My weight loss journey: 12 weeks, 20 lbs, no fad diet (Rappler.com)

(First published on August 16, 2014 on Rappler.com)

Here are some of the things that the writer did to make that change happen for the long haul.

SOURCE: Rappler.com
SOURCE: Rappler.com

Three months ago, I was 40 lbs. overweight, addicted to chocolates and sweets, and hardly able to walk up 4 short flights of steps without running out of breath. I had just moved into a new job, and my medical test results showed that my cholesterol and triglycerides were high, and my blood sugar levels were above normal.

And don’t get me started on my body-mass index (BMI). At 5’2.5”, my highest recorded weight was 150 lbs., and my BMI category was “Obese I.” Although childless, I had been asked a few times if I was expecting or had already given birth, since I had gained 40 lbs. in 4 years.

No matter how my family and friends tried to reassure me that I still looked okay despite the overall roundness, I knew deep inside that this wasn’t how I was supposed to be.

Fast-forward to 12 weeks later, and I had lost exactly 21.5 lbs. without going on some fad “diet,” surgery, or anything extraordinary.

BEFORE AND AFTER. Happier in the process. Photos provided by Nina Terol
BEFORE AND AFTER. Happier in the process. Photos provided by Nina Terol

did make the decision to completely change my routine, lifestyle, and overall outlook on my health and life. Here are some of the things that I did—and still do—to make that change happen for the long haul.*

1. Walk to work. When I moved into a new job, I also made the decision to move closer to my new office for two reasons: (1) to avoid the horrendous cross-city traffic that would waste so much time and money; and (2) to start walking to work every day. It was one of the best decisions I had ever made.

My daily walk takes around 20 minutes both ways, acting as my warm-up and cool-down for the day. It also jump-started my entire system to get moving again from what used to be a completely sedentary lifestyle.

2. Move, move, MOVE. Once I had gotten used to walking to and from work, I also made the decision to move about as much as I could. I followed expert advice to get up from my desk every 90 minutes—time that I also use when I need a writing break or when I need to talk to some colleagues on the other end of the office.

I’ve also tried editing material while standing up—just to keep myself awake and alert while reading otherwise sleep-inducing drafts.

I’m also fortunate enough to work in an office with a (free) gym just in the same floor, so I started out by doing some slow cycling on the exercise bike—while reading a work-related book—either during the lunch break or after work.

Once my body felt strong enough, I moved to the treadmill and did 30-minute power walk sessions after work. I have since “graduated” to running on the treadmill for 30 to 40 minutes per session, at least two times a week on weekdays.

On weekends, I make sure to wake up early enough to catch the morning sun and jog around the neighborhood by 8AM.

SOURCE: Rappler.com

3. Get fit with friends. Thanks to a friend who invited me to check out a Zumba class, I now get to dance Zumba at least once a week—burning a lot of calories while getting fit, making new friends, andhaving fun.

I also realized in the process that I enjoy dancing even if I don’t have a dance background and am not even very good at it. So aside from Zumba, I’ve also started dancing salsa with friends—and taking every possible opportunity to just dance and move to good music.

Aside from that, I have a best friend who’s a yoga teacher and a cousin who used to be a personal trainer. Once I opened up to their guidance and support, I’ve been able to incorporate more balanced practices into my everyday routine and lifestyle.

4. Junk the (bad) carbs. This is important: No matter how much you move, you won’t get healthy enough unless you junk the bad carbs from your system. This includes such Filipino staples as white rice, white bread, white pasta, and all sorts of sweets, pastries, andmerienda fare. For me, cutting the rice, bread, pasta, and pizza was easy—it’s cutting out the chocolates and the sweets that continues to be a challenge.

This is also where the conscious, active decision to be fit and healthy kicks in: I’ve realized that for our bodies to change, we first have to change our minds about “the way things have always been done.”

This has meant redefining what constitutes a “good meal”, as well as getting my family on board about healthier options during family get-togethers.

SOURCE: Rappler.com

5. Train your taste buds. Substitute. So if you can’t eat white rice, white breads, and pasta, what can you eat? Some prefer eating red or brown rice, or whole grain bread and pasta, which contain more nutrients than their whiter, refined counterparts.

I, on the other hand, have decided to junk those altogether and instead use salads and vegetables for my everyday meals.

I love the fact that pre-washed salad packs are now readily available in supermarkets and convenience stores—it takes the guesswork out of my meals and makes it easier for me to eat healthy. For me, “lettuce is the new rice.” (It looks prettier on Instagram photos, too!)

Also, if you must absolutely use sweeteners for your drinks, go for stevia or agave instead of white sugar or even artificial sweeteners with aspartame. Both stevia and agave are plant-based, are sweeter, and have a lower glycemic index than white sugar, preventing a “sugar crash” and nasty cravings later on.

Other substitutions you can make: tea instead of coffee, dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa) instead of milk chocolate, lemon water instead of fruit juices (which are also high on sugar, especially if they’re processed and artificial), vinaigrette instead of heavy dressings, clear soup instead of creamy soups, and herbs and spices instead of artificial flavors. All those little choices add up, and will contribute to a healthier you in the long run.

6. Redefine “happy meals.” Apologies to the big, corporate fast food chains out there, but my new idea of a “happy meal” is a meal that: (a) is good for me and my body; and (b) I’ve lovingly prepared for myself, right from my own kitchen.

I used to think that cooking my own baon was such a hassle—especially since I cook for just one. But once I realized that cooking for myself was an act of self-love and self-nurturing, I’ve come to enjoy preparing my own meals and see it as my way of taking care of myself. (If I don’t do it, who else will?)

7. Reimagine trips and buffets. My big test came when I had three consecutive weekends of out-of-town trips and access to buffets. Instead of enjoying the fluffy hotel linens and sleeping in like I used to do, I chose to enjoy early-morning beachside jogs, laps in the pool, and detoxing in the hotel sauna—aside from the off-site trips where I walked and moved around as much as I could.

I also used the buffets as opportunities to choose healthier dishes that I normally don’t get to prepare at home.That meant muesli and fresh fruits for breakfast, and different kinds of salad and seafood for lunch and dinner. The takeaways: more confidence to wear a bathing suit and a good, lasting tan.

8. Move on from a heartache. There truly is nothing like a major heartache to motivate you to lose weight, get fit, and take better care of yourself.

But instead of gorging on ice cream and chocolates while watching sappy rom-coms, I did the opposite: I went out there and rediscovered the things that truly meant so much to me but were just buried beneath a gazillion other obligations. I used the space left by the old to make way for the new, and I’m healthier and happier because of it.

A bonus: when someone new comes along to inspire you, you’re already a much better version of yourself—inside and out—than you used to be.

SOURCE: Rappler.com

9. Set measurable goals. There’s a saying that goes, “What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get done.” At the start of the 12 weeks, I challenged myself to lose 40 lbs.—without spending on expensive diets and programs—in just four months. I set certain special occasions as milestones, and I’ve kept my eye on the ball since then.

I’ve also challenged myself to run a 3K race next month and a 5K race by December, with guidance from my trainer-cousin.

I obviously won’t be able to lose the extra 18.5 lbs. in just four more weeks, but I know that I’ll at least come close to my goal and will end up much healthier and happier than when I started out.

10. Cut yourself some slack. I admit—there were two weeks out of the 12 when I really indulged in a lot of dark chocolate goodies, some heavy red meats, and paella (my all-time favorite dish). I’ve also had the occasional pizza and (again, dark chocolate) cake slice for colleagues’ birthdays.

I still drink wine and craft beer when going out. But that’s the beauty of this new lifestyle I’m on: I am not on a “diet”, which means I’m not going to deprive myself of little indulgences when the occasion calls for it.

Sustainable path

I’d like to believe that I’m on a more sustainable path to health and wellness—which means no feelings of deprivation, no mood swings, no hunger pangs, and no cravings. I’m eating well, taking better care of my body, but also listening to myself when I need a cup of hot cocoa.

I’m also enjoying life and the company of family and friends, and I’m not going to be the party pooper just because there are bad carbs on the table. Life is about balance, after all.

I’m pretty confident that, with a more loving attitude toward my body and soul and with the support of family and friends, I’m not only going to reach my ideal weight, I’ll also be able to keep it off and live healthier for the rest of my life. – Rappler.com

10 lessons I learned from having a lesbian sister (Rappler.com)

(First published on March 12, 2014 in Rappler.com)

My sister came out to the family when she was in her teens – although she says she knew as early as 5 or 7 years old that she did not have a girl’s heart. It took a while for our family to accept and adjust to this reality even if the signs were there very early on: Kens over Barbies, cars over dolls, crying whenever she would be asked to wear a dress, challenging guys to “one-on-one” on the basketball court instead of entertaining suitors.

My mom would say that she was just “boyish” and “athletic” (which was true because she was a star athlete in her youth). My dad thought she would “outgrow” it by the time she would have gotten her period. I, on the other hand, was pleased because she was the fairer, prettier daughter, and I wanted her to “be a boy” so that I could “eliminate the competition” in the family. Meanwhile, my brother was pissed because he was supposed to be the only boy in the family.

It’s been around 20 years since that time, and our family’s relationship with my sister has taught us many things. I wish to share some of them here in case it helps others who are processing their own “modern families.”

1. Your inability to process and accept reality is reflective of your issues, not hers.

From what I remember, my sister was very confident about coming out. She knew who she was and what she wanted, and she was simply stating her truth. I was the one embarrassed to accept it. My feelings then oscillated between pity and disgust – simply because I didn’t know any better. I was at an age where labels and public perception meant so much, and it hurt me to have a lesbian sister on top of coming from a “broken family.” (This was the early 90s, when such realities were still taboo in the Philippines.)

I didn’t want to have the label “dysfunctional” attached to me and my family, so I faced the facts with a lot of anger. In the end, my anger hurt me and my ability to be loving more than it did her.

2. The sooner you can accept the truth, the sooner you’ll understand what “family” is really all about.

My siblings and I are lucky to have been raised by fairly liberal parents – especially my mom, who had traveled the world and had been exposed to life’s realities at an early age. I think she was the first to accept my sister’s choices, and she chose to still love my sister with open arms. It didn’t mean it was easy or that there weren’t any issues and fights in between, but the love and acceptance were there. That example of my mom showed me what family is really all about – you’re not just a group of people bound by blood and genes; you’re there to accept and love each other no matter what.

3. Love is love.

Speaking of love: seeing the relationships within my family, and seeing my sister and her (many) partners through the years also showed me that love is not (and should not be) gender-based. Love is love – it’s either there or it isn’t. A heterosexual relationship can have just as many issues as a homosexual relationship. If people want to cheat and/or be assholes in their relationship, they will cheat and/or be assholes. If people want to be faithful, they will be faithful. I’m sure some quarters don’t agree with this, but if love is truly unconditional, then it will know no boundaries.

4. Children are more “gender-blind” than adults and will accept their parents just the way they are.

My sister has a 14-year-old daughter, and where the adults have been quick to question and judge, my niece has been nothing but loving and loyal to my sister. Sure, they have their fair share of mother-daughter issues (who doesn’t?), but my niece has shown us how fiercely she loves her mom – no matter what. I guess it’s a testament to the kind of loving family environment in which my niece was raised, which I again credit to my mom’s own example of unconditional love and acceptance.

5. She makes for a great travel companion.

Now on to the “more fun” stuff. My sister and I, being a freelance writer and a freelance photographer, respectively, have had the privilege of traveling together to cover foreign events. Because my sister is the chivalrous kind – and maybe because I’m the older sibling – she offers to carry my luggage, give me the more comfortable seat, and generally make sure I’m okay when we’re moving about. It also means that I get a free bodyguard because she’s quick to block any jerk that tries to make a pass at me. And because she’s generally funny and loves being a clown, she makes for great entertainment even during the most exasperating of travel mishaps.

6. I get a stylist and a wardrobe critic in one.

My sister is the stylish kind, and she’s great at deciding what goes best with what. She’s even done my hair and makeup on some occasions, which is great when you don’t have the proverbial gay best friend to do that for you. Since she also looks at women with a guy’s eye, she can tell me straight up if a particular look doesn’t work. But because she still (sometimes) thinks and feels like a girl, she’s sensitive enough not to blurt out anything about my weight.

FAMILY LOVE. The author (leftmost) says unconditional love defines a truly "modern family."
FAMILY LOVE. The author (leftmost) says unconditional love defines a truly “modern family.”

7. She may act tough, but she’s a softie, too.

My sister can be a toughie, but there are times when she reminds you (or you remind yourself) that she’s still a girl. There are still some things that affect her the way it would affect any girl, and there are still times when she gets all “Mother Hen-ny” on the people she loves.

8. Just because she looks like a guy doesn’t mean she doesn’t get PMS.

I always kid my sister that her period is Mother Nature’s way of reminding her that she’s a girl. She gets the mood swings and the cravings and all these other PMS-y things the way any biological female would. That said, be more sensitive around her when it’s the time of the month.

9. Whatever she may look like, a sister will always be a sister.

Even after she stopped being “competition” to me in the looks and boys department, my sister and I continued to be like cat and dog. We’ve had our fair share of big wars and little skirmishes, but love and sisterhood would always prevail, and we would always find our way back to each other. The most important thing that I learned from my relationship from my sister is that, while we may never have braided each other’s hair (we pulled them, more often that not), may never have talked about boys, and may never be able to completely understand each other, we will always be sisters – with that inexplicable bond that will stay with us forever.

10. Forgiveness will heal even the deepest, most painful wounds.

My sister and I have had a most unconventional childhood (to say the least), filled with enough traumatic experiences and painful lessons to last us several lifetimes. We’ve faced betrayal in the face several times, and we’ve had to deal with a lot of anger and bitterness in the family. It has taken decades to get over these issues, and there are times when we still find ourselves in a process of conscious healing. Through it all, what has saved us is forgiveness – of others, of each other, of ourselves.

If unconditional love is the bedrock of each family, then I think forgiveness is the first necessary ingredient of that love. None of us is perfect – we know that all too well in our family – but because we were all willing to forgive, to love, and to move on, we’ve become a stronger family, capable of even so much more love than we thought we could give. – Rappler.com

Lessons from a conversation with best-selling author Mitch Albom

Perhaps my best assignment ever as a writer has been getting to meet and chat with one of the world’s most beloved authors, Mitch Albom. Unknown to many, Albom was a musician and an award-winning sports journalist before he captured hearts and minds all over the world with the #1 New York Times bestseller, Tuesdays with Morrie.

After having published his latest novel, The First Phone Call from Heaven, Albom took the opportunity to visit the Philippines not only to promote his book, but also–and more importantly–to help rebuild libraries in the towns most heavily hit by supertyphoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda).

For this series of articles on Rappler.com, Mr. Albom and I talked about his library-rebuilding and charity efforts; his thoughts on success, fame; and happiness; and his candid thoughts on death, hope, and making every minute count in this life.

MEETING MITCH ALBOM IN MANILA: Niña Terol-Zialcita with best-selling author Mitch Albom & freelance photographer Toni Alvarez
MEETING MITCH ALBOM IN MANILA: Niña Terol-Zialcita with best-selling author Mitch Albom & freelance photographer Toni Alvarez | Photo courtesy of JB Roperos of National Bookstore, Philippines

I’ll be sharing some quotable quotes here, but please feel free to read and share the original features. (And please remember to vote on Rappler’s Mood Meter! :))

Part 1: Here to help: Why Mitch Albom decided to visit PH

"DONATION. The author aims to bring back reading materials in the typhoon ravaged area so children can enjoy books once more." | Photos courtesy of Toni Alvarez and National Bookstore, posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post
“DONATION. The author aims to bring back reading materials in the typhoon ravaged area so children can enjoy books once more.” | Photos courtesy of Toni Alvarez and National Bookstore, posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post

“Not only do I want to call attention to these efforts to rebuild these libraries… I’ve [also] called upon my fellow authors in America to donate 10 books apiece of their own books.”

In just one day, he got pledges from “a good 10 to 12” authors, including Stephen King (The Shining), Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club), Scott Turow (Presumed Innocent), James McBride (The Good Lord Bird), and Ridley Pearson (The Kingdom Keepers series).

“I’m also going to go after (John) Grisham, James Patterson…I’m not going to stop until I get them to say yes. I’m pretty sure they will. So I want to be able to go there on Monday and say that… all of these American authors want to show their support for getting back to regular life, which for us is being able to go and take a book from the library.”

Read the full post HERE.

Here’s another quotable quote from this piece that I love:

A quotable quote by Mitch Albom, shared with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Designed on Canva.com
A quotable quote by Mitch Albom, shared with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Designed on Canva.com

Part 2: Finding meaning in work, life; 5 lessons to learn from Mitch Albom

"REMARKABLE. Mitch Albom would not 'cheapen' Morrie by writing a sequel. Instead, he explored his own skill set and listened to his instincts – just like Morrie taught him. Photo by Toni Alvarez" | Posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post
“REMARKABLE. Mitch Albom would not ‘cheapen’ Morrie by writing a sequel. Instead, he explored his own skill set and listened to his instincts – just like Morrie taught him. Photo by Toni Alvarez” | Posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post

A lot of quotable quotes from this article! Watch Mr. Albom share his thoughts on failure, success, fame, and happiness in his own voice 🙂

Here’s another quote that I love from this second piece:

A quotable quote on success by Mitch Albom, share with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Created with Canva.com
A quotable quote on success by Mitch Albom, share with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Created with Canva.com

Read the full post HERE.

Part 3: Mitch Albom: Thoughts on death, making every minute count

"MITCH ALBOM. 'I’m not ready for it; I don’t think anybody’s ready for it… Nobody knows until they face it,' he says, about death and dying. Photo by Toni Alvarez | Posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post
“MITCH ALBOM. ‘I’m not ready for it; I don’t think anybody’s ready for it… Nobody knows until they face it,’ he says, about death and dying. Photo by Toni Alvarez | Posted on Rappler.com | Click on the image to view the original post

For this piece, Mr. Albom shared some candid thoughts on death and “leaving too soon”, but he also spoke of despair and hope. Watch this video for more insights:

Here’s another great quotable quote:

A quotable quote on death and making life count by Mitch Albom, shared with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Created with Canva.com
A quotable quote on death and making life count by Mitch Albom, shared with Niña Terol-Zialcita (@ninaterol) | Created with Canva.com

Read the full post HERE.

Liked what you saw and watched here? 🙂 Feel free to share it with those who need a little picker-upper in their days. 🙂

P.S. To learn more about Mitch Albom’s charity work in the Philippines, read his latest website post, or visit A Hole in the Roof Foundation.

Feeling uninspired? Wise words from top creatives (Rappler.com)

(First published on Rappler.com on February 12, 2014)

Graphika Manila 2014 poster | Taken from the Graphika Manila Facebook page
Graphika Manila 2014 poster | Taken from the Graphika Manila Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – What does it take to live a life less ordinary?

At the recently held Graphika Manila 2014, luminaries from the creative world shared the stage to talk about their creative process, their best work, the mistakes they’ve made, and lessons they’ve learned along the way.

We saw from their individual journeys that whatever the speakers’ backgrounds—whether they hailed from Barcelona or Bacolod, were a newbie or a veteran, worked freelance or in a studio—they all had one thing in common: they openly sought inspiration and designed their lives around what mattered most to them.

You can do it, too—regardless of your profession or passion. Here are 6 ideas to get you going:

1. Commit to your passions. Illustrator and creative director Ash Thorp admitted to coming from “humble beginnings,” and spent a lot of time drawing during his youth because he “didn’t have a lot of toys.

Thorp talked about his “year of complete potential”, during which he endured commutes every day from San Diego to Los Angeles “because L.A. is where the action is; it’s where Hollywood is.” Eventually, he got noticed by Hollywood producers, who commissioned him to do some work for the big-budget remake of Total Recall.

TOTAL RECALL. Screen shots of material produced by Thorp for the movie Total Recall. Used with permission from Ash Thorp
TOTAL RECALL. Screen shots of material produced by Thorp for the movie Total Recall. Used with permission from Ash Thorp

Today, Thorp lives back in San Diego with his wife and daughter, enjoying work and life as a freelancer.

His advice to the Graphika Manila 2014 crowd: “When there’s a trend happening, let the trend go [its] way and just be yourself.”

2. “Take your weakness and make it your strength.” New York-based illustrator and designerSara Blake/ZSO grew up near-sighted and with a “googly eye.”

Instead of looking at her near-sightedness as a weakness, Blake found inspiration in the many patterns she could see up close. Although she was a very shy child, Blake found solace in art and used her imagination and connection with nature to stand out from the crowd.

In a recent interview, Blake talked more about her creative journey and how she “embraced” her weaknesses to develop her own unique style.

Telling TheGreatDiscontent.com that she wasn’t the best illustrator when it came to drawing realistically, she said, “Instead, I decided to embrace that I use my instincts to determine what I would abstract and what I would base [on] reality.”

DON’T BE SCARED. “Skull 3”, pencil on smooth Bristol paper. Illustration by Sara Blake
DON’T BE SCARED. “Skull 3”, pencil on smooth Bristol paper. Illustration by Sara Blake

Blake tells the Graphika Manila audience, “Free yourself from anyone’s expectations but your own.”

3. Experiment. Learn. Have fun. (Rinse and repeat.) Creativity is the twin sister of experimentation. The more you experiment and learn, the more your mind stretches and makes creativity possible.

Each of the speakers talked about learning new skills, experimenting with new tools, and having fun with the process of discovery. Sara Blake even gave the audience a sneak peek into her creative process, showing time-lapse videos of her Photoshop screenshots.

In designing the typeface for her alias, ZSO, Sara Blake took inspiration from a heart, and joined the Z and the S in order to form an upside-down heart. Peacocks, owls, skulls, flowers, and other natural elements and patterns are also dominant in her work.

WEARABLE ART. Sara Blake, a.k.a ZSO, has ventured into designing fashion accessories, such as this peacock scarf. Photo courtesy of Sara Blake
WEARABLE ART. Sara Blake, a.k.a ZSO, has ventured into designing fashion accessories, such as this peacock scarf. Photo courtesy of Sara Blake

(READ: Take it from the masters: What art lovers can learn from experts)

4. Seek inspiration everywhere. Would you work with “Designers from Hell”? “Obviously, we’re not from hell,” quipped Teo Guillem and Carlos Pardo from Barcelona-based studio Dvein, but they were such huge fans of the rock band Pantera that they decided to name themselves after the Pantera album Cowboys from Hell. The word Dvein is an acronym for the phrase, DiseñadoresVEnido del INfierno.

“Ideas come from everywhere, from a mix of everything, like the Philippine jeepney,” Dvein said. “Sometimes you don’t know where your ideas will end up.”

ROCKSTAR DESIGNERS. To push the boundaries of their ideas, Dvein formed a band called The Vein, and created a music video for their song “Magma.” The result: liquid genius. Photo courtesy of Dvein
ROCKSTAR DESIGNERS. To push the boundaries of their ideas, Dvein formed a band called The Vein, and created a music video for their song “Magma.” The result: liquid genius. Photo courtesy of Dvein

Meanwhile, for Fil-Am Eugene Gauran, who now works as Design Director of the award-winning, international visual effects studio The Mill, it’s important to “be inspired by different forms of media.” Although working primarily with visual effects and computer graphics, he said that he finds inspiration in design-based forms because “everything starts with design, and you work your way up.”

5. Go ahead and be obsessed with your craft. “Obsession is the secret to an exciting life,” Bacolod-born Filipino designer Isabel Gatuslao said as she related how her “obsession” with typefaces and identity led her to do work for influential people, including interior designer Chat Fores, celebrity stylist Liz Uy, and, very recently, for Nike and NBA royalty Lebron James.

THE CUSTOM LEBRON X BY ISABEL GATUSLAO. Shoes made for royalty. Photo courtesy of Isabel Gatuslao
THE CUSTOM LEBRON X BY ISABEL GATUSLAO. Shoes made for royalty. Photo courtesy of Isabel Gatuslao

Every element must have a reason for being—else, it has no place in a well-designed piece.

Jessica Hische concurred. “As a lettering person, you get more obsessed with the smaller details,” she says. This attention to detail plays a key role in her work. In designing the cover of the book The Circle by Dave Eggers, which examines the issues raised by use of social media, illustrator and letterer Jessica Hische took inspiration from “the interweaving connectivity of social media sites.” The cover, which featured a cleanly beautiful spherical piece featuring interconnected orange links, was cited by the New York Times online as one of the best book covers of 2013.

For professional creatives, what matters to a client is to show work that reflects a clear and insightful strategy, a focused mind, and a clean, disciplined hand.

6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Every creative knows that his first draft or study will not be his last.

A simple tip for those who are afraid to get started out of fear of making a mistake? Start with a pencil sketch of your ideas before committing them to ink or a digital rendering. Pencil sketches or doodles get the mind’s creative juices flowing while being clear that “this is just a work in progress.” Plus, it’s easy to erase, making it less painful to undo an error.

Jessica Hische put it another way when she said, “It’s hard to get clients to believe you’re good at something unless you do it over and over.” Make those mistakes. Assess why they happened. Note that for the future.

This applies even if you’re not an artist. Make your ideas real by writing them down, examining them, and consulting the relevant parties.

In creativity, and in life, practice makes perfect – and profitable. – Rappler.com

Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse (Rappler.com)

NOTE: My first major piece for the year was the product of sacrifice, self-awareness, honesty, and a whole lot of lemon juice. THANK YOU to my editors at Rappler for allowing me to share this–and thanks to the many readers who made this one of the “most read” pieces for that cycle!

Sharing an excerpt here 🙂

"Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse": A must-read on Rappler.com! :)
“Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse”: A must-read on Rappler.com! :)

MANILA, Philippines – The Lemon Juice Cleanse, a.k.a. Master Cleanse or the Lemonade Diet, is a 10-day cleanse that involves fasting on all solid foods and drinking only a concoction made of freshly squeezed (or fresh pressed) lemon juice, pure maple syrup (grade B), and cayenne pepper. It was introduced by Stanley Burroughs in 1940 and regained popularity after pop icon Beyoncé Knowles reportedly lost at least 20 lbs. on the cleanse, for her role in Dreamgirls (2006).

A 3-time “survivor” of the cleanse, I first tried it in January 2009 as my way of detoxing after the holidays and preparing myself for a new job. I did it again in 2010 before embarking on the campaign trail; and, just recently, I did it a third time in order to “reboot” my system and get back on the path of health and wellness.

Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

This is an excerpt only. Click HERE to read the full post on Rappler.com.

Amanpulo, Visayas Islands among the best of Conde Nast (Rappler.com)

(First published on November 4, 2013) in Rappler.com)

AMANPULO. Paradise in the Sulu Sea. Screen shot from http://www.amanresorts.com/
AMANPULO. Paradise in the Sulu Sea. Screen shot from http://www.amanresorts.com/

[See the original image here]

MANILA, Philippines – Amanpulo, the ultra-exclusive resort located in Pamalican Island in the Sulu Sea, has once again made it to Condé Nast Traveller’s list of Top 100 resorts, hotels and spas in the Readers’ Travel Awards 2013.

The resort was cited among the Top 20 in the Asia & India category, with a numeric rating of 77.88 over 100.

Amanpulo is the only Philippine resort to make it to this year’s Top 100.

According to Condé Nast Traveller, “[Readers] were asked to rate [their] choices according to various criteria, such as service, culture and value for money. From [the] responses, we calculated the average mark on each criterion, and used this to provide the overall satisfaction percentage figure…”

Condé Nast Traveller is one of the world’s leading travel publications, known for its independence and integrity in reviewing travel and hospitality establishments. The poll for the 2013 Readers’ Travel Awards was participated in by 80,000 jetsetters, who cumulatively cast over 1.3 million votes.

This is an excerpt only. Read the full post on Rappler.com.

Diniwid beach: The quiet side of Boracay (Rappler.com)

(First published on November 3, 2013 in Rappler.com)

DINIWID PARADISE. Heaven's painting. All photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita
DINIWID PARADISE. Heaven’s painting. All photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita

I kicked off my flip-flops and dug my feet into the cool, soft sand. It was the first sunny morning in a week of stormy skies and sudden rainshowers, and I wanted to make the most of it. I sipped the warm, sweet taho that I bought from a roving vendor, then I settled my glass snugly into the sand before finding my own sweet spot.

SWEET SPOT. Breakfast by the beach
SWEET SPOT. Breakfast by the beach

In front of me, the high tide was carrying strong waves in a sea of teal and blue. From a distance, I could spy a woman running toward the sea with her dog; in another direction, there were two little boys hopping and crawling on the sand. There seemed to be only a handful of people around me—I was in Boracay Island, yes, yet there were no beach-going throngs, no ugly windbreakers blocking the view, no jarring sounds.

SECRET GETAWAY. A handful of people, no jarring noises
SECRET GETAWAY. A handful of people, no jarring noises

This is how it is in Diniwid Beach, White Beach’s quiet, unassuming “little cousin.”

This is an excerpt only. Read the full post in Rappler.com.

Technology, travel and ‘tweet tourism’ (Rappler.com)

(Published on October 7, 2013 in Rappler.com)

"Technology, travel and 'tweet tourism' by Niña Terol-Zialcita, published in Rappler.com

MANILA, Philippines – Technology has drastically changed the way people travel. The ubiquity of smartphones and 24/7 connectivity, for instance, has allowed frequent fliers to use websites and mobile apps to book flights and accommodations, keep track of mileage points and other perks, share recommendations and reviews, and post photos in real time.

A new conference, the Asia Pacific Tourism, Hospitality and Technology [APTHAT] Conference, aims to shed light on the impact of technology on tourism and hospitality, the trends that are disrupting the industry and the issues that will define the way forward. The two-day meet is slated for November 21 to 22 at Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia — itself is a tourism draw because of the dense Borneo jungle and its mix of indigenous and contemporary cultures.

Conference sessions will include plenaries on travel and innovation, emerging trends in tourism development and marketing, “tweet tourism,” “Blue Ocean” strategies for tourism, as well as breakout sessions on eco-tourism and sustainable development, social media marketing and many others.

This is an excerpt only. Read the full article in the Rappler website.

For more information on the Asia Pacific Tourism, Hospitality, and Technology Conference, visit the APTHAT website.

In the News: ‘The tweet is mightier than the sword’ (Rappler)

In September 2012, I was fortunate enough to have been one of the panelists of Mashable and Rappler‘s “Social Good Summit” in Manila. Here’s an excerpt of a feature about some insights that I and fellow netizen Jane Uymatiao shared with the audience.

To view my full segment, please watch the video on the right sidebar. To view a summary of the  Social Good Summit, please click HERE.

Hope to see more of you “super citizens” online! 😉

‘The tweet is mightier than the sword’

Writter by Paterno Esmaquel II, originally published on Rappler (September 22, 2012)
NETIZENS' SUMMIT. Representatives from various media outfits attend the Social Good Summit co-organized by Rappler. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II
NETIZENS’ SUMMIT. Representatives from various media outfits attend the Social Good Summit co-organized by Rappler. Photo by Paterno Esmaquel II

MANILA, Philippines – The government should step up to protect Filipino “super citizens” who, through cyberspace, slam politicians and help their disaster-stricken countrymen, said a panelist at a netizens’ summit Saturday, September 22.

This is needed at a time when the tweet, in the words of another panelist at the Social Good Summit Manila 2012, has become “mightier than the sword.”

The Philippine government, in particular, needs to legislate a Magna Carta for Netizens, said Pipol Power Institute executive director Nina Terol-Zialcita at the summit organized by Rappler and Tweetup Manila.

In an interview, Zialcita told Rappler that various netizens have drafted a proposed Magna Carta, and will consult legal experts and legislators about this. She said the law would “protect netizens’ rights” and provide a framework “upon which we should guide how we regulate ourselves.”

“We feel that as netizens, we have a tool in our hands that is very powerful. We have to learn to use it responsibly. We want our freedom. We want to be able to act and share information in a certain way. We want to be able to deliver information in a certain way. But we also recognize that we also have a responsibility,” Zialcita explained.

This is an excerpt only. To view the full post, as well as the video interview about the Magna Carta for Internet Freedom, click HERE. To view a summary of the  Social Good Summit, please click HERE.

2 Pinoys among 10 Outstanding Young Persons of the World (Rappler.com)

(Published in Rappler on September 17, 2012)

MANILA, Philippines – Two Filipinos were among those named as Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP), an annual search by the Junior Chamber International (JCI), otherwise known as the Jaycees.

They are Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, president of MicroVentures, a social enterprise known for the multi-award-winning program Hapinoy; and Dr. Edsel Maurice Salvaña, Assistant Director of the Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health, University of the Philippines Manila, also known for his work with HIV/AIDS patients in the Philippines.

Benigno Bam Aquino: One of the Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (TOYP)
BAM AQUINO: HAPPILY FOR the ‘Nanays.’ Image from Aquino’s Facebook page (via Rappler.com)
DR. EDSEL MAURICE SALVAÑA: Produced a rock concert if only to spread AIDS awareness. Image from Dr. Salvaña's Facebook page (via Rappler.com)
DR. EDSEL MAURICE SALVAÑA: Produced a rock concert if only to spread AIDS awareness. Image from Dr. Salvaña’s Facebook page (via Rappler.com)

Aquino and Salvaña are joining 8 other outstanding young individuals from Botswana, Catalonia, Ireland, Madagascar, the Maldives, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. They will be awarded at the JCI World Congress in Taipei, Taiwan on November 20, 2012.

This is an excerpt only. To read the full story, visit the Rappler website, HERE.