Saturday, February 13, 2021

Real-Life Goddess: Asher Ann Cabangon

Have you ever met a stranger and felt sooo drawn to her? I'm sure you can relate.

I met this beautiful stranger in a pranic healing center and spent time talking about energy bodies. Today, we finally get to talk about our physical bodies! 

I would like you to meet my dear friend, Asher.

Lornadahl: How would you describe your personal fashion style?
Asher: Very simple and comfortable. I usually wear sleeveless, plain and dark-colored t-shirts, shorts and leggings. But I am now transitioning into wearing dresses since I find it comfortable and more formal.

Lornadahl: Which celebrities serve as your style icons?
Asher: Actually, I don't have one since I am happy with the way I dress up.

Lornadahl: How hard is it to get clothes that fit you? Any particular body part that makes shopping extra challenging?
Asher: OMG! So hard! I rarely buy new clothes but when I see something that I like, I definitely go for it. However, I usually have a hard time fitting them in my bust, arms and legs. Ang ending, I can't buy it na since it doesn't fit me and it really feels frustrating 'coz I looked like suman.

Lornadahl: That's sad. How about accessories? What's the best for big women?
Asher: Hmmm...I think earrings. You can wear them without worrying that they won't fit your body. Also, it highlights your face especially when you tie up your hair.

Lornadahl: If you were to endorse a local clothing for big women, what would it be and why?
Asher: As I've said, I rarely buy new clothes so I don't usually have a local brand. But when it comes to sportswear, I recommend Decathlon since they have a variety of sizes that would fit me unlike our local brands.

Lornadahl: When you pick up a magazine or watch TV, do you see bodies that look like yours that aren't being desexualized, or used to signify laziness, ignorance or lack of self-control?
Asher: In magazines, NO! But now that social media is becoming a new platform for advertisements, YES! I am happy to see commercials and billboards that show plus size models! I really admire those companies that show the reality about our body especially women's.

Lornadahl: How do you deal with I'm-so-fat-and-ugly days?
Asher: I exercise or I eat ice cream! Either of the two, depending on my mood. Haha!

Lornadahl: Do you think a great number of Pinoy men appreciate big girls?
Asher: Not really. There may be some but most of them still like girls who have small waist, big boobs and butt. You can see it on social media. Men like and react more to sexy girls than big girls. 

Lornadahl: If you would appear on a billboard or magazine cover, how would you look like?
Asher: The way I am. No make-up, no accessories, wearing a nude color sando and shorts in a forest with waterfalls. Just like when Eve came to the world but not totally naked. Haha! Seriously, I just want to look natural, looking afar.

Lornadahl: What's the secret behind your self-confidence and body acceptance?
Asher: My only secret is just to be happy the way I am. If you keep listening to the people around you, to lose weight or to refrain from overeating, you will end up being frustrated. It's YOUR BODY! You are the only one who has the right to decide what you want to do with it. So choose to be happy without listening to other people's opinions. 

Lornadahl: For most people, including myself, acceptance took a long while. Tell us how your journey went. Any defining moment, any influential person in your life that made it happen?
Asher: It took me 3 years before I fully accepted the new me. Not to brag, but I used to be one of those girls who were idolized during my teens. There were times that I was afraid to attend meet-ups or reunions 'coz I don't want to be the topic and end up getting embarrassed. I even stopped posting pictures on social media 'coz I was afraid that old friends will criticize me. 

My defining moment was when I went to Masasa Beach in Batangas with my friends and my mom. I used to wear bra and shorts whenever I go to the beach but I was really hesitant to wear the usual outfit that time. There were boys and they might compare me to my friends. My friends loved taking sexy pictures and, as #SquadGoals, they want to pose along with them. But I wasn't really comfortable with it since I'm big. As expected, I kept hearing people's comments like I am a balyena and the likes. Then, my mom took off her rash guard and had her photos taken with me. So I told myself, "My mom can do it, so how can't I? I don't care anymore what other people will say. I'm here at the beach to have fun and I won't let their body-shaming comments get into me!" So there, that was the defining moment for me.

Lornadahl: How did you discover pranic healing? Was it part of your self-love or body acceptance journey?
Asher: I discovered pranic healing through my mom. She made me attend the courses which were very helpful for my whole being. Pranic healing is an energy school conducting meditation and healing. You're right, it's a big part of my self-love journey. I understand myself even more! I learned to forgive myself and to give more love to people who continue to criticize me. Also to be more kind to myself and other people. It made me realize that inner beauty is more important than being beautiful only on the outside. 

Lornadahl: True! I recall being drawn to you because you project this positive aura and you have this infectious smile! Sana all! So, what is beautiful about being big?
Asher: People can easily recognize you! Sometimes people mistook me as an expectant mom and they allow me skip the long queues. Haha! Kidding aside, I think I became prettier and sexier with the curves that I have right now. 

Lornadahl: How do you respond to the argument that obesity is unhealthy?
Asher: Actually, this may vary to different people. There are people who have underlying medical conditions which is why they can't lose weight. There are some who have eating disorders who can't control themselves. And there are people who have genetically obtained their body types. Some people may be skinny but has more medical problems than those with bigger bodies. I'm just saying that we have no right to judge other people without knowing their story. Yes, obesity is unhealthy but we must consider some factors before we blame them for being obese or unhealthy.

Lornadahl: Do you worry that, when you talk about feeling of sexual attraction, people are repelled or disgusted by the size of your body/
Asher: Yes, it's so humiliating! Some even tease you of who can possibly endure the sight of your body!

Lornadahl: How do you feel if people stare at you? yell degrading stuff at you? Do you ever experience that?
Asher: I'm not really comfortable when people stare at me even during my skinny days, how much more now. I experienced people say degrading stuff, this is common in public transportation. Especially in jeepney drivers who force you to move so they can squeeze in more passengers.

Lornadahl: Do you ever confront people? What happens when you do?
Asher: Rarely. It's okay for close friends to tease me. If random people, it's not okay. Some apologized to me and let them feel sorry for what they have done. But I let it go when I feel that it was a sincere apology.

Lornadahl: What do fat people want to be called?
Asher: The way they prefer to be called. We should ask. In my case, I want to be called by my name.

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?
Asher: Somehow. Even if you have a strong belief in yourself, there are times when you will feel down because of the negative comments you hear from other people, including your relatives.

To Filipinas out there, build your confidence. We cannot expect from other people that they will boost ours. Sometimes it's our fellow Filipinos who drag us down. Crab mentality is still an ongoing issue. So, be your own happiness.

Lornadahl: Some big girls are unaware that they're beautiful and sexy. What would you tell them?
Asher: Start finding your inner beauty. Being kind to yourself is the first step. Appreciate the small things about you. Keep on reminding yourself everyday that you are beautiful. What you perceive in yourself is what others will perceive in you. Stay positive and believe in yourself!


Sunday, August 23, 2020

MUSIC MONDAY: Peter Gabriel - My Body Is A Cage

♫♪♫ I'm living in an age 
♫ Whose name I don't know 
♪♫ Though the fear keeps me moving ♫♪♫ 
♪ Still my heart beats so slow 

This 2020, our own body has become a cage. Out fears took over; we can't afford to be generous of our own presence, to warm others with our smiles and embrace. And why not? There's too much uncertainty going on.

But, hey, fears weakens our immune system. Let's try to breathe deeper and imagine ourselves in a group hug while out in a park or in a sea shore. Do it now. And then tomorrow.

Allow me to share this verse and may it help you on our joint journey to health and normalcy:

Health Verse

O spirit of God—fill my I,
Fill my I within my soul,
On my soul bestow a strength’ning force,
Strength’ning force too for my heart,
For my heart that seeketh Thee,
Seeketh Thee with deepest longing,
Deepest longing for good health,
For good health and trust in life,
Trust in life that through my body streams,
Streams as precious gift divine,
Gift divine from Thee, O Spirit of God,
O Spirit of God, fill my I.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Everything I Need to Re-learn, I Learnt in Kindergarten

Who would have thought that a desk jockey like me would end up being a kindergarten assistant teacher? I admit I have avoided babysitting duties ever since I nearly lost grip of my newborn cousin headfirst on a cemented ground back in the early 90's. Even after giving birth, I felt fearful tears blurred my vision and had to delegate the supposedly blissful task of bathing my daughter to my experienced mother. Fast forward today: I am acting as loco parentis of not one, but about twenty young children. What gives?

Having a child of your own will make you retrace your steps to your own childhood. If I breastfeed too long, will my daughter show up in school carrying a milk bottle like I did? Should she go to school early like everyone else or should she show up when she turns six-year-old like I did...and end up breaking a pencil on Day 1 since four- and five-year-olds outpaced her in writing As in a sheet of lined paper?

The next thing I knew, those baby steps turned into giant leaps, and I found myself opting for a career change with lots of trembling. I was convinced my daughter is asking me to follow in the footsteps of our countless foremothers - something that my mother asked me to veer away from. 

That's probably enough flashback for you. This is going to be a long read, so let me begin sharing what I have finally re-learned and embraced in my surreal return in kindergarten:

1. White is Nice!

Like what I have disclosed here, I am too clumsy to be charming in white. Even avoided wearing white on my wedding day! White outfits are hardly welcome in my closet, so imagine my worry when they said kindergarten teachers should wear pastels and plain whites, the latter being necessary when we are to perform puppet shows.

My mentor, Tita Marie, said kindergarten teachers should personify angels, making it ideal that we wear light-colored, flowing dresses underneath our aprons. What's more, I learned that, in a Waldorf school, what a teacher knows is just a bonus. What truly matters is who she is. A teacher stands as a loving authority worthy of imitation and his/her personality influences young children on who they will become. I've heard of this countless times before, but it finally became experiential knowledge when my students' playtime or my daughter's drawings mirrored my own thoughts or feelings (even if they were suppressed). And I've seen older students who took after their Main Teacher. 

So it took me a lot of conviction to wear whites in and outside the classroom. And the pressure to channel celestial beings made it doubly difficult. And the heavens heard me: it's the children instead who taught me. When they get soaked in the mud, they shower and change. When they get stained, they shrug it off. It's not permanent, anyway. So why can't I do the same? 

One time, when I thought I left my worries behind before I stepped inside the classroom, I was dumbfounded when this child shouted, "TEACHER, LET GO!" Of course, he meant that I should relinquish him as he swings on the ropes, but it felt different. It haunted me for days and nights until I started to loosen up.


NOTE: These outfits were NOT worn inside the classroom. 

2. Take Off Your Armor.

Suddenly, I found myself bare-faced. Gone were my signature dangling earrings, pussy red lipsticks, vanilla-scented lotion and cucumber-and-melon cologne. Well, it's really not advisable to wear jewelry in the presence of young children to prevent any torn earlobes, scratches and the likes, and I have been trained in that since my daughter arrived. 

But I confess I struggled in getting rid of my make-up and scents. See, I have been accustomed to centralized air conditioning since my first job in 2003 and my overactive sweat glands sobbed hard when I discovered our classrooms will be well-ventilated. But artificial odors in colognes and other products were not recommended for young children. It's the first of the twelve senses that would prompt them to make judgments and they are not yet ripe for early intellectualization. 

This is also the point when I truly realized why I love bright red lipsticks, aside from the fact that I find reds extremely attractive. Upon deep introspection, I realized that I hated my dark lips and I wanted to hide them! But, just like my belly rolls and other flaws, it is a part of who I am and I will not allow something like this prevent me from performing my duties to the children of the world. 

And so I decided to let go. This is my face and my face wants to do an Alicia Keys Appreciation Day every school day, whenever I feel like it. It was liberating!

New me: Bare face, bare feet and covered all over

3. Finding the Silver Lining.

Little did I know that I would be calm over the appearance of my salt and pepper hair. I recall going gaga upon seeing the first wave of silver hair during graduate school (2005-2009) and heaving a huge sigh of relief when they disappeared. 

It's making a loud comeback this year and I welcomed it as a manifestation of wisdom creeping in. I just hope I can live up to it! If I don't, then I'll forgive myself. Which is something these lovely children can generously give me. What have I done right to finally learn to laugh again and cease taking myself too seriously?

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Why I'm Rooting for Nadine Lustre

When my fellow plus size women and/or post-pregnancy mums get bashed for wearing swimsuits in the beach, it is always initially infuriating. Then I calm down and remind myself that most people are still not ready. But when the likes of Nadine Lustre gets a seemingly endless round of nasty remarks for doing so, I can't help but feel appalled and sad for them. So who are the select ones 'allowed' to be seen donning a bikini? Are we talking about a small fraction of the world population? That's nuts.

Some of Nadine Lustre's post about her recent getaway
[Seeing these actually makes me wanna run to the beach, too.]

And all keyboard warriors unite to find faults in her body and her bikini. 
Photo lifted from Google Images.

Just like how Boy Abunda reacted to these photos, I find Nadine Lustre a holistic way. I like how she often smiles and how she makes my bungisngis self want to laugh along with her. Her hair is beautiful and I like how she seems to prefer it tied up in a ponytail when she's off-duty. I appreciate her morena skin (and I hope she keeps it, in spite of this). And her eyes! And her clavicle! And her legs! To put it simply, I find her beautiful and yet very relatable. So why criticize her for having stretch marks, baby fats, unflattering bra and God knows what else when you can most likely see the same thing/s on your body? And why look down on her as if having Pinay attributes is something to be ashamed of?

In the book Team Real, Nadine Lustre admits she finds herself ordinary-looking and even went on naming her flaws. The thing is, she embraces her body - assets or imperfections alike. For someone who has a longer list of so-called 'factory defects' and probably longer history of body-shaming and self-doubt, I find it truly mature for a 22-year-old to embody self-acceptance. It took me longer to fully love and celebrate my own, you know.

Now let's go beyond the physical. I've seen a million behind-the-scene clips, I've watched her in press cons and I've seen her in the flesh once and and I can say that there's more to love about this woman. 

 Let's hear it from this guy. 

Now let's hear it from Ms. Personality herself.

You gotta love this girl. Simple pero rock. There's a lot of testimonials saying how independent, down-to-earth, accommodating and warm she is. On- and off-cam, mind you. They say she'll drive herself to work and carry her own stuff to the set. She can't say no to requests for photo opps. And I could just imagine how she can light up the entire room when she walks in. By now, you've probably seen photos of how involved she is in home renovations or household chores. In this day and age wherein self-entitlement somehow becomes more common than common sense, I consider this a welcome change. 

Plus I find her really smart (watch her interviews and you'll know what I mean) and talented. I like the quality of her singing voice, her comic timing and I'm particularly impressed with her photography and editing skills. Seriously, I can hardly wait for the follow-up music video to this! Much respect for stars with behind-the-cam aspirations, tooFans calling her a "game changer" must be right; she's truly someone tomorrow's generations could emulate. 

But, wait. There's more! Nadine Lustre sometimes explodes...and she's not scared to express it. If it were true that talo ang pikon, then she's probably not frightened to lose. How fierce! For me, it's always better to be honest if you're hurt or pissed off than give everyone a false impression. She's as real as it gets and, if it were true that everything she does is merely publicity stunts, I'm sure she'll eventually get tired of being someone she's not. And it's OK if you don't share my opinion.

One of her 'patola' moments...that ironically made me appreciate her more.

I've read so many demeaning comments directed to her in so many who-wore-it-better polls and showbiz articles and I'm actually shocked they never run out of negative things to say. This lady hardly deserves it! Sure, some of her poses look kinda awkward and some of her portrayals calls for improvement, but I choose to appreciate her for who she is and I refuse to compare or associate her with somebody else. I choose to be inspired by how she reminds us that beauty and sexiness can't be tied to our flesh aloneI choose to laud her for giving her best now and for aiming to be a better artist tomorrow. I choose to look forward to the days she'll remain grounded while being able to entertain us in a different level and at the same time motivate us plain Janes and 'pangets' that we can reach our dreams, too. That's why I'm rooting for her, not just for FHM or any award-giving bodies. I'm rooting for her success in all aspects in life. Achieve na achieve!

And for the bashers, I don't expect this short blog entry will make you change your minds about Nadine Lustre. But I appeal for you all to watch your thoughts and be more careful in judging others. After all, your hurtful words reflect more about you - your background, your issues, etc. Let's just agree to disagree and refrain from spreading negativity. And if you don't like what you see on TV and billboards, then just look away. Stop the hate!

Monday, July 20, 2015

MUSIC MONDAY: Daysha Edewi - What If I Knew I Was Beautiful…

"You say I don't know I'm beautiful
But what if I did?
What if I looked in the mirror and actually liked what I saw?
Make-up or no make-up, flaws and all
What if I woke up really feeling myself
And could pose a selfie on Instagram without any self-doubt
No questions, contemplations or hesitations
Because the only person's confirmation I would need... is my own"

Beautiful words for YOU, beautiful woman! :) 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

15 Local Kikay Brands To Support

This 2015, I encourage you to to look for local brands to support and pass on your raves to family, friends and online followers. Allow me to contextualize this friendly reminder: Buying from local businesses makes you assist work-from-home nanays put food on the table, tatays pay mortgage or kuyas pag college tuition instead of helping bossings or country managers purchase his third home away from home. Besides, gone were the days when our own products hardly look enticingly world-class and only foreign consumers can enjoy our finest exports. Let me give you 15 reasons to believe in tatak Pilipino.

1.) Human Heart Nature
If you've been following this blog, you'll notice that I mention this brand a lot and you've probably read my disclosure that I'm a dealer myself. See, true to their core values as pro-Philippines, pro-poor and pro-environment, Human Heart Nature has been producing all-natural personal care products using locally-sourced and ethically-acquired materials and employing Gawad Kalinga residents and farmers since 2008. 

As a testament to the safety and effectiveness of their products, particularly their best-selling items like sunflower beauty oil (read: 23-in-1 miracle worker for pimples, stretch marks, dull hair, sun burn, eye bags, insect bites, dark lips and more!), hair care and facial wash and toners, their following continue to rise after every product release. In the recent years, they introduced their mineral make-up line comprised of the popular pressed powder, mineral blush and tinted lip balms. And they refused to rest on their laurels; PR Manager Tish Martinez-Castillo says they release spanking new products every 8 weeks and they offer improved formulations for existing products depending on clients' feedback and requests. 

Nurse/dealer Edzel Love Suobiron, for instance, loves the latest batch of Mineral ColorCreme lipsticks the most for its creamy feel on her lips and for being the perfect match for her dusky skin tone. And speaking of, Human Heart Nature does NOT intend to come up with whitening products because they believe in the awesomeness of the kayumanggi skin. Awesome, right?

Some of Human Heart Nature's best-selling items. Photos lifted from the website.

Edilee Omoyon was just making natural soaps and moisturizers for her son who's long battling with skin asthma. Little did she know that her intensive research would lead to creation of soaps as requested by family, friends and eventually clients, thus giving birth to Milea. This journey made her build more products for All Organics (bath and baby), Milea Baby (baby products), Milea Mineral Make-Up (chemical-free cosmetics) and Coco Bee (bee products). You guessed it right. Her solution for skin asthma, particularly the goat's milk honey oatmeal soap, and lemongrass facial toner (works as make-up remover, too) are the most in-demand items. In their cosmetic line, clients are raving about bee propolis concealer stick, metallic powder eye shadow (available in 14 shades), powder blusher (available in 5 colors) and sassy lip creme (available in 10 shades).

When asked what makes Milea different from other organic brands, Edilee says they do not mass produce to ensure customers will get to use fresh cosmetics. They also grow their own raw materials in Milea Bee Farm in San Jose, Batangas. In fact, Edilee allows "beesita sa bukid" for interested parties. 

Milea's most-requested products. Photos lifted from the official website.

It takes gifted eye to see fashion in scraps of cloth, yes? But don't be quick to conclude; Rags2Riches founder Reese Fernandez has a bigger fashion statement: she asks YOU to wear your compassion.

I recall being moved during her turn to speak about her enterprise during this social marketing bootcamp. Upon realizing how middlemen exploited the rug-weavers in Payatas (controlled access to the market hence so little profit), the team opted to empower these artisans and train them to make creative fashion pieces and, eventually, home decors, using upcycled scraps, organic and indigenous materials. They even teamed up with big names like Rajo Laurel, Oliver Tolentino, Amina Aranaz-Alunan and Olivia d’Aboville to give their handwoven handbags, wallets, purses, wristlets and others an appealing touch.

Today, R2R continues to expand and lift talented Filipino artisans from poverty. After all, her company’s philosophy is firmly rooted on People (quality of life + quality of dreams), Planet (shared home and shared future), Profit (surplus for sustainability) and Positive Influence (belief in the power of generosity).

Some of R2R's awesome designs. Photos from their fanpage.

4.) Jacinto & Lirio
Did you know that production of leather necessitates slaughter of billion animals every year? These industries also use dangerous chemicals like mineral salts, formaldehyde and coal-tar derivatives, among others. Read about it here. Good thing Filipino innovators discovered that the stalk of water hyacinth or water lilies can be turned into a leather-like material!

Jacinto & Lirio founder, Noreen Bautista, collaborated with Cora Jacob (or Cora Jacobs as she is known globally), the renowned Filipino eco-chic bag designer and regarded as the pioneer of Philippine handbag design, for their first collection of plant leather bags. And the rest, as they say, is history. Aside from handbags, they now have made journals, iPad cases, planners and laptop wraps. And it's exciting to know what new items they'll come up with next!

Some of Jacinto & Lirio's bag and planner designs. Photos lifted from their official website.

5.) Ever Bilena
Ever wondered what's in sexy star Ellen Adarna's kikay kit and what particular cosmetic the award-winning actress Eugene Domingo hoards? It's Ever Bilena's lip and cheek tint! In her KrisTV guesting, Ellen swears by how it gives her a long-lasting natural-looking blush. Such a good steal for P135!

Ellen Adarna raves about her kikay must-have from Ever Bilena. Screenshots from YouTube. 

For make-up artist Danielle Leonardo, she appreciates the creamy texture of their black and brown eyeliners as it is truly easy for her to blend it with eye shadows. Also, she lauds their matte lipsticks, particularly the Pink Flame and Skin shades.

In a nutshell, most blog reviews spell satisfaction in how this household name can keep up with international brands and provide high-end quality for affordable price tag.

6.) FS Cosmetics, formerly known as F21 Cosmetics
Make-up artist Fanny Serrano's own cosmetic line had been getting the much-coveted nods from beauty awards since 2004. Their eyelash curler, for instance, is something beauty blogger Jolly considers a "nice dupe of Shu Uemura" happens to be a Cosmo Beauty Award winner in 2006 and 2009. Make-up artist Danielle Leonardo raves about the two-way cake for being good-to-go upon application and being as effective as M.A.C.'s studio fix powder. Both Jolly and Danielle adore their pigmented eye shadows; it's easy to blend, long-lasting, budget-friendly, plus it offers wide array of color options that complements the Pinay skin.

Fanny Serrano Cosmetics' award-winning products: concealers, eyelash curler and blush-on.

7.) Happy Skin Cosmetics
Everybody loves Happy Skin! Celebrities, beauty experts and bloggers here and abroad are raving about their high-quality products. Their fun, witty product names such as Don't Get Mad Get Even, Eye Need A Miracle, Eye Love View, Feeling Sculptacular, Shut Up And Kiss Me, along with their eye-catching packaging, delight make-up junkies. What's more, the products are true to their promises. The lippies are moisturizing, pigmented and long-lasting. Founders Jacqe Yuegtian-Gutierrez and Rissa Mananquil-Trillo truly know how to make Pinay skin happy.

Clever product names! Photos lifted from their website.

8.) Shoe Cycle
Do you know that burning rubber tires produces toxic pollutants that affect the air we breathe in? According to Green Living, there are approximately 2.1 million waste tires in Luzon alone every year. Such an alarming figure, right? Thanks to Shoe Cycle, those discarded tires get converted into comfortable and impressive footwear. Oxfords, boat shoes, espadrilles, sandals, name it - they've got it! Also, each "scraptire" is carefully handled by Marikina shoemakers, so you can count on its durability.

Check out Shoe Cycle's cool designs. Photos grabbed from their fanpage. 

9. Ono All-Natural Skin Care Products
It all started when Cebu-based May Pono found existing organic brands to be too expensive, prompting her to create her own soaps for personal use. All of a sudden, her Facebook posts started getting inquiries from interested buyers. Her soaps became an instant hit!

Raw vegan chef Lakapati Basa says, "Their products work well for me. The soaps are gentle and they are not ridden with chemicals plus the price is right." Imagine paying only P25 for soaps, P50 for deo cream, P50 for body butter and P50 for sunscreen lotion - all handmade, unscented and all-natural! They also have a wide variety of options to choose from - carrot-olive, olive cleanse, moringa lemongrass, milk, oat and rice, coffee and cream, papaya whitening, papaya-turmeric, olive-turmeric, olive tea tree, mangosteen, neem-lemongrass, aloe vera soaps and more!

Ono All-Natural Skin Care Products. Photos from their fanpage. 

10.) Belle & Cat Nail and Wax Studio
There are so many reasons to love this place! Friendly staff, cozy place plus a wide array of services to offer: nail care, facials, waxing, massage, hair and make-up, spa party packages and equally long list of nail polishes and nail art designs to choose from.

But, wait, there's more! Have you ever been in a situation that calls for emergency mani+pedi with polish then you suddenly realize you're wearing closed shoes? Well, Belle & Cat happens to be ready for that que horror moment. They actually sell flip flops! And they have consigned items from proudly-Pinoy brands such as Human Heart Nature, Simoy ng Haraya (try their 4-in-1 nail care fix!), Snoe Beauty and Leyende (they'll be re-launching their products soon!)

Plus, if you're quite reluctant to have your Brazilian wax or full body massage done after a long, stressful day at work, their neat comfort room can help you relax and condition your mind for the rewarding experience that lies ahead. In case you didn't know you'll end up getting waxed that day, fret not. They have ready all-natural products for you.

Belle & Cat's cozy spot. Photos from their website.

Currently, they have temporarily ceased operations in their Esteban corner Dela Rosa Sts, Legaspi Village, Makati branch. They will soon unveil their new location, so stay tuned for their announcements.

11.) Manos Nail Lounge
Here's another great place to get pampered and enjoy peace and quiet. They offer mani+pedi, spa treatments, paraffin, massage and waxing services. You'll be delighted to know that they have mani+pedi services for men and divas-in-the-making (13-year-olds and below), too!

Sure, most nail salons provide refreshments for their patrons. But it's heartwarming to see that they purposely choose to offer only locally-grown coffee and tea, including the all-Filipino iced tea Bayani Brew. What's more, if you're not fashion or showbiz magazines, Manos has a handful of fictional reads to choose from. And if you're a 90's kid like me, you're in for a pleasant treat!

Everyday is throwback day in Manos!

12. Chubbly
Here's another brand that plus size fashionistas should know. As Aries de Guzman of Erzullie put it, "Chubbly rocks because Chami Viray, the designer behind it, is a passionate, explorative and highly imaginative person. It reflects on every piece that she makes." Since its launch in 2012, Chubbly had been producing both classic and edgy RTW clothes and accessories for plus size Pinays.

Recently, Chami collaborated with proudly-Filipino makers of artisan shoes, Risque Designs, for this year's collection. While Risque is known for its signature use of embroidery, wood-carving and hand-weaving and local fabrics, Chubbly x Risque designs are rather subdued, but equally eye-catching and chic!

 Here's a little throwback of Chubbly's earlier clothing designs. Photos obtained from their fanpage. 

Chubbly x Risque designs. Photo from Chami Viray.

13. Snoe Beauty
Snoe Beauty, the new breed of all-natural yet inexpensive make-up, started capturing the beauty market since its establishment in 2010. The wordplay in product name such as Stink Positive!, Eau La La, Awesome Poresome, reminds us of the typical Pinoy humor. According to make-up artist/blogger Maita Atienza-Diaz, their make-up is a good dupe for M.A.C.. In her review here, she noted how their powder blended well with her skin an how it suits all skin tones. And if you're the kind of consumer who checks the label, you'd be happy to know that Snoe Beauty takes pride in their chemical-free ingredients. They even dedicated a space in their website called snoepedia to give you an informed choice before you make that purchase. With their clever and well-designed packaging plus high-quality product line, it is no surprise that Snoe already embarked to conquer the world's attention.

Some of Snoe's beauty products. Photos lifted fro their website.

14. Ganchillyou
What comes to mind when you hear the word "crochet"? How about "crochet fashion accessories"? You should check out Bella Joy Bardollas's designs for Ganchillyou and see for yourself that, yes, it is possible! You have to hand it to this yarn whisperer on how she can whip up colorful, bohemian conversation pieces.

Some of Gancillyou's eye-catching designs. Photos lifted from their Instagram account

15. Apartment 8
Ever wondered where your favorite stars and bloggers get their fun and flirty wardrobe? The good news is, you can get hold of Apartment 8's sexy and highly-popular cut-outs, head-turning prints and other celebrated designs as easy as heart-ing a friend's Instagram post. If you prefer to make your own fashion ideas materialize, you may contact them to do so. And they also welcome visits in their shop in South Triangle, Quezon City and stores in Greenhills Shopping Center and The Ramp outlets.

There you go, 15 brands that we can be truly proud of. But, hey, the list of high-quality locally-made products doesn't end here. There's a LOT of proudly Pinoy-made products waiting to be discovered so always be on the lookout for the next kikay find or fashion-forward outfit and share your satisfactory statements about those items with matching #SupportLocalEconomy and/or #PinoyPride on your social media accounts. After all, our country's biggest contribution to the world would have to be our unparalleled artistry, enthutsiasm to serve, passion for pretty things and consistent online presence. Wait, that's four gifts to the world already! Well, that's how well we Pinoys rock!

NOTE: This article appeared on The Philippine Online Chronicles. Click, click!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Designer Sharlene Borromeo makes in big in Fashion Week San Diego

I just re-read the entry title and it does sound like an article heading. Actually, I'm blogging about my latest article on The Philippine Online Chronicles, and, for the lack of creative juices at the moment, allow me to retain the title.

Check out my article here.

For this entry, I'll share this Q&A with Sharlene Borromeo, the Pinay designer behind the brand A'doreus. She happens to be Fashion Week San Diego's first and only plus size designer for 3 years in a row! And she'll be back again next year. Read on to get to know her and her journey in the fashion industry so far.

Lornadahl: Congratulations on being the top designer for Fashion Week San Diego this year! How does it feel?
Sharlene: It is definitely an honor to have been voted Top Designer of Fashion Week San Diego 2014. Truthfully, I have mixed emotions. It was heartwarming to see people literally shed tears of happiness when the announcement was made. I knew people could feel the love and passion I put into my craft. In some ways it's a victory and I'm enjoying my moment of glory - breaking so many barriers, personally and within plus size/fashion industry. On the other side it's extremely daunting. I'm receiving a lot of pressure from so many different angles. People want me to branch out and showcase in New York, offer straight sizes, or mass produce and sell online. It's not impossible but it is costly and I don't think people quite understand that. Whichever direction this journey takes me, it will be one of purpose.

Sharlene Borromeo's winning moment at the recently concluded FWSD 2014.
Photo by Jon Naugle.

Lornadahl: You've been representing us plus size women in the Fashion Week for the past 3 years. Can you describe your journey to make it to this prestigious event? What does it take to maintain your presence for 3 years?
Sharlene: I have been representing the plus size community all my life because I've always been plus size, yet confident in my own skin. Encountering criticism and seeing the lack of plus size fashion in the industry didn't make me want to change who I was. I wanted to understand and "fix" the stigma that plus size women face because of the social pressures of the fashion industry. I earned a degree in Fashion Business and Technology in 2007 and a degree in Fashion Design and Technology in 2009. It's ironic because I never considered being a Designer when I was younger. I didn't know how to sew and I surely didn't follow fashion trends (I still don't). I'm not about the bells and whistles, fame and glamour. I'm about simplicity and fashion that accentuates a woman's assets.

It was through business internship with world renowned Designer and Fashion Icon, Zandra Rhodes that I discovered my creative side and was encouraged by Rhodes to pursue Fashion Design. As my Mentor, Rhodes instills in me the concept of "paving my own way". I strive to model her tenacity and determination to go against the grain and not conform. I've made my mark at FWSD as the first plus size Designer. As the winning Top Designer, I automatically get to return for a 4th year. I've ben able to maintain my presence for 3 years because of people like Rhodes who continuously push me and because people appreciate my transparency about my journey. I may not have the largest following, but those that do follow me know my worth and potential.

Mentor Zandra Rhodes has all praises for Sharlene. Watch the clip here

Lornadahl: Please describe your fashion brand A'doreus and what makes it different from other plus size brands.
Sharlene: My brand, A'doreus, is a direct reflection of who I am. A'doreus is a lifestyle of a'doring and embracing diversityand size acceptance through the many facets of fashion. What sets me apart from other plus size brands is that I use my craft as a way to build meaningful connections. My brand relies on the foundation of "purpose". Many plus size Designers showcase amongst other fellow plus size Designers at events that are tailored to the plus size audience. Fashion Week San Diego is primarily a mainstream fashion event with thin models and a lot of swimwear. Showcasing a collection at FWSD is a way for me to change people's mindset of what plus size fashion looks like and understand its relevance in the mainstream fashion industry, especially because 70% of all American women wear a size 14 or larger. I view my efforts as a social movement to embrace diversity and size acceptance.

Lornadahl: What are your best design pieces and why?

Mullet skirt made of 100% silk

Sharlene: This hi-lo dress, made of 100% silk fabric with black piping was the finale piece to my first collection I showcased at FWSD in 2012. Its elegance brings about a sense of sophistication and grace to be a'dored.

Vintage key-inspired pattern design printed on organic cotton sateen fabric

Sharlene: I collaborated with local San Diegan Artist, Rebecca Berenson from Urban Fish Designs. We created a vintage key inspired pattern that we had printed on organic cotton sateen fabric. This dress is truly one of a kind and cannot be replicated. The print was used throughout my collection showcased at FWSD 2013.

Sequin maxi dress

Sharlene: I've never worked with sequins before because I always thought it screamed "plus size" but with the right kind of sequins it can look very chic and contemporary.

Sharlene's creation for a petite plus size model

Sharlene: I designed this dress for a petite plus size mode. The silhouette is classic with a sweetheart neckline and a hi-low circle skirt. However, the chevron fabric with the sheer eyelet chiffon overlay, pinstripe bow, and gold trim detail makes the dress magical. The drape and movement of the dress is breathtaking!

 Party dress

Sharlene: This dress is a signature style of mine. I tend to use several fabrics for my collection. I then like to use all of the fabrics within one look. That particular look then becomes more fashion forward for those looking for something unique and trendy.

Lornadahl: Awesome designs! What's next for your brand? Any grand plans we need to know?
Sharlene: I have treaded the waters of the fashion industry very strategically because I am a realist and would rather take my time mastering my craft and creating fashion with purpose. I plan to use the next year to promote A'doreus, possibly seek a manufacturing company to begin production, and complete another collection for FWSD 2015 to complete my commitment with them. What happens next? I'm not sure. It really depends on what doors open for me within the next few months.

A'doreus will be recognized at the Silayan Filipina National Organization's "Honoring Filipinas in the Arts" on December 20, 2014. I will be specifically recognized for my "outstanding achievements as an artist in Fashion Design".

I recently had the opportunity to meet blogger Crystal Coons (@sometimesglam). We are throwing ideas around about a future collaboration regarding a styling book for the plus size woman. She was impressed with my collection and did an impromptu photo shoot with some of the pieces. You can follow her blog at to see more of the looks.

Lornadahl: Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
Sharlene: I don't follow trends. I really don't even have a favorite Designer. I'm not a brand snob and I rarely flip through fashion magazines. I really do create from the heart and for the body I plan to clothe. Fashion is so subjective anyway so I don't create to appease the masses. I utilize classic silhouettes, simple style lines and focus on the details of the garment. I love piping. using different trims, and combining different fabrics and textures for a luxurious, one of a kind piece. Often times, I am my own inspiration. I create clothes that I would want to wear. I'm 5'2", wear size 18-20, have big arms, a round belly and thick thighs. You won't ever catch me "hiding" under clothing nor will you ever find me scantily clothed. I like comfortable and functional clothes that will allow me to rip around town effortlessly. My designs are meant too make a plus size woman feel equally feminine, sexy, and refined.

Lornadahl: Any message for aspiring plus size fashion brands to make it big?
Sharlene: For any aspiring fashion Designer, plus size or not - my advice is to design with purpose. When we do things from the heart, with a conscience mind, and conduct yourself with the highest level of integrity - it's easier to navigate through the politics and competitiveness that comes with the fashion industry. Use your moral compass. As far as making it big... When I figure it out - I'll let you know! Until then, perseverance is key.