Le Freak

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More often than not, when I’m preparing for a show (or when I’ve finished) I find myself backstage, rummaging through the carefully picked items my stylists bring for me. I don’t do this to change whatever look they’ve already selected for me, but kind of just to see what I can “play dress up” with. That is exactly what happened a few weeks back as I was preparing to join my father on the MYX Live stage. When I saw the top and the pants I instantly relapsed into my That 70s Show addiction. The outfit left me wanting to scream “WE’RE ALL ALRIGHT! WE’RE ALL ALRIGHT!” with a bunch of friends in a Vista Cruiser. 

| Charles and Keith heels |

Photography by Niña de Torres using a Fujifilm X-A3

Suncatcher

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I was never really the type to shy away from the sun. One of the phrases I remember most from when I was a child is “Kiana! Sunblock!” I’d spend hours and I mean HOURS in the ocean or in the pool, lying in the sand and hiking with my cousins. I started playing football in high school which meant spending even more time under the sun training or in tournaments. As I got older I got into surfing (no, I’m not very good) and hiking and well, all that sun took its toll on my skin.

A couple of years ago I noticed that parts of my face were whiter than usual and when I went to get checked I found out that it was something called hypopigmentation. YIKES! The sun had damaged my skin so badly that parts of my face weren’t producing melanin - the pigment that gives us our color! Although the doctor had reassured me that with the help of medical creams and time away from the sun my skin would go back to normal, I couldn’t stop thinking about all those times I heard “KIANA! SUNBLOCK!”

Since then I’ve been extra careful about my skin, so much so that I have a whole routine for when I’m at the beach or when I know I’ll be spending some time under the sun. 

FACE

Before

Because the skin on my face is still not in its best state,I start at night with my Marula Oil by John Paul Selects. The marula oil is actually something I use daily because it’s just the best at rejuvenating my skin. I just apply a few drops of it after I shower or wash off all the sun screen or makeup if I’m coming from work. It's fast absorbing and after a long day under the sun, or after wearing makeup for a long time, it deeply hydrates and restores my skin. I also sometimes use this as a makeup primer!

During

To protect my face, I depend on my Ultra Light Daily UV Defense by Keihl’s. It’s small so I can take it with me everywhere and it isn’t sticky on my face once it’s absorbed. I sometimes also use the Laneige Homme Sun Protection Stick. Yes, I know it’s for men, but it’s just so handy and I mean, it does the job! It feels a bit like a lip balm but not as heavy so this is what I usually reapply on my face throughout my day at the beach. ALSO, I LOVE HATS. Hats are my best friends.

After

My aunt just recently introduced me to her line of handmade spa products from Lemongrass House and I’m telling you, I could write a whole entry solely on the reasons why I love every single product she sends me (maybe I will). After a day in the heat, sunburn is usually my worst enemy. Sometimes, no matter how much I make sure I lather myself in sunscreen, the burns show up anyway. It used to be a huge problem for me until she gave me a bottle of her After Sun Aloe Vera Gel. It’s infused with Natural extracts of cucumber, blue chamomile and green tea and smells divine! It isn’t sticky, absorbs really quickly and cools down sunburn instantly. 

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BODY

During

I like to tan, but I am also traumatised by the damage the sun cased on my face. I used to embrace tanning oils and either run around the shore or lay down on a mat and soak up the sun. However, after the hypopigmentation I would hide under whatever shade I could possible find at the beach. These days I use Nivea Sun Protect and Bronze Sun Spray to shield me just enough without depriving me of a nice aftersun glow. Aside from this I like to use coconut oil as an extra layer of protection and also so my skin (and hair!) doesn’t dry up.

After

To rehydrate my skin after all that time in the heat I usually shuffle between my moisturising cream called Dexeryl, the After Sun Aloe Vera Gel from Lemongrass House and extra virgin coconut oil. Dexeryl is a lotion/ cream that another aunt of mine introduced me to when we were in Spain. My skin had started to dry up because of the heat and once I applied Dexeryl, my skin instantly absorbed it, I fell in love with it and brought home two bottles. Depending on the state of my skin, I’ll bring out my aloe vera gel and/ or coconut oil before I head to bed. Since coconut oil is fairly thick and stays really oily for a longer period of time, I prefer applying it on my skin when I know I won’t be spending much time outdoors or in the company of others. It really does wonders for dry, sunburnt skin though.

There you have it. The routine really does sound much more complicated than it actually is but the point is this: take care of the skin you’re in! I didn’t and I had to suffer the consequences! Don’t be lazy like how I used to be and protect yourself from sun. Start now and don’t just wait for the summer. Work on preventing the damage rather than trying to repair it later. It’ll save you so much time, money and effort, I promise. 

 

Neon Island swimmers

Photography by Niña de Torres using a Fujifilm X-A3

2016: The best and the worst

I’ve mentioned this before but here I go saying it again: 2016 was the most challenging year of my life so far. Last year hit me shamelessly and hard with the toughest blows aimed directly at my heart. I lost two grandfathers, I was scared I was going to lose a sister, I hurt and was hurt by someone who was once very special to me and at times found myself completely alone, not knowing what to do next. I started the year with the right attitude and a positive outlook on life and a mission to strengthen my walk with Christ. It was easy at first when things were going my way, but as the lows got lower and the problems got bigger, I got lost. I threw myself into work and what seemed like an endless party schedule that helped me keep my mind off my problems and instead on having fun and meeting new people. I couldn’t stay home because when I would, my thoughts and emotions would consume me. I didn’t want to be sad. So I stayed out of home, with friends and cousins and at one point in a condo my dad had rented for his studio. I ran away. 

It wasn’t until later on in the year, when my lolo passed, that I had to face my demons. Lolo Chiquiting was the stepdad of my dad who we lost in October. I loved him so much. We would email each other plans he had for my future and goals I had for myself. He was great. When he passed, I represented our family and flew to Orlando to be with my Mamita, titas, titos and cousins for a week. The trip hit me hard as this was the first time I was without my friends to keep me busy and happy. It was also the first time I had been in Orlando without my parents or any of my siblings. It was a week of joyful reunions but also a week of pain as we mourned the passing of a man I wished I had spent more time with. All the struggles I had faced over the past year came back to me in flashes as people asked me how I was and what was new. There were days when I couldn’t bring myself to leave my bed. I was deeply depressed and I didn’t even know it until it was the only thing I could really feel when I would be alone. It was difficult having all that time to reflect on things I could’ve done better. I remembered people and things done to me that hurt me and the things I had done to hurt others. I got to think of all the time and money I had wasted on alcohol and partying. At one point I cried angrily at the ceiling asking God what I had done to deserve so much loss in one year. But there really was nothing I could do to rewind time and do things differently. The only choice I had was to fight through my mess. So I fought and I cried and I prayed.

Things slowly got better, of course, when I decided to be honest with myself and see my reality for what it was. My life wasn’t terrible, I was just having a bad year. And yes, it was a tough year, but I made it worse by focusing on events and people that would wear me down rather than focusing on all the positive things I had achieved and all the great people cheering me on. I wasn’t alone and I had to stop running away from the ones who really cared. The ones who stayed through all my ups and every single down and pushed me to come out better and stronger. 2016 was mad and it was heartbreaking and it was unfair… but it was also so much fun and unforgettable and life changing. Who in the world would’ve thought that in just one year I would move out, pay my own bills, raise a loving dog, cook my own food, do my own dishes, commute, slowly build a music career and find light and love in the most unexpected way. I changed this year. I grew up. There are still things I wish I could take back but so many more moments I wish I could relive. So here is a reminder to myself for the rest of 2017: everything really does happen for a reason. Good or bad, there’s a bigger plan -  a better one. My prayer is that 2017 is exactly how it should be. I pray that this year I learn and I pray I grow. 

Ciao 2016! You truly were the best of times and the worst of times!

 

 

Ocean Essentials black swimmers | Charles and Keith sandals

Photography by Gabriel Valenciano

Circles

Is your video based on personal experiences?

Many people automatically assumed that because I wrote such personal lyrics, that the video was based on personal experiences too. Well, the video was not based on personal experiences. I have never been in a physically abusive relationship. However, words cause a different kind of sting and can be emotionally damaging as well.

Why then would I base the video on such a story?

Growing up, I was blessed enough to have been able to go on different outreach programs and meet so many people from all walks of life. About 2 1/2 years ago I was able to meet girls from the iFight Movement - a movement to end human trafficking. I sat there and listened to their stories about abuse and all the pain they went through at such a young age. Some of the stories I heard were unimaginable, and yet here they were fighting back and happy. I was devastated. I knew from then on that this was something I wanted to stand up for.

On my first meeting with our director Mike Carandang, he was hesitant to bring up his vision. Knowing that I am not exactly a trained actress and that I might be afraid to push myself out of my comfort zone, he was unsure if I would be up for the challenge. The challenge was to channel the other half of an equally very abusive relationship. Of course, because of the young girls I love and stand up for, I immediately knew I wanted to do it.

What is this song about?

I wrote this song around this time last year to tell the story of a relationship coming to an end. A relationship that did not lack love, but was drowning in uncontrollable circumstances. You know how it goes: you love each other so much, you both try to push your feelings aside to make it work or to make sure your partner feels safe or loved or maybe even in control. You push and push and push until one day you wake up and realise you have nothing left to give because you honestly gave your all. Is it your fault? Is it your partner's? I don't know. I don't have the answer, but this song is about exactly that.

Sometimes after a long-term, deep and meaningful relationship has lost its essence, we don't know how to let it go. Not only because the love is still there, but because we're afraid. Change is frightening. Being alone is frightening. Meeting and opening up to someone new is frightening. If you let that fear control you, it holds you back from moving forward and you end up running back to what brought you pain in the first place. Again, you try and you push and you hurt. You go in circles. 

Circles

Written by Kiana Valenciano | Arranged by Gary Valenciano

We’re stuck in this moment and nobody’s talking

You’re looking at me like we’ve been here before

Like I’ve done something wrong

I know we’re both right but you’re overreacting

And I don’t know if I can do this anymore

 

So what do we do?

Where do we go?

Do we keep trying?

We’re going in circles and we’re not the same, no more

I tell you it’s real

I tell you I’m here

But you think I’m lying

Can we go back to who we were before

 

Our tempers get short as our days grow longer

Can’t seem to move past what we’ve already said

Words we didn’t even mean

This moment can break us or make us stronger

But this is not how you and I were meant to be

 

So what do we do?

Where do we go?

Do we keep trying?

We’re going in circles and we’re not the same, no more

I tell you it’s real

I tell you I’m here

But I’m tired of fighting

Can we go back to who we were before

 

And we both won’t back down

Cause we’re both just too proud

Do you hear me, should I bother?

Do I go or should I stay?

Cause it’s all going wrong

Pretending we’re fine just to keep holding on

And as you try to pull me in

It drives me away

 

So what do we do?

Where do we go?

Why do we keep trying?

We’re going in circles and we’re not the same

I tell you it’s real

I tell you I’m here

But I’m tired of fighting

We can’t go back to who we were before

No more

No more

No more