Just kidding. In the Philippines it’s always bikini season. We’ve now upgraded to more than 7,500 known islands as opposed to the formerly infamous 7,107. If that isn’t reason enough (all 7,500 of them) to breathe and basically live your life as a mermaid then I don’t know what is.
It’s officially the start of summer and that means that Pinoys have found the perfect excuse to finally file those leaves, book those tickets, and take a trip to the nearest-slash-prettiest azure hue. Not that I ever need coaxing to do any of those.
As someone who works for a travel magazine I find myself in beaches and islands all the time. Sometimes I don’t necessarily get excited over the idea of another 5-day excursion. It sounds ungrateful, I realize, but with such tight schedules we don’t really get the luxury of down time and being able to relax. All my bikini posts on social media are literally two-minute breaks in between shoots or changing locations. (We know how to take advantage of the places too, don’t worry). Luckily, with just a quick boat ride the feeling of “work” dissipates with each splash of saltwater and I’m reminded of why I love what I do.
A couple weeks back I decided to take a trip—not for work this time—to actually be able to enjoy some down time without having to interview anybody, shoot any celebrity, or take care of a team. Unfortunately, I completely forgot what it was like to not be spoiled by itineraries handed to you down to the transportation tee. So when I went to Batangas to find a spot in Laiya, I was reminded of what it’s actually like to book trips on your own.
The trip wasn’t 100% planned. Actually, we didn’t prepare at all. Aside from a huge bag full of bikinis, it was a pretty spontaneous, run-of-the-mill, end-up-wherever kind of trip. There was no booked hotel, no set time to go home (overnight versus a day trip), no concrete anything, really. What happened was a whirlwind of going to four different resorts to check prices and room availability (for a random weeknight the places seemed pretty full), and we settled on booking a stay at the Laiya White Cove Beach Resort which was the most reasonably priced accommodation out of all of the places we went to (and Googled).
There were many, many lessons learned. One, Laiya is expensive. Most resorts require you to pay for a set of three buffet meals on top of the room price which I absolutely do not understand. It’s not even consumable, folks. Just forced meals. Two, I am apparently really not a fan of common bathrooms. No further explanation necessary. Three, I am also apparently not a very spontaneous person nor do I enjoy planning and making itineraries so I’ve got a lot to figure out on how to be a decent traveler. And four, the only good out of all of these lessons, is the reminder that all stresses subside once I’m actually in front of the water living in a bikini.
So let’s talk about that instead. Of course, despite the possibility of just a day trip I overpacked bikinis. I don’t know how it happens but every single work trip of mine I always seem to come out short of swimsuits, even though I pretty much pack one a day. It just always happens. So this time, I packed one swimsuit, three bikini tops and two bikini bottoms just to be sure. I recently went to Etam, a Parisian lingerie and swimsuit boutique brand, and, I kid you not, spent more than an hour trying on pieces in store. (Okay, full disclosure: closer to two.) I know that well-coordinated matching bikinis are pretty much ubiquitous on Instagram but I’ve always been a fan of injecting some creativity in terms of mixing and matching bikinis. I got my fill of choosing amazing standalone pieces—some of which matched while some didn’t. The thing I loved most about the options at Etam was that the pieces, though the cuts are pretty common, the materials aren’t. Imagine the fun I had pairing a white triangle crochet bikini top with an embossed metallic bottom, or when a bright red embroidered two-piece eventually saw a different partner in a black open front, seashell bikini (not photographed, was having too much fun). I also couldn’t resist getting the low-cut monokini—again in metallic. I think it’s perfect for a day-to-night event. I’m not one to not be in a swimsuit at a beach and I don’t care if everyone’s wearing normal non-soakable clothes come nighttime, so a swimsuit as a top option paired with a skirt for a night out was extra appealing an idea to me.
I’m no mixing-and-matching expert. I don’t necessarily believe there are strict style rules in terms of swimwear as opposed to the many, many dos and don’ts in everyday-wear. I go by what feels right and what looks good—to me. And though the comfort of having a matching no-brainer set immediately makes you confident in what you’re wearing, I think the concept of swimwear (and going to the beach in general) is about having fun, and not taking yourself too seriously. Being able to move in a suit, whether it’s high cut, high waist, or a one-piece is what matters. Who cares if materials aren’t the same or if colors seem to clash? Swimsuits are supposed to boost confidence—not cause insecurity. I’m grateful that Etam actually promotes having fun at the beach by encouraging women to mix and match and not be a stickler for the conventional.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen many women shy away from flaunting their beach bodies—women whose bods are actually objectively really hot. And I’ve seen women who don’t care, didn’t work out obsessively or at all, with the enviable confidence to play around in whatever it is that they’re wearing. More than having rock hard abs or a plump butt, I think the ability to stand tall in swimwear is what’s really sexy. I know the world is full of body-shaming jerks but I don’t think you should make room for insecurity especially at the beach—a place that offers so much in terms of serenity, relaxation, and sometimes even healing. It’s just counterintuitive. It sounds trite, I know, but confidence really is key to everything and if mixing and matching a bright red bikini top with a bright blue bottom makes you feel a little more insane and a lot more like yourself, then, fuck the styling rules.
You do you, beach babe. You do you.
All bikinis from Etam Philippines. Visit Etam’s branches at SM Aura Premier, SM Megamall, and Ayala Center