At the 1st Iloilo Mega Book Fair and #ZineZoned5

View from above: Iloilo Mega Book Fair and Zinefest
For the past few weeks, I have been sharing and reposting about the 1st Iloilo Mega Book Fair and Iloilo Zinefest since I also joined the event. I joined the 3rd Iloilo Zinefest last August 2017 and you can read about my experience and reviews of the zines I bought in the following blog posts: #ZineZoned3: Iloilo Zinefest 2017 experience and Reviews and Reactions: Zines from #Zinezoned3

Our booth!
The Zinefest is now part of a bigger event, the Iloilo Mega Book Fair. Instead of 2 days, the book fair lasted for 4 days from Thursday to Sunday, November 8-11 in Festive Walk Mall. I was there from Saturday to Sunday since I couldn't go to the weekdays, but I did drop by to buy books and zines. It's good to see that they extended it from two days to four and made it part of a Book Fair. There are also many activities and I liked that they are also open for booksellers of all kinds (even for those with pre-loved books they want to sell).

For those who are not aware of what a zine is, it is basically a short, self-published work usually xeroxed or printed. It's a type of alternative publication that can be about anything under the sun. It could be artwork, photography, poetry, journalism, and fiction. I like them because they are raw, and often dealing with subjects you don't usually see in mainstream media. They are also very difficult to get a hold of again once they are gone. That's why I bought a lot, I have yet to read and review them here. I think I have to group them by categories first and try to read/review them in that order (really the librarian in me is affecting everything).

Last year, Charlyn and I wanted more people to join us, but it ended up being only the two of us again. I understand though, it takes a while to write. Producing a good zine also takes time even if it is self-published and can be anything you want. I had to sit down and write, format the contents, create a cover, corrected and edited the poems and stories, and had it printed in a printing press. You can actually print or photocopy them and staple them yourself, that's the original essence of what a zine is, but I don't have the time for that. I'm glad I found a good, affordable printing press with accommodating staff.

These are the zines I sold: Atlantis is a collection of stories and poetry, this is the new one this year. Pleiades was first released last year, this year's edition has one new story and a different cover.

Day 3 (November 10), Saturday:
The Zinefest officially opened on November 10, and there was a lot of activities. UPHSI students performed their plays, and in all honesty, they are so talented in acting and writing those but most of the plays had sexual content which made me laugh and cringe at the same time. There was another school whose students performed too.

There were also talks by writers on various topics, such as "Contemporary Western Visayas Literature" in local dialects and "Literary Queer Talks and Identities." The talk I liked most was Katte Vergara's "Queer Shipping: What makes Queer Shipping attractive to millennials". I love that someone talked about fanfiction! I have a secret, I'm a fanfiction writer before I dared to self-publish and write and I really learned a lot about writing and characterization from that. Fandom is a huge part of my life which I don't really talk about much, but it's good to hear this!

That night was Poetika, where writers read their own poems on stage. I love the poetry reading by Early Sol Gadong (Palanca award winner for this year) of her poem, "Handa Akong Mamatay Para sa Binalaybay". After her reading, I went to buy her zine! Someone also rapped freestyle which was cool. I forgot the name of who read but there was an excellent poem by a guy "Ang Kaibigan kong si Kadiliman" which I think is about depression, and he also read a poem about Martial Law.

My friends and family also dropped by to buy my zines so thanks to their support! I wonder if I even sold anything without them. We had "Poetry in the Moment" and there were also a few who bought poems from us. It's also good to see familiar faces from last year's Zinefest who also joined last year and we made some new friends.

Day 4 (November 11), Sunday:
Art by @larkdoodles who sketched us
lol, check her out her art's amazing!
Compared to Saturday, there were fewer people. I didn't get to spend a lot of time in our booth because of an accident - my friend fainted and she had to rest quite a bit. Good thing there was a medic in Festive Walk Mall and the guards responded fast.

There was a Book Swap, so I swapped two books and my two zines. I swapped it with two other zines and a couple of books, one fiction and the other one about time management. My friend went home earlier because she had to go back to Roxas so I stuck around for a few more hours.

Sometimes the people beside me leave so I just assigned myself to man their booths... and it's funny that I even promoted their books to the interested passers-by (more than mine). I guess I can't help being the helpful Reference librarian who answers everyone's questions!

Some thoughts:
Compared to last year's Zinefest, there were fewer people around. It must be because it's a new mall that just opened this year and transportation is not that convenient. The set-up and stage are also smaller. I guess it's standard that malls have to play loud music to attract customers or make people curious about the event, but it makes it difficult to have conversations with others without making your voice loud. If I were to choose, I'd prefer subtle, softer music in a lower volume for better interactions. Most of the time I kept quiet because speaking over the loud music is straining, and I only interacted with others during the music down-times.

I also wish there were more local publishers and books to make varied literature available. Of course, it is much smaller than the Manila International Book Fair (which is really the biggest in the country), but I think that it is a great start. The event's aim was to focus on local literature and I think it really succeeded in that aspect.

I didn't sell that many copies of my zine compared to last year, and we didn't write as many poems. But what's great about events like this is the connections you make with other writers and artists, and it's always good to share ideas. These may even pave the way to future collaborations with the new friends you make. I got to learn about other writers who also write online, and artists I wasn't aware of. I followed new cool people on my social media.

As I said on Facebook, the event "is an amazing opportunity to share your writing and art and meet writers/artists with great works. I left with a feeling of inspiration, my mind filled with new ideas, and a burning motivation to keep writing."

By the way, my zines are still available and I might sell it online, I'll post about it soon. I started a new job this week and I'm still adjusting to it so I have little time for anything else. For my next posts, I will be reading and reviewing my zine and books haul from this event. Since I bought A LOT, I might separate that into multiple posts. Here are more pictures from the event:

Books by Kasingkasing Press, a local publisher focusing on local writers and literature.
Look at those cool zines. The artists and writers are really stepping up!
Books by Precious Pages in their booth (most are romance)
Thanks to everyone who made this event possible. Even if I will not join as a ziner or writer in the years to come, I will always try to visit the Book Fair and Zinefest to support local writers, publishers, and literature. I encourage new writers and artists to join the event for the experience and to get to know more people with the same passion.

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