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.