Monday, August 31, 2009

Randomesticity: The Soltera Strikes Back

Remember the dark, sultry alter-ego that popped up on this blog around this time last year? Guess what - she's back, and she just underwent yet another makeover for another one of her covert-ops assignments. She's even got a new name to go with her new image, since "Mancatcher" must've sounded a little too aggressive for her current post.

Take it away, La Soltera...


Hola, chiquitos! I'm here on the set of my new telenovela for TFC, which we're planning to shoot soon in Honolulu. I'd let you in on the juicy details, but I don't want to get in trouble just in case I get mauled by violent fangirls who will all have it in for me when they find out which love-team I've been hired to break up on this current job. Between you and me, though, I took this job anyway because it was way more bearable than facing off with that dead-eyed heifer who's playing Darna right now on the other network. Why, oh, why couldn't they have put me on that show with the cute little boy who talks to Jesus instead?

And yes, there is some truth to the rumors that I was supposed to be part of the proposed Domesticity spin-off blog, but this telenovela assignment came in before everything got finalized... and, well, who knows if Meimei gets another post before I do. But enough about that. How about some random bits?

- You know, Mei and I are both totally "meh" over the September 2009 issue of Preview. It didn't knock us over the head like July did, nor did it grow on us like the August issue. Meimei, of course, likes the beauty section (she always does, that girl) and I liked the feature on up-and-coming fashion designers in Manila, but... really, meh. And that's not even including that letter from Anonymous who's obviously got an ax to grind, what with insinuating that two of the Best Dressed Ladies from July's list have tacky manners and trying to exhort Preview to feature more role models for the youth ek ek chorva-chenes whatever. We get it: beautiful, stylish women are more trouble than they're worth, and the strong among us who make the real difference don't get enough medals. And this is news!?!?! Please. Take it from a former social climber, here: Cream always rises to the top; dreck never stays afloat for too long.

(Meimei adds: Matthew 6:1-4, NAB version. That is all.)

- Also getting the big "meh" from us: Project Runway Philippines. Don't get us wrong - we love the Rajo, and we wish Jojie Lloren was our fairy gayfather. It's just that we don't like the tendency for Filipino reality shows to over-dramatize their contestants; there's nothing we that breaks our heart more than to watch a seemingly harmless talent show and see people crying for their families and their need to win, like PRP has been guilty of doing recently. I don't know why this sort of thing is easier to watch (and probably laugh at) on American TV... but the stakes are higher in this country, and it only makes us cry more. It's the same deal we have with the Philippine edition of (Your Country)'s Got Talent: Meimei had to walk out on the results show the other night because she couldn't stand seeing any of these folks lose - especially the hip-hop grandma and the dog-training old guy whose li'l buddy reminded her too much of DogMei. Snif.

- Oh, where are we? Right, housekeeping issues for this blog. Meimei is just putting the finishing touches on a few entries, which will include: another set from Polyvore; a new bag; new shoes (holla!); and the awesome new hair-product discovery that has changed her life for the best. Rest assured that there will be more beauty and fashion posts coming down the pike in the next few weeks... and watch out this September, too, when Meimei finally rolls out her Wish List for Fall 2009!

- And just in case I forget: Meimei wants you to know that the HIP Bright Shadow duo in Flamboyant that she raved about a few months ago is still working exceptionally well for her. She says that the combination of bright yellow and grape-purple has done wonders in making her eyes look so much brighter and wider. She loves the combination so much that I even got the makeup artist on this telenovela to do my eyes the same way Mei does, with the purple in the outer corners and the yellow on the lids. Gorgeous!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to grab a little snack before the cameras start rolling. I hear that I'm going to be in the big confrontation scene where I do nothing but wear ridiculous sequinned dresses and flare my nostrils while I give the camera my best stink-eye. (Fun.) Till next time!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Face of The Moment: Rough Draft

Continuing with the theme of "Good Lord, what did Meimei do to her hair THIS TIME?":

I want to like this picture. Really, I do. But I just can't abide the sad state of all that hair: the stray strands, the haphazardly pinned bangs. And did I mention that my foundation does NOT look like it's been properly blended here? Good gravy. Let us not even discuss all that sweat and humidity threatening to melt off my face here.

Had the hair and makeup deities actually been in a more collaborative mood that morning, the end result would have looked a little more like this:

God bless those folks from Taaz - this may have been a rough job, but at least it's not like I've attacked my own photo with a digital Sharpie a la Perez Hilton.

Anyhoodles, this look is actually my own personal homage to Alexander Wang's collaboration with Shiseido, and I'm still working on getting that look right. So, instead of telling you exactly what I used here, I'll recommend a few products that I'm familiar with... which you, too, can use to create the desired effect.

- Foundation: L'Oreal Bare Minerale Pressed Powder in Sun Beige. Here it looks like I attacked my face with a powder puff - and sometimes, when I really do need to do my face in this humidity, I put mineral powder on a puff first before buffing with a kabuki brush later - but I've found since then that oil-blotting sheets (like the ones from Clean and Clear) would've been better allies against all that sweat, regardless of the foundation used.

- Blush: Here I used Everyday Minerals blush in Salon Fun along with a little Maybelline Mineral Power pressed powder in Tan for contouring, but any mineral blush can work here - you want glowy, but not disco-ball-y.

(Which reminds me: Check out this post from Manila beauty blogger Beauty Coach on Maybelline mineral blushes, which are available here under the Clear Smooth Minerals line. Yay mineral blush!)

- Primers: Eyelids get MAC's Paint Pot in Painterly; lips get Alba Botanica Hawaiian Passionfruit Nectar SPF 8 lip balm.

- Mascara: Maybelline Colossal Volum'Express in Glam Black

- Eyeliner: Jordana pencil in black (very basic, and any other black one will do)

- Eyeshadows: Well, this is going to be tricky, so be patient with me. All I used here are a combination of neutral-y powders: a pale beige shimmer, a tan or peach for contour, a bronze for the lid and a plummy shade for the outer lid. Since I have scads of those shades at hand, to the point where they all blend together, you can seek them out at any line... or you can start with the recommendations below:
- Brows: Equally tricky, since I was using a pencil for this one. So I'll go ahead and recommend ELF's Eyebrow Kit in Dark, which should be available locally at PCX stores.

- Lips: The liner here is Rose Brown from NYX; if you can't find it, I'd recommend MAC's Cremestick in Sublime Culture or Revlon Colorstay in Nude. And the lipgloss used here is Clinique Long Last Glosswear in Mystic.

Result: polished and pretty - and not to mention, versatile too.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pinay Celebrity Quote(s) of the Week

Model/ actress Tetchie Agbayani, on her infamous 1982 cover-story photo shoot for the German edition of Playboy, in the Philippine Star:

"They told me what they needed from me and I said if I hypothetically accepted this project, I would have three conditions. Number one: nothing is to be painted on my body... Number two: I have freedom to pose whatever way I want. And number three: I will do my own hair and makeup. They agreed with all the conditions."

"When my photos were being taken, I wanted to exude the image of 'Eve.' If I were the only woman in this world living on this island with nobody else, how should I look? It should be a wild look, not so polished."

Nope, I will not give you a link to the NSFW cover she did for that particular issue of Playboy. But it is out there... and the lady has built up an equally impressive portfolio as an actress since then, so that's that.

And if you thought she was hot as a twenty-something in 1982, here's what she looks like now:

(Credit:, which also got some equally trenchant quotes from her on this pictorial.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Can This Hairdo Be Saved?

Me and my new (ie. month-old by the time I publish this) haircut, before brushing:

Yes, my mirror is right next to all of the air-cooling appliances in this room, both the fan and the AC. I'm sure that this picture was taken with just the AC on, though, because all that wind has not turned this mock-photo shoot into a Mariah Carey video.

(On the contrary: The closest I'll ever get to Mariah in this shot is my vague resemblance to the "Tuts My Barreh" guy from YouTube.)

And this is what happens after I run a boar-bristle brush through the same head of hair for five minutes:

Pretty decent, huh? But that's just with brushing alone, because it has been pretty difficult to keep those bangs in place when I need them... and by the time I'm down the stairs and out the door, my parents are already asking me to comb my hair again.

Right now I'm in the middle of testing out a possible solution to my lack of hair mojo - one that does not involve bobby pins or ponytailers (or, God forbid, both) but has so far shown a lot of promise in keeping my hair in its well-brushed state. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Whitening Issue

Paint my face in your magazines
Make it look whiter than it seems
Paint me over with your dreams
Shove away my ethnicity

- Nelly Furtado, "Powerless (Say What You Want)"

So: the "whitener" issue.

Let's just get this out of the way. Yes, I am using an over-the-counter "whitening" cream right now. Yes, I understand that this creates some kind of paradox for me, because the fact that I am using one will make people wonder if I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and bleach myself away.

To which I say: People, it's just a skin cream.

The fact is, most of the over-the-counter "whitening" products that are in the Philippine market contain familiar ingredients that are meant to even out skin tone by "bleaching out" dark areas - safe chemicals like hydroquinone, kojic acid, a few hydroxy acids here, some vitamin action over there. That's fine, because they're there to help a lot of women deal with hyperpigmentation, which occurs for so many different reasons.

Ingredient issues aside, some of these ingredients are pretty safe for over-the-counter home use, and may even add a boost to any existing skincare routine. So, in and of themselves, most of these creams are harmless until definitively proven otherwise.

Except there's one thing: These skin creams are marketed for the purpose of "whitening" dark skin.

Again, it's one thing to use a fade cream to deal with your age spots, freckles, or any pigmentation issues... but it's another thing to use a cream or product that promises to give you "rosy white skin" and diminish the existing yellow undertones that you were born with in the first place.

Fine, you say, hyperpigmentation is a common problem in Asian skin; these products are made in Asia for Asians, blah blah blah. But guess what? Hyperpigmentation is not exclusive to Asians. It's also a problem with African Americans, with Latinas... heck, even the fairest of Caucasian women are using fade creams to help them out with their freckles and acne scars. While I can't be too sure if any of these women do want to be any whiter than they already are (hello, growing popularity of bronzers and tanners!), everyone agrees that they want their skin to be evenly colored, regardless of color. And guess what's in the creams that they're using to fade those pesky spots? Yep: kojic acid, hydroquinone, some hydroxy acids here, some vitamin action over there... different concentrations and price points, maybe, but pretty much all the same purpose.

There's a bigger question here about cultural identity and insecurity, of course... but I say that what we're really looking at is a conspiracy that's bigger and much more tangled than the weave on Tyra Banks' head. All these questions about skin whitening with regards to race, culture, and sexual politics point to a much, much bigger villain: the industry of beauty itself.

I'm not saying that women like me should give up on makeup, skincare, and fashion itself - otherwise, why would I bother with this blog? (Or democracy, for that matter. Heh.) But the fact remains that most consumers in the Philippines can be passive consumers.

Think about it: The majority of cosmetics lines available in the Philippine market have a limited range of foundation shades. And since foundation tends to be both the most expensive and most frustrating cosmetic product to purchase anywhere in the world, the average Filipino woman is more likely than anyone to get stuck with the wrong foundation shade, over and over again. And because a great majority of us (yes, me included) would haaaaate to let all that money and product go to waste, we keep using and using that same horrible shade of foundation anyway.

Imagine this disappointment happening to an entire market of women over and over again, to the point where retail fatigue sets in and all hope of finding the right shade has been lost. Imagine the disappointment being so vast that the average Pinay would wake up one day and realize that it's not the foundation's fault for making her skin look pasty - it's her fault for being dark and sallow in the first place, her fault for not keeping herself away from the sun. And instead of writing to the cosmetics company to demand a better range of shades, that woman turns to the whitener aisle of her local drugstore and buys a whitener for her face, a whitener for her body, thinking that all this product will turn her as pale as Nicole Kidman overnight... and life would be so much better, so much easier.

And so the cycle begins, all over again.

But what if the cycle stopped somewhere? What if the same woman stopped for a moment, looked at the ingredients of her skin cream, and realized that she was never going to turn into Snow White overnight? What if a professional were to step in between her and the product aisle - a certified dermatologist, a well-trained aesthetician, or even a very good friend - and tell her that what she's about to do is actually dangerous and potentially fatal? What if she just took one look at the mirror and realized that the best that she can do is... her skin color right now, but with a more even tone and a healthier glow?

That's the thing: The most important job of a skin cream - or any other beauty product or procedure - is to help you look more like a healthier, happier version of you. No product or procedure in the world will completely alter your skin color, your genetic makeup, or even your life's circumstances. And even when it does... well, Jocelyn Wildenstein still ended up with a broken heart, so what does it say for the rest of us?

And as for me, post-"whitening" cream, my skin is still the same sunny caramel tan color ... but at least it's a more even-toned, glowier version of said caramel tan. No need to bleach myself into oblivion here.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Meimei Workout

In the immortal words of Rob Schneider: YOU CAN DO EEEEEEEET!!!!

Here's the deal: girl moves back in with her parents, girl finds herself with too much free time *and* not enough outlets to deal with the unnecessary drama that comes from moving away from one's comfort zone. What's a girl to do?

Solution: Work out.

PapaMei has an elliptical trainer upstairs in the room next to mine. I didn't use it during the first two weeks after I arrived (which coincided with my most emotional moments) but as soon as my temper reached past boiling point, I knew what I had to do: strap on the sneakers, crank up the reggaeton on iTunes, and get on the darn thing. The fact that I was also visualizing myself crushing my enemies like ants as I stomped, strode, pulled, and punched my way through 30 minutes of hard cardio helped a whole lot, too.

I don't recommend warming up with seething anger, but I do highly recommend exercising regularly to de-stress yourself.

Since PapaMei is no longer able to use the elliptical, I also started joining him on his daily power walks - never mind that I still needed to get up at 5:30 in the morning to join him. This was a major change for me: as much as I hate waking up before sunrise, the only thing I'd miss more than the exercise was a chance to spend quality time with my father... and that has made both of us much healthier, in every possible definition of the word.

Then I discovered that the park where we usually do our walks has public aerobic workouts on Saturday mornings. Yes, the soundtrack that the instructor uses is cheesier than a cheap pizza - and there are days when my dance-trained self would walk out after being driven to distraction by certain songs - but, hey, gotta get the exercise while I can.

MamaMei learned about this, and suggested instead that I join her and her friends for their weekly "dance exercise" lessons where they practice their group performance moves (mostly for church-related events) with a professional ballroom dancer. Next thing I know, I'm doing salsa routines to Boney M and giving Cheryl Burke a run for her money, while inspiring the more seasoned ladies to bring it. SOLD.

Now, after several weeks, I have established a routine: morning walks with PapaMei, dance lessons with MamaMei's group, public exercise on Saturday (that is, until the cheesy soundtrack gets to me and/or I get my own iPod), and - on the days when the morning walk can't be done - 30 to 40 minutes on the elliptical, or roughly the same amount of time with the yoga and Pilates DVDs that both MamaMei and I have stocked up in the past year. I actually still do yoga from time to time, in fact, to help me with my breathing and muscle conditioning; it's great for stress relief.

This week, we've started taking our morning walks to the next level by taking along the newly leash-trained DogMei with us. Before this, DogMei used to be terrified of leaving the front door - which, for the last few years, had been chalked up to a combination of cowardice and puppy trauma. Now we've trained him into calm submission, Cesar Milian-style, so he can finally act on his natural wolf instincts without the need to pick fights with all the other beasts in our neighborhood. DogMei is also a very brisk walker, which also means that I'll need to keep up with him anyway - a good sign if I'm hoping to upgrade from walking to running in the near future.

Let us not forget, too, that all this exercise is fueled by the finest fresh fruit and vegetables on Philippine soil, along with MamaMei's home cooking. Still figuring out the diet tweaks, though, so hopefully I'll be able to strike gold with a good combination soon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

And You Will Know Me by The Trail of Blog: Domesticity's Greatest Hits

Above: a parade of the most insidious earworms to infect me in the last six months, delivered in flash-mob form.

For those of you who are just catching up to Domesticity now, here are some classic entries from the archives.

  • You know, after reading this 2006 entry about pretentious critics in the Philippine press, I've realized that I probably could've used a tad more perspective. Personally, I now find that Filipino fashion designers have started to leave the sporty-conservative designs behind in favor of post-modernist inspiration from Europe, Japan, and Korea - a wise move, considering that retail behemoths like Gap, Forever 21 and Topshop have started invading our malls. The same cannot be said, however, for art and music critics in this country... and unfortunately, I am not getting paid to fight them off, letter by letter. Oh well: plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

  • And if any rant-happy souls would be interested in telling me off on this blog, they should take a page from TV reporter Cedric Moon, who still found time to write me back after all the horrible things I've called him in this space. Classy, polite, and humble = game, set, match. (Alas, as far as I know, Cedric no longer appears on-camera at the Honolulu station where I first spotted him; don't know if he moved or not.)
  • Since we're on the Summer of '06: a retail roundup. And because we've all been good, here's a quote from my review of Miami Vice: "Colin Farrell may look hot when he's dirty, but here he desperately needs to be reintroduced to the concept of Soap and Water."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Trendwatch 2009: More Blouses, in a Formal Vein

One of my many sorry attempts to copy pay homage to Cecile Van Straten on this blog.

Like the little blousie I'm wearing in this picture? I also got that from X-Quisite.

I just fell in love right away with the color and the material which reminded me a lot of the colorful rice-paper leaves that usually come out during Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon (still in Southern Tagalog, but a little further south from Hacienda de Meimei - click on the image on the right to see more detail). I was surprised at how the translucent fabric worked so well with the conservative cut of the neckline and the detailed embroidery on the hem.

Unfortunately for me and this blouse, we ended up running into a little problem concerning the hem, which - upon close inspection - wasn't exactly as well-embroidered as I thought it was. Now, before you folks lecture me about buying my clothes at the mall, I must remind you that I still have some sewing and embroidery knowledge knocking about in my pretty little head, thanks to my home-ec classes in fifth grade. Long story short, I was able to reinforce the ends with tiny whipstitches, and do away with the excess backing material that was coming off the back of the blouse in such grody chunks.

Anyway, back to the blouse. Embroidery problems aside, it was still super pretty, and I couldn't afford to see all that gorgeousness go to waste. In fact, considering the shorts that I'm wearing in the photo above, I immediately realized that it was way too pretty to wear out and about on a regular day. I'm planning to wear it as part of my "Sunday best" repertoire, with my usual dangly earrings.

And here's another blouse that I'm saving for an inevitable special occasion...

I bought this Maxine cotton blouse from Landmark during my last trip to Makati - that place, BTW, is another great resource for the curvy gals among us - and, like the pink blouse above, it has puffy short sleeves: yet another Filipiniana-inspired detail. It also shares a similarly smock-like V-neck with my blue Micronesian blouse from X-Quisite, although this looks more like a formally pleated front panel. Either way, I've decided that this is going to be the top I'm wearing to an upcoming wedding with a plum-colored embroidered Laura Ashley skirt (which would've clashed with the pink top) and the sunset-colored wrap from Bangladesh (pictured here), along with some nice shoes and formal jewelry. Ladylike, yes, but also a bit edgy... and dare I say it, still within appropriate bounds. :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Trendwatch 2009: Easy, Breezy Blouses

Remember this bright yellow blouse from Michael Kors that I spotted in Nordstrom back in Spring 2008?

Well, I never got to buy that cute little blouse after all... but it did jump-start my affinity for roomy, candy-colored cotton blouses that I can practically wear everywhere. And luckily for me, I managed to find a couple of Kors-esque blouses during my last trip to SM Mall of Asia - and at X-Quisite Boutique, which usually features more mature and conservative fashions in larger sizes.

(Pardon the photography; I had to make the best out of an economical sitch here.)

I passed up the usual stretch-jersey blouses (on the clearance rack, not surprisingly) in favor of this gorgeous yellow number, which struck me as a mad combination of Michael Kors and Hilo Hattie. I love the combination of the yoked collar with the pan-Pacific print - there's something very Fijian about the brown tint used in the tribal detail and the big, Hawaiian-inspired hibiscus flowers, which also repeats in the back. Not to mention that it comes in a breathable cotton fabric, which is perfect for the hot climate we've been having lately.

And continuing with the pan-Pacific influences at X-Quisite, I also fell in love with this blue number, which I wore to church this Sunday. The two-tone treatment, plus the embroidered appliques, reminded me of the full-length church dresses worn by Samoan and Micronesian women. (This blouse also comes in black and white with red flowers.) Apart from the embroidery and the neckline, I also love the dolman sleeves, which provided the extra comfort factor on a hot Sunday morning. My Mom suggested wearing these with blue earrings, so I chose a dangly turquoise pair that I purchased at City Buddha in Cleveland - adding to the already-flattering effect of the pleated V-neck.

There are a couple more blouses in the same thin cotton fabric as these ones - one from X-Quisite and another one from Landmark in Makati (another excellent resource for the curvy gals among us) - but they follow a more formal vein, and will be featured in tomorrow's entry.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I *Heart* Watsons

Photo of Watsons at the ground floor of SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City.

You don't need me to tell you that Watsons is the best store in Southeast Asia for drugstore makeup and personal-care stuff. What you will find here is a virtual bounty of treasures: a great selection of local and global cosmetic brands, plus nutritional supplements (glutathione, anyone?) and other assorted drugstore-type merch.

What you do need to know about Watsons, however, is this: They've actually gotten a head start on Pond's Big Beauty Sale.

Yes, my dear readers in the Philippines (and those of you who probably would know people in the Philippines besides yours truly), you can now get Pond's skincare for as low as 70% off! And Watsons just got ahead of the bandwagon by offering Pond's on sale as early as August 9 - less than a week before the official launch on August 15.

Now there's an affordable Pond's product for every need, whether you're looking for "whiteners" to take care of hyperpigmentation on Asian skin, or some oil-controlling products to take care of acne and shiny faces.

The best offerings in this sale, though, are the super-affordable prices for the Pond's Age Miracle line of products, which have been - no joke! - featured recently on The Tyra Banks Show.

I'm currently testing both the Daily Resurfacing SPF15 day cream (featured above) and the Overnight Treatment - both of which are rich and buttery, and really nice for my AC-parched skin. Two jars of cream cost me PhP725 - roughly US$14, which is what I usually pay for just one bottle of moisturizer at Wal-Mart. I sometimes mix the Overnight Treatment with - shhh! - a bit of Pond's whitening cream, which I purchased as a tiny sachet from the local supermarket to help me even out the sun damage and age spots on my face.

(Fine, so I'm using a "whitening" cream, after years of swearing up and down that I'm too proud to use one. In my defense, it has niacinamide and no hydroquinone, so I use this more as a night serum. More on the "whitening" issue in another post.)

Anyhow, if you haven't tried any Pond's products yet, now's a good time to do so! Get thee to the nearest Watsons (or PCX, or Rustan's, or SM, wherever - check for details on participating merchants and products) and start saving up.

Friday, August 14, 2009

What's Your Fantasy: Bada Bing, Bada Boom

First up: This.

1) Hot diggity, this movie looks good. (Or at least more watchable than The Ugly Truth... sorry, Gerard.) I don't care if this never gets released in Manila until the next presidential administration, especially if it means I will never have to buy the pirated version. Really.

2) The Sarsgaard + uncanny British accent = YOWZA. Well done, my OG blog-boyfriend, and Maggie is a lucky lady to have you. (Also: Young British actors who are currently practicing American accents and are not named Orlando Bloom/ Robert Pattinson/ Ed Westwick, start taking notes now.)

3) Yes, my ovaries are doin' great, thankyouverymuch. ;)


Also, I have to mention this, because I have this story about how I was watching an old Dave Matthews Band video on TV the other night and thinking, "WTF is Roger Federer doing in a music video?" before realizing who it really was...

Good Lordy, that Johnny Galecki must be a hot number in real life, ain't he? No wonder the producers of The Big Bang Theory have refused to let him take his shirt off for the last two seasons. (And in that case, I'm already holding out hope for Season 3.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Classy, Not Cheesy

Zhang Ziyi, photographed by Mario Sorrenti for Omega Watches.

I just love the smoky eyes paired with the rosy pink lips and clear skin. And I love how the big, messy hair is a far cry from most Asian celebrity ads, where they usually keep their hair neatly combed and conservatively styled - like this early photo of Ms. Zhang on Omega's website.

Just gorgeous.

(Photo credits: Zaobao and Forums, via Google Image.)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obligatory Picture of Lady Gaga at the Airport

I kid you not: This was on the front page of the Philippine STAR this morning.

(Photo credited to Rudy Santos.)

I know, I know - she's a great performer and all, and she obviously abhors pants. (Although she might want to consider them, if she is paying attention to that hole in her fishnets.) I just can't bring myself to hate this picture, though, because... well, when it comes to the front page of any Pinoy newspaper, Pantsless Celebrities >>> Political Shenanigans and Sex Scandals.

Also, I hear that she put on a great show last night at the Araneta. Mabuhay ka! Gaga ka talaga!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cuff Links: Lots of Flash, For Not Much Cash

Hello, kids! Do you miss the fasyon on this blog as much as I do? It has been such a long week, after all, and I'd be crazy if I didn't tell you that I've actually been sprucing up my wardrobe lately. The best part of this is that some of the new treats in my closet have cost me practically next to nothing - some of it has been as simple as asking Mama and Papa Mei for stuff that they don't like to wear any more.

Take, for example, cuff links.

When I realized that my French-cuffed Old Navy shirt no longer had the buttons that held the cuffs together, I immediately asked PapaMei where I could get cuff links in Manila. Turns out that he no longer wears his own cufflinks, owing to the fact that he's been retired for more than ten years now and no longer wears the suits he used to wear to work for 20+ years. (His apparel of choice, post-retirement: Reyn Spooner aloha shirts.)

I like these round ones because they're pretty simple and label-free; the black and gold motif just goes with everything.

Then there are the cuff links that PapaMei almost forgot were his:

I have no idea how PapaMei ended up with this pair, which is decorated with the Australian coat of arms. (Okay, I do know that he has been there more than once. Maybe it was a gift?) There is, after all, a part of me that feels pretentious for wearing these without having set foot in Australia at all. But you know what? I totally don't care. Call it blasphemy, but I actually like the fact that there are kangaroos and emus on these cuff links... and the navy blue stands out so nicely against the black-and-red stripes on my shirt. So rock'n'roll.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Few Thoughts on The Imeldific

Okay, since I've been blogging too much about Philippine politics lately*, I should give some equal time to the other side.

We're talking about Imelda Marcos here.

I try to be fair to her, because I do have friends who love and admire her, but it's impossible. Obviously, there is no love lost between me and the woman - no thanks to her husband, the resulting fallout from his regime, and the scuttlebutt I've heard from people who have met her when she lived in Honolulu. (Not very nice, is what I'm saying.)

Even when I take the politics out of the equation, I still can't say I have a lot of love for her - pity, perhaps, because I don't really see her as the powerful woman that she thinks she is. Let me put it this way: When your own children personally attend the funeral of your own greatest political rival and enemy, it doesn't make you exempt from further scrutiny.

But enough about the personal demons of Imelda, perceived or otherwise. Let's talk about the (few) positives of being Imelda Marcos, like her support of fine arts in the Philippines, and being born with a pretty face and great hair. Let's talk about her greatest claim to fame: The Shoes.

On the one hand, the collection itself can be seen as a slap in the face to the shoe industry in the Philippines, because... seriously, people, take it from me when I say that Pinoy-made shoes will give you the best value for your money. On the other hand, I think it's a great idea that the same shoe industry should also celebrate Imelda's love of fine art and quality footwear by exhibiting her collection in the Marikina Shoe Museum, along with pairs worn by other historical figures in the Philippines. Yes, I think it's a great idea for people to see The Shoes.

Fine, I still think she's crazy for using other people's hard-earned tax money to buy shoes - and I do question her taste at times (*ahem* rumored platform heels with built-in disco lights *ahem*) but I don't blame her for wanting so much of them - Ferragamos and Chanels and Givenchys, oh my! (And can I just say here that I share the same shoe size as the Imeldific herself? Even though my feet might actually be wider and chubbier.)

There's just something so excessive and so '80s about all that extravagance that I feel, as a shoe fiend, is quite understandable. Heck, if I was given the chance to buy as many gorgeous high-quality shoes as I liked and wanted, I wouldn't just take the chance and run with it - I'd rebuild my entire house just to get storage for them!

Then again, Imelda's shoes are like Michael Jackson's videos from the Nineties: impressive and well-made, all right, yet so fraught with so much unintended historical and psychological subtext.

Had this collection belonged to somebody that didn't carry as much metaphorical baggage as Imelda did - say, if Michael Jackson himself had owned as many pairs - I might actually be impressed. Even if I were to take the political ramifications out of it, I'd still be left wondering how she ended up with all of them. Imelda always talked about wanting to be surrounded by beauty - were the shoes, like her patronage of the arts, an extension of that desire? And if so, did that desire compensate for something else... an unheeded cry for help, an unspoken act of passive aggression? (Really, there are a lot of other things that she could've bought with that money. Like, say, dinner at Le Cirque, or a Park Avenue condominium.)

If there was, indeed, a hole in her heart, was all that beauty enough to keep it filled?

What I'm trying to say here is this: Sometimes a pair of designer shoes should just be a pair of designer shoes, regardless of their number.


*EDITOR'S NOTE: Domesticity will return to its regularly scheduled beauty and fashion programming next week.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Case for the Basics: CITIZENSHIP

Forgive me for exchanging my makeup kit for a soapbox right now, but I must.

It has been a week since the death of Corazon Aquino, and two days since we finally laid her to rest. We have cried the tears, and wiped them dry (to paraphrase the words of Anne Murray), and some of us are still devastated for losing such a gracious woman.

The questions are still inevitable: What next, then? What's the best way to honor the Aquino legacy?

For inspiration, I have to hand it to another former Head of State - Mr. Jimmy Carter, in the opening remarks of his Farewell Address to the American people in 1981 - to voice this opinion better than I can.
...I will lay down my official responsibilities in this office -- to take up once more the only title in our democracy superior to that of president, the title of citizen.

Now, a few of you here - regardless of where you are in the world - will be reading this and thinking that there are powerful ways, honest ways, of exercising your citizenship. Some of you are probably thinking about taking the streets like we Filipinos did during the original EDSA Revolution in 1986. Some of you believe in becoming the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, by thinking that raising your voice will bring about the change you want and deserve in this lifetime.

You know what? That is very well and good. That is your opinion, and for as long as this blog remains unblocked and uncensored, I will not prevent you from exercising your right to do so. That does not mean, however, that yours is the only choice.

For the rest of us who are not yet called to act as squeaky wheels, I have a very simple but honest solution.


Voting isn't sexy, and it certainly is never fun. Voting in a national election is never going to be as exciting as voting for your next American Idol. Voting, however, does make you a smarter person for choosing your own leaders, as part of your own right to freedom under your citizenship.

"But Meimei," you tell me, "I don't want to vote! Nobody I like ever wins, and everyone who's running is so meh to me! It's all rigged anyway, and everyone cheats!"

Well, let me tell you a thing or two about civic duty.

I may have been a child back in 1986 - heck, I was only in kindergarten when Ninoy Aquino's assassination interrupted my after-school cartoons - but that didn't mean I knew nothing about what was happening around me. I didn't like what the creepy old guy with lupus and his weaselly minions were doing to my innocence, and everyone else's; it wasn't that hard to see how other people's daddies weren't coming home, knowing that bad things happened to people who disagreed with the government.

I didn't know from policy, and I certainly didn't end up marching on the streets... but my siblings and I already knew that our hope was with the little lady in the yellow dress, the widow of the white-suited man who died on the tarmac. Reconciliation, democracy, peace: those were the big words of the day in 1986, and we took it all to heart.

Say what you will about the Aquino years, but at least we, as a nation, were able to breathe - able to speak our minds and hold our leaders accountable to their words and actions, after so many years of martial law. We, the people, had a president who trusted our judgment, without insulting our intelligence. For once, we had dignity.

Flash forward twelve years later, to the sight of an increasingly jaded Meimei, now an adult in Honolulu. Nothing at this point was going to comfort me - not the budget cuts made by our Republican governor, nor the growing economic crisis in the midst, nor the endless chatter from both sides of the proverbial aisle. It was dawning on me that there were one too many dead soldiers in the news, one too many companies going out of business, one too many warnings about the environment.

(I could go on and on, but my blood pressure is rising... so let's just say that anyone who knew me during this period of my life - the ones who really knew me - would know the real depth of my anger here. This is a wound that, sadly, has yet to heal.)

Again, I was not in a position of power, since I was not an American citizen. And I'm obviously not one of those people who thinks that Barack Obama can do no wrong, because there are times when I do disagree with him.

That did not stop me from feeling so much pride and joy for my fellow kama`aina, and the people who turned out in droves to support his journey to the White House.

Suddenly even the most apolitical and disenfranchised among my friends were registering to vote and following the news. Suddenly there were bigger discussions about history and precedence, and what it truly means to be a citizen of one's country. Suddenly those memories of the 2000 election - which Scribey and I watched in a drunken stupor years before - had become too painful, too uncomfortable.

In the fall of 2008, I found myself witnessing - again - a revolution of sorts, waged not with guns and threats and intimidation, but with ballots and Twitters and cold reckoning. It certainly felt like 1986 again, or at least it did to me.

And I, for one, was truly glad.

Of all the lessons that I had learned between 1986 and 2008, this stuck out to me the most: You cannot challenge an election that had none of your participation.

I may not have voted during those times, but I felt that I had to do something about my world - and writing my little letters-to-TPTB meant nothing if I only had my opinion to back me up. I may have been a "citizen of the world," but the Obama campaign taught me that real citizenship and civic duty meant taking responsibility for any decision that leads to change. My vote, after all, was my leverage as a citizen - leverage that I can wield, not just to support my leader, but to hold my own government accountable for any mistakes made in leadership... regardless of who wins, or whoever rises to power eventually.

I already know, moving back to the Philippines, that corruption is widespread. I already know that, if the presidential election does take place in 2010, there will be a lot of cloak-and-dagger machinations that will prevent me from electing my choice of leaders. That is why I decided, after so many years, to finally register myself as an honest-to-goodness Voter, starting with this coming presidential election. Now that I am a Philippine resident once again, I now must use my right and my leverage, as a citizen of the Republic, to make this election happen - not just for me, but for my whole country.

You think the government will cancel the elections? The heck they will - if there are not enough voters who have registered in the first place. You think that your candidate will never win? Guess again: Whoever ends up being in charge will STILL remain accountable to ordinary people like you and me.

And here's another thing: our taxes, after all, are what still pays for their plans, good or bad. I don't care who you vote, or how you go about it... but you do want to know where your money goes after the taxman comes to get it, right? Really, if we all voted with our wallets alone, we would all be charged with tax evasion in some form or another by now. Fact, plain and simple.

So please, for the love of sweet mangoes, don't ever, EVER think for a minute that your vote will never count, even if - and especially if - somebody else ends up choosing your leaders for you. By refusing to exercise your own capacity for democracy, you are committing the ultimate act of elitism, selfishness, vanity, and greed.

Philippine citizens, your last day for voter registration is on December 15, 2009, and voters for the US primaries in 2010 should be registered by May of that very year; everyone else with elections forthcoming should start consulting your local government offices ASAP. Don't even think for a moment that living overseas will keep you away from the ballot box, either - that's what absentee voting is for, and you must contact your nearest embassy or consulate for details on how to do just that.

Think about it, read about it, pray about it - do what you can, because I can't make your mind up for you. But whatever you do, don't ever think that you will never count at all as a citizen.

Whatever you need to do, do it now - because there won't be a revolution without you.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

From the Vaults of Hacienda de Meimei

I must remind you first that I am in no way belittling myself, or the choices I made, during the times when these pictures were taken. As you can see here, I actually had a very lovely childhood and I can honestly say that I was as happy as I seemed to be in these pictures. But, c'mon: it was the 1980s...

Oh dear. Oh dear. Where do I begin? Well, for starters, I don't remember if this picture was taken in Hong Kong (Ocean Park?) or Singapore (Sentosa?). This explains the Red Army hat that I'm wearing in this picture, which clashes horribly with the parachute jacket and the baby pink (velour?) jogging pants. And even then, I'm sure that I wore the hat because I was covering up some heinous bangs, since MamaMei used to be in charge of bang trims back in the day - we didn't have any hair experts coaching us through that kind of deal. I can't deny that I was a happy kid in that outfit, though. I'd give anything to get away with the kind of coolness and confidence that I had when I was the age I was in this picture.

Now, this picture makes me want to snorgle my younger self and pinch her little cheeks. If only I had my own children so that they could turn up as adorable and huggable as this! SO. CUTE. (Except for the bangs. Oh no.) Unfortunately, this particular photograph hasn't survived the ravages of time... and neither have those bowl-cut bangs, which make me look like SNL's Target Lady. The shirt says "HAWAII 85" - which means that the shirt was purchased way, way before I up and moved there in the mid-'90s... prescient, much?

There's more in the vaults - and yes, that includes all the crazy hair textures and eyebrow shapes I used to have in the '90s - but I'll have to save those for another day. ;)

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Shut Up and Drive

It wasn't the first driving shoe — that came in the 1950s when Italian race-car drivers wore narrow leather shoes with rubber nubs on the bottoms (the better to gauge the pedals and maintain traction as the foot moved swiftly). But with the Gommino, Tod's reinvented the style. Created by Diego Della Valle in the late 1970s, it was born of his desire to have an elegant, functional shoe that could be worn on any occasion and withstand a bit more wear than its predecessor.


Every Gommino ("small pebble" in English) has precisely 133 rubber bumps on the sole and is made through a painstaking process of cutting, sewing and scrutinizing up to 35 pieces of leather by hand.

Quotes and picture from Time magazine (via AddThis)


I am currently re-learning how to drive here in the Philippines - which poses a double challenge to me, being 1) an older novice driver who 2) must learn how to drive with manual transmission. Now, I don't know about you, but as much as I like my early lessons on automatic transmission, I actually prefer driving stick - mostly because I actually enjoy the concept of shifting gears and engaging the clutch pedal with my left foot. There's actually a smooth physicality involved in trying to find the best balance between clutch and gas, which always makes me feel like a suave racecar driver... never mind that my driving style is actually best described as "Jason Statham in a golf cart with 12 hyperactive chimpanzees."

Driving with manual transmission has also given me a new perspective on shoes, as well. Like many novice drivers, I tend to put too much weight on my feet - problematic enough when you only have to deal with the accelerator pedal, but doubly so when you also need to work the clutch. As a result, I've become very particular about the footwear I use for my driving lessons: not too slippery (flip-flops are a massive FAIL on that part), not too lightweight, but thick and substantial enough to give your heel leverage, so you can concentrate on using your actual feet in gauging the pedals.

Until I finally get around to buying myself a pair of decent driving loafers - like those delicious Tod's pairs shown here - my current shoe of choice for driving lessons varies between my Charlotte Russe kitten wedges and my Reebok trainers. I might even start looking around here for a pair of athletic flats, like these Merrell shoes, or even some Converse-esque sneakers to drive in. Just don't ask me when I'm going to start motoring around in heels!

Monday, August 03, 2009

On a Happier Note

Above: My first two baby caps, created for La Familia de Scribe with different sizes of crochet hooks.

Congratulations to Scribey and her husband, Mr. Scribe, on the birth of their beautiful son.

Master Scribe finally arrived - kicking and screaming, I should add - after days of speculation and missed delivery dates. The young Master and his parents are in fine spirits, as they are spending the next few days enjoying their rest and their time together as a new family. :)

And as for the Master's own ninang-to-be, I will be sending all of my hugs and snorgles from across the ocean... as I get down to work on yet another set of baby-related knitting projects! ;)

Saturday, August 01, 2009

To A Leader, and A Lady

Widow, president, democracy icon, devout Catholic, great wearer of yellow dresses... but first and foremost, always and forever, a lady. Whoever said that polite women rarely make history was probably not around to witness what she has done, and will probably never see the likes of her again.

Corazon Aquino: 1933-2009. Rest in peace, and may you be with your beloved Ninoy in Heaven.

PS. Because I can't help it - and because my brother said that my Mad Men icon resembled Imelda Marcos - I created my own retro tribute to Tita Cory.