Last-Minute Christmas Shopping For the Girlfriends

Christmas is arguably the most expensive time of the year, what with the multitudes of holiday parties and exchange gift sessions that you have to engage in and all the inaanaks that seem to crawl out of the woodwork after months of non-contact, asking for their aguinaldo. (This is another story.)

This, plus the fact that road and human traffic during the Christmas season seems to triple, makes Christmas shopping seem more likely to turn you to a Grinch than raise your holiday spirits.

SO. I almost always end up buying something similar (in bulk) for everyone, to save both time and money. I make up for it by getting them something a little more personal on their birthdays. :))

BUT HEY. I TRY not to get anything TOO generic or passe. They may all be similar, but they’re always something passably stylish or useful. Or both. (Err…I hope.)

This year’s panic-shopping haul: statement accessories.

In my humble opinion, accessorizing is something that a lot of Pinays could improve on. Being a third world country, accents and little things like these are the least of our priorities when we have bills to pay and mouths to feed. I’m personally horrified at the idea of spending more than PHP 200 on accessories. I s’pose this is because I’m used to Quiapo-and-Divisoria prices, which are my go-to places for tipid-shopping.

Anyway, sharing with you some of my finds during my last panic-buying session:

1) Statement Necklace + Earrings Set: They’re bright and bold and can instantly add some color to plain outfits.
Wallet Damage: PHP 80-100/set (gift box not included)

2. Charm bracelets: With safe colors and just a hint of sparkle, these bracelets go well with daily office wear or even casual garb.
Wallet Damage: PHP 50-100/piece (gift box not included)

3. Cocktail rings: You see them all over Tumblr and Lookbook. Cocktail rings can instantly make an outfit seem more polished.
Wallet Damage: PHP 25-50/piece (gift-box not included)

Optional: Gift boxes. Yep, Quiapo has ’em too. For people like me who don’t have the skill patience for gift-wrapping, these are perfect for you. Just re-pack the goods and you’re all set.
Wallet Damage: PHP 10-15/box

Ready for distribution!

Bear in mind though, that since they’re not too costly, I couldn’t say much about their durability. That isn’t to say that they will break after a few uses, but they wouldn’t last years either. They’re not too bad for daily use though!

I hope the girlfriends liked their presents! ^o^

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Clarissa Darling Was My Fashion Icon

Ever since I could remember, I’ve always dressed a little…differently. I may not be what you would call very fashionable, nor was my style outrageously out there, but at least I could say there’s a personal stamp on the way I dressed. More often than not, I choose not to follow trends (save for a few that looked great on my body type. I was rather chubby, you see.)

HS Christmas Dance, 2003

A classmate of mine said once, before a Valentine dance, when I described the outfit I had in mind. “Hay nako, magpaturo ka nga magdamit.”

I took that as a personal insult. Just because I didn’t own a pair of “pedal pushers” (I didn’t understand that fad, those pants looked like bitin jeans or overlong shorts) and I didn’t don racerback tanks all the time (hams for arms, anyone?), it didn’t mean I can’t dress. I wore patterned minidresses with tights, and off shoulder tops with long skirts even though those ensembles weren’t considered cool. I didn’t care much, all I knew was that that was the closest to Clarissa Darling fashion I could get and I loved it.

I freaking LOVED this show

That personal style carried over and evolved to this day. Comfy, a little edgy, and showing just a little bit of skin: that’s how I’d describe it. If you knew me at all, you’d understand why words like “soft”, “dainty” or “feminine” were never really applicable.

Purple zebra-striped top (Tomato), black denim mini (Zara), black slouchy boots (Janylin)

However, I feel it’s a time for a little change, or at least an expansion of my usual looks. I wanted to try something very girly, like florals or babydoll dresses and whatnot, but those things just never looked right on me. I’m not exactly what you’d call a delicate flower.

I am no dainty lady

A friend of mine and I swore to change our image in the following year (hello Ice!). She’s going for the feminine, laidback, Boho vibe and promptly suggested that I could go for preppy.

That could work, I think. Preppy is not overtly feminine, so I think I can still make it work for me. I’m not excited about all the layering though, not in our humid country. With all the commuting I do, I’d probably end up sweating like a whore in church. Is there a way to work out a preppy look without having to layer so much?

Should I go for it? Any other style suggestions would be much appreciated!

Murphy’s Law vs. Friendship

I am a relatively friendly person. My social network has gotten so big lately and I absolutely love all my new friends, but for me, few friendships can beat ones that were built during high school. They are the people who have known you since your wonder years, before you discovered glamour and relationships, before social networking sites and anything that can jade you. They know your roots and grew up with you, therefore accepting whatever you’ve become, and would tell you if they like it or not. When things screw up, they’re the ones who’ll be laughing at it with you in the end.

Pre-digicam days, when studio photos were still in

When high school ended, it took with it the regular lunch breaks and dismissal times, hence our regular bonding sessions came to a halt. My high school friends and I (i.e. The Benchwarmers or Benchers named after the benches outside our alma mater where we used to hang out) found new lives after college, yes, but we still kept a one hand hanging on to our little group, trying to get together at least a few times every year.

Seven years later we still were the tight knit group we were in college, albeit with more experiences and juicier stories to share. A few of us now work abroad, several others work with tricky schedules (call centers and hospital shifts) which made planning a get-together even more difficult.

This year, we planned on going on a Tagaytay getaway on December. Hoo boy, that planning stage was a mess. Schedules just wouldn’t meet, money ran short and several other mishaps happened, telling us that cancelling our plans would probably be the best option.

We refused to give up however, and come December 2009, we were on a rickety, rental FX and on our merry way to Tagaytay. We had planned on camwhoring at Sonya’s Garden, horseback riding in Taal and possibly, going to Zipline.

Roadtrippers!

Outfit post: Black knit sweater (thrifted), white printed minidress (Market!Market!), black leggings (Forever 21), brown boots

Enter Murphy and his law.

Murphy’s Law dictates that “Anything that can go wrong, will.” It has been proven time and again, that this extremely pessimistic law is true. While we were able to do two out of three on our itinerary, we should’ve known from the beginning that that  trip was not going to be a smooth one.

Our balikbayan friend, who was the primary reason why we tried so hard to organize this get together, got sick on the road trip going to Tagaytay. We underestimated the cost of the trip, so what was supposed to be a horseback adventure up the Taal Crater turned into what I now lovingly call The Shitty Hike (aptly named because of the multitudes of horse dung that littered the trail).

A shitty hike, it was indeed

Another friend of ours fell in the lake on the boat ride back from Taal to Tagaytay, and our car broke down in the middle of the long, dark, zigzagging road. By the time we got back to the rest house, we were all tired, cranky, and just a little bit spooked. (You know how easy it is to believe the paranormal when you’re out of the city.)

I was pretty sure by then that everyone was already regretting that they spent so much time and effort, not to mention MONEY, on this messed up trip.

Surprise , surprise. It took only some instant noodles (the only things we were able to grab from the grocery before it closed; we got there too late),a couple of bottles of Gilbey’s Premium and a bath for us to get back into a festive mood. Before long, we were already laughing again, reminiscing our favorite high school moments.

MSG was our salvation

Only the awesomest friends would go through all of that and still love you after.

Until next year, Benchers!

Steampunk!

One of my favorite childhood games would have to be dress-up. Halloween would’ve been my favorite holiday, if my community celebrated and dressed up for it. Sadly for me, people in the community I live in never did celebrate Halloween so the only costumes I ever wore were the crappy ones we had to wear for Elementary School Field Demonstrations.

Enter 5Over5 (inside joke), a group of musicians, actors, graphic designers and stand up comedians and all around sabaw yet fun folks. Unusual ideas and random acts of weirdness are common occurrences with them, which I wholeheartedly participate in when they do happen.

So when one of them started planning his birthday, and suggested to have a Steampunk themed party, you can only imagine my resounding “YES!”

I define steampunk as a mix of fantasy and science fiction set during the Victorian age, when technology is just starting to surface. As a subgenre of sci-fi, steampunk usually have themes of rebellion and historical what-if scenarios. I can go on about this subject, but this post isn’t really about that.

Anyhoot. I am no expert on steampunk fashion (not even fashion in general), but when I think steampunk, I think of the frills of Victorian garb like corsets, petticoats, and full skirts (top hats and tailcoats for the dudes) mixed with leather boots, grungy vests, pistols, brass gears and roughly hewn metal objects. Two words: Totally badass.

The party was in two weeks, and I live on an 8k monthly salary. Needless to say, I had no intentions of spending my hard-earned cash on a custom-made outfit, no matter how much I wanted to go all out on the costume. What I did? Improv.

Here’s our take on Steampunk:

L-R: Mako, Jillian, Altair, Chenyl and Fabian. LOL even our names seem straight out of fiction

Improvising a steampunk outfit for ladies is pretty easy. All you have to do is mix basic pieces like vests and collared shirts (both preferably in solid, earthy colors) and jeans, with the right accessories.

Here are some suggestions that can steampunk-ify your ensemble:

1. Corset Belts – Corsets are almost staples in steampunk, but a well-made corset would cost at least a thousand pesos. I am a huge fan of corsets, but they are rather impractical for me as I have very few opportunities to wear it. The next best thing would be the corset belt. I got mine on sale in Mariposa in Edmonton for only 10 Canadian dollars, which converts to roughly 400 to 500 pesos.

Php 420-600 at Cintura (Click photo to visit the store)

2. Choice footwear would have to be boots, whether it be knee high or ankle length, it doesn’t matter. They would go great with skinny jeans and even better with dresses. Think of it this way: You HAVE to wear a skirt but you want to be ready to run away (or travel on horseback) should the need ever arises…and look fabulous doing it. Haha yes, I do put myself in character when I have to dress up. :p

3. Brass (or brass-colored) accessories – Unlike gold and silver, brass has a dull shade to it that makes it seem like it has seen better days and that it has been through some rough times. Its vintage appeal makes it perfect for the steampunk genre.

Php 400 at TheLook4Less

These vintage looking necklaces sell for around 150-300 pesos in Greenhills (depending on the size of the pendant and bulk of your order), if you have the patience to look for them. But if you want less hassle, they’re available in online stores for about 400 to 500 pesos.

Php 350 at LV Limited

4. Others: Top hats, long gloves, long-barreled (toy) pistols and leather cuffs provide nice finishing touches.

What’s best about improvising (save for the fact that it’s less expensive) is that you can use the accessories separately to add more oomph other outfits.

And there you have it! My take on steampunk.  Any other suggestions? Feel free to comment!

A year ago today

(This post is for yesterday, December 13)

A year ago today, I was at the airport, sullenly dragging my luggage along as we waited for our flight to Las Vegas, and eventually, Canada. At the time, I thought it’d take years before I could visit (not come home to) the Philippines. My heart broke every time I thought of that fact.

A year ago today, my family was eager to see each other,  with optimistic hopes of possibly making up for the years that we spent apart.

A year ago today, my friends all gave me calls and messages of au revoir and prayed for my speedy return.

A year ago today, I was happily in love, my head full of idealistic notions of “love will get us through”.

December 13 of this year, I am back in the Philippines. My family is kind of in shambles. I am single (again), and my ego is still pretty bruised from being dumped by quite possibly the most disappointing person I know.

None of those matter though. Because I spent today, December 13, 2009, with two of my best friends, my soul sisters. We saw a play and had crepes and coffee and talked about career paths and family issues and moving out. We were talking, not on YM, not on Skype, but face-to-face.

All that matters is that on December 13, 2009, I am home. Happy Anniversary Canada.