Monday, December 17, 2007

A Unique Christmas Gift from Davin

I would say Davin’s gift was the most unique…

Thank you, Susan, for sharing my books with your (super cute!) son Davin and his class at the Creative Kids Development and Learning Center. Here he is, all smiles with Teacher Reina and Teacher Sharon in front of Santa's Workshop. I hope your classmates enjoyed the adventures of The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A Bright Purple Spot for Your Christmas List

If you're a crammer like me and you're just starting to put your Christmas list together, you may want to share bright purple spots with friends and loved ones!

Perhaps you'd like to give books (or two, or three... or more!) - so how about The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots , a children's story I wrote in 2004, wonderfully illustrated by May Ann Licudine and published by A
darna House? It has been well-received around the world by kids and adults alike, and won the PBBY-Salanga and PBBY-Alcala Grand Prize, as well as the National Book Award for Children's Literature in 2005 (wooohoooo!).

Best of all, it's only PhP65... yes, only sixty-five pesos!

Let me know if you'd like to place orders, then we can arrange to meet or drop-off/pick-up the books, whichever is most convenient. If you give me names, I can also personalize (and autograph... naks!) them for you as well. Send me an email at or send an SMS at +63 918 930 2952.

22 days to go until Christ's birthday... Here's to a colorful and meaningful Christmas season!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Our Travel Books in A Different Bookstore

Thanks to family and friends who joined us at A Different Bookstore last night for Travel Books for a Cause 2. Special mention goes to...

A.J. - I was so happy to meet you (photo to follow!) after receiving your sweet note.
Tita Mel and Tito Mar - What a pleasant surprise! I'm so glad you're on Multiply so we can keep in touch in both our virtual and real lives.
Ruby - Thanks for posting our event on your site and bringing your friends and our batchmates too!
Joey - It was great to see you again after our random meeting at RMAF. Hope to see you at the next book launch... whenever/wherever that may be!
KP - I know you had a long day, but thanks for dropping by! Even if you missed "him"! Hee-hee...
Krissy - Better late than never! Thanks for dropping by (and I enjoyed our coffee date too!) even if it meant driving home late and alone.
Lola Pining, Lola Ludy and Tita Tonet - I'm so happy you came! Thanks for staying until the end even if you had a long roadtrip to Tagaytay that night.
Mama and Papa - Thank you for (still) being my biggest fans.

Nina, Sana and I are grateful for your love and support. Until the 3rd installment?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

An Invitation: Travel Books for a Cause 2

Due to the resounding success of the first launch at Museo Pambata last September, we are having another "Travel Books for a Cause" with the support of A Different Bookstore. The launch will feature the following: Nina's Travel Sketches by Nina Lim-Yuson, Passport (travel journals in four themes) by Sana Sta. Ana, and The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots.

When: Saturday, November 24, 6PM
Where: A Different Bookstore, Serendra, Fort Bonifacio

A portion of our sales will again benefit ATD Fourth World Philippines, an international non-profit organization that helps families living in poverty to restore their dignity. Visit to find out more about All Together in Dignity (ATD).

Guests will enjoy a night of free entertainment, refreshments, gifts, as well as good company of old and new friends. And of course, our travel books will be perfect gifts for the season. We look forward to seeing you, your family and friends at A Different Bookstore!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Yellow Paperclip Goes to North Carolina... and Gets a Yellow Book Back!

Remember that trip I made to the post office (when I saw 6 paperclips) to mail three copies of my book? Well, one made it to Neil in Delaware, another was bound for San Francisco (I'm still waiting to hear from her), and the last to North Carolina, addressed to Jeffrey Gitomer.

Jeffrey who? He has defined himself as (and I quote from his website): 1. a creative, on the edge, writer and speaker whose expertise on sales, customer loyalty, and personal development is world renowned. 2. known for presentations, seminars and keynote addresses that are funny, insightful, and in your face. 3. real world. 4. off the wall. 5. on the money. 6. gives audiences information that they can take out in the street one minute after the seminar is over and turn it into money. See also: salesman. (Better yet, see more of him at!)

Okay, so why did I send my book to a salesman? I bought two of his books at the airport in Pittsburgh (The Little Red Book of Sales Answers and The Little Black Book of Connections) because I really enjoyed reading the first book my boss bought (The Little Red Book of Selling) and thought I'd buy more. I haven't read many books on sales, so I can't say that his are the best - but I like Jeffrey's because he writes well, he gives simple yet practical advice, and he is outrageously funny... and as a rookie saleswoman in the team, that works for me! In The Little Red Book of Sales Answers, he shares that instead of boring corporate gifts or fancy dinners, he gives children's books as gifts - it's more personal and makes his clients happy to have something new to read to their kids or grandkids. And of course a lightbulb went on in my head! Why not introduce him to the Yellow Paperclip? It was one of those spur-of-the-moment, don't-think-too-much-about-it-but-just-do-it things - I wrote him a note on bright yellow paper, enclosed the letter and my book in an envelope and walked over to the post office the very next day.

I came home past 2AM (after a fun evening with Lyn, Eden and Carlo) and tiptoed my way in the house. What a happy surprise to see a Buy Gitomer box with my name on it! Wrapped in giant bubble wrap (as in the bubbles were larger than ten peso coins!), I got my own copy of The Little Gold Book of Yes!Attitude (the bright yellow book above with a great autograph and dedication: "Nikki rocks!") and a handwritten note from Jeffrey himself: Nikki - Thank you for your wonderful book and nice note. Waiting for world peace - meanwhile, enjoy my book. - Jeffrey

Now that's a real great salesman and connector!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

An Illustrated Timeline of The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots

May Ann created an amazing timeline of our story, from the time she joined the 2005 PBBY-Alcala Prize (see some of her first sketches!). Click HERE to see the rest of our amazing adventure together. Thanks so much, May Ann!
She is currently in Florida as a featured artist in Small Stuff, an art show featuring American and international artists. Click HERE to see some of her pieces. I'm so happy and proud of her!

Paperclips on Pearl Drive

I walked over to The Old Spaghetti House behind Pearl Drive and saw one paperclip on the way (a green one) and three on the way back (a blue one, a silver one and a brown one). Four paperclips on Pearl Drive!

I'll post photos from my phone soon - just as soon as I figure out how to download them. Hee-hee.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Yellow Paperclip Goes on TV

Nina, Sana and I were invited to be guests on ANC's show ShopTalk hosted by Pia Hontiveros to talk about Travel Books for a Cause. It's the first time I made it on TV! It was taped and aired live so I'm happy we didn't have any boo-boos. Here are some snapshots from Sana's blogpost:
There was a midnight replay but I wonder if it's on YouTube... Hee-hee. I don't have a copy of the show just yet.

We also got to meet Luntian Bag's Ichay Bulaong, corporate warrior, waterbaby and now a passionately green entrepreneur. Her reusable cacha bags come in funky designs (I got a cool bag with Rizal demanding us "Walang plastikan!" although I also wanted the one with Audrey Hepburn complaining that "Plastic bags are so last season!") and promotes a greener earth by asking all of us to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) whenever we go to the groceries or the bazaars. Thanks for the nice post too, Ichay! Hope our paths will cross again soon.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Not as sweet as Yelley's love story, but perhaps sweeter than the pumpkin pails of candies kids got last night. My brother woke me up this morning with a handwritten note from the 7-year old son of his boss who recently got a copy of The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots as a birthday gift.

Dear Nikki:
I want to meet you. I like your book. I hope I will see you soon.

What a great way to start a new month: with renewed hope (beyond hope) for more new friends, more handwritten notes (when was the last time you really wrote and not typed?!), and more sweet stories to tell.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Paperclip Possibilities

What do you get when you meet with a producer and real-world Peter Pan, a musician and mother of two smart kids, and a former ad agency creative director on a late Friday night? Great conversation about children's stories with well-defined characters... enthusiasm for intelligent programs for kids... and lots of exciting possibilities for my paperclip and I. Abangan ang mga susunod na kabanata...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I Saw Red

I saw a small red paperclip in Laguna today and three things came to mind.
  • Jason told me I should read Kyle's book about his amazing One Red Paperclip adventure. Who would have thought that our paperclips (well, our blogs) would cross paths as early as August 2005? What an amazing adventure. And what a great tagline for a book: Or How an Ordinary Man Achieved His Dream with the Help of a Simple Office Supply. One day, I'll go to Kipling and see his house. I actually sent him a copy of my book back then (I can't believe it has been that long!) but I didn't hear from him. I hope my Yellow Paperclip didn't get lost in the snailmail trail!
  • The song I Saw Red by Warrant (eeeeeeeep... How old school! How cheesy!) and all the memories it brings back from middle school. (C'mon, I know you can sing with me...)
every day i wake up
i thank God that you are still a part of me
we've opened up the door
to which so many people never find the key
and if the sun should ever fail to send its light
we will burn a thousand candles
and make everything alright
then i saw red...
  • The pretty red Christmas trees and stars all over Bonifacio High Street. We have 61 days to go before Christmas... and 68 days to a brand new year.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dreams Mean Work

I've always loved the last line of By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept: "Dreams mean work." Given how I'm practically drowning in work now (and for the next 12 weeks), writing a story should be the last thing on my to-do list. Writing a story one day before a deadline should be a big, screaming what-the-heck-are-you-thinking, flat-out NO. But the orange paperclip I saw this Monday was a big push for me to just go for it. Maybe I felt like I had to prove something to myself.

With the way I dream, dreams mean a lot more work, but they also mean...
  • Emailing and texting friends to get first-hand information (and I got some amazing responses! THANK YOU SO MUCH for the help and inspiration!)
  • Staying awake past 2 AM to write a 5-page story
  • Getting a friend to critique my draft this morning (Salamat, Mia!)
  • Almost tripping in the rocky carpark where I had to park to get a document notarized
  • Skipping lunch to drive all the way to Kamuning (thanks for the directions, CJ!)
  • Seeing the sparkling new, brightly-lit and happy Adarna House for the first time
  • Getting stuck for more than an hour along EDSA on the way back to Ortigas (okay, I had a bag of chips to munch on...)
  • Eating a late lunch alone
  • Staying late in the office again to beat another deadline (and I did!)
  • Having the satisfaction of saying, "I really did it!" and "I can't say I didn't try!"
  • Feeling like you can still edit and re-write, over and over (so I don't want to look at the story again because I'll just see the blemishes, but alas - it's done so I can't fret. At least for now...)
  • Waiting for the results to come out on or before Friday, November 16
  • Smiling (even if I'm dead tired) because I know I just wrote another story... and I'm really happy how it oozed out of me quite easily, and how it turned out. I believe I experienced a wonderful I'm-in-my-flow moment last night/this morning.
Yes, dreams mean sooooo much work. But dreams also mean more exciting times ahead... and more paperclip sightings to keep me dreaming in the first place.

Monday, October 15, 2007

All in a Day's Work

"It could've been worse," my client contact said in jest, and I smiled back to try and hide the hurt. It's all good, I thought to myself. Breathe in, breathe out, Nikki. It's all good. All in a day's work.

I did a client presentation this morning... and got grilled. To his credit, I wasn't as prepared as I should have been. But with all due respect, he requested the meeting to be moved 4.5 hours earlier (I got a call at 9AM to be in Laguna by 11AM!) which ate up my prep time. To make things worse, he was just plain rude. Pinahiya niya ako sa harap ng lahat. I was warned by my contact about the personalities I'd be meeting this morning and I guess my stupid insecurity got in the way again. I choked. Gulp. Breathe in, breathe out...

I walked back to the parking lot slowly, with what-the-heck-am-doing and who-am-I-kidding thoughts swimming in my head. I couldn't help but feel like I was back in my 11th grade classroom, transported back to that day my English Literature teacher accused me of plagiarizing an essay (yes, in front of my class). I remember feeling so small and so ashamed, standing there red-faced and defenseless. Napahiya. Nakakahiya. At hindi pa ako makasagot.

And then, like a bright flash of light, there it was: my paperclip for the day, bright orange and happy. See? It's all good, Nikki... Don't let anyone ever tell you you're not good or not good enough. Or at least don't let it affect you... so much.

I smiled. Of course I couldn't help but think this was a sign for me to rethink my life plans. With my nearly 24/7 work schedule these recent weeks, I seriously need a break or a retreat or at least quiet time to write. (Which reminds me: Will I still be able to submit to PBBY-Salanga? Eeeeep.)

I continued walking. I may not be able to confront that VP again to redeem myself (like I did with my teacher) but I felt better just thinking about the wonderful people I work with. I'm glad my stress comes from deadlines and not from difficult people. All of a sudden, planning events, editing reports and writing about business leaders seem like a joy to do.

All in a day's work, all in the life of a paperclip. Breathe in, breathe out...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

My Book as a "Paperclip" for Others

Except for meals, bladder breaks and at least 4 hours of sleep, I've been working on overdrive for the last few weeks. You can imagine how this email from a client made me pause, smile in the innermost part of myself, and whisper a prayer of thanks. I'm glad my work has allowed me to meet such wonderful people.

Hello, Nikki!

I got your book and read the story. I felt warm all over when I read the adventures of the Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots.

I wondered. If a simple paperclip can connect the lives of so many people, how much more can someone like me… who has more than just bright purple spots… do to connect lives of people I meet or even just to stay connected with them. Surely, the idea of staying connected with them is daunting enough for me. I have a very close friend whom I have not spoken to when I left Intel. Perhaps it is time to call her.

Could I even be that “paperclip” that can help reconnect two important people in my lives who are not in speaking terms? I continued to avoid getting myself involved in their situation. Perhaps it is time to be like your yellow paperclip and try to link them up once more.

Thank you for the signed book.
I will buy your book and give them as gifts to friends. I want them touched by your “paperclip”. In a way, your book will be my paperclip to them. Also, I want you to prosper as an author. This way you will be inspired to write more stories… and be the next JK Rowling. Can’t wait for that to happen!

I can be the woman for others, and my book can be the paperclip or the link for others. Naks! Maraming salamat, G. Hope to see you soon!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Thank You for Traveling With Us

Nina, Sana and I, together with the rest of the ATD Fundraising Team and the Volunteers, want to say... Thank you! Maraming salamat! Merci beaucoup! Xie xie! Kamsa hamnida! Terima kasih! Danke! Gracie!

Thank you for coming to Travel Books for a Cause last Saturday and supporting ATD Fourth World. We were able to raise enough funds to send one ATD (All Together in Dignity) community member to celebrate October 17, the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty, with the United Nations delegates in New York City.

Here's our little Oprah-esque interview-cum-talk show, with our very own Bing Manlapaz.
Here's a snapshot of the poster I prepared, highlighting my travels as well as that of my book. If you look closely at the map, you'll see that my paperclip (marked with the pink/purple spots) has travelled to more places than I have (marked with the green spots)! I put up my favorite paperclips from my collection as well (yes, I collect paperclips!). Thanks to Tisha for the cool yellow-and-red hanbok.
Visit my Multiply gallery to see more photos. More to follow from our team of photographers...

We'll do a take-two for Travel Books for a Cause in early November. Stay tuned for more details.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

An Invitation to "Travel Books for a Cause"

3 Titles. 3 friends and 3 volunteers. 1 Cause.

Nina's Travel Sketches features her beautiful watercolor sketches in three volumes: Philippines, Asia and the Pacific, and Europe and North America. Sana's Passport comes in four designs and is a travel journal/sketchbook/scrapbook, a handy companion for your next trip and perfect for organizing tickets, photos, flyers and other travel mementos. My children's story The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots features a traveling paperclip on its way to self-discovery.

Please click the image to read the invitation. Nina, Sana and I look forward to your RSVPs. See you on Saturday, September 22!

What's the "cause"? Visit to find out more about All Together in Dignity or read previous posts here and here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Call for Entries: 2008 PBBY-Salanga Prize

The Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) is now accepting entries for the 2008 PBBY-Salanga Prize. The deadline is on October 19, 2007.

The contest is co-sponsored by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and The National Library. The winner will be given a cash prize of P25,000.00, a gold medal, and an opportunity to be published with the help of the PBBY. Visit the official PBBY website for more details.

A Blue Paperclip in Cebu

It was a good omen: a blue paperclip right outside the blue Parklane Intenational Hotel as I walked towards the van that drove us to the Cebu City Country Club. I gave a presentation this afternoon on Creating a Service Culture upon the invitation of our good client Primary Structures. It was my first time to travel alone to Cebu for a DDI trip. I had butterflies in my belly and needed more sleep (I stayed up until 2 a.m. putting finishing touches to my PowerPoint!) so the blue paperclip was a welcome sight.

I also had a blue paperclip sighting this same time last year. Today's blue paperclip comes at just the right time (although this post is a couple of days late) because we won against DLSU again, and by just two points again! Wooohoooo! Go, Ateneo! One big fight!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Yellow Paperclip Goes to Delaware

Hooray! My book traveled safely across an ocean and a continent, and made it to Neil and Rebecca in Delaware. I got an email from him this morning to say the package arrived last Saturday...

It was so cool to see a real book with one of my friend's names on it!! Rebecca and I liked the story a lot, too.

Her sister's family just moved into town, and they happened to come over to our house for dessert Saturday night. When it was about time for them to leave, I told the two kids (2 and 5) that it was time for Uncle Neil to read them a bedtime story. So we sat down and read it together. They liked it a lot. They liked finding the paperclip on each page and various other things as well...

Before they left, my nephew (the 5-year-old) said to Rebecca: "I'm a yellow paperclip with polkadots. Where will you take me?" We laughed...

Aaaawww... I love hearing stories about how the paperclip "works" across cultures. The paperclip has got to be one of the most universal things on the planet, something to figuratively and literally link us all together.

And yes, the character Grandpa Neil in the story is based on real people, just like the other characters. Think of it like lots of Hidden Mickeys! If you only knew all the stories behind the story... Hee-hee. Well, my grandpa was named Cornelio (known as Lolo Eliong to us) and died of bone cancer, and Neil (short for Cornelius, Anglicized version of the Spanish Cornelio), a dear friend from Indonesia almost 15 years ago. He and I had this thing for the color purple too...

Coming soon: Paperclip stories from North Carolina and San Francisco!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Yellow Paperclip Gets Shot

... by an awesome photographer named Luis Cruz. We had so much fun, and got great photos for our Travel Books for a Cause fundraising project for ATD. Here's the Yellow Paperclip hanging out (it was literally hanging off the wall with a piece of BlueTac!) with its many friends. (Yes, I collect different kinds of paperclips. Now you know what you can give me for Christmas, my birthday and any other special occasion!)

Now you see my paperclip... now you don't!

My coolest pair of glasses...
Incidentally, I also met Luis at the Blog and Soul Movement blogger meet a few weeks earlier. Don't you just love it when worlds collide... Salamat, Luis - with you and your camera, we enjoy getting shot!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Travel Books for a Cause

What do Nina Yuson, Sana Sta. Ana and I have in common aside from our affiliation with ATD (and a great smile, of course)? Our passion for travel and for books... and soon, a shared book launch on our three travel books!

Travel Books for a Cause is a book launch/sale to raise awareness and funds for ATD communities and projects. Read a previous blogpost on ATD here. Nina will be launching her watercolor sketches from travels around the world. Sana will be launching Passport, her travel journal/scrapbook. So yes, the traveling Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots is in the great company of wonderful books. So friends and countrymen and countrywomen, block off your calendars: Saturday, September 22, 3PM at the Museo Pambata along Roxas Boulevard. Do send your RSVPs to me via

I spent the day in Nina's beautiful home for interviews, photo shoots and update meetings. I am equal parts humbled, amazed, excited and overwhelmed to be with Nina and Sana in this project. What started out as a simple brainstorming session for fundraising has evolved into an exciting can-this-really-be-true book event! More importantly, this project has brought about deeper relationships and new connections. Who would have thought I'd be in the company of three photographers today - and all of them have links to friends of mine? The world continues to grow wonderfully smaller and I'm thankful that the Yellow Paperclip helps make it happen.

Funds from Travel Books for a Cause will be used primarily to send community members to the United Nations in New York and the ATD Headquarters in Paris for October 17 events, to commemorate the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty. Click HERE to see what you can do and how you can be counted!

Thank you for sharing your photos, Luis! Visit his gallery for more great shots.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Great Men and Women of Asia

I haven't been to too many book launches but last night's launch of 12 titles from RMAF's Great Men and Women of Asia - Children's Series was one of the best I've been to.

I loved the travel theme. I loved how the kids were made aware of the different countries and cultures each Awardee was from. I loved that giant map of Asia, complete with the photos of flags, Awardees and the book covers. I loved the storytelling session. I loved how the kids were so smart and responsive to the cool teachers. I loved the short but punchy speeches. I loved the loot bag with the cool bookmarks (Pepper, they are amazing!). I loved meeting fellow authors. I loved meeting Quix Maiquez who did great artwork for Khan: A Teacher of Everything. I also loved May Tobias-Papa's artwork for The Lucky Doctor, but sad that she couldn't make it to the launch.
Best of all, I loved how friends were there to show support. A big thank you to my boss Mr. Vic, Melissa Segui (what a pleasant surprise!), Lyn and Eden (glad this was your first book launch!), and my fellow writer/blogger/dreamer (and official photographer) Don, author of Ang Batang Maraming Bawal, winner of 2006 Romeo Forbes Children's Storywriting Competition organized by CANVAS.

Here are some more photos taken by Don...

The Great Men and Women of Asia - Children's Series is available at A Different Bookstore. (You may want to call ahead though; as of this updated post, some stores do not have all the titles in stock just yet. - September 11, 2007)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Paperclip Trail to the Post Office

What is it with the route from Tektite to the Post Office along Emerald Avenue? The last time I walked over to mail some books to friends, I saw twelve paperclips. This time around, I mailed three books and saw six! Too bad I didn't have my camera with me. Shucks. The next time I go to the Post Office, I should bring a camera and a friend to witness these paperclip sightings. Hee-hee.

I mailed three books to three special people in three different locations (Delaware, North Carolina and San Francisco). I'll post about them once I've heard from each of them. Interesting stories coming soon... I hope!

An Invitation to a Book Launch

The Bookmark Inc. and Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation proudly present Great Men and Women of Asia – Children’s Series. And you’re invited to the book launch!

When: Thursday, August 30, 5 – 7:30 PM
Where: Ramon Magsaysay Center, 1680 Roxas Boulevard, Manila
RSVP: May at 521-3166 local 184 or Lirose at 521-3166 local 100

I have two books in the series! Khan: A Teacher of Everything about Sultan Shoab Khan, a Pakistani community developer and A Lucky Doctor about Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, a Japanese missionary doctor based in Afghanistan.

I know it's such short notice, so if you won’t be able to make it on Thursday, we’re supposed to have a bookstore launch soon so I hope you can make it then. I’ll keep you posted!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Yellow Paperclip Goes to a Blogger Meet

... and meets a magician (yes, I'm holding a Matrix-like fork!), makes new friends, runs into old friends (are you a blogger too, Vince?), and eats way too many cookies. Thanks again to my friend Jayvee for inviting me to be part of the Blog and Soul Movement and share my blog (and book!) to fellow bloggers.

Jayvee: Maraming salamat! Cookies are great, but when will we have crepes?
Riz: It was nice to finally meet you! I wish you see a random paperclip one of these days...
Betty, JP, Jen, Marcelle, Rico, Ryan: Thank you for your questions. I hope you enjoy the story again and again...

Until the next blogger meet!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Just a Green Paperclip in the Gym

I saw a big green paperclip at the foot of my gym locker last Tuesday. I couldn't help but smile... and mutter "shucks" under my breath that I didn't have a camera with me. If I were to do a mindmap and start with the word GREEN in the middle, I would come up with these other words and phrases: Kermit. Jokes. Archers. Forest. Veggies. Grass. But the biggest word would be: GO.

Green always means go. Ready... get set... go! Go, Nikki, go...
  • Go to the gym. (Yes, I finally signed up for a 3-month membership. Treadmill and weights tomorrow, boxing on Saturday. Whew!)
  • Go to the blogger meet. (It'll be my first ever blogger meet and I'm so excited!)
  • Go to the post office and send your book to Neil, Jeffrey and Susan. (It's just ten minutes from Tektite. And a wonderful thing happened the last time I walked to the post office...)
  • Go out with old friends. (Lyn and Eden... Bonnie, Luigi and Bub... Karina... Krissy and Jomi, Pau, Will... Chiko... Alfred and Pia... Bench Friends... I can't wait to see you!)
  • Go out with new people. (Who wants to set me up on a blind date?)
  • Go forth and multiply the business. (Yes, I think I'm really beginning to enjoy my sales role.)
  • Go to places you've never been to before. (I love the new Mag:Net Cafe in Bonifacio High Street. I also have scheduled get-togethers at Galileo and New Bombay Cafe this weekend.)
  • Go and see more of the Philippines. (Anyone game to go whitewater rafting in Cagayan de Oro this February? Any other suggested WOWPhilippines destinations?)
  • Go and write some more. (There's so much in my head but I'm not as writing as much as I should be. I'm starting to feel "artistically constipated" - thanks for the term, Yelley!)
  • Go on retreat. (I'll definitely be at SHN in the Easter, but until then, I'll have to find a way to go on vacation on my own.)
  • Go reach out to fellow TCKs. (Write, blog, reconnect, make new connections.)
  • Go submit your picture book. (As soon as I find the best publisher out there...)
  • Go and live out your dreams. (An extraordinary life is all I ask...)
  • Go and find your love / Go and swim the seas... (Yes, I've been listening to the soundtrack of Once on This Island a little too much!)
Go, Nikki, go. Green always means go. Could this be my one only-say-the-word-and-I-shall-be-healed word? I once wrote about that being one of my most favorite lines at church. Is God saying "go"? I quickly had to Google for something I recently read (but I forget where exactly I read it) and I'm glad I found it on a pretty cool blog:

If the request is wrong, God will say, “No.”
If the timing is wrong, God will say, “Slow.”
If you are wrong, God will say, “Grow.”
When the timing is right, God will say, “Let’s go!”

So is the timing right? Am I experiencing all these GodWinks because He is finally saying "go"? Is the Universe conspiring for this dreamer? (My life has seriously been one big conspiracy... but that's another blogpost altogether!)

I see you in every green stoplight... I once had this line floating in my head, soon after my Poetry for Non-Poets class in July 2004, and I thought it would make a killer line for a story or poem. Unfortunately, it's still only a line. I don't have the story or the poem just yet. Argh.

I saw a green paperclip in the gym... and so much more. I see so many possibilities. I see an extraordinary life ahead of me. I see answered prayers. I see my one true love. (I know it sounds insane, but I've never felt such crazy-certainty as this.)

What comes to mind when you see a green paperclip?

Monday, August 13, 2007

A Cookie and A Paperclip. A Movement and A Celebration.

What do chocolate chip cookies and my yellow paperclip have in common? They both have "spots"! And they'll both be at the Blog and Soul Movement Launch and the Second Coming of Mrs. Fields. What's this all about? Click HERE to find out more about my friend Jayvee's amazing power of connecting people and bloggers from all over the metro. I look forward to meeting new people, making friends and adding more purple spots in my life. Hope to see you there!

What: Blog and Soul Launch and the Second Coming of Mrs. Fields
When: August 21 (Tuesday), 7:00 PM
Where: Mrs. Fields, Manila Pavilion

And to help celebrate the Movement, as Jayvee already announced (thanks for the plug, Jayvs!), I'll have six copies of my storybook up for raffle. Why six? Well, it's also a great way to celebrate my sixth anniversary here in DDI. My first day at work was August 15, 2001, six months after graduating from college and I've loved my work ever since. Read this if you want to know just how much I love who we are and what we do; I wrote it three years ago and amazingly enough, I still feel the exact same way. The best part of it all, my boss and colleagues are so supportive of my creative writing pursuits! To my DDI family: maraming, maraming salamat!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Yellow Paperclip Goes to Ateneo and Meets Fr. Balch

Climbing uphill is never an easy task, but going back "up the hill" (as compared to the proverbial "going down from The Hill") of Loyola Heights is always a joy, a comfort, and (as cheesy as it sounds) a coming home. Four years spent in the Ateneo changed me into the ever-idealistic Nikki I am today and I wouldn't want it any other way. Walking around campus on a gray Saturday afternoon brought back a flood of memories and a pleasant little yellow surprise... yes, a paperclip in the North Parking Lot!

I drove all the way to Ateneo to meet up with Fr. Asandas Balchand, S.J. (or simply and fondly called Fr. Balch) who is now based in Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro. He was my TH131 professor and Sadhana retreat director during my senior year. We kept in touch via email and SMS and had always planned to meet up but our schedules never coincided. Except this weekend... and what a blessing!

To start, we had a one-on-one Eucharistic celebration! "I was just about to celebrate mass," Fr. Balch said. "Would you like to join me? (Nikki looks a little surprised at the thought of a mass for one. It's almost as awkward as having to whisper "yes, a table for one" in restaurants!) Of course I can say mass for you, Nikki." We went into a tiny chapel at the Jesuit Residence, he handed me the book of readings ("You say the first and second readings, and I'll do the Gospel.") and asked me to just sit quietly and pray while he prepared the table. It was the most unique and intimate celebrations I have ever had, complete with a personalized homily just for me!

Then we went to Seattle's Best across the street to catch up with each others' lives over a cup of cappuccino. He was thrilled with my life's story (as I was with his) and I was only too happy to share with someone who I know truly listens and hopes the best for me. And what is my life story without The Yellow Paperclip? He was visibly happy and proud and said that he'd link me up with former students of his who are also into children's literature. (Thanks, Fr. Balch!)

The Yellow Paperclip has made many Jesuit friends (including Fr. Stein, Bro. Charles, and Bro. Ody) and looks forward to many more. If I had been born a man, I would seriously have considered going into the Society. But since I'm a woman, I suppose being a Jesuit priest is not my calling, right? But these musings should really be in my prayer blog. (Now I realize why bloggers don't have separate blogs but have categories within one blog. Hmmm. Like I told Jayvee, I feel like such a newbie blogger... and yet I'm getting my guts up to go to my first blogger meet! I'm anxious and excited at the same time. Okay, now I realize I'm babbling.)

We stand on a hill between the earth and
The sky;
Now all is still,
Where Loyola’s colors fly
Our course is run
And the setting sun ends
Ateneo’s days;
Eyes are dry at the last good-bye;
This is the Ateneo way.

All Together in Dignity (and Serendipity)

I spent the morning at Museo Pambata for an orientation given by ATD Fourth World, a global NGO who work together with very poor individuals and families so they can overcome extreme poverty. Here in the Philippines, ATD stands for "All Together in Dignity" and is headed by Nina Yuson. My colleague, friend, lunch buddy and fellow Connector (in Tipping Point lingo) Bing Manlapaz introduced and invited me to ATD activities as early as last year (I had my very first storytelling of The Yellow Paperclip at one of ATD's street library projects). I hope that today marks my renewed, albeit slow, reintroduction to this wonderfully unassuming yet powerful group. Powerful enough to change mindsets and lives, both of the volunteers and the poorest of the poor.

With the little time and energy I have invested, I have already gained a lot. My perspective on "overcoming extreme poverty" has shifted significantly. If they will allow me to explain in my own little way what ATD hopes to do, I think it is about uplifting and restoring the dignity of the poor by simply celebrating being fellow human beings. Tao tayong lahat at pare-pareho ang ating mga kailangan. We live an analogous human condition and we have the same dreams and hopes for a better world. Helping the poor is not simply translated into livelihood programs or soup kitchens or building homes. While these are all important, real change happens when they see themselves in the same light as everyone else. Real change can happen when they want to step up and help themselves. Human dignity is a right all people have, regardless of race, gender, or social standing. ATD helps by seeing and treating the poor as friends, not as faceless communities that need financial assistance or saving. It's about hanging out with communities, getting to know them, hearing their concerns, playing with their children, helping them process their thoughts, enhancing their self-esteem and restoring their dignity. It's about helping them gain a voice loud and confident enough to be heard in the halls of the United Nations; yes, Bing and Aling Tita, resident of the North Cemetery community of ATD, traveled to New York in 2005 to speak with Kofi Annan himself!

The revolution starts with storytelling among children, either through street libraries (where books are literally brought to the streets) or cultural field trips to museums or performances. The poorest of the poor also need to have access to the arts and culture, just as we all do, because this is part of what makes us human. Human beings need more than just food, clothing and shelter. We have a higher need for the aesthetic and the spiritual, and the poor are no different. What amazes me is how the children of ATD are probably more cultured than most middle class kids in the sense that they have enjoyed the art at Museo Pambata, the National Museum, and in the various local and foreign books in their street libraries! After the orientation, we had storytelling, arts and crafts, including a Tapori project (also known as the art silhouette) based from an African children's story about friendship, fairness and providing the same chances to all children everywhere.
ATD recognizes that this kind of revolution is slow and very difficult to measure (ie. how can you tell if one's dignity has been restored?), yet the group treads on, slowly but surely, banking on the effort and commitment of its volunteers and friends. Today, we had Hands on Manila express their support for ATD (what great news!) and we look forward to many more volunteers. Interested to volunteer? Send an email to for more information.

Here's the part on serendipity (how can you not love that word?): after the orientation, Bing invited me to lunch with other new and long-time volunteers to discuss fundraising options for ATD's upcoming projects. From a humble lugaw event, inspired ideas from six very different women evolved into an exciting event: a book launch of three very different books, including my very own The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots. Stay tuned for more details.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Did you see the paperclip in Ratatouille?

It was in the scene where the rats were having a party, celebrating Remy's return to the colony. The camera panned across a group of rats making music and there it was, a silver paperclip held and used like a musical instrument by one of the happy, partying rats. Here's the interesting trivia bit: in France, a paperclip is called a trombone, and of course, the movie is set in Paris. How cool is that? (I love all the layers in this movie. Right, Yelley?)

Go and watch if you haven't yet - and make sure you catch the trailers to see Lifted, the hilarious Pixar short film. I love Ratatouille though (the movie and the dish!) - it's a classic you-can-be-who-you-want-to-be tale for idealists like me.

Je voudrais aller a Paris. Peut-etre je vais decouvrir beaucoup de trombones avec les points violet.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Yellow, Purple and Fjupy in San Diego

Wow, it seems that there are yellow-and-purple flowers anywhere I go! I took this while walking in downtown San Diego, on the way to Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues with my two best friends from high school.

When I asked Julia and Trixy to help me pray that 2007 be an Extraordinary Year for me, I didn't think that I would be blessed with a Fjupy Reunion! (Yes, God always does exceed our expectations.) It has been ten years since our high school graduation and two since our last get-together, but spending time with them negates all the time and distance we ever spent apart. These two are my fjupy womyn forever and I know we'll be friends until the very end (and longer), our husbands will be friends (John and Ade already are!) and our children will be friends too (will they also be the Bimbo-Bitch-Brain or the Lover-Lunatic-Poet trio?) - now that's something to look forward to.

Part of the Fjupy Friendship is our archive: part journal, part time capsule, part scrapbook; a companion between the three of us, recording our experiences and random thoughts. We've had three archives between us since our high school days and I brought a new purple archive with me to keep the tradition alive. We had the unveiling of the archive at our favorite Starbucks in San Diego. We only had two days together but we all had a great time (as these photos clearly show; thanks again, Ade, for being our official photographer!), including fjupy conversation about being Third Culture Kids and how our lives are forever changed because we're TCKs. (And thank you, Julia, for telling me about the cool TCK book! This deserves another blogpost for sure.)

Now in relation to my story, you may remember a character named Julia who uses the paperclip to bookmark her favorite prayer (and yes, Psalm 37:4 really is my favorite prayer). This character embodies both fjupy womyn as Julia and Trixy have been instrumental in strengthening my faith and prayer life back in our high school days. We had a lot of fjupy talks on big fjupy life-topics such as God, love and our futures. I'm not sure how many other 18-year-olds had deep-and-meaningful conversations like ours, but I always knew we were a little different and out-of-place ("in a world of silver paperclips"... hee-hee). Oh, and Viktor who flew the paper airplane is named after Julia's younger brother.

I can't wait until the next fjupy reunion...

Note: Fjupy (pronounced as "fyoo-pee") is a Swedish-like word we coined up to mean... well, everything! It can mean whatever we want it to mean, but usually it means deep-and-personal, pure, great, amazing; an adjective for those wow-I'm-speechless moments; a catch-all word to describe what Levin (my all-time favorite character from a Russian novel) meant when he said "words desecrate the loftiness of emotions" in Anna Karenina. (Yes, if you haven't guessed yet, I'm the Brain in the trio.) Levin is fjupy. YPC is fjupy. Love is fjupy.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Yellow and Purple Chihuly at The Phipps Conservatory

I don't know if I'm making a big deal out of seeing yellow-and-purple patterns all around... but seriously: it seems like a lot of people like this color combination too! (Yes, I am not alone.)

My last night in Pittsburgh was spent at the Phipps Conservatory, in awe at Dale Chihuly's amazing creations. It didn't bother me that I was alone (and spent nearly $25 on cab fare going to and from the hotel) - I am just so happy that the folks at DDI told me about this exhibit. There I was like a happy, lost kid, armed with my trusty hand-me-down Nikon Coolpix (nearly 200 shots in 2 hours!), absorbing all those vibrant and yummy colors, swirls, and light. Words can't explain how amazed I seriously was; I was teary-eyed at some (maybe because the small pieces, like this purple-and-yellow vase, cost nearly $6,000!), giddy with disbelief at others (how did he do that?!; but for the most part, I felt like I was in one happy dream.

I've never seen art quite like this and I'm glad I was able to capture some of them. These are my favorite yellow and/or purple pieces, but I've put up more of my favorite shots in my (yikes-I'm-such-an-newbie-phlogger) photo blog Elsewhere for you to enjoy.

Dale Chihuly now ranks high up there with my favorite artists like Vincent Van Gogh, Rene Magritte, Georgia O'Keefe, Gustav Klimt and May Ann Licudine. Chihuly at Phipps: Gardens & Glass runs until November 11, 2007 so if you're anywhere near Pittsburgh, you shouldn't miss it!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Where in the World is the Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots?

If my tracking is up-to-date, my Yellow Paperclip has visited at least 17 countries in the last two years. How cool is that? But that's actually only 7% of the world. If you have my book (or if you've sent it out to friends around the world) and your country isn't tagged yet, do let me know so I can update this map.

Click here to create your own Visited Countries Map

I love this site - it's so reminiscent of my growing up years with Carmen San Diego and oh-so-TCK. Thanks to my cyberlaundrywoman friend for sharing this. Hopefully, the Yellow Paperclip will find its way to more countries and continents soon.

A Project and A Song

Imagine life like this
we live as if we're paperclips
Oh it never seemed so clear to me
why our lives could be so separated like paper sheets
piece by piece we put together
and hold as one to make one big bind.
One big bind.

I wonder how many songs there are about paperclips... but this is the first one I've heard. And I love it. Click here to listen.

The more interesting thing is how I came across it. Check out this blog I stumbled upon. I'm just so thrilled to hear there are more people out there getting fascinated by the paperclip. At least I know I'm not that strange. :-) But I'm even happier that worlds continue to collide. Thanks, Jayvee and Jun for sharing my story with Guitarchic!

Welcome to the USA

What a sweet welcome to jumpstart my short U.S. trip - a bright red paperclip said hello as soon as I stepped out of the plane from my NW72 Nagoya-Detroit flight yesterday afternoon.

I'm here for a short trip: 5 days in Pittsburgh for DDI's annual International Marketing Meeting and 3 days in California to see the fjupy womyn in San Diego and Ursula in LA. I wonder what other paperclips will greet me here... aside from the striped ones I used to "lock" my suitcase. (My brother, Alec: "Um, you're funny, `Ki... you have paperclips on your bag.")

PS. I know, I know... I have so much blog backlog... it's not funny anymore.
PPS. Hi Don, nag-blog na ako ulit ha! ;-) Kahit short and sweet lang muna...

Saturday, June 09, 2007

They Yellow Paperclip in Enzo's Birthday Loot Bag

I can't believe it has been a year since I held newborn Enzo in my arms (read more about Enzo HERE). We celebrated his first birthday at Jollibee and I was thrilled when Rhea told me she wanted to include my book in the kids' loot bags.

My paperclip had a great time surrounded by kids, toys, sweets and Chicken Joy! Here are some snapshots from yesterday's party: there's Mommy Rhea and Baby Enzo, me with friendly Jollibee, and a group shot (look for Becca who is all grown up now!).

Here's the Yellow Paperclip with my officemate's kids - with Ron's four-year old brother and with Janet's nephew Marvin. Sweet! Thank you, Mommy Rhea!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Yellow Paperclip Goes to Seoul

It was a cross between Amazing Race and Lost in Translation as I made my way to Seoul on a solo adventure on a rainy Wednesday morning. A kind Rotarian brought me to the bus station in Cheongju City, helped me buy my ticket, waited until I boarded the bus... and even waved goodbye from the terminal!

I spent the afternoon checking out hotels for upcoming events in Seoul and shopping in the famous Nam Dae Mun market... all alone except for the essentials: some Won, an umbrella, my trusty Crocs, and a Lonely Planet Korean phrasebook! That evening, I met up with Jeda Kim, an old friend from AdMU, and my colleague Stephanie Nam for a delicious dinner in Yoido, in the heart of Korea's Manhattan-like district.

The rest of the evening was spent walking around the University Belt. Stephanie and I went to Cafe Eros, her favorite fortune teller cafe (my destiny is exciting... ;-) I can't wait for the rest of my life!), and three other cafes before we called it quits at nearly 5 in the morning! By the time I got into a cab, sleepy and tipsy, the sky was fast changing color. I crashed on the hotel bed with the sunrise on my face... What a memorable Sleepless in Seoul adventure! Kamsa hamnida!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Yellow and Purple Flowers in Korea

As promised, here are a few of my favorite photos of yellow and purple flowers. There will be more as the days and weeks go by...

I made sure I placed my "wishing rocks" near a bunch of yellow wildflowers. We were told that wishes come true when rocks are stacked up and placed along the riverbank. I tried to find the most heart-shaped rock I could find. Hee-hee.

I love it how Mama Mary looks Korean! I took this photo after our first Sunday Mass in Okcheong City. And of course I love it how the flowers in the pots are yellow and purple!

This is one of my favorite macro-shots. There are so many purple flowers here in Korea but somehow, they all still draw me in.