Monday, June 25, 2012

WORLD PREMIERE: That Pinstriped Blazer / Trend of The Month Challenge: Colorful Blazer

I've been imagining how I'd look like in custard green or neon pink blazer with a low-cut tank top and silver shorts for months now.  This obsession with colorful blazers was temporarily appeased during my recent ukay ukay shopping. Upon unearthing this pinstriped blazer, I vowed to scour for the perfect pair of shorts next. However, this trend-of-the-month challenge's deadline made me rummage my apartment closet for something else. Fast! With the typically toxic workload during quarter-ends and my ongoing attempts to practice work-life balance, I can only afford to do the pictorial during office hours. And there's no way our security will allow me to enter the premises donning short shorts. Sighs. Ladies and gents, meet my bandage skirt again (you've seen it here, there and everywhere!).

Anyway, I like how this blazer's stripes serve as clue for which pair of shoes to wear for the day. I was initially attracted to bring out my t-strapped teal flats but changed my mind. In spite of the rain that greeted me this morning, I opted for the mint moccasin flats (world premiered here) for some instant sunshine this manic Monday.


 Colorful chick against the models in monochrome. Ha!
 Closer look of the stripes I've earned

Stripes + mint flats = fabness!

Do NOT try the office! Haha!

If you just tuned in, let me inform you that I rarely go for the corporate attire. Collars and long sleeves lead to discomfort, I'm not fond of slacks and I'm far from being prim and proper. Haha! Anyway, this is one deviation that will absolutely have a repeat until I finally score my desired neon pink and/or custard green blazer and silver shorts. And THAT world premiere will definitely take place anywhere but in the workplace. Can't wait!

Outfit of the Day:
Pinstriped blazer from ukay ukay
Dark brown top
Bandage skirt
Mint moccasin flats from Fancy Flats

Photos by Elaine Elquiero and Sheryl Matucad.
Collage by Winifred Layug

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

15-Day Unlimited Yoga Pass in Urban Ashram

This forever newbie was misty-eyed upon hearing about this 15-day unlimited yoga pass in Urban Ashram. It made me recall my hatha yoga days in the now-defunct Soma Yoga Center along Pasay Road in Makati that lasted for about 3 months in 2004, followed by short-lived gymming in Fitness First in hopes to pursue yoga while cutting costs. Thanks to graduate school since 2005, I opted for armchair research during idle time. The next episode was being introduced to yin yoga, thanks to Ekāgratā Śālā's generous holiday treat in December 2010 and being re-introduced to this slow, soothing practice during Dona Tumacder-Esteban's beachfront classes during Coco Beach's 25th anniversary in November 2011. Yes, I'm shaking my head here in noticing the vast gaps between my practice.

So I'm fully aware of the benefits regular yoga practice can give and I can hardly wait for it to heal my busted knees, lessen my back pains and grant my clarity of mind, but I just can't afford it at this point. I know, preventive measures are less costly than surgeries, chemotherapies and the likes. And this promo is definitely the answer to my prayers to slowly veer away from my desk jockey job! did this student of life do in class, you ask?

The forever newbie

Day 1: Flexibility Not Required (FNR) with Lasse and Maricar
29.05.2012, Tuesday

Any first day in class can be exciting and intimidating at the same time. The additional attraction was the company of my raw food support groupies Ingrid and Andrea. I haven't seem them in a while (last time was in May, next to that was December 2011) so imagine the tight hugs and loud whispers (mine, of course) as we settled ourselves inside the studio. To my shock, it was huge. Turned out that night's classroom was equivalent to 3 rooms converted into 1 to accommodate the large number of confirmed attendees. (In my calculation, 1 room can accommodate 18 students. You do the math.) Now intimidating felt an understatement.

How the studio looks like
Photo from Yogini From Manila

Lasse directed us to his neck condition before he officially started the class. According to him, that's what 20 years of sedentary work can do. I was dumbfounded. First, his countenance hardly betrays his age. Second, THAT is a great motivation to take my re-introduction class seriously.

My body needed to remember all the asanas I've repeatedly done in the past. And it sure paid in the form of buckets of sweat. I admit I was being competitive - and it didn't help that I was being competitive against others instead of myself - and I found it difficult to keep up with them. It made me wish we were practicing under dim lights and there were soothing music in the background to direct my focus.

Chair Pose.
Photo from Yogini From Manila

Then, I felt myself get weak and dizzy before Lasse instructed us to do the chair poses. I attempted to ignore it until I felt an ever stronger force that made me dash outside the class. From chair pose to the toilet! (Thank God they have bidet!) Just when I thought I was ready to go back, the latecomers made me go back to the rest room. So I just waited for my friends to step out of the mat. Regular yoga practice corrects the digestive tracts, but I wasn't prepared how fast it would take effect on me. Or it's just coincidence, maybe?

Urban Ashram's restroom
Photo from Yogini From Manila

Day 2: Vinyasa Flow with Martin
30.05.2012, Wednesday

I brought my digestive discomfort with me when I went back the following day. Thanks to my boss, I arrived very early in the ashram again so I have ample time to freshen up. During the shower, I was praying hard there'll be no sequel to yesterday's sob story. I would really like to endure all the asanas that evening.

It was a very challenging class. I found it hard to find my balance, particularly when I'm standing on my right foot (it must be the knee injury). Warrior poses proved to be hard that time, too. I struggled for both arms to be aligned and for my right knee to be deeply bent above the second toe. I was always the first one to quit on these poses out of ngalay and, in one instance, Martin asked me to widen my stance and activate my quads. When he asked the class to externally rotate the upper arm and internally rotate the forearm, I struggled and went straight to not locking the elbows. Next time I'll try harder, I promised.

The hard part didn't end there. Before we get to do the corpse pose, I watched fellow students do plough pose, wheel pose and inversions while I did modified poses.

Martin in arm balance pose
Photo lifted from Urbah Ashram.

Savasana pose with Ingrid

By the way, Martin was nice enough to ask us first-timers for our names before the onset of class and, based on latter encounters, he did remember mine.

Day 3: Off the mat.
31.05.2012, Thursday

The evening classes are full. Still nursing that gassy feeling.

Day 4: Off the mat.
01.06.2012, Friday

Heavy workload + sudden knee pains by the end of shift.

Day 5: Vinyasa Flow with JP
02.06.2012, Saturday

It's my first day on the mat without the company of Ingrid and Andrea. Their 15-day pass had expired. I missed them, but it's a great reminder that I'm there for the practice, not for social activity.

Since it's vinyasa class, I braced myself for 1.5 hours of sweet torture. It wasn't as challenging as the last time, but I felt my body started to sweat profusely even before we get to do sun salutations. The highlight of this practice? JP spotted me cheating on upward-facing dog and asked me to lift my knees. See, downward-facing dog is my second favorite pose as it gives me a good stretch while resting at the same time. I typically rush in doing upward-facing dog for the much-awaited repose, not realizing the knees should be off the mat. I felt my lower limbs tremble each time. When it was time for inversions, JP cautioned yoginis having their period not to follow suit. It was my second day, so I did a butterfly pose while my upper body was lying flat on the mat instead. (Sorry, I don't know how that pose is called.)

Inspite of the combined post-yoga and menstrual period pains, I felt strong enough to take a long walk from the ashram to Shangri-La for lunch AND from Shangri-La to POEA area to meet friends for some ukay ukay adventure. Under the heavy rains, mind you.

Day 6: Off the mat.
03.06.2012, Sunday

With an intimidating line-up of classes comprised of level 2/3 of vinyasa flow and mysore (read: self-practice), I decided to chicken out. I remember how Dona Tumacder-Esteban discussed rule # 2 in yoga: be gentle to yourself. And so I did.

Day 7: FNR with Martin
04.06.2012, Monday

The moment I saw Martin taking a peek inside the studio from outside, I already knew it's going to be another painful practice and soothing sleep later. Since I promised myself to try harder, I pushed the mat harder, pulled myself longer. After lifting myself higher for the bow pose and the likes, I groaned along with the students. I tried harder to externally rotate my upper arm, internally rotate the forearm, too. Hence, when Martin encouraged us to try salabhasana, I was momentarily out of strength. I can't lift my legs anymore.

I found it difficult to execute crescent poses, too. When I emerged out of the studio, the full moon greeted me and I felt guilty for not doing my best that night.

Day  8: Off the mat. 
05.06.2012, Tuesday

Thanks to the typically toxic workload during quarter-ends, I was too tired to attend yoga class or Bible study that night. Forgive me.

I noticed how my regular practice so far tamed my appetite. Put menstrual period and stressful conditions together, my appetite should be in haywire already. I recall how unbelievably starving I get after swimming sessions to the point that my consumption is equal to the calories I burnt earlier. Whereas my stomach feels satisfied in a banana after yoga. Wow, this is amazing!

Day 9: Vinyasa Flow with Maricar
06.06.2012, Wednesday

Maricar greeted us, "Are you feeling strong tonight?". It made me swallow hard. Just like her husband Lasse, she started her class recounting how her lower back pains made her committed to her yoga practice. How inspiring.

I felt her nurturing energies in instructing us. She was generous in explaining the anatomical focus in almost all poses, reminded us that it's our practice, not a competition and asked us to execute them in a slow pace and made us stay there for a few minutes - which is good news for newbies like me but bad news if you can't pull your torso lower in plank (with or without straps) and if you tremble in doing upward-facing dog. In fact, the pace made me shake in doing downward-facing dog, too.

My greatest take-home? How to stand on and off the mat without straining my weak knees. In doing the tadasana,we must put big toes together and lift the inner arches. I encourage you to try it. As much as possible, I try to stand like that eversince (much to my boyfriend/boxing trainer's chagrin. Boxers don't stand that way, I learned.)

Again, I was feeling light and strong after class that I managed to walk from the studio to Shangri-La. I had light dinner when I made it to Cubao. I laud how patient and low-maintenance my stomach had been!

Day 10: Off the mat.
07.06.2012, Thursday

Again, the evening classes are full. What's with Thursday classes? I must be missing a lot!

Day 11: Off the mat.
08.06.2012, Friday

The first Friday of the quarter-end.

Day 12: Off the mat.
09.06.2012, Saturday

Woke up really late for the 08:00 class. Sure, I can take a cab. But I was worried about doing yoga practice with an empty stomach. I subsequently found out from Grace that it's ideal. She normally grabs a banana or drink coconut juice before the practice. Worse, I fell asleep and woke up late for the 10:00 class. Sayang!

Day 13: Vinyasa Flow with Martin
10.06.2012, Sunday 

Martin made us all face the wall. With our respective blocks (I needed 2), he made us squeeze our knees against the block in doing the warrior and triangle poses. I felt my knees protest in pain and my arms in ngalay. He also asked us to use the straps to achieve the 45-degree in doing planks. Yes, it was painful! I was so tired after that Martin had to pull me lower to correct my child's pose. And I'm ashamed to admit I was unable to do the external and internal rotation of the arms right. Definitely, I'll miss Martin.

Day 14: Hatha Yoga with Tanya (substituting Janaka)
11.06.2012, Monday

Knowing it's going to be my last practice, I lingered outside the studio before class to stare at the beautiful clouds above. I was already nostalgic!

Reception area with overhead lighting by Kenneth Cobonpue
Photo from Yogini From Manila

I felt very fortunate to catch the hatha class before the end of my 15-day pass. It was, after all, my introduction to yoga. The class began with lots of breathing exercises. I recognized how my lower back disliked doing backbends and how my lower abs ached in leg raises. Tanya asked us to imagine Janaka's abs in doing the latter, but I can't relate.

Then, a confusing twist happened. I found it effortlessly easy to do upward-facing dog yet I felt restless in downward-facing dog. I'm totally clueless why.

Day 15: Off the mat.
12.06.2012, Tuesday

The last class was held at 16:00 due to the holiday. My shift ends at 17:30. *sniffs*


Needless to say, I truly enjoyed my yoga experience in Urban Ashram. I like how passionate and inspiring the yoga instructors are, how eco-friendly the establishment is and how relaxing the studio is (except for the occasional sounds of vehicles outside). For newbies, it's reassuring that they provide yoga mats, blocks and straps and for those who live and work far from Pasig, it's comforting that they have shower rooms with organic body wash and shampoos. I hope to bring my energies again for more practice. Namaste!

Special thanks to Yogini From Manila for the photos. You can see more photos here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

WORLD PREMIERE: Long-sleeved Mint Blouse + Coral Top + Black Capri Pants + Mint Moccasin Flats / Bloggers Do Mint + Coral Better

When I first stumbled upon the Bloggers Do Mint + Coral Better challenge, I was immediately reminded to bring out this patent leather moccasins out of my closet. Pronto! But what else to wear? I have a polka dotted dress with tiny mint dots and a new pinstriped blazer with mint stripes from my recent ukay ukay shopping, but they're both far from being coral.

My search brought me back to my closet in my parents' home in Cavite. I hesitatantly took home an old thrifted purchase which I never had the courage to wear outside my bedroom. This light-blue-and-orange top generously provided coverage for my arms yet plunged too low and promised an abundant view of the valley between Mt. Suzy and Mt. Geno. I don't even know why I bought it in the first place. Needless to say, this top still doesn't qualify me to make a mint + coral entry. What now?

So I did a half-hearted rummage in the mall after the Sunday service. Coral doesn't seem like a popular shade, but I'm thankful to have found this loose top. However, I realize I can't wear this sleeveless top as is since the current length of my auxillary hair is something I find too hideous, but my new waxer will only dismiss as too short still. So why not put it on top of my long-sleeved top and use it as shield against catcalls, right? I pondered hard as I never ventured into layering. In my estimation, it only looks awesome on skinny people. But the risktaker in me whispered encouraging spiels and I listened. It just might look good on extra seksi women like me, too.

All right, enough back story and let's proceed to the main event! The world premiere begins in 5, 4, 3, 2...
Check out the contrast!

Detail left unseen. At least for today.

It was also my first time to wear this capri pants with these cuuuute gold buttons. During my bedroom rehearsal, I tucked this coral top to ensure these buttons get their share of limelight, too. However, I feel more comfy when this top is flowing free. More exposure for these golden girls next time! Pinkie promise!

  My mint moccasins from Fancy Flats. One size smaller!


Lipstick of the Day: Human <3 Nature's Island Kiss tinted lip balm + Sweet Nectar hydrating lipstick + Coral Beach mineral lip gloss

Did somebody say coral? Wait, let me take out my coral lip balm and coral lip gloss!

If you just tuned in, I find pussy red lipsticks fitting for daily use. However, for today's attempt to be the rainbow during and after the rain, it may seem like an overkill to go for an equally loud hue for my lips. Or maybe not. Please allow me to deviate and show you what I've saved for the rainy days.

Coral galore on my lips!

My apologies for these pictures hardly give justice to the layers of coral and neutral shades that I smothered my lips today. Perhaps I should have gone for the Coral Kiss hydrating lipstick instead. But, hey, I truly like how this pastel polish looked against my eye-catching (I think) mint + coral ensemble.

Photos by Elaine Elquiero and Sheryl Matucad.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Real-Life Goddess: Loren Mae Monares

I've heard of Erzullie's continuos search for plus size women to represent their fashion line. When I see their print ads, I can't help but feel amazed with their fabulous poses and inspiring auras. See, not all plus size women are willing to display such inner strength. Hence, I'm intrigued at how they arrived to this part of their journey of self-acceptance. I imagine that behind those fierce projections possibly lies a tearful past. However, this interview with one of the mentioned brand's Icon proved me wrong.

Erzullie Icon: Loren Mae Monares

Lornadahl: Tell us what’s like to be an Erzullie Icon. How did it change you? Your view of yourself?
Loren Mae: I feel blessed to be an Erzullie Icon because I am able to inspire other plus size women to love and feel good about themselves. It feels great when people look up to you and be influenced to accept themselves. Before, my reason for joining Erzullie was merely because of experience and exposure. But now, I realized that above all those, God brought me here to help others. (Read up on her adventures during her iconship here.)

Lornadahl: When you heard about their search for the next Icon/s, did you feel qualified to apply or your family and friends had to convince you it’s your time to shine?
Loren Mae: Erzullie, as a brand, promotes self love and plus size women empowerment through the fashion items they create. They are very keen into looking for self empowered plus size women who can give justice to their brand. Yes, I knew that I had the right confidence and reasons for joining. Of course, my friends and family have always been there to support me.

Lornadahl: How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Loren Mae: I’m a very bubbly and happy person. My life is very colorful and this reflects my style of fashion. I love playing with bright colors, doing mix and match of accessories, shoes and bags. This, for me, creates a positive vibe.

Loren Mae in her usual colorful look

Lornadahl: What’s that one thing you WON’T be seen wearing in a public place?
Loren Mae: Hmm…..two piece swimsuit?

Lornadahl: Why not? Would you turn it down say, Erzullie asks you to don a two-piece swimsuit for a pictorial?
Loren Mae: I still need to have at least some limits to whatever I am willing to show to the public. As for Erzullie, I trust the designers and I know all they want is for the best for the brand. I would probably get into an agreement with them on how we can re-create it like wearing it together with a cover-up or something. That, I believe, will still work.

Lornadahl: Which celebrities serve as your style icons?
Loren Mae: Just recently, as I’ve been hooked up with the “Walang Hangganteleserye, I became a fan of Dawn Zulueta’s fashion style.
Lornadahl: Sorry but I don’t get to watch TV often. I imagine she’s into feminine wardrobe in the teleserye, yes? Could you be more descriptive of her style?
Loren Mae: The feminine, classy pieces. Soft colors, light material, free flowing dresses that really highlight her face. I also love the corporate top with details and simple black drop bottom outfit she wears.

Lornadahl: What's the best fashion accessory for big women?
Loren Mae: Fashionable belt to enhance the curves.

Wide belt + layered skirt = fierce curves!

Lornadahl: How do you deal with I'm-so-fat-and/or-ugly days?
Loren Mae: I take a deep breath, pause for a while and realize that these “not-so-great” days happen to everyone, regardless of size. It’s all in the mind.

Lornadahl: Would you agree that guys only chase after skinny women?
Loren Mae: Who said so? I have a boyfriend, most of my plump friends have boyfriends. So I totally disagree with that assumption.

Lornadahl: Do you think a great number of men appreciate big girls, too? Why so?
Loren Mae: Definitely YES. I know a lot of men who prefer plump women because we are very cuddly!

Loren Mae and the lucky guy
Lornadahl: If you were to appear on a billboard or magazine cover, what would your desired peg be?
Loren Mae: I have a couple in mind, which represent my interests: I love to party with friends so one of my choices would be “Night Out” theme. Also, I love bright colors and nature, specifically beaches, so I would love to have a summer theme. Last but not the least, since I am working in an investment banking industry, I would also love to do a project focusing on “Fashion in the Corporate World”.

Night Out: Looking ready to paint the town red!

Lornadahl: If you were to endorse a local clothing for big women (aside from Erzullie, of course), what would it be and why?
Loren Mae: I would love to endorse Forever 21 as well because I love the classy style and play of colors. It reflects my personality.

Lornadahl: Would you be willing to do nude modeling? Why or why not?
Loren Mae: No thanks. I reserve my right of privacy when it comes to showing all out to the public.

Lornadahl: What's the secret behind your self-confidence and body acceptance? Is there a sob story behind it?
Loren Mae: For me it’s about perspective and it's a choice. There’s more to life than just the physical aspect. You have to discover your strengths, talents and other qualities as a person then work on those areas to be successful in life. You really have to make that choice to be happy and love yourself. I believe that the only way others will accept you is when you have first accepted yourself.

Lornadahl: What is beautiful about being big?
Loren Mae: By being big, it gives us a deeper understanding of true beauty. Our perspective is not only limited to the physical aspect of a person. Therefore, we appreciate more the value of the word “beautiful”.

Lornadahl: What you dislike or hate about being big?
Loren Mae: None at all.

Lornadahl: How do you respond to the argument that obesity is unhealthy?
Loren Mae: I don’t contest to that as I believe that too much of anything is harmful. Yes, I am promoting self acceptance and empowerment for plus size women, but it doesn’t mean I ignore the fact that I have to take care of my health as well. What I want is for us to change our mindset and not to hate ourselves because of our size. I’m working on my diet now, not because I don’t like being fat or ugly, but because I want to live a healthier life.

Lornadahl: How do you take care of your extra seksi body?
Loren Mae: I make sure that I balance my food intake by taking fruits and vegetables and plenty of water.

Lornadahl: How about your lifestyle? Are you into sports or any form of physical activities?
Loren Mae: I love swimming and dancing. Recently, I enrolled in a gym.

The Icon in action!

Lornadahl: Given a chance, would you join reality shows like "The Biggest Loser" or "Thintervention with Jackie Warner"? Why or why not?
Loren Mae: Of course! In fact, there is an upcoming Biggest Loser contest here in our company and I am eager to join. Regardless of size, living a healthy life is something that we should think about, with good amount of exercise and healthy food intake. With this type of contest, it’s an opportunity for me to meet new plus size people and share our objective of living a healthier life.

Lornadahl: What do you say to people who say girls our size are addicted to food?
Loren Mae: Who doesn’t love food? Seriously, they do not have the right to judge a person. There are many reasons why a person grows extra big; one of those is because of illness. Know the person first before you make any conclusions.

Lornadahl: How do you feel if people stare at you? yell degrading stuff at you? Do you ever experience that?
Loren Mae: Fortunately, I haven’t had any experience of being yelled at or embarrassed in the public because of my size. Although from time to time I do notice some people stare at me. But you wouldn’t really know what’s running in their minds. It could either be that they love the dress I’m wearing or I look familiar to them or just because I’m a plus size. Which should I pick? Well, I would rather pick any of the first 2 and walk away feeling good about it! Again, it’s all in the mind!

Lornadahl: Do you believe that thin privilege happens? Which of those apply to you?
Loren Mae: No, I don’t. Opportunities are equally available to everyone. It just takes confidence for you to grab it.

Lornadahl: Do you ever confront people? What happens when you do?
Loren Mae: Not really. I’d rather use my energy and time to more important things than explaining to them why I’m this and that.

Lornadahl: What do fat people want to be called?
Loren Mae: I find the word “plump” sexy, so yeah, I’d love to be called plump!

Lornadahl: Does a big woman's self-appreciation and self-love root from the culture/environment she's accustomed to? What can you say about Filipinas and their self-appreciation?
Loren Mae: For me, it should start from your family. Relating it to my own experience, I accepted and loved myself because of how my family loved me. Years back, I remember most plus size women doubt themselves because of how society dictates what beautiful and sexy should be. I could have doubted myself then, but because I have a very strong foundation which gave me the confidence to prove this society wrong, I was able to surpass those challenges because of my size that came my way. I’m happy though, that in this generation, society has loosened up and plus size women are now being recognized in the different fields, especially in the fashion industry.

Loren Mae and her loving family

Lornadahl: Let's assume that your future daughters (or sons) will turn out to be plus size when they grow up. How will you convince them that it doesn't make them a lesser person?
Loren Mae: I would do just how my parents supported and loved me. My parents accepted me for who I am and never failed to make me feel that I am beautiful. They helped me build that confidence and self acceptance which allowed me to face all challenges in life.

Lornadahl: Some big girls are unaware that they're beautiful and sexy. What would you tell them?
Loren Mae: There are so many great things about you that you can only discover once you start accepting and loving yourself. This is a choice that you have to take. It’s either you continue to feel bad about yourself because of your size and live a half-filled life, or choose to be happy, accept yourself fully and believe that you are beautiful and sexy then you start facing the world with much confidence and eventually discover so many great things about yourself. Also, don’t let others define what beautiful and sexy are for you. True beauty comes from the inside and once you have that, beauty comes out naturally.

All photos from Loren Mae.

***End of Interview***