Mixing and Matching Etam Bikinis in Laiya, Batangas

It’s bikini season once again!

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

Local Destination: Aquascape in Lake Caliraya

One of the many things I love about the Philippines is the abundance of destinations—both near and far. Whether your transportation of choice is by air, sea, or land, there is an endless amount of places to get away to. A few months ago I was tasked with going to Lake Caliraya for work (I know, I love my job). The truth is I get anxiety over trips no matter how near or how short they are but I was pleasantly surprised by this one. For one night I was transported to a floating escape in the middle of a lake and had an exhilarating time trying out all the amenities of Aquascape Resort—from kayaking, to riding the ATV, right down to paddle boarding (and failing that a manong had to steer me towards the right direction). Fun times.

Read on to see more of what went down during this trip. Original article (edited) below was written for and published in Explore Philippines Magazine’s November 2017 to February 2018 issue. 

In my opinion, here are the key ingredients that make a vacation one to remember: laughter, a sense of calm, a sense of adventure, and, sometimes, even tears. Our recent trip to Lake Caliraya had all of those. I can’t decide which memory takes the cake—a four-hour karaoke session, riding the banana boat and all five passengers falling off in a straight line in the middle of the lake that we ended up kicking each other (unintentionally, of course), or our associate editor crying a minute into her chosen water sport—some variant of an inflatable ride attached to a speedboat.

It’s rare to find a spot that boasts of a myriad of activities yet also offers a serene respite from the trappings of the city, but Aquascape Caliraya was exactly that. A hidden gem in the heart of Laguna, Aquascape is a family-owned resort established by a father and daughter tandem who were always in search of a place to camp and have fun in the water. When the opportunity to buy the area presented itself, they grabbed the chance and built a haven for adventure seekers and provided jobs for the locals who maintain and run the place.

ADVENTURE SEEKERS

Aquascape offers seven lakefront cottages, a floating cottage, and a bigger, more premium floating suite.  Despite the optional solitude, the resort offers a long list of activities based on guests’ chosen terrain: rocky paths, an open field for archery, or the vast expanse of the water.

A fan favorite is the ATV. Whether driving skills are existent or not, the buggies are rather easy to navigate and badass to take photos with. The trail is straightforward—there’s absolutely no chance of getting lost in the forest—but keep in mind that the path isn’t perfect, so humps care of fallen logs, dips care of the lay of the land, and necessary maneuvers to avoid certain trees are part of the 15-minute ride and the fun. Any four-wheeler of choice will do the trick. For those who prefer a more sustainable and active option, there are e-bikes for rent as well. Tread the same path carefully and with a little more energy for #LegDay.

For the brave souls who want a few tries at being Legolas, there is an archery area near the trail. Don’t be fooled—slinging these bows is much more difficult than the commercial options in shopping malls.

The water sports are the bread and butter of the resort. Kayaks, paddleboards, jet skis, and speedboats are all available for rent but the real winners are the inflatable rides. Groups schedule slots during the day to try out the many rides on the water. After all, seeing the floaties lined up by the shore draws intrigue and stirs a sense of adventure. The banana boat is probably the most famous option, popularized by Boracay. Five to ten people ride a cylinder-like floatie shaped like a banana, hence the name, and hold on for dear life as the speedboat races with the sole intent of having the passengers fall off. And fall we did.

There are other variants too. One is lovingly called the Tsinelas by the owner because it’s shaped like a slipper. Two people lie down on the flat surface and one person stands in between them holding on to the top, or the “strap”, so to speak. Another ride is called the Swordfish, where two guests sit on the ride and hold on to the sides while being dragged along in circles. Guests have the option to ask the driver to go slower or faster depending on their tolerance. I kid you not when I say one of us cried and they had to end the ride. There are a lot more variants and they definitely aren’t for the faint of heart but they are absolute must-tries for any stay.

REST AND RELAXATION

While Pinoys do love a multitude of activities to choose from, we as a people are also known for leisurely spending time just chilling out. Just imagine sleeping in a motorized floating suite and waking up in the middle of the lake to the most glorious view of the water, with curtains billowing and the sunlight streaming. Nothing beats that level of serenity and that’s exactly what Aquascape offers. Guests have the option to have the floating rooms docked by the shore near the lakeside general area or somewhere more private.

The rest of the lakeside cottages are all designed differently but all evoke a rustic, homey ambiance. There’s a tree house, a bungalow, and other room options depending on the number of guests. Each room is equipped with—get this—a karaoke, and there is a special karaoke room if you want more privacy and a set up that resembles having an audience. Each room even has disco lights to boot to guarantee performance levels. Even the floating cottages have disco lights. Of course we tried it in the middle of the lake and, of course, it was to Justin Bieber’s “Despacito”.

The experience of having to choose your own adventure was the real winner. Even a meal can be an adventure in itself. There are no nearby restaurants, stores, or commercial establishments so guests are highly encouraged to bring pre-marinated or pre-cooked food. Pre-ordering meals is also an easier, more hassle-free option.

When I do head back, which I most definitely will, I’ll try the paddle board again—sans the manong this time, my biceps be damned.

Green two-piece swimsuit, SOAK SWIMWEAR (local brand)

Sports bra and joggers, IVY PARK via ZALORA 

Striped pants, NEON ISLAND (local brand)

Photography by JISA ATRERO

Chasing Time with Henry London

Such a strange thing, time. We get impatient and will it to speed up but we also panic when we realize how it flies and beg for it to slow down. But whichever route we want time to take it always governs how we live our lives. Everything is in relation to time—memories, fears, goals, and dreams.

I realized early on that time has to take its own course and have learned to love and respect my own unique life pace even if I don’t always necessarily understand it. Still, just like everyone else, I constantly rush (traffic and my weird sleeping patterns are mostly to blame) and I do tend to feel pressured to make more out of my day. Beyonce also has 24 hours in a day so what on earth is happening to mine?

But time, much to my dismay, is something that we can’t bend to conform to our needs and desires. The clock ticks as it does—day after day, hour after hour, second after second. There’s really no use trying to one-up it. We roll with the punches. We take what we can get and we make the most out of things. Easier said than done, I know. After all, time management is one of the hardest skills to master despite the many self-help books and number of courses to aid you.

What you do in an hour, a day, a week, a month, or a year — that’s completely up to you. Though I do hope that when you look back on how you’ve been spending it, you find it worthwhile. There is, unfortunately, no clear-cut path to conquering time. But while you figure out what to do with it, I think the best way to actually track it, so to speak, is via a beautiful timepiece.

I’m very particular with accoutrements of all kinds—I rarely ever wear accessories. Watches are no exception. I was very recently introduced to Henry London and it evoked a lot of emotions especially since the brand celebrates all things London. Their watches are named after subway stations, the first ever piece was inspired by a vintage watch found in the markets of Portobello, and the selection, in its diversity and eclecticism, mimics the people of London—a diverse group of people who are all equally captivating, charming, inspiring and yes, I need to go there, quintessentially polite.

Since it’s been exactly a year since one of the greatest experiences of my life—my lovely stint in Oxford—I  will always look at London with love.

And I guess that’s exactly what the watches evoke—a sense of love. And not just because the watches are objectively gorgeous. Dome-shaped dials, classic vintage styles, genuine leather straps that are interchangeable, even a dial that includes moon phases— these are all objectively appealing to any watch connoisseur. But the great thing about Henry, “a sprinkle of magic dust” acco. to Managing Director Paul Harry, is that each timepiece is customizable for free. You can engrave whatever you want at the back of the dial. Names, significant dates, declarations of love—those are all plausible options.

Obviously, when I got my first Henry I had mine engraved too, but instead of going the usual route, I had my ‘word of the year’ immortalized instead. Each year I come up with a word—an overarching theme of how I want my year to go—and this year it’s “Soar”. Isn’t it nice to not only be able to tell time on a beautiful timepiece, but also have it as a constant reminder of whatever it is you hold dear—in my case a frame of mind? Now it can always be within reach to remind me, at a glance, whenever I feel like I’ve been losing direction that it’s always forward and up. Always.

In my humble opinion, if Cinderella just had a watch, she wouldn’t have had to go home with a shoe missing. Heels nowadays are way too expensive to just leave at some party. Even in the hands of some lovestruck prince.

Henry London watches are available in all Wristpod and Swissgear branches, Landmark Makati and select SM Department Stores 

Denim Days

Full disclosure: I’m all about denim. Boot cut, boyfriend, cropped, straight – I’m obsessed with it. I’d like to think that in a world of tulle skirts and lace dresses, I can rely on this mining-inspired classic to keep me grounded style-wise and not be swept up in the whirlwind of trends that will not always work on me and will eventually regret wearing some Instagram scrolls later. I think I’m at an age where I’m starting to become a bit more trend-averse and have recently realized that certain stores I used to love don’t have the same allure anymore and certain pieces I thought were too “old” for me are slowly humming their siren call. 

But denim? Denim is timeless. Cliche but true. I have throwback photos of me as a child looking cute in denim (if I may say so myself), and even throughout my teens when I looked awkward as hell denim was always there. Whether my jeans had snoopy embroidered on them (true story), or whether my pair was exaggeratedly flared and way too long for my petite frame that it turned filthy after just 10 minutes on me all because Britney Spears wore the same silhouette circa I’m a Slave 4 U, for some reason denim has always felt stylish. Even circa 2015 when #normcore was thrown around right and left and boyfriend jeans were paired with Nike slides and the plainest of shirts, it still felt fashionable. Even if it is at its very core #basic, the right pair can still imbibe Kate Moss-effortless instead of a sartorial hump day. 

That’s exactly what I love about jeans. And I’m always in them especially when I travel. I always bring a pair and I somehow always end up buying another pair when I’m away. Though I’m partial to anything bootleg at the moment, I must say that my favorite travel silhouette will always be the skinny.

Skinny is just easy. When I travel I want a no-brainer, no-fail piece that doesn’t come with the stress of having to think about what to wear in addition to everything else (like a debate on how much my Uber will be versus my willingness to walk an unimaginable number of blocks, which, quite frankly, is a debate that is all-consuming). It looks good with just about anything. The risk of seeming sloppy is basically non-existent. All kinds of footwear would be accentuated especially boots that instantly up the sartorial ante. I assume that when you’re on the go, run around a lot, and pack a lot (I’m lucky I’ve been living out of my luggage the past few months for a change) you need tried and tested staples. The skinny will always be mine. 

What is difficult though is finding the right pair in terms of length, fit, rise, and the ability to flatter one’s behind. Luckily, Promod recently released five new denim silhouettes and, of course, I gravitated towards the Gaspard, a mid-rise skinny. It comes in six washes but I tried on three: a faded blue, gray, and black. If you’re torn, I would recommend buying it in black – a hue of skinnies I think everyone should own. True to form, when I had to pack my bags for a staycation, it was the skinny  I chose to bring. Wore it with a sweater, a loose white button down, a tee and a motorcycle jacket.   It’s both versatile and universally flattering. 

The good news is that if you do get yourself a pair of jeans from Promod and show my photo in this post (or on Instagram wearing the Gaspar) they’ll give you a free gift (until September 30 only). So try on a pair and jumpstart that wardrobe haul for the holidays. I can assure you, you’ll be doing a lot of shopping, prepping, and hopefully traveling in jeans in the next few months. Style and function have never been more seamless, pun intended.

All clothes from Promod. They are also having a buy one, get one at 50% off for all pairs of denim until September 10. So don’t forget to visit a branch near you! 

Fairy Tales

When fairies render olfactory miracles

I’ve always been drawn to the ethereal. Some of my favorite reads are about fantasy, mythology, and the complex worlds of the mystical. I even took a course under Coursera (it’s a website that offers an extensive list of free online programs go check it out) on Fantasy and Science Fiction under UofM and have armed myself with a line up of the Grimm Brothers, Terry Brooks, and Tolkien within bedside reach. I’m a nerd.

Naturally, all things that are even remotely related to these fictitious realms pique my interest in ways I can’t even begin to describe. Brands that reference anything wiccan, instagram accounts dedicated to fantasy, and even perfume scents that are inspired by storybook characters are given time of day.

When I came across Féerie by Van Cleef & Arpels, I knew I had to at least smell it. Even the packaging draws attention – a deep blue gem-inspired bottle that features a tiny fairy perched on a branch. It looks like a precious jewel. The scent is equally captivating. I’ve never been one to go for a sweet scent but this floral woody mix is just the right amount of saccharine. It’s initially fruity with hints of blackcurrant and Italian mandarin but the lasting notes are of the flowers – violet, Egyptian Jasmine, Florentine iris, and the Bulgarian rose. It’s a very feminine, floral choice. I truly believe that scents can easily influence one’s mood. With a spritz or two of this fragrance, expect a truly sweet and fresh take on the day ahead.

So when I’m feeling particularly somber, or let’s be real, irritable, I take the bottle on my way out the door and expect my disposition to be a lot sunnier and a whole lot sweeter. Maybe it’s expecting too much from a singular bottle. But fairies are magical creatures after all, and I’ll presume nothing less from a scent inspired by them.

Top, H&M
Skirt, EVER NEW 
Embroidered choker, PARFOIS 
Photography and Makeup by ELISA AQUINO

Parfois’ End of Season Sale is Here!

Ah, sale season. The season my math brain works its best.

Ah, sale season. The season of heavy shopping bags that double as weights that carrying them is practically a workout; The season of looking at bills with one eye open and one eye closed but 100% completely hoping that the total isn’t what you know it should be; The season of downloading apps of your favorite stores to spend hours browsing sale items only to delete the apps again once sales are over; The season my math brain works its best; and the season of throwing out all shopping resolutions out the window because a new item (or 10) is so easily justified.

Good thing there are some pieces that you don’t necessarily need to justify. Especially not when items are 70% off. Y’all know I’m a huge fan of Parfois. Time and again I enter the store and leave with something. This month, Parfois has an insane array of heavily discounted items including some of the ones I’ve actually gotten prior. But really it’s just rows upon rows of bags that are discounted up to 70% off, shoes that are quickly running out of sizes, accessories that can upgrade outfits from 0 to 60, and scarves, sunglasses, and watches that you really shouldn’t think twice about grabbing.

I went around the store at least thrice trying to scour for my absolute favorites and these are my top 12 picks from the sale.

parfois end of season sale favorites

1st row L-R: Pink purse now at P795; brown suede block heels at P695; Green backpack at P995 (from P2290!); 2nd row L-R: Watch now at P495; Yellow backpack now at P995; snakeskin flats at P695; 3rd row L-R: Suede slingback flats at P695; knitted tote at P995; silver sling at P595; 4th row L-R: Silver statement earrings at P195; Sandals at P695; Boots at P695

Aside from those (and other favorites), here are some of the items that are also on sale that I actually already bought prior to it. Those silver strappy heels? I even remember fitting those on two different days because they looked a tad big at first and eventually getting them for myself. They’re now on sale for P695. The velvet choker? I got that in Parfois Portugal and it’s now on sale for P295. The yellow sling I also got for full price that I’ve already taken to a bunch of out of town trips is now on sale for P995. I’m dead serious about you having to go to the store and just emptying it out. The sale is way too good for you to pass up. I know I didn’t.

But full disclosure? I also got items from the new collection that are regularly priced. What can I say? Shopping at Parfois never needs to be justified. The sale though- that’s a no-brainer. So don’t think, just go. Thank me later.

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Nowhere Can Be Somewhere

What do you do with your what ifs?

What if?

Doesn’t that question haunt even the happiest of people? Those people who seem to have no regrets — risk takers, dream chasers, the kind of people we all secretly and some not-so-secretly wish we could be.

What if we took a shot. What if we took a different path. Different job. Different relationship. Different city. Different continent. What if we had the guts to look at life, take it by the horns, and just jump in. We’d probably still have what ifs. But they may not be as nagging. That’s what I love about life. Imagine an infinite number of universes all hinged on the different decisions you make where everything can change in an instant and everything hangs on a second. Imagine the power each second holds.

A couple of weeks ago we entered the realm of unlimited possibilities when we were whisked away on a trip to Laguna by my all-time favorite accessory brand, Parfois. As usual, we were fed copious amounts of food—starting on the ride over up until the moment we left.

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When we got to the venue, we were immediately whisked right into our what ifs— our potential alternate realities. The set up of the event itself was beautiful. An empty pool drained of water and instead filled with the new goodies from Parfois’ new SS17 collection, Nowhere Can Be Somewhere. Think: bags, shoes, sunglasses, and heaps of cute and trendy accessories inspired by nature. A delicate mix of minimalist and romantic pieces that draw inspiration from the 50s, 60s, and the 70s, the collection boasts of a bevy of materials and looks from denim to patchwork, quilts to metallics, and straw to raffia.

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Susana Coerver, who flew in from the Parfois HQ in Portugal, introduced the collection to us and talked a little bit about her own inspiring what if— a dream she then pursued much like the rest of the people in that group. Not all events require audience participation but Parfois’ events are always intimate and we did talk a little bit about ourselves and chatted with friends we haven’t seen in a long time. We were then treated to a sumptuous seven-course meal prepared by The Gypsy Chef. Each dish was both beautiful and photographable. From experience, Parfois tends to come up with interesting activities throughout usually starting with something edible—which really is the only way to start. Our first for the day involved having to design our own deconstructed pavlova masterpieces— a task we took seriously.

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In between eating and heading on to the next activity, we found our way to the trenches of the empty pool ogling the items and trying on the pieces that caught our eye. My personal favorites included tiered straw earrings, pineapple studs, gold insect-studded slip-ons, and a red purse covered in a blanket of floral applique.

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We then headed to my favorite part of the day—when we had to draw our self-portraits. I was lucky enough to be seated at a table with such artistic people that I remember having looked quite a few times over at their work and having felt a little competitive. I also spent an absurd amount of time trying to blend the pastels on my work and ended up really getting my hands dirty.

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We then huddled in a group so that the expert could discuss our work one by one and, lo and behold, her prognosis on how we saw ourselves were pretty accurate. She analysed the colors that we used, the shapes, down to the little intricacies of the features. It was actually a really cool exercise and I would definitely recommend it for a fun day of trying to be creative.

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I always, always love whatever new collection Parfois offers. I’m in that store almost every two weeks just checking out new items in stock. But what I especially like about this particular launch is that aside from the fact that the pieces are objectively dope, the story behind the collection resonates with me. “PARFOIS introduces a collection created with adventurous, free women in mind, women who live every moment, enjoy every moment, embrace change as if it were an old friend, and are always ready for the unexpected. A true declaration of independence that is up to each one of us.”

And that, my friends, is such a beautiful way to capture the heart of the modern woman, don’t you think?

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Of Secret Handshakes and Pinky Promises

When it comes to makeup, I don’t compromise.

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How many promises have you made throughout your lifetime? A hundred? A thousand?

I learned the value of a promise early on in life. Imagine my 5-year-old self making a bashful promise to a friend to meet up again for a play date in the park. “I promise to meet right here by the seesaw!” I also vividly remember holding on to my mother’s promise of getting the Mermaid Barbie doll for Christmas—the one with the luscious, long hair (that I eventually chopped off into a pixie). I also—I kid you not—held Santa Claus to his promises. I’d write him a wishlist of things I wanted and I’d look into his eyes as I’d sit on his lap and hope to goodness that he delivers. He always did. (Thanks, family, for keeping up the charade—one I was too naive to see through. Also, you owe me for hanging that Naughty or Nice list over my head for way too long.)

Promises have always demanded trust, even when trust wasn’t deserved. I did get the Barbie dolls come Christmas time and I’m pretty sure play dates pushed through, but I as I got older promises didn’t seem to hold the same weight as before—even if the promises escalated in importance and meaning. Sometimes, even if the intent is there and you do really want to keep your promises, life gets in the way. Promises, however empty or impossible to keep, have always been so reassuring. Especially when it comes to goodbyes. Or love.

I remember grade school friends who migrated overseas who promised to stay in touch. We sent each other snail mail a few times but it eventually just stopped. Then there were the people you thought would be your best friends for life—your ride-or-dies—and you pinky promise that you’ll all have kids at the same time and that your kids will also grow up to be friends (#truestory) and then you just grow apart—even before the second generation munchkins are even a possibility. Then there are flames with even grander promises that you just know won’t be kept, but somehow you manage to believe anyway.

I think women, as we get older, have a harder time trusting sweeping statements and seemingly too-good-to-be-true promises. We have been burned aplenty by promises both big and small. Even for the products we buy, we have a hard time believing the label. We order clothes online and they don’t always look like the photo. That’s why we really do our research on purchases especially when it comes to beauty. We look at reviews, we read blogs, we sample. It takes a lot for us to buy into promises.

One beauty brand that holds promises to a higher standard, with the tagline “Beautiful promises kept,” is Avon. Avon tells you exactly what you’re getting with each product and makes sure that the formulation delivers. If it’s moisturizing glossy lips that are promised, then it’s moisturized glossy lips that you’ll get. It has been a trusted brand since I was young and it still keeps its loyal following to this day.

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Clockwise from left: Ideal Oil Control Plus Dual Powder Foundation; Skin Goodness Moisturizing BB Cream; Eyeshadow Quad 5G in ; Perfectly Matte Lipstick in Red Supreme

I test-drove some of the makeup products of the Avon True Color line recently and I can say that they still deliver. I especially like the Perfectly Matte Lipstick in Red Supreme, because unlike other tubes of matte lipstick, it gives off a good matte color pay without drying your lips. I love the Glazewear Lip Gloss in Mauve Movement. It was pretty sheer at first, but after applying a few coats the sheen was on point. It works even better on top of the Perfectly Matte Lipstick in Wild Cherry.

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Clockwise: The Glazewear Lip Gloss in Mauve Movement; The Eyeshadow Quad 5G in ; Perfectly Matte Lipstick in Wild Cherry; Luminous Blush

The Avon True Color Eyeshadow Quad 5G is infused with real gold and it always feels luxurious to know you’re playing with the highly-coveted mineral. (The same can be said of the 24K Gold Lipstick that gives a shimmery sheen, as expected.) The base I used is the Skin Goodness Moisturizing BB Cream topped with the Ideal Oil Control Plus Dual Powder Foundation. The BB cream alone is enough to give good coverage, but since I prefer a matte finish for the red lipped-look, I dusted on the powder. The products are effortless and easy to use. They last. And, more importantly, they do what they say they’ll do.

I know that in life some promises are meant to be kept, while some are meant to be broken. That’s just the way it is. But when it comes to makeup, I don’t compromise. And neither should you.

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Visit http://avonshop.ph/makeup/avon-true-color.html for more information 

Danilo.

The quintessential white dress speaks volumes.

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Deciding what to write about on posts on this blog isn’t always easy. Most of the time my ideas have been exhausted on articles, tweets, and random tirades on Telegram. Not that I think the blog doesn’t deserve great content — it’s just getting harder and harder to talk about a singular dress, such as this.

Ah, but the quintessential white dress. That’s a subject even fashion blog-snobs would be willing to throw their two cents in. Isn’t it funny how an item so simple can symbolize so much? Can unite people in excitement via stacks of bridal magazines, or a fitting room with champagne, and, ultimately, with a chorus of oohs and aahs when the dream is made into reality and a woman—in her perfect dress—walks down the aisle?

The beauty of a white dress transcends mere fashion, no? It captures love, the thrill of a wedding, the sanctity of a marriage; An immortalization of a serendipitous moment by way of sheer fabric. No one item of clothing can boast the same. Isn’t it also impressive how, conversely, a white dress can bring together those suffering from sorrow as a nod to the agony, an ode to the grief and the difficulty of letting go? It is, after all, also the mourner’s choice symbolising an emotion so pure yet laced with so much pain.

I didn’t buy this dress for these specific reasons, obviously. I happened to like it and it happened to be on sale. But incidentally, the past couple weeks have been eventful— a good friend got hitched to her boyfriend of 9 years, while a dear, dear friend, mentor, and former professor passed away. Again, coincidentally, their nicknames are the same. One celebrated a new chapter in her life, the other’s was celebrated in its entirety.

I’ve cried for both. Out of happiness for a friend who is finally married to the man of her dreams. My only regret that day was not bringing enough tissue to last a row of ladies so deeply involved in her life that even before she showed up on the aisle they (and by that I mean we) were already in tears. I’ve also wept for a friend’s demise—so sudden, taking everyone by surprise, breaking hearts in his wake.

Dan, the newlywed, was also a student of the late Danilo, the fashion professor and the most talented illustrator I have ever come across. Isn’t it also interesting to note that he taught us about dresses— how to render them, how to bring ideas into fruition, how to put pen to paper, and translate dreams into visions of art? He’s planted many a seed of inspiration and beauty in the lives of so many people; He has fanned fire’s dying embers and kept dreams alive; He has watched students bloom into the designers and creators they were always meant to be. He is deeply missed.

Sir Dan, my white dress is for you. But this white dress isn’t mourner’s regalia. It’s a reminder of a blank canvas—one you were always inviting us to create on. You’ve always believed in the capacity of people to commit to beauty and were more than generous in sharing your talent with us. Now, more than ever, all blank canvasses will be painted on with your direction in mind—always guiding; Your gentle voice always encouraging.

All your friends and all of your students will create with you in mind. And you will live on in the most beautiful of things—paintings, art, words, fashion. And isn’t that just the highest honour?

Salamat, Sir Dan. 

 

Gait of a Lady | Boucheron Quatre

Add a pep in your step by way of scent.

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Happy 2017, folks! Another year, another welcome post.

Everyone ushered in the new year with such excitement—urgency, almost. I think we can all agree that 2016 was universally awful. No need to enumerate why. The horrific events that transpired, sometimes with equally horrific faces, are, unfortunately, forever etched in our memories.

But if I may, personally, 2016 wasn’t so bad. I took a publishing course in the UK, met amazing people I plan on keeping in my life, had a few amazing trips, took more vacation time than what was probably allowed, thoroughly enjoyed my job, and was published pretty often so I’m extremely grateful for the year that was.

Since I’m a sucker for “Life Planning” and “Goal Setting” or any lame excuse to buy a new set of notebooks, every year I try to come up with a word—an overarching theme for my year (or life). Last year’s was “soar”. I guess I didn’t specify exactly what I had in mind but I did do some literal soaring and for that I am not mad. I’ve been trying to rack my brain for the perfect word for 2017. My working theme is “reinvention” which, by the way, is not an iteration of the trite “New Year, New Me” adage. Just a recalibration. Alyssa 2.0. Or The Late Twenties Version.

Reinvention can encompass multiple things. A new look, outlook, job—country, even. My career and geographical considerations are something I am still figuring out so unless you want to discuss at length what I need to do with my life, let’s stick to sartorial discourse here. Style-wise, I got bangs (which you can’t see in the photos because they were decided rather spontaneously post the shoot). I also bought new makeup and beauty products. Deciding to invest in skin care is worth it, I hear. My ROI can be publicly accessed and observed. Peruse (or dissect) photos as you wish. And my last bit of news in the beauty department is that I switched fragrances.

I got the Boucheron Quatre a couple of months ago but only started to spritz it obsessively recently. The Parisian brand equates to luxury and the perfume captures the brand’s essence, pun intended. The fragrance, inspired by the Maison’s iconic ring, is an elegant floral fruity blend. A lot of times fruity doesn’t necessarily feel grown-up—it’s kind of reminiscent of a tween’s first choice promptly after discovering her mother’s perfume cabinet. I actually remembering discovering my grandmother’s perfume cabinet and wanting to be in on the grown-up lady fun, you know, minus the cough-inducing spritzes. The olfactory biases of an 11-year old are very much geared towards the scent of fried chicken and newly-opened Barbie boxes. The Quatre, on the other hand, is for the contemporary woman. The scent is a subtle combination of chic and cool brought about by the mixture of bitter orange, jasmine, and just the right kick of golden woods for a woody undertone.

I know people say heels make the woman. Or something like it, I’m lazy to Google. But I do know that more than heels, spritzes of the perfect fragrance prompt the gait of a lady.

Statistically speaking, correlation doesn’t necessarily imply causation but trust me when I say the spritz adds a pep in the step. And this specific spritz induces a ladylike strut.

The Boucheront Quatre can be purchased at Art of Scent stores in Shangri-la Plaza and Resorts World Manila.

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