It’s not every day that you get to be in the same room as your favorite authors and artists to hear them passionately talk about their latest works. But last weekend, at National Book Store’s Philippine Literary Festival (PLF), the possibilities were limitless.
The three-day affair was a chance for bibliophiles and budding writers to get chunks of wisdom from well-known contemporary artists. It also became a mini field trip for students and a family-bonding opportunity to introduce literature to young minds.
Some of the priceless moments during the festival would definitely include:
Meeting your favorite artists and seeing bits and pieces of their lives beyond what they reveal in their works; getting your moment in the spotlight when you ask them a question and their focus and attention are solely on you; having your photos taken with these artists and your books signed; reading their dedication on your books and making it your new mantra; and discovering new voices and interesting stories.
This year, the following six events are probably what made it to the journals, notebooks and photo libraries of many:
The art of Abbey and Kerby
Thanks to the Internet, thousands discovered the art of Abbey Sy and Kerby Rosanes. Although they use different techniques and media and launched two different kinds of books—a hand lettering manual and an adult coloring book—both artists indulged the audience as they shared their creative process in two different sessions.
Sy gave a live demo of turning quotes into lettering pieces. Rosanes finally acceded to the wishes of many to allow them to put color on his black-and-white masterpieces in “Animorphia.”
The voice of the youth, their stance on the latest issues and trends, and their personal stories representing the wide spectrum of reality they face are featured in the Young Blood column of Inquirer’s Opinion section. For the first time, there was a workshop on how to turn such thoughts and experiences into essays that encapsulate their conviction and emotions.
The participants’ essays were submitted before the event to give time for editors of the Young Blood books to critique their work and help them polish them into a form that young adults can empathize with and relate to.
Talking about ‘Tadhana’
Making romantic comedy films has been Antoinette Jadaone’s ultimate dream. Part of that dream was to make a large movie audience feel the same thing—whether it is kilig, sadness or laughter—all at the same time.
And it’s not surprising that the dialogue-driven “That Thing Called Tadhana” is her dream romcom. Jadaone revealed that it took her just two months to finish the original Palanca-winning screenplay of the film.
She announced that the original manuscript of the film would be published, including cut scenes and edited dialogues.
The festival-goers watched the film after Jadaone’s talk, and it was their turn to “have a different take on the scenes, sometimes giving more meaning than what was intended,” which fascinated the director, who welcomed the comments.
Love and literature
Imagine what it would be like if the person you end upwith has the same passions as you. Fiction writers Dean and Nikki Alfar have been living out that fantasy as a married couple for almost 20 years.
Their chemistry is amazing—they are each other’s toughest critics and most reliable support system when it comes to their written works. The two may collaborate often but, in literature, they never lose that keen sense of individuality.
In another session, the seriousness was broken by a long “awww” from the audience, as Art Sta. Ana recalled how he first wrote about his relationship with an “out and proud” transwoman, Trixie Maristela, back in 2007. The two have been together for six years and their story of tried-and-tested unconditional love is in the book “He’s Dating the Transgender.”
Maristela said that literature is slowly becoming a broader platform for the LGBT community to express themselves. She hopes that with the community having more “visibility” in literature, they would be able to “tell their stories and make Filipinos who are confused about the different ideals and concepts of LGBT understand.”
Meg Wolitzer had her first novel published when she was only 21, which may explain why her novels have a certain fascination with adolescence.
There is no doubt that the bestselling author of the books “Belzhar,” “The Interestings” and “The Uncoupling” had a real connection with her Filipino fans.
Maybe it was the way she joked about her age or how she kept talking in what she called her “Katharine Hepburn voice,” or the fact that she tried to have real conversations with each and every person who had their book signed, that made it easier to interact with her.
“You are all so patient,” she said to the rest of the people waiting in line. “I promise to make it worth your time, I really do.”
And she did.
Seeing that he was unhappy, Matthew Quick’swife, Alicia Bessette, forced him to quit his job as an English teacher, asked if they could move in with her parents and let him spend at least six months locked inside the basement trying to write a novel.
“I give all the credit to my wife, I wouldn’t be here sitting in Manila if it weren’t for her,” Quick said.
He completed three other novels before he finished “The Silver Linings Playbook,” which he and his wife interestingly had more confidence in than all the others he has written.
But the challenge didn’t end with completing a manuscript. Quick had to find an agent who understood his work and believed in its potential. His work actually got rejected 70 times.
“I think I sent out 124 query letters to agents,” he said. “If I sent only 123, I wouldn’t be where I am right now. If you believe in something, you really have to keep pushing.”