In celebration of UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day (WBCD), the National Book Development Board (NBDB) held a book publishing industry fair last April 23, 2014, Wednesday at Bonifacio High Street. This year’s WBCD was an eventful one, with creative performances, musical acts, exhibits, workshops, seminars, and more.

At the BHS Activity Center, NBDB Chair Flor Marie Sta. Romana-Cruz opened the morning ceremony with the State of the Book Industry Address. She began by remarking on the decline of Filipino readership despite thriving authorship and the lack of collaboration among stakeholders. In her address, she encouraged readers, writers, publishers, and others to collaborate with one another, to create the comprehensive road map needed for a unified Filipino book industry.

Responses from Intellectual Property Office (IPO) Director General Atty. Ricardo R. Blancaflor, Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP) President Lirio P. Sandoval, and Philippine Educational Publishers Association (PEPA) President Jose Maria T. Policarpio were all in agreement. Folk singer Bayang Barrios also performed her songs “Harinawa,” “Biyaya,” and “Malaya” at the opening ceremony.

Seminars were held at the Fully Booked BHS Top Shelf in the afternoon. With the IPO and Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (FILCOLS), a talk on creative content and copyright was conducted by Atty. Louie Andrew Calvario, who addressed several concerns from writers, illustrators, and other content creators in the audience on copyright. Author Carljoe Javier moderated a roundtable discussion on local comics, where artists and comic enthusiasts Mica Agregado, Rob Cham, Paolo Chikiamko, Adam David, Mervin Malonzo, Josel Nicolas, and Tintin Pantoja offered their ideas on the medium and local comics today. The final afternoon seminar was a full house, a book writing workshop facilitated by renowned writer Dr. Isagani R. Cruz, who began his talk with the words, “When I look at you, I see a hundred books.”

As seminars were ongoing in Fully Booked, the Activity Center was buzzing with readers swapping their books for new ones with book clubs Read Philippines, Flips Flipping Pages, Ex Libris Philippines, and Good Reads throughout the day. There were also booths for local publishers like Anvil Publishing and Vibal Group showcasing their books. A puppet show and storytelling sessions by Kristin Jacinto, Flordeliza Quinones, and Melanie Ramirez of the National Library of the Philippines (NLP) and Lyn Danao of Adarna House were also held at the Activity Center.

A variety show with a range of performances was hosted by author Beverly Siy, with pop singer Toto Sorioso opening the show. Spoken word poets performed original lyric work: fresh graduate Judd Labarda’s “Parts of Speech,” medical student Trevor William Viloria’s “Lexicon,” and Imelda frontman Jam Pascual’s “Prayer.” The Sipat Lawin Ensemble also gave an interactive dramatization of the children’s short story “Ang Unang Baboy sa Langit” by Rene Villanueva. The Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika at Anyo (LIRA) Balagstars group gave poetry readings and a Balagtasan on traditional books versus e-books. The Diliman Guitar Trio, composed of Jose Emil Contreras, Adrik Cristobal, and Roneil Santos, ended the show, offering original compositions as well as renditions of both The Beatles and Antonio Vivaldi.

The WBCD also celebrates on William Shakespeare’s birthday, who turned 450 last April 23. Professor Bill Atwood from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City discussed Shakespeare’s poetry with actress Carolyn Ann Atwood, and playwright and director Joachim Antionio presented dramatizations of the Shakespeare play MacBeth.