It can’t be helped that we tend to view things from the perspective of the majority. This is what works, this is what should be, this is the accepted practice, this is the norm. The standard.
It also can’t be helped that despite what we know better, sometimes we succumb and view ourselves from this same perspective. Am I—the clothes I wear, the things I accomplish, the talents I possess, the company I keep—good enough, from this perspective?
And therein lies all the self-doubt and insecurity and failure to see things properly. We become so engrossed in what they say we should know, not what we already know. When we pit ourselves against others in a game of Who’s Better, we never win.
I’ve experienced this so many times growing up that I can’t even count the incidents. I’m a bit like Mike Ross of Suits, however, in that I can remember in vivid detail the littlest details from the past, all the way from when I was three. Let’s go as far back as pre-school.
I was the youngest, and everyone else was painting their eggshell mosaic in the basic shades that came with the watercolor palette. I mixed some colors in mine, so my mosaic looked different. Though my work got hung on the bulletin board, I resorted to using basic colors for the next project to make them stop calling me weird. Another time when I was seven, the teacher taped a “King David” card on the blackboard, with a dozen random words on the other side. We were to pick a word that describes King David and place it around his name. I raised my hand, got my turn, and picked “ruler.” I was promptly laughed at and told that rulers are school supplies.
I could go on and on, but the point is, the more I tried back then to be on the same plane as the rest of them, the more I felt the disconnect. It was quite the struggle, trying to find your place while trying to not be out of place, as you may have felt too.
Still reveling in this lovely weather. What better way to do so than with layered knits and boots?
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 spring 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.
The birthstone for March. I also wore it with this sporty outfit.
Hype this above and vote on Chictopia here.
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.
Hello! After another fun week out of town for work, I’m back with a new blog post—a hot “The Killers in Manila” tickets giveaway! Read on to find out how you can score them.
One of their songs that I really like is “Smile Like You Mean It,” for when things don’t go the way we expect. It’s a catchy tune for a somber self-reminder to try and muster a smile no matter what curveballs life throws our way. To always look on the bright side. For me, The Killers really killed it (hehe) with that one.
It may seem simplistic and clichéd, but it really does work. Studies have been made that show that when you smile, even when you don’t necessarily feel like smiling, your facial muscles send signals to your brain that you are feeling happy.
Your brain then releases chemicals that in turn makes you genuinely feel better about whatever it is that’s bothering you, and your mood gets turned around.
It’s one of the few instances when it’s okay to “fake it ‘til you make it.” So go ahead and smile! It’s not known all over the world as the universal best medicine for nothing. Speaking of which, here’s something to smile about. Who wants tickets?
The Killers performs on Thursday, September 26th at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and I’m giving away free passes to three (3) lucky winners, courtesy of SM Accessories. One gets a VIP ticket, while two readers each get an Upperbox A ticket.
I write this from the balcony of my hotel room overlooking a ridge whereupon bright city lights are sprawled as far as the eye could see, twinkling and substituting for the stars that have opted to go into hiding this rainy night. The breeze is the kind of cold that makes you long for a warm embrace or a fluffy hoodie (I have the latter), and ever so slightly smells of pine trees. Today was 11 hours of being on the road for ocular visits and meetings here in Cagayan de Oro, but I don’t feel tired at all.
Let me tell you a secret—well, it’s not so secret actually. I can be quite stubborn when it comes to pursuing my passions. I graduated X years ago, but this is my first full-time job. I’ve always seen corporate work as very rigid and constricting, compared to working freelance where there are no dress codes, no time records, no company memos to adhere to. You get to do what you want, when you feel like doing it, where you want to do it and in whatever outfit you please. Never mind that there isn’t much economic stability and career sustainability—so long as you’re happy and following your heart, right?
That was my mentality about pretty much everything else, not just career. So long as you follow your heart, everything else will fall in place. Inversely, if you do things you have to even when you don’t want to, your success won’t be as fulfilling. I saw it as a battle of the heart and the intellect, and I always wanted for the heart to win. But I’ve seen the glaring holes of this naive polarity in events of the past few years that it got me questioning. Does it really have to be one or the other? Can we not find a middle ground where we would be able to do the right thing as determined by the mind, and still be able to do the happy thing as determined by the heart?
As it turns out, of course we can. The confusion and frustration of not knowing which path to take, of waking up in the morning very unsure of our next step, of every uncertainty that comes with that familiar experience we all like to call quarter-life crisis… all of those things are not because we lack the skills, the knowledge, the experience or the clarity to find the answer to our questions. Chances are, the only thing we’ve been lacking all along is the willingness to listen to what that answer is.
My phone’s Viber just beeped: three messages. From my family’s group thread, my boss, and a friend, all asking about my day and telling me to rest well. The rain has mellowed down into a light drizzle. I can hear the drone of the TV in my room: Cesar Millan’s voice and the excited barking of small dogs. Except for these sounds and the humming of the airconditioning, everything is quiet on all fronts. How did it get from the noise and chaos of uncertainty to the peace and silence of clarity? I stopped being stubborn about always doing what I wanted, and tried this time to listen to my elders and do what I needed. I tried a path I never would’ve tried had events early this year not transpired.
That choice led me to a job where I get to do everything that I’ve always known I wanted to do since I was five: write, tell stories, shoot pictures and videos, travel. There is a dress code, but the women of Suits have been teaching me how to dress up for work, and it’s been fun. It’s a nine-to-six job, but even when I’m not traveling like this week, my boss encourages me to get out of my desk every now and then and do whatever I need to get my creative juices flowing. “Less bureaucratic. I trust you,” I was told. The pay and perks are more than enough to enable me to pursue all my other passions and still have a lot saved for the future. Working for a company that values God, family and work in that order results in office people being nice and contagiously positive. Above all, I no longer wake up in the morning not knowing where I’m headed. “I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.” :) It amazes me and my loved ones each day how much things in my life have changed for the infinite better, and if there’s anything I’d wish on others, it’s this same gift of clarity.
Look details: Philosophy top, Veva Deeluxe pencil skirt, Janylin peep-toe heels, Euphoria chain necklace and bracelets, SM Accessories ring, Nail It nails, Japanese Candy contact lenses. Hype on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.
Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @shailagarde! Feel free to share your own thoughts by posting a Disqus comment below :)
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. ♥
Philippine Independence Day, June 12th, has drawn to a close. I originally planned on precluding myself from writing about it, as I can be quite impassioned when delving into nationalistic topics. Instead, last night, I chose to wear love-of-country, titled it “Flagged,” completely veered away from touching on anything historically relevant, and promptly proceeded to give a rather vapid and unnecessary description of how the styling was a lighthearted tribute to our nation’s colors.
I figured that at best, chances are everyone’s news feeds have been inundated with reflections on the current state of the country and how nothing has really changed much from the times we were under rule, reflections and sentiments that are bound to last only until the 19th (Jose Rizal’s birthday). At worst, chances are it was just another holiday for many, a one-day respite from the rigors of every day life. Would it make a difference to try and stir up fervor in many a jaded heart?
But today I remembered Rizal’s words: “I die without seeing dawn’s light shining on my country… You, who will see it, welcome it for me. Don’t forget those who fell during the nighttime.” Like an itch you can’t help but scratch, I couldn’t shake off the unease that I seemed to be doing a disservice to a national holiday (barely) observed once a year. So I rewrite this in honor of those brave heroes, famed and unsung, who fought so hard to give the Philippines at least a semblance of freedom that day in 1898.
I say semblance not to undermine any of their efforts, but because had certain things been done differently by the nation’s policymakers at the time, things might have also turned out differently: as we are taught in History class, the Filipino revolutionaries led by Emilio Aguinaldo made this declaration of independence from the Spanish colonial rule on June 12th in his ancestral home in what is now Kawit, Cavite. The flag made by Marcela and Lorenza Agoncillo, together with Rizal’s niece Delfina Herbosa, was unfurled, and Julian Felipe’s Marcha Filipina Magdalo (what would later on be given Jose Palma’s words and turned into the melody of Lupang Hinirang) was played. Despite much pomp and circumstance though, neither Spain nor the United States recognized this declaration: Spain ceded the Philippines to America for $20 million in the Treaty of Paris. It marked the end of the Spanish-American war, and the beginning of the Philippine-American war.
In his El Fili, Rizal wrote that a man holds on to his independence when he retains his own way of thinking. My humble thoughts on this: I’m not a big fan of Aguinaldo. Heh. I’m writing this from memory and from discussions with my dad, and I will reserve the rest of my Aguinaldo stories for Bonifacio Day, but for June 12th, what I know is that after the Philippine revolution broke out in 1896, the Spanish entered into an agreement with the revolutionaries and Aguinaldo voluntarily went into exile in Hong Kong. He came back in May 1898 during the Spanish-American war after the defeat of Spain in the Battle of Manila Bay and enlisted a brilliant paralytic lawyer, Apolinario Mabini as his adviser. Mabini has said the declaration was premature and should involve the consensus of the majority. He was also against the fact that it placed the Philippines under American protection. But Aguinaldo insisted on establishing his “independent” dictatorial government, only to later on issue a statement accepting America’s sovereignty over the Philippines when he was captured. Centuries later and the stories still sound familiar, eh?
I guess this is why I get impassioned when talking about this. This country and its people can become so much more, can enjoy so many possibilities, if only we recognized everything that we are and everything that we have. If only we learned from our past and resolved to do things differently. If only our politicians listened more to our intellectuals: our Rizals and our Mabinis, taking into careful consideration their analyses and educated opinions. If only the small people and the soldiers and those working behind the scenes—the Agoncillos and Herbosas, were given as much importance as the grandstanding generals and leaders. If only these leaders sincerely considered the welfare of the vast majority in making their decisions. If only we held our country in a higher regard, loved ourselves a little bit more, and worked harder to uphold our dignity. Then, we could truly be a people with independence. ☼
Outfit details: Weekender top, custom skirt, CMG platform wedges, Anne Klein purse, SM Accessories necklace, belt and earrings, Japanese Candy contact lenses.
My mom, who among many other things is my photographer and hairstylist, helped me out with an updated version of your typical Filipiniana updo.
Save for the hair, I avoided the updated-Filipiniana look because that’s pretty much always done. Let me know your thoughts—whether about the topic or the outfit. I’d also love to hear how you would style your own tribute.
We all have those days when things just feel slightly off-kilter for no apparent reason. You wake up with a weird fluttering in your stomach, and it’s not caused by the previous night’s sushi nor the good morning text your crush just sent you. It’s a sinking feeling, the cause of which you can’t really pinpoint—or maybe you can, and it’s just these minor annoyances clumped up into a big stress ball. So how do you quash that feeling?
You look on the bright side of things. Yes, it sounds patronizingly trite, but it’s also tried and true. One of my best friends, Joanne, would always tell me something to that effect whenever I would go to her for things that bothered me. “Life is beautiful, Shai! I won’t allow you to wallow when there is so much to be thankful for!” I used to feel bad at how she wouldn’t join me in my life’s lamentations. When we’re young, we tend to shrug off these things and be oh-so-dramatic about our woes instead of choosing to be positive.
But then it occurred to me that she’s one of the happiest, perkiest persons in my life and thought I’d give her attitude of gratitude a sincere try. Whenever an imaginary dark cloud loomed, I would list down every single thing I’m thankful for. Not just the significant, mind-blowing, life-altering ones, but even the most mundane (the amount of milk I poured was just enough to finish my Koko Krunch, all the stoplights I passed today were green, the barista spelled my name right on the cup) and those we sometimes take for granted (I arrived at my day’s destination safely, the elevator didn’t get stuck while I was alone inside, the waiter brought me water without being asked).
It’s one of those practices that are childishly basic and stupefyingly logical, yet a struggle to get the hang of. There are times when writing down all those thank you’s feels like the last thing I want to do. But cliches are nothing if not notorious tenets of simple wisdom: the more I rebel against it, the deeper I sink into a rut. The more I keep at it, the better everything starts to seem. These days more than ever, I’ve come to know that while we will always be besieged with trials, we will also never run out of things to brighten our days once we start looking. ♥
Pinkaholic dress, Adidas Originals sneakers, SM Accessories shades and earrings, Hodge Podge pendant. A mix of things I don’t usually put on. Shades, lipstick, dangling earrings, a longer-than-usual shift dress and sneakers to go with all of it.
You know how it’s uncomfortable hearing the sound of your voice on a recording? That’s kind of how the first three are to me. I like when people see my eyes and sunglasses cover them up. I’ve braces on my lower teeth, and lipstick brings attention to that when I speak. Just as dangling earrings bring attention to the fact that my ears rather stick out. Haha.
I usually prefer wearing elaborate necklaces with shift dresses, and leave the more casual pendants like these to when I’m wearing basic shirts. I also never wear necklaces with earrings together; it’s either just one or the other.
When it comes to dresses, I don’t like wearing huge prints. I like the length either really short or really long; never near the knees, especially when I’m wearing flat shoes because I’m not that tall and this gets highlighted by all these things.
And with that, I have just given away some of my nifty tricks for emphasizing one’s favorite features and bringing attention away from the opposite. Except I broke all of them.
But that’s okay. Once in a while, we all gotta step out of our comfort zones.
Whether it’s with small things like wearing things we normally wouldn’t, or with bigger ones like doing what we thought we couldn’t, trying something new leaves us feeling great about ourselves. The initial feeling of unease eventually leads to a sense of accomplishment. Instead of caring what other people think or say of us, we went ahead and freed ourselves of the limits we previously imposed.
A few days ago, my friend Anton challenged me to do one thing every day that’s out of the box. It doesn’t matter what it is, he said, as long as it’s something the old me wouldn’t have done. It’s been a helpful and happy exercise, so I’m sharing it in case you want to try it too. Let me know how it goes! :)
Hype this: Lookbook / Chictopia
Titled because Run D.M.C. is a hip-hop group from Queens, and because my best friend Lester lives there. This outfit is inspired by the street photos he sends me every day of stylish people and interesting scenes he comes across. It’s part-torture and part-motivation; before this year ends, I aim to finally see New York in person.
Giordano released a line of colorful shorts for the summer and I picked out this light blue. It can Iook denim, cotton or chambray, depending on the piece it’s paired with.
Got this button-down from Giordano in Hong Kong just because it was on sale when we went, but I think the Manila stores also have it.
Thought I’d throw in a couple of non-poses. Haha. My mom continued clicking the shutter while I was taking off the button-down.
Yes. On some days there’s many an awkward stance and last-minute clothes-fixing before arriving at a fairly decent shot.
I’d love to know how you’d style this look differently. Maybe with sneakers instead of platforms, change the hair, choose another color button-down? Or we could just chat about whatever. How was your Labor Day holiday? Have you ever been to NYC? Do you like Run D.M.C.? Why is it so hot? Drop me a line here or leave a comment below :)
As you may or may have not noticed in the first and second, there’s an undercurrent of green in this trilogy. I took it upon myself to work with three musts. First, the outfits must be from pieces I already own (you’ll see this dress in a future post; I wore it on the HK/Macau holiday). Second, the outfits must call to mind words like summer, fresh, carefree, happy and young. And third, I must not take more than three hours from styling, to makeup and hair, to shooting everything. I like playing little games like that. Haha.
I was able to put together and shoot all three in one afternoon, and my awesome photographer (Hi Mama!) did an amazing job as usual. It was quick and so much fun!
Don’t let the height of these lace-wrapped wedges fool you. They’re quite easy to walk in! I tried dancing in them as well and I think with a little more practice, they’re a good enough compromise for the vertically challenged who don’t want to wear flats to the festival.
Let me know what you have in mind for your Summer Solstice outfit, or ask me style-related questions, here! Oh, and which one’s your favorite among the three? :)
As I write this, the A/C and fan are on full throttle and bright sunlight gashes through the window despite the blinds being drawn. Seems like summer doesn’t just want its presence felt; it wants us to be looking it in the eye. Lol.
No complaints there, though. It’s the best time to be donning breezy outfits, few accessories and barely-there makeup. Forever21 dress, SM Accessories, Parisian shoes.
Coinciding with the coming of summer is the coming here of one of today’s hottest actors, “Hunger Games” star and newest Bench endorser Liam Hemsworth. This is what I wore his lunch tête-à-tête with the media a few weeks back.
Here’s what went down with the hottie from Down Under as he talked “Hunger Games,” action films, beating up Thor and men’s fashion.
Shot with my DSLR on my right hand while my left hand was shooting with my iPhone (just to be sure). Haha! Just think of the shakiness and un-enhanced audio as your way of feeling like you were actually in the room—it was utter and enjoyable chaos.
I’ve loved “Suits” from the moment I watched the plug for its pilot episode. I’ve seen each episode at least eight times! Haha. I grew up with lawyers in the family, and I’ve been into law series for years but “Suits” is the first time I could relate to each character: their good side inspires me to do better, their bad side inspires me to learn from mistakes and do better. I’m especially enamored with the women on the show: not just because of the way they power-dress, but more because of their strength and beauty.
I rarely do work wear as my jobs don’t require it, but lately I’ve been playing dress up with my little sister’s wardrobe, pretending I’m Rachel or any of those girls on “Suits.” Sure, they’re just TV characters, but I’d love to be like them (and okay, get to meet someone like Harvey Specter) in real life. How they constantly push themselves and strive to be the best in what they do, and how they display grace under pressure and maintain their sense of humor even under duress.
And speaking of Suits, Mike Ross himself has taped a video greeting for my upcoming birthday, which is pretty awesome:
Many thanks to my dear friend Joanne Pecson for this!
Best thing about this season? You can wear your favorite hues and pretty much get away with it. I just love color!
This is what I wore to a casual meeting today. Since it was a hot afternoon, I thought I’d go all summery chic, wear a lot of brights and bare a little skin.
Speaking of bare, I didn’t have the time or patience to do full-on makeup, so I just brushed on a little blush, put on some red lipstick and left the rest of my face alone. There’s a lot going on in my outfit already, plus sunnies make great concealers anyway. Haha.
Pulled my hair into a messy bun because it’s the easiest lazy hair style to pull off, especially when your hair is the naturally wavy type that doesn’t like to be combed.
I was never a fan of sunny days, but I noticed that a lot of the things I used to like and not like have been evolving. Lately, I’ve been thinking of the sun as something to look forward to.