Photo By Jorel Magistrado
Photo By Jorel Magistrado.

“Get Lit” and explore the endless titles in the return of the MIBF!

Returning from last year with a bang, the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) connected readers to their beloved books and soon-to-be loved books. Make sure to catch the book fair’s last day tomorrow, Sept. 17!

By Jorel Magistrado, and Cheyenne | Saturday, 16 September 2023

This year’s Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) at SMX Convention Center, Pasay City is a literary resort for bookworms of all backgrounds. With the theme of “Get Lit!” attendees were greeted with a wide array of titles, making it impossible not to find the perfect book.


The Manila International Book Fair (MIBF), the longest-running book fair in the Philippines, started on Sept. 14 and will end tomorrow, Sept. 17. The venue was jampacked with over 200 local and international exhibitors, each of them showcasing a variety of books both common and rare. However, that was not all; seeing as the event also housed awardings, bible quizzes, and book signings. Additionally, attendees were granted free entrance once they’ve registered for the event through the MIBF’s official site.


A bibliophile’s haven

The grid of stalls spanning throughout the hall is highlighted by adorning shelves, merchandise, and creative installations. Music from various corners, readers' and publishers' chatter, and the energetic resonance of the St. Paul's Bible Quiz Bee from the stage area all melded together to create a literary symphony. The air was filled with the scent of books, colorful stacked titles, and the buzzing chatter of attendees from all ages.


Publishers who were present included those from academic institutions, the indie scene, the mainstream, children’s books, religious books, comics, and more. De La Salle University Publishing House (DLSUPH), Ateneo de Manila University Press, University of the Philippines Press, and the University of Santo Tomas Publishing House (USTPH) were situated in the same zone—all of them offering books of various genres from poetry to non-fiction. 


Widely-known publishing houses, such as Vibal Publishing House, Inc. and Adarna House, were teeming with both young adult and kids books. Next to them were houses that put the spotlight on indie authors more, such as 8 Letters Bookstore & Publishing and The Indie Publishers Collab PH (TIPC). 


Inter-mixed in the center floors were also publishers who focused on religious text—namely Milflores Publishing, Inc. and Philippine Christian Book Store—as well as foreign publishing houses, like Beijing Language and Culture University Press Co. Ltd. This just shows that there really was a place for everyone, even for history buffs—who may indulge in the collections of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). 


At the left-most side were rows of art materials, stationery, and merchandise for hobbyists. There was even a stall dedicated to music—Lyric Piano & Organ Corp—where they featured mini violins and song books. For those interested in visual arts, stores such as M&G Stationery and Focus offered watercolors, brushes, and colored pencils. Furthermore, if you needed a tote bag to hold your hoard or simply a shirt to commemorate the experience, look no further with Kairos Crafts and King Jim Co.


On the other end, comic lovers can bask in stacks of graphic novels and comics thanks to the presence of Comic Odyssey and Komiket. Local komikeros were also present at the event, both selling their new releases and signing their old ones for their supporters. Among them were Kajo Baldisimo (illustrator of the famed Trese series), Manix Abrera (the mind behind Kikomachine Komix), and Kevin Raymundo (best known as Tarantadong Kalbo).


Insights within the literary scene

Before an interview with The Benildean, Kevin Raymundo was busy signing copies of his new book, “BABY TK,” which he regarded as a love letter and throwback for 90’s kids. He shared the beginnings of Tarantadong Kalbo as a Facebook page conceived out of an unassuming hobby and an excuse to get an iPad Pro. Greatly inspired by renowned cartoonists Paul Medina and Manix Abrera, he imparts his own words of inspiration, telling aspiring artists to leave no room for hesitation and start creating. 


Over at 8 Letters, author and ID110 Benildean alumnus, Jemson Cayetano, was welcoming goers to check out his latest release, which was “Tatlumpu’t Tig-Iisang Daan,” a collection of 31 short stories, composed of only a hundred words each.


“Part siya nung 31 Letters Challenge noong January. So ‘yung 8 Letters, nag-ano sila ng challenge to write every day sa entire month ng January. So every day, I was writing hundred-word stories,” he told The Benildean. He also talked about his dream of breaking into mainstream with his high fantasy novel—which is still in the works.


Another Benildean almunus was spotted at the F & J de Jesus, Inc. booth. Andrew de Jesus, ID 93, promoted their library resource materials, both digital and online copies, as well as K-12 ed-tech programs. A recurring guest for over two decades, he detailed the importance of the large attendance to the success of authors and publicists. 


“We expect big sales, big attendance, and of course, the following is very big in terms of Manila International Book Fair,” de Jesus shared.


He also highlighted how much the MIBF helped textbook and learning materials distributors. “It’s in the right timing of the acquisition of tertiary schools as well…This is a venue where all of them, and all of us, are able to sell—display—all of our collections”


More to come?

A thrill shared by readers, publishers, and marketers alike is MIBF being the biggest book fair in the Philippines. 


For Belinda Sablan, Cultural Center of the Philippines’ sales promotion supervisor, the fair is an oasis for enthusiasts of arts and culture like herself. True enough, a community is born in this fair and is bound by a shared love for books in all its forms. 


As Sablan wrapped a book with old catalog paper from the CCP stall teeming with sales, she smiled and said if there was one message she could give readers, it was to “continue to love books.”


And with fairs such as this, that love will surely carry on.