Amid the frantic madness and hurry of our digital-driven era, it is a breath of fresh air to witness people engaged in the age-old pursuit of collecting.
Among the many objects that have captured the hearts of enthusiasts in the Philippines are fountain pens.
Far from being a hobby, fountain pen collecting holds deep significance for mental health, self-care, and a sense of fulfillment.
Fifteen years ago I accepted the invitation of University of the Philippines professor emeritus Jose ‘Butch’ Dalisay Jr. to merienda at his home in UP Campus to join a ‘pen meet’ – a meeting of fountain pen enthusiasts.
From about 20 or so people who gathered in Butch’s garden on that sunny July day, the group of FP collectors now numbers around 3,000, if we count the followers of the group’s Facebook page.
We chose the name ‘Fountain Pen Network (FPN) Philippines’ to establish ourselves as an offshoot of the larger FPN group that is now global in membership.
Many FPNP members meet regularly to show each other their newest pens, ink, and FP-friendly paper. Among our ranks are teachers, students, writers, and professionals (physicians and lawyers are particularly enamored of FPs).
Among our members are people who used to hold high government positions; a person in the highest echelon of the advertising industry; a veteran actor who began his career in the ‘80s; someone high up in the judiciary; and people from all walks of life, really, because there is a fountain pen for every budget.
Last May 20, I was invited to join a pen meet organized by the Vertis North, Quezon City, group of FPNP members. (Due to the size of the group, members now congregate in terms of geographical locations.)
Held at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Ayala Malls Vertis North (a supportive venue that allows the QC Vertis North pen people to hold private meetings), the event saw 75 attendees including sellers.
FPNP founders Butch Dalisay and painter and art restorer June Dalisay (and their daughter Demi) were the honored guests.
Also present was ‘nibmeister’ John Raymond Lim. Now in his early 30s, John joined the group when he was in high school.
It has been the pleasure of old-timers such as myself, Reggie Reginaldo, and Mars Hagedorn to see him and the then-‘kids’ of the group (among them my own children) grow into the mature and responsible adults they are now within a supportive and caring community.
John not only collects, he also repairs and custom-grinds FP nibs and sells fine quality pens.
Organizers Hagedorn, Reginaldo, Imma Frias, EG Dizon, Manuel Butcon, Jennifer Lee, Regine Javenia, Gina Cabildo, Ian Meru, Irish Lavado, David Fua, and Jon Morales were excited at the success of the well-organized pen meet, which was tagged as an offshoot event for those who missed the Manila Pen Show 2023 held last March.
According to Butcon, they put a lot of effort into organizing this event to make sure it would run smoothly.
“A month prior to the pen meet,” he said, “the organizers would meet every Saturday to iron out details…delegating tasks, sending out invitations, preparing materials, and polishing the details of the event.”
I certainly enjoyed the event, and had fun observing the ‘newbies’ get immersed into this inky, papery, world.
Now why am I devoting column space to a gathering of collectors of esoteric writing instruments? Why is collecting in general meaningful and important?
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There is something inherently therapeutic about the act of collecting.
It offers comfort and purpose amidst the chaos of daily life, bridging the gap between the intangible and the physical.
And when it comes to fountain pens, the collecting journey becomes a personal odyssey of self-expression and discovery.
For writers and artists (such as myself), fountain pens hold a cherished place in their hearts.
The graceful flow of ink onto paper creates an intimate connection between the artists and their craft. The tactile sensation of pen gliding effortlessly across the page awakens a sense of authenticity and depth that is lost in the digital realm.
Fountain pens provide a distinct writing experience, allowing individuals to leave their mark with a unique flair.
The act of writing with a fountain pen becomes a creative ritual, a deliberate and mindful process that fuels inspiration and enhances the artistic journey.
But FP collecting offers more than just an avenue for individual expression. It fosters a sense of community when like-minded individuals are brought together by their shared passion.
Building and nurturing a supportive community around a hobby is important for emotional well-being. It provides a space for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and mutual encouragement, forming bonds that transcend the physical act of collecting.
Within the realm of FP collecting in the Philippines, vibrant communities have flourished.
Enthusiasts gather to celebrate their shared love for these elegant writing instruments, engaging in lively discussions, seeking guidance from seasoned collectors, and finding inspiration for their own collections.
The camaraderie that blossoms within these communities creates a sense of belonging and connection, enriching the lives of those involved.
I’ve found that FP collecting cultivates mindfulness in a world consumed by screens and digital distractions.
Engaging with physical objects allows us to slow down, savor the present moment, and reconnect with our senses.
The intricate details and craftsmanship of a beautifully crafted fountain pen serve as gentle reminders to pause, breathe, and appreciate the beauty that exists in the little things.
Fountain pen collecting encourages a mindful appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into each pen, reminding us to find joy in the simplest of pleasures.
In an age where productivity and efficiency are the mantra of the collective, indulging in hobbies and interests is an act of self-care.
It allows us to escape the pressures of everyday life and immerse ourselves in activities that bring us joy and fulfillment.
Collecting whatever object you are interested in provides an avenue to rejuvenate the spirit, to relish the pursuit that ignites passion and purpose. It reminds us that self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity for our mental and emotional well-being.
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If you are interested in FPs and would like to join our community, check out ‘Fountain Pen Network-Philippines’ on Facebook.
* * FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO / Email: [email protected]