Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would feel like this happy, crazy, fun, feels-loaded to belong to a community of authors and readers who share the same passion to romance as I do. EVER. Looking back, I knew these things would turn my world upside down.
And that it did, just a few months later.
I was once a sorta onlooker but one day I figured, Hey I can help to do that! And maybe more. so I began contributing in doing things for #romanceclass (romance in English by Filipino authors). It started small, really. From just an act of volunteerism to the birth of #FilipinoFriday on this blog, to being 1/2 of the graphics design for promotion team for #AprilFeelsDay (we got good design consultants, you guys! Thank you forever, Miles and Ana!), to being 1/3 of the social media team, to being 1/3 of the registration group (which was a welcome challenge because I didn’t do the ushering people thing; in fact, I don’t really do this because I’m awkward most of the time but #romanceclass happened, stretched my limit and yay!), to being 1/2 of Beauty and The Bookish (launching soon!), to be 1/x of the people in the best-est romance community out there.
#AprilFeelsDay was the next best thing that started after participating in several events as the “romance people.” We’ve done small-scale meetups and private gatherings, but haven’t yet organized an event that was open to the public and made everyone who attended “romance people” by default. Summer was as good a time as any to do it, so we chose April 17 as the day. Mina V. Esguerra
Romance readers, authors, and people with feelings! :) Time for some Instagram fun with a #photoaday challenge! From March 18 up to April 16, post the picture following the daily prompts with the hashtags #romanceclass and #AprilFEELSday! Don't forget to tag us so we can view and share your post :) Then on April 17, we hope to see you at Pegi Waffles, San Juan, 1-6PM for an afternoon of #feels! More details to be posted soon!
Then we planned on making things interesting with this.
Big reveal is here! #AprilFEELSDay is happening April 17th and we have a lot of feels for this! We hope to see you for long hours of good time, poetry, romance, reading and writing with authors, readers, people with feelings over the delish offerings of Pegi Waffles! Watch out for the #photoaday challenge in anticipation of this event, too! We really hope you can join us!
Then the big reveal!
I took a step back on doing stuff because of work but I made sure I got everything covered and ready for posting before I leave for the not-fun things.
Fast forward to April 17.
I was very anxious because I knew I needed to be at the venue early because I’d be in the registration but I was running late thanks to the Uber driver who made me wait like half an hour only to cancel on me when he couldn’t find my location! Ugh, some people are really not good with directions. Why was he even driving again?!
When I finally arrived, I was This is good. Not too many people yet. Oh there’s Jothee! *spots bearded guy beside Jothee* Wait a minute, is that Herv?!! Damn, it’s him!!! OMG calm the hell down! *hears announcement that we’re ready to start the registration* Alright, duty calls!! Stop side-staring FFS! You’re getting obvious!!
The registration was fun and crazy! Add to the fact that we’re sharing tables with the book selling team and it’s a total chaos—good chaos! A lot of people kind of chaos!! Jothee and I were multitasking every minute because…
*smiles* Hi! What’s your name please? *checks in the name*
Do you have smaller bills?
Thank you, ma’am/sir, for giving exact amount! ~ WINNER
Here’s your free book!
Do you want a #romanceclass stamp? Like SM Cinema style? ~ RUNNER UP!
Please get a freebie of your choice! *points to the #romanceclass stickers, bracelets, post cards, other trinkets in front of us*
You can buy/browse books over there.
From my perspective, being at the registration was nice. It gave me an opportunity to know (but only got to remember a few huhu sorry) people who were there by name. I got to meet Raye again (we first met during Mae Coyuito’s book launching), Pau (my buddy from Instagram) and Jera to name a few. Of course, there were my heroes: Mina, Ana, Tara, Chi, Suzette, Bianca, Stella, Ines; and the Hey-I-just-met-you-and-this-is-crazy crew I got to meet for the very first time (like a virgin—haha): Jay, Caryn, Six, Carla, Chrissie, Agay, Miles, Kesh, Farrah, Pierra, Layla (that I suspected was Ansela, the ninja writer of the Billionaire’s Price and Mina’s friend).
I knew somehow I’d mess up a thing and maaaan, it was utterly, despicably humiliating! I couldn’t stand my horrible human being self!
The (sort of) calm~ before the storm. #romanceclass shirts by wearDPT!
The event started with writing and publishing Q&A with Mina, followed by poetry reading of Pierra’s The Heartbreak Diaries by THE (caps lock game strong!) #Alvarosa. (That’s Herv Alvarez + Salve Villarosa, by the way). Pierra’s words, that book, and the performers’ delivery though—I don’t know, might as well be stabbed in the heart kind of thing. Why Pierra WHYYYYY!!!
Caryn, author of Be Careful What You Wish For, came home from Japan (bearing pasalubongs for us!) to do tarot card reading. I feel sad that we weren’t able to talk that much; everyone was busy! But next time, definitely!
Then we started the most-awaited part of the event: live readings! #Alvarosa kicked it off with the #romanceclass YA set: excerpts from Settle the Score (Herv’s favorite, we discovered when BaTB interviewed him) by Tara Frejas, Picture Me Naked by DR Lee and Choco Chip Hips (Salve’s fave) by Agay Llanera.
Then this guy happened. Bringing more heat at the venue like it couldn’t get any hotter than that?! (I didn’t post his solo photo here just because. Fine, fine! Maybe that too!) The only sticker that sold out like 10 (or was it 5?!) minutes after putting it out there.
I’d like to note that I knew Sergio/Gio was standing by my side (not that it was close—what you want me to die early?! But it was close enough to make me aware of his distance to me). And then shit just got real when he freaking went down on one knee!!! OHMYGAAAAAAHD!! I think I just melted right there and then.
But in reality, he just did that because he was practicing his part for the live reading. Haha!
When the NA set began, it felt like temperature rose even more. Because eeeep steaaaamyyyy!! Seriously, the AC units suddenly thought to cooperate by not giving enough coolness that we were down to fanning ourselves!
Jef Flores and Rachel Coates (#Floates—shipping so hard) started with reading the excerpts of One Night at the Palace Hotel by Bianca Mori, Songs to Get Over You by Jay E. Tria (which was UGH OUCH IT HURTS all over again) and That Kind of Guy by Mina V. Esguerra (love love love Anton!!!).
Of course, the day wouldn’t be complete without the #Gahoates (Gio Gahol + Rachel Coates) serving feels from excerpts from Welcome to Envy Park by Mina V. Esguerra, All’s Fair in Blog and War by Chrissie Peria, and The Real Score by Kesh Tanglao. British Gio (I meant—Marcus) and Dave were the best!! AND this scene!
The whole set was so much win because everyone (everyone including the Pegi Waffles staff!) was so charmed by the amazing talents of those people! It really helped that they knew how to deliver the feels, owning the characters like they were really them, and gave a different kind of interpretation to the stories. I loved. Every minute. Of it! (I loved seeing J’s face every minute of it. HAHAHAHA! Hence, the jump ship! HA-HA. Sorry… not sorry!)
Performers + heroes!
In the end, I knew everyone left with satisfied feelings and almost-empty wallets.
Performers chilling by coloring these stuff made by Caryn.
Jothee and I also interviewed #Alvarosa, #Gahoates and #Floates (wonder how I didn’t die? Haha!), some authors and readers for the Marry-Bang-Kill sesh for Beauty and The Bookish. Stay tuned for that!
I tell you: IT WAS SO. MUCH. FUN!!
Yes, tiring (I remember juggling work—it’s the end of another school year so imagine the horror—and spending time with my BFF at the time which was Photoshop because #AprilFeelsDay promo haha) but you know how during exam week you review, prepare for it, take notes for you to ace it on exam day? It’s like that—only much, much better because we got to see the fruits of our labor (full house venue, immediate crowd reaction because of so much feels, good chaos at the book selling table, meeting new friends, good food) right before our very eyes. And it’s heartwarming. Fulfilling. (Or is FULL-FEELING more apt?) Gratifying. Kind of like we have to do this again. Like a legit annual thing. And the scores/grades we got in return were CONGRATULATIONS! JOB WELL DONE! You should do this again! I enjoyed so much! I had a lot of fun! Thank you!—not that we’re complaining because those words and the response of the people were all worth it.
— . (@iambinibini) April 17, 2016
If these words were any indication, I’d say we did a damn good job for making it a first in the history of the local romance community. Aren’t you glad you’re in this?! Because I SO AM!!
The Lessons I/We Learned for Future Things Like This:
- Bigger venue. Not the MOA Arena kind of big because we’ll somehow lose the intimacy of the moments. But maybe big enough for everyone to have a seat?
- More. Waffles.
- More local authors!
- Bigger tables for book sales because we’ll have more! I hope!)
- More fun activities with everyone’s participation. Hmm. How about a
- Class pic with everyone, maybe?
- More people to do things? Like a… photographer? Maybe?
- Didn’t have enough hugs/photos with people (my authors, my heroes, friends, newfound ones) for feelings and documentation and memories.
- Wasn’t able to steal Miki from people!!! (You know I meant I wasn’t able to reserve/buy a print copy of Songs to Get Over You, right?)
- Also Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera!! Good thing I have them both in digital version. But still!
- Didn’t sample enough waffles because nerves and feelings. I heard they were fantastic! I mean, waffles AND ice cream?! SO JEALOUS!!
It’s really such an honor to belong to a community THIS talented, supportive and treats you like a real family. All things considered, I think I would do just about anything for this community because in them, I found my home. My feels-filled, love-is-an-open-door home.
Let’s do this again? And better next time?
Explore the #AprilFEELSDay hashtag on Instagram. (Because videos of the live readings, selfies, book hauls and the joy it brought us all.) You may also follow @romanceclassbooks there. Check out which books are available for sale over at romanceclassbooks.com and subscribe to romancepodcast.com for more #romanceclass collabs/dose of feels with the #Alvarosa, #Gahoates and #Floates!