We went to visit a Pandayan Bookshop for #BookbedMeets last October 7. Here are our experiences touring the branch in Malolos, Bulacan (plus Malolos itself!) with Pandayan’s Jacob Cabochan. Enjoy!
Bookstores have always been special to me, from the small stationery shops in my hometown that also carried a few books, to the big chain bookstores in every mall, to the secondhand bookshops scattered in or around my university campus. So I was excited to join Pandayan Bookshop’s Malolos branch tour.
One of my favorite parts during the bookshop tour was when Jacob would point out various offerings such as secondhand books, literary classics and the like, and explain the rationale behind carrying them. He had an anecdote about his father building their home library from Booksale finds, and insisting on personally handling all their incoming secondhand books. (And isn’t that every book hoarder’s dream, to sift through a shipping container’s worth of books?)
New-to-me information: books that are sold secondhand are either overruns or actual used books. That’s why you sometimes see several copies of one new-ish (or actually new) edition in one secondhand bookstore. The tour helped me understand why a lot of stores call themselves “bookstores” or “bookshops” but carry more stationery and supplies as these are their bread and butter.
Allana (Luta) and Lindy (Gamolo) also surprised us with an activity: they’d hidden Bookbed merch in some books in the store, and whoever found them could get a secondhand book for free. Jacob added a surprise of his own—there was a buy one, get one free promo on the secondhand shelves. I was lucky enough to find a Bookbed bookmark hidden in a volume of poetry, and got The Accidental by Ali Smith (Man Booker Prize finalist) and My Invented Country by Isabel Allende (you never pass up the chance to get an Allende).
My book haul also included three books published by Adarna House: Si Diwayen, Noong Bago Dumating ang mga Espanyol by Augie Rivera and Paolo Lim, Isang Harding Papel by Augie Rivera and Rommel Joson, and Ito ang Diktadura by Equipo Plantel and Mikel Casal (translated by Annie Yglopaz and Kata Garcia). There are so many underappreciated Filipino children’s books that tackle uniquely Filipino topics, such as pre-Hispanic Filipino culture and the Martial Law era. As for the third book and its topic, it seemed timely.
#BookbedMeets are always fun, and I think we had just the right number of people for this one so everyone got to talk to each other and enjoy the tour—and fit at one table while we ate!
As a first timer at a Bookbed event, I was nervous. But I felt at ease once I met Lindy, Allana and Agnes. They were very accommodating and friendly even though we just met. That was what I liked about this trip: I made new friends and learned a bunch of facts about almost everything that has to do with books and reading.
When we went inside the Malolos branch of Pandayan Bookshop, aisles of school supplies greeted us. The second floor is the haven for bookworms—sections for secondhand books and for brand new books stood, carrying international and locally published. What was nice to know was that every secondhand book in the bookshop was handpicked by Jacob’s father. It added a personal touch in the way the books were selected.
After looking through the collection of books they had, I bought and brought home two books. One had an interesting plot, titled Annie Freeman’s Fabulous Traveling Funeral by Kris Radish and the other was Where the Heart is by Billie Letts, an Oprah Book Club pick.
Before we went our separate ways, we did #BookbedBlindDates, in which I received a book about short stories written by Roald Dahl entitled The Great Automatic Grammatizator and Other Stories.
What made the trip more fun was that Jacob not only showed us around the bookshop but also took the time to tour us around Malolos. We had a mini food trip and tried the famous Empanada de Kaliskis and had lunch at Citangs’ Eatery. Our eyes also feasted on the intricate architecture and interior of the historic Barasoain Church. Our minds and our tummies were full way before the trip ended!
This #BookbedMeets is one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had this year. Specifically because I had the least bit of idea of what to expect since I’ve never met Bookbed members in person before. Sure, I’ve worked alongside them in past events but this was the first time I had ever participated in their activities. On the day of the tour, I had the chance to meet Allana, Lindy, Agnes, Lucille and Marj. Not all of us knew one another but it was amazing how quickly we were all able to feel like a team on the way to our Pandayan Bookshop adventure.
It wasn’t the first time I’ve been inside a Pandayan Bookshop—I’ve gone to the one in Balayan, Batangas—but I have a vague memory of it, so it was exciting to go inside another one again. Here are a few of my favorite things from this time’s visit:
- I love how the owners of Pandayan Bookshop personally choose and review their book collections.
- I found out that there is an Art Material collection for personal and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects. (Jacob mentioned that the items available are not only imported, but also exported.)
- I also learned that Pandayan Bookshop hosts workshops and events for local and independent authors and artists!
The bookshop is a godsend, especially in the provincial areas where people’s accessibility to bookstores are limited.
October 7 was another Saturday for me to unwind and relax amidst all the stressful workload I had for the week. I would have preferred to relax at home with a good show on Netflix. Then again, I was looking for another kind of adventure, the kind that can help me learn as well as enjoy. When my good friend Lucille asked me if I wanted to attend #BookbedMeets, I found myself making plans.
What I noticed at first was that we were a small group, I felt nervous. While I had a brief stint being a part of MV Redemption, I was in uncharted territory. But everyone welcomed me and I immediately fit right in. Our number proved to be an advantage, as we were able to be more intimate with each other in terms of exchanging ideas and opinions.
Onto the Pandayan Bookshop tour: It was a revelation. For one, this bookshop has elected to expand their branches in provinces and has all the elements to rival their closest competitors in terms of services and product offering. Another thing that is quite surprising about them, at least to me, is the fact that they sponsor activities like arts and crafts workshops reading campaigns and others.
Last, books, of course, as no bookshop is complete without them. Inside the Malolos branch, I saw the wide selection of books, both old and newly-released. How I wished there was a bookshop like this near my place as a go-to for books or last-minute art materials shopping!
In terms of book haul, I chose The Sisterhood of The Travelling Pants by Ann Brashares and the Divine Secrets of the Ya-ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells. I picked them as both books were already familiar to me, having heard them numerous times during book discussions and through browsing Goodreads reviews.
What I also enjoyed a lot aside from the bookshop visit was the tour of Malolos itself. I really liked how Jacob introduced us to the town, including taking us to the best places to eat in and learn from. The empanada de kaliskis was a winner, and so was Citang’s, where we sampled their best selling delicious dishes.
Overall, this activity was a great way to gain new perspectives about our love for books and new friends. I am already looking forward to the next #BookbedMeets!