The Upper Room

It's only September but carols are already playing on the air, and now I suddenly remember that Christmas. My Auntie Pat was still living and her Alzhemier's had not fully set in.

She came with my mom (her older sister) to our home to spend Christmas and New Year with my family. I had not wrapped anything for her so I asked if there was anything she wanted for Christmas. 


A Treasured Award

The excitement of winning an award always comes in two huge waves—like tsunami invasions.

First, you drown and can't immediately come up for air. That's when someone calls to tell you about the victory. I blogged about that one.

Second, just when you think you're treading and breathing normally again, the next giant wave comes: awards night. 


What Readers Say

Or, 5 Days at the Book Fair 

What I love most about book signing is interacting with readers. They say the nicest, and often, the funniest things.

From morn till night (except on Sunday morning [last day] when I worshiped God in my home church), I chatted with readers at the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF). Priceless hours.


How Old Are You?

(In line with my newly launched book, What, Me Retire? I was invited to the OMF Literature Authors' Fellowship at the MIBF "to encourage  younger writers to keep looking for the 'pearls' in life to write about; to share tips on how they can stay sharp, creative, and relevant.” Here's an abridged version of that talk.)   
Frankly, I don't feel like a senior. I don't feel old, neither do I think old. I was wired in advertising, where I stayed for over 20 years, to always think young. I can groove to the music of Elvis Presley and Justin Bieber or Scotty McCreery. 


Palanca Awards Night 2012

A measly 5% of all entries.  

That's how few there were from writers my age to the Palanca Awards this year. Of the 1077 manuscripts in competition, this percentage translates to only 54 entries.

Sylvia Palanca-Quirino, director general of the Carlos Palanca Foundation, mentioned in her talk that the passing of the torch to the younger generation is happening.     

But . . .

Out of the 47 total Palanca winners, I counted over a dozen white-haired winners at the awarding ceremony. Add them to all the gray hair concealed in taupes, wigs, and commercial dyes, and the number comes up to something still impressive! 


Grand Launch

These two books, published by Church Strengthening Ministry (CSM), will be formally launched today at the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF) at 6 PM. I am now clicking on my excitement button. Ooops, it's been on since yesterday, the opening of the MIBF.

They had been written for tweens (ages 8 to 12), that life stage when kids seem to think they are no longer kids, but still too young to be teens. These in-between years are critical times.


Quiet Time . . .

with Mateo

If you've visited this blog at least once, you must have glanced at my books on the right. You haven't? Please look closely and would you scroll down?

Fourteen of them are part of the “Oh, Mateo!” series.  These are individual books with Mateo as the hero—a smart eight-year old boy from the province of Pangasinan—who figures in one episode after another.

Every year since the beginning of the millennium, a book or two would be launched by Hiyas (an imprint of OMF Literature) at the Manila International Book Fair (MIBF). This year, Hiyas has decided to end the series with book No. 14  (it's the 15th book, actually, if you include the stand-alone “The Magic of Apo Mayor”).

After I had finished writing the last book, “A Flood of Kindness,” and said good-bye to Mateo, Hiyas asked me to look into writing a devotional for the same age range (8-12) with Mateo (still) as the hero.


What, Me Retire?

This book took 12 years to write. 

The actual writing was a little over a year, but my thoughts and feelings—validated through friends and family—took 11 years to stew. 

I can't cook (never cooked a decent dish in my life!), but I had watched my mother-in-law do it and stewing seems best in describing the process I went through to put this book together. 

In the Author's Note, I wrote:

“I am glad I didn't  have to write this book 12 years ago when I was angry, believing I was a dead duck and my life was ruined. Now I see it all clearly, and can confront workplace retirement with levity and humor. 

“To read this book, then, prepare to smile and laugh with me.” 


Where Did That Come From?

Fretting over the most horrific traffic that mid morning, I forgot to check my mobile phone. When I finally did, I was surprised to find it bursting with a number of missed calls. 

They all had the same message from different people at OMF Literature who were similarly rejoicing, “Good news! Your book, GRACE FOUND ME, won the Gintong Aklat Award of the Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP). We are all very happy here in Publications when we heard the news!”

It was totally unexpected, like snow in the dead heat of summer.

“Where did that come from?” Beng, editor of the book, asked the question I would have asked myself.

Two years ago, my book, “Flying on Broken Wings” (New Day Publishers) was one of five finalists in the same category. The fireworks in my heart are still there, preserved in perpetuity.


Speak Not

A funny thing happened on my way to speak before a crowd of 800, mostly students, in a big Rotary function. I was to be the second speaker on “Preparing for the Workplace.” After me would be two celebrities—a she (showbiz personality) and a he (congressman). 

As programs go, there were many preliminaries—a beautiful and moving tableau on the evolution of the Filipino flag that segued to the Philippine National Anthem and the invocation; introduction of officers and guests; induction and charging ceremonies; acknowledgments of donors and other people of importance. 

Two hours passed and the emcees finally announced the first speaker. A stickler for time, I knew right then that squeezing four speakers into the remaining two hours would be a miracle. The first speaker took half an hour.

Then when I was all psyched up for my turn, the emcees announced another name—a Rotarian who was not in the program, but who, I was told later, was scheduled to do a rah-rah talk at lunchtime for a forthcoming Rotary event.



The single most important principle I learned from my long stint in advertising is KISS. 

Just a bit of a background: KISS is an acronym for the design principle first verbalized  by Kelly Johnson, “Keep it simple, Stupid!” Through the years, KISS gave birth to many variations: Keep It Simple, Sir; Keep It Simple or be Stupid; Keep it Simple and Straightforward; and Keep it simple and sincere.

The KISS principle: the most complex systems/concepts can readily be understood if they are kept simple. Once a wordsmith in advertising (and a caretaker of words today), my take on KISS then was, “Keep It short and Simple.”

Short—because target audiences (the people for whom we create ads) are busy, uninterested beings who don't have all the time in the world to read, much less be lured by too many words and pictures.

Simple—for exactly the same reason as short. Our target audiences' lives are complicated enough, crammed enough, and confused enough.

When asked, I explain my former job thus: summarizing volumes of research data into 30 seconds of attractive words (45 at the most).

Every word was important, so we had to choose only those that were easiest to understand:
“aim” instead of “contemplate;”
“stun” instead of “discombobulate;”
“crush” instead of “annihilate.”