Sandosenang Sapatos Moments

Incredibly late post, but here are some photos I took from when I was a part of Tanghalang Pilipino’s Sandosenang Sapatos, one of the most fun shows I’ve ever done to date.

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Sharing stories in between shows.

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Our pianist, Alex, trying to freak us out.

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Trixie Esteban

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Trixie and (the!) Ms. May Bayot

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With Doc Luis Gatmaytan, the author of the novel.

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Lastly, with Direk Tuxqs Rutaquio!

Divisoria 168 Mall Haul

Mom had to run some errands in Divisoria and I thought I’d tag along and see if I could plunder some treasure from the ultimate wasteland of cheap thrills. I was not disappointed at all. Thought I’d share my haul with you! All of the following finds are from 168 Mall.

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Crop tops, an Anime eyes shirt (the print’s inverted, but it only slightly bothers me; been looking all over for something like this!) and short shorts, which I will never ever have enough of. Each piece was below P500.

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I never knew an “I’ll get them in every color” moment until I saw these headbands on wholesale for P60 each. I died over how gloriously tasteful and adorable the colors, fabrics and patterns were despite being so cheap! Gotta give a girl a break and let her go bonkers over cute bows sometimes.

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So excited to use this baby for future shows or events! It’s a portable makeup train case that can store everything, from my makeup brush kit and even my hair tools –or rather, my only hair tool: my curling wand. But it fits my bottles of hair products as well! I really like that it’s long as opposed to thick, and that it’s fabric, which not only makes it washable, but quite lightweight as well! I’m still not over how well it fits absolutely everything I need to get dolled up for pretty much any occasion. It was my most expensive purchase at P1,500, but I think it’s also the best bang for my buck.

(PS, the painting you see at the back is a portrait a good friend drew of me, back when I had red hair.)

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I also managed to upgrade my makeup brush armory, with replicas of both the beauty blender and the Urban Decay Naked eyeshadow brush, as well as a teasing comb, an angled blush brush to use for bronzers, and a new stippling brush. Each was below P150. These are the last bits of my Divisoria loot.

A haul’s just gratuitous bragging if I ain’t letting you in on where I scored my finds, so: the next time you go to 168 Mall in search of cool clothes, I suggest you make a beeline for the top floor, where the food court is. That’s where the trendier street style stores are. The best makeup store in the entire mall, which is where I got my new tools from, is on the ground floor, near the exit to Sta. Elena street, the side that’s either the 1st or 2nd farthest away from the mall with the 7/11 (I know these are horrible directions. Haha!) you’ll spot it straight away, anyway, it’s chock full of train cases up front and … Very pink.

Hope your next visit to Divisoria makes you go as crazy as mine did to me!😉

After Dani Girl

It all started with a completely random phone call from Toff, the director of Dani Girl. It was a stay-home-stay-stinky day, and my deep existential contemplation session was (thankfully) interrupted. Instinctively, I knew that an interesting conversation was about to happen. He explained to me that he was already getting things moving for The Sandbox Collective, his own theatre company, the idea of which he had only just discussed with me in passing a mere month or two ago. (If there’s someone who tops my list of people who get shit done it’s Toff.) He then asked me if I was willing to do costumes for Dani Girl, the company’s maiden production. I really wanted to do it, but there were a few things troubling me. I was going to be juggling this with 4 other responsibilities: my marketing job, a musical for Megaworld’s 25th anniversary, Sandosenang Sapatos, and preparing for a Cinemalaya shoot. Of course, this thought only crossed my head for a split second before I decided I didn’t give a fuck and gave a lightning-fast no-brainer yes. Anyway, I thought, it’s a 4 person cast, it should be perfectly manageable.

I was totally wrong. When I read the script, I fell in love with it, but was also somewhat alarmed to find out that not only did one cast member have to play 13 other roles, but these roles were fantastical/sci-fi characters, each one drastically different from the rest. On cue, the pressure of singlehandedly costuming a professional show slithered into my gut and decided to rest its butt there. Still, in the greater scheme of things, I didn’t care. I felt afraid and too inexperienced for this. I literally had no idea how I was going to pull this off. But I was also completely and totally ready to grab this challenge by the balls.

The process was simultaneously grueling and rewarding. Thankfully the team liked all the initial ideas I presented during our brainstorming sessions (and actually, almost all of the initial ideas everyone discussed were what we stuck with, because they all kind of fit together in a weirdly serendipitous way.) But gosh, I remember those loooong 2 months so well. I was constantly worrying about finding the time to work on the costumes. In between rehearsal days (I had 2 rehearsals in 1 day; one in the morning and one shortly after after until night) I would be scouting for garments or materials, and those same nights I would be on all fours on the floor until wee hours in the morning, painting, sewing, gluing. I kept joking to myself that there wasn’t a day that I wasn’t bent over on the floor, smeared with some kind of craft-making substance. Being a major multitasker in college prepared me for situations like this, but many nights I felt insecure and worried about my amateurism amidst the deadlines and the durability required of the costumes. I found myself fighting to pull myself together by the last thread. My behavior was affected and I was always blatantly overcompensating, out of sorts, and simultaneously trapped in my head and all over the place because I felt really insecure about myself. (I especially remember it affecting my performance during the Cinemalaya shoot, but that’s a whole other story.)

I kept pushing, because if there’s one thing that always amazes me about theatre, it’s that in the end, things will always find a way to work out, and the show always will manage to go on. I knew that one day the show would be running, and everything that was once so difficult or problematic would be ready and going smoothly, and it would hit me that I did it; that we freaking made it happen– and it would feel cathartic as hell. True enough, that moment did happen. It hit me: damn, little ol’ me pieced together all those fantastical costume pieces that were not only durable, but had to accommodate quick changes as well. But I swear to whatever higher beings are out there, I would never have been able to do it without the amazing set of people in my Sandbox family who helped me (like literally helped me make the costumes) and most importantly, believed in me and trusted me.

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When Toff called me up and asked me to do the costumes for Dani Girl, I knew I had to do it no matter what because I knew I was in for an amazing, magical experience. I was beyond right. Working on Dani Girl, as I wrote in a mushy Instagram post, made me learn and grow so much. It taught me to have the strength to believe in myself despite the pain of my shortcomings. It let me pour my heart out in both laughter and tears, fight about something, fight FOR something, imagine, create, tell a story, break, learn, touch lives, and be touched BY lives.

Dani Girl, the musical play in itself, inspired me to never doubt what the child in my eyes saw, and what the child in my heart felt, despite reality and everyone else telling me to give up in the guise of getting “real.” It enforced my belief in crazily chasing my dreams and the things that make me happy, because even if I may not succeed in the end, the amazing journey and growth I would go through would already be a great success. It reminded me to keep questioning, doubting, fighting, exploring the uncomfortable, because it would somehow lead me to the truth, if not new truths. Above all else though, it really made me want to be a much braver and stronger person.

I really needed Dani Girl. I knew going through this journey would do me some real good. It went beyond making me feel better about myself. In fact, it did the opposite– but in a way that I needed the most. Not only did it show me that I’m capable of achieving so much more than I can imagine of myself, it also showed me many negative traits that I’ve been keeping and insecurely defending for so long, that urgently need changing. More importantly, it let me feel the pain of hitting the jagged-edged rock bottom of my character and self-perception— but this time, it was so bad that it made me tell myself “GURL QUIT RUBBIN YO SORRY ASS AND GET THE HE-YULL BACK UP AND DO SOMETHIN ABOUT IT. I AM SO TIRED O’ YOU STEPPIN ON YA OWN SHIT AND CRYIN’ ABOUT IT.” Specifically in an inappropriately stereotypical sassy black woman’s voice. It made me want to bounce back and change. Badly. So here I am, in the wake of Dani Girl’s aftermath, determined and with a (written!) plan to become awesomer every month.

All because of a courageous little girl named Dani, and her equally brave and amazing friends, who inspired me to keep fighting. I know for certain that in the future, the better, braver, more successful and happy me will owe a lot to these characters.

(All photos used above are by Franco Laurel)

Toycon 2014

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Late post! Been busy, the usual. Even on the day of Toycon itself, I was too busy to prepare an actual cosplay. Donned a Spyro kigurumi instead!

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Ber in her 2nd ever cosplay; a perfect Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service!

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Star Wars Rebels promo booth. Got extra free posters because the dude manning the booth appreciated my fangirling. Haha!

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The moving, beeping Artoo (which I believe was made locally by a Philippine droid builders’ club) taking a break.

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I know jack squat about cars and racing, but in another life I could be down with being a podracer! …Provided that I also get to be a Jedi.

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Spyro cosplaying as super kawaii Peter Dinklage.

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HANDS DOWN THE BEST COSPLAY I SAW THAT DAY. HOW AMAZING IS THAT OOGIE BOOGIE?

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 A wild Bym appeared; this was his first convention too! And soon thereafter we headed back home to get some work done.

Kinda Freakin’ Awesome

So life’s actually been pretty damn cool for such an uncool little hermit girl like me. I’m kind of fangirling over the things that have been happening, which’ve been, as the title says, kinda freakin’ awesome. I’ve been busy dealing and working with the said awesomeness, but I have a bit of downtime today, so here are some of my favorite April/May moments:

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Last April, the unthinkable happened: two of my usually very distant worlds collided! My good theatre friends attended a cosplay convention with me! Two of them even cosplayed for the very first time. My young padawans did very, very well. That’s Dar and Ber, two of my greatest friends from blueREP, cosplaying Luffy and Nami One Piece. Ejay, on my left, tagged along at the last minute and bought tons of awesome geeky trinkets. He’s also a friend from blueREP, but he and I are active in the professional theatre scene now (wohoo!) The Ryoga to my Ranma is Billie, one of my high school best friends and one of the last people from my high-school-best-friend-cosplay-group who still goes to conventions and cosplays with me to this day.

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It was a great first convention for my theatre friends, because together we witnessed a Deadpool cosplayer performing Let It Go from Frozen, complete with Elsa gown costume change! I found the performance on youtube, too. It was hilarious, and the best part is, it would totally make sense for Deadpool to do something like this.

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Later on, a little Anna cosplayer joined him on stage and they re-enacted the For The First Time in Forever reprise!! This is going to be one of my favorite convention memories in a long time.

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The 1st of May was met with my 2nd cosplay competition judging stint ever at Best of Anime Summer Edition. I’ve declined a few previous requests to judge and/or host at various cosplay events due to theatre-related schedule conflicts, so it feels good to have finally made room for this! Plus I got to watch a legit JPop act called Starmarie. They had Japanese fans that flew to the Philippines just to watch them perform. That was pretty intriguing.

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My new phone case is one of those little things you own that make you happy just by looking at them. It was made by Dar’s sister (Dar is the Luffy cosplayer in the first photo!) and is painted entirely with nail polish! In case you can’t recognize the character, that’s Princess Anna from Disney’s Frozen– who is my ultimate Disney princess soulmate– in her “For The First Time In Forever” dress.

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I may be unworthy young but I’m ready! Look ma, my huge crush on Tom Hiddleston was published on local news! I was recently given the honor of being included in Young Star’s 2014 Fresh Produce, an annual list that features the latest of Manila’s emerging young talents. Hold up, uhh, damn what? Me? An “emerging young talent”? Since freaking when? You can’t even begin to fathom my overwhelmed-ness and disbelief, but I’m totally grateful and I promise I won’t let Young Star down. You can read the full article and check out the full list of uber talented kids here.

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I just finished my first week of Rollerblades training for Tanghalang Pilipino’s Sandosenang Sapatos, too! It’s my 2nd professional show after Cinderella. Sometimes I catch myself thinking: I’m doing it! I can’t believe I’m really doing pro theatre! (And then it starts to feel like I’ve been displaced into an alternate universe..)

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I have a terrible sense of balance, so Rollerblading’s been tough but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my learning curve thus far. I mean, it isn’t the best but it’s still way better than what I expected from myself. Maybe it’s ’cause I learned how to skateboard beforehand…? But anyway, the fact that this is my first foray into Filipino material is something I’m dang psyched about, and I’m happy to be working with actors from a wide variety of backgrounds/companies. So many new things are happening, and it’s all because of theatre! Actually, theatre makes me do/try new things every single time. That’s one of the reasons why I love it so dearly.

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I also attended the Young Star Prom (though I’ll always feel way too uncool for these media parties) with THE Ejay Yatco. He’s technically my first prom date ever– I’m a little late in the game, but when your first prom date is a musical genius informally hailed as the Ryan Cayabyab of our generation, I still feel like a winner!

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The theme was prom Kla$$Y which actually meant go in something ratchet. I didn’t wanna wear a “trashy/revealing” outfit, so Ejay and I opted for a wannabe prince/princess-of-Bel-Air look. I think we look pretty convincing as tasteless, spoiled kids.

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Another thing that’s been making me happy: a (finally restocked) set of makeup basics that’s been unlocking my inner makeup geek! I think I’ve found some makeup products I’m going to be sticking with for life– err, until I find better products. No absolute commitment guaranteed. Haha! I don’t like wearing makeup everyday, and I don’t like looking “made-up,” so these are the products I’ve been using when I feel obliged to decorate my face but don’t want it to look like fondant cake, and don’t want the hassles of retouching. In short, heavy duty, natural-looking war paint! Clockwise from the top right: 1) Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in 415 Pink In The Afternoon (the prettiest nude pink. Like the pink you think of when you think of ballerinas!), 2) 3CE Lip Lacquer in Pink Boom, 3) Canmake Smooth Skin Primer, 4) Milani Liquid Eye, 5) Kate Mineral Liquid Foundation (my personal holy grail foundation! Does a great job and doesn’t break me out!), 6) Milani Baked Blush in 05 Luminoso (a Nars Orgasm dupe!), 7) Revlon in Super Lustrous Lipstick in 535 Rum Raisin (a brown-red for days you want a stronger lip without having to plunge into a bright red), 8) 3CE Eye Brightener in Ivory Beige.

Whew, that’s it so far. I remember February to March being an anxiety-filled set of months for me. I was going through all sorts of auditions and interviews at the time, putting on my best possible brave face amidst all the uncertainty and insecurity and trying very hard to make the coming months something I would be proud of… It feels surreal to admit, but I think I’ve succeeded. (Which means my brave face has been getting braver. Awwwyeah) But I actually may have kiiind of overloaded my schedule… Even better! Ain’t no rest for the awkweird wicked though, I’ve gotta keep up the persistence and consistence. Aight, downtime over. Back to work play now!

On Being Better and Braver at Giving

I’ve always wondered why people can be so quick to judge when you visibly give more care to a person than you get. It’s like they see it as a transaction where you’re doing bad business, like human relationships were a barter system of sorts. Why? It’s absurd. (Digressing for a bit: inhumanity is starting to become absurdly human, or humanely absurd. Am I the only one who is noticing this? I kind of hope I am, actually.)

Why is it foolish or flirtatious to honestly and openly care about someone and be excited to be in their company? Sure, others might cast shade on such situations because they don’t want to see you get hurt. But really, the only significant pain will occur when your motives are based on personal gain, because then you’d feel cheated for what you gave. However, as with all genuine acts of kindness, if you simply wanted to spread some light and watch the flowers grow, you wouldn’t ask them to offer you their pretty petals in the process. That would be counterproductive. I suppose the only sadness possible here would be if, in your concern and attempts to spread light, you somehow caused damage.

But that’s beyond the point, because in my experience, people don’t see that essential and honest part of things. The way they look down on people who wear their hearts on their sleeves isn’t a matter of emotional or personal wellness, but a matter of conduct and propriety. It’s as if being willing to give your heart for free (which, really, is how things should be, I mean that’s kind of like, what Jesus would do, if you had to ask yourself what would Jesus do, the answer would always essentially be give free love, man. Peace be with y’all.) — Anyway, it’s as if being willing to give your heart for free warrants as much head shaking and scoffing as not wearing an inner shirt under a sheer top and exposing some tacky bra, or something, or putting your feet up at the dinner table. It’s perceived as foolish, misinformed, “have they no shame?”

To that I say: No. I have no shame brought about by conceit. I don’t think I’m misinformed when I’m acting on an objective that is true and meant. So be it if I’m a fool for taking that “risk,” though I think that nothing would make me feel more foolish than regret, especially regret catalyzed by pride or vanity.

I mean, if we hide our real intentions, how can we expect the world to be allowed to give us what we intend?

And seriously, what is it with this seemingly inescapable thinking of good will as a commodity?

Actually, let me digress. I’m really writing this to save myself from my own judgments more than anyone else’s. I may be writing to put some hurt in the proper context, and to remind myself that this is what I believe in and this is what I want to practice until it becomes easier and more natural for me. Well, it already sort of is, but I’m no saint. I get selfish, I get insecure and I get judgmental of my motives based on what I feel “society” would think of them. My thoughts become too much of my own or too much of others’. You know, the things our warning labels would read, if we had them. Bad habits of being human.

When you do nice things to others and you are unappreciated, you try (so hard, sometimes) to be a good person and not get hurt, or at least forgive yourself for hurting and keep it as a feeling rather than a reason or judgment. You can’t help it sometimes, though. You’ve accepted that humans are jerks because life is tough, but especially when you care about them, it really doesn’t make it hurt any less even though you’ve truly forgiven them anyway. It doesn’t make it easier to tell yourself you’re not stupidly throwing yourself around, and that it shouldn’t pick at your pride even if others thought you were throwing yourself around.

I’d rather be weak in that sense than be weak by hiding my heart from the scary world with the scary people and all their dark thoughts and cold blood. I couldn’t be numb even if I tried anyway, and I refuse to stop trying to show affection and do good. If that’s going to be how I roll, however, I’m going to have to learn to get hurt better. After all, I do find it beautiful how “the ocean comes back to kiss the shore no matter how many times it is sent away.”

I’m going to have to be like that ocean: somewhere in its greater depths carrying shipwrecks, oil spills, garbage, dark and unexplored chasms, bones of those we never found… But in that moment, just pure, clear water from the same part of the ocean that still sees the light of the sun and the stars. Returning to greet the land as simple and true as nature should be. Coming back to say “hello” to the land with whom it shares ages of painful history, but each time forgiven, and each “hello” hopefully newer, better and kinder.

A Death-ly Halloween

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So there was this particular absolutely epic Halloween where I dressed up as Death from Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman, and surrendered myself to a night of pure awesome with a ragtag team of misfits. From left to right, the party I partied with included: myself as Death, Ejay as Loki, Jussy as Poison Ivy, Caisa as a dead native american girl, Cara as a gypsy, Micah as a pirate, Jeffrey as Prince Zuko. Our great leader, Red as Pechay Punane the Drag Queen (now known as Sheena Steela or however the hell that’s spelled) is up front.

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Here’s a closer shot of my makeup and costume. I haphazardly made the ankh necklace out of some leftover polymer clay that had gone bad, so needless to say I trashed it as soon as I was done with the night (or rather, morning, if you know what I mean.. Hahaha.) I realized way too late that I put the swirl mark on the WRONG EYE, but whatever. I cosplay, so there’s always gonna be another opportunity to wear this costume. This was also my first time to slick some body paint on myself, and it was a sticky, messy load of fun. I got subdued white marks all over everything and everyone, but tons more people than expected recognized the character and complimented the costume, which felt insane. I guess figuratively and literally left a mark on that night! Hardy har har.

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This was what the crowd was like that night. Crummy iPhone photo, my apologies– doesn’t do any justice to how wicked everyone looked. Gotta love Halloween though; it’s the only time of the year where everyone is on full theatrical mode and a friendly, gorgeous darkness stains the air with clouds of fantasy and folly.