Komura; Book Fair 2019: The Book Fair That Had Us Preaching “Abante, Babae!”
by Inside Manila Contributor, June 27, 2019 2:15pm
Photo by Jace Amodo/Inside Manila
Tucked away in the busy streets of Makati, Warehouse Eight, in collaboration with Kwago Cafe and Book Bar, opened its doors to celebrate the annual Komura; Book Fair, which provided a common space for independent creators to showcase their works.
Held last May 18, event-goers had the chance to buy zines, independent works and books, support a variety of artists in the local scene, discover art and music, and even make new friends. In light of this year’s theme (Women), all the merchants, performers, authors, creators, and even the poem-generating robot (shoutout to Estela!) were women.
The “Runaway Library" in All Its Glory
Komura; provided a room for different stations or “pockets of storytelling” to give wayfor people to walk around and socialize with each creator. There was the Solidarity Room for those who were interested in sitting among the women storytellers that wanted to share their experiences of working in tech and coding and writing in the Philippines, as well as experiences in introducing feminism at home. The women in tech were the main focus in Komura; Pixel, which served as their avenue in introducing the video games that they, themselves, created.
The event also paved the way for people to come into a conversation about the current state of women in tech and coding, or “male dominated” professions.
On your own or with a friend, attending Komura; leaves you with a new friend or two because of the sense of community that was present within the four walls of the venue.
Event-goers that participated for the experience sans the purchases were able to relax at the areas where they can sit and grab a snack or a cup of coffee served by Kwago Cafe. Just as mentioned in Haruki Murakami’s novelKafka on the Shore, Komura; became the runaway library for creators and attendees to collectively learn and exchange knowledge not solely about women, but also anything and everything under the sun.
Tao Bago Babae
We’d see the line “Tao Bago Babae” upon entering the venue, on postcards and even stamped onto the wrists of everyone present that day. The linedirectly translates to “Human before Woman,” which is how, according to Komura; women should be first identified as, i.e. simply as human beings rather than "female" human beings because of the stereotypes attached to that label. It’s high time we strip down all these expectations and societal pressures that women have to carry for being female.
Women are being talked about in terms of how they carry themselves, what they choose to do with their bodies, what their priorities are, and especially for being assertive in the workplace —that’s what Komura; shined a light on. Although the title may suggest it, Komura; was more than just a book fair; it was a space for people to come into a discussion about these topics, and naturally, immerse themselves with the works of the women exhibitors.
The event brought to light the importance of creative spaces like Komura;—to be able to showcase and voice out each individual’s creativity and perspective in an environment that asserts individuality and understanding without the fear of being patronized. It paved the way to empathy and solidarity by encouraging each individual to listen to each other and connect despite their differences. Moreover, the space had become the common ground to collaborate in breaking the stigma surrounding women in society, politics, and in their personal lives, especially in a time like this where the fight isn’t about being seen as a specific gender but as a human being with equal rights over their own bodies and voices.
For the parents that brought their young ones to the event, Komura; became a safe space for them to grow and nurture their minds into actively participating in the idea of a world where women wouldn’t need to fight for recognition. Through creativity and discourse, the event helped ease people into better understanding what it means to be a woman and to stand strong as an independent individual in a “man’s world”.
Overall, Komura; was an enriching experience that left each and every single individual with a little more knowledge, and something to ponder on as they made their way home. Guests had the chance to partake in interesting discussions and stories, and experience literature in its most authentic form. There’s a plethora of things left unsaid and things not talked about due to the absence of better understanding and safe spaces, therefore it becomes evident that there’s a need to keep advocating for discussions, which inherently mean there’s a need for more open spaces. With that in mind, we’re thrilled to see what Komura; has in store for us next year.
Written by Manisha Mirchandani for Inside Manila