Books are in the Air: The Philippine Book Fest is Coming!

Philippine Book Festival

I’m today years old when I learned that there’s an actual word for that feeling you get when you open a good book and inhale its scent: bibliosmia. I guess we shall be preparing our lungs because the all-Pinoy Philippine Book Festival (PBF) is almost here. And did I mention admission to the book fair is completely free?

Tl;dr: The Philippine Book Festival is a 3-day exhibition of Filipino books from June 2-4, 2023 (World Trade Center Manila) and August 18-20, 2023 (SMX Davao). Find new books, meet authors and illustrators, engage in literary discussions, join storytelling sessions, and more.

Reading, a National Concern

Eons ago, in grade school, I learned that the Philippines had one of the highest literacy rates in Asia. (I think this was my teachers’ tactic to manipulate us into becoming good readers because we had a reputation to uphold as a country. Just kidding – I love my teachers from Buenavista Elementary School.)

So in 2019, it was impossible to miss the memo about Filipino students ranking last out of 79 countries in reading comprehension.

In 2022, a World Bank report revealed that 9 out of 10 ten-year-old Filipino kids cannot read and understand simple text. This resulted from the difficulties pupils encountered in distance learning during the global pandemic.

These were shocking and alarming for a nation that boasted a 99 percent literacy rate a few decades back.

Why are we alarmed? For starters, reading is the gateway for all other learning areas. We need reading skills to understand math, science, social studies, values education, technology and livelihood education, MAPEH – everything. It’s impossible to survive school without being able to read and comprehend what you’ve read.

Hindi naman ako nakatapos ng pag-aaral pero mayaman naman ako.

An outlier. Or someone with wealthy and influential parents.

Well, this isn’t just a DepEd issue. On a personal level, those who can’t read and comprehend will most likely not qualify for “high-skilled” jobs that will pay them enough. Instead, most likely, they will land low-skilled, low-paying jobs – if they get jobs at all. That’s how the cycle of poverty continues.

And we know what poverty brings: crimes, the endless failure to elect good government officials, and insurgencies.

This is why we must all care about our country’s reading state, and this is why events like the PBF are important.

What’s the PBF?

The Philippine Book Festival, dubbed the largest traveling book festival in the country, is a celebration of Filipino books and authors organized by the National Book Development Board. The NBDB is the government agency responsible for book publishing and promoting reading in the Philippines.

(You’ve probably heard about NBDB because one of our public schools here in San Jose City is a Book Nook site. NBDB gave them over a thousand books for, yes, your perusal. Our Library Hub and another school also aspire to be Book Nook sites, so fingers crossed we’ll be selected.)

To ensure that as many Filipinos as possible get to experience the festival, PBF will have two legs this year. The first one, to take place from June 2 to 4, will happen in the World Trade Center Manila. The second leg, for our friends in the Visayas and Mindanao, will be on August 18 to 20 in SMX Davao.

Things To Do at the PBF

Aside from being a book fair, where there will be thousands of books from 140+ publishers, the NBDB promises:

  • 72+ free and paid events, including reading remediation, discussions with authors, and more
  • 3 major exhibitions
  • Meet-and-Greet with some of your favorite Filipino authors and illustrators

Here’s more:

Philippine Book Festival
Philippine Book Festival Flyer

As one of the attached agencies of the NBDB, DepEd will also take part in the PBF. You will find the winning storybooks of the National Competition on Storybook Writing. Maybe the Bureau of Learning Resources will also feature the LR Portal for Kids? Let’s find out.

Please register on the website of the Philippine Book Festival so you and your colleagues may enter the fair for FREE. Also, check their Facebook Page and your favorite publishers/authors for regular updates.

Paper Tree Workshop with The Perfect Tree Creators

By the way, Ms. Glory Moralidad and Ms. Danielle Florendo, the author and the illustrator of a book I reviewed before, The Perfect Tree, will be at the PBF, too. I learned they will be part of Pandayan Bookshop’s Sining Pandayan: Arts and Crafts Workshop on June 4, from 3:00 to 4:00 in the afternoon.

Sining Pandayan Arts and Craft Hour, Philippine Book Festival, The Perfect Tree
Meet the Author and Illustrator Behind “The Perfect Tree” at the PBF

If you’re still looking for fun and educational activities for the little kids that day, drop by for a meet-and-greet with the duo behind this beautiful book that teaches the importance of trees. (Only 30 persons will be accommodated per session, so scan the QR Code below to register for the workshops.)

Sining Pandayan, Philippine Book Festival
Pandayan Bookshop’s Sining Pandayan Schedule

Should you have any questions, please email the festival organizers at

Tips for Attending Your First Book Fair

Pre-register. Some book fairs require you to pre-register, so the organizers have an idea how many people to expect on the event.

Wear comfy clothes and shoes. There will be over 140 booths, 72 events, and 3 major exhibitions at the book fest, so you’d want to wear something you can actually move and walk in. Here’s my all-time fave comfort shoe.

Bring a large, heavy-duty canvas tote. For all the books. And the free fans and bookmarks from the publishers. Fully Booked has great options like this one that’s made to carry books. Or get the same one with the zipper to hold all your things.

Bring a refillable water bottle. Stay hydrated! Aside from the scorching heat all over the Philippines right now, you’ll be walking a lot. A small vacuum flask you can carry or slip in your tote will be perfect.

Have a fully charged phone. This is to contact your companions if you (or they) get lost in the books. Also, to take selfies with your favorite authors.

Bring cash. I firmly believe in the saying, “You don’t choose a book; a book chooses you.” Even if you don’t plan to buy something, you never really know. Also, although the PBF is free for guests of all ages, some events require payment so it’s a good idea to have cash in hand.

Get the fan. If a publisher or an author offers freebies, get them as a show of appreciation. You can give them to your local library once you get home.

See you there!


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