White = superior, desirable. Black = inferior, undesirable. Colonial mentality and racism have plagued many countries for centuries; we cannot even pretend that these prejudices no longer exist in the society we live in. But once in a while, someone comes along, dares hope for change, and succeeds.
Nelson Mandela’s tribal name, Rolihlahla, was a Xhosa word that colloquially meant “troublemaker.” Indeed, he knew that in order to cause change in a world where injustices are seen as the norm, one cannot simply sit idly by. One must cause a stir, one must challenge these norms. Today, December 10th, the day of his memorial service at a 95,000-seater stadium in Johannesburg after succumbing to recurrent lung infections last Thursday, we we honor him and all he has done for South Africa.
This post is a small tribute to Mandela’s life and works. He who, like most heroes, did not set out to be one; who simply dreamed to see equality among people of all colors and gave all that he had for this dream to come true. He who, despite suffering in the hands of his oppressors, was not embittered by his experiences, and instead remained forgiving and positive. He who hated whenever people thought of him as a legend, who wanted to be known simply as a person who fought for justice.
I’ve written about this many times, for school papers, magazine essays, this blog. As a result of having been colonized by whites, the pervading mindset among many Eastern countries, including ours, is that the whiter your skin and the more Western your features are, the better. What Mandela fought against—the apartheid (Afrikaans word meaning “apart-hood” or segregation)—was more extreme and damaging than any of today’s typical glorification of white skin in the media.
South Africa was colonized by the English and Dutch in the 17th century, and apartheid laws were introduced in 1948. The basic premise is that people are judged by whether they are white—superior in every way, or black—inferior in every way. By the color of their skin, people were entitled or deprived of basic rights and privileges. Everything from where one lived, studied, took the bus, or who they married or associated with was dictated by skin color. In South Africa under the apartheid, the Japanese, South Koreans and Taiwanese minorities were given honorary white status, while Indonesians, Indians and those of Malay descent were seen as colored/non-white. They enjoyed better treatment although they still faced discrimination. And Filipinos? We were classified as black and treated the same way.
Mandela spent 27 years in prison and dedicated his entire life fighting to overthrow the apartheid, striving to make the world a little better in this sense. In his own words, “Hope is a powerful weapon, and [one that] no one power on earth can deprive you of… No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” Thank you, Madiba. Rest in peace.
Outfit details: Sugar Rush skirt worn as top, long skirt from 12 years ago that I rediscovered in my closet. Two different pieces that I got 12 years apart but somehow found a match in each other.
CMG platform wedges.
SM Accessories necklace, cinch belt and bangle, Japanese Candy contact lenses. Left side of my hair didn’t feel like cooperating that day and just went wherever the wind went.
Photos by my mom (whose birthday it is in 2 hours—Happy birthday Mama!). I end this tribute with another of Nelson Mandela’s beloved quotes: “I would like to be remembered not as anyone unique or special, but as part of a great team in this country that has struggled for many years, for decades, and even centuries. The greatest glory of living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time you fall.”
At my friend @almdudler’s beautiful garden reception for last week’s Singapore wedding :) #ootd (at Hillcreek Gardens)
A comment I get a lot is that I have a way of putting forth ideas and outfits differently. That I don’t seem to simply be looking at trends, following them to a “T” and then merely compiling and rehashing them as if my blog were an RSS feed of content that can already (and more conveniently) be found in legit publications. It’s because I really don’t.
I work a real job in media after all; we are trained to keep an ear on the ground for anything approaching, to keep constant watch on what’s buzzing, to track the trending. Having sufficient awareness of whatever is going to hit mainstream soon, how long it’s likely to last, and the likelihood of its fade out, I tend to refrain from hitching my wagon on it. This habit extends to real life. It feels nice to be ahead—and when not possible, to be left behind to examine something on its own merits while the many have moved on to the next hype. When people would be abuzz about the latest trilogy or book or artist, I would stay away from the news feeds and wait out the loud chatter, returning only when it dies down and I could check it out for myself without any majority opinion to sway mine.
For me, mastering trends means studying the peaks and troughs of their precedents and feeling out predictions from there. Having a sense of what’s poised to hit it big, and simply injecting bits and pieces of it into my own take on things, regardless of whether or not it is hashtag-worthy.
An enduring favorite of many, myself included, has been activewear-sportsluxe-street-urban-sporty-athletic-varsity-chic (insert other fancy terms that point to the same trend of mixing sportswear with stylish clothes here). It’s enjoyed a tenure almost as long-lasting as animal prints and spring florals, but it is a trend undeniably headed towards its demise. I feel skater skirts and dresses would function as transitionary pieces: still as sporty, but versatile enough to make the shift from sporty to, say, punk and romantic looks, less drastic. But who knows? I just like caps, and sneakers, and florals. As I said, I tend to keep to what I feel is coming and stray from what’s already out there. What counts for me is that I’m true to my style.
Clinging on to trends makes one savvy, but it also tends to blur one’s identity if left to reign over it. Like summer flings and fair-weather friendships, trends can come and go without leaving us with anything substantial. Sometimes they return, sometimes they don’t, but always they never last. They die. And it’s not just fashion. Consider this week’s Anne Curtis brouhaha. It’s got everyone clicking “Share” and making commentaries and living in the huge moment, and it won’t be surprising if "I can buy you, your friends and this club" becomes some sort of meme. But like many of its predecessors, it won’t be long before it’s forgotten.
So sure, let’s have fun with trends, delight in the excitement of choices that social media gives us access to—so long as they simply garnish what we already serve. A healthy consumption of trends means that at the end of the day, while what’s hot has peaked and plateaued and we await the next big thing, we have our own selves to always go back to. ♥
Outfit details: Nike Air snapback, Redgirl floral raglan, Mango jeggings.
SM Accessories earrings and bracelets, Silverworks nickname necklace (also worn here), Wrapped Up Slickwraps (also here).
SM Accessories tote bag. Much mismatch.
World Balance sneakers in my favorite color.
Hype on Lookbook and vote on Chictopia by clicking on the links above. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @shailagarde, and feel free to leave a comment. What trends do you wish to see expire, and which ones do you want to last? I’d love to hear from you!
It makes me happy that more and more people are discovering for themselves the dupery that is our old-school History books. Growing up, my father used to give us alternative reading materials that questioned the veracity and accuracy of the almost-legendary anecdotes of centuries past—how some figures tended be overrated, while others overlooked.
For me, one of these is Gat Andres Bonifacio. (“Gat” is kind of the Filipino equivalent of “Hon.” and I believe it is short for “Gatpuno.” As an etymology enthusiast, I’d like to think this in turn comes from the word ugat-puno: the roots of a tree. An apt metaphor for an organizational leader who rests as the foundation underneath the branches to give it nourishment, grounding and support.)
As with Rizal, I could not let Bonifacio’s sesquicentennial go by without a brief nod to the unspoken truths about his contributions to our rich history. Instead of having to dish out one “Did You Know That…” after another, I’m delighted to link you to credible online resources: the Philippine government’s marvelous efforts here, GMA Network’s special report here, and Rappler’s factoids here.
I must warn you though: reading about these growing up, hearing them from my father or Ateneo teachers, is why I have never been a fan of Aguinaldo. I sincerely do not mean to discredit his legacy or disrespect his descendants, but honestly, and contrary to how he was portrayed in my textbooks, as a young girl I’ve always viewed him as one of those trapos (traditional politicians) who go to great lengths to make themselves appear most heroic. Who plot against the threats to their success, and engage in grandstanding and elaborate PR schemes to claim credit for the effort of others.
On another note, perhaps this is why I’ve never been able to relate with Rizal until I got introduced to “Without The Overcoat" and related readings. He was always depicted in traditional History books as almost legendary, superheroic, that it was difficult to see him for the human being that he was, faults, foible and flagrancies all.
I like it better when people are shown—revealed for who they are. As Bonifacio’s supporters are now seeing, and as I know I will too, the truth about people eventually shines through. ♥
Outfit details: Forever21 floral dress and dotted socks, Parisian wedge booties, Michael Kors ostrich Hamilton bag.
SM Accessories hair bow, Japanese Candy contact lenses. It’s the first of December, so I decided to dress up like a present.
SM Accessories necklace and bracelet, Nail It! manicure. All together now a la Love Actually: “I feel it in my fingers, I feel it in my toes… Christmas is all around me, it’s everywhere I go…”
Slickwraps iPhone 5 wrap from Wrapped Up (that’s too many wraps in one sentence I could almost write a rap about it—ooh, alliteration. Okay, I’m just rambling here). This is officially my favorite of all the cases and wraps I’ve ever tried. My phone is protected all over in wrapping that looks and feels like wood. Plus, it doesn’t make my phone bulkier so I can even put on a hard or silicon casing over it. Then again, it easily matches anything I wear, so I probably wouldn’t have to. Check out the other wooden and carbon fiber gadget wraps by clicking their link above.
A birthday gift from an awesome trip to my awesome uncles and aunts in the States. When styling, once in a while I like to have cheeky themes within my outfits, sort of like an inside joke that only I am in on. For once I’ll share what this outfit’s is: dots on the bag, and dots on the socks. Heh. That’s it, really. I just like to have certain things that match but don’t really.
Forever 21 wedge booties. I haven’t gone shoe-shopping in a while and my penchant for neutral-colored footwear, especially those of the height-increasing type, was reawakened when I spotted this pair on a mannequin.
Needless to say, I fell head over heels. (‘kay, that was quite awful)
Hype this on lookbook above, vote on Chictopia below.
Beef salpicado, pumpkin soup, chocolate moist. #lunch #noms #food
I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath. Scared to rock the boat and make a mess.
So I sat quietly. Agreed politely. I guess that I forgot I had a choice.
I let you push me past the breaking point. I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything.
You held me down.
But I got up. Already brushing off the dust. Get ready ‘cause I’ve had enough.
You hear my voice, you hear that sound. Like thunder, gonna shake the ground. I see it all, I see it now.
I’ve got the eye of the tiger, a fighter dancing through the fire.
'Cause I am a champion and you're gonna hear me roar.
Now I’m floating like a butterfly. Stinging like a bee. I earned my stripes.
I went from zero…
To my own hero.
It’s an anthem everyone can claim for their own. But for those of you who know me and my story—the real one, not the one passed on through a friend of a friend of a friend embellished with amnesiac truths, then you’d know exactly why I wrote in Katy Perry’s lyrics instead of my own words. “Roar” is the life story of this (girl born in the year of the) tiger, and there is very little need for elaboration.
Forever21 tiger shirt, Miss Sixty shorts. Special thanksJoanne Pecson (pictured above) and ETC Channel for inviting me to be the inspirational speaker on personal style during the ETC Campus Tour in UP Diliman a few weeks back.
Antler Accessories necklace to go with the shirt’s studs.
Forever21 nude stockings with cross prints, Skechers +3 wedge sneakers.
Gel nails by St. Nails Spa.
Hype this on Lookbook above, favorite on Chictopia below.
How we use our freedom speaks of our priorities. It’s been a week since Yolanda, but thousands will be reeling from its aftermath for weeks more. For those of us who won this lottery and were spared, offering a bit of our time, resources and sensitivity is the least we can do.
Despite that (or, because) we are not directly affected, we can make use of our freedom to help out, just as we would if the storm struck one of ours. Yes, life goes on—given enough time to recover. Would we be comfortable showing our shopping loot to a friend who just lost everything in a fire? Sharing PDA photos with a friend whose loved one just died? Recounting our fancy dinner to a friend who just got laid off his job? We’d be free to, but we wouldn’t. We’d let them know that we are one with them in their suffering. We’d be responsive to their needs.
This weekend, the Ateneo de Manila college covered courts is open 24 hours to donors and volunteers. While there are many other centers (there are actually two other courts for relief operations on campus), this is where I always go to help out. It’s like coming home. This is where the OrSem is held, where freshmen are first taught the Ignatian value of magis: the pursuit of excellence, not merely for one’s own benefit but to be men and women for others. Sentimental reasons aside, it’s also because volunteer work here doesn’t feel like work at all.
21 degrees. If only we could have all these in Manila :) (at Mountain Pines Farms Bukidnon)
Leopard in Bukidnon’s pineapple fields #work #tv #prod #ootd |
Shooting in the mountains of Bukidnon today! Yay for scarf weather :) #work #prod #tv #ootd
Five months ago, I wrote “Transition.” It was the middle of spring, and although I live in a country that only has sunny and rainy days, the events in my life seemed to be changing the way the seasons do. I had just come from a harsh and dark winter, and in time, the cold melted and ushered in a lush, vibrant environment where everything was growing.
In the summer, I moved on to a fresh new start and decided to “Keep Walking.” When I turned my back on all the baggage weighing me down and the garbage bringing out the worst in me—the things and people that were keeping me from being my best and most genuine self—everything became clear as day. That “Clarity" made me take responsibility for the choices I made in the past couple of years. I saw clearly the short-term consequence: a wounding, a purging, an emptying out.
I also saw the long-term consequence: a healing, a rediscovering, a filling up with real love and genuine happiness. Now, it is autumn. The season for shedding the bits and pieces that aren’t needed, in order to make room for an eventual and inevitable rebirth. For more amazing challenges and experiences. I’d like to believe this is the season I have come full circle. ♥
Outfit details: Shop Enna olive green one-shoulder bodycon dress. I enrolled in 360 Fitness Club last September and aside from most obvious reason being to take good care of my health, clothes like these are why.
Japanese Candy green contact lenses, SM Accessories emerald green earrings, Silverworks aquamarine pendant.
The birthstone for March. I also wore it with this sporty outfit.
Pandora charm bracelet. The silver flower also has an aquamarine stone, while the Murano beads are in the same color. The meaning of this bracelet and all its charms are on this post.
Hype this above and vote on Chictopia here.
Oh look, a pun. But hey, it was either that or something like “sole searching.” Although it would still be quite appropriate—my sole search in the past few weeks was for the proverbial balance. Managing things on the job, putting in enough quality time for family and friends, and attending to some advocacies close to heart, in light of the tragedy that has befallen Bohol and Cebu.
I’m happy for this recent succession of national holidays where people could just take a break from it all and just be comfortable. It’s a good thing the weather has been cooperative for the most part, too. Neither too sunny nor too wet for an outdoor stroll, and with just the right amount of breeze in the air to take in nearby sceneries.
Miss Sixty sheer dress worn as a top, Marithe+Francois Girbaud skinny jeans.
Victoria’s Secret worn underneath because this dress is so short, sheer and body-hugging it might as well be a summer cover-up.
Pulseras by Kim “Love Chic” heart padlock and key pendants. It’s always a delight when shops send gifts, but even sweeter when they actually send them personalized!
SM Accessories leopard-printed quilt shoulder bag and XOXO leopard-printed heart cocktail ring, because this is the print that just won’t go out of fashion. Nude gel manicure and plum gel pedicure courtesy of St. Nails in Makati.
White patent sandals from Birkenstock. Vote for this outfit on Chictopia here, Lookbook below.
I’ve had my eye on this particular pair after seeing them on display in SM Megamall a few weeks ago. Unless it’s to the beach, I’m not into wearing typical rubber or plastic flip-flops for days when I want me feet and toes to take a break from closed shoes. I like slipping into understatedly nice footwear that I can walk and drive more comfortably in, and these Birkenstocks certainly fit the bill.
I was invited by The Spa’s SKIN Dermatology and Laser Center to try their IPL (intense pulsed light) facial treatment. My beauty industry friends cringe at this fact but as far as skin care goes, I’m (be)low maintenance—don’t wear makeup unless necessary and remove immediately upon getting home, wash face twice a day, scrub once a week, and moisturize day and night. Needless to say, I was excited about my IPL experience.
The SKIN clinic in Bonifacio High Street is across the lobby of The Spa. Inside, clients are attended to right away by the receptionist, and led to either the lounge or the resident dermatologist for consultation.
View from upstairs, going to the treatment rooms. I’ve been to The Spa a few times and one of the things I’ve always liked about them is the warm lighting (and that re-energizing minty spa smell—too bad we can’t smell via the Internet heh).
The upstairs hallway. From what I saw, there are five treatment rooms. Mine was that open door to the left.
Cozy. I’ve been to clinics where the treatment areas are simply separated by a divider or a curtain, and private rooms like these are much more preferable.
During the consultation with SKIN’s certified dermatologist, she explained a little bit about IPL and what it does. It’s a popular treatment for spider veins (broken capillaries), dark spots from sun damage or aging, uneven skin tone and huge pores. IPL basically penetrates below the skin’s surface to hit the problem area and stimulates the production of collagen. The skin repairs the damage, and the result is healthier skin! The dermatologist recommends about five to six sessions in order to see optimum results. With regular treatment and proper maintenance, you can expect to end up finer pores, improved skin tone and visibly lighter, younger-looking skin.
The day I went, I was feeling a bit under the weather as my schedule has been quite hectic the past few days—juggling a fun full-time job and writing and styling jobs on the side. The timing of this pampering session couldn’t have been better.
Before we started with the IPL treatment, a nurse attendant prepared my face by gently cleansing and massaging it with a moisturizing cream. The IPL treatment may be done in tandem with a full facial, but for now, I opted for the main event right away.
A cold ultrasound gel is placed all over the face up to parts of the neck to protect the skin and keep the heat tolerable. My dermatologist described the sensation to be like a rubber band snapping and so I braced myself for slight discomfort, but as she promised, it’s not really painful. Just a tad warm, and also surprising, whenever the pulsed light hits.
Beep. Flash! Beep. Flash! Thus the protective eye goggles, which they assured me are more than sufficient and made specifically for IPL.
After the cheeks, the doctor targets the chin, and then the nose, and then a slightly lower fluence (amount of light energy in one hit) for the forehead. She explained that since the skin on there is closer to the bone, it would feel hotter than on the rest of the face.
Done! The procedure took a mere 15 minutes, prep time included. No downtime too—it’s okay to resume activities as usual. After the IPL, they simply wiped off the cold gel and placed a moisturizing sunblock on my face. Clients undergoing IPL are urged by dermatologists to stay away from the sun, and to always apply sunblock with a high SPF for both UVA and UVB (sunlight and indoor lighting) protection. Another tip is to come back once a month and nourish skin with vitamins and alpha hydroxy (fruit) acids in between sessions to supplement the treatment.
That half-hour respite from all the workload was certainly more than enough to leave me feeling refreshed afterwards. Sometimes we can get so caught up with all the things we have to rush and accomplish that we stress out and fall ill and wilt in the process. This visit to SKIN was a reminder that it’s okay to relax a bit. Not just okay, but that we actually need it! In that short time I was lying down, I was actually able to take a step back from all the frenzy and brainstorm for some ideas for work. I vow to come back next month, and to start taking better care of my skin from here on. Lesson learned from an intense pulsed light session? Sometimes the best eye openers can come to us when our eyes are closed. :)
Skin Rejuvenation (IPL) is available at SKIN Dermatology and Laser Center inside The Spa Wellness at B8, Bonifacio High Street, BGC.Call (+632) 403-8000/0917-8092399. They also have a newly opened SKIN clinic inside The Spa Wellness at Shangri-La Mall, L6 Leisure Haven East Wing. Call (+632) 656-7878/656-6868. Online, you may check them out on Facebook. Also follow The Spa on Facebook and Twitter @thespa1996 for updates and promos.
Speaking of promos… would I ever just write about my adventures without giving Love Chic readers a chance to share in the experience? Of course not! Here’s how to get a free IPL session from SKIN, too.
Filipinos are still on a high from Megan Young’s Miss World win, and rightfully so. It isn’t every day that a simple lady from a small town in Olongapo gets to fufill her and every other girl’s childhood dream of becoming a princess (in this case, a queen).
Wearing glamorous gowns, beautiful heels and a glorious crown over your crowning glory? Bringing honor to your country amidst pork barrel scams and celebrity sex scandals? Being given a chance to make a profound difference in the world? Check, check and check.
I possess neither the height nor the body proportions it takes to even make it to the preliminaries of any significant pageant of beauty and physiological symmetry (save for the occasional local santacruzan, which hardly counts), but here are three reasons I’m completely okay with that.
One, I’m average. I’m only 5 feet and an inch tall. My skin is far from perfect, with little scars here and there and breakouts every once in a while when I wear makeup for more than a few hours or don’t drink enough water or get enough sleep. My hair is always all over the place: if I comb it, it looks like I have a household broom on my head. If I don’t, it looks like I slept on it and headed out. I have braces to align my crooked teeth, but there are no braces for my crooked grin. I may meet society’s standards in terms of butt size, but I can’t say the same for my chest size. Haha. I am average, and I say that with pride and loving self-acceptance, holding the torch for average girls all over the world.
Because there are more of us, and we are faced with a happy challenge: that of learning to love our physical average-ness, while at the same time discovering which aspects about ourselves enable us to be above average. Intelligence? Charm? Sense of humor? Musical talents? Artistic skills? Numerical aptitude? A penchant for finding the perfect gift or gesture for anyone’s birthday? Whatever they may be, they are the brushes with which we can paint the beautiful portrait of our above average-ness on a blank canvas of average-ness.
Two, I am unique. I may be average, but I am not generic—big difference. Average has the chance to command attention by standing out; generic stays in the background unnoticed, with nothing new or different to offer. I can pull things out of my pocket that no one else can have up their sleeves. The movie Hugo got it right about unique individuals: “I’d imagine the whole world was one big machine. Machines never come with any extra parts, you know. They always come with the exact amount they need. So I figured, if the entire world was one big machine, I couldn’t be an extra part. I had to be here for some reason.”
Three, life is one big pageant anyway. Society is one big panel of judges, and there are universal criteria wherever we go. We are judged by how we look, what we wear, how we carry ourselves, what we want to say and how we say it, the culture and values we represent, the people we associate ourselves with, the beliefs we express and convictions we uphold, how we answer questions we are presented.
In this way, the world indeed is a stage, and every day is a part of the competition where we get to prove our grace, poise, skills and intelligence—not only to the judges and audiences, but more importantly to ourselves. In this way, we can all aim for peace, love and balance in the world, even in our tank tops, jeans and sneakers. :)
Outfit details: “Love” striped tank top from my cousin, Human dove-printed pants. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.
SM Accessories transparent cuff and bird-and-flowers pendant.
Bags In The City “Xavier” handbag.
World Balance “Vanity” sneakers. Apt sneaker name for today’s thoughts, yes? Apt, and ironic that there is none of the discomfort or superficiality that usually come with the word: these sneakers are about as simple, soft and comfortable as you can get. If you’re following me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you can win a pair for yourself.