Thursday, April 29, 2021

The Cambridge Family brand color

Blue, blue, their world is blue!

If there's anything that stamps the Cambridges as millennials it's this: They made themselves into a brand. It's such a millennial thing to do - everyone is a brand now. Even I'm told by PR agencies that my brand is the "raw and authentic mama" and my blog color (which used to be nothing) is orange because topazes are orange (uh, they also come in clear, blue, pink, brown, purple, and green). I'm not a millennial but, sure, okay, I like the branding created for me so let's go with it. 

Anyway, back to the Cambridge family. William and Catherine made themselves officially a brand in 2014 when they registered their selves as businesses. According to the Daily Mail, "Kate’s firm is called CE Strathearn – from her names Catherine and Elizabeth and the Countess of Strathearn title awarded by the Queen. William’s is APL Anglesey – after his middle names Arthur Philip Louis and the Welsh island where he and Kate lived after they married." 

Oh, William. What a romantic!

This is the first time a royal family made themselves into a brand (the second one is Harry and Meghan, and they were severely criticized as usual because apparently, only W&K can do it but H&M can't *roll eyes at tabloids and haters*). Their brands are supposedly not about making money but "more about creating a vehicle that could be used in future for specific situations. It is not necessarily about making money – it could be about protection such as the issue of trademarks for example." Their spokesman added, "APL Anglesey and CE Strathearn have been set up to house the intellectual property rights of the Duke and Duchess."

What that means is they won't stop businesses from making commemorative mugs. But if someone uses their image or names and presents them in a bad way (say, in a gossip site or in a show called The Crown), they can sue and stop these shows, movies, tabloids from profiting from them.

Still, their spokespeople don't deny that the Cambridges may create official items that they will sell. Prince Charles has Duchy Originals, an organic farm that sells premium organic goods, for example. So if Catherine ever decides to start a fashion line or launch a photography book (and she has) or William wants to start a  helicopter royal tours thing, they can.

Obviously, a brand needs colors that will establish its identity to its consumers. Coca-Cola is red, Nickelodeon is orange, McDonald's is yellow, Spotify is green, Barbie is pink, and the Cambridge official color is blue. 

I don't know when it started, or if it was consciously decided on. Maybe it was Diana's sapphire ring that became Kate's engagement ring that started it. At that time, I don't think they thought of themselves as a brand yet. But through the years, whenever they are presenting themselves officially, they come out in blue. 

In fact, when there were rumors that the Cambridges will release photos to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary, I told my friends, "I bet all the sales of my book (buy a copy!), they'll both be in blue." And I was right! Well, I'm not a betting woman and it was a safe bet because those two and their kids are always in blue.

Okay, they're not always in blue. They do wear other colors. I love Kate in bright pink best. Maybe I should do a post on Kate's rainbow wardrobe! But blue is their dominant color. 

I would love to look through Kate's closet and count how many blue things she has! I mean, just look at a few of their royal tours. I love how they usually arrive at a new country in blue OOTDs. 

When their firstborn and heir to the throne, Prince George, was born, the new family was in blue. All their official family photos and Christmas cards? Blue. 

Blue is the official Cambridge color. I like how they're so aware of their branding. It makes them so modern. I wonder how they'll move the ancient and archaic monarchy forward when they finally become King and Queen. Can't wait to see that!

Monday, April 26, 2021

Happy birthday, Aida!

This is Aida. She's my best friend from high school and today is her birthday. 

You've seen her on this blog just a few times. That's because she left the country when we were in college to study medical school in the US, then married and started a family in France, and that's where she's been since. We both married men named Vincent and we are moms of boys! 

And in the last 25 years, we've seen each other maybe 10 times. It's tough to sustain a friendship over distance and time. We weren't there for each other much when we were growing up. Back then, in the 90s and early 2000s, there was only snail mail. Oh, and email of course. We try to catch up but life is a whirlwind of many changes and we have our new friends for those now. But Aida will always be special and I'll tell you why. 

You may be wondering why I chose to start this blog post with a photo of Aida holding my book. Seems like a post celebrating her shouldn't start with promoting something of mine. But that photo says so much about my dear friend. You see, she may be so far away but she always makes sure she stays in touch and supports her friends in whatever we do. Every single thing we achieve, she's the first to be happy for us and to celebrate with us - even though she's so far away! All her friends are so lucky to have someone so thoughtful in our life.

Aida's friendship is more than just words of affirmation from her. She actually does things to make us feel special. She always tries to chat with me on Messenger, but because of the time difference, I very seldom get to say hi back. But it's not like she lacks friends. She has so many friends. She has friends on a global scale! If her friend has a wedding, she will be there, no matter where in the world that wedding is. If a friend wants to meet up, she will buy a plane ticket and fly there. All our high school reunions, she attended. I only went to the last one and I failed to get a photo with her. 

Aida makes everyone feel important. That's why she was the most popular girl in high school. Everyone loved Aida. Boys and girls. Teachers, too. My family loves her. I don't know anyone who doesn't love her.

She's not a pure ray of light, though. She's great at cutting down people with a look. If she doesn't like you or what you said, you're going to know. Oh boy, will you know! In fact, she's the one who told me to be brave with whatever I think and do. I used to be a people-pleaser (sometimes I still am) and Aida told me again and again I can be nice without putting up with bullshit. I learned not to put up with bullshit eventually but it took a while. 

Everyone thinks I'm this brave woman but I was pretty much a very insecure, anxious, and fearful girl. If you're wondering what transformed me, well, first I should give credit to my ever-growing faith in God's love for me. Then to my eternal gratitude, He sent not-so-divine people my way - my husband Vince when I hit my 20s and, before that, there was Aida.

In high school, no one really liked me. I don't know why. I don't want to know why. Honestly, I'm over it. I had a few friends and that was enough. I did notice that one of my friendships made people look at me differently and that was my friendship with Aida. She was the one who called me best friend first, which startled me. She told everyone I was her best friend and I literally saw people get bewildered, get curious, then become nice to me. When you're 14 years old, that means the world. I realized that they thought very highly of Aida and if she loved me then I must be so much more than the box everyone unfairly put me in. People gave me a chance simply because one person vouched for me.

That's a real gift. That's why I try so very hard to be good and fair to other people and to give people a chance because Aida was good and fair to me. Just one person's kindness opened up my world in vast ways. I can't even measure the profound effect that had on my life. What would I be now if I remained that cowering creature that nobody liked? Her love for me changed me. I learned to be unafraid of my intelligence, to speak out, to be funny, to not give a shit about what people thought, to leave everything behind if it was holding me back, to venture out, to love with all my heart, and to be unapologetic about my life. 

Aida was my biggest influence when I was a kid and she may have been a kid herself but her kindness and courage changed me deeply. I hope she knows that. I don't think I ever told her how she changed my life. So I needed to write this so she knows that I see her and what she's done for me.

Dearest Aida, today, on your birthday, I want to say thank you. For standing up for me, for teaching me to love myself, for flying to my wedding, for buying my book and telling everyone about it, for being proud of me, and for being my friend and staying my friend. My life wouldn't be the same without you. I love you and celebrate you and honor you and bless you, Dang. Happy birthday!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Talked about work, motherhood, and my book on Heard On Thursdays on RX 93.1

Last month, I was a guest on the RX 93.1 show Heard on Thursdays. I talked about motherhood, my Not Invisible book, our Lean In community, and the state of working women in the Philippines. 

I hope you tuned in to listen! If not, no worries. It's on YouTube!

If you have 45 minutes and you need something to listen to in the background while you work or clean the house, I hope you can give me a listen. It's been so long since I guested on a radio show! I was so nervous. But it was fun. I can do this all day!

Maybe I should start a podcast. What would you like me to talk about?

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

My only ambition

I'm still on an anniversary high. And also feeling melancholy because of Prince Philip's death. He wasn't my favorite royal. My favorite is Diana, Princess of Wales. I'm very much like her - honest, truthful, rebellious, impetuous, and so open with my affections and opinions. Very unroyal haha

Royalty demands loyalty to duty. That's it. Even if that means suffering in silence. Like Diana, I don't believe in suffering or silence. Harry and Meghan are exactly like Diana. So am I! So you can tell who my new favorite royals are. I didn't really like Meghan before - she was so outspokenly feminist and then she joined the royal family and she became voiceless. Meh. So I like her now because she spoke out. I like it when women speak up. 

However, I also believe in how, when, and where we speak up. I don't think Diana's Panorama interview and H&M's Oprah interview were good ideas. But I'm not a public personality so who am I to say the proper when and where, right?

I know people like dignified silence. It's not for me. As a survivor of abuse, I know that silence is what allows abusers to continue doing what they do. Society has made silence a virtue because how else can evil be perpetuated if we all speak up? On a lesser scale, if not evil, then all the little things that make us unhappy in our job, our family, our marriage, our church, our society are forced on us. How then can life become better if we just accept everything that makes us unhappy?

So I like how Prince Philip did it. He wasn't quiet, mind you. Like I said, silence won't get you anywhere. And Philip did raise a fuss. He resented his "kept man" status, the humiliation of not being allowed to give his last name to his children, and the fact that he had to give up his naval career for his more important role as royal spouse. He may have complained but he and his wife (the Queen!) managed to navigate those bumps and create meaningful roles for him. So even though he didn't like certain things about his life, he was able to make changes so that he eventually liked it. I mean, just because you chose something doesn't mean it's perfect. So you speak out, talk it out, make compromises, and smooth out the rough parts until you find a life that you love and cherish.

Much like how Prince Philip wrote here:

In my middle age, that's also now my only ambition - combined existence and a profoundly joyful one, too. All I want is to have a happy family, a stable home, and to make sure my kids are fed and happy and one day be wonderful members of society. 

It's not a shallow ambition. As we all know, that's actually hard to achieve. I've been married 14 years and not all of those 5,110 days were happy (my husband will always say every day was happy - gosh, I love him). Vince and I had to do a lot of adjusting and fighting and talking and compromising and crying. There were days of silence, too, but that just made things worse. Always speak up! Maybe not all the time, and maybe learn to choose a good time. I know, for example, to never bring up anything bad when he's hungry and to back off and shut up when things get too volatile, because he'll just clam up and he won't talk to me anymore haha So we've learned to gauge each other's silences - not to keep silent, but to learn when it's time to talk. Because that's the only way we can fix things and move forward. 

See? A combined existence is not easy for anyone, not for ordinary people like me and Vince. Not even for power couples like Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Even the love and devotion they famously had for each other didn't mean everything was smooth sailing for them or for their family. Two people becoming one is not easy. Two people adding little people into the mix while those two people are still figuring each other out is a bit insane, too. So it's a lofty ambition and one that I am determined to see through.

Just like Prince Philip and his queen did. I want that more than anything in the world.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Married! For 14 years!! Hooray!!!

I'm cleaning up my old laptop and found so many photos! Just in time for our 14th wedding anniversary TODAY!

And I just want to share them with you because you always cheered us on. For 14 years! And even before that. Thank you! 

Vince and I at my brother's wedding. We're 3 months' married here and we've just moved into our new home. Fun times!

Honeymoon in London! This was a year after we married. This was such a nice trip. I revisited the honeymoon blog posts and, goodness, I want to go back! I've loved the UK since I was a kid. Then my husband spent a few years of his childhood in London. Special place talaga.

I don't remember this haha. But it's right around the first season of Dexter, the serial killer with a moral code, because my nail polish was inspired by one of the victims. Morbid, I know. This must be in Giordano (I'm guessing based on the photo of the model behind us). Vince was shopping. My husband LOVES shopping!

This was me pregnant with Vito! So 2010. We were lunching here, at Italianni's if I remember right, either going to or just came from my OBG appointment at St. Luke's Global. Sigh. Such happy days of hope and anticipation!

I don't know where or when this is hahahaha That's the thing when you've been with one person for a long time. All the days flow into each other and yet it's never enough time. I want to be with this man forever!

Oh, this is Tagaytay! Wedding of my friends, Nikki and Bernard. That was such a fun weekend (more photos here)!

Still at Nikki's wedding, I remember being very moved when Vince and I were talking about marriage. We both love being married and we love attending weddings because it reminds us of our own vows. Till death do us part is nothing to sneeze at. It's a serious decision that should last a lifetime. 

That's what Vince and I promised each other, and 14 years down the road, we're still here, happily here. I hope God gives us many more years together. With this pandemic breathing down our necks, we never know. But that's all I ask really: to grow old with this man and to see all our children grow up and have families of their own, too. I truly do hope and pray God gives us that.