Earlier, some friends and I went to The 36th Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) at SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, in Pasig City. MIBF is the biggest and long-running book fair in the Philippines and as such I expected hundreds of books, thousands of people and hundreds of discounts off the cover price of each book. My expectations were easily met right off the bat. As soon as I entered the main hall, I saw thousands of books. The soft, almost negligible voice of the book lover in me screamed like a lunatic and prompted me to be like her, go crazy and buy all the titles in sight. I did not do that, but I saw teenagers and their parents hugging dozens of books to take advantage of the 30% to 80% discount offered by the sellers. I was elated to see many young people buying books and actually looking at them and not at their tablets or mobile phones.
The maze-like area was too huge and too easy to get lost in. Within five minutes, my friends and I separated and decided through text messages to meet at the booth of Instituto Cervantes Manila (ICM). I was surprised because I did not know that ICM had a booth there. 🙂
I walked at a turtle pace and took in the scene in front of me: endless rows of shelves teeming with books, children’s toys, Biblical characters walking around (promotion of a bookstore that sell religious items), the smell of burger wafting through the air, the continuous movement of people, most of them with purpose – buying books at a huge discount or finding that rare source material needed in class. I took photos using my mobile phone while looking at the number of each booth (I was looking for booth 434, ICM’s space). I started with 100+ and did not know that 434 was at the opposite end of where I was. So I continued walking until I stumbled upon the booth of National Historical Commission. I immediately looked at the books, particularly the ones about Jose Rizal. I was not disappointed because there were shelves of books by and about Rizal. There were even shirts for sale with his image and likeness.
I left the NHC booth to proceed to ICM booth to find my friends, but they were not there. Instead I found Manolo, ICM’s newly-appointed librarian. He arrived in the Philippines less than two weeks ago.
On our way to lunch, we passed by people handing out cards that would enable the holders to have their photo taken with the image and likeness of the Philippines’ pride, Manny Pacquiao. So I asked my companions to wait for me (hehe) while I complete the set of eight and have my photo taken. I asked eight different people for a card each. Within five minutes, I was done.
The 36th Manila International Book Fair runs from September 16 to 20, 2015 at SMX Convention Center Mall of Asia Complex, Pasig City. Gates open at 10am and close at 8pm. Entrance is P20.00 (US $0.43) or one can get free tickets from the participants like National Book Store or Fully Booked.