I used to be terrified of being profiled. I didn’t like myself much when I was younger, and I perceived myself in such a specific way that reading anything outside the parameters of my mental image of myself was so embarrassing that it was almost physically painful. But then we’re all young, and then we stop being young, and now I just enjoy discovering the many ways other people see and have seen me. So this collection of features begins from around 2014 or 2015. I wish I had had the sense to archive everything from over the years, but I hated the way I looked then anyway.
Apart from features profiling me, this page will also contain work I’ve done for various publications, as well as other interesting projects I’ve contributed to or been a part of, hence the et cetera.
CreamSilk’s #100UltimateWomen, October 2018
I’m always tickled a little pink when reputable brands tap me to be part of campaigns, especially when they are campaigns that I can get behind. I am typically extremely selective about what I allow my name to be attached to, after going through an unpleasant experience with influencer marketing very early on, when it was only just a burgeoning thing. (I made the choice then between blogger and editor — I chose editor. Perhaps I chose wrongly, because blogging then proceeded to become a massive industry and I essentially jumped off that train right before it picked up speed, but I have never regretted that decision. I learned so much from having worked in publishing, may it rest in peace.)
Anyway, I’ve never really seen myself as an influencer or anything of the sort; I’m just a former beauty editor who likes to take pictures, likes to write, and likes to overshare on the Internet. So I was pleasantly surprised when I was asked to participate in CreamSilk’s #100UltimateWomen campaign. (My mom was also thrilled, because she was their first ever print model. She dug up the ad from the ’80s to show me.) They asked us to share what makes us ultimate. My answer: Not any of my achievements. That I survived.
Into The Light, Preview Magazine, February 2018
I was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2015. I’ve never shied away from writing about it as it’s something I’m not ashamed of — it just is. A part of me, always has been, likely always will be. Living with it has been a struggle. I’m grateful that we are able to talk about mental illness more openly in this day and age. I’m grateful to have the support I’ve had throughout my recovery. I consider myself unbelievably lucky — others are suffering from the same or worse out there, some with no support, some with no means with which to seek treatment, and some with no idea what’s going on inside them.
I’ve been meaning for years now to really write about what it has been like for me. People who follow me on Instagram see it in snippets, and I get so many messages from followers telling me that they’ve gone through similar things, that they’re so glad I’m open about my experience because it makes them feel less alone. Mental illness can be the loneliest thing in the world.
So when Chica Villarta of Preview asked if she could interview me for a story on mental health, I said yes. I was so grateful that a publication as high profile as Preview wanted to take on such an important topic, especially since it’s not something you expect to see in a fashion magazine. We need to remove the stigma.
I’m still going to write about it someday. But until then, here.
Preview.ph: This 29-Year-Old Filipina Will Make You Want to Move to Berlin, Germany, August 2017
You know how I know it’s been too long since I last set foot in Berlin? It took me a zillion years to scroll through my Camera Roll to find the picture that Preview.ph used for this question-and-answer that I did in August about the city.
I have a weird internal conflict about the way I talk about Berlin. Obviously I love the place so much that I just want to keep talking about it, but I also…don’t want to? It doesn’t make sense at all, but there’s something so private about it. Sometimes I feel like it isn’t my city to write about, and I worry that I’ve turned into one of those annoying, gushy hipsters that the people who actually live there can’t stand. But hey. Maybe I am. Also, I was already wearing all black everything before I went to Berlin, thank you very much! (My style peg has always been Death of the Endless. Bedhead and black and eyeliner and ankh.)
Anyway, I may have kept several of my secrets to myself, but I found immense enjoyment in reminiscing about the second-best summer of my life for this Q&A. (The reigning best summer of my life was 2017, FYI.)
An Open Letter to All the Selfies I’ve Ever Taken, Candy Magazine, July 2016
When Dyan asked me to write this particular piece, I thought maybe I should be ashamed of myself. Because when you’re asked to write something about selfies, that means you must take a significant amount of selfies. Then I shrugged those thoughts off and decided to have fun with it. Writing this was a breeze. I love writing for Candy; it makes me feel young and carefree, not like the on-the-brink-of-30 adult I’m supposed to be.
Beauty Diary, Town & Country Philippines, June 2016
Look, my name is a blurb on the cover of the June issue of Town & Country!
I talked beauty with Nicole Limos, the magazine’s beauty editor, and I really like this feature because the questions she asked drew out answers that had less to do with what products I use on a day-to-day basis, and much more to do with what I think real beauty is. But you can read that for yourself, here.
Tell A Story, Candy Magazine, June 2016
I go way back with Candy Magazine. I did my first internship there in my junior year of university, and then worked there briefly to sub in for one of their online editors for a month before they tipped me off that there was an opening at Cosmo.ph, and the rest is history. So of course, as much as possible, I try to say yes when they ask me to contribute.
This piece was an instant yes. They asked me to write a Cheat Sheet about organizing your personal space, and asked that I make the focus my bookshelf and work area, because look at it. It’s everything I used to dream of. (Now I dream of the library in the Citadel on Game of Thrones. Sorry, Beauty and the Beast, you’ve been upstaged.)
The Diff Girl, June-July 2016
My friend and Philippine shibari queen Joyen asked me if I’d be game to be The Diff Concept‘s posterchild for the months of June and July, and I said yes because I love Joyen. I had tons of fun at the shoot, even though being the subject is still strange for me. I’m typically behind the lens — behind the photographer, in fact — giving direction, so it’s always a trip to be in front of the camera, and this was my first time to pose for Koji Arboleda. And I loved that stylists Joanna Santiago and Kira Aldeguer knew beforehand that I only dress in black, white, and gray, and pulled out just that. I liked the hair that Carell Garcia gave me so much, that I’ve been doing a shoddy approximation of it on a regular basis ever since the shoot. Overall, it was such a good experience.
Joyen wrote a glowing piece about me here that I do believe is much too kind (thank you, Joyen), and more photos and features will pop up online as the months continue.
Beauty 101: Balance Out Your Blemishes, Cosmopolitan Magazine, May 2016
I was feeling the beauty fatigue when Cosmo beauty ed Meriam Ahari asked me to write this piece. But then I did write all of those articles when I was still Cosmo‘s beauty editor, so I knew I could do this with my eyes closed. It’s like riding a bicycle. I know these concepts like the back of my hand. And all of the clichés about knowing something inside and out. And I’m always happy to contribute to publications I used to work for.
I’ve written about this particular bit of non-fiction quite thoroughly already. I didn’t include the book’s cover, because the artwork for the opening page of my piece is the same image they used for that. You can read its backstory and an excerpt here.
Kapatiran (2015, dir. Pepe Diokno)
I knew my longtime friend (and fellow Philippine STAR columnist) Pepe Diokno was working on his third film, something for QCinema 2015, with a much shorter timeframe and much smaller budget than the movie he had just released, Above the Clouds. I knew it was initially supposed to be something about fraternities, but then he decided to scrap his original script, shoot without one, and take a more experimental approach to it.
Some time after I returned home from my family’s month-long trip to Europe, I was sent an SMS asking if I’d be game to be an extra in a party scene for his film. I said yes, because he’s a friend, and besides, all I’d have to do is stand in the background. (I warned the member of his production staff who was in communication with me that I don’t exactly look like the stereotypical Filipina party girl, but he insisted it would be fine.)
So I showed up at the venue and was a little bewildered to find out that I was kind of the only person there. That bastard! He hoodwinked me into a speaking role! He asked me to stand right on the corner of 71 Gramercy’s roof deck that looks out over the sprawling Manila skyline and said he would ask me questions, and all I had to do was answer them. So I did.
He asked me all the right questions, and brought out honest answers; things you’ve already read here about how confining Manila is, about how tiny it is, and how much I hate it because I feel so caged. I talked about how much I loved Berlin, loved the anonymity, loved the freedom, loved the respect, loved myself. (Not verbatim.) And we were done in 15 minutes.
I figured I’d get cut from the movie because I’d already been an extra in two others (Quark Henares and Diego Castillo’s Rakenrol, where I am a silhouette in Cubao X; and Marie Jamora’s Ang Nawawala, where I hosted the final Meiday in a Madonna costume) and was cut from both. Then I heard my voice speaking in Kapatiran’s trailer and it was the only voice speaking in the trailer, so clearly I did not end up on the cutting room floor. Oh fuck.
But hey, now I actually have an IMDB page. Haha! And a mention in the Hollywood Reporter’s review of the new cut that I haven’t seen yet.
Intimacy (No Filter, 2015, The Sandbox Collective, dir. Toff De Venecia)
I wrote a really long entry on my now defunct Tumblr about how my friend Toff got me to write a monologue about love and intimacy (at the worst possible time because I was an emotional wreck, which probably made for a more honest monologue) for his original production, No Filter. As it says on the poster: A monologue series by Millennials for Millennials about Millennials.
It’s always performed as a duet by two members of the cast, one male and one female, because although I obviously wrote it from a female perspective, the very perceptive Micah Muñoz said he wanted to do this monologue, too, because guys also go through this experience. I only saw the first run, where it was performed quite fast, with excellent choreography. I ran into Micah at Finders Keepers on Halloween 2015 and he told me they had slowed it down for the second run, making it even more emotional than it already was to begin with.
People sometimes look for the text. It’s beautifully laid out in the 2016 published collection from Summit Books (along with all the other monologues), but if you want the very plain text, here it is:
Sometimes I wonder when wanting love became something to be embarrassed about. When having feelings and acknowledging their existence became wrong.
I look at the way people approach dating these days — the way I have had to approach dating these days — and it’s an elaborate game of chess. Or something, it’s a game of something. Everyone is playing a game, with their own sets of rules, rules they change every day, with their own strategies; giving up piece after piece of themselves to get to the other side of the board. This, this is the right moment to sacrifice that first kiss. This is the strategic point at which to give up your body. Except your heart; that, you keep. Your feelings, those, you don’t ever show. If you make it to the end with your heart intact, with your heart still your own, you’re the one who wins. So you never give it away. But every other part of yourself that you offer is timed, and every offering is calculated, let go bit by bit in service of your higher purpose: not love, victory. Does anyone ever actually win, playing like this? Playing at all? I have played the game. I thought I played it well. But I have lost every time.
How did we become this? A beautiful boy held my hand on the drive home, and I found that more intimate, more unsettling, more frightening, than the night we spent together. How did we let it get to this point? Where it makes you more vulnerable to allow someone to take your hand than it is to let him take you to bed? When an innocent show of affection carries more subtext than sex? When did we all agree that this was how it would be done from now on?
Is it naïve to say that I want love? Does that make me stupid? I want love, I want love, I want love, I want love, my God, do I want love. When I start to have feelings for you, I don’t want to have to be ashamed that I do. I don’t want to have to look swiftly away for fear of being caught staring at your face. I want you to know me, the real me, the one hiding under all this chill and nonchalance and pretense to shy away from the possibility of pain and rejection. I want you to know the heart that I keep to myself — it is the best part of me. I want to stop having to hold myself back when all I really want is to hold you instead.
But that’s not what you want.
So I play the game.
I wrote this because, and I quote myself: Vulnerability is something my generation seems to be terrible at. So many of us want it, but we’re all also afraid to be the ones to show our cards first. We don’t know how to handle vulnerability anymore, or how to be vulnerable, because we got so accustomed to a culture where it’s seen as a weakness rather than a strength. We are all playing a defensive game, when we shouldn’t even be playing games at all. Not with people, not with their feelings.
Heightened Reality, L’Officiel Manila, August 2015
Now, who wouldn’t jump at the chance to write something for L’Officiel? I was more than a little burned out of beauty writing by the time my friend and fellow beauty editor Cindy Go (who used to work for Preview, then moved to MAC, then to L’Officiel, where she still is now) asked me to write this, but I went ahead and did it anyway because I was so familiar with the subject that I could probably write it in my sleep, and it’s L’Officiel. I would have been an idiot not to.
MEGA Magazine, February 2015
I was really surprised to have been featured in something entitled Stylephile, because I’ve always considered myself unfashionable. And I don’t really have a particular interest in fashion, which is at least half of the reason I quit YStyle later that year.
I’ve never had the figure for today’s trends, or the patience to learn every last anecdote about fashion history, and my brain simply refuses to remember fashion terminology or what the S/S 1999 collection of Who-the-Fuck-Ever looked like and how it changed the face of fashion forever, and I’m not exactly a style icon. (How the hell did I come to edit a fashion section? I did the beauty half and was — and still am — the most obsessive-compulsive copy editor on the planet.)
The thing about me is that I just like what I like, and I like it in black and white. But I said yes because my friend Angelo was writing it, and I knew he would do right by me. And he did.
Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann (Greenwillow Books, 2014)
I got an email out of the blue one day from a lovely lady working for Greenwillow Books, which is a HarperCollins imprint. She found one of my old self-portraits on Flickr and asked if they could use it in a book of poetry for girls — 50 poems by Christine Heppermann based on classic fairy tales, but with a twist of today’s teenage girl and all the issues she has to contend with.
I took the photograph in 2007, and called it Vanity for obvious reasons. The poem it was paired with is called “The Wicked Queen’s Legacy,” which, to me, spoke of our low self-esteem and all the insecurities we have about our bodies and appearance, and our obsession with looking perfect. I only read the poem my picture was paired with when they sent me a complimentary copy of the book, and I found it so uncanny, because I’ve struggled with those things all my life.