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.


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.



Last Saturday, at the Fountain Pen Network-Philippines Christmas pen meet, I won a bottle of Platinum Blue-Black ink.

This is a dye-based ink, as opposed to the pigment-based ink that Platinum also produces.  Pigment-based inks have bigger particles, making it necessary for one to clean their pen often so it won’t clog.  Dye-based inks usually clean easily with water.

This is also, according to Platinum, a ferro-tannic ink.  This means it’s iron gall ink, whose main claim to fame is that it’s reasonably water-resistant. As the blue dye eventually fades away with time or exposure to the elements, the part that is ferro-tannic remains black and stays on the paper.  Some people don’t really want to call it a blue-black, just a dark blue, but the color is sufficiently attractive and sober enough to be used in many official situations.

I wish this was a review of the ink, but the Platinum 3776 Century Chartres pictured above is full of Pelikan Blue-Black ink. I will direct you, however, to the very reliable review by the Peaceable Writer, JD. JD explains that if you don’t clean your pen well after using Platinum Blue-Black, it may mix with your newly-filled ink and refuse to write. Here’s a more recent review over at the Goulet Pen Blog, which mentions one has to use and clean the pen regularly – long, unmonitored exposure to iron gall inks can cause corrosion on steel-nibbed pens or fixtures.

My last iron gall ink was the old formula of Lamy Blue-Black, which I enjoyed using. It did flake off a bit of the gold plating on my Pelikan M200 steel nib.  I plan to use the Platinum Blue-Black in the Platinum 3776 Century, which has no decorative trim rings on the section that can be corroded, and whose gold nib and feed are easily removed for cleaning.




For the longest time the only colors of inks to be had in Manila were Black, Blue and Blue-Black.  It bothered me that most Black was often grey, while Blue was usually watery and faded.  That left me with Blue-Black, a dark blue that stayed, well, dark.  Parker Quink Blue-Black with Solv-x, which was widely available in the 80s, was one of my favorite inks.  Now that other ink brands have come to our shores I have a happy range of colors to choose from, but blue-black remains a favored color.

I decided to write this after buying Lamy Blue-Black, my only iron gall ink.  I also have Waterman, Parker Quink, Pelikan and Pilot Blue-Blacks.  Waterman. Parker and Pelikan are dye-based.  My Pilot Blue-Black is vintage NOS (new old stock, possibly from the 1980s) and is pretty waterproof, so I’m wondering whether it’s iron gall or not.

blueblack inks (crop1)Color

It is immediately obvious that both recent incarnations of Waterman and Parker Blue-Blacks result in a totally different color – teal.  There is speculation that they are made by the same manufacturing facility in France, after Sanford (a division of Newell-Rubbermaid) acquired both brands.  Whether they are the exact same formula of ink hasn’t been proven, but they are quite similar. Pilot and Pelikan Blue-Blacks are a blue-grey without any hints of green, while Lamy, being iron gall, starts out dark blue and dries to a darker shade.  Very retro, “vintage” colors.


Waterman Blue-Black has been called a lubricating ink – which in general means you can use it in any sort of pen and it will flow well.  Parker Blue-Black has a similar flow.  Pilot, Pelikan and Lamy are all dry inks and are best matched with wet-writing pens.  Dryness is an ink’s quality that controls its flow in pens where the feed is designed to direct a generous flow to the nib.  German fountain pens like Pelikan tend to be wet writers, for instance (at the other end of the spectrum are Japanese fountain pens, which write dry).  Dry inks tend not to feather or bleed through on different qualities of paper, although using them on equally dry pens might result in “scratchy” or “balky” writing.

blueblack inks (crop2)Water Resistance

The above photo shows a drip test, similar to what happens when you spill your drink on the writing table.  It’s not a very extreme example.  Water can totally lift Waterman and Parker Blue-Blacks off the page as it runs.  Water will wash off a layer of Pelikan Blue-Black from the page, but will leave a legible “ghost” of the writing.  Pilot and Lamy Blue-Blacks are waterproof and permanent.  Which makes me wonder whether Pilot is an iron-gall ink.  There’s no official word on this.


Waterman and Parker Blue-Blacks in EF nibs will fade, depending on the quality of the paper used.  Pilot, Pelikan and Lamy Blue-Blacks stay dark.  This is assuming regular exposure to fluorescent lighting and not direct exposure to sunlight.


I would continue to buy Waterman and Parker Blue-Blacks for their flow qualities and teal color and not their blue-blackness.  They are affordable and make good testing inks for new pens.

I am unlikely to be able to get more supplies of Pilot Blue-Black since the two bottles I have were from an old bookstore that has since closed down.  There are no importers/distributors of Pilot fountain pen ink in the Philippines, which is a shame, because this is an attractive and permanent ink.

Pelikan Blue-Black is a personal favorite, one I would not hesitate to order online.  Alas, it is no longer available in the US due to import restrictions on certain of its ingredients.

Lamy Blue-Black I would definitely buy again. I think its permanence and waterproof qualities are a plus.  It  also behaves well on cheaper, lower-quality papers (does not feather or bleed through). The 50ml ink bottle features a roll of blotting paper at its base, which is a very cool and useful thing.  However I would only use it on wet writing pens, modern pens that are easy to clean (piston-fillers or converter/cartridge fillers).  I would not let it dry out in any pen, because the particulates that form are likely to clog it. It requires regular flushing.  Due to its being iron gall it probably just a little higher maintenance than other inks but in the right pens it makes for a lovely ink.


Waterman, Parker and Lamy inks are available at all branches of National Bookstore.  Pilot inks are available online at  Pelikan 4001 inks are available at Scribe Writing Essentials in Eastwood City Mall.  I am not affiliated with any of these establishments.


herbinpurples-01I recently blogged about my three green J. Herbin inks, a comparison review that was posted on the Fountain Pen Network.  This time I thought I’d compare my three purples – Poussiere de Lune, Larmes de Cassis and Violette Pensee.  This is one occasion when the labels on the bottles closely match the actual color of the inks.

herbinpurples-02Poussiere de Lune is a dusty purple with grey undertones.  It’s a dignified, elegant color, a good alternative to black and blue-black.  Karen Doherty of Exaclair, Inc. very kindly sent me a bottle for review (along with Lie de The).  My US-based cousin Jasmin also gave me a bottle, which she purchased at a neighborhood stationery store on the strength of it being a bestseller.

Larmes de Cassis, on the other hand, struck me as a romantic, old-fashioned color.  It’s not strictly a purple, but I’d classify it as a related color on the pinkish side. In my Waterman 32’s EF nib it comes out as a pale berry pink.  In my Parker Lucky Curve’s EF nib it writes a darker, richer color.  I guess it depends on the paper.  It looks great on cream-colored paper.  It also appears darker on the more absorbent papers.  Larmes de Cassis also shades very prettily depending on the nib used.

Violette Pensee is the classic blue-purple ink used by generations of French schoolchildren, and evokes the color of the pansy.  It comes out of the nib purplish, but dries bluer. It’s a beautiful, bright color that’s appropriate for most writing situations.  This was the very first bottle of J. Herbin ink I ever bought.

All this ink reviewing just adds to my irrational desire for more ink, if only it didn’t deplete the wallet so much!  When Cafe des Iles becomes available at Scribe Writing Essentials, I’ll review it along with Lie de The, to show the difference between the two brown Herbin inks.  The third brown, Cacao du Bresil, does not appeal to me as it’s an odd brownish-grey.

J. Herbin inks are available in the Philippines at Scribe Writing Essentials (3/F, Eastwood Mall, Libis, Quezon City) and the Scribe stall inside Powerbooks in Greenbelt 3, Makati.  They come in 30ml “demi-courtine” bottles, at PhP 495 each.

I am not affiliated with Scribe, am just a happy customer.


We had an FPN-Philippines pen meet yesterday, and I managed to convince my friend (and favorite fountain pen ink reviewer) Clem Dionglay to accompany me to visit Scribe Writing Essentials in Eastwood City so she could help me choose some ink.  Based on Clem’s writing samples on a Rhodia dot pad, I managed to quickly narrow down my choices to J. Herbin Vert Olive and Rouge Opera.  These are not my first J. Herbin inks – I’ve written about Violette Pensee and Vert Empire before.  I was also sent Poussiere de Lune and Lie de The by Karen Doherty, VP of Exaclair, Inc. (the distributor of J. Herbin, Clairefontaine and Rhodia in the US).  She also sent Clem an Orange Indien that I won in an FPN-P raffle last year.  (I owe her a few ink reviews, but I’m hoping this would suffice in the meantime.)

herbininksI realized when I got home that I have now accumulated eight Herbin inks:  Violette Pensee, Vert Empire, Lie de The, Poussiere de Lune, Orange Indien, Larmes de Cassis, Vert Olive, and Rouge Opera.  I plan to get more later.  In fact, Clem and I have established that for fountain pen users, there should be no guilt about having a lot of ink.  Appreciating color is a joy in life!

Out of the eight, three inks were green.  Green is my favorite color, and I do appreciate the range of greens I got.  I decided I’d do a side by side writing sample, to be posted on the Fountain Pen Network Ink Reviews forum.  Here it is:

herbingreensVert Empire is a dignified, elegant dark grey-green.  Lierre Sauvage is a bright leaf green, a cheerful color that can pop out on the page.  While Vert Empire and Lierre Sauvage do well in finer nibbed pens, Vert Olive requires a wide nibbed pen for you to see the nuance in color.  Some people may have difficulty reading it on certain colors of paper.  It looks more like olive oil rather than the green olive itself. While I don’t plan to use it for letter-writing, I am comfortable using it as a journalling ink (with my Pelikan M215 B nib).  Something about the color refreshes me, I really bought it as a novelty.  One day I might try mixing it with some Lie de The to achieve a slightly darker olive tone.  I’ll update this blog when that’s successful.

I’ll do another blog entry on the rest of my inks later, next would most likely be a comparison of purples and red-pinks (Violette Pensee, Larmes de Cassis and Rouge Opera).

J. Herbin inks are available in the Philippines at Scribe Writing Essentials (3/F, Eastwood Mall, Libis, Quezon City) and the Scribe stall inside Powerbooks in Greenbelt 3, Makati.  They come in 30ml “demi-courtine” bottles, at PhP 495 each.  Pricey, compared to the ubiquitous Parker and Waterman inks, but the range of colors is worth it.

I’m not affiliated with Scribe, am just a happy customer.


Platinum Japan is coming out with a line of fountain pen inks that can be mixed with each other to produce other colors.  There are 9 basic colors:  a black, 2 blues, a purple, a pink, a red, a brown, a yellow and a green.  The picture above shows you the many possible combinations.  Alas, I can’t read the information on the Platinum website, which is in Japanese.  According to the Fountain Pen Network forums, the inks haven’t reached interntaional distributors yet.  The inks are supposed to be waterfast.  (Comparable Japanese ink lines are the Pilot Iroshizuku series or the Sailor seasonal inks, only these inks are specialty colors not meant for mixing.)

Maybe one day soon one of my more intrepid friends will not be able to resist and may come up with at least 4 of the 9 basic Platinum Mix Free inks (CMYK, anyone?).  The ability to mix new colors would be such fun.

[Note:  Where to get fountain pen ink in Manila:  National Book Store branches have the ubiquitous Parker, Waterman and Cross inks.  The Montblanc boutiques, of course, sell their own ink. Scribe Writing Essentials in Eastwood City has the French J. Herbin inks and the German Pelikan Edelstein line.  My fellow fountain pen lovers and I have a few inks from these sources, but have also tried eBay, online shopping or asking friends travelling abroad to buy other well-known brands for us.  I am not affiliated to these outlets, but mention them as a guide for the interested.]


Based on VegasPens’ (Darlene) question on Twitter:  “What kinds of inks do you like to mix together?”  Mabeloos asked me to combine my ink mixes in one post for her reference.  Actually some of these I learned from The Fountain Pen Network, some via trial and error:

5:1 Parker Quink Blue to Parker Quink Black make a great Blue-Black that doesn’t turn teal.

3:1 Parker Quink Green to Waterman Havana Brown was inspired by Herbin’s Lie de The.  If you don’t like “muddy” old-fashioned colors, this might not be for you.

3:1 Rotring Brilliant Red to Rotring Brilliant Blue make something not quite purple but lovely and retro-looking when used in a Pelikan.

3:1 Parker Quink Green to Parker Quink Black to make something close to Herbin’s Vert Empire or Noodler’s Zhivago.  You can add more black by the drops to your preference.

2:1 Parker Quink Blue to Waterman Purple to “tame” the purple.

3: 1: 1/2  Rotring Brilliant Red to Waterman Purple to Parker Quink Black/Waterman Black.  You can try using a brighter red, like Waterman or Parker Red, and it will come out looking like what I’d call Roasted Cranberry.  Without the black, I call it Alugbati, which is the purplish berry of a Philippine leafy vegetable we used to wear as “play lipstick” when we were little kids.

Please use a syringe, and write each recipe down in your notebook with a writing sample as soon as you get the color you like.  Please do not mix alkaline inks with other inks, and most of all, please do not mix iron gall inks with other inks.  Please do not make any quantity larger than 3ml so that when you get tired of it you can recreate the color without wasting ink.

To refill empty cartridges, use the syringe and reseal with a drop of hot glue from a glue gun.  Try not to make too many cartridge refills since they do eventually evaporate.  Always put in ziploc bags when storing in your handbag to avoid staining your other items.

Of course I always write this advice down but I never seem to make the writing samples with the reviews and the q-tip swabs and the F/M/B comparisons because I prefer to write snail mail and other longer things.

I hope this has been useful!