FIRST FILIPINO AMERICAN BOOK FESTIVAL IN
SAN FRANCISCO LAUNCHED
Before a sizeable crowd of authors, librarians, vendors, corporate representatives, book lovers and community leaders, the Filipino American international Book Festival (FilBookFest) was officially launched at the Philippine Consulate General Social Hall recently.
FilBookFest, the first of its scope in the U.S. that focuses on Filipino diaspora culture and literature, will take place on October 1 and 2, 2011 at the San Francisco Main Library. The event will usher in the celebration of Filipino American History Month in San Francisco this year.
At the launch reception, Consul General Marciano Paynor Jr. hailed FilBookFest as an idea that is long overdue. “With the richness of [Philippine] culture and the talents of our writers and artists, we should have started having book festivals a long time ago,” he stressed.
Luis Herrera, chief librarian of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) system, echoed Consul General Paynor’s sentiments and announced the Library’s full and enthusiastic support for the project. He told the audience of about 100 guests that when Consul General Paynor, along with Consul Reginald Bernabe of the Philippine Consulate, Gemma Nemenzo of the Literary Initiatives International Foundation (LIIF) and Mitchell Yangson, Librarian of SFPL’s Filipino American Center, presented the FilBookFest idea to him a few months back, “it [the Library’s support] was a no-brainer.”
The lead organizer of FilBookFest is LIIF, a San Francisco Bay Area-based nonprofit that promotes cultural literacy among Filipino Americans and other ethnic communities. The Philippine Consulate General of SF and SFPL are co-organizers, with Asia Foundation (Philippines) on board as a major sponsor. The two-day outdoor and indoor event will gather authors, videographers and artists of Filipino heritage from all over the world. Philippine and U.S. publishers will be selling books representing a wide variety of genres, for children and adults. FilBookFest will also feature visual arts, videos and performance, as well as Filipino food. Lectures and panel discussions on Philippine history and culture, and on writing, publishing and marketing of books and other creative arts will take place.
The festival will have a Children’s Area inside SFPL that will feature storytelling sessions and readings of Filipino children’s books and young adult literature. The sessions will be supplemented by arts and crafts lessons for children, and a discussion on writing books for children to be led by experts in the field. All sessions will be free and open to the public.
The Health and Wellness area will feature traditional healers, herbalists and wholistic health authors. There will be lectures on various health issues as well as spiritual and self-help advice. The sessions are likewise free and open to the public.
Filipino culinary arts and regional cooking will be a big part of FilBookFest, with Filipino cookbook authors from the Philippines, Australia and other states of the U.S. doing culinary demos and discussing the unique aspects of Filipino food.
To meet its long-term goal of putting Filipino-authored books in most public and academic libraries in California, the home state of more than half of the five-million-strong Filipino American community in the U.S. , LIIF is focusing its outreach efforts on librarians, academics (particularly Ethnic Studies professors), and book distributors . U.S. publishers and literary agents are likewise encouraged to attend to expand their pool of authors. The organizers envision FilBookFest to be the largest gathering of authors of Filipino heritage outside the Philippines.
At the Consulate reception, some members of the FilBookFest Steering Committee, namely Oscar Peñaranda, Maya Escudero, Penelope Flores, Ferlie Andong, Maia Almendral, Edwin Lozada, Lolly Pineda and Letty Quizon took turns briefing the audience on various planned aspects of the festival. Al Perez, the Festival Director who is also doing the graphics, unveiled the FilBookFest poster and showed the diagram of the festival setting. The organizers are seeking to close off Fulton St. between SFPL and the Asian Art Museum for the two-day event.
Special guests during the reception were Virginia Shih of the UC Berkeley Library, Valerie Sommer and Cheryl Grantano Rich of the South San Francisco Library, Carol Simmons and Kristi Bell of the Daly City Library and Helen Marti-Bautista, former member of the San Francisco Library Commission.
In her closing remarks, FilBookFest coordinator Gemma Nemenzo echoed author-historian-educator Oscar Peñaranda who had earlier said that “The best weapon against [our community’s] invisibility is our literature.” In enjoining everyone to do their part in making FilBookFest a success, Gemma Nemenzo said, “This festival is about sharing our narratives to the broader community of book lovers out there, and from this sharing, our collective voices can be heard far and wide in this tapestry of cultures that we call America.”
For more information on how to be part of FilBookFest as an author, exhibitor, sponsor, donor or volunteer, please email the Steering Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. The festival’s website is at www.filbookfest.info.
See Penelope V. Flores's blog named Filipino Book Festival.blogspot.com