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Chitchat Over Coffee:  Now On to a New Chapter

Chitchat Over Coffee:  Now On to a New Chapter

Have you ever walked into a dark room with zero clue what was going on? That’s exactly how I felt when the doors opened to Ascott BGC’s grand ballroom. We were welcomed into Zara Carbonell’s book launch. It was diving into the unknown head first – mysterious, thrilling, & exciting in all the good ways.

It was pitch black with no tables or chairs that you’d expect when you walk into a book launch. Our senses were heightened by the fact that we needed to feel our way to our seats. The spotlight slowly crawled to find Zara on stage, reading her book on stage. While it happened, she was unbothered by the fact that a hundred people were staring at her. We saw a glimpse of how the room was set up – it was like visiting a living museum in Amsterdam. We hurried and sat on lounge chairs before they were occupied. 

There was a certain hush that cued everyone to settle in and settle down. Meanwhile, there was a moment of silence that enveloped the whole room. And just before anyone could say it out loud, we all heard a melody that took us by surprise. 

She stood up and gracefully walked towards the microphone. Right before our eyes she took us through the rollercoaster of a decade she’s been through. She sang a rendition of Sara Bareilles’ “She used to be mine”. I’ve heard this song many times, but for the first time, I finally understood the pain it bore.

Just when we thought we’ve felt it all, she started walking around the grand ballroom through a soliloquy of sorts. She took us through an overview of every chapter with themes that resonated with us to the very core. From falling in love to losing yourself, to having your dreams fall apart, to create a new you. These are things we’re all quite familiar with. But the icing on the cake was how so much art was integrated to express these deep-seated emotions.

Every chapter came with a specially painted piece by Cris Villanueva, TV & Movie actor who happens to be Zara’s father. From across the room, you recognize the echoes between Zara’s story and the pain I can only imagine a father feels. He watches his daughter go through some of life’s cruelties. The love, the hurt, the not knowing what to do and how to help. The resounding silence of just being there. It’s amazing how a painting says so much, and even more when you hear a side-by-side account from someone else.

And as she walked past the last chapter and told us how she went into a full circle, we had the opportunity to walk through that same path with her, but this time alongside a specially curated menu by Scott BGC’s Executive Chef – Chef Prince Patino and a perfectly paired glass of wine from Ralph’s Wines & Spirits as if meant to embolden the emotional thread we were all pretty much on. 

Every bite took us to the scene we saw painted in our minds. Every sip was a flavor fighting through our buds. If hope and forgiveness were poured in a cup Gossips’ Chardonnay & Cabernet Sauvignon emulated that quite perfectly. If mystery and zest came clinging in, they would be laced in Gossips’ Moscato & Pink Moscato. And if freedom were to roll in our very tongues, it would unapologetically roll off as an ice-cold Corona Beer on a hot summer day. 

It was nothing I ever imagined. I anticipated an author reading a few pages off of her new book, a 4-walled library or bookstore, some sandwiches, pleasantries and that’s that. But what I saw was nothing like that. I wasn’t meeting an “author.” I met a woman who had to reinvent herself to survive. It was versions of her that looked too familiar but also sounded so differently from one chapter to the next. I wasn’t taken to the world of publishing, I was taken back in time to travel through the world as she did. 

It took me to a summer day across the Eiffel Tower where she pledged allegiance to herself, it took me to Marie Antoinette’s halls in Versailles where she dreamt extraordinary dreams, it took me to Germany where she had almost fallen in love, it took me to national stages that tore me to the bones. Where she was, we were and it was as if I had felt the pain, the longing, the love, the joy, the victories with her through those years. 

And while we were there basking in all these moments, savoring every bite that came with each chapter: “Keep me guarded, I fight to keep my peace of mind. I’m dazed but I’m lucid, I’m usually lost in my head. Constantly curious, never really know where I’ll land.”  One of Zara’s best friends, Kiana Valenciano, ever so gracefully gave us a snippet of their friendship and how growing up felt like knowing they had each other. 

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The words she sang spoke so much truth and gave another perspective of the last decade.

While most book launches tickle your curiosity to hook you into buying a book – this one revealed its value then compelled its audience to listen to a story that used to also be theirs. 

Lost You, Found Me can be ordered here: https://bookshelf.com.ph/pages/zara-carbonell

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