If you look for fountain pen reviews in the Philippines, it is hard to miss Archer Rantings (or Rants of the Archer)  by Clem Dionglay. Each piece is simply a joy to read, with bright, sharp photos to match the writer’s insightful thoughts on the items.

But let us get one thing out of the way first. The Archer did not go to the Green Archers’ university: she’s a true blue maroon from UP Los Banos, getting the moniker after taking archery for PE and writing about Sagittarius, the Zodiac Signs’ resident archer, for class.

Clem (right) at the first Philippine TN meet in 2016. Photo courtesy of Erold Beronio.

“When I created the Blogger account several years ago, I used that to make the blog name unique,” Clem told Pen Noob. “Later on, whenever I meet people and tell them I am the blogger at Rants of The Archer, they think that I am from La Salle.”

“I wanted to change the name but people already knew it’s mine, so I kept it.”

Watching local fountain pen and TN communities grow

A look inside one of Clem’s notes. Photo courtesy of Erold Beronio.

Since her Parker 25 post in 2009, Clem has published almost 60 reviews on fountain pens. As a long-time Fountain Pen Network – Philippines (FPN-P) member she also saw firsthand how big the community has grown.

“The community today is a lot different from the fountain pen community in 2008 when I first joined FPN-P,” she said. “Back then, we only had National Bookstore, some of the small stores in UBelt, and our friends abroad as sources of our pens, ink, and stationery.

More options have also come in for the local market, she notes, which makes the scene friendlier to newbies today.

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She also has over 30 posts each for inks and paper products as well. My first encounter with her blog, for example, was not about fountain pens: I was looking for a Moleskine alternative when I discovered her post about the Midori Traveler’s Notebook (TN).

Clem also organized the very intimate first TN users’ meet in 2016. That’s where I first met her in person.

The first TN meet in the Philippines only had eight people. Clem (third from right) helped boost its presence locally with her work.

“The local TN community has grown a lot! There are more people who are using TNs for productivity and creative expression, and I am happy we have come this far,” she said. “It may not be as active as the fountain pen community, but people haven’t stopped using their TNs!”

Feeling the community love

FPN-P is not just a hobby group to her, where she’d meet like-minded people and talk about nibs.  It is a second family that literally helped save her life.

“When I was sick and needed surgery in 2019, the Network, through some patient, caring, and kind members, held its first fundraiser,” she revealed. “The proceeds were astounding.”

Clem and Butch Dalisay at a 2012 Sheaffer launch event. Photo by Mona Caccam.

Since then, the group has been doing it for members who meet unexpected needs, most of which are medical in nature. Some either donating directly or put their own pens for sale for a cause.

“It’s our caring, giving, and nurturing nature that makes us so unique, so inspiring, and so amazing,” she added.

Clem and Patrick Ng at the 2017 Philippine TN meet.

Clem’s work on Rants of The Archer also let her meet pen makers, ink mixers, and paper manufacturers from all over the world, which she features on her site. But one notable meet-up is with Patrick Ng, known for his work on TN.

“When I met Patrick, it felt like he’s a friend I haven’t seen for a long time,” she recalled. “It was so pleasant and we talked about TNs right away. I learned a lot from him, especially his TN hacks.”

Life with pens

Outside of the fountain pen and TN space, Clem is a publications designer, science writer, and social media manager. She writes a lot with a keyboard, but the nibs come in for planning designs, writing down ideas, taking notes, and journaling activities.

“When the pandemic hit, we were forced to work from our homes and that gave me extra time to work on my blog again,” said Clem, adding that she now publishes twice a week compared to her pre-pandemic once-a-month posts.

While Clem has a variety of pens in her collection, she is known in the community for having limited edition Lamy Safaris. This is her Lamy family as of 2020.

She also has a notebook line, WriteHere, waiting to be launched. She added a sample in a recent Instagram giveaway, but difficulty in sourcing paper proved to be a huge blocker.

I use Canson sketchpad paper for the pocket notebooks, but the prices have increased. I also want to do bigger-sized notebooks and hardbound ones, but I need to learn more skills to be able to do that.

But until then, we can expect more rants from the archer, sans the rage usually expected from the word. There’s generally little to gripe in this hobby, and like Clem’s colorful works, there’s much worth celebrating.