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Self-Published Authors PH's First Book Launch Was a Success

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

On August 20, 2022, Self-Published Authors PH instigators—Naysan Albaytar, Vergie Manligas, and Grace Dizon—finally launched their books. The trio's works varied in genre, adding a fiction (Naysan's second book, All the Light Around Us), a memoir (Vergie's second creative nonfiction, Amiable Hometown), and an essay collection, (Grace's first book, Unboxing Generosity) to the fount of Philippine literature.

Photographer: Sonny Boy Spike Espique

Amid the windy weather that threatened an outpour of rain, the invited guests arrived at Y Cafe Makati to witness the event. The place had a cozy yet playful atmosphere to it. Its walls were turned into murals of 90s anime characters, and in front of the tables and chairs was a makeshift stage draped with a piece of white cloth, festooned with balloons of elegant yellow, white, and gold.

By 2:30 PM, the event started and was aired live on Self-Published Authors PH's Facebook page with Janice Senorin-Dela Cruz, a wealth coach and book curator, as the engaging and lively host. To open the program, Elaine Marie Factor, founder of Scribblory and editor of the three books, gave brief remarks about "right time." She told the story of how the authors had set an earlier schedule for their book launch, which was then moved several times and eventually fell in August—the birth month of Naysan and Vergie.

Photographer: Sonny Boy Spike Espique

"Today, we're celebrating three works fulfilled nonetheless," she said, "kahit parang late, kahit parang andaming hindrances, kahit parang hindi matutuloy, pero natuloy." And then she ended with an assurance to aspiring authors that the right time for their book will also come if it is God's will for them.

The opening remarks was followed by a 'Q&A portion' for the authors. To warm them up, Janice started asking questions like, When was the last time you sang? What's the last meal you cooked? Are you an early bird or a night owl? Next was 'fast talk' where they had to choose between two things: laptop or notebook and pen, silent or with background music, fiction or nonfiction, planner or pantser, and so on. The authors' answers, spiced up by the host's playful banter, elicited laughs from the audience.

"Ito, mga seryosong tanong 'to," Janice then said, transitioning to the third part of Q&A, "Can you give a little background about your book? Then say what it's all about and why you wrote it."

Being the first among the three to publish her book, Vergie answered first. It turns out that Amiable Hometown is a childhood memoir, inspired by Angela's Ashes: A Memoir of the 1997 Pulitzer Prize Winner, Frank McCourt. While Vergie penned her first memoir, A Silver Lining: A Memoir of Love, Faith, and Sacrifice, as a tribute to her grandparents, she wrote Amiable Hometown as a tribute to her hometown, Jolo, Sulu.

Naysan spoke next. Like Vergie's book, All the Light Around Us was inspired by another author's work, particularly the books of Sarah Addison Allen. This didn't come out as surprising since Naysan has already shown hints of her imaginative side in her memoir, Remembering Pandan: A Farmer's Life and Other Stories. "Magical realism is about the everyday magic that happens in our life, around us," she said, "And I believe that without us noticing, we are surrounded by different kinds of energy that influence the way things happen, and those are the small magic that I want to share with the readers through my stories."

Lastly, Grace talked about how Unboxing Generosity was originally planned to be about tithing but ended up being a collection of stories about generosity or 'giving.' The reason she took a longer time than her co-authors to finish her book was she had to interview 33 people who exercise the virtue of generosity and then put their stories together coherently in book form. "[I want the readers] to appreciate [generosity], not only as a recipient but also as a giver," she concluded.

Afterward, additional questions like "What's your favorite line, chapter, or story in your book?" and "Ano ang nagbago sa'yo before and after writing your book?" were asked to the authors by life coaches and NLP practitioners, Coach Ning Tadena and Coach Edwin Soriano, respectively.

Photographer: Sonny Boy Spike Espique

One of the most captivating parts of the program was 'book reading.' The audience fell silent as each of the authors held up a copy of their book and read with verve a chapter from it. Vergie read "Funeral for the Dead Bird," followed by Naysan who read "The Gift of Clara," and concluded by Grace who read the 'giving' story of a public school teacher.

Photographer: Sonny Boy Spike Espique

At the latter part of the program, Felz Etorne, publisher and founder of Metacognia, was called on stage to give a short message to the authors. She emphasized the difference between traditionally published authors and self-published authors when it comes to publishing and marketing efforts, and then commended the three for 'doing everything themselves.' She also thanked them for reaching their dreams "as she always does" to her clients. "Some authors think that after publishing a book, it ends there," she said, "No, umpisa pa lang 'yan. It's just the beginning of the journey." Finally, she encouraged the authors to keep on writing and reminded them that they'll never run out of stories to tell in their lifetime.

Photographer: Sonny Boy Spike Espique

Before calling the guests to queue at the buffet, everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to the August celebrants and authors, Vergie and Naysan, while two Y Cafe staff held up a red-velvet cake for each of them.

Photographer: Sonny Boy Spike Espique

To close the program, Coach Edwin Soriano, life coach and founder of Rise Up! 5 AM Club, was called to lead the toast. As everyone raised their glasses, he declared, "May you continue to encourage others to see the light within and all around themselves, may your readers find an amiable home in the stories within your books, and may your stories unbox more generosity in people that they may share your books to bless their family, friends, and even strangers."

All the Light Around Us, Amiable Hometown, and Unboxing Generosity can be ordered online through Self-Published Authors PH, Scribblory Book Shop, and the authors' websites and social media accounts: Naysan Albaytar | Vergie Manligas | Grace Dizon

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