Saturday, November 12, 2011

Death and the wonder of God's promise

Tito Lito Calzado at my wedding in 2007
My Tito Lito died yesterday. I wasn't close to him but my Papa and Tito Lito were almost like brothers when they were growing up. Then his children, Dash and Iza, have always been very sweet and nice to us so his death makes me sad. I know how it is to lose a parent and Iza was very beloved by Tito Lito. It is always heartbreaking and gut-wrenching to lose a love like that.

But wakes in our family have always been... Hmm, the right word escapes me but "fun" is what comes to mind. There's lots of food and conversation, lots of singing and musical performances, lots of funny speeches, definitely lots of tears but there's a ton more laughter. I grew up going to wakes and funerals and thoroughly enjoying them, even the one for my own Mama. All of my friends told me that Mama's wake was the only wake they attended that made them actually want to stay, that when they left, they didn't feel sad or scared. They felt entertained and warm and fuzzy and even happy. Yup, that's my experience, too!

My sister Jacqui, cousin Iza and sister-in-law Rose
at Mama's funeral in 2008.
You can say that it's because the Amper family (and Calzados and Dadaps) is a family of musicians, singers and actors. Every time there's a crowd, we all rise up to the occasion and try to make everyone happy. Even at our wakes! But the real reason our wakes are such happy events is because we're Born Again Christians and we see death as a graduation from this miserable life. There is more envy than sadness at a loved one's passing. And there is that wonderful peace that passes understanding, and the shining hope that we will be reunited one day with our beloved.

When Mama died, my eulogy was based on Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" When someone you love dies, it's very hard to think of the future. How can life go on after this? So that promise, that this painful experience is not meant to harm me, truly did give me hope. I said in my eulogy, "Mama is dead but she doesn't belong in my past. She is in my future because we will surely meet again one day."

Peace, hope, joy. Sure, there is that awful grief but there is also the comfort of such wondrous peace, hope and joy. I wish you all that same peace, hope and joy, even in the midst of your darkest night, even in the face of death itself.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Photo shoot with Sara Black and John Pagaduan

Just recently, I decided to have my photos taken because, well, it's my birthday! Since I'm so blessed to have friends who are makeup artists, hairstylists and photographers, I pulled out my phone and started cajoling my friends to make me beautiful. But I seemed to have caught everyone on a very busy time so darn it!

And then Sara Black suddenly texted, "I'm free for 30 minutes on this date. Want to do it then?" Of course I said YES! I called shu uemura's John Pagaduan. He had tons of events that day but he said, "Sure, I'll do your makeup. Your face is easy lang naman!" All my hairstylist friends were fully booked, however, so I had to be content with my flat, lifeless hair.

I spent an hour on John's makeup chair and he transformed me from plain to absolutely amazing! We had so much fun catching up and gossiping. Then off to Sara's studio where she was in the thick of a Mega magazine beauty shoot. As soon as there was a lull in that shoot (the models had to change their makeup), Sara propped a camera in front of my face and started snapping away.

We were done in 20 minutes! And this is what she caught:

There's more photos—with less clothes!—but only Vince gets to see!

Thanks, Sara and John! You made me look beyond fabulous! I'm so lucky to have you as my friends.

To book a photo shoot with Sara Black, go to
To book a makeup session with John Pagaduan, call the shu uemura Learning Atelier at Power Plant Mall:  897-8575

Saturday, November 05, 2011

My Nuffnang Story

A lot of people ask me how I earn money through blogging. Well, I earn most of my blogging income from Nuffnang. I joined Nuffnang in 2008, soon after my mother died. Mama's death had completely wiped us out financially so I was looking for ways to make more money and Nuffnang was recommended by my friend, Jennie of Marriage and Beyond.

At first, there was just a tiny trickle of blogging income coming in (so I was very relieved when the company I work for gave me a big raise in early 2009!), but after a few months with Nuffnang, things started getting very interesting! So without further ado, here are...

My Top 10 Reasons for Loving Nuffnang

10. I got a free trip to Singapore!
On the Singapore Flyer with fellow bloggers
 In 2009, Nuffnang invited me to join the first ever Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Blog Awards in Singapore. I was shy to go since I didn't know anyone on the trip but I packed my bags, kissed my hubby good-bye (with tons of melodramatic tears), and then met some of the most fascinating people in Asia!

I learned so much about blogging from that trip. The most important lesson? That you can earn SO MUCH MONEY! I remember my jaw dropping and my eyes going very wide when some of the bloggers I met (some just barely out of college) told me they just bought a car or quit their job all because of the money they earned from blogging. As soon as I got home, I told Vince, "I'm taking this blogging thing seriously from now on dammit! Those kids are earning more money than I ever dreamed of!"

On our way to the awards ceremony (I'm the girl in far right)
So, obviously, I want to go to the second Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Blog Awards! This time, it's in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On Dec. 16, 500 bloggers from all over the Asia-Pacific region will be invited to a lovely weekend stay at the Putrajaya Marriott. The awards ceremony will again honor the the region's best bloggers and bring together the blogging communities so that we can all learn from each other. Plus, the lucky bloggers get a free tour of the city! The event is sponsored by Volkswagen Malaysia and Putrajaya Marriott, and if you want to win an exclusive invitation to the event, click here!

And please nominate your favorite bloggers (ahem! ahem!) for the awards!

9. I won a Gucci bag!
Nuffnang has a lot of contests. Their partners are always willing to raffle off really cool stuff like gadgets, and in my case, happily, a designer bag! I won the Confessions of a Shopaholic contest and the prize was a limited edition Gucci shoppers tote. So do check out Nuffnang's exciting array of contests (I think there's one a week!)

8. I always get tons of goodies!
Here are just a few:
I've also gotten beauty products and fabric conditioners. I know I've gotten more but I just can't remember them all! So much stuff!

7. I get invited to lots of exciting events.
Nuffnang never seems to run out of stuff to offer their bloggers! There's always a beauty launch here, a fashion show there, a movie screening now, a field trip tomorrow. I sometimes wish I wasn't so busy so I can attend them all!

6. I met celebrities!
Alodia's the girl with the backpack.
Alodia Gosiengfiao at the Asia-Pacific Blog Awards at Singapore. Alodia is so cute and shy and talented. There are no airs, no snottiness, no spoiled brat-ness.

Solenn is the girl who forgot to put on a shirt!
Solenn Heusaff at Neutrogena Fine Fairness Ambassadors launch. Well, all I can say is she's sexy. And very sweet to fans. But she looked very uncomfortable the entire time at the event, like she was very scared. I dunno why!

Iza Calzado at the Myra-E event that launched her as their new model. Funnily enough, to me, Iza is not a celebrity, even though she's one of the hottest stars in the country. That's because I can never erase the image of little 5-year-old Izadora following us, her cousins, everywhere, saying, "I can dance! Want to see me dance? Please watch me dance!"

5. I earn money!
I almost forgot that that's the reason I joined Nuffnang in the first place! How's the income, you ask? Well, Nuffnang's been very generous with giving me assignments and you'd have noticed some of them because they're marked as "sponsored posts" (for example, you all loved the Mango post, which was not just fun to do but was also paid for!).

I'd earn more if I accepted all their proposals but I only take on brands I believe in, use or want. But as it is, I've already earned lots of shopping money! Thanks, Nuffnang!

4. I gained new friends.
That's Shen of Shen's Addiction on top and Nikki Tiu of AskMeWhats. They are just two of the wonderful bloggers I've met at the events Nuffnang keeps throwing for us. I'm so glad I joined this blogging community because I've been forced to go out and meet fellow bloggers. You see, if you're a blogger, obviously you spend a lot of time in front of a computer so there's not much of a social life there for bloggers. But because of Nuffnang's plethora of events and activities, I've met some of the most wonderful people ever!

3. Nuffnang believed in my non-blogging ventures.
One of the very first people who bought my satchels is from Nuffnang! Trixie Esguerra is the talent manager of Nuffnang and I never expected that we'd have a friendship. I'm very careful to keep my professional relationship, well, professional. But Trixie is, like the rest of the Nuffies, so much fun and bubbly and makulit, that you can't help but adore her. Plus, she was one of the very first who bought my satchel and mega promoted my bag business! She didn't have to but she did. Thanks, Trixie!

2. Nuffnang supports good causes.
It's not all freebies with Nuffnang. One of the best out-of-my-comfort-zone experiences I've ever had was when we visited Sunshineville in Las Pinas. We met a thriving community of homeowners, working happily for a better life. It was really refreshing to see how giving jobs to people makes them confident, happy, proud. That exposure was the first time I decided I wanted to be an entrepreneur since I saw that it isn't charity dole-outs that help people at all.

Nuffnang also makes sure its bloggers get an education. By this, I mean free classes to everything from cooking to financial freedom. I've been wanting to attend their cooking classes at Enderun but weekends are yaya-less so I haven't had the opportunity. But I'm glad I was able to attend the Philam Life financial planning class. I learned so much! I bought a mutual fund investment plan soon after that session (but with a different insurance provider. Oops!)

1. Nuffnang cares about their bloggers.
The first people who visited me when I gave birth to Vito were Nuffies. Thanks, Anne Franco and Carlos Palma. You got to the hospital with flowers and gifts way before my own family and friends did! To say I was surprised is an understatement. Vince said, after you left, "Wow. You must really mean a lot to Nuffnang." I don't think I'm special that way; I think Nuffnang really just treats their bloggers like family.

And that's why I'm glad I joined Nuffnang. I earned not just money, but a wealth of experiences and a lot of new friends. And family. I have my Nuffnang family. For that alone, I am very grateful.

This is my official entry to the Nuffnang Asia-Pacific Blog Awards 2011. To join, click here.