I don’t know about you, but I find social media consumption these days to be exhausting. Every five seconds, there’s an interesting new top 21 list (“21 Shapes You Can Make With Ketchup”). A new video of a child prodigy doing something we ordinary adults can’t do (“Watch This 3-Year-Old Dance Ballet While Playing Her Own Violin Accompaniment”). A new slideshow of tips you never thought would be useful until now (“How To Cook Fried Rice Without Rice”).
The dizzying pace with which we are served these small bites of information on a daily basis is no wonder the majority of us seem to be developing attention-deficit disorders. Can you imagine going into a café to meet your friends without your laptop to while away the time? Heaven forbid you have to sit at your dentist’s reception area withoutyour tablet to play with while waiting. Let’s not even talk about the time you had to endure a 45-minute car ride without 3G on your phone.
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.
What would be a transitionary outfit from summer to fall, if we had four seasons instead of just wet and dry.
Indigenous tribal-print backpack from Davao.
In this time and age where efficiency is king, versatility is key. Things—and people—have to be as functionally maximized in all other aspects as they are in one. Everything is expected to be transitionary, hence the popularity of multi-way pieces, all-season ensembles, and day-to-night looks.
And us? We have to know how to “Work Hard, Play Hard.” We can’t just be one or the other; to make the most of the “Sweet Things” in this “Beautiful World,” we’ve got to be ready and raring for both. To be able to enjoy “Silence” as much as we enjoy the exciting “Elements of Life.” To say to ourselves, “I Will Be Here” as we seize the day, and then gather with our friends afterwards and say, “We Own The Night.”
I just served you up with some of the smash hits created by legendary Dutch musician and record producer of Electronic Dance Music (EDM), Tijs Michiel Verwest. More popularly known to you and me as world-renowned Grammy Nominee DJ Tiesto, he’s coming back to Manila next week and I’m giving away tickets.
But first, a look-back at his DJ career. It began with Tiesto playing mostly New Beat and House Music in small clubs in his hometown of Breda, the Netherlands. He rose to popularity in the early 2000s after his performance at the Live at Innercity: Amsterdam RAI party, and the release of his first solo album “In My Memory” and has since been producing award-winning EDM hits and albums, holding world tours and concert parties, and receiving countless recognition for his music. One of Tiesto’s albums, “Elements of Life,” was number one on the Dutch album chart and Billboard Top Electronic Albums in the US, and was awarded Best Electronic Dance Album in 2008.
One of Tiesto’s most notable performances was at the opening ceremony of the Athens Summer Olympics, making him the very first DJ to play live on stage at an Olympic event. He was also the very first DJ to rank #1 in the Top 100 DJs list by DJ Magazine for three years straight. His other awards include Best International DJ at the DJ Awards (2008), The Best DJ of All Time and The #1 DJ by Mixmag Magazine (2008), International Dance4Life Ambassador (2006), and The 40th Greatest Dutch Citizen of All Time and Officer of the Order of Orange–Nassau by the Dutch Royalty (2003).
With a proven track record, there’s no doubt Tiesto is one of most sought-after EDM DJs in the world. In the Philippines alone, he’s spun his tracks in front of the hottest clubbers, EDM enthusiasts and personalities in two of the biggest and hippest dance arenas in 2008 and 2009.
This October 3, Tiesto will be coming back to Manila for his very first concert party at the Big Dome as World Wide Womb, Ovation Productions, Driven Manila, and Republiq present Tiesto Live in Manila with special guest, the fastest-rising and most exciting female Australian DJ Tigerlily. Tickets are now available at Ticketnet. You can check out www.ticketnet.com.ph, World Wide Womb and Republiq for more info, or call +639175508888 for VIP tables. Of course, you can join my giveaway first for a shot at scoring tickets for free.
It’s really cool how this racerback can be sporty, dressy or casual depending on what you wear it with. It’s got the right balance of being loose on top, snug and fit at the bottom, which is how I usually wear these things. All you really need to transform this dress are the blazer, shoes and accessories that would fit the look you want to go for.
For the bag and the jewelry, I played around and deliberately chose items that wouldn’t normally go well with this look, just to try and put dainty and athletic-chic together.
I usually wear this carry-all to the office or when running errands for easier stashing of everything. It’s got a frilly pink charm and comes with a pink polka-dotted wallet, but they make it look too Paris Hilton so I thought best to do away with those. Heh.
White, black and pink, just like the bag. Same shoes I wore on this post (also with a dress, just to show that sneakers don’t always have to be worn with jeans or shorts). I’ve always found this color scheme so easy to style. The black balances out the otherwise ultra-girly combo of pink and white and gives any item an understated edginess.
Here’s another pink-and-white combo that doesn’t scream girly, thanks to the rubber studs. iPhone 5 case from Beyond The Box.
How the white hard casing looks without the rubber cover. Industrial-chic is what I like to call it, but I don’t really know (and yes, this is an upside-down photo).
Aren’t these Silverworks necklaces just adorable? They’re my current favorites.
The top pendant is aquamarine, the birthstone for March. The customized nickname isn’t just pretty, it also helps café baristas take my order. No need to spell out my name—just point. Haha. I like wearing these two together as a representation of who I am. They go perfectly with my other two treasures.
My Pandora silver charm bracelet, also with aquamarine. I picked out the charms with one of my best friends, Joanne, and each one has a profound meaning. Wearing this helps to remind me of the things I strive for, of the things worth believing in, and the things I should never lose sight of.
My Me&U ring, given to me as a gift by the shop’s owners. The couple have become two of my dearest friends ever since meeting them through this blog. It’s a reminder that although some things aren’t meant to last, some things definitely are, and it’s these that we must always value and appreciate.
I guess I put together this look not only for the styling of it, but more importantly for the commonality that I saw in all the pieces: their versatility. I’ve been busy with work the past two months that I’ve struggled to divide time and energy equally among family, friends, fitness and self-improvement. As today is the first of September, my new-month resolution is to do away with the reasons (i.e. excuses) for not being well-rounded, allot enough time for everything and everyone and learn to make better use of every 24 hours I’m given. :)
Share your thoughts about this look or about whatever by leaving a Disqus comment below or tweeting me @shailagarde. Happy September!
Where I’m from, summer was ages ago, and so was the CloseUp music festival “Summer Solstice” where I wore this outfit to. It’s still summer in the Northern Hemisphere though, so technically I’m not off-season. Haha.
I didn’t really feel like writing this just another event post so I shelved it for a while; the afternoon heat today got me thinking of it again.
In a nutshell, CloseUp Summer Solstice was a 12-hour music festival that featured local and foreign artists of varying genres. It was held April 27 at the MOA concert grounds.
I went with one of my good friends, Chris Everingham.
Of course, as soon as we got there we saw a lot of other friends. It was like everyone congregated there that night.
I’ve never gone on a night out of partying and clubbing before this (and I say this with only mild embarrassment, heh), so to say that it wasn’t bad for a first timer would be an understatement. The music was amazing and the crowd was awesome.
Familiar faces were everywhere, too, so you never ran out of people to enjoy with.
When things wound down, we hit the nearby Army Navy to chat and chow with friends.
Popples, Martin, Lana, my cousin Jeru, Shaoi and Robbie. They’re friends from different points in my life, some way back and others more recent, but one thing they all share in common is the feeling of ease being around them brings. In all honesty, it was the company of these guys that made it more worthwhile to go to Summer Solstice.
I think back to when I first encountered the term in high school. It was the title Filipino National Artist Nick Joaquin’s short story, set in the Philippines in the 1850s. It revolved around the “Tatarin,” a three-day pagan fertility ritual held during summer and ending in a festival. Drawn to mystical-sounding titles, I pounced on the story, and my thirteen-year-old mind was entranced by the delicious images conjured by Joaquin’s prose. Thus began my fascination for solstices and equinoxes, seasons and transitions.
Perhaps owing more to my penchant for finding connections than anything, I noticed how both the story and the event involved dancing, a festival, and the merging of divergent cultures. Both, too, are rife with symbolism—then again, maybe the use of “summer solstice” in itself evokes it. A solstice (literally, “sun standing stlll”) is when the sun comes to a stop before reversing its direction, marking the beginning of a season. Around the time of the event, an experiential solstice was upon me as well: days were long, everything was at a standstill, and I was wondering when the wait for change anew would be over.
Of course, seasons never fail. At the precise and perfect timing, the change occurred. And here things are, more vibrant and alive with possibilities than ever before. :)
Event photos by Jeru Paguntalan and Martin Adelantar of Illustrato. Outfit details: Forever21 corset top and maxi skirt, CMG platform sandals, SM Accessories clutch bag, headband and bracelet. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.
Your thoughts are most welcome! Feel free to leave a comment or a question below. If you haven’t yet, follow me on Twitter/Instagram @shailagarde for updates!
A friend and I would often talk about the tyranny of choice—when we come upon a fork in the road, we are barraged with a million questions: If I choose this, what would be the opportunity cost? What would I miss out on? If I choose the other, what would I regret? Which one is the right path, the perfect choice?
I got into thinking about this yesterday at a lunch hosted by a friend who was leaving for Canada to continue his Masters. Soon, another friend is moving there to explore his options. Chalking them up to other friends who have been pursuing their chosen paths elsewhere in the world—in New York, in London, in Paris, I thought about the dreams they once shared with me that are now coming true, the challenges they are now encountering and overcoming, the successes they are now enjoying. The actions they have taken, whose consequences have led them to where they are right now.
I also got into thinking about my own choices, my what if’s and if only’s in life. The person I dreamed of becoming when I was younger and the one I am right now, the paths I’ve taken that didn’t quite align with one another, the dissonant and unfocused thoughts within me that manifested outwardly. There were just too many options!
I guess I’m what American psychologist Barry Schwartz calls in his book The Paradox of Choice, a maximizer. Simply put, a maximizer tends to overthink choices and overanalyze consequences. They like to consider each and every alternative and are worried about making the wrong choices. (The opposite of this is a satisficer, who makes a choice and sticks with it without looking back and worrying that there might be something better.) As a result of being a maximizer, I tend to always have realizations in hindsight: had I picked a different set of orgs in school, or hung out with a different set of people, or chosen a different course of study altogether, it would’ve vastly altered the landscape in which I move today. These thoughts aren’t imbued with hapless regret, mind you; I’m just really fascinated by the impact of one single choice. Knowing this has helped me become more focused and keep my goals aligned these days.
One of my favorite authors, Malcolm Gladwell, talks about how the diversity of people’s identities and tastes gives way to this explosion of choice just as well. He was referring to food marketing, how we can’t always explain what we want, and how there isn’t one Platonic—perfect and universal—way to prepare a dish. But it also applies to everything else. We have so many choices because we are all so different, and we have embraced this diversity more so today than ever. In the past, people simply became what their parents were. Options for what to buy, where to go, which course to study, when and whom to marry, etc. were as limited as the exposure they had of the world outside their boundaries. Now our world is bigger. The forks in the road have more branches. It can be overwhelming, especially with the variety of choices available to us these days. But so long as we know what it is we want, we should be able to make the right ones. ♥
A typical weekend (i.e. lazy) look: slip-on dress, minimal accessories, bed hair and basic eye makeup. Takes five minutes. :) Photos by Don Michael De Leon of Happy Fingers Photography. Check out his works on Tumblr too.
The thing I like best about Don’s photos is how he captures portraits and textures of things as they are, as opposed to trying to make them always look picture-pretty; as a result, his shots have an honesty and “realness” to them that one rarely sees anymore. For our first shoot, I told him I’d go fuss-free and just let him take the reins, see what comes of it.
I mean, sure, there are days that require planning your look in advance, getting all dolled up and dressed to the nines. But to be honest, I quite enjoy days like these. Days when there is no itinerary, when the agenda is anything and the destination is anywhere.
Days when you can just relax with people you’re comfortable with, not having to think about what to say or how to act. When you can just goof around and not care so much.
As children, we didn’t really make a big fuss about the many things people make a fuss about now. With homework done and nap time duly over, we would spend our after-schools and weekends playing, roaming the neighborhood on bikes or skates or just our slippers. It was day in and day out of living simple happy lives, free from bouts of overanalyzing and instant-replays of our mistakes, and the inner struggles between our childlike honesty and society’s dictums of propriety. Something I personally miss about the nineties.
Well, we may not play taguan (hide-and-seek) or langit-lupa-impiyerno (heaven-earth-hell) or agawan-base (capture the flag) in our ratty old clothes anymore, but on a rare day of respite like this, we can let our hair down and leave the fussing for another day. •
Speaking of letting our hair down, here’s a song about not worrying even when sometimes, we get things wrong or feel afraid. Played on a pink ukulele for added happiness. Enjoy! :)
Worn on a lovely Saturday out with my mom. Shot on a wide open field just outside our village, near a small plaza that houses our favorite homey café and restaurant. I’ve been based in Pampanga since December, the longest I’ve ever stayed here ever since moving to Manila for college many years ago. When I was younger and San Fernando was not yet the bustling and progressive city that it is today, I dreamt of going to Ateneo and getting a job and living in Manila. I thought of it as this place where you have access to everything: the good malls and restaurants, the good theme parks, the good hospitals, the TV stations and magazines and advertising agencies where I wanted to end up working.
Grass really is greener on the other side—as soon as I got to Manila, I found myself always wanting to go home! I was overwhelmed by the intense traffic, the faster pace of everything, and the way people my age seemed worldlier, socially savvier and more wais about certain things than I was. I started to appreciate the simplicity and mellowness of life in Pampanga. Makes me think how we can take for granted the things we grow up with, keep longing for that which we do not have. When we finally have a taste of it, yes, it is wonderful and amazing, but often turns out to be not exactly what we had imagined. We discover that like anything in this world, there are trade-offs and downsides to every perk and upside. And then we realize that what we’ve always had is what we’ve always wanted in the first place, or at the very least, that it wasn’t so bad after all.
Every time a new school year starts, I think of all the freshies out there and wish them well—especially those on a scholarship like I was, because it means additional expectations and challenges. As the first one in my family to leave town, I know how it can take a while to get adjusted to everything in Manila, to develop and polish everything from the way you dress to the way you relate to people and the way you speak and present yourself, while still retaining your values and identity. Above all, to learn to be strong through trials and temptations that will come your way while your family and support system are miles away.
Of course, it helps a lot that my house is just an hour or so away from Quezon City and that whatever is there is also here now. Still, it wasn’t always the case, and it took me quite a while to get the hang of things, and there was a lot of hard learning that had to happen (there still are, actually). I always say that in my years in college, I learned infinitely more from life outside those classrooms than inside. I’m glad I got to experience both sides of the grass—only here, grass might literally be greener. Heh.
Changed my hair because we were planning to shoot a song there and the wind was blowing my waves all over the place. I do a decent French braid, but my mom’s is definitely loads better, don’t you think?
Anyway, we tried to do a couple of takes but there were a lot of welcome distractions: the sound of birds, dogs barking and children having picnics and playing around. We ended up making friends with them instead!
The girl holding my ukulele, Angelica (same name as my mom’s), was the first one to run to us. She sat down beside my mom and quietly watched me sing and play. Soon, her sister and friends followed and we had a fun chat with them. They told us they live nearby, at a car muffler shop, and they often come to the fields to have lunch under the trees. A great idea that I can’t wait to try with my family when we’re all home.
So I ended up doing the song in our basement, where I also did this and this. :) “On The Side Of Me” is by Corrinne May, a Christian musician from Singapore. I’ve always loved this song, and I decided to sing it as thank you to my family, friends and blog readers—the words are so real for me I wish I wrote them myself. Hope you like it! I don’t have much yet, but you can watch my other silly videos and subscribe to my channel here.
Sometimes I get asked how I think of look titles or entry themes. It’s nothing serious or scientific, haha. While uploading the photos, I usually just look for a detail somewhere in the outfit and then try to connect it to the day’s story.
Like this dress with all its lines. Wore it to a dinner date with some awesome people. Lately I’ve been having a lot of these dinners, with old and new friends from diverse backgrounds and countries. Different folks with different strokes, yet somewhere along the conversation, we find intersecting interests. I’ve been learning a lot from them and loving it. I think the Universe is making up for a couple of years of incidental social constrainment. :)
On another note of gratitude, to everyone who’s been continually interacting with me through this blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and/or YouTube, thank you :) It’s still as kilig and inspiring as the first time, and so lots of exciting things are in the works. Here’s to a great week ahead!
What I wore to my brother’s graduation. Shopaholic at SM Department Store dress, Asian Vogue pumps, SM Accessories necklace, bangle and clutch bag.
That day, realization upon realization started hitting me like a snowball in the face (not an entirely unwelcome prospect in this hot and humid weather).
My alma mater. I would often come back here for random things—meeting friends who are now teachers, going to church, running errands. Snowball number 1: for years, Ateneo was just a place for me to do stuff at. I never bothered to look around and marvel at the fact that this was where I was shaped, where I grew in intellect and in faith.
Our elders. The professors, deans and leaders of this institution, without whom none of its students would be where they are now. My Science and Society professor, astronomer and physicist Fr. Jett Villarin SJ, is now University President. Snowball number 2: I was in the classrooms of the country’s most intelligent, compassionate and generous people and instead of appreciating that, I would balk and sulk whenever challenges came my way.
The ceremony. There were twice as many graduates this year compared to my batch of about 1,900. Yet even their number is but a tiny percentage compared to the millions of young Filipinos with no access to quality education. Snowball number 3: I was given the privilege of a full scholarship in Ateneo and I gave my bare minimum in return. I let each school day, each requirement pass me by like it was nothing, when it could’ve been another kid of equal skill level and aspirations in my place. I didn’t even try to run for honors or be the well-rounded Atenean I was supposed to be. I was placed in a Merit class of a legendary teacher, Max Pulan, that produced young leaders and achievers excelling in their chosen fields, while I’ve spent the last few years squandering my education on less worthwhile endeavors.
The graduates. I imagined them feeling grateful, excited, hopeful, relieved, maybe a little worried at what the real world holds in store for them. And then I remembered how I felt when in that blue toga. “I can’t wait to get out of here and get it over with.” Snowball number 4: I was so full of teenage angst at my pseudo-problems at the time—petty things that all seem so pathetically trivial now—that I failed to remember what we were taught: be a person for others. What were my trials compared to the sufferings of others? What have I been doing with what I’d been given, to make a difference in their lives?
Vince. It took all those years and his graduation to shake me back into my senses. In a happy coincidence, the resolutions came in time for my birthday.
So, instead of the usual party or dinner, here’s how we celebrated. Duyan Ni Maria (Cradle Of Mary) is a shelter in Angeles City, Pampanga that takes in children as young as newborns until they finish school and can earn their keep.
Sister Alexis Casas, S.M.E. runs Duyan ni Maria. Hers is a story of profound faith in God’s provisions. She was able to build a children’s home out of donations and fundraisers she worked on. Rain or shine, day in and out, she would commute from house to house and organization to organization to solicit funding for her children’s food, clothing, schooling and other needs. She continues to do so until now, even while struggling with diabetes. I can’t imagine my grandmother having to travel around the city in the hot sun with a never-healing wound in her leg, working to make ends meet! Yet she’s always smiling and saying that God never fails to provide her with what she needs—sometimes, it’s not what she hoped for but turns out to be even better.
Sister Alex knows all the names of all the children, and she introduced them to me one by one. They told me their stories. Some were abandoned at birth in public hospitals. Others were rescued or ran away from abusive homes. Most of them were named by Sister Alex herself, and they treat her like their real mother.
It was a small party and the food was simple—just spaghetti and fried chicken—but the way the children were so excited and happy, you’d think it was a lavish feast on Christmas eve! Gratitude is such a nice feeling.
We often see in movies or TV shows how unruly it can get in children’s homes. They were polite and gracious and cheerful. Sister Alexis’ kids couldn’t be further from that depiction. Then again, them being raised by a soft-spoken and loving nun, it isn’t surprising at all how well-behaved they are.
In collared shirt is my uncle Tito and behind her is my aunt Bunny, siblings of my mom (who took all these photos with my phone). They’ve been doing apostolate work ever since I can remember, and Duyan ni Maria is one of the places they visit to bring food and do tutoring. The lady in purple is Sister Vicky, who helps Sister Alex to manage the place. They kept thanking us profusely for coming over but what they gave me is far more precious.
Graduation. Learning enough to take you to the next level. I graduated many summers ago and each summer I turn a year older, but if I were to be honest, this year is the first time in a long while that I actually felt it. :)
Just something for the summer. Been going on drives with my loved ones to nearby places that I haven’t been to in a while. Looking forward to more of these this year :)
Hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far! ♥
The day started with a migraine attack. Those who’ve seen me with one, know how bad it gets every time. All I see are blinding flashes of light for a half-hour, my limbs go numb, and unless I take meds, I throw up from the pain. Not a pretty sight, and definitely not a pleasant experience. Pretty traumatizing in fact that when I feel one coming on, I panic. But this time felt different—like nothing could stop me. I was excited to get to work!
Work meant going to the press junket for actress Troian Bellisario who plays Spencer Hastings on “Pretty Little Liars.” She was in town with her boyfriend, Patrick J. Adams, who plays Mike Ross on “Suits.” While I don’t follow “PLL” as religiously as “Suits,” I watch it for Troian. I find her beautiful, smart, independent and whole, a kind of girl I strive to be. Ever since I knew about them individually and as a couple, I’ve wanted to meet them.
So as soon as my vision returned, I drove as fast (and carefully) as I could from Pampanga to Quezon City, where my friend Abi joined me. She took over the wheel so I could do my makeup and try to fix my hair—in the end though, I just let it fall however it wanted. Haha.
My nails have been craving for servicing, too. I’d been practicing on the ukulele and I thought a manicure would be counter-productive. Heh. Just hoped the skirt, clutch and bracelets made up for it.
Thanks to a throbbing head and lack of prep, we arrived late at Marriott Hotel where the junket was being held. Now I admit, sometimes I can be a worrier and panic when things don’t go my way. But for some reason, the idea that I went through all that trouble and drove a hundred kilometers for nothing wasn’t bothering me one bit. Somehow, I felt like things were still going to be great.
And I was right. A few minutes later, I was taking Instagram photos with Troian and taking a video of Patrick saying hi to me.
Plus this awesome video of him greeting me on my birthday.