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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

MIBF kicks off Thursday

“The early years were a struggle to get customers through the door”

Bookworms, get your wallets ready — “the largest and longest-running book fair in the Philippines” opens its doors once again starting Sept. 14!

On hand will be thousands of books from a host of Philippine publishers.

This is the public’s chance to browse and buy Filipino-authored titles and, for many, to expand the range of their reading matter beyond Western books.

There are also many activities slated during the event.

Among those participating in MIBF is Milflores Publishing, which has been releasing many well-regarded books over the past years since the revival of the brand under Atty. Andrea Pasion-Flores.

They have prepared a viewing party, book talk, book signings, a panel discussion, and book launch.

Dr Wilfredo Liangco will talk about his humor-filled yet sensitive book of essays about hospital life,

Even Ducks Get Liver Cancer. Katrina Martin, Charlson Ong, and Kannika Claudine Peña will discuss contemporary fiction, and retired Associate Justice Adolfo Azcuna will sign copies of his memoir Silver is My Gold.

The University of Santo Tomas Publishing House (UST PH), under its new director Ned Parfan and new deputy director Paul A. Castillo, will hold book signings featuring their many prizewinning authors, among them Cristina Pantoja Hidalgo, John Jack Wigley, Chuckberry J. Pascual, Joselito D. Delos Reyes, Dean Francis Alfar, Nikki Alfar, Dina Roma, and Maria Alexandra I. Chua.

National Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Ricky Lee will also sign copies of his books at the UST PH booths and on the MIBF Main Stage on Sept. 14 and 17. UST PH, founded in 1593, is celebrating its 430th anniversary this year.

Among the authors signing their books at the Ateneo University Press booth are film professor and critic Nick Deocampo, Edgar Calabia Samar, and Blaise Campo Gacoscos.

Indie publishers will be at MIBF too, including Balangay Books featuring Beverly Wico Siy, whose groundbreaking It’s a Mens World has been reissued with an attractive new cover.

Another MIBF activity that mustn’t be missed is the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP) Gintong Aklat Awards 2022. The awarding ceremonies will be at the Main Stage on Sept. 14 at 3:00 p.m.

Among the finalists in various genres are Paul A. Castillo’s Lunas sa Nabubuong Lubos (Poetry in Filipino), Joselito Delos Reyes’ #Pasahero: Mga Nakikisakay na Sanaysay (Creative Nonfiction in Filipino), and Cecilia Manguerra Brainard’s Selected Short Stories (Fiction in English) of UST PH, and Allan N. Derain’s Aswanglaut (Fiction in Filipino) and Charlie Samuya Veric’s Children of the Postcolony (Arts and Humanities) of Ateneo Press.

Established in 1981, the Gintong Aklat Awards recognizes publishers for the quality of their bookmaking.

The MIBF was first held in 1980 at the old Philcite. The event was then known as Bookfair Manila.

The early years were a struggle to get customers through the door.

As the years went by and support for the fair grew, special events and activities were added such as writing workshops, storytelling sessions, and book signings.

The venues became bigger and bigger — the Philippine Trade Training Center in 1990, Megatrade Hall in 1993, World Trade Center from 2004-2007, and SMX Convention Center starting in 2008.

This year’s MIBF runs from Sept. 14 to 17, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., at the SMX Convention Center.

Free admission tickets may be printed from online files – check out the MIBF’s Facebook page as well as those of publishing houses for more details.

* * *

The MIBF has certainly come a long way since its early days, when it ran for a month because there wasn’t much support for a book fair back then.

Most books sold at the event’s initial stagings were foreign books because the local book industry was not as vibrant and flourishing as it is now.

Today, there is an explosion of Filipino-authored and -published books.

Quite a few Filipinos are breaking into the international publishing scene.

The Philippines has been invited to be the Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the world’s largest, in 2025, assuring global visibility for Philippine titles.

All these gains are encouraging, but we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that much more work is required to grow the industry and attract readers.

In terms of funding, for instance, the Philippines book industry cooperates to get things done because a single entity can’t do it alone.

The Resil Mojares and Ambeth Ocampo talk at the recent Philippine Book Fair in Davao, organized by the government’s National Book Development Board, was also sponsored by the Book Development Association of the Philippines and Vibal Publishing.

This shows that costs still need to be spread around because of budget limitations.

Hopefully the synergy among the industry stakeholders, as evinced by their sharing events costs and collaborating on other joint projects, will serve us well at Frankfurt and the other opportunities that Filipino authors and publishers can leverage for the growth of Philippine literature.

* * FB and Twitter: @DrJennyO / Email:

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