First of all, let me tell you this. I use a lot of social media every day, and whenever I get exhausted and completely turned off by election-related hostility, the #AprilFeelsDay tag on Instagram has now become my refuge. Why? Because…
Isn’t it so beautiful? Yeah, let’s take a good, long moment to scan through those photos and videos once again, because God knows I haven’t had enough of them yet. I’m also stalling because I don’t know where to begin with this recap, if it could even be called such.
(The #AprilFeelsDay Edition)
A person’s love for something cannot simply be extinguished by distance or harsh weather conditions. Or the utter lack of chairs. (In Filipino: “O pag-ibig na makapangyarihan, kapag pumasok sa puso nino man, hahamakin ang lahat, masunod ka lamang.”)
It’s amazing that some of the people I’ve met during #AprilFeelsDay traveled from the nearby provinces just to be able to participate in the very first standalone bookish event by the #romanceclass writing community. If you are well aware of the traffic conditions here in Metro Manila, you’d know that going anywhere in the metro would require a lot of patience. Add to the fact that it was a) 36°C that day (RealFeel™ 42°C), and b) our venue, Pegi Waffles, only had enough seats for about 30 people.
During our Post-Mortem, I realized I wasn’t alone all along while I worried that our dear attendees might think of leaving the venue before the program was over. Most of my fellow authors had that in mind too, but as it turned out, we all worried for nothing. Everyone stayed. Everyone, in their own capacities, participated in All The Things we had in store for them. People bought books, swapped books, interacted with the authors and actors, took photos and videos and shared them on social media, busied themselves with coloring artsy little quotes sheets Caryn made, collected stickers, and more. From the far corner of the room, I saw the collective effort of everyone present, and it made my heart swell in gratitude.
To provide a venue for people of like minds and passions to come together is to set the stage for magical things.
Magical Thing #1: The Live Readings
You would think that being able to experience a #romanceclass live reading twice gives you some sort of advantage, like you’re actually physically and emotionally ready for it. False. I thought that too, until Mina announced that my #TalesFromTheMetro short story was part of the live reading lineup.
I got shy. I don’t know–I didn’t hide behind the ice cream stand just because the air conditioning unit was there because at that point the appliance was practically useless. I hid because I knew it would difficult for me to school my expression into something neutral when Herv Alvarez and Salve Villarosa start to read from Settle the Score, one of my favorite Things in the world. And because I was away from the performance area, I barely saw #Alvarosa’s (yes, they have a hashtag!) faces as they live read, and sometimes it was difficult for me to hear even if I know the Thing (almost) by heart.
What I did hear, however, were the reactions to the passages, most specifically, “I’ll drive you,” and “I met this girl.” Hunny quickly snapped at me because of that, haha.
(Herv and Salve read Settle the Score by yours truly, Picture Me Naked by D.R. Lee, and Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera.)
And then there was Jef Flores, one of the three new additions to our #romanceclass roster of actors. I’ve seen him perform on stage twice (for Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady, and 3 Stars and a Sun, but apparently he was also in Priscilla, which I also saw) but never really heard his voice in this manner. In an LI manner, that is. He did a fantastic job. My Ice Cream Stand Crew will probably distinctly remember how I just spat out an expletive as he was reading from That Kind of Guy by Mina V. Esguerra, how I cackled at his voice while reading Biana Mori’s One Night at the Palace Hotel, and how I hugged people while he was reading as Miki from Jay E. Tria’s Songs to Get Over You.
Finally, Gio Gahol and Rachel Coates took over the stage and blew me away all over again. I knew they were good, but they were MUCH MUCH BETTER this time around I didn’t even know it was even possible! Rachel was in her element, Gio was just… well, we didn’t create a frickin’ hashtag for nothing, yannowhatI’msayin? From Mina’s Welcome to Envy Park to Kesh Tanglao’s The Real Score (Hello, British!Gio) to Chrissie Peria’s All’s Fair in Blog and War (my personal favorite), the OGs poured their everything into each reading, proving once again why I’m riding the #Gahoates ship. LOL. *waves at everyone on SS #Floates*
Magical Thing #2: TFW It Seems Money Is No Object
This is the fourth time I’ve joined #romanceclass in an event where I had an opportunity to sell books, and the first time I’ve seen people actually take home stacks (LITERAL STACKS, I TELL YOU) of them. I usually feel like people think our stuff is expensive because an individual only purchases two to three books on average, but it was wild at the selling table that afternoon. I was completely blown away seeing attendees pulling out books from the display (one, two, four, seven! wait, nine?) and just buying all of them. I don’t know about you guys, but that’s just amazing.
Magical Thing #3: The Feeling Of Family
The only #romanceclass author I have a really close friendship with is Chi. We’ve been friends for a long time before I dragged her into this mess LOL. Everyone else I’ve met through Mina at different points in time, some of them I’ve only interacted with online before actually meeting them. The pioneers of #romanceclass have a lot of history together as well. And yet as soon as we were all gathered in that room, it felt like we were one big, happy family. We laughed together, joked around with each other, helped one another accomplish things (like sell books and handle money–hey Carla and Jothee!), hugged, beso-beso-ed, and everything else in between.
There’s something special when people meet and form a bond over a passion. Ours is the passion to create, weave, and stories, and by helping one another create, weave and share, our bonds have become stronger. We understand each other’s worries, we learn from each other’s mistakes, we triumph over each other’s successes. *sniff* Being with #romanceclass feels like being home, and I am so happy I can call it my home too.
You will always find people who will read and like/love your stories. Always. They may not come as quickly as you would expect them to, but you will meet them eventually.
I’m still not used to getting approached and told they’ve read and loved my book/s. It’s kind of embarrassing in that I feel like the smile I would wear looked crooked, forced, or constipated. I met some of you during #AprilFeelsDay and I’m still processing that. If you’ve approached me and talked to me about my work, thank you. If I looked weird or anything like that, please forgive me. I still have a bit of trouble wrapping my head around the wonder of it all.
It’s easier to react to someone whose thoughts about your work are only seen online. You can say your thank yous and that’s it. But sometimes I can be an awkward kamote and not make eye contact, not know if I should hug you for reading my book and loving it, and not know what to say if you suddenly want to take a photo with me (because WHY). I just want to say I really do appreciate you, I am absolutely thrilled to hear what you have to say, and I love you for letting my characters into your life. I hope you have space for more, because there definitely will be more! That’s a promise.
*sigh* I’m all worded out now. I guess the best thing to do is leave you with a couple more #AprilFeelsDay photos!
^ These #romanceclass stamps were seriously difficult to get rid off. Like feelings.
^ Gio seemed to have a lot of fun. He even wore a #NatGioWeekend sticker (which was Mina’s, by the way)!
^ Thank you, Caryn! I shall color mine when I get the time… (Oh look, that kinda rhymed!)
^ Herv, Salve (#Alvarosa!) and April.
^ Sample stack of books bought from the event. She is NOT the only one. Thank you so much.
I hope everyone was properly inspired and motivated to write and read more after #AprilFeelsDay. This will definitely not be the last, so please join us during the next one, okay?
Aaaaaaand, I’m out! <3