World Vision Noche Buena Gift Giving 2017

photo from World Vision Philippines

photo from World Vision Philippines

Christmas is definitely my favourite holiday of the year. As gift giving (and receiving, let me be honest here) is one of my love languages, it is inevitable that I will treasure a holiday that is devoted to sharing what I have to those I love the most. 

I have already shared how important child sponsorship is to me, and for the past decade, I have made my sponsored child’s Noche Buena as my top holiday priority. For only Php1,000, I get to feed my sponsored kid and her family on Christmas Eve. I made sure that this was fulfilled, even during my moments of relying on my student’s allowance, when I was unemployed, and when I was going through personal challenges. 

Now that I am already thirty-one years old, I am anticipating the holiday season with the same childlike mirth and eagerness. I am currently looking for the right job for me, and one of the considerations I have in looking for an employer is the presence of corporate responsibility. Personally, I champion the importance of being an advocate, as it gives a whole new meaning to earning money. Knowing that part of my earnings will go to my sponsored child’s education empowers me as a worker. It gives me pride to know that I am somehow making a difference in a kid’s life. If my future employer will have a charitable initiative, then that will also enhance my psyche at work, as I am part of a company that believes in sharing and positively impacting the community it thrives in. Having said that, the holiday season for me this year is no different from my previous ones. I have already sent my Noche Buena allotment to World Vision, because I want to jumpstart the holidays with the knowledge that my kid will have her spaghetti again this Christmas Eve. And yes, I am hoping that I will get employed by an employer with a heart soon.

photo from World Vision Philippines  

photo from World Vision Philippines  

If you have the heart to share your blessings this Christmas, please consider buying a Noche Buena package for poor families in World Vision communities around the Philippines. There is even an option to send a Noche Buena pack in your loved ones’ names. You may find additional information in World Vision Noche Buena Campaign Site, and payments may be conveniently made through credit card, PayPal, bank deposit, and even online banking. 

I myself have recently experienced trying times, but it does not mean that I should give up. I am definitely carrying on with my job hunting journey, as well as my daily blogging. Frankly, one of the main reasons why I am motivated to do so is my child sponsorship advocacy. I hope that you will consider sponsoring a child too! It is one of the most rewarding relationships you will ever have. It might even be one of the key factors of your decision making in life. If you are not yet ready for that commitment, consider donating a Noche Buena pack. The deadline is on December 15, so please act now and spare a poor family from hunger this Christmas Eve.

 Yay! 🎄 

 Yay! 🎄 

UP Vargas Museum | Rituals of Invasion and Resistance by Norberto Roldan

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I may not consider myself to be a devout Catholic, but I have a practical and personal approach to faith. Religion for me should not be an imposition but rather, an exercise of freedom and love. As I explored Norberto Roldan’s exhibition entitled Rituals of Invasion and Resistance,  I appreciated how much of our collective knowledge of religion is heavily influenced by cultural beliefs, superstitions, and underground resistance. I found the installations a beautiful and haunting tribute to our past as a conquered nation and our ever-evolving history. 

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WVN: Weaving a New Perspective

Early morning shoot in my cube

Early morning shoot in my cube

I first learned about WVN earlier this year, when I chanced upon their dreamy Instagram page. I have been a fan of local textiles thanks to my exposure to Philippine handicrafts through my mentor, Mitzie Icasiano of Manlilikha. I have supported Rags2Riches and Habi Batangan, which are both social enterprises that incorporate indigenous weaves into their fashionable products. Naturally, I will gravitate towards items which reflect my design sensibilities, functional requirements, and social enterprise advocacy. I am also a believer that buying local is the way to go.

I was only waiting for WVN to produce shawls or scarves because their hallmark product is their beach towel, which features an indigenous weave on one side, and a towel on another (I am not a beach girl so I am always looking for a city alternative!). I think their towel is genius, because it is a fresh way of using indigenous weaves and a cool one at that. I then followed their tasteful posts until I saw that they were crowdfunding with Spark Project. One of their rewards was a pair of chic sarongs which could be used as shawls. I did not hesitate and pledged my support for the set. 

My Spark Project crowdfunded sarongs are here! 

My Spark Project crowdfunded sarongs are here! 

I was expecting them to be thin sarongs but I was wrong! They are thick and the weaves are intricately done. I am using the green one here in our chilly office and it is comforting. It gives off just the right warmth and yet it is still thin enough to wear as a wrap during hot summer days.  

Beautiful, intricate weave

Beautiful, intricate weave

My shawl blanket is perfect for work and play! 

My shawl blanket is perfect for work and play! 

I am happy to have discovered another social enterprise, and it is also noteworthy that a couple of 27-year old women are running this biz. Now is really the best time to buy local and be stylish! 

Book Museum: A Geeky Sundate

My boyfriend Allan and I hang out every Sunday. We enjoy eating out (most of my food blog entries are from places we frequent) and visiting places of interests. Since we are 30-something geeks, museums and bookstores are included in the mix. Today, we visited the Book Museum at Marikina to surround ourselves with publications from around the world. 

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We were not disappointed! While most visitors were underwhelmed, we were satisfied with our short tour there. You may browse their collection, except for the glass-encased ones which are precious artifacts from another era. I especially liked their tiny books and Rizal collection.  

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They had this foot statue to symbolize mobility of information and civilization. It is also noteworthy that Marikina is known as the shoe capital of Metro Manila since this is the main industry in the city. 

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If you are into osmosis trips like me, this is a fun place to take your special someone or even your kids. Printed books will never replace ebooks. It is also a reminder that books can inspire you to dream, travel, and aspire for the betterment of society.  

Check out these old postcards on Rizal

Check out these old postcards on Rizal

Rizal fangirl here 🙋🏻 

Rizal fangirl here 🙋🏻 

Philately will always have a special place in my heart.  

Philately will always have a special place in my heart.  

My planner-girl heart skipped a beat with this

My planner-girl heart skipped a beat with this

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This was a memorable trip for us as we both like being surrounded by books and odd objects. We also enjoyed the ethnology center in the compound. There were native artifacts from different tribes in the country. It was a colorful display of the rich culture of our different regions. 

The museum can be easily searched through navigation apps. Their museum curator is knowledgeable and for P100 per person, you will be surrounded by books and culture.  

We highly recommend this museum for your next Sundate! 

Habi Batangan: Woven Dignity

Rocking my own Habi Batangan shawl!

Rocking my own Habi Batangan shawl!

Social Entrepreneurship has become a hot topic of late due to the proliferation of shops that choose to include helping others in their business plan. One of my favorite examples is Habi Batangan, a Batangas-based online shop selling wraps, shawls and infinity scarves. Their beautiful pieces are all hand-loomed by mothers. I could attest to the quality and inherent loveliness of their goods as I have become a frequent customer. I am the type of girl who is always cold, whether it's the air condition at the mall or the office. Their long shawls have saved me from suffering and they made me look chic at the same time. They are also more affordable than other hand-loomed scarves in the market, without sacrificing quality and of course the social aspect of their business. I have experienced fantastic customer service as well, which is getting rarer and rarer these days.

Photo from Habi Batangan's  Facebook page

Photo from Habi Batangan's Facebook page

Photo from Habi Batangan's  Facebook page

Photo from Habi Batangan's Facebook page

I encourage you to check-out their Facebook page. For orders, you may message them and expect a response within the day. They are perfect presents to the ladies in your life, or even for yourself!

The best thing about social enterprises is that shopping is guilt-free. Please consider buying a scarf or two from Habi Batangan, and wear a woven piece made with love and dignity by a mother in need.

 

My New E-Course: Writing Room

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I can really say that this period in my life, my NOW, is definitely the most growth-intensive time of my life so far.

It all began when I was hired in my current job only a month ago. I was adjusting to my non-teaching officer role in a university when I discovered I have enough free time to pursue my passions. I am a bibliophile, so I immediately signed-up for a staff library membership and devoured books one after the other. It was a blissful beginning, but I felt that I could use my downtime at work in pursuing my other passion, writing. I still had no idea how this would go about, so I went on Instagram and visited my friend Airees' online page.

Airees is one of my favorite people in the creative industry. She is a mom and social entrepreneur, and I recalled having read that she took a course with Arriane Serafico. From her testimonial, it seemed that this course propelled her to pursue her passion full-time without compromising her other priorities. I then visited Arriane's site and was blown away by her diverse channels of teaching goal-setting, creative entrepreneurship, and simply going after your one true passion. I started with her podcast, The Purposeful Creative and I was hooked. She spoke in practical terms and shared a lot about her personal experience of leaving a job she loved at one of my favorite social enterprises, Rags2Riches, in order to teach the principles of passion + purpose full-time. I joined the podcast's Facebook group and discovered this sisterhood which allowed me to immerse myself in an environment that fosters new ideas and creative pursuits. I enrolled in Arriane's Braver Goalsa goal-setting e-course which changed my life to say the least. I found myself actually accomplishing the workbook, religiously updating my Courage Journal, and doing the exercises. The curriculum is manageable and did not interfere with my work at all. I then realized that this is it. If I can complete an e-course while balancing my full-time job and well, adulting, then I can write again. 

I decided to join 15 Days of Writing True, a writing course facilitated by the awesome Sofia Cope and Camille Pilar. Sofia is a self-branding and artistic expression teacher, while Camille surfs, teaches creative writing, and makes badass coffee in La Union. I loved their combo so I enrolled in their course. I was initially skeptical about the curriculum. I mean, how could 15 days change my writing trajectory? Man, I was so wrong. 

By the first week of #15DaysOfWritingTrue, I was hooked. The Facebook group was the ideal venue to share my assignments and everyone was so supportive. I put up this website to house my written output and it basically solved the classic new blogger's dilemma of producing the initial content. I was so into it, that I even shared my work on The Purposeful Creative's Facebook page. I enjoyed writing everyday and like Camille, I commenced my own 100 Days Project, which I have also included in this website. I committed myself to produce one written work for the next 100 days. The best thing about putting up my own website is that I have a sense of accountability because I have my own venue to present my work. It's no longer a free blog. It's already a paid site, which gives me the adult feel. Turns out, acquiring my own domain has solved not just my self-perceived writer's block, but also my fear of sharing my work to others. 

I found out by accident (on Facebook's recommended events) that Testify was hosting a talk on snail mail. I grew up collecting stamps and sending out letters by mail so OMG I was so attending this. Turns out, my teacher Camille was the speaker! Fate brought me to this event on a Sunday night, and it turned out to be a charmed one. I wrote my blog entry while Camille and the cafe's owners were speaking on the importance of writing letters, and I was inspired. I did tell Camille during that night that it was weirdly good to meet her in person, and that sharing my work has helped me write like clockwork. I left the cafe knowing that I was not alone in this creative magic. 

photo from  Writing Room

photo from Writing Room

Upon reaching home, I got a response from Apple Nocom, a classmate in The Purposeful Creative. She said that she was also at Camille's talk but we were not able to say hi to each other! I explored her blog and discovered that she also has an e-course, Writing Room. It tacked the fundamental and technical aspects of creative writing, and I felt that I badly needed to hone my technique. My day job does not involve writing at all, so this was the perfect venue to improve my skill. After exchanging messages with her, I checked my savings account and enrolled. I just wrote my first output for her class and I'm hooked as well. It does not go against my 15 Days of Writing True course. In fact, they perfectly complement each other. I am integrating my assignments for Apple's course in my 100 Days Project.

photo from  Writing Room

photo from Writing Room

I am enjoying the spike in my learning curve, not just in writing (and basic web design), but in time management as well. It is not easy to balance my job and my passion project, but it is definitely doable. I hope that this blog will also inspire others to begin their own passion projects. In the future, I look forward to collaborating with other creatives in order to spice up each other's work and to help others learn.

I am also loving the fact that my groups operate similarly to co-working spaces in the sense that I was able to share my work with different segments and discover new ways of learning from other creatives.

Here's to more learning, writing, and just DOING!

Clean Break Laundry: A Charity that Provides a Fresh Start

Most of us take the fact that we have freshly-laundered clothes very morning for granted. It is already so basic that it is difficult to imagine not wearing anything clean when we prepare for work or school each day. However, some people do not have access to clean clothes. They have to make a choice between eating a warm meal or washing the few garments that they have. The obvious choice is to eat, so laundry becomes a luxury to those whose fundamental needs are not even met each day. This is why Canadian charity Clean Break Laundry has chosen to provide free laundry services to those who need it most. It is based in Toronto and was crowdfunded earlier this year. One of its founders, Abby Bernardez, has a full-time career in the medical field but she felt moved to start this initiative after reading about Pope Francis' free laundromat in Rome. Since then, she has gathered her friends to crowdfund this movement. She has also partnered with The Lost Sock, the laundromat which was willing to host their initiative on a Saturday, no less. They have managed to raise $625 out of their $500 goal, and they are set to hold their Free Laundry Day on the 13th of May, 2017, from 6am to 9am. 

Indeed, it is a literal way to provide a clean slate to those who are probably losing hope!

Image from The Clean Break TO's  Instagram page

Image from The Clean Break TO's Instagram page

While they have already surpassed their funding goal, they are still accepting donations. What is admirable is how Abby and her friends are not stopping here. If there is a way to continue this initiative or to scale it up, they are willing to do so. It is notable though that this is a volunteer movement, and that it is done purely to help the homeless and the needy. 

I hope that there is a similar endeavor here in the Philippines. We have heaps of ways to help those who cannot even meet their basic needs. Let's start with a small effort today. After all, good karma is always in style.

Testify Talk: #WriteMoreLetters with Camille Pilar

In this fast-paced world, it can be challenging to slow things down. There is always the quest to digitize everything when really, we just need to change our pace. Analog living is becoming a movement because it introduces an observance of older traditions such as buying and making handmade items and letter writing. Sure, emails can be convenient especially in the business setting, but there is nothing more romantic than receiving a letter via snail mail. I used to have pen pals back in the 90's and I enjoyed exchanging handwritten letters because there was the anticipation, the enjoyment of writing down the highlights of my life, and the hope that I could also receive a response soon. So imagine my joy when I found out that 1/2 of the dynamic duo behind #15DaysOfWritingTrue, Camille Pilar, was holding a talk on letter writing at Testify Coffee and Rare Finds. I attended this talk because even if it tackled a hobby close to my heart, it was still out of my comfort zone:

  1. I don't usually venture out into places beyond my area in Quezon City. Testify is away from my frequent hangouts so yay me! (I was actually holding onto the steering wheel tightly because my map app was leading me towards unfamiliar streets. But that's the whole point.)
  2. I wanna meet Camille because she's my teacher and it was weirdly magical to do so.  
  3. My boyfriend wasn't feeling well and I didn't feel like having dinner on a Sunday alone (because Sundays are ours ). 
With Camille Pilar (who rode a bus from La Union just to talk about snail mail!)✨

With Camille Pilar (who rode a bus from La Union just to talk about snail mail!)✨

I sat by the bar and was chatting with Wenj, the charming barista and one of the owners of Testify. She told me that sitting by the bar is bold and I was pleasantly surprised to be told so. I really feel more italic (because it connotes being off-tangent) today because I went out of my comfort zone but if bold is what I am, then bold is what I will be. 

So after finishing my delicious tinapa pasta, Camille's talk finally commenced. She promotes letter-writing so we could become gentler, kinder and more intuitive. She shared how growing up writing letters has made her appreciate the process of putting her thoughts on paper and sending it out into the wild. As she grew older and eventually taught writing, she continued writing letters, even to herself. She shared how it has enabled her to learn more about others and become more aligned with what matters most. She then concluded her talk with a letter to Manila, a city which she has stayed away from and yet continues to call her every now and then, such as for this letter-writing talk. 

Writing a letter is a small act of rebellion  - Camille Pilar   

Writing a letter is a small act of rebellion -Camille Pilar  

Wenj and her brother and co-owner Ralph has then introduced a snail mail system in their cafe wherein they will provide paper for customers and they will send your letters to the post office, for a minimum fee of course. They continued the theme of the evening and encouraged everyone present to keep on reaching within yourself and to just write . After all, time is a finite resource which we cannot take back, so we might as well spend it with valuable moments and traditions such as letter writing. 

Visit  Testify  and peruse their letter writing box. They provide paper, envelopes and send your snail mail for you 💌 #writemoreletters

Visit Testify and peruse their letter writing box. They provide paper, envelopes and send your snail mail for you 💌 #writemoreletters

So guys I encourage you to write a letter today. Until it becomes another, and another, and another. Then send them. You'll be surprised with the response or two that you could get. And before you know it, you have already started a tradition in this fast-paced world where everyone is in a hurry.  

 

Rich Earth Jewelry: Investment Bling with a Heart

Every girl needs a little sparkle in her life. However, traditional jewelry can be made of materials which are not sustainable and ethically-sourced. As a result, millennials like me have become selective of our personal adornments. This is why I was delighted to find local brand Rich Earth Jewelry. Their pieces are ethereal and made of sustainable materials which enhance the quality and craftsmanship of their work.  

Rich Earth Jewelry Signature Artwear™ Pieces are handcrafted with hammered, 24k gold plated aluminum metal, intricately linked for that truly one of a kind design. The hammered links have an elegant finish that will complement and grace one's ensemble.

Aluminum is Rich Earth Jewelry's metal of choice for its dedication in promoting a conscious effort on protecting the environment and passion for social responsibility. This type of metal is highly sustainable for it is 100 percent-recyclable, without compromising quality. It is currently the third most recycled material in the world. Aside from its lightweight feature, Aluminum is a non-toxic metal. It is lead and nickel free, so it won't tarnish nor cause skin discoloration. 

-from the Rich Earth Jewelry website

I personally like the fact that part of the proceeds of their sales go to worthy causes such as Save Philippine Seas and the Mano Amiga Academy. In addition to that, their pieces are lightweight and guaranteed to keep their beautiful appearance for years to come (with proper care of course).

Photo from Rich Earth Jewelry's  website   

Photo from Rich Earth Jewelry's website  

Photo from Rich Earth Jewelry's  website  

Photo from Rich Earth Jewelry's website 

Their lovely jewelry are fairly priced too so you can buy yourself an investment piece which will not break the bank.  

Photo from Rich Earth Jewelry's  website   

Photo from Rich Earth Jewelry's website  

They look classy with either casual clothes or your fiercest ensembles. There is something for everyone, whether you prefer dainty pieces or statement necklaces.  

Photo from Rich Earth Jewelry's  website   

Photo from Rich Earth Jewelry's website  

This Filipino up and comer will definitely sail the seas of the fashion landscape while helping save our natural resources and educating our future movers.  

I hope to own a piece from Rich Earth Jewelry someday. Their dreamy Instagram account will definitely be one of your favorites in no time. Go check them out now! 

Human Nature

I have been a Human Nature fan since 2012 when I discovered that their sunflower oil works wonders in making my skin glow. As they have expanded their catalog, I got hooked on their other offerings, such as their kid's soaps, moisturizers, lotions and mineral makeup. I have sensitive skin, so I really have to be careful with what I use everyday. When Typhoon Haiyan hit the Visayas in 2013, I volunteered to pack relief goods in the Gawad Kalinga rescue operations HQ in Quezon City. It was during this time that I became a dealer and eventually, a core advocate with Human Nature. I saw first hand how the Human Nature family became active in relief efforts and I was inspired to apply for membership. Being a social enterprise allows Human Nature to channel the proceeds of their sales to help the poorest of the poor, to provide employment and to practice fair trade in sourcing their raw materials. I am inspired to see a Filipino company embrace the best of local produce to provide jobs to the most talented individuals from all walks of life. I truly love the brand and the people behind it propel me to support more social enterprises and to buy Filipino. 

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Every shopping trip at a Human Nature store is a coffee run because they serve freshly brewed local coffee in-store. It's absolutely free with every purchase. I enjoy immersing myself in the energy inside the flagship store where I am a frequent customer. It makes me proud to be Filipino and it renews my belief in our people and capability to maximize our resources in order to propel ourselves to greater heights. 

Yesterday's basket of my usual essentials  

Yesterday's basket of my usual essentials  

I am proud to be a part of Human Nature. While I do not work there, I am thankful to be one of their core advocates because the values they embrace such as being proud of our Filipino heritage and not releasing whitening products resonate with me. I hope more people will try their products and visit one of their stores. It's quite an experience!

DesignTrip: Our Tribe Outlet Maginhawa

I've been reading Daniel H. Pink's   A Whole New Mind these past few days and one of the assignments given in the book is to go on a walk to observe what I find is great design-wise. I chose to drop by Our Tribe Outlet Maginhawa (yes, the foodie street in Teacher's Village, Quezon City). Tucked along the hip restaurants and a convent (it's unassuming after all) is this fabulous shop selling bags and sandals made of genuine leather. It celebrates Filipino craftsmanship and really, they have superb quality goods. (Fact: Back in uni, I saved up for an Our Tribe handbag. It was a black hobo. Sadly, it was stolen inside our cafeteria. As in the whole bag with my cards, phone, valuables and books inside. Really traumatic. Key takeaway from that incident? Our Tribe bags look fancier than their price points!) 

 

A decades-old brand opens a shop along foodie haven Maginhawa  

A decades-old brand opens a shop along foodie haven Maginhawa  

Contrary to popular belief, their Maginhawa outlet is not a factory or discount store. It is simply their HQ and flagship store. You can expect their widest stocks and fresh-off-the-cutting-board bags and sandals. There are even some bags which cannot be found in their mall branches. I love looking around here because the staff are kind and accommodating even if I don't have money at the moment to afford anything. In fact, when I asked them if I could take pictures so I could feature them on my blog, they gladly obliged. They asked me if I could write that they offer repairs and zipper replacements. Of course, I said yes.  

There's something for every taste and budget here.  

There's something for every taste and budget here.  

They have small leather goods too like wallets, card holders, and cute animal keychains. They even have coin purses for those of us who take public transportation and want to separate those coins from our main wallets.  

Their sandals are comfy and sturdy. Mine lasted for years- even sturdier than Havaianas.  

Their sandals are comfy and sturdy. Mine lasted for years- even sturdier than Havaianas.  

I used to own another black satchel from them four years ago but I have since donated it to Human Nature's fundraising garage sale last year. I also owned a pair of pretty turquoise flip flops from them which have outlasted my Havaianas. I have worn them through rain and shine and they only left my feet when I gave them away to charity. 

They have since incorporated the latest trends in their designs to cater to a younger crowd

They have since incorporated the latest trends in their designs to cater to a younger crowd

Now that I'm 30, I find that my taste has evolved to quality, sturdy goods. I have a neutral palette preference now. I also find myself gravitating towards items which will last me through. I have stopped giving into fast fashion, so local brands like Our Tribe is on my radar. I will definitely buy a handbag or a pair of sandals from them again when I have the means to do so.  

If you want Filipino-made leather goods which are reasonably-priced, go for Our Tribe! Always keep an eye on your Our Tribe bag though because they do look posh so don't be like me!