Finally: NaNoWriMo win

Note: This was supposed to be for November 2014, but there were a lot of things that needed to be prioritized, hence the delay.

After ten years and countless beginnings, drafts, heartbreak and frustration, I’ve done it.

I finished writing 50,000 words in 30 days and finally have that purple bar on my NaNoWriMo profile proclaiming me a winner.

A photo posted by Kat Sales (@saberkite) on

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Kota Kinabalu: A Lesson in Hospitality

I’m coming clean. When Shabby broached the idea of going to Kota Kinabalu last April, my first thought was, “What’s there?” Sure, there’s the nature part of the place, where you can climb Mt. Kinabalu and enjoy Sabah’s natural beauty. Other than that, I knew nothing.

Terrible, I know.

We purchased the tickets anyway, and did sporadic research about the place in the succeeding months. I felt I wasn’t giving the place and the trip much attention, as I didn’t even save much for expenses. The total money I had at that time was P8,000.

One thing I never expected when we got to Kota Kinabalu was the extent of the generosity and kindness of the people. Shabby plays this game called Ingress, a location based strategy game that has millions of players all over the world. When the KK players found out that she was coming, the volunteered to pick us up from the airport and lend us a pocket WiFi device.

That for us was generous enough, but it went beyond that. Chua, a photographer and a member of KK’s conservation board, acted as our guide the whole time. Through him, I learned a lot about KK’s history, development, politics, even their music and art scene. We got to visit local hangouts and taste specialties that were probably out of the way for most tourists. He also told us about the events that KK will be hosting in the future, including festivals and holidays.

We also hung out with some other Ingress players. Mostly it was just to farm and run some strategy. Sometimes they’d ask about the Philippines, but in relation to the game. I also ended up signing on for the game, and I managed to reach level 3 before we left the country. I also finished my first mission.

I was amused when they made us eat all sorts of delicacies, but then I’d realize that it was just a version of a Chinese dish we have at home. They were surprised that I knew what matchang, siomai, and kiamoy are, that my grandma cooked chicken feet the traditional way, and so on.

In so many ways, neither culture knew much about the other. And the exchange of ideas was pretty fun.

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I learned so much from our new friends. Kota Kinabalu may be small, but they value and respect it, and take pride in their culture. The know that they have power over their government, and they can fight for their rights and get a positive response. They take pride in their heritage, and they welcome visitors to their humble place.

It is not perfect, however. It had its own foibles, much as I’ve learned from the stories and from what I saw with my own eyes. But Kota Kinabalu has so much to offer its visitors. Take the usual tourist spots, but if you can spend time to do as the locals do, you will find yourself enriched.

Getting stuck in Kota Kinabalu because of typhoon Ruby brought many repercussions. However, the experience I had with these people, and the kindness they showed us is something I would not trade for anything. I look forward to extending to them the same generosity when they visit Metro Manila, and I hope they have a favorable experience as well.

The Hassle of Cancelled Flights and Messy Airlines

Being a chance passenger on a bus is not as nerve-wracking as being a chance passenger on a plane.

Because of Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit), our flight back to Manila on December 8 was cancelled. The storm had slowed down by then, but Air Asia took the precaution of canceling all flights from December 7 to 9. We had no choice but to extend our stay for two more days.

The stay itself wasn’t so bad, as the hotel was able to accommodate us for two extra nights. The problem was that my friend and I had only taken vacation leaves for two days (one day for our departure and the other for our return). We were able to inform our respective workplaces, but we were worried about the repercussions of the other days.

Another problem was that we were already beyond our budget. I had asked my family to send me money, but I hoped I didn’t have to use it.

The main concern was how were we going to go back. We tried contacting Air Asia through it’s various portals (call, social media, satellite office, etc) but we kept getting mixed responses.

My main contact was through the Twitter of Air Asia Philippines. I saw that they were accommodating rebookings for other passengers (though probably for different flights), so I took the chance. After providing the flight number and the booking number, I was told I have to go to their website to file for a rebooking. This was Sunday night.

I tried again the next day, this time through a direct message. I was then told that the only flight available was for December 15. I replied that it was not acceptable, and asked if they can facilitate a multi-city transfer, like Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur to Manila. I was informed that they cannot accommodate the multi-city option, and that since my flight was cancelled I had the option to rebook the flight and gave me specific dates.

I responded in Tagalog, telling them that neither options are acceptable as we needed to go home ASAP. We were on vacation only, and we had jobs and responsibilities to go home to. Plus the fact that we were running low on funds.

I asked of there was any compensation for the inconvenience, such as a refund or repayment of expenses. I was told to fill up an online form, and that was it.

On Tuesday, we went to the airport to ask what were our options. We were told nearly the same thing as to the availability of the flight. The attendant placed our name on a list, and said that those were the names of the people who were also trying to get a seat. I saw that we were number 6 on the list, and we were advised to be at the airport two hours or so before the flight.

We went back to the city, and listed our other option, which was to look for flights to KL or Singapore then get a connecting flight to Manila. Our goal was to get home on December 10, with the least cost possible.

We were at the airport by 8 AM. Again we were told that we were on the list, but I was surprised to see that we were number 9! That got me worried. But since we couldn’t do anything we went off to have a second round of breakfast.

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Back at the airport, we joined a few people who were all waiting for a chance to get on the flight. We talked to the staff again, and to opt for the multi-city we had to get a full refund for this trip and rebook a flight. They said can’t switch flights since it wasn’t the same track (or something like that). That seemed like such a hassle so we thought we’d play it by ear.
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November 2014 Summary

I’ve got a horrific backlog of posts for this November. Work and school kept me busy, and they have their own backlog too. Quick summary of what’s happened so far, starting with the latest.

NaNoWriMo Winner!
50,312 words in 30 days. Validated my words on November 3o, 2014 10:30 PM (GMT +8). About 20k of those words were written in 14 hours of Nov. 30. I do not recommend it. Story’s not done, but I’m putting it aside until after my finals on the 13th.

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

Canva Creatives Conference
I feel lucky that I was able to attend and I got to meet the people behind this online tool. I love the site, and it has been an invaluable tool for me at work. A proper post with photos to follow.


#CanvaConference kit. Had an awesome time.

A photo posted by Kat Sales (@saberkite) on

Filipino Reader Con
My second year to volunteer! Got great books, met awesome people and had a really amazing time. Post and photos to follow as well.


#FilReaderCon volunteers. Had a wonderful time. Next year ulit! Photo from @fantaghiro23

A photo posted by Kat Sales (@saberkite) on

There’s still a lot in between, but that’s it for now.

Oh my, it’s December already!

[Filipino Friday 2014] #3: Fanfiction

I’m loving the questions to this year’s Filipino Friday. All of them are so right up my alley haha.

Fanfiction is pretty popular, no doubt about it, but it has been received with mixed feelings by many authors and writers. Some don’t mind it, and even welcome readers who give their own spin on their work. Some writers don’t like it at all, to the point that they contact fanfiction authors to take their work down. Others use it as a jump-off point for their own writing.

How about you? What is your take on fanfiction? Do you read fanfiction, and if you do, what kind of fanfiction do you read? Do you write fanfiction, and why? Or are you against fanfiction? Enlighten us.

My first brush with fanfiction was sometime between highschool and college. The Internet was just starting out here in the Philippines, and I was getting into these different anime shows but not much information about them were available locally. Even then I was already pretty good at doing Internet searches, so along with getting tidbits about my favorite anime shows, I was also able to snag fanart and fanfiction.

My fanfiction favorites were stories involving the Ranma 1/2 anime. Why fanfiction? Part of it has something do to with my ships. I was cheering for Ranma and Akane, and while both the manga and anime had a lot of sweet yet near-miss moments between these two, it wasn’t enough. Fanfiction became a way for me to get my shipping fix, and there were a lot of them.

I also tried my hand in writing fanfiction, again based on the fandoms that I liked and wanted to have more of. I wrote mostly in longhand, at the back of my notebooks, because I didn’t have a computer of my own then. I do remember writing a fanfic on a borrowed laptop, but I think I lost that file. Fanart too.

The last fanfiction I wrote was for Harry Potter. One was short piece, talking about Ron’s discovery of his likeness on a Chocolate Card, and other my original characters set in the Potterverse.

While I certainly understand why many authors don’t like people writing fanfiction about their works, I think it’s a great writing exercise. However, it does end up become tricky at times, particularly when certain works become so famous. Bottomline, I think it’s pretty good fun, and a fanfiction writer must always be aware that while they’re writing original stuff, they are making use of elements that belong to someone else.

[Booking Through Thursday] For a Friend

It’s been a while since I participated in Booking Through Thursday. This week’s (or rather, last) question is:

If someone you know has just published a book—do you feel obliged to buy a copy? Even if it’s not the kind of book you’d normally read?

This has happened to me before. A friend of mine decided to write for romance stories for a local publisher. I wouldn’t think twice about buying her work, but it was written in Filipno, the Philippines’ official language. Even though I speak it, reading is another matter. I’m more comfortable reading and writing in English, so it was a challenge for me to read my friend’s work. Thankfully, I was able to read and understand it. Since then, she’s published more books and even translated a few English books into Filipino (the ironic thing is, my friend is even worse with writing and reading Filipino, but she improved over the years). However, I haven’t been able to keep up with her newer works, but she doesn’t really mind.

The number of people I know who have published works have increased. Thankfully, there has been (so far!) no pressure for me to buy their books. I do anyway, because I really do like to support them and the local publishing industry, and I really enjoy their works.

Don’t forget to check out Booking Through Thursday and join in the fun.

Filipino Fridays 2014 #2: Author Aspirations

On to week two! The countdown to the Filipino Reader Con 2014: Readers Turned Writers continues. This week, they ask this question:

As a reader, have you ever thought about writing a book? What kind of books/stories do you want to write? Or are you now a published author, and what compelled you to go fulfil this dream? How was your journey from reader to writer? How did you go about getting your book out there?

I have always wanted to write stories. My earliest memory of story creation was playing with my brother and neighbors, where we’d create scenarios that we’d act out. Eventually, my childhood best friend Lee and I would draw and write stories. All throughout my life, I had created snippets of fictional and fantastical worlds. In high school, I thought about creating manga. I had drafts of scripts and sketches of comic panels. In college, I got pushed more to write stories thanks to friends who were into the same thing. I started writing fanfiction, until eventually I went back to doing original stories. Long story short, yes. I’ve always thought about writing a book. Books, actually.

And what kind? Stories of adventure or mystery (think Nancy Drew or Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series), fantasy (Enid Blyton again, and Nick Joaquin’s Pop Stories for Groovy Kids), school stories/coming of age (Sweet Valley, The Babysitters Club), and romance (Sweet Dreams, Love Stories, Mills & Boon).

Today, the dream still hasn’t died. It hasn’t gone easier, either. I still find it challenging to put down words to paper (or the digital paper, as often the case may be), but I’m trying. It helps that there are friends who have successfully hurdled the challenge of getting their first work out there (I am so proud of them!), and while I’m not the competitive (much) sort, I want to have that achievement too. I’m working on it, really!

Let’s talk more about this, shall we? I’d love to hear your comments, or better yet, I hope to see you at the Filipino Reader Con on November 14. Face-to-face discussions are always the best. In the meantime, don’t forget to post your own answers to the question.

[Filipino Fridays] Intro + New Discoveries: Surprise, Reader!

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And we’re back! Can’t believe it’s been almost a year since the last ReaderCon. It was my first time to attend, and boy did I ever participate. I’m excited for this year, because the theme is something pretty close to my heart. Filipino ReaderCon 2014: Readers Turned Writers.

We count down to the event itself through the weekly Filipino Fridays. Click on the link to learn more about it. This week’s question is:

Surprise, Reader! Hello, it’s the first week of Filipino Fridays 2014! Whether it’s your first time to participate or not, tell us a bit about yourself. More specifically, tell us about your favorite book discoveries for this year. Any author you started reading this year that you can’t get enough of? A book you didn’t think you’d like, but you ended up liking/loving? Any book series that you just have to get your hands on? Have you discovered anything new from Filipino authors this year?

It’s my second time to join FF, and the past year has been an amazing ride of new reads. I had plenty of new reads this year, but I thought I’d share what my favorite books are from Filipino authors. In the last year, a few friends released their self-published works, which immediately became part of my must read pile. Then there’s the writing workshops I participated in a few months ago. I never got to finish my story, but the others were able to successfully finish theirs, so my reading list grew.

Kids These Days (Stories from Luna East Arts Academy Vol. 1) – Various authors
A few of the writers are my friends, so it was a given that I read their work right? Reading this threw me back to my high school years, where every encounter with my crush/es was something worth writing down in your journal. Or, Sweet Valley (twins, not High, ironically). I enjoyed the various points of view of the stories, and each one has little surprises that keep you wanting more.

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All the Doctors at Cosmania 2014

Well, we finally did it. All the Doctors and the FemmeDoctors in one event.

All Thirteen - Homme & Femme Doctors
Photos by Cali Ynoviel & Bex P., background edited by BJ David. Yes, we are aware we made a mistake with the ordering.

I tried to recall how this all came about. My research brought me to a post in the Whovian PH group where a few ladies talked about making a group for the femme Doctors. It grew from there until we had a complete line-up. The girls were able to debut an incomplete roster last May during NexCon.

In the months that followed, everyone (and by that I mean the guys and the girls) worked together to complete all twenty six. We found people who were willing to play the Doctors, and helped them get their props and costume together. There were many sleepless nights where people stayed up to finish things, fueled by coffee and a lively Facebook chat group.

Somehow, we pulled it off.

And it wasn’t just the cosplayers. It was also friends who worked with us in shopping for materials, making accessories and the like. We had a trip to Divisoria to buy cloth and other stuff. Some braved torrential downpours just to help sew coats. Others actually learned how to sew, and even got their families onboard to finish things. And then there were the photographers.

Our companions were awesome too. We had Amy Ponds, Clara Oswalds and a Rose Tyler. We also had a Dorium Maldovar (hi Moses!). We were in the minority during the event as the crowd was mostly into anime, but we got recognized by a few people, and that was enough for us.

More photos from Day 1 can be found here. I’ll discuss the costumes and how everyone made theirs maybe in the comments. :)