My MIBF 2023 experience

Whoever said, “I am not buying anything,” is a traitor to oneself. It’s me. I am the traitor. But maybe I just said that because I had no idea that MIBF 2023 would be lit.

I can’t remember which year I started attending the Manila International Book Fair – all I know is that I should be at the fair each year. It is the one time of the year when I get to meet my book-lover friends, fellow authors both old and new, and celebrity authors. It is the only other event where I could possibly maximize a fangirling experience aside from the idols I adore. MIBF 2022 was quite uninteresting (or maybe it was just me), and I kid you not the books I bought from last year were left untouched in my bookshelf.

Hence the words, I’m not buying anything.

Which proved that not all experiences are the same. Because again, MIBF 2023 was an exhilarating experience.

The effects of my C-drama obsession

My Korean boys will always have that special place in my heart, but ever since Wei Zhe Ming (Unforgettable Love) and Yang Yang (Fireworks of My Heart) entered my world of fictional mayhem, I’ve been obsessed. So much so that I no longer just crave xiao long bao and Chinese hotpot every now and then. I sat in Read Chinese’s booth, actually held a Xuan brush, and attempted to write (ài, love) in Chinese calligraphy. I just knew that moment might never gonna happen ever again. I was so glad that I met Laoshi and taught me how to hold the brush.

Meeting old people and discovering new books

Like I said, meeting fellow authors is one of the main features of this event. We went to the 8 Letters booth where we chanced to meet Cris, a writer in the Just Write workshop. The booth was packed with self-published titles, even ones from authors I’d never heard of before (sorry, I am just a really lousy follower). I got two books from them whose titles promise an evening of chills and terror and I already opened one of them.

Never forget the classics

Stumbling upon youngbloods in the industry is great, but having a chance to meet the classics is just one ultimate experience. Multi-awarded fictionist Charlson Ong was there to sign his books and I got his White Lady, Black Christ signed. Renowned scriptwriter and novelist Ricky Lee was also there, and I got his latest Para Sa Lahat Ng B. We wanted to get it signed too but the lines were too long and we still have a couple of booths to visit.

The ultimate highlight of the event

The other reason why I said I’m not buying anything is because my sole purpose of attending the event is just to get one of my favorite books signed. Some Days You Can’t Save Them All has become a personal reminder to me that there is kindness in this cruel world, that paying it forward is always a good idea, and that all things are worth saving. So when I saw on social media that Dr. Ron Baticulon would be there for a book signing, I asked Kim if we could go on a Saturday instead. And like the good ol’ friend that she is, she insisted that I give him a copy of my book. I was so scared and sincerely thought it wasn’t necessary – he might not be interested in reading the “crap” that I write. In the end, I gave in and brought Right Where You Left Me and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.

Doc Ron looked happy (well, he laughed so I guess he was happy), took a selfie of us with our books in his phone, and I left the UP Press booth feeling like I was walking on clouds.

Thank you for that weekend

After 3 days, two ibuprofens, and a quick ramen fix, here I am reliving the weekend that was a blast. MIBF 2023 was super fun that I didn’t mind the long walks, the heavy books on my shoulder (my body definitely paid for it for 2 days), and the fact that I overwent the budget (who does budgeting in book shopping anyway?). I sincerely believe that the people I went with also factored in a huge way. Kim and Lalaine are two of my few constants who were very supportive and became the push that I needed when I knew what to do but was too scared (or even too lazy) to try. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have written this entry.

Thank you, girls!