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.