Love Chic

Korea Diaries: Day 1

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안녕! Back on the grind after a delightful week of spring flowers and 12-degree weather in South Korea. I’m sitting on the front porch of the hanok (traditional Korean house) of Moon Guest House in Unni-dong (dong means “neighborhood”), where my family and I stayed on our first night in Seoul.

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The hanok is owned and maintained by Anna’s family. It was built by her grandfather, a nobleman, 50 years ago, and they welcome guests (including K-pop stars like Exo!) here who want to experience traditional Korean culture.

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Cool Change

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Quick shoot at the airport before my trip to Seoul yesterday afternoon. It’s 8 degrees here when we arrived at night, but of course I couldn’t wear my jacket yet in the sweltering heat of Manila, heh. 

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A lot of firsts come with this, like the first time to (finally!) visit a favorite city, first time to travel with the whole family including cousins, and my first time out of the country on Holy Week.

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They say Lent comes in tandem with conversion—a change in attitudes, mindset, or principles. Sometimes, the change is temporary, like not eating meat or going on Facebook. Other times, the change is as profound as forming a new habit or subscribing to a different way of doing things. 

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The Simple Things

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Hello! Finally a blog post after what seems like forever. I noticed some new names added to the followers list—welcome! Thank you for deeming this little space worthy of clicking that Follow button. It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, so let’s ease in my “comeback” with something light and easy in lieu of my occasional thought-heavy posts.

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What’s Your Essence?

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"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.

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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.

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Wear these to your school dance

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I was asked by Beautybook to write about what to wear to Prom (or Grad Ball, or whatever you call your high school dance). Instead of just an article, I decided to take on the challenge myself: put together a head-to-toe look on a student-friendly budget.

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I started around 10 o’clock in the morning and gave myself until the afternoon to cram everything, and this is what I came up with. And since I have no dance to go to, I’m giving away this dress as a personal gift to my high school readers. Read more for details.

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You can find better

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I love my job. I get to do the things I liked doing as a freelancer, but on a paycheck that allows me to spend on myself, my loved ones, and those who could use a little push, as a way to pay it forward.

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It’s not just the material rewards though, or the opportunities for traveling and learning from successful industry leaders and inspiring innovators who care more about substance and less about shallow popularity contests. It’s not just about the flexible lifestyle it has afforded me, or the mentors and friends I’ve gotten to meet who helped reinstate values and virtues I seemed to have forgotten about. Sure, the benefits are awesome. But I love my job for what it represents.

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Let It Go: False love

It’s been a while since my last Disney cover. Let’s kick things off with this. :)

"Frozen" is easily my favorite Disney movie. Sure, it is funny, and heartfelt, and is quite the antithesis to old-school Disney princess movies which quite frankly I am not a fan of. But more than these, the movie goes against the miseducation of girls everywhere that a man’s love is all they could wish for, all they should work for, all they would need to live happily ever after. It puts forth what true love means: not kissing someone asleep (or poisoned to death) because you were struck by their beauty, not dancing with someone all night and then deciding you want to marry them just because they were the prettiest glass-heeled girl in the ball, not pretending to be a prince when you’re really a street rat, or pretending to be human when you’re really a mermaid, just to be liked by the other person.
   
True love is searching for your own identity, seeing what you’re capable of and accepting yourself regardless of what others expect from you. It is persevering, knocking on someone’s door for as many times as it takes for them to open their heart. It is, as Olaf says, putting one’s needs before yours in sacrifice. It is the love of family, of real friends who appreciate you for all that you are. When you have this, there’s no need to be afraid, to care what others are going to say, to fear rejection or judgment. True love is what remains when even the charming prince turns out to be the villain.
    
Hug your true loves today! :)

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Love Chic mail

Send me your questions and letters via Tumblr Ask! Here are some that I can answer publicly :)

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I rarely use lipstick. If I’m wearing one on a post, it’s usually borrowed from someone during the shoot. Haha. For eyebrows, I use The Face Shop’s Design My Eyebrow pencil and Color My Eyebrow mascara. That’s all the makeup I put on most days. Here’s a tutorial

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Sakto lang iyan kasi panganay ako, haha. Salamat! 

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Hi Mira, I checked out your blog and I have to disagree that it isn’t good enough. I think you’ve established what your personal style is—can’t say the same for myself when I was your age, and having a solid sense of style is key. My suggestions would be to keep doing what you’re doing, interact with other bloggers, and learn as much as you can about your passions (clothes, makeup, graphic design) online. Having many readers is awesome, but it takes time and can’t be forced. Just make sure you like what you put out there, that you think it’s good enough—others are bound to notice. Good luck!

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I don’t know if it was aired on ETC Vibe, but yeah, I hosted a movie screening for them. Thanks!

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Hi Allyzon, my current theme is actually a combination of my previous themes! I’ve had about five so far, and I customized by getting my favorite features from each one and using Rank & File as my “base.” Hope that helps. Have a blessed 2014 too!

Ask, say or request anything here. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @shailagarde :)

Keep walking

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“Let it go, it’s not worth it.” The choice between revenge and forgiveness was the theme of last Sunday’s church readings. It’s a universal struggle that anyone, believer or not, can relate to: when we are wronged, the immediate and overwhelming impulse is to seek “justice.” To retaliate and show that we won’t take crap from anyone. Yesterday in particular, Luke describes how Jesus’ friends want so badly to punish the people of Samaria when they refuse to welcome and let him pass through their town to get to Jerusalem. “Want us to call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” James and John offer. Ever cool-headed, he simply tells them to walk away, and they quietly take a detour and move along without the drama.

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Of course, when you’re a peace-loving guy who advocates “Turn the other cheek,” conciliatory meekness is the clear choice. For the rest of us though, this often proves difficult. Retreating or giving in is tantamount to admitting defeat. Nobody wants to be a pushover, a coward, a loser. But the point isn’t that we be afraid and let people walk all over us, or that we be martyrs and let people mistreat us even when we have aces up our sleeves and bullets in our barrels that we can use to fight back. The point is that we choose our battles, fight only the ones worth winning and let others “win” the rest.

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The point is that we see the bigger picture: a year from now, will it matter? Is it a productive use of our time and effort? Will it make us any happier or less hurt? Betting from experience, the answer is a resounding no. It would simply never end, maybe even get worse. There are people and causes far more substantial and worth pursuing.

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Today, the first of July, marks two other firsts: first day on my new job as the media and communications executive of a private corporation, first time to take on work in the corporate world. It’s a perfect mix of what I love about freelance creative work (telling stories, advocating Filipino industries, being in control of my own time), and the perks of a full-time job (financial security, travel opportunities, employment benefits). Looks to be an exciting new chapter to look forward to.

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The first half of this year was a roller-coaster ride of uncertainties, realizations and wake-up calls—what precise timing that the second half should begin with things looking up and falling into place.

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As it happens, when we prudently walk away from a troubling past and never look back, we give ourselves the gift of a future filled with much, much better things. :)

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Photos by Don Michael De Leon of Happyfingers Photography. Outfit details: Essenxa ruffled top, Blanc et Noir paisley pencil skirt, Parisian shoes, SM Accessories. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

No fuss

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. •

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Outfit details: Kashieca shift dress, SM Accessories earrings and ring. Hype on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.

   

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! :)

His and hers

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Doing a different kind of matchy for Father’s Day! I waited for my dad to get dressed and then patterned my outfit to his.

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Yes, my penchant for themed outfits stems from childhood. On special occasions, or just whenever we feel like being corny, my family would go out dressed in matching colors or a motif of some sort. It’s a good thing my dad has a lot of pink and light blue shirts. Haha.

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Favorite colors aside, my dad and I have a lot of things in common. People say I got my quirky laughter and witty humor from him, which I always take as a huge compliment because my dad can really work up a crowd. I’ve never heard of a seminar he spoke at where people weren’t held captive by his stories, spontaneous jokes and occasional bursts of song-and-dance. He’s a quick study, able to do a little bit of everything and has a seemingly bottomless arsenal of general knowledge, and I hope I’m a little bit like that too.

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One of the things my mom loves about my dad is how his eyes sparkle with intelligence. I agree; my mom was the one who mostly taught me English, Humanities and creativity while my dad was the one who taught me Maths, Sciences and analytical thinking. I remember him teaching me two-digit division when I was five! I hated it at the time, but now I wish I paid more attention. Haha. My books back then were filled with circled words: whenever we came across a term I wasn’t familiar with, he would encircle them with a pencil and scribble its definition. It wasn’t all left-brained for him though. He’s a compelling storyteller, a darn good cook and a sweet nurse: I grew up practically living in a hospital due to weak lungs, and even though there were many things I wasn’t allowed to eat or do (e.g. watching cartoons would make me laugh, and laughter would set off an asthma attack), I never felt like I had a deprived childhood, because Papa was always there singing for me, reading to me, carrying me, bringing me everywhere. Then until now, there’s always something to be learned just hanging around him: you would drive by a city and he would tell you a building’s history. You would listen to music and he would tell you trivia about the artists of that genre. You would eat at a restaurant and he would tell you how a particular dish is prepared depending on the region. Sometimes I would doubt the veracity of his stories or assume it to be one of his poker-faced jokes, but then I research about it and they turn out to be true. Long before National Geographic and Discovery Channel, we’ve had our own live version.

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The one quality of my dad that I aspire most though is his remarkable resilience. Looking at him now, one probably wouldn’t be able to guess what he’s been through. Think of some telenovela plots you can remember and then mix them up: riches-to-rags childhood, growing up with an absentee father at the care of relatives in Iloilo while his mom worked as a labandera (laundrywoman) in Forbes Park, working as an ice candy vendor in the marketplaces of Caloocan and then as a construction worker in Merville among many other odd jobs while paying his way through school. His career is just as storied: he’s held high positions in the banking, foreign service, business and power industries and has had more economic ups-and-downs than a Ferris wheel, but he plowed through and bounced back each time. He’s been mistaken for a CPA, lawyer, professor, restaurateur, and an engineer of all sorts, because even if he is none of the above, he displays unparalleled excellence in any field he gets into. I may sound like I’m a gushing daddy’s girl, but if you meet him, you’d know what I mean. He has his own version of “Bloom where you are planted” that I often share in my own talks: “Ang diyamante, kahit ihalo mo sa buhangin, kikinang at kikinang pag nasinagan ng araw.” (A true gem, even when hidden in the sand, shines brightest under the sunlight.) He teaches us by words and example that though you can’t always control your circumstances, you can always control your attitude and make the best of any situation.

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Despite knowing all these, many times in the recent past I’ve found it easier to give in to emotions or laziness or self-doubt. When confronted with daunting situations, I would forget to stop and ask myself, “What would Papa do?” and go on to act however I felt like acting. But I take comfort in another thing my dad likes to tell me: “You can only be who you’re not for so long. You won’t be able to sustain it, and sooner or later you’ll be forced by circumstance to go back to your core.”

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I’d like to think I’ve been on my way back to being who I’ve always been supposed to be. After all, I am his daughter, and he is my dad.


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Outfit details: Lee Cooper sleeveless button down, Betty flap shorts, Crocs strappy slip-ons, SM Accessories bag.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here.

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I’d love to hear your stories too, so go ahead and leave a comment below.
Happy Father’s Day to all dads out there!

Independence

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.
   

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Outfit details: Weekender top, custom skirt, CMG platform wedges, Anne Klein purse, SM Accessories necklace, belt and earrings, Japanese Candy contact lenses.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here.

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My mom, who among many other things is my photographer and hairstylist, helped me out with an updated version of your typical Filipiniana updo.

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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.