Coldplay In Korea

📍Jamsil Olympic Stadium, Seoul

Coldplay has always held a special place in my heart. In my younger years, Coldplay was pretty much the soundtrack to most bonding moments with my brothers. I remember how car rides, game nights, afternoons catching up and just bumming on the couch were all usually accompanied by Coldplay blasting in the background. As I entered my teen years, I grew up with their music. For every kilig moment and every heartbreak, Coldplay had something for me to listen and relate to. Watching them live was just so overwhelming. I teared at the start of every song, completely lost it when they performed The Scientist, Fix You and Charlie Brown, and felt like I was dreaming every time the wristbands lit up or confetti rained over the crowd. The cherry on top of the whole experience was that I was able to watch them not only with some of my best friends, but also with my two younger cousins, Timo and Donny. That night will live with me forever. And although they didn't perform my favourite song, Lovers In Japan, it’s a night I would never do differently. It was just perfect. 

 

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ANNYEONG BOOBOO

📍Itaewon, Seoul

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Wanna know the foolproof recipe of how to be late for a Coldplay concert?

11 fashion-conscious individuals, preferably supportive friends who wont stop until they get the right shot 

50leven Instagram stories

1 roof deck with an amazing view

1 perfectly golden sunset, and of course

2 cameras and all available iPhones

One by one, each of us walked out of our assigned bedrooms to share the one and only semi full length mirror in the living room, asking each other “is this cute,” or “ do I look okay?” And one by one, each of us walked back into our bedrooms to make whatever last minute outfit adjustments we could before rushing off to watch Coldplay. Well, rushing off to see Coldplay quickly turned from one group photo to about 30 minutes of selfies, solo shots, more group photos and a bunch of sunset appreciation snaps. To be fair, by "late for a Coldplay concert" I mean we listened to the first song right at the gates, so it wasn't so bad. NO RAGRETS!

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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

Thrice In A Lifetime

I could start this post by pointing out the obvious and stating how happy I am for the lovely couple and by going on and on about how beautiful the weddings were, or I could be completely candid and tell you why I am so happy these two decided to tie the knot thrice. I feel that the latter option will make a much more interesting story, so I’ll go with that one. My brother is not perfect; neither is Tricia. I mean, really who is? Right? We’re all far from it. But when you put two works in progress from two completely different worlds together, you’re either going to come up with something toxic or something intoxicating.

When my brother first moved to the States, he was at his lowest of lows. He wasn’t eating properly, wasn’t going out of his way to talk to the family, and he just wasn’t moving on from the fact that his life in Manila was not the life he was living in Florida. As time went by though, he adapted and things got better but obviously, something was missing. When he came home for Christmas that year, he and I had a lengthy talk about how he was doing and where he wanted his life to go. He told me that he knew he would end up marrying the next girl he dated; he felt it. Not more than two weeks later I started getting photos and videos on viber of her. He was in love. You have to understand, he didn’t exactly have the best track record so it was hard for me to take him seriously. To make this not-so-long story short, the next thing I knew she was sleeping in our home (he was in the States) mending a broken heart over the death of one of her best friends. She instantly became family. So we had her in our house and him on Skype and when he got home that summer, he had a ring.

The engagement was crazy. At one point the downs were coming a lot more than the ups; there were family fights, sibling rivalries, insecurities and uncertainties. But you know what, despite all of that, they got married in Vegas, Tagaytay, AND Boracay, which leads me to believe that God allowed everything to happen for a reason. For my brother Gab and my new sister Tricia, I hope for not only a happy marriage, but a strong one able to withstand whatever curveballs come their way.

Merger

Merger noun coalition, connection, unification, fusion; a merging of two things into one

What better way is there to merge two crazy families from absolutely two different worlds, than by forcing them all to go on holiday together. One crazy family is enough; put two together and you’re undoubtedly in for a ride. That’s exactly what we got when we went to Boracay for my brother and his wife’s Love Celebration. For those of you who’ve heard about it but haven’t fully understood what it was, it was a way for kuya Gab and Tricia to spread the love on their important day. Instead of making it just about them, they invited other couples to renew their vows alongside them. Determined not to make the singles feel out of place, they were prayed over to either find the one in God’s perfect time or to healthily manage their ongoing relationships. As the ceremony folded and the reception took place, we all slowly and perfectly blended together and the rest is family history. Through this trip (and marriage) I made so many new lifetime-friends, a new cousin-in-crime, 4 crazy older brothers, 6 amazing older sisters and a new set of parents. It truly was the most spectacular time I have ever had in Boracay. I could go on and tell you a very detailed story of our trip, but instead I’ll leave you and these photos to your imagination.