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Meet an award-winning author and have him/her sign a copy of his/her book: Double check!

Crossing out two more items from the bucket list began with a poster. Let me explain…

A few days prior to the scheduled book signing event of grand prize Palanca winner Marivi Soliven, posters were placed around National Book Store branches, inviting book lovers to be a part of the said occasion. This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments. How often does one get to meet a Grand Prize Palanca winner who is on a book tour?

The book that was being promoted by the US-based Filipina author is entitled The Mango Bride.

photo from: http://marivisoliven.com/category/blog/ photo credit: Jay Ignacio

Based on her website/blog, the novel is all about:


Banished by her wealthy Filipino family in Manila, Amparo Guerrero travels to Oakland, California, to forge a new life. Although her mother labels her life in exile a diminished one, Amparo believes her struggles are a small price to pay for freedom…

Like Amparo, Beverly Obejas – an impoverished Filipina waitress – forsakes Manila and comes to Oakland as a mail order bride in search of a better life. Yet even in the land of plenty, Beverly fails to find the happiness and prosperity she envisioned.

As Amparo works to build the immigrant’s dream, she becomes entangled in the chaos of Beverly’s immigrant nightmare. Their unexpected collision forces both of them to make terrible choices and confront a life-changing secret, but through it all they hold fast to family in all its enduring and surprising transformations.


The book signing event was held at around 4PM last July 27, 2013 (Saturday) at the flagship National Book Store branch in Glorietta 1.


The gracious host for the event was no other than Ms. Xandra Ramos Padilla, the book-purchasing director of National Book Store and granddaughter of the store’s founder, Socorro Ramos.

Welcoming the excited fans... Ms. Xandra Ramos Padilla

Welcoming the excited fans… Ms. Xandra Ramos Padilla

After introducing the star of the show, a Q&A session commenced.

Photo0448Through the interview, the crowd found out that Ms. Soliven has been living in the United States since 1995 with her family. She tries to go back to her home country every two years. She admits that Manila has changed a lot over the years.

It was interesting to find out that just like one of her protagonists in The Mango Bride, she also works as an interpreter. But then, it really shouldn’t be a surprise. She shared that “you write from what you know.” When asked for more tips for aspiring writers, she had this advice: “Get up everyday and write” then find someone who will give you honest criticism. Yes, every day. Writing involves dedication and just like any other talent, practice makes (close to) perfect.

In terms of her novel, it all started out as a project at the website NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month, wherein professional and amateur writers from all over the world are invited every November to write a 50,000-word novel by the end of the said month. From there, it inspired her to submit an entry to the annual Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, the Philippine version of the Pulitzer Prize.

Originally, the novel was entitled In the Service of Secret, which Ms. Soliven got from an app in a certain website. But when her novel was ready for publishing, she and her editor sat down to choose another title. They played around with certain key words until finally the words mango and bride got together.

Ms. Soliven said that the plot of The Mango Bride is significantly different from its original manuscript, wherein there are now two protagonists. Talks regarding producing a TV series based on the book are said to be ongoing but nothing final can yet be revealed.

The novel is truly Filipino. Aside from its telenovela-like plot, countless Filipino immigrants have told the author that they relate to most of the experiences the heroines of the book had undergone- such as missing the comforts and familiarity of home.

Some of the audience were able to ask questions to Ms. Soliven as well. One question involved how it was like to collaborate with an American editor/publisher. Since the book was being published in America, there were some suggestions to focus more on America but Ms. Soliven stood her ground and made sure that there was a balance in the Filipino and American settings.

With regards to recommending immigration to another country to her fellow Filipinos, Ms. Soliven said that it’s a personal choice. However, she said that migrating to another country involves a certain price, such as missing on a lot of things (family, friends, etc). Being in another country is like being in a different world in itself.

For Ms. Soliven, the book tour in Manila has so far, been wonderful. She has been spoiled by her kind hosts which included Raffles Makati. This is because in the US, organizing a book tour is quite different- you do everything on your own. More fun in the Philippines?

After the chat with her fans, Ms. Soliven was ready to start signing books and her adoring readers formed a line and waited for their turn.

Photo0450 To end the memorable affair, Illy offered a cup of free coffee to the lucky bookworms.


Also in the book signing event was Metro Features Editor Geolette Esguerra and Penguin’s International Sales Manager Ariel Balatbat.

If you would want to find out about Ms. Soliven’s book tour experience from the author herself, read her blog entry here.

Don’t fret if you missed her at the NBS event. She will be at the following venues:

Quezon City
Wednesday, August 7, 2013 from 2-4 p.m.
C.M. Recto Hall
University of Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City

Tuesday, August 20 at 4:30 p.m.
Escaler Hall
Ateneo de Manila University

Thursday, August 8, 2013, from 4-6 p.m.
Sev’s Café
Legaspi Towers Basement
Roxas Boulevard, Malate

Lastly, go and grab a copy of The Mango Bride.

La vie est tres belle,

Freine ♕