As most of you may have read in my previous entry, I moderated this month’s book discussion for Flips Flipping Pages. I chose one of my favorite books, “I Capture the Castle” and we hied off to Bacolod City for a change of scenery and a complete countryside experience.
Before we flew off to Bacolod I was pretty much up to my elbows in crafting the contents of the lootbag for two sets of Flippers (the ones going to Bacolod and the members who were meeting up in Manila), including (among other odds and ends):
handstamped stickers (see previous post)
We had come to Bacolod a few days early to do some sightseeing — the Silay heritage houses, Mambukal and a short trip to Campuestohan — and visit certain foodie haunts (because Flippers love to eat as much as we love to read!).
We did come across certain bookish treasures at both heritage houses we visited in Silay City. Balay Negrense had a couple displays of books owned by the Gaston family:
One of the most interesting things we came across was this set of WWII pocketbooks, which were thin and in landscape format. According to the docent, American soldiers kept them in their pockets to read.
We actually ran into a major hitch for the discussion — The Ruins, which was supposed to be the venue for our picnic discussion, was closed to the public when we got there (despite the fact that we had just dropped by on Thursday right after we landed to confirm our Saturday picnic) so we had to change venues at the last minute. Thankfully, we had inquired the previous day at Balay Negrense as a backup venue, and we decided to head there instead.
A short note on Balay Negrense: built in 1897, it is the ancestral home of sugar baron Victor F. Gaston. The Gastons are one of the oldest and most prominent families of sugarcane plantations in the province. Today the house is a museum, showcasing the lifestyle of Negrense aristocrats at the turn of the century.
As a venue I think we got a better deal over at Balay Negrense — we were able to lay out our picnic under the shade of a massive tree in the yard (the weather that weekend was sweltering and we would have roasted in the open lawn of The Ruins) and we were well out of the way of the tourists (which might have been difficult to achieve at The Ruins).
The downside was that the signal was much better at The Ruins. There was some hilarious confusion when we were attempting to videoconference with the Manila leg (over at Tweedle Cafe), so after saying hi to each other, we all proceeded to do our discussions separately.
We had a leisurely discussion in our tea dresses and hats, over a feast (haha as if we had not been feasting all weekend!) of cupcakes, pigs in a blanket, an assortment of biscuits and cheese, complemented with tea and sparkling grape juice.
For a relatively short discussion, we covered plenty of ground: Cassandra Mortmain’s coming of age and how this is reflected in the structure of the book; the workings of social classes and the changing role of women at the time of the novel; whom among Stephen, Simon and Neil we would rather do, die or marry (for our male member it was between Rose, Cassandra and Topaz, LOL); and what we see happening to the characters down the line. For the Bacolod group, average rating of the book would be between 4 and 5 out of 5 stars, though from what I understand the Manila group rated it nearer 3.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed rereading the book and found it as charming as the first time around, and I know it’s one of the books that will stay permanently on my shelves and will be reread some more in the years to come.
Of course we had to make the most out of our time at Balay Negrense and with the sun about to set, a lot of picture-taking was in order:
A few thanks in order: Maz for being a gracious host and taking us around to see the sights and experience the must-trys; Dianne and Shani (plus a couple, erm, unsuspecting ‘minions’ who found themselves crafting in the middle of the night); Joko, Marie and Oel for making the Manila leg happen; all the Flippers who gamely took this trip with us: Haze (thank you for the photos), Sana, Gege (thank you for lugging your chalkboard to Bacolod and doing the sign, also in the middle of the night), Kaie, and Fredda; and new Flipper Nobelle from Bacolod, who may have reservations about joining book clubs now that she’s seen just how crazy we are.
Coming up in May: Flippers do Hemingway! Will keep you posted.