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MY ONLY BROTHER’S WEDDING


I went home for my only brother’s wedding.

I had makeup workshops and shoots in between helping them with wedding prep. I was specifically in-charge of the family presentation. I had to teach everyone the routine my brother and I choreographed together from top to bottom. It was extra-challenging because folks are flying from the US to the Philippines and arriving on different dates so I had to teach them per group until the day before the wedding when everyone was already in one venue. Good thing everything went down smoothly. It was extra fun because we were able to force Papa to join us and learn the steps! I love that he was acting like he didn’t want to dance but when it was time for him to join, he already knew the steps!!! He was secretly practising in their room while we were downstairs dancing. I love it!

The boys from Chicago flew in. It felt like a reunion of sorts. Carlos’ friends from Xavier who I grew up knowing were in complete attendance. After the wedding that was really a dance concert, both families went to Anvaya (where the DHB and I got married) and spent a few days bonding by the beach. 15 years together will already make your families mash well since we all supported their relationship since Day 1.

I am also grateful that the DHB was able to spend a week with us. It was really such a cherished time and memories created during this period will be forever remembered. I also love that I spent most of the time with my Papa and Mama. I felt like I was their baby once again. They shopped for my clothes and treated me like I was the prodigal daughter. I really cannot ask for a better set of loving parents.

I thank God every day for family time.

Until my next adventure,

d.

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SINGAPORE


I always enjoy a long stopover. I don’t like enduring the 13-14 hour flight from Zurich to Manila without any breaks. I like lounging around the airport, even going out to visit the city even for just a few hours.

Singapore has always been my favorite stop because of these reasons:

  1. It has the best airport in the world– TRAVEL TIP: They give a free 20SGD voucher for those transiting in SG which you can use at the stores inside Changi. I always get mine and use it either for a quick snack or a tube of lipstick.
  2. They have Sephora– When you order online at Sephora Philippines, the goods will most likely come from Sephora Singapore. So might as well buy direct and avoid the shipping and custom fees.
  3. Aside from its cleanliness and safety, I love that I can easily go out of the airport without a visa requirement, hop on the metro and roam around the city for less than a few dollars.
  4. The food– Chilli King Crabs, Irvin’s salted potato chips, ice cream sandwich,  Hainanese chicken from the hawkers, the list goes on!
  5. Awesome Filipino connection in SG! Whenever I’m in Singapore, I always end up not spending a dime coz there’s certainly a Filipino crew who adopts me for the day. This time around, it was Kuya L and Ate M who treated me lunch! I am so thankful for generous souls I meet all over the world!
  6. I arrive in SG at around 5 am and I watch the sun rise at the Marina Bay Sands. It’s the most awesome feeling to see the city awaken.
  7. It’s probably my 5th time in Singapore but each time I visit, there’s still something that makes my heart flutter.

Looking forward to going back,

d.

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WALENSEE, SWITZERLAND


I am not a very sporty person. And so the idea of hiking up the mountain for a photoshoot did not excite me at first. In fact, it terrified me a bit. And so I initially just planned on having this gorgeous bride-to-be go to my place for hair and makeup, let her go, and trust that the makeup stays in place. After all, she only wanted a fresh and natural look. The thing with the Swiss though is that they are not very flamboyant. They are usually understated. And so there are no dresses or ball gowns in this shoot. Just the bride-to-be wearing a black jacket with small cute flowers (by M) on her hair, and the groom in a straight-up black thick parka.

But something felt right about that day that I found myself agreeing to go with them up the alps. I did not regret my decision though. Although panting at a certain stage of the hike, I was able to join them where they wanted to take photos and the view was just magnificent. Pictures cannot even capture the feeling of grandeur and satisfaction. I wish every man can see what I saw that day so he’d probably start believing in the divine. No man could have ever created this thing of beauty. It was just so intelligently designed. The parts where the snow touches the sky, and the mountains contrast with the lake– no man could have ever thought of that. It was just poetic at every turn.

As you can see, I am still completely overwhelmed. I should be hiking up mountains more instead of chilling at home to watch Netflix. This kind of view is so much more satisfying than the next episode of Designated Survivor. or Riverdale.

(I’d like to thank F and T for taking me up with them to the alps. They’re gonna get married here in October by the lake, surrounded by the Swiss Alps. It’s gonna be epic. Below are my behind-the-scenes shots. )

d.

 

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BARCELONA, SPAIN


I prayed for more weekends like the one I had in Milan (see previous post) and God granted my wish.

He gave me a trip to the land of Conquistadors to meet my cousin and her husband.

When I was still single, Spain was in my list of countries to visit. My friend and I were planning on partying in Ibiza. But that was around the time I met my now husband and my “hedonistic” plans got derailed by his protective ways. He didn’t want me to go to Spain all by myself (or just with a girl friend) because he said it wasn’t as safe as other EU countries. We never went together because he’s been there several times already and I didn’t want him to repeat a country instead of seeing a new one. And so when my cousin told me about going to Spain, I immediately took her offer of free lodging at a 5-star hotel if I meet her and her husband there. Finally, a guy to tag along and defend us just in case we get mobbed! Perfect justification to give my husband!

My cousin’s mom and my mom are sisters. They are both “mestizas” because they have Spanish blood running through them. Their surname is actually a brand of olives in Spain. One of our uncles living in the States traced and visited our relatives whom he found to be residing in Malaga. “Some of them don’t even speak English!”, he said. And this is why it’s so cool for me to be meeting family in Spain. It’s unfortunate that it was so quick but I’m grateful nevertheless.

Although we were able to go to historical sites (luckily, most of the Gaudi-designed establishments were just along our hotel street in Passeig de Gracia), most of our time was spent shopping at the luxury stores within the area. My cousin is fond of bags and shoes while her husband is into eyewear and watches. And so they both wreaked havoc from Chanel to Celine, Rimowa to Armani, Dior to Bottega Veneta. I understand though because luxury items are way cheaper in Spain than anywhere else in the world (except maybe Paris). The tax rebate was also very inviting. It was but logical and even practical for them to splurge in Europe where items are not only cheaper but quite newer than those that manage to reach Asia.

I arrived in Barcelona a day before they did and so I first stayed with my friend A who’s studying there. I met him while I was working in the Philippines. We worked on the first ever local TV commercial of Watsons. I was the Marketing Manager and he was the producer of the shoot. This is why it’s nice to have friends who are also vagabonds! You manage to bump into them during their travels or in this case, his short study escape to Barcelona. His flat was very nice and airy. It had a high-ceiling and it was just a few blocks away from touristy spot La Rambla. So that’s what I did on my first day, roam around Plaza Catalunya and have A take photos of me amidst all of the tourists.

When I finally met-up with my cousin at the hotel, we walked straight to the Boqueria Market and had paella Valenciana and a seafood platter. It was the best paella ever and this is saying a lot because we like our paella. There’s something soothingly tasty about this dish. It’s special order so they only cook everything once you decide to get it. It took about half an hour just to wait for the paella and so we had scallops, mussels, shrimps, and squids dipped in lemon butter sauce for starters. I still dream of the paella to this day! And I don’t even wanna start talking about the tapas and gold-dusted foie gras! Spanish food is worth flying to Spain for.

One of the highlights of the trip was the spontaneous yacht ride across Barceloneta Beach. We saw the expanse of the shoreline and M thought that what would heighten the experience was to sail in a boat with Moët in one hand. Who wouldn’t cheers to that?

For me, the surreal moment though was finally seeing the Sagrada Familia. It is still under construction.  It is, however, in its final stages already.

They say that 6 new towers will be added to the basilica, finishing the work that was started by Antoni Gaudi in 1882. The tallest of the six spires, the Tower of Jesus Christ, will measure over 172m and it would make the Sagrada Família the tallest religious building in Europe.

Chief architect Jordi Fauli said it will be completed in 2026 to coincide with the centenary of Gaudi’s death. I sure hope to come back to finally see it completed.

Now that I have experienced Spain, I can say for certain that this first visit won’t be the last.

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MILANO


When I saw B’s Facebook message asking if we’d like to go with him to Milan, I immediately asked M if she was also available. M has never been to Milano and so I was excited for her to see the big Duomo for the first time. Since I’ve stayed in Milano for days in the past, my only goal now was to shop for household stuff for half the price we’d usually spend in Zurich. I also wanted to see my family especially my goddaughter there.

It was a smooth 3-hour car ride from Zurich to the heart of the city. The fun thing about Europe is that each country has a distinct look and feel. As soon as we entered Milan, we were greeted by rows and rows of shopping stores. I gasped when I saw my favourite corner–a Sephora beside a Grom gelateria.

Italians in leather jackets and Vespas were suddenly a dime a dozen. It was days before Fashion Week and so we also spotted a number of models casually strutting the cobbled streets. Elle was also celebrating its 30th Anniversary and they put up a number of printed red umbrellas for display.

M and I feasted over the change of fashion–from the understated suits and neutral colors of the people in Zurich to the flashy metallic boots, ribboned denim pants, and floral Gucci handbags of the citizens of Italy.

For lunch, we veered away from the fancy looking restaurants and chose a hole in the wall for some authentic egg carbonara and meatballs. Of course, Italian coffee will always be on the menu. (The Italians are outraged to know that Starbucks will be setting up shop in their region.)

When we met with my auntie, she treated us to Luini sandwiches, a novelty in Milano. That was after we gorged on our caramel salz gelato + our respective favorite ice cream flavors.

I told myself that I shouldn’t be repeating countries anymore but I think Italy is just too beautiful to resist. It doesn’t help that it’s just a stone throw away from Switzerland.

Praying for more weekends like this one.

Until my next adventure,

d.

 

 

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HOME and 2016 INSIGHTS


I read this on my feed: “I hope you fall in love with someone who makes you feel like home.”

It’s crazy because the first time I kissed Mike, my husband, the way I had described it was that it felt like “Home.”

Home is your place of residence. Home is where you reside. But maybe in relationships, home is specifically where your heart resides comfortably.

2016 is a year of trying to settle in Zürich, Switzerland, my new home. It is also the year wherein I went home to the Philippines twice. I was lucky enough to spend quality time with my family. And each time I get to spend with them makes me value them even more.

It’s funny how distance made me closer to my parents. I talk to my Papa almost everyday now that we are apart. As a kid, if somebody would tell me that there will come a time that I would be super open about my life with my father, I would probably laugh in disbelief. I used to consider my Papa as “the Boss”–someone so authoritative that it’s hard to appear vulnerable around him. But as I grew older, I realized that Papa is the first person who will have my back come what may. And he has always had my back, he’s just more showy and vocal now. Papa has provided a great home for us. And whenever I feel lost, I call him to somehow feel closer to home…to my safe zone.

That’s also what Mama stands for, although just more warm and gentle. I have been blessed with such a loving mother that imagining my self as one becomes a bit harder because I am not sure how I can actually be even half as great as her as a mom!

My brother is a man of few words. But whenever he talks, it’s usually to say something sarcastic, witty, and funny. I worry about him even from afar. I worry because he is my only brother and even if he’s grown to be a responsible man, I just worry as a big sister for whatever he does. I worry he’d meet an accident during a basketball game. I worry he won’t be able to fix everything before his wedding next year. But I also hope for the best for him all the time. I remember being home alone one time with him– He opens the door of my room and all of a sudden throws a pillow at me. Of course, I asked him why he’s such a crazy person and he’d tell me it’s because he’s bored. When our parents are away traveling, we’re left with no choice but to endure each other. My semblance of home always constitutes the presence of my brother.

Before the year ended, my husband met a freak accident at a basketball game. He twisted his knee, tore his ACL, and snapped his meniscus disc. As I write this, I’m watching him feel bored in the couch as we await for his surgery schedule. This accident forced us to be together 24/7. There were moments he’d feel scared about the operation as he’s never had one and he’d ask for a hug from me. In these precious moments, I realized that the feeling of home, of being safe, of having someone to support you, of not being alone, is so empowering and is really what love is all about. When you have someone over extend himself for you… that’s concern, that’s care, and that’s love in action.

Yes, this year, I realized that the feeling of home…where your heart resides comfortably…is actually as close to feeling loved as possible. That in order for someone to feel loved, he must feel at home in one’s arms. I feel loved by my family and with them I feel that my heart is comfortable and safe. I feel extremely loved by my husband because even during the first time we met, he has already made me feel like my heart has a home to reside in. And he continues to make me feel that way up to now. 2 years into this marriage and I now fully understand that to love someone is to constantly decide to provide a safe haven for the other’s heart to reside in. Everyday, you have to make each other’s hearts feel like there’s KFC chicken and gravy, Mövenpick Swiss chocolate ice cream, or ice cold Coca-cola even when the other has a broken knee and cannot walk… most especially when the other cannot walk.

 

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PALAWAN, PHILIPPINES


Crown of the Philippines: Coron, Palawan

First time I went to Palawan, I visited Puerto Prinsesa and island-hopped with my friends. This time around, we went to see Coron with the Zurich Crew.

We stayed at Darayonan Lodge. Everyday, we would hop on a boat and go to the different areas– Pass Island, Kayangan Lake, Shipwreck, Coral reefs, etc.

You see, I don’t know how to swim well and so I was wearing the life vest the entire time and had the captain of the boat swim with me with a floater I was holding on for dear life.

I swear, when I get to have a kid, I will enrol him as early as possible for swimming lessons. Life is not so much fun when you have this huge fear of the deep waters and vast oceans or lakes…and pools.

Anyway, highlights of the trip were 1) eating crabs and seafood almost everyday 2) finding the best halo-halo stand (Tita Esh) 3) feeling the warmth of the sun 4) bonding with 16 people from all over the world 5) finally having a photo taken at kayangan lake.