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I want your love and I want your Discarded Romance.

First of all and to get it out of the way, FullyBooked or any company related to it is not paying me to do entries on them. It just so happens that FullyBooked’s flagship branches in Manila and in Alabang just happen to have interesting displays or places that I can’t help not write about it.

So after enjoying a cup of coffee at Fully Booked’s Press Cafe in Alabang, it’s time to head back to Manila and enjoy the comforts of what may just be the Philippines’ only five-storey building for books. Located at the heart of Fort Bonifacio, in the swanky and high-end Bonifacio High Street is FullyBooked’s gigantic behemoth store on all things books, music, magazines, comics and literary events. Inside this wonderful place are interesting set pieces that deserve an entry all to themselves. The first is all about Mike Stilkey’s “Discarded Romance” and the second is Herakut’s artwork on culture and beauty at the fashion and design wing of Fully Booked BGC.

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A more panoramic view 

Seeing Discarded Romance for the first time and visiting it is always a new experience for me. It’s largeness is quite astounding and the installation itself speaks metaphors of the value of books. Reading some blogs about Mike Stilkey’s work, he alludes or what I think he alludes to, the slow decline of books. With all the technology in the world replacing books: from the Kindle by Amazon, the iBooks of Apple, and other e-readers, a question starts to loom in the horizon, what is the value of books in this technology driven society of ours? In a larger scale, it also raises the question of the relevance of bookstores, now that buying books, to use Amazon’s tagline “only takes less than a minute”.

While enjoying going up the multiple levels of the store, I got to ponder my questions on the relevance of physical books and stores. I for one have an e-reader but I seldom use it, maybe for the occasional travel and the convenience of not having to lug around a heavy hardbound book. I find that e-readers take away the feel of books and the experience of reading a book; the riffle of pages, the scent of both old and new novels, the crack of the spine and the undeniable fact of dog-eared (which I utterly detest) pages give a book its character and leaves the reader with fond memories of the journey of reading that particular book.

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Herakut and the design wing of Fully Booked
In another part of Fully Booked, in their then-recently opened fashion and design wing is German art duo Herakut and their art installation. Just as powerful as Mike Stilkey’s Discarded Romance, the mixed media installation evokes another message, but this time of culture. Making use of Dr. Jose Rizal’s famous quotes on youth and national identity and some snippets of beauty all around us. Though beautiful, the eccentricity of the subjects was sort of off-putting and I didn’t really linger too long with the paintings. Nevertheless, the painstaking artistry, the use of interesting colors and subjects made the fashion and design wing interesting. Maybe the subjects or the designs weren’t for me, being very European and not my kind of art. Nonetheless there is a certain level of respect that Fully Booked and Herakut did in order to entice more people to go beyond fiction and check out books on design.

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Herakut on art, beauty, and culture
Despite my relatively short stay at Fully Booked, I enjoyed seeing Mike Stilkey and Herakut’s art installations. I really appreciate what Fully Booked is doing with their stores, they seem to be transforming the concept of a bookstore and placing emphasis on the character of books and the adventures that happen while reading. Ever since Powerbooks decided to go the way of National Bookstore, I have come to appreciate the identity that Fully Booked is carving for itself. It may be the big bad mega chain store, but it is one where you can enjoy a good book and get lost in your thoughts surrounded by beautiful things.

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Beauty

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Rizal modernized
Check out Mike Stilkey and his works here.
Check out German duo Herakut and their works here.
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