December 28, 2005

Reflections on a Sheaffer

Thanks to Butch Dalisay, I finally found my broad nib fountain pen. He very kindly responded to my email asking him for fountain pen information by informing me of a store in Escolta called Luis Store. Fountain pens are a passion I share with him, though I don’t have the number and the rare pens he does, I do love writing with a fountain pen (a passion he shares as well).

Now, Escolta is a place I had not been to in a very long time; I remember when I was a kid vacationing in Manila, my father, who was then assigned to a bank in Binondo, would take us around Escolta and Binondo--primarily for the food in the many hole-in-the wall stalls. I also remember, as a law student, frequenting a building in Escolta because that was where a paralegal training center was. All these, almost a lifetime ago.

Butch’s tip gave me the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with Escolta and also to indulge my passion for fountain pens.

I managed to find Luis Store and it was a wonderful experience looking at the various pens on display.

Those who know me know I'm not much of a shopper--I don't have the patience for it. I call myself a strategic shopper--plan ahead, go in and get what I need and get out. That was what I had intended to do at Luis Store--just look and, if fortunate, buy a broad nib pen and leave. At Luis Store, I surprised myself. Very much like a kid before a display of toys, I found myself pointing at various pens and asking, can I see that?, and enjoying myself tremendously.

The Chinese family that owns the store was wonderful; not only did they know their pens, they had so many wonderful stories of people who had walked through the portals of their store to buy fountain pens or have their pens repaired. It was a virtual tag team, the 70 plus mother and her two daughters plied me with hot tea and stories, in between my asking to try on various pens. They knew many people and they knew when to name drop, e.g., “you know, Congressman (Teddyboy) Locsin was just here yesterday; he wanted one of the medium Montblancs and ended up buying the top of the line one (my note: one pen cost PHP38Th).” Instead of spending a few minutes, I ended up spending close to two hours with tea, conversation and pens.

I finally settled on a Sheaffer Targa broad nib with a sterling silver body which was a steal for the price they gave me and which was also within my budget. One of the daughters was quite unsubtly nudging me towards the Montblanc Congressman Locsin had bought which was, however, too far off--way, way off--my budget.

As I took my leave of them, with my new pen in my shirt pocket, the mother asked if I would stay for lunch. Surprised, as I had known them for only two hours, I demurred because I had a meeting in Quezon City at 1:00 and it was already 12:30; not wishing to take “no” for an answer, she took out one of those Styrofoam containers and ladled a heaping serving of pancit bihon into it, pressed the container into my hands and told me to eat it in the car on my way to Quezon City.

I know that I will be going back to Escolta more often, not only for the the pancit bihon, which was very, very good, thank you very much, but also for the many other pens they have. The Sheaffer writes exquisitely too, by the way, thank you very much as well.

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The reason I love writing with ink using a fountain pen is that it leaves a distinct impression. Unlike a ballpoint pen, writing with a fountain pen penetrates the several layers in paper and, quite literally, leaves its mark; writing with a ballpoint pen only scratches the surface, as it were. There is also nothing like the smooth glide of the nib and the rush of ink onto the paper—the feeling has to be experienced. It’s like having your passions meet your dreams—magic!

Of course, it’s almost impossible to cleanly correct anything that has been written with a fountain pen. The impression it leaves is indelible. The caveat I always give myself when using a pen is that I have to think long, hard and many times over before I use it because the imprint is indelible and permanent.

Living one’s life is very much like knowing how to use a fountain pen in writing. Very frequently, we live our lives without making an impression—merely existing and surviving, instead of creating an indelible imprint of our living. Many times, we do not think long, hard and many times over and the impact we make on others is indelible and permanent—tragically and unfortunately, many times over, this impact is negative or adverse.

We are called to live, not merely survive or exist. Standing up for one’s principles, beliefs or faith is living. Proclaiming proudly one’s principles, beliefs or faith is living. Encouraging others to stand up for and proclaim proudly one’s principles, beliefs or faith is living.

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All these, from one trip to Escolta and two hours in a fountain pen shop. Thanks again, Butch.

4 comments:

Ella said...

Thanks for the link, Ted. I read Butch Dalisay's column and I'm fascinated by his fascination for everything Apple. I have one fountain pen but I have trouble writing with it - maybe because my writing still needs so many corrections.

Ted said...

Oh yes, his mac fascination, actually more of an obsession now. He has a collection of mac laptops--even the old chunky ones. I would settle for just one--even an old chunky one.

He also has a fascination for VW beetles.

ESU Philippines said...

hi, ted, congrats on your targa (that's a good choice--i used one for several years in the 1980s) and, even more, on your successful meeting with the three luis store ladies! right now i'm lusting after a waterman serenite, which resembles a samurai scabbard, but i've just spent all my savings on a new apple powerbook, so there goes that--for now, anyway.... mabuhay ka :)

Auntie Beth said...

Ted,

You continue to amaze me. You are one of very few people I know who could give a life lesson on an ordinary object such as a fountain pen.

"Living one’s life is very much like knowing how to use a fountain pen in writing. Very frequently, we live our lives without making an impression—merely existing and surviving, instead of creating an indelible imprint of our living. Many times, we do not think long, hard and many times over and the impact we make on others is indelible and permanent—tragically and unfortunately, many times over, this impact is negative or adverse."

Well done!