Last year, I went to the Manila International Book Fair after almost 10 years. Needless to say, I felt and acted like a kid let loose in a candy shop and shopped till my wallet coughed dry. It didn’t help that my companion then was basically a kunsintidora who just let me go through the aisles and piles of books like the Tasmanian Devil in Looney Tunes. This year I promised to exercise self-control in shopping and set a maximum amount of money (2 thousand pesos) to spend in the book fair. I also promised to buy only discounted titles. To enhance the potential of my adherence to said promises, I also decided to go alone. I get bored easily when I’m alone so there’d be lesser chances of me lingering on a booth.

poster 2014 MIBF

However, I wasn’t able to go to the book fair last Friday because of the weather. Last Saturday’s weather was also erratic at best so I ended up staying home again. Yesterday was not only the last day of the book fair, it was also the last day of a mall-wide sale so I braced myself for the crowds. Normally, I stay away from malls on Sundays, especially when there’s a sale but I had no choice. I didn’t want to miss the book fair and I was committed to at least take a look at the sale event in the mall so I went.

I felt that because it was the last day of the fair, most of the good stuff had been snapped up by those who went before me. True enough, there were empty shelves in many of the booths that I visited. But the lines to the cashiers were extremely long. I think I spent more time in the queue at National Bookstore’s booth than browsing. With my budget in mind, I was very selective in the books that weren’t part of my pre-book fair plan. Good thing I found these cheap books:


I read Platform by Michel Houellebecq when I (semi) attended Jessica Zafra’s writing workshop. She even lent me her copy when I couldn’t find the book that time. I loved the book but I think I have to really dig deep and tap into my neurosis to even approximate the writing tone of Monsieur Houellebecq. This trade paperback copy of Platform cost PhP50.00 only and it was the only copy in the stack of books so I took it. Meanwhile, the anthology of vampire stories–a doorstep of a book (which I like) was PhP75.00 so I grabbed it too.

My plan was to buy books written by my friends. I’m not just being a great and supportive friend. I’m also trying to generate good karma so that when my own books come out–hopefully while I’m still alive–they will see fit in buying my book as well. Friends, I hope you’re reading this!


I heard about Chimananda Ngozi Adichie from a fellow bibliophile and I was also looking for this book but at the same time I’m on the fence on actually buying it because it is quite expensive. However, I saw that there was a 20% discount at Fully Booked so I relented. This was my most expensive purchase. I mean, I could buy 3 books from Booksale with what I paid for this book.


Finally, the last book in my plan was this anthology. I know I’m entitled to a complimentary copy because I’m one of the selected contributors. However, I decided to get a copy, which I think I can give away as a gift when my own copy arrives. ‘Epiphany’ was my first story that got published way back in 1996. It was in Ladlad 3, which came out in 2007. It is part of my unpublished (so far) story collection called ‘The Gospel According to N’. I’m just honored to be part of the best of this anthology.


When I stopped shopping, I ended up with 8 books; I got all that I planned to buy, plus 3 great tiles, all items were discounted, all preferred genres covered, and the total well within my set budget (PhP1800.00). I’m very happy with my book haul. The experience? Not so much. The experience validates all my previous knowledge about attending book fairs. Never go on the last day. Never go on the weekend. Never go with a spend-thrift person. And so on. Till next year, I guess. 🙂


About the pensive poet

development worker. kasuyo. bugtong na anak. retired drag queen. kalaguyo. kaibigan. future carpenter, bread-maker, or bar-tender. feeling manunulat at makata. borderline obsessive-compulsive. control freak. book worm. isnabero. mahiyain. astang cineaste. aspiring photographer.

Posted on September 22, 2014, in events, journal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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