Where do I even begin?
Seriously, I am trying my best to encapsulate the experience I had one afternoon with some of the Philippines’ notable literary connoisseurs but I can’t don’t know if I’ll be able to do it justice.
I think it’ll be best if I gave you guys a backstory of how this came to be…
Last March, Eunice (of The Nerdy Talks Book Blog) and I decided to do a buddy read of A.A. Patawaran’s poetry collection titled Ha[Na]Ku and we had fun reading it. The array of poetry in this collection ranges from love, travel, history, and social satire which were all written in such an accessible way. Being bookstagrammers, Eunice and I posted this on our accounts and Sir A.A. Patawaran was always kind enough to leave a comment and to share our photos.
Buddy reading Hai[NA]ku and Other Poems by @aapatawaran with one of the longest friend I have here, Kevin (@tomebound). We've known each other for almost 2 years but this is our very first buddy read, 🍷here's to more in the future! 😘- You can join us guys! 😊- #theHAINAKUbook #hainakuandotherpoems #aapatawaran #filipinopoets #supportlocal
One of my closest friends on Bookstagram Eunice @nerdytalksbookblog and I are doing a buddy read of #TheHaiNAKuBook by @aapatawaran! Eunice is a total poetry buff and I get many recommendations from this lovely gal! I totally trust her taste in literature, which I might add is really impeccable (just like her photos)! Come join us as we discuss our feels in regards to Mr. Patawaran's poems! #HAINAKUandOtherPoems #AAPatawaran #FilipinoPoetry #LoveLocal
After a few months, Sir A.A. told Eunice and I about an idea of him hosting a tea-party dedicated to literature (sort of like a book club) and he would gladly include us. Of course we were down with this and after a few weeks of discussions, jitters, and surprises it finally came to fruition last September 24th, 2016!
To say I was excited for this event would have been such an understatement and I still couldn’t believe that it happened!
I decided to go Glorietta (a shopping center near the venue) earlier than expected so I wouldn’t be so dang haggard when I meet everybody.
On that note I have to confess I have never met Eunice in real life, which was pretty odd considering we’ve been internet friends since the early days of bookstagram (circa 2014, possibly). Nonetheless I was über excited to have a face-to-face conversation with her about books, life and everything in between. We met at the mall a few hours before the tea party and I was so blown away by how immediately comfortable I felt with her, as if we’ve really known each other since forever (kinda cheesy I know).
After strolling around some bookstores (a.k.a every book enthusiast’s natural habitat), we went to Raffles Makati! When we got there we took a selfie…
Then one of our fellow guests arrived and it was none other than Miss Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio who is a local celebrity in the Philippines, a blogger, and entrepreneur.
I was truly starstruck when she first came into the lobby of the hotel that I was rendered a little bit speechless. After pleasantries she asked about what Eunice and I do. After we discussed the basic premise of what #bookstagram was, I was really surprised by Miss Rica’s enthusiasm over it. She told us that she wanted to try her hands on it and of course we encouraged her.
Then Sir A.A. Patawaran finally arrived and he invited us over to the hotel’s famous Writer’s Bar.
The event started and I finally got to meet the guests of this sophisticated tea party (sorry for the grainy photos)…
First, we have our esteemed host and mastermind behind this soiree Sir A.A. Patawaran who is a prominent lifestyle editor and writer in the Philippines. He is also a successful author of two books which are Write Here Write Now (a writing guide) and, of course, Hai[Na]Ku!
Again, Miss Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio.
Miss Erlinda Mae Young who is a Carlos Palanca Awardee (the most prestigious literary award in the country) for her one-act play titled Photo Finish.
Miss Louella “Lola”Tumaneng who works in National Bookstore as a book buyer for fiction and literature.
Koji Arsua who is a senior features editor for When In Manila which is a popular lifestyle and travel blog here in the Philippines.
Jacky Oiga a writer for the newspaper Manila Bulletin.
Hazel Ureta who is the creative blogger behind Stay Bookish and one of my book blogger buddies and of course, Eunice!
(If you aren’t impressed with the guest list I don’t know what will.)
After introducing ourselves we were served with some delectable pastries and soothing teas. The theme of the tea that we got was Tiffany’s and it does show with the designs of the pastries!
When it was time to choose the flavor of tea, I went with Moroccan Mint because of how exotic and fancy it sounded. Plus, I’m vaguely familiar with Morocco being known for their teas and their interesting way of serving sugar in chunks, which is another reason why I opted for it. Sadly the sugar tradition was left out and it took a few sips before I got the hang of the interesting taste of the tea, but the over-all dining experience was immensely enjoyable.
As the tea party commenced we began our discussion, which was free-flowing and not at all scripted. Here are some of the things we talked about that I remembered (which are only a handful):
- We were all just fascinated with Miss Lola’s profession. She explained that the function of a book buyer is that they are the ones that determine which books to sell in their stores. She is sent books to read and we all just collectively found that intriguing and enticing.
- Miss Mae talked about how she discovered her win at the Palancas and what her reaction was.
- 2012 was truly a redefining year for Sir A.A. Patawaran. Write Here Write Now was published that year and he described how it launched this newfound appreciation he had for writing and reading.
- We got to chat about our different literature-related professions and/or hobbies. Koji talked about his experiences as a writer for When In Manila and how people are still responding to entertainment articles, while Eunice and I talked about our blogs and bookstagram.
- Hazel recommended a Middle Grade book titled Blackbird Fly and I seriously want to read it ASAP! It is about the experiences of Filipino-American immigrant in the States and how she deals with friendships, cliques, and exploring ones identity.
- There was this discussion about the impact and importance of fiction in our society and how it is able to shape the Philippines in a positive light. The masses are now turning to fiction to better understand certain topics (such as taxes and agriculture).
- Sir A.A. asked “If you were stranded in an island and you were only allowed to bring one book with you, what would it be and why?” For many book lovers this question is difficult, so you can only imagine how hard it was to find the answer. Miss Mae was clever enough to think of the Bible and we all agreed because of its versatility and reverence.
- We were also asked “Which do you prefer: good writing or good content?” which housed conflicting yet interesting points. My answer was “good content” because personally I love a book that had a resounding effect in me regardless if it was written in an elegant way.
I am amazed that I got to spend time with writers and literary influencers in the country within such a fancy setting! This tea party truly made me see how far I had come as a book blogger and bookstagrammer.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Sir A.A. Patawaran for inviting me to be part of this; to the amazing participants of this tea party for sharing your insights on literature; and of course to Eunice for influencing me to read poetry. I really do hope that there’ll be a part two of this wonderful experience.
I would also like to thank you my readers and friends for supporting this blog, my booktube channel, and my bookstagram account! You guys are the real reason why these kinds of opportunities are coming my way, so again thank you!