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!