Are there still fountain pens to be found in the wild – in Manila?
Fountain Pen Network-Philippines members went to find that out last February 21, with a field trip to Escolta.
Escolta is part of “old Manila” and used to be the main shopping district from pre-war times until around the 1960s. Luis Store, a fountain pen sales-and-repair shop, has been located there since the 1940s. The plan was to meet up at Savory Restaurant at the corner of Escolta – another local landmark – then visit Luis and any other places that happened to catch our fancy.
On my way there in a cab, I saw many things. The sight of a Philippine flag flying in the warm breeze stirred me to near-tears. It was so beautiful.
A monument to heroes, near Manila City Hall.
It was, I felt, a good start to the day.
When I got to Savory, quite a few FPN-P’ers were already there, scribbling away. While waiting for the others – and for lunch – to arrive, we celebrated our passions of pen, ink, and paper.
The entrance to the FPN-P function room.
Early birds play with pens, paper, and ink – the triumvirate of our obsession.
A peek at some of writer-University of the Philippines professor Dr. Butch Dalisay’s Parker Vacumatics.
Lunch was another celebration, this time of gastronomic delights not often relished. The Savory flavor is like no other. It is Chinese cuisine, yes. But it is also has a unique identity that sets it apart. Especially the fried chicken, which is famous.
Bird’s nest soup, pansit Canton, Yang Chow fried rice, pork something, fried chicken, and lumpiang Shanghai.
After lunch, it was back to pens.
Raffle items – pens, nibs, a loupe (for peering closely at nibs), and ink.
A leaf from Leigh’s notebook.
The attendance sheet – for pens, not humans.
Spot the Sailor, Danitrio, Pelikan, and Bossert and Erhard.
From Savory, the next stop was Luis Store. The fifteen or so of us crammed into the tiny piece of paradise, ogling the beautiful pens on display. Many of them are NOS (new old stock), some dating back to the 1950s, if not earlier.
Carretelas are still a common form of transportation within the area.
Walking down Escolta to Luis Store. The dome of Sta. Cruz Church can be seen in the distance.
FPN-P’ers crowd into Luis Store.
Dr. Butch Dalisay, Mrs. Pua, and Terrie Pua, who runs the pen store.
Pens on parade.
Plates for the engraving machine.
The Puas pressed boxes of warm and delicious chicken empanada on us, and we ate as we walked. Our next stop was Binondo.
The Starbucks – and the Pancake House beside it, and most other establishments in the area – have signage in Chinese.
Leigh holds up the Frankensnork representing TAO, fellow FPN member. In the background, life in Binondo continues its busy hustle, oblivious to the posse of pen collectors chatting and drinking coffee.
Binondo Square still sports the red and gold lanterns left over from the Lunar New Year celebration.
The penmeets celebrate not only the shared interest in pens and ink, but also friendship, love, life – as do all gatherings. That which binds is important and significant, but when people get together and interact, there is so much more that is shared. Enjoy that. Enjoy each other. Let life be a series of celebrations!