Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chill, it's Christmas

A yellow, loungey, chill-out Christmas brunch with the family at Dempsey's P.S. Cafe.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Unique Christmas Story

I came across a truly unique and touching Christmas story about the most unlikely character in the Nativity scene. Read The Lion, The Unicorn and Me by English writer Jeanette Winterson and come to understand the spirit of joy, awe and gratitude that Christmas brings.

Allow me to repurpose some of her Advent musings for my Christmas message to all of you:

So for all of you, in love, or in loss, in hope or in what feels like the absence of hope, may this Christmas time bring a chance of peace, and a new story, because that is what the Christmas story is – a new story from an old world. The known that becomes the unexpected, the miracle that happens.

Here's to miracles – because they happen.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Live Your Dreams

I've always been a big dreamer and have always enjoyed the company of fellow dreamers. The illustrator of The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots, May Ann Licudine, is definitely one of my favorites.

She shared with me a recent dream-come-true: the latest campaign of the Philippines' Department of Tourism features her work in print (including a full-color page in Forbes magazine), on their website (visit now!) and best of all, in an animated commercial. I saw the commercial here in Singapore and thought: Wow, that's great! It looks so familiar... :-) Congratulations, May Ann! I'm sooooo proud of you! And I'm so honored to have you, one of the Philippines' top creative minds of 2008, as a friend and fellow dreamer!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Simple Pleasures

I saw this cute ad for Mr. Bean (the soya drink stall, not the comedian) at the MRT station and I just had to take a picture of it. The text above reads: Life unfolds at its own rhythm with miracles happening every single day. Here, in our own lives. They are called Life's Simple Pleasures.

I also experienced this today - being jam-packed in the train... as well as simple pleasures and daily miracles. Chatting with Papa. Chatting with an old friend. Seeing an old friend. A sleeping baby. A new belt. Seeing someone give up a seat for a grandfather. Seeing the surprised yet grateful smile of the grandfather. A couple smiling warmly at each other. Check marks on my To-Do List. Green tea latte.

Life is good and I am grateful.

Monday, November 03, 2008

A CloudMan for Me

My friend Carlo gave me the nickname CloudWoman in college and it has stuck with me ever since. I was happy to see this Gingerbread Man at the Kids' Biennale in City Hall yesterday. Now if only I could meet a CloudMan in real life...

Yellow and Purple at The Kids' Biennale

A pinwheel and Gingerbread friends! More photos (in other colors) to follow when I have more time to send photos via Bluetooth and upload. I really should get a proper camera.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Long Live Purple

My good friend and fellow writer Don sent me this email today. It definitely put a smile to my face. It gives me yet another reason to love the color purple. Salamat, Don!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Fernando Gonzalez
Date: Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 2:36 PM
Subject: hi nikki, just thought about you when i read this....:-)

It's weird but when I read this from this link, I thought about you...hehe.

Red wine, concord grapes, blueberries (okay, not quite purple, but close enough) all get that deep rich color from polyphenols- compounds that reduce heart disease risk and may even protect against Alzheimer's disease, according to new research. So crack open a bottle of Pinot (don't overdo it), snack on some grapes, or make a blueberry pie and ponder all the years that lie ahead. Talk about happy and healthy! Get healthy with these great recipes.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Red Paperclip in Singapore!

It wasn't traveling or lost... it was on a billboard. Does that count?

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Silver Paperclip

I had a paperclip sighting today at the bank in Tampines. It was silver again. Hmmm. I hope the next time I see a paperclip, it won't be a silver one. Where did all the colored ones go?

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Penjepit Kertas Berwarna Kuning Berbintik Ungu

That's "The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots" translated into Bahasa Indonesia! It was great to see an old friend Dwiputri and make a new friend Piping - two Indonesian ladies who have been best of friends since their university days. No, they didn't buy my book at Borders, but we had dinner at the bistro outside the bookstore and just had to pose next to the sign. Terima kasih, Dwi dan Piping! Sampai jumpa!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Four Years Later and as Purple as Ever

I celebrated Becca's 14th birthday last night and it was a good evening with old and new friends. It's also a great event to capture in my blog (read: I don't have an excuse NOT to blog.) as I realize it has been two years since her last birthday blogpost.

Purple was, and will forever be, our favorite color. Here's my little gift for Becca, wrapped in a purple envelope with my birthday greeting scribbled in purple ink. (And yes, she painted her nails yellow. Way cool!)

Look at how grown up she is! I can't believe it has been four years since we sat and brainstormed together for the Yellow Paperclip. (Yes, Becca is the Becca in my book! Read more here.)

I saw this at NaRaYa in Bangkok last week and thought it was oh-so-perfect! A purple+pink kikay kit for a purple-loving kikay girl! (I'm so glad you like it, Becca!)

Best of all, we were BOTH in purple last night! Happy, happy birthday, Becca! I'm so happy that you and your mom are here in Singapore too. I look forward to more adventures with you here!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

A Silver Paperclip in Singapore

It has been exactly a month since I moved to Singapore... and many months since I last blogged. Tsk, tsk, tsk. Now that I have had enough 'nesting time' to settle in, I need to get out of my home-office-home routine. The move is definitely a bright spot for 2008 (among many) so I also need to start blogging again.

One evening last week, I saw my first paperclip here on the MRT and yes, it was silver and shiny. It looked like it needed some bright purple spots. Let the adventures begin...

Monday, June 09, 2008

Third Time Lucky

I spent an hour or so browsing around Fully Booked yesterday. Whenever I am at a bookstore, I can't help but check if they have still have copies of The Yellow Paperclip with Bright Purple Spots. (When they don't, I make sure I text or call Adarna House. Hee-hee. It's the marketing person in me.) I was happy to find one of those revolving Adarna book displays with four copies of my book on display. I noticed that the colors of the cover seemed a little different so I picked one up and checked the pages too... and guess what I just found out? We're on our third printing!

As always, I am thankful. It's not actually third time "lucky" - more like third time BLESSED. We're on our third year and I'm thrilled that the book continues to sell.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dreams, Deadlines and Dreamlines

Dreams mean work. I've posted a couple of stories on my all-time favorite Coelho quote, particularly when I worked on my last PBBY-Salanga and Palanca entries. Now, I have the perfect line to complete this quote and I see it every morning as I drive to work. An RCBC billboard screams out in bright blue and white: Dreams should have a deadline. I completely agree. Dreams without a deadline will be nothing more than wishful thinking. Deadlines push me to work harder, yet nothing beats the sweet satisfaction of ticking things off my Life's To-Do List.

Yesterday I had coffee (well, pink guava juice really) and dinner with an old friend from college. What started out as a let's-catch-up-on-the-last-six-months-of-our-lives turned out to be a brainstorming and project planning meeting for the next big dream (and yes, potential bestseller!). Our project plan includes a detailed timetable (in an outline form though, not a Gantt chart just yet) and a deadline: a book launch by February 2009.

Today was my deadline for the first draft of Part 2 of Jollitown's Season Finale and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. Episode 2 was on GMA7 this morning and I found myself with happy goosebumps as I listened to the song on imagination. (Shameless plug: Watch Jollitown on Channel 7 at 9:30 AM on May 4, June 15, July 6 and 13 for the episodes I wrote!)

Tomorrow marks the 30-day countdown to my 30th birthday. I promised myself that I'd come up with a list of 30 things I want to do to celebrate the last three decades. Tomorrow will be my deadline.

As I log off to work on an article for work (admittedly, I'm late for this deadline - I was supposed to submit it last Wednesday! - but they were kind enough to extend until the weekend), I remember the term dreamlines from The 4-Hour Workweek. I have yet to set a deadline to plot out my life's dreamline in detail. Let me put that on my to-do list...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Beyond Borders... and Beyond My Wildest Dreams

Just a little over a year ago, I was surprised to see my second book on the shelves of a bookstore. Khan: A Teacher of Everything, a book about a Pakistani community developer who won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, was launched in August 2007. I remember signing a book for a gentleman from the Pakistani Embassy, happy that he bought my story celebrating one of his country's modern heroes.

Today I received an email from Bookmark that caught me completely by surprise. They will be printing 100,000 copies of the book in English, Urdu and other Pakistani languages!!! WOW!!! That's 100,000 more children who will read about the story of Shoaib Sultan Khan! I can't even imagine how high a stack of 100,000 books are, and I also can't imagine seeing the story translated. I am thrilled beyond imagination - and I can't say thank you enough for yet another blessing. And with this unexpected dream comes a seed for another possibility: What if I were to fuse my love for travel and my passion for writing children's stories? Hmmm. Now there's an interesting idea... I'll keep you posted.

To the gentleman from the Pakistani Embassy: If you had anything to do with this wonderful surprise, I thank you from the bottom of my overwhelmed heart.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jollibee and Friends Make Their TV Debut

Jollitown, the new kids' show on GMA7 featuring the fun and insightful adventures of Jollibee, Yum, Hetty, Popo and Twirlie. Each week, the five friends interact with the children who live with them in Jollitown through stories and music... Click here to read more and see the mascots.

The pilot episode is tomorrow, Sunday, April 13 at 9:30 AM on GMA7.

Some of you may remember that in late February, I posted about my "best" Jollibee experience. It wasn't their peach mango pie (yummy!) or their longganisa breakfast (sarap!), but that "special spot" meant a very special TV spot! It was the day I watched a few hours of a Jollitown shoot for Episode #4... because I wrote the script for it! It was so cool to see the mascots acting out what I had imagined. I wrote a second script (not sure which Episode yet) and I'll be working on the season finale this weekend. Wooohooo! How fun!

It has been such a joy to write for this show (and I'm so happy I can actually share the great news about Jollitown with friends now!) - it's about time Filipino kids have something worthwhile to watch on local television.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Three Scripts and a Dream

I learned something new this year: I can write scripts! I'm sure there are still a lot of technical terms to learn aside from the few that I've learned to use (ie. SFX, dissolve to, on cam, etc.) but essentially, scriptwriting is a form of storytelling too.

I recently wrote scripts for two 20-minute episodes for a children's TV show: one about throwing trash out properly and the other about getting to know your friendly neighbors. I think it's great that the producers purposely chose new people to be part of the show. I insisted from the very beginning that 1) I've never written a script before, and 2) I don't have any formal background for film or television. All the better, they said. They really wanted a completely fresh perspective. I'm so excited to see the show really, really soon. I will definitely announce and blog about when to expect it on GMA7.

Now I'm being asked to write a third - and it's for the two-part finale episode! I shouldn't even think about it, right? I should just write for the love of storytelling... and the extra cash it will give me to take a vacation this summer. Hee-hee. Besides, it will become part of my "dreamline" (a great term I picked up from the book I'm currently reading, The 4-Hour Workweek) as I work towards the ultimate dream: to retire on royalties, travel the world, write and blog all I want, and of course, I can still do part-time consulting projects.

Be careful what you wish for, Nikki...

One Spot at a Time

Okay, so I found out about my skin condition last November 2006 but I was still stubborn about it. I got frustrated with that last derma (I thought she was an angel, but I guess not. Hmph.) and went on a bahala-na, sort of self-medication bout: wrong move. My rosacea only worsened. It got so bad last week - I was tomato-red, triggered by a bad cold! - that I knew I really had to ask for help. I swallowed my pride and finally got the guts up to look up a new doctor at the nearby Asian Hospital. I found the only doctor who specialized in immunodermatology with a Saturday schedule and prayed that she be friendly lest I get frustrated and cynical again.

Dr. Nicolas turned out to be a blessing! I have seen several dermatologists and most have misdiagnosed my rosacea for acne, dermatitis, eczema, etc. She was the very first one who actually touched my face... and noticed that it was indeed warm, a sure sign of rosacea. She was practical and straightforward, but warm and sincere. I saw her again yesterday after a week and my face is noticeably less inflamed and much smoother than I've seen it in months (years?). I'm still pinkish and it still acts up because of the heat.

If I'm serious about looking fabulous for my upcoming 30th birthday (!) then I do have to take microsteps, such as:
  • No more coffee. I have to switch to green tea. (It's a good thing I actually like the Green Tea Latte at Starbucks!)
  • No more alcohol. Drinks lots and lots of water instead.
  • Eat a lot of salmon and flaxseed with Omega-3 to decrease inflammation.
  • No strenuous exercise. Bye-bye, boxing. Hello Yoga, you're here to stay.
  • Avoid extreme temperatures. Hot/humid and cold/dry weather are both triggers for flare-ups. I've noticed my face gets all flushed and warm whenever I get out of the car (cold with the aircon) in the parking lot (hot and humid) and into the office (super cold with the aircon again). I need to figure out how to manage this.
  • Avoid stress. Yikes. Ommmm...
As if that's not enough. She linked my rosacea-aggravating acne with high testosterone levels which we confirmed through a blood test I did last week. The normal female range is between 0.1 and 0.75... my testosterone count is 0.88! She requested that I get an ultrasound to zero in on the problem which unfortunately, we confirmed again: polycystic ovaries. Eeeep.

It's frustrating; my out-of-whack hormones get me moody and bad flare-up days make me even more cranky. But with the medications, proper diet and exercise, and management of my triggers, I will get better - one spot at a time!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter Stories

I spent the Holy Week at my favorite sacred space, the Sacred Heart Retreat Center in Novaliches. This is my second silent retreat here and I am convinced that I must go back at least once a year. In 2006, I saw paperclips; this time, it was all about stories.

Jesus has got to be one of the best storytellers of all time. His parables are simple stories but because he had such an intimate understanding of His audience, the message came across loud and clear. God moves in mysterious yet very personal ways and I believe He speaks to me best in the ideas and metaphors that I find swirling in my head. Life's blessings come endlessly like the falling leaves. Our prayers and wishes are like the stepping stones by which He builds The Way. Why tire yourself out with building a bridge when you can just hold My hand?

Here's my favorite bench. I sat here and watched leaves, clouds, and the birds fly from one tree to the next. I slept here and enjoyed the wind on my face. I prayed here and relished in my Easter stories.
Let the writing begin...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Let's Share Story Ideas

Do you like children's stories?
Have you ever dreamed of making a short film?
Would you like to help brainstorm for ideas for a short film for kids?

If you answered "yes" to all the questions above, read on and leave your comments/replies to my questions below.

I have an exciting assignment to pitch several story ideas for a 3-4 minute short film for children by first week of April 2008. I jumped at the opportunity without knowing what's in it for me. So at this point, it's all for the love of Story! :-)

As with all of my stories, I find it very helpful to get ideas and insights from friends. So if you're interested to help and share your thoughts (and yes, all for the love of Story and Art and all that good stuff), do post your comments. I look forward to hearing from you!
  1. What is your all-time favorite children's story? Why?
  2. What's a classic theme of children's stories that will never, ever go out of style?
  3. What's a typical conflict faced by 6-10 year olds?
  4. In your opinion, what are key elements of a great short film?
  5. If you've got a story idea that you've always wanted to pitch, do you want to work closely with me on this project?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A Special Spot

I had the best Jollibee experience today. I can't describe it in a lot of detail now... but I'll do so in mid-April. Let's just keep the suspense for now.

All I'll say is: I'll never look at Jollibee the same way again. :-) Bee happy!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Brightest Spots of 2007

How do I measure 525,600 minutes? How do I measure a year in my life? In bright purple spots, of course! I had at least one major bright spot for every month of the year.
  • January: In my desire to be better a marketing professional, I decided to start my Sales and Account Management role at DDI. My dad always said that you can't excel in marketing if you haven't even sold a can of milk (or in my case, a workbook).
  • February: There were two major family affairs in the same week on this month of hearts - my Lola Pining celebrated her 88th birthday and my cousin Kristine got married (and I was the emcee!).
  • March: My friends and I organized Singles Anonymous, a singles party on March 3 at Mugen Bar in Metrowalk. Well, I didn't meet Mr. Right, but I met lots of new people, got free drinks, and played Cupid for a dear friend (and was successful!).
  • April: I spent four glorious days in silence at the Karis retreat house in Tagaytay during my annual Holy Week Retreat. Click here for more.
  • May: I spent the entire month in Chungchukbukdo, South Korea with the Rotary International's Group Study Exchange program. Louie, Jules, Lyn and I really enjoyed the 30 days of Korean culture, including the delicious food (my favorites include pajeon, hotak, bibimbap, and of course, kimchi!), bells, mountains, temples, the language (and the characters!), and the wonderful, hospitable Rotarian hosts. Click here for my Korean ABCs photos.
  • June: I spent a lot of time editing the manuscript for Extraordinary: Stories for Aspiring Leaders, our book project with the Management Association of the Philippines. It's my first "grown-up" book! It'll come out before the middle of 2008; stay tuned for more details.
  • July: I was thrilled to represent the Philippines for the International Marketing Meeting in our headquarters in Pittsburgh and meet counterparts from all around the world. As an added treat, I saw my first Chihuly exhibit (amazing!) and had a fjupy reunion in San Diego with Trixy and Julia, and an 18-hour reunion with Ursula in Los Angeles.
  • August: I wrote 2 stories in the first set of 12 books of the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation's Great Men and Women of Asia - Children's Series. Launched last August 30, I'm very proud of Khan: A Teacher of Everything and A Lucky Doctor. Click here for photos from the book launch.
  • September: My colleague Bing introduced me to ATD Fourth World in May 2006 (where I had my first-ever storytelling session for YPC!). What a blessing to meet the ATD community, and particularly making a special connection with Nina Lim-Yuson and Sana Sta. Ana. In a serendipitous turn of events, we had a successful fundraising event Travel Books for a Cause in September at Museo Pambata, and a second one in November at A Different Bookstore.
  • October: The month was marked by deadlines, both work and non-work related. All the interview reports for the 2008 Asia Business Leader Awards (ABLA) were due (I was the regional coordinator for this project... whew!), as well as the submission for the 2007 PBBY-Salanga Award.
  • November: Preparations for our 30th anniversary and CEO's 10-day visit in January were in full-swing! To add to that, there were so many client projects (but I can't complain, of course!) all at the same time.
  • December: My sister came home to join the special recognition tribute for my dad's 30 years at Nestle (wow!) and to spend Christmas with us. I just wish there was more family time, except there was just so much work to prepare for an exciting and uber-busy January with the ABLA in Seoul and our 30th anniversary here in Manila.
Whew! 2007 was definitely a great year for me. I'm sure 2008 will be even more exciting, with lots more bright spots and stories to tell. I can't believe it took me this long to write though. I wonder how long it'll take me to write my To-Do List for 2008? Sigh...

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Brown Paperclip in the Shala

Today was my third yoga class at Vinyasa Yoga Center in Emerald Avenue. I smiled when I saw a brown paperclip inside the shala, along the wall where I parked my bag and water bottle. I guess it's a small sign for me to keep going, no matter how difficult. But, hey! I felt much more flexible today than I did in my first two classes. Yoga is part of my 100-day project to look fabulous for my upcoming 30th birthday! Eeeep... you can do it, Nikki!

There are some pretty cool poses: Upward Dog, Downward Dog, Cobra, Warrior 1 and 2, Boat, Bow, Pigeon, and more. I wonder if there's a Paperclip pose...? Hee-hee. Well, I just Googled "paperclip yoga" and here's what I found on this site:

The first limb of yoga is the Yamas, or abstentions, and the first Yama is non-violence. We can practice this abstension from violence with ourselves by abstaining from negative self-talk, which is an act violence to wards the self. By utilizing this simple "Paperclip Exercise" we can explore the amazing power of positive thinking, and begin to understand how we can destroy ourselves, sabotage our goals, and crush our spirits through negative thinking. Just for today, fill your left pocket with paperclips, and whenever you make a verbal or mental negative statement about yourself, this is a demeaning, judging, analyzing, criticizing or labeling statement, you transfer a paperclip from the left pocket to the right. When you run out of paperclips, just begin moving them from right to left. At the end of the day, take some time to reflect on what areas of your life, your beliefs and your behaviors seem to be in conflict. Set an intent to begin to make supporting, motivating and encouraging statements to yourself instead-just as you would a child, student or friend. This exercise will help you to find a way to use the power of positive thinking when addressing, assessing or coaching yourself.

How's that for great yoga-paperclip positive philosophy?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Predictability of Paperclips

I had to post something for Bookmark today and, lo and behold - as expected, I saw several paperclips on the way to the post office on Emerald Avenue. Here are some snapshots for evidence (and yes, I finally figured out how to send the photos from my phone camera via Bluetooth!).

Given that I saw several paperclips on previous trips (click here and here) to the same post office, I wasn't at all surprised to see them this time around. I was actually expecting them. I would have felt cheated or betrayed if I didn't see any.

Wouldn't life be so much more simple if we could predict the future just as accurately as my post-office-paperclip sightings? But of course things aren't that simple.

Friday, February 01, 2008

A Paperclip to Start My Year

I was walking back to the office from The Richmonde Hotel when I saw a white paperclip with blue spots. I had to smile to myself, thinking: A paperclip sighting is a great way to start my new year.

February marks the "start" of my 2008, considering how busy my January was with our CEO's 10-day visit to the Philippines and my 4-day trip to Seoul on the same week! I've been on ludicrous speed (yes, the stars turned plaid) since November and it took its toll and led to a week-long bout with the worst flu bug. I'm just so happy I actually have time to blog now, except I don't know where to start. There's so much catching-up to do; there's so much I want to write. I think I'll start with writing my year-end reflection, then proceed to listing my Things To Do for the new year.

What were the brightest spots of 2007...?