Archive for the ‘Philippine Star Column’ Category

Gender-neutral gifts for every budget this Christmas

In Philippine Star Column on December 13, 2013 at 1:28 am

People making lists, buying special gifts…you know the rest, and are probably in the midst of weeding out who’s naughty or nice from your “presents” recipients as Christmas draws near. But what to give? There are myriad choices out there- with a boom of online and offline retailers that can make even the most savvy of shoppers’ head spin. Practical as far as this columnist is concerned is the new buzzword, so here’s a shortlist of gifts that are gender neutral and for any budget from frugal-yet thoughtful to splurge-and useful.


1)   A watch with attitude. Oversize, or a slightly bigger than what you’re used to timepiece with either a standout bezel or strap can make a stylish statement without going over the top. Dutch brand MAX makes a whole range of sporty to dressy designs that would look good worn solo (big enough to look like a bracelet) like the Aviator (P 12,900) for a woman, or prepping up a day outfit with its brown leather strap and its 52mm steel bezel. For a more classic look with a slight twist (think, chunky time telling hands and numbers on a 42mm steel bezel) the Phantom in black or white (P 10,500) will be happily received by that special someone you’d gladly invest your time (and budget) on.  MAX Watches available at Bratpack, Aloha Boardsports and Check out



2)   Look cool while keeping warm. Designer Rhett Eala has designed a number of chic cover-ups with delightful details that can easily be worn by a man or woman. Reasonably priced, from less than a thousand pesos to about three thousand, these are travel-friendly hoodies and jumpers that you can be tossed on or into your carry-on. Unisex-friendly, they come in a variety of sizes from XS to XL so you may even think of dressing your entire clan up for the ubiquitous family photo/Christmas card. Available at Nest, 40 Jupiter Street Bel Air 3, Makati. Tel nos. (02) 818-8811 and (02) 403-3062


3)   No borders. For that avid traveler in your life, a lightweight and leather passport holder that can bear his or her initials (or even full-name) is an ideal gift to keep important documents within easy reach. S.C. Vizcarra creates several models in different kinds of natural leather, colors and sizes starting at a very reasonable P 500 each.  For more information visit or e-mail: Tel. no (02) 854-67


4)   The nose knows. Cadentia Nature Eau de Colognes are made in France and are perfect for an everyday refreshing scent-sational feeling. Not overpowering, with four variants (although the Naturelle and Intense are the most gender-neutral) they come in two sizes 250 ml (p 245) and 500 ml (P 345) If you’ve still got a kris kringle party to go to and have not found out who your “baby” is, then this could be your best gift bet. Cadentia colognes available at Rustan’s Supermarket, and online at

5)   Donate Nation. Really tight on budget this holiday season? Or perhaps the thought of shopping for something material not a palatable thought? There are many, many charitable organizations out there still accepting volunteers, goods (whether freshly bought or pre-owned) as well as making Christmas cards or token gifts that can be purchased with proceeds going to a certain cause. There is always a good reason to get down and get generous, and it’s not always based on the money you can dole out. Sometimes quality time with the people you love, or people who need some love is the best gift of all this year.

So, how are you going to play Santa this 2013?

Skin Savers to have on hand

In Philippine Star Column on November 22, 2013 at 12:40 am

Having a first-aid beauty kit is an absolute must in this day and age of bi-polar weather, here- to-there traffic, and the work and social events that are starting to fill up your iCal. These add up to skin stress, and the last thing you want is to look as if the season had partied all over you. Many products are now available in travel sizes, so you don’t have to be weighed down when stashing a couple of them in your purse or leaving some in your office drawer or school locker for whenever you need a beauty boost.

Here’s a shortlist of how to keep the beauty blues away:

Bright wash

Clean, fresh skin is the base for all things beautiful. The SebaMed Liquid Face and Body Wash is 100-percent soap- and alkali-free, making it non-drying and perfect for frequent use. It is also a deep-pore cleanser, a highly economical one as one drop can already wash your entire face. With the humidity and pollution in the country, give yourself a clean slate with this gentle cleanser. Call 242-3636 or 244-6992 for info.

LiquidFaceBodyWash hi res

The great cover-up

Coming in different shades that are great for Filipina skin tones, the Aivee Teo Foundation with SPF 40 can cover up as well as protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays. In a pinch, it also acts as a clever concealer, evening out your skin tone and covering up dark undereye circles. P700. Call The Skin and Laser Clinic at 403-3245 to order.


Rosehips don’t lie

This is a miracle in a bottle. An itchy rash? A pimple? Use Venus and Mars Naturals’ Rosehip Oil for immediate relief. You may witness skin irritants disappear within a couple of days, if not hours. P800 for a 20ml bottle. Order through or call 0922-3092798.


A soft touch

Your hair, nails and other parts of your body also need some TLC so gently spread Souq International Moroccan Argan Oil on areas that need conditioning or a little softening up. It’s so rich, a little goes a long way. Works wonders on cracked heels and tired toes after a whole day in stilettos, too! P1,500. Available at

Moroccan Argan Oil

Buzz off

Not only are those pesky little buggers potentially dangerous (think dengue), but also nobody looks good scratching away at a mosquito bite. The lovely-smelling Cadenia Nature Anti-Mosquito Cologne is a great double agent to up your mood and keep you from getting bitten, especially when you have to party outdoors. P275 for 125ml and P375 for 250ml. Available online at

Anti-mosquito cologne

Have any (or all) of these products on-hand and you can save face no matter where you find yourself as the holidays come rushing in. Bonus: they’re all small enough that they’re travel- friendly too!

Philippine Fashion Week review: Breezy silhouettes and active wear are in the mix for spring/summer ‘14

In Philippine Star Column on November 8, 2013 at 7:37 am

A milieu of designers interpreting the looks for spring/summer 2014 resulted in a rather mismatched free-for-all. Color palettes, fabrics and lengths — even the accessories used were so dissimilar that it would be difficult to say if there is any one staple look for the coming year. In terms of wearability and artistry, there were several designers that displayed consistency. Perhaps for 2014, it’s basically about choosing your style mood: would you want to be sporty, comfy or make a statement? Choose the designer based on their strengths if you don’t want an unwearable surprise.

Veejay Floresca

Active wear may have been on the now US-based designer’s mind as models traipsed out in form-fitting jackets and hoodies coupled with up-to-there shorts or loose flowing trousers. Floresca married materials normally used for sportswear — cotton and jersey — with evening wear fabrics such as chiffon, allowing for movement and texture.





 Ronaldo Arnaldo

Favoring a womanly silhouette, Arnaldo’s collection named “Azure” was inspired by summer itself, the sea, the blue skies and the beach evident in the palette ranging from very light and cool blue to white. Said Arnaldo: “I envisioned it to be worn in a resort or a cruise. It’s all about serenity, relaxation and peace of mind, effortless and easy going. I used fancy crepes, linens, silk satin and jusi.”




Vania Romoff


Yvonne Quisumbing

Staying true to her artistry, Quisumbing’s collection drew attention with dramatic headpieces and shoeless models tiptoeing up and down the ramp. Her collection entitled “Heroine” was inspired by a combination of a topiary, rectangular Rothko canvases and the grand personality of a heroine. Quisumbing incorporated colors such as blacks, whites, peaches and reds, using thick materials such as textured tweed and leather, softened by delicate chiffon, georgette and organza. “I aim to find the perfect balance between the complex and the minimal,” explained Quisumbing, “like the combination of a sculptural blouse on top of pedestal-like pants.” She also credits local heroine Gabriela Silang for being the “personality” behind her line. “She is both delicate and fearless, humble and brave. The collection is my inspiration of such polarity,” concluded the designer.





SOUL TRAIN By Katrina H. Holigores (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 8, 2013 – 12:00am

The healing power of bespoke jewelry

In Philippine Star Column on August 30, 2013 at 1:39 am
Bling it on. Customized jewelry with healing properties

Bling it on. Customized jewelry with healing properties

People often look at jewelry as simply an accessory that can add a touch of elegance or playfulness to their outfit of the day. Jewelry also connotes a certain status, or has sentimental value for some, but only recently have people discovered that the gemstones or semi-precious crystals used in certain pieces may actually contain magic “powers.” For German-born Pamela Bähre Ebensperger, the call of the crystal was what piqued her interest in switching careers from in-demand fashion model to accessory designer. “I was a model for 17 years, traveling the world and getting exposed to so much beauty and design but I knew I wasn’t going to be a model forever so I wanted to find a new love. I have always loved jewelry, what it is and all that it symbolizes, so  I learned to craft jewelry, goldsmith, silversmith, stone-setting, and the techniques involved. In  2011, I studied gemology in GIA and did some specializations. I am currently completing a jewelry design course,” explains Bähre Ebensperger. Having moved to Chile when she was very young, she soon found herself exposed to the more metaphysical attributes of gems and semi-precious gems. Latin America has some of the biggest mines in the world and because its culture is a blend of both mysticism and modernism, she found herself designing intuitively, starting off with creating pieces for close friends and family. “I use all kinds of crystals from diamonds to quartz. All gemstones have vibration, and energy. They can all store, focus, transmit and transmute  certain energy frequencies so I choose them carefully, having in mind what the client wants and needs,” she says. She also intimated that metals carry their own frequency and she chooses to work largely with silver and gold as settings.

Precious things. Metals and gemstones in unusual, one of a kind designs.

Precious things. Metals and gemstones in unusual, one of a kind designs.

Bähre Ebensperger’s personality is as sparkly as her designs as she eagerly shares some of her “success” stories in matching a particular piece to a client. The first piece she shows me is a set of wedding bands she made for a gay couple in Chile. “They’re actually among the best hairstylists there,” says Bähre Ebensperger. “In Chile there’s no legal marriage for gay people yet and they have been together for over 30 years so they asked me to make them something symbolizing their union. I made wedding bands that don’t look at all like wedding bands. I crafted them out of silver  since it  embodies the energy of the moon, feelings and creativity. They told me when they wore the rings they really felt the energy and love and said it was as if they were starting a whole new chapter!”

Cuff it up. Chunky and sleek shapes and sizes.

Cuff it up. Chunky and sleek shapes and sizes.

The next photo she shows me is a ring — something she made for her mother who was going through what she calls a life-transforming situation at the time. “She wanted something to remind her of her new spiritual awareness and the power of her mind. I chose to design a flower in full-bloom made of white gold. Gold, besides being very malleable,is a metal that attracts wealth and prosperity. Silver is the add space color of grace so she is constantly reminded of the grace of God.” The next picture she shows me is of a ring she made for her very close friend, Rosa, which has a stunning blue gemstone that draws the eye. “The stone is called Alexlite and it is a color variety of the crystal flourite. It was made to symbolize our friendship so I wanted grace, creativity and the perfection of nature because for Rosa it is very important to be natural and true to one’s self.” Bähre Ebensperger continues: “Rosa is also head of sales for an international clothing brand so she tends to be ‘masculine’ in her ways, so the ring serves as a balance-transmuting and transmitting feminine qualities. She is also awakening to her spirituality and dark blue or indigo is the color of the sixth chakra, the one that connects you to your higher self and spiritual realms. As the stone changes color from blue (in fluorescent light or daylight) to purple in incandescent light (yellow or candle light) it also embodies the attributes of the seventh chakra which is the one that connects us to God.”

Mama mia. A ring made for the designer's mom to symbolize her spiritual growth.

Mama mia. A ring made for the designer’s mom to symbolize her spiritual growth.

What can one expect when getting Bähre Ebensperger to craft a personalized piece? First, she explains, “Getting inspiration after talking to and getting to know my client… their dreams, desires, and what they want to feel when they wear the jewerly… their aura. Then comes the design or, in my case, this is almost always the crafting. The metals must be melted, forged, shaped, polished etc. and if the piece has gemstones the setting follows. I usually just see the materials and the inspiration takes its own form.”

Nice necking. A choker that connotes an upward movement of energy.

Nice necking. A choker that connotes an upward movement of energy.

Lovers of Ovex jewelry are more than happy to shell out a minimum of P17,000 per piece with the security of knowing that it is perfectly attuned to them in every way, eliciting certain emotions everytime they put it on. Better yet, as every design is one-of-a-kind, it serves as a reminder of how unique and special they truly are.

* * *

For more information e-mail or call: 0949-8889238.

Cleansing your system of toxins and bad habits: The Master Cleanse

In Philippine Star Column on August 8, 2013 at 11:45 pm
Soup opera: Break your fast with vegetable soups that are packed with goodness.

There is probably nothing more musical to one’s ears than the words “You look great! You’re so payat!” For most of us weight-obsessed individuals, the battle of the bulge takes up much of our daily conversations with friends, family and even total strangers. Have you ever gotten the “Hey! Have you lost/gained weight?” in place of a simple “How are you?” Our foreign visitors often have to be briefed that the mention of their current state of, well, body mass index is as normal as talking about the weather and they should not take offense. No matter what time of year it is in our country, thin is always in. I still remember those (including myself) who go on one ridiculous regimen after the other in the months leading up to Christmas because, we all know, even an Olympian will not be able to resist the temptations laid before him on a noche buena spread.

I can safely say I’ve been on both crazy to not-so-crazy diets, ones with ridiculous anagram meanings, to ones that were healthy, but needed medical supervision in order to do it without going stir-crazy. I had come to a part of my life wherein I was just plain old tired of yoyo-ing from one dress size to another. Not to mention that drastic dieting does take its toll on your skin and well-being. Sure, you can lose a dramatic amount of weight if you want to in a very short period of time, but if you didn’t change anything else about you (say, your attitude towards food and/or stress) you’ll just binge your way back to overweight glory in no time. Looking at the mirror and wondering where the skinniness of my youth went was not the best way to start or end the day.

It was early in this year that I made the conscious decision to pay equal focus to both my mind and my body. So I enrolled in yoga teacher training and for that whole month, I went vegetarian. Thirty days of intense yoga plus lighter fare started to make a difference in my overall well-being. Since some yoga poses require you to carry your own body weight, a shrinking body mass helps your practice dramatically. That month I must have dropped almost 10 pounds and was feeling strong and more aware of my body, so I then decided to do a detox, choosing Stanley Burrough’s Master Cleanse. A caveat: I am not in any capacity a nutritionist, but I have learned to do my due diligence before starting something new. The Master Cleanse, known more popularly as “The Lemonade Diet,” works on the premise of cleaning out your system completely and providing a brand new spanking “you” inside, after a minimum 10-day rest period from all the food and beverage that you may be addicted to. If you think you aren’t addicted, see how long you can go without sweets, coffee or even processed foods such as white rice or cheese.

This cleanse asks you to rid yourself of your bad food habits by committing to only drinking a concoction of organic lemons, water, cayenne pepper and grade B maple syrup, combining it with light to no exercise, and rest. Going into the diet, you have to start to wean yourself off of meats, alcohol, caffeine and processed foods, etc., so that by day one you can go through your day with a thermos or two filled with liquid gold. This detox is not for the fainthearted. You have to commit and realize that a majority of your eating habits (the bad ones) are due to your emotional attachment to food, drink and even the social relationships you associate with eating. The first two days are relatively easy; pride is what can carry you through the first 48 hours, plus by the second day you may already lose two pounds, which feels pretty good. It’s Day 3 that is the biggest hurdle (at least in my case). Much like a drug addict or alcoholic goes through withdrawal symptoms, I got a headache and the sweats (others got stomachaches or feverish symptoms) and you feel like you need a food “hit.” You just have to keep drinking the lemonade blend and even more water and, if you find yourself constipated, an herbal laxative tea.

Days 4-6 is when it begins to dawn on you how little you need food, or at the very least, how much food and drink you over-indulge in, because you are now feeling more alert and strong considering it’s been days since your last swallow of solid food. Days 7-8 are also challenging because you may start to argue with yourself, and say things like “I’m more than halfway done, I can quit now.” Or “I’ve already lost almost 10 pounds, I can stop this!” You can lose about 1-2 pounds a day on a Master Cleanse,” but bear in mind that 60 percent of what you lose is water weight. By Day 9-10 you are feeling stronger than ever, lighter, and if you have had problems sleeping, you will find that you don’t need to sleep as often or as long and still feel energized. Not to mention your skin and eyes are brighter than they’ve ever been. If 10 days is your maximum, then start to wean yourself back to the non-liquid intake slowly. I would highly recommend the super food smoothies of Edgy Veggy ( or the slow-cooked vegetable soups of Real Girl Toy Kitchen (www.realgirltoykitchen) to help you break your fast over Days 11-13.

Everyone’s experience with The Master Cleanse is different, so let me just share mine. I lost about 11 pounds during the time period and gained back four. But, since my appetite and stomach had decreased in size, I was no longer as hungry as I used to be, and my metabolism had also increased and hasn’t decreased since the fast. I am at my lightest weight now, having lost an additional 15 pounds since going off the fast in May and I’ve dropped three dress sizes. A detox is for an overall rehaul that can result in not only cleansing one’s body but kicking dependence on food to make one feel good. Check out to see if this is the detox for you.

Reposted from:

SOUL TRAIN By Katrina H. Holigores (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 9, 2013 – 12:00am

Experiencing the India you didn’t expect

In Philippine Star Column on March 8, 2013 at 1:05 pm



India was never really at the top of my travel bucket list. Although renowned for being the birthplace of many spiritual practices that I subscribe to, there were just too many stories from other travelers that painted a rather unflattering picture of the place. Thankfully, times have changed, and although there are still the obvious dangers and inconveniences that still pepper many an India trip tale, I finally decided to really try something new and out of my comfort zone and booked a trip in January. On the plane ride over, I came to realize that not only was it a new year, it was the year of the Water Snake-symbolizing rebirth, and, the kundalini  (a powerful energy that sits dormant in one’s body until it’s awakened) is often represented in the shape of a snake. I took this all to mean that this trip could be highly transformative and that I should do things I would normally not do. All the negative voices prior to my trip from well-meaning friends of what to expect or be wary of, I cancelled out; if I was going into something already thinking of the worst that could happen, then I’d probably be inviting that kind of experience.

IMG_1472 IMG_1522



Having this kind of attitude, I feel, is what made this trip far removed from  some of the horror stories I had been inundated with and I am grateful. Sure, not everything was seamless, I don’t think I will ever get used to the maniacal weaving and highly defensive driving on the streets, but that was, I learned to accept, all part of the flavor that was India. Delhi, the country’s capital, had both the old, the very, very old, and the new. There were massive malls, smaller shopping complexes with fabulous home accessories, fabrics and even food as well as open-air bazaars that consisted of a lot of bargaining and hours of cajoling, begging, and even minor flirtation to get a beautifully spun pashmina for less. I do not posses the fine art of making tawad so it was an exercise in patience for me to watch my friends stand their ground and slice prices away until they felt satisfied and happy with their purchases. My reward at the end of the day was a good meal, and Delhi did not disappoint. Although I wouldn’t recommend street food to the uninitiated, there are many reputable restaurants and cafes that serve authentic local cuisine and western cuisine (should your taste buds not run towards the hot and spicy).

IMG_1559 IMG_1668 IMG_1705


Two lovely Delhi discoveries: the whole of Good Earth in Kahn Market that had everything from clothes, accessories, beauty products, home interiors, fabrics and a beautifully decorated café on the top floor; and the very impressive Parliament Area where all the government institutions are situated. The latter is not the India you expect and is awesome in every way, from its architecture, its greenery and, well, its overall area size, stretching down almost until India Wall.

IMG_1747 IMG_1783 IMG_1789 IMG_1828 IMG_1840 IMG_1850 IMG_1876 IMG_1911 IMG_1948 IMG_1962 IMG_1990 IMG_2021

The rest of the trip was more than just incredible, it was incredibly surprising. I stuck to my guns and tried something new every day, from a super-spicy Tamil-inspired chicken dish (so good, yet so painful to eat) that brought tears to my eyes in Udaipur to taking a stab at printing on cloth in a factory in Jaipur. There were close encounters of the animal kind with me sitting right alongside a snake charmer in Amber Fort in Agra and very tepidly bringing my hand to lightly brush the scales of the cobra as it hissed at me. A rather vertigo-inducing and bumpy elephant ride wedged in between other elephants in Jaipur (offering throat-clenching views) below was unforgettable, and a must for anyone, although I have to admit hearing some of the tourists scream so close to the edge of the road was very amusing. In between the tourist treasures and traps I got my fill of beautiful silk and cotton fabrics, Ayurvedic healing oils, artisanal crafts such as a marble table inlaid with crystals and delicately painted images set on camel bone. A local pastime that I was fortunate enough to experience twice was an Indian wedding, with proverbial bells, whistles, mountains of food and a groom in full regalia mounted on a white steed that seemed to be encrusted in the remains of a disco ball. Both weddings happened on the grounds of two different hotels in two different cities, one much grander than the other with revelry that went on all throughout the night. I imagined that the picture taking alongside the bride and groom must have filled a couple of hours. One couple was even on a stage on a couch and guests had to come up one by one (or in some cases, per family) to have their portraits professionally taken. To wax on about everything I saw, heard, smelled, tasted, touch would probably take way more space than this column allows, India is to be experienced, not just read about. It would be an injustice to simplify what this country can offer in mere words and images. IMG_2041 IMG_2146 IMG_2160 IMG_2171 IMG_2241 IMG_2266 IMG_2277 IMG_2421 IMG_2398


A trip to India is a trip to heighten the senses, all of them, sometimes all at the same time. There may be those who find this kind of intense stimulation invasive and abrasive, but for those who are ready to embrace it, this land of contrasts can make any other trip pale very much in comparison.

Pinoy style pride: Handmade fashion capitalizing on indigenous design

In Philippine Star Column on January 18, 2013 at 12:15 am
Vested interest. Linen and beaded vest made by the T’boli.

Vested interest. Linen and beaded vest made by the T’boli.

The devil is in the details as the saying goes, and in fashion, a series of beads strategically placed can make all the difference from turning simple into something truly special. It was the attention to detail and fabric that caught my eye when I spotted an old friend, Len Cabili, sporting a colorful jacket at a party. Looking closely at it, I was reminded of the prints and patterns of the traditional garb I often saw in pictures worn by those hailing from the region of Mindanao. It turned out, her jacket was not only inspired by the malongs worn by the Maranao, but were also made by them. Cabili, who founded Filip+Inna clothes in 2011 (although she started making them in 2010) grew up in Iligan City in Mindanao. “As a child, I remember how I loved to watch my mom dress up for special occasions, the Maranaos  would sometime come to our home in their colorful malongs. It made such a lasting impact on me — I learned to appreciate fashion and tradition. Then I took up my BS in clothing technology at the UP Diliman,” she says.

Tboli twist. Get a little tribal color in an Anya dress

Tboli twist. Get a little tribal color in an Anya dress

Although Cabili confesses she has to “wear many hats” as founder and creative designer, she credits a true collaboration between her and the artisans from the different indigenous groups around the Philippines, stating that “they are the reason why I put up the brand.” This collaboration is what gives Filip+Inna creative exclusitivity and excellence. The clothes are made by different groups and the clothes travel wherever the group is, traditional meets contemporary as both “old” and new are intertwined in the designs. Everything is handmade, so you are guaranteed a one-of-a-kind piece. This unique stamp also brings Filipino culture to the forefront especially when viewed by overseas or foreign buyers. “I love looking at the traditional textiles, clothes and accessories of the
different indigenous groups,” says Cabili. “We are such creative
people  and we have a rich culture — the stage is set for the design, when people look at the clothes they will look for the inspiration behind it and see the Philippine culture.”

Mindanao metallics. The Subi jacket can put the shine on any outfit.

Mindanao metallics. The Subi jacket can put the shine on any outfit.

One can choose to make a statement such as wearing the Hiroko (P12,500-P18,500), a floor-length kaftan made from Thai silk with full embroidery, all done by hand by the Tboli, can grace any formal occasion and turn heads. Or something a little more subtle like the Tboli vest (P3,000) also inspired by the Tboli which can turn a casual outfit into something a little more cutting edge. One bestseller is the Anya dress (P13,500) made out of cotton chambray, while those who favor pants to dresses would love the colorful dynamic of  the Petra pants (P6,500-P8,500) in linen. For a cool cover-up, the Subi jacket (P5,500-P7,500) which is also fully beaded on metallic linen is a great travel-worthy addition to your closet. Locally, the clothes are already gaining recognition as they are quite unforgettable, but Filip+Inna has also been recently picked up by Atelier360 for their store in Connecticut and carried online via in the US.

Down south. Petra pants to dress your lower half.

Down south. Petra pants to dress your lower half.

For 2013 the designer looks forward to launching her first full collection this month. “We’ve been doing capsule collections for two years! Next is something for men, and then hopefully a children’s line by late 2013.” Each piece will be part of a collector’s series, almost like an artwork with tags showing the number of series as there are limited runs of each item color and design. Getting your hands on something truly Filipino could be akin to finding national treasure.

Indigenous infusion. Floor length fully beaded Hiroko kaftan

Indigenous infusion. Floor length fully beaded Hiroko kaftan

For more information on Filip+Inna, visit Also available at Itsie-Bitsie in Joya Towers, Rockwell, Makati.



Resolution-ize your life for 2013

In Philippine Star Column on December 28, 2012 at 2:14 am
Have a VERY happy 2013!

Have a VERY happy 2013!

It seems we’ve survived, not only another Christmas season, but the much-talked-about “end of the world” scheduled for December 2012. So, since this can be looked upon (like any new year) as a fresh start, it’s almost time to whip out your wishlist for yourself once more. Wishlists are lovely to write, but when it involves taking action to achieve certain goals or desires, the task gets either too daunting, too tedious, or too impossible and the excuse list overtakes the actual wish list. Perhaps you can do things a little differently this year to ensure that you can give yourself a pat on a back for a job well done when 2014 rolls around. Here’s what you can do:

1. People making lists. Really map out how you would like to see yourself in each quarter of the year. If that still seems a little too “long” to plan ahead, then start with a month-to-month goal of what it is you would like to experience or see happen in your life (i.e., the most common is losing weight or getting back in shape after the all-out feasting during the Christmas season). So list something like: “January 2013, start weighing myself every day” which could become a regular part of your mornings and keep you aware of how much you should or shouldn’t eat that whole day.

2. Picture perfect. Visualization techniques work when they are attached to a certain emotion — normally elation and excitement. Take the time to really get a visionboard going. Again, write down what you want and when you want it achieved by, go through magazines with photos of how you want you and your life to look and put it somewhere you can always see it. If you share a space, then you can simply tack a mantra up on your bathroom mirror so you can see it every day like, “Today I will put aside X amount of my salary so I can travel to X by June 2013” for example. You can also put this as a Post-it note on your laptop, or agenda book, or even on your phone. Pictures truly help! When you see an image of what you want, your heart and head kick in raising your adrenaline and making you “feel” what it would be like to be at your desired life station.

3. Peer pressure. Want to hold true to your word? Tell a close friend or family member who isn’t afraid to speak the truth to you and someone you trust and respect. Why? Because he or she can gently and not-so-gently remind you when you are off-track and also be your cheerleader when you are heading slowly but surely toward your goal. I recently told a friend that I wanted to get into shape for a trip to Hawaii and, boy, he held me to my word. Aside from telling me to text him my weight every day (photo included of the scale) I also had to tell him what I was eating. Trust me, there is nothing like having someone on your back reminding you that you promised yourself to do something. I am grateful, a bit annoyed at times, but so far, so good.

4. Do cluedo. They say success leaves clues. This rings true even with short-term goals. If you wish to start your own business in 2013 then invest a little in expanding your network somewhat as well as your education. Have someone in mind that you’d like to emulate, or a business idea, and see if you can find a way to get more information on how that business came to be. If the owner or founder of the company is in the country then it takes less than six degrees of separation to find your way to him or her. If they are not available (or even no longer alive) then use the power of the Internet to research any book they may have written or interview they have given. See what is possible for you to follow, or even improve on, and with this kind of inspiration, coupled with visualizing, then you’ll have a pretty strong incentive to stick to what you want to do.

5. Belief work. First and foremost, before you even get down to sticking to any resolution, you have to honestly believe that you can do it. Life in general can get in the way, as can friends with well-intentioned jabs at this all-new, focused, seemingly-inflexible you. Keep your eye on the prize and know that yes, you can do anything you set your heart and mind to, especially if it’s for the good of a lot more other people. If it’s all about you, then you may not be enough at times to see it through, but if you keep the bigger picture in mind — like say, you get to save enough money, so much so you can bring someone you really love with you on your next trip — then you have a bigger chance of sticking to your goals and just smilingly drowning out all the other “noise” around you.

2013 can absolutely be your year, in every respect. Just take the first step and see you at journey’s end. Here’s to a happy, happier you!

(The Philippine Star) | Updated December 28, 2012 – 12:00am

Sculptural accents for a different kind of evening bag from Michelline Syjuco

In Philippine Star Column on December 14, 2012 at 12:52 am
Red-y to wear. A heart shaped minaudiere

Red-y to wear. A heart shaped minaudiere

It was back in 2008 that the name Michelline Syjuco first crossed my editorial life. I was then EIC for one of the country’s biggest glossies and my team and I were doing our first Holiday Shopping Special. There was a rather boldly constructed cuff that was unfortunately mislabeled as someone else’s when the magazine went to print, prompting a rather dismayed letter from Syjuco, correcting us for our error. Understanding the sensitivity of an artist having worked so hard on a creation, only to not be credited for it, I personally called her to apologize, was forgiven, and since then (although well-deserved) both she and her work were regular features in our magazine and events. Prior to her “mis”-feature  she first got noticed, not by fashion insiders, but a well respected member of the art world. National Artist Napoleon Abueva spotted her at an event wearing one of her sculptures as a bracelet. He admired it and urged her to continue and come up with a whole line. He then recommended her to be a part of a jewelry show featuring the top designers from Manila.


Crimson clutches: Handpainted and embellished with automatic watch parts

Crimson clutches: Handpainted and embellished with automatic watch parts

Since then, Syjuco, who comes from a family of artists including parents Cesare and Jean Marie, has been ubiquitous in the fashion, art and social scene. Some may remember her exhibit as one of the Ateneo Art Award finalists, or a more recent family collaboration at the Yuchengco Museum. Her jewelry, known for its almost medieval-like influences, are solid pieces often encrusted with semi-precious gems spiraling around different metal mediums and are not for the fashion faint-hearted. Recently, she has expanded her design wings to produce a line of  minaudieres, perfectly timed for the arrival of the holiday season, where bling is always very much in. Michelline Syjuco’s sculptural minaudiere collecion for 2013 consists of 14 pieces, all handmade in her studio in Alabang. Each one is distinctly different, they are made from recycled pinewood crates using pure stainless steel as hardware. For a twist, she incorporated old automatic watch parts, like gears and knobs. “This is a look that I feel has never been done before,” explains Syjuco. “Most minaudieres tend to be traditional. This is a fresh alternative to the norm.” Although all the pieces hold a special place in her heart she admits that her favorite one is “the one that looks like a little red transistor radio. He is so cute, and was a pain to produce. I must have repainted him five times before finally getting the finish I wanted.”


Scene steel-er. Wood and stainless steel works of art

Scene steel-er. Wood and stainless steel works of art

Syjuco admits that she designs for herself primarily, making things that she would wear herself. “I think of women who are bold and daring… not afraid to stand out or be in the spotlight,” she explains. Aside from her artist father, she looks to the late Alexander McQueen as an inspiration. “He could do it all!” she gushes. “And that’s what I want to do as well.” Her minaudieres are both functional and decorative, as each comes with a custom-made easel should you wish to display them instead of wear them. For those who are already fans of her art the design detour was a little shocking but not far-fetched. Like most free-spirited artists, being stereotyped is death, and she continues to express her multi-faceted personality in everything she creates, choosing to focus on one expression of it at a time. “Sometimes it’s hard to get the creative juices flowing just like that, but once I find something I’m passionate about, it’s hard to stop me,” she intimates. “I was actually supposed to do a jewelry line for the Cura V show, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I came up with the idea to do a few minaudieres, and I was so excited about the idea that I couldn’t even sleep more than a few hours a night.”

Shaped and styled. Uniquely formed statment pieces.

Shaped and styled. Uniquely formed statment pieces.


Owning a work of art, especially made by a local talent, is always a worthy investment. If your tastes run to wearable art, then a standout sculptural piece may be just what you need to make what you wear this season more stylish than usual.

* * *

The minaudiére collecion is available in Cura V, 2/F Power Plant Mall, Rockwell. Prices per piece range from P15,000-P25,000. For more details visit

Go-anywhere yoga apparel at All Things Yoga Boutique

In Philippine Star Column on November 16, 2012 at 5:29 am

Good news for the active stylista: workout wear has gotten so pretty and popular nowadays that über-comfy clothing is no longer limited to the gym or ashram. Yoga wear in particular, known for its stretch-ability as well as flattering fit, has become a fast favorite of many, especially for travel or for more casual events. These separates are easy to pack, don’t need ironing and are great for layering on for different looks. Also, if you normally have to rush from one place to another, you can pretty much throw them on and let them hold their silhouette or shape without too much fuss. Recently, All Things Yoga boutique opened its doors, providing a whole range of tops, bottoms and accessories of both imported and local labels for the modern urban dweller.

Tie dye for. tanya b hot yoga separates

Yoga teacher Tanya Boulton and textile expert Karen Ulmander wanted to develop a product that people could live in, resulting in clothing line Tanya-b. “Tanya-b reaches to those that are taking care of themselves, work, family, and friends all at the same time. We live such fast-paced lives that we wanted to create apparel that would keep up with the demands of versatility on a fashionable and functional level. People should feel good in the clothes they wear,” explains the design pair. Their newest collection consists of strong colors in their tie-dye halter tops (P3,450) that can be paired with either bright or neutral colored capris or full-length leggings (prices range from P2,250-3,450). With lives set to manic and multi-tasking mode nowadays, comfort is definitely key and even though these may be a little too casual for the office they could work for those last-minute errand run situations.

Olive Essentials. Tops and dresses for anyday wear.

Local brand Olive Essentials, which first launched through a series of trunk shows, has consistently produced easy-to-wear (and literally throw-on) separates, including the Gigi dress (P1,100) which is great for maximum movement. This brand keeps comfort in mind but has designed pieces that can easily make you shift from fitness freak to fit and chic. The Emy top (available in black or gray, P650) can be used as a cool cover-up or worn alone. There is also a Twist Wrap top (P850) that makes for an interesting detail when layered over a favorite T, tank or even dressier outfit. If you’re not ready to go full-on sporty you can pick and choose a few pieces from this collection and add them to what’s already in your closet. Their dresses all have different, interesting details such as an asymmetrical silhouette although they can be quite loose so you may want to use a belt if you prefer having a more defined waist.

Exhale forever. Infinity scarf for easy layering.

Another line made with yogis in mind by a yoga practitioner, Exhale, is a brand that has created multiwear dresses (that can be shortened and twisted) as well as rompers and playsuits that allow you to cinch them at the waist. They have also come up with beautiful face- and shoulder-framing scarves (Infinity P850) designed to look like the infinity symbol when worn. Coming in bright colors, it is a refreshing option from the more earthy (and often dull) colors that these types of clothes are normally found in. In this day and age, gone is the matching tracksuit made popular by rap superstars or Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria (although they still seem to slip through the fashion sensors every now and then) that defined sporty style, replaced with more wearable, breathable fabrics and styles. In this day and age, being fit and active is “in,” so subtly showing off that you just came from a workout or a yoga/Pilates session amps your attraction meter. The urban lifestyler, the weekend warrior or the city athlete now has many more options to keep on moving, with clothes that move the way you live.

Yoga outside the ashram. Get clothes that move with you.

* * *

All Things Yoga Boutique will be on sale starting Nov. 15 for a limited time at its two locations in Urban Ashram Manila High Street, Fort Bonifacio and Brixton, Kapitolyo. For more details log on to: