Writing Now

Filipino Readercon 2015: First Timer Feels

They say you will always remember your first time, and that holds so much truth for me and my very first Filipino Readercon. I arrived halfway into the festivities but just in time to catch all the good stuff. I tried to make it simple for myself by limiting my goals to just three:

1. Get there in time for the Romance Writers of the Philippines’ Speed Date with a Romance Writer activity. I went in carrying an important note to self that read, “try not to spaz or you will frighten the readers away. But avoid awkward lulls too because those could be painful.” And I think it went well. My seatmate Bianca Mori and I were making each other laugh pre-activity because we didn’t want to cry in our nervousness, but one minute into my first “date” and I was successfully not spazzing and I was avoiding lulls like a pro. I had to pull out some useful things from my day job (i.e. how to make people talk to you even when they may not feel like it), and I used bookmarks of my books as props, and it was fun! My introvert nerves were shot and I felt so drained right after (haha), but those three minutes per date were awesome. And yes, I’d happily do it again 🙂


Waiting for their dates. Authors Six de los Reyes and Dawn Lanuza. Photo credits to Jothee Tan.


Don’t you just want to date them? Authors Tara Frejas and Carla de Guzman. Photo credits to Jothee.


With my fab seatmate Bianca Mori! Do you see our bribes–erm, props and giveaways? 🙂 Photo credits to Jothee.

2. Prepare body for the #romanceclass live book readings with theater actors Gio Gahol and Rachel Coates. I failed dismally at the preparation part, because I did not know Gio and Rachel would be reading from my book Songs of Our Breakup until minutes before (thanks for the heads up Anne Plaza :D). But they did. And there are no words, only a video:

These live readings were supposed to have educational value, to help us authors know more about how our work can be otherwise experienced, as Mina V. Esguerra said, from the written word to something spoken and heard. But I’m still struggling with my feelings. I need to get over my kilig first and tuck this into my happy place (for future use on an off day) so I can find the nutritional value of this exercise. But until then I’m relishing the feels.

It was surreal to say the least, to sit there and watch, hear, and feel the words you’ve written said back to you, and in a manner that is both exactly what you imagined in your head and also not quite. But in a good way. In the best possible way. I’ve been told this before–that my story and my characters no longer belong to me the moment I’ve released them into the wild. And I’ve never felt that to be as true as at that moment, when I experienced Rachel being Jill and Gio being Shinta. They were not playing out the scenes exactly as they happen in my head. They were doing their own versions, something uniquely their own. They were doing it so well that by the middle of it I felt like I was a spectator too, and just that. Then to hear the people in the room laugh and giggle as the scene played out just made everything very real and at times overwhelming, both frightening and magical. These things reminded me why I love writing and made me want to write more, made me want to write better, made me want to write better dialogues for Gio, made me want to have a Shinta man-pillow. These kinds of feelings. 🙂


The producer/mad scientist/Queen of Feels with the theater actors that destroy us every time, Rachel Coates and Gio Gahol. Photo credits to Jothee.


Rachel and Gio reading excerpts from #romanceclass books. Photo credits to Jothee.


The very important photo of a very important moment. Fangirling with Rachel and Gio. Photo credits to Jothee.

Can't go home without group picture.

Can’t go home without a group picture. From left, Chrissie Peria (The Kitchen When it Sizzles), Chris Mariano (Cover Story Girl), Rachel Coates, yours truly (Songs of Our Breakup), Gio Gahol (yes I got the sandwich, this was a great moment), Miles Tan (Finding X), and Dawn Lanuza (The Boyfriend Backtrack). Photo credits to Mina.

If you want to watch all of the live readings from Readercon, head on over to Anne Plaza’s YT channel, and be sure to subscribe to romancepodcast.com so you can watch all the excerpts Gio and Rachel read for #romanceclass. 10-episode podcast coming up!

3. Drop books/buy books/happily give my money to the #romanceclass table. And hang out with my author friends (I feel so cool that I have author friends now). I kind of “launched” the paperback book of Majesty there too, bringing a few copies that were promptly devoured by–yep, you guessed it–my author friends haha. In return I had my own book haul, picking out books of theirs that I didn’t have yet. We laughed, we shared feelings, Dawn Lanuza and I had a ridiculously late lunch, I got kisses from Ines Bautista-Yao‘s angel Tammy, we got some free books (no free copy of the Mockingjay for me, boo), cheered when Chrissie Peria won the Filipino Readercon Award for Best Romance in English for the Kitchen When it Sizzles, and hung out and laughed some more. These are genuinely the craziest and the most generous bunch of people I know, and they’re all amazing 🙂


'Mamser, pagibig?' Authors Carla de Guzman and Six delos Reyes at the #romanceclass table. Photo care of Jothee.

‘Mamser, pagibig?’ Authors Carla de Guzman and Six delos Reyes at the #romanceclass table. Photo care of Jothee.

And it was over, just when my lola bones were kicking in. It was a great day. It was my first, and I won’t forget it. Can’t wait for next year’s Readercon 🙂


Author Anne Plaza’s turn in the sandwich, with Gio Gahol and Rachel Coates. Photo belongs to Anne.


Since you scrolled down all the way to the end, here’s a bonus picture of Gio quenching his thirst. You’re welcome. Photo by Chi Rodriguez.

The 5th Filipino Readercon

Toward a Reading Revolution

November 28, 2015

4th Floor, Henry Sy Sr. Hall, DLSU, Manila

Songs of Our Breakup is available on Amazon and Buqo. Print version available here.

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