PHR GRAND FANS DAY 2017: A PEEK AT THE PINOY ROMANCE PUBLISHING WORLD

By Lauren V. Macaraeg

Nagtilian ang mga fans nang umakyat sa entablado ang mga hinahangaan nilang… writers?! The Precious Heart Romances Grand Fans Day 2017 seemed more like a showbiz meet-and-greet than a typical publishing event to me. The name “Tuloy-tuloy ang Kilig” is a perfect fit for the occasion held last Saturday because of the audience’s squeals and shouts of kilig. Bagay talaga!

PHR writers in the spotlight!

Precious Heart Romances (PHR), one of the most popular romance pocketbook publishers in the Philippines, held a special day for loyal fans last March 25 at the Precious Events Center in the new Precious Pages Building. (Trivia: Did you know that Precious Pages Corporation (PPC), the publisher of PHR novels, is the sister company of my publisher Lampara Publishing House, Inc., the source of Lampara Books?).

Excited readers grabbed the chance to meet their favorite writers, to take selfies and groufies with them, and of course, to get their books signed. The more books, the merrier, especially since PHR just launched over 30 new pocketbooks by various PHR authors, including Ms. Rose Tan, Ms. Vanessa, Ms. Sofia, Ms. Angel Bautista, Ms. Amanda, Ms. Kayla Caliente, Ms. Luna King, Ms. C.D. De Guzman and more.

Welcoming PHR writers on stage

At first, I honestly felt a little like a fish out of water as a kids’ book writer in a romance publishing event, but I found myself gradually relaxing and enjoying the cheerful, energetic vibe of the occasion. It helped that there were games and music to liven up the program. As usual, I was tempted to join the games (and give the readers a run for their money haha) pero binalato ko na lang sa readers so they wouldn’t think this weird writer lady was ruining their fun. I did join in wholeheartedly as the crowd sang along with guest acoustic performer Mr. Noel Cabangon as he played a few of his popular hit songs, including “Kanlungan”, “Tadhana” and his own version of the classic “Kahit Maputi na ang Buhok Ko”.

Mr. Noel Cabangon in the house! Trivia: I’ve been a fan of the iconic acoustic singer and songwriter since college

I also found myself clapping enthusiastically as energetic song and dance numbers were performed by the PHR writers and their fans (while fervently wishing that my publisher will never ask us kids’ book writers to dance at an event ? Because I suck at dancing haha). Since it was my first time to attend a PHR event, I was surprised at the readers’ dedication and affection for their favorite authors. Ibang level eto!

PHR fans go all out as they sing and dance for the love of their fave writers!

Although I have been exposed as a writer to the worlds of kids’ literature, educational publishing, social media advertising and more, I must admit I am not very familiar with the local romance pocketbook scene. But I’m glad I was invited to blog about the event because it was a fun and interesting peek at another world in the publishing universe.

Full house! Ang saya makasama ng mga PHR writers at readers ? Kakaiba ang energy niyo! Thanks for inviting me to blog about #PHRGrandFansDay2017 ? (1st Row: Mr. Digna De Dios, yours truly, Mr. Segundo “Jun” Matias (L-R). 2nd Row: Ms. Rose Tan, Ms. Amanda (L-R) ) 

 

The Reason Behind Grand Fans Day

“Hindi ko alam kung paano ko sisimulan…” said Mr. Segundo “Jun” Matias, the owner and general manager of Precious Pages Corporation (PPC), as he tried to thank the sea of PHR readers in the crowded hall.

Mr. Segundo “Jun” Matias personally thanks PHR readers for their support

“Simulan niyo sa simula, sir!” joked one of the fans.

I snorted with laughter. In fairness, bumenta sa akin! Not just the reader’s joke, but the whole casual, familiar atmosphere the community seemed to enjoy together.

After the program was over, I curiously asked Sir Jun, “Ano po yung main reason why you organized the Grand Fans Day ng PHR?”

“Kasi in the 90s, nagkaroon kami ng book signing. Tapos nakita namin talaga ang daming pumunta sa National Book Store,” Sir Jun explained to me. “At that time, wala pang social media tapos ang dami nang dumating… What I figured out [is] gusto talagang makita ng readers ang writers… at maging kabarkada [nila]. It’s [also] important na makilala ng writers ang readers. Naisip ko ang Grand Fans Day. Nangyayari ito after every two years.”

The Grand Fans Day is Sir Jun and PHR’s way of showing appreciation to their faithful readers, who have supported them throughout the years. This 2017, the anticipated event was held in the brand new Precious Pages building.

Werkwerkwerk is fun with Ms. Aiko Buduan-Salazar and Ms. Toni Velasco. Congratulations to PHR and PPC for a successful event! Props to all the staff for their effort.

 

Children’s Writer Meets Romance Writers

I occasionally see PHR writers during events, but I normally don’t get to mingle with them as much as I do with fellow writers and illustrators from Lampara Books. Our events are usually held separately, which is understandable since PHR and Lampara have totally different sets of readers.

It was a refreshing change to personally meet and chat with some of the romance authors during “Tuloy-tuloy ang Kilig”.

It started out during cocktails time around halfway through the event. Feeling a little tired since I was recovering from a recent sickness, I was quietly sitting in the corner of the writers’ lounge, not having extra energy to initiate conversations like I sometimes do during events and parties.

“Kain po tayo,” a friendly lady turned towards me. “Ay meron ka na pala haha!” she added when she saw me already munching on a mini egg sandwich.

“Tenk yoo pow,” I tried to say thanks while still chewing. The lady must have thought I was kagalang-galang, yes? Not. Lol.

After swallowing my food, I properly introduced myself. When I asked for the friendly writer’s name, she replied, “Sofia.”

“Ah kayo pala si Ms. Sofia!” I exclaimed. “Nabasa ko po yung book niyong My Fat Chance.”

We chatted a little about My Fat Chance, the young adult novel which was published under Reb Fiction, our publisher’s new YA brand. Afterwards, I enjoyed hearing some of her experiences as a romance author.

With Ms. Sofia. Thanks for the fun chat!

She told me that she does research in preparation for writing her stories, including the novel inspired by Jeyrick Sigmaton, the Igorot farmer from Mountain province who shot to social media stardom. Did you know that Ms. Sofia even visited Jeyrick, also known as “Carrot Man”, in Baguio to personally interview him and spend time with him while working on her book that was inspired by him?

What’s the reason behind all her effort? “It’s about cultural appreciation,” Ms. Sofia reflected.

Guess who else I was also to talk to? Ms. Vanessa! If you read my blog post about the Aklat Awards 2016, you might remember how I shared that I admired Ms. Vanessa, the champion of chubby girls, during the Aklat Awards 2016. However, I was not able to talk to her that time because we were both busy. Well, I finally got to meet her at this event!

While we were both seated at the couch in the writer’s lounge, I tentatively asked, “Kayo po si Ms. Vanessa, di ba?” I felt a little shy that she might think me forward, but I waved aside my shyness (Yes, guys, I get shy too, contrary to what most people think lol). “Nakita ko kayo nung Aklat Awards…”

“Oo,” she smiled. “Di ba ikaw yung nanalo sa kids [category]?”

Glad to meet Ms. Vanessa. Finally!

I smiled as I realized that she remembered me too, her chubby fan. I properly introduced myself and we chatted. She shared some behind-the-scenes glimpses in the life of a PHR writer. I also shared a little about my experience as a Lampara Books writer.

Another author whom I was introduced to during the event was Mr. Digna De Dios. He was the one and only male PHR writer who went up the stage that day. When I asked him what inspired him to write romance pocketbooks, he proudly told me, “I just like to write about love. The greatest topic in the world is love.” Simple but rock!

I hope to get to know the other writers too next time.

 

Filipinos Connecting to Books in Filipino

It’s encouraging to see that certain books written in the Filipino language are doing well. After all, we are Filipinos.

It’s not just the tremendous audience impact during the grand fans day that proves there is a market for Filipino novels. According to Ms. Lola Tumaneng from National Book Store (NBS), PHR pocketbooks are doing very well, especially in terms of sales.

“When you say Tagalog romance pocketbooks, ang top of mind siyempre ng mga customers at lahat ng nagbabasa is ‘Precious Hearts Romances’ na further nanganak na into different series and different genres,” said the perky Ms. Lola, the NBS book buyer who handles fiction and literature, including romance pocketbooks.

With Ms. Lola Tumaneng, NBS book buyer. Her job is my dream job!

When I asked her what differentiates the local romance genre from other categories, Ms. Lola replied that it was the reception of the fans. According to her, it is the genre with the most fanatic, loyal and connected fans. It turns out I wasn’t alone in thinking that the fan base of the PHR writers resembles that of actors and actresses.

To be honest, although I’ve enjoyed reading Filipino picture books since I was a student, I’ve always read more English novels than ones written in Filipino. It was only recently, thanks to the free Reb Fiction (formerly Rebel Fiction) books I received last MIBF 2016, that I started to appreciate modern novels written in our native language, some which were penned by PHR writers. I unexpectedly liked the Reb books and their unique Pinoy vibe, which was made possible because of the conversational Tagalog used. I’m looking forward to exploring the world of PHR books too.

With my bubbly Lampara ladies, Ms. Hazel Daga-ang and Ms. Aiko Buduan-Salazar… and a big bag of books ❤️ Thanks for the free books, PHR! Ayos lang kahit masakit ang balikat ko sa bigat. Basta madaming libro, masaya ako ?

The Grand Fans Day was another eye-opener for me. It helped me realize how much emotionally involved some Filipino readers are with their favorite novels and writers. Even though I myself have experienced interacting with writers as a reader and with readers as a writer, I have to admit that what I witnessed at the fans day was on a different level altogether. I was blown away by the intense connection and rapport between the readers and writers in this genre.

Although I know that the kilig factor is a major one, perhaps it is mainly the use of our own language that helps Pinoy readers to relate to Pinoy books in a special way. It encouraged me to continue to try harder to read and write more using Filipino in the future, while continuing to hone my writing skills in English at the same time. It may take more effort, but it seems worth the effort.

I’m growing to appreciate that the Filipino language has the unique power to connect to Filipino people simply because it is our own.

#PHRGrandFansDay2017 #TuloyTuloyAngKilig #IAmPrecious #WritersLife #ReadersLife #BookwormBites #Books #LaurenVMacaraeg #LaurenMacScribbles #LaurenMacDoodles #LaurenMacKulit

#Event: Precious Heart Romances Grand Fans Day 2017: Tuloy-tuloy ang Kilig @ Precious Pages Building, 03.25.2017

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About the author

Lauren V. Macaraeg

Lauren V. Macaraeg is a children’s book author and freelance writer. Check out her official website at www.laurenvmacaraeg.com to learn more about Lauren and her book Sinemadyika.

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