Thursday, January 17, 2013

the other side of life

Adversity. They say that when it rains, it pours. It can work both ways -- the good and the ugly. 

I have a dose of what ugly can be. In my personal life, I am going through a process of letting go. I realized that some broken things are meant to be thrown away. No matter how you try to fix, it can still be ugly. 

I had always thought that I am pretty much level-headed. But some people especially the ones you chose to be with have deep-seated issues that make you wonder, have I not done enough? 

But it didn't really make me lose sleep. I think it validates my resolve to break the cycle of negativity in my life. I don't even feel sad about it. I truly think that I can move on with my life, if I choose a different path now. Just thinking about it makes me feel secure in the knowledge that I will survive and triumph over this big hump. 

It's a chapter that's closed. And then, just when I thought a storm has passed, another one showed up in my horizon. 

The news was disheartening but also humbling. It made me face my vulnerabilities as well as my strengths. And so I soldiered on. And then it happened. When a door closes, a window opens. 
Keep looking up, there might just be a rainbow up on the clouds. (Photo credit: Pinterest)
So, today I stride with lighter steps, keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the rainbow. And that veil of malignant sadness, be finally lifted up. 

Thank you, universe for making things happen. Thank you, God for ever so faithfully providing in spite of my unfaithfulness. Indeed, your mercy and grace abound. 


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The bicycle and my aunt

Today, I caught myself thinking about my aunt. All throughout the day, she's been going in and out of my consciousness. There were moments in between that I found myself in a daydream.

My Tita Goring practically raised me. She was my first teacher. She taught me how to read. She introduced me to kikay stuff like getting me a vanity set when I was in primary school. She gave me my first boutonniere-- a picture of a Menudo member. They were cool back then. 

And then she taught me to drive a bicycle. At seven years old, it was sort of a rite of passage for kids in my province. We used the open field of my elementary school to practice. I had my exhilarating ride there, bruises and wounds. And we had the most beautiful backdrop. All the santan flower in their beds are blooming because it was summer. And the majestic acacia trees seemed to approve of the kids' activities as they bowed their leaves to serve as a canopy; shielding us from the harsh afternoon sun. 
Ok, I wasn't this chic back then. And until now. But you get the drift, eh?
Since then, I'd ride my mountain bike wherever I go. Even if it's just in the nearby market to buy a few pieces of eggs. But I'd also remember that it took me a long time to cycle back to our house. You see, I'd always stop whenever there's a car on the road. Am deathly afraid that it would crush me. 

And then the years just flew by. Am now a married woman. And my Tita is still at home. She doesn't have her good sight anymore. In fact it's the reason she gave why she didn't attend my wedding. She just stayed in her hotel room. Good thing her room had a balcony. She was able to see from afar the ceremony. But not the reception. 

And I forgot to thank her in my little speech. In the whirlwind of things, it slipped from my mind. 

From my reverie born the strongest of desires to go home. See her; listen to her endless stories and complaints. And bring her little joys like sweets and her vitamins. Right now, am looking at promo fares. Sigh. I think I sorely miss my family back home. 

No amount of cosmopolitan living can override the provincial life I temporarily left behind. For always, I'd catch myself drifting back... time after time.

Crazy about flats

Are you a shoe fiend? 

This barrio girl grew up with just one shoes at a time. In high school, I remembered that I only have one pair of shoes for school. Replacement only happens when the shoes has rendered itself useless. 

Over the years, I've found myself hoarding shoes. I mean, whenever I see one that I like I'd buy it. Age and some degree of sophistication had allowed me to choose carefully. 

I had a phase of the so-called killer heels. But as 2013 ushered in, I found myself buying pairs and pairs of flat shoes. To me, it is practical for a lot of walking in the metro and even commute. Walking from one point to the next has become easier. And kinder to my feet.  
Melissa shoes. My current favorite. It's sophisticated enough for the office. Smells good, too!
Melissa x Vivien Westwood. Nice to have.

Marc by Marc Jacobs. I've seen & tried this in the store. Looks androgynous and hip.
Repetto. Trivia: This is Audrey Hepburn's favorite brand. Wish I can afford this.
Tory Burch. Comfortable, classy and oh, so nice. Would probably be in my 2013 wishlist. Birthday gift, perhaps?
I'd still wear my heels but only at the choicest of occasions. Right now, the weather is too nice to waste on not pounding the sidewalk just because the shoes isn't made for walking. 

What about you? What are your shoe obsession this year?


Friday, January 11, 2013

House Hunting

House hunting in the big city is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Yeah, that hard. 

This barrio girl joins the millions of transient residents in cosmopolitan Manila. And this lass is now happily married. When you enter this variable into the equation, the search expands and becomes a bit more complicated. 

For many years, I had been content living in a tiny studio. In fact, I had viewed a 34 square meter flat, a generous space. When I made my big move here in the big city, I rented a studio that has enough space to hold my bookshelf, several pairs of shoes, clothes and a few kitchen appliance. It was small but back then it already cost me an arm and a leg. 

But I had a living subsidy back then from my company. It was called an out-of-base allowance. So, paying the rent didn't pinch as hard knowing that I wasn't throwing away much. However, that program sunseted after five years. Gone is the allowance. Gone is the nice neighborhood and the nice studio. 

Which brings me to my initial statement: it is hard to look for a decent place to stay in Manila particularly, in Makati. Two years ago saw me moving in the residential section of Manila that is just a little beyond the boundary of Makati. I wasn't thrilled but I needed to be practical. I learned to love though my neighborhood. It's safe and secure. And those were what matters. 

Nevertheless, some good things never last. Now, am back to surfing the net looking for a new place. I realized that some people have complete disregard in the condition of a house, a condo or a flat when advertising. It's very rare to find a previously-tenanted unit in a mint condition. 

If money were no object, I'd totally build a house like this. (Photo credit: Pinterest)
Or this gorgeous house. (Photo credit: Pinterest)
But reality can be really stark. So, I'd settle for this. 

Hahaha am still dreaming.
If the world was perfect, I may be able to afford a house in the suburbs. But cosmopolitan living this side of the planet means steep tolls and horrible traffic. 

Right now, I'd be happy if I find a place that's decently priced, moderately-sized (2 bedroom) in a respectable neighborhood, in an area that traffic is not an issue. 

Where that would be? Am still looking. Know of a great place? Or are you in the same boat with me? Share your secret to a successful search. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Great Expectations

How far would a company go to please its customers? You wouldn't really know until someone does something that the Customer Service Handbook does not cover. 

The sleeping prank on the video above shows how 'lost' business shop managers and employees are, when a customer act is not within the scenarios outlined in the manual. 

However, it is worthy to note the topnotch customer service Apple provides its customers. Watch the video for an unbiased perspective. 

Do you know of a company that goes far and beyond the customers' expectation? Share it. 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Downton Abbey

No TV series has fascinated me as much as Downtown Abbey. The setting, the plot, the characters, the language, the costume design are so seamlessly woven together into the story it captures my imagination. It is a story of nobility, romance and coming of age.

In the 1920s, the world has just started to stir from the traditional notions of women's roles in the society, the acceptable fashion of the times. In the series, it is very evident that in spite of being old world-- principle, integrity and compassion were time-honored traditions that would have been handy in today's progressive world, the series presents a springboard of how individual and collective character shapes the culture of the times.

In one of the episodes, the plot revolved around the resolution of the conflict between industrialization and people's welfare. Lord Crawley cannot be prevailed upon using new technology if it means that people would lose their livelihood. It spoke volume of what progress has brought us. Yes, we are modern (in thoughts, ideas, culture) but then our side of humanity diminishes whenever we lose sight of the balance between progress and human development. 
The Crawley ladies. Non-working (it was unthinkable at the time) but they're well-educated. So well-read!

I am enamored with the way women dressed at the time. They certainly dress for the occasion. And the concept of less is more is consistently portrayed in the lives of the leading characters. No make-up, just appropriate jewellery. 

There were two weddings in the past season. One, of Mary Crawley and then of her sister, Edith (although she was jilted at the altar). What amazed me was their concept of a grand wedding celebration. On both occasions, the series showed considerable restraint in decor. There was an economy of ostentatious display of wealth. These are nearly absent in today's world. 

Today, a wedding has turned into an arena to show off money. Which makes me sad. The reason for the celebration kind of gets lost in the fireworks and production numbers.

It's nice to be taken back in time and learn from the lessons of the past. Catch Downton Abbey for old world romance, love, family and the wonderful world of a bygone era.

Can't wait for the season premier of season 4 in February. Until then, you've got ample time to watch all three seasons.


Beauty Loot for the New Year

Confession: This barrio girl is no a make-up junkie. You might say, am a 'make-up late bloomer'. I didn't discover it until I was in my 20s. Since then, I've embarked on a trial and error in getting my hands into this seemingly foreign concept that this barrio girl didn't grow up with. 

The discovery of colors captured my imagination for a while. But then, it fizzled. I've stopped obsessing about my skin and colors and palettes several years ago. Maybe it's age. Or maybe I've just come to terms with what my gene pool has given me. 

But then, there are the basics for a glimpse of outward sophistication or what have you. And that you only need very little to look presentable. For the clueless like me who gets dizzy at the multitude of choices, I discovered a few products that does the trick for me.

I am of mind that if you are no Anne Hathaway, Scarlet Johansson or Lucy Torres-Gomez, you don't have the license to go au naturel

Let's face it, make-up doesn't just add oomph to our look; it sprinkles a dose of confidence knowing that you've gone out with a face ready to take on the world. It's like an invisible weapon so anyone can fiercely tackle the challenges of the modern world.

So, everyday I spend at least 5-15 minutes to do my face. I don't have the skill of an artist. So, I make do with my ability (or lack thereof) to blend and stroke a makeup brush onto my face. 

Having said that, I only have a few items that I think would already take you from blah to smile-worthy. Especially, if you are going out of your house. 

Everyday in the car, here is my consistent scene. 

First, I do my face. Am loving this tinted moisturizer with spf 20 from Laura Mercier. You noticed it's in a very tiny tube? Oh yeah, it's a sampler. Soon, I'll get the lead size. What I like about it is that for an everyday, no fuss face, it does even out the skin tone plus, you get sun protection. 

To achieve a finished look, I brush my face with MAC's mineralarized Skinfinish pressed powder.

Second, my wayward brows. I am the best candidate for eyebrow deconstruction at the Browhaus. If only I can afford it. Next best thing, then. I had been in constant search for the best eyebrow makeup in the market. Recently, I've fallen in love with Laura Mercier eyebrow gel. The powdery gel consistency allows me to fill-in the sparse areas of my brows while with just a few strokes, I get to shape it as well. 
Laura Mercier Brow Definer (Soft)

Third, I have this hangdog look. My eyes (eyelids) are sloping downwards. Droopy. I wish I have that doe-eyed look of Dawn Zulueta. But I don't. So, I take pains lining it. For the longest time, I've used pencils. The thing is by midday it starts to smudge. And by the close of office, I already look like a raccoon. 

Good thing my friend, Erika (who's a makeup artist extraordinaire) introduced me to Mac Liquid Eyeliner. I swear it's easy to apply and doesn't smudge. Proof: I've run with eyeliner on and it stays. Awesome, right? 
Fluidline Blacktrack by MAC

Fourth, I blush. Who doesn't want rosy cheeks? But unless you're a mestiza, you don't get it naturally. And so I whip out my discovery last year, the Benefit Cosmetics' Hervana. It's so easy to blend. And it comes in a cheeky packaging. 

Fifth, I apply lip balm. Hardly, a lipstick. Only when there are conferences or when I really have the itch to put on color. On a regular day, it's just a hint with the right amount of moisture so I don't get chappy lips. I've graduated from over the counter lip balms to this new one am really loving, right now. It's called Chubby Stick from Clinique. Sometimes, I alternate it with Revlon's Balm Stain.

And voila, am ready to face the challenges of the day. Add a cup of java and am all set. 

P.S. When am stumped or I want to explore other possibilities, I always check out   (Liz, the author always dishes out something new.)


Thursday, January 3, 2013

The barrio girl gets her dream bachelorette

It has been a quarter of a year already since I had the prettiest event in my life leading to my last days as a singleton. But the memory is still as fresh as if it was yesterday. 

This barrio girl had an awesome bachelorette party. I was in cloud nine when my friends surprised me with a spa party. I've always had strong feelings against having a macho dancer or any variation thereof in any bridal shower. I think they're overrated.

Imagine my glee when I found out that I was actually having none of it. Instead, my friends booked my favorite nail spa. They had it closed and it became our nail haven for a few hours. 

What goes on a sparty? 

The salon gets closed for your event. Every attendee gets to enjoy the paid-for services (either basic mani/pedi) or the fancier ones in the menu. All depends on the organizer's budget. 

Of course, since the place becomes a private event, the organizers can serve food, booze and play games. 

Secretly, I've been conditioning myself that there won't be one. You see my big day is a destination wedding. I would understand if my friends would scrimp because they were all going to my wedding. The expense is already something that am so grateful that they are splurging on, just to celebrate with us on our big day. Yet, they came in droves. I mean, I didn't realize I have so many friends!

But then, they made such an effort my heart burst with happiness. I felt so loved. 

Friends, thank you so much for the gift of friendship. I shall forever cherish the day and the memory, forever.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Goals

It's time to put energy and creativity into the new world. After all, it's just the first day of the new year. We all have an equal chance to start anew; live on a clean slate. 

Today is the perfect time to carefully start the beginning of our new year. Yes, there are still 364 days for the year. But you only get one chance to live-- your first day of the year. Personally, I feel compelled to take stock on how I'd like to tackle the year ahead. 

Winning. Achieving. Both are by-products of sensible planning and commitment to pursue one's goals. 

This year, as we start building a new life as a married couple, I'd like to believe that we're going to be smarter in our choices and decisions. In 2013, I am committing to be faithful as a "partial" stakeholder in attaining our 12 targets. 
1. Be debt-free, this year. Last year, we were financially-challenged. We had a destination wedding to pay for. Although in hindsight, that wasn't really an excuse to neglect the other areas that need financial savvy. Okay, there are some loans that will not be paid off until 2015 but I think in the great scheme of things they were called investment, so am taking them out of the equation. 

2. Save more. Financial gurus have been drumming it up -- save at least 20%. Pay yourself, first. This year, we're going to do that. I WILL add a couple of thousand more every payday to my forced savings account in our coop. Am concerned that we are in no position yet to be prepared for emergencies. This year, it'd would be a year of setting up our Emergency Fund.

3. Tithe consistently. A christian steward must at least give a tenth of his/her income. I pray that I can be more generous. Although, no one can out-give God. But by His grace, I wish to give more. 

4. Buy our life insurance. We are no longer single creatures; we need to be prepared for the inevitable. I shall set up an appointment with my finance buddy and God-parent Berna. 

5. Travel together. Our destinations this year are Siem Reap (Angkor Wat), Taipei and Singapore. The US and Europe remain to be a dream. We'll see where God will put our resources. 

6. Read often. Am a self-confessed bookworm. This year though I'd challenge myself to read, finish and write a short review of a book, every week. That's 53 books in one year. In 2012, I've read so many books but I haven't actually recorded the total count of titles I slept with. 

7. Sleep earlier. They say that there is no such thing as sleep-debt. But I've tricked myself into thinking that I can pay off all the unbelievable late nights I've accumulated either for being out with friends or reading... mostly, reading. This year, I'd pay more attention to the benefits of sleeping early. This means, I should be able to manage my time well. And really just learn the art of living a balanced life. 

8. Wake up early. I've been a perennial late comer. I don't really know what happened in the intervening years but in high school, I went to school earlier than everybody else -- at least the ones who did not ride our school bus. We'd arrive in school by 6:15am for a 7:45am class. Into my adulthood, I've forgotten somehow the value of being an early bird. Perhaps, I've been jilted by the myth of the early worm? haha, kidding. 

Like the emperor in his new suit, I've been tricked into thinking that I look good in it. To be more precise, that it's okay to be late. At work, there were years that I would wallow in the thought that I've wasted precious money by having my pay deducted from all the incurred late minutes. Yet, I haven't changed ways.

Then, I got promoted which gave me time flexibility. I deluded myself into thinking that I can easily just punch in late (scan, actually) then, go home later than the official working hours. 

The past year have shown me that it's not quite the same. Hence, my resolve to come to work on-the-dot at nine in the morning, everyday. No excuses. 

9. Enrich my soul. Go back to the habit of setting a side a time of the day for quiet time to reflect and commune with God. I pray also that my hubby and I will be able to join a bible study growth group so we grow in our faith. I long for the day that I'll be on fire again in my relationship with God. And that may this be the year that we start bearing fruit in our Christian walk.

10. Attend yoga class, regularly. It's painful to admit ones failure to stick to an exercise regimen. However, I've come to terms with the reality that my sporadic physical activities do not really give me the kind of joy and satisfaction I get from yoga. Even if I don't exhibit the right form, all the time. Even if I don't have the stomach to wear proper yoga clothes because my current body is not yet ready for all the mirrors surrounding the hot studio. Even if the heat adds to my consternation at all the yoginis in front of me dazzling me with their yoga poses and non-existing body fats. Yes, even if.

11. Set aside a fund for our future home. Realistically speaking, a huge amount is needed for us to get started with our home project. I'd like to believe that it is prudent to designate the year, as the time that we set aside a predetermined portion of our income into the House Project. This way, when 2014 comes rolling in, we are more prepared and we don't have to incur a tremendous amount of debt.

12. Be kinder and gentler. The universe smiles at the world when its inhabitants are kinder and gentler. I'd like to live by the command to be "quick to listen, slow to anger."

Of course, it wouldn't hurt if my husband presents me a new Prada bag sometime this year. But really, it would just be icing on the cake.

Cheers, 2013!


2012 Year-ender

The year that was 2012. It was such a roller-coaster ride for me. There were some challenges and a lot of lessons learned along the way. Definitely, milestones were carved in my book of life. 

The highlights of my year were pretty awesome. I said 'I do' to my husband, Tyrone. It was a wedding that turned out just how I envisioned it to be... classy, quaint and with just the right amount of restraint in the details. 

We were able to gather, too our friends from all over in our 'big' ceremony. Most of them have set foot in Davao for the first time. Quite a feat. 

My Manila friends also gave me a really beautiful bridal shower. Nothing like the usual. Am allocating it a space on its own.
Spa party. Awesome.
In the process of getting all the preparations done, I met a wickedly creative person through a friend. Mara introduced me to Lyra. And thanks to social network, we've kept in touch. She made me this awesome box, for our wedding favors. 
My old friend Bonna realized her dream of being a florist. I did a lot of prodding. And the result was just nothing short of awesome. In my mind, she re-created how I wanted my setting to look just the way it was on my big day. 

I also met Zhorai, again through Mara. She's this calm and collected marketing gal. A young expat of Sony in Singapore. Noteworthy, for one because I don't get to meet a lot of new people and second, because she's young and she has already shown her mettle in the wold of branding.

I have been really fascinated by the blogosphere. I bookmarked my favorite writers who mostly write about lifestyle. Then, sometime last year, Mara yet again introduced me to this very young full-time internet personality, Liz Lanuzo. She's young and she's conquered cyberspace. She mostly writes about beauty products. In the net, she's

It thrilled me more than ever knowing that in this ever expanding whilst shrinking world, there is a place for everyone. I remember back in my younger days, I read and clipped, Kinny Salas' articles on Philippine Daily Inquirer. Back then, I was obsessed with make-up and beauty. Not quite these days. 

But the thing is there is a clear definitive movement of the world. And I love that I crossed over the timeline.

In the wheel of life, you know that at some point, there'll be a moment or space in time that you'd be underneath it. In what would have been a definitive travel as a newly-married couple, our Taipei adventure had to be shelved. 

A few days after I touched down in Manila from the Davao wedding, I got sick. Really sick. I was hospitalized. So, there goes our honeymoon. 

However, I feel that 2012 was an incredible year for me and my hubby. There were glitches but they didn't overshadow the beautiful events that took place. 
Buzzer beater meet up with Pong and Toto before they boarded the plane back to Vancouver. Am glad we saw each other again. They weren't able to attend our wedding but Pong has been a friend forever. Very generous, too. She gave me a lot of moolah for my wedding shoes. Aw.
So, in 2013, my identity has become a WE and we are looking forward to God's providence and faithfulness in our lives. Cheers!

P.S. I didn't write this on new year's eve because I chose to be an active participant in the real world. XX