We all have stuff we love to look back fondly on. In my case, it’s 2013—the first quarter was just full of people and events you never want to be mired in, followed by a remarkable transition for the better, and then everything went uphill from there.
The reason I like looking back on that is I get to read about how things were, exactly 365.25 days back. This time a year ago, I was writing about "Araw ng Kagitingan" and Paulo Coelho and how my friend Lester, whose birthday it is today, came home from New York and paid me a surprise visit.
Looking back never fails to amaze me at how fate can surprise you. Nothing back then prepared me for the surge of way, way happier experiences and way, way better people that were poised to come into my life soon after, as if in exchange for all those awful ones.
Looking back makes me appreciate everything tenfold. I have everything and everyone I could ever need be happy and content, and every day, I’m inspired tenfold to work hard to make sure that it can only get better. It’s true what they say that we can only fully realize how far we’ve come when we never forget where we come from. :)
Black and white sporadically spotted dress, Zara.
Contact lenses, Japanese Candy. Necklace, SM Accessories.
The bag is a raid from my cousin Jeru’s girlfriend, Lana.
Photos by Jeru Czar. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @shailagarde. Feel free to post a comment below!
A day I juggled my day job and blogging—shuttled from a business forum at the Hotel Intercontinental…
…to Century City Mall for an awesome new brand launch, and back.
Metallic shoulder bag, SM Accessories. A cute piece that could be worn with casual or party wear. Except I don’t party, so I just wear metallics even in daytime.
Metallic gold flats, Ziggy & Zooey. I got these a couple of years ago, along with five other pairs from them, and they’re all still alive and kicking. Glad I got a pair in this versatile color.
Since its launch last year, Marc Coblen watches have been gaining a continuous buzz among the style-conscious, tastemaking set around the globe. Adorning the wrists of many a style-maker, Marc Coblen timepieces have become a quick favorite for their versatility—each basic piece can be changed to suit different lifestyles and moods by selecting and changing different watch straps and bezels.
If there are two things I love in fashion, it’s (1) versatile pieces that (2) you can personalize. Naturally, this display at the Manila launch of Marc Coblen in TWG Century City Mall got me intrigued.
First things first: you choose a base watch. They come in black, brown or white straps, and a variety of color combinations for the face. Black, white, gold, silver.
Next, choose a second set of leather or silicon straps.
Needless to say, I took my time (pun inevitable) testing out different straps for my base watch. At first, I was going for emerald green.
After a few more tries, I realized a classic camel strap would be easier to match with any outfit.
Then, choose a bezel. The base watch I got was 42mm in diameter (the other sizes are 45mm and 50mm, and 42 is all my tiny wrist could take). I chose one encrusted in princess-cut Swarovski crystals.
Done! Love how the camel strap complement the white and rose gold dial and the Swarovski crystals.
This is why Marc Coblen is so cool. Designed by horlogerist Jordy Coblen of TW Steel watches, it’s the only brand of men’s watches designed for women (if you love wearing the watch of your dad, brother or boyfriend too, you know I mean).
With interchangeability and convenience being at the heart of its design, Marc Coblen watches are the perfect style statement for any fashion-conscious urbanite. Be it casual, trendy, colorful, rugged or romantic, the style combinations are endless! Here’s a how-to video for choosing your own.
Marc Coblen watches are brought to the Philippines by Swiss Prestige Inc. and are available at Century City Mall, SM Southmall, and selected Chronos, Swissgear and Wristpod stores.
Thanks to my friends at Lucerne Group and Pix Republik for the fun day and the additional photos!
What do you think of this outfit? How would you design your own Marc Coblen watch? Tweet me @shailagarde or write a comment below. :)
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.
Hype what I’m wearing on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here. Checkered jumpsuit, Dorothy Perkins. Love how this one-piece can be made to look on either the girly or androgynous side, depending on the shoes and hair.
Necklaces, SM Accessories. Layered the leaves and rose together to make it more interesting.
Charm bracelet, Pandora. Raga watch, Titan. Whenever I want to keep my accessories simple, this is my go-to pairing.
Shoulder bag, SM Accessories. Multicolor manicure, Nail It. A pop of pastels injects a bit of femininity into an otherwise androgynous and monochromatic outfit.
Socks and buckled zip-up boots, Topshop. I’ve been wearing these to death lately. Without the socks, they can look like sandals. They’re not as hardcore and heavy as legit combat boots, and they definitely pack a punch in the style department. They add a little height, too.
These photos were taken by my mom when we went to Iloilo a few weekends ago. We were really just having lunch, but the backdrop was too nice to pass up.
Midway is this farm-market-restaurant in Passi City, Iloilo, reminiscent of the ones we’re familiar with in Tagaytay and Cavite.
It’s very much a country-home type of setting. (The banner says, “Grilled Pizzas.” More on that later.)
The entrance is a small fish pond leading to a lanai.
To the left is the gift shop and grocery.
The items they sell are mostly organic and farm-fresh goods.
To the right is the indoor restaurant. There are couches and daybeds, plus some quirky trinkets from the past such as an old-school, coal-powered flat iron. It’s a shame they closed it that day, as they usually do when there isn’t any function or there aren’t a lot of people around.
When the restaurant is closed, the backyard is where diners go.
Huts with tables and hammocks.
Most of the ingredients in their food offerings come from their own backyard. Like these lettuces. I didn’t get to take photos of the other areas of the farm though, as they were about to close for the day.
Grilled pizza. We had about three of these, and still wanted more.
I would say Midway’s halo-halo is the best I’ve tried so far, and that’s saying a lot, since I live in Pampanga which is supposedly the home of the best halo-halo.
I couldn’t resist running of to the playground by the lettuces and sampling the mini climbing wall. This visit to Midway served as such a happy reminder that all we really need in life are the simple things: family, honest-to-goodness food, and a clear-skied day.
Let me know what you think of this post by tweeting me @shailagarde or writing a comment below! April is Love Chic’s anniversary month, and Love Chic is on its fourth year, so y’all better stay tuned for the upcoming awesomeness. :)
"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.
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.
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.
Icy blue strapless sweetheart high-low tulle lace dress with gold high-waist bow belt, Viola at The SM Store. Gold embellished evening sandals, Gibi.
I explain in my Beautybook article what silhouettes suit which body type, and what colors suit which skin tone. I chose the cut and color of my dress based on my petite frame and summer skin tone.
In this case, I followed a theme: sparkly, icy blue, gold (because “Frozen" is amazing). I pulled the color and fabric of the shoes from the satin belt, while the metallic clutch goes with the glitter of the dress. The bangle is inspired by a Prom corsage and matches my pastel nails. The pieces are complementary rather than matchy-matchy.
Instead of going to the salon, I went with DIY makeup (check out my tutorial on the basics here). A basic smoky-eye with brown and gold eyeshadows blended together, no falsies, romantic blushing look, natural lips. Contact lenses, Japanese Candy. For the hair, I went with soft waves instead of an updo for a fresh and fun look—it’s high school, and you have the rest of your life to look older!
If you or someone you know is my size, join my little giveaway :) You must be following me on Instagram, Twitter and/or Tumblr. Reblog this entry, or Instagram/tweet a collage of two of my photos with this caption: “www.lovechic.com.ph - I want to win @shailagarde’s Prom dress!” Then, write a Disqus comment below with the links to your post(s) as well as why you want this dress. On March 10, Monday, I’ll choose the winning answer and post it as the “Featured Comment” right below this entry. :) I’ll also announce it on Twitter. Happy weekend!
Photographed by Anton Holmes at 22 Prime, Discovery Suites.
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!
A wildcard is an opportunity out of the ordinary. In baseball, it gives an inside chance to non-division winners to make it to the World Series.
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.
When we tasted the devastating bitterness of a loss, the initial reaction was to cower and reel. And then we thought of all the things we failed at, berated ourselves for whatever we did that cost us our victory, for not having thought of a different play instead.
And from there, painful loss turns into hapless hopefulness: “If only I could get another shot at this. If only there was a way to try again and win it this time.”
Because this time, we know so much better. Among other things, we know that it’s not because we didn’t have what it takes: the drive, the skill, the experience. We know that sometimes, having what it takes is not enough; that fate is the other side of free will’s coin and that circumstances will sometimes be unkind, but that in the same manner, things could turn around. And when they do, we are more than ready.
This is why many wildcards end up as winners. :)
Outfit details: Divisoria batwing hoodie, Hang Ten denim shorts, H&M stockings.
New Era limited edition Stars and Stripes July 4th baseball cap.
SM Accessories bracelets, cuff, bangle and ring.
SM Accessories quilt shoulder bag.
Asian Vogue platform wedges. Hype this on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.
Ph: Don Michael De Leon of Happyfingers Photography (Tumblr | Instagram | Facebook). Special thanks to Magel Ordoñez and Anton Holmes.
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 :)
In the TEDTalks video “Why 30 is not the new 20,” psychologist Meg Jay talks about how we young people may lead more meaningful lives and invest in a future with purpose and fulfillment as we reach our thirties and beyond. It might be a few more years before I get to that stage, but Dr. Jay’s talk got me thinking of all my quarter-life qualms: the uncertainty at where the paths I’ve taken were headed, the desire to make a significant contribution to society, the realizations that turned mistakes into lessons.
As she underscores in her talk, our twenties are meant to be stepping stones, not “throwaway” years. ”Do something that adds value to who you are,” says Dr. Jay. It reminded me of steps we can take to get there, and I thought I’d wear these reminders on my sleeve—well, my arms—every day from now on.
On one hand, a watch to be reminded that time doesn’t stop for anyone, and that we must spend it wisely because we can never take a second, minute or hour of it back. On the other, a band of reminders for getting started on the me I want to be and the life I want to grow into.
(Paper Dolls top, Human jeans, booties from Korea, Esprit Time watch. Hype on Lookbook here, vote on Chictopia here.) I got the charm bracelet from the jewelry coffers of Pandora. I’ve loved these things even as a little girl, and I used to tell myself back then that the perfect time will come when I can start building one and start filling it up, one life journey at a time.
I chose Pandora for many reasons, starting with my fascination with Greek mythology and the particular story of Pandora’s box which attempts to answer the question of why there is evil in the world. In grade 6, I wrote an adaptation of this story for a school play and got to play Pandora, the world’s first woman whose name literally means “she with all the gifts.” She opens a mysterious box out of curiosity and releases all the evils of humanity, leaving only Hope inside as she scrambled to close it again. It’s a tragedy, but it ends with that hope, and I’d like to think life is like that too.
My Pandora’s box opens up to a silver bangle with two locks and five charms: a silver cross with a heart in the middle flanked by turquoise Murano glass beads, a silver sphere with mother of pearl hearts and a silver flower with aquamarine stones.
The silver band, as a reminder that of two things: that things will always come full circle, and that precious things last. We will always reap what we sow, which is why we should take care to plant only seeds whose fruits we want to eat. Financial success and career achievement are undoubtedly important, but more so are our relationships. Are we making time for our parents, our siblings and cousins, our true friends? Will we be there whenever they need us? Do they know that we appreciate them for everything they’ve been doing for us, and are we able to give the same back to them?
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.
The rest are reminders of my aspirations. two turquoise beads (my favorite color!) to represent sea and sky, because adventure is out there! After trying out scuba diving despite not being a beach person and not knowing how to swim and ending up loving it, I realized that there’s so much more out there that I want to see and explore. As they say, traveling is the one thing you spend on that makes you richer. And finally, the white hearts to represent pure love—what I believe in and look forward to finding, feeling and keeping.
Thank you Joanne for helping me build my charm bracelet—literally and figuratively, Magel for helping me rediscover the spirit of adventure, Robbie for helping me learn when not to give a darn, Anton for helping me find the right words, and you readers, for being there. Next to my family, it’s friends like you who make this a charmed life. :)
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! :)
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. ♥
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. ♥
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
If a psychic ever foretold I’d be doing this, I would’ve laughed the incredulous thought off, until about two weeks ago. Me, dive? The only time I’m ever near the ocean is when I cover beachfront events for magazines or produce summer segments for a TV show. I can swim only in waters shallow enough that I can stand up with my head above the surface—which suffices to say I can’t swim to save my life.
Yet despite my trepidations about the sea, last weekend found me at Mabini, Batangas with my friends Magel, Joanne, Chez and Chris. Not just to swim, but to learn how to sink. And as I would later find out, to learn many things more.
We got to meet Magel’s friends as well. Dan and Jonathan beside us are intro divers too, while the ones in front (Magel, Anton, Javy and Kevin) have all been diving here for years.
I met these two in 2009. We were all part of the production team of Project Runway Philippines 2 and instantly hit it off. From back then until now, Magel and Joanne have always been a source of strength and wisdom. I know I wouldn’t even think about trying this if they weren’t the people I’d be with.
Pool session with James, our instructor.
We were taught the basics of mask clearing, regulator clearing, equalizing, finning and proper breathing. To my pleasant surprise, I took to water like, well, a duck takes to water. The week before our diving trip, up to the minute I was already parking the car at the resort, I had spent so much time and energy being scared and worried how everything would go. All that wasted effort on something that turned out to be so ridiculously simple!
I volunteered to go first. Pink fins always help give a girl courage.
And then I was off to sea. There was nothing but the steady rhythm of my breathing, harmonizing with the muffled gurgle of a thousand tiny bubbles around us. Even the noise of my own thoughts was drowned out.
Underwater shots care of Javy’s GoPro and underwater camera case.
At first, I held on tight, like a baby about to take her first few steps. But as we went deeper and deeper, the water seemed to be more welcoming, beckoning us to come and see all the beauty she has to offer.
It’s gonna be okay, it seemed to say. Slowly, the current washed away the fears and anxieties and I was able to let go.
The undersea wandering left me wondering why I’ve been squandering all those opportunities in the past to try new things and see what else is out there. Why I’ve let myself be hindered by so many fears I myself conjured up, by apprehensions I allowed people to shove in my head, by regrets I willingly wallowed in.
Joanne and Chez, who were just as afraid at first. When we all came up, the feeling was indescribable.
It helped enormously that I was with three types of divers that day: the inexperienced ones who shared my fears (thank you, Joanne and Chez), the seasoned ones who showed us how awesome they feel (thank you, boys), and the teacher who helped us transition from one to the other (thank you, James).
Above all, thank you, Magel. I’ve been a hermit crab this whole year, and you patiently coaxed me out of my shell to try and do things I previously thought unthinkable.
"Dive, but don’t drown." I texted my parents and siblings just before I went out to sea, and that’s what my dad said to me. Knowing his penchant for humorous wordplay, he was probably just trying to be funny in telling his daughter to be careful. But his words spoke volumes more than that.
As the sun sank into sea, the realization sank into me that indeed, there are many things that will besiege us. Challenges, triumphs, excruciating sadness, immense joy, failures, victories. Whichever of these pressures arise, what’s important is that we learn to equalize, to go with the flow, to take deep breaths and calmly work our way through the current and not let ourselves be swept away. To clear the fog in our masks that might be keeping us from seeing things clearly. To dive into things and take it all in, embrace what’s enveloping us, but not let it drown us.
I can’t wait for what the next experience will be teaching.
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? :)