Event: Pacific Rims Book Signing

"Rafe Bartholomew listens to a question from an attendee"Back in October of 2010, I wrote about Pacific Rims here on my blog. I gushed about it, to be perfectly straight with you. And I felt disappointed (in myself) that I didn’t attend any of the Pacific Rims-related events that Fully Booked and National Bookstore had held during the book’s release. Then again, when said events happened, I didn’t know if I was going to like the book or not. I hadn’t read it yet.

When I found out about National Bookstore’s Book Signing event for the release of Pacific Rims’ paperback copy, I knew I was going. It wasn’t even a question. I knew I was going to make time for it.

So Saturday, May 21, found me at Booksellers in Ortigas, at the book-signing event where author Rafe Bartholomew shared what his next plans are, and how much has changed in his life since the book came out. Spoiler: not much.

Rafe Bartholomew, contrary to his acting stint in Bakekang, is fun to watch live. He conveys his thoughts well—if a bit lengthily. That’s not a criticism, it’s just an observation—by a few people at the event, including me. One attendee, in line to have her book signed, commented that it was great that Rafe was conversing with everyone in line for an autograph—if only he didn’t take 20 minutes to answer each question.

I had my chance to speak with him too. I was planning on telling him how much I enjoyed the book, even though I wasn’t a fan of basketball—and then segue into a couple of questions about his chapter on Philippine show business. But for some reason, my mind went blank. I managed to ask about his acting stint, with a bit of (what I felt was) an accusatory tone. Rafe was nice about it, but I felt like kicking myself. If, by chance, Rafe is reading this: I’m sorry if I sounded snooty. And I really like your book.

The lesson here is: if you’re having problems putting your thoughts to words, not speaking would be the best option.

What’s done is done though, so instead of wallowing, I’ll give a short summary of what was said in the event instead:

First, Rafe Bartholomew is back in the Philippines for a short series of documentaries that will be aired at National Geographic sometime soon. He’ll be in the Philippines until the end of the month, which is sometime next week.

"Rafe Bartholomew poses with a paperback edition of Pacific Rims"Second, he’s been offered a job as a researcher, with the option of writing, for a sports-centric website. I forgot the website, but I do have it on video, which I will put up as soon as I can. Rafe also mentioned that he’ll continue with his own blog; and that he has sent a proposal to publishers for another book. From what wasn’t said, I think it has nothing to do with basketball, or the Philippines.

I’d still pick it up when it gets released though. Whatever it is.

Third, Rafe got to play with some of the PBA legends when he went back to the United States. And most of the feedback he’s gotten for the book has been positive. Though, he said, there were a lot of questions from people of why he chose to dog Alaska instead of Ginebra.

Honestly, I found it weird when people started asking Rafe about stuff that gets covered in the book. Like the “Why Alaska?” question. That is, until I found out that around half of the attendees haven’t read the book. Oops on my part.

Before I end this post though, I have something for my readers: a free (and autographed) copy of Pacific Rims!

Since I liked the book so much, I thought I’d buy a paperback copy to giveaway. To win the book, all you have to do is comment on this post saying you want the book. Oh, and promise than when you do win it, you’ll give me your mailing details so I can actually send the book to you. That’s pretty much all I’m asking.

So do you want the book?

I will pick a winning comment using a randomizer (or whatever you call it) on the morning of June 12.

book: pacific rims

"pacific rims" by rafe bartholomewaccording to the time stamp on my inset image, i bought this book last july. and i spent close to two weeks reading the book. does that mean i didn’t like the book? no. it only means i had a harder time than usual reading it.

first of all, i’m not a fan of basketball. the only reason i picked up the book was because i was intrigued as to how the author, a foreigner, sees the philippines. modern-day philippines, and not the philippines in school textbooks. and second, i do take longer when reading non-fiction, than when i read something fictional. i don’t know why.

in the end though, only one thing was important to me. was the book worth buying? yes. and i’m glad i bought it.

PACIFIC RIMS reads a little like an underdog novel. you are introduced to your main characters, the ‘losers’ so to speak, and then you join their journey to become champions.

rafe bartholomew, the author, spent three years in the philippines to experience first hand the “unlikely love affair” the philippines has with basketball. having lived here all my life, i don’t actually get the “unlikely” part of the love affair. i’ve lived knowing that filipinos love basketball. i’ve never taken a liking to it, because of my ineptitude in sports, but i’ve seen enough of it to know that it’s a very filipino sport.

how so?

basketball is like a short soap-opera. you have heroes, antagonists, powers-that-be, all mixed with talent and chance. it’s a live theater production that people can relate to because it has simple rules. it’s entertainment in its purest form.

and like most popular soap-operas, it’s free to watch on television. and for a price, you can watch the magic live.

reading PACIFIC RIMS, i was amazed to find myself getting sucked into the world of philippine basketball. as i already mentioned, it’s an accepted part of life. i was just never a fan. and i’m not claiming that the book converted me into one. it hasn’t. but for the days that i’ve been reading the book, i felt part of that world.

i guess i should credit that to the author’s way of writing. it’s very inclusive. when you read mr. bartholomew’s accounts, you’re not just reading about his experience. you feel part of the action. also, the book doesn’t romanticize the sport, but you can see just how the author loves it. it comes off in the writing.

the best part? the actual games. i’ve seen a few basketball games, so i remember the exhilaration of watching it live. and the author was able to put that exhilaration into paper. you can really see (and feel) rafe bartholomew’s love for the game through the words. and because of that love, the words transform themselves into an experience you feel while reading his accounts.

and then there are the segues. basketball being an intrinsic part of filipino culture means it touches upon other parts of the filipino psyche. the author touches on some of them in the book as well: from how politics had involved itself in the game, to the integral part it plays in societies–it even has part of a chapter set in the world of entertainment.

the book trailer i’ve seen of PACIFIC RIMS mentioned that it’s not just a book about basketball, it’s a book about the philippines. and i agree. i can also say that it’s one of the most accurate description i’ve seen of the philippines in print. then again, most of the things i’ve read about the country are either praise releases, or condemnations. so i salute rafe bartholomew, a foreigner who is more filipino than most of our celebrities, for writing about the philippines without prejudice and bias.

but before i completely end this post, i just have to mention something. rafe bartholomew’s haunts in the book, ateneo de manila, araneta coliseum, and even his stint in BAKEKANG, a local soap opera, where the places i’ve been to during the same time. his first year in the philippines, when he was researching at the ateneo library, was my last year of school in ateneo; BAKEKANG was one of the first shows i handled during my time as a features writer for a local entertainment website; and as for araneta coliseum? i’ve never been there during pba games, but i’ve been there (and around the area) for so many times because of events i had to cover.

why do i note this? because throughout rafe bartholomew’s three years in the philippines, while he was moving around the same circles i was, i never saw the things he saw. for me, that time was a new chapter in my life, but everything was pretty much same old, same old. but for him, it was a whole different ball game. pun, not intended.

book: tall story

"tall story" by candy gourlaylast july, chachic posted about this book called TALL STORY. i wasn’t that intrigued with the book cover, truth be told. but reading chachic’s post changed my mind about the book.

i don’t know if this should be considered as a children’s book or if it’s young adult, but i do know that it is very well written.

TALL STORY tells the story of siblings bernardo and andi. one of them grew up in the philippines, the other one was raised in the united kingdom, and both of them are about to have their worlds collide.

we meet andi first, and she’s a very no-nonsense teenager who was forced to grow up on her own because her parents are always at work, trying to give them a better future. she’s small, which is not unusual for those with filipino blood, but she doesn’t let this stop her from pursuing her passion in basketball.

on the other hand, bernardo is a giant. not literally a giant, but at eight-feet, he literally towers over everyone — even foreigners who are usually taller than filipinos. growing up in the philippines without his immediate family, bernardo because the son of the town. sort of. everyone knows him ever since he was small, and he is even hailed a hero for something he has done! and he’s a big basketball fan too — he just isn’t as good a player as his sister is.

both siblings have baggage, and that’s what the story unravels as it goes along: baggage that would tie two separate worlds into one.

TALL STORY is a story of acceptance, a light family drama; it is also a story of superstitions, of myths and folklore that many filipino take as fact. and, ultimately, it is a story of two cultures meeting, and doing its best to get along with each other.

i don’t think my post about this book does it justice. so to conclude, i’ll just say this: if you find a copy of this book, buy it. read it. treasure it.