Saturday, December 31, 2005

Bright Purple Spot in 2005: REUNIONS!

Tita Gang and Tita Yelley on an impromptu beach getaway.

Julia was a fellow little tourist in New York City.

Ateneo friends in big city/small world New York City.

With Stephie, long-lost friend and almost-native New Yorker.

One day and an evening with Ursula in LA, a bottle of red wine, and non-stop conversation.

Hanging out with my Fjupy Womyn, Trixy and Julia, in San Diego.

Wow Philippines: Taja and Chris in Manila and Bohol.

Ate Kim's early Christmas celebration in Manila.

Bright Purple Spot in 2005: TRAVEL!

Punta Fuego with DDI Friends. Laiya with Gang and Yelle.

Pittsburgh with Vanette. New York City with Julia, Jason and Stephie.

LA with Ursula. San Diego with Trix & Ade, Julia & John.

Cebu with DDI. Bohol with Taja, Chris and Bub.

    Thursday, December 29, 2005

    A Christmas Elephant with Pink Spots

    It's great how paperclips come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Check out this purple elephant with pink spots (plus a striped snout, green ears and yellow feet)! This is Ate Kim's pasalubong from Singapore. I've never seen an elephant with pink spots before.

    Not even at Powerbooks where they sell these giant funky paperclips. Last Christmas, I bought two for my close paperclippy friends, Tita Gang and Tobbie. I got a pink paperclip with a butterfly for her, and a black shiny paperclip with a smiling sunshiney sun for him. But I've never seen an elephant with pink spots before; have you?

    Now you have.

    Sunday, December 25, 2005

    Christmas Wish: here I come?

    I gave a copy of my book to my good friend Paul who works at in Seattle. He dropped by on Christmas Day to say hello. We hadn't seen each other in more than two years so it was nice to catch up and reminisce. The Yellow Paperclip will get to travel to Seattle soon enough. Perhaps one day you can even purchase my storybook online at Amazon! That's a good Christmas wish... and definitely a bright purple spot!

    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    The Much-Awaited Package from Pittsburgh

    Wow. I still can't believe it. I finally got to pick up the package Donna sent me from her third grade class in Pittsburgh. It took me a couple of hours to drive to the post office, wait in line, wait for the package, and drive all the way to work, but it was all worth it. I still have a great big smile on my face and in my heart.

    Donna's students wrote me thank-you notes, complete with colorful drawings of their favorite scene in my story. My heart swelled with pride a million times over and I couldn't help but look through the drawings over and over and over and over again. As if that wasn't enough! The package also included a VHS tape: Donna recorded a storytelling session she did in class! Her students were very behaved and they responded well to the story.

    I still can't believe how my story has traveled quite far... farther than I myself expected. Much like the Yellow Paperclip and myself, I'm glad my story has reached out and touched many others, across continents and across timezones.

    Friday, December 09, 2005

    A Note from National Artist Arturo Luz

    WOW. I can't believe I got a handwritten note from National Artist Arturo Luz... the Arturo Luz. Like my sister said, "Wow, I read and studied about him in art school!"

    I sent him a copy of my book after I saw his giant paperclip sculptures. Not too many people are fascinated by the ordinary paperclip, so I was delighted when I saw his sculptures around the Ayala Museum a couple of months ago. I delivered a copy of my book with a note to his house in Pasig (big thanks to Rheza, my friend and Ayala Museum tour guide, who gave me his home address!).

    On a piece of yellow paper, he wrote:

    Thursday, December 08, 2005

    Six Degrees of Separation

    A note from my friend's cousin's friend.

    What was three degrees then is now down to one. They now say that the entire world is connected by only five degrees! Wow! Worlds collide and I love it.

    My name is Kai and I believe my friend Mara sent you an e-mail just this week as well. I just wanted to say that I really did enjoy reading your story The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots. She brought it to school one day and she was really excited to let me read it! When I finished the book, I was left with a huge smile on my face.
    I am glad to know that I am not the only one who seems highly amused with the whole six-degrees-of-seperation concept. It's like a big Friendster world out there, really. Hehe! There are times when introductions are going on and then I realize how people are related and I just spazz over it. While others just shrug and smile as if it was no biggie, I am left with this really warm fuzzy feeling in me. I usually cannot hide the goofy smile on my face when my thoughts start to tug at me saying, "HEY! They know each other! How cool is that?!?" Even just talking about this makes me all...happy.

    I've often wondered, too, how money goes around. Everytime I see something written on a dilapidated piece of paper money, the nuts, bolts and wheels in my head start working. I like imagining how many people have kept that piece of paper money for a day, week, month or even longer. My point is, I like it that there was actually a book on such a thing. Amazing how a simple piece of material can tell a story about its 'life'. It had its own adventures and was able to pass on some great lessons and ideas.
    Thank you for sharing to us your wonderful piece of work. I shall be waiting for your next books!

    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    The Yellow Paperclip meets Carlo

    Carlo is a dear friend of mine from college. We don't get to spend time together now as much as we used to, of course, but he is still dear to me. He's an artist and fellow member of The Bad Art Club. He creates the most striking black-and-white ink swirls and lines and patterns and images. He and I have very little in common yet our friendship is real. He knows me so well. He gave me the name Cloud Woman.

    The Yellow Paperclip reaches out to my friend Carlo, in hopes of reminding him that there's so much to hope for and live for.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2005

    Papa's Paperclip Patterns

    Papa's experiments with his new Nikon...

    Saturday, November 19, 2005

    Norwegian Binders

    When I was doing my research for The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots and found out that the paperclip was a Norwegian invention, I also came across several sites which said there was a giant paperclip sculpture in Oslo. Unfortunately, I never found a photo of this elusive paperclip.

    Luckily, some great Norwegians found Kyle's blog and sent him some photos. It looks like there's more than one giant sculpture of paperclips or "binders"...

    Thanks, Kyle, for allowing me to post these photos here!

    I will send two copies of my book to the Norwegian ambassador here in Manila. I hope the Norwegian community likes my story!

    Saturday, November 12, 2005

    A Paperclip Documentary

    Ade, thanks for telling me about this documentary.

    From Yahoo! Movies: Whitell Middle School in rural Tennessee is the setting for this documentary about an extraordinary experiment in Holocaust education. Struggling to grasp the concept of six million Holocaust victims, the students decide to collect six million paperclips to better understand the extent of this crime against humanity. The film details how the students met Holocaust survivors from around the world and how the experience transformed them and their community.

    I can't wait to see it. Watch the trailer and learn more about how the humble paperclip has created miracles and changed the world... yet again.

    Thursday, November 10, 2005

    WOW! Twelve Paperclips in an Hour

    I still can't believe I saw twelve... yes, TWELVE... twelve paperclips when I walked from my office to the post office and back (to snailmail two copies of my book to Trixy and Julia).

    A blue bent-into-a-heart-shape one on the sidewalk, just after I waved to friends. A green one a few steps later. A red one in the post office. There was another blue one. Then white. A brown one in a rain puddle. Yellow in a sidewalk crack. Orange. Pink and Green as I crossed the parking lot (that's nine and ten). Blue again. A big bright shiny red one as the twelfth, as if the grand finale.

    By the sixth or seventh, I was walking around with a huge smile on my face. People must have thought I was crazy or high on something. Hee-hee. I'll probably see more... would I reach ten? Naaah, that's too much.

    Ask and you shall receive. Be careful what you wish for. Sometimes you get even more than what you asked for.

    Friday, November 04, 2005

    The Yellow Paperclip Goes to Pittsburgh

    In late 2005, my paperclip found its way to the hearts of third graders all the way in Pittsburgh, which is literally on the opposite side of the globe. I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to Pittsburgh in April 2005 to visit our corporate headquarters. This is one of my favorite photos of the Pittsburgh Postcard in my mind...

    I met many wonderful people, including Donna, a grade school teacher who got so excited when she found out I was coming out with a children's book. I sent her a copy as soon as I could (which was sometime in October) so she could share it with her class. We ended up exchanging a couple of emails:

    Dear Nikki,
    Thank you so much for remembering to send me your book. I thought it was just wonderful. I read it to my students and they loved it as well. My 3rd graders would like to send you a little thank you. Can I have your address, please? I hope all is well with you. Lots of luck with your book. I know that it will do well.

    P.S. My students couldn't believe that I knew the author of a book. They kept asking me questions about you.

    And I replied with my address and asking what it was her students wanted to know. I couldn't help but walk around with a silly smile on my face after reading her reply:

    Thank you for your address. My students ( keep in mind they are eight years old) were asking these kind of questions: How did you meet her? Why was she in the United States? How did you understand her (meaning: does she speak English?) What is her job? Show us the Philippines on the map. How long does it take to get there? And on and on and on. Good luck with the International Book award. Keep me posted. You will be hearing from my students and I in a few weeks.

    I'm sure these kids have never even heard of the Philippines; I seriously doubt they've even met a Filipino. But now, thanks to my story, they at least know about my country, have seen where it is on the map, and hopefully, they can even be proud that they know about a unique Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots!

    Saturday, October 29, 2005

    The Yellow Paperclip Goes to Glorietta

    The Adarna Book Carnival traveled to National Bookstore in Glorietta where May Ann and I joined the storytelling and book signing sessions. We got a handful of kids listening to Kuya Jay tell the story. One of them even won a copy of the book by retelling the story! May Ann and I signed a lot of books, both from the kids and also from each others' purchases! Hee-hee.

    I also got to meet and spend some time with May Ann's friends. They were all very down-to-earth and friendly, just like May Ann. They are all so proud of her for pursuing her dream and the arts as a full-time freelance artist. She really is amazing, just like her artwork. I'm so happy she won the PBBY-Alcala Prize. At first I was worried: What if I don't like the style of the winning illustrator? What if s/he is difficult to work with? But May Ann was a dream-come-true. She is so pleasant, fun and was incredibly easy to work with. Best of all, her illustrations brought extraordinary life, color and energy to my story. Until our next collaboration, May Ann!

    Wednesday, October 26, 2005

    Pay It Forward

    I had lunch with my good friend Tobbie to help him with his story for the 2006 PBBY-Salanga Prize. Just as a friend urged me to write last year, it's now my turn to be the cheerleader: "Write, Tobbie, write!"

    Tobbie and I met through work last year and we became friends pretty quickly when we learned we share the same passion for writing, reading, full moons and good conversation. When I won last year, Tobbie was one of the first people to know and he came by the office to congratulate me. He had said that it was also his big dream to be a children's story writer.

    This picture was taken in my messy workspace in February 2005 shortly after May Ann won the PBBY-Alcala prize. Check out my wallpaper: it's May Ann's winning illustration! Many months later, Tobbie is just as happy and proud of me. Here are photos he took from our lunch when I helped edit his story about friendship, lots of sunshine, hope, and living life to the fullest.

    (Note: Whether on my wallpaper or on the actual page spread, May Ann's illustration is awesome!)

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    As White as the White Sands of Panglao Island

    I spent the last three days with friends in Bohol, the tenth largest island in the Philippines and a one-hour plane ride from Manila. It crossed my mind but I brushed it aside: I wonder if I'll see a paperclip here in Bohol? Naaaaah... What are the chances?

    Three days later (that is, three days, four tourists, one cave, one old church, one river cruise, a few hills, eight tarsiers and several cocktails later), on our last day, just as I was walking back to the hotel room to pack and head to the airport, I saw it: my paperclip in Bohol... white, happily lost, lounging around by the poolside.

    Wednesday, October 05, 2005

    The Yellow Paperclip Goes to a Rotary Club Meeting

    My boss invited me as the guest speaker for their regular meeting of the Rotary Club of Makati North at The Conservatory in The Peninsula Manila Hotel. Thank you for a great opportunity, VLM! Here's the transcript of my 15-minutes-of-fame:


    Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me to join you this afternoon. In the next 20 minutes, we will have a storytelling session of The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots and other equally colorful stories. I will tell you stories and also ask you questions along the way.

    First question. May I see a show of hands: Who among you have children below the age of ten? Keep your hands up. Who among you have grandchildren? (Or, let me rephrase that question: who among you is married to a grandmother?) Please keep your hands up if you answer yes to my third and last question: Who among you read to your children or your grandchildren?

    It must be difficult to compete with the Cartoon Network, cellphones, 3-D computer games, surfing the Internet, or iPods, but reading is not just another hobby or pastime. Why should we read to children? Mary Ellen Chase, an American scholar, teacher and writer, said: “There is no substitute for books in the life of a child.” We are what we read. We are a part of everything that we have read. But in my case, allow me to add to that: we are, or we become, what we read and write.

    Reading and writing have always been a part of who I am. While most 7-year-olds took ballet or piano lessons, I was a nerdy kid and chose speed reading and creative writing classes. I started my first journal in second grade and have kept a journal since. My Dear Diary and Nancy Drew were my closest friends as I grew up. My love for reading and writing continued in middle school when I discovered Shakespeare, wrote for the school paper, and enjoyed the 15-minute-a-day journal-writing activity for my English class. I fell in love with Tolstoy’s Levin and Miller’s Biff Loman in high school; it got so bad that I would sometimes quote lines from Russian novels in conversations with friends. I re-read Shakespeare (and played Moth in our production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and continued to write: I wrote on the school bus, under the trees, and in coffee shops; I wrote for school assignments, for friends, for myself, for fun. Armed with a flashlight and a pen under my blanket, I would write past my bedtime, furiously and secretly, about the angst and dreams of a 16-year-old. In college, I drank from Walden’s Pond, woke up with a jolt after reading Fr. De Mello’s The Way to Love, and, admittedly, enjoyed writing lengthy papers on Walt Whitman and Hannah Arendt. After getting teary-eyed with Shel Silverstein’s stories, The Missing Piece and The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, rediscovering Dr. Seuss, and seeing myself in Yellow in Hope for the Flowers, I decided to sign up for a class in Writing and Illustrating for Children. The class only confirmed my growing interest and appreciation for children’s literature.

    We read because books help shape who we are. What books did you read? What books do your children or grandchildren read? But let me ask another question: what’s so special about a children’s story? I got an anonymous quote off Google: “Good children's literature appeals not only to the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.” I like stories with multiple meanings for both kids and grown-ups. A story about butterflies speaks of hope and second chances. A story with very simple penciled cartoons captures our desire to belong and to be loved by another. A wacky story with fuzzy creatures in a pop-up book illustrates life’s exciting adventures. Children’s literature presents life in a seemingly simple way; but upon a closer read, it is full of meaning and wonder and learning. The legendary Dr. Seuss says it best: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”

    “Write, Nikki, write,” a friend of mine urged, as she emailed me the details of the PBBY-Salanga Prize. To publish a book was the first on my Top Three Things To Do Before I Die List and I had always dreamed of writing my own children’s story, a cross between fiction and modern-day fable, a story for both the child in adults and the adults in children. After several brainstorming sessions with different groups of people and many nights in front of a blank computer screen, I came up with a story I submitted on the deadliest deadline date, October 1, 2004.

    One year later—or let’s say, one year, one gold medal, one book fair, one book launch, two interviews, several storytelling sessions, and X number of books sold LATER—I’m happy to be here to share with you the story behind my story.

    You must be wondering: why a story about a paperclip? It started out as a little game my college boyfriend and I used to play. We would see paperclips frequently in the strangest places: lost on the bench, along the sidewalk, between the stones of the Quad, on the library steps. We would wonder where they had been and how they got there. Before the October deadline, I brainstormed with Becca, my colleague’s 10-year-old daughter, and asked for her opinion about the different stories I had in my head. She thought stories about fish and Christmas were boring. When I asked her where she last saw a paperclip and where it could have been, her eyes lit up with curiosity. In between giggles, we traced the paperclip’s adventures as it wove through the lives of various people and situations; the light in her eyes told me I had a good story. But there are many more untold stories behind The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots. When you read my story, I hope you also read between the lines and between the pages.

    First, it’s a story about being different yet making a difference. We’ve all felt a little out-of-place. We’ve all felt lost and unimportant. I know I have. A paperclip is something easily ignored and essentially insignificant; but because it has traveled to different places, learned new things, made friends, and accepted its bright purple spots, it has developed a sense of self and purpose.

    Secondly, it’s a story that cuts across cultures and time zones. The humble paperclip is recognized on any continent. What started out as a Norwegian invention in 1899 has been used as a symbol of unity against the Nazis, a gift of hope and hugs during the first Gulf War, a trading gimmick in Montreal, and as cool giant sculptures around Ayala Museum. It has 922,000 entries on Google and is used in many logos and design elements. Third graders in Xavier School in Greenhills and in a public school in Pittsburgh enjoyed the story. I was told my story wasn’t too Filipino; that was deliberate on my part. I wanted my story to bridge gaps and make the world an even smaller place. Wish me and May Ann luck as we wait for the results of the International Reading Association’s annual children’s story award. We submitted our book for an award for first time authors and illustrators; we should find out before the year ends.

    Lastly, it’s a story about being amazed at the ordinary and mundane things in life. Most people couldn’t care less about paperclips; hopefully, after reading my story, you and your children or grandchildren will never see a paperclip in the same way. Ever. I gave out colored paperclips at the end of my storytelling sessions at the Manila International Book Fair, at Powerbooks and at Xavier School; with their wide-eyed smiles and excited shrieks of “Me! Me! Me! I want one!” you’d think these kids have never seen a paperclip before! It was as if they were seeing a paperclip for the very first time. I loved it. Wouldn’t the world be a much happier place if we all learned to relish every moment and every little thing as if for the first time?

    The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots is part fable, part fiction (but with real-life characters) and part autobiography. It’s a story that links other colorful stories, different people, places, and experiences. I still see paperclips—at least two a day—not on my desk at the office but in strange places. I hope you do too. The next time you see a paperclip, stop, smile, think of where it has been, and begin a new adventure.

    Saturday, September 17, 2005

    Giant Paperclip Scultptures by National Artist Arturo Luz

    Here are some shots taken around the Ayala Museum. Aren't these amazing? It would be so cool if I had a giant sculpture of a yellow paperclip with bright purple spots. I will send Mr. Luz a copy of my book. I hope he likes it! We both like paperclips so there must be some connection here!

    Here's a picture to show you just how big they are! I hope I get to see the giant paperclip sculpture in Norway one day...