Sunday, March 9, 2014

Scribe Writing Essentials: The Philippines' One-Stop-Shop for Fine Writing Instruments

I remember the first few years after I started using my first fountain pen. I was so frustrated because the only ink I could use then was Parker Quink Black. When I joined Fountain Pen Network-Philippines, or FPN-P, I learned about a specialty store in Quezon City's Eastwood Mall selling not only fountain pens, but fountain pen inks and fountain pen-friendly notebooks as well. The store, Scribe Writing Essentials (SWE, or Scribe), became a very popular name within FPN-P since then. Soon, owner Marian Ong joined the group in one of our monthly pen meets to introduce a highly celebrated German brand, Pelikan. That was three years ago.

FPN-P 2010 Christmas Pen Meet, Conti's Greenbelt 2, Makati City. Marian Ong (in striped top) seated in front.
This photo belongs to FPN-P member Arnell T. Umali.
  

Today, Scribe has grown tremendously. In less than a year, four more stores were added to the one in Eastwood, all selling a wide variety of products from journal and diaries to fine writing instruments from around 20 brands from all over the world. 

Scribe now offers fine writing instruments from Japan and Taiwan in Asia, and Germany and Spain in Europe. Brands such as TWSBI, Sailor, Platinum, Inoxcrom, Kaweco, Lamy, and Pelikan are all known to produce high quality writing instruments, and most of their products are collectibles. Topnotch and highly-coveted Japanese notebook Midori is also in Scribe's shelves now, as well as Hong Kong made notebooks and stationery items from Daycraft. Scribe has also made a giant leap by offering fountain pen inks that used to reside only in my dreams: J. Herbin from France, Pelikan Edelstein from Germany, and Noodlers from the US. Other fountain pen inks from Sailor and Lamy are also available from their stores.

To officially launch Scribe, their stores, and the brands they carry, Scribe's founder and owner, Marian Ong, hosted a cocktail party at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall on March 4, 2014. The event was well-attended by a large number of FPN-P people, members of the press, and Scribe's friends. 

The Atrium of Shangri-La Plaza Mall where the Scribe launch was held on March 4, 2014.
The Scribe store in Shangri-la Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Photo provided by SWE.

Scribe has three brand ambassadors who were present during the launch. They are Michael Manalo, and FPN-P's Leigh Reyes and Fozzy Castro-Dayrit. Their art were displayed during the event. 

Art by Leigh Reyes, who counts the Scribe display as her first exhibit ever.
Leigh is a known figure in the advertising world, having won the country's first ever GOLD CLIO and WORLD PRESS Gold awards. Her work has been recognized both here and abroad. She loves doodling with pen, ink and paper and making jaw-dropping works of art. She gets most of her stuff from Scribe which she considers her "happy place." 
Fozzy Castro-Dayrit's intricate calligraphy.
Fozzy has conducted calligraphy workshops for the store in the past. Her classes are sought-after as she specializes in calligraphy, designing wedding invitations and personalized cards. Fozzy considers Scribe a one-stop shop for all her calligraphy and art supplies needs.

Design by Architect Michael Manalo.
As a boy, Mico loved looking at illuminated manuscripts from the Gothic Age. He then studied Architecture with a masters degree in Architectural Conservation from the Escuela Nacionál deConservación, Restauración y Museografía INAH, Mexico City. Now, he spends his time designing new structures, trying to restore old ones and travelling to learn about the importance of saving heritage while working with the UNESCO. 

Before the program started, guests were encouraged to write messages to be posted at the Scribe Calligraphy Message Wall. Paper, Speedball ink, and colorful quills were provided to the event's enthusiastic guests. 

FPN-P members Reggie Reginaldo and Mars Hagedorn write their messages for the Calligraphy Message Wall.
Calligraphy Message Wall

The program started with a short documentary about how Scribe evolved to being the one-stop-shop that it is now. Trivia games were played as brands carried by Scribe stores were introduced, and three FPN-P members went home happily with Scribe gift certificates. Fountain pens were raffled off, with two more FPN-P members going home the happiest. 

Left to right: Michael, Marian, Fozzy, Leigh, and program host RJ Ledesma. 

The Scribe launch was a joyful celebration for me. I knew it was a very important event for Marian and her group, and we at FPN-P were just happy to celebrate with them. It was also an occasion where I get to be with my FPN-P friends who are the kindest, happiest people I know. We get to meet once or twice a month, but being with them at an event to launch our favorite store is just awesome!

Indeed, Scribe has brought not only the sophistication to our choice of writing instruments, it has brought back an art long considered lost and archaic. More and more people are enjoying the art of using fountain pens nowadays, and the growing number of FPN-P newbies is proof of that. 

To say that we at FPN-P are happy that we now have a "one-stop-shop" for fountain pens, ink, and notebooks is an understatement. No longer are we envying neighbors Malaysia and Singapore for their pen boutiques for Scribe, in Manila, is offering us a haven for our pen and pen-related needs.

Below are some photos of FPN-P members during the event. Photos courtesy of Scribe.

Marian with FPN-P's Raffy Roxas and Peter Bangayan
The Archer, Cesar Salazar, Gelzon dela Cruz, Ernesto Tabujara, Ronnie Geron, Mars Hagedorn, 
Mona and Reggie Reginaldo
Allan Caindoy, Peter, Jonathan Isip, Carlos Abad Santos, Dennis Duran, Raffy, 
and FPN-P's founding father, Butch Dalisay
And again, FPN-P with Scribe's Marian Ong and Cindy Dingkoi. I hope the next FPN-P + Scribe group pic won't take another three  years in the making.


For more information about Scribe and the brands they carry, visit their website at: http://www.scribewritingessentials.com/ or like their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/ScribeWritingEssentials.

You can also visit a Scribe store nearest you. Below is a list of Scribe's stores, their store hours and contact numbers.

EASTWOOD MALL
Level 3, Eastwood Mall Eastwood City

E. Rodriguez Jr Avenue, Bagumbayan Quezon City
Mon to Thur 11:00am – 10:00pm
Fri to Sat 11:00am – 11:00pm
Sun 10:00am – 10:00pm
Tel. 900-0053

SHANGRILA PLAZA MALL
Lower Ground Floor, East Wing Shangrila Plaza Mall 
Brgy Wack Wack Mandaluyong City
Mon to Thur 11:00am – 9:00pm
Fri to Sat 10:00am – 10:00pm
Sun 10:00am – 9:00pm
Tel. 654.5071

GLORIETTA 5
Level 2, Glorietta 5 Ayala Center 
Brgy San Antonio Makati City
Mon to Thur 11:00am – 9:00pm
Fri to Sat 11:00am – 10:00pm
Tel. 804.3889

SM AURA
Level 4, SM Aura Premier 
26th Street corner McKinley Parkway 
Fort Bonifacio Global City Taguig
Mon to Sun 10:00am – 10:00pm
Tel. 519.5346

SM MEGAMALL
Level 4, SM Megamall Fashion Hall, Mandaluyong City
Mon to Sun 10:00am – 10:00pm
Tel. TBA

Monday, November 25, 2013

For Winter, Let's Have Cold Horizon

(Courtesy of Bryan Bedell / fieldnotesbrand.com)

And Field Notes has done it again. Wow me with their notebooks, that is. 2013's Winter FIELD NOTES COLORS limited edition release has been revealed! Cold Horizon, the sibling to my 2011 Winter FIELD NOTES COLORS pack, Northerly is here! 

Field Notes' 21st COLORS edition features three seasonally-inspired colors, a blend of three blues across all three notebooks, invoking the deeply saturated winter twilight sky, fluorescent glacial water, and the shiny metallic glimmer of the Aurora Borealis. These notebooks are BLUE!!! Did they make these for me?

The notebook covers are printed on glossy UV-coated 120lb (178gsm) Appleton Utopia One stock. Arranged side by side, or back to back, the blues fade evenly from notebook to notebook, evoking a single, wintery gradient.

(Courtesy of Bryan Bedell / fieldnotesbrand.com)

Each of the three notebooks from the Cold Horizon limited edition pack uses Finch Opaque 50lb (74gsm) paper with a 3/16" gray graph grid. The grid pages of the three notebooks correspond to the colors of their covers: light green, light blue, and cool gray. How cool is that? It's like getting three different notebooks when you buy a pack of Cold Horizon.

(Courtesy of Bryan Bedell / fieldnotesbrand.com)

My small tiny Field Notes collection includes (left to right): Northerly, Winter 2011; Red Blooded; Traveling Salesman, Fall 2012; and Day Game, Summer 2012. I'm waiting for my local source of Field Notes notebooks, Avalon.ph, to stock up on Cold Horizon so I can add it to the lot.


For more information about the FIELD NOTES Brand notebooks, visit their website at http://fieldnotesbrand.com/

To read more about their limited edition COLORS notebook packs, and how to buy them, go to: http://fieldnotesbrand.com/colors./.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Notebook Review: TWSBI


When I shifted to full fountain pen use in 2008, I didn't realize that the major challenge I would have to face was to find suitable paper types for my pens and their inks. My lack of knowledge then about the proper pen, ink, and paper combinations brought home stacks of useless pads and notebooks. Since then, I have found notebooks that are friendlier to my fountain pens, but when Taiwan-based company TWSBI announced that they are coming up with a line of notebooks tailored for fountain use, I was curious. When Scribe Writing Essentials, the local distributor of TWSBI products in the Philippines, sent me a medium lined TWSBI notebook to review, I was thrilled.

TWSBI promotes their notebooks as "universal to all types of writing/drawing instruments, however, specially tailored for fountain pens." Their notebooks have soft and textured but shiny covers made of  fine polyurethane (PU). TWSBI made sure their notebooks are easily identified in the crowd, with the company's logo heat-pressed neatly onto the PU in the front cover.


The logo is again heat-pressed on the bottom of the back cover, but includes their acronym, TWSBI.

TWSBI offers their notebooks in three sizes: small (3.75 × 5.5 in), medium (5.25 × 8.25 in), and large (7.5 × 9.8 in). Each size is available in lined, grid, or blank pages. All notebook sizes have 120 sheets of paper, or 250 pages, but the small notebook has perforated sheets.


A black elastic strap holds the cover and notebook pages together, but it's a bit loose. I wish TWSBI used a stronger and wider strap for their medium and large notebooks.


In the photo below, the TWSBI notebook (on top) has the thinnest elastic strap although it's the thickest. The notebooks below the TWSBI are: Quo Vadis Habana, Moleskine, and Rhodia Webbie.


Despite the thin elastic strap, the red page ribbon marker adds vibrance to this black notebook. It's also a nice, thoughtful touch of TWSBI to have the end of the ribbon glued to prevent fraying. Most new notebooks come with loose ribbon ends and I usually just tie them into small knots to avoid early fraying.


The makers of these notebooks paid a lot of attention to detail: the notebooks have round page corners! I've always preferred round corners in my notebooks. I don't like pointed corners because they are sharp and dig into my palms when I write, and they also fray easily.


The pages of the TWSBI notebooks are sewn, to ensure more page security and flexibility. Sewn binding is so much better than most punch and bind methods because the pages are more secure and they also look tidier.


The paper used in these notebooks is not cream color, but it's not pearly white, either. It is off-white, soft, and smooth. TWSBI did not indicate the weight nor the type of paper used on these notebooks, but I'll guess it to be around 80gsm. Another plus for these cool notebooks: the binding allows them to open completely flat. The pages are not glued to the spine to give it full flexiblity.


The soft PU cover is flexible and the spine easily folds when the notebook is open.


See? No bulges, no bumps, no big creases to get in the way of the inside pages while the notebook is open.



Again, I am not sure about the paper type used in TWSBI's notebooks, but they are certainly excellent for fountain pen use. It's a brilliant move of TWSBI to use a faint gray ruling in the notebooks' pages, instead of black, or blue.


And unlike most notebooks with continuous line ruling, TWSBI used faint dotted lines, which is just fine. The faint gray lines are perfect for writing, but they do not get in the way of it at all.


I was really excited to try this notebook's paper and filled a page with different pen and ink combinations. I also included in the test page some of my remaining gel pens and rollerball pens. True enough to their claim, TWSBI's notebooks are perfectly suited to fountain pen use. Most of my pens have stub, medium, broad, and italic nibs that bleed ink on most paper types. But the paper in this notebook behaved so much better than I expected, and I was so amazed to see clean lines — no excessive feathering, and not a trace of bleeding. There is some see-through though, but again, that's fine because writing on both sides of the page is still possible.


The back side of my pen and ink test page did not show any bleeding at all.


I was not able to do a test for different ink's dry times, but I did not have any problems with drying ink when I did the pen and ink tests. Below are samples of the inks I used and there is no significant feathering and no bleeding at all. From top: Diamine Royal Blue (TWSBI 540 medium nib), Pelikan Edelstein Jade (Pelikan M205 medium nib), Diamine Red Dragon (Pelikan M400 medium nib), and Noodler's Air Corp Blue Black (Lamy Safari 1.1 italic nib).



Overall, TWSBI's notebooks are excellent to use with fountain pens. They are simple, yet very attractive and have the "classic black notebook" elegant look. They have soft flexible covers, an elastic strap to keep the pages together, the pages have round corners, and the paper is excellent for any pen type. Each of TWSBI's notebooks has that happy vibrant red ribbon page marker and back pockets with red accents. These notebooks are perfect for note taking and journaling, and they do not cost a fortune. I really, really like my medium TWSBI notebook, and again, it is super friendly to my fountain pens!

To get these notebooks from TWSBI, visit: http://www.twsbi.com/category.php?id_category=9.

In the Philippines, these wonderful notebooks are available at Scribe Writing Essentials together with TWSBI fountain pens and ink bottles, with the following prices:

  • Small: PhP 495
  • Medium: PhP 675
  • Large: PhP 845

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