On January 2, 2014, I wrote on my red Moleskine diary, “Today, I bought a red Parker pen just so I can have something nice to write with on this notebook. I really have to rethink my life choices.”
That was in college when I probably spent my weekly allowance on a pen. But you don’t understand; I’m obsessed with jotting down anything but school notes. I even made it a habit to write at least twice a week because I read somewhere that journaling is good for you. I’d go home after class trying to remember everything I did, every feeling I had, and “try” to faithfully write them down.
That red Moleskine is still with me. The last entry was on August 13, 2017. It has since become my weekly pitch meeting notebook, something I pull out when I need to cosplay as an old soul who flinches at the idea of typing on a notes app or on a laptop.
Since the pandemic started, I picked it up last for a free Korean class. I had to admit, as I took the pen in my hand and tried my best to write legibly, it felt foreign even though I had filled out about a thousand contact tracing forms in the last two years. It might also be that I’m learning a new language and writing unfamiliar characters. But then again, I recently had to update my bank records because I have forgotten how to do my own signature. My physical writing muscles have atrophied.
Now, if only a doctor could write me a prescription for a pen and paper cure. Even better, I’ve let these two women convince me it’s time to go get a new notebook or two.
Laguna-based artist Jessica Dorizac explores the permutations of shapes, colors, textures, and materials through her art. Last year, as part of a group exhibit, she put out volumes of colorful paper cutouts bound together that, with each flip, layers of shapes and colors reveal new interesting patterns.
The books called “Passages” have since been translated to handbound notebooks with hand-cut covers that Dorizac sold through her Instagram account (P900/5.5×8.5 in). Much like her recent pieces, each configuration asks the viewer to locate a pattern, even a familiar image if ever. I, for one, got a hexagonal (yes, they come in unconventional shapes) orange and yellow notebook, thinking its cover looked like a Happy Meal box.
I started drawing on them, then stopped shortly after because they were signed and numbered.
Speaking of writing, one of my early mentors is Paolo Lorenzana, the queer homemaker behind Instagram cooking sensation Mafalda Makes (now available as a podcast too!). His insistence on keeping a physical journal for his recipes is a palliative cure against the monotony of the Notes app.
Mafalda has recently partnered with freelance graphic designer Yodel Pe, also known as Manila Paper Trail, to create limited-edition artisanal notebooks with vintage food ads as cover.
Pe, herself a tech-agnostic, has taken up bookbinding as a hobby years ago, but she always has been a collector of rare paper paraphernalia. Her manually bound journals made with materials from Italy, England, and Japan are popular among local artists and fashion figures, among them the writer Jessica Zafra and artists Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan.
You can have one customized with your choice of design and material from Pe’s extensive collection starting at P1,500.