Wednesday, December 24, 2003

siglo: freedom soft launch

L to R: Andrew Drilon, Marco Dimaano, Choy Cojuanco, Jason Banico, Nikki Alfar, Gerry Alanguilan, Dean Alfar, Carlo Vergara, Elbert Or, and Yang Vergara-Simbulan

So unreal. Almost like a dream sequence or an imaginary story.

Siglo's schedule was so important to me that I used it to mark the passage of time: December didn't mean Christmas, it meant that Siglo would be finished and released.

Nikki, Andrew and I arrived at Ice Vodka Bar and joined Carl. We were just reflecting on the amazing synchronicity of things when Marco and Jeremy turn up, followed by El, ( with Camy and Charles whom we bumped into earlier while perusing stuff at a bookstore). In due course, Gerry and his lovely wife, Ilyn, followed by Jason pull in, making all seven available creators present and accounted for, in addition to Yang Vergara-Simbulan whose botanical art made quite an impact.

The three others, though physically absent, were present in spirit: Hai in Silay City, Vin in Batangas, and Arnold spending his last week as a single man.

We started signing books outside (where people can smoke), but before we knew it, things started happening quickly. I got interviewed by Channel 5 (and asked a series of questions, the most difficult of which was "Why isn't Siglo: Freedom in Tagalog?"; thank goodness it was edited out of the final broadcast because in a very long-winded manner I explained that, well, we wanted it to be in English in the first place; that English is part of our culture and that we have a rich tradition of writing in English; and that a mass market edition in the vernacular was always a possibility). Another interview for a PR firm (ha! And this time I answered everything, and I mean everything, in the best Tagalog I could muster), fielding various questions from various guests, welcoming people to the launch, boy, I was moving around like a politician on the campaign trail.

I remember thinking how strange it was to have the soft launch of an ostensibly indie book at one of the hippest places in town, a place whose patrons read like a Who's Who of beautiful people. Surreal, really.

Then the photo ops with our generous publisher, Choy Cojuanco, who finally got to meet the creators involved. It still makes me shake my head in wonder at how things fell into place. There we were celebrating the completion of our work (and you should see the high-quality cover and paper stock) while people picked up copies and asked for autographs and sketches (I told Gerry that I wouldn't sketch anything so he wouldn’t feel insecure).

Of course, being the kind of person that I am, I took advantage of the opportunity and closed the deal of next year's edition. Yes, Siglo: Passion (not Midnight, after much agonizing, weighing and rationalization) will hit the shelves around September next year in full-color glory, if everything works out as I hope. Who'll be in it? Secret. Let's just say we'll raise the stakes and standards a little bit more.

Ricardo, me and Nikki (thanks, Gerry!)

Extraordinary moments:

Seeing the huge promo poster at the door with the line: Comic of the Century, which is true, but not in the most immediate sense.

Getting a request from a certain "Boyet" for a signed copy. That’s Christopher de Leon, one of my favorite Filipino dramatic actors, for the uninformed.

Sitting next to my brother-in-law, Ricardo Cepeda, and joking that for once, it was my autograph people wanted, not his. Hmmm. Should I get Snooky Serna to do some art for Passion?

Worrying that I'll look like Bouncing Boy on TV.

Realizing that certain creators gate crashed the party (but what the fuck, I was generous).

Hearing from the publisher and his friends how much they loved the book but felt it was too short - and couldn’t the next one be a little longer? I’m only too happy to oblige.

Talking to a cool 15-year old girl about penile reflections in certain urinals (I told you the evening was surreal).

Finding out about the perils of ballet dancing from a stunningly delightful editor from Mega Magazine.

Adopting a punching bag mien when a mother vented (ah, mothers).

Confirming that indeed all the bartenders and staff of Ice were women.


Thanks to everyone who came to the soft launch, too many to mention by name but all appreciated. Thanks for your support (special props to Christine of CCHQ who told me that Siglo was moving off the shelves).

Remember that the Grand Launch is set for the last weekend of January next year (and that notion kills me as well - wow!).

Everyone (that means you and your friends) is invited to join the fun.


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