Foreword: Since Stay Bookish opened its doors to multiple bloggers this year, we’re very lucky to have not one but two representatives of the blog present at an exciting annual bookish event in Manila: Bookworms Unite PH! If you’ve ever wondered how different is being a host vs being an attendee of Bookworms Unite PH, read on and find out!
Bianca (Attendee): I am a very awkward potato. I have to admit that. But there’s a time every year where I get to meet bookworms and just discuss books to my heart’s content. I missed this event once (the first year it was announced), as I was only starting out as a blogger then. After that missed opportunity, I made sure that I was not going to miss it again. That event is Bookworms Unite, an annual reader meet-up event. Every year, us bookworms gather to discuss our favorite thing in the world: books. But that’s not all we do. No, no, no. We play interactive games, we have book blind dates, and we enter a raffle to win books!
The event was organized by these lovely bookworms: my co-blogger Hazel, Inah from The Bibliophile Confessions, Jasmine from Jasmine Pearl Reads, JM from Book Freak Revelations, Miel from Bookish and Awesome, and Salve from Cuckoo for Books.
Hazel (Host): Being one of the organizers of Bookworms Unite is such an honor because it means I get to help in gathering fellow bookworms and making sure they have all the fun, get all the books, and meet all the awesome bookish people! But these aren’t exactly easy feats. For one, I was hella busy with school. I didn’t exactly have the time to be organizing an event for fun, y’know? But when you love doing something, and for me, that was hosting Bookworms Unite, you make time. I’m sure my co-hosts felt the same when we were all working hard to coordinate our schedules and accomplish our tasks. With this year being our third run to host the event, we had higher expectations from ourselves. We wanted this year’s Bookworms Unite to be the best one yet. And for us that meant being more creative, taking more risks, and improving our organizational skills.
Bianca: This year, the lovely organizers of the event made it even more special. There was a We Still Need Diverse Books panel lead by the hosts, an introduction to #romanceclass panel, and a surprise live reading!
Hazel: For the first time in its history, Bookworms Unite was a paid event. With the decent entrance fee of 300php ($6), attendees got one mug of Butter Beer, a tote bag full of bookish goodies as well a custom Bookworms Unite kit, a turn to pick books from our raffle pile, and a chance to meet and listen to our special guests!
Registration & Introductions
Hazel: OMG, I was so stressed that people came so early. We weren’t done fixing the kits and I looked like I had just woken up (which uhm is actually accurate). But it was still so nice to be able to say hi to attendees while Tweedle wasn’t completely packed with people yet.
Bianca: Since this is my second time to attend Bookworms Unite, I was immediately greeted by familiar faces. (aka people who called dibs to be my teammate *looking at you, Danica*) There were also new attendees in the crowd, and they became my buddies throughout the entire event. I have to admit that I am very proud of myself for this improvement. (But then again, I have known them on Twitter for so long, but still.)
Cover Guess Game
Bianca: This is our first activity of the day. A little BU history here: Last year, this game was my jam. We won first place, and I finally knew what it was like to get death glares. Kidding aside, I just really like book covers, okay? Maybe I am a little competitive because there are books at stake but I digress. Book covers give me life. But for this game, the pressure was on, and I wasn’t even hosting. (I have a crown to defend, they said. They hyped me up during my introduction. I just wanted to melt. *nervous laughs*) I had a different feeling this year, but of course my teammates reassured me and I felt relieved. With the enthusiasm of the other teams, I legitimately thought that we were in 2nd or 3rd place. They sounded like sure winners. But to my surprise, we won first place yay.
Hazel: So I actually was one of the people in charge of this game alongside Jasmine. But I assure you guys Bianca never got a clue which covers I included in the game. In fact, when I was preparing the covers, I consciously sought out not-YA covers to give her a hard time. *insert evil laugh* But Bianca and her team won anyway because she’s the queen of cover guess.
Bianca: During the lunch break, I faced my fears and I finally played Miel’s infamous game, Word Soup From Hell. I found Dear Martin. IT WAS THE HIGHLIGHT OF MY DAY, I SWEAR. It was also fun to play Inah’s new game, Guess the Quote.
Hazel: I didn’t get to help Inah and Miel set up the mini games but I was incredibly glad to see a lot of people enthusiastically trying out Guess The Quote and Word Soup From Hell!
Bianca: This was new thing this year. It was a needed discussion, especially since the talk about diverse books is something that the book community must be aware of. The hosts shared their experiences and their own personal insights on diverse books. I cannot help but agree with the majority of their thoughts. I was really moved because the panel was filled with passion on why we really need more diverse books and how and why books can make us feel represented.
Hazel: Since I’ve been a panelist for several events locally and internationally, I decided to try my hand at being a moderator this time around, with my co-organizers as the panelists.
Keep the Faith Live Reading & #romanceclass Introduction
Bianca: Again, another surprise! I was aware of the #romanceclass introduction, but the live reading? I cannot help but blush whenever there is a live reading involved. My feelings were not prepared. I haven’t read Keep The Faith yet, but I was covering my face while the reading was ongoing. The moment Migs uttered “Good night, french fries,” my heart went boom. Luckily, I was already oriented about #romanceclass, but yet again Ms. Mina V. Esguerra gave a wonderful introduction. The other guests were definitely intrigued.
Hazel: Listening to the live reading made me even more excited to read Keep the Faith! It was one of the moments I actually felt like an attendee in the audience, instead of one of the organizers. Maybe it’s because I had no whatsoever contribution to this part of the program because Migs and Salve’s talent was all that was needed. But I suspect it’s because I was as enthralled as everyone by the adorable excerpt that was read from Ms. Ana Tejano’s novel.
Know The Bookworm
Bianca: I got to team up with Ms. Ana Tejano (the author of Keep The Faith, aghhhhh) and Ynah from Her Nerd Adventures for the Know the Bookworm game. I wish I could have talked more, because I really loved my teammates’ answers to the questions given. And yes, I can still remember the bookish facts that my team has shared with me. But of course, I would have to ask their permission first if I could share it before saying those out loud. ;) (I was zoning out a bit because I was feeling feverish, but I was okay.)
Hazel: During one of our BU planning meetings, I recommended coming up with an interactive activity or game that was more about getting to know each other rather than knowing about all the books. JM delivered by organizing Know The Bookworm.
Book Blind Date & Raffle
Bianca: This was probably the event that everyone was excited about. I brought two books with me so I get to pick two. Despite doing it in a very systematic way, the best way to describe the book blind date is that it’s like The Hunger Games. That table is the cornucopia, and we are the tributes. And with all that action, I managed to get my hands on historical fiction books!
Hazel: I got YA contemporary books—two novels I’ve never heard of and one that was actually on my wishlist—plus a non-fiction memoir.
Hazel: We hosts were interviewed for BloggersTV, a new show by local channel TV5! Some of our attendees (Bianca included!) were interviewed too about their feedback on the event and it was so uplifting to hear a lot of positive responses.
Bianca: Despite being hit by the chills, I really enjoyed this year’s Bookworms Unite. It was a really fun afternoon full of activities. This is the reason why I anticipate this lovely event every year. Being a part of this community gives me life, and being able to interact with other bookworms who share the same passion always bring me joy. Kudos to everyone who made this event possible, and #nopressure but I am so excited for next year already.
Hazel: Even though I had to get up at 4 AM the next morning after a whole day event packed with activities and socializing (omg my introvert self was so exhausted), I couldn’t ever regret being a part of Bookworms Unite 3.0! It was so much fun to meet new people and see old faces and watch them all come together for the love of books!