December 29, 2011

The National Museum: A Glimpse of History While Walking In the Present

How many times have we all boarded a bus with our entire elementary or high school batch to go on a field trip? I don't think I still remembered mine but everyone was always excited to get out of class and spend the day on a fun adventure. Well, one of the most famous field trip spots in the metro is the National Museum.

The National Museum has always been one of the most important destinations that students, tourists and all art and culture enthusiasts go to. Situated along P. Burgos Street in Manila - where cultural and historical sites like the Manila City Hall, Rizal Park and Manila Hotel are also located - the structure was erected dating back to the early 1900. What once was the home of Philippine Congress now holds the National Art Gallery and other remnants that tell the history of the Philippines.

When I first went to the museum as a student, what amazed me the most was the painting of Juan Luna. I was so captivated with the magnificence of the "Spolarium". I am neither an enthusiast nor an expert on art but I appreciated how the colors looked so alive with the images so vividly portrayed. It was both an educational and enriching experience that I could never forget.

Jumping to the present, more than a decade after that field trip, I stepped once again inside the museum. This time, I was no longer a student looking around, playfully peeping through the different rooms of the building.

I had a meeting with the very cool, smart and composed director of the National Museum, Mr. Jeremy Barns. After meeting with him in his office, he offered to give something sort of a tour to show the renovations and improvements being done in the museum. Honestly, I wasn't prepared for what was waiting for me to see.

On the fourth floor of the building was a grand hall that, as I recall through the explanations made, was the former session hall. I was blown away with the fact that a room with such grandeur in history was hidden inside the museum. I felt like I was transported to a medieval period inside the court of kings and queens. As I looked up, the ceiling area was filled with different sculptures adding more artistic touch to the room.

The room had a second floor balcony inside. On the balcony was a sculpture of the head of Quezon. Renovations are being done to improve everything from lighting, ventilation, paint and structure. It was my first time to enter the room and I was literally speechless. If this was my reaction as it is currently being fixed, what more will my sentiments be when I see the final outcome?

While I was walking around taking photos of the hall, I had a thought, "Why do we Filipinos constantly travel abroad to appreciate other country's arts and museums?"

In foreign lands, people pride on their historical landmarks, art and artists poking the interests of foreigners to travel all the way to visit their country. Why won't we as Filipinos promote our own artists and museums more? This way, we show the extraordinary talents and works of our Filipino geniuses.

In the same way, I hope the government look into more projects further highlight the rich culture and history of this country. I hope we do not allow the younger generations to grow up not knowing or appreciating the facts and details that make them Filipino.

I hope that with the improvements being made to the museum, we find time to visit our own historical landmarks and explore the history that molded us and our heritage.

I applaud Mr. Jeremy Barns and the people behind the National Museum in their consistent efforts in reviving the beauty and importance of the museum.

December 20, 2011

The Help: Strength, Courage and an Outpour of Empowerment

I am always honored when I hear good feedback when I talk to friends who read my blog. Ivy Fajardo commented saying that my blog embodies the positive outlook and happiness I feel with my life. Thank you and I hope I may always bring that sense of good vibes to people.

I recently was able to watch "The Help". It is a film adaptation of a novel that deals with the stories of African-American maids during the early 1960's. At that time, racism was prevalent and having voice and courage was challenged. 

The movie was unique in a way as a white woman, played by Emma Stone, listened to the views, thoughts and experiences of African American maids on their white employers. The maids were repressed - looked down on only to serve as the help of those with white skin.

The maids found salvation to air out their concerns and depression when the character of Emma Stone approached them about writing a book. This book would expose the true feelings, life and experiences of these help.

One of the messages I clearly understood was not just about racial discrimination but the oppression of people in general. Regardless of race, there will always be big obstacles that everyone should overcome.

Before the maids allowed their stories to be told, they first had to reach a point where they could not take the cruelty or injustice awarded to them. I asked myself, "Do we need to let it reach an extreme frustration before we go about finding a solution to our problems?"

What I was also reminded of is that we sometimes forget to muster the strength and courage to face whatever hindrance we have and easily give-up. We need to be heroes in our own right, leading our path to success and victory. Our mindset should always be ahead of things, knowing how to deal with daily problems and turning it into positive opportunities to learn and grow.

For the past weeks I've encountered a lot of personal setbacks that honestly stretched my patience and determination. Hardships we all go through these days are becoming more difficult, urging people to either stop and be content, or rise above and win. It was easy for me to give-up, yet I still want to try to surpass my personal expectations and strive to commit myself to the nearest perfection I can mold myself to become.

In a way, the characters in the movie showed a state of my life that needed to be revisited. The maids were already used to their situation and only had the guts to fight back when they were given a chance. Sometimes, we all just need a knock on the head to remind us that we should take charge of things. I recounted and reassured myself that I will always maintain the strength and courage that would help me through whatever I need to survive from.

One of the most memorable moments in the film was the scene when one of the maid imparted a sense of empowerment to the little girl she takes care of. It goes, "You is kind... You is smart... You is important..." I guess we all need strong words of encouragement to help us recall who we are and how great we can be.

December 11, 2011

Me and My... Man Purse?

It’s amusing how new fashion terms have gone around. People have started creating intriguing style ideas that have slowly grown with people. Now it’s a paradox that at this age, men are associated with the idea of purses.
One Saturday afternoon during Vania Romoff’s trunk show, I had a very long chat with the talented and amusing designer, JC Manas. We found a common ground on details and preferences that we both strongly shared about bags. Somehow, the conversation led us both to question and breakdown the concept of a man purse.
After researching, I found a suitable description on the internet. Man purses are small everyday personal luggage, similar in size to a woman's purse but intended for men. It is smaller than a briefcase or attaché, carried by hand or by a shoulder strap. It is neither belted nor belt-looped, and typically distinguishable from a woman's purse by having a tall, narrow, rectangular form rather than the short and wide shapes typical of most women purses.
These days I’ve realized that I’ve been fixated on a singular look in my choice. When I was able to save enough, I was contemplating on which Louis Vuitton bag I should purchase. I’ve had a notion when I was growing up that anyone who can buy one should at least own a Louis Vuitton bag. It was a playful thought in my head that became an aspiration for me to save on my own, and buy on my own. I was extremely happy when I first saw the LV Monogram Beaubourg. It was the right size, height and length that passes my functional and chic needs. Well, I bought one.
I've always thought that the Beaubourg is intended for men and wonder why some women purchase this when they have tons of designs to already choose from.

Eventually I got a Y-3, Prada and Gaultier that pretty much had the same tall, tote or with strap, and non-bulky design. To some, I've become a fan of the man purse. Honestly, to me it's a bag, plain and simple. I've chosen not to complicate the whole idea by labeling it as such.

my Gaultier

Adding to this, it's more than just a personal choice for guys to carry bags. Keeping up with the fast-paced competition, it's more than just a requirement to have something to carry things in. Style and functionality should already work hand in hand. As I've always said, presentation is crucial.

Women is still the biggest market for bags. But I'm ecstatic to see through the years that fashion houses and designers have started creating stylish bags specifically for men. I've always loved bags and I'm amused that the design choices have grown.

Alexander McQueen Novak

Celine Phoebe Philo

Balenciaga Carry On Top

You may call it your man purse or bag but having a stylish and useful bag has already become a need these days.

December 04, 2011

The Vanity Regimens

Admitting that I'm turning a year older again in a few days gave a very concerning feeling on how I look these days. Still, I have been extremely glad to hear from different people that I've been able to maintain a refreshed and "younger than my age" look.

To be honest, we need to look pass the notion of vanity. I've always believed that investing on skin and haircare products in the market is quite crucial. For a couple of years now I've tried and used a lot of products, of which some I had to dispose of and some I've loved and have been loyal to. Here's a rundown of what I currently include in my vanity regimen.

Just a disclaimer, I wasn't paid by any of these companies and I've honestly used these products. :)

I recently switched shampoos. I've used my old shampoo for years and I've always been hesitant to switch because my scalp is sensitive; I get dandruff using other shampoos easy. After hearing a lot of great feedback about L'Oreal hair products, I decided to try their Smooth Intense shampoo out. I have thick hair that can be so difficult to manage. I was surprised that in just over a week, my hair slowly felt softer and healthier. It also adds that the shampoo bottle really looks classy. I honestly love it...

Next on my list is the only soap that touches my face. Clinique's facial soap has taken away my fear of letting the dirt in the metro stick to my face. I have a very active lifestyle that requires me to go to different places, working through different environments. May it be the dust-filled avenues of Ortigas or the cigarette smoke packed bars in the metro, I feel confident that my face is ok after when I wash it at home. And, since I only use it for my face, I get to use one bar for a pretty long time. This has been one of the things I've clung to for the longest time.

After washing, I need to make sure that my face is well moisturized since I also tend to be under the dreaded exposure from the sun. I need to maintain my skin's quality so as not to have irritations or hasten skin aging. I'm glad products these days include "for men" lines that do consider the difference of men's skin quality. Shisheido came up with the wonderful Men's Moisturizing Emulsion that I use every night before I get some sleep. It keeps my face really hydrated and soft, giving me a fresh feel every night.

I've long decided to just do my own facials at home so once every week or two I exfoliate. Luckily, there are great products in the market that really do wonders. My sister bought a L'Occitane Amande Pomme Sweet Peel for me to try. There's a difference in its consistency that made me wonder it was going to be effective or not. The great thing about this product is that it is mild on the skin. It also feels really natural since it has elements of almonds and apple in its composition. I sometimes have a feeling that I'm putting the filling of an apple pie and rubbing it on my face because of its sweet aroma. I must admit it is pricy, but it really softens my face's texture.

One thing I pride myself in is the fact that I have little to no eye bags or dark circles under my eyes. I try really hard to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night to rest my eyes and mind. Still, I make sure that I use the right eye cream to maintain the existence of no puffiness around my eyes. Burt's Bees is very helpful to me. They pride of being natural with their ingredients and radiance for the eyes do happen. I'm one satisfied user of this.

Of course, even with all these said and advised, we all need to remember that the most effective way to look good is to feel good. Remove all the negativity and imbibe only all the happiness. That way, the mind feels refreshed, and the body will work with it easily.

November 30, 2011

Divisoria: Past Adventures and Present Encounter

Last night, as I was with my colleagues prepping for our group's Christmas presentation, my Aunt Letlet commented on my facebook status telling me to head home since I was somehow still working at 2 am. She currently lives with her family in Belgium and I've not seen her for a very long time. She's one of the people who was happy and excited with my new job and she already mentioned how much she wanted to have a copy of MEGA magazine just to check it out.

Apparently, she was able to get a copy of the November issue with Solenn Heusaff on the cover. The glamorous cover was shot at the not so glamorous Divisoria. What amused me most was that Auntie Letlet was able to watch the behind the scenes video of the photoshoot at Tutuban. She commented further saying that the video brought back memories to her.

I used to live in Binondo. Just a stone's throw away from my house was the bustling district of Divisoria where my grandfather's business is. The business wholesales rolls of uniform textiles that caters to retail clients in Divisoria and to major cities all-over the country. Auntie Letlet used to be part of my grandfather's business in Divisoria before she left for Belgium.

As odd as it may sound, Divisoria plays an important role to me. When I was younger, I remembered walking home from school and passing by Tutuban just to look around. Even in my younger days, I really loved walking around, discovering anything inspiring that I can learn something from. I always thought that there were a lot of quirky, interesting and good finds for everybody there.

Before my love affair with designer shoes, clothes and bags that cost me more than an arm and a leg, I started really small and affordable. I can never forget how I nurtured my passion for fashion and shopping. Since I was too young to drive and Tutuban was the nearest, I would look for nice shirts and jeans at Bossini, Hang Ten, Giordano and, would you believe, Bench. I even bought my first pair of sneakers from Nike at Tutuban - which I've kept until now. Through my personal experience, I imbibed the shopping philosophy that the value of money outweighs the shopping location. There's always a good steal somewhere, you just have to look around to find it.

I have one last personal story to share. I'm not a fan of wearing barong. Still, I knew I should still own one if in case the occasion to wear one arises. I wanted to first look around Tutuban since I knew that there were some stores that brings to Manila barongs with nice weaves and designs. I fell head over heels with this very simple nehru collared barong I saw which used shiny gold threads for the designs on the front. I immediately bought it after fitting. Extremely happy, that first barong cost less than a thousand pesos, and I felt like I was a prince when I wore it.

Well... Now I can't say the same. As I matured, my preferences and needs also evolved. It's quite seldom that I still decide to go to Tutuban - or Divisoria for that matter. My world has already changed and my standards have already been raised. At least once in a while, I get a reminder of the past experiences I learned a lot from, and those fun adventures I grew up with.

For details on MEGA's November issue, please visit:

November 16, 2011

Rising from a Slumber (Return to Blogging)

The past weeks were challenging. It was adjustments after adjustments as I shift to an entirely different chapter. At least I can proudly tell people that I'm happy.

I've somehow forgotten how it is to complain because I felt bored with work. I've understood my strengths and weaknesses better. Drama's inevitable but it's not something I can't work through anymore. The good vibes keep pouring and I'm just absorbing all the positive energy around me.

Still... I can't just leave blogging. I never aspired to be one of the top bloggers on the net; I only wanted to tell stories and have fun. A lot of unexpected blessings has already and blogging gave me the chance to meet a lot of exciting people who helped me achieve aspirations I've had for the longest time. Working in MEGA is sincerely one dream come true that invigorated me to be at my best once again. I might be busy with all the work I need to prioritize, but hopefully I still find more time and stories to blog about.


 Fun to be in the newspaper once in a while

My digicam finally broke down after using it for a few couple of years (guess that's the sign to already buy a new one). The difficult part is managing my finances to buy a new cam for my blog photos since I really don't spend on techie stuff. Well, this will be something new.

I'd like to make my return to blogging as a thank you to the friends who constantly believe in me. I wouldn't have been this lucky if they didn't extend their helping hand to me. I'm very honored for these people and I feel great to be in their company.

 Louie Gordon Lee and Robert Young

Michele Sison and Pauli Caoili

  Natasha Mors and Junjun Ablaza

 Fashion Designers Alliance Manila (FaDAL) in general 
In the photo are FADAL designers Noelle Llave, Ulysees King and Zan Cua with stylist Mic Russ

Mel Meer

Brian Tenorio

Most especially, all my thanks and appreciation to the fashion goddess of the Philippines, Ms. Sari Yap - who I've yet to have a photo with. Expect more interesting stories of my many adventures. I love life and I feel the need to always have something new to share to everyone. :)

September 16, 2011

The Red Runway - International Models Sharing for their New Home

It's amazing to realize that sometimes it's the non-Filipinos who love and try to understand this country more.

I'm quite honored to talk about this. Actually, I'm very very happy that this event is going to happen. I'm proud to share this and I hope that people will take the initiative to share their blessings for this cause.

The Caridade Group is a modeling agency composed of international models based here in Manila. Along with the Philippine Red Cross, the group has organized an event  to somehow repay the hospitality that the Filipinos have openly shared to them. It is in this way that they intend to say their thanks to the country that has a special place in their life. The event entitled "Red Runway" was created to raise funds to help the living conditions of a less fortunate community. 

The event aims to help and sponsor a feeding program for malnourished children in Muntinlupa. Other than this, they are partnering with Kabisig Ng Kalahi in a community based program to feed children a hot meal a day for six months. To further support their plans, mothers will be taught how they can manage and improve their family's lifestyle, while also teaching them how prepare cheap and nutritious meals.

As shared to me by Julia Sniegowski, one of the models and organizers of the event, "We are trying to give back to the community as we feel ingratiated by the hospitality and welcome shown to us by Filipinos." For these foreign models, it's part of their job to constantly travel to look for modeling gigs that they can work at. I sincerely appreciate that they decided to stay and have decided to take the time and use their efforts to help the less fortunate in their own way.

As a main attraction for the event, 20 international models will fly in and will walk the runway clothed in Folded & Hung. It's an event you wouldn't want to miss since well known models like Mariana Henud, Julia Sniekowski, Janet Emmrich, Akihiro Sato and Hideo Muraoka will all be attending and supporting the cause. A number of members from the fashion community are also expected to be present.

The event will be held on September 29, 2011 at 8 in the evening. The venue will be at 7th High, Bonifacio Highstreet. Ticket prices are at 1,200, inclusive of the open bar and food. They also have a great line-up of DJ's to jumpstart the party after the fashion show.

To get in touch for ticket inquiries, please contact: 0917-8387672

September 14, 2011

Mega Milestone

I’ve been finding a hard time posting something new since I’ve to face the newest and most exciting challenge in my life to date. I needed to fix requirements and start adjusting to start this new step that I will take. Still, I hope to still continue putting new interesting topics and finds constantly.
Fortunately, dreams become reality. Just this week I’ve officially started as the Public Relations and Events Manager for the Mega Publishing Group. Talk about a mega milestone… It’s a total mix of happiness, excitement and anxiety altogether.

I’m very happy to be offered this position. I’ve always wanted to be part of the Mega Publishing Group since I’ve always loved their titles and the stories in the magazines. It's simply exhilarating to be part of the best. Blessings do come and prayers do get heard. I never expected that after three years in my career, I finally will end up working where I’ve always planned. May luck, inspiration, and determination be always on my side.
For my first day, in contrast to the stylishness of fashion magazines, I tried to channel my inner Betty Suarez. I realized that I might as well play around with the joke. I couldn't de-glamorize myself so I simply took inspiration. The unconquerable Betty donned her famous thick eyeglasses and her signature colorful “Guadalajara” poncho on her first day at Mode. I went a little monochromatic dabbling mostly in black and white with my shawl vest with ethnic print and my dark Ferragamo aviators. If Betty was playful, I wanted to be fierce. 

Amidst all this, I will be forever thankful for Ms. Sari Yap for trusting in my capabilities and potentials. Her recommendation led me to my current post. Everybody at Mega Publishing has extended the warmest welcome and I look forward to my most anticipated challenge to date.

September 10, 2011

The Big Geek Chic Bang

Despite my constant focus on career, I find the extra time to watch all the episodes of "The Big Bang Theory".

The show is composed of four nerds who specialize in different aspects of science and technology. It's fun to watch how they casually deal with everyday life with their overly high intellects. It's a laugh to see how they get through blunders or achieve breakthroughs in the most comedic manners. Most remarkable about the show is how each of the character embodies different styles of "geek chic". The different styles of geek chic are embraced in the show with the different personalities of the characters. 


Here are the characters of "The Big Bang Theory":

Rajesh Koothrappali prefers layering. He wears an inner shirt under his collared shirt, which he wears with a printed sweater vest over before putting on a sweater. Talk about too much pieces over pieces. He wears it with earth toned pants or slacks and sneaker. Honestly, I'm surprised by the number of sweaters and sweater vests that he has. He boldly puts together the prints and patterns of the shirts and sweater vests together.

Leonard Hoftadter's style is composed of shirts worn under hoodies and windbreakers with jeans and sneakers. To complete the outfit, he always wears his black rimmed glasses - the must have accessory to pull off a good geek chic look. His bedhead hair provides a messy casual look showing that he has a more relaxed choice for his look. Oddly enough, he likes to don a corduroy coat and pants as his business and formal attire. It somehow passes off as geek chic since the character thinks it's quite fashionable.

Sheldon Cooper favors wearing long sleeves shirts under short sleeves t-shirts. Most of his shirt are comic book hero logo tee’s, graphic shirts, or striped polo shirts. His choice clearly shows the love for comics and superhero tales. Sheldon's choice of coat and pants are bizarre, preferring checkered fabrics or those with big stripes. His hair is cut short to have a simple coif. He takes details into great consideration and chooses something that's easy to work with.

Howard Wolowitz look is more of the 70's to preppy vibe. He prefers checkered pants of varying designs and colors. It's part of his trait that he wants to be seen in the crowd asap. Turtle necks and loud colored sweaters and shirts are the staples in his wardrobe. He sports a Justin Beiber-ish hair hoping to complement his supposed cool persona.

The geek chic fashion sense comes from the stereotyped aesthetic of geeks in society. You don't really need to be a full on comic addict or a video game fanatic to appreciate it. To pull the look off in stride, have the confidence to play with the geek in you with fashion. It's about incorporating the right pieces, accessories and styles that looks nerdy or geeky. Basic accessories include bowties, neckties, sweater vests, and, the signature accessory, eyeglasses. It can be a relaxed casual or formal look that anybody can get into. Join the bandwagon of gents, celebrities and fashion icons who have, in one time or another, tried to play with the look.

August 30, 2011

And... Manang Falls in Love

Love is an ordeal that millions can relate to. You can either be the winner or the victim in the situation. Finding it, living with it, until sometimes ending it proves a challenge that we all have to deal with.

The Fashion Designers Alliance (FADAL) Manila gathered a stylish crowd for yet another night of artistic explosion. People anticipated the unveiling of a quirky short film that tells of a struggle for love. The film emphasizes the artistic eye of director Matthew Valeriano, and the styling of Eric Poliquit using pieces from FADAL designers. As you enter the room, the dancefloor of 7th High was surrounded by huge frames covered in purple cloth. Photos taken by Enzo Mondejar were kept from the public eye until it was ready to be shown.

"Dear Manang, I Love You" tells the story of a modern geriatric who, like everyone else, worked her way through the quest for true love.

Dear Manang, I Love You trailer:

After the film showing, the FADAL designers stood beside the photo of their creation. Red was the theme of FADAL as they all were clad in different creations of the color. Enzo Mondejar provided a contemporary twist, telling the love story of Manang through photos. Eric Poliquit then told the different chapters of Manang's story as the designers unveiled the photos.

Dave Ocampo and Cherry Veric

Levenson Rodriguez and Ulysees King

Mike Magallanes and Karl Leuterio for Paradigm Shift 
and Lizanne Cua 

Jaz Cerezo and Cheetah Rivera

The chapters in proper order:

Most memorable was how the film makers were able to shed a comedic light on the different aspects of love. I especially appreciated the peculiarity on how Manang becomes the object of the affection of many young men, while relating the incidents to modern technology and Philippine society. I mean, where can you see an elderly woman still tweeting away with the occasional use of #choosy and #landi? One of the highlights was the grandeur of the fashion pieces, its pivotal role in telling the story, providing a colorful collaboration onscreen. I'd love to share this wonderful short to the readers but I would need to ask permission and acquire it from the production team first. :)

Carla Cruz; Myself; Brian Tenorio, Design Consultant; Jaz Cerezo of FADAL 

Myself; Noelle Llave, Ulysees King, and Lizanne Cua of FADAL; Mic Reyes, Stylist

Congratulations to Matthew Valeriano, Eric Poliquit, Enzo Mondejar, and to everybody from FADAL!

Photos were taken by Mark Alvarez. 
To view his works, visit his facebook page: Mark Alvarez Photography