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Stories Told From MIBF

I am only a mere spectator of the worlds these books would like to offer. I’m willing to be captured by these words if it would mean that I would learn and understand more than I do now.



Photo by Brin Raizulli Isaac

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon when I visited the annual Manila International Book Fair. It was 1:30 p.m. when I reached the place. The trike stopped at the drop-off area, where many were also being dropped off. In an attempt to avoid puddles, people around me leapt at small distances, making a small splash that stained dry jeans. “This is not my day,” I thought to myself as I gleamed at the skies while firmly holding my umbrella.

The goal today were to rummage through shelves to find a new universe. But from the looks of it, the day would only seem like an exhausting walk in a hall filled with heat from the crowd. I entered SMX and saw what I expected: a crowd filled with teenagers in line for what I assume is for a book signing event. I was not able to see what the title was because I had to keep moving through the congested hallway. Despite the amount of teens I encountered, I cannot help but notice the diversity of people that came in the book fair. I thought I’d predominantly see millennials and Gen Z’s. People from all ages were there to visit the fair. Upon entering the hall, I was greeted by shelves and shelves of books that are unfamiliar to my tastes. I mindlessly wandered around the hall, with a quest in mind to find pieces of my heart in pages. Will I be able to find it? That, I wasn’t sure of but I knew I’d find home again somewhere in here.

I only visited the university publishing houses because my interests in books as of now are piqued by various authors from the biggest universities in the country. A few of these names are Caroline Hau, Conchitina Cruz, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, and Ned Parfan. I found their books to be very interesting but much to my dismay, some of them do not fit my budget. As a college student, I don’t always have enough funds for my leisure as most of my money goes to food, readings, and other academic activities. I resorted to the cheaper titles, most of which, I am sure, are hidden gems people neglected for some time. I shall tell you what I bought from the book fair:

  1. Kaluluwa – J. Neil C. Garcia
  2. Pag-uli, Pag-uwi Homecoming: Poetry in Three Tongues – Merlinda Bobis
  3. Return Flight and other essays – Tito Alquizola
  4. The Second World: Poems – Rafael Antonio C. San Diego

These books particularly interested me due to the fact that they talked about the contemporary world and other topics I resonate with. The topic of home was walked about in the third book I bought and well, the others, I simply liked them for their genre. I felt guilty after purchasing these as I said that I would only go out of here with one book on hand. I said that two is too much but I was hesitant. I went for 4 because my heart sang to the synopsis of the books that I bought. Oh, the things you do for love. 

While most went to the famous book stores, I went to the unknown areas of the exhibit. There were publishing houses that produces different kinds of books, apt to the needs of the readers today. I didn’t really do this in the previous fairs – I was a young reader and I did not know as much. This is my first time discovering books on my own in MIBF. I ended up visiting Instituto Cervantes’s booth. The Spanish culture has fascinated me, mostly because of their history and also that I take Spanish this year. 

I gazed at the books that Instituto Cervantes had to offer. With my limited working proficiency, I attempted to grasp what the synopsis of the books would like to say. “It’s only been a few months of Spanish class,” I thought to myself. While I was looking at the books, there were two people conversing in the same booth, both of which interested me. If my memory serves me right, they talked about the intricacies of the language. I later joined their conversation and shared some experiences and knowledge that I have acquired over the past few months from my classes. There I met a young woman, somewhere around my age named Zarena Hermogeno.

Zarena declares herself to be an avid reader especially of mystery and thriller. Over our short-lived dialogue, we instantly connected the moment she shared her experiences in studying Spanish. She also told me the books that she is interested in. A few of the titles she mentioned are the Nancy Drew series and Sherlock Holmes, both of which I have admired in my childhood. I remember being a teen at the ages of twelve or thirteen, clinging to the pages of these books, eager to find out what happens next. I shared my childhood with these stories, and upon hearing her admiration towards those series, I can’t help but recall my deep love for reading ever since as a kid.

Zarena happens to be a year younger than I am. It’s not really a long time ago since we were 10-years-old. We retold how our love for reading was birthed. She told me that she read books at a young age because she was exposed to an abundance of it; her aunt used to be a librarian which offered her world full of adventures through the pages that she reads. We share the same in my case, however, my parents have opened myself up for reading. It opened up different worlds for us. It was an escape from reality. For each book we read, it opens us the opportunity to put ourselves in the shoes of other people. Zarena said that she not only reads for entertainment but because it also serves as an escape for the world that we live in. I could say the same thing too – reading is the solace that welcomes me in its arms, no matter what the situation is.

I went out of MIBF with 4 books on hand. The stories were born out of the love of storytelling. I am only a mere spectator of the worlds these books would like to offer. I’m willing to be captured by these words if it would mean that I would learn and understand more than I do now. 

It was no longer raining when I got out of the venue. I looked up at the skies. It wasn’t gloomy anymore, as compared to the past few hours. I closed my umbrella. I smiled at the skies and at the space before me. Here I am, ready to delve into worlds I have yet to experience.






Taking the Journey 200 Years Back: Clara Schumann @ 200

Clara Wieck-Schumann, whose name might be familiar to some, was a known German musician and composer. As a virtuoso in her field, she was acclaimed to be one of the most notable composers and pianists of her time. She has offered 61 years of her life in contributing and composing various works like piano concertos, chamber works, and choral pieces.



Photo by Aliah Danseco/TomasinoWeb

It is truly that great music never dies no matter how fast time passes by. Great music always finds its way to get into our time no matter how it ages.

Last October 16, 2019, in commemoration of Clara Schumann’s 200th birth anniversary as well as to celebrate her great pieces and works, the Goethe-Institut Philippinen, a German Cultural Center, has partnered with University of Santo Tomas’ Conservatory of Music to bring and stage all the way to UST Schumann’s primo works through a theatrical multi-faceted performance held at the UST Museum.

Mary Patrice Pagis, a soprano singer, played the role of little Clara. (Photo by Aliah Danseco/TomasinoWeb)

Clara Wieck-Schumann, whose name might be familiar to some, was a known German musician and composer. As a virtuoso in her field, she was acclaimed to be one of the most notable composers and pianists of her time. She has offered 61 years of her life in contributing and composing various works like piano concertos, chamber works, and choral pieces. She also became a piano instructor at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt. She was the wife of Robert Schumann, who was also a renowned musician during their era.

As the night began, people arrived and gradually filling up the museum as they were in excitement to witness the concert happening in just a few minutes. Setting up the mood, the entire area was turned into a dark and slight histrionic ambiance when the lights turned off. This, together with the archival vibe in the museum, have made the participants and guests experience the feeling of travelling back to the romantic era.

The audience fell into silence as the first melody of Impromptu in D Major was fired up on the piano by Boris Schonleber, a freelance pianist from Berlin. It was accompanied by the wondrous voice of mezzo-soprano singer Katharina Padrok as she serenaded the audience with Schumann’s Mein Stern (My Star). 

Photo by Aliah Danseco/TomasinoWeb

The audience was fully taken back to the romantic era as Mary Patrice Pagis, a soprano singer, played the role of little Clara. Pagis portrayed the young Clara who was confident and passionate for her first piano debut. The audience were in awe as Pagis transitioned her role from childish Clara to Clara’s mother. Meanwhile, Peter Portigos took the roles for playing both Clara’s father and husband. Really, it is as if the people were stock-still that no one bothered to unleash any noise but amusement drawn on each of their faces after every enlivening performance.

As the night went deeper, more of Clara’s pieces and songs were played such as Am Strance (On the shore), Loreley WoO 19, Notturno op. 6, Nr. 2 and others. 

The concert also exhibited Robert Schumann’s music including Widmung op. 25, Nr. 1(Dedication), Marienwiirmchen op. 70, Nr. 14 (Ladybird), and a lot more. 

Clara Schumann was a master of the game. She was a woman way ahead of the times – a composer, pianist, and a singer all rolled into one person. If there is anything else, she will be remembered not only because of her uniqueness and outstanding character but also because of her works that truly upped the standards for musicians in her time until now. It has been 200 years! Imagine the lengths her works could go. Indeed, music, as long as people appreciate it, will always be remembered even after centuries.



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Art in Focus: Remembering Rembrandt

October is Museum and Galleries Month! And as the Metropolitan Museum of Manila celebrates its 43rd anniversary, it featured a guided viewing of a couple of the famous works the great Baroque artist, Rembrandt van Rijin which also coincides with his 350th death anniversary.



Photo from

In a museum visit on a Saturday afternoon – an unusual break from the hourly streaks of readings and reviewers, I immersed and got lost in Rembrandt’s flair to depict the pinnacle of any presented moment, all works artistically suspended on a larger-than-life canvas. As a new admirer, seeing his works and understanding its narratives may be happily overwhelming. But later, with eyes fully satisfied from the beauty of his collections, I left the  museum’s premises seeking for more. 

October 5, 2019 celebrates the 43rd anniversary of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila which then gave the opportunity to commemorate the 350th death anniversary of the great Baroque artist, Rembrandt van Rijin. The museum featured a guided viewing of a couple of his famous works as presented by Ms. Alec Madelene Abarro, through a projected presentation. Although the actual works were not on display, the discussion transcended the technological constraints by carefully dissecting each piece, reveling in the masterpieces of Rembrandt, all the while paying attention to his palpable play of lights and its significance not only in his works, but on the phases of his remarkable life. 

The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp anatomy lesson - rembrandt

Photo from Wikipedia

Prior to showing this piece, thirty or so individuals were seated on the carpeted floor of the museum. We were invited to a game of guessing if the artwork shown is a Rembrandt or not. Several group portraitures were presented, some were recognizable as other artists’ works and some were convincing enough to believe it was part of Rembrandt’s collection. What was common among the  group portraitures were the cramped lines and rows, seemingly placing the subjects in a structured frame. Then Rembrandt’s recognizable formulas of dark backgrounds and dramatic flares popped up on the screen that had the audience muttering silent yeses. 

What Ms. Abarro pointed out about this piece is its boldness to highlight what a spectator must engage with: the corpse and tendrils of its arms, Dr. Nicolaes Tulp, and the masterful hand of Rembrandt in finding the peak of the narrative – all given importance by his famous light and shadow techniques. Moreover, its diversion from the usual formality of group portraiture make it a plausible odd thumb of sorts. 

The Jewish Bride

Photo from Google Arts and Culture

Perhaps Rembrandt’s artistic branding is his ability to frame the dramatic instances of his works and to carefully put the pristine details on canvas, from the mere muskets to the anatomical details of his craft which all serve as an amalgamation of his theatrics. However, “The Jewish Bride”, a picture which exuded an enthusiastic admiration out of Van Gogh, were stripped off his usual branding. It is still bathed in the Rembrandt light, but the schema of the narrative revolves around the tranquility of the moment, a picture which diverts from the loudness of “The Night Watch” and other works from his collection that seem to overhaul chaos. 

The Marriage of Jason and Creusa 

Photo from Google Arts and Culture

Metropolitan Museum of Manila has acquired a copy of the famous Rembrandt etching that depicts two subjects: the marriage of Jason and Creusa and Medea’s picture of revenge, all inspired by the Greek mythology. 

It is quite known that Rembrandt’s works are inspired from mythologies and the Bible. This was most evident in “The Three Crosses” and “The Return of the Prodigal Son”. This etching, however, is the figurative cherry-on-top of the afternoon as it showcases the skillful and prolific lighting of Rembrandt, even with a metal etching. If one would scrutinize on the artwork, it elaborates how Rembrandt gives such importance and attention to intricacies. The tangible copy, however, is caged on a frame, just a mote piece on the wall beside the guided viewing, waiting to be appreciated by spectators. 

If there’s one thing that Rembrandt is known and celebrated for, it’s his ability to bathe his works with lights, casting a shadow here and there to indicate the picture’s prominent subject and to engage the spectator to take two glimpses: firstly, with expectant eyes ready to digest the work and secondly, with an unsizeable heart that glorifies the existence of the dark, an element necessary to let the light string in. 

“The best way to honor [an artist’s] legacy is to take a look at the artwork,” Ms. Abarro concludes with a call to the audience of different ages – sitting presently in front of the projected wall, mostly cramped beside the sculpture of the body sitting in the middle of the floor – to bask in the details and let it arrest you enough to inspire and expand your horizons. 

For upcoming events and exhibits of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, visit their webpage at You may also visit National Commission for Culture and the Arts‘ Facebook page for other events and exhibits in other museums and galleries around Metro Manila. 

Photo from Metropolitan Museum of Manila facebook Page


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Get up and Be Productive: Co-working Spaces Around UST

Prelims season is just around the corner, and every student is searching for ways to study for their exams effectively. Co-working spaces offer just that atmosphere for you. With that, we listed down the places around the University to aid you on your review sessions. 



Artwork by Aldrich Aquino

Prelims season is just around the corner, and every student is searching for ways to study for their exams effectively. Everyone has their own style to study, but one strategy in reviewing that applies to most students is to study in a peaceful, comfortable environment. Co-working spaces offer just that atmosphere for you. With that, we listed down the places around the University to aid you on your review sessions. 


Plug It Coworking Space & Study Hub

Photo from Plug It Coworking Space & Study Hub

Where: Second Floor, Saint Clare Homes, 902 Eloisa St. corner España Blvd., Sampaloc, Manila,

Hours: 12 PM to 6 AM

Rates:  P45 per hour; P100 for three hours; P300 daily; P2,000 weekly; 6,000 monthly

Plug It Coworking Space & Study Hub offers a neat and classy ambience to soothe you as you study for hell week. They also offer free beverages, as well as complimentary chips for you to have something to munch on. Plug It also has unlimited internet, sockets for charging, as well as free use of lockers. Their rates are also is student-friendly so you don’t need to empty your wallets for this coworking space. They even offer a membership card for added perks and rewards!

Stream Concept Study Hub

Where: 1563 España Boulevard, Sampaloc, Manila

Hours: 10 AM to 6 AM (Sunday to Friday); 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. (Saturday)

Rates: P50 hourly; P150 for 4 hours; P300 for 7+ hours

Stream Concept Study Hub provides its customers with a wide range of services for an affordable price. This study hub offers free use of available school supplies, as well as printing services if you need reviewers. They also have pillows and blankets for a more comfortable review session. Aside from their services, they also give out freebies at times ranging from discounts to free ice cream, and if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of dogs that occasionally visit their hub.


OrangeDesk Coworking Space and Study Lounge

Where: Fourth Floor, DB Building, 1250 P. Noval St. corner España Blvd., Sampaloc, 


Hours: 11 AM to 6 AM

Rates:  P50 per hour; P120 for four hours; P300 daily, P1,800 weekly; P4,500 monthly

Color can affect the mood of an individual, and surrounding oneself with bright colors help could definitely help. OrangeDesk Coworking Space and Study Lounge provides you with a zesty ambience to brighten your mood. They pretty much cover the basics such as beverages, internet and sockets. It also has student-friendly rates so you will not run out of funds for this coworking space.

Panicroom Cowork

Where: Ground Floor, Galleria Suites P. Noval Street, Sampaloc, Manila.

Hours: 11:00 AM to 6:00 AM

Rates: P40 hourly; P100 for three hours; P280 for eight hours; P300 daily (all inclusive of high-speed internet, power and USB sockets, coffee, juice, and water)

Found in between Starbucks and Joli’s, Panicroom Cowork provides a great experience for students. The ambiance of this space gives a cozy vibe as it offers an environment ideal for those who prefer working with music or with silence. They cover the basics pretty well and even throws in a variety of coffee, juice, and water for their customers. Adding to the competitive pricing, this co-working space becomes a very attractive option to students who are looking for a nice and ideal place to study.


Where: 1231 J Barlin St., Sampaloc, Manila

Hours: 11 AM to 2 AM

Rates: P50 hourly; P100 for four hours; P300 daily; P1,499 weekly; P3,999 monthly

Situated in the place of the well-loved food establishments in P. Noval, SkyLabs is a great choice for students looking for a place to study right after a meal. They are welcoming with their rates and even offers the occasional promo found in their social media page. The space is quite minimalist in style, giving students the immediate vibe of getting work done as soon as they walk in. Work is not all SkyLabs is for though, as they offer board games that can be requested through their staff. Inclusive also are free snacks which makes SkyLabs a very appealing choice for those who enjoy munching on something while studying.


107 Co-Working by Macao Imperial Tea

Where: Pacific Suites, 1218 Santander St., Sampaloc, Manila.

Hours: 9:00 AM to 12:00 AM

Rates: P350 daily; P3,500 monthly; P35,000 yearly

Perfect for milk tea lovers, 107 Co-working by Macao Imperial Tea combines great drinks and a productive space for any student. This co-working space provides the essentials of internet connection, power outlets, and an assortment of tables for the collaborative or the independent customer. They also offer a 10% discount on Macao Imperial Tea drinks to everyone who uses the co-working space while those who pay monthly and yearly can bring a friend in for 3 hours completely free.

The Capital CoWorking Space

Where: 1241 J Barlin St., Sampaloc, Manila

Hours: 10 AM to  5 AM

Rates: P50/60/220 (Normal/Focus Desk/Focus Group Area) hourly; P140/180/700  (Normal/Focus Desk/Focus Group Area) for four hours; P220/250/950 (Normal/Focus Desk/Focus Group Area) for eight hours; P300/350/1200 (Normal/Focus Desk/Focus Group Area) daily; P2000/2250 (Normal/Focus Desk) weekly; P3000/3500 (Normal/Focus Desk) for two weeks; P5000/6000 (Normal/Focus Desk) monthly

 A focused aesthetic seems to be what The Capital is going for with their co-working space. Found in Navarra Street, this space is very straightforward with its offerings without being too basic. Their rates comprise of three tiers: Normal, Focus Desk, and Focus Group Area. These tiers are based on the tables that students may use and the time they’re going to use them. The rates may be a bit steep however, its notable inclusions are unlimited snacks, coffee, refreshments, and use their shower room ideal for an intensive workday. While it is not as cheap as the other co-working places in this list, its proximity and aesthetics may be enticing for busy students.

HomeRoom Co-Working & Study Lounge

Where: 3/F Dioresa Plaza, 1521 Dapitan St. Sampaloc, Manila

Hours: 10:00 AM to 7 AM (Sunday to Friday); 10:00 AM to 12 AM (Saturday)

Rates: P88 hourly; P488 daily (10AM until closing); P4888 monthly

HomeRoom is indeed a hidden gem along the busy road of Dapitan. Their co-working space offers a busy and productive environment which will surely motivate you to start your work. HomeRoom is one of the few co-working spaces around the University that offers a napping room and a shower room, perfect for students who will be staying with them for the long wee hours. 

Buzzy Bee Co-Working Space

Where: 1253 Gelinos St., Sampaloc, Manila.

Hours: 11 AM to 2 AM

Rates: P45 hourly; P300 daily; P3885 monthly

If you’re as busy as a bee, this coworking space offers the right buzzy environment just for you. Buzzy Bee Co-Working Space provides its customers with affordable rates, with a discounted rate starting at 10 p.m. They also offer free snacks and refreshments. If you need to take a nap, Buzzy Bee houses a break room for you to play board games with your review buddies or to catch those z’s. 


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