Do you part with your books? Especially those you love so much that their titles alone make your nose run?

You should have seen how fellow columnists Januar Yap and Michelle So reacted to the question. “What the ef are you talking about, you good for nothing @*^#!!!_++? No one can make me part with my books, even if you happen to write an irrelevant column every Tuesday.”

OK, they were not freaking mad, actually. We’re good friends. We take care of each other when we’re drunk. We check out each other’s column to make sure there are at least two people in the world who read us every week. What they gave me was a look of professional concern, like a doctor to a terminally ill patient.

“Here, darling, I’ll listen. Everything will be fine,” Michelle said. “Yeah, you want beer, buddy?” Januar said.

So I talked: Imagine I’m an avid reader of yours, I told them, a rabid fanatic. I want to know more about you because you’re my idol and I’m your stalker. What better way to do that than by reading the books you read? These books helped you become what you are now, incurable insomniacs. They are privy to your evil thoughts, they keep you company in the toilet, they lie next to your dirty underwear when the laundrywoman is sick for days. I want to read them too because I want to be like you.

Now, imagine you put those books on sale. I, your fan, will gobble them up like pizza. Got the picture already? Good. Now, imagine all of Cebu’s prominent writers, columnists, journalists, poets, painters, musicians throwing in some of their books too, each of these people has his own loyal following, you know. It’s going to be one hell of a book festival!

And where will the money go? The NGO I’m active in called Tsinelas is putting up a free art school for kids from the city’s slums. That’s where the money goes.

This is big, I tell you. You won’t believe me, but Isolde Amante is in (and man, you should check out the titles she’s donating. I won’t give them away if they were mine). We have Erma Cuizon, Raymund Fernandez, Leo Lastimosa, Bambi Beltran; and take this: Haide Acuña is donating a complete set of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Want more? We got Mayet Tabada, that’s like nailing down five writers in one. And we got Alex Uypuangco, Karl Roque, Ritchie Quijano, Noel Villaflor, Chai Fonacier, Vince Cinches, Josua Cabrera, Publio Briones, Elizabeth Baumgart, Vera Leigh Lasam, Alex Badayos…

Alex who? Badayos. The chief photographer. I told him that if he still keeps his Playboy 1970 Collector Series, and he survived a mauling attack in Bogo City last year, then that should say something about his staying power in the media.

And just yesterday, Erma Cuizon informed me that the Women in Literary Arts (WILA)-Cebu is in! If you think I’m making this up, check out the list at It’s growing as we speak.

When’s this going to be held and where? We’re negotiating with the malls here to give us a space for at least one day next month. Do you know they have this thing called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)? We’re appealing to their sense of CSR on this one. Surely they won’t refuse something that will fund a free art school for rugby kids, will they? The event, by the way, is called “Their Books.”

Hmmm… Their Books, cute. And you? Me? Well, I’m throwing in my prayer booklets from the seminary… Hey, that says something about me too. It’s not that…. OK, my Mills and Boon romances will have to go…

“Shut up Lorenzo, I’m in,” Michelle said. “Yeah, me too, buddy,” Januar said. cebu, opinion, sept. 23, 2008.