VICTORIA’S JOURNAL NOTEBOOKS

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Back in February I wrote about the refillable leather Victoria’s Journal.  The same brand has these cahier-style notebooks in packs of two.  Each notebook has 80 pages of cream-colored paper, and has a sewn binding. They’re smaller than A5 size, around 13cm wide by 19cm tall (about 5 1/8 by 7 7/16 inches).

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They’re PhP 99 (just over USD 2) per pack of two notebooks, at National Bookstore (their exclusive distributor).  For the life of me I can’t figure out if this is meant to fit into a leather notebook cover, but I would love to know if it does.  There doesn’t seem to be any such matching refillable cover on sale, alas.

The wonderful thing is that it has fountain pen-friendly paper!  (“80 gsm, lined pages, wood-free cream paper”)  Well, for most fountain pens with F or M nibs, that is.  I’m not sure it’s thick enough or sized enough to take on wet B nibs or flex nibs, but for every day use, this passes muster.  Only Herbin Lie de The had the teeniest bit of feathering.  I wouldn’t say totally no bleedthrough, but yes, you can write on both pages and read what you’ve written without irritating marks getting in the way.  Here’s a photo of the ink test page.

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Victoria’s Journals brand notebooks are “Designed in Italy, Made in PRC”.  They’re not cheap, but they’re really affordably priced, and stylish.  Would I buy these again?  Seeing as there are very few locally available brands of this price point  (much lower than Clairefontaine and Rhodia) that are fountain pen-friendly, definitely.  I still wish there was a leather cover product to match.   This doesn’t stop me from hunting down other fountain pen-friendly brands, though.  National Bookstore cannot guarantee that certain product lines remain permanently stocked, or that the same quality item can be sourced from their suppliers in the future.  We can always hope.

I am not affiliated with National Bookstore except as a regular customer.  The items being reviewed are my own purchases.

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FROM ANALOG TO DIGITAL

I wrote this in 2009, as a reflection on my mother’s experiences with tech and culture. It was originally on Multiply, which has now closed down, so I am missing the comments of my friends who know my mother and love her. I mentioned in one comment that she would be the Scully to my dad’s Mulder (gosh, how I loved watching The X-Files!).  I just wanted to share this with all of you, in case you could relate.

Personal Geographic

My mom was sitting on the sofa reading the current issue of Newsweek.  Inside were several letters to the editor from readers who felt that Michael Jackson was not treated with the respect that someone whose contribution to music was that significant.  One letter-writer admitted that he was a fan until the sordidness of the child molestation charge severely tainted his admiration of the singer.

Nanay:  What did Michael Jackson sing?  I might know it?

This was tough, because she had no personal reference to any of the songs I knew.

Me:  Er, it’s hard to pick something you’d know, because you never really listened to the radio.  I just realized now that you know absolutely nothing of rock and roll…

We try to explain to other people that my mom “was born in the 40s, lived twice through the ’50s, totally skipped the 60s, and went straight to the…

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THE READING GROUP

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One of the members of our Manila fountain pen group decided to start a small book club.  We had our first meeting last weekend, where we figured out what books we’d all like to read.  We’ll focus on a book each month, focusing initially on Filipino writers writing in English.  There are so many good books out there, but it’s a shame not to read the writers of one’s own country.  The guys in our group made a request not to have to read romance novels, and the rest of us heartily agreed (hahaha!).

This May we’re tackling the late Kerima Polotan‘s 1961 Stonehill Award-winning novel “The Hand of the Enemy”.  In June we’ll be reading her collection of essays “Adventures in a Forgotten Country”.  Both books are published by the University of the Philippines Press.  Also in our list is Jose Y. Dalisay, Jr.‘s Killing Time in a Warm Place (Anvil Publishing), a novel based on his experiences as a Martial Law detainee.  (Incidentally, Butch Dalisay is the founder of our fountain pen group.  We’re asking him to sign our copies.)  We’ll follow with National Artist Nick Joaquin‘s May Day Eve & Other Stories.  Next up is Esteban Javellana‘s 1947 classic “Without Seeing The Dawn” (which was made into a Tagalog tv mini-series when I was a child).  We’re also reading young Palanca winner F. H. Batacan‘s mystery novel featuring a “Jesuit priest who is also a forensic anthropologist as sleuth”, Smaller and Smaller Circles (UP Press).  Then we’ll read another classic of  Filipino immigrant fiction, Carlos Bulosan‘s America is in the Heart (Anvil Publishing). Just so we don’t get stuck on novels, we also picked a book of essays edited by Erlinda Panlilio, The Manila We Knew (Anvil Publishing). Then for something totally different, there’s Resil Mojares‘s Isabelo’s Archive (Anvil Publishing), a compilation of essays and notes on Philippine culture and history, based “on Isabelo de los Reyes’ groundbreaking attempt to build an archive of popular knowledge in the Philippines.”  And then there is Bambi Harper‘s new historical novel, Agueda (University of Sto. Tomas Publishing House).  There is also Luis Francia‘s History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos to consider.

The titles or order of reading might change.  But it’s good to have a reading list.  If we didn’t sit down to plan this, we wouldn’t know where to start! We can’t always meet in person, but we can always email our reading notes to each other.

From this list you can see we all have this common interest in literature, history (national and personal) and culture.  Indeed, in Jose Rizal’s words, “Ang hindi marunong lumingon sa pinanggalingan ay hindi makakarating sa kanyang paroroonan.” (He who does not look back from where he came will never reach his destination.)