It’s been been 3 and a half years since the last in-person Manila Pen Show, and it was totally worth the wait. As with 2019, there was no shortage of interesting pens, new & exclusive inks (even Sailor’s custom ink mixing!) and lots of fountain pen-adjacent goodies (notebook covers, storage, stamps etc). And of course, a chance to see friends and penable each other!
The MPS team (lead by the amazing Leigh Reyes) pulled in a fantastic set of vendors — there was a selection of local retailers & brands as well as a handful of popular international vendors (Singapore’s Aesthetic Bay and Musubi, Malaysia’s Pen Gallery, and Japan’s Toyooka Craft). And, as if that wasn’t enough, there was a room for nib work — with three options, JP and John from the Philippines, and Sunny from Singapore.
One of my favorite things about the Manila Pen Show (and the Philippine fountain pen community in general) is how many local brands & makers there are, and this show was a great display of that.
Of course, no pen show is complete without its exclusive ink — this year MPS worked with Diamine to create Diamine Suman. If you’re not familiar with suman, it’s a popular Philippine snack made with glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves. This ink is reminiscent of the dark green of banana leaves. Swatches are available on the MPS Instagram, here.
In addition to the show ink, there were also store exclusives from Pen Gallery, Sailor Ink Mixing and new inks from local brands TMKR, On Inks & Vinta. On.Inks is a new brand (I think?) and I’m excited to try the inks I got from them — including the two show exclusives, kare-kare and bagoong alamang (a delicious combo!). Vinta also launched a new ink at the show (to go with their exclusive Franklin Christoph) — Lilac Dawn [Simulan 2015].
There was a broad selection of pens, everything from vintage to Nakaya & AP. Upon arriving, I did a quick walk around the show then zoned in on a Nakaya at Aesthetic Bay (they brought over 50 to the show and were able to swap nibs and clips/rollstops!). After handing over a healthy wad of cash, I noticed that the Kasama table was set up. Their new release for the show was the Takipsilim (“twilight”) — a gorgeous cerakote finish over ultem. I picked a tala and I’m glad I got there early! They were sold out around lunch time on the first day.
MPS was also the launch for the Everything Calligraphy exclusive Franklin Christoph. We’re jokingly calling it the ube cheese model, but clearly I had food on the brain for the entire show! It’s a gorgeous, but hard to photograph translucent swirly and sparkly purple-gold in FC’s Model 31 shape. More information available here. If you’d like to order one, but aren’t in the Philippines, my understanding is that Everything Calligraphy does ship internationally, but I’d reach out to them to find out more.
Another one of my favorite local shops, Scribe, brought in Sailor’s own ink mixing master. Apparently this was the first time they’ve ever done this outside Japan — and his first international flight ever! Wow. I wasn’t able to sign up for a slot, but I tagged along and watched a friend do it. All conversation was done through a translator, and while he asked you for reference photos of the color you wanted, a lot of the conversation was also about what memories and feelings you were trying to capture, with little adjustments to the composition of your ink a along the way. Fun to watch, and I’d definitely sign up if I have the chance at a future show (or trip to Japan…)!
In addition to pens and inks, there were lots of accessories — one of the most unique was Marco‘s roll stops. He makes them sized for Kasama pens (I have a starfish and face-hugger from him) but he also does customs.
There were also three local leather brands selling notebook covers, cases and bags. I picked up two notebook covers from LeatherLibraryPh.
Going into the show, I planned to pick up a Kasama Takipsilim (top/rightmost), and preordered the Pengrafik Primary Manipulation Leonardo Momento Zero (left/bottommost). But when I got to the show I found that Aesthetic Bay had a couple of Nakaya’s in Toki-iro, so I couldn’t pass that up. On day 2 of the show I spent a bit more time at the Kasama table and fell in love with the anodized section, it doesn’t show well in the photo above, but it reminds me of waves, and the beige PEEK, of sand.
All in all, I had a great time at this year’s Manila Pen Show — in terms of vendor count, it’s much smaller than the SF Show (my home show!) but it makes up for that with a wide variety of vendors and plenty of local brands and fun show exclusives (especially the inks!). In addition to buying stuff, there’s a good selection of workshops (I didn’t attend any since I wasn’t sure about my schedule) and the show volunteers are all super friendly and helpful. There’s a little bit of everything for everyone, and maybe too much for some of our wallets.
More photos here, official Manila Pen Show IG here. The 2024 Manila Pen Show will be held on March 16-17, 2024.
Great review. I want to go next year!