Friday, April 26, 2013

Topaz Fashion: Gwyneth Paltrow!

If you ever read the magazine I used to edit, you'd know I am a HUGE fan of Gwyneth Paltrow. Sure, she annoys a ton of people but that's because she says whatever she wants to say, even if it puts her in trouble. I've said this before: Most really big stars create this shiny image, this big wall around them and they say nice things, wear nice clothes, and basically be safe so that they don't land in hot water. Gwyneth has remained so authentic and so herself. I find it so refreshing!

This week, my favorite star was picked as the world's most beautiful person by People magazine. I was thrilled to bits! I can't wait to get my copy!

Then, for the movie premiere of Iron Man 3, which I have yet to see, she showed up wearing this:

For more photos, please go to Just Jared (click! click!) where I grabbed these pics. Anyway, the general reaction was loathing. It is rather risqué. And in this country where everyone is supposedly conservative, it's a horrible dress (I'm basing this on my Facebook feed haha). Oh, but I absolutely loved her Antonio Berardi dress! Look, if I had perfectly toned legs and buttocks, I'd be showing them off, too. This was a very couture way of showing off. Very brave. Not trashy. I love the teal, the kimono sleeves, the sheer side panels, the bold white. I'm sooo in love with her dress! I just don't like her white shoes.

Here's Gwyneth on Ellen's show talking about her wardrobe malfunction.

That '70s vibe. I just had to laugh at that. If you don't know what '70s vibe means, well, that means you're way too young! Oh, Gwyneth, I want to be just like you when I grow up!

Updated to add this: the awarding ceremony for World's Most Beautiful!

P.S. Speaking of revealing too much, I'm doing something I've never ever done on my blogs and social media ever before: I'm going to post photos of myself in a bathing suit! It's summer! And I ain't Gwyneth—no diet, no work outs—so please be kind. Haha, promise, no Photoshop!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Counting my blessings

I'm finding it more difficult to update Topaz Horizon. I've decided long ago that this will be my silly blog (which doesn't mean I'm a silly person haha) and I'll put fashion and Hollywood celebs and TV shows and glam events here. But now that my life's been devoted to hearth and home, there's really not much to talk about here (although I talk a lot about hearth and home over at Topaz Mommy!).

I've been without yayas for almost a month now. So no more events for me. Well, I've really been declining invitations for a while now, since I retired from magazines. I only go out if I really really like the brand or the person inviting me. But, as with these things, you say no too many times and they stop inviting you. The result is a much quieter life—less shrill voices, less dealing with traffic, less dressing up and putting on make up.

We spent an afternoon just having the silliest fun! 

There's more dinners with my kids, more time for LEGO and Cars and Toy Story, more chats with the toddler, more breastfeeding with the baby, longer bath times, more bedtime stories now. There's more conversations with my husband, more making love, more cuddles, more laughter. There's more books, more naps, more time with friends and family, and it's been quiet enough lately that there's more prayer for me now.
Vito and I spent nearly an hour making this!

I like this retreat from the world. I think I like it because I spent a lot of years living glamorously, loudly. I've been there, I've done that. I don't feel like I'm missing out. Although I will admit that when I do attend events now and see dear friends, I miss them. So I miss the people, but not that world.

Still, the world seems to still find its way to me. Recently, I got some lovely surprises. They were sent because I'm a blogger and they love my blogs. Hooray! I'm glad for that. I really really am. Thank you!

Gingersnaps sent the boys the cutest clothes! Here's Iñigo with the boxes of goodies. He's obviously very engrossed in LEGO to care! I'll dress the boys up real soon so you can see how cool the clothes are. What else? Go Nuts Donuts sent over their latest creation—the Cookie Butter flavor. It is so yummy! I ate 4 in one sitting! Karimadon sent exquisite Ladurée macarons straight from Hong Kong (and other fabulous surprises!) because they loved that I loved their VIP room. Taste Central sent me shopping credits. And magazines Northern Living and Real Living asked me to be featured in their mom issues!

Getting ready for my Northern Living shoot while my sister entertains little Iñigo.

My blessings aren't just material gifts. My favorite ones are from my family and neighbors. My sister, Jacqui, has been dropping by to take care of the kids. She has saved me from going insane. My sister-in-law, Anj, and her son, Zo, have also entertained the boys when I had to go to a meeting, they volunteered their Fridays to babysit, and I get to borrow their cleaning lady, too. My in-laws send over food like mangoes and nuts and caldereta, which means less time in the kitchen for me. My neighbors, Claire, Earl, Dada and Cathee, have also lightened the burden of caring for little babies with their encouragement, friendship and prayer.

So while my life recently has been less busy and stressful, it's also been more full. Too full. My heart is overflowing with love and gratitude!

Friday, April 19, 2013

The importance of not being beautiful

Let me tell you a story of a little girl named Frances who absolutely loved to read. Yes, we're talking about me. When I was around 11 years old, I was done reading and re-reading the encyclopedia and decided it was time to tackle big novels. First thing I got my hands on was Alex Haley's Roots. It was a very harrowing story of rape, racism, abuse, and slavery. Most parents would never let their 11-year-old girl read about rape, racism, abuse and slavery. Papa realized this when I started pestering him about it.

"Why did you read that book?" Papa said, frowning. "Girls shouldn't even be reading books. Your pretty little head should only be worried about being beautiful and making good coffee."

Starting beauty regimens early.
Papa always valued beauty. He told me I was the most beautiful girl in the world, second only to Mama, of course. Mama also valued beauty. She dressed me in frilly dresses, allowed me to paint my nails when I was 7, took me to the salon for my first perm at 9, and bought me my first high heels on my 13th birthday. When I was a teenager, I was allowed to dress in mini-skirts because Mama said, "You have nice long legs. Show them off now while they're still nice."

So at home, I was told constantly I was beautiful. Outside my home, however, it was a different story. All of our relatives and all of my parents' friends told me, "You are so skinny. Ugly skinny. Your teeth are too big. Your ears are huge. Your face is long, like a mango. Sometimes, you look like a horse with your big teeth sticking out like that. Too bad you didn't take after your mother. Your mother is beautiful. You are not."

At a very early age, I learned that beauty is subjective. So I decided just as early on that beauty isn't valuable. I can dress up, put on makeup, and fix up all I want but there will always be someone out there who'll think I'm ugly. But being smart—that's undeniable. If I were smart, I can talk to anyone in the world and they can think whatever they want about my face but they'll always agree that I have an amazing brain. So screw beauty. I wanted to be smart.

* * * * * * *

This week, a soap ad went viral. It was a very nice ad about women describing themselves to a forensic artist. Then the artist drew a second sketch of these same women based on the descriptions of others. The women were then shown their portraits and they were so amazed at how ugly they saw themselves (first sketch) and how beautiful others saw them (second sketch). It was rather melodramatic, with tears being shed and all. I thought it was cute.

The next few days, however, were filled with reactions from women I know to be smart, talented and accomplished. They loved the ad because it spoke to them—they never felt beautiful and this soap campaign assured them otherwise. I was dumbstruck about that. In fact, I went livid for a good few hours. How is it that we tell girls that it's what's inside that counts, that we must be women of substance, and then an ad comes along and our real feelings are exposed—that deep inside, we really don't believe that? That what we really believe in is it's physical beauty that matters. If you really believe that what makes you matter is your talent, intelligence, accomplishments, relationships, and your family, then what people think of your face does not matter.

Look, I like looking good. I like nice dresses and having my makeup done. I love coloring my hair. But I can look in the mirror and say, "Ugh, pimples again!" or "Okay, fat day! I'm wearing a loose dress today!" or "Bad hair day. Bun!" That doesn't mean I have low self-esteem. That doesn't mean I think I'm ugly. That just means I have pimples or I'm bloated or my hair is having a tantrum. No big deal. It shouldn't be a big deal. Why does it become a big deal for most women? Is it the fault of our parents, of media, of society?

My former job demanded I look good all the time. 

I think I'm beautiful. Back when I was a magazine editor, I made sure I looked great, and yet I was always told otherwise. So hilarious that I finally care about my looks and I get told I still don't look good enough! You see, I did product and service reviews and the brands, spas, and clinics told me regularly that I needed all these if I wanted to be beautiful: liposuction for my fat tummy (what tummy?), breast augmentation, Botox for the wrinkles around my eyes, lip fillers for my thin lips, laser treatments for lightening my pimple scars, hair treatments for my damaged hair, foot spa for my cracked heels, whitening treatments for my dark elbows and knees, etc ad infinitum. I always laughed them off.

Even though my parents raised me to value looks, even though I worked in an industry that pushed for good looks, even though I'm bombarded with images of gorgeous women in media daily, I have an objective view of myself and of other women. There will always be people prettier and uglier than me. So what? In the great scheme of things, I would never want to be remembered for my face.

* * * * * * *

I'm a mother of two boys. I've noticed a difference when my friends and I talk about our kids. My friends with daughters always gush about the cute clothes they bought, how the little girls are already into makeup, how they're teaching their girls to care for their skin and hair. Meanwhile, my friends with sons talk about how their boys are in soccer camp, enrolled in gymnastics, or are really into books and music and math. Girls are raised to be the best-looking. Boys are raised to be the best.

We may have the same parents but they didn't raise us the same way.
I want to see a world filled with women empowered by their accomplishments—whether it's about earning a degree or becoming CEO to making the best damn cupcakes and being a good wife and mother. I want to see women who care for their appearance but believe in their heart that beauty does not matter.

How do we do this? How do we raise our daughters so that they see that charm is deceitful and beauty is vain? How do we teach them to value their character, to improve their mind, to nourish their soul, to make their bodies healthy? How do we protect them from the flattery of duplicitous men? How do we build for them a self-image so strong that they will be secure and confident in who they are and not what they look like? No matter what they look like!

In a world with empowered women, being told "You're more beautiful than you think" will not be met with tears and relief. An empowered woman would snap, "Whoever told you I thought I was ugly anyway?" If the ad is to be believed that only 4%—just 4%!—of women in the world think they're beautiful, we are clearly doing something very wrong with raising our daughters. That's the conversation I want the ad to provoke, not gooey warm feelings that will evaporate anyway.

* * * * * * *

My husband seldom tells me I'm beautiful. Sometimes, on fat days especially, I fish for a compliment and Vince will always be exasperated and say, "Of course you're beautiful! You know that already!"

He does always say that I'm hardworking, smart, funny. He always says, "I'm so proud of you," "You did well," "That was good writing," and my ultimate favorites: "You make me happy," "You're a great mother." My husband sees beyond my face. He sees the real me and I am glad.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Six years of love and laughter

Actually, it's been 14 years. We just made it official six years ago today. May there be a million years more of you and me, Vince. Happy anniversary!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

This is my Philippines

I know a ton of the tourism ads promote our absolutely stunning beaches and other fabulous natural spots. Yes, definitely worth a visit, guys. But I'm not a nature girl and these gorgeous places really don't attract me. But this one, this is my Manila, my Philippines!

I love this country!

Monday, April 08, 2013

Watch The Full Monty!

Love musicals? Love comedy? Love naked men? I love all three! Well, okay, maybe just the naked husband (yum!). Anyway, if you do love songs and laughter and strippers, then you're in for a treat—The Full Monty is here!

My friend, Ianne Evangelista, and her friends bought one night and are selling tickets to promote local theater. I do love theater, I just haven't watched a play or a musical since getting pregnant in 2009! How horrible, right? Especially since my own sister is a theater actress!!!

Must really support the local theater industry. Our actors, musicians, writers, directors, producers, dancers, etc etc are all so talented and deserve our patronage. So let's all go and watch a show, shall we?

Ianne emailed me, "Produced by Viva Atlantis Theatricals, The Full Monty is based on the movie of the same title, and the musical has a book by the multi-awarded Terence McNally with music and lyrics by David Yazbek. Directed by Chari Arespacochaga, the show stars Mark Bautista, Arnel Ignacio, Marco Sison, Jamie Wilson, OJ Mariano, and Nino Alejandro. Ima Castro, Sitti, and Ciara Sotto play supporting roles. My friend Gemini Quintos is also in The Full Monty. Reporting from rehearsals, she said that it’s going to be a great show with strong and hilarious performances from the lead cast. 

"The Full Monty runs at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater at the RCBC Plaza in Makati. For tickets, please call 0917-537-3040 (Tin), 0917-861-7978 (Ianne), 0929-618-1615 (Rica), or email

Please share with friends and family! Also, please like our Facebook page so you can see updates and extra details leading up to April 27. Should you decide to book tickets, just let me know which seats you’d like and I’ll have them delivered to you."

Sounds good to me! Let's all go watch naked men sing and dance!

*photos courtesy of Ianne

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Easy Parmesan crisps for this lazy weekend

Vince loves this. Loves this! And it's so easy to make! You can make it for your hubby, family and friends and they'll think you're so fancy when in truth Parmesan crisps are effortless.

Here's what you do:
Step 1: Grate Parmesan cheese. If you're a lazy cook like me, just buy a bag of pre-grated cheese. I hear, however, that freshly grated Parmesan has more flavor.

Step 2: Grind some black pepper. This adds spice.

Step 3: Mix!

Step 4: Put foil on a baking sheet then pile a tablespoon of the cheese-and-pepper mixture. This is for small crisps. If you want big crisps, pile more!

Step 5: Put in a hot oven. Watch it bubble! This smells absolutely fantastic! Take it out after a few minutes, when the edges start to brown.

Step 6: This is why I use foil. The cheese stick to the foil and it can be tricky to remove. What I do is lift the foil then place the back of the foil onto the edge of the kitchen counter and I roll it back and forth. As the cheese dries up, it just peels from the oil with each rolling motion!

Tada! These are especially good with Dijon mustard. The saltiness and the bite of the mustard? Heaven! This is Vince's favorire snack. He loves Parmesan crisps with pepperoni, salami, Hungarian sausages. So easy to whip up and he thinks I'm amazing!

I made these small but they're actually pretty when they're large. Just spread into a large circle on the foil (instead of my cheese mounds). I've seen some cooks make shapes like stars! It comes out really delicate, like lace.

Here are other ways to serve Parmesan crisps:
1. Float on a bowl of creamy sweet soup, like squash and sweet potato.
2. While soft, roll into a tube shape. Serve stuck in a bowl of Ceasar salad.
3. While soft, place in muffin cups to create a cup shape. It can be an edible mini salad container!

Enjoy the weekend!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Topaz Fashion: Checked out Karimadon's VIP fitting room

On my way to a mom blogger event at Glorietta 1, I passed by the very large Karimadon shop and couldn't resist going in and browsing.
I've been a Karimadon fan since I was 17 years old. I'm 36 now. That's a love affair that's going on for two decades! At my high school graduation, I wore a Karimadon lace button-up blouse with matching pencil skirt. I also bought a matching pleated skirt which I changed into at the graduation ball. I felt so beautiful!

I always feel beautiful in Karimadon. That's why I still have Karimadon in my wardrobe until now. If you want proof, check out all my Karimadon outfits and accessories by clicking here!

I was really just going to window shop (I was on my way to another event, remember) but there were so many pretty clothes and accessories that I found myself grabbing a few dresses and heading to the dressing rooms!

That's how I found out that there's a secret door that leads to the VIP dressing room!!! Since I've been a Karimadon lover for decades, I figured I could ask to take a peek. The saleslady didn't just allow me a peek, she told me to go try my clothes in the VIP room!!!
Chandelier, shag rug, scented candles, cozy sofa for friends or lovers, large mirror! Love it! I loved the space most of all. The curtained off fitting area was big so I could change in and out of my clothes without bumping into walls.

You guys should really try it! I actually don't know who gets to be lucky enough to use the VIP room. Maybe you should be a regular customer who buys a lot of dresses? Or maybe you're a bride with your bridesmaids? I forgot to ask! But I wasn't a regular customer at the Glorietta branch (I go to Robinsons Galleria and Megamall) but I was still allowed access so maybe you just need to ask!

And here's what I got! I love it! It's a wrap dress. Vince loves me in wrap dresses. He says I look sophisticated yet sexy. But I think he likes how easy they are to take off haha! Anyway, I'm planning to wear this to a magazine shoot. Yes, I'll be in front of the camera this time! I still need another dress, though, since the shoot called for me in my usual look (I'm usually in wrap dresses or sheath dresses so check!) and a glamorous look. I still don't have a dress for that one. Maybe I should drop by Karimadon again!

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Unlearning my poor mentality

Oh wow. Has it been a week? Yep, I haven't blogged here in a week. You would not believe what happened to that week! I don't want to talk about it (yet) but suffice it to say someone, or maybe two someones, stole almost P10,000 from me.

A friend told me, "You really shouldn't have left money lying around. Alam mo naman ang poor."

"Excuse me," I said. "I grew up poor and I never ever was tempted to steal. Not even tempted! Hello, para namang mayaman ka rin. Parehas lang tayo pakalat-kalat sa kalye nung bata pa tayo. Wala yan sa kesyo poor ka o rich. May mga tao talagang maitim ang budhi!"

Until I find out what really happened, I won't talk about it. Well, I don't even know if I'll find out the truth. Meanwhile, I've been thinking about growing up poor and how glad I am that my parents and grandparents raised me so well that I never stole, cheated, envied, became greedy or begrudged those who had more material wealth.

I am also grateful that I was raised a Born-Again Christian. It's hard to have poor mentality when I knew I was the daughter of the King and a member of His royal priesthood. I am a princess and a priestess! There is no room for envy and self-pity in the heart of one so blessed!

But I will admit that having so little when I was growing up did still leave vestiges of poor mentality on me. There's this funny but insightful article on that talks about the stupid habits you develop when you grow up poor. Go, read it! You have to read it first so you'll understand why it's habits of poor mentality. Thankfully, I only caught two of the habits! Here they are:

You develop a taste for bad food. I won't name brands but for the longest time, my experience of La Paz batchoy was from a noodle company. Their La Paz batchoy is soooo good! So when I finally encountered the real thing, I didn't like it!

Same goes with coffee. Ngayon lang naman ako pa-brewed-brewed, pa-Cappucino, Americano. Please, with warm cream and brown sugar. Ang type ko naman talaga instant coffee. But that's not something I'll ever admit in public (shhh!) because I'm surrounded by sosyal people now.

You want to go overboard on gifting. Well, I kinda got over this affliction when the kids came haha. But before the kids, I loved giving gifts. To everyone! My goodness, sayang ang pera!!! Haha, I gave nga kasi to everyone—family, friends, friends of friends, people who are nice to me at work, the condo guards, the neighbors, the everybody!

There was this one time I felt really bad because... Okay, many years ago, there were two girls named Frances in the publishing company where I used to work, one was an editor and I, well, I was the new PR girl. But everyone was nice to me so that Christmas, I gave sooo many people gifts. The other Fran got the thanks. Nobody thought the gift came from me because, really, no one knew me! Sayang ang pera ko! Lalo na't ang liit pa ng sweldo ko then. Poor me. Literally!

Hmm, come to think of it, I think there are other habits of a poor mentality. Add these to the list:

Poor people buy tingi. Sachets, sample sizes, cellphone load.

The poor always make tawad. Argh. Vince hates this! He says it's embarrassing when I haggle. He says, "If you can't afford full price, don't buy it!" He's actually okay if I haggle in Greenhills, tiangge, market. But the habit is deeply ingrained—sometimes I make tawad sa department store or at boutiques! Cringe!

Poor people dream to be an employee for life. Aha! Most of us go to school so we can end up working in some company. We spend so much in schooling just so we can make money for someone else! Poor people think that they have to have a boss. It's okay to have a good, steady job, of course. But you'll never be a billionaire as long as you're working for someone else.

Vince helped a lot in my un-education. For one thing, he set me straight when it came to credit card use. He's also teaching me how to save and spend wisely. We're reading this amazing book called All Your Worth. Vince's brother-in-law, businessman Lit Onrubia (yes, the Chi Runner and, yes, of the wedding proposal at Julia Fordham's concert fame!), recommended it to us when we said we're ready to take money seriously. This book makes so much sense! And it makes money such a wonderful thing—it's not something to slave over, worry about or store away obsessively. This book changes attitudes towards money, spending and saving. We love it and highly recommend it!

The really rich aren't obsessed with money, to be honest. They love that it's there, of course, but they treat money as a tool and a by-product of success. That's another poor mentality thing: Poor people think money is the measure of one's success. While that is mostly true, true success is doing what you love, being who you really are. So gather the courage to be yourself and do what you were meant to do on this earth. Then you'll be truly wealthy!