As an enthusiastic book reader, one of the good things that happened to me was discovering Goodreads, a social cataloging website and online community for readers around the globe. But I would say one of the best things I’ve experienced there so far is being a member of The Filipino Group — or TFG, as we fondly call it — and attending the past two Meet Ups in April 10 and July 17 of this year. Though there have been Mini Meet Ups — a small gathering between two or more group members that range from a simple get-together over a cup of coffee or dinner, movie screenings, to drinking sessions (lest you have the wrong impression Gentle Reader, we don’t encourage minors to drink) as a pity excuse to talk about, exchange and borrow books from each other — here and there, I still sorely miss this guys that I’ve long since considered kabarkadas.
Then excitement came to a fever pitch when fellow moderator Kuya Doni planned, sometime in November, of a group Christmas Party. You see, big events such as Meet Ups are never-to-be-missed-bookish-engagements of my entire bookish life because we rarely gather as a group. By then, I resolved that no matter what happens this one is not to be missed, but sadly real life (for the nth time) always got in the way of fun: the date when the TFG’s Christmas Party was the same with the company’s. That means missing out some of the fun-filled activities for the day that some of our kind members set up.
By around 6 o’clock or so, I came to the UP-Ayala Techno Hub and managed to catch up with all the happenings in the morning then introducing myself and meeting some of the newbies (first time Meet Up attendees) while munching on a Buko Pie that one of the members (Hello Iyah!) brought all the way from Isabela. Yum!
As soon as I am able to catch my breath, I gamely chatted with everyone about what else…BOOKS! Honestly, it felt as if I weren’t a late comer and have been cozily talking with these people since the Meet up began — bookish mode totally on FULL GEAR!
When it got too dark to stay outside we decided to have a dinner at Razon’s and in there the conversation still rage on. From discussing books we veered to movies, how many spirits possessed Emily Rose, the benchmarks on how to differentiate murder to homicide, Hitler, the Holocaust, Anne Frank among many other topics that up to this writing I still can’t recall. We’re being such a rowdy bunch that I saw some middle-aged ladies sitting on the other side of the restaurant glaring at us, as if by their very stare they could hush us up. So enthused we were that we even didn’t even notice that the establishment is already closing shop. That is until one of the waiters made a not-too-really-subtle-noise, implying as if *Ehem! Ma’m, Sir, mag-sasara na po kami* (o baka nagdadabog lang talaga si Kuya). Fine. I’m just warming up when suddenly some of our friends must now go, lest they encounter some snags going home. Then off we go to the fourth (or in the late comer’s case, his third) and last pit stop of the day.
To cap the night we headed to Café Breton, not just to get a quick caffeine fix, but per the TFG’s Meet Up tradition signals that the day is coming to a close. Once in there we can’t really help ourselves but reminisce on previous events that took place on some other branch of the same café which we gladly recounted to some of our new members, sharing a few laughters or two. As if the change of location didn’t bother us one bit there we are again— talking about everything under the sun the likes of which are the John Llyod and Shaina scandal, vaginismus, etc. and I tell you that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
To say that TFG’s Christmas Party/Meet Up is a huge success is an understatement. Just look at the pictures and you can really tell on every member’s smile that they really had a grand time. More than the books and various giveaways that I received, I think it’s the memories that certainly had an impact on me. As of this writing there still lingers the tale of two newbies living far from the greater Manila area, who braved and took the risk of attending this simple gathering: Iyah, who came all the way from the North of Luzon and Joyzi from Cavite, who honestly admitted that she’s worse when it comes to directions. From the good ole’ ones, Jam and Ranee, I was touched that even though the former is working abroad and the latter have work schedule conflict, they got out of their way just to make us feel their presence via phone patch (Oh, the wonders of technology!) and eagerly chatted with some of the newbies. More than jotting down my experiences on the recently concluded Christmas Party, I also would want this blog post to serve as a simple gesture of saying THANK YOU to the people who made this all possible. I will not mention each and everyone; you know who you all are. Okay, tama na ang drama.
Right now, upon ending this blog post, I still wear the smile that I flashed to everyone present last Saturday, yet now wider, tinged with colorful recollections of everything wonderful and joyous that happened on that simple day when kindred spirits, as one friend would like to call it, gathered together for one simple reason, for one simple goal: for the love of books and that sense of belonging, a feeling that they’re more than friends now…that we’ re a FAMILY.
For other accounts of the event please visit: