Conferences and Events Filipino Lit

Readercon Filipino Friday – Weeks 1 to 5

This is GatheringBooks trying to cram in all Filipino Friday posts at one go. Haha. The Filipino Reader Conference is only a few days away (14 September 2011, Wednesday) and we are glad to be able to provide support to this lovely initiative in whichever way we could.

We are also making this a collaborative blog post very similar to what Fats and I experimented with when we did our review of Shaun Tan’s The Arrival. Thus, you would see responses from Fats, Iphigene, and myself.

So without further introductions, we shall answer the questions put forward to Filipino Readers:

(August 12) Tell us everything that we need to know about you as a Filipino reader. You can talk about the genres that you read, your favorite authors, your comfort reads and your best books of 2011. 

Fats Speaks:

I had been exposed to books since I was 4 years old. I started with two mini-picture books featuring Mickey Mouse and friends. It came with the life-size stuffed toy of Mickey Mouse, alongside audiocassette tapes of the books. Since then, I have fallen in love with reading.

When I was in kindergarten, I loved reading about fables and fairy tales. The Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen were big influences. Growing up, I was exposed to horror and mystery stories. By the end of elementary school, I already owned enough Goosebumps and Nancy Drew books to be officially labeled as a bookworm.

As life changed in high school, so did my reading preference. I started paying more attention to my classics (particulary Charles Dickens and Alexandre Dumas), as well as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and his magic realism.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez - click on the image to be taken to the websource.

In between these growing up years, I had developed a fascination for Newbery Honor books, thanks to E.L. Konigsburg’s A View from Saturday.

By the end of high school, I have fallen in love with the works of Bob Ong.

Children’s books, young adult fiction, and graphic novels are my comfort reads. The two former genre will always be part of my life, and I am very much thankful for GatheringBooks for becoming my avenue for creativity and a means to express my love for children’s literature.

I have read so many books since the beginning of 2011. These titles are just a few of my “best book” list: Trese by Budjette Tan, I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, The Black Book of Secrets by F.E. Higgins, Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson, and Catherynne Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making (which I am a few pages away from finishing).

(August 19) How did you become a reader? What factors influenced you to take up reading as a hobby and why do you enjoy it so much?

Myra Speaks:

I was two years old when I started reading and I never stopped since. I believe we also answered something very similar to this when we set up our very own GatheringBooks meme at the beginning of the year (my responses to the same questions can be seen here).

I would not even call reading a hobby. It’s like breathing. Books are lifelines to sanity – and a parallel universe. Where things make sense. Where those that do not make sense are richly illustrated or weirdly-rendered in beautifully gothic surreal fashion.

Books provide another dimension to living – my emotions are more nuanced, my tastes more refined, my vision and perspective of the world forever altered because of the inner truths, complex questions, and the labyrinthine narratives that provide some quiet to my soul, at the same time that those same narratives poke, prod, and disturb my sensibilities.

I am who I am because I read.

(August 26) How hard or easy is it to be a book lover in the Philippines? What are some of your frustrations as a Filipino reader? What are positive aspects of being a reader based in the Philippines?

Myra Speaks:

I know I should not be answering this question because I have been based in Singapore now for the past three years (and counting). But do allow me to put in my two cents’ worth about what these questions mean to me.

While the accessibility to most books in the Philippines can be limited – do not get me started at the highly dismal state most of our libraries are in since Lordknowswhen – I would like to think that perhaps it is this ‘lack’ that creates that avid hunger in the Filipino reader. You appreciate that which you do not have. I also am deeply appreciative of how open (free-spirited even) most Filipinos are in terms of the diversity and the choice of reading materials. If said books are ‘banned’ or considered controversial – chances are most Pinoys would do all they can to get their hands on those books/texts. 

That is me poring over bargain books.

With fellow Filipino readers, I sense in them that beautiful sense of wonder about uncharted terrains, words that create lyrical music to one’s soul (poetry oh poetry) – the desire to explore places through the pages of a well-written book – the ability to be young again and be in awe of all the beauty that the universe can offer and to know that darkness exists and allowing it to enter one’s inner sanctum – knowing that it is part of what defines us, a facet that gives greater complexity and color to our beings. These are only some of the positive attributes of being a Filipino reader that I can think of.

One can actually find wonderful bargains in a great many book shops in the Philippines – if you know what you’re looking for, and you know where to go.

(September 2) Do you read Filipino literature? If yes, what are some books by Filipino authors that you can recommend to fellow readers?

Iphigene Speaks:

I read Filipino literature and have always kept a set on my TBR pile. I sort of have a nationalistic streak in me. Aside from the real hardcore of reading Rizal’s work, my favorites include Canal Dela Reina (required reading in school, but I thoroughly enjoyed it),

Benjamin Pascual (I read this in college and enjoyed it), F.Sionil Jose (Gagamba, Soba, Senbei, and Sensei),

Click on the image to be taken to the websource.

Bob Ong (I think he sort of revived Filipino Literature), Ambeth Ocampo (this is history that anyone would enjoy), Budjette Tan (Trese rocks), Arnold Arre (My first taste of Pinoy graphic novels/comics). That to name a few. I always like to try new Filipino writers and if i love them i send them to Fats to read while in the US. LOL.

September 9 – What do you hope will happen in the Filipino ReaderCon? Expectations.

Iphigene Speaks:

I really don’t know. I’ve never been to such events before. I guess I expect to learn more about the Filipino book blogging sphere, discover stories behind people’s blogs. I also liked to see how active and alive the ‘reading scene’ (if there is such a phrase) is. Generally, I expect it to be enriching in terms of discovering other bibliophiles passion for reading, their goals in blogging about books and hopefully also discover other authors and reading experience.

Round up of all the links this week can be found in the Filipino Reader Con Website.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

7 comments on “Readercon Filipino Friday – Weeks 1 to 5

  1. Haha! You crammed 5 weeks into this post! Awesome.
    To Fats: I loved The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak, how does that compare to I Am Messenger?
    To Myra: I really wish we could have great libraries here. Sigh. I envy you when you say you have gotten such and such book reserved at the library there. Like Shaun Tan’s books. 😛 I also agree with the numerous bargain books one can find in the Philippines. If you have the patience to dig into those piles, there is always that surprise find.
    To Iphigene (and Fats): I just bought Trese: Murder on Balete Drive! I hope I can get started on it soon. I also hope it won’t give me nightmares. 😛


    • Hello Tin. =)

      I loved both Zusak books. Both have interesting narrative formats. I like The Book Thief because it was told in Death’s perspective. I Am The Messenger on the other hand reminded me of Jostein Gaarder’s The Solitaire Mystery and inspirational books by Mitch Albom. Not too cheesy though but really good. =)

      You’ll enjoy Trese and, no, you won’t have nightmares. =)


    • Hi Tin. I recall though how enamored I was of the UP Main Lib when I was an undergraduate in the university. Twas able to fill my hunger of the classics. Borrowed lots of dickens, Thackeray, Austen, bronte, Edith Wharton – among others during that time. I haven’t visited that musty old library though in more than ten years. No idea if it’s been updated or modernized in recent years and no knowledge of how rich the children’s lit and ya collection are.


  2. what a great collaborative post! 5-in-1! 🙂 and i’m now adding you to my blogroll! and now will be prowling around.

    pop over for a visit when you get a chance. i’m a huge GGM fan. have a crush on zusak (and his writing). i breathe the same air as you do – myra. and am adding on recommended pinoy reads to my tbr. thank you!


    • Hi Aloi! Thanks for visiting and the add to the blogroll. Which reminds me that we have not updated ours for the longest time. yikes! I do hope that you guys have a grand time in the reader conference. Lovelovelove breathing the pages of yummylicious books. Glad to know another bibliophile!


  3. Fascinating interviews. Myra, thanks for the reminder to not take our libraries in the US for granted.


    • Hi Laura. Thanks for visiting. What you said is so true. Fats is currently based in the US and she is enjoying the library perks immensely.

      I’ve been in Singapore for the past three years and I have fallen deeply in love with the beautiful libraries here. I visit regularly every week. There is an entire level devoted to just the picture books and YA fiction with a spill over on to another level! Amazing amazing really. I am always in awe of the books here and the availability of rare titles. 🙂


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