The Productivity of Idle Time


I’ve recently discovered the immense benefits of claiming some major down time for oneself. When things get a little crazy (as they often do these days), I realize that all it takes is a step back for things to find their natural flow again. Saying ‘no’ to certain things has allowed a spaciousness back into my life. Having time to doodle…and read…and journal…and daydream…without the frenzied pace that has ominously crept into our daily existence, has put unnecessary stress in the back seat and has let playfulness and creativity take the lead once more. Oftentimes the best ideas come in when we’re doing nothing at all :-)

Bridal Gown Inspirational Sketch



For my design in today’s “The Look of Love” wedding feature in Manila Bulletin, I sketched out a bridal gown design that takes inspiration from both the old world and the new, mixing a full silk satin silhouette with a delicately beaded French lace column. After all, who doesn’t ‘heart’ a good old fashioned love story? ;-)

Work (Forever) In Progress


Busy on a myriad of fashion design, home and life-in-general projects the past week, I realized that for everything we accomplish, another new thing is just waiting in the wings to be started. It’s a never ending process of discovering, creating, learning and growing–the cycle goes on and on. We are all, forever, just a work in progress.

This goes so much against the concept of the bottom line, deadlines and the finiteness of a job done, and speaks to our deeper calling and life’s purpose which in essence is simply to experience the world and continually contribute back to it by sharing ourselves through our designs, photography, art, music, food, literature, etc. That way, while we are a work in progress, our work is for progress too.

What do you think about it? Is work just a means to an end, or something that can be never endingly progressive?

Inspirational Photos of the Day

Patterns. They are the underpinning of the fabric of our lives and they can be found everywhere. The past few fashion seasons have celebrated the riotous play of patterns, but they go way, way, way beyond our closets. Patterns determine not only the trendiness of our look, but also the trending curve of our lives.

Seeking out patterns always inspires me, and the most interesting ones always exist outside our oftentimes straight & narrow view. Looking up, down, and all around offers us a much greater perspective on the beautiful patterns that are all around us.




*Photos by Ito

Designed for Travel

A couple of years ago, as travel got cheaper (Yay! More impromptu adventures!) and weight restrictions got more limited (Boo! Less clothes & shoes to bring!), Ito and I began shopping around for lightweight polycarbonate suitcases to replace the indestructible, but HEAVY, oyster suitcases that we had. We eventually got swayed to the Zero Halliburton polycarbonate suitcases which looked good and had a lifetime (limited) warranty. We made our purchases at The Travel Club in Powerplant Mall, and a few weeks later left on a trip, hopping from Manila to Singapore, and a few days later to Cambodia, before heading the same way home after a few days in Siem Reap. After our trip, I noticed a crack in the corner of my suitcase–I immediately took it back to The Travel Club and explained that I had bought the case recently and only noticed the crack back in Manila. They accepted my suitcase, and within the week had replaced it with a brand new one :-) Talk about great after sales service!

Fast forward to three years (and numerous long-haul and short trips, both local and foreign) later, my three-year old crimson case–which had held up beautifully–took a non-stop trip from Manila to London and arrived in Heathrow looking like it had been trampled on by elephants. It was all scratched up, the zipper looked distorted, and it had cracked in the corner (numerous ‘Fragile’ stickers notwithstanding). By this time I knew well enough to immediately make a report at the airport, which I did. Thankfully we were spending the entire two weeks in London and not traveling around Europe, so I didn’t worry about the crack worsening during the course of our stay.

damaged luggage

When we arrived back in Manila, I followed up the the report made in Heathrow with the airline’s baggage handling service in NAIA T2 and went home. While the representative I corresponded with was quick to respond, I rejected their initial offer since it wasn’t enough for a replacement. I decided to take my suitcase back to The Travel Club to see if they could assist me in any way since my suitcase was still under the lifetime ‘limited’ warranty (in the meantime, Ito’s Zero Halliburton suitcase continues to hold up just fine). At the same time, I also filed a claim with my travel insurance.

Initially, The Travel Club tried helping by issuing a certificate indicating the suitcase’s retail cost (around 5 times the initial compensation offer) and stating that it was beyond repair, but it soon became apparent that the airline would not be covering the full cost of a replacement suitcase. I was beginning to feel resigned to the whole thing and was going to charge it to unfortunate travel experience, when I received an email from The Travel Club (Primer Group).

Instead of repairing or exchanging my battered suitcase, they were offering me a spanking new ‘polycarbonate perfected’ suitcase of the same size (in the color of my choice) from their newest Briggs & Riley Torq collection. Best of all, it came with the ULTIMATE no-questions-asked-airline-mishandling-included lifetime warranty! You can imagine my relief at the thought of never having to go through this baggage-mishandling ordeal again!!

When Ito and I went to Powerplant, we met with the very gracious Ms. Joni Lim, Assistant Vice President of The Travel Club, and Ms. Renee Ngo, Brand Associate for Briggs & Riley, who took us out to a delicious lunch before handing over my handsome new adventure partner (well, other than Ito, hehe ;-) ). I’m thrilled and can’t wait for our next trip! Thank you, The Travel Club, for consistently offering your customers such amazing, personalized service!


photo(26)My new travel partner–I chose a cool granite over crimson this time around :-)

photo(27)This suitcase is designed to look good while hitting the open skies (or sitting on a flower bed ;-) )

*As of this writing, the airline had doubled its initial compensation offer (which I accepted, for the hassle & aggravation) and my travel insurance also coughed up an additional minimum compensation. All’s well that ends well (although I am actually still waiting to receive both).

**(Suit)case closed–two & a half months after the report, I finally received the airline’s cash compensation of US$200 as well as my travel insurance’s maximum cash compensation of P8,167.17 (or US$192.26) for a total amount that was closer to my damaged suitcase’s retail cost. A happy ending to this travel tale! :-)

My “Bespoke Bridalwear” on PenCities

Thank you for this, Peninsula and Luxe City Guides! You may read the article in full here


(*minor correction, I am currently no longer with the council although I continue to fully support FDCP)

Raw Beauty

Un-manicured, un-styled, unfettered…and beautiful. The wonder of nature is in its ability to take our breath away, without any art-directing help from us. From the moment we began our descent over Camiguin, the lush greeness (is that even a word??) of the volcanic island seemed almost filtered and unnatural. Even the air smelled sweet & green! Ito’s and my early morning arrival at the intimate and barefoot-chic Somewhere Else Boutique Resort was punctuated with bird calls and butterflies fluttering through our open-air patio.


photo(22)Over the next few days, with hand-drawn maps from Jerome (the quirky & funny French resort owner), we drove around and explored the second smallest island in the Philippines, managing to circle it in a day. We puttered around its coastal highway with stunning sea views, sometimes stopping to check out a giant clam sanctuary and photograph a romantically crumbly old church, other times cooling down in a waterfall lagoon and taking a dip in a pool of soda spring water.L1140160

L1140108We also took a banca ride and spent a day in picturesque nature-reserve, Mantique Island, where the coral gardens and snorkeling in the marine sanctuary were fantastic (I even had uni served to me picked up straight from the sea)! Of course it was expected that the seafood in Camiguin would be extremely fresh, and I gorged on everything from clam soup, to grilled fish, to garlic prawn pasta, to hand-tossed Napolitana pizza all from restaurants close to our resort. Did I mention I have a weakness for seafood??DSC_0079

DSC_0099To cap of our trip, we spent our last afternoon strolling the stunning stretch of powdery white sand on White Island, catching the sunset, and watching the sea and sky melt together into a watercolor-washed pastel-hued painting. It certainly didn’t take a village to get the island of Camiguin looking picture-perfect!DSC_0120



*Photos by Ito

Inspirational Photos of the Day

Summer!!! My ABSOLUTE, no contest, hands-down favorite season of the year (the sweltering heat notwithstanding). This time, going off the beaten path to explore the raw, volcanic, lush beauty of the island of Camiguin was as refreshing to the mind as taking a dip in any one of its many waterfall pools or cold springs. Surprisingly–or maybe not–design inspiration abounded too in its rich, earthy terrain, its water-color washed seas and its faded & crumbly colonial architecture. Here are just a few of my Instagram ‘postcards’ from Camiguin…

photo(6)Natural materials like cotton, leather, straw & stone make perfect summer travel mates

photo(15)The volcanic landscape makes a breathtaking backdrop to the marine sanctuary on Mantigue Island

photo(16)Loving the tropical stripes on banca #14, our ride for the day

photo(18)Nothing says cool like the breezy atmosphere & airy, down-to-earth chic of Somewhere Else Boutique Resort

photo(7)Aside from the lush vegetation, green walls and flower trellises abound

photo(17)Driftwood chandeliers & bamboo walls in the romantically crumbly church in Sagay

photo(19)A long-time favorite of mine, stylish weaves of all shapes & sizes are a hand-made, local industry

photo(20)Soft, pastel hues and a watercolor-washed horizon on White Island

To Market, To Market!

Markets have always been one of my favorite haunts, and the Portobello Market that runs through Notting Hill in London on the weekends was an interesting, vibrant place to visit. Wandering through a packed two-mile stretch of stalls during our last trip, there was a great mix of everything, throwing together antiques and kitsch, fashion and crafts, not to mention a whole lot of eye-catching (and sometimes mind-boggling) knick-knacks.

It was a bustling street, filled with people shopping, eating, browsing, haggling and selling which only added to the already colorful vibe of the famous market. It made me think of a great quilt, stitched together with the pretty, colorful Victorian townhouses that lined Portobello Road! :-)









*Photos by Ito

Love is Abloom

There’s more than a hint of summer love in the air (and not a hint of irony) with the full flowering of romance this season. From delicate blossoms to beautiful lace to full and flowy silhouettes, it’s an unbridled declaration for the love of all things romantic.

For the recent wedding of beautiful bride, Therese Saavedra, inspiration for the bridal gown came from a flowering trellis with deconstructed and beaded lace creating a textured bodice along with handmade flowerettes daintily spilling on to a long, graceful skirt. It’s the resurgence of a rosier-hued view of love and the welcoming of an idyllic happily-ever-after.

gown (2)

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