Author: Pao Alfonso

Manila Pen Show 2019


It’s so exciting that the pen community in the Philippines has grown so much in the past years. I joined Fountain Pen Network Philippines in 2014 and at that time, I can already see the beginnings of a bustling community and the influx of vendors that support the hobby. Today, we even have locally-made pens and inks! How awesome is that?

This year’s pen show will be on November 16 and 17, at the Holiday Inn Makati. Local vendors who will take part in the pen show include: Calibre, Cross, Everything Calligraphy, Faber-Castell, Gav ‘n Sav, Guia’s Vintage Pens, Inks by Vinta, Kasama Pens, Lamy, Noteworthy, Pengrafik, Peter Bangayan, Scribe, Shibui, and Troublemaker Inks. There are also nibmeisters onsite to help members with pen tuning and repair needs–JP’s Pen Spa and John Lim. There will also be vendors from other countries like Aesthetic Bay (Singapore, ooh I wonder if they’ll bring Nakaya pens with them), Atelier Musubi (Singapore), Newton Pens (USA), Pengallery (Malaysia), Pierre Cardin (Hong Kong), Regalia Writing Labs (USA) and Straits Pen (Singapore). We’re very happy that they will travel all the way here for us. It’s going to be a lot of fun! If you’re a fountain pen enthusiast, or if you have a loved one who is, this is the event to attend this year.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend the pen show because I’m spending time with my family that weekend (it’s an important weekend for us), but I’m encouraging pen lovers to go because it truly is the highlight of the year. There will be pens (vintage and new, of different brands), inks, paper, accessories, and you’ll get to spend time with people who love the hobby. It’s gonna be a blast!

Prosperity for Prosperity’s Sake

Today’s journal entry is about greed and how the world is filled with dragons of all sizes, jealously guarding caches of gold, big and small, for the sake of possessing. Many churches in particular have focused on appearing “blessed” or prosperous in lieu of actively taking care of the poor and vulnerable while fulfilling the Great Commission. Too many pretty buildings, too few charitable acts. Too far removed from the example of Jesus.

Doing nothing for others is the undoing of ourselves. ~Horace Mann

Ink Swab: Vinta Bodabil (Harlequin)

I recently received a sample vial of Vinta’s new ink called Bodabil or Harlequin. Apparently it’s not part of a new collection, which I heard is already in the works (yaaaay!). Anyway, Bodabil is a fun purple ink with green sheen. I used a Lamy Safari Dark Lilac with an F nib for the writing sample above and at first it looked really dark, almost black. The purple color shows up more prominently after it dries. Like their popular sheening inks (Dugong Bughaw, Sandugo, etc), this one has a very pronounced sheen. I really like the combination of purple and green.

The flow of the ink is a little bit wetter than moderate. I’d say it has a good flow and has no problems with clogging up even my fine nibbed Lamy. There’s minimal shading, though you can see that the darker parts are almost black in color. Some of the red component of the ink can also be more pronounced in some spots. I used it with my Lamy Studio with a 1.5mm nib and the shading and sheen is even more beautiful. It’s pretty on photos but I think it’s even prettier in person.

Using a fine nib, it dries up after about 20 seconds, which isn’t bad for a sheening ink. It’s also not waterproof. People who like using fountain pen ink with water will find this ink quite delightful because it washes to a generous purple while leaving a bit of outline on the paper.

Overall, it’s a rich purple ink that’s flows well and is easy to read. Suitable for daily use or for art journal entries. I think it’s a great addition to the Vinta Inks family. Here are more close up photos of the writing sample: Continue reading “Ink Swab: Vinta Bodabil (Harlequin)”

40th Birthday Journal Entry

I turn 40 tomorrow. Yesterday, I spent the whole day with my family, sharing a simple celebration. I felt that the way we celebrate my birthday was exactly how I wanted it because it’s so me. Simple and no-frills. Honestly, as long as I’m surrounded  by the people I love, I’d be happy with anything. I have much to write about turning 40, so I kept my art page to also a simple food doodle (foodle?) about all the unhealthy things we ate haha.

Children of Crisis

Today’s journal entry is about this book that I just recently started reading, Children of Crisis. This series of books is a social study of children in the United States written by child psychiatrist Robert Coles. The first few chapters focus on Ruby Bridges and talks about how children adapt to extreme changes in their environment. He wrote about Ruby’s drawings and his conversations with her and  her parents. Ruby Bridges, at the age of 6, was the first child to desegragate the all-white  William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana. Her parents did not expect such opposition towards a little girl going to school, and certainly did not expect that she would be alone in there due to the boycott.

I’ve only read a few chapters but it’s a very interesting and insightful read. I can’t wait to read more.

Each and every one of us is born with a clean heart. Our babies know nothing about hate or racism. But soon they begin to learn – and only from us. We keep racism alive. We pass it on to our children. We owe it to our children to help them keep their clean start. ~Ruby Bridges

A Quiet Saturday Afternoon

I had such a wonderful day today. It had been a long week, but before this week, I had been sick for most of August. It feels good to be able to sit up for hours and read or write. Today is beautifully calming for me. Nothing beats the smell of old books, vintage celluloid, coffee, and rain. I loved the sound of the soft patter of rain outside the window, and my husband in the living room, watching TV. The cat walks to my study and the living room, quietly keeping tabs on both of us while we’re not sitting together, just walking back and forth, napping here and there.

Sometimes we take such things for granted, but it’s a gift to enjoy this kind of peace and quiet, and even more so when you enjoy it at home with people you love.

A Sea of Umbrellas

Today’s journal entry is about the recent protests in Hong Kong. No matter what you think about what the protesters are fighting for, it’s hard not to feel impressed at the show of force of the people. Activism in general is often misunderstood as unwanted disruptions, but many of the things that we enjoy today are thanks to the people who rejected the status quo and fought for equality, freedom, better treatment.

“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.”― Leonardo da Vinci

Enmity of Biblical Proportions

Today’s journal entry is about rape culture. I’ve been following the case of a woman who was a fellow in a national writing workshop claiming that she was raped by one of the panelists. I’m glad that writers and professors have spoken out about this, but it really showed me how issues like this can tear apart a community. If the accused is well-liked, successful, beloved by the people around him, it makes it that much harder to even imagine that maybe he made a terrible mistake. Of course everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence, but what’s more telling for me is the attitude towards the woman involved. Society has never been kind towards girls who don’t present as anything like the rape victims of noontime telenovelas. When women come out with their stories of sexual abuse, there’s always the attitude that implies they need to prove they didn’t want it in the first place. What were they wearing? What were they drinking? What time of the day is it? Who were they drinking with? Did she struggle enough? The way some people think, only chaste women get raped.

At church, how many sermons have I heard about Dinah making trouble for her family by walking by herself in a foreign land and getting herself raped? A lot. How many sermons have I heard teaching men NOT to rape? Zero. Literally, zero.

Looking at the attitude of some people towards the victim, I wonder why people can’t believe that more often than not, there’s not much to be gained by coming out with their accusations. This is emotionally exhausting for them, to be retraumatized and revictimized, and now in a very public way. With everything that women have to put up with when they come out with their terrible stories of sexual assault, the least you can do is truly listen.

Vietnamese Ca Phe Da

Today’s journal entry is about discovering Vietnamese ice coffee. It’s pretty easy to make, as long as you have the right coffee drip filter and beans. Everyday Coffee’s Vietnamese Lam Dong Espresso beans are the bomb. Ca Phe Da is quite different from the usual kind of cup that I enjoy, but I liked it a lot. It’s like cafe mocha, but stronger. Like coffee and dark chocolate. I didn’t like using the beans for latte, but for iced coffee, it’s perfect.

I’m glad I had some time to write this morning, I haven’t been able to sit and collect my thoughts for a while and I missed it a lot. Hopefully I can get back to my usual routine again.

Hobonichi Plain Notebook

I’ve been using a regular-sized Traveler’s Notebook exclusively as my journal for the past few years. I like the size and portability, and I like having different inserts all in one place. I do miss having a bigger notebook, though. So I tried Hobonichi’s Plain Notebook (A5) and it did not disappoint.

The notebook itself is pretty plain-looking. It has a mustard yellow-colored cardboard cover. Minimalist in design, it only has some Japanese characters at the front and the word Hobonichi at the back.

It’s not too thick, only 10mm with 288 pages using Tomoe River paper. I was so glad to find out that you can easily slip it into a Hobonichi cover, it fits really nicely. I only have one hobo cover, a plain black one from the 2016 collection. That was when I decided that the hobo cousin really wasn’t for me. Actually, I realized that I don’t enjoy writing in planners at all. So I put the cover in storage until I bought this plain notebook last month.

You might feel the outlines of the pockets and their contents when you write on the left side of the notebook for the first few pages. Several pages in, it doesn’t bother me anymore.

I love how the notebook lies flat. The binding (stitched and glued to the cover) feels really sturdy and well-made. I was a bit worried at first because they had no blank pages. I don’t like grids or dots on paper because my writing is really small and I like to crowd my lines together to save space. Regular-sized grids are awkwardly-sized for my handwriting. It’s a good thing that this notebook has 3.7mm grids, though. It’s the perfect size for me. The lines of the grid are light-colored so they don’t look too obtrusive on the page. The notebook is divided into 4 sections of 72 pages each, and each section has a different colored grid (red, blue, green, and purple).

Here’s a close up of the grids. I like that they’re not too obvious on the page. At Y1296, I think the price is well worth it. You can purchase it from the Hobonichi website. I purchased mine from a local seller, Joan’s Journals. I’m not sure that I would want this to replace my regular TN inserts as my default go-to journal, I think I’m just going to keep both. One can’t have too many journals anyway, amirite?