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Twilight Coven Philippines is a community of Filipino enthusiasts of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga and her other works.

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Manila Bulletin: Here come the Twilighters

A few weeks ago, we met up with Ronald Lim from Manila Bulletin's Youth and Campus section for an interview about being a Twilight fan. His story was published today, and is now also on MB's website here.

Thanks, Ronald! We had a lot of fun hanging out with you, and don't worry, our radar is still working overtime trying to find Temptation Island.

Reposted with permission

Here come the Twilighters
By: Ronald S. Lim

IF you haven’t heard about the Twilight series, then you might have been living under a rock for the past few years or so.

"Twilight" is the love story between human Bella Swan and vampire Edward Cullen written by first time writer Stephenie Meyer. Since its publication in 2005, this series of young adult novels has captivated young and old alike across the globe.

The first book was followed by two more sequels, "New Moon" and "Eclipse", with another one – "Breaking Dawn" – coming to the Philippines this August 4.

The series as a whole has made million around the world. Twilight-themed concerts accompany Meyer’s book tours. A movie is even set to be released on Dec. 12, and the media is already comparing Meyer to that other famous young adult author, J.K. Rowling herself.

This same hysteria is present even here in the country. While The Lord of the Rings trilogy has its "Ringers", and Harry Potter has its "Potterheads", the Twilight saga has its "Twilighters," loyal fans who hold book discussions and earnestly work on petitions to push for an earlier screening of the movie version of their beloved book.

Just like in other fandoms, the Twilighters' age range runs through a wide demographic, from twentysomething professionals like Daene Luna, Sheila Benedicto, Meann Ortiz and Mabelle Reynaldo, to adolescent students like Alessandra Autentico, Roberta Hannika Asuncion Magnaye, and Dianne Lora.

Luna, Reynaldo, and Lora heard about the book from several friends who recommended the book. Ortiz and Benedicto first heard of the series through the Internet.

For some Twilighters, however, their relationship with the book was something like love at first sight.

"I kept on seeing it in athe bookstore and the cover intrigued me," says Autentico. "My friend kept on bugging me about it, saying that I should read it."

"I saw it in a bookstore, a black book with just one word on it: Twilight. It was the hardbound copy without the jacket, apparently. I can only describe it as love at first sight!" recalls Magnaye.

While it was easier for romance enthusiasts Benedicto and Reynaldo, as well as young adults like Magnaye, Autentico, and Lora to grow to love a young adult romance like "Twilight", the matter of why they liked the book was a harder question to answer for Luna and Ortiz, whose taste in books didn’t exactly match those of Twilight’s target audience.

"I was only drawn to it because of curiosity because its audience is the same age range as Harry Potter," says Ortiz. "I also used to read Anne Rice so I was attracted to the vampire mythology more than the romance."

"My favorite authors are Nick Hornby, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Chuck Palahniuk, Alex Garland, very different from Twilight," reveals Luna. "If I’m going to be honest about it, reading ‘Twilight’ made me feel like a schoolgirl again. It’s fun!"

Luna had so much fun that she ended up establishing the Twilight Coven Philippines, an online community of Twilight fans. The group recently held a book discussion at the Fully Booked on Bonifacio High Street, and is now organizing a launch party on August 4 for the release of "Breaking Dawn".

Luna says that she was surprised that the book discussion did well, drawing about 25 people initially.


As is the case with most adults who like literature meant for younger audiences, there is a little bit of embarrassment among Twilight’s older fans with regards to their love of the book. Even Luna had to endure some good-natured mocking from her friend Reynaldo when she decided to establish Twilight Coven Philippines.

"We really tried to know the book point by point, and that’s when I realized that I really like the book," amends Reynaldo. "The fact that Twilight is a young adult book bordering on the full-fledged romance novel type is something that I like."

Both the younger and older fans agree — at least, the female ones — that it is the romance and the presence of vampire hero Edward Cullen that draws them to the book.

"The draw is Edward and his relationship with Bella. It’s such a pure kind of relationship," says Benedicto. "In this generation, teens are mostly jaded. We grew up with ‘Friends’ and ‘Sex and the City’, where female empowerment goes along with a cynicism with regards to romance. That’s one thing that led me to the book: the purity of love."

"Edward Cullen is the perfect gentleman. You don’t come across that anymore," says Magnaye. "Edward’s got that perfect combination of being polite and considerate and thoughtful, and he balances it out with his need to be in control, stone-cold look, and commanding presence."

That isn’t to say that it has nothing to offer fans who don’t exactly have a lot of estrogen. Ortiz says that the series has something to offer everyone, noting that Twilight Coven Philippines’ forum and Multiply site include members that are mothers, guys, and even a school principal!

"I think guys who like the novel don’t see it as a romance novel. To them, it’s a vampire story that happens to have a love story. For the girls it’s probably the love story part and Edward Cullen," explains Ortiz. "For the moms, they say that they remember their first love. The teenagers love the love story. Whatever your age range, there’s always something that you can like about the book."


The Twilighters are equally as passionate about protecting Stephenie Meyer, the 35-year old Mormon mother who started the whole Twilight phenomenon.

Media in the United States constantly brands her as the next J.K. Rowling, which has ruffled the feathers of Rowling and Harry Potter fans. Twilighters say that comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges.

"The Twilight versus Harry Potter issue started because they’re both young adult novels with large fan bases, with fantasy injected in it. You can’t really compare both because the writing styles are really different. Meyer and Rowling have different ways of rolling out the story," says Reynaldo.

Even Meyer acknowledges that she can’t be compared to Rowling because their histories are different, and their styles are different.

''She recognizes that Rowling reinvented the young adult fantasy genere. In a way she looks up to Rowling and feels that they shouldn’t be compared," adds Benedicto.

Another thing that Meyer shares with Rowling is the criticism that both authors can’t write very well. A few of the Twilighters share this sentiment, but explain that this does not distract from the appeal of the story.

"We talked during the book discussion about whether Meyer is more of a storyteller or a writer. The consensus was that she was a better storyteller than a writer," says Ortiz. "Technically, how she writes isn’t really exceptional, not even compared to Rowling, who many people say can’t write well at all. It’s the story, the characterizations, how she plots out the stories, than her actual writing that is the draw."

In fact, Ortiz says, perhaps the animosity towards the two authors comes from the fact that young adult and fantasy literature generally have a hard time being accepted in certain circles as actual "literature".

"Iniisip kasi ng ibang tao, dahil young adult, for kids talaga. Hindi ko alam kung bakit hindi nila siniseryoso ang young adult literature," says Ortiz. "Most people won’t take you seriously if you’re a young adult author, tapos idagdag mo pa yung fantasy, tapos ico-compare ka pa kay Tolkien at C.S. Lewis. Nasanay na sila sa classic fantasy that anything that comes out in contemporary young adult is accused of copying. But even Tolkien copied from older Norse mythology."

The Twilighters are also quick to answer any objections parents may have about the fact that the story revolves around the romance between a vampire and a human.


"Vampires are very popular figures in books and movies, but they’re always depicted as rascally and sexual. Maybe that’s why parents may have a bias against vampires," says Reynaldo. "But in this case, the Cullens don’t want to eat humans. There’s a virtue to what they do. It’s not a reinvention of the usage of the vampire, but it shows that even a gentlemanly vampire can still have a mysterious, dangerous allure to him. He’s a good bad boy. It’s refreshing."

"It’s just a question of being able to separate fiction from reality. The parents need to trust that their kids know better," adds Benedicto.

Another thing that gets the Twilighters excited is the upcoming movie adaptation of "Twilight".

Set to be released on Dec. 12, the movie stars Robert Pattinson, who played Cedric Diggory in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", playing the role of Edward. Kristen Stewart, who played Jodie Foster’s daughter in "Panic Room", plays Bella.


The fact that the movie’s release date has been pushed to January because of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is something they’re not particularly happy about. An online petition, which can be found on http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/twilight39s-movie-release-in-the-philippines?page=7, has already been started, with more than 3,000 signatures already gathered. While the author of the petition remains anonymous, Autentico and her group of Twilight fans are intent on pushing for the petition and having their voices heard.

"None of us from the group started it, but someone made it and someone else posted it. What everyone else just did was totally spread the word like wildfire and made sure the whole world knew about it," says Magnaye.

Autentico’s group is aware that a petition like this could be dismissed as frivolous, but says that it all lies in the eye of the beholder.

"The fact that a lot of people — currently at around 3,489 — are willing to support and stand for this petition means that it is not just a petty petition that we are here to fight for," says Lora.

The group is also preparing for the fact that their petition will accomplish nothing at all. Twilight Coven Philippines, while disappointed with the late release here in the country, says that they are willing to go along with it if it means better financial returns for the movie. The group is also formulating plans to hold a December premiere for the movie.

"We’re okay with it if it means that there’s a chance for Twilight to run longer," says Ortiz. "It can also increase awareness among non-fans who are looking for a foreign film to watch after the MMFF. We’re disappointed, but we can see the logic behind it from the perspective of the distributor."

Whatever happens, these six Twilighters say that the series has definitely been something that has brought them together.

"The best thing about being a Twilighter in the Philippines is that it’s one of the most wonderful combinations ever. Filipinos are known for being hospitable, ever-smiling, and helpful. Using our love for the book and incorporating awesome Filipino traits into the whole mix, we’ve come up with a ‘Twilight Eye Ball’ that would double as a fundraiser for the survivors of the MV Princess of the Stars. Meyer’s got her best fans here – on little islands with big hearts," ends Magnaye.


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