Ten Things I’m Thankful For

It’s kind of crazy how we’re already at the tail-end of the year. How is it already the -ber months? Next thing you know, we’re already listing down New Year’s resolutions.

Just wanted to take a quick break to write down all the little things I’ve been thankful for these past couple of weeks.

♡ mornings making a cup of coffee—slowing down my morning routine has really helped me not be frantic about the things on my to-do list
this newsletter and our future media empire. we don’t dictate a schedule, and really just put out something when we feel like it, but I’m always excited to write and lay it all out. plus, chinggay and patty are probably the only two people I talk to on like a million different platforms and we never run out of anything to talk about or send to each other, haha!
♡ finding a book that reminds you of what life was like 2 decades ago
♡ small wins at work like discovering what creator studio is all about and finally being able to schedule Instagram posts through Facebook—what a lifesaver!
♡ seeing the samples of something I’ve been working with Dandy Ona Jewelry (: I’ve been wearing them since I got them over the weekend and I can’t stop staring at them! more about it this week…
♡ launching 4 different brand accounts and not losing my mind (well, barely, but I survived and that’s what counts haha)
♡ being there for friends in painful, heartbreaking moments—realizing that everyone has problems and nothing is ever too big or too small. gives you much-needed perspective.
♡ a good haircut (does wonders more than we care to admit)
♡ reconnecting with old friends and finding that though relationships rarely ever stay the same, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing
♡ the prospect of traveling again for work—always grateful for the opportunity

Currently / August 2019

Music Monday

Is it even a surprise what my most played album is? I’m so happy Taylor Swift is back.

My Top 3 so far: Paper Rings, Death by a Thousand Cuts, Soon You’ll Get Better

Tasty Tuesday

Haven’t been taking photos of things I’ve been eating but judging from the amount of food currently in my camera roll, I have clearly been eating out a lot. Also, I’ve given so much of my money to Wildflour/Little Flour, haha! Also finally tried Ben’s Cookies (there was no line!), and is it just me or are they smaller here? I remember closing my eyes when I bit into one when I first tried it in Singapore. My friend got a really dry white chocolate macadamia one. Sadface. But had my favorite Pizza Morena on the same day, so all’s well. Stayed in one night at Mikko’s condo and we had Drive-By Taco Shop, which apparently has a branch in Eastwood. Had the white adobo soft tacos and they were yum.

Made some big, fat pretzels on a random day. Made cookies at home and with my niece—who left me after scooping out the first batch. “Can you just call me when they’re finished?” My brother brought home some Marou dark chocolate, so I whipped up some of my favorite brownies. We still have 4 bars, so I’m wondering what else I can make with them. Maybe BA’s best chocolate chip cookies?

Wishful Wednesday

Started a new gig this week and it’s kicking my ass. Honestly, I think I bit off more than I can chew , but I’m just going to suck it up and follow through. That said, I must remember to never get pressured or rush into anything without asking ALL OF THE QUESTIONS, then figuring out if the work is commensurate to the compensation. Still learning, clearly. Here’s hoping I survive the next couple of months!

Thoughtful Thursday

This was a very emotional piece for me. I spent an entire night crying, reading all of the messages my family and friends sent after they read it. It was also the first time random strangers went out of their way to tell me how something I wrote moved them. Funny how something painful can actually bring out something beautiful. Thank you to Tricia and Pierra for letting me share my story. And thank you to you, if you shared in my grief, too. We’re going to be okay.

Fashion Friday

Crushing on IDLF for Uniqlo as always. I want this coat!

The Complexities of Female Friendships

I was in first grade when two of my friends started talking about this girl they didn’t like. They called her “Apple.” It was their not-so subtle way of telling me they were not a fan of certain behaviors. They hated she was bossy. They thought she was mayabang. Every little thing they said about Apple sounded awful. It wasn’t long after until I realized that they were talking about “Apple” but, really, they were talking about me.

I’m not sure how this was resolved then, or if I ever confronted them about it. Now I can laugh about it and roll my eyes at the pettiness. But the fact that I can remember it in detail years after means that it left some sort of impression on me. I became quite conscious of how other people saw me, and how my actions reflected on them.

It was around that time, too, when my classmates would just stop talking to me because they felt like it. They made a habit of pretending not to be friends with people just for the sake of it. The next day, they’d pick on someone else and they’d be friends with me again. People called me iyakin back then because I’d always be crying in school. I always thought it was unfair that I wasn’t part of this “game” they were playing, but did I really want to make someone feel bad just for the heck of it? Maybe more than anything, I just wanted to be in on the joke. I didn’t want to be the clueless girl, always wondering if my table mates would be talking to me that day.

In high school, we had a “group dialogue” with our guidance counselor as a form of conflict resolution. Whenever there was a misunderstanding, we would schedule a meeting, where we would air out our grievances and have our guidance counselor moderate. Mostly, this was done to skip out on classes, but on the rare occasion, it would somehow mend friendships and help us let out our pent-up aggression. The details of past sessions are a bit fuzzy. The funny ones always come up when my friends get together. Sometimes I wonder, did we ever really resolve anything in that room or were we just wrapping things up, so we could go back to class?

In college, most of my friends were women. I’m quick to connect with them because I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have sisters. And friends, I suppose, are the closest thing I’ll have to that. I only have a handful of friends from then that I still keep in touch with today. There was a time when I fell out of touch with a few of them. I even thought it meant the friendship was over. Tampuhan turned cold war turned forgotten blips of the past.

At work, all my bosses (mostly women) treated me as their friend more than their colleague, so I did the same when I handled my own team. It turned out, sometimes being a boss is difficult when you also try to be friends with your team. I learned the hard way. You’re always trying to be approachable enough, so they don’t feel like they can’t talk to you. But you’re also trying to be authoritative, so that they respect you. When the lines are blurred, when does the personal cross over to work and vice versa? Can you rate someone negatively in their evaluation just because they decided not to invite you to join them for lunch? (The answer is of course not, lol.)

It seems easier to manage relationships as I grow older. I no longer have this need to be liked by everyone. Of course I still think about how other people see me—who doesn’t?—but it doesn’t consume me anymore. After all, what other people think of me is their business. I can’t do anything about that.

I’ve also accepted that there are people in your life that will disappear for different reasons. Maybe if it’s for their well-being—maybe for yours, but I’ve learned that female friendships can’t just be completely black and white. They’re messy and complicated, but also tender and delicate. You’re always learning how far you can push each other until you find that equilibrium of not minding and caring just enough. And sometimes, those people you swore you would cut off forever (or people who swore they would never talk to you again) find their way back into your life again. And you wonder, is this what it means to be friends forever?

Currently / July 2019

Music Monday

Caught Beautiful The Carole King Musical on its last weekend, and absolutely loved it. Insane how talented Filipino actors are, and I’m always blown away whenever I watch musicals. Have had the Original Broadway Cast Recording on repeat for a while.

Tasty Tuesday

Mushroom Masala with chickpeas and homemade naan

Since I work from home most of the time, I’m usually just eating lunch by myself. So, I took it upon myself to just plan our weekly meals. I haven’t really been messing around the kitchen, but I finally remembered to buy some ingredients on my last grocery run. I got to try making Mushroom Masala and naan from scratch. I’ve always wanted to try making it ever since I had some at Little India in Malingap. I’m the only one who eats it at home, but it’s fine. Haha!

Wishful Wednesday

Do you also wonder if you’ve made the right decision, and constantly worry if you took the wrong path? Sometimes, I wish I didn’t agonize over things as much as I do, but I’m learning to be kinder to myself. I figure whatever I choose, it will lead to something good. Better, even. I’m also just learning that saying no to things doesn’t mean closing doors to opportunities. On the contrary, you just might be opening yourself up to more.

Thoughtful Thursday

Beautiful illustration by Romina Militante for Hinhin

I very rarely get to write introspective pieces on commission. Most of these just go here or stay stuck in my hard drive. So, I was more than happy to contribute to Tricia Gosingtian’s new project Hinhin. I wrote a hopefully helpful guide to traversing an extrovert world as an introvert. Head over to their website to read it. While you’re at it, make sure to read Chinggay’s lovely essay on traveling alone. It’s something I’ve never done, but maybe one day I will!

I’m glad there’s a space for quiet girls to come into their own and realize that they don’t really need to change anything about themselves to stand out. In a world where we’re constantly being asked to like and engage with posts on our feed, it can get pretty overwhelming. It’s like there’s always some form of pressure to “perform” or always be “on.”

Fashion Friday

Andante Sportif Sandals and vintage ring from Souvenir
Doing my best #evachenpose in traffic

I’ve been looking for sports sandals that don’t look chunky on my feet. I saw some in Japan, but they were either too big or black. So, when I saw this pair of leather (!) ones on my feed, I knew I had to get them. Of course, days after, I saw a version that were espadrilles and cost much less. Haha! Debating whether I should get them in another color, but I really don’t need more footwear. I’m barefoot at home most of the time!

With Jenn, Chinggay, and Sam at Aura sa Artesania
Caught up with my longtime friend Jenn who sells tools for spiritual housekeeping; sneaked a photo of Chinggay in between her tarot readings; swapped goods with Sam and cheered her on her first pop-up

Caught Aura sa Artesania last weekend to check out the sellers and say hello to my friends. Picked up a ring from Souvenir and got a baby hoop for my extra piercing from Sam. <3 I love that the ring looks like pasta or a croissant wrapped around my finger.

Keeping a Record of Memories

I was 15 when I started puttering about online. I made my barkada a website with all the blinking GIFs you could imagine. Our studio pics from that studio in Galleria lined up like a photo album you could scroll. It was on Geocities with a ridiculously long URL that I seem to vaguely remember as www.geocities.com/SouthBeach/Sands/5653.

I could never keep a diary for more than a few pages until I would forget to write in it, so I started a blog before it was even a word. I started and consequently left so many journals online like a trail of cookie crumbs for me to find. The longest-running that’s still online is probably my Livejournal. I started it back when you still needed an invite code to sign up for one—I forget who gave me one. I spilled so many secrets, mostly to people I barely even knew offline. They knew more than my friends in real life. Everyone said what they felt and no one judged anybody (at least that’s what I thought then). I kind of miss that time when stories flowed endlessly and I’d spent weekends going through my friends’ list and never reaching the end.

If you know where to look, you’ll find traces of me everywhere. From every single song I listen to, to the movies I watch, and the books I read. I try to keep track of everything because, I don’t know, maybe one day, someone will want to get to know who I was or what I was like. Maybe that person would be me.

I’m always worried I’ll forget things and nobody will be there to remind me. I once cried because I deleted a text message from my mom (it just said “Good luck”) when I switched phones. It probably doesn’t mean anything to anyone else when they read it, but I know she sent that to me when I was on my way to my first shoot for Yummy back in 2006.

Maybe that’s why I keep posting memories online, no matter how repetitive I get. To remind me on days I feel like they’re slipping away. I remind myself that I’ll never forget.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For

There are some weeks when days bleed into each other, and I need to remind myself to stop and breathe. So today, this is my break for the week. I know it’s only Tuesday, but who says there’s a deadline for pausing to catch your breath?

What better way to spend this midday break by counting my blessings?

♡ starting a new book (I finally finished the jessica darling series after struggling to finish the fourth book). joan didion’s the year of magical thinking is teaching me a lot about my own grief.
♡  binging through the three seasons of veronica mars in time for next week’s new season
♡  getting to see beautiful the carole king musical with mika and lou. I only see them once every few months, but it’s always so much fun. seeing a fantastic show was a bonus. the next time I see them, mika is getting married. omg!
♡  my new pair of day gloves because I really love my black ones
♡  making new ceramic wares for my make space today shelf
♡  though my work with spotjapan takes up most of my time, I’m glad I can still write about many different things
♡  sticking to a semi-regular exercise routine—if you know me, you know how much I hate working out, so these past 3 months are a major accomplishment for me
♡  pretty nail art (I really enjoy painting my nails!)
♡  my colored eyeliners! promised myself that I’m done buying them, hehe
♡  face time with friends IRL (: groupchats are heaven-sent but nothing beats face-to-face chika

Beauty Empties: Makeup Primer, Toner, Moisturizer, and Top Coat

There’s a certain kind of thrill when you finish something down to the last drop. I’ve accumulated enough empties to merit a post, so here we are. Sharing some beauty products on my shelf that have served me well.

Becca First Light Priming Filter

This was part of a PR package and I’ve since repurchased once my bottle hit the 1/4 mark. I love that I can just wear this without any foundation and instantly look made up. Under foundation, I feel like it brightens up my face even without highlighter. It’s got a slight fruity scent, so if you’re averse to fragrance, it might need some getting used to. It doesn’t really bother me though. I apply it after I’m done with skin care. I rub this between my fingers before applying on my cheeks and massaging it all over my face, including my eyelids.

I rarely retouch my makeup except for lipstick when I’m out, so I find that applying primer really does make my makeup last longer especially my blush.

Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Toner

This has lasted me a long time. It took a backseat when I was finishing other toners. But when I transferred it to a spray bottle (my old Glossier rosewater one when it ran out), I regularly started using it as part of my evening routine. I like that it’s alcohol-free, so it doesn’t dry out my skin. I spritz it on after double cleansing and I wait for it to sink in before moving on to serums and my nighttime moisturizer.

Not sure if I’ll repurchase this since it’s quite pricey, but it does last you a long time. Maybe when I run out of my other toners. I kind of want to try that COSrx gel to cream one first.

Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream Light

My brother got this for me in Germany and this really works better for our weather. The regular kind is way too thick and best for cooler climates. This one is lightweight and doesn’t feel heavy on the skin. It’s great under makeup (no pilling at all) or just on its own. No SPF though, so you need to apply that separately.

I was able to pick up the Quince Day Cream (which is supposed to be lighter than the regular Rose Day Cream) from Whole Foods. I’ll report back if it works better in our weather.

Nuxe Nuxellence Detox

I know some people don’t like their beauty products with scents, but I love how this smells. It almost feels like a spa experience every night when I’m applying this. I always pop by a Beauty Bar if they have this on sale, but they never do. Haha! I’m too stingy to splurge on it, so if you see it on sale, please let me know. 😛

Seche Vite Fast Dry Top Coat

Got this from Beauty MNL after running out of it years ago. It’s currently sold out, but I don’t think there’s any other glossy top coat that’s as good as this one. I’m currently on a matte streak (don’t sleep on the Bobbie one which is under P50 a bottle), so I’m not stressing out about not having a bottle of this. Will definitely repurchase though once they restock.

What are your tried and tested beauty staples?

Currently / June 2019

Music Monday

Is anyone else obsessed with checking their Discover Weekly on Mondays? I’m always curious if Spotify’s algorithm will churn out a playlist that’s very me. I also end up discovering (ha!) new (sometimes old) music.

Tasty Tuesday

It’s been a while since I got tapped by Yummy to do a video demo for them. They’ve asked me a few times, but our schedules wouldn’t match. I was so happy when they asked me to develop two recipes for them about a month ago.

Head to Yummy.ph for the recipe for this Easy Strawberry Shortcake

This is the first time I got to develop recipes from scratch for them, so I was excited (and nervous). But both recipes turned out great and I’ve already made the coffee banana bread multiple times. Now if only strawberries were affordable, I would probably make this for breakfast every single day.

Wishful Wednesday

In my last post, I mentioned that I recently joined the Spot Japan team. At the start the month, I got to explore Fukuoka (my first time in Japan!) for work. It still boggles the mind how things somehow always fall into place. My hope is that I continue to get opportunities that allow me to not only thrive but to grow and learn new things every day.

Taken at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum

Another venture I’ve had the privilege to be part of also finally opened this month. Make Space Today is a creative co-making space in Malingap, Quezon City that has a retail incubator; a shared space for makers; and a skills program that aims to help members improve their craft in so many ways.

I’ve always been a QC girl and though I’ve moved cities, it’ll always be home to me. It was a no-brainer for me when my friends Mikko and Alessa asked me if I was interested in getting involved. The open house weekend just ended, but we open officially on Tuesday. You can find out more on the website or swing by to see the space for yourself. It’s beautiful!

Oh, and I’m going to facilitate a workshop about creating content for newsletters and blogs in September. So if that’s something you’re interested in, please do sign up!

Thoughtful Thursday

My friends at my old office are currently planning for next year. I’m reminded that around this time 2 years ago, I was sitting in a hotel room, thinking I was planning for another year. Plot twist: I was not. Flash forward to 2 years later, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that I’ve survived the freelancing life. While I know my life would be so much easier with a steady job and a regular paycheck, I’m relieved it hasn’t been too impossible to make this work. Here’s hoping the path I’ve chosen stretches onward.

via thegoodvybe.me

Fashion Friday

I’ve got shelf space at Make Space Today (currently, I have some Prima clips on display there) and it’s sorely lacking merch. I just glazed a new batch of Hey Kessy Jewelry clay earrings. Here’s hoping they turn out alright after firing. I’ve also been playing around with a few designs for new hair clips and another jewelry line. Crossing my fingers I get to do both! What do you think I should make next?

And just like that, we’re done with the first half of the year. Isn’t that crazy? Hello, July.

Currently / May 2019

Music Monday

I’ve seen Jason Mraz almost all the times he’s been to Manila (first time I saw him was in 2004 at the Aliw Theater, where I got a photo of his…ear, lol). This time around, it wasn’t until a week or so before the show when Chinggay asked if I still wanted to watch. So on my dad’s and Mira’s birthday, I watched with her and Koko and I’m glad I did. His feel-good vibes will always have me falling in line to catch his concert.

And because of my earlier obsession with everything To All the Boys related, I ended up seeing Lauv in concert this month, too. I couldn’t sing along to most of the songs haha but I was so happy to hear “Paris in the Rain” live because of this single edit.

Tasty Tuesday

The only thing I remember trying this month and absolutely loving is Manam’s Ube Sago drink. Haha! I always get tempted to order it whenever it gets served to a customer at another table. But since I eat so much at Manam (read: no more space in my tummy for drinks other than water), I’ve never really gotten a chance to try it. So when I met up with friends at Ooma in Greenhills, which shares a space with Manam, I ordered it. No regrets! It was delicious and so refreshing on a sweltering afternoon.

Lots of meet-ups with friends this month, though, involved eating. Glad I got to spend some time with friends who were in town, too.

Wishful Wednesday

I recently joined the SpotJapan.ph team as a freelance editor and it’s been a month of getting into a rhythm that works for me. It’s been a while since I handled a website as editor in chief, so it’s almost like starting from scratch. It’s been fun so far, and we’re heading to Japan this week. Ecstatic that I get the chance and I’m excited to travel again. Here’s hoping we have a stress-free trip. Send me all your Fukuoka recos!

Thoughtful Thursday

We’re already almost halfway through 2019. I haven’t written down any goals this quarter. I feel like I’m floating in between phases but a recent impromptu reading by the beach (by my fave Practical Magic) gave me a much-needed jolt. I already know what I’m doing, so I need to set aside my doubts and just push through. Whatever happens, I’ll come out okay in the end.

Fashion Friday

I will forever dream of looking like a Madewell girl. I love looking at their feed and channeling the outfits with what I have in my closet. Couldn’t help myself though when I saw these cute striped Vans slip-ons on their Instagram page. I want to wear them with everything!

Photo Diary: Los Angeles, California Part One

Sharing a few more photos from our spring trip over two months ago. I’ve got a bunch of pictures sitting in my hard drive. And as you may have seen on my Instagram, I’ve been posting a lot of them belatedly.

We spent two weeks mostly in Los Angeles and here are some of our adventures from that time.

I had to visit Glossier and Mansur Gavriel. 😛

My cousin Kookee who used to live in LA was also in town from New York. She took me and my brother Manu around, driving us to our requested spots (well, mostly mine, haha). Before my shopping spree (lol), she took us to Sweet Chick, where we shared an order of mac and cheese and fried chicken and waffles. The flavored butter that came with the waffles was so good! Manu’s breakfast burrito was so big, he had to take half of it home.

Look! We spotted a double rainbow.

Dragged them to the Sondre Lerche show as I’ve already mentioned previously. We couldn’t leave LA without having some tacos, of course. Ate these in the freezing cold by the road after the show. Delicious—even if my tongue was already burning after a single bite of the al pastor.

As you can already tell, it was very hard to keep my money in my wallet.

We hit up most of the grocery stores for pasalubong and personal shopping. My cousins were wondering why I had drugstores on my list. Hello, we don’t get the same beauty products as you, I told them. I’m sad that most of the snacks I bought are gone. Must figure out how I can stock up on Trader Joe’s Toasted Coconut Granola because it’s so yummy.

A lovely day at Abbot Kinney Boulevard

At least three people told me to go to Abbot Kinney Boulevard when I asked for LA recos. Did not disappoint! I loved the shops and all the good eats. We tried the pizza from Gjelina, coffee from Blue Bottle, doughnuts from Blue Star Donuts, and ice cream from Van Leeuwen. We also stopped by the Venice Canals where my brother took lovely photos of my Hey Kessy Jewelry/Pottery clay jewelry. Before heading home, we met up with Kookee’s friends and had dinner at Maximiliano. Stuffed ourselves with cacio e pepe, burrata, and calamari amidst the heating lamps in their outdoor area.

The main event: Gail and Eric’s wedding

Of course the reason why we were all there in the first place: Gail and Eric’s wedding. I was 8 when I last saw Gail and the rest of her family in the States. They’d come home to the Philippines and we’d take a couple of quick trips but I never got to go back to LA until this trip. So happy we made it happen. Loved how intimate their wedding was and they had such good music! It was also nice to hang with our US-based cousins at the reception. Some of them we only get to see at our annual reunion (if they even come to the Philippines for the holidays).

I’m definitely missing the cool weather and all the fun things we did on the trip. For now, I shall just keep posting and remembering them until I can plan another vacation.

Check out my photo diary of San Diego here.