LITTLE NOTE!

I'm doing a series of giveaways on my Facebook page, dear readers! Just visit my page for a chance to win some fun prizes!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How much do you really know about me?

I have a reader, Benz, who wrote a blog post about me that made me blush. Benz, thanks so much for loving my blogs. And I'm glad I was able to put into words thoughts that float in your head. Thanks for thinking that I'm real and honest and nice. We should meet! But I hope that when we do meet, your opinion of me won't change!

Anyway, Benz asked me some really serious questions about blogging. Here they are:
Question: how does it feel when a complete stranger knows so much about you? doesnt it feel creepy and like being stalked at? how do you edit how much to share? kasi when you share you have people who like your blog in mind diba? but it is not always the case there are just people out there who reads even when they dont like you, worst some people who hates make sure they readpa nga. does it ever stop you? any security fear? yours kasi is a personal blog and about you and your family eh.

How does it feel when a complete stranger knows so much about you?
The thing to remember is people only know a little about me, not really a lot. I may seem like I'm sharing a lot but, in truth, what you see in the blog is what I want you to see. There are huge aspects of me that you don't know about, that will surprise you, maybe even turn you off. But, don't worry, you're right when you guessed I'm a nice person--I really am nice!

Anyway, I have no secrets (no sex tape or anything sordid like that!). There are family secrets that are part of me that will knock your socks off but I swore to my mother to never ever write about those in my blog. But I promised her the blog, not a book so...

Doesn't it feel creepy? Like you're being stalked?
Nope. You have to remember that I'm a writer--I really have to pour out my soul. It was my choice to have a personal blog because, if you meet me in real life, I do share a lot about my life. I like spreading the joy that is my life.

But at the same time, I'm also very guarded. There's a lot I don't share to people. I will spill my guts, yes, but I will spill them all to a very select few. I can count my real friends on one hand. Yes, they are that few. There are very very few who really know me. So I don't feel freaked out when strangers know "a lot" because in reality, they don't. Go over my blog and you'll see that it's all bags and shoes, shopping finds, eBay, events, parties, trips, clothes. That's it!

When people tell me stuff they know about me, ya, I (and Vince too!) get a bit weirded out for a few seconds. Then I get very happy because it only means they love reading my blog and, as a writer, I find that very gratifying. It's absolutely one of the best feelings in the world!

How do you edit how much to share?
I've been blogging since 2005. I've learned, from past experience, to not talk about bad stuff. Or the personal stuff of other people. Or my personal negative feelings for real people, like family. And recently, I also was warned not to post bad stuff about products and brands. Really bad things have happened because I was too cavalier with my opinions. So it's all happy happy joy joy on my blog, dammit!

I also refrain from posting photos of private individuals without their permission. I always ask, "Can I post your photo on my blog?" Most say yes. There are those who refuse and I respect that. I also don't post photos of school-age kids, unless they're at my event or my house (wedding, party).

When you write, you have people who like your blog in mind, right?
Not at all. When I write, it's for entertainment purposes. I know people will like it, I know some people won't. I can't please everyone so ultimately, I just write for the sheer pleasure of writing!

Do haters stop you from sharing whatever you want to share?
Nope. What makes me very careful about what I share is my husband, my family and my work. Especially my work because I don't want to get fired!

Any security fear?
Yes. That's why I don't say where I'm going or what I'll be doing at a specific time (i.e. "I'm going to Manila Pen tomorrow for lunch!" or "This is my address" or "I'm off to dinner at Cibo"). I'll usually share stuff after it happened (i.e. "Just came from ChaTime" or "Enjoyed our stay at Shang Mactan.") Even on Twitter, I very rarely give away my location.

As for my family, I have no problems with showing my face or my husband's. I used to. Then we became magazine editors with our faces in the magazine, newspapers and on TV shows. Kinda strange to play coy when we're public figures.

As for Vito, I really didn't want to show his face to the world. But Vince said so many people--complete strangers!--sent gifts and love so the least we could do was proudly show off the bebe. And true enough, the first thing Vince did after I gave birth was guest blog at Topaz Mommy and share photos of our boy. And so many people adore Vito because of our blogs that I just can't keep him all to myself!

However, when Vito starts school, I'll stop showing his face on my blogs. Right now, when we're out, we get greeted a lot with "Hi Vito!" by people we don't know. It's so cool and freaky at the same time. But in a couple of years, Vito might not like complete strangers talking to him. He might not like it that his face is all over the Internet. And I should respect that.

* * * * * * *  
Well, that's all my answers to your questions, Benz! Let's have tea! I have lots of questions for you, too!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Happy bespoke leather satchel owner: Irene

This is Irene of Ineng's Diary.

She didn't say much about it but judging from the smile on her face, I'm guessing she likes her new bag!

Thanks, Irene! Where are you, by the way, in that photo? Looks like a nice place!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Our Bali trip: The wedding

We went to Bali for a wedding. Jukka, Vince's best man at our wedding, was getting married. It was a surprise wedding since we didn't even know he was dating anyone, let alone dating a girl as gorgeous as his bride!

Well, that's love for you! Even Vince and I had a whirlwind romance—we met April 5, kissed April 18, and he asked me to marry him in May! That was when I got freaked out and said, "Baby, let's take things slooooow from now on." It was so slow, we got married eight years later!

Anyway, here's Jukka. He's very excited to get married to—back then to us—the mystery girl. He kept talking about Michelle and how she's so cute and how he wants to have a family like Vince and have a baby like Vito. Jukka's in love with Vito. I know how he feels.

And this is my heart! Vito doesn't like his shirt. It's really hot in Bali. Crazy hot. I wore a filmy dress so I had it good. The men wore suits! They were really sweating in the heat. But, as these photos show, the boys still looked as cool as a cucumber (sorry for the cliche but it was so hot in Bali, I just wanted something refreshing, like a cucumber shake!).

Here comes the bride! I think my jaw dropped when I saw her. If I had been beside Jukka, I'd have said, "Jukka, you never let on that she was that beautiful, you lucky ass!"

Michelle and Jukka, exchanging their vows in the amber light of the setting sun. They just giggled and smiled at each other and kissed throughout the wedding. Sooo romantic.

Here they are, holding hands. Aww! Love! Dearest Jukka and Michelle, may you have a marriage strong in love, faith, friendship, joy, humor and sex! That combo is what works for Vince and me!

And here we are, happy for our friend. I love weddings. They just affirm my faith in mankind, that we're still silly and sweet and innocent and brave and strong and believers in love.

Poor tired Vito. He's chewing on my turquoise necklace. The party was held a few steps from the beach, by the pool, and we had delicious Indonesian cuisine. We ended the day with dancing and laughter and Game of Thrones. Yep, it was a gathering of nerds!

And that was our Bali trip! Hope you enjoyed it as much as Vito did!

Our Bali trip: Getting there

A month ago today, I was packing for our first trip abroad as a family. We went to Bali, Indonesia, for the wedding of one of Vince's best friends, Jukka.

This is us at the airport on a really rainy, very early morning. Vince and I are sleepy but excited. Vito is excited. Period!

Vito just learned to walk so, while Vince filled out immigration forms, Vito wandered about. He was just amazed at the huge space. He just had to explore it!

Hi Vito! Hi Vince! I love those two boys to bits! They wore matching shirts. So cute and preppy!

Vito and the smile that can melt any heart. Such a cutie pie!

His first international flight! So excited! We didn't have a problem at all. Was really scared he'd be one of those babies that cry and cry on the plane. Thank goodness he was just happy all the time!

This is us in Singapore. It's Vito's first bus ride, too. Later on, when we took the train from one terminal to another, Vito had his first train ride, too. Many firsts!

Still at Singapore. You can tell that someone's pretty pumped. Just lookit that silly face! Meanwhile, my arms were dying at this point!

By the way, my son's kind of a little flirt. Every time he sees pretty girls, he unleashes his charm. And it's pretty lethal, his charm. I let him loose on the plane aisle. Seemed like an okay thing to do since I could hear oohs and aahs and gurgles of adoration. When he came back to us, however, Vito seemed upset about something. Someone stole a kiss!

At Bali finally! Where the flowers grow in thick clusters...

Where the clime is hot and makes everyone, like this fat dog, lazy...

And this cute baby, too! Look at his wrinkly-nose yawn (he got that from his father). Must be the fresh air. Vito ain't used to it. I like that I didn't have to put on makeup and brush my hair. Such freedom from the city!

There's the little punk, ready for his swim! That's his porn star trunks. I love his porn star trunks!

Our villa was swarming with mosquitoes so we all slept under dreamy nets that kinda didn't work since Vito still woke up with red dots all over him. I was so freaked out! Vito's first mosquito bites! Even though I slathered him with insect repellent, those pesky bugs still got to him.

One more thing that freaked me out? The many many many statues of their gods. Devil worship! Sorry, that's the Born Again in me talking. Vince kept rolling his eyes at me and laughing at my Born-Again-ness. Well, even if I weren't Born Again, they are pretty scary. Look at Vito. I rest my case!

Next post: The romantic sunset wedding!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy bespoke leather satchel owner: Michelle

I love how Michelle of My Mom-Friday absolutely loves her new bag!
She Tweeted it as soon as she got it!
And used it every day, everywhere!
Here's her review summary:
1. Twin magnetic snap closures make opening the bag easy to open and yet still secure.
I really love that this was my idea haha!
2. Craftsmanship and materials are Grade-A!
Thanks to Malabon cows and Batangas talent!
3. Small bag still looks great on a tall girl!
This bag looks great on anyone!
4. But the small bag still fits a LOT of stuff.
Hooray for the pliant leather!

Thanks, Michelle, for loving the bag and for using it so often!

I'm back!

But in my other blogs!

Beauty For A Living
Topaz Mommy

Will be back here soon!

Friday, August 12, 2011

See you next week!


My dearest readers, I'm taking a break because it's my darling boy's first birthday weekend celebration. We have costumes and cakes and cookies to pick up, a kiddie fashion boutique event to attend, families to see, then the birthday bash to throw. It's so busy busy busy and we're so happy happy happy!

Yes, it's been a year! Thank you all for loving me, my son and even my husband. Your warm wishes, your gentle advice, the lovely presents and your friendship have made this incredible year even more fantastic. God bless you and have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Burberry Prorsum's satchels! Hmmm... they just gave me an idea!

Was looking through Burberry Prorsum's Fall/Winter 2011 collection and loved all the sumptuousness. Furs, coats, tweeds, embellishments. Truth be told, I'm not a fan of cold weather so I usually just give F/W collections a cursory glance. I do, however, look at accessories like bags and shoes obsessively.

Then I suddenly noticed that the models were carrying satchels! The bags aren't clutches--they're satchels with the straps removed!
Framed Luggage Leather & Suede Crossbody Bag
Framed Luggage Leather Crossbody Bag
Framed Suede Alligator Crossbody Bag
Hmm... Makes me think about my own satchels. Maybe I should have the option to remove the straps, too! My leather bags look great as clutches, too! Thanks, Burberry Prorsum for the fab idea!

Shop for my bags here.

For more on Burberry's collection, check out my beauty blog. I have lots of updates!

In the Philippines, Burberry is available at Greenbelt 5, Rustan's Makati and Shangri-la Plaza Mall.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Little dancing twin boys are so cute!

I dunno where I was when 5-year-old twins Jeremy and Justin Garcia trended but thanks to OK!'s associate fashion editor, Kabbie Rodriguez, who told me about the Heya Wii twins, I am now hooked!



I don't know which is which but the kid on the right is obviously the dancer while his brother is the singer. Here's the other proof: Covering Justin Bieber's "Never Say Never," little boy at left really likes to sing but boy to the right dances from the heart!



They're so funny! They can really dance! And they have an understanding of improv. This vid of Bruno Mars's "The Lazy Song" is hilarious:



The best part! They're Pinoys!!!



I think Justin's the singer then!

How I wish now that I had twins! It's only hard at the start! But look at how adorable they are, and I wish Vito had someone like that in his life. Well, he'll just have to grow up and find him some friends!

UPDATED: Oh, now I know where I was when Jeremy and Justin went viral--I was in Bali where there was no Internet! They came out on Huffington Post on July 23 (click!), then on the UK's The Sun on July 26 (click!), Perez Hilton and NYmag.com wrote about them on July 31 (click! click!), and they've been everywhere since!

I love handmade stuff

That's the reason I'm so in love with our bespoke leather satchels (buy your own!). Each bag is cut, tanned, tooled and sewn painstakingly by hand. Each bag is different and yet each bag is perfect in its own way. Much like how each of us are different and perfect, too! Gotta love handmade!

You know what else is handmade?

My son's birthday party invitations! Vito's turning one year old! Oh my goodness. Where did the time go? For more on those adorable invites I handmade all by myself, click here!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Happy bespoke leather satchel owner: Joanne


This is Joanne of Dear Blog.

And she's wearing all my favorite things: orange, skinny jeans and my very own bespoke leather satchel!

Her review summary:
1. She was surprised to find that the satchel was gorgeous!
Why?!
2. She loves that the bag has many compartments.
I do, too! I'm such a pocketsy person.
3. It may be a small bag but it can fit a LOT of stuff.
Leather is soft and pliable and did we mention the many pocketses?
4. The leather smell is heavenly.
Mmm. Right now, my living room smells like leather!

Thanks, Joanne! I love that you love it. Love your orange top, too. Where'd you get it?

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Meeting Before Ever After's author Samantha Sotto tomorrow

Who hasn't heard of Samantha Sotto? (If you haven't, do you not have Facebook/Twitter/online life? No? Then... good for you!)

A couple of weeks ago, Samantha exploded into our consciousness with the launch of her first novel, Before Ever After. I missed the launch because I was in Bali but because of my wonderful group of mommy bloggers, I get to meet her tomorrow! And I'm glad I will because I have a ton of questions about her book!

But before that, let me warn that if you haven't read the book, you should stop reading this post if you don't want any spoilers. I'll try not to give away too much but that's kinda hard to do if you're doing a book review!



Before Ever After is the story of Shelley, a young widow who finds out that her husband Max is actually alive. The thought is both wonderful and agonizing because if he had been alive all this time, why'd he leave her? The question takes her (and Paolo, Max's grandson, another person Max loved and left) on a loooong trip from London to Boracay and back in time to find out the truth of her husband's identity, history and, well, if he ever really loved her in the first place.

It's a lovely story and I like that I never was able to predict how it was going to end. That's a sign of good storytelling. Being a history buff, I loved how each period in time was used to build the story and the character of Max. What I didn't like was the flowery language (too chick lit for a horror/fantasy girl like me, but that's not Samantha's fault). I also think that while it was obvious to the reader how totally lovable Max is--sexy, funny, smart and fabulously wealthy--I just couldn't fall in love with Shelley. All I know of her is she's gorgeous and young and sad. Maybe that's enough for some people, but if I were funny, sexy, smart and fabulously wealthy Max, I'd fall for someone more interesting.

Then again, vulnerability does have its charms. As Tina Fey said in A Mother's Prayer for her Child, "May she be beautiful but not damaged, for it's the damage that draws the creepy soccer coach's eye, not the beauty." And Shelley was very damaged. And as you find out more about Max, he is, well, kinda creepy! In a sexy kinda way, of course.


A guide to the places in Before Ever After

But aside from that little underdeveloped character aspect, I did like Before Ever After. I finished it in 8 hours! While my favorite books are by Stephen King, Tolkien, Carroll, Atwood, Rowling, Gaiman and the like, I did find this love story to be a page-turner. So if you're a romance-novel lover, you'll enjoy this book immensely.

I guess what fascinated me was it wasn't really a love story for me as it is a story about grief and how people cope with it. Grief is a strange thing. Some people go crazy, some wallow, some get busy with life to forget the pain, some overcompensate, some celebrate the life lost, some just never get over it. Well, as someone who is familiar with death, I can confidently assure you that no, you never get over it. You just learn to live without that love. The closest I can compare it with is learning to live after you lost your sight or your leg or your hand. You can live, you can be happy again, but it's just never going to be the same.

For me, Before Ever After is a story of grief and how it is to live with grief. Samantha describes the different ways of coping so well that I cried twice, brought back to that hidden place in my soul that I rarely visit. Of course, the great thing about grief is it is only great if the love was great. You cannot grieve over trifles.

So as the story of love unfolds--love between a couple in their golden years, love between a man and his ailing wife, love between a grandfather and a little boy, love between two men, love of a father, and of course the love Shelley and Max had--the threat and reality of loss is ever present and Samantha succeeds in making me feel like my own loves can never end happily ever after because we will all die and then there is the end. So what I should do is truly nurture the relationships I have and love the people I treasure while they are still here. Because who knows what tomorrow will bring? So love now, love deep, love true!

* * * * * * *
Okidoki, so I'm meeting Sam tomorrow and if you have any questions for her, send to me at frances@topazhorizon.com.

To know more about her and her book, click here.

And to those who asked me if this is my first time to meet and talk to a published author, uh no. Writers aren't very rare. Good writers are! I know several authors, work with a few, was taught by a handful and, most deliciously, I sleep with a really hot one.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Anthology X Team Manila collab: Happy Pinoy feet guaranteed!

One of my favorite bloggers is Karrots Nazareno of Karotitay.com. I wish she'd blog more often but she's a very busy woman so I go Karotitay-hungry for weeks until she suddenly decides to write again. Karrots is the friend of Lizelle, my sister-in-law and the godmother of my son. She also went to the same college as Vince. And my really gorgeous phone case is a Karrots Cases. But we've never met! How strange is that!

Anyway, one of the reasons why Karrots is so busy is because she is the brains behind Anthology Shoes. And I just love her new collection with Team Manila. It's so Proudly Pinoy!
Beige
Camo
Black

Global locals Anthology X Team Manila come together to bring you "AVENIDA"

Anthology, a local brand well-known for their stylish and comfortable shoes, is a must in every Filipino woman's kit. Anthology shoes define one's individuality through quality footwear that are proudly locally manufactured. 

Graphic design giant Team Manila has recently collaborated with Anthology for a nice run of three limited edition Shanghai flats, the Avenida Collection - Avenida Beige, Avenida Black and Avenida Camo. Versatile and oozing with sass, these canvas flats are easy on the eyes as they are on the feet. Happy feet guaranteed, these are perfect for your next weekend stroll or mall-hopping. 


The Avenida Collection is available only at Team Manila stores: Power Plant Mall Rockwell, SM Mall of Asia and TriNoMa for an SRP of only Php1,695.

I want the black pair. Now that I'm a mom--and a very busy mom at that!--I live in flats now. So I can use a new pair of flat comfy style. I'm going to Power Plant on Friday to buy it. I strongly urge y'all to do the same!

P.S. I love the name Avenida. I'm still looking for a name for my own satchels (shop here!). And it's high time I have one because the bag biz is already 2 months old! In fact, my customers (thank you! thank you!) have taken to calling it the Frances Satchel, the Frances Sales satchel, the frannie & vinnie satchel and the Batangas satchel. Obviously, we need a real name soon! I want a name that's very Filipino, too. Any suggestions?

Monday, August 01, 2011

Should you go forth and multiply? Methinks only if you're ready.

I take a break from all the bag promoting (shop here!) to talk about a serious matter: marriage and babies.

On my mommy blog, I wrote a post about the new power I feel now as a mother, and it's resonated with a lot of women, both mothers and single ladies. But I got a bit alarmed when I started getting emails from girls saying that because of my blog post, they've decided to get married and/or have babies because they feel so powerless and empty.

Kids, don't do it. I love being married and I love being a mom but it's not a joke taking care of people. It's a job that needs all the love you can give, every day of your life for as long as you live (thanks, Sound of Music!). If you're empty and aimless now, what can you possibly give to other people, especially children who need to be nurtured and guided 24/7?

Go out, have fun, make friends, make love (just don't get sick or pregnant!), try different jobs, live for yourself! Find the meaning of life, your purpose. Find God. Find yourself. Your teens and twenties are designed to be wild and free and kinda weird. Live it. Live for yourself because sooner than you think, your life will be about others and you don't want to feel like you missed out.

I think there's nothing wrong with being selfish. Especially when you're young and have no responsibilities. I think selfishness is a good thing for young people. It allows you to find yourself, to do what you want, to live the way you want and pursue happiness without feeling the burden of guilt and responsibility.

Imagine, for example, wanting to be a musician and being very talented, too, but your parents tell you to be a computer programmer so that you'll have job security and help the family out financially. (This thinking should stop. I am never going to ask my child to help us out. Parents, stop treating your kids like money-making machines. Be responsible for your own future!) So you give up your dreams, your purpose, your life so that you can help other people. It's very noble but it sounds like a path to despair.

My mother wanted me to work for Meralco, where she worked all her life. Meralco has (or had?) great benefits for their employees--a really amazing compensation package. Naturally, when I decided at 8 years old that I wanted to be a writer, she became upset. My father wanted me to be a statistician and work in an insurance company. Again, job security. Writing as a career was just preposterous and they both did their best to discourage me. I fought back. I obeyed them for most everything except my career choice (and my boyfriend choice, although for the latter, maybe I really oughta have taken their advice!).

Anyway, I once overheard my mother talking to her friend. "What's your daughter taking in college?" Mama shrugged, "Creative Writing. I don't know what it is and what will happen to her. But it's okay, I guess, since she's a girl and she'll just marry someone and be a housewife. I'm very disappointed really."

I confronted Mama about that and she insisted that if I cared about the family, I'd take up something more reasonable. I still didn't. I cared about my family, sure, but I also cared about me! My parents said writing will never be financially rewarding, that I'll starve. I didn't care. I decided that if I'm going to have a hard life, I might as well do something I love. I was young and selfish. This is what I want and no one is going to stop me. Years later, I turned out to be the one who helped (and is still helping) the family financially. I've made a career of surpassing low expectations.

What I'm saying, dear young ladies, is if you're empty and confused now, a man or a baby won't make you feel better. As Princess Diana said, "People think that at the end of the day, a man is the only answer. Actually, a fulfilling job is better for me." True! Find your purpose and do it well--whether it's a job or promoting a good cause or cooking or whatever. You need to have a life before you have marriage and kids. Don't commit to anything as serious as marriage and children unless you're ready to give up yourself. And love demands complete surrender. I still have a hard time doing that actually!

Now go and push away all thoughts of weddings and babies from your heads. Fill your hearts instead with love and friendship and fun! Have a good life!