For three years now, #BookwormsUnitePH has undoubtedly been widely anticipated by bookish Filipinos who live around the metro. And just last Sunday, July 16, I, together with my amazing team of hosts Hazel from Stay Bookish, Miel from Bookish and Awesome, Inah from The Bibliophile Confessions, Jasmine from Jasmine Pearl Reads, and Salve from Cuckoo for Books, once again hosted this lovely event at the Tweedle Book Café, Quezon City!
With the success brought about by last year’s event, of course, WE felt motivated to once again host this exciting shindig to meet up with bookish friends, both old and new, talk to them about our latest and/or favorite reads, and just bond over the passion that literally united us enough to meet that Sunday morning.
In order to make this event better than that of last year’s, we decided to include and introduce new activities for the attendees. Registration, as mentioned on our official poster and everywhere else we promoted, started by 11:00am. For us hosts, however, the day started earlier since we had to finish packing the registration kits (which was also something new because this was the first year that we had a kit to giveaway).
A few minutes later, people started coming in to register. There were lots of early birds and I was so happy that real people actually came to our event! (Since this was only my 2nd year of hosting, I still feared over the possibility that people might not show up.) As early birds, they got first dibs from our swag pile! Some of the swags we had to giveaway were Penguin Teen tote bags, Alex & Eliza samplers, Warcross keychains, Windwitch patches, and so much more! Our sponsors have seriously been so generous!
When everyone got their swags, we unofficially started the event by inviting everyone to try our side games, Word Soup From Hell, and the Quote Guessing Game! The former promised to be challenging, as with last year’s, and this year we introduced the latter as a new game, just so attendees can play something new. We didn’t want to bore our attendees with games that were simple, and so we wanted to try something new.
When we felt like there were enough attendees, we officially started the event with introductions. It was fun meeting all these people and getting to know them more through the books that they read / are reading. From avid fans of YA books, to those who live for beauty products, this year’s batch of attendees truly were diverse in terms of preferences. There was also a good mix of bookish people: readers, bloggers, bookstagramers, authors, even the chair for the Philippine Board on Books for Young People was there.
After introducing ourselves as well as our platforms and other relevant accounts, we then proceeded with the first major bookish game: Guess the Cover. This year, this game was administered by Hazel and Jasmine, and I have to commend them for choosing covers that were both easy AND hard to identify which challenged most of the bookworms who joined. Since I had no idea as to what books they’ll be featuring, even I mentally joined and tried guessing the covers.
After the first major game, we gave the attendees the time to eat lunch, whether they choose to eat at Tweedle, or just return at 1:50pm for the latter part of the program. I made use of this time to actually get some food into my stomach in preparation for the live-reading we also had scheduled. Also, while waiting for my order, I also made friends with Veronica of @braintabs and LC, the librarian. We mostly engaged in small talk, but later on moved on to talking about the #romanceclass community, which instantly made me feel giddy.
Right after lunch, we introduced a new segment on #BookwormsUnitePH: a panel discussion! This year, we focused on diversity and decided to call it the We Need Diverse Books Panel where as a panelist, I got the chance to share my own views and experience on fat shaming, bullying, depression, and most importantly, I also got the chance to (hopefully) inspire our attendees to remember to always put themselves in the shoes of others; that all kinds of people are fighting different battles, and that we should all do our best to always be kind. Also, I wanted to reiterate one of the points that I made during the panel:
“It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you. If you’re fat, if you’re thin, if you’re friendly or shy, pretty or not. As long as you’re happy about yourself and you’re not stepping on other people to achieve happiness or inner peace, that’s all that matters, because at the end of the day, words are just words. It will only become weapons if we let them.”
Through this panel, I was also able to share with everyone just how much good representation can mean to someone who sees themselves in a certain book. In my perspective, some of the notable books I mentioned were Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy, Holding Up The Universe by Jennifer Niven, If The Dress Fits by Carla De Guzman, and last but certainly not the least, The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli.
Each and every one of us who were part of the panel shared personal experiences that can hopefully inspire others to read diversely and accept the ideas of differences and variety.
After the panel came my most anticipated part of the event: the live reading. This year, we wanted our attendees to get to know the #romanceclass community by giving them a glimpse of what’s in store for them should they ever attend the next event: FEELS. With Salve and Migs as our live readers, we opted for them to read Keep The Faith by Ana Tejano. (Because I’m basically a big fan of the book, and the author, who was actually at the event as an attendee.)
If you’ve been a follower of my site for a long time, you’d know that I was a part of Ana’s blog tour for this exciting title. I read it back in February, and I loved every aspect of it. And to see two of my most favorite #romanceclass characters be given life by Salve and Migs was a surreal experience. Part of why I admire this community so much is because of how these readers have the capability to give characters the voice that a reader can only imagine in his / her head. I witnessed this twice now, and I’m glad our attendees got the feel of it as well.
After the live reading, of course, we wanted to give the attendees some background as to what #romanceclass was all about. To help us with this, we invited Filipino author Mina V. Esguerra to introduce the community to everyone, as well as to share some of the activities that both authors and readers do to help produce romance novels that are tailored for every kind of romance reader all around the globe.
After that, I administered the last game of the day. In replacement for the human literary bingo, we wanted a game that could help our attendees actually get to know other attendees. In Know The Bookworm, each participants were asked to group themselves into 12 groups by count-off, with 3 members each per group. Then, they are given specific member numbers. I handed discussion questions for them to go over with each other, and later they were quizzed. After a few tie-breaking rounds, we officially named our winners and they got the chance to choose a book from our prize pile.
Afterwards, we hosted the Book Blind Date segment. During pre-registration, all attendees were asked if they would be interested in participating. They were tasked to wrap a book, write down some details about it on the front, and surrender it to us hosts upon on-site registration. This year, with 45 attendees, the BBD segment became insanely chaotic. With only one long table to put all the books in, all of us became very competitive at spotting the books that we like (well, except for me, because I was basically exhausted at this point). We were all literally like tributes forced into The Hunger Games and we had no choice but to select items from the cornucopia.
I didn’t want to battle it out with everyone since I was already exhausted but I also didn’t want to go home empty handed so I took 1 book that nobody seemed to want to pick up placed at the end side of the long table. The blurb on the wrapper said “Iloilo is the best place to be in the Philippines” (or something like that) which made me realize that it might actually be Keeping The Distance by Clarisse David, but what were the odds, right? So I left the BBD table. Feeling despondent, I silently unwrapped my one and only winning from the segment.
When I tore the wrapper, however, my eyes literally glittered at what was inside! It actually IS Keeping The Distance, a #romanceclass title that I’ve been meaning to buy a print copy of since the last event I attended! Later, Ms. Tarie Sabido, Chair of the PBBY, came to me and said that she brought that book, and she purchased it from Clarisse herself AT Iloilo! This just made me all the more excited, and delighted with what I got.
After the BBD, was the final raffle. I think it’s safe to say that everyone got to take home at least 1 book. In the end, there were lots of books to give away, we actually ended up donating some of our prizes to Bookbed’s A Reader Every Day Campaign. Everyone went home with tons of amazing titles, cool swags, and so much more! But none of this would have been possible if it not for our generous sponsors:
- National Book Store
- Penguin Random House International
- Macmillan International
- Summit Books / Pop Fiction Books
Again, thank you so much! You guys were all so generous and supportive and we could only wish that this year’s event won’t be the last partnership we’ll be working on. We were able to give away more than a hundred books to very enthusiastic readers, and I hope you guys know how much that means to me and the other hosts.
Also, more thank yous:
- To Ms. Mina V. Esguerra for helping introduce #romanceclass to our attendees.
- To Ms. Ana Tejano for being one of my support systems during the live reading.
- To Ms. Tarie Sabido for basically gracing us with her presence.
- To Salve Villarosa and Migs Almendras for being the perfect Faith and Nico for just one afternoon.
- To Ms. Jamie and the Tweedle Book Cafe crew for housing our event once again, and for not minding the commotion that we orchestrated.
- To all the attendees that we got to meet and bond with. Other than my thanks, I also want to wish you guys happy reading!
- And to the entire Filipino book community for being such a lovely place. It is because of your support and enthusiasm that we are always motivated to host events such as this one.
As the event came to a close, we were all a little anxious and yet so very excited to answer questions for a local TV show entitled Bloggers TV where we talked about the history of the event, the differences of #BookwormsUnitePH through the years, and a whole lot more. It was such a surreal experience!
And since I am currently unable to post my haul, I’ll end this recap here. Thanks for reading through this insanely long post, and for those who weren’t able to attend, I hope you were able to live vicariously through this recap. Also, we’re giving you a chance to win (1) registration kit and a mystery book, which y’all can find here.
Until the next one, you guys!