Filipino Friday (4): Books and Friends

One more week until the second Filipino Reader Conference!  Have you pre-registered?  Have you seen the activities on that day?

Anyway, here’s the fourth Filipino Friday to get to know more fellow booklovers!  Here are the questions this week revolving around books and friends.

Are you a part of a book club? If yes, what made you join one? What’s your favorite activity that you have with them?

Yes, I am a part of Ex Libris Philippines since February 2007.  We are a nonstock, nonprofit organization for book lovers. Aside from meeting monthly to discuss books, books, and books, we also hold fundraisers for the organization’s Scholarship Project to help send deserving but financially-challenged UP students to school.  At the moment, we have provided scholarships for 16 students (5 of whom were chosen just last May after our last fundraiser).

I long wanted to join a book club but I have not found the right fit for me until five years ago.  I was randomly browsing the bulletin boards at the Faculty Center in UP Diliman when I saw a poster for a special screening of Frank Miller’s 300.  I wanted to watch the movie and help a scholar as what it said on the poster, so I contacted someone named Tata to get my tickets. One afternoon while waiting for my class, I met Tata and Gabi, the founders of a book club called Ex Libris Philippines, which was also offering the 300 special screening. They’re identical twins!  They’re such an adorable pair.  I wasn’t able to talk to them at length after that, even after the 300 screening two weeks later, until I attended my first book session with the group.  Fast forward to five years later, here I am, still a proud Ex Libris Philippines member!  If you are watching The Newsroom, it’s what Charlie Skinner might call “a story of how sometimes things fall right into your lap.” 😉


My Ex Libris Philippines family

I have different sets of friends and being with people who share the same love for books, those who would understand why staying inside a five-story bookstore is a field trip, is a gift.

The setup of our monthly book sessions isn’t like other book clubs; we do not have a book or two that we all have read and will discuss during a meeting.  We show up for lunch or dinner then whip out book(s) to share and “sell” to the group.  I don’t remember if we ever had planned a “theme”.  Even with that, I only remember one instance in five years when two people brought the same book.  We’re so diverse that we almost always bring different books each time.  A cool part of it is you can take dibs if you wanna borrow a book that appealed to you!  Now that’s one of many reasons why my own TBR pile is very high. 🙂

What also makes it very interesting for me is that I get exposed to books I normally wouldn’t read.  I have to admit that sci-fi/fantasy isn’t on my top five genres but with my book club, I get introduced to these amazing literary worlds.  I now know who Orson Scott Card is, along with Michael Moorcock.  I am also inching my way to reading the Middle Earth books.

Another awesome thing about my book club, which I believe is shared by all book clubs, is that we welcome all kinds of literary works.  Put it out there, share, and let’s discuss.  From esoteric stuff to “The Love Slave” stories, name it, let’s talk about it. 🙂

Most of our book sessions are done over lunch or dinner.  We all love to eat!  If time permits, we also go out of town.  We had a beach trip in Batangas and spooked ourselves silly with a book session at night.  We went up to Baguio last year and scoured Session Road and nearby places for books.  We also raided a bookshop warehouse once.  Oh man, that’s one of the best.  We also go to book fairs together and get all smug (in a fun, harmless way) about our buys.  We support each other whether it’s for a book trivia championship or a musical recital.

Of course, we also get to work once a year to raise funds for prospective scholars.  So far, I’ve been part of  three successful fundraisers which were such insightful experiences.  We staged an opera, a concert participated in by UP College of Music stalwarts, and most recently, a blocked screening of The Avengers!  We still have projects in the pipeline which we will work on in the future in order to send more students to school.

Apart from reading and fund raising, we’re interacting as friends on a personal level.  We also dabble into other interests — like, XP is first a book club friend but we also hangout as football followers.  In addition, one thing about most members of the group is their musicality (it doesn’t include me but, well, I dance!).  It has not happened but it won’t be weird at all if in the middle of our book session we would burst into a musical number ala-Glee (again, they sing and play, I dance, LOL).  Sometimes, we also talk about our love lives *blushes*, our families, our respective day jobs, or just about anything, even if it’s not book-related.  It’s like having an extended family that you get to see at least once a month. 🙂

It’s fun being part of a book club.  If you aren’t part of one yet, I highly encourage that you find and join one. 🙂

5 thoughts on “Filipino Friday (4): Books and Friends

  1. Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to generate a great article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

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