"What is essential is invisible to the eye." Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s words (let alone his name) weren’t easy to spell out for me as a seven-year old reading "The Little Prince." Of course, through the years we come to realize that the seemingly simple, innocent, unassuming stories of our childhood turn out to be filled with meaning. And on essence, Saint-Exupéry couldn’t have made more sense.
I’ve written about the five elements that make up everything around us: the essences of the physical world. At the launch of jewelry brand Pandora’s Essence Collection February 26, it was all about the elements that make up the essence of womanhood.
What they’re made of, from left to right. Above: synthetic ruby, oxidized sterling silver, shiny sterling silver, lapis lazuli, milky quartz, cubic zirconia, smoky quartz, cubic zirconia, amethyst, cubic zirconia, carnelian. Below: rose pink moonstone, synthetic hematite, magnesite, grey moonstone, sterling silver with tree bark texture, sterling silver with Mandala pattern, faceted sterling silver, cubic zirconia, green aventurine, aquamarine, smooth sterling silver, black spinel.
The inspiration: “Throughout history, women continually ask and search for meaning in their lives. Today, more than ever, projected truths about happiness and contentment are shallow. Rather, there is a yearning for deeper meanings and true values that can define us and, in turn, show the world who we really are.” And to give meaning to this new collection, the brand chose four Filipinas whose stories are revealed through the values that made them the women they are.
There’s model and host Kim Jones whom I met while producing for “Etcetera.” Entrepreneur Amina Aranaz-Alunan who was with Chalk when I wrote for the magazine, and whom I’ve interviewed for her Aranaz bags, School of Fashion and the Arts, and Rags2Riches. Lawyer and host Karen Jimeno-McBride who holds three degrees including a Master of Law in Harvard Law School and juggles eight jobs. And prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, whose passion for the dance arts is unrivalled. Together with my friend Krista Garcia of Rappler, I got to sit down with them before the show on the charms they chose as women of essence. Portraits by Ramon Tan Mangila of PIx Republik.
Kim: Love, Faith, Happiness. “They work so well together. Obviously it’s a season in my life where all of these are coming into play right now, with the [upcoming] wedding [to actor Jericho Rosales], and faith is my foundation in my life. And when I saw that they had these, it was just the perfect combination of all three.”
Amina: Prosperity, Peace, Joy. “It’s when I have a vision of what I want to to do and achieve. When I see it, I work at it. When I pursue a dream, idea, when I see it happening, flourishing, when I see other people benefiting from it, enjoying it, being able to pursue their own goals and dreams through what I started dreaming of.”
Karen: Wisdom, Confidence, Energy. “They’re what’s really appropriate in my profession. Knowing that I’ve equipped myself with the skills I need to pursue my goals gives me confidence, but then it’s complimented by wisdom which is recognizing that you don’t know everything. There are a lot of things you don’t learn by just going to school—a lot comes from actual life experiences. I juggle six to eight jobs and it requires a lot of energy. My most important job, however, is being a good wife, daughter, sibling and friend.”
Lisa: Hope, Strength, Passion. “Passion is dance, and ballet. It’s my whole life and it’s what’s driven me this far, up to now in my old age. Strength—not just physical but spiritual and mental strength that comes with the discipline, it comes with the work ethics and everything that is involved with keeping it together. Hope, because what is life without hope? I have always been a very optimistic, positive person. I’ve always been someone that looks up at the bright side of any situation and how you can move forward and how you can keep on improving.”
Working together with Krista on the interviews was a fun throwback to our time as co-producers in ETC. I get many event invites, but these days, I only get to attend a special few. For an afternoon of style and substance at this launch, I’m glad I went with someone who possesses equal amounts of both.
Some of us were given our own sterling silver bracelet. I thought it fitting that Pandora is Greek for “all-gifted.”
In the show was this beautiful tree with fruits hanging.
Bearing the names of the 24 essences in the collection, the fruits were ripe for the picking, so to speak. Everyone with a bracelet was asked to go up to the tree and pick one.
I spotted a few: Courage, Happiness, Trust, Loyalty, yet for some reason, I kept searching for the essence that would speak to me. And then, hanging in its lonesome was this. Stability. One of the best gifts I’ve received and have been happily working to keep.
Host Angel Jacob then revealed a beautiful twist: we would be going home with the charm representing the essence we chose.
Krista picked Happiness. On the box: “Happiness. Let the feeling fill you, body and soul.” Perfect for her easygoing personality.
On the box: “Stability. An inner foundation that supports all that comes.” 24 cubic zirconia stones form an unbroken circle of sparkling stones that expresses the importance of stability in life.
That makes two Pandora bracelets for me! I absolutely love how dainty they look, even when stacked together. More importantly, I love how each one of these charms has an embedded essence.
Some ways to style the charms. Maybe someday!
What I wore. I’ve worn this dress before and I wanted to show how accessories, hairstyle and shoes can change a look despite wearing the same piece. And yes, this color is a favorite. Lace halter skater dress, Crazy Over Daisies. Peep-toe heels, Janylin. Bag, Nine West. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.
Today is one of the most polarizing universal holidays. Love on a normal day is equal parts bewildering, captivating and frustrating as it is; on Valentine’s Day, whatever effects it has on a person is magnified a hundredfold—single or not, happily taken or secretly, miserably so.
I must admit that when I was younger (and thus more prone to angst), I wasn’t the biggest fan of February 14th. Sure, I was a hopeless romantic—still am, but it’s also why. I felt that Valentine’s Day tends to become a vehicle for lip service and phony, seasonal gestures of love, done more out of obligation and peer pressure rather than sincere intentions.
During last year’s experience though, I realized it wasn’t so much the overcommercialized Valentine packages, the illicit competition among coupled-up friends trying to outdo each others’ gifts, or the woe-is-me posts of the single and uncommitted my newsfeed is inundated by.
Last year, I got to experience Valentine’s the way I never have before, and it has helped immensely in how I view it now. I still remember vividly how my mom and dad drove me all the way from Pampanga to Manila so I could attend a brainstorming with my co-producers at the “Etcetera” office. The meeting (and my angst-ridden reverie) was interrupted by a knock on the conference room door: a rose, a grande Green Tea frap with generous sprinkles of chocolate powder on top, and a love letter from one of my best friends, Joanne. After work, my parents and I went to dinner and I got a second rose from my dad.
Those gestures were so simple, but felt as if a switch had been flicked on within me that made me see the light after twenty-something years of self-aware existence. Valentine’s Day wasn’t as trite, overrated, banal or clichéd as I’ve used to view it, after all: it was simply that I had been looking for the fulfilment it brings, in strictly romantic terms. And as I’ve gotten to learn to my utter benefit this year, romance tends to be the kind of love quickest to fade, while friendship endures so much more.
In the beginning of last year, I felt like it wasn’t going to be my time. Everything I wished for, planned for, invested in, and forced myself to believe in was gone in a snap, and all I really hoped for then was to feel less miserable than I did. With expectations at an all-time low, I got the surprise of my life when, from that Valentine’s Day all the way up to today, all kinds of love started to pour in and turned my life around.
This year, all the clichés and tired expressions have real meaning. I see how true it is that giving feels better than receiving—I’ve been receiving so much, and it’s when I get to pay kindness forward that the feeling of gratitude comes full circle. How true it is that you can’t give what you don’t have, or teach what you don’t know. How true it is that real love is friendship: looking after a person’s well-being and happiness while having enough self-worth to know what you deserve. Now I do. :)
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. Warm hugs from Olaf!
Some say 2013 was a rollercoaster. For me, it was an uphill ride. Here are my top 10 posts why.
10. Starting Over [link]
It is never a walk in the park to find out that someone you trusted and loved has been betraying you in every way imaginable for half of your three-year relationship. The pain, humiliation and anger are enough to reduce even the best of people into a shrivelling mess. But it’s the messy breakups that turn out to be our redemption. We are saved from people and situations that were never worth it from the start, and freed from having to be stuck with them for longer. It’s like spring cleaning: we throw away what’s broken and rotten, and when we get rid of trash, we make room for everything beautiful that we deserve. I will always consider this to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.
9. Meeting Troian [link]
"Days like these remind me that we must appreciate the small victories, the baby steps we are able to take towards becoming our better selves. And that, when things are meant to be, they will fall into place without us having to exhaust ourselves in struggle." This was the day I drove 85 kilometers to see Troian Bellisario and Patrick J. Adams in the flesh. I got an interview and a photo with her, and I got this and a birthday greeting from him. As a fan of Suits, Pretty Little Liars, and these two, this post makes it to the highlights of 2013. What made it more special are my two best friends, Joanne (who made the videos possible) and Abi (who drove half the way, waited with me and took photos).
8. Graduation [link]
Written after my brother’s college graduation and my birthday celebration at a home for orphaned and street children. Coming back to Ateneo to attend the ceremony, and listening to the messages of Cardinal Tagle and the professors and Jesuits I admired, brought back memories of my late teens and early twenties and of the ideals and values I hoped to live by back then but had forgotten through the years. They say our lessons will repeat themselves until we learn them, and I realized just how true this was. Needless to say, it wasn’t just my brother who graduated that day.
7. Dive, Don’t Drown [link]
Few events are more life-changing for me than this. For one, I took swimming lessons thrice and failed. I can swim when the water is shallow enough that I can stand up in the pool… which is to say that I can’t. I’m not a beach person, either. I don’t even own a bikini. But my best friends Joanne (a wanderlust with a thirst for new experiences) and Magel (a certified diver and avid adventurer) have been urging me to try things I’ve never done before, and one crazy day, I found myself telling them I wanted to dive. I conquered my fears, found a new friend in an amazing person, and discovered new things about myself. I actually love the sea! I’m ready for that fourth attempt at swimming lessons.
6. Transition [link]
I have a pretty accurate read of a person from my first conversation with them, regardless of whether they’re being real or not. I turn out almost always right. Despite this, I found myself in toxic relationships left and right. I didn’t feel comfortable with myself, compromised my values for majority approval, traded secrets with and confided in people who I knew deep inside weren’t listening with genuine intentions. Afraid to break away and burn bridges, I chose to participate. When I wrote this post, I was seeing the consequences of this choice. I was able to see which were my friends for as long as they had something to gain, which ones left without hearing me out, which ones were afraid to rock the boat standing by me, and which friends truly cared how I was, asked what happened, reprimanded me for my mistakes and loved me anyway. They’re the ones I have with me now.
5. Skinny Love [link]
Thoughts at a Coffee Bean while Birdy’s version was playing. “All we really want, deep down inside, is to be loved… But are we really willing to make do with a love founded on co-dependency than none at all? A love of two halves desperate to have someone complete them at the cost of losing their individuality? Skinny, undernourished, lightweight love? When you’ve had one too many, you tire of chasing after a kind of love that is bound to last only so long as the novelty and euphoria of the feeling is there. You resolve that this time around, you will love yourself first… that perhaps, when you are whole and with so much to give, another whole will come by when you least expect it.”
4. Charmed [link]
Reflections on being twenty-something, and wearing a charm bracelet for the first time. “The cross with heart to be reminded of the One who makes all things possible and beautiful. The flower, as a reminder to bloom where I am planted, and my birthstone aquamarine (March) as a reminder that we are born for a purpose, and it is up to us to seek and fulfill it… Two turquoise beads to represent sea and sky, because adventure is out there! The white hearts to represent pure love—what I believe in and look forward to finding, feeling and keeping.”
3. Wildcard [link]
Baseball caps were all the rage this year, so the sport became a springboard for this post. “In many other sports and competitions, it essentially means the same thing: a second ‘in,’ a chance to redeem oneself despite failing to make it under normal circumstances. Many times in life too, we only either win or lose. And when we lose, there’s no going back. But every now and then, wildcard opportunities present themselves and offer a way back in… This time, we know so much better… We are more than ready. This is why many wildcards end up as winners.”
2. Autumn [link]
I have a fascination for the five elements and the four seasons. This post is a conclusion to the parallels I made between the seasons and the events of this year. “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.”
1. In Order To Bloom, You Have To Pull Out The Weeds [link]
A celebration of the outpouring of blessings that has come my way. “I look at the vast garden of people who have helped me blossom throughout the past year. Family, old friends, new friends, old colleagues who knew better than to believe fabricated lies, new work colleagues in a new industry filled with intelligent, mature and accomplished individuals. People who heard all sides but didn’t take sides, saw the mishaps and saw me through the mistakes, gave me a tough time out of tough love, and stayed throughout everything. The happiness and contentment I feel today is for and because of them.”
To everyone who has touched my life this year, please know that I think of you every day and I thank you and wish you all the happiness in the world. You have made 2013 the best year ever, and it can only get even better next year. Happy New Year! ♥
All the love,
Been in love with this Bon Iver song from the first listen. It’s about being “in a relationship because you need help, but that’s not necessarily why you should be in a relationship. And that’s why it’s skinny. It doesn’t have weight. Skinny love doesn’t have a chance because it’s not nourished,” in the own words of artist Justin Vernon. I can’t decide which of three versions I love the most: original with lyrics here, version by 16-year-old singer/pianist Birdy here, live acoustic version by British cutie Ed Sheeran here.
I hosted an advanced movie screening event of ETC Channel and I wore this tongue-in-cheek because it was a comedy-horror film. (End of outfit post. Lol just kidding) Not much of a story there. I usually go into my blog posts with pictures first, and then figure out what to write when I write. My mom and I shot these a few weeks back, but I didn’t really know what to do with skulls and crossbones. Today, I just felt like uploading them with no direction whatsoever when “Skinny Love” played on my iTunes. Just then, everything clicked. The words—the lyrics and Justin Vernon’s explanation of them—reverberated in my head. “Come on, skinny love, just last the year… I told you to be patient and I told you to be fine. And I told you to be balanced and I told you to be kind. In the morning I’ll be with you but it will be a different kind… Who will love you? Who will fight?”
We’ve all been there—not just once, not just twice, maybe more times than we could care to count. Whoever we are, however beautiful or strong or intelligent or successful we may be, we have one thing in common with the rest of humanity: all we really want, deep down inside, is to be loved. To be affirmed, cared for, needed, adored. To feel like another person would not want to go on without us. But are we really willing to make do with a love founded on co-dependency than none at all? A toxic, pharmaceutical kind of love that only takes away the symptoms of loneliness and longing but never cures the underlying disease that brings it? A love of two halves desperate to have someone complete them at the cost of losing their individuality? Skinny, undernourished, lightweight love?
When you’ve had one too many, you tire of chasing after a kind of love that is bound to last only so long as the novelty and euphoria of the feeling is there. You resolve that this time around, you will love yourself first. You appreciate a life free of complications and restrictions and having to mold yourself into someone else’s cookie cutter, and having to do the same for them. You hope to only be with someone you can be better with, but not change for. You promise yourself that you would not fall into the trappings of love until you are whole. You tell yourself that perhaps, when you are whole and with so much to give, another whole will come by when you least expect it, and you will be together not because you can’t live without each other, but because you don’t want to.
I do. :)
Outfit details: Binkydoodles sheer top, Marithe+Francois Girbaud jeans, Parisian booties, SM Accessories bracelet.
Worn on a day of interviews and meetings, in between which were dates with loved ones. I’ve found that squeezing in time for family and friends always makes stressful days seem brighter and more exciting.
Can you believe that we’re halfway through the year already? It seems just like yesterday when we were filled with apprehensions (both realistic and Mayanistic, heh) about how 2012 would end. The past six months have brought so many welcome changes—way better than anything I could have ever expected back then.
One of these is a solid and opportune semi-shift in career. I’d rather get into it when everything has been settled. What I can say for now is that I’ve always thought I had my career goals mapped out: I knew exactly what I wanted and how to get there. But sometimes, we come upon crossroads and unknowingly take a path that goes in circles. And when we think we’re being thrown off-track, it turns out that we’re simply being re-placed on the path we should’ve been on in the first place. Our steps become surer and things become clearer, and on the horizon, that which we’ve always aspired seems even closer.
…And then we look back one last time, and it’s forward on from there. :)
They say it’s not always sunshine and roses, but when you’re surrounded by happy and loving people, the storm can bring its thunderous gloom and heaviest downpour and your spirits will never be doused. ♥
Outfit details: Flights of Fancy top, Redhead bodycon skirt, Asian Vogue pumps, XOXO wristwatch, SM Accessories necklace and purse, Japanese Candy contact lenses. Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here. Follow me @shailagarde on Twitter and Instagram!
Impromptu one-take before bed. Yep, use it or lose it—rusty pipes from a few years of dormancy. Time to flex ‘em vocal muscles again. :) Video requested by my brother Vince’s girlfriend, Winona. It’s their birthdays on June 18th. ♥
A hark back to circa 2009 when I was doing TV production full-time. Had this vest-over-tank top with wristband and sneakers thing going on, and would often be mistaken for someone who plays in a band—specifically bass, for some odd reason.
Would it that I were. The only time I’ve ever been in a band was for a few weeks in senior high school, and only to fill in for a friend who got sick. Plus it was for vocals; I’m fine with YouTube covers but for legit performances, the only instrument I’d be comfortable enough to play would be air guitar.
Band or no band, music has always been a profound part of my life. My mom still has cassette recordings of 3-year-old me singing everything from Whitney Houston to Francis M, as well as little snippets of my grade school “compositions” (i.e. some words strung together haphazardly mostly to make them end in rhymes, sung to a pretty generic melody). Every highlight of my life, every person that bears making a memory of, has their own OST. Strangely enough, in the past couple of years, I had stopped singing, even in private. I barely listened to music by my own choice or for its sheer pleasure. If you checked my iPhone then, there was, as Siri snootily observed, “nothing in your Music library, just… silence.” If you are what you listen to, I was… how shall we put it? Vacant.
I finally got out of that laughable atrocity and got my groove back this year. It feels fascinating to be reunited with the gallimaufry of beats that once occupied my playlists and my soul. I will not use the word “eclectic” for the same reason I avoid the word “bipolar," and say instead that you’ll find Armstrong and Sinatra and Fitzgerald with their contemporaries from the swing band era along with the earnest riffs of Cash, Chapman and Mayer, the anthems of Marley, Queen and Journey (way, way, way before Glee, thanks to my dad) along with the happy comfort of Hillsong United, Manoling Francisco and Velvet Underground, and the sweeping symphonies of centuries-old Tchaikovsky, Bach and Beethoven along with movie soundtracks and Top 40 hits of recent billboard charts. I’ve started singing again. In the shower, while driving, at karaoke, in front of crowds, on YouTube. I’ve also gone back to self-learning basic music. Could girl-in-a-band turn from mistaken assumption into reality? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
Outfit details: Landmark tank top, YRYS vest, Human skirt, SM Accessories cuff.
Sometimes, things happen that temporarily suspend our ability to think straight. People we value do us wrong, throw away our love and friendship. Intoxicated by their betrayal, we find ourselves making poor choices, moving away from who we are and compromising the values we grew up with. We end up acting on our heightened emotions, forgetting that wanting to cause pain to people who hurt us will do nothing to ease our own pain.
Dress from Bangkok, maxi skirt from The Catwalk. Freshlook Illuminate one-day contact lenses from Sarabia Optical Rockwell. Lookbook // Chictopia
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! ♥
In March 2010 started a love story eight years in the making. Seph and I met in 2002 through my cousin Jeru, his best friend of 11 years. Through those years we were always just along the borders of each other’s lives, crossing paths every now and then in between relationships, keeping in touch and losing touch and finally finding each other many years and lessons later.
When we did, we were so sure we had both been prepared for this. That there must have been a reason we weren’t brought together eight years ago; that we were meant to first grow and learn from past mistakes. Things fell into place almost cosmically: the chemistry effortless, the connection unbreakable, everyone’s love and support overwhelming. This is what we’ve been waiting our whole lives for, we thought.
It’s been our joy sharing our story with you through this blog—our passions, hopes, milestones and memories. Love Chic has not only been a celebration of our love for fashion, but of love. Of two people whose bond is so strong that one can feel or think what the other feels or thinks without saying a word. Two people with so much in common it’s like they’ve known each other all their lives. Whose differences are so complementary that when their strengths and weaknesses combine, they’re unstoppable. Two people who have made cynics believe that true love is real after all.
But love as a feeling is never enough. Falling in love is the easiest thing, while staying in love requires commitment. It takes two; not one, not three, to make a relationship work. As it turns out, the worst fears and gut feelings I’ve been having for a while were real: Seph and I have stopped moving together in this direction. The things that were supposed to be just between the two of us—secrets, plans, dreams, problems, were no longer just between the two of us.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, our story has come to an end.
They say fight for what’s yours. Give it your all. But when it turns out it has no longer been yours for over a year now, you can fight and give with all you’ve got and it won’t make the slightest difference.
When that happens, all you can do is forgive, and move on. Be grateful for what happened, and have faith that things can only get better.
From here on, Seph is leaving Love Chic to me. There will be changes, but with the same name and aim of inspiring young people to be their best and confident selves. We hope you’ll continue to be supportive of us even as we go our own ways.
Made this on our anniversary to celebrate our story. It’s time to let it go. :)
To everyone who stood by us from the very beginning, when we were starting out with webcam photos on Facebook albums. To everyone who read our first blog posts and watched our first videos. To everyone who came by our talks, wrote to Dear Love Chic, dropped by our bazaar booths, watched our guestings, and read our features. To everyone who showed their faith in us, who looked up to us and made us feel like we were doing something right. To everyone who loved Love Chic, and sephshai.
It’s been a while since our last blog post! A lot of changes have been afoot. Change, we often hear, is the only thing that’s ever constant. The only thing that follows a pattern. At first, resistance; and fear of tipping the balance. Of rearranging anything.
And then, enough courage to embrace the reality that what has been comfortable, what’s easy, isn’t always what’s right.
Enough courage is mustered to face whatever must happen head on, with a sound mind and a willful heart.
Before we know it, the inevitable arrives: we learn to bend with the wind. We learn to swim with the current.
And we come to realize that just because things can’t stay the same, doesn’t mean that they were good enough before; doesn’t mean that they can’t get any better. Because they can. And they will. We just have to have faith in fate. ♥
This week’s cheap finds for both guys and girls come in bright, bright red. SM Accessories bag, Quirkypedia eyeglasses, The Belle Soeurs bangles. All you really need to accessorize any simple outfit—probably best to avoid same-color clothes and shoes though.
Taken with Instagram - @shailagarde
SM Accessories shades and bracelets, Quirkypedia eyeglasses. It’s rare for me to find men’s accessories in red that aren’t too rugged or too loud, so whenever I find something casual and sleek, I make sure to grab it. Best worn with just shirt and jeans for an easy vibe.
Taken with Instagram - @sephcham
Yes, you can pick random stuff from your closet, tie your hair haphazardly, wear no makeup and still blog about it. Blind Clothing floral dress, Ziggy & Zooey zebra print flats, Martina-Martina tribal-inspired necklace, Chemistry bangles. Hype this on Lookbook here.