Thursday, 27 March 2014

My Blog Turns 1!

I opened a Blogger account in 2010, but, like my savings account, it remained dormant. I was afraid I had nothing to say or write. And if I did, I wasn't confident that I'd be able to sustain its longevity. 


It's true that sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do. Ideas and inspiration have been generous to me so far, and they have given me something else to look forward to other than the weekend while at work on a Monday. 


It's been a year since I finally hit the publish button on 23 March 2013. This is my 64th post, and my blogger page has been viewed (and hopefully read) 30,912 times to date. I'm sure it's not much but I have to get past the number crunching while trying my hardest to eventually call myself an essayist (I fail in this when I'm whinging about make-up, clothes, and other trivial topics), and, well, an amateur photographer.

 To celebrate my first full year, allow me to look back to 2013 by sharing with you a round-up of my top 10 most read posts.

Click on the photos to direct you to the post.
How David Beckham is Contributing to the Economic Upturn
Keeping it Fake
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Miss Supranational Philippines 2013
Part II: Museum of Bags and Purses Amsterdam
The Sound of Music in Salzburg, Austria
From Old Manila to Vienna (Willkommen in Wien Part I)
Part I: Museum of Bags and Purses Amsterdam
Facebook's Status Quo
Does Age Really Matter?

I'd like to thank fellow bloggers and lovely readers who've been sharing their thoughts on some of my posts and keeping me warm and cosy in this little online corner of mine. Well done to you for being supportive!

I'm quite nervous about this, but I'd like to invite you to let me know of contents you'd love to see on my page. Although my main purpose is to log my thoughts on things that I feel strongly (and sometimes stupidly) about, I though it would be good to up the interaction by asking you to join me in coming up with topics to talk about. Your suggestions are most welcome. No deliberate intention to mentally torture me though, please.

I work full-time and don't have the freedom to randomly gallivant whenever I please, so it would be quite a challenge. If a topic involves research, I will need a considerable amount of time to work on a piece.

You can leave your suggestions on the comment box, or email me, or drop me a message on my Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you!

Again, thank you for a great year with you all!

Friday, 21 March 2014

One Picture, Three Stories

A few months after publishing this blog, I started looking for Philippine-born writers and authors who are either based in the UK, or weave stories about both the UK and the Philippines in their plot. England is now home, but I will always have a spiritual connection to the Philippines, and would love to fuse my affection for both through the stories I will hopefully tell one day.

I found Candy Gourlay online and have since enjoyed her debut novel 'Tall Story' about a giant Filipino boy called Bernardo who moved to London to join his mother, who was a nurse, and his half-sister Andi. 

I follow Candy's blog and read her post in January that she decided to take up a challenge by illustrator Jane Heinrichs to do a One Picture, Three Stories link-up. Jane believes--and I agree with her--that photos are composed of many different layers and angles. Sometimes, images convey more than words do.

Click HERE for the photo and stories that Jane shared.

And HERE for Candy's.

I left a comment on Candy's blog that I'm joining Jane's project and will let her and Jane know that I've done it. Here it goes.

photo courtesy of my cousin

I love black and white films and photos, especially of family members from a bygone era. The year was 1923. The Philippines had been independent from Spain for only 25 years. My grandfather was only 7 but already a bereaved son. His grandmother raised him when his father remarried. I was struck by the uncanny resemblance of a younger cousin to my grandfather. It's been 91 years since this photograph was taken--just 9 years short of being a century old. I am amazed at how much history it has survived.

The older women were wearing a variation of the María Clara gown, a traditional attire by women in the Philippines in the 19th century. The dress was named after María Clara, the mestiza heroine created in 1887 by Philippine national hero José Rizal in his political epic Noli Me Tángere. Unlike a sari which is still worn in modern India and Bangladesh, a  María Clara gown is now only ever worn for formal occasions or cultural events. It's very nostalgic to see women wearing it on a daily basis, but it could also be that the photo opportunity was such a special day that it called for a special dress.

My grandfather and grandmother were complete opposites. She could talk the whole day. My late uncle used to tease her about being 'low batt' when she kept silent for a few minutes. My grandpa was a man of few words. If they had social media then, my gran would be constantly updating her status and most likely taking selfies wearing her DIY dresses. My grandfather wouldn't have an online presence. A few days before I moved to London some years ago, my grandfather told me he had a gut feeling we will not see each other again. His voice was shaking. I told him I'll visit him the following year. He passed away 5 months after I left--2 months after my father. 

If you'd like to link up, click HERE and let Jane know about your one picture and three stories.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

A Grown-Up's Colouring Book

On one of those rare nights when I had nothing much to do, I picked up my iPad and browsed through my digital copy of Harrods magazine's March issue. I'm not sure if I have mentioned before that I love make-up even though I don't necessarily wear it as much as I used to just because my job allows me to come in straight out of bed. 

Harrods magazine has an app that allows you to view and play with this season's colours from featured brands. I don't use and have not used these brands before (except Laura Mercier's body and bath products and YSL's bronzer), but what the heck, it was free, and I had fun experimenting with colour combinations. 

Here's a little treat to fashion and make-up bloggers who kindly browse my page :)

I chose the medium brown skin tone as it's the closest to mine

The model has a pre-applied foundation. All I had to do was click on the choices on the lower left corner to 'brush on' my preferred colours

 Luminous cheek colour in neutral £31
Volumised Lashes mascara in Dahlia £23.50
Crayon Intense eyeliner in Dahlia £18
Smooth Eye Colour quad in Vulcano £39.50
Passion Duo Gloss Fusion lipstick in Impact £26

 Creme cheek colour in Praline £20.50
Faux Lash mascara in Black £18.50
Longwear Creme eye pencil in Espresso £16.50
Caviar Stick eye colour in Sand Glow £20.50
Creme Smooth lip colour in Sienna £20

 Glow On Blush in P medium peach £16
Enchanted black parallel eyeshadow palette £60
Tokyo Lash mascara £20
Mono Stone lashed £16
Rouge Unlimited lipstick in 185 Red £19

 Blush Radiance 5 £31
Mascara Singulier Nuit Blanche in Vibrant Violet £23
Ombres 5 Lumieres eye shadow palette in No13 £42
Vernis A Levres rebel nudes in Corail Mutin £23.50

These are the palettes you'll find rotating in my rolodex of make-up looks. I tend to stick to purples and darkest browns, and nudes and bright reds for my lips--and I don't care what the season dictates. My favourite look is the last one.

Try it now ladies and be your own make-up artist!

Speaking of colour, click HERE if you missed my previous post.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014


Via Instagram, Lupita Nyong'o and her stylist Micaela Erlanger posted this mash-up of the red-carpet dresses she accessorised with her exquisite bone structure, gorgeous complexion, and glamorous presence.

Miss Lupita Nyong'o, Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the 86th Academy Awards, is the current darling of the press and the latest fashion icon. Beneath her unassuming confidence though was once a young girl who felt 'unbeautiful' when taunted and teased about her 'night-shaded skin'.

In her acceptance speech for Best Breakthrough Performance at the 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon hosted by Essence magazine, she spoke of her " prayer to God...[was] that I would wake up lighter-skinned." Her prayer wasn't answered; instead, Alek Wek walked into her life.

Alek Wek, the South Sudanese-born British supermodel

"When I saw Alek I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself that I could not deny,” says Lupita. In a world--not just in an industry--where lighter skin is the standard by which conventional beauty is measured, to see a black woman celebrated for her beauty, and whom she can physically identify with, was a confidence booster. Lupita realised that beauty was something she just had to be.

Miss Brown
Lupita's prayer resonated with me. 

My natural skin tone is typical of Austronesian peoples' complexion which is light brown that turns deep with sun exposure. I have black hair, dark brown eyes, and a skin colour called kayumangging-kaligatan (think Nicole Scherzinger's natural colour with a layer of self-tanning spray, or Filipino actress and TV presenter Angel Aquino's) by the Tagalogs. At my darkest when I was little, I could turn 'black and blue' as I was once described. Being compared to a bruise was bad enough, but being called names for having dark skin was worse.

Due to our colonial historical background (the Philippines was a Spanish colony for 330 years and the Americans came in the late 19th century), settlements and inter-marriages produced mestizo (mixed race) offspring whose European features (i.e. lighter skin, light brown hair and eyes, and more angular face) became aspirational. Owing to my father's more Indo-Malay genes, I am, simply put, the opposite of a mestiza.

5-year-old me

Growing up in a small town where mestizos and mestizas are preferred, I had my own share of Lupita moments when I was taunted by schoolmates, or generally by other kids. I've been called 'ngetem' which was some sort of a colloquial derivative of the Filipino word 'maitim' which means black. I was called 'nognog' which is a local derivative form of Negro. 

My grandmother--bless her--used to scrub my skin with pumice when giving me a bath. She scrubbed so hard until my skin was sore. It stung. I asked, is this what darker skinned people have to go through in the name of fairer skin? I went in the bath brown. I came out brown. The water that pooled around my feet never turned brown.

I was told not to wear black as I blended with the colour. I was told not to wear white as my dark skin was emphasised. I was told not to wear brown as the clothing was almost like my skin. Should I expose more skin then? No. It's apparently unsightly to see dark elbows, dark knees, darker than a light-skinned person's underarms, and would you believe it: dark feet.

'Ngetem' or 'nognog' are probably not as derogatory and racist as the 'N' word, but for whatever purpose and intention, those words are all meant to deliberately hurt a person.

The Colour Brown
I found some relief in leaving the small town and its mentality when my family moved to the capital Manila. I went to an all-girls school where occasionally, my classmates and I would harmlessly poke fun at each other's features. The previous name calling left me very self-conscious though, so I was sensitive to any reference to my skin colour. But I didn't want to be the onion-skinned former small barrio lass who couldn't take a city girl banter, so I disguised my insecurity by being self-deprecating while secretly wishing to have my mestiza classmates' skin.

When something is deeply ingrained in you, it's difficult to depart from what you've been conditioned to believe in. So I used whitening soap and cream on my face, and lotion on my body, especially on my knees and elbows. Had I managed to access whitening pills, I could have popped them like I would M&Ms. My skin ended up dry, scaly, waxy, and photosensitive, but I'd much rather endure that than visit my hometown in all my brown-ness. It didn't help that I have some mestiza cousins, so I was avoiding the comparison at all cost.

 In some parts of Asia, brown, or dark skin for that matter, is associated with the poorer ilk, being common, roughness, unattractiveness, and impurity. I don't believe I'm any of these, nor the other darker-skinned people I know, but how easy is it to brand a person as such based on the colour of their skin?

My Own Alek Wek
No, she's not black. She's not brown either. She's a mestiza from an affluent political family in the Philippines. She was an 'It' girl in her younger years, then a TV presenter, and a Pilates expert. I admired her most though for being my teacher in a subject called Philippine Literature in English. She comes to class wearing Grecian style blouses and midi skirts and stacked heels of the same style in various colours. When she asks us to write short essays on a certain literary topic, she goes around the room and stops behind you or next to you to read what you have written. She stopped by my chair once and I caught a whiff of her perfume that now reminds me of Jour d'Hermès.

Needless to say, I wanted to be like her. Sophisticated. Beautiful. Intelligent. Eloquent. Light-skinned.

My former literature teacher

At the beginning of the school year, I was sat at the front of the class. She made the usual inroduction. I was gawking, as my teacher was a celebrity. I thought my heart stopped when she came up to me, lightly touched my forearm, and said, "I loooovvee your skin tone." 

I was 13, very awkward, unsure, and insecure. She didn't tell me I was beautiful. But her complimentary words made me feel I was.

Sometimes, it takes just one person or one gesture of appreciation to make or break another's confidence and self-esteem. She didn't change my life. But her kind words made me change the way I looked at myself.

Thank you, Ms R.

In my 30s. The middle photo shows that it's not easy to break free from a cultural conditioning that Caucasian features are always more attractive. I wore hazel contact lenses here. I shall not do that again.

Whether you're black, white, brown, Asian, Oriental (I heard that in some parts of America, to be identified as Oriental is offensive. I am originally from the Orient side of the world, thus I am Oriental. Is there a problem with that?), there will always be someone somewhere who will be prejudiced against somebody's dark skin colour. I still wouldn't have mine in any other shade.

I am dark.

And I am proud.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...