fiction, YA and kidlit, picture books, Filipino literature, some fantasy, the very occasional scifi, classics, fluff and non-fiction that’s mostly art and trivia books… I guess, practically anything except self-help and inspirational (nothing against the genre, but it’s really not my cup of tea). Favorite authors: J.K. Rowling, Jasper Fforde, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Suzanne Collins, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, E.M. Forster and well, I can go on forever. I have favorite illustrators too: Lane Smith, Edward Gorey, Shaun Tan, Mary Grandpre, Quentin Blake, Robert Sabuda… and the list goes on.

I normally cannot enter a bookstore without buying anything, hence over a thousand books in my TBR. I am a compulsive book owner – I cannot read a book that has not been covered in plastic, and when I like a book, I tend to collect various editions. I also “upgrade” books, which my book club friends call “doing a Blooey” — often buying a hardcover (pref. 1st edition!)  to replace a mass market or trade paperback. I love signed copies, too (who doesn’t?!?)! I have a collection of over a hundred Harry Potter books in different languages and editions. I also collect bookish gadgets: booklights, bookmarks, book stands, book belts — everything book-related!

I am a member and administrator of the Shelfari book club Flips Flipping Pages (We are, incidentally, celebrating our 4th anniversary today! Woot! Woot!). I am also a contributor to the Students and Campuses section of Manila Bulletin, a freelance illustrator (when the mood strikes) and a (currently on leave from) member of the children’s illustrators group Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan. My day job: a PR executive and writer in a small public relations firm in Makati.

FILIPINO FRIDAY #2: HOW DID YOU BECOME A READER?

I started very young — I grew up in a household that loved reading, and my mom says I was a night owl baby and I cried a lot, only shushing when I was handed a book (hahaha — that hasn’t changed much!). Books were also my form of play as a child — I did not get skinned knees (and was too tiny for everything: basketball and street games, not to mention not at all interested) because I was busy making paper dolls of stories I read, recording myself reading the stories on my Sesame Street cassette recorder and acting them out afterwards. I also liked doodling on endpapers because I thought they were blank so you could draw on them (to my horror today).

ta-dah!

In school, I was always paged all afternoon at the gate because I would disappear to the library. When I got bored with picture books in second grade, I attempted to sneak into the big library for the middle graders and when I told the librarians I’d read every book in the kiddie library, they asked me to read aloud from a book with no pictures and when I proved I was reading it right, I was granted special access. Later on I tried the college library (that same year) but I was not that successful. We had a well-stocked library in grade school, and I always filled multiple blue cards (for two-week borrowing) every school year. I became more voracious as I grew older, to the point my mom had to lock up non-school books during exam season. I didn’t have as many books as I wanted growing up (although everyone said our house was full of books), so I am making up for it today.

FILIPINO FRIDAY #3: HOW HARD OR EASY IS IT TO BECOME A BOOK LOVER IN THE PHILIPPINES?

I find it easier now than it was in the last ten years or so. While the selection is still not as extensive as I would like (especially as an edition-hoarder!), the bookstores are quite up to date in terms of new releases; for worldwide releases we even get books a day earlier than the other side of the hemisphere. The price points are actually pretty good — we get books a lot cheaper here than other Asian countries, and even the books’ country of origin. And it’s easier to create a demand today for a title that’s not available. I remember my book club was set to discuss Jostein Gaarder’s The Solitaire Mystery and all of us were bugging all the bookstores if they had it in stock, and sure enough, copies started appearing… and until now we feel guilty for some sort of overstock. And the bargain book selection is fantastic, too! :)

It’s also great that authors from abroad are beginning to see the Philippines as an emerging market for books. More of them are coming here (pleaseJKRJasperFfordeCarlosRuizZafonplease!) to promote their books, and they’re getting pleasantly surprised that they have a fan base here.

And there are a lot of awesome book lovers to share the passion for reading with, in book clubs, in book launches, in bookstores and of course, on the blogosphere!

The FFP Bloody Prom

I have a wishlist though (top of mind): 1) that bookstore staff would be more knowledgeable, 2) that Customs (UGH) would stop taxing book imports, especially for individuals who are not importing them for commercial purposes, 3) that more resources be spent on book development in the Philippines, both in printed books and in ebooks; 4) that we get more YA lit by Filipino authors, and 5) more independent bookstores thrive… but in general I’m really enjoying being a book lover in the Philippines.


FILIPINO FRIDAY #4: DO YOU READ FILIPINO LITERATURE?

Yes I do, on the average about one or two a month, usually the new releases (I hoard a lot during the MIBF), or book club required reading.

The last one I read was Philippine Speculative Fiction for my book club; I have Chulalongkorn’s Elephants on the immediate TBR.

I like that there are enough titles being released to keep my TBR stocked with Philippine lit, and to keep me reading it regularly, although compared to the imported book ratio I read, it’s probably clocking in at just about 20%. I do consciously try and increase more Philippine lit into the mix, and our book club does, too, in our reading selections.

FFP Philippine History discussion

FILIPINO FRIDAY #5: WHAT DO YOU HOPE WILL HAPPEN IN THE FILIPINO READERCON? WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING FROM THE EVENT?

Primarily, the start of an event that will be seen and heard by the book industry. The ReaderCon is the first formal reader-organized event in a long time, and I hope that it will get the ball rolling for an annual event that will establish the voice of the Filipino reader.

I also hope (if my schedule allows it) to meet more Filipino book bloggers, as it is always a pleasure to meet a fellow book blogger, and discover new book blogs to read.

***

One more day to the 1st Filipino ReaderCon and the Manila International Book Fair.  See you there!