Dia Internacional del Libro: Commemorates Don Quijote’s 400th year publication

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I haven’t had any special reason to visit Instituto Cervantes before, until I found out about the 10th edition of Dia Internacional del Libro (International Book Day). I specially got interested to attend because of the special activities laid out for attendees, in accordance to the commemoration of the 400th year of publication of Miguel de Cervantes’ second volume of “Don Quijote de La Mancha” (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quijote of La Mancha).

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Instituto Cervantes, Spain’s cultural center in the country has made the 10th edition of Dia Internacional more exciting this time and totally a different kind of book fair with La Noche de los Libros (The Night of Books), which was a whole evening of free entertainment that includes Spanish food games, jazz concert, poetry recitals, free Spanish classes, book market, and photo contest.

The Tradition of Books and Roses

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Internacional del Libro also happened to be on the 23rd of April, which is famous as St. George’s Day in Spain. During this day, people go to festive markets at the town center, particularly in Barcelona to purchase books and roses and give these to their loved ones. It also coincides with other cultural and literary activities, such as book signings and readings of Spanish literature.

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In tradition, men offer roses to important women in their lives, while women give books in return. And in honor of this tradition, the first 100 visitors that day received roses upon entrance at the center. Every purchase of books at the book market also came with a free rose and a free book of their choice, as well as participants of the night’s different activities.

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Re-Writing of Don Quijote

Unfortunately, I wasn’t one of the first 100 visitors but then again I was lucky to be part of the Escribo el Quijote (Re-Writing of Don Quijote), wherein 500 book-lover volunteers took part in what they call the “Quixotic” endeavour – that is to hand-write Cervantes’ immortal novel, Don Quijote de La Mancha that is considered to be one of the world’s greatest novels ever written. Each volunteer had two minutes to copy few sentences of the novel that started from 4PM to 11PM. The final hand-written book was deposited at the Library Miguel Hernandez at Instituto Cervantes.

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This is where I got two roses, two roses because my turn was supposed to be at 8PM but it was already 9PM when I got to it. A senior official was kind enough to give me two in exchange of my patience and dedication to wait for my turn, though it was past the time it should have been.

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In part of the celebration for Don Quijote de La Mancha’s 400th year publication, a special set menu, the La Cocina del Quijote was prepared by Chef Juan Carlos de Terry that is based on some of the dishes and wines mentioned in the novel on April 17th at Terry’s Pasong Tamo, Chino Roces Avenue Extension, Makati.

I took home two books as well from Anvil Publishing (Confessions of a Volcano by Eric Gamalinda and Reading Korea: 12 Contemporary Stories), which entitled me to another rose. I have yet to start reading them though, as I’m still occupied with another book.

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That day’s buddy was my cultural events buddy Myleen. I initially planned to go by myself but I invited her to come along and good thing she was free. We didn’t get the chance to check out the library though, which is something I should come back to.

We both had fun being part of the Don Quijote re-writing activity while listening to jazz music in the background, discovering new books to journey in, watching groups of people and friends chatting, and just simply wandering around the place.

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I forgot to mention it was held outdoors, and they have this garden with a well at the center surrounded with trees, and it was simply picturesque at night. We even found a tree with flowers that’s like cherry blossoms, though we aren’t sure if it is a Sakura tree.

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Instituto Cervantes also held a film series on migration last month featuring films such as “Edna” (2014) starring Irma Adlawan, directed by Ronnie Lazaro about real and imagined fears of overseas Filipino workers; “El tren de la memoria” (2005) by Marta Arribas y Ana Pérez about migrant Spaniards leaving the country to different destinations; “Extranjeras” (Foreign Women) (2003) by Helena Taberna about migrant women in Madrid; “Flores de otro mundo” (Flowers From Another World) (1999) by Iciar Bolain about a group of women in search of stability and companionship and men in search of wives in a small town in central Spain.

It was followed by the film cycle, Great Books on Screen in all Saturdays of June. It included films adapted from novels: “La Colmena” (The Beehive/1982) about stories of people in Madrid 1942, post-Spanish civil war; “La Lengua De Las Mariposas” (Butterfly Tongues/1999) about an extraordinary relationship of a shy boy to his compassionate teacher; “Obaba” (2005) about a woman and her journey to Obaba, a small town in the Basque Country; and “Soldados De Salamina” (Soldiers of Salamina/2003) about a young novelist who has lost inspiration and became a journalist to investigate a true story that took place at the end of the Civil War and involving an infamous writer and an anonymous young soldier.

To know more about Instituto Cervantes, check out their website at manila.cervantes.es, facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila and @ICervantesMnila.

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The Gift of Books, Itachi and Sasuke Goodies

I’m writing this post at 11:15pm, Dec. 31st just before everything starts over again.

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I’m thankful for these great gifts of experience, adventure and knowing great people who are like real friends to me; although they’re fictional people. Most of the time, these people are the kind of people I’d really like to meet and be friends with. They’re the kind who are not so easy to find in the human world, so I’m really grateful for these wonderful stories of life, of love, of friendship, and everything else in between.

The most memorable character for me this year is Tsukuru Tazaki. He’s so close to who I am and I feel so connected with his story, despite not exactly having the same dilemma and ordeal he had to go through.

At present, I’m reading my first non-fiction book and travel related  one but still so Japanese. I’m enjoying it a lot, having to know more about the country I hold so dearly – my favorite country Japan.

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I also thank my Uncle Luvin from the States, who paved the way for me to be able to get Haruki Murakami’s latest release – The Strange Library; as well as this very beautiful (Naruto) Itachi messenger bag and this bad-ass looking Sasuke’s Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan necklace. But of course, before Uncle Luvin; it is God I have to thank for all these.

This year might not have been the best with an unfortunate event, but I’m looking forward to starting over again. I do not want to promise, instead I will keep on trying and learning from mistakes everyday; and hoping my Christmas wish that I always prayed for during the nine-day Misa de Gallo mass will be awarded to me by God this new year.

Happy New Year everyone and God bless!

Updating this post with some photos earlier during the New Year’s Eve dinner or media noche. Well, I don’t usually post photos of myself but it won’t hurt to do once in a while. I had to take the photos myself and I’m not so good with taking selcas; as I’m not with any family member, but it’s still good. And since I’m not photogenic, I had to take a couple of shots to finally capture some decent ones.

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I suddenly noticed earlier that my glasses and my shirt are the same color. That was not intentional.

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The only ones I personally prepared are the macaroni salad and the ham. The apple crumble, chicken and pancit malabon were take-out orders.

The candles, they’re called prosperity candles. I’m not sure if this tradition is done elsewhere too, but the practice is you light all (7) candles: red (health), blue (peace), yellow (intelligence), violet (spiritual growth), pink (love), green (money), and orange (career) at 11:30pm and put them out at 12 midnight. The smallest candle or the one that melted the quickest symbolizes the good fortune that the new year will bring you first, followed by the rest.

It’s really hard though to decipher which one is the smallest since the candles got a little mixed up when they melted. But I think orange is the smallest, then pink, blue, green, red, violet and yellow.

Orange is for career, hurray! I think this one got me a little excited, crossing my fingers and praying it will be. Pink for love, but not so much a priority. Blue for peace, oh yes peace of mind. Green for money, so I could travel more and buy more books; and Naruto manga and some goodies, and save more. Red for health, good health is always a blessings. Violet for spiritual growth, guidance from God. And last but not the least, yellow for intelligence; to learn new things and new experiences for the mind, body and soul intellect.

First Thoughts – Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

I recall being so excited when I first read a synopsis of Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage last year. I knew it from then that it is something I should get my hands on and will be included in one of my best Murakami books.

I did not have this particular reaction with 1Q84 though when I first heard about it. I don’t really know what is wrong with the story that somehow it doesn’t appeal to me, for now maybe. Maybe it’s just my taste or maybe something is wrong with me that I’m not all excited with what it is about.

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Picture credits to kmn04books.wordpress.com

After finishing Claire Tomalin’s Invisible Woman yesterday, I started reading Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki earlier over a rice cake and hot chocolate.

I particularly love this passage on page 8.  A unique sense of harmony developed between them – each one needed the other four and, in turn, shared the sense that they too were needed. The whole convergence was like a lucky but entirely accidental chemical fusion, something that could only happen once.

At this early part of Tsukuru’s story, I identify with some qualities of his friend Shiro, whose family name means ‘white root.’ She’s slim and tall, with a model’s body, graceful features of a traditional Japanese doll, with silky lustrous long black hair, a skilled pianist, a serious person, dislikes drawing attention to herself, beautiful, and dreams of becoming a vet.

And while I don’t have a model’s body nor features of a Japanese doll, not even a long silky black hair, nor am I beautiful or a skilled pianist, and does not dream of becoming a vet; but as I picture her in my mind and the things we have in common, I think if she’s ever real I can really be good friends with her.

But still, I connect the most to Tsukuru who views himself having no special qualities or a striking personality, a weird kid, with incurable boredom, whose only real interest are train stations, and who thinks there is something about him that is not exactly normal.

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It is like getting to know someone who thinks the same way as I am. I don’t particularly have his profound adoration to train stations but I do love beautiful train stations like HongKong’s MTR – I adore it. I can literally spend all day hopping on and off at every station. One reason I also love the cover design of the book is the use of train station colors and stops. I could say I’m an average train station enthusiast compared to Tsukuru. However, we both have the same view of thinking that we are colorless.

A big thanks to my brother Jorge who bought the book for me.

photo credits panorami.com

photo credits panorami.com

So many books, so little money

I managed to still go check out the books at the Manila International Book Fair on its last day today. Good thing, they had the book fair extended until 10pm for those who didn’t make it yesterday or Friday due to the typhoon.

Last year, I bought one novel “Please Look After Mother” by Shin Kyung-sook; Naruto Vol. 62 although I bought this one at the anime convention; one book from OMF Literature; two from Black Ink Comics; one chick-lit that I gave to Salia; and three from Lampara. 

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This time, however, I decided to go with two novels: Haruki Murakami’s “Blind Willow Sleeping Woman” because it’s my first Murakami short story collection and Shin Kyung-sook’s “I’ll Be Right There,” because I think it’s as good as the the first book of her I read or even better. And because I bought two novels, it’s more expensive but both came with discounts. I was still able to save from the discounts.

Now, I’ve got a line-up of books waiting to be read with these two new additions. I still have yet to finish “The Invisible Woman,” although I’m halfway there.  And my copy of “Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” by Haruki Murakami, courtesy of my brother Jorge and my aunt Mary Ann will be arriving soon. These two will have to wait a little longer, as I’ve decided to read “Tsukuru Tazaki” after “The Invisible Woman.”

And last but not the least, I got these really cute To-Do List ng Pasaway and Chorva pads from Tahanan Books. I so love their paperbag, so I decided to buy the bigger notepad so I can have one.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to buy any manga this time. I just recently bought a hefty and expensive one with Rurouni Kenshin Big Volume 6 during the Asian Premiere of Kyoto Inferno. I almost wanted to get one earlier but I didn’t have enough with me. I decided as well to not attend the Best of Anime Convention this time. I find the entrance ticket quite expensive really. Although if I arrived much earlier today, I still would have checked it out. What I like about the convention are the live performances and the manga library courtesy of the Japanese Foundation. Last year, I bought Naruto Vol. 61 at the convention, although I saw a pile of manga titles at the Fully Booked booth but I had to decide between another novel and one manga.

If only the organizers decided to extend the anime convention, especially since most people couldn’t come due to the bad weather. The same thing goes for the Manila International Book Fair, as there are requests on Facebook to have it extended until next week because they couldn’t come. As for me, I’m lucky because I was still able to go to one of the events.

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The Deep Blue Sea & Suite Francaise with The Invisible Woman

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I finally have the books in my hands!!! Just last week, my fourth brother’s girlfriend arrived from Singapore for a brief vacation. All thanks to my brother’s girlfriend who bought the books for me at an online bookshop in Singapore. At least, I only have to pay these when her credit card’s due.

I arrived from work on a Wednesday, 29th of January, the first thing I saw on my table is Tom Hiddleston on the cover of “The Deep Blue Sea”, and my heart skip a beat. Just so happy.

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First Official Image From ‘Suite Francaise’ Starring Michelle Williams & Matthias Schoenaerts (http://blogs.indiewire.com/)

These two gorgeous pieces are the latest books I’ve acquired for this year. Both authors, I mean the other one is a playwright, Terence Rattigan is a British playwright. I haven’t heard their names before to be honest. I know nothing about them. However, my professor of a brother told  me about Suite Francaise few months ago. He told me that it already has a movie in the works starring Michelle Williams, Kritin Scott-Thomas. It’s probably in post-production now, as according to Wiki, filming is done.

There wasn’t any trailer available yet as far as I know, but it quite striked an interest with me despite the wartime and Nazi occupation setting. This genre isn’t one of my favorites to read, but I just recently read Sally Gardner’s “The Red Necklace” (while listening to an audiobook narrated by none other than Tom Hiddleston) which is set during the French Revolution and I loved it.

Suite Francaise, the book is the title of a planned sequence of five novels by Irene Nemirovsky. She completed the first two of the series when she was arrested and detained as a Jew. Her daughters preserved the two novels and were published later in 2004 in a single volume – Suite Francaise. ( Wikipedia)

There are (3) novels: Storm in June, Dolce and Captivity. All novels are mainly about portraying life in France during the Nazi occupation. In the film, it centres on a romance between a French villager (Michelle Williams) and a German soldier (Matthias Schoenaerts). 

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Movie stills ( http://bucketreviews.com/) Love this scene.

As for “The Deep Blue Sea,” I discovered this through the recent film adaptation starring Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston in the lead roles, for the centenary celebration of Terence Rattigan. I am so in love with the film. It is such a beautiful piece of art and ultimately amazing performances from both Rachel Weisz and Tommy. Tom’s role as Freddie Page is actually one of my favorite roles of his now. I can’t hate the guy, he’s not a total scoundrel. He has a heart and I know he also loves Hester (Rachel Weisz). And since I love the film so much, I decided I want to read the play. And luckily, Blue (brother’s girlfriend) found it online in Singapore. And now here it is. I’m in the process of reading it now and loving it.

Oh, “The Deep Blue Sea” is an adaptation of the 1952 Terence Rattigan play and a remake of the 1955 film of the same title about the wife of a judge who engages in an affair with a former RAF (Royal Air Force) pilot.

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Another movie stills ( fanpop.com). Gosh, this is the most romantic dance scene ever. I love it to bits.

This is the first time I’m ever reading a play. It’s a bit strange for me, I feel I’m reading a film script with all the description of the character movements and set-up. If I had magic, I would have made it a novel. I still prefer it to be a novel because it’s longer and it’s all really up to a reader to imagine it while reading. Like turning the novel into a film in his/her mind. In any case, it’s still a fresh nice experience to read a play. There are actually things that differed in the book of the play and in the movie. I would be so chuffed to see it have a new play version in London’s West End, of course with the cast of the recent adaptation.

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Poster from //www.impawards.com/

There’s also another book I’m still waiting. Blue has already ordered it but it’s a special order so it may take (3) weeks for her to collect it at Raffles. Crossing my fingers, we’ll get it. The title is Claire Tomalin’s “The Invisible Woman” about Charles Dickens and his affair to a young actress that he kept a secret until his passing. The film adaptation stars the great Ralph Fiennes as Dickens and Felicity Jones as Nelly Ternan, the young actress. I’m so intrigued with it so I want to read the book before the film. I’m not a big fan of Dickens actually and know not much about him but I love the trailer. I’m just animated about the book as I am on the film, I just have to have it.

After all, it’s about words

 

I don’t necessarily agree to fast reading. Well others enjoy reading fast and want to finish a book in a day or one sitting. But reading doesn’t have to depend on the number of books one has read. I don’t think just because one has read 20,means he’s more well-read than another who has read 10 or 5. Reading is not supposed to be about numbers. After all, it’s about words.

I don’t read 20 or 30 books a year. I’m not the fast reader type and do not want to. I read in bed before going to sleep but not all the time. I actually would like to buy hardcover books but like what they say, they’re expensive so most that I have are paperback.

I don’t have a specific time to read too, other than before going to sleep. Sometimes, I read with coffee after dinner before I go home from work. But this also depends when I’m not in crunch mode, though my Dunkin Donuts coffee only costs PhP 35-45.

It would be interesting to try and just sit down and read for an hour in a specific time. But we all agree that we can’t read all the time. We have other things to do. Of course, I also want to watch my favorite TV show or watch a movie I missed at the cinemas, do chores and other things. Let’s face it, we always need to go online and be up to date with current events, culture, news, travel, lifestyle, entertainment and chat with friends too.

 

The thing is, I don’t like to read as fast as I can and read so many because I want the stories to remain in my mind for long. I read this study from The Independent on ‘Brain function ‘boosted for days after reading a novel.’ Here are some excerpts on the article.

Reading a gripping novel causes biological changes in the brain which last for days as the mind is transported into the body of the protagonist.

The new research, carried out at Emory University in the US, found that reading a good book may cause heightened connectivity in the brain and neurological changes that persist in a similar way to muscle memory. Being pulled into the world of a gripping novel can trigger actual, measurable changes in the brain that linger for at least five days after reading, scientists have said.

21 students took part in the study, with all participants reading the same book – Pompeii, a 2003 thriller by Robert Harris, which was chosen for its page turning plot.

Over 19 days the students read a portion of the book in the evening then had fMRI scans the following morning. Once the book was finished, their brains were scanned for five days after.

The neurological changes were found to have continued for all the five days after finishing, proving that the impact was not just an immediate reaction but has a lasting influence.

I’m more after the lasting influence of a book than how many books I’ve read. Say one has read 20 books a month, can one really retain most of it, more so the important parts of the story and characters? I don’t think so. Say, I ask him about this book he has read last month or two months ago, and during this time for example December he already has read 200. I would ask him, who the characters are, what’s the main conflict, why did this and that do this, what’s their intention and others. I’m pretty sure he would make mistakes. He’s gonna be mind boggled.

You were so into this book back in September, but forgot all about in December because you’ve read 500 books. Your thoughts will be cluttered with so many ideas and stories; that you can’t even put your finger on which is from this and that book or whose characters are these names popping out in your head.

My friend Rhea and I who used to watch Harry Potter movies together both read the books. We know who is who and what is what in the movies because we’ve read the books, because we didn’t fast-read and because the stories have been instilled with us. They have remained in our brains. However, this is not to say that we don’t make mistakes about whether this specific scene in the movie was in the book and others. So those who have read 500 or more books would make more mistakes, as memory retention is much harder.

Here’s the link to The Independent article: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/brain-function-boosted-for-days-after-reading-a-novel-9028302.html

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

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Found out today that Murakami’s new book “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” published just this April will be translated in English first half next year as I was reading an Inquirer article about him being a favorite for Nobel Prize.

According to yukaripeerless.ca, “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” is a story of Tsukuru, who was a part of a group of five high school best friends. They were all in a high school in Nagoya, two girls and three boys. They were inseparable. Four kids out of five had a color in their names. Mr. Red, Mr. Blue, Miss White and Miss Black. Tsukuru’s last name is Tazaki – a relatively normal family name without any color in it -hence, he is “Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki”.

I’m serious I’m going to like this one. Kinda reminds me of Norwegian Wood too but still very much different. I haven’t read 1Q84 and I don’t know if I’ll ever read it. I still remember how Paolo, my college classmate recommended me Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World but I ended up buying Norwegian Wood.

I especially like this quote too.  When he quotes, it just hits you.

“Then finally he was able to accept everything. Tsukuru Tazaki understood it at the bottom of his soul. People’s hearts are not linked only by harmonies. Rather, they are connected deeply by scars and scars. Tied by pains, and by vulnerabilities.”

— Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage – Haruki Murakami