We rise up when we fall and when we do, we become better versions of ourselves. I believe that at some point in our lives, we hit rock bottom and when that happens, the temptation to just stay there and dwell in the negativity of the situation is hard to resist. To hate the world and blame everyone for living lives better than ours is always our go to option as humans compared to acknowledging the situation and eventually accepting it as a part of our life’s story. I used to take the easy route and just allow my emotions to get the best of me. The younger version of me enjoyed having people care for me and look after me. It felt good for some time until I realized how weak and dependent I’ve become. I failed to live up to the meaning of my second name, ‘Aliya’.
To acknowledge that you’ve hit rock bottom is one thing, and to make the decision to make your way out of the hell hole you’re in and rise up is another. I can’t remember how many times I hit a slump in my life, but I do remember receiving the biggest blow and making the decision to deal with the situation head on. People usually think that facing challenges is a piece of cake but I tell you, it’s hard work. The monster that whispers words that feed negative thoughts which eventually spiral into some twisted form of reality when you wake up at say, 3 in the morning does not help either. Most of the time, you find yourself playing a tennis match in your head where one side says all systems go, and the other makes you doubt every step you take towards picking yourself up and moving forward. It’s a feat, it’s exhausting, but trust me when I say that though the battle may be long, you’ll definitely come out strong.
Every challenge comes with lessons that need to be learned. Yes they’re difficult, and we all have our fair share of trials that we wouldn’t wish on anyone but in retrospect, I believe these trials are life’s way of molding us into the people that we’re destined to be. You can’t go to chapter three without reading chapter one. Sure you can skip, but then the story won’t be complete. I’m not trying to sound like some hyper optimistic know-it-all. What I’m trying to say is maybe, just maybe, with a slight change of perspective it’ll be easier for us to prepare and deal with the roadblocks ahead.
Photography by: Wu Vila
Location: Botanic Garden, Melbourne, Australia
“All Is Swell” shirts
were designed by Carla Sebastian
as part of Coast Thru Life’s efforts to raise funds for
We all have secrets. Some secrets, we choose to bury deep within us because although it’s fun to share every snippet of our lives with others, there are still things that we want to be selfish about and these we keep to ourselves. Some secrets we share to a small group of people who we consider as family. Some secrets are only secrets at present, revealed one, two, three or more years later.
There are secrets behind the dresses I’m wearing in this post and since I’m feeling a little generous today, I’m sharing them with you.
If the skirt looks familiar, it’s because I used it for this post. I bought the dress for a formal event last year from the department store. I’m not really into designer dresses and I had no plans of spending thousands on a dress that I’ll only be able to wear twice or thrice a year so I chose a simple dress that can be worn on any occasion with a few tweaks here and there. This dress originally had a black lace skirt that dropped five inches above my knee. Since I was going to a formal event, I decided to make the dress look more elegant by attaching the shawl that I used for my third year prom and making it look like it’s originally part of the dress. Inside the dress are more or less fifty safety pins securing the shawl to the dress. This is secret number one.
The skirt is part of the gown I wore for my third year prom. This is secret number two. I guess when you own something that you invested on not only financially but also emotionally, you’d want to keep on using it to make the most out of it. It’s like holding on to a jar that releases happy memories whenever opened. This gown has so much meaning and I’ve become attached to it that I use it whenever I have the chance. This was the gown that I wore during my 18th birthday celebration, and many other formal occasions that I attended in the past.
I’m sure by now you’re wondering what the gown looks like so here goes:
Some secrets are meant to be hidden, and some are meant to be shared. We share these secrets not to elicit controversy or make the world revolve around us. Instead, we share these secrets to let other people know how we make the most out of things and situations in our lives. Well, in this entry’s case, the gown.
Special shoutout to Adele for asking me to pose for her and for being very patient with me. She did a wonderful job. I had a great time. 🙂
I believe in positive youthful energies, in being the catalyst for change and expressing my stand in various issues through creative means. I’ve never been one to write articles filled with thousands of complicated words to state an opinion, simply because it’s boring and people won’t be reading it anyway. Well, okay, maybe some will, but I’d rather let people hear what I have to say through a song, see it through a painting or a photograph, or understand it further through a short film. I’m known for wearing my heart on my sleeve since I feel like if I opt not to express my feelings I’ll explode. I guess this is the reason why I decided to wear my I Speak Peace shirt after not wearing it for a very long time.
With all that’s been happening in our country, in the world, even, it’s hard not to feel disheartened. Months ago, there was was in Zamboanga, typhoon in Northern Luzon ( I experienced this firsthand and it’s crazy) and just recently, earthquake in Bohol. I’ve decided to avoid watching the news at night because 95% of it is bad news and I want to sleep with a happy heart and a smile on my face, thank you very much. Most of the time it’s tempting to ignore all the bad things that are happening but how can you, especially when you know that these situations are putting lives in danger.
With all that’s happening, I decided to wear the I Speak Peace shirt since it sums up what I want to say. This shirt was designed during our I Speak Peace Camp back in 2007. The camp was designed to empower the youth and to encourage them to speak up and let those who were in charge of the peace talks hear what they have to say. Most of the time, young people feel that they don’t have the right to express themselves because they’re young and they’re not in the position of power. The camp became a venue for them to understand the importance of speaking up especially in situations that involve them and their future.
Wearing this shirt reminded me of the discussion I had with one of our camp participants. He said that peace is not the absence of war and seeing what has been happening in our country these past months, I understand what he was telling me. I wear this shirt again today because I need to be reminded to still speak peace despite difficult situations and to speak up and let my voice be heard.
It takes a lot to wear this shirt. You have to make sure that your actions do not contradict what the shirt says. You can’t get mad no matter how annoying the situation is and you have to be nice even if it kills you. It’s not that wearing the shirt is a burden, no. It simply means that you should be mindful of your words and actions because you’re wearing a shirt that says “I speak peace”.
I believe that peace is still possible. I believe in change. I believe in making a stand through creative expressions. I believe in statement shirts. I believe in the I speak peace shirt.
I’ve been living in my condo for six years now. I see the same set of white walls everyday but I never thought of using it as a background for my pictures. I’ve thought of painting a mural on it and maybe hang some framed shots and sketches from my portfolio, but use it as a makeshift studio? Nope. The idea of using it as a mini studio dawned on me when I saw my tripod standing against the wall. I immediately looked for angles that allowed enough light since I don’t have strobes. I prepared everything so that once I have an outfit ready, I can just stand against the wall and take a picture.
I was channeling Taemin from SHINee’s Boys Meet U music video when I put this outfit together. My original plan was to copy the whole ensemble but then I realized that’s just too corny. Instead, I decided to wear a more feminine version of the outfit. It’s similar to the his & hers themed outfits that couples do, except that he’s an idol and I’m a fan. The top has been one of my favorites since I bought it in Thailand because it’s comfy and it goes with anything. There’s always the risk of wearing stripes especially when you’re not skinny because one wrong angle costs you an additional 10 pounds but if you’re careful in planning your outfit out then there’s nothing to worry about. I’ve always been loyal to the rule that says “If you’re wearing a loose top, pair it with a skinny bottom and vice versa” and it has saved me in countless occasions. This is the reason why I paired my “Taemin top” with the black lace skirt that I also bought from Thailand. It’s feminine, it contrasts my white top, and it makes my legs look long.
I’m not really into the idea of using socks when wearing flats or heels but I had to reconsider. Setting aside the fact that it’s Taemin socks I’m wearing, my legs look bare without them. I used to find it weird when girls use socks when they wear heels but after trying it myself, it makes sense.
I guess by now you’re wondering what Taemin was wearing in the video so I’m putting it here. You’ll spot him, trust me. Have fun watching. 🙂
I used to be one of those people who gag when hearing KPOP songs on the radio. Well, okay there were some exceptions but I’ve never been one to really follow a Korean idol group and listen to their music and watch their music videos. I have friends who live and breathe KPOP, study Hangul just to understand the songs, and even spend huge amounts of money on albums and concert tickets. Their passion for KPOP was a mystery to me… until I started watching To the Beautiful You last April.
When I’m going through something, especially when it concerns the heart, I lock myself up. I’m not keen on the idea of meeting every single person, repeating the story, and crying my heart out because 1) I don’t like that kind of attention and 2)it can be very exhausting. I was going through my daily routine of waking up – eating – lying down – listening to music while crying when I decided to turn on the television. Showing was To The Beautiful You where the leading man was SHINee’s Choi Minho, who didn’t really appeal to me at that time. I was more interested in the story of his love interest, Sulli, who pretended to be a man so she ca go to his school and… well you already know how the story ends. Anyway, I downloaded the episodes and eventually found myself watching it on a daily basis. I enjoyed the story, I fell in love with Choi Minho’s character, and before I knew it, I began looking for his other dramas. My research brought me to his band, SHINee. I looked for their songs, listened to them, and found comfort in the beat and lyrics that didn’t make sense at all. I remember the first song I heard was “Why So Serious”, then after that, I heard “Helllo”, and then “Replay”. I liked the last two songs so I downloaded them and played them on loop. From then on, I became a SHAWOL (a SHINee fan). I’m still not into the whole KPOP idea. I just like SHINee plus two or three other groups and that’s it. I now understand why my KPOP crazy friends behave the way they do. 🙂
In case you’re wondering, these photos were taken in an expressway in Thailand. Our taxi had a flat tire and we had to wait for hours for the repairs. To distract ourselves, my mom and I went outside the car and started to take pictures. Yes, it was annoying that that incident happened, but we didn’t want to let it ruin our day. Things happen no matter how hard you plan your trips abroad. What’s important is you open yourself to the possibilities and allow yourself to see the positive side when things don’t go as planned.
All of us have must-haves when it comes to preparing for a trip. For children, it’s their favorite toy, for the resident fashionista it’s the humongous makeup kit that contains brushes of different shapes and sizes and palettes of different colors, and for the businessman it’s gadgets that will help him process business transactions. Since I bought the Jaromanoy shirt last December, it has become one of my travel must-haves. It’s one of the first things I pack when I’m preparing for a trip. I have a certain attachment to the shirt because I believe in the people behind it and I want to share their story to the world. More than liking how the shirt fits me, it also makes me feel like they are with me wherever I go. It sounds cheesy and they’ll probably laugh at me but that’s the truth.
When my mom told me that we’ll be going to Angkor Wat to take a picture of the sunrise, I immediately thought of wearing my Jaromanoy shirt. It’s corny but I was thinking, “ah, they’ll see the sunrise with me”. Anyway, I paired it with a skirt that I bought in Thailand since they compliment each other. The ground was still muddy from the previous night’s rain so I decided to wear my trusty chucks.
Anyone who has been to Siem Reap and Thailand will recommend that you visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Angkor Wat and Ayutthaya. Angkor Wat in Siem Reap is a sight to see especially when you go there at dawn and wait for the sunrise. It’s breathtaking to see the sky change its color from black to different shades of blue with hints of yellow, orange, pink, and purple. I cried the first time I saw Angkor Wat because I was so amazed at how it was constructed (think manual labor) and how something so beautiful was preserved through the years. The Ayutthaya temples in Thailand are just as beautiful. Legend has it that it was in 1767 when the Burmese attacked the city and chopped the heads of the Buddha statues. The Buddha tree in Wat Mahatat, Ayutthaya is very famous because of the Buddha’s head that sits firmly in it’s tangled roots. To show respect, one must kneel or sit down when taking a picture with the Buddha.
Since the temples are sacred, there are outfit restrictions. People who wear caps, sleeveless tops and skirts that drop above the knee are not given access in some of temples. I was aware of this since I did some research before going so I had time to plan my outfit.
I went with a white blouse with butterfly sleeves since I knew that it will be very hot. The butterfly sleeves and the blouse’s cotton fabric allowed air to pass through so I wasn’t sweating that much. The wrap-around skirt dropped down to my ankles so I didn’t have to worry about not being able to enter some of the temples. The Roxy baller never left my left arm since a surfer friend gave it to me last Christmas – it makes me feel that the ocean is with me wherever I go. I bought the bangle during my trip to Vietnam last year. I decided to use it since it matches the color accents on my blouse.
It’s important to bring a bag with you when you’re visiting temples. You will need to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration, a face towel, and extra clothes. For this visit, I used the bag my mom gave me since it can hold a lot of items and it has a secret pocket. I managed to fit the essentials plus my DSLR without it being too bulky.
What I enjoyed the most about my visit to the temples was mentally revisiting all my history notes dates since elementary. The stories and articles that I only saw in text books, articles, and journals were finally standing before me- I didn’t have to imagine what they looked like anymore. It is true that travelling is the best form of education because you don’t just read about it; you experience it, real time.