books / reading / write here write now / writing


Yesterday was all about books.

Even at the DKNY perfume launch at the Conservatory of the Peninsula Manila, I was with beauty editors Hector Reyes and Rorie Manzano and we were talking about writing and words and books — and reading, which, I believe, has to be in every sentence that has to do with writing. Come to think of it: Maybe the phrase “No Read No Write” can also mean this way: If you don’t read, you can’t write, at least not as well as you should. Without reading, how can you even begin to want to write, let alone write well enough?

From the Pen, it was straight into National Book Store at Glorietta I, but it was at Powerbooks, Glorietta 4 that I bought my copy of Thelma San Juan‘s I’m Afraid of Heights (Why I Can’t Social Climb). Thelma wanted to send me a free copy, but I told her I wanted to buy it in honor of her, books, writing, and reading. She sent me a text message to say, “This is about people you know… people you have no regret knowing, I hope.” Thelma, in case you haven’t been reading the newspapers, is the lifestyle editor of The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

It was a long afternoon, spent in the warren of Gloriettas and Greenbelts in Makati. Aside from Thelma’s book, I was happy to have found a vinyl copy of New York indie band Vampire Weekend‘s eponymous album at Astrovision at Greenbelt 5. The album carries the track, “The Oxford Comma,” which I cited in the subsection “5 Songs and More (And Why the Words You Write Must Make a Sound)” of my book Write Here Write Now: Standing at Attention Before My Imaginary Style Dictator.

Two coffeeshops and some shopping later, we were just outside the Ayala Museum, reunited with photographer Lilen Uy at the launch of Sara Black‘s coffee-table book We, Love. I’m a little uncomfortable calling it a coffee-table book because, based on what I have read so far — Sara wrote and photographed everything, save for the foreword, in the book — its place is not exactly on the coffee-table, not maybe even on the bedside table, but where you read not to feast your eyes but to learn, to be inspired, to feel a little bit better about this world. With us among the intimate crowd were Firma’s Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo, Patrice Ramos Diaz, Sofia Zobel Elizalde, Lulu Tan Gan, Mel Cuevas, Isha Andaya, Candy Dizon, and Janina Hoschka, and more.

After the brief program, hosted by Jericho Rosales, a video clip presented some of the pictures in the book. It was very moving. The music was entrancing, but not as entrancing as Sara Black’s portrait of the love between two people, not just lovers or partners like Jun and Abby de Leon, but also  Kim Atienza and his pet iguana, Heart Evangelista and Miriam Defensor Santiago, Lucy Torres Gomez and hairstylist Jerome Chang, father and son, mentor and protege, teacher and student, a widower and his memories, etc.

More than enough glasses of wine and lots of chitchat later, some of the party, including the evening’s celebrated author, moved just next door to Kabila, where on my table, as if to ready me for the night’s reading, the feast started with a bowl of halaan (clam) soup and then led to bagnet (deep-friend pork belly) with extra bagoong isda (fish paste) and tomatoes on the side.

That was it.

I would have died of a heart attack if I even considered dessert.

Awaiting my turn to have Sara Black sign my copy of 'We, Love'

Awaiting my turn to have Sara Black sign my copy of We, Love


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