MEETING NEIL GAIMAN (2005)

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.

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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!)

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MANILA FOUNTAIN PEN SHOW 2018

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This year marks the 10th anniversary of Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, and what better way to celebrate than to hold the first ever Manila Fountain 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.

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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.

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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.

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10th Anniversary Pen. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.

Sponsors for the Manila Fountain 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).

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Cross Philippines.

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Montblanc Philippines.

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Noteworthy.

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Gav n Sav.

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Guia’s Vintage Pen Corner.

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Faber-Castell Philippines.

Photos above by Tintin Pantoja.

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Scribe. Photo by Mark Tiangco.

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Troublemaker Inks.

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Straits Pen of Singapore.

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Shibui PH.

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Pengrafik.

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Kasama PH.

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Everything Calligraphy.

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Lamy Philippines.

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The paper bar.

Photos above by Ronin Bautista.

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

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

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Calligraphy Workshop. Photo by Mark Tiangco.

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Calligraphy Workshop. Photo by Rica Palomo-Espiritu.

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Leather pen case workshop. Photo by Ronin Bautista.

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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 Fountain 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!

To see more photos and social media posts on the Manila Fountain Pen Show, use the hashtag #mnlfountainpenshow2018.

 

 

 

FOUNTAIN PEN NETWORK-PHILIPPINES TENTH ANNIVERSARY

Way back in 2008, fourteen fountain pen enthusiasts and fellow members at the international Fountain Pen Network forums banded together and organized a local pen lovers’ group, now known as Fountain Pen Network-Philippines.

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Photo by June Dalisay.

Above are founder Jose (Butch) Dalisay Jr. and friends at the very first pen meet at his house at the University of the Philippines campus.

Fast-forward ten years later, and the group has grown from 14 to 5,800+ members on Facebook, with its own forums at http://www.fpn-p.org.

Earlier in the year, Peter Bangayan organized an FPN-P Tenth Anniversary Pen, made by Bexley. It’s the Corona model, except it is cartridge/converter and not a piston-filler. It came in two colors, blue and turquoise, with a special medallion in the finial produced by Juan Luis Faustmann, in a limited quantity. There was also a Tenth Anniversary Ink, made by Diamine, called Blue Orient, a turquoise with a red sheen. (Another anniversary pen, the Edison Mina in tortoise acrylic, is in the works, courtesy of Anthony Goquingco. This is for those who weren’t able to acquire the Bexley.)

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Photo by Rommel Bernardo.

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Photo by Shey Pia Abaya.

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Photo by Mona Caccam.

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Photo by Leigh Reyes.

Co-founder Leigh Reyes quickly booked a lovely function room/co-working space at 3rd Space Legaspi for July 7, 2018. It was well-attended, with new and old members mixing and trying each other’s pens and inks.  There was an ink bar courtesy of Leigh, plus a sales area for pen wraps by Lara Telan of Gav n Sav, and empty cigar boxes.  Video of ink bar by Ronin Bautista here.

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Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.

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Photo by IamLennie.

At around 4pm we held a raffle, with prizes contributed by longstanding sponsors Scribe, Times Trading (Lamy) , Pengrafik and Stationer Extraordinaire. The grand prize was a proudly Philippine-made pen, made by KasamaPH (IG: KasamaPH, Facebook: KasamaPH). It’s called the Una, because it’s the first model ever made in the Philippines.

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Photo by Michelle Suratos.

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Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.

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Photo by Leigh Reyes.

Many thanks to Mark Tiangco for the delicious Quorn lasagna and nuggets, Babyruth Chuaunsu for the Sunkist drinks, and the various members who donated cakes and pastries for the event.  Thanks also to Vad Mayores of 3rd Space for making sure we were all comfortable at their venue.

Here’s to more years appreciating fountain pens!

 

 

FOUNTAIN PEN DAY PHILIPPINES 2017

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Photos by Leigh Reyes

Fountain Pen Network-Philippines recently celebrated International Fountain Pen Day 2017 last Nov. 4 at Commune Cafe+Bar in Makati! We first started celebrating the event with pen meets and sales from our favorite vendors way back in 2014. Read about our FPD-PH adventures back in 2014, 2015 and 2016. This year, Fountain Pen Day is brought to us by Cars and Calibres, and Calibre Magazine. In our experience, people who like cars and watches usually end up liking fountain pens!

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Here’s the indefatigable organizer, Leigh Reyes, manning the registration table. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.

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Photo by Sheila Tiongco

The event lasted all afternoon, and was very well-attended.  The place was packed until the early evening!  Participating vendors included Scribe, Pengrafik, Everything Calligraphy, Bags by Rubbertree, The Curious ArtisanHorology Matters, Peter Bangayan (Bexley Pens, Diamine Inks), and Caloy Abad Santos (Gav N Sav Pen Wraps). Also on display was an aquarium system by Aquarium Design Amano.

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Scribe. Photo by Mona Caccam.

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Everything Calligraphy. Photo by Iya Buzeta-Acero.

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Pengrafik. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.

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The Curious Artisan. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.

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Bags by Rubbertree. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.

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Horology Matters. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.

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Bexley Pens/Diamine Music Set (Peter Bangayan) and Gav N Sav pen wraps (Caloy Abad Santos). Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.

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Cars and Calibres display. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.

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Photo by Ticky Tabujara.

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John Raymond Lim. Photo by Chito Gregorio.

Local nibmeisters and all-around fountain pen repair guys John Raymond Lim and Mark Tiangco were on hand to deal with quick nib grinds, tine realignments and other issues people had with some of their pens.

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Raffle. Photo by Ticky Tabujara.

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Leigh Reyes. Photo by Chito Gregorio.

A raffle was held at 4pm, with prizes donated by our generous vendors.

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Calibre Magazine Editor in Chief, Carl Cunanan. Photo by Kailash Ramchandani.

Participants who went on social media during the event were given special Fountain Pen Day buttons.  T-shirts were also sold at the event.

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Photo by Leigh Reyes

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Photo by Augusto Toledo II

Everyone went home with issues of Calibre Magazine.

Fountain Pen Network-Philippines and Fountain Pen Day-Philippines are on Facebook. Join us!

Many thanks to all those who attended and participated!  See you all again next year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TEMPTATION

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Nakaya Neo-standard in Unpolished Shu, from Nibs.com.

Today I found out that one of my friends is selling her Nakaya neo-standard in unpolished shu, with a rhodium-plated soft medium nib for just under USD500. Unpolished shu is a warm red, a very attractive color. And the nib is the size I’m interested in. It’s USD700 at Classic Fountain Pens (Nibs.com), brand new. What bothers me is that it’s still twice the price I’ve paid for my most expensive pen so far.  Nakaya pens are usually what a lot of people think of as grail pens. Sure, I can rustle up the money, but I don’t think it’s prudent to be spending so much.

There’s also a Montblanc 146 being sold with an EF bicolor nib, for a bit over USD300. It’s a good price, but I already have a 146 with a cursive italic M nib, which I got for lower, and on lay-away, too.

I remember the time I saw a Pelikan M800 brown tortoise being sold for a good price, but wasn’t fast enough to buy it. For a while I felt bad, but then again I already had a green-striped M800 that I was already enjoying.  I guess it was the thrill of the hunt that got to me.

For a year and a half I haven’t bought any new pens, thinking I’ve achieved a kind of inner peace. The two pens I mentioned above have almost seriously derailed that inner peace. Sometimes I think I have too many pens already. I really should enjoy what I already have, until a more reasonably-priced new pen comes along.

 

OLDER

I celebrated my birthday several days ago, and we’re into the New Year. Every time my birthday comes I register the fact that my age is advancing and yet I don’t feel any older.

One day a few years ago, while powdering my nose at a hotel ladies’ room, I discovered lines under my eyes. The halogen room lighting wasn’t kind; all of a sudden I was confronted with physical age. In a few minutes I passed through the stages of panic, sorrow and regret (at not using eye cream or under-eye concealer or specific anti-aging products) straight onto resignation and acceptance. It was painful, because there was no denying I was in mid-life, and there was no unseeing what I had just seen. But then I had also just been to my high school reunion last December, and was comforted to discover that all of my classmates had lines under their eyes, too. While I have a few horizontal lines across my neck, at least I had no lines on my forehead or between my brows. I still don’t use eye cream, rarely use under-eye concealer and have no dedicated anti-aging products. My skin is dry, but it’s in relatively good shape. I don’t wear heavy makeup.

I didn’t have that kind of reaction to when I started getting white hairs. It’s so easy to have one’s hair colored. There have been times I wished I didn’t have to go to the salon to maintain my hair color. I do feel that I’m too young to go fully grey, though. I read somewhere that I should only go grey when my white hairs regrow in less than a month after coloring, or that I should be 75% grey already, something like that. Then I came across this video:

The thing is, I don’t feel old. I’m reasonably active and can still touch my toes at yoga. There are times I don’t feel young, either (when my energy is low and I’m hormonal). My friends are having grandchildren. I don’t have children, so I can only imagine how it feels. As Carrie Fisher said, “Youth and beauty aren’t accomplishments. They’re the happy by-product of age and/or DNA.” I like to think I’ve come to terms with my mid-life body, the way I think and the person I am at this age. And I still like myself. There are still so many things to do, there’s little time for mourning years and youth that have gone.

It’s a new year, hopefully with good new things in store for us all.

Daily Prompt: Gone

THANK YOU

Christmas is a time for gratitude.  We are grateful we are alive, we are grateful for the things we have received or enjoyed, for the people we share our lives with. I want to thank in particular those people who have made Christmas possible for us – the ones who work during the holidays so that we could celebrate it at home with our families.

I’m sharing this video because I remember what it’s like to work weekends and holidays. I used to work in fashion retail, and Christmas was our busiest time. The malls would be milling with people, our feet would hurt, but we’d still try to get through it all, smiling. I’m glad I don’t have to do it now, but I appreciate those who do. A blessed Christmas to all of you.