Beyond Books: The OMFLit MIBF experience

By on September 21, 2011
MIBF - front page
I went to the 32nd Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) last September 17 at the SMX Convention Center for two reasons. The first was to buy good books at insanely cheap prices. This is quite understandable since the annual fair draws increasing numbers of book lovers and book hoarders alike. The shelves from the exhibitors were filled to overflowing with choices that range from romance novels to coffeetable books, from comics to Bibles and from specialty books to encyclopedias. Everything that is good enough to be published on paper may have been already sold at an MIBF.

The other reason was to participate in an amazing race that was launched by OMF Literature, a bookstore which also occupied a considerable area at the exhibit floor that time. They also had a very large draw that afternoon judging by the endless queues at the cashiers, the hundreds of freebies (including new books) being given away every hour and the presence of several authors signing autographs.

MIBF - tasks a

Mark did not only take a picture with his favorite book “Lovestruck,” he went up to Ronald Molmisa, the author of the book, and asked him for a quick pose to which Mr. Molmisa delightfully agreed and said to the crowd, “nakababatang kapatid ko pala (my younger brother).”

Mark Plaza, a very good friend of mine, dragged me to be his partner for this unique race. We were set to complete 10 tasks and then blog about the experience afterwards. The tasks, I must say, do not involve strenuous physical activity. These can be breezed through a careful strategy and for the most part, chutzpah, in every sense of the word.

MIBF - tasks b

That is why Mark and I were able to finish all the tasks in less than an hour or so. This is largely in part because we divided some of the tasks among ourselves. Three in the group does not have to be accomplished at SMX. The tenth task was actually ‘to write a blog entry or a series about your whole MIBF experience.’ It was also helpful that one (i.e., Task # 4: Help out and be a bagger at our manual counter for 15 minutes.) was taken down at the last minute. That left us with just six to begin with.

MIBF - tasks c

Mark interviewed Gregory John Pedroza, an OMF staff from Cagayan de Oro, on his first MIBF Experience. He said that seeing people have strong attachments to books encourages him to read more.

The experience was both fun and rewarding. We had great time talking to strangers and of course, wearing silly hats at another booth. But what was probably the most memorable for me was going up the stage to talk about my small blog. I like to tell friends of my blog but not in front of hundreds of strangers. This indeed something that I have never imagined doing one Saturday afternoon in my life. I managed to survive the challenge that thankfully lasted for just a few seconds.

MIBF - exhausted

After completing the other tasks, we then swept through the hall one more time to look for other book hunts that we may have missed. Looking back now, I may have already exhausted my imaginary annual book budget that weekend too. But I’d like to believe that this is a worthwhile investment even in an increasingly digital age. There’s simply nothing like the smell and touch of a good page, both of which would never be replicated in a techy tablet PC.

But my first MIBF was not just about buying books which I hope to read all of it a year’s time. The bargain books are already given every MIBF. But our experience that afternoon was truly priceless. Thanks to OMFLit’s amazing race, I must say that this is something that I would never forget for a long, long time.

This is Mark Plaza’s and Brennan Mercado’s official entry to and the 10th task of the OMF Lit Bloggers MIBF Adventure contest.

  1. Reply


    September 26, 2011

    So how much is that imaginary book budget again? I'm assuming that it is bigger now…

  2. Reply


    September 29, 2011

    How many books did you hoard that day? ๐Ÿ™‚ I wish we had book fairs in Cebu.

  3. Reply

    debbie buot

    October 2, 2011

    Bad trip.
    it looks bad on you. xp


  4. Reply


    October 2, 2011

    Rin, the thing is, I didn't have an annual book budget last year. So I don't have a base figure to compare to. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Khon, I bought around 15 books that day. 5 of that are devotional booklets. I heard OMF will be launching a similar endeavor soon.

    Deb, I look good even without the shirt. But with a Switchfoot print, I look even better. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Reply


    October 11, 2011

    15 books! Whoa!! Unta, unta, unta naa sad sila book fair diri!! ๐Ÿ™‚ When and where is your next trip?

  6. Reply


    October 23, 2011

    Hi Khonie, I am headed for Sagada this long weekend. I am not sure that we'll have the place to ourselves but we'll give it a shot nonetheless. ๐Ÿ™‚


Brennan Mercado
The Philippines

Brennan is an electronics engineer by profession. From time to time, he gets to travel beyond his office cubicle, try new restaurants or catch up with his terribly long list of unread books. He likes museums, spicy food and talking with habal-habal drivers. For now, he's still deciding on whether to play Pokรฉmon GO or not.

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