Friday, March 31, 2006

The Yellow Paperclip Gets an Email from a Girlfriend

Here's another great surprise in my inbox. I can hardly contain myself. What a way to end a crazy-busy week at work! End with a bang!

Greetings from GIRLFRIEND magazine! We are one of the newest titles under Mega Magazines & Publications, Inc., the first maga-logue (magazine and catalogue in one) in the country. We cater to single working females aged 21 to 28 and we have everything from fashion and beauty to career, relationships, and fun.

I got your contact details from my Editor-in-Chief Gina Abuyuan, who suggested that we feature you in the magazine. Every month, we intend to feature a woman achiever. For our second issue, which will be out in June, we're hoping that you'd grace our pages.

I must admit that I know very little of the book you wrote that won an award, so I was hoping you'd grant me an interview soon. Of course, we will also be requiring a photo shoot with you. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me through this email address.
Thanks so much!

Nikki Domingo-Constantino

Managing Editor, GIRLFRIEND magazine

Mega Magazines & Publications, Inc.

And of course, this is yet another conspiracy in my life: Gina is the cousin of Dona, one of my sister's best friends. I met Gina at Dona's bridal shower last November when Ate and I partied the 80's way. I will contact Nikki soon. I can't wait. The Yellow Paperclip can't wait!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

953 Books... and Counting

I got a copy of the 2005 sales report from Adarna House today. As of December 2005, we've sold 953 copies of The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots. Wow! I think we may have already passed the 1,000 mark by now. I am stunned in disbelief and excitement. Here's to the next 4,000+ books...

SHAMELESS PLUG: If you want to buy a copy (or two), check out the Adarna House shelves in Powerbooks, National Bookstore, Fully Booked, and Books for Less stores. Or, if you'd like a copy with a personal message, you can send me an email at and we could plan to have coffee somewhere so I can pass you the books. A book is only PhP65.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Yellow Paperclip Goes to Milwaukee

Who would have thought...? Here's a wonderful suprise in my inbox on a Tuesday morning:

Dear Yellow Paper Clip ladies,

On my coffee table, I found your wonderful book, chilling in the 32 degree weather here in Milwaukee, WI. Do you know where it was before landing here? My 16 month old son, Zach, had just come back from Manila, and he brought a dog-eared, apparently well-used copy of your book home with him.

I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed the story and the illustrations, just as much as Zach probably did. Congratulations on a wonderful job. I hope to keep reading this with my son until he is 10 (the recommended reading age!). I look forward to more books from the two of you.

Best regards,

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Yellow Paperclip Meets Jayvee

Over savoury and sweet crepes at Cafe Breton tonight, Jayvee and I talked non-stop (pauses were punctuated with "hellos") and caught up with each other's lives. It has been many months since we last sat down for a long chat. I ran into him in Greenbelt one night last month and we agreed to meet up soon.

Jayvee is the Managing Editor for m|PH, the country's most visible home-grown magazine on mobile technology. But he is also SGV-DDI's first ever student trainee back in 2001, when I was also new (so we learned and struggled together). Jayvee is a teacher, an urban farmer, a photographer and writer. He is an uber-blogger as he writes and gets people bugged. Jayvee is also a cool connector with links to my family (KV), old friends (Ails), colleagues (the old DDI folks) and new friends (Dickoy). An evening with Jayvee is guaranteed good conversation across a variety of topics, with lots of hee-hees, interesting insights and funny facial expressions (so do you think he looks like Mr. Bean?). And that's what I got... and more.

I gave him a copy of my storybook so I can get bugged! Woohooo! I can't wait to be bugged by Jayvee! Abangan...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Synchronicity, Serendipity and Grace

  • SYNCHRONICITY is a word coined by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung to describe the "temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events." Jung spoke of synchronicity as an "acausal connecting principle" (i.e., a pattern of connection that cannot be explained by direct causality). Plainly put, it is the experience of having two (or more) things happen simultaneously in a manner that is meaningful to the person or persons experiencing them, where that meaning suggests an underlying pattern. It differs from coincidence in that synchronicity implies not just a happenstance, but an underlying pattern or dynamic that is being expressed through meaningful relationships or events.
  • SERENDIPITY noun to make discoveries, by accident and sagacity, of things not in quest of.
  • GRACE noun unearned favors or mercy received from God
  • Mom clipped an article entitled Lost and Found by Rica Bolipata-Santos where she wrote about a yellow paperclip she lost as a child. What a coincidence, I thought.
  • I was intrigued. I also couldn't shut out the little voice inside, telling me to get in touch with her. I decided to send her an email, offering to send her a copy of my book so she can "find" her yellow paperclip and relive it in a new colorful way.
  • An excited email exchange follows. I sent her a copy of my book to her, and she promised to send me hers.
  • I watched a Bukas Palad concert in Ateneo and decided to buy their CDs. As soon as I scan the list of BP members, a name stood out: Rica Bolipata-Santos.
  • I received a copy of her book one day at work and I drink it all in in a couple of bedside reading sessions. She writes about love, children, writing, her relationship with her mother. I love her stories and how I feel like I am less alone when reading them. I like how I can almost hear her voice even if I've never heard what she sounds like. I like how even if I've never met her, I feel like I have.
  • On the front cover of her book, she wrote: Dearest Nikki, Here's to synchronicity, serendipity, grace. Love, Rica.
  • I look forward to the day we meet.

Friday, March 17, 2006

15 Books and 1 New Story

The Yellow Paperclip went back to PSTD today for the March Tipanan where I had a table for a book sale and signing - a small fundraiser activity for the organization. Some members wanted to buy books after my presentation last month. We sold 15 books! Not bad for an afternoon. Thank you again to my PSTD family... and yes, I don't mind doing this every Tipanan!

This month's topic was Spirituality in the Workplace and I'm glad I went. Not only did I sell 15 books, I also heard one of the best stories ever. Actually, it's THE story. The Ultimate Story. Fr. John Leydon, an Irish priest based in the Philippines for the last 30-something years who is now the parish priest of the Malate Church, shared The New Story of Creation, his personal version of a "cosmic creation story, empirically verifiable, told as an empowering myth". His story is sparked by Genesis, enhanced by the Big Bang Theory, supported by scientific facts yet inspired by The Creative Force - God Himself. The story is beautiful. Let me share some of my favorite excerpts:

I hope to tell the story of the Universe as if it had a personal identity, as if it were alive and has a "numinous" (sacramental) quality, as if it were a subject.

Galaxies are self-organizing systems. A star swirls and it brings with it a chain of other stars. What is it that attracts one star to another? We know it as the force of Gravity. But that does not fully explain the force. From our viewpoint, we can say that the Universe is permeated with ALLUREMENT. It is the most basic law of the Universe. It is what makes everything move. If there were no allurement then stars would fly away from each other. Atom would disintegrate and there would be no world, no us. The starting point for the on-going creative activity of the Universe is allurement. We see it clearly in the waltzing stars and galaxies but remember that the Universe continues its creative activity through the allurements that we humans experience in our daily lives.

As I write these words, I am aware of my fingers moving over the keys. I am aware of the bones in my fingers. The bones are made of calcium. That calcium came from an explosion of a Supernova, ten billion years ago. Five billion years ago, the atoms of the elements that make up my body were floating about in the heavens. I am the fruit of a five to ten billion year project! How are we to react to such musings? For me it evokes awe and wonder at the mystery of it all. Here is the starting point of religion - wonder at the mystery of it all - not shame and guilt which is where much of our present religion starts. The purpose of the recounting of this story is to evoke such sentiments, to awake allurement in us for Ultimate Mystery.

For so long we've considered the Earth as just a big dead ball of dirt. But the New Story tells us that the Earth is alive and moves. Copernicus said that the earth moved, but he meant moved around the sun. When we say it moves, we mean that the whole process is alive. The Earth moves. In a sentence that is the heart of the cosmic revolution.

Wow. His story was a real eye-opener. I'm glad the Church has married myth and science together in this New Story of Creation. The next time someone challenges you that the Big Bang never happened, tell them it's the same moment God said, "Let there be Light!"

I gave Fr. John my storybook and he accepted it gladly, with a smile and an invitation to visit the Center Ecozoic Learning in Cavite which he founded. I'll look forward to that... and many more stories from him.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Happy Paperclips

My mom gave me these happy yellow paperclips! Thanks, Ma!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Paperclips Launched Matchstick Missiles

Here is another story about paperclips from one of my favorite uncles:

In my younger days, I was about 15 or 16 then, we were managing a Magnolia kiosk in Naga City and I used to hang out there after school. While waiting for customers to come in, I played with matches pretending they were missiles. I used paperclips as a launching pad - yes, you read it right, a launching pad. How did I do it? Well I didn't know then how to make the match stick soar like a missile... then I thought of using paperclips.

I took one clip from my dad's office and slightly opened it up on a 45 degree angle. I covered the match head with the silver foil from cigarette boxes, leaving a small opening where the "smoke" would come out after I lit the stick. By lighting the match head, it would build up enough pressure and push itself up in the air with the help of the paper as a lauching pad. That was how I spent my idle time until your lolo caught me doing it and told me that I might end up burning something.

That was the end of my missile launching career... but my respect for the paperclips still remained.

He has some of the most interesting paperclip stories. Read another one here.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Elijah gives The Yellow Paperclip a Name

Me: "Is the Yellow Paperclip a boy or a girl?"
Elijah: "Ummm... a boy?"
Me: "Does it have a name? What would you name the Yellow Paperclip?"
Elijah: "Ummm... Lorenzo!"

Elijah (pictured here with the book and his paperclip strand!) is the son of my mom's friend's niece. Let me say that again: Elijah is the son of Jenina, the niece of Tita Vicky, one of my mom's good friends from STC. Tita Vicky bought Elijah a copy of my book last year but he only started reading it the last few months.

Here's one of her text messages to me: Elijah enjoys my reading the book to him. Last night, while reading, he made sure his paperclip strand was on the bed too. Bet you I will be reading it again tonight. Soon after she sent that message, she sent this nice surprise through snailmail:

The attached Post-It reads: Hi Nikki! Here's Elijah's Thank You drawing for you (on recycled paper, sorry!) for writing the book! Love, Tita Vicky.

I visited Elijah this afternoon to thank him for his drawing and to give him a couple of paperclips to add to his paperclip strand. He's one cool kid. He practically memorized the story. He showed off his paperclip strand. He said his drawing is a picture of the Grim Reaper (but I forget why though!). He believes the Yellow Paperclip is a boy named Lorenzo.

I'll definitely include Elijah in my group of "Work Content Experts" when I brainstorm for my next story. Hee-hee.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Yellow Paperclip Goes to Boston

Teacher Ails, my good friend and full-time Shiny Happy Person, teaches preschool in Boston. She read the story to her 3-year old kids today... and she says they loved it!

At first she thought the story might be too long and that the kids might get restless but they sat through it and kept asking WHAT? to the question at the end of each page: But did you know where the paperclip was before this? So they liked it! And the story "worked" for 3-year-olds!

She sent me this email today:

I finally got to read your book to my preschoolers this afternoon! Finally!! I mentioned that you wrote the book and they even asked what your name is. I told them that you are my friend and that you were in the Philippines. One even said, "Cool!" I was so happy to share your story to them.

My kids loved it. At the end of the story, I gave each child a paperclip (even though I didn't have the yellow paperclip with purple spots, but instead gave them the normal silver one) and asked them where they will take the paperclip. Here are their answers:
  • Henry - in a box
  • Alexander- in my daddy's car
  • Jake - in the airport
  • Max and Emma - in a treasure
  • Sammy - in the airport
  • Ruomo - in the airplane going to China to see my baba (dad)
  • Nate - my house
  • Dani - to my sister's school
Thank you again for the book, sweetie! Here are the pictures I took with my kids holding your book. Enjoy!!!


Teacher Ails

Ails and I have been friends since 1997. She has been in Boston for the last few years and came home for Christmas last December. When she found out I had a children's book and that I "cater to her profession" (hee-hee), she had to have a copy. I gave her two, one for her, the other for the library at her preschool. Thank you, Teacher Ails! I'm really happy. I got the similar feeling of swelling and overflowing emotions as I did when Donna of Pittsburgh told me her students enjoyed my story. The fact that the story cuts across cultures and timezones helps in my personal mission (that of making the world an even smaller place). So I'm really happy. Permanent-smile-on-my-face kind of happy. Bursting-happy-heart kind of happy.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The Yellow Paperclip Goes to (a Princess in) Singapore

Here's my first cousin, Faye, an interior designer based in Singapore, all smiles with my Yellow Paperclip. I gave her a copy for a Christmas gift when we had our family reunion at their place last December. Before she was known as "Faye", she was called Princess (or Intet, for short) by the family since she was the youngest among her siblings. So my paperclip is in royal company! Nice!

This princess is quite a connector herself; one that would make Malcolm Gladwell proud! Faye knows Kevin, the boyfriend of my friend Cricket (who drove me to Adarna House on the deadliest deadline of the PBBY-Salanga Prize to submit our entries; without Cricket, you may not be reading this blog!). Faye also reconnected with a long-lost cousin MgaDy cousin from the Li branch of our family tree. Way to go, Faye! Thanks again for the photo; even if there are no skyscrapers or no merlion in the photo, the apartment grills still remind me of Singapore!

The Yellow Paperclip Goes to Milpitas

The Yellow Paperclip has landed in several places in California! Last stop San Diego, next stop, Milpitas with the Dy-Liacco Kapunakans (translate: "cousins" in Bahasa Indonesia). Here's my paperclip's new friend, my nephew Jake.

Tito Boboy, one of my dad's older brothers, came home from Milpitas just for my grandma's 87th birthday two weeks ago. To thank him for all the paperclips he saved when he was still working, I gave him three books to bring back home to Milpitas for Jake and my nieces Inna and Isabel. I remember their mom saying that the two girls are like how Ate Kim and I were when we were kids!

Incidentally, Milpitas was my paperclip's first international destination! My first attempt to snailmail a copy was to the Kapunakans. It took over a month! To Inna, Isabel and Jake (and of course to Tito Boboy and Tita Marly, Rikki, Candy, Pepper and Nelson), hope you enjoyed my story!