The Manila Pen Show 2023 was the Filipino fountain pen lovers’ most awaited event in the last four years! Organized by Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, Inc., the show went on hiatus from 2020-2022 during the pandemic. It came back this year, bigger than ever, with a bigger floor space, more new retailers, and more products. Held last March 18-19, 2023, the show marked its second time at the fifth floor of the Holiday Inn and Suites in Makati. Part of the proceeds from entrance fees this year go to Save The Children, which the Manila Pen Show has been supporting since 2018.

Eager attendees showed up and registered as early as 8am, when the show opened, and continued to arrive in a steady stream until late afternoon of both days. They received samples of the new Sanzen Tomoe River paper in white and cream, as well as a raffle ticket. They were keen to acquire the show-exclusive pens and inks from various vendors following the theme of Filipino flavors. These items were made available for preorder or to purchase directly at the site. Also popular were show merchandise like commemorative t-shirts, tote bags and notepads. The organizers also held several raffles on both days of the show.

Photo by Yancy P. Sura
Registration. Photo by Ricaredo Cerebo, Jr.
Photo by Kailash Ramchandani
Photo by Reggie Reginaldo

International vendors participating this year included Aesthetic Bay (Singapore), Pen Gallery (Malaysia), Straits Pen (Singapore), Toyooka Craft (Japan) and Atelier Musubi (Singapore). Philippine vendors included Everything Calligraphy, Scribe, Kasama, Lamy, Stationer Extraordinaire, Inks by Vinta, ON Inks, Pengrafik, Peter Bangayan, Leather Library, Gav n Sav, Gira Leather, Leather Luxe, Guia’s Vintage Pens, and Troublemaker Inks.

Floor plan

This year the show assigned a separate space for participating nibmeisters John Raymond Lim, JP’s Pen Spa & Nib Works, and Sunny Koh of Straits Pen (SG). There was also a Community Hangout Room where members of Fountain Pen Network-Philippines held pen meets, enjoyed the free coffee and tea, and rested in between purchases. Workshops were held in a dedicated function room on the other end of the floor.

Ronin Bautista of The Pen Noob captured the energy of the Manila Pen Show’s first day in this Instagram reel.
Day 1 of the Manila Pen Show 2023. Photo by Maria Haze Alenton.
Mark del Rosario (R) and Alvin Arcillas (L) of Kasama. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Kasama Tala pens in “Takipsilim”. Photo by Kasama PH.
Kasama Una pens in PEEK and titanium. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Kustom Magz rollstops for Kasama pens. Photo by Maria Haze Alenton.
Kailash Ramchandani of Pengrafik. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Pengrafik’s pen show exclusive Leonardo Momento Zero in Primary Manipulation 1 by Jonathan Brooks. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Pengrafik’s pen show exclusive Ube Pen by The Good Blue (UK). Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Ingrid Cua of Stationer Extraordinaire. Photo by Jeff Cua.
Kaweco pens from Stationer Extraordinaire. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Alden Castaneda and colleague. Photo by Bernie Paras Gan.
Alden Castaneda‘s corner.
Handbound luxe notebooks by Atelier Musubi. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Seigaiha pattern pen cases from Atelier Musubi. Photo by Maria Haze Alenton.
Daryl Lim of Atelier Musubi. Photo by Bernie Paras Gan.
Vinta Inks show exclusive ink Lilac Dawn 2015, or “Simulan”. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Jillian Tan of Everything Calligraphy. Photo by Ronin Bautista.
Everything Calligraphy bundled its pen show exclusive Franklin Christoph pen with Vinta Inks’ Lilac Dawn 2015/Simulan.
Kim Hoong Lai of PenGallery (MY). Photo by PenGallery.
Various pens and inks from PenGallery. Photo by Maria Haze Alenton.
April Morales of Leather Library PH. Photo by Eliza Rehal.
Embossed leather folio covers from Leather Library PH. Photo by Gema Gonzales.
Toyooka Craft (JP). Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Toru Yamazaki of Toyooka Craft, with Hana Chua. Photo by Hana Chua.
Multi-level alder wood fountain pen box by Toyooka Craft. Photo by Micah Robles.
Tan Fong Kum of Aesthetic Bay. Photo by Maria Haze Alenton.
Nakayas at Aesthetic Bay (SG). Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
AP Limited Editions at Aesthetic Bay. Photo by Maria Haze Alenton.
ON Inks show exclusives. Photo by Onie Dychitan.
Onie Dychitan and Alma Polvoriza at ON Inks. Photo by Bernie Paras Gan.
ON Inks and swatches.
Diamine Suman, from Peter Bangayan’s booth. Photo by Leigh Reyes.
Peter Bangayan‘s booth. Photo by Bernie Paras Gan.
Troublemaker Inks. Photo by Bernie Paras Gan.
Troublemaker Inks. Photo by Maria Haze Alenton.
Lara M. Telan (left) of Gav n Sav, with Gema Gonzales. Photo by Bernie Paras Gan.
Suman pen wraps from Gav n Sav. Photo by Jun Castro.
Guia’s Vintage Pens. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Guia Bengzon of Guia’s Vintage Pens. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Some of Guia’s Vintage Pens. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Gira Leather. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Various products at Gira Leather. Photo by Maria Haze Alenton.
Nibmeister Sunny Koh of Straits Pen (SG) with assistant AD Percal. Photo by AD Percal.
Sunny Koh of Straits Pen in action. Photo by Ronin Bautista.
Sunny Koh of Straits Pen (SG) offered nibmeister services, as well as a pen show exclusive ink, Honest Ink Sisig, and Tomoe River paper. He also conducted a couple of workshops.
JP Reinoso of JP’s Pen Spa and Nibworks. Photo by Ronin Bautista.
Nibmeister JP Reinoso of JP’s Pen Spa and Nibworks.Photo by JP Reinoso.
Nibmeister John Raymond Lim. Photo by Alby Saavedra Laran.
John Raymond Lim. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Raymund Nino Bumatay of Leather Luxe.
Raymund and Gjulia Bumatay of Leather Luxe.
Lamy Safari Pilipinas pen at the Lamy booth. Photo by Carlo Jerome Ng.
Lamy Philippines. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Lamy Safari Pilipinas pens. Photo by Carlo Jerome Ng.
Red Lamy Safari display. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Scribe. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Scribe owner Marian Ong, Sailor Ink Master Hidetoshi Takahashi and Tetsuo Hisaka, and Scribe staff. Photo by Scribe.
Laban and Pelikan pens at Scribe. Photo by Maria Haze Alenton.
Taccia Pens at Scribe. Photo by Maria Haze Alenton.

Scribe brought in Sailor’s custom ink mixing service, represented by Ink Master Hidetoshi Takahashi and colleague Tetsuo Hisaka. Slots were by appointment, and filled up fast prior to the show. It was an unforgettable experience for those who chose special colors.

Scribe owner Marian Ong with Ink Master Hidetoshi Takahashi and Tetsuo Hisaka of Sailor.
Sailor Ink Masters. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Happy ink mix customer Gianna with Sailor.

Here are videos of the Sailor ink mixing process.

Takahashi-san formulating the color. Video by Carlo Jerome Ng.
Takahashi-san finalizing the color. Video by Carlo Jerome Ng.
Takahashi-san blending the ink. Video by Carlo Jerome Ng.
Day 2 of the Manila Pen Show 2023. Photo by Maria Haze Alenton.
Ronin Bautista of The Pen Noob filmed Day 2 of the show, focusing on the workshops and flow of attendees.
Lorraine Castaneda’s workshop participants. Photo by Lorraine Castaneda.
Sunny Koh’s workshop participants. Photo by Lorraine Castaneda.
Toni Santos’ workshop participants. Photo by Lorraine Castaneda.
Imma Frias conducting workshop. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.
Panel discussion moderated by Leigh Reyes. Photo by JM Jamillarin.
Panoramic shot of panel by Lorraine Castaneda.
Curating A Fountain Pen Collection, panel discussion.

All told, about 1200 people attended the Manila Pen Show 2023, including the vendors, guests and volunteers. Many thanks to organizers Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, Inc., the various vendors, Holiday Inn and Suites Makati, and especially the volunteers for making this event a huge success! Thank you to everyone who attended, whose donations benefited Save The Children. We’ll see you at the next Manila Pen Show in 2024!

For updates, follow @manilapenshow on Instagram, and join the Facebook groups Manila Pen Show and Fountain Pen Network-Philippines.

Save The Children. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.


Finally, after three long years, the Manila Pen Show is back! This year it will be held on March 18-19, 2023 at the Holiday Inn & Suites Makati.

Here is the list of participating vendors/service providers at the show:

Here’s the schedule of activities for the show:

There will be an entrance fee for each day of the show. People may pay at the gate in cash, or use GCash or BPI QR Code. Each entrance fee comes with a raffle ticket! Proceeds from the show will go to Save The Children, which the Manila Pen Show has been supporting since 2018.

See you there! Follow the @manilapenshow on Instagram, or join Manila Pen Show group on Facebook.


As I write, people still have a hangover from the two excitement-filled days of pen/ink/stationery/accessories shopping that was the second Manila Pen Show last November 16 & 17, at the Holiday Inn & Suites Makati.

The show was held from 9am to 6pm (both days) in two big function rooms, with other function rooms assigned as a workshop room and a show-and-tell lounge. It was also a treat to have free-flowing coffee, tea and water from refreshments stations in the lobby!

Organizers/volunteers at the Manila Pen Show 2019. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.

Day 1 of the show was jam-packed with people. Day 2 was more sedate, but filled up towards the afternoon.

Before registration opened. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Registration Day 2. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Donations at registration will benefit Save The Children. Photo by Ernesto Tabujara Jr.
The line to the registration table. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Manila Pen Show 2019 Day 1. Video by Eliza Parungao Rehal.
Manila Pen Show 2019 Day 1, Yakan/Abaca/Jusi Room. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Manila Pen Show 2019 Day 1, Ramie Room. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Manila Pen Show 2019 Day 1. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Scribe. Photo by Fernando Zubiri.
Early morning, day 2. Photo by Fernando Zubiri.
Early morning, Ramie Room, day 2. Photo by Fernando Zubiri.

There were three show exclusive fountain pen inks sold at the show. The official show ink was Diamine Arkipelago Blue, a blue based on Pantone 286C, which is the blue of the Philippine flag. Straits Pen also sold a limited run of Mani-lah!, a purple ink based on a Filipino purple sticky rice cake. Pierre Cardin HK sold the orange ink Manila Bay Sunset. All inks were sold out by the end of the show.

Diamine Arkipelago Blue was based on the Pantone blue of the Philippine flag. Photo by Leigh Reyes.
Straits Pen produced Mani-lah! (Project Puto Bumbong), a purple. Photo by Leigh Reyes.
Pierre Cardin’s Manila Bay Sunset is a sheeny orange ink. Photo from Pierre Cardin HK.

Aesthetic Bay of Singapore was a popular booth for people looking for Nakayas, maki-e pens, high end Pelikans, raden Pilot Vanishing Points, and other unique items.

Nakayas at the Aesthetic Bay booth. Photo by Christopher Chong.
Aesthetic Bay’s booth. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Tan Fong Kum (R), Connie Tan (C) and Ivy Tan (L) of Aesthetic Bay. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Faber-Castell pens were 50% off! Photo by Christopher Chong.
Lara M. Telan of Gav n Sav pen wraps. Photo by Ernesto Tabujara Jr.
Cross Experience Booth. Photo by Ernesto Tabujara Jr.
Cross. Photo by Camilla Libunao.
Guia P. Bengzon of Vintage by G (R). Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Vintage by G booth. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Everything Calligraphy. Photo by Ernesto Tabujara Jr.
Vinta Inks. Photo by Camilla Libunao.
Jillian Joyce Tan of Everything Calligraphy/Vinta Inks. Photo by Chito Gregorio.

Inks by Vinta launched a special grey shimmer ink, Vinta Nakar (Mother of Pearl) at the show. Here’s a writing sample.

Vinta Nakar (Mother of Pearl). Photo by Anne Tamondong.
Nibmeister John Raymond Lim. Photo by Chito Gregorio.
Nibmeister JP Reinoso (J.P. Pentangeli on Facebook). Photo by Chito Gregorio.
Native fabric pen cases from Jennifer Lee Bonto. Photo by Eliza Parungao Rehal.
Mark del Rosario (L) and Alvin Arcillas (R) of Kasama PH. Photo by Kasama PH.
Kasama PH pens. Photo by Ernesto Tabujara Jr.
Kasama Una fountain pens in delrin, with stormtrooper rollstoppers. Photo by Eliza Parungao Rehal.
Lamy Philippines. Photo by Ernesto Tabujara Jr.
Lamy Philippines. Photo by Camilla Libunao.

Atelier Musubi from Singapore brought their artisan luxury notebooks, Tomoe River paper everyday notebooks, and luxury pen cases. These benefit disabled artisans and people at risk.

Daryl Lim of Atelier Musubi (L), with Anthony Goquingco of FPN-P (R). Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Kimono notebooks at Atelier Musubi. Photo by Eliza Parungao Rehal.
Luxury pen cases at Atelier Musubi. Photo by Eliza Parungao Rehal.
Leuchtturm notebooks at NBS/Noteworthy. Photo by Martin Marvin Macalintal.
Journals from NBS/Noteworthy. Photo by Edrie Alcanzare.

Pengallery from Malaysia brought their special exclusive Diamine inks, Jalur Gemilang (blue with red sheen) and Manggis (“mangosteen”, violet with green sheen).

Kim Hoong Lai (L) and Hannah Low (R) of Pengallery. Photo from Suhana Amiril.
Pengallery. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Kim Hoong Lai (L) of Pengallery, Arnold Ang (C) and Melissa Pabilona-Ang (R) of Shibui PH. Photo by Melissa Pabilona-Ang.
Pengrafik. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Pengrafik. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Peter Bangayan and Gema Gonzales at his booth. Photo by Chito Gregorio.
Diamine Arkipelago Blue at Peter Bangayan’s booth. Photo by Gema Gonzales.
Veronica Liu (R), May Poon (C) and staff of Pierre Cardin HK. Photo by Veronica Liu.
Veronica Liu of Pierre Cardin HK (L) with Leigh Reyes (R) trying out a pointillist electronic pen. Photo by Veronica Liu.
Pierre Cardin HK. Photo by Eliza Parungao Rehal.
Ralph Reyes of Regalia Writing Labs. Photo by Chito Gregorio.
Ralph Reyes. Photo by Camilla Libunao.
Damascus nib in EF, by Regalia Writing Labs. Photo by April B. Morales.
Scribe. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Scribe offered a special Sailor Pro Gear to commemorate their 10th Anniversary.
Melissa Pabilona-Ang and Arnold Ang of Shibui PH. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Shibui leather pen cases. Photo by Arnold Ang.
Ng Lip Sing (L) and Sunny Koh (R) at the Straits Pen booth. Photo by Amanda Gorospe.
Straits Pen. Photo by Amanda Gorospe.
Nibmeister Sunny Koh of Straits Pen. Photo by Amanda Gorospe.
Gabriel Arnado (R), Kaiser Duragos (L) and friend (C) of Troublemaker Inks. Photo by Chito Gregorio.
Troublemaker Inks. Photo by Eliza Parungao Rehal.
Pens by Shawn Newton. Photo by Gema Gonzales.
Calligraphy books at The Curious Artisan. Gail Anne Madalag (L) and Lennie Dionisio (R). Photo by Iris Babao Uy.
Carl Cunanan, Editor in Chief of CALIBRE magazine. Photo by Chito Gregorio.
The Calibre Lounge. Photo by Ernesto Tabujara Jr.
Leigh Reyes conducting her Everyday Creativity through Journaling workshop. Photo by Micah Robles.
Leigh Reyes at her workshop. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Leigh Reyes. Photo by Camilla Libunao.
Daryl Lim of Atelier Musubi talks about his vision and business model. Photo by Micah Robles.
Nibmeister John Raymond Lim talks about pen maintenance. Photo by Micah Robles.
John Raymond Lim talks about pen maintenance. Photo by Camilla Libunao.
Carl Cunanan (L) talking about entrepreneurship. Photo by Micah Robles.
Carl Cunanan. Photo by Camilla Libunao.
Anthony Goquingco held a workshop on nib grinding. Photo by Micah Robles.
Fountain Pen Network-Philippines founder Jose (Butch) Dalisay, Jr. talking about vintage pen collecting. Photo by Micah Robles.
Jose (Butch) Dalisay, Jr. and his vintage pens. Photo by Camilla Libunao.
Guia P. Bengzon and her vintage pens. Photo by Camilla Libunao.
Lorraine Marie Nepomuceno conducted a penmanship workshop for adults and for kids. Photo by Micah Robles.
Lorraine Marie Nepomuceno conducting penmanship workshop. Photo by Ricci Castaneda.
Artist Diane Rodriguez with her portraits of Philippine makers and retailers. Photo by Chito Gregorio.
Save the Children’s table. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.
Fountain Pen Network-Philippines founder Jose (Butch) Dalisay, Jr. (R), June Dalisay (L) and Melissa Pabilona-Ang of Shibui PH. Photo by Arnold Ang.
Fountain Pen Network-Philippines President Leigh Reyes. Photo by Chito Gregorio.
FPN-P Board, vendors, international guests at the welcome dinner in Mesa Greenbelt. Photo by Leigh Reyes.
Day 2 dinner with Alesa McNeill and Troublemaker Inks. Photo by Diane Rodriguez.
Alesa McNeill (L) took videos! Kailash Ramchandani (R) of Pengrafik. Photo by Chito Gregorio.
L-R: Kailash Ramchandani of Pengrafik, Dan Hoizner, Ng Lip Sing of Straits Pen, and Daryl Lim of Atelier Musubi. Photo by John Raymond Lim.

Many thanks to Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, Inc. for organizing the Manila Pen Show 2019! Thank you, too, to the vendors, volunteers and fountain pen enthusiasts who made this a successful event! Thank you to Holiday Inn & Suites Makati for having us. We look forward to a third Manila Pen Show in 2020!


Diamine Arkipelago Blue, official ink of the Manila Pen Show 2019

Via Leigh Reyes, Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, Inc. President: “The Manila Pen Show 2019 official ink is Arkipelago Blue, Diamine’s sheeny interpretation of Pantone 286C, the official blue of the Filipino flag. Pick it up at the show – we will not be taking pre-orders or online orders.”

The Manila Pen Show 2019 will be held on November 16 & 17, from 9am to 6pm, at the Holiday Inn & Suites Makati.


Expressing one’s individuality through analog means is becoming an important part of navigating our technology-driven world. People are increasingly documenting their lives, art and work in handwritten letters, journals, planners and sketchbooks. To celebrate this growing interest in specialty pens, ink and paper, Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, Inc. is holding the second Manila Pen Show on November 16 and 17, 2019 at the Holiday Inn and Suites Makati. Show hours are 9am to 6pm on both days. Raffle tickets will be issued in exchange for donations to charity, in lieu of an entrance fee.

Fountain Pen Network-Philippines successfully organized the first Manila Pen Show as a one-day event in 2018 to celebrate its tenth anniversary as a hobby group. Due to public demand, this year’s event is now being held for two days, at a bigger venue.

Visiting a pen show is a great way of meeting fellow enthusiasts, collectors, and dealers. Pen shows are done annually in a number of cities around the world. Among the well-known ones are the DC Supershow (Washington, DC), and the European pen shows in London, Hamburg and Madrid. In the Asia-Pacific region pen shows have been held in Sydney, Melbourne, Tokyo and Singapore.

Modern and vintage pens will be available, as well as fountain pen inks, paper products and accessories. Participating international retailers include Aesthetic Bay (Singapore), Atelier Musubi (Singapore), Newton Pens (USA), Pengallery (Malaysia), Pierre Cardin (Hong Kong), Regalia Writing Labs (USA) and Straits Pen (Singapore).

Local retailers and brands represented at the pen show include Calibre and Friends, Cross Pens, Everything Calligraphy, Faber-Castell, Gav ‘n Sav, Guia’s Vintage Pens, Inks by Vinta, Kasama Pens, Lamy, National Bookstore/Noteworthy, Pengrafik, Peter Bangayan, Scribe, Shibui, and Troublemaker Inks. Enthusiasts with minor repair needs or who require nib regrinds can visit the booths of nibmeisters John Lim or JP’s Pen Spa.

Workshops, as well as talks by special guests, have been organized for both days of the show.

Follow the Manila Pen Show on Instagram at @manilapenshow, and join the Manila Pen Show Facebook group. You can also follow the official hashtags at #manilapenshow and #manilapenshow2019.

Fountain Pen Network-Philippines is a writing instruments, pen repair, ink and stationery interest group, with roughly 8,700 members on Facebook. It was organized to promote the use of fountain pens and preserve the art of the handwritten word. Join the Fountain Pen Network-Philippines Facebook group.


I originally wrote this in the old version of this blog in 2005. It was originally entitled “Beso-Beso with Neil Gaiman” but non-Filipinos wouldn’t understand that “beso-beso” means “air kiss”, or cheek kisses among friends, like the Europeans do. I’m glad I found this account again, because this was 14 years ago and I had forgotten some of the little details that made the meeting interesting.

Incidentally, the book “Melinda” never came to light; I wonder if I heard wrong or if it was rewritten with another title.



Brandishing his Omas 1950s flexi-nib fountainpen, he signed in burgundy ink on the frontispiece of my “Brief Lives” graphic novel (Sandman Volume 7): “Mona, Sweet Dreams — Neil Gaiman.” A salesgirl took our photo (I made sure I brought my digital camera), but I won’t be posting it here; it’s for my secret delectation. I’m so glad I didn’t do anything stupid like burst into tears or freeze. In a tiny voice I managed to say, “Thanks for signing, Neil.” He smiled and said, “You’re welcome, Mona.” Then I bent down a bit to make beso beso, and to my surprise it wasn’t an air-kiss — he kissed my right cheek. (All the girls were doing it, so I figured I’d get in on the kissing action, hehehe.) As I straightened up again, clutching my book in a sort of daze, I realized how exceedingly tired he was. Poor guy. He looked like he hadn’t slept for weeks and sported massive eye luggage. But he was determined to accommodate as many fans as possible.

YES!!! YES!!! YES!!! I walked out the bookstore with a spring in my step and with a stupid grin on my face.

(In your mind picture me jumping up and down on Oprah’s yellow sofa a la the delirious Tom Cruise, and you can imagine how ridiculous it looks. Of course, I didn’t really do that. But I tell you, it felt so great to be so amply rewarded for waiting in line at Fully Booked Gateway for nearly six hours last Monday, on the last day of Neil’s signing tour in Manila.)

Neil is such a simpatico person; incredibly kind, patient and generous to all his fans. I suppose he was pleasantly surprised to realize his fan base in the Philippines was bigger than his publishers had originally thought. I guess he didn’t expect that thousands of fans would want to meet him (I heard some fans even travelled to Manila from as far away as Davao and Cebu). Last night I read his blog and he said he “never felt more loved by so many people”, that Pinoys were more enthusiastic than the Brazilians in expressing their cheer, and that he was thinking of returning again to Manila, perhaps in a couple of years or so.

I was number 480 in a line of just over 600 fans who heroically lined up. When I arrived at Gateway, the line began outside Fully Booked on the third floor and snaked down two flights of stairs to outside the Aurora Boulevard exit to the front of the nearest 7-11. I tell you, the sight of that line would have discouraged a less determined person. I just felt that getting Neil’s autograph would be worth it. For the first two hours the line stayed put and I had nothing to do but stare at the changing cloud patterns in the sliver of blue sky between the mall and the MRT. My friend Juned advised via text: “Imagine you’re back in UP enlisting for classes.”

Originally, rules stated that one had to buy a book from Fully Booked in order to get a signing pass. Later on they changed the rules, allowing people to bring any Gaiman book they owned for signing. Those who bought a book and got a signing pass were then entitled to have two books signed. This was a good idea, since most fans, like myself, had already bought books prior to the signing promo. Changing the rules meant that more people would participate, and that any marketing data they would gather from the signing promo would be more representative of Neil’s fan base.

Waiting in line can get interesting, though. Two college girls behind me were looking at Neil’s picture on the back cover of my graphic novel. Later, as we approached Neil’s table, they looked at him and back at the photo and whispered to each other: “He’s that lolo (grandfather)-looking guy? But he’s OLD!!!” I wanted to laugh; and then I felt my age. When Vertigo first published Sandman I was just out of college. I was young enough to have borrowed and read the comics when they first came out but couldn’t afford to buy them at the time. These two girls each had a paperback copy of “Stardust” which (apart from the paperback of “Coraline”) was among the more affordable Gaiman books in the market (roughly PhP 350). Two lawyers lined up just ahead of me were clutching hardbound graphic novels that cost nearly PhP 2000 each (One was the Sandman Dustcovers book and the other was Marvel’s latest release, “1602”.) I couldn’t help but overhear that one of them even bought a VHS tape box set of “Neverwhere” from the BBC when he was last in London. Normally I’d be secretly peeved if it sounded as if he was gloating about his purchase, but he sounded so happy to have bought it even if it was in PAL-SECAM format and not compatible with his player, I couldn’t begrudge him his glee.

The crowd kept their good humor, though. Several times as the line moved, we saw a good-looking young guy counting people in the line. He turned out to be named Jaime, and was apparently the manager of Fully Booked Gateway. I joked to the two girls behind me: “Sa kanya na lang kaya tayo magpa-sign? Cute pa naman siya.” (“Shall we have HIM sign our books instead? He’s cute.”) The two promptly developed a crush on him, entertaining themselves taking pictures of him with their camera phones. As for the two lawyers ahead of me, they joked that Bro. Eddie Villanueva could only get 2000 people to attend his people power rally, while everybody else would have preferred to wait in line for Neil Gaiman.

I guess for a lot of people meeting Neil Gaiman was a positive, life-defining moment. The last time I felt like this was when I had waited in line to get tickets for seats I wanted at the first Sting concert in Manila ten years ago. Of course my collection is far from complete, and Neil has two books still to be released, “Melinda” and “Anansi Boys.” And who knows? Maybe one day soon they’ll screen “Mirrormask” here. Or release it on DVD. Like many fans, I’ll be waiting.

In the meantime, I have introduced my mom to the pleasures of reading Neil Gaiman. (Really!)



This year marks the 10th anniversary of Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, and what better way to celebrate than to hold the first ever Manila Pen Show? In previous years FPN-P had been holding smaller pen sales events every Fountain Pen Day (first Friday of November), as if in preparation for this bigger event. The show was held at the SMX Convention Center in SM Aura, last Oct. 27, 2018.



Photos by Mark Tiangco.

Long lines greeted us at the opening of the show, until about lunch time. It was heartening to know that there were a huge number of fountain pen enthusiasts waiting patiently to get in! Entrance was free, but donations were received at the gate for Save the Children.

Inside it was jam-packed. People crowded every booth, eager to take advantage of the promotions. All the workshop sessions were full.



Photos by Ronin Bautista.

Special items exclusive to the pen show included the Manila Copper ink, mixed by Straits Pen of Singapore. Part of the proceeds of the ink sale were donated to Save the Children.

Photos by Leigh Reyes.

The Fountain Pen Network-Philippines 10th Anniversary fountain pen is an Edison Mina in tortoise acrylic. Remaining pieces from the original pre-order were sold at the pen show.


10th Anniversary Pen. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.

Sponsors for the Manila Pen Show included Cross Philippines, Montblanc Philippines, Pengrafik, Straits Pen of Singapore, Lamy Philippines, Everything Calligraphy, Noteworthy, Scribe, Faber-Castell Philippines, Troublemaker Inks, Parker Philippines, Philippine National Bank and Calibre Magazine. Other vendors/service providers included Kasama PH, Shibui PH, Gav n Sav, Guia’s Vintage Pen Corner, JP’s Pen Spa and Nibworks, and John Raymond Lim (nibmeister).


Cross Philippines.


Montblanc Philippines.




Gav n Sav.


Guia’s Vintage Pen Corner.


Faber-Castell Philippines.

Photos above by Tintin Pantoja.


Scribe. Photo by Mark Tiangco.


Troublemaker Inks.


Straits Pen of Singapore.


Shibui PH.




Kasama PH.


Everything Calligraphy.


Lamy Philippines.


The paper bar.

Photos above by Ronin Bautista.


JP’s Pen Spa and Nibworks (J.P. Reinoso).  Photo by Tin Marie Reyes Poral.


John Raymond Lim (nibmeister). Photo by Edber Mamisao.



Calligraphy Workshop. Photo by Mark Tiangco.


Calligraphy Workshop. Photo by Rica Palomo-Espiritu.


Leather pen case workshop. Photo by Ronin Bautista.


Photo by Ronin Bautista. L-R: Butch Dalisay, Rica Espiritu, Arnell Ignacio, Teresita Herbosa, Marvic Leonen

A panel discussion was held toward the end of the day, on the topic “Why Fountain Pens?”. Among the speakers were collectors Prof. Jose “Butch” Dalisay, Jr., Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen, Atty. Teresita Herbosa (great-granddaughter of national hero Jose Rizal), artist Rica Palomo-Espiritu, and OWWA administrator Arnell Ignacio.

Here’s a Facebook video of Justice Marvic Leonen’s discussion. “We can choose the parts of life we can slow down. The fountain pen is my instrument of revolution to recapture my humanity.” And here’s a Facebook video of Butch Dalisay’s talk. “These pens are not just inscribers of words but are bearers of stories.” (Will add other videos to this blog as soon as they are processed.)

All in all, for a first pen show and a modestly sized one at that, the Manila Pen Show 2018 was successful and well-attended! Approximately 600 people attended the one-day show.  Everyone agreed that next year, the pen show should be in a bigger space, given the huge amount of interest in fountain pens, inks, stationery and accessories.

Many thanks to all the sponsors, the organizers, and the volunteers who made this pen show possible!


This is a poem I wrote circa 1988, which was published in Caracoa 19, the poetry journal of the Philippine Literary Arts Council. I lost my only copy of the journal, because I lent it to Prof. Franz Arcellana, and was unable to get it back because he died shortly after. I also misplaced the record book where I kept handwritten copies of my old poems, so here is the reconstructed poem. I managed to reconstruct it from memory, after not having read it for about 20 years.  I have the uneasy feeling that there are words missing, but this is all I can remember.


These arms, like branches
Have been broken
From time into time
In hesitant memory.
Consider that, possibly,
There is resilience
In a heart familiar even with
Unintended calumnies.

The maw of hopefulness
Expands into a gaping, rimless danger,
Closing in split instants
To assiduously screen the sunlight.

Another of you might possess perhaps
The willing strength to
Uncoil my wires of distance.
Invisibly, among the glass chimes
There comes from time into time
A love that brooks no

01 October 2018

Copyright 2018 Mona Caccam



There is a slight wind,
Sussurating through the curtains.
The sky is the color of stone.
In moments the scent of petrichor,
Green and earthy, rises into the
Warm, wet air. Soon apparent is
The scent of the river.

I am on my third folding umbrella,
Having lost the first two.
The rain and sweat have mingled
On my back. It will be this way
For almost half the year,
A time of consecutive typhoons.

Time to enjoy the last of the
Summer fruits. They add their
Perfume to the smells of the

06 June 2018

Copyright 2018 Mona Caccam