Win tickets to The Age of Stupid when you join Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing 2.0

Writer’s Block Philippines is raffling tickets to the hit indie film, The Age of Stupid,to participants of the forthcoming workshop, Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing 2.0.

This ambitious documentary/drama/animation hybrid stars Pete Postlethwaite as an archivist in the devastated world of the future, asking the question: “Why didn’t we stop climate change when we still had the chance?” He looks back on footage of real people around the world in the years leading up to 2015 before runaway climate change took place.It’s a very powerful film that is a true eye-opener about the effects of climate change.

The first ever Philippine screening of the film happens on August 27 at the Shangri-La Cineplex, Mandaluyong City.

For inquiries, email or call (+63 2) 914 10 11 to 14 local 110 to 115.

According to the website of Spanner Films, the movie’s production house:

The production was notable for its innovative way crowd-funding financing model, as well as the Indie Screenings distribution system which allows anyone anywhere to screen the film. The full story of the production of the film is told in the 50-minute Making Of documentary which is free to watch online and also available on the double-pack DVD.

The film was released in 2009 and became one of the most talked-about films of the year. It also spawned the hugely-successful 10:10 campaign.

Read more about The Age of Stupid HERE

University of Santo Tomas presents "Literature from Shakespeare to Bob Ong"

We found this invite through our Facebook page. For those of you who are free, check it out 🙂

Please get in touch directly with the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters for details. We’re just happy to pass the message along 🙂

Win a FREE Web package & professionalize your online portfolio


You can get the chance to win a FREE Web development package courtesy of our Web partner, Virtual Biz, to jumpstart your professional online portfolio and zoom ahead with your freelance writing career.

Virtual Biz’s package includes the following:

  • Domain name registration (one year)
  • Web hosting (one year)
  • Template customization
  • Hands-on tutorial

A professional online portfolio is just one of the many things you will need as a freelance writer. SIGN UP FOR THE WORKSHOP TODAY and get more tools, tips, techniques, and secrets to monetize your passion for writing–straight from our panel of experts and guest speakers.


Tech Tote joins Writer’s Block Philippines (WBP)’s growing list of supporters, as the brand announced that it will be giving away EXCLUSIVE TREATS to participants of WBP’s forthcoming workshop, Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing Career 2.0.

According to Via Medina-Perlas, Tech Tote’s proprietor, “Tech Tote was basically created as a response to friends’ requests for affordable, quality laptop bags.  The designs had to be fun and colorful but do not look like laptop bags at first glance, making them non targets for theft.  Today, Tech Tote continues to churn out fun designs to continue keeping its current and loyal Tech Tote customer base happy while attracting new ones as well.”



**Tech Tote is available at: (1) ALL Powerbooks branches (inc. Cebu), (2) Mobile1 Rockwell and Park Square, (3) ALL Electronics Boutique stores, (4) Ynzal Marketing at 25 Scout Rallos St., Quezon City, and (5) its newest location at A Different Bookstore, Serendra

“Political lessons learned from ‘The Dark Knight'” by Niña Terol (published in Inquirer Blogs, Aug. 6, 2008)

IN his piece on Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight for Time, Richard Corliss writes, “Nolan has a… subversive agenda. He wants viewers to stick their hands down the rat hole of evil and see if they get bitten. With little humor to break the tension, The Dark Knight is beyond dark. It’s as black — and teeming and toxic — as the mind of The Joker.”

Having watched the film twice, first on Imax and next on a regular theater, I can’t help but agree that The Joker is a better reference for the film than its real protagonist, Batman. Spawned right from the center of Limbo, with all the qualities we find loathsome, pitiful, and yet terrifying, The Joker is a reminder of everything we don’t want human beings to become. Quoting Corliss again, the late Heath Ledger’s Joker “observes no rules, pursues no grand scheme; he’s the terrorist as improv artist.”

But I’d take it a few notches further and say that The Joker is the film’s “inverted social conscience,” the dreaded, deadly disease that makes society work together to find a cure. It is he who asks the hard questions; he who challenges the taken-for-granted assumptions; he that pushes humanity to see how low they would really sink — or how far they could really rise. He is the ultimate “necessary evil” that forces us to see just what we’re really made of. A composite of everything that is wrong, perverse, and twisted in our society, it is he who nonetheless shows us our true potentials for greatness.

It just goes to show that, in the movies — as well as in politics and the rest of real life — there’s a lot we can learn from the bad guys. We cannot simply turn our eyes away from them, or pretend they’re not there, or believe that they will simply go away. They will not– for they are here to stay. But instead of ignoring them because they’re such “bad examples,” we should study them, dissect them — even if we don’t understand them — and see how we can stop the rest of the world from joining their ranks.

Crooks (trapos included) do have a purpose. They’re there to show us what can happen if we let ourselves slide too deeply.

Which brings us to Lesson # 2: Harvey Dent.

Gotham’s fearless, charismatic new district attorney is the ultimate tragedy of human potential. He starts out as everyone’s hero, Gotham’s “White Knight” who has come to save the day, except that when he collides with the dark forces we find that his foundation was too weak to stand against the very forces that ultimately subsumed him. This is what happens when we depend on one person to be our Messiah. People are people — even in this age of celebrities, icons, and “modern-day heroes” — and they will slip, or slide, or sink (sometimes very, very low). When we pin all our hopes on just one person — or one entity or one ideal — the results can be tragic. The solution is to empower everyone to be the source of the solution, which, ironically is what The Joker attempted to do in the hospital and ferry scenes — regardless of his twisted definition of the “solution”.

Lesson #3: When push comes to shove, trust people to do the right thing.

Speaking of the ferry scene, another point the movie made very well was that everyone, even the lowest scoundrels of society, has some emergency button of goodness within them that they can access and activate even at the most desperate times of their lives. Just give them a compelling reason and just enough time (but not too much) to think through their decision, and people will almost always gravitate toward the good. I’m no expert in human behavior and so I cannot vouch for this as truth, but I believe that when we put our faith in people — and they know how important their choices will be for everyone else on board — they will do their best to make the right decision. It won’t be easy, but it’s possible, even outside of Hollywood.

Lesson #4: Sometimes, the “right thing” (or person) is difficult to understand, or even recognize.

How will you know that you’ve done the right thing? How will you know that you’ve chosen the right person? You won’t — not at the onset, or not always. Because, sometimes, the person whom you thought was the answer will leave you disappointed and asking more painful questions. If Harvey Dent had lived and had been allowed to unleash the fullness of his newfound glory upon Gotham, what would have happened? We don’t know for sure, but we do know that we cannot allow something like that to happen here. We cannot allow ourselves to be bought by the winning smile, the boy-next-door look, or the Messianic pronouncements. Even when looking at one’s track record (as in Harvey Dent’s case), we have to go over every detail very, very carefully.

Conversely, we also cannot simply discount the “dark horse” as a nuisance entity or a subversive force that must be stopped. It’s possible for the totally misunderstood rebel to be exactly what we need. Sometimes, collective understanding arrives so slowly that we are not able to recognize a hero when we see one. So we cannot trust our gut or our intellect alone. When looking at people, we need to understand the context of their actions, and also the context of the decisions we need to make. In Gotham, as in real life, nothing is truly black or white.

Lesson #5: Sometimes, we need to live with lies in order to find our truth.

Nobody understood this better than Batman himself. He has had to perpetuate a lie in order to allow justice to prevail, even allowing Two-Face to be seen as the Knight in Shining Armor that everyone needed him to be. Sometimes, we need to live with a lie in order for truth, justice, and goodness to prevail — so that the delicate threads that weave our social fabric do not disintegrate and explode into chaos.

The challenge is discerning which lies we need and which ones we should never entertain.

“Rajo Laurel, Rags 2 Riches collaborate to produce designer rag products” by Nina Terol (published in Entrepreneur Philippines, Mar 2008)

Originally published in Entrepreneur Philippines (March 2008) and reposted on (October 2009)



Oct 20, 2009

By Nina Terol. Photos by Walter Villa

from Entrepreneur Philippines Magazine, March 2008

At the nation’s rag capital, a group of priests, young professionals, and a top fashion designer collaborate on a social enterprise with a fashion statement

R2R story

If someone were to tell you that they had just come from Payatas with an upscale fashion find, you would likely think you had heard it all wrong. The word “Payatas,” after all, connotes images of destitute surroundings– a squalid area where impoverished families live atop mountains of garbage. It is hardly the environment you would expect for creativity and innovation, yet this is what Rags 2 Riches (R2R), a social development enterprise, found when it dug deeper into the Payatas situation.

Bro. Javy Alpasa, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic who ministers to the community around the Payatas dumpsite, relates that although he had seen clear evidence of pastoral growth among the Payatas folk, their economic circumstances had not been improving alongside with it. He then pondered the situation with a group of young professionals who wanted to do something to help.

Their assessment: Although Payatas had become well-known as the “rag capital of the Philippines,” the nanays [literally “mothers,” but here it means “women”] producing the rags were making only a measly P1 for each rag sold. In contrast, the retailers were making in huge profits of as much as P15 to P20 per rag.

They then suggested this solution: eliminate the middlemen and add value to the merchandise so the nanays can make more money from their efforts.

But most everybody agreed that the solution being offered was much easier said than done. Until one day when, during Bro. Javy’s theology class at the Ateneo de Manila University, a “heckler” whom he did not think much of as a student started the ball rolling by giving a surprise donation of P10,000. The student simply said that he had received the money as a graduation gift and he wanted to put it to really good use.

That donation was followed by another one of the same amount from another of Bro. Javy’s theology students. With
P20,000 now in his hands, he mustered enough confidence to meet again with the same group of concerned young professionals, this time to suggest a formal structure for putting their ideas into action. Thus was Rags 2 Riches born.

The original idea of the young professionals was to create “designer rags” that could be sold to the market at a premium. They came up with so many ideas and took so many steps to make this happen, but to no avail. Eventually, however, through a series of serendipitous events, they ended up at the doorsteps of Rajo Laurel, one of Asia’s top fashion designers.

As the group tells it, when they presented Laurel with a sample of the well made rags done by the Payatas women, he casually held it up with a twinkle in his eye, joined two ends, added three buttons, and said: “Now it’s a wine-holder.”

Angeline Benavidez, R2R’s vice president for sales and a long-time friend of the acclaimed designer, recalls that moment: “Rajo was so excited when he saw the product. After that, he asked us to leave the rags with him so he could make a prototype. The very next morning, he himself called us to say that the prototypes were ready.”

The end result of that meeting was an initial line of 11 well-designed accessory products made from rags–bags, totes, purses, and other personal items–under the “RIIR by Rajo” brand. They were to become an instant hit among the upscale, socially aware fashionista crowd.

Benavidez says that Laurel got himself “very involved” in the entire production process–from developing the prototypes to teaching the nanays how to carefully weave the products and assure quality control, and from determining the pricing and branding of bags to their retail distribution.

Laurel himself pushed the product “because he strongly believed in it,” Benavidez recalls. “In fact, during a fitting at the House of Laurel [his fashion shop], he personally brought in his clients so he could explain the project and show
the products to them. His clients started making orders on the spot.”

According to Mary Ann Lim, the president of R2R and concurrently its vice president for product development, one of their first big challenges was to get the nanays to accept the new standards and methods that had to be put into place to assure first-rate product quality. It was not easy at the start, but when the newly designed products were released to the market and the women saw for themselves how much the buyers appreciated their handiwork, they began to be truly quality-conscious and extra careful in making the products.

Laurel himself recounts how they were able to change the attitude of the nanays towards their enterprise: “My idea was really to change their views–to create a paradigm shift. I patiently explained to them that if they can give value to the work and give even more added value by designing it well and giving it an aesthetic touch, they can make the product command a good price.”

All these attitude-changing efforts paid off handsomely. The fashion designer rags the women made sold very well, drawing such high-profile customers and fans as Kris Aquino, Celine Lopez, Lucy Torres- Gomez, and many more celebrities. The R2R management has become so confident of the quality of the designer rags that they are hoping they would one day get to Hollywood and be sported by the likes of Angelina Jolie.

The R2R management believes that what makes their designer rag products click is not only the brand or the name behind it but, even more important, also the heartwarming success story behind the enterprise.

We didn’t want to approach the merchandise as a ‘pity buy‘,” says Mark Ruiz, an Ateneo de Manila University management professor and R2R’s vice president for marketing. “Instead, we approached it as a product that people would really want to buy and use because it was worth their money. On top of that, of course, there’s the really powerful human story of the caring and passion that went into the product’s making.”

Aside from Rajo Laurel, several other first-rate professionals volunteered their services to make the R2R product launch possible. Among them were Jake Versoza for photography, Krista Ranillo for endorsements, Maylin Vergara of the beauty salon Propaganda for makeup and styling, popular events director Robbie Carmona, and the models from the Philippines’ Next Top Model search who graced the R2R launching event.

With such star-studded support, R2R was able to parley its initial capital P20,000 in the designer rag products into sales revenues reaching P200,000 during the first three months alone. The market demand for the products has been growing since then, so R2R has been steadily expanding production.

Bam Aquino, a media personality and well-known social entrepreneur who is one of R2R’s board members, is convinced that they did something right by establishing a social enterprise instead of a nonprofit organization.

Part of R2R’s long-range plans is to also venture into men’s accessories and home accessories for both the domestic and export markets.

Bro. Javy makes this observation about R2R’s social enterprise model: “It’s a win-win formula. The Payatas women earn more, and the investors hopefully would earn more over time, certainly more than what they could make from time deposits or from putting up other enterprises. The adage ‘A high tide raises all boats’ rings true here.”

Indeed, the experience of R2R has shown that in social development, encouraging productive social partnerships between and across sectors is much better than espousing one-way philanthropy and charitable dole outs to the poor. This is because such productive social partnerships teach people to experiment, to innovate, and to compete well with other businesses to survive and thrive.

R2R merchandise is currently available at:
6013 J. Villena cor. Manalac Street, Poblacion, Makati City
Telephone: (02) 426-6101 locals 3440 and 3441
Mobile: 0905-32739999

"Pilipinas Kong Mahal" by Niña Terol (published in Cosmopolitan Philippines, Oct 2009)

(Originally published in the October 2009 issue of Cosmopolitan Philippines)


One girl shares her musings about her love for the Philippines despite, in spite, and because of…

by Niña Terol

In many ways, my relationship with my country is like my relationship with my family. There are days when I’m extremely proud to be Pinoy. Then, there are other days–just like those moments of extreme parental angst or sibling animosity–when I just want to fly away, cut all my ties, and never look back.

Nonetheless, there are some things that will forever bind me to this country. Like blood, the soil we were born on will always be thicker than water.

Tongue Ties

Like our family names, our accents are undeniable. While at a world music festival at Malaysia last year, I tried to go for as long as I could without anyone knowing that I am Filipino since my name is Spanish, I am Eurasian, and my first language is English. The moment I spoke up at a press conference, however, heads turned and I heard people say, “She’s Filipina!” Later on, another journalist came up to me and said, “I love Filipino accents–the way you roll your Rs, it’s so sexy!” Apparently, just like many other nationalities, we have very distinct accents that no amount of English twang will be able to hide. The best way to deal? To interact with others in ways that bring bride to our country.

This is “The Life”

Life here is never boring. Evening gigs, holiday fiestas, beach outings, food sprees, walking tours, cultural performances, scandals to watch over YouTube–we have them all. Simply take your pick!

And, in as much as things can get exciting, then can get extremely cozy as well. There are days when I simply crave for chicken tinola, sinigang na baboy, pork adobo, or chicken inasal. On Saturday mornings when it’s chilly, I’m reminded of childhood days of watching cartoons, my taste buds craving for champorado.

Citizen Pinoy

We may hate our government or the people around us, but we can’t hate the values our nation was founded on. Yes, the government bureaucracy is corrupt, systems are crooked (if any exist at all), and people can sometimes be downright stupid, greedy, or evil. I hate the large potholes that the city government has left on my street, and I can’t stand to see children begging on the sidewalk while the Powers that Be spend millions to fund their lavish lifestyles. No matter how low things seem to be, however, we can’t deny the fact that our forefathers fought valiantly against oppression, that it was we Filipinos who introduced People Power to the world, and that our nation was founded on ideals of truth, freedom, dignity, patriotism, brotherhood, faith, and love of family.

Home and Heartstrings

This is where I was born and raised; where I spent my wonderful childhood days; where I stumbled, fell, made mistakes, and learned about life. Here, too, is where I met the man I’m spending the rest of my life with. Wherever else I may go in the future, it is here where my heart was formed. However I look at my life, it has the Philippines etched all over it–and that’s not always a bad thing.

“Jumpstarting a freelance writing career” in the Philippine Star

What do the names Nikka Sarthou, Niña Terol-Zialcita and Ana Santos have in common? For one, they are all freelance writers, whose pieces have been published in various newspapers, magazines and even on websites. All three have their own forte ranging from lifestyle to investigative news. It was during a writing class that they got together and realized that there weren’t many groups that cater to the need of freelance writers who want to learn other forms of writing style. Thus, Writer’s Block Philippines (WBP) was born.

Excerpt from “Jumpstarting a writing career”, published in Philippine Star on July 19, 2010.

Text and photo by Alexa Villano

Carlos Celdran talk with the audience during his Walk This Way tour, the second workshop of Writer’s Block Philippines. Photo by Alexa Villano
Carlos Celdran talk with the audience during his Walk This Way tour, the second workshop of Writer’s Block Philippines. Photo by Alexa Villano

MANILA, Philippines – What do the names Nikka Sarthou, Niña Terol-Zialcita and Ana Santos have in common? For one, they are all freelance writers, whose pieces have been published in various newspapers, magazines and even on websites. All three have their own forte ranging from lifestyle to investigative news. It was during a writing class that they got together and realized that there weren’t many groups that cater to the need of freelance writers who want to learn other forms of writing style. Thus, Writer’s Block Philippines (WBP) was born.

Established only this year, Nikka said that they decided to put up the group writing workshop because of their passion for writing.

“We discovered that we were all writers. The three of us were doing freelance writing. We naturally gravitated towards each other because we have the same passion. We also want to create a group and realized that when we want to look for an outlet, there were not many opportunities. So we decided to form our own group,” Nikka said.

“Many writers have to be educated with issues. When I met Nikka and Ana we saw there was an opportunity beyond teaching and imparting knowledge. It is one to write and write creatively, it’s another thing to do as a source of livelihood,” Nina said.

Their first workshop, “Jumpstarting Your Freelance Writing Career,” got them a huge response. With only a limited slot, the group was surprised that a number of interested participants signed up for the workshop. It was soon followed by the “Walk This Way” tour with Carlos Celdran where writers had the opportunity to explore Intramuros.

“We never expected this reception from the writing community. We were surprised that a number of people were looking for something like this,” Nikka said.

“It was a validation. Before we started WBP, the three of us were all soloists of sorts. The warm reception that we’ve gotten from the writing community has shown us that there are other writers like us who feel the same way,” added Ana.



10 common mistakes every freelance writer should avoid (featured in Our Awesome Planet)

Like any other business, you need to organize a working system to manage your own freelance career – all three of us found that out the hard way. We want to share with you what we have learned from our personal experiences, so you’ll know what mistakes to steer clear of and what to do about it. Here are 10 tips to help you become more successful as a freelance writer.

Excerpt from “10 common mistakes freelance writers should avoid”, published in Anton Diaz’s Our Awesome Planet.

Writer's Block Philippines!

10 Common Mistakes Freelance Writers Should Avoid
by Writer’s Block Philippines — Ana Santos (, Nikka Sarthou &
Nina Terol-Zialcita (

Like any other business, you need to organize a working system to manage your own freelance career – all three of us found that out the hard way. We want to share with you what we have learned from our personal experiences, so you’ll know what mistakes to steer clear of and what to do about it. Here are 10 tips to help you become more successful as a freelance writer.

1. Never take contracts for granted. As a freelancer, the only person who can ensure your financial and professional security is yourself. Pay special attention to contracts and terms of reference, and don’t be satisfied with simple verbal agreements. Learn to operate like a small business and keep yourself protected from abusive colleagues or from lawsuits from clients.

2. Be clear about the scope of work. It’s easy to assume your scope of work when you’re simply writing an article for a publication. However, the minute you start taking on larger projects with more tasks and more coordination work (managing a publication, for example), be clear about your scope of work and expectations from both your clients and team mates. Never assume anything and always put terms, conditions, and payment agreements in black-and-white.

3. Even when dealing with friends, be professional. It’s easy to cross professional boundaries when dealing with friends whom you’ve known for a long time and whom you trust. However, when it comes to freelancing and managing your own micro-enterprise, you need to draw professional lines. Let friends sign contracts and agreements, prepare payment vouchers, mind your paperwork, do everything professionally.

4. Know your limits. As a freelancer, it’s tempting to take on more projects than you can handle because it will bring in more cash. DON’T. Know your limits and respect your own boundaries. Remember that when you spread yourself too thinly, your productivity will suffer as well. Avoid getting to the point where you will disappoint your clients, your editors, and yourself. Learn how to manage priorities and decline projects politely. If you turn in consistently good work every time, you will never run out of projects and clients.

5. Take note of your deadlines. You are your own boss so you have to manage all your projects and list down your deadlines so you can easily keep track of them. It would be bad for your reputation if you don’t submit your assignments on schedule.



Philippine Daily Inquirer features travel writing tips from Writer’s Block Philippines

AS YOU GEAR UP FOR THE rest of summer, fret not about your vacation expenses. Instead, find ways to monetize your travel passions and turn your holiday adventures into sources of extra cash.

How? By writing travel features.

An excerpt from “Turn your summer adventures into extra cash by travel writing”, published in Philippine Daily Inquirer on April 17, 2010

By Sofia Y. Ros

Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita

Il Duomo in Milan, Italy, taken by Niña Terol-Zialcita with a Nokia E90

AS YOU GEAR UP FOR THE rest of summer, fret not about your vacation expenses. Instead, find ways to monetize your travel passions and turn your holiday adventures into sources of extra cash.

How? By writing travel features.

Ana Santos, Nikka Sarthou, and Niña Terol-Zialcita of Writer’s Block Philippines believe that traveling not only helps us unwind and have a great time: It also offers powerful insights that could make great fodder for writing.

“Writing about your travels is another way of imprinting the memory of that place and immortalizing it in your mind,” Santos says. “Traveling is good for the heart and mind, but writing about a place is good for the soul.”

However, if hopping on a plane seems too expensive and too daunting, Sarthou reassures the budget-conscious traveler. “You don’t have to travel far to produce good travel articles. You can simply start in your hometown, and just share what you know about it in a more organized manner.”

To read the rest of the article and get travel writing tips, CLICK HERE.