Tuesday, October 24, 2006

October Newsletter

We've sent the October newsletter to our list of contacts for the convention. Apologies to those who got the newsletter with the email addresses thrown together in the recipient line. I (that is, the person who actually mailed the newsletter) ought to have used the BCC component to mask email addresses/identities but had clicked SEND way too soon. I am very sorry and it won't happen again.

I have uploaded preliminary press releases in this directory--


--though the official press kit section of the website won't be up until next week. I'll be making announcements in the website about updates in our programming this Friday.

If you wish to receive our bi-monthly newsletter about the convention, please go to the website and input your address in the email field.

In the meantime, Read or Die had its October 2006 meeting in Aeon Bookstore (Katipunan, Loyola Heights, QC) through the kindness of bookstore owner Marilou Gonzalez and store manager Sanny Medina. We welcomed new members Roselle, Karen and Marianne to the club and made plans about our reading list for the next four months. If you are interested in joining Read or Die (the book club, not necessarily the convention), please contact me at kmandigma@gmail.com for more details :)


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Revised registration rates

New and final pre-registration rates for RodCon have been announced in the website. We've been thinking about this for the past few weeks, asking for feedback from potential sponsors and attendees, and we're glad that we can make a final decision now and just steam ahead without any hesitation henceforth! Since a convention like this hasn't really been done before in the Philippines and we haven't got anything to use as a standard exept for--ironically--professional conventions and US fandom convention models, we basically went for an uneasy mix between the two, at least in terms of deciding the economics of the entire thing. I was personally interested to see how Filipinos would respond to the possibility of a stay-in convention with a programming such as RodCon's, but I don't suppose we're ready to take on a full-scale model as yet. So, a prototype would have to do :)

At the risk of repeating myself (as if I haven't already, numerous times): RodCon is not a book fair or book expo, as such. What we'd really like is for convention attendees to involve themselves actively with the programming of the con, to take advantage of the activities to the fullest. This is why we fixed the initial entrance rate at that level, because we couldn't be sure about the number of people who'd take a chance on an approach like this, so we concentrated on a conservative estimate of presumably hard-core bibliophiles and industry fixtures who would see the risk for what it was and take it. We also thought that since the proceeds would be going to a charitable cause, the latter should--how to say this?--expedite any fuss about the entrance fees :) But that was a frank and rather deliberate miscalculation (in other words: malay natin, kumagat).

However, it seems that we can now safely expand our targeted audience for the con to include groups and organizations we hadn't considered before, and the lineup of activities is beginning to reflect this. We're honestly happy about how this turned out and we're all learning a lot from RodCon. I'm one of those people who, if I hadn't belonged to the secretariat, would also have been asking myself whether I would be willing to pay P500 for the convention. My answer in the end was "Yes," but attached with a qualified disclaimer about how I'm probably not ready for this, etc. As it is, the dilemma has been sidelined in favor of an astonishingly simple compromise (without all the anguished metaphysics!)


Tuesday, October 17, 2006


So far everything is going according to schedule (if not necessarily according to plan). After several revisions the events line-up is also coming together. We should post a final version of the programming schedule in December with the official convention poster though we'll be releasing teasers and inserts about the convention by November. Initial press releases will be available for download in the website and will be faxed to sponsors and interested parties next week.

While there's been significant interest in the panels and exhibits, I'm personally feeling a bit bemused at constantly getting questions like: But what should we do? What do you want from us, exactly? Usually in the context of a discussion about sponsoring panels. Since I'm the person in charge of marketing, I always feel like I'm either blowing our chances of getting a good sponsorship or simply looking like an idiot to the other party when I respond, "With all due respect, it's up to you. Just as long as it has something to do with uh reading, literacy or literature?" Cue lame smile.

The initial plan was to offer panels to organizations and companies since we were operating on the premise that they would probably have their own ideas about what they'd like to profile or talk about. However, it seems that that the common impression is that since we're the organizers, we'll have to provide the discussion topics while sponsors pick and choose which ones they'd be interested in or those which resonate most closely with their own agendas/advocacies. It's very interesting and I wonder if this is really the way things are done in professionally organized conventions.

I can see hackles rising and eyebrows twitching so before potential sponsors run away screaming "Amateurs! Hacks! Off with their unprofessional heads!" (PLEASE DON'T), I'd like to stick a caveat the size of a Stonehenge pillar right here right now and point out once again that RodCon is not a 'professional' convention. That is, in the sense that it seems to be normally understood, which is why I'm finding myself occasionally caught in rather convoluted semantic cross-wiring (cross-fire, more like it). A representative I talked to pointed out that the convention is without precedent in the Philippines so they don't really know what to expect, and I can certainly understand the nervousness on the part of commercial sponsors. Will they earn money? Where's the money going in the first place? Who's coming? How is this--you think we should sponsor a panel on books about gay dinosaurs--WHAT? Where can we find them?

And I seem to be messing things up more with this blog entry. I invoke the Stonehenge!caveat. I think the goals of RodCon are in themselves pretty clear and straightforward--this is a social event for readers to get together, buy books, attend book exhibits, watch movies based on books, vote for their favorite books, buy books, talk about books, buy books, listen to panels about books (even books on gay dinosaurs) , buy books--and in doing so consciously manifesting how important it is to read, that there's a lot of happiness in reading, and that books can make us better people and a better society and a better country. We are often invoked to be proud of our high literacy rate. However, while a statistic might be a scientific fact (Filipinos know how to read therefore they must read) but in itself it has no sociological nuance unless we choose to imbue it with critical value (do we really read?)

To go back to the issue of panels--What I'm trying to say here is that we want the panels to be less of a bullet-point list to check or uncheck at will and more of an exercise in active intervention from the very beginning on the part of people and organizations who have a stake in the industry and in the practice of books and reading. I mean, I think all of us ought to try to think about this more deeply, even if the conclusions we come up with might seem facetious or blindingly obvious.

In other words: when all else fails, there are always books about gay dinosaurs.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

Read or What?

(Updated the FAQ page to reflect current--shall we say--concerns. )

First, the name. Okay, yes, we know. "Read or Die" is not a cult of sociopath bibliophiles. We named the club after the title of a comic book series which features an embattled (and cute) librarian in the British Museum fighting against, well, Evil. We'd run out of options and every other name attached with Pinoy or Filipino seemed to have been taken. :D Besides, it makes sense. Taken out of context (that is, negatively or literally!), "Read or Die" sounds like just the thing for trigger-happy spambots, but considered as a semantic twist--the converse of 'read or die' is that one has to read in order to live, and live intelligently.

And it does make people nervous about the content of their bookshelves, which is a bonus.

I've also been thinking about the nature of RodCon (as compared for example to book fairs) and 'conventions' as commonly understood in local parlance, i.e., something to do with professional, academic, business or industry-oriented concerns. RodCon is a social gathering, organized for readers by readers. I think it would have been different if Read or Die had been a hobby org, promoting games or comics or anime or a specialty interest, but this is reading we're talking about, and who organizes conventions about reading?

The thing about RodCon is that, essentially, it's really one huge cosmic book meet-up with fellow (or would be) bibliophiles. Read or Die is a book club and would always be a book club--just a bunch of readers who meet once a month (or every other month) to talk about, you know, books and reading and which bookstore in which corner of the Philippines is on sale.

RodCon started out as a kind of organic offshoot of Read or Die, and then developed into an incipient extension program. On a wider level, as a charity benefit supporting a specific advocacy (this year being literacy for children), it is an opportunity for interest groups, literary associations, business organizations, and individual readers to connect, exchange information and networks, and find common points for future action with regard to emphasizing the importance of books and reading in our society. So RodCon is basically a talking point waiting to be used, which is why we're inviting as many organizations and individuals as possible to profile their own causes or platforms. If you need volunteers for your program, go to the con and ask around, or better yet get a table or a booth. If you want to provoke discussion about an issue which you think is important or noteworthy, sponsor a panel. And so on.

RodCon has three aspects to it: 1) a gathering of book lovers from all over the Philippines to talk about, exchange, buy books; 2) an available open forum for issues regarding reading, literature and literacy in the Philippines; 3) a charity benefit for AHON Foundation and UNICEF.


Thursday, October 05, 2006

About the Secretariat

And I know that people might be wondering about who the heck we think we are, sending in-your-face emails and prospectuses and flinging botheration all around (if you're that company exec I accidentally slammed a door into, please don't let it stop you from helping build public libraries!!! Think of the children!) :

I'm (the webperson) still working on the Secretariat page. The reason why it's not up yet is because whenever we meet, we usually get bogged down talking about con details and why we still don't have money so writing down our profiles inevitably gets forgotten (or we decide that eating is more important). So there's a Secretariat directory with our real names and contact numbers which I'm posting to the site (or you can email us about it--it's also included in the hard copy of the RodCon prospectus) but no complete profile write-up as yet.

Basic stats--

I'm Tin (my complete name is kind of embarrassing and ponderous), I'm in charge of marketing, a little bit of programming, and the Read or Die and RodCon 2007 websites. Not a very interesting person otherwise. I work as a researcher and I like, well, reading. I also write a little but it's pretty embarrassing writing too. I studied in UP. I run--after a fashion--a small independent press called Quatre Gats. I'm interested in a lot of things but mostly I... like reading.

I'll let the other staff members speak for themselves. :)


RodCon 2007

Hi :) This is the 'official' weblog of RodCon 2007 (aka where the Secretariat records its progressive state of insanity through the next few months as we grapple with the biggest existential question of all--WHAT WERE WE THINKING?)

But seriously, it's all for love. So come to the con! If you love books and reading, bring that love with you to share. We're promoting literacy through providing Filipinos, especially schoolchildren, with books books books, but that's just mostly gloss on what we're really trying to broadcast--the romance of reading. The sheer sappy goopiness of it.