Saturday, February 28, 2009

This really saddens me

If People magazine were to be believed (and they're usually credible), Chris Brown and Rihanna are back together.

I am horrified but I'm not surprised. I was also once in an abusive relationship. Everyone gets shocked when they learn this about me. Apparently, abuse doesn't happen to smart girls. Not so. Abusive men start off being really wonderful—they shower you with so much love and attention, gifts and flattery. Really, you won't know what hit you. Pardon the pun.

In the first few weeks of being together, I remember he started saying, "You shouldn't be friendly with your ex-boyfriend. It's not proper." So I stopped talking to the ex-guy since I thought the current one had a point.

Next he said, "Don't be too friendly with other guys. People think you're a flirt." So I stopped seeing my guy friends.

Then he said, "Your friends are such a bad influence on you. You really should stop seeing them." This one I resisted, but he wore me out with his constant nagging that I finally did stop seeing my friends. It was a two-way street. My friends, disgusted with me, turned away, too.

All alone now, I was vulnerable when he moved in for the kill. He started with little insults—"Only nerds wear glasses," "Your pimples are gross," "You're so flat-chested, you must be a guy." My confidence completely eroded, I believed him when he said, "I don't know why I'm with you when I can do so much better." He made me feel grateful that he chose to stay with me—ugly, pimply, flat-chested nerd that I was.

By the time we celebrated our first anniversary as a couple, I had no friends. This really didn't bother me since I had his love, and I believed with all my 19-year-old heart that that was all I needed. Never mind the daily insults or the smothering attention. Never mind the jealous rages or the crazy suspicions. After all, I not only believed I was ugly (and therefore deserved to be insulted), I was a hot-head myself so if he got angry at me, I must've provoked him. He sure made sure I knew that.

On our first anniversary date, we had argued over shawarma. He had wanted beef, I think, or chicken. I don't remember. I came back from the food stall (yes, our anniversary dinner was at a food stall) with the filling he didn't want. He got angry. I got angry back. It became a shouting match. Unfortunately for him, I'm lethal when it came to words. Unable to fight back with words, he fought back with his fists.

Then he fled—in his car, at 11pm, with my bag and wallet and asthma medicine inside. I was all alone in the dark streets, no money. After my initial shock and horror, I approached people for help. Everyone avoided me--skinny girl with a bloody lip, asking for money for a pay phone. Finally, a guy tossed me a P20 bill. It was enough money to get me home. In the jeepney, I didn't realize I was shaking until a guy offered me his jacket. When he wrapped his jacket around my shoulders, only then did I start crying. He asked if I needed help. I said no, I just wanted to go home.

I slipped into my room quietly. The bleeding had already stopped. The bruises will appear in the morning, although I didn't know that yet. I just crept into bed, exhausted and in shock. I swore I'd never see him again. Of course when he turned up on my doorstep with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and the most repentant look on his face three days later, I took him back. He said sorry. He said it would never happen again. When I hugged him, he gently said, "If you only got the beef... Why do you have to be so inattentive?"

I stayed with him for three more years. I didn't tell anyone about the abuse. I was scared people would break us up. I loved him, and I knew he loved me. I thought my love was big enough to change him. Yes, despite the many many terrible fights and bruises, despite the girls he had on the side, I stayed. I believed that if you loved someone, you don't walk away. Besides, I didn't have any friends. I was terrified of being alone.

When did I leave? We were at a mall and I saw him staring at another girl. I teased him if I could stare at other guys. He responded by hitting me so hard on my back, I lost my breath. He started pulling me to I really don't know where. We were in a public place so I began shouting at people for help. "Help me! He's going to hurt me!" People did look, paused, but they all walked away. I heard them say repeatedly, "Don't get involved. It's just a lover's quarrel."

Despite the years of his abuse, it was only on that day that something in me truly died. I was alone, and no one was going to help me. At the same time, something in me—the old me—awakened. The old me had a nasty temper, the old me had pride, and the old me would never allow this asshole to treat me like shit. I started fighting back. He finally had to let me go because his scratches were bleeding. He ran away.

Unfortunately that wasn't the end of it. We still saw each other. Less and less. We still fought, but now I fought back. Strangely enough, when I fought back, he stopped. He began seeing other girls. I took this not as a betrayal but as a relief. I also began seeing my friends again, who formed a fierce protective wall around me. Finally, we just didn't see each other anymore.

Do I hate him? No. Not anymore. It's been a decade. I'm no longer that scared little girl who allowed an insecure little idiot to terrify and abuse her. I'm also not stupid anymore. No one tells me I'm ugly or worthless. No one can have that power over me again. I don't allow that kind of shit from anybody anymore.

Rihanna took Chris back because she loved him. She may also believe that it was her fault he hit her and that she deserved it. She may also believe that she can change him, that they can work it out. She also reportedly got a diamond bracelet as a gift—I tell you, these abusive men, they know how to give gifts. It doesn't mean a girl can be bought but a nice gift sure does soften you up. Will it end well for Rihanna and Chris? I really doubt it. But I'm not going to condemn her; I know exactly where she's coming from. She needs help, but until she realizes this, she's going to continue being abused and I hope to heaven that she comes out of this alive.

If you are in an abusive relationship, please get out now. No matter what he says or what anybody says, it's not your fault he hit you. Love never involves belittling, insulting or hurting. Please read this story and know that you're not alone in this fight. Please get help.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


You are the reason that I breathe
You are the reason that I still believe
You are my destiny
Jai Ho!

No there is nothing that can stop us
Nothing can ever come between us
So come and dance with me
Jai Ho!

I love this song! Now if I can only learn the dance steps...

"Jai Ho" by The Pussycat Dolls, Oscar-winning song from Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire

Monday, February 23, 2009

Date with Kate

Kate Torralba, one of Manila's most celebrated young designers (and now the star of a Colgate TV commercial!), is a good friend. We've been friends since we were just starting out in the real world, as slaves to a lady senator I will not name. Kate and I call each other "foul-weather friends" because we only see each other when there's trouble. So it's not a bad thing to say that the rarer we see each other, the better!
Last night was not that kind of day, however. She was in town--an unusual event since she's always jetting off somewhere. And I also had to give her her Christmas and birthday gift! Ack! So off I went to her Greenbelt 5 store.

We window-shopped at Adora while we waited for our table in Cibo. I really adore the stuff in Adora but I don't adore the prices! I did fall in love with these chairs--I think they'll go well in my living room!--but, they're property of the cafe, so they weren't for sale.
At Cibo, I had my usual: pomodoro soup and chicken sandwich. Our dear friend JR Isaac, editor-in-chief of Circuit and society editor-at-large of Preview, joined us for dessert--a tiramisu sent over by Cecile Van Straten, Philippine Star columnist and author of uber popular blog Chuvaness, my daily guilty pleasure.
I enjoyed dinner very much. We talked about love, relationships, making money, prayer, God... quite fascinating actually! I really should go out with my friends more. This busy life is not very good.

Kate Torralba's atelier is at the second floor of Greenbelt 5, Makati City. Do visit her store soonest! She has an unbelievable anniversary sale till February 28--all dresses are marked up to 70% off!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

By the way, I am now a red head

I've had long hair for the last 3 years. Louis Phillip Kee, my absolutely fantabulous hairstylist, has kept me looking sexy and gorgeous but I've grown tired of long hair and wanted to go short again. So last week, I visited his posh new salon at One McKinley and got a chop.

Louis' new salon is so luxe, it's divine. The wallpaper is from London, the chairs are all sink-into-heaven comfy, the mirrors are perfect (meaning I don't look wobbly or fat in them!), the shampoo chairs are soooo comfortable, and the lighting always makes me look soft and feminine. And the service is excellent.

Once I sat down, the polite and efficient staff asked if I wanted a cappuccino or an iced tea. I love how their coffee is served in gold-edged china. The sugar is muscovado. Yummy and healthy!

After coffee and a few magazines were served, Louis came up and chatted. He always asks me what I want. I used to always say, "Whatever you feel like, darling." But this time I said I wanted to go really short. Louis said, "Let's do it gradually. But I do admire your courage!" Here are Louis and Angie deciding on the fate of my mane. They both suggest something very bold--a deep vibrant red. I say, "Sure!"

This is Gilbert. He always attends to me when I'm here. He's like my personal assistant--he massages me while I wait, he shampoos my hair, he gets me drinks... Gilbert is the best! And his massages are to die for!

Since coloring hair can be a long wait, the staff offered refreshments and snacks. Here's a plate of the yummy seafood pasta I had. Sigh. I do love this salon!

And here's a before pic...And this is what I looked like after!I am loving the red hair, and everyone loves it, too! It's not so obvious here. Under lights (especially sunlight), it's quite vivid! Very bold. In fact when I first saw it, I kinda blanched and said, "Louis, it's very... red." And he replied, "Honey, when I first saw you, you were blond!" Ehehe, that's right--I used to have this terrible blond dye job. Anyway, like Louis said, we're doing it gradually so my hair is still kinda long. But I plan to return in a couple of weeks to go utterly short. Soooo excited!

Louis Phillip Kee Salon
G/F One McKinley Place, 25th Street and 4th Avenue,
Bonifacio Flobal City, Taguig
Tel nos. (02) 856-3388, (02) 856-4848, (0918) 842-4888

Friday, February 20, 2009

Shopping for a netbook!

Okay, so my husband--Vince Sales, the editor-in-chief of T3, just the biggest tech magazine in the country!--is exasperated with me. I've been wanting to get myself a laptop for a few months now. It's actually not a need since we already have a computer and if Vince is using the PC, then I can browse on his iPhone. But I really think I need my own computer for my blogging and my work and my online business. Of course, Vince--being a gadget guru--has given me advice time and again and, of course, I never quite listen so he's more than a little annoyed! But here is what we've whittled down:

The MacBook
Since I'm a Mac user (in publishing, all the editors wield a Mac), it makes better sense if I get a MacBook, right? Except that a MacBook starts at PHP56,000 (USD1,175) and I can't bring myself to buy anything over PHP35,000 at this point.

The Sony Vaio C
Then I saw the Sony Vaio C. I really wanted a Sony Vaio C! Why? Because it's pink. Seriously. But at an even heftier price of PHP60,000 (USD1,258), pink is a flimsy excuse.

The MSI Wind for Love
Vince said I don't need a super laptop--I can get those uber popular netbooks. Netbooks are small but perfect for the tasks I do often (writing, editing, surfing). And the best part: they are cheap! He first suggested the super cute MSI Wind for Love. It's only PHP20,000 (USD418) and proceeds from its sale benefit underprivileged kids in Third World countries. Nice.

The MSI Wind
As I was studying the specs though, I figured that I'd be better off with the much adored MSI Wind. No "love" this time. The computer memory is the big difference: the Love has 80GB while the Wind has 160GB. It's around PHP25,000 (USD520) and comes in pink!

The HP Mini
Vince then suggested if I'm going for looks, I should shell out more and get myself an HP Mini Vivienne Tam. This is what Vince highly recommends for me. In fact, he thinks it's perfect for his wife. The HP people don't call it a notebook; they call it a "digital clutch." Of course, it's also USD700 (PHP33,377) .

The Sony Vaio P
The husband also suggested the ultra-chic Sony Vaio P. Surprisingly, I didn't like this one. Vince and I are Sony people--we live in a house filled with so many Sony gadgets, you'd think we get huge discounts from Sony (we don't!). But at the P series launch last month, well, I agree it is ultra-chic but it's so small, I had a hard time with the screen, the keys, the button mouse, the... everything actually. At its steep price of PHP50,000 (USD1,000), please don't give me a hard time! Plus, it doesn't come in pink.

Also, if I had 50 grand lying around doing nothing, then I'm better off with a MacBook. Argh! What do you think I should get? I'm now choosing between the MSI Wind, the Wind for Love and the HP Mini Vivienne Tam. And what computer do you use when you're blogging?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

New things from old things

Today would have been Mama's 64th birthday.

A few weeks ago, my sister Jacqui and I finally opened Mama's closet to clean up and give away her things. We've been planning to do this since she died in September, but it's not the kind of thing one gets excited about. After endless rain checks, however, we decided to just do it one cloudy afternoon, over the long Christmas break.It was kinda sad and funny, sad for obvious reasons and funny because we found silly photos and other stuff that made us go "What on earth..?!" like psychedelic pantsuits from the 70s. Those were really cool by the way, and looked perfect on Jacqui's long frame. I'll try to get a photo of that crazy outfit.

We discovered that Mama didn't really have a lot of clothes. Towards the end of her life, my always stylish mother gave away a lot of her things as she focused more and more on serving God. But she did keep some fabulous dresses. I took home this gorgeous dress, which Mama owned when she was in her 20s.
I also took home this cream sheath dress. A few years ago, Mama had seen it in a store window and said she liked it. I had snapped back that we couldn't afford it. A few days after my rude comment, I scraped together some money and bought it for Mama. I remembered that oftentimes when I was a teenager, Mama had eaten Skyflakes crackers for lunch just so she can save up to buy me a new dress or shoes. I got Mama her dress and sent it with a sorry note. She loved it, of course, and forgave me, as usual. Now this dress is hanging in my closet. It doesn't fit me but I like touching it now and then.

I also took home these lovely evening bags. They're actually my grandmother's, passed on to Mama, and now they're mine.
Aside from her closet, Mama's jewelry box was also almost empty. When I was a little girl, that box overflowed with the most wondrous sparkling things. As our finances dwindled to nothing, those lovely works of art were sold or pawned so that we can eat or go to school or have new clothes.

When Mama died, Jacqui and I had the difficult task of choosing what she was to wear in her coffin. We chose her prettiest silk chemise to wear under her two-piece pale yellow quilted suit that she had worn proudly to my younger brother's wedding. Then I picked out her favorite pearl earrings and her pearl choker. When Jacqui and I opened Mama's jewelry box again weeks ago, there was hardly anything else left, just inexpensive pieces that a pawnshop wouldn't even consider. Looking at the few remaining items, we kinda got teary-eyed, remembering how Mama would cheerfully say, "Oh, don't worry about your tuition/project/field trip. I think I still have a bracelet in my jewelry box to sell/pawn. We'll be alright." I took home this gold necklace with a tiny disco ball diamond pendant, and I wear it every day.

The rest of Mama's jewelry, Papa and I gave to Jacqui. She, being 19, didn't want any except for Mama's pearls and only because the pearl is Jacqui's birthstone. But I told her a girl's got to have jewelry of her own and not to depend on a man to buy her her rocks. So Jacqui kept the diamond ring, a couple of pearl bracelets and necklaces, and a choker made of amethyst, Mama's birthstone.

We packed away the rest of Mama's things and have sent them to charities and distant relatives in the province. We're not done yet, however. We still have to go through her books, photos, journals... This time, we're no longer dreading this task. It's like rediscovering Mama all over again, seeing her not just as our mother, but as a faithful wife, a devoted friend, a thoughtful sister, and a true champion of Christ.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Money, money, money!

Most of you know I love to shop. You may also know that I don't get into debt with my shopping habits. How did I get this way? Because I try to earn money every chance I get! My job as a magazine editor pays me more than enough to cover all the household expenses and savings and insurance plans. But for my wants, I turn to my business enterprises.

I contribute to other magazines but the checks from published works here in the Philippines trickle in so that doesn't pay much. This blog earns me money regularly. And then there's my online businesses. Do visit my Organic Finds store since I'm having a huge sale--all the prices are now 50% off!

Selling stuff online has bought some of our major furniture, tons of gifts, and funded my shopaholic tendencies. It's actually just a hobby but given that I earn quite a bit from this hobby, I am looking to expand my repertoire. I'm thinking of buying wholesale clothes and shoes, for instance. How about you--how do you augment your income?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Shopaholic Confession

Hi, my name is Frances and I'm a shopaholic!

Regular readers of this blog know how much I love to shop. Now before you all write me off as someone who gets into debt for the love of shopping, let me say that I'm quite responsible with my purchases. I never spend money I don't have! And what extra money I do have goes to recently bought goodies like these:
a green and gold dress from Zara

a fabulous PS3 game for my hubby's birthday this weekend

a floral cocktail ring from Aldo

a pair of adorable ballet flats smothered in black sequins
from Landmark

and our necessary monthly diet of books!!!

I'm also about to get some seriously chunky platforms from Charles & Keith soon because I want to tower over everyone again. I went through a flats phase last year because I thought ballet flats were comfy and cute. Well, I've changed my mind. I want to be powerful and fashionable again.

In defense of those who are retail hobbyists, did you know that, aside from 4-inch heels, shopping makes me feel powerful? While other people feel power when they lead or abuse others, my feelings of power just involve handing over a wad of cash to the cashier girl and then walking around with these wonderful shopping bags filled with the most wonderful things on the planet. Quite harmless, I say!

It was around three years ago, when I started earning real money, that was when I started enjoying shopping. I remember this one time that I passed by a porcelain shop (yes, dishes!) and saw these elegant cream plates edged in 18-carat gold and covered in white lace filigree detailing. I thought, "Those are truly beautiful. I wish I ate off dishes like that..." Then I looked at the price tag. Then I asked the salesperson how many pieces were in the set. He said 24 pieces of the exquisite dinnerware. Then I looked in my wallet. Then the glorious realization: "OMG, I can actually afford the plates. I can eat from those plates every day of my now fantastic life!!!"

My beautiful dinnerware makes me feel like a princess each time I eat!

Purchasing power. There's nothing like it. And I hope you, my fellow bloggers, agree! If you do, then you must check out OK! magazine's February issue. May I direct your attention to the yellow part of the cover? I'm very very proud of that part because that's our Confessions of a Shopaholic movie special! The entire OK! staff had so much fun putting together that section. Joanna got a great interview from the show's star, Isla Fisher. She also got the movie's stylist (and stylist to Sex and The City) Patricia Field to cough up these fantastic style-on-a-budget tips. I supplemented the story with a sidebar on "Shopaholic Essentials" like comfy heels (we like Cole Haan's Air platform heels--serious style and serious Nike Air technology!). And because we love Shopaholic's Rebecca Bloomwood, Elaine added a fun story on our favorite silly ditzes: Legally Blonde's Elle Woods, for example.

Can you tell we're so excited about the movie??? Anything that involves shopping is good news to me. After all, there's nothing like retail therapy. Really. There have been times I've felt so bad, I almost didn't want to wake up. But a trip to the mall or an hour on eBay after, and I'm ready to face life again... in stylish new duds, of course! I know it sounds absolutely shallow but whoever said money can't buy happiness clearly did not have much of it! Viva la shopping!

Catch Confessions of a Shopaholic in cinemas on February 18, 2009!

Sunday, February 08, 2009

A hilltop wedding

I seem to be posting on Wednesdays and Sundays!

This weekend was extremely busy. First, a wedding on Saturday afternoon. Second, a birthday-karaoke party that night. Third, shopping on Sunday! Fourth, a visit to my in-laws. Today will just be about the wedding!

Pinky Jacob, my grade school friend from Assumption, got married to her longtime sweetheart Derek Ileto at the Christ the King Church in Taytay, Rizal. They wanted to get married somewhere different. Yeah. Everyone in Manila gets married in Intramuros, that church near Mall of Asia, in Calaruega, or in Forbes Park. Ho hum. So, even though getting to Taytay was really hard, it was great to discover a new place!

The church is so high up the hills that its nickname is "Church in the Sky." The view is fantastic. What I found most remarkable about the small church was the altar. Check that out!

Pinky and Derek (sorry for the blurry shot). Their vows were filled with laughter and tears. The priest asked, "Pinky, do you accept Derek as..." Pinky said, "I do, Father." Pause. Then priest said, "Pinky, let me finish the question." Everyone had a huge laugh over that one!

This is Clarissa, another classmate from Assumption. She's Pinky's best friend and maid of honor. Clar is now based in New York City, busy making films.

Outfit shot! The dress is a gorgeous Zara floaty creation. It's green with gold floral and paisley design, with a huge bow at the neck. The bow covers the deep V neckline! It's also very sheer so I had to wear a slip underneath it. Brown tights are from Tesco (yes, the supermarket) at London. Brown pumps from Nine West. I'm still looking for the perfect platform shoes for this dress--since it's so floaty, it needs sturdy shoes to ground it. The fab bag is from my mother-in-law.

Vince and me. I'm having a bad hair day! Vince's tie is Cirque du Soleil, which he got from Las Vegas. See the creepy faces? He wore that because the wedding theme was carnivale and Mardi Gras. Cool tie. Cooler guy.