Wednesday, January 11, 2017

SM Woman: Where are the Filipino Models?

I'll get right down to it. Growing up with everyone telling you that you should have lighter skin and more Caucasian features, e.g. high-bridged nose, long limbs, big round eyes, sucks, especially when you're brown, barely five feet tall, and have a tiny nub for a nose. Turn on the TV and all the main characters in teleseryes seem to belong to a different world. Let's go back in time - in the 50s, when Filipino actors looked even more Caucasian, as if they came from Denmark or Germany or Hollywoodland.

As someone who has traveled quite a bit, I have always been extra sensitive to hints of discrimination. Not because I'm paranoid, but only because I know it happens. You go abroad, you turn on your racism detector, and step away ever so slowly when it starts beeping. I am happy to announce that the only time I felt remotely discriminated against was when I was a young teenager in one of the shops in Hong Kong. Well it probably wasn't even a case of racism, but merely a case of an innocent girl encountering a rude person, who tsked-tsked behind me and sighed audibly while I was looking at socks at an Esprit store. I turned to her and saw her roll her eyes. She was probably thinking, "You can't afford socks here." and I so wanted her to be a sales person there and see me buy all the socks I could find, and as I exited the store, I would smirk at her and say, "Big mistake. Huge!" But alas, that Pretty Woman moment was not meant to happen.

Anyway, that was the closest thing to discrimination that I ever experienced, until now. I recently saw this SM Woman ad on Facebook and I noticed that none of the models were Filipina. And I live in the Philippines. Man, the fashion industry here must be so cutthroat if Filipino models need to compete, not only with one another, but also with foreign models who look like Hollywood stars. A model, in my opinion, should represent the people they are modeling for. I didn't realize we, all of a sudden, turned into Brazilians.

Hey, I am all for giving the job to the best person. But the color of your skin should never give you an edge over people of other races or ethnicity. Why do SM Woman models have to be white in a country filled with brown people? Is there a logical explanation to this? I can imagine Ikea catalogues printed in Sweden to have platinum blond couples with platinum blond children washing the dishes in their pristine kitchens. But how do these white models fit in our very Filipino lives? Does a Filipina suddenly become Caucasian when she wears SM clothes?

It is sad to think that in 2017, some people still think there is only one kind of beauty. It is like saying there is only one literary genre worth reading, or only one kind of film worth watching. That if you enjoy drama, you can't enjoy comedy. Or if you love fiction, you cannot possibly enjoy nonfiction. I see a lot of beautiful Filipino women on social media. And I'm not even saying that they should all look morena. There are mestizas and chinitas, too, for they, too are Filipino. But these models are not. And that is sad.

I can't believe I'm going to say this - but it's sad that we have to clamor for diversity to be included. No, I'm not a model. I'm just someone who writes. And I think Filipino models should speak up about these things, without fear of offending their colleagues. It is a legitimate issue, an issue, I believe worth discussing.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

What is Valentine's Day to a Travel Aficionado?

My husband and I have never really celebrated Valentine's Day. There's really nothing romantic about sitting in a car while stuck in traffic in congested Manila. A romantic dinner at home is also out of the question. Buying takeout is more like it. Eating it while watching Game of Thrones or Big Bang Theory reruns is probably the best way to spend Valentine's Day.

So, as you may have guessed, I didn't receive flowers from my husband. However, he gave me the best Valentine gift ever. He gave up Seoul for Sydney. Prior to Valentine's Day, he and I were talking about going to Seoul, Korea. He was really excited about it. We were just waiting for Cebu Pacific's promo fares. They always have seat sales before Valentine's Day (and around the same time as the PTAA Travel Expo).

We checked Cebu Pacific's website the day before Valentine's Day but were disappointed because it seemed that all the promo fares had gone. The next day, after dinner, I checked again and found extremely cheap round trip tickets from Manila to Sydney. The problem was, the website was so slow, and it took me three tries to book the tickets.

Now how cheap is cheap, you ask? It's USD 394 for two (PHP 17,431.64) or USD 197 (PHP 8,715.82) per person.

We also booked a reasonably-priced basement twin room (upper floor rooms cost a bit more) at Springfield Lodge in Potts Point. Our room costs USD 533.26 or (PHP 23,652) for seven nights.

The seat sale is still on, and the last time I checked, there are still cheap tickets to Sydney and other destinations. :-) So, if you're on a hunt for cheap fares, check out Happy bargain-hunting!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Grand Palace in Bangkok

My husband and I flew to Bangkok to celebrate our first year anniversary in 2010. I can't believe that on April 12 this year, we will be celebrating our 5-year anniversary. Time does fly when you don't fight. Hehehe. My husband and I rarely argue, and it's been like this since the beginning. We enjoy each other's company and we share the same passion for travel. As I write this, my mind is actually somewhere else, planning our next trip; how we can save hundreds of dollars on airfare, accommodation and food. 

When I woke up this morning, I saw that Cebu Pacific is having their Piso Fare. Sydney, unfortunately, was not included in the promo, but when I checked the fare for November (around my birthday), it was so cheap. PHP 16,000+ for two (inclusive of taxes, baggage fees, and even food). That's only around USD 375! 

Of course, being the responsible, frugal traveler I am, I immediately went on to AirBnB to check the rates for November. I could actually book a nice room for two for less than PHP 2,000 (USD 45) a night. 

I must admit that traveling is my addiction, and I would gladly take a job that requires me to travel and write (as long as I can take my husband with me, for we are inseparable.) Anyway, if you plan on getting away (whether it be for a weekend or a couple of weeks) from June to December this year, why don't you try your luck on Promo period is from Jan. 27 to Jan. 28. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Beach in Skagen

I took this picture in Skagen in May 2012. I love how this picture looks like a painting. I would definitely love to go back to Denmark to take more beautiful photos like this. Click here for more information about this beautiful part of the Jutland peninsula.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Goodbye, Dad

My father died two days ago. He had been sick and had been in the hospital for over forty days. On Friday, he was brought home, and on Saturday he passed away peacefully. When one sees a loved one suffer, sometimes the best thing one can do is to pray for death. Not that I don't believe in God's capacity to heal, but at some point one realizes that the only way a suffering person can rest is when he or she rests in the arms of our Creator.

My father suffered for forty-plus days, the kind of suffering one would never wish on one's worst enemy. He was admitted to the hospital because of a persistent cough. Next thing we knew, he was having a pulmonary embolism. He was intubated because he could not breathe on his own. They stuck an NGT down his throat and prepped him for ICU. This was a man, who, only a month before had played 18 holes of golf. He was dying and we had had no clue he was even sick.

It was November 15. I was at home taking my sweet time. I was at the kitchen table having breakfast. It was the last day of Poetics class and the last day of graduate school for me. I was excited to see my classmates and my professor and celebrate with them the end of what had been a fruitful semester. I had just defended my thesis the day before and was still floating on cloud nine. The head of UST Publishing had expressed interest in publishing my thesis, a memoir about my life with my ex-husband.

Suddenly, I got a text message from my mom saying I better hurry to the hospital. My dad was dying. That was one of the saddest days of my life. My mom and my sister started discussing practical matters. "Where will the wake be?" asked my sister. It was decided that it would be at St. Peter's on Quezon Avenue. He would be cremated right away. There would be no need for a coffin. My dad was a practical man.

But he didn't die that day. It goes to show how God is a god of surprises. He still spent a month with us. He still gave us a lot of material for future anecdotes that we will surely be telling people - both friends and acquaintances. In sickness and in health, my dad made us laugh. He gave me the gift of sarcasm. He made me realize that one needs a certain level of untouchability to be able to speak one's mind. He said things we would be too shy to even think. Tact was not my father's strongest suit. And this is how I wish to remember him.

He wasn't perfect but no one needs to be. We loved him in our own imperfect way and we made sure that he knew that before he died.

We love you to the moon and back. Rest easy now that you're united with our Heavenly Father. Swing away. Sing away. Sing karaoke with Sinatra. Yes, you did it your way.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Osaka Article in Business + Class Magazine

For those in Manila, please get a copy of the latest issue of Business + Class Magazine and read my article about my trip to Osaka. :-)

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Party in Sweden

Of all the pictures I took during my short stay in Sweden, this has always been one of my favorites.  I met this woman at a crawfish party 7 years ago. It is strange how a picture evokes the feelings we had back when it was taken. Although this picture belongs to a period in my life which I no longer wish to relive, I still feel happy just by looking at it. It was a beautiful day, and I was in the company of good people. The mood was very festive, celebratory, and as optimistic as the promise of a new day.