Preparing for #PLF2015

The Philippine Literary Festival is happening two months earlier this year, but no bibliophile is complaining.

Last year, National Bookstore launched the event—an awesome fusion of a book fair, international title launches, and panel discussions with various authors and publishers. It's the closest thing we have to a Random House Open House and on its second year, things are looking bigger.

They've brought in international best-sellers and renowned Asian-American literary writers Amy Tan and Chang-Rae Lee in 2014, and this coming weekend festival-goers will see Meg Wolitzer, author of Belzhar, and Matthew Quick, author of novel-turned-blockbuster-film The Silver Linings Playbook.

If you're coming to the festival for the first time, here are some important notes you should jot down:

Create a schedule. The festival is packed with activities that are simultaneously happening in four rooms in Raffles, Makati. It would be easier to budget your time and decide which ones to join if you plan it ahead. If you're able to stick to your schedule, you're sure not to miss out on your favorite speakers. You can download the three-day schedule here.

Have a festival buddy. There's nothing wrong with going to the festival alone, but it will be more exciting if you'd have a wingman with you—to take your photos with your favorite artists, calm your overtly exaggerated fan girl/boy feelings, share your thoughts on the panel discussions and books, and of course, eat lunch with.

Bring your Phil Lit books. A handful of contemporary Filipino writers and artists will be present in the three-day event. The names of those who will have launches, discussions and workshops are on this list. If you own any of the books or comics that they've created, don't forget to bring it with you. No matter how old the titles are or how battered the copies may be, I'm sure they'll be happy to sign it. It also gives you an opportunity to let them know what you think of their work or ask for advice.

If you haven't got any, then you're really missing out. It's now your chance to meet the artists and see how much of their passion and skills have been poured into a specific work. Don't forget to buy books by Filipino artists, you'll definitely find yourselves easily relating to the stories and each of its philosophies.

Ready your pens, notebooks, cameras and recorders. These are your ammunition for documentation.

The talks often focus on the art form itself, like fiction, poetry, comics and many more, the style of the artists, and the themes and meanings of their recent works. For budding writers and artists, there are a lot of things you can pick up during the sessions. Make sure you have a notebook and pen to write it all down on. If you want, you can even record the whole talking session so you are sure to document every single nugget of wisdom!

This year, they've added writing and lettering workshops so you can get feedback for your works or even score yourself a mentor! You simply can't pass on that, right?

International authors book signing passes. For your books to be signed by those who will be featured during the Author Spotlight sessions (Wolitzer and Quick), you have to purchase at least one book by the said authors during the festival.

The cashier will give you a book signing pass for each book you've bought. Only one book will be signed per pass. You'd have to buy multiple books during the festival if you want each one of them signed. So if you have all their works already, you might have to consider giving one of your old copies to a friend afterwards.

The book signing passes are transferable. You can give them to a friend or you can use it to have an old book (like those that have anniversary or limited edition covers) of yours to be signed by the author. The passes don't determine which books are to be signed by the author, but it does dictate how many books are just going to be signed. The authors are, of course, just going to sign books that they've written or anthologies that they are part of.

There are only a limited number of passes, so it's practical that you buy your books on the first day of PLF or at least a few hours before their 2 PM talks.

The books sold during the festival by those featured in the Author Spotlight are first edition prints, so they can be quite pricey. Since these are often new titles, it's mostly available in hardbound and tradeback copies. You'd probably see the economical versions (it's usually smaller and uses a different grade of paper) months after their visit at half the price. But hey, at least you got it signed! With this said, you can take this as a cue to start saving right after PLF so you can hoard a lot of international and local books during the next one.

The second PLF hasn't even happened yet but I'm already excited for next year's event, with high hopes that one of my favorite authors will finally banner it (I've been hoping for Khaled Hosseini to visit the country for a long time now). I'm also currently taking a survey about the festival-goers' guesses for the 2016 Author Spotlight and the top 5 authors they want to see in PLF.

See you at the festival!

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