Saturday, May 26, 2012

Anticipation, Soul-Searching, and Job Hunting

Where have I been this past week? Why have I been keeping a low profile?

I don’t know. The whole week has felt like I’ve been stuck in suspended animation, or like some kind of unproductive vacuum. I thought since my classes were through I’d enjoy a little bit of downtime, AKA the bum life, and then once I’d had my fill, I’d get back to blogging and catch up on other responsibilities. I fully intended to put my remaining vacation days to good use.

So what happened?

The first few days, like I said, I allotted for compulsory slothfulness after another school term. I ate, slept, watched TV, surfed the net all day, and worked out, and I was happy. At first I enjoyed it, no more deadlines to beat, no pressing or urgent demands! And for the first time in months I had time to watch television again. I’d been so busy that I couldn’t remember the last time I sat down like a couch potato in front of the television, and most of the shows I watched, I would just stream or download for me to watch at a later time. I got my news straight from Twitter, and to hold a remote control in my hands again was so refreshing! But to my dismay, just when I had the time to watch TV, nothing good was on and I would settle for re-runs and cartoons.

I even got over my heartbreak over the Hunter X Hunter remake and started watching the new show on Animax. I thought maybe nostalgia would do me some good. But I discovered, instead of tugging on my heartstrings and bringing back fond memories of my childhood, I was disgusted by it. And I used to be such a huge fan! The story was the same, the quality of the animation was much improved, that’s for sure, but since it’s a remake, it’s was in essence, the same as the original, yet it no longer made me feel the way it did back then. It didn’t conjure up or evoke any of the positive feelings I associated with it, or at least I thought I did. I was so confused, until it dawned on me, that it wasn’t the show at all, it was I who had changed. It was me. I was only ten when I first watched it, and how impressionable I was at that age! I related and identified with the protagonist Gon, I loved the adventure, and I was a kid. But a decade later, unbelievable as it seems, at twenty years old, watching it again, I just scoffed at how naïve Gon was, no, still is (duh, he’s a character who hasn’t aged) and I felt derision at his blind faith, his idealism. That was how I used to be. How I was. What made him endearing and cute when I was ten, makes him a brat now that I’m twenty! And I hate myself for hating it, at every turn, how Gon would succeed, and I would inwardly scream, it’s not like that at all in real life, there are no happy endings! It’s an awful thing, learning that you’ve become jaded and disillusioned—an adult. Good and bad are now relative, when once I had certainty. And what I once loved, now stirs nothing but contempt in my heart. It’s so hard to admit, like swallowing a bitter pill. Love into mockery, into scorn!

I couldn’t stand it, and I stopped watching it. It was too painful, knowing I’d lost faith in one of my childhood heroes. I know it’s just an anime, but it meant so much to me, growing up. It’s one of my references to this day. Reality is, I’ve grown up, and I’m not so sure if that’s a good thing. And when I think of my life, between ages ten and twenty, I’m not sure exactly where or when I changed. I think I first realized that I was getting older, when in another cartoon, Hey, Arnold!, they stayed as fourth graders, and never changed, while I went onto the fifth grade, and left them behind, but I just dismissed it back then as nonsense.

Here and now, however it happened, gradually or overnight, I don’t know. But I’m a pop culture animal, and I’ve noticed, even in the other television shows I watch, how different I am now. In Once Upon a Time, I root for the Evil Queen Regina, and I completely sympathize with her cause of bringing down Snow White. As a kid, my favorite Disney Princess was Snow White, but in the show, I just want to gouge her eyes out. Why does she get her happy ending? What’s so good about her, anyway? What makes her better than everyone else, that she gets a happily ever after with Prince Charming? When “good” conquers “evil” it’s all sunshine and daisies, but when “evil” gets the upper hand, it’s foul? How unfair! Good has an agenda for its own good, the status quo, the monopoly of happy endings! Well, how about the rest? Don’t they deserve a chance at happiness? Why can’t Regina get her justice?! What’s with the dichotomy between good and evil!? Regina, whose happiness was stolen from her by a spoiled princess Snow White, is evil for getting revenge? And Snow White, an adulteress by right, gets forgiven because she’s “good” at heart? Not in my book! I know must sound like a lunatic, blathering on and on about shows and being all devil’s advocate like. I can’t help it. I’m affected. Boo. Instead of shows making me relaxed, they got me even more uptight.

And in other news, Lady Gaga’s concert and the Impeachment Trial also consumed me in my idleness. I didn’t really care much for the controversy and the Satan issues, protest, and whatnot. I mean, Lady Gaga will always be her provocative, misunderstood self, and the Church will always be the Church, conservative and paranoid as ever. That’s life. Why be bothered? I mean, if the fans are truly fans, they wouldn’t care what the Church has to say. Why get riled up? Just go to the concert and get your money’s worth, end of discussion. And the Church has the right to its own opinions. Let’s all be informed and respect each other, enough with the vitriol. Personally, I don’t care for Lady Gaga’s politics and religion, but she puts on a good show, and I love to be entertained. It’s her music that I’m after, not what she stands for. Anyway, I didn’t watch her concert, way too expensive. I’ve never been to a legit concert, actually. Bands performing at high school fairs don’t count. I know, nothing compares to the real deal, but I wouldn’t spend just to be at a distance, so no big deal. But on the day of the concert, there were all these contests on Twitter giving away free tickets, so I thought why not, nothing to lose! Well, it wasn’t my lucky day. Still, it would have been a lot of fun, from what I heard from those who went.

As for the Impeachment Trial, I guess I’m more of a neutral observer. And watching the legal proceedings and arguments is so engrossing, so educational. I sometimes wonder if I’m cut out for Law School. Sometimes. But really, I’m more interested in seeing how it all plays out and turns out in the end, than I am invested in a conviction or acquittal. At this point I don’t believe in either side, I mean nobody’s clean, not one person is beyond reproach, nobody’s only a sinner, or a saint. Everyone lies. Everyone’s covering something up. They are all hypocrites. There are no innocents there, I’m sure, and I’m just curious to know what the consequences will be. When all is said and done, what’s next? Will the country be better off, whatever the outcome? What does it mean in the long run? It’s a precedent after all, for the three branches of government…

Heavy much? I know, So I tried focusing on more light-hearted things, like our fast-approaching trip to Singapore. I started looking up attractions and destinations, things like that, where to shop and dine, things to do and see. I Googled our hotel, even, and I was crushed when I learned it doesn’t have a swimming pool. I haven’t had the chance to debut my new bikini, and I thought Singapore would fix that, but alas, no. I’m going to bring my bikini anyway, just in case. You just never know. What I look forward to the most, is going to Universal Studios, without a doubt. I love amusement parks, roller coasters, rides, theme areas. It makes me feel young again, joyful and carefree. It’s weird how, when I think about it, at twenty, life’s barely begun, and yet, there are those times that I just feel so old. But I don’t really want to dwell on that stuff, when Singapore is waiting for me! I can’t wait. So much packing to do, outfit planning, oh my!  

Of course, before even getting into the jet-setting mood, there are all of the necessary preparations, like pre-enlistment and enrollment for the first semester, and getting my internship in order, that I have to take care of first. I can’t just drop everything and leave for Singapore without tying up loose ends and unfinished business. After all, June is just a blink away, and so is all of my official and school stuff that I have to get to, on the road to April 2013, God willing. So I set out to pave my way into senior year. But then I went into a slump, and it was hard for me to switch back into gear. Somehow, going from a super hectic second semester, to a brief activity-filled trip to Ilocos, and then back to school for daily summer classes, and finally going on vacation, apparently messed up my rhythm and activity patterns. It feels like playing back a song going on fast forward, then hitting pause, then stop, then play again, rewind, until you don’t know anymore where you were. This sense of disorientation, of listlessness just took over me, and I didn’t know how to get back to normal. I was at a loss. The ennui had somehow thrown me off course.

I knew I couldn’t just sit on my hands and be useless, there was no time for that. The future is NOW. However out of it I felt, there was no more room for indecisiveness, for self-doubt. And I worked on my resume, which was a challenge in itself. What’s relevant, what’s not? When is it considered embellishment and when is it downplaying? For instance, achievements, merits, what have you. I mean, who doesn’t want to be attractive or impressive on paper, who doesn’t want to highlight, showcase, emphasize qualifications? But of course, every claim has to be backed up. Walk the walk and talk the talk. College is supposed to prepare you for the real world, but you can only be taught so much in a classroom, the rest, has to be learned through real life experience. Ahem, resume-writing, and job hunting.

So I started sending out applications left and right, to the major networks, TV stations, radio stations, advertising agencies, production houses, companies, everywhere, really, as long as I’m qualified. Being a student of mass communication, though I’m a broadcast major, isn’t really a one way street, or limited to one career path, because communication as a skill set or discipline is needed in so many fields, not just in the mass media industry. Ideally I would want to be in production, because I’m more inclined to that, as it’s my track and it’s what I love, but I can be flexible, and besides, I believe all communication related fields have something to offer, a chance to learn more new things, so why encase myself rigidly in one thing and one thing only. It’s not like medicine or law, with more often than not, a linear career track.

There are those people who knew from the time they were little what they wanted to be—a doctor, lawyer, teacher, astronaut—I’m not one of those people. It wasn’t until much later that I figured out for myself where my strengths lie, and even now, I feel that I have open-ended prospects. If I gazed into a crystal ball for long term goals, I would have to say that it would be hazy because I honestly haven’t gotten it planned out yet. I think I want to try my hand at everything, and then decide. Experimentation versus commitment, is my deal.

Well, in any case, after sending out resumes, I thought I’d have to wait a bit before getting any hits, so to speak. I wasn’t expecting to get a call overnight. Not in the slightest. Lo and behold, the next morning my phone rang. It was an unregistered number and I answered it like I would any other call, possibly a wrong number, with a curt, if tentative “Hello?” Thank goodness I didn’t blurt out “Sino ‘to?” (Who’s this?) like an idiot. If I had known it was an HR representative, I’d have put on my business call persona. I’d have answered in my prepared dialogue, “Yes, this is she. May I help you?” I would have channeled my most professional, most sophisticated, most suave tone. I had no such luck. I mean I imagine I kept my dignity, but inwardly that had to be one of my most nerve-wracking phone calls ever. The voice on the other end of the line introduced herself and stated her purpose, and I pretty much did a silent double-take when I heard her ask me if I could come to their office the next day for an exam regarding my application for an intern position. I had to ask her to repeat the question. To make matters worse, Sun Cellular chose that, of all times, to have poor signal reception, and since the call was so choppy, the caller (sorry, no name dropping here) said she’d try again later. We hung up and shortly afterwards I received a text message with all the details…

I was in a trance like state, in a stupor of, I don’t know what to call it, I was simply taken aback. I felt winded, like I got punched in the gut. I don’t mean it like a figurative blow, I just didn’t see it coming, not so soon, at least. It came from out of nowhere. Just boom, and it laid me flat. Like a one punch knock out. My mind was this jumbled mess of questions, how, when, what, why, how, who. And when I finally wrapped my head around it, piecing together my fragmented thoughts—me, exam, office, tomorrow, Makati, intern—I started thinking furiously on what to do. Maybe to others it’s obvious, confirm ASAP, dimwit! But there I was, a job application virgin, and I had about short-circuited at the news! For shame. And here I’ve always regarded myself as being self-assured when it came to such matters. Eventually, I collected myself and replied that I was available.

Fate sealed. No backing out. That text message could never adequately convey the combined terror and adrenaline rush I felt then. When I told Mama and my sisters they were all, “calm yourself, woman!” It seems they’re more than eager to pack me off to the workplace. HAHA, I felt like a newly hatched chick poking my beak out and emerging from my protective shell, with my family coaxing me out, “Yes, go on, you can do it!” Oh, tough love. When I had settled down, I spent the rest of that day, putting together my outfit and my writing portfolio, in that order, yes. Somehow, the anxiety faded when I was absorbed in the process, and that night, I slept soundly.I woke up bright and early the next morning and got ready.

Oh, and before I forget, I recently ran out of acne antibiotics, and I decided to try Panoxyl for a change because I noticed that my old medications didn’t seem to be working. My pimples dried up practically overnight, and I thought I’d found a keeper, but on the third day of using it, my entire face was inflamed, itchy, and a little bit swollen, and my skin felt rough, scaly, and dry! So the past few days I’ve been on anti-histamines and steroids, and on the day of my appointment, my skin had healed up considerably, though there were still residual rashes on parts of my forehead and cheeks. So I used as little makeup as possible, and I applied color corrector, like a foundation, instead of a concealer, to my whole face, to reduce the redness, and over that, just some setting powder. You can still see the blotchiness of my skin, but it’s way better than a few days ago that I looked like a had a nasty sun burn. I didn’t use blush, contour powder or highlighter anymore. And I wore Ever Bilena’s matte lipstick in Offbeat Pink, and applied a little bit of mascara and brown eyeliner.




As for my outfit, it was actually a tough call. As I’ve said, this was my first job interview ever, so I’ve never had occasion to dress, well, like a job interviewee before. And I wasn’t sure what would fit the bill. My wardrobe sorely lacks in blouses and skirts, or slacks. I have plenty of dresses, but most of them are just casual, printed dresses, and they’re all mostly short. Some of my other dress were too dressy, or too formal to be deemed appropriate either. I even searched on the internet for the proper attire. And one of the more helpful sites I found was Project Vanity, and I got a lot of tips and pointers from this post. After scouring my closet, I found the dress I bought for my newscast production from last year, a burgundy and gray dress with ruched sleeves/shoulders (?), a waistband with a garter, and an almost wrap around type of skirt. Classy, but still, very me.

I wore a black blazer over the dress and paired it with a simple shoulder bag. Thank goodness I own even the most basic of pieces, but I still had to borrow Mama’s shoes because almost all my shoes are the daily, walking, sandal kind. And for added polish, I wore a pair of pearl earrings. Not too overdone, in my opinion, just enough to appear poised. HAHA, c’mon, let me have my moment. Being all dressed up actually helped me get into the swing of things, I looked the part of the job seeker, and I felt the part too.

This is where things get hairy. The office was in Makati, and since Mama had business in the area, she drove me. We didn’t anticipate that Friday traffic along EDSA would be beyond hellish, and that it would take two hours to get there. We left the house at 8:15 and I got there, as in, I stepped off the curb in front of the building at 10:15 am, fifteen minutes late for my 10 am appointment. UGH! If we had only left at 8 am I’d have been right on time. And I hate being late! The butterflies in my stomach on the way there, were more out of fear of being late than the actual test and interview! I think I was gnawing on my cheek the whole ride while we were stuck in traffic, and I went through all the worst case scenarios in my head. Lesson learned though, going to Makati by car is actually a bad idea, and it’s better to take the train. Needless to say, I was frazzled and coupled with waiting for the elevator, I arrived at the office lobby past 10:20. I felt like my hair which I pulled back into a clip, by the way, had gotten mussed, like my skirt had gotten rumpled, even though I looked fine, I had that sort of mental disarray clouding my mind as I shuffled over to their receptionist and asked for my contact person.

I was given a form to fill out while waiting, so I sat in their lobby and quietly took in the new scenery, the office setup, observing their comings and goings with my downcast eyes. The representative who called me came for me shortly and accompanied me to another room where she administered a written exam. No leakage here, but it wasn’t unlike exams I’d had in school, only it was more job specific. There were some tricky items, some things you usually take for granted and don’t think about, but I took my time answering the questions and I think I fared well. I think. I hope. Anyway, I was given an hour, but I finished it in less. I handed it in and I was told to wait to be interviewed.

Because I arrived late, lunch hour had already struck, and of course everyone was on break. I just sat in the lobby, and in hindsight, it was a good thing I wore a blazer because their air-conditioning was really cold. I didn’t feel hungry at all, and it was as if time stood still. I was pretty deep in thought when I got called to their HR head’s office. When I think about it, it was a short distance away, but my legs were leaden and numb, heavy not with fear, but something else, that I can’t put my finger on. When I try to replay my interview in my head, I don’t remember all the things I said. I have the tendency to run my mouth and go into an all out gab fest when I feel tense or intimidated, but the HR head was very approachable, and put me at ease, so in that sense, I ended up talking my head off, anyway, opening up like the talkative person I am.

Since this was my first time getting interviewed, I don’t have any previous experiences to compare it to, so I don’t know if my interview was out of the ordinary in any way. Basically, I was asked what my expectations were, what I thought the company was all about, etc. Before I came there, I read about the company’s background, but my notions of what went on, what they did, were still vague. During my interview, it became more clear, what internship with the company would entail. The interview was pretty conversational and I had fun. Maybe I had too much fun. I’ve always pictured job interviews to be really serious and that I would have to be subdued and career-woman like. But somehow, I got to talking and talking, and talking. The HR head didn’t beat around the bush either and asked me what I was really after. I believe in being candid and forthcoming so that there won’t be any misunderstandings, and I honestly answered that my heart is in production, but I am always open to opportunities in a corporate setting, and willing to learn, improve, and add to my skills. After all, experience always redounds to knowledge, and nobody loses by gaining knowledge. Writing experience is always useful, whatever the field (am I giving it away?).

I totally understand the point that was being driven home, that they have to protect their interest, and what if I had committed to their company, and later got another offer, would I just up and leave? And I said, that would reflect poorly on my character, and I would only commit if I had a definite answer. And that answer would depend on my department, my finalized schedule, which I won’t find out until enrollment, and of course responses from other companies that I applied to. But once I commit, I will see it through. Was that a trick question? Was I too frank or tactless for my own good? Should I not have mentioned that I’m interested in other companies? I just don’t believe in subterfuge. It’s true that I’m looking, but then that’s the whole point of applying, isn’t it? In the same way, companies go through a selection process before hiring someone. Is there a subtle way of saying you’re waiting to get more calls? Was that a faux pas? Did I hurt my chances? I don’t know. But I’ll tell you one thing, the first time, was a first, and I shall credit that to another learning experience.

Towards the end, it was agreed that they would evaluate my application and on my part, once I knew my schedule and had made my own decision, that I should notify them ASAP. We shook hands and said goodbye and I pocketed the business card gleefully on my way out. I had done it. I had gotten through it, without making too big a fool of myself! I can only hope that I made a good impression and that my work and my exam result will speak for itself. A girl can hope.

I stepped into the elevator, and that’s when this monstrous hunger pang hit me, it was totally delayed while I was baring my soul in my interview. HAHA. Drama, I know. It was already halfway past noon, my interview lasted for almost half and hour, apparently, when I met up with Mama downstairs, she had finished her business too, and we went to the car, which was parked two blocks away! I was in a blazer and Mama’s shoes pinched my toes and when we got there I was in real pain. But I was glad, with another milestone crossed off my list! Like a boss. Or not. When we left, the parking fee amounted to a staggering 80 pesos! Wow. Gas, traffic, and parking fee, not to mention time, are all stacked up against me driving to Makati. Guess I really will have to commute if I do work there.

The rest of the afternoon, I tagged along with Mama on her errands, but I was spaced out the whole time, thinking about the events that had just transpired. I had all these mixed feelings, and I was deliberating whether I had pulled it off nicely or if I had screwed up, but only time will tell, and whatever happens, at least, I got something out of it. To learn something new about yourself, at the end of the day, to test yourself and your principles, and come out of it better, stronger, wiser, is always a win.

The best is yet to come.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Taking Back Summer

At long last, Summer classes are finally over! I would jump for joy and do a little jig, but in this instance, I just want to crawl into bed, nuzzle my pillow, and if it weren’t hot, I’d cocoon myself in my blanket. Part of me actually wants to break into a song and dance number just to celebrate and revel in the moment. I finally have my freedom back, but it’s like being at the finish line after a long, arduous race and you’re ready to drop dead, that’s how I feel, right now. Happy, but extremely worn out. I suppose the most accurate, the best, and most suitable word to describe what I’m feeling is, relief. Finally! I can breathe a little easier. Of course, I’m still worried about my grades, but that’s another battle. For now, I’m just going to take it easy. 

Summer classes went by fast and slow simultaneously. We were in a hurry to cover all the necessary topics, squeezing a semester’s worth of learning into the span of barely a month, but going to school from Monday to Friday was such a drag, I tell you. Technically, Summer classes are supposed to be until today, but yesterday was my last day, since my PI 100 class had wrapped up the previous Monday and my Speech 111 followed suit, one day shy of the actual end of classes. So I can afford to be laidback today, I’ve earned my day-off.

Anyway, yesterday, as part of my Speech 111’s culminating activity, we had to deliver a piece in class, be it a poem, essay, or excerpt, employing everything we had learned about good voice and diction, and afterwards we had a small party. It was really enjoyable listening to the different materials, some were hilarious, some somber, but everyone had a chance to shine. And then we all snacked before parting ways. I only grabbed a few bites because I didn’t want to spoil my appetite for lunch, and to be honest, I was eager to get home and get on with my vacation. Well we were a pretty small class, so you could say we had grown fond of each other, after spending a whole month together, and I’m glad I took a worthwhile elective for Summer, but the call of Summer trumps all else.

IMG_1072Let me just share my makeup and outfit yesterday. As I’ve said, we had an oral reading and we were asked to dress appropriately for the occasion. UP doesn’t have a dress code, and except for some strict professors who have their own house rules when it comes to students’ attires, generally you’ll see anything and everything from ratty old shirts and slippers, provocatively short shorts, to the most conservative of get-ups and posh color-blocking and prints.

I always try to look presentable and I take care to dress nicely, but some days I get lazy, and I just wear whatever’s on top of the pile, or whatever’s on the first hanger I can reach for in my closet. But yesterday I wore a magenta colored sleeved dress. I just love how it hugs my body and makes it look like I have curves where they don’t exist! I also wore a pair of white wedges to offset the bold color of the dress.

IMG_1062Here I’m wearing Nyx Round Lipstick in Narcissus. How fitting. A Barbie electric pink just for a girl like me. I also used my Dollface 88 color palette here and applied a little bit of cream and gold eyeshadow, which unfortunately is so close to my complexion, that it’s hardly noticeable, and my hooded eyes don’t help matters much either. At least it complements my whole ensemble. Le sigh. My eyebrows are in need of grooming too. But never mind. Here I’ve already got on the Ellana foundation in Café Breve that I switched to from the old shade I was using, White Choco Mocha. Can you see a difference from my old posts? I can’t say. It’s very subtle, but I get less of the pinkness, and it’s a lot closer in skin tone to my neck and chest, so that’s good. And the blush I used was Happiness, I love the glow it gives without making me look flushed. Just right!

And I also have on the green color corrector I bought! I am amazed, I didn’t think it would really be that effective at neutralizing, versus covering up my rosacea that I used to do with traditional skin-tone concealer. I mean, in principle, I get how it works, but I was a bit skeptical if it would do much for my rosacea, and I didn’t have really high expectations. And to be honest I wasn’t sure how a powder concealer would hold up, if it would adhere to my skin and not get brushed away by the succeeding layer of foundation I applied over it. I just wanted to try it out and see if it would help reduce my redness at all, and at PhP 190 for 2.5 grams, I was sold.  But look and see for yourself! The fine blue and violet veins I have near the corners of my mouth nearly vanished and the red blotches on my forehead and cheeks were visibly less glaringly red than before! I’ve found a winner here! Next time I’ll get their under eye concealer, such promise, and I never knew!


With that, I closed Summer classes, on a high note. I hope my grades won’t prove me wrong though. And even if the first semester is closing in on me fast, the remaining days of sweet Summer and our upcoming trip to Singapore are what I look forward to the most. Two weeks that I can still call my own.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Gratitude and Love: Mother’s Day Celebration

Our family isn’t vocal or demonstrative when it comes to affection. We don’t say I love you to each other or that sort of thing, it’s kind of implicit or a given. It’s just not us, we’re not prone to being all cuddly and expressive. We’re not touchy-feely. We’re not even big on gift-giving. When we were kids, yes we were, on receiving, that is. But as we got older and harder to please, our parents would just buy generic stuff because they never knew what to get us. I’ve grown older and (none the) wiser, but I’ve tried to show my appreciation and gratitude to repay my parents for taking care of me. I know just how hard it is to love me, how difficult I can be. And I know that while it seems there are times that my family drives me up the wall (and vice-versa), deep down, of course, I love them. Despite them, and in spite of myself, I do. We argue, fight, bicker, scream, and shout, and on occasion I get into catfights with my sisters (I know no maturity when provoked), but we’re family, and nobody can stand my weirdness like they do. And vice-versa.

Anyway, Mama and I don’t always get along. And that’s an understatement. I guess we’re too much alike in the wrong ways for that. We’re both too bullheaded for our own good and so we always lock horns or butt heads a lot, in a manner of speaking. I wouldn’t say I’m a rebellious or defiant child, but then again that’s a biased opinion. I have a mind of my own and I do things my way, and needless to say, that doesn’t make for the closest or warmest of mother-daughter relationships. So through the years, Mama and I have had our rough patches, and lots of friction in between, but we’ve stuck it out and put up with each other. What can you do? In Filipino, hindi matiis.

It’s only in recent years, that I’ve been saving up my allowance, that I’ve gotten presents for my family. They do say that it’s the thought that counts, and actually, the act of gift-giving is in itself a gesture, that conveys more than whatever gift it is one is giving, because giving is a gift as well. So I knew Mother’s Day was coming up, and I was stumped as to what to get Mama. Last Thursday, I knew time was running out for me, since I wanted to surprise Mama, and my window of opportunity to buy something for Mama unsuspected, was closing fast. I did a mental rundown of what Mama might like for Mother’s Day. We’re not the overly sentimental type, so flowers, while touching, just wilt and then there’s no other use for them other than looking pretty. I guess you could say we’re utilitarian that way, we appreciate more practical or consumable gifts that are useful, and then you remember the giver and how thoughtful they were to give gifts that served a purpose or satisfied a need. With flowers, ornaments, trinkets, and décor crossed off the list, I went to food, clothes, services, and cosmetics. But then I already bought a cake for Mama before, and as for clothes, I’m no good with guessing Mama’s size, as there’s no standard, and while I know Mama’s size in a particular brand, other brands vary, so I threw that out too. Last Christmas I got Mama a voucher for a full body massage, but I wanted to try something else this time. And I was left with cosmetics. For Mama’s most recent birthday, I got her lipstick, and I thought, you can never have too many, but then if I went to the mall after school, I would be missed, and then I’d have to come up with a cover story, and that’s such a hassle. Then I considered ordering from online shops, but then it might not get shipped in time for Mother’s Day.

That’s when I had the idea to go to Human Heart Nature! Their main branch in Commonwealth is close by enough, and I pass it everyday going home, that even if I were thirty minutes late, I could brush it off as staying after school to do research or whatever. The last time I went to their store, was before the renovation, so I was excited to see what it looked like and the new products they were offering and I knew Mama would also be pleased. Win-win, so they say. So last Thursday, I planned to make a quick stop at Human Heart Nature Commonwealth on my way home after school.

IMG_1014I had a presentation in one of my classes that day, so I dressed up a bit, and wore a printed red dress with layered tiers. It’s just an unbranded dress that I got in a small stall, almost a flee market really, in Hong Kong. I don’t remember how much it cost because that was back in 2010.

What I love about it is the unique print, it’s not really a design, just a pattern of different colors, as if you splattered different colored paints on a red canvas. It has a very light and breathable fabric, so it’s very comfortable and I like how the tiers in the skirt part give it some volume and it’s not just a plain old dress. I didn’t want to match head to foot, so I wore a pair of gray peep-toe flats. Unfortunately, I was a little heavier when I bought this, so with my current weight loss, it’s a little loose fitting on me. It’s not a big problem, but if not for the garter in the waist, I would look straight up and down.


IMG_1022As for my face of the day, please excuse my puffy eyes. Since I’ve started wearing makeup to school again, after my acne outbreak subsided, I’ve had to go back to waking up fifteen minutes earlier and it’s been an eye-bag inducing adjustment.

Here I have on Ever Bilena’s matte lipstick in Mauvey. I kept my lip color neutral so as not to clash with the bold colors of my dress.

I love looking fresh and radiant, sans the eyebags, of course, and I actually don’t really comb or brush my hair before going to school, I just fix my part and my bangs, but I leave the rest of my hair alone because I like the tousled, out of bed wavy look. By the time I get to school, it gets limp, so it’s no use combing or brushing, either way.

My last class finished early that day, and it was perfect for my trip to Human Heart Nature, because of the spare time, I’d get home the usual time and there’d be no questions asked. So after class, I drove the same route home, but I watched out for Human Heart Nature. Commonwealth is really, really long, and sometimes, I over/under estimate exactly where, along the span of Commonwealth, certain establishment are, especially since, when I drive, I pay more attention to the road, and though I notice the places I pass by, I don’t always remember the precise locations, and instead I have a vague idea of more or less their vicinity. For example, it’s near a gas station, and the like.

So when I was on Commonwealth, I drove under the speed limit for once, instead of the speed limit itself, so I could look out for it and not miss it. Anyway, I spotted it as soon as I saw the sign from a distance, and I made my way to it, but the area of Commonwealth where it’s at is near a pedestrian overpass, so jeepneys and buses make a stop there for passengers to get on and off, and that means, it’s hard to squeeze in there to find a parking space, with all the public transportation in the way. Thankfully, their security guard at the storefront assisted me in parking my car, giving me signals when I went in reverse. Even after over a year of driving without a chaperone, I still get unnerved in tight parking spaces, especially with going in reverse. I have a small car, so it’s relatively easier to squeeze into small spaces, but still, I break a sweat when I have to park in reverse. Thank God for that helpful security guard.

When I went inside, the layout was much the same as the old one, it was slightly bigger, with more shelving and seating, and more décor, but it was still the same interior, very cozy and homey. There was free coffee, but I’m not really fond of coffee and I wasn’t planning on staying long, anyway, so I passed. I browsed their newest products first and then I did a quick survey of the shop.

IMG_1028IMG_1030In the end, I chose the brand new Strawberry Hand and Foot Salve because Mama is always on her feet and she suffers from dry and cracked heels and since Mama works with her hands a lot, she can get dry hands too. I also got Mama the Natural Hair Mask because she sometimes has trouble taming her hair as it tends to get frizzy a lot. I thought both those products smelled really good and that Mama needed and would have a use for. I’ve tried other Human Heart Nature products myself in the past and I was pretty satisfied with the results, and I love how they don’t use any harsh chemicals and everything’s natural. I was tempted to buy some products for myself, but I told myself it could wait, and I went there for Mama and not for me. Another time, perhaps.

Actually, I also wanted to buy Mama one of their lipsticks and an eyeshadow trio, but the shades I wanted were out of stock. I was disappointed that even in the main branch they didn’t have everything readily available, and I would have understood, I wouldn’t have minded much, but one of their cashiers had such a bad attitude that it turned me off. The makeup that they have on display are testers and samples, and if you want to proceed with a purchase, you have to ask at the counter for brand new stock. I approached their counter and the attendant was in the middle of a telephone conversation. I didn’t interrupt her or anything, I just excused myself and waited for her to finish her call. I clearly announced myself and made myself known. But instead of acknowledging my presence with even a slight nod, or a simple “One moment, please,” and I would have been happy to wait, mind you, she just completely ignored me. Even when she finished talking on the phone, I had to get her attention yet again. I was thoroughly insulted, and I felt like she was so dismissive of me! And even when she finally entertained me after being so utterly inattentive, she was such a slowpoke, and by then I had run out of patience! When I inquired about the makeup, she didn’t know if it was in stock, and took a long time finding out, only to tell me they were out, and she was just pokerfaced and absent. Unacceptable!

I know I sound entitled, but I’m a paying customer! I was already angry and I just paid for the two items in my basket and I didn’t look around anymore for any other products. The only saving grace were the polite security guards yet again, who held the door open for me and assisted me in leaving the parking space and merging back into traffic. I was mildly placated by this good service, that I tipped the security guard, and I don’t normally tip, unless people go above and beyond to guarantee customer satisfaction. When I got home, I even sent a Tweet to the Twitter account of Human Heart Nature and they apologized and said they would see to it. I should hope so!

I hid my surprise present in the back of my closet, and bided my time for the perfect opportunity to present Mama with my simple and small token of love. I was busy on Friday with an exam, and on Saturday, I was slaving away on paper due for Monday. We had made plans to celebrate the occasion by going to Trinoma for lunch after hearing mass because there was another sale. Just this morning, at breakfast time, I greeted Mama and gave her my present. She seemed glad and I was happy that I could offer a little something and that I could brighten her day even just a bit. Again, I’m not the “I love you” kind, so I have to find other ways.

IMG_1035After breakfast I got ready for our day out and I wore a pale blue denim dress and my favorite pair of green sandals. I love how the blue denim looks old and faded and the details of the buttons, the garter, the stitching on the top, and the frill on the sleeves and the layering of the skirt part all add to the preppy look.

It’s a little big on me, because it was the last piece at the time that I got this, and smaller sizes were no longer available, but I liked it so much I just made do. But it being oversized does give it a more casual air. It looks like I’m out to have some lighthearted fun with my family and my dress isn’t in the way. HAHA!

I also wore this in Ilocos and it’s very comfy. I know it’s a bit short for Church, but whatever, okay. Don’t judge.


My makeup is pretty much the same-old same-old. Here I’m wearing Nyx Round Lipstick in Tea Rose and you won’t be able to see it because I have hooded eyes, but I have a tiny bit of cream colored eyeshadow on.


We were late to Church, but the mass also started late, so we were still on time, as it happens. There were more people than usual at that time slot, but that’s probably because today’s Mother’s Day after all. I can’t recall what the Gospel was about, but anyway all the priest talked about in the homily was tailored for the occasion, so it doesn’t really matter. It was all about paying tribute to all the mothers out there. There was a different priest today, not the Indian one from last week, but a Filipino one, and he had a Bisaya accent, so at times I had to strain my hearing to understand what he was saying. One of the readers, an old woman, also kept mispronouncing “Peter,” instead of the long “e” sound she used the short “e” and it was so off, and I felt so mean sniggering inwardly, but I couldn’t help it. That’s what you get when you take a voice and diction class, you’re all the more conscious not just of your own mistakes, but more so of others’. The mass was okay, I guess. The homily was appropriate, but also very generic, about a mother’s sacrifice. It was heartwarming, but I’ve heard it all before. What else is new? I would have hoped for something more personal from the priest.

After that, just like last week, we went to the mall straightaway. I actually wanted to offer to drive for Mama and the rest of the family, but I decided against it, since Mama wouldn’t have wanted me to. They still don’t have any confidence in my driving skills, and they’re afraid I’ll put them all in danger, so Mama would rather drive herself and get stressed out than have me behind the wheel fearing for her life as well as ours. I like to think I’ve improved greatly, but like I said in the start of this entry, Mama and I don’t agree on things like my driving, and besides, when I sense that my passengers are nervous, I also get nervous. This leads to me being jumpy, and at the tiniest little thing, Mama barks at me, like “Watch out for that motorcyle!” even when I do see it coming, and this vexes the hell out of me and makes for a tense car ride. So, for everyone’s peace of mind, Mama drove us to Trinoma.

We got there as the mall was just opening and there were plenty of parking spaces left, and we found one a short walk away from the mall entrance. It was still early, so we did some shopping before lunch. We went to The Ramp, Crossings, and I checked out the small outlets of the online shops for Charm Makeup Brushes, Dollface Cosmetics, and Ellana Minerals. I had been meaning to buy myself a proper eyeshadow palette and some makeup and more makeup brushes for the longest time, but I hadn’t gotten around to it because I prioritized buying my own camera first. But since I’ve been saving my allowance this summer and I got back the money I spent on my camera, I could afford it already. I don’t go to Trinoma often though because the layout does not make any sense, and whenever we go there, it’s like we’re walking in circles, and the stores don’t go in any logical order, and we’ve experienced going from one end of the mall to another unable to find what we were looking for, so I thought this was the right opportunity to get the makeup I’d long been yearning for, when Mama suggested Trinoma for Mother’s Day. I could always order online anytime, but then I waited to go to Trinoma because it seemed more reasonable, than to shoulder the additional cost of shipping, not to mention the inconvenience of depositing bank payments, contacting the sellers, etc. Face to face transactions with tangible outlets are still best.

So, I bought myself the Dollface 88 Color palette, the budget, or the most basic and versatile palette for a noob like me who just wants more variety, and some products from Ellana Minerals. I checked out Charm Makeup Brushes, but I didn’t get any more stuff, because I was already way over-budget, I still have to set aside money for our trip to Singapore in case I find something I like over there.


Since I’d checked out Dollface Cosmetic’s website long ago, I already knew what I wanted even before I went there. I was actually surprised by how compact the entire palette is! It somehow looked bigger in pictures, but of course that because of zooming in. But if you compare it to the mascara I got in the picture above, and to the small jars of Ellana products, you’ll see how small it is. I chose this palette, apart from the obvious reasons that it was the cheapest one at PhP 800, because I think it offers me the best color selection and the range is suitable for day and night and for bold and for neutral looks. What more can a girl ask for?


I really liked how helpful the salesladies were. I picked out the Ellana products before the Dollface palette, and the one assigned to Ellana was off somewhere, but the Dollface saleslady who was around attended to me to the best of her ability, and only went away apologetically to fetch the Ellana saleslady when my questions were already in depth about the Ellana products and were outside of her knowledge. When the Ellana saleslady arrived, she helped Mama and me pick out products for ourselves. Mama bought some blush, and I got well…a handful of products. I’ve been using Ellana Mineral’s foundation and blush for over a month now, and I’m really happy with the results, so I wanted to try out more of their products. I like how the products are local, yet are very high quality.

The first time I got anything from Ellana, I only bought 1 gram sample sizes for PhP 100 each, and from daily use, my foundation was already running low. I wanted to get a bigger size, the 4 gram jar, to last me a longer time, but it was out of stock, so I bought another 1 gram size. The shade I’ve been using is White Choco Mocha in Intensive Blend for oily skin, but I only picked that out from swatches online, and here there were complete testers, and I also asked for a second opinion from the saleslady, and she recommended that I use Café Breve instead. They’re both in the lightest shades, but they differ in undertone. Ellana’s shade guide says you should pick your undertone based on the color of the veins under your wrist. If your veins are mostly blue, you have a cool undertone, and your skin is pinkish. If your veins are mostly green, you have a warm undertone, and your skin is on the yellowish side. But if you have a combination of blue and green veins, that means you have a neutral undertone and you’re more olive skinned.

It sounds pretty simple, but it’s kind of tricky for me because I have both pink and yellow undertones and I have both blue and green veins. In the past, I used more pink based foundations to favor my face, but that would bring out the yellowness in my neck. When I tried yellow-based foundations to match my neck instead, it brought out the pinkness of my face. So I tried Ellana’s neutral undertone, and upon first application, it does come off on the pinker side, but since I’m acidic, it oxidizes later on to be a closer match to my skin. But both Mama and the saleslady agreed that I should switch to Café Breve of the warm undertone because that’s still more dominant, and I thought maybe they were right. I will road test this tomorrow to see if it does match me better, if not, at least I only got a sample size, and not a full size.

The rest of the Ellana products I got were a 1 gram jar of blush in the shade Happiness for PhP100, a 2.5 gram jar of their green color corrector at PhP 190, and 6 gram jar of their HD powder for PhP 420. I already have their blush in Fetish, but I wanted to try another shade, and the green color corrector is for my rosacea, to at least help neutralize some of the redness and my blemishes. I’ve been using Krave Minerale’s Oil Eliminator and Skin Hydrator, but I’ve almost run out, and since I was already buying a few things from Ellana, I thought I’d give their HD powder a try. It was only available in 6 grams, so I got it, and anyway, I’d probably use it up in no time, so no sweat.

IMG_1043After I got what I wanted at Ellana, I briefly considered buying a kabuki brush from either Charm or Ellana, but I have more than enough makeup brushes at is it, so I decided not to buy one anymore. I called on the Dollface saleslady and asked for the 88 color palette and she got one for me. I liked how, even though I was buying it in person, and not getting it shipped, it was still lovingly and carefully double-bubble wrapped inside the box and outside it. She even accompanied me to the closest counter, and it was a really big help because it was actually in the other end of the store. My total reached PhP 1610! My, oh my! No more spending for me until Singapore! I need my pocket money for shopping over there!

After that, we went to have lunch. We originally planned to eat at Conti’s, but Mama had a sudden craving for KFC! HAHA! We were on our way to Conti’s but we passed KFC and Mama had one whiff of the fried chicken and vetoed. It was her special day and so we went along, but who doesn’t like KFC? We ordered a bucket meal and just some mashed potato and coleslaw for Mama for our fixings and gobbled it all up with generous helpings of gravy from the nearby gravy refill station. I forgot to take a family picture because we were all so engrossed in lunch, sadly. There was a photo booth area, my sisters weren’t up to it, but Mama was, and we took some pictures, and then there was option to send it to you e-mail address or to publish it on Facebook, but there was an unknown error, even though I was following the directions, so I couldn’t retrieve a copy. Boo. And here we had some cute pictures too.

In any case, we went to Landmark Department Store, where the sale was, since it wasn’t mall-wide, unlike SM’s big sales. And surprise, surprise! Apart from the discounts in Landmark, Maybelline was having its own sale and all the products were on 20% off, I think. My Cat Eyes mascara that I’ve been using the past few months was actually getting dried up, and I needed to buy another tube, and there it was, from PhP449, it was marked down to just PhP 359! And Mama also bought herself a nice lipstick from Maybelline and some Baby Lips lip balm for my youngest sister, all discounted, so she offered to pay for my mascara, since I paid for all the things I bought earlier! Of course, I didn’t say no when Mama was in the mood to buy me mascara! Thank you, Mama!

We bought some other toiletries in the cosmetics department before we went to the clothes, shoes, and apparel section. Mama and my sisters looked for bathing suits, since I already got one the last trip to the mall, but Landmark didn’t really have a wide selection of swimsuits, so only one of my sisters got a swimsuit. We didn’t have any luck either with clothes and shoes, so we went to the Home Department. That’s usually Mama’s thing, furniture and appliances, but we tagged along since it was Mother’s Day. We didn’t buy anything more at Landmark, and we were ready to go home, because there’s not actually much to see or do at Landmark.

On the way back to our car, we stopped to buy a chocolate cake from Hungry Pac. We tried it right away when we got home, as dessert and sort of an early merienda or afternoon snack. It was really moist, fresh, and light and the icing was really good. It’s not as heavy or rich as most cakes, and not too sweet either, so you can help yourself to a thick slice and not get sick or in Filipino umay or suya. I only got a medium sized slice, though.

All in all, Mother’s Day this year was nice. I hope I’ve managed to make Mama happy today. Our relationship is far from perfect, but we keep at it and we’ve stood by each other through thick and thin, because family’s all we’ve got. It’s not a bed of roses at all, but we have our moments, and that’s what counts. Love is love.

Thank you, Mama!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Missing Out on Zalora’s Grand Launch: Of Regrets and Indecisiveness

In my life, I’ve done things that I’m not proud of. Who hasn’t, after all? It’s more often the case that I tend to do things that I live to regret later on, like all of my brash and reckless decisions. But I mostly chalk that up to experience afterwards, and I learn from it and try not repeat history and my past mistakes.

However, the worst kind of regret is the should have/would have/could have kind of regret. It’s so much worse to regret not doing something than it is to have done it, because that inaction condemns you to always wondering what might have been if you hadn’t hesitated. I can’t quite explain it, but it’s like love that never even was in the first place is more painful than a love that was lost, because it never even had a chance, and one is left entertaining all the possibilities. It’s agonizing, going through all the scenarios and outcomes in one’s head, if one had only taken a risk. And the thought of the possible rewards, which by then, one will never know, is pure torture. They say you can’t lose what was never yours to begin with, but then that’s why it hurts so much, because of that one slim chance of having it, only you were too afraid to reach for it and fall, so you played it safe. You gave up. I gave up. Over time, this turns to bitterness.

Zalora-Grand-LaunchJust what am I getting at? No, I’m not talking about love at all, it was just the simplest analogy I could come up with. Perhaps some might find my griping over this too petty and trivial, but it’s a big deal to me, having passed it up, and now feeling like a fool. Last Saturday, I received an e-mail invitation from Nuffnang to Zalora’s Grand Launch. When I saw it, I was so surprised and really flattered, because for one thing, I am just a newcomer and another, I’m not even a fashion blogger at that. Also, it was my first ever invitation to any event, not to mention it’s not just any event, it’s Zalora’s Grand Launch. Little old me and my small blog, who even reads my blog? I highly doubt I’m on anyone’s radar at this point, and I do this to unload and de-stress. In any case, I don’t know how I got chosen, but at the time I just felt so privileged and really lucky.

I think I was stuck on the subject line for about five minutes, but my excitement died down when I read further details, and it just started sinking in. Wednesday, May 9, 8 pm, at Skye Lounge, Bonifacio Global City. It was on a school night and it was so far away. It was Saturday when I got the e-mail, and I didn’t send an RSVP because I wasn’t sure what my school activities for the week might be and I couldn’t commit yet or answer definitely. I told my family about it, and Mama just raised her eyebrows with disapproval. I mean, she couldn’t stop me from going if she tried, but I always do my best to keep her informed, that’s her right as a parent. Even if my parents aren’t always happy with my decisions, they let me make my own mistakes, mostly. They always tell me to be careful and smart, but in the end, it’s my life.

Come Monday, I learned that I had exams on both Wednesday and Thursday, and so I thought that about made the decision for me. Since the event would start at 8, I estimated the earliest it would end would be around midnight, and I’d have to get home, and then I would still have a 9 am exam on Thursday, so I would be tired out and in no state to go to school. That was that. School comes first. Unlike the Avengers event I attended two weeks ago, I didn’t have an exam the following day, and Shangri-La Mall is at least not that that far away. I was disappointed, but I let it go, and I thought I had valid reasons, so while it was too bad, I didn’t feel so bad. Or so I thought. On Wednesday, my exam for Thursday got moved to Friday, and since I only had classes until 1 pm, I thought, it might not be too late, and that I could still make it.

But then I had all of these doubts, like what if my RSVP would be on too short of a notice, and that if I went there, the guest list might not be updated to include me, since it was on the day itself. And then I started worrying about the logistics. It’s in Taguig for crying out loud, I don’t even know Quezon City by heart, much less Taguig, so driving at night, alone, might not be the best idea, but taking a taxi isn’t much safer, or less expensive, for that matter. I even looked up directions on Google maps, and I was quite daunted by the distance and the traffic. And then I asked myself why I wanted to go, why it was worth the trouble. And this internal debate ensued within me, weighing the pros and cons. To most people, it’s a simple question of whether they want to go or not, yes or no. And then they can figure out a how. But to me, it was why, because I even questioned myself why I wanted to go at all. As I’ve said, I’m not even a fashion blogger, and to be honest, I don’t know anything about style and fashion, I just like to look pretty and polished. I am an outfit repeater, and to rub elbows with the color-blocked, accessorized, and platform-heeled, that’s not really in my bucket list. I went on and on, arguing with myself like a loon, for Pete’s sake. 

There’s a popular saying in Tagalog that goes, “kapag gusto, maraming paraan, kapag ayaw, maraming dahilan” and loosely translated into English it means that if you really want to do something, then you will find a way, or make one, but then if you don’t want to, there are always plenty of excuses. That was the case yesterday when I was going back and forth, vacillating, and trying to convince myself to make a decision once and for all. In short, I was my own hurdle, because of my indecisiveness.

You see (or maybe you don’t, I don’t even know who I’m talking to), I’m a loudmouth introvert, if that makes any sense. It probably doesn’t… In one of my entries, I’ve talked about how I’m not fond of nights-out and large social gatherings, and I prefer to spend quiet evenings over the excitement of parties and whatnot. But then this is at odds with my being talkative and chatty. My family often points out how wordy I am, and in a literal sense, I have a lot of words. Most people would just go straight to the point and say what they mean, but what they can express in a sentence, can take me a paragraph. Is there such a thing as being over-articulate? Like only intending to say you’re displeased, and yet saying so much about how you felt, and in so many words. When it comes to food, for example, it’s never enough, I’m never satisfied with saying it was good, it’s creamy, decadent, rich, sinful, delectable, and so on. Case in point: all of the above paragraphs just to get out that I’m mad at myself for not going.

Sorry for digressing, anyway, I don’t really feel like my life is wanting in activities and events, but to me, the Zalora launch offered an opportunity for me to step outside of my comfort zone and to expand my horizon. I wasn’t after the fashion and shopping, but it had a different symbolic meaning or significance to me, in that it stood for trying something new and being more open. It meant change and growth. And I totally blew it. It’s not that I couldn’t go. I wouldn’t and I didn’t. More to the point, it wasn’t about wanting to go, as much as wanting to want to go. Because from there, I could have found a way. I just know it.

So here I am. All unhappy and disappointed in myself. It doesn’t matter that it was truly inconvenient, what upset me most is that I defeated myself. I lost to myself, in short. I allowed my aversion to new and untried things to keep me from even wanting to try something new. It’s not something I can rationalize away, when I know it could have been my chance to meet new people and to break my usual boundaries. The physical and material constraints were nothing next to my own reluctance, my own barriers. All those excuses like it being far away, late and on a school night, just covered up for the underlying issue that I couldn’t overcome myself, or my unwillingness to do something that might make me feel awkward or uncomfortable. That’s the worst part of it all, being stuck in a rut of my own making. It’s designed so that I shouldn’t fail, but then I’ll never know what’s out there, waiting for me to take the initiative and discover it. It’s sad and pathetic. More so when you know you’re the problem, and you know exactly what it is that’s wrong with you. 

Maybe some people think that this one event I passed up is such a small thing, that there’s always a next time, but then it’s not the event per se, rather, what it means to have chosen to go, regardless of what the event was—extending myself and braving the unknown; and the implications of not going—cowardice, fear, and insecurity… It’s my ultimate heartbreak. Myself.

I do hope that this won’t be the last time an opportunity like this presents itself, and that when the time comes, I’ll take it wholeheartedly.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Sunday Shopping

During our past few vacations, my family and I have had bad experiences with our bags falling apart, barely getting to our destination and back again in one piece. I don’t know if our bags got mishandled at the airport or if we didn’t pack properly, but there were always zippers, handles, wheels, and what have you getting damaged beyond repair during the course of a single trip. It’s quite exasperating, where did we go wrong?

So since we have an upcoming trip to Singapore later this month, we’ve all been searching for affordable yet durable luggage that will hopefully withstand more than just a round trip. Luggage is an investment, especially for Papa, he is a seaman, after all, and his luggage must last. Papa’s Samsonite attaché case has certainly returned that investment, serving like this solid piece of hardware for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I actually thought it was a “tashie” case because of the way Papa would pronounce it. Anyway, it’s a really old school briefcase, classic and vintage looking, and Papa’s had it since way back when, and it’s doesn’t look like it’s going to give out anytime soon. Papa’s other Samsonite, a big fat suitcase, probably would still be around now, if my sister and I hadn’t played with (in) it when we were younger, riding in it like a car, breaking its hinges and body. Apparently Samsonite luggage can outlast travels, but it is not child-proof.

In any case, we’re not as well-travelled as Papa in his line of work, and going to Singapore later this month is only going to be the second country outside of the Philippines that I’ve ever been to. Mama went to Thailand a few years ago and that’s when she bought her own luggage for her first trip abroad. So for our domestic trips as a family we mostly took large duffel bags and backpacks with us. In recent years we’ve bought two stroller-type suitcases, and both didn’t survive to even boast of battle scars like dents and scratches, the two just broke and had nothing to show for it but round-trip stubs.

Which brings me back to looking for decent luggage. Samsonite, heavy duty and tried and tested as it is, is just way too expensive, as well as other known imported brands. We’re not really jetsetters to need that sort of luggage. Papa travels regularly for work, so his luggage is high end, but our irregular vacations and travel for leisure are hardly enough to say that buying Samsonite luggage would be warranted, or worth shelling out a huge sum for. So we had to reach a compromise between economy and quality.

And what perfect timing for a sale at SM Megamall! We had canvassed for prices and checked out models a few weeks ago and even compared different shops and stores, but decided to put off any purchases until the big sale to save with discounts and other promotions. Good thing we decided to wait, because this whole weekend there was a mall-wide sale at SM Megamall. Yesterday was the last day, and thankfully we got what we came for and then some more! We had actually made plans last week to go to the mall to look for our luggage, but then Papa got called away unexpectedly soon, so we couldn’t, but then the sale was coming up, and he said it was best to wait until then. He was right, as always. It would have been nice to still have him around for his expertise in luggage. Whatever I just miss him.

Anyway, on Saturday night we agreed that we would go to mass early, first thing in the morning, and then go straight to SM Megamall to avoid the rush and the heavy traffic. I wasn’t too keen on going to Church, but then it was a necessary concession to keep the peace. So I woke up that morning and got ready for a day out. I decided my skin had sufficiently healed up for me to wear light makeup again, so I put my face on and dressed with Church in mind, this time at least we were warned. I applied concealer on my blemishes with a light hand, and over that, I used my Ellana mineral foundation and my Krave Minerale Oil Eliminator and Skin Hydrator very sparingly to keep my makeup from caking up. I also kept my blush, contour and highlight powder to a minimum. And my eye makeup and nude lip color finished off my polished and simple look. Which is my everyday look, except I used less than usual. Besides, even if the Church was open air, the 8:30 am mass wasn’t as packed and the air was somewhat cool, and then the mall’s air-conditioned. Unlike going to class in UP, where it’s just as hot indoors as it is outdoors and makeup melts away.




I wore a pair of pants, surprise, surprise! I do own a few pairs of pants, and they’re reserved for those rare occasions that I feel remotely conservative. Either that or it’s cold. Apart from the sporadic rainy weather, it’s not at all cold, so yes this was for Church. That and the light green floral printed blouse and my purple Kickers sandals. Church, lunch, and some shopping, my outfit clearly has an agenda. I got those pants from Divisoria back in first year and I stopped wearing them around second year because I couldn’t fit into them anymore, but now they fit me perfectly again. This top is from late high school, I think. I can’t be quite sure.







Moving on, our house is just five minutes away from the Clubhouse and the Church of the adjacent subdivision, but we were still five minutes late to mass because Mama blow dried her hair. Oh well. I’ve already talked about my religious beliefs, or lack thereof, for that matter, in my entry about Easter Sunday, but I took the message from yesterday’s mass for what it was worth, words of wisdom. I didn’t take in anymore all the ceremonious and ritualistic observances that I don’t subscribe to. In the case of worship, I prefer substance over form, content over style, I suppose. I believe that if my heart is rejoicing in God, then that is enough, and all of that kneeling, making the sign of the cross, reciting of verses, is superficial to me. That is just my own, personal, belief. I don’t feel that saying practiced lines during mass brings me any closer to God, but I respect the convictions of others. I actually try to understand others’ faith, and though I can’t be made to appreciate the responses, kneeling, and whatnot, I do keep an open-mind to the message. And even if I went to Church unwillingly, yesterday’s homily was actually interesting and memorable. Our priest was Indian and when he spoke in English, if he went too fast, it was hard to understand him, but then he was actually fluent in Tagalog or Filipino, and I saw that he was trying to make his homily very relatable to us, so we could identify and internalize the message. The Gospel was something about Jesus being the grape plant, and the disciples being the vines, and the priest adapted it to puno ng mangga (a mango tree) in his homily. He even joked about Sharon Cuneta, KC Concepcion, and Piolo Pascual, and how KC had become stronger after the breakup. We all had a good laugh, but he returned to the point, that like the grape vines being pruned so that they would grow, our hardships in life are also in order for us to grow. These trims, pruning, are like the challenges we encounter in life, that we overcome and in so doing we become better people. We should not think of these as limitations, but opportunities to improve ourselves. The priest spoke so plainly and sincerely, without any pretense, not to mention the homily was just fifteen minutes long, unlike another priest at that Church who speaks pompously and lengthily, but without making an ounce of sense. So I left Church, if not religiously moved, then at least spiritually enlightened.

After that we headed straight for SM Megamall. Traffic was very light, until we reached the vicinity of the mall, it seemed everyone was going there. We got there at 10:30, and it had barely opened, yet our parking space was already on the roof deck of the parking building because all the lower floors were full. And when we entered the mall, it was so crowded already! It was the last day, so it’s understandable, but just as it was SM Megamall, it was mega-full!

Our first stop was the Department Store to shop for luggage, of course. It was so dizzying and disorienting, all those people, and all the merchandise! We used to go to SM Megamall often when I was younger because it was the only big mall around, but since SM North EDSA underwent a lot of expansion and Trinoma and Gateway came around, and they’re a lot closer and more convenient, we haven’t gone to Megamall in years! It was completely unfamiliar and it was so hard to find shops even with directories and the information counter, that we just made a beeline for the Department Store. No matter what SM, the Department Store is the constant.

We went to the luggage section and the salespersons were really very insistent, offering different styles and models left and right, but we already had the kind of luggage we wanted in mind. Since we’d had bad experiences with the suitcase types, we wanted the duffel kind but with a stroller, that way, even if the wheel or stroller part broke down, you could still carry it by hand. And if you’re going up stairs, you can go from stroller to hand carry. The best of both, if you ask me. And in my entry about packing for Laoag, I talked all about my orange duffel, and all the advantages of that bag. So yeah, in the luggage section, we did a quick walk around, and even with huge discounts, the imported bags were just way too expensive and we went to the local luggage brand, Voyager. The workmanship seemed pretty sound, and the price range was right up our alley. Us three sisters all picked different colors of the same style of bag.


Behold my lovely bright pink bag! Of course I picked a striking and loud color, black and dark blue bags are so common, and almost identical, it’s easy to mistake someone else’s bag for yours, and vice-versa. But with a shockingly bubble gum pink bag, how can you go wrong? My sisters got purple and blue green. My bag actually costs only PhP 999! I don’t know the specifications, like what its capacity is, but when I got home, I compared it to my very roomy orange duffel bag, and that was only a tad bigger, like one extra side pocket on this one. My sisters’ bags were the same style, but were around PhP 1200 because they had an additional side pocket and name tag holder and a zipper provision for a pad lock, but then the pink color was out of stock. There was one display unit, but it had some damage, so I took the slightly smaller bag, and really the side pocket wasn’t much of a difference, and I wanted it in pink. It was also available in red, but pink is way more eye-catching on an airport conveyor belt.

After that, we told the salesman to hold onto our bags for us because we would still be going IMG_1002_thumb2around the department store for more purchases and we wanted to pay for everything in one go, so that Mama could avail of the rebates or something like that when your purchase reaches a certain amount. So we went our separate ways and agreed to meet up when we had finished picking out what we wanted. Naturally, I headed for the swimwear section. My bikinis are all a few Summers old, and I haven’t had the chance to buy a new pair for myself! The last time I checked out bikinis earlier this summer, I didn’t really find any that I liked, the designs weren’t my type, but this time I found just the one for me! It’s from a brand called Coco Cabaña and it cost PhP 699.75, but since Mama had a 5% or 10% (I’m not so sure), discount off the total, along with our luggage and some other clothes my sisters bought, it’s actually less than that. So, going back, I really like the color and the design, when I saw it among the other designs in the racks, I didn’t have eyes for any of the other bikinis. I like the unique pattern and the color combination of black wavy stripes and violet, blue, red, orange, and yellow. I also think the black ties at the sides of the bikini bottoms are really cute. I rushed to try it on, and I saw that only two sizes were left, 32 and 36, no more in between, and when I asked the saleslady, she said that 34 was already out of stock. I would normally go for the medium size, because that’s the safest choice, but it was either small or large, and with my weight loss to account for, I wagered on 32 and hoped for the best when I headed to the fitting room. On my way there, I bumped into my sister along the women’s wear section and we went to the fitting room together. It’s pretty common in the Philippines for two or more people, usually family member or friends shopping together, meaning women, to share fitting room cubicles. I don’t know if that’s unusual in other countries, though. So, she helped me tie the bikini, and lo and behold, after years, I am once again a small! I wasn’t too worried about the bikini top as much as the bottom, the top is adjustable, and even then, I am flat chested, so it’s rarely a problem. But I’ve encountered swimsuits in the past where the top fit just fine, but the bottom was too small for my big butt. Luckily, my butt has also slimmed down and so I stood there and I had a “Damn, I’m hot” moment. Yes, how conceited of me, but I have to give myself some credit. I was tempted to take some pictures, but my sister was with me, and she would’ve gotten annoyed and frowned upon the blatant cam-whoring. Hopefully, I’ll get to sport it to a beach or swimming pool sometime soon! Oh, Singapore hotel, I cannot wait!

One would think that going to a mall with two college-age children, and one high-school age one is smooth sailing, but yesterday it was not. My youngest sister, while Mama was in the fitting room trying on a blouse, went looking for a pair of pants, and they agreed to meet back at the fitting room. More than thirty minutes later she still hadn’t returned, and she didn’t bring her cell phone so we couldn’t call her, and with the number of people, and the size of the department store, it would be hard to look for her. Like a needle in a haystack! Mama actually went to customer service and had her paged over the PA system. HOW UTTERLY DISGRACEFUL! I mean seriously, my youngest sister is fourteen and still has no wits whatsoever. Apparently she wasn’t lost or gone at all, she had just lost track of time picking pants, and when she stumbled on over to the meeting place, Mama had a tongue lashing for her. Such a stupid girl. My other sister and I have gotten lost before, but we always found our way back, and Mama never had to resort to having us paged, or Mama being paged for us, for that matter. You always hear the, “Will the parents of the boy wearing a red cap, blue shirt, and Avengers rubber shoes, please go to Customer Service” and think you’ll never end up in a situation like that, but there’s a first time for everything. Even for a fourteen year old that has the brains of a four year old. What a hassle. We wasted so much time!

We also encountered delays at the counter because the cashier was having difficulties or mix-ups of one kind or another. By the time we were done paying for everything, we were all just about starved. We saw a directory of restaurants near the department store, and thought that the directions were simple enough, but given how big Megamall is and how we had forgotten all about going from Mega A to B, or was it the other way around (?), we ditched our original plan of going to a Persian place, and went to the Food Court instead. There we ate at Manang’s Chicken.

I’ve never tried it before, but my sister has, and she recommended it, and we were too hungry to look for something else. It was actually quite delicious. We ordered one of their group package meals, with six pieces of chicken, three servings of rice, two servings of coleslaw salad, three drinks, and two servings of their potato chips. We just added an additional serving of rice and another drink since there were four of us, and everything was reasonably priced, I can’t recall exactly how much, though. We asked for half the chicken to be in the Original variant, and the other half to be in the Spicy variant. I’m not very fond of spicy food, so I wanted to eat the Original variant, but I got a piece of chicken from the Spicy variant by mistake, because the salesperson switched the two, though they were on separate plates. But it turned out to be pretty good even if I got the Spicy variant because it was still very mild, and there wasn’t much heat. I liked how tender and juicy the chicken was, and the coating of the skin was really tasty that all that was left of the chicken was the bones. I can’t quite describe the flavor of the chicken, it was slightly sweet and savory, but the frying itself is a cross between Max and Bon Chon. Their potato chips were really nice and crispy too and well-seasoned. I can’t say anything about the coleslaw since I didn’t try it, and anyway, I don’t eat coleslaw. For the drinks that were included, I asked for lemonade instead of soft drinks since I’ve been cutting down on carbonated drinks, as much as possible, and there was a water station in the Food Court so I drank plenty of water too.

After having lunch, we went to Forever 21! It was my first time to go to a Forever 21 store, there’s a branch at SM North EDSA The Block that just opened, but I haven’t checked it out yet. I do have a pink Forever 21 mini skirt, but that was given to me as a gift years ago. At first I was amazed by how big the store was, and many clothes there were, such a wide array of patterns, colors, and designs. I was in awe for the first fifteen minutes just going around the store and taking a look. But then this weird feeling just crept on me, that out of place feeling, like I didn’t quite belong there. Don’t get me wrong, the clothes were all cute and girly, very chic and sassy, but I noticed all the other customers and shoppers already looked like their outfits were straight out of Forever 21 and they all looked the same. Yes, they were trendy and very stylish, I suppose, but they all looked so much alike that they didn’t look like they were shopping at all, instead it looked like they were just browsing their own closets, granted a larger than life one. I like trends as much as the next girl, but not to the point that my whole ensemble looks copied straight from a magazine. The crowd was almost homogeneous! And I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb in my pants and sandals and simple blouse. It was they who blended in with the racks. But then I guess that was the whole point of them coming to Forever 21, they want to achieve that Forever 21 look. The so-called hipster look, that’s borderline the same in uniqueness. I mean they were different, but the same in their difference, cut from the same cloth, literally and figuratively.

It’s not my thing, though. There were some pieces that caught my eye, some pretty prints and dresses, but when I saw the price tags, I thought to myself, I could probably find something just as nice in the Department Store for less, and with better quality. I mean, most of the dresses had really sheer and delicate, thin fabric, and I thought, with how our house help does laundry, it wouldn’t be long before the clothes got faded or the fabric got torn. Also, when I tried on some dresses, I found that their Small was still a bit loose on me, and the lengths were off, because in the US they’re generally taller and with bigger body frames. Local ready to wear brands offer better sizing for the average Filipina build. So I went home empty-handed while my sisters came home with a few pieces. They think I’m having a case of sour grapes. I don’t know, really. All I know is that I waited over thirty minutes for them to finish and I just kept going around the store. While I was at it, I noticed that all the male companions—boyfriends, husbands, fathers, brothers—were just sitting around twiddling their thumbs, having nothing better to do while their ladies were off having a field day in the store. For that brief moment, I shared in their bafflement of shopping. I sometimes wonder what guys do at the mall. Even in a sale, the men’s section of the Department Store is always near empty.

After that we left the mall since we were done with the important shopping, and we didn’t want to go through the trouble of navigating through throngs of people and we didn’t have any idea where stores were located anyway. We stopped for merienda at Chowking on our way home and we all ordered halo-halo. It was so good! Somehow it always tastes like it’s the first time I’ve ever eaten it, every mouthful a wonder of flavor and sweetness. Okay, halo-halo is just beyond describing.We went home afterwards.It was a good thing we started early and beat the traffic, and it wasn’t late yet, so we weren’t very tired.

I’m pretty happy with my purchases. I can’t get over my adorable pink luggage and my new bikini! And of course they were all on Mama’s dime so I’m doubly pleased HAHA! I hope we can go swimming again before the Summer’s over. Meanwhile, I still have time to tone up! I’ve completed the 4 week program of Hip Hop Abs, but I’m keeping it up and I’m really enjoying the results!

On another note, Next Sunday is Mother’s Day. I wonder how I can thank Mama and make her day special. I highly welcome any and all suggestions!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Rainy Days and Skin Talk

I’ve battled acne ever since I hit puberty, and even until now that I'm already 20 years old, it’s still a daily struggle for me to have clear skin. It runs on both sides of the family, and I guess I got the full brunt of hereditary skin conditions, not to mention my rosacea, or skin redness. I’ve been going to the dermatologist for years to treat my acne and I’ve used all a manner of prescription medications, ointments, soaps. I’ve endured discomfort and pain from chemical peels and facials, the sting of special toners and astringents, all in the name of fighting acne. Certainly, at present this is the clearest complexion I’ve had in years, because all throughout grade school and high school, my acne was much, much worse. Thankfully, my acne wasn’t the cystic kind, but more of a barrage of whiteheads and blackheads. However, I used to have such awful acne on my back, chest, and shoulders, that I couldn’t wear sleeveless tops, and it really hurt my self-esteem and to this day I have lingering insecurities. I had to go through five peeling sessions back in high school to go to prom wearing a tube dress. I actually have very few pictures from middle school to high school because I was always so self-conscious about my skin and I felt so hideous, and I didn’t want to be photographed at all. There is actually this huge gap in our family photo albums, when acne had nearly destroyed any and all self-confidence I had.

I had tried just about everything, and I almost lost hope of ever having normal skin. But in my last year of high school, leading up to the months before my high school graduation, I so desperately wanted to be able to have a decent graduation picture and not feel ashamed in my own skin, so I did some extensive research on alternative treatments, and that’s when I learned about the pill, or oral contraceptives. Apart from being birth control, one of the side-effects or benefits of taking estrogen is that it suppresses androgens, or male hormones, that cause acne. I begged Mama to let me go on oral contraceptives to see if taking hormones would help alleviate my acne. Mama’s an OB-GYN herself and she consulted with my dermatologist, as well as her other doctor colleagues, including a fertility specialist, before she agreed to let me try it. And I’m not naïve, I know what the implications are, and you can judge me all you want, but we talked about it, and my parents trust me enough to be responsible for myself, so even if they had their reservations, they gave me permission, because it had gotten to the point where nothing could keep my acne at bay, and even with my dermatologist’s intervention, I would likely end up with scarring if it didn’t let up.

They always say that it gets worse before it gets better, and that certainly was the case with taking pills. The first month, I would get dizzy and lightheaded, and it wasn’t until more than three months later that I saw results, which were minimal at that. I actually barely made it in time for my graduation to have clearer skin. Before taking pills, I had a pretty regular, if heavy period, and the pill has made my period like clockwork, and has lightened and shortened my period, so that was a plus. So now that I’m in college, I’ve been on the pill for little over three years and the pill has helped immensely, but it hasn’t eliminated my acne. Not by a long shot. I’m still using other maintenance topical acne medications like gels and creams, because I still get breakouts. And there’s also the question at the back of my mind, what if I stop taking the pill? Would my acne return full force? There’s always that fear, but then, when does it end? Do I have to take it forever and ever? Is there no cure? Only treatments? I have heard of Acnetrex, but after researching it, it’s way too extreme for me, and even my dermatologist advised against it, because that was reserved for the worst kind of acne. So here we are now.

Yes, for sure, this is the best my skin has seen, but after years of suffering from acne, you can still see traces of the aftermath. I have scars and hyper-pigmentation and on my fair skin, even a tiny blemish looks so obvious. If you knew me from before, then you would agree that this is the best my skin has ever been, but by normal standards, my skin would still be classified as problem skin. These past two weeks leading to my period, I’ve had a nasty breakout on my forehead, that have only just begun to dry up. The pimples I got all over my forehead were the angry, red, and painful to touch kind, tender and sore.

Just yesterday, I took these pictures. Sorry, no before and after pictures here. You can see the blemishes on my forehead and chin. They’re all dried up pimples already, if you touch them, they’re smooth and flat already, not bumpy at all, but they leave unpleasant red marks that take a long, long time to fade.
















I have no makeup in the two above pictures, I only applied my Etude House Sun Powder Cotton Touch Primer Base as a sun block and moisturizer over my acne antibiotics, after cleansing and toning my skin. I haven’t worn any makeup to school these past two weeks, just sun block to protect my skin, because I thought my makeup might be aggravating my sudden acne flare up, and I wanted to use as few products as possible, so as not to make my acne worse. Sometimes, my skin just needs a break or a breather from all my superfluous stuff. With a healthy diet and plenty of sleep, plus religious skin care, my acne is dying down already, but just a few days ago, my pimples were these almost welt like things on my face! My bangs helped cover up the worst of it though. But at home, I pin them back and away from my face.

Anyway, this whole week has been surprisingly rainy, after the long and hot dry spell! It’s been raining hard mostly on afternoons, but yesterday, it was pouring all day, almost! In class we had a hard time hearing each other because of the rain. I won’t go into my problems with my PI 100 class, because really it’s not worth it. I’ve come to realize during my stint in UP, that there are all sorts of characters, and pseudo-intellectual professors that get a kick out of messing with students come a dime a dozen. They are not worth it.

IMG_0983So, yesterday, I was wearing a pink shirt and a mini skirt with my green sandals. As it happens, every time it rains hard, I am coincidentally almost always wearing these green sandals. It’s like these sandals are cursed to be ruined by the rain. I have a car now, so at least commuting isn’t an issue, but even when I parked just across the building with a short walk, AS parking lot has all these ruts and pot holes and enormous puddles and walking to and from my car I got all these muddy splashes on the back of my calves, and my sandals were dirty. Good thing these have sturdy workmanship and good leather or it would be such a shame. UP is a great place for walking, but a bad place for nice shoes. Almost all my shoes are the durable kind and it’s hard to find shoes that serve both form and function. This is one of those. But I've had one experience before when I was wearing a pair of flimsy and cheap sandals and the strap broke on my commute home, and I walked home hobbling like a cripple, and all the other commuters were staring at me and my broken shoes.

Going back to my outfit, I’ve had this shirt since high school, and as I’ve mentioned, getting fit has allowed me to wear clothes that I thought I’d never fit into again, the mini included. I love this mini, the hem has frayed ends on purpose and it has that rugged effect. I love how mini’s get attention. Or is it my legs…? HAHA Sorry, I just couldn’t resist. But yeah, all summer long I’ve been wearing either shorts or mini skirts five days a week to school because of the heat! In fact I wore this mini last week, maybe you might even remember it from one of my previous posts. I’m an outfit repeater, guilty as charged!

After school, I went home straightaway, and the rain had stopped so at least my drive home wasn’t difficult. I ate lunch, and then Mama took me and my youngest sister to the dentist for a check-up and my dentist told me I was “blooming” and I should dress up like this more often. She has no idea I’m recovering from a breakout and I always dress like this anyway. But I guess she’s used to my frumpy old self from years of being her patient.

While we were there, it started raining really hard again, and there was a bit of flooding by the time we left. We picked up my other sister from UP and had an early dinner at Shakey’s. We haven’t eaten at Shakey’s in a while, so it was great. We headed home and I went about the usual things. Like continuing my Fringe marathon.

Le sigh.

I’m saving my skin and hair care products post, as well as my makeup collection and storage for another day. Do watch out for those posts in the coming days. I’m so sorry for the long wait, it’s been on my list forever, I’ve just been distracted lately, I guess.