Stop and smell the pages: Manila International Book Fair reopens on 15 September

Manila International Book Fair. Photo from Manila International Book Fair Facebook

September 14, 2022

No pandemic can stop it.
It actually took a break and waited till it’s safe. On 15 September, the annual Manila International Book Fair reopens to welcome everyone thirsty for knowledge.
Daily Tribune had an email chat with Tinette Capistrano, vice president of Primetrade, organizer of MIBF, to find out what’s in store for bookworm

Daily Tribune (DT): Tell us about the history of the MIBF and why it was organized.

Tinette Capistrano (TC): In the late 1970s, the Philippine Center for International Trade and Expositions or Philcite was built. The venue was meant to start the trade fair industry in the Philippines and the task was given to Mr. Jose Luis Yulo Jr. He gathered different industry leaders to come up with industry events, one of which was the Manila International Book Fair. The fair, which lasted for a month, was a festival of books with many foreign publishers from all over the world eager to explore the Philippine market.

It was on hiatus until 1987 when it was relaunched as Bookfair Manila. Philcite closed in 1990 and became Star City.

In 1990, the Philippine Book Fair was mounted by Primetrade Asia with the Philippine Booksellers Association, Book Development Association of the Philippines, Overseas Publishers Representatives Association of the Philippines, and the Asian Catholic Booksellers, now known as the Asian Catholic Communicators Inc.
The Manila International Book Fair started to be held at the SMX Convention Center from 2008 to the present.

DT: What makes MIBF 2022 different from the previous years?

TC: This is the first in-person MIBF after two years of not being allowed to stage exhibitions. We have a more compact show this year still brimming with activities. While we brought the MIBF to an online platform in 2021, nothing compares to the in-person experience. If you observe the buyers, after they make a purchase, they open the pouches and smell the books.

DT: What are the exciting things to expect this year?

TC: MIBF joins the Metrobank Foundation to celebrate Teachers’ Month. We dedicated Friday to celebrate teachers with activities just for them. The first 100 teachers who come to the fair get a free prize. No need to buy anything, just show their current school ID to the secretariat and they get a prize.

This year we have an indie village. We hope, through this effort, more writers and publishers are encouraged to publish and create books.

We have National Artists Ricky Lee and Virgilio Almario to sign their books at the fair. Pol Medina, Manix Abrera and other artists will also be there. Wattpad authors and celebrity chefs will also sign books.

Star Wars cosplayers at the Manila International Book Fair. (Photo from Manila International Book Fair Facebook)

The 501st legion will make a comeback to the fair. They bring the Star Wars books to life as they parade in costumes and one can have a photo with them, too. We will also have KAIA, a Pinoy girl pop group, to do a book launch on Sunday.

DT: Though many people have shown interest in attending the book fair in person, based on the response on your social media page, how will you entice the rest to not just scroll on their phones or buy books online?

TC: We are not having an online edition this year.

DT: What are the challenges you’ve had to hurdle this year?

TC: Planning during the pandemic is difficult. Rules change every two weeks. You keep track of Covid surges… How many people will be allowed to accept in the halls, stuff like that. LGUs have stricter measures for MICE events. We have prepared all the necessary precautions, we have a medical team on standby just in case there are emergencies, and have coordinated with nearby hospitals.

DT: People asking why Fully Booked and National Book Store are not joining MIBF this year. Why so?

TC: They are having a gap year. They said they will join us next year.

DT: What about holding the MIBF in Visayas and Mindanao?

TC: We will plan for this.

DT: Who are the celebrities who visit the MIBF and would you know what type of books they prefer?

TC: The late Sen. Miriam Santiago was a book fair goer. Also Sen. Risa Hontiveros. Saw a couple of stars in previous years but did not see what was in their bags.

Anything else you want the general public to know about the MIBF?

MIBF has been here for 40 years and has stood the test of time. Typhoons and pandemics will not be a hindrance to books being sold in person or virtual. Knowledge continues, and through books, our people become sharper, smarter, and exposed to what is happening around the world.

The Manila International Book Fair runs from 15 to 18 September and is open from 10 am to 8 pm, at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City.

Show your vaccination card at the entrance (physical or digital). Unvaccinated children will be allowed entry for as long as the adult accompanying them is vaccinated.

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