THE 44th Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) opened on Thursday, promising a slew of activities ranging from book launches to signings.The event at the SMX Convention Center and organized by Primetrade Asia Inc. comes on the heels of the country's invitation to Germany to be 'Guest of Honor at the Frankfurter Buchmesse in 2025.'READERS' HAVEN The Manila International Book Fair 2023 opens to the public at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023. The book fair, which will run until September 17, is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. PHOTO BY J. GERARD SEGUIANational Artist for Film and Broadcast Arts Ricardo Lee, National Artists for Literature Virgilio 'Rio Alma' Almario and Gemino Abad, and Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach-Jauncey, alongside Book Development Association of the Philippines Chairman Andrea Pasion-Flores and Primetrade Asia Inc. President Irene Lloren were present.Wurtzbach-Jauncey launched her first novel, 'Queen of the Universe,' on the first day of the event.In an interview with The Manila Times, Wurtzbach-Jauncey said that she was 'excited' to be a part of the MIBF and explore the entire fair.She also said that her book is a 'fun, light read' and hopes that anyone who buys it will 'enjoy it and get a little glimpse of being in the industry,' Pasion-Flores said the Gintong Aklat Awards, which was also held at the MIBF, would help publishers promote the Philippine publishing industry.'We also learned the challenges, and how we can help the publishers in terms of design, in terms of categorization of their books, and how in the next couple of years we will be able to help the industry,' Pasion-Flores said in an interview also with The Manila Times.Pasion-Flores, the publisher of Milflores Publishing Inc., added that the book industry is now 'slowly recovering' due to the return of face-to-face classes and continuous engagement with the government.'We are still recovering from that because I don't think the publishers are reeling from the 2019 levels,' Pasion-Flores said.However, she acknowledged that continuing inflation and the learning poverty experienced by students were among the key challenges that publishers were facing, and urged the government to continue promoting literacy programs that would allow more Filipinos to read books.Among the activities lined up for the next few days included book signings, launches and panel discussions from publishers such as Vibal Group, Abiva Publishing House, Milfores, Lampara Publishing House, Psicom Publishing and Adarna House, among others.The event will run until Sunday, September 17, with tickets available on-site at P35.