Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Backblog (Backlog ng Blog)

I wish I had more time to write. If I did, I would write about...
  • The Magic of Teacher Mauie
  • Noli's Unique Kids
  • The Yellow Paperclip Visits an Animation Studio
  • A Dream Come True (Almost) for My Friend Johnny
  • Writing for Grown-Ups
  • Don and the Joy of Believing in Paperclips
  • The Yellow Paperclip Goes to ISM
I have a Stickie note on my desktop to remind me of my backblog. But I thought I'd post it up here as a baby step to making it real. Eeeep. Find time, Nikki... please find time.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Yellow Paperclip Meets Alice and Joy

I spent a day in a room full of writers, aspiring writers, fellow lovers of children's books, publishers, teachers, psychologists, psychiatrists, moms, and new friends. It was the day of the writing workshop sponsored by The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators with globally-published author Alice McLerran.

I saw her as I entered; she was wearing a purple dress (and I was in a purple shirt!)... and I liked her already! Alice shared her stories with us as a writer, daughter and mother; a number of us also shared our stories during the group critique sessions. Now that was nerve-wracking! Whew! (That experience deserves its own blogpost. Abangan...) Until I can find the time to write lengthily on the writing workshop, I'll share some of the notes I scribbled as Alice talked about her life as a writer and shared some tips on the writing process (with additional and pahabol thought bubbles of mine in purple!).

Publishing is anytime you let go of a piece of writing. Publishing your work matters. The fun in writing is sharing it with others. (It took me a while to share my writing with others. It was great to know that other people enjoyed what I write... so it wasn't just Mom. Hee-hee.)

You're the same writer even after a "Whopeeee! I'm published!" moment. Things don't change drastically. (Exactly! I was suprised when I sat down next to Michele of CCP and she said with a laugh, "How intimidating! Of course someone with a book had to sit next to me!" Me, intimidating?! Not at all. It was nice to meet you, Michele!)

With picture books, you have to trust your illustrator to tell the other half of your story. And illustrators must know how to draw imagination. (And I love it how May Ann saw the world of my Yellow Paperclip so much better than I even imagined it myself!)

We write about what we know and care about. You have to care enough about your story. And care enough to share it with others. (Who would've thought others would find a paperclip just as fascinating?)

An idea is not the story. You still have to develop the story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Yes, it's hard work. (That a-ha moment still needs a lot of work, tears, patience and determination. "Dreams mean work," Paulo Coelho said. I believe him 100%.)

The most simple of plants (and stories!) draw their strength from a complex root system. (If only you knew the entire root system of the Yellow Paperclip...)

There's no one set of pictures for a story. (Alice's book The Mountain that Loved a Bird has been published in several countries, including Russia, Pakistan, China and the Philippines - in the native language and with locally-inspired illustrations. Amazing!)

Rewriting should be the fun and most pleasurable part of writing. (This should be my mantra... Really.)

Ideas come and go. Write them down as soon as possible. (Never leave home without that trusty notebook and pen!)

Creativity is not romantic. A lot of it happens in strange ways. But a lot of it is craft. It's practice. (Creativity is also a way of life. It's about being curious and silly and child-like.)

Trust your subconscious. (I should. I will.)

I bought a copy of The Mountain that Loved a Bird, a very moving story with beautiful new illustrations by Beaulah. I also gave Alice a copy of The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots and she loved it! She said it wasn't lip service but she really enjoyed the story. I'm so happy! I hope we keep in touch.

Oh... and if you're wondering who Joy is, you'll have to read The Mountain that Loved a Bird! Send an email to mothertonguepublishinginc@gmail.com or visit their site to get copies.

PS. I can't believe I didn't get to have my photo taken with Alice! Sayang. And it would have been so cool for this blogpost (especially since we were both in purple!). Beaulah or Nikki, I hope you can share some photos with me. Maraming salamat!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Painful Truth Behind My Purple Spots

I got the biggest Halloween trick yesterday, except it wasn't a prank... it's the painful truth behind the "purple spots" on my face. What does this have to do with paperclips? Well, I always knew my story was autobiographical but I don't know if many people know I associated the bright purple spots with my own face.

NO, it's not a delayed onset of puberty-pimples, it's not adult acne, it's not even allergies. It's a chronic inflamatory disorder called Rosacea. I spent the last day and a half reading up about it and I thought I'd share some of the info with you as I will be needing all the emotional support I can get. Here's a quick intro from one of the websites:

Rosacea (pronounced "roh-ZAY-sha") is a chronic and potentially life-disruptive disorder primarily of the facial skin, often characterized by flare-ups and remissions. Many have observed that it typically begins any time after age 30 as a redness on the cheeks, nose, chin or forehead that may come and go. In some cases, rosacea may also occur on the neck, chest, scalp or ears. Over time, the redness becomes ruddier and more persistent, and visible blood vessels may appear. Left untreated, bumps and pimples often develop, and in severe cases the nose may grow swollen and bumpy from excess tissue. While there is no cure for rosacea and the cause is unknown, medical therapy is available to control or reverse its signs and symptoms. Individuals who suspect they may have rosacea are urged to see a dermatologist or other knowledgeable physician for diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Apparently, Rosacea affects about 14 million Americans. The disorder is more likely among Caucasians (so, mestiza pala ako?!) and celebrities like Bill Clinton and Princess Diana had flare-ups too. I don't think it's very common here in the Philippines which is probably why my first trips to dermatologists as early as 2004 were frustrating as they couldn't give me any info. Luckily, I feel much better with a new dermatologist I'm seeing. She's truly an angel in disguise. (And get this! I found out on my second visit that her dad was the OB who delivered me! That can only be a good thing.) I am now on medication - oral antibiotics and a topical gel to relieve some of the pimples and redness. However, I was warned that there may be some "transient redness" when my skin reacts to the medication. True enough, I turned tomato-red yesterday. It's so frustrating.

Given that there's no cure, the best thing to do is manage my lifestyle and avoid specific triggers that aggravate my Rosacea. There's no known cause either. Each individual has unique triggers; the challenge is to identify them soon so I can avoid them completely. But it's not as easy as that. From a recent survey, these are the top triggers for flare-ups:
  1. Sun exposure - 81% (Eeep. Of course I just got back from Panglao.)
  2. Emotional stress - 79% (Hmmm. This will be hard to isolate.)
  3. Hot weather - 75% (I live in the Philippines!)
  4. Wind - 57% (I guess I can't drive at 130km/h on the Skyway with the windows down anymore.)
  5. Heavy exercise - 56% (No wonder I turn beet-red after my Elorde workout. Tai-chi, anyone?)
  6. Alcohol consumption - 52% (Cheers... you can have my San Mig Lite.)
  7. Cold weather - 46% (It feels like the North Pole in the office sometimes. So cold that I can't even type!)
  8. Spicy foods - 45% (Bicolano ang tatay ko. Patay.)
  9. Humidity - 44% (Once again, I live in the tropics!)
  10. Indoor heat - 41% (Apparently, even the heat in a crowded elevator!)
  11. Certain skin-care products - 41% (I think I had a flare-up from Cetaphil the other day.)
  12. Heated beverages - 36% (Gasp. No more coffee... Sob!)
  13. Certain cosmetics - 27% (Yes, even the hypoallergenic ones. Even Clinique and VMV.)
  14. Medications - 15% (Pimple creams are absolute no-nos. Ibuprofen can also be a trigger.)
  15. Medical conditions - 15% (Even a cough could trigger a flare-up.)
  16. Certain fruits - 13% (I have a feeling I overdosed on Florida's Natural...)
  17. Marinated meats - 10% (No more corned beef. No more longganisa. Well, less carcinogens for me!)
  18. Certain vegetables - 9% (Sana ampalaya ang trigger ko... Hee-hee.)
  19. Dairy products - 8% (Please... let it NOT be cheese.)
  20. Other factors - 24% (This is my favorite... I wonder what in the world it could be?!)
I am now subjected to a super-bland diet and have to drink 10-15 glasses of cold water a day to keep me cool and hydrated. I can't even take hot beverages - so goodbye coffee, tea and hot chocolate... unless of course I opt to drink it at room temperature, and only when I can isolate that caffeine is NOT a trigger in itself. Other websites have compiled a long laundry list of triggers that other Rosacea patients have reported and you'll be amazed at the variety of triggers. Problem is, there aren't any tests for it. I have to keep a log of everything I do and eat, how I'm feeling, what the weather was like, etc. Notice too how emotional stress is high on the list... and it could even mean non-work or 'happy' stress like excitement or excessive laughter. Argh. Again, how frustrating.

I just wanted to share the news with you so you know what I'm going through. It's not easy and it will not be easy the next coming weeks/months. So as early as now, I'm apologizing if I will be cranky! Or if I choose to hibernate and not go out on gimmicks if it's a bad flare-up day. It sucks to look in the mirror every morning and always have to think: is today a bad flare-up day or not? I'm scheduled to see my derma in two weeks' time; hopefully the medications would have taken some effect by then. I sure hope so.

So that's my Halloween trick this year. If anything, I'll have to come up with something good from all this... like maybe write a story about a little girl who gets red spots?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Panglao's Yellow and Purple Spots

Hello, Room 1403 - my homebase for the next two nights. It was a well-deserved vacation for all of us. With my trusty purple backpack, a yellow sun hat, a snorkel, a camera and sunblock, I was all set for paradise! I didn't see a paperclip this time around but I did encounter some interesting yellow and purple spots in the three days we spent on Panglao Island. Check out these photos...

Purple, giant and alien-like jellyfish floating...
...or sunbathing on the sand... ...or just hanging out! They were so fascinating that I couldn't help but take photos from all angles... and zoomed in for an up-close-and-personal look! I loved the ube soup they served for dinner one night... yum! Of course I loved seeing yellow and purple together: along the walkways... ... and at the resort's man-made islet.

I guess I will forever see purple and yellow in a different light; these two colors will always stand out, no matter where I go. Don't get me wrong though... Panglao was in full color! Check out my other photos (in other colors) HERE - including some great videos of dolphins!

Panglao will forever be a favorite destination... with or without paperclips.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

A Purple Passport and A Yellow Hat

I'm getting my passport renewed (what's going to be my first stamp in it?) and I got my photo taken wearing my favorite purple polo. I don't need my passport to go to Panglao tomorrow but my mom bought me a cool hat with a yellow ribbon!

As you can see, I'm starting to associate anything purple and yellow with paperclips (and this blog). Maybe because I'm blogbling (babbling and blogging at the same time?) after being away for just about two weeks. Maybe because I've got a purple Stickie with a list of Blog Backlog (BackBlog?) to write and I'll never get to pack my purple backpack once I get started.

I wonder if I'll see another Panglao paperclip just as I did last year...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Visit a Children's Art Exhibit of Hope

Gusto ko matahimik ang mundo. Sana makabenta si Nanay ng maraming bulaklak. Gusto ko maging mananahi para makagawa ako ng damit para kay Nanay. Sana maging makulay ang buhay.

An art exhibit featuring life-sized silhouettes, created by children living in poverty expressing their hopes and dreams for a better world.

14 - 27 October
10 AM to 5 PM
Museo Pambata

In commemoration of October 17th as the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty. Organized by ATD Fourth World Philippines.

Who can change the world without me?

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Paperclip is Nominated for the People's Design Award

My cousin sent me this interesting link today: Based purely on anecdotal evidence gathered at the baggage carousel, we feel pretty safe in saying that 90% of air passengers now travel with a wheelie suitcase. We feel even more secure asserting that most humans over the age of eight are familiar with the rounded contours of the paper clip. These objects are world famous, yes. But are they great design? Somebody thinks so—and has nominated them for the first-ever People's Design Award from the tasteful folks at Cooper-Hewitt. Though the museum has long hosted the National Design Awards, this is its first stab at a contest where items are submitted and voted on by we, the people. The polls are now open. So wander through and mark your ballot for objects as disparate as the Band-Aid, post-Katrina cottages, a baby stroller, or the Stratocaster. Then tune in on October 18 to see which one takes the trophy for the people's favorite.

True enough, the simple, comfy paperclip is nominated for the People's Design Award and here are some reasons why (and my own purple thought bubbles in parentheses).
  • Probably did more than any other single item to create the modern western office culture.(Definitely more, or at least sooner, than Post-Its!)
  • Its function cannot be improved by any design change. It cannot be completely replaced. (Exactly! Bull clips and staples don't come close!)
  • So far, it hasn't been replaced, changed or updated in any essential, structural way. I think that says enough about the ingenuity of its design. It is a great example for all structural designers out there that there is no need for excess; less is really so much more sometimes. (Simplify, simplify, simplify.)
  • Functional, accessible to all users, aesthetically pleasing to look at. What more could you want from any design? (They look even better with bright purple spots!)
  • One day my two friends were asking each other the difference between design and architecture. The simple answer being "time" - a building naturally has more time on its hand than a product. But with safety pins, paperclips and zippers, I would have to say that they are here for good. Maybe. (I think paperclips will live forever.)
  • Timeless. Unmistakable purpose. God is a paperclip. (Umm, I wouldn't go that far...)
  • Elegant yet simple. Essential. A design that makes you think, "Why didn't I think of that?" and yet you didn't. So universal that it has become invisible. (Hopefully my story will get people to take notice of this amazing invention in a new way.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

On Purple Shirts and Blink-Thinking

The last two nights have been lucky and creative, respectively, and I don't know if it's because I wore purple shirts (yes, two different ones!) yesterday and today, or used the power of Blink-thinking from Malcolm Gladwell's bestseller, Blink. The other common denominator was that I worked late in the office, but I don't think that has anything to do with it.

I wore Purple Shirt #1 for my passport photo shoot yesterday. I shut down, locked up the office and headed out to the parking lot. I noticed my left front tire needed some air. I remember thinking twice (aabot pa siguro ako sa bahay...) but decided otherwise, on Blink-think, and stopped at a gas station to get air. The Universe gave me an angel in Mang Robert who noticed that my right rear tire was completely flat! He changed the tire with the spare I keep in the trunk. Whew! I don't even want to think what could have happened if I had just kept driving.

I wore Purple Shirt #2 under a black suit (I had to be wear my grown-up hat today for the MAP International CEO Conference). From the Makati Shangri-La, I had to make my way back to the office to participate in a conference call with fellow Marketing colleagues from all over the world. We finished at around 8:30 PM and I debated between packing up and heading home, or staying and starting on my PBBY story. My Blink-think said stay. I'm glad I did. All alone in the WriteRoom until nearly midnight, I was able to write a good 1,500+ words - and a first draft that I was quite happy with!

When asked what Blink is about, Gladwell answers: It's a book about rapid cognition, about the kind of thinking that happens in a blink of an eye. When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, "Blink" is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good.

I Blinked and in two seconds, I decided to stop at the gas station and decided to stay at the office. Two blinks, two good decisions. Or, simply, just two purple shirts. You decide.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Power of a Silver Paperclip

You never know when ideas will come or where they come from. I spent an hour and a half this morning sitting on a dirty monobloc, waiting in line to get Roger's LTO registration papers processed. I had a bottle of water, my trusty handbook (You Can Write Children's Books by Tracey E. Dils, a gift from Papa sometime ago), a pen and some initial notes on recycled paper. And voila! The ideas just kept coming. My scribbling couldn't keep up.

Snails. The summer he turned ten. Stargazing. Connect-the-dots/stars. Lego. Ice cream (rocky road?). Ten birthday candles. Swimming. Seeing a cloud in the shape of a Range Rover? Pebbles. Sand from a sandbox. Four wheels versus two. "It's harder to fall off four wheels." Surprises. Acceptance. It's a cloudy night but there are three bright stars.

I don't like walking on eggshells. I need a friend. Don't get me wrong, it's not about love, but about respect. What role do you play? No wonder old lovers can't be friends. Sneaking out at 13. Slow dancing at 14. Give me a break. A little too well? Frigid conscience. There's something seriously wrong here. Let me be the voice of all grownup kids. Can you just let me be me? Maybe I'm asking too much.

Now the challenge is to create something out of these thought bubbles. I don't know where they came from but I'm glad I captured them in furious scribbles. Who knows? Maybe they're all from that silver paperclip attached to the LTO files. Maybe the silver ones aren't so dull after all.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

31 Artists = 31 Adventures

Thirty-one young artists who joined an art contest sponsored by Roche Philippines were each introduced to The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots. Thanks to Susan, my friend from PSTD and a true DDI champion, who thought of sharing my story with them, there are now thirty-one new adventures for my paperclip... and I'm sure they're extra colorful ones!

Monday, October 02, 2006


It was Becca. She started my great adventure around the world.

These lines speak the truth for both The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots and myself. Becca really did start one of my life's biggest adventures - my storybook and all the stories I can share because of it. I love telling the story of how she helped develop the adventures of our Yellow Paperclip. It was one of my earliest posts - read it HERE.

In celebration of Becca's 12th birthday, we had a unique and colorful birthday celebration at MMLDC yesterday afternoon. Check out our birdmasks! My homemade mask looks really daggy next to Becca's cool and sophisticated purple one! Nonetheless, it was still well-worth the 100 kilometers I drove to and from home.

Happy birthday, Becca! I wish you many colorful adventures in the years ahead! You're really a bright purple spot in my life!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Fifteen Days to Go

Gulp. October 16 is the deadline for the 2007 PBBY-Salanga Prize. If you want to submit an entry, click here for more details.
Write, Nikki... WRITE!!!

Tree Heaven

This post will have nothing to do with paperclips... but a lot to do with trees. I started a new blog today to share my favorite snapshots. I thought my first post is a good way to remember all the trees in Tree Heaven after the super typhoon Milenyo hit last Thursday. May all of you - including of course, the 61 people who lost their lives - rest in peace.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Adarna House Launches 2006 Titles

Hope to see you on Saturday! Adarna House launches its 2006 titles and it'll be a good afternoon of books, writers... and halo-halo!

Every year, Adarna House launches a new batch of children’s books to both educate and entertain the Filipino child. This year, 7 new titles will be available at the fun-filled launch on October 7, 2006, Saturday, from 2-5pm, at the Activity Area of Citywalk 2, Eastwood City. Adarna’s authors and illustrators will be present for book signing. There will be storytelling, face painting, arts and crafts, fun games, and freebies for everyone! Admission is absolutely free. For inquiries, call 372-35-48 loc 110 and look for Vanessa. This event is made possible through Animal House, Chocolate Kiss, and National Book Store.

PS. A big thank you to Adarna house for deciding to do a second printing for The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots! Yahooo! They removed the flap (I think it looks better!) and added the space to "purplespots" (whew!).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Yellow Paperclip and Two Great Men

What does a yellow paperclip have in common with a Pakistani community developer and a Japanese missionary doctor based in Afghanistan?

It is a great honor to write stories about two of Asia's great men - two men the RMAF has recognized with the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Awards. The Foundation has initiated a project to create children's books on the lives of these great men and women of Asia to inspire us with their life stories. Prior to this project, I have never heard about Shoaib Sultan Khan or Tetsu Nakamura; now, after reading their biographies and several write-ups, and spending weeks writing, editing and re-writing 1,000-word stories, I wish I could meet them in person and see what they're like up-close-and-personal.

To a Teacher of Everything and The Lucky Doctor, I do hope my stories give justice to the amazing work you've done in Pakistan and Afghanistan. More importantly, I hope your stories inspire kids to aspire to become great men and women when they grow up.

Thanks to Tita Gang and Tita Emily for inviting me to be part of this incredible project!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My Love Story with the Color Purple

PURPLE has been tagged as a "Nikki-color" by those closest to me. Even before I wrote The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots, I have always been into anything and everything purple. Let me tell you my love story with this funky color. It actually has a lot to do with my life... and with love.

In 8th grade, my middle school boyfriend and I had matching purple t-shirts. Nothing fancy, just plain, round-necked purple t-shirts. We were 15, happily on Cloud 9 and purple was "our" color. We came as twins for our Middle School's Twin Day with our matching shirts and khaki shorts. We'd laugh and credit our shared brainwaves whenever we'd wear our shirts on the same day. We were both in purple when we first hugged on the morning after I dropped the bad news that I was leaving for another country. We have several photos in our purple shirts. It's now 13 years later: my purple t-shirt is worn-out (and goes well with my Spongebob pajamas) but it still brings back a flood of happy memories every time I wear it and drift off to dreamclouds.

In high school, I played for the basketball team in my purple Chucks. I wore purple socks to add a little color to our dull white-and-gray school uniform. I remember buying a lot of purple envelopes, sign pens and fancy papers. I must have thrown out my worn-out Chucks (since I can't find them... sob!) but after seeing how well yellow paperclips go with them (check out Ada's purple chucks here), I'm thinking of getting another pair. Or should I get purple Crocs instead? (Update: I got a pair of gold mary jane Crocs but bought a purple star jibbitz!)

In college, I headed a team for the Ateneo Student Trainers (STrains) called The Euphoric Eggplants and purple became our official team color. One team member started by giving everyone purple ballpens. Another sent all his emails in purple font. I gave out purple folders and made funky purple stickers of happy dancing eggplants. We called each other "Eggplant Jon" or "Eggplant Ericka" or "Eggplant Nats" (who came to the last book signing at Powerbooks!). The Euphoric Eggplants is one of my most favorite and memorable teams I worked with.

In DDI, I was esctatic when Pittsburgh HQ decided to have purple, specifically Pantone 260, as a primary corporate color. We had official DDI folders, notebooks and pens in purple. Our corporate brochure and PowerPoint template came in shades of purple. I asked everyone to wear purple for our marketing events. I was purple from head to toe (accompanied by 100+ purple items) for our Christmas Crayola Box Party two years ago. I always knew I was meant to work at DDI, but all that purple was just too good to be true. (Just last year, we shifted into a more formal and corporate look though. Dark blue and copper are now the primary colors, but it's all good because we still use Pantone 260 for all selection and assessment services!)

In other quirky Nikki-ways, purple has completely invaded every part of my life. I've bought a couple more purple items for my wardrobe. I'm often seen with my trusty purple wallet, purple knapsack or purple purse. I've spotted so many interesting purple things: wildflowers (this photo was taken at the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches last Easter), kiping at the Pahiyas festival, even firetrucks in downtown Manila. I delight in anything purple; family and friends now find it easy to give me gifts! Google took me to some pretty cool purple sites: the pointlessly but purposefully Purple.com (make sure you click on the FAQs!), the history and variations of purple on Wikipedia, and most importantly, The Purple Crayon, a site for writing, illustrating and publishing children's books!

In this paperclip adventure, this funky color has really been a bright spot. A good friend suggested that I add the purple spots and the story took on a whole new dimension. I was wearing my purple sweater when Ani called to tell me I won the PBBY-Salanga Grand Prize. I sign books in purple ink. As cheesy as it is, I try to wear purple whenever there's an event or celebration featuring the book (even if it's my underwear! Hee-hee...).

Most people associate purple with royalty and luxury or Lent. I see purple as a significant color of my life: without a question, I am a bright purple spot, inside and out.

I'm also very yellow... but that love story is for another post!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

One Blue Paperclip = One Big Fight!

I saw a bright blue paperclip in the parking lot today and the Blue Eagles came to mind. I don't know how paperclips can be linked to basketball... except that I like both. Tee-hee. I've yet to watch a live game this season but I turn into a TV junkie every time it's the UAAP season. I hope I can be there when we become the champions again! PS. Thanks to my cousin for the cool photo.
Go, Ateneo! ONE BIG FIGHT!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Two people have told me that their friends have shed a tear (or two?) after reading my story. I couldn't believe it. Ada, the storyteller I met at the Book Fair, said her officemate got all emotional when she read the last line: Where will you take me? Vanessa of Adarna House just sent me this email:

I sent your book to a close friend who moved to California a year ago and wrote "for the paperclip whose trail i want to follow" on the title page. Umiyak, hahaha. Lagot tayo. PS. She officially loves the book now. Sayang, I wasn't able to have you and May Ann sign it.

Yikes! The next time you read The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots, you may just need a sheet (or a box!) of Kleenex!

Monday, September 11, 2006

The (Not-so-Shy) Yellow Paperclip Shares Stories at the Booktalk

The SCBWI Booktalk last night was a good way to spend a Monday evening. There were just five of us at Figaro Greenbelt but I think I can speak for the others when I say we all enjoyed ourselves. Beaulah and Nikki of SCBWI, plus Patrice, Steve and I, talked non-stop for a couple of hours about the books we brought. My last Booktalk was in February when there were 30+ people to listen to a talk on poetry for children by Lara Saguisag. Apparently, Patrice and Steve were also there... but we never got to meet. I've always liked smaller groups and so this Booktalk was much better as it allowed us to exchange thoughts and ideas more intimately.

Beaulah asked me to bring my Yellow Paperclip and since we're not supposed to talk about the book's plot, I shared the stories-behind-the-story: how Becca helped me develop the story, how the characters are real people in my life, how the themes are so close to my heart, and of course, how Glenn fits in with the whole adventure. It was the first time I shared so much about my story to a group. It was a bit of a "psychological striptease" (as my good friend Gang would often say about writing) - embarrassing yet somewhat liberating. I'm just happy they all listened and seemed to enjoy the inside stories. This story is the story of my life... that is, if you can read between the lines!

Meeting Patrice, who teaches at ISM, was definitely a highlight. She said she'll invite me to share my story with her students! How exciting! I think (and hope) fellow TCKs can relate to the Yellow Paperclip on a different level. I can't wait...

I look forward to Nikki's post about the Booktalk on the SCBWI Philippines blog. If you find yourself free and looking for something different to do on the first Monday evening of the month, join us. New Books + New Friends + Good Coffee + Good Conversation = A Good Evening. Hope to see you on October 9!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Happy Grandparents Day!

Grandparents Day falls on the first Sunday after the American Labor Day celebration. This year, we celebrate Grandparents Day tomorrow, Sunday, September 10. Click here for more info on this special day.

The Yellow Paperclip celebrates my grandparents in a unique way. Here's a bit of trivia: Grandma Remy is my Lola Meding (her real name was Remedios) and Grandpa Neil is my Lolo Eliong (his real name was Cornelio). Just like in the story, Lola Meding had the most beautiful silver hair and loved sitting in her rocking chair. I don't think he ever collected newspaper clippings but Lolo did die of cancer. Grandparents Day is extra special because it was our last family reunion together with both of them before Lola Meding passed away in November 1998.

I also want to share this artwork of Grandma Remy, painstakingly and lovingly made by Don Gonzales who sent me an email and posted the Yellow Paperclip on his blog. I have not met him - a "husband to Joy, father to Belle and Ivan, creative writer, illustrator, musician, film enthusiast and God-worshipper" - but any friend of the Yellow Paperclip is a friend of mine.

Don, salamat sa iyong pagbigay-buhay kay Lola Meding.

An Invitation to a BOOKTALK on Children's Books

Beaulah and Nikki, thanks for the plug! See you on Monday!

The next SCBWI Booktalk will be on Monday, September 11. You or someone you know might want to come.

* * *

Are you someone who has a keen interest in children's literature? Perhaps you're already a writer or illustrator of children's books? Or maybe someone who's aspiring to become one? If that's the case, come and join us!

* * *

What : Booktalk about children's and young adult books

When : Monday, September 11, 2006 from 6 to 9 pm

Where : Figaro, 3rd level Greenbelt 3, Makati

Bring : Any children's or young adult book to talk about

Example: The most recent National Book Award winner "The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots" by Nikki Dy-Liacco, illustrated by May Ann Licudine. The 1948 Newberry Award-winning "The 21 Balloons" by by William Pene du Bois . "The Three Little Pigs" retold and illustrated by Jean Claverie. The high school edition in English of "Noli Me Tangere" by Dr. Jose Rizal. "The Hunt" by Diane-Elizabeth Napier, one of 26 books in the Rainbow Readers series distributed by the National Literacy Association in the UK. "Catcher in the Rye" by JD Salinger. Or whatever children's or young adult book you bring that you want to bring and talk about!

For : Writers, illustrators, book designers, publishers, editors, translators, storytellers, counselors, librarians, booksellers, collectors, educators, teachers, parents, and other kinds of creators, advocates and passionate lovers of children's literature

Fee : P170 (includes one drink), SCBWI members P120

Host : Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI)

Everyone is welcome - members, non-members, friends. Interested? More details below.

* * *

How : Depending on the size of the group, we give each person anywhere from one to three minutes to speak. We then have a round-table discussion - about the books that we brought, and whatever other topics these books suggest. You can also do any or all of these - listen to the others, examine the books, ask questions, express an opinion, share an insight or relevant information, talk about your plans or projects. As long as it's related to books for children and young adults. It's usually inspiring, fun, enlightening, sometimes dismaying or even disturbing, always stimulating and thought-provoking.

Booktalk guidelines : We actually have very few rules, and one of them, we decided, is that when you booktalk, please DO NOT give us a summary of the book. Two or three sentences telling us what the story is about is fine. The rest of your booktalk should tell us what else you considered worth noting about the book - the writer's writing style, the writer's other books maybe, the writer's life and careeer, the the price of the book (not a small thing!), the state of the book (worn and tattered and obviously well used, perhaps), the quality or type of illustrations, the book design, the life and career of the illustrator, the book's production quality, the beautiful (or pitiful) paper for the inside pages, a profile of the book's publisher, the reason why you chose to bring this particular book, what is it about this book that makes you feel inspired, enlightened, happy, comforted, dismayed, disturbed, sad, calm, agitated, etc. Is it a book you read and liked in childhood? Is it a book you continue to read and like in adulthood? Is it a book you would love other children to read? Is it a book you wish you wrote? Or illustrated? Is it a book you think should be given to all children? Or a book you think should be given carefully and selectively? Etc., etc. (Now you know why some of us have to be told we talked beyond the time limit!)

So come and join us! And please, tell us if you're coming.

Contact : Nikki at 0917-667-1267, nikkigarde@yahoo.com or Beaulah at 0917-787-4956, beaulah.taguiwalo@yahoo.com

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The Biggest Housewarming Party, Ever... and The Most Romantic Story Ever Told

While I'm really thrilled to get the Award (and not a house!) for my Yellow Paperclip, I think Kyle beat me with his One Red Paperclip: he not only has a house... but he now has a fiancee! Thanks to Allan's amazing blog, I got the latest scoop on the magical events in Kipling over the housewarming party weekend. Read on and see if you don't get a little lump in your throat.

It was almost biblical: thousands of pilgrims from all over arrived, drawn by the beacon of OneRedPaperclip, bearing house-warming gifts and wishes and all sporting huge smiles irked up by basking in the famous location.

The town of Kipling, SK (usually pop. 1,142) swelled, erected stages, swarmed with international media, brought in extra Royal Canadian Mounted Police and ramped up to for the biggest event this town (and I’d say the province) would ever see.

The ambiance was indescribable. Hugging strangers was normal. Everyone bubbled over with joy at the concerts, fireworks, Hollywood movie castings, balloon rides, Kyle’s open house – in brief, everything. Most of us camped in tents, and thus a huge community formed. Kum-bye-ah, man.

Finally, on the Sunday, the emotion hit a fevered pitch, when the most unbelievable, poignant series of events unfolded.

A big ceremony took place where all the people who had traded with Kyle (aside from three who couldn’t make it, such as Alice Cooper) stood on stage to be recognised and have their stories re-told.

Next Kyle was made Mayor of Kipling for one day, receiving a sachet and a gavel. Among cries from his buddies “Your honour, get me a pardon from the drunk tank!” his honour Kyle was urged to speak. But the biggest surprise, ever, lay in lurk.

Kyle did an impassioned speech, but near the end, he took the original red paperclip he had started it all off with, bent it into a hoop shape, dropped to one knee, and offered it to his long-time girlfriend Dom.

The crowd gasped, cameras snapped in a frenzy, and there was not a dry eye to be seen. I was sitting with Kyle and Dom’s families, and soon found myself in a circle of hugs and tears and utter, genuinely bewildered surprise.

Now that's an amazing (and uber-romantic) adventure for one red paperclip. Don't get me wrong: winning the Award was incredible and it truly is a bright purple spot in my life. But finding Mr. Right (complete with a daggy yet sweet paperclip engagement ring) would be perfect... and the brightest and most purple spot, EVER.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

New Books, Friends and Paperclips

I spent the afternoon at the Book Fair today. Let the photos tell you the story of my happy day which started when I made new friends: a little girl who played with imaginary jackstones and Ada the Storyteller.

Ada made her own yellow paperclips with bright purple spots using purple puff paint...

...and we happily played with them...

...and admired them on Ada's cool purple Chucks!

I got to hang out with my colleague Steph at the colorful Adarna House booth...

...while my dad had lunch and took this photo.

I bought five books (with at least a 20% discount on each!): 100 Questions Filipino Kids Ask by Adarna House, Wild About Books written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown, You're Only Old Once! by Dr. Seuss, The Mixed-Up Chameleon by Eric Carle, and How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci by Michael Gelb.

I guess one afternoon wasn't enough; we dropped by Books For Less in Alabang before going home and I picked up a cool Sesame Street book All About Me. Here's one of my favorite pictures...

Here's to more new books, friends and paperclips!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Flowers and A Song

What a way to end a (fiscal) year! We had a simple but memorable celebration today, starting with a thanksgiving mass (with a Jesuit jazz player... how cool is that?!), a feast of a merienda, and a slideshow of the past year's highlights. I got beautiful yellow-and-purple flowers from my DDI family and heard Noel Cabangon sing and play Coldplay's Yellow, one of my most favorite songs.

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do
Yeah, they were all yellow.

I came along,
I wrote a song for you,
And all the things you do,
And it was called "Yellow."

I'll say it once again: I am one happy kid. Here's to yet another amazing year ahead!

Thursday, August 31, 2006

A Really Bright Purple Spot!!

May Ann and I are happy and surprised kids. We just got a very bright yet unexpected purple spot in the life of our Yellow Paperclip - the 2005 National Book Award for children's literature from the Manila Critics Circle! WOW... we are overwhelmed and thrilled beyond belief. In my flustered state (I don't remember the last time I felt my hands and knees shake like that!), I nearly forgot to (gulp!) thank the Manila Critics Circle. Allow me to thank them now. MARAMING, MARAMING SALAMAT. Thank you for this recognition and honor. Thank you for seeing the value in being different. This Award is truly a bright purple spot in our adventure!

PS. I'd love to get a copy of the citation Krip Yuson read about my book. If anyone knows where I can find it, please let me know! Thanks!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Book Signing at the 27th Manila International Book Fair

Bookworms, unite! It's the 27th Manila International Book Fair at the World Trade Center starting August 30 (Thursday) to September 3 (Sunday).

SHAMELESS PLUG: May Ann and I will be signing books on Saturday, September 2 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Adarna House booth. Hope to see you there!

One Amazing Artist

May Ann Licudine, 2005 PBBY-Alcala Grand Prize winner for her illustrations of The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots, recently launched her website. Let her artwork WOW you over...

Isn't she amazing?! My Yellow Paperclip is alive because of her colorful swirls and splatters. Before we work on our next book together, I thought I'd share some never-before-seen artwork May Ann prepared for the blurbs on the book's back flap. They never made it in print but I think they're great! I can't wait to see you on August 31, May Ann!

Friday, August 25, 2006

One Red Paperclip is Now a Children's Story!

Check out what I tripped on as I blog-hopped! Kyle's amazing adventure with One Red Paperclip has been rewritten for kids! Click HERE for his story for kids - written with the help of his mom who blogs her photos and poetry. How cool is that?

The One Red Paperclip 3-day housewarming party at Kipling, Saskatchewan is coming up next weekend (September 1-3, 2006) and of course I have to be halfway across the world and miss all the fun.

I'll find my way to Kipling one day soon. I wonder if Kyle ever got the book I sent him. I hope he did. Then I can add Kipling to my list of bright purple spots!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sharing Stories Across Boundaries and Borders

I'm really excited to meet Alice McLerran at the SCBWI writing workshop in November (Are you interested? Click here for more details!). I don't have her book The Mountain that Loved a Bird yet but it's another one I've added to my To-Buy-Soon list (next to Elias and His Trees and Baha!, of course). I know I'll learn a whole new art of children's writing from her.

I was prompted to sign up for the workshop when I found out that she is a Third Culture Kid as well and has fulfilled her dreams of sharing stories across borders and other cultures. After more Googling, I chanced upon something McLerran wrote (highlights are mine):

Those of us writers who choose to craft stories for children frequently are parents, and our first experiments in the genre may well be bedtime tales created for our own offspring. Discovering in ourselves the ability bring delight to those we love can be heady stuff. As we turn to writing and our audience becomes a wider one, what ambition could be more natural and seductive than wanting to create stories to which children everywhere might listen wide-eyed? Whenever we have a story translated to another language and offered in another culture, we come closer to the ultimate fantasy: sharing what we create with every child on the planet.

An ambition so far-reaching has the clear odor of hubris, and we usually keep it to ourselves. In any case, we quickly learn that translated editions are normally arranged not by those of us who create the stories, but rather by our publishers. Traditionally, most deals are made at large international book fairs, and they normally involve agreements between publishers in nations of like economic standards.

Still, cross-cultural publishing can happen in quite different ways as well. When it does, the process can take on new richness, lead to unexpected serendipities.

... in my heart I know that when a story of mine is shared in another culture, it is not the thought that I am facilitating international understanding that most excites me. Nor is it the conviction that sharing stories across borders helps nurture a global literature that enriches us all—although I believe that as well.

My real source of pleasure is the image of a child on the other side of the planet, a child my eyes will never see. He listens to words read in a language I myself cannot understand, yet it is my story that holds him. The story enters his imagination as easily as if he were my own child snuggling next to me, my voice in his ear.

That this can happen seems to me something as close to magic as any writer can wish.

I had some sort of epiphany (I forget exactly when though) about writing stories that would appeal particularly for Third Culture Kids like me. I'm not sure how many TCK writers there are in the world, but my stories would be helpful for TCKs growing up in a new culture, culturally rich (yet a little confused), excited yet homesick, feeling out-of-place everwhere and not quite fitting in with everyone else.

So... write, Nikki, write... Have something to show Alice when she gets here!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Joy Flies in the Philippines

A writing workshop with Alice McLerran
Hosted by the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI)
9 am to 5 pm, Saturday November 11, 2006
Filipinas Heritage Library (formerly Nielsen Tower)
Ayala corner Makati Avenue, Makati City, Philippines

Here's your chance to have your manuscript critiqued while spending a day with Alice McLerran, children's book author from Long Island, New York. Know what it takes to write not only for children but also how to keep on writing and honing your craft. Share your own writing—bring your work, participate in a manuscript critique and learn how to give and receive constructive feedback.

On Saturday November 11, 2006 Alice McLerran will be in Manila for an all-day writing workshop sponsored by the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI). The workshop is for adults who write or want to write for children and young people—amateurs and professionals, published and unpublished authors, freelance writers, college students, teachers, parents, educators, and others who have a keen interest in children's literature. We hope to give all the participants an intimate glimpse into what Alice describes as "the kind of rewriting that is such an important part of the writing process for me." The workshop is also helpful for illustrator-writers, visual artists who are interested in the writing process, and those who are eager to know more about the kind of creative collaborations that can take place between authors and illustrators.

Alice McLerran was brought up in a way that let her know she lived in the whole world rather than in one place. Her family made homes in locations ranging from Hawaii to Germany to Ecuador, and in states across the U.S . As an adult, she now travels even more widely with her physicist husband. When not traveling together they divide their time between homes in New York and Oregon. She earned her PhD in anthropology from the University of California in Berkeley in 1969 once her three children were in school, and later an MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health. Although always a writer, she only began to publish professionally in 1985. Her books include ROXABOXEN, THE GHOST DANCE, THE YEAR OF THE RANCH, and the twin books HUGS and KISSES. Her first book, THE MOUNTAIN THAT LOVED A BIRD, still published in the U.S. and Japan with its original illustrations by Eric Carle, has been reillustrated by artists in Russia, Pakistan, and India for newer editions. Its Philippine editions are now about to be released in English, Filipino, Hiligaynon, Cebuano, Ilokano and Kiniray-a, using totally new art drawn from the landscapes of the Phillipines. To know more about Alice, please visit her website.

Pre-registration is required and is now going on. The fee includes handouts and lunch, and is non-refundable but transferrable: P1500 until Monday September 18, P1750 until Monday October 16, P2000 until Friday November 3. There's a P200 discount for current SCBWI members, and a small rebate on the day of the event for every person who contributes a manuscript for the group critique session. Please provide 2 copies of your manuscript, prefaced with a title page that contains only this statement: "I hereby declare that I am the author of the attached manuscript" followed by the title, your signature above your printed name, mailing address, landline and cellphone number, e-mail address, and an indication whether the manuscript is being submitted for individual critiquing only, for group critiquing only, or may be used for either or both. Manuscripts must be 5 pages maximum, typed 12 points double space on 8.5 x 11 inch paper with a 1-inch margin all around, and submitted upon pre-registration or on Friday, November 3, at the latest. Only those manuscripts submitted in advance will be used for either form of critiquing.

If you've never participated in a critique session and hesitate to submit your work to other eyes, you may regret such hesitation once you experience the useful insights and support a group of fellow-writers can provide! Offer a manuscript you've carried as far as you know how, and with any luck you can come away with ideas on how to do yet more with it.

For more information, contact Beaulah Pedregosa Taguiwalo at beaulah.taguiwalo@yahoo.com or 0917-787-4956, or Dominique Garde Torres (Nikki) at nikkigarde@yahoo.com or 0917-667-1267.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Paperclip... and His Trees... in a Baha!

What does a paperclip, trees and a flood have in common? All three are finalists for the children's literature category for the National Book Awards, sponsored by the National Book Development Board and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Wow! I still can't believe it!

The Yellow Paperclip is overwhelmed to be in the company of the country's best books published in 2005! In children's literature, the other finalists are Elias & His Trees written by Augie Rivera and illustrated by Romeo Forbes (inspired by The Man and His Trees by Jean Giono) and Baha! written by Eugene Evasco. I look forward to meeting Augie and Eugene - and many other writers! - at the awarding ceremonies on August 31 at the 27th Manila International Book Fair.

Click HERE for the complete list of finalists.

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Yellow Paperclip Meets UST Students

As a partial requirement to graduate in their Fine Arts & Design course in UST, Mitch and her groupmates asked if they could ask a few questions about writing.

It was fun to meet them and answer questions like What are your inspirations when you write? and How long does it take to make a write a good story? I do hope I was able to help! Good luck with your thesis!

The Yellow Paperclip Goes to Ohio and Kentucky (and Hangs Out with Two Angels)

I got a great "greps" (read: grapes = purple) surprise in my inbox this morning from my two friends and fellow Under-Five-Feet Club...
Yes, it's The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots on a PURPLE bridge... and yes, that's a YELLOW bridge in the background! How cool is that?! (It reminds me of the yellow bridges I saw in Pittsburgh...)

But then there were more purple-and-yellow shots...

Thank you so much, Kamelle and Moya! I'm sorry I missed the Charlie's Angels reunion!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Isang Daang Manunulat sa Dadaanin

I chanced upon this blog... and realized that my story made it to the anthology of 100-word stories! I submitted three stories... I wonder which one they chose?

It's supposed to be out by the end of the month. I hope to hear more about the book soon and get a chance to meet the other 99 writers.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Changing the World... One Clip (and Class) at a Time

What do I have in common with middle schoolers from Whitwell, Tennessee? Yesterday, I would have said NOTHING; but today, after watching Paper Clips, I can wholeheartedly say: SO MUCH.

I thought Kyle's One Red Paper Clip project was entertaining, but this Paper Clip Project is an amazing miracle and moved me beyond tears. Adrian, the boyfriend of my Fjupy Friend Trixy, told me about this documentary last year. My dad beat him to his promise of sending me a copy; Papa found the DVD shop at LAX last week and brought home a copy for me as a surprise. I watched it today and I am completely overwhelmed and inspired.

Here's a press release to summarize the film from the official website:

Something amazing happened in the town of Whitwell, TN; a town where the population peaks at about 2,000 people and where the word "skyline" is epitomized in breathtaking views of the rustic Smoky Mountains.

The citizens of this rural Tennessee community are almost exclusively white and Christian; the town was not accustomed to cultural diversity. But in 1998 that all changed with a classroom project at Whitwell Middle School. The "Paper Clips" project sparked one of the most inspirational and profound lessons in tolerance, in one of the most least likely places.

Linda Hooper, the school's principal, created the project out of her desire to help students open their eyes to the diversity of the world beyond their insulated valley. What ultimately happened changed the lives of the students, their teachers, their families and the entire town forever, and by the end, they had a new goal: to open the eyes and hearts of people around the world.

"Paper Clips" is a moving story about these students and their emotional journey as they begin to learn about the horrors and tragedies of the Holocaust. Despite the fact that they had previously been unfamiliar with the Holocaust, their dedication was absolute. With a promise to honor and memorialize every lost soul, the students decided to collect one paper clip for each individual exterminated by the Nazis. By the end of the project, the students not only collected 11 million paper clips, but were able to house them in a donated WWII railcar, so they would always have a permanent tribute to the millions who were lost and a permanent memory of the time their small school in Tennessee changed the world one classroom at a time.

After more than two hours (I watched all the additional interviews and extended scenes in Disc 2) and several tear-stained tissues, I realize that I just might have more in common with the students and faculty at Whitwell Middle School than my fellow Filipinos who live next door. My experience as a Third Culture Kid (TCK) and my adventures with The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots seem to mirror Whitwell's Paper Clip Project.

After living in four countries, studying in six schools, and working for a global firm, I'm proud to say that I have always been an advocate of tolerance, intercultural friendships, and making the world an even smaller place by building global connections and going out of your way to understand and appreciate other cultures. I've experienced the whole world come together under a bright red-and-white striped marquee (during our annual United Nations Day celebration), around a noisy cafeteria table (a phenomenon that takes place every single day at an international school), and in various telephone conferences (exchanging best practices in marketing with DDI colleagues from all over the world)... and I love it!

The documentary's intro page says that the feelings that connect us... are greater than those that divide us and I can't agree more. We may look different and have our own passports, languages and gods, but trust me: there really is an analogous human condition - something that brings us all together and makes us one and the same. More than just feelings, there is something fundamentally the same in all human beings that connect us and make us one: is it our capacity to improve ourselves? to enjoy life? to self-actualize? to believe in a Higher Being? to love? It could also be in enjoying the same cup of coffee, or sharing traditions like family dinners and gift-giving. I can't seem to articulate it beyond the "analogous human condition" (I forget which philosopher said that but it's a line from Dr. Garcia's PH101/102 class which has stuck with me since sophomore year) and my personal experience as a Third Culture Kid hanging out with people from all over the world. Perhaps Bono sums it best with the line: We're one but we're not the same.

The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots is also a story about tolerance and acceptance of our unique selves, as it is a story about travel, global connections, and finding a home wherever you are. When Ani commented that it wasn't a very Pinoy story, I took it as a compliment; far from being an alamat or local folklore, my story is meant for all the TCKs and global citizens, for all who recognize yet respect differences among human beings, and for everyone who wants to make the world a smaller, and thus a better, place. I'm not sure how many people fall into these categories but the students and teachers at Whitwell definitely do.

The Paper Clip Project started in 1998, was celebrated with the dedication of the Holocaust Memorial in 2001, and continues today with the maintenance of the memorial, student scholarships and the construction of a new building. While I know I can't contribute much to their goals of raising hundreds of thousands of dollars, I wholeheartedly support this Paper Clip Project in my own small way. I will:
  1. tell everyone about the miracle that took place in Whitwell and encourage them to watch the film
  2. promote understanding, respect and tolerance across cultures in small everyday things (especially here in Manila, like pointing out and making people more sensitive about their racial biases, the use of politically incorrect terms, and overly nationalistic ideas)
  3. continue building and strengthening intercultural connections and friendships
With all the hate in the world, particularly with the ongoing conflict in Lebanon, tolerance and intercultural/inter-religious/international respect is critical for survival, ceasefire or even a glimpse of peace. If middle schoolers can get it... why can't world leaders? Perhaps Whitwell student Latosha Worley puts it best: "If people from Whitwell can make such a big difference, imagine what the rest of the world could do if they tried." The world would be a more peaceful place if all political and religious leaders learned from the kids of Whitwell, Tennessee. It may be simplistic, but I've often thought that if all the world leaders were Third Culture Kids, then perhaps there would be less conflict because then they would have a friend from all religions and cultures. Could TCKs - and paperclips - pave the way for world peace?

I said it when Kyle got his house, but I'll say it again with much more conviction now: never underestimate the power of a paperclip. It can change the world and make it a better and smaller place... actually, it already has!