My Red Giant Flight

Thank you Air Asia for my beautiful trip to Boracay. (And for the photo with the pilot.)

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Flying has always been my favorite mode of transportation albeit also the one that prompts the most prayers.

See, I’m the type of person who can’t stay put in one place so I try to travel as often as I can. There’s something magical about the moment the plane takes off that just makes you feel like you’re bound for new and amazing adventures, memories, realizations and, if you’re lucky, a change in perspective.

But before getting to that point, interestingly, I’m also usually hassled by the experience prior. From frantically packing (I tend to procrastinate) to waiting for hours in the airport, running around, waking up early most of the time, the process of flying is draining for me which is why I never really dress up for trips. I associate flying with long forecasted hours waiting in the airport and walking for miles through different censors to get to your gate.  I’ve had severely uncomfortable 16 hour flights so I do whatever’s needed to make flying much easier. I bring a sweater that can be turned into a blanket, a neck pillow, a book to kill time and anything and everything I deem necessary.

Now, while longer and further trips are more of a hassle and something to be gotten over with, shorter trips, especially local ones, are always welcome. However, flying local has a bad reputation. I’ve heard and experienced first-hand horror stories regarding delays with certain airlines, some of which I feel very strongly about.

Which is why I enjoyed my recent trip to Boracay. I flew with Air Asia who was gracious enough to host me and a few other bloggers to our favorite little getaway. The trip going we were seated by emergency exits so the leg room was a welcome surprise. The flights were also pretty fast. There was airport traffic on the flight back so boarding was delayed but the plane flew smoothly and quickly that we still arrived the time we were supposed to. It was actually so fast I didn’t even get shuteye because just as we were about to sleep we were already preparing for descent. That’s what you get when you’re with friends and you spend the first few minutes talking. I especially liked that we were updated by the pilot multiple times as to what caused the delay in boarding and how we were still targeting the same arrival time. I think we flew for 40 minutes as opposed to the usual 1 hour and 10.

air-asia13air-asia14I rarely eat during short trips because the pressure in high altitudes supposedly affects taste buds so food may seem bland but I heard (from Ana who was behind me) that the cookies were especially good not to mention, affordable. I did get tempted when the food cart passed by especially by the aroma of coffee but I opted not to eat. Options included Asian Fried Rice with Chicken Satay, Beef Caldereta, pancakes, burgers (for pre-order) and an abundance of snacks. Actually, now that I think about it I probably should’ve. They had Milo too so that was a complete waste of a chocolate milk opportunity.

The flight back was pretty cool because we got to take photos with the pilot and co-pilot, the crew and the cockpit which I’ve actually never seen in person before. See, our flight was fast we had the time.

Thank you so much, Air Asia, for the awesome trip and for graciously accommodating us. I can’t wait to fly with you again. It helps there’s an Air Asia App too for easy booking. I was already scouting the in-house magazine for my next destinations. Eyeing Kota Kinabalu and Sydney already and I can’t wait to make it happen.

‘Til the next trip with the Red Giant!

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Myself, Christine Liwag, Aisa Ipac, Tracy Ayson, Seph Cham, Trice Nagusara and Ana Gonzales with the Co-Pilot.air-asia2 air-asia3air-asia6air-asia11 air-asia12air asia19 air asia18air-asia7

To book your own Air Asia trip, head on over to AirAsia.com

Beach Princess

A Disney princess dress to match a Disney princess moment.

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It’s been beachy over at my Instagram with my recent trip to Boracay. I just got back and am a little too eager to share photos so here’s a quick outfit post before I go through what went down during the trip.

This Carisse dress was impulse bought at a bazaar. It felt too reminiscent of a Disney princess to pass up. I should probably trust my instincts more given that this impulse buy turned into a favorite in such a short period of time. What I pictured with pants I ended up in without. But with the water as my background my bikini was more than enough.

Shot this at Crown Regency Hotels, the place where we stayed. More on that and my actual Disney princess moment (as Ariel – my favorite, no less – when I went mermaid swimming with fish AND sharks) on a different post.

For now, I leave you with what I imagine Rapunzel would wear with the bishop sleeves and the smocking. A better reference would be greatly appreciated.  I know there are fairy tale experts out there.

Dress, SHOP CARISSE

Photos by Angela Nepomuceno

Shot at Crown Regency Hotels

#SmartMasskara and Living All Out

Went to Masskara with Smart and #LivedAllOut. Here’s what went down and what you can do in Bacolod.

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The first and last time I was in Bacolod was 3 years ago for the famous Masskara festival. Masskara, named after the parade with people wearing all kinds of intricate and heavily designed masks, is a tourist event and destination that people look forward to year after year. As a Bacolod first-timer then, I made sure to make awesome use of my time. Naturally, with great company and many great first experiences, it was a hard Masskara trip to top. So when my blogger friends and I headed to Bacolod 2 weekends ago with Smart Communication to celebrate the famous City of Smiles festival, I was just a tiny bit skeptical.

But, as I’ve learned attending festivals and events with Smart, nothing beats the Smart way with the famous Live All Out philosophy and the even more famous hashtag: #SmartLiveAllOut. And as an expert LiveAllOut-er, I made sure to stay true to my most abused hashtag and #LAO-ed my way through #SmartMasskara.

From amazing food which we all happily ingested every chance we got even ordering full meals in the wee hours of the morning because, #YOLO, to the sites we visited and to partying literally every day and still dancing up until baggage claim, we had an absolute blast.

But if you don’t believe my words (although seriously, why not?), here’s a rundown of my Bacolod weekend. Feel free to #twin with our activities. Great experiences are meant to be shared.

#EatingAllOut. We pigged out in more ways than I would care to admit. So if you’re headed to Bacolod anytime soon or for the next Masskara. Here’s what you should put in your meal itinerary.

1. Calea Cakes. The Imported Chocolate Cake is supposedly their number one bestseller but the White Chocolate Cheesecake is something I’m still craving for more than a week after I had it. It was light with grated cheese on top and strawberry sauce on the side. So good. If anyone goes to Bacolod anytime soon I would seriously like to commission you to buy me a box. Thanks in advance.

2. Manokan Country. Though the city boasts of authentic inasal places corner after corner, Manokan Country is by far the biggest and with the most options. If you’re adventurous you can try the different chicken parts (blood, intestines, ass, etc). I’m not, so the thigh was more than enough and more than filling.

3. Imay’s for some Filipino dishes. Don’t forget to try the Cansi, a Bacolod soup specialty.

4. Pala-Pala for fresh seafood.

5. Pendy’s for some take home Napoleones. Two people (read: my mom and I) finished a box of 15 in two days so keep that in mind when you’re ordering.

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Bloggers happy at the prospect of food. From left to right: myself, Angela Nepomuceno, Miko Carreon, David Guison, Christine Liwag, Paul Chuapoco Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb1 presetProcessed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Cansi, a Bacolod soup specialty

#PartyingAllOut. As I’ve said, we went to parties day after day. Not that I’m complaining, on the contrary, it was a welcome change to my boring routine and we all had such an amazing time dancing the night away. Here’s a list of the parties we went to for reminiscing’s sake. I doubt that the parties will have the same names next year (except for Invasion, that’s annual), but if you do party in Bacolod make sure it’s with Smart because that’s where the fun is.

1. Lovedance. An aftermath of disgusting, mud-ladden feet and legs (snapped in photos but kind of gross to remember) kind of shows just how much fun we had considering we girls hate mud. (It was on a field- for context.) When it comes to Smart Parties, fun always outweighs dirt. Even thick, wet dirt. Take it from the fashion blogger.

2. Masskara Invasion. The coolest DJs took care of the music in this 2-day event. Drinks were unlimited care of El Hombre. Let’s leave it at that.

3. Masskaraland was a party that lasted ’til 6AM along the streets of Lacson. On a Sunday night. Again, leave it at that.

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Bloggers taking a selfie at the Smart booth right before heading to the parties. L-R: myself, Patricia Prieto, Paul Chuapoco, Miko Carreon, David Guison, Kryz Uy, Camille Co, Angela Nepomuceno

#TouringAllOut. We were serial party-goers at night, but definitely tourists by day.

1. The Ruins. Gorgeous by day, even better by night, The Ruins are what’s left of the house of the Lacson family. There were hoards of tourists when we were there and I’m pretty certain it doesn’t really run out of tourists so if you find a decent, unoccupied spot for photos, take full advantage. Or you can glare at people ’til they get the message but someone is bound to replace them so just find a spot. And get snap-happy. I’m not the biggest fan of people in mascots and there were a bunch around the area. But take pictures with them if you want, they’re pretty adept at posing.

2. Balay Negrense. A museum that we didn’t get to enter because it was closed. But we heard it’s good. If it proves to be underwhelming, blame hearsay, not me.

3. Old Church. I think all churches are worth visiting for the fabled 3 wishes. (Am I the only one who still does that?)

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#CelebratingAllOut. If you can join the parade, you must, but if you can’t, watching it from the sidelines is still a wonderful experience. With dancers in the most festive masks, you’ll realize why Bacolod is known as the City of Smiles.

We had so much fun being on the Smart float/truck and being part of the parade and had even more fun taking photos with gorgeous masks that the dancers willingly (and some not-so-willingly) lent for the sole benefit of Instagram.

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Some side activities included games, karaoke, make up tutorials (care of my favorite beauty blogger roommate Angela (@lush_angel)) and so much more.

I know I’ve gone on and on before about how much I love the philoshopy that Smart teaches and honestly I’ve been embodying the #LiveAllOut mentality for so long I can’t even imagine going on these events and festivals thinking otherwise.

Masskara three years ago was great, but this year was even better. I’m forever grateful to be able to experience festivals with Smart. It’s like trying on a different lens and realizing it’s the perfect fit and that other (non-LiveAllOut) lenses, just don’t make sense anymore.

So even though you don’t end up going to festivals with Smart quite literally, I urge you to face each festival, each trip, and, I dare say, each day, the #SmartLiveAllOut way.

Really, there’s no better way. Live all out, everyone.

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L-R (top row): Patricia Prieto, David Guison, Camille Co, (middle) Paul Chuapoco, myself, Angela Nepomuceno, Kryz Uy, Miko Carreon, (bottom) Yeg Umagat, Kim Monasterial and Christine Liwag 

Special thanks to the Smart ladies Yeg, Kim and Chrissie for taking such good care of us. You guys are amazing, we love you. And thank you so much to Smart for another beautiful trip. I can’t wait to go on more trips with you, they really are best spent with Smart. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Saltwater Dreams

The recent rains have prompted me to remember water that I actually signed up for: saltwater, that is.

guam-travel11guam-travel guam-travel3 guam-travel4 guam-travel5guam___ guam-travel6guam-travel10Because it’s been raining non-stop in Manila, I needed to transport myself to wetness that I actually signed up for: the beach in Guam (or as locals say, on Guam.) I spent a full week in the beautiful island of Guam a couple weeks back and had a splendid time. One because the food was awesome – I think I had ribs daily. Two because the beaches were one after the after, most of them having the most exquisite blue waters and the finest white sand.

Although I planned on staying in the water so much more than I actually did, I don’t regret the times I spent just lying down alone on the sand, left with my own thoughts. There were so many realizations during that trip that I honestly didn’t expect but welcomed nonetheless, to be shared in a series of different posts when I can finally put into writing what I’m thinking.

The rest of the time was spent walking around the shops, eating, bumming wifi from all over the place and parading in my bikini, beach or no beach. There was one lucky day that I was able to sneak in a few shots wearing my red and gold Soak Swimwear bikini with the special appearance of a new favorite of mine: my white Kainani clutch. I had the amazing opportunity of interviewing the independent brand from Guam which I will get to writing about right after this post. All in all, it was an awesome day to be immortalized that somehow involved splashing water towards my photographer. As I said, #fun.

A more comprehensive travel diary to follow. (Plus the Kainani feature.) Man I owe you guys a lot. At least I’m making sure you come back.

No? Okay then, what do you want to see more of? #2WayDialogue #LemmeKnow

Bikini, SOAK | Clutch, KAINANI

Downplaying Outfits: The Slipper Trick

To elevate or to slide – that is the question.

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pink1 pink7 pink8 pink10pink13 pink16 pink17 pink18A lot of times people opt to elevate their outfits both figuratively (with gold accents and glam make up) and literally (heels). Then there are times when we try our best to downgrade them. Although it doesn’t seem to happen much in my circle, I’m pretty sure there are some people like me akin to downplaying outfits too.

I wore this dress to celebrate my birthday last month and to match the occasion, I paired it with heels. (Still didn’t match how special it really was but you get the point.) While this dress is on the dressier side, I took it, flipped it and partnered it with a devil-may-care attitude this time with the most downplay-able items I own: my Nike sliders. They scream slippers (mostly because they are), but 1) they’re comfortable and 2) they’re on trend so I could somewhat get away with wearing them out.

To anyone who judges me here’s my battle plan: I’d stare, say “normcore” with an annoyed shrug and pray they get confused enough to leave me and my slippers alone. If they’re persistent about their disapproval towards my slippers, I’ll give them a lecture on the new trend that may or may not be accurate but will sound it just the same.

I guess I also wore the slippers out mostly because I looked for these everywhere – tried to ship it to Michigan but Asos doesn’t ship these to the US and then I finally found them in Guam albeit with a $3 price hike. And if I hunted them down for that long, I’m wearing them for an even longer time. Get ready to see them everywhere.

I’m also trying to get my Birkenstocks past bouncers at bars but haven’t had any luck yet. If you have, let me know so I can try my hand at these slides next. You just never know.

Dress, FOREVER 21 | Sliders, NIKE | Sunglasses, RAY BAN | Bag, NINE WEST 

Rouge In Paris

A rare outfit shot in Paris when the weather cooperated for about 5 minutes. I would’ve frozen for Paris though.

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I spent 5 days in Paris towards the end of April and got to roam around (and around, and around thanks to the hop on, hop off bus I abused). Though I wanted to take full advantage of every beautiful sight – even the Parisian Metro was gorgeous (at least on the outside) – unfortunately the cold weather didn’t necessarily permit me to take more than the occasional blog-able post.  Because if I’m being honest here (which is all I ever am in this blog really), I only brought one coat. And in hindsight, that wasn’t very shrewd for a 2-week vacation proven by the fact that it was ruined mid-trip I had to buy another one.

Still, here’s one of those rare moments that I had the weather’s cooperation with the sun up for about 5 minutes before it turned cool again and my nose, in reaction to all the exposed skin, runny. Too much honesty, this time?

Wore another of my By Tipay pieces. It may look like your typical off shoulder sweater but it’s not. 1) It’s made out of pineapple fabric (as is this one), and 2) it has a subtle hole for the thumb covering about 3/4 of my hand which I truly appreciated weather-wise. Paired red and red on purpose but the pinks were unintentional. Guess I’m wired to be matchy-matchy.

The photos were taken at the Jardin des Tuileries right across the famous Louvre Museum which I didn’t bother lining up for – the line was very discouraging. I went during Easter break and everyone seemed to be in Paris that weekend. A stray photo was taken by another famous area, the Pont De Archeveche – the long bridge with the padlocks of love overlooking the river Seine. Paris was so breathtaking and the food was surprisingly amazing. So happy that my first trip to Europe was divine (hyperbolically and literally – I attended a pilgrimage). I can’t wait to go back sans the hordes of tourists this time hopefully.

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself though so I’ll just go through my photos and share them with you while I plot my return, whenever that may be.

Sweater, BY TIPAY | Pants, ZARA | Purse, LOUIS VUITTON | Heels, VALENTINO

Ho Chi Minh Photo Diary

Finally. A smorgasbord of Vietnam travel photos. Enjoy!

Finally, a photo dump of sights we saw, activities we did and stuff we ate. This has been a long time coming. Enjoy!

saigon3saigon1saigon2saigon4saigon7saigon8yamamay-swimsuit-1nicart-1ho-chi-minh-travelHave you ever tried drinking on the floor by the street? Me neither. ‘Til Vietnam. Try the Backpacker’s District for this nightlife experience. ho-chi-minh-travel4ho-chi-minh-travel5The entrance to the Cu Chi Tunnels (as explained here). Tell me, am I the only freaked out by this? 

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Must see: the old Post Office and the Notre Dame Church right across it. ho-chi-minh-travel9saigon5vietnam-what-to-do-4

Shot a few bullets at the Cu Chi Tunnels. My first and most likely my last rifle-trial, thank you. vietnam-what-to-do-6vietnam-what-to-do-14

#StreetFoodRealness: My Banh Mi was wrapped in a flyer and tied in a rubber band. vietnam-what-to-do-15vietnam-what-to-do-17

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Had such an amazing time during my 4 day trip to Saigon. Should you end up going yourself I suggest you check out the Benh Thanh market for some bargain shopping, the NotreDame church, old Post Office and the Opera for some beautiful architecture. Head to Mui Ne, a 4 hour bus ride from the city, to see the Sand Dunes and relax by the shores of the South China Sea (not that you should swim there.) For historical references you can head to the War Museum which is absolutely depressing and to the Cu Chi Tunnels which are amazing. Taste everything you can, Vietnamese food is amazing – Pho Bo (beef noodle soup), Bo La Luc (fresh beef spring rolls), and the Cha Ca La Vong (fish with dill sauce) are must-try dishes. The iced coffee with condensed milk should also be a daily staple for you (if not every meal). However, eat street food at your own risk. You’re the only one who can gauge the limits of your own stomach. Lastly, for a nightcap, try to kick it backpacker style and plop yourself on a mat. The novelty is refreshing.

If you want a more detailed guide on what to do in Vietnam, check out my more comprehensive post on WeCreativeNatives. If you are considering going to Ho Chi Minh, you should. It is absolutely worth a trip.

Let me rephrase that, the Pho is absolutely worth the trip.

Camouflage Of A Dress

Great designs fit anywhere and everywhere. Even in highly historical places.

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I can finally shut up about Vietnam as the last from my Teena Sabrina Tan collaboration is posted. Spent my last day in Ho Chi Minh exploring the famous Cu Chi Tunnels – the famous underground base that the Southern Vietnamese used during the anti-American resistance in the Vietnam War. The tunnels showcased the genius of the Vietnamese – they dug 3 underground levels each with specific assigned areas and purposes. The entrances were so tiny – only an Asian built could fit – and so secretly hidden with traps abound to make sure no spy or enemy infiltrates the base. The route underground is also especially dark and winding that only those who know the landscape can survive. The Vietnamese also thought of the littlest details that were proven effective like wearing their slippers backwards so their footprints would lead their enemies in the opposite direction. So smart.

I, on the other hand, was not as it might not have been the wisest decision to wear a long dress to the tunnels mostly because one is expected to take a peek inside and crawl from one entrance to another. Maybe I did it on purpose to avoid triggering my claustrophobia. I do think the print was fitting representing different facets of war – blood, death and the ability & need to camouflage. I’m pushing it, I know, but it does fit, doesn’t it? But that’s the thing about great designs, they always seem to fit just right.
Dress by TEENA SABRINA TAN

Borrowed From France

An elegant top for an elegant setting. Hey, I’m finally matching my surroundings!

  Untitled-8IMG_2176copy Untitled-1The third in my collab project with Teena Sabrina Tan is finally up. The look features a halter top with ruffles flowing from the neck all the way down to my bare back. Shot this look at one of the more luxurious areas in Vietnam where fashion (power)houses Chanel, Versace, Prada, Dior and more can be found. The area boasts of French-inspired architecture – a stark contrast from the other, more oriental streets of Saigon – one that captures the elegance of the top. I don’t usually bring such delicate pieces to my travels that I know involve a lot of walking and touring but maybe from now on I’ll be forced to. It’s nice to deviate from my harem pants+white tank stereotypical tourist look once in a while.

This collab series is about to come to an end and I’m pretty pleased I was able to showcase different tourist spots so far  – something I’ve been enjoying more than I care to admit. Hope I could get to do more of this soon. My next trip is coming up in a couple weeks. It happens to be in an island though and I’m not sure I’m comfortable enough to do numerous bikini posts in one go.

We’ll just have to see about that bikini-spree. Or I can always crop myself out of the photos. Beach views are especially awesome.

Top, TEENA SABRINA TAN | Skirt, FOREVER 21 | Sunglasses, FORME

 

Splashing Around

If there’s a dress you should wear to every first date, this would be it. Your Birkenstock-wearing self to be revealed later.

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If there’s an LBD you should wear to all your first dates, this would be it. Then you can proceed to reveal your Birkenstock-wearing self by the second date when they’re already hooked. Your dates wouldn’t know what hit them.

Seriously though. I usually veer away from anything body-hugging but this dress has one of the most flattering cuts I’ve ever worn. This dress, the second look from my collaboration with designer Teena Sabrina Tan where I shot and interpreted her designs all over Vietnam, was shot in the beautiful city of Mui Ne that houses the famous Sand Dunes. It was taken by Mui Ne’s shores which overlooks the South China Sea. A beautiful dress fit for a beautiful place – the moment made even more special by watching waves splash against the rocks. If I had to go back to Vietnam, I’d probably spend the whole trip in this area, staying by the shore as long as I can. The beach wasn’t exactly for swimming – the waves get pretty intense – but there are such breathtaking resorts along the stretch of the water that you’re still assured a beautiful summer experience, saltwater or no saltwater.

Relishing the last days of summer with memories of my trip because June has just arrived which isn’t a terrible thing in my book because June also marks my birth month (and today my birthday.)

So here I am, blogging one of my favorite shoots from one of my favorite trips on my birthday while sipping some white wine. Life is good. Birkenstock-wearing self to be revealed again soon.

Dress by TEENA SABRINA TAN