Good morning, Manila! I hit the ground running last Thursday after landing on home turf. Scant hours after settling into a luxurious suite at the Fairmont Makati, an old college friend messaged me on Facebook: Are you at the Fairmont? Come join us for lunch!
I hadn’t seen Carol D. since we were undergrads at U.P. but The Mango Bride reunited us: She read the entire novel on an 8-hour flight from Sydney, loved it and persuaded a mutual friend, high school classmate Roxanne A, to host a cocktail reception to celebrate its publication. Both women have had high-powered careers in marketing and to my great surprise, insisted on setting up a sales table in Roxanne’s vestibule. Unlike other book events, which generally took months of careful planning and rivers of email messages, Carol and Roxanne’s private book launch party came together in days. Now all I need do is put on my fancy pants and show up, pen and fan in hand at Roxanne’s place on Wednesday. In Manila, that’s how we roll.
Friday was a full day of media interviews, and Chad, National Book Store’s coolly efficient, fashion-forward Marketing pro managed a 6 hour series of media interviews and photo shoots in the Writers Bar at Raffles Makati.
Ruel De Vera of the Philippine Daily Inquirer showed up at 10 a.m. He had written one of the early reviews of my novel., and it was great to finally meet him. Nearly two decades earlier, he also reviewed my children’s book Philippine Fright. His photographer posed me under a gorgeous wall of paintings opposite the bar.
Ronald Lim from the Manila Bulletin came next, followed by Cate de Leon of the Philippine Star.
Manica of Town and Country arrived with her photographer Tammy, who toted an even larger camera and a golf-bag sized sack of paraphernalia.
Manica was a soft-spoken journalist who looked — and I later realized was — young enough to be my daughter. Oh to be 22 again!
By then it was three in the afternoon, and I had a half-hour breather because one of the journalists had moved her interview to Saturday.
The Lifesyle Asia photo shoot was the last one of the day.
Cousins arrived at the Writers Bar to enjoy a well-deserved and long-awaited cocktail hour. A massive traffic jam caused by monsoon rains prevented us from attending the National Book Store-organized movie night at Shangri la Mall, but we stayed dry and cozy at the Fairmont.
Saturday started off with brunch at the Spectrum, a delicious calm before the storm:
Things picked up in the early afternoon with more interviews, the first one of which was with Blooey Singson, Manila’s top book blogger. Blooey offered the surprising revelation that several years earlier, she had designed the book cover for Spooky Mo, the collection of horror stories that first caught the attention of Literary Agent Taryn Fagerness. Taryn challenged me to write a novel in 2007, which eventually led to the drafting of The Mango Bride. Funny how things come around in a circle!
Spooky Mo is now available in Nook and Kindle editions: http://amazon.com
The final photo session for Metro Magazine was shot by a photographer who deserved her own photo layout:
Thank you Chad of National Book Store for taking all these behind-the-scenes photos!
From there we moved to National Book Store’s flagship store:
and a couple of T.V. interviews…
The good folks at National Book Store set up an awesome book display…
And an amazing backdrop for the stage:
Xandra Ramos Padilla conducted a Q& A session, followed by book signing:
The man above in blue is Ariel Balatbat,Penguin’s International Sales Manager. Ariel brought his wife, daughter and niece to the book signing.
After all the books had been autographed, NBS Marketing Man Friday, Chad, handler of media interviews, photographer of all these behind the scenes picutres and all-around cool guy came onstage for his close-up:
Best of all, my brother Nolet showed up to celebrate The Mango Bride’s first book event in Manila
Family + friends +press coverage + books = a fabulous first 48 hours in Manila, city of my heart. Up ahead: five campus lectures, 2 book talks, a staged reading of selected scenes at Sev’s Café and a passel of parties . Check the Book Tour link on my page if you’d like to attend one of my readings.