His and hers

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Doing a different kind of matchy for Father’s Day! I waited for my dad to get dressed and then patterned my outfit to his.

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Yes, my penchant for themed outfits stems from childhood. On special occasions, or just whenever we feel like being corny, my family would go out dressed in matching colors or a motif of some sort. It’s a good thing my dad has a lot of pink and light blue shirts. Haha.

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Favorite colors aside, my dad and I have a lot of things in common. People say I got my quirky laughter and witty humor from him, which I always take as a huge compliment because my dad can really work up a crowd. I’ve never heard of a seminar he spoke at where people weren’t held captive by his stories, spontaneous jokes and occasional bursts of song-and-dance. He’s a quick study, able to do a little bit of everything and has a seemingly bottomless arsenal of general knowledge, and I hope I’m a little bit like that too.

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One of the things my mom loves about my dad is how his eyes sparkle with intelligence. I agree; my mom was the one who mostly taught me English, Humanities and creativity while my dad was the one who taught me Maths, Sciences and analytical thinking. I remember him teaching me two-digit division when I was five! I hated it at the time, but now I wish I paid more attention. Haha. My books back then were filled with circled words: whenever we came across a term I wasn’t familiar with, he would encircle them with a pencil and scribble its definition. It wasn’t all left-brained for him though. He’s a compelling storyteller, a darn good cook and a sweet nurse: I grew up practically living in a hospital due to weak lungs, and even though there were many things I wasn’t allowed to eat or do (e.g. watching cartoons would make me laugh, and laughter would set off an asthma attack), I never felt like I had a deprived childhood, because Papa was always there singing for me, reading to me, carrying me, bringing me everywhere. Then until now, there’s always something to be learned just hanging around him: you would drive by a city and he would tell you a building’s history. You would listen to music and he would tell you trivia about the artists of that genre. You would eat at a restaurant and he would tell you how a particular dish is prepared depending on the region. Sometimes I would doubt the veracity of his stories or assume it to be one of his poker-faced jokes, but then I research about it and they turn out to be true. Long before National Geographic and Discovery Channel, we’ve had our own live version.

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The one quality of my dad that I aspire most though is his remarkable resilience. Looking at him now, one probably wouldn’t be able to guess what he’s been through. Think of some telenovela plots you can remember and then mix them up: riches-to-rags childhood, growing up with an absentee father at the care of relatives in Iloilo while his mom worked as a labandera (laundrywoman) in Forbes Park, working as an ice candy vendor in the marketplaces of Caloocan and then as a construction worker in Merville among many other odd jobs while paying his way through school. His career is just as storied: he’s held high positions in the banking, foreign service, business and power industries and has had more economic ups-and-downs than a Ferris wheel, but he plowed through and bounced back each time. He’s been mistaken for a CPA, lawyer, professor, restaurateur, and an engineer of all sorts, because even if he is none of the above, he displays unparalleled excellence in any field he gets into. I may sound like I’m a gushing daddy’s girl, but if you meet him, you’d know what I mean. He has his own version of “Bloom where you are planted” that I often share in my own talks: “Ang diyamante, kahit ihalo mo sa buhangin, kikinang at kikinang pag nasinagan ng araw.” (A true gem, even when hidden in the sand, shines brightest under the sunlight.) He teaches us by words and example that though you can’t always control your circumstances, you can always control your attitude and make the best of any situation.

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Despite knowing all these, many times in the recent past I’ve found it easier to give in to emotions or laziness or self-doubt. When confronted with daunting situations, I would forget to stop and ask myself, “What would Papa do?” and go on to act however I felt like acting. But I take comfort in another thing my dad likes to tell me: “You can only be who you’re not for so long. You won’t be able to sustain it, and sooner or later you’ll be forced by circumstance to go back to your core.”

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I’d like to think I’ve been on my way back to being who I’ve always been supposed to be. After all, I am his daughter, and he is my dad.

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Outfit details: Lee Cooper sleeveless button down, Betty flap shorts, Crocs strappy slip-ons, SM Accessories bag.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here.

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I’d love to hear your stories too, so go ahead and leave a comment below.
Happy Father’s Day to all dads out there!

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Independence

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Philippine Independence Day, June 12th, has drawn to a close. I originally planned on precluding myself from writing about it, as I can be quite impassioned when delving into nationalistic topics. Instead, last night, I chose to wear love-of-country, titled it “Flagged,” completely veered away from touching on anything historically relevant, and promptly proceeded to give a rather vapid and unnecessary description of how the styling was a lighthearted tribute to our nation’s colors.

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I figured that at best, chances are everyone’s news feeds have been inundated with reflections on the current state of the country and how nothing has really changed much from the times we were under rule, reflections and sentiments that are bound to last only until the 19th (Jose Rizal’s birthday). At worst, chances are it was just another holiday for many, a one-day respite from the rigors of every day life. Would it make a difference to try and stir up fervor in many a jaded heart?

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But today I remembered Rizal’s words: “I die without seeing dawn’s light shining on my country… You, who will see it, welcome it for me. Don’t forget those who fell during the nighttime.” Like an itch you can’t help but scratch, I couldn’t shake off the unease that I seemed to be doing a disservice to a national holiday (barely) observed once a year. So I rewrite this in honor of those brave heroes, famed and unsung, who fought so hard to give the Philippines at least a semblance of freedom that day in 1898.

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I say semblance not to undermine any of their efforts, but because had certain things been done differently by the nation’s policymakers at the time, things might have also turned out differently: as we are taught in History class, the Filipino revolutionaries led by Emilio Aguinaldo made this declaration of independence from the Spanish colonial rule on June 12th in his ancestral home in what is now Kawit, Cavite. The flag made by Marcela and Lorenza Agoncillo, together with Rizal’s niece Delfina Herbosa, was unfurled, and Julian Felipe’s Marcha Filipina Magdalo (what would later on be given Jose Palma’s words and turned into the melody of Lupang Hinirang) was played. Despite much pomp and circumstance though, neither Spain nor the United States recognized this declaration: Spain ceded the Philippines to America for $20 million in the Treaty of Paris. It marked the end of the Spanish-American war, and the beginning of the Philippine-American war.

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In his El Fili, Rizal wrote that a man holds on to his independence when he retains his own way of thinking. My humble thoughts on this: I’m not a big fan of Aguinaldo. Heh. I’m writing this from memory and from discussions with my dad, and I will reserve the rest of my Aguinaldo stories for Bonifacio Day, but for June 12th, what I know is that after the Philippine revolution broke out in 1896, the Spanish entered into an agreement with the revolutionaries and Aguinaldo voluntarily went into exile in Hong Kong. He came back in May 1898 during the Spanish-American war after the defeat of Spain in the Battle of Manila Bay and enlisted a brilliant paralytic lawyer, Apolinario Mabini as his adviser. Mabini has said the declaration was premature and should involve the consensus of the majority. He was also against the fact that it placed the Philippines under American protection. But Aguinaldo insisted on establishing his “independent” dictatorial government, only to later on issue a statement accepting America’s sovereignty over the Philippines when he was captured. Centuries later and the stories still sound familiar, eh?

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I guess this is why I get impassioned when talking about this. This country and its people can become so much more, can enjoy so many possibilities, if only we recognized everything that we are and everything that we have. If only we learned from our past and resolved to do things differently. If only our politicians listened more to our intellectuals: our Rizals and our Mabinis, taking into careful consideration their analyses and educated opinions. If only the small people and the soldiers and those working behind the scenes—the Agoncillos and Herbosas, were given as much importance as the grandstanding generals and leaders. If only these leaders sincerely considered the welfare of the vast majority in making their decisions. If only we held our country in a higher regard, loved ourselves a little bit more, and worked harder to uphold our dignity. Then, we could truly be a people with independence.
   

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Outfit details: Weekender top, custom skirt, CMG platform wedges, Anne Klein purse, SM Accessories necklace, belt and earrings, Japanese Candy contact lenses.

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Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here.

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My mom, who among many other things is my photographer and hairstylist, helped me out with an updated version of your typical Filipiniana updo.

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Save for the hair, I avoided the updated-Filipiniana look because that’s pretty much always done. Let me know your thoughts—whether about the topic or the outfit. I’d also love to hear how you would style your own tribute.

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Sunshine and roses

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Worn on a day of interviews and meetings, in between which were dates with loved ones. I’ve found that squeezing in time for family and friends always makes stressful days seem brighter and more exciting.

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Can you believe that we’re halfway through the year already? It seems just like yesterday when we were filled with apprehensions (both realistic and Mayanistic, heh) about how 2012 would end. The past six months have brought so many welcome changes—way better than anything I could have ever expected back then.

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One of these is a solid and opportune semi-shift in career. I’d rather get into it when everything has been settled. What I can say for now is that I’ve always thought I had my career goals mapped out: I knew exactly what I wanted and how to get there. But sometimes, we come upon crossroads and unknowingly take a path that goes in circles. And when we think we’re being thrown off-track, it turns out that we’re simply being re-placed on the path we should’ve been on in the first place. Our steps become surer and things become clearer, and on the horizon, that which we’ve always aspired seems even closer.

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…And then we look back one last time, and it’s forward on from there. 🙂

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They say it’s not always sunshine and roses, but when you’re surrounded by happy and loving people, the storm can bring its thunderous gloom and heaviest downpour and your spirits will never be doused.

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Outfit details: Flights of Fancy top, Redhead bodycon skirt, Asian Vogue pumps, XOXO wristwatch, SM Accessories necklace and purse, Japanese Candy contact lenses. Hype this on Lookbook here, Chictopia here. Follow me @shailagarde on Twitter and Instagram!

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Impromptu one-take before bed. Yep, use it or lose it—rusty pipes from a few years of dormancy. Time to flex ‘em vocal muscles again. 🙂 Video requested by my brother Vince’s girlfriend, Winona. It’s their birthdays on June 18th.

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Groove Back

A hark back to circa 2009 when I was doing TV production full-time. Had this vest-over-tank top with wristband and sneakers thing going on, and would often be mistaken for someone who plays in a band—specifically bass, for some odd reason. 

Would it that I were. The only time I’ve ever been in a band was for a few weeks in senior high school, and only to fill in for a friend who got sick. Plus it was for vocals; I’m fine with YouTube covers but for legit performances, the only instrument I’d be comfortable enough to play would be air guitar. 

Band or no band, music has always been a profound part of my life. My mom still has cassette recordings of 3-year-old me singing everything from Whitney Houston to Francis M, as well as little snippets of my grade school “compositions” (i.e. some words strung together haphazardly mostly to make them end in rhymes, sung to a pretty generic melody). Every highlight of my life, every person that bears making a memory of, has their own OST. Strangely enough, in the past couple of years, I had stopped singing, even in private. I barely listened to music by my own choice or for its sheer pleasure. If you checked my iPhone then, there was, as Siri snootily observed, “nothing in your Music library, just… silence.” If you are what you listen to, I was… how shall we put it? Vacant.

I finally got out of that laughable atrocity and got my groove back this year. It feels fascinating to be reunited with the gallimaufry of beats that once occupied my playlists and my soul. I will not use the word “eclectic” for the same reason I avoid the word “bipolar,” and say instead that you’ll find Armstrong and Sinatra and Fitzgerald with their contemporaries from the swing band era along with the earnest riffs of Cash, Chapman and Mayer, the anthems of Marley, Queen and Journey (way, way, way before Glee, thanks to my dad) along with the happy comfort of Hillsong United, Manoling Francisco and Velvet Underground, and the sweeping symphonies of centuries-old Tchaikovsky, Bach and Beethoven along with movie soundtracks and Top 40 hits of recent billboard charts. I’ve started singing again. In the shower, while driving, at karaoke, in front of crowds, on YouTube. I’ve also gone back to self-learning basic music. Could girl-in-a-band turn from mistaken assumption into reality? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

Outfit details: Landmark tank top, YRYS vest, Human skirt, SM Accessories cuff. 

Shulong sneakers.

Skull Candy headphones, Cam’s Case hand-painted personalized iPhone 5 case. Hype this on Lookbook here.

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On the bright side

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We all have those days when things just feel slightly off-kilter for no apparent reason. You wake up with a weird fluttering in your stomach, and it’s not caused by the previous night’s sushi nor the good morning text your crush just sent you. It’s a sinking feeling, the cause of which you can’t really pinpoint—or maybe you can, and it’s just these minor annoyances clumped up into a big stress ball. So how do you quash that feeling?

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You look on the bright side of things. Yes, it sounds patronizingly trite, but it’s also tried and true. One of my best friends, Joanne, would always tell me something to that effect whenever I would go to her for things that bothered me. “Life is beautiful, Shai! I won’t allow you to wallow when there is so much to be thankful for!” I used to feel bad at how she wouldn’t join me in my life’s lamentations. When we’re young, we tend to shrug off these things and be oh-so-dramatic about our woes instead of choosing to be positive.

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But then it occurred to me that she’s one of the happiest, perkiest persons in my life and thought I’d give her attitude of gratitude a sincere try. Whenever an imaginary dark cloud loomed, I would list down every single thing I’m thankful for. Not just the significant, mind-blowing, life-altering ones, but even the most mundane (the amount of milk I poured was just enough to finish my Koko Krunch, all the stoplights I passed today were green, the barista spelled my name right on the cup) and those we sometimes take for granted (I arrived at my day’s destination safely, the elevator didn’t get stuck while I was alone inside, the waiter brought me water without being asked).

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It’s one of those practices that are childishly basic and stupefyingly logical, yet a struggle to get the hang of. There are times when writing down all those thank you’s feels like the last thing I want to do. But cliches are nothing if not notorious tenets of simple wisdom: the more I rebel against it, the deeper I sink into a rut. The more I keep at it, the better everything starts to seem. These days more than ever, I’ve come to know that while we will always be besieged with trials, we will also never run out of things to brighten our days once we start looking.

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Outfit details: Binkydoodles midriff top, Flights of Fancy palazzo pants, CMG platforms, SM Accessories bag, Dickies sunnies. Contact lenses from Japanese Candy.

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Hype this on Lookbook here and Chictopia here. Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @shailagarde!

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Transition

Sometimes, things happen that temporarily suspend our ability to think straight. People we value do us wrong, throw away our love and friendship. Intoxicated by their betrayal, we find ourselves making poor choices, moving away from who we are and compromising the values we grew up with.
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