Author Archives: Jica Lapena

About Jica Lapena

Jica would like to believe that in a previous life she was blonde or a fairy or both. On days when she is stuck at her desk in the office, she writes stories in her head. They are published here in full form, on Twitter (@jicajicajica) in micro-form, or in her fledgling blog (jicainmanila.blogspot. com) in raw fashion.

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Single and ready to Tinder

Tuesday, 5 July 2016 | Written by
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“Willing to lie about how we met” is one of several formula bios you will find on that notorious app with the red flame icon, Tinder. The fact that users treat the app this way unfairly perpetuates the notion that online dating is a shady act. Admittedly, as a person with boyfriend, I could not imagine ever trying online dating myself but as a newly single person with persuasive friends, online dating was one of the first things I did, right up there with getting a new look and going out more.

It started out as a joke. My friends and I would swipe left or right as if going through a box of chocolates: Eew, coconut… Yum, cointreau center… Hmm, apricot, I’ll try it…

Eventually, I found myself carefully scrutinizing each person instead of just picking people out on a whim: First the looks and then the grammar, the university he came from, how witty his 500-word biography was… Did he seem like he just wanted to sleep around or was he looking for something serious?

I was someone serious and as much as I hated to admit it, I started to take Tinder too seriously and that was a mistake–mine and everyone else’s.

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Let me prove I am not a robot

Like the Cerebro to your Professor X, Tinder connects you to a world of possibilities within a 25 km radius (or even further, depending on how strong your Tinder powers are). Suddenly there are so many eligible people to choose from and you don’t even have to step outside your door to meet them. No more awkward shifting of the eyes, stolen glances from across the room, hesitating to approach, offering to buy a drink or inviting to take a walk and “get out of here.”

Instead there is “hey” or “are you from around here” or “a genie gives you a free plane ticket to anywhere in the world where would you go” or “now that’s a smile that could make two nations go to war with each other”–all real lines from real Tinder users, and there are many more like them.

The distance between you and your screen and the other person and their screen affords a certain boldness which one would otherwise not have when meeting face to face.

Unfortunately, if you two are ever to have a sustainable relationship, you will eventually have to meet in the flesh, and this poses another problem with Tinder.married-couple-1232510_1280

I’m down to Netflix and chill

The Tinderverse (yes, it’s so vast it deserves this name) is full of innuendo both subtle and shockingly forward. To become an expert user, one must learn to read between the lines and understand the common tongue.

For example, the often hilariously misunderstood “Netflix and chill” does not actually refer to watching Netflix and chilling but rather, in no simpler term, sex. So next time you see that in a bio, it does not mean he shares the same proclivity for binge-watching and Friday nights in. Do not make that mistake.

Also, if in the course of your chat conversation he starts to seem a little too interested in your living conditions (i.e., do you live alone, may I ask where in Makati, etc.), know that it probably means the same thing.

Superficial connections

Because there are so many prospects involved, it’s easy to skim over profiles and oversimplify people to the point that you can’t quite tell Cute Med Student from Backpacking Italian from Curly-Haired Drummer and you may just end up missing the would-be love of your life.

Think back to all the people you’ve ever been with and how you met. One essential element in the process of falling in love is the meet cute, which Tinder inevitably does away with. Another thing is attraction is often unexplainable and genuine connections, organic, but with Tinder everything is controlled and your options are handed to you, catalogue style, for easy pickings.

When you start to send the same pick-up line to 10 different matches, you know you’re in trouble. Just imagine, these 10 matches may very well be doing the same thing to you. How, then, can one make a genuine connection with another person through this app, if everything is churned out, assembly-line style, in order to filter the good ones from the bad ones?love-316640_1280

The stages of Tindership

It’s very tempting to just meet up and get it over with but it, unfortunately, doesn’t work that simply. That super cute guy with a high-profile job may sound like he’s interested while you are messaging but don’t be surprised if one day he just stops talking to you out of the blue.

The key is to go into it without setting any expectations, that way you can have the most fun and the least hurt. At the same time, you need to be more discerning when interacting with your matches. Again with the standard questions: is he serious, does he just want to sleep with me, am I talking to a real person, etc.

So after you’ve matched, you have the option to message, answer a message, or just leave the match hanging as it is, another pin in your collection of guys you find attractive.

When it comes to messaging, there is the initial stage where you exchange a cute line or two or attempt to be witty. This lasts for at least two sentences. If you get beyond this and move on to talking about your day, your hopes and dreams and favorite musicians, then you may be on to something.

After the messaging, there is the meeting up. Now, some Tinderships, however close, may never reach this point. There are people you will just keep messaging on and off over the span of several weeks, months or even years and nothing will ever come of it. Perhaps this is what you both want?wine-1267427_1280

As for those that you will meet, some will feel like a date but turn into a hook up, others will just be a plain hook up (If this is your plan, make it clear. And safe.), and then others will just be a plain date which you may or may not intend to pursue. If you do end up meeting the love of your life, or at least of the moment, know that yours is a rare experience–treasure it.

You get what you give

When it comes to Tinder, this is not at all true. Instead, you get what you get and that should be enough. You may not meet the one, but you can still meet someone you can have fun with, learn about a new person, or even find a friend. The biggest problem with being single and using Tinder is that you end up expecting too much. So my advice to you, as a fellow single person who can say, “been there, done that,” is just don’t expect and you may find that there are many surprises in store for your newly single self, both on- and off- line. Congratulations! You have your match.

Photo from Pixabay free use

How to pack for 2 weeks in Austria

Sunday, 26 June 2016 | Written by
Photo from Pixabay free use

With a seat sale here and a travel promo there, the world seems to be getting smaller and smaller. Your luggage, on the other hand, may be doing the opposite, because the further away you go, the harder it becomes to decide what to bring and what to leave behind.

While it may be tempting to just bring your whole wardrobe along with you, the first step in packing for a trip should be to count your outfits according to your itinerary so there are no redundancies. Identify the specific outfits that will be needed for each activity and then just throw in the extras later on.

If, by any chance, you’re planning a summer getaway in the Austrian alps (because why not), we’ve put together some style tips to unleash your inner mountain maiden:

  1. For your moment on the top – No trip to Austria would be complete without catching the view from the alps. Pack the appropriate thermal wear for this and throw in a comfortable pair of shoes for good measure. A stylish and fuss-free t-shirt and jeans combo topped off with a weatherproof jacket will work well for this activity. And because the view from the top can shine pretty brightly, don’t forget to bring those sunglasses along!IMG_5616
  2. Short but sweet – It isn’t as cold as you think! In fact, on some days it can feel just like Manila, sans the pollution. Summertime in Europe provides the perfect setting for you to show off your tropical, sun-kissed skin. Pack a leg-baring ensemble or two for days when you’re feeling especially fun, light and bright. Throw in a few pairs of cycling shorts too while you’re at it; in many Austrian cities and towns, biking is a popular way to get around. You can easily rent a bike to do your exploring, dressed in anything you want to be biking in! Technically you don’t need to wear shorts under your skirt to bike but it can make the journey more comfortable.
  3. The hills are alive – Channel your inner Von Trapp with a pretty floral print because when else will you get to spin your own version of Fraulein Maria on the peak of the mountain with her arms spread out wide? If you had to choose just one time to pose for a picture (although we’re not sure why you would), let it be this one. On other days when you aren’t on top of a hill but still feeling like breaking out into song, you can dress to match your mood with bold pops of color and feminine silhouettes.
  4. Neutrals and a trusty LBD – Little black dress, long black dress–all that matters is that you have either one. A good set of neutral, versatile pieces will come in handy during any trip. A little black dress for a night out, a long black dress for a swanky dinner, and your basic white t-shirt, heather grey shift, and/or deep blue denim trousers for everything in between. The same idea applies in the way of shoes: have ready one pair of sneakers, one pair of sandals, flats in two colors and a pair of heels for the spontaneous night out.IMG_5610
  5. The traveling pants – Let’s not forget–this close to 20-hour trip will require some seriously comfortable clothing that can take you from the hot and sticky Manila weather to the cool temperatures of Northern Europe, and one that sits well with the idea of sitting on a plane for 12 or so hours. An effortless cotton stretch dress, jacket for the earlier mentioned “moment on top” and a pair of closed shoes (to keep you from getting cold feet) is low-maintenance but high in style. Especially when accessorized with a pair of sunglasses, scarf, statement carry-on bag and passport to boot (really, the most important accessory here is your passport!).IMG_5600
  6. The extras – After carefully scrutinizing each piece, you should have a little bit more space for the extras. This is where you throw in your safety outfits, like your favorite dress, a cute top you’re not sure you’ll get to wear but who knows when a situation might call for it, and a wild card outfit for when you’re feeling especially spontaneous. Include a few scarves to mix and match and perhaps some cute pairs of socks. The key to a stylish, versatile wardrobe is to layer your way through each ensemble.IMG_5603

Not everyone has the luxury of steaming or ironing services at their accommodations so if you are “not everyone,” then it would be best to bring low-maintenance pieces that don’t wrinkle easily. Choose those that are light as well because a little less kg goes a long way when talking in terms of airline baggage allowance.

Lastly, make sure to tie everything up neatly in a properly locked and labelled suitcase. The last thing you want is to lose all those super cute outfits you worked so hard to pack!

Photos by author

Millennials are determined to be themselves, at any cost.

The millennial’s guide to looking cool

Sunday, 29 May 2016 | Written by
Millennials are determined to be themselves, at any cost.

Never has there been a better time for a guy to wear a skirt to prom, for a girl to run a marathon bleeding freely, to attend your first job interview with silver hair, to wear thick-framed glasses (the thicker, the better), or wear your workout clothes to work and then drinks afterwards.

In a world where people born between the years 1981 to 2000 comprise the biggest part of the population offline (36% in the Philippines) and three quarters of the world online, it’s hard to miss the collective voice of the young, trend-setting, tech-savvy generation calling out, “Me! (Whoever that is).”

Unique as we are

With the trend showing that Millennials are both headstrong in their sense of individualism but at the same time prone to shifting views, one thing rings true and that is that “they are determined to be themselves, at any cost.” In terms of dressing, this means that their strong need to preserve individuality also comes with a constantly changing, all-inclusive idea of style. It would seem that nothing is uncool anymore in a world where high socks and tucked-in shirts continue to gain their fair share of Instagram likes every day.

For the generation that is poised to take over the world, the dilemma is not really how to look cool but rather, what qualifies as cool in the first place.

From Coca-Cola to Pandora, numerous brands have shifted their marketing strategies to appeal to a new breed of consumers who put high stakes on customization, personalization and uniqueness.

When it all comes down to it, looking cool for this generation means being able to shape your own style rather than follow trends, because now more than ever is a time to celebrate individuality and stay true to oneself.

Millennials are determined to be themselves, at any cost.

Millennials are determined to be themselves, at any cost.

Fast fashion and the Instagrammable, uploadable and share-worthy

In this age where approval is measured in likes and popularity in views, the characteristic of being share-worthy becomes a form of validation. As much as they hate to admit it, Millennials are still very much influenced by trends. At the same time, there is a constant need to stand out and be recognized for one’s individualism—what a wonderful paradox, how very Millenial.

In a Brand Affinity Index prepared by Teen Vogue and Goldman Sachs, the top 20 beauty and fashion brands for Millennials in 2015 were ranked as such based on their social media savviness, engagement on Instagram and strategic choices of celebrity brand endorsers.

The list includes Forever 21, Nike and H&M. The latter hitting that sweet spot between fast and eco-ethical fashion to appeal to both the generation’s short attention span as well as their desire to change the world. Meanwhile, Topshop made it to the list of “ones to watch” for 2016 because of their on-point decision to feature of-the-moment it girls, Hailey Baldwin and Gigi Hadid in their last campaign.

So it would seem that despite the Millennial’s inherent desire to be original, to be unique and to break away from trends, there are still a number of acceptably trendy styles that resonate with the masses of Millenials, a definitive list of cool brands that understand how Uniqlo is infinitely cooler than its old-timey predecessor, Gap.

The unspoken rules of cool

Brands that have managed to make it to this list understand the unspoken rules of cool that help them relate to young, fickle consumers who value a different kind of connection. One of the biggest misconceptions about Millennial consumers is that they are not loyal to any brands. The truth is, they just need to find a brand that speaks to them. The coolest brands are the ones that exude authenticity just like the people who wear them.

17 year-old Jaden Smith whose controversial, fashion-forward way of dressing includes white Batman suits and the earlier mentioned prom skirt, encapsulates this idea of Millennial style by stepping out in looks that are consistently true to his personal aesthetic which, as original as it may seem, is also largely influenced by others around him. In defense of his wardrobe, Smith once said, “It’s all about creating, and dressing a generation, and helping a generation.”

If anything’s for sure, it’s that, in true Millennial fashion, the answer to looking cool is really about just not giving two LV Speedys what anyone thinks. Being yourself, that’s what’s cool these days.

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Finding the perfect summer dress

Monday, 2 May 2016 | Written by
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It’s no secret that one of the quickest ways to look pretty and put-together (when you’re actually feeling lazy and lacking any kind of fashion inspiration) is to slip on the perfect dress. In the summer, that entails a bit more work because the heat just makes it harder to do anything. The perfect summer dress is one that will make you feel effortlessly stylish but should take little to no effort to find.

The dilemma here, of course, is that looking effortlessly stylish actually does take some effort. But if you know what to look for, then whatever effort you spend initially will be rewarded with effortless dressing in the days that follow, as is the goal. To achieve this, here are some tips on what to look for in the perfect summer dress (READ: When you don’t want to show your legs during summer: what to wear when it’s so hot)

  1. Fabric

The first factor you should never compromise in any article of clothing is the material. For summer, you need a thin, breathable fabric that absorbs moisture well but also dries quickly. The dress you’re looking for is the sort you can wear to take a spontaneous dip in the sea and let dry in the sun and salty air afterwards. Beach or no beach, keep your eyes open for dresses made of natural fibers like cotton and linen, or fabric blends with either of these as the primary component.

Light bright patterns

Light bright patterns

Cotton will always be the number one summer fabric because of its light, comfortable texture and breathability. Linen is a close second but the fact that it wrinkles easily is a major downside (although wrinkles don’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, given the right garment and situation). Chambray, a cotton blend, is denim’s lighter little sister and your best friend during the summer when you want to go for classic blues. If you must go for synthetic, thin and light rayon is a good option.

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What to do when the temperature reaches up to 35 degrees in the city? Wear thin straps.

Natural fabrics are typically better for summer than man-made ones because they tend to be more breathable. However, as you probably already knew, wool and silk are natural fibers to avoid because they aren’t particularly breezy. Silk is nice and thin though and locks in the cold, if, say, you store your garment in an air-conditioned room so it can be very pleasant to wear in hot weather. You just need to be careful with sweat and moisture stains. At all costs, avoid synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester that really keep that moisture locked in, leaving you to heat up in the same way that an oven would.

When it comes to colors and prints, nothing spells summer better than a pretty pattern in a light, bright hue. As a bonus, said prints will also easily cover up unwanted sweat stains.

  1. Flow

Next, consider how the dress flows. A breezy silhouette is exactly what you need to combine with light, bright fabric to complete an effortless look.Flow

Let the wind cool your thighs with a full circle skirt (a.k.a. skater skirt) a la Marilyn Monroe but make sure to ditch the cycling shorts and just let your knickers do their work on their own. Remember, synthetic fabrics, which are pretty much what cycling shorts are made up of, will just make you sweat and add unnecessary layers to your outfit. If you’re worried about the wind going wild, opt for a longer skirt.

A dress flows nicely also with an A-line skirt, maxi or floor length skirt, or gathered waistline.

  1. Feminine touches
Feminine details

Look out for the feminine details.

Lastly, look out for the fine details—thin straps, a low back, flattering sweetheart neckline or cute buttons—that will make people want to write songs about your outfit, or just give you an excuse to take close-up shots of your outfit and post them on Instagram.

The perfect summer dress is a breezy, no-fuss number that you can throw on at a moment’s notice, whether to hit the beach, run a quick errand in the city or even just chill at home. And it’s not a daster, mind you, even if it sounds like one. (The girls at The Soshal Network would argue that there are ways to make a daster work and they could be right). Whatever it is you decide to wear, make sure you wear it with a sunny attitude to match, because it takes two to make the perfect dress.

Photos by Jica Lapena

Tip Nos. 1 and 4 at work

Your summer survival arsenal

Monday, 25 April 2016 | Written by
Tip Nos. 1 and 4 at work

With temperatures reaching critical levels, keeping cool during summer has now become a top priority. It’s no longer just about keeping your oil levels in check or the sweat stains off your clothes—the critical temperatures we’ve been hitting all over the Philippines are a matter of health and maybe even (yikes) life or death.

Here are some suggestions, which may or may not have already occurred to you, apart from that glass of Coke, bucket of beer or tub of ice cream (all of which, by the way, are deceptively dehydrating), to keep that body temperature in check and lower that human discomfort index (yes, this is a legitimate term to describe that feeling you’re having) at all costs, or no cost at all. Take your pick from our tips:

Tip Nos. 1 and 4 at work

If you can’t resist the drinking blues this summer, make sure to chug huge amounts of water to keep cool.

Tip No. 1: The hydration habit

It’s no secret that keeping hydrated is especially important during the hot summer months, but knowing the best ways to stay hydrated is a different skill entirely.

Water should always be your number one choice. If you’re having trouble getting into the fluid habit, Reader’s Digest suggests that you hydrate your way by using a cup, tumbler or glass that will make drinking fun for you. In the same way that your child self needed a special toothbrush to become motivated to brush regularly, a cute, cool receptacle can become the perfect excuse for you to frequent the water cooler every day.

If you don’t like the taste of water to begin with, you can try adding flavor to it with natural ingredients like lemons, lemongrass, cucumber, mint or ginger. And if that still doesn’t quite appeal to you, then you can try artificially flavored water or even sports drinks like Gatorade or Pocari Sweat which take hydrating to the next level with combinations formulated especially for those expecting to sweat a lot.

Unfortunately, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks tend to do more harm than good, but because we know it can be difficult to resist a frozen margarita, ice-cold glass of Coke or beer below zero, we suggest you simply increase your intake of water to match your intake of these other drinks. Next time you have cocktails at the beach, make sure to alternate those piña coladas with just as much agua.

And while you’re at it, stock up on ice, which will be a good way to bring your temperature down and make all those drinks especially refreshing.

On another note, it also helps not just to drink water but to shower regularly because looking fresh always starts from being clean. (We hope you already knew that.)

Tip No. 2: Snip, snip

Like we said: a fresh summer look comes with looking and being effortlessly clean. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be clean all year round, of course, but the summer season especially is the time you want to go out looking like you smell good (i.e., mabango).

It’s true that hair makes you feel warmer, so remove whatever you can or are willing to by cutting, shaving or waxing. Up on top, you can try a new summer cut and down below, a beach-ready Brazilian wax.

Summer survival kit - Light, airy fabrics, pretty prints and plenty of water

Summer survival kit – Light, airy fabrics, pretty prints and plenty of water

Tip No. 3: Wear less or lighter

Speaking of removing things… Summertime is also the perfect time to strip down to the bare essentials in the way of clothing. If there was ever a time to wear your bralette out, it’s now. Other articles of clothing to consider include crop tops, rompers, breezy summer dresses, skorts and even a handkerchief turned tube top, why not.

Of course you don’t have to bare all to stay cool (or did we actually mean hot this time?). Just choose pieces in light colors and fabrics, which should instantly make your outfit breezier to wear, over-all.

Tip No. 4: Don’t move or move far

This summer you can also get away. Go to the beach, find some trees, or escape to the mountains. The fewer we are in one place, the better, because body heat is a real thing—so much so that in Europe, geothermal train station heating systems run by the body heat of commuters passing through have given a new definition to crowd-sourcing. If only it could work in reverse for hot tropical countries like ours.

Alternatively, you can opt to just stay very still. Find a nice, cool spot on your bedroom floor and take this time to calm your mind and your body. Moving makes you sweaty and getting sweaty dehydrates you, which brings us back to Tip No.1: The hydration habit. A vicious cycle, this is.

As far as tips for surviving the record-breaking temperatures go, PAGASA basically said the same things, but we think you’ll find our version is much cooler.

Photos by  Jica Lapena

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What’s the deal with SPF?

Saturday, 16 April 2016 | Written by
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Every day, all day (even on a gloomy day, as long as the sun is up), ultraviolet rays which are invisible to the naked eye are penetrating your skin and causing potentially harmful effects on your health. UVB radiation is the main cause of sunburn while UVA radiation is linked to skin ageing. Both are known to cause skin cancer.

boogey-board-1149949_640In the 1960s, then chemistry student from Austria, Franz Greiter invented his protective Glacier Cream after suffering from severe sunburn on the Swiss-Austrian Alps of Piz Buin. The brand of sun care products he founded, named after the said Piz Buin Alps, has been selling sun care products to the world for 70 years now.

Along with Glacier Cream, Greiter developed SPF, a scale now used worldwide to measure a sun care product’s effectiveness in protecting skin from the sun’s UVB rays or sunburn. Contrary to popular belief, a higher SPF does not necessarily mean better or longer protection.

The next time you ditch your SPF 30 sunblock for your friend’s seemingly superior bottle marked SPF 80, consider this quick lesson from the gods and goddesses of Sun Protection Factor (a.k.a. SPF) over at Piz Buin, the Skin Cancer Foundation, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Understanding what that number really means

A sun care product with a rating of SPF 15 blocks 93% of UVB radiation, an SPF 30 product blocks 97%, and an SPF 50 product blocks around 98%. Any higher, and the amount of protection hardly makes a difference.

The rating of SPF does not indicate the length of time you can stay under the sun without getting sunburnt. Instead, what the SPF rating actually indicates is how much protection a product will offer in blocking UV radiation, and this depends on the intensity of the sun. To understand this, you need to do a bit of math.

Say it takes 15 minutes for the sun to burn your skin when you are directly exposed without protection. A product with SPF 30 means you will have 450 minutes before you start to get sunburn, but this also depends on a number of different factors. If you go out at 9:00 in the morning, it may take an estimated one hour before you get sunburn, but if you go out at noon, when the sun’s energy is most intense, it can take just 15 minutes.

SPF alone won’t save you

The impact of exposure to solar energy also depends on your skin type, where you are in the world, and other factors in the environment that can accelerate the intensity of the sun. 80% of UV rays can still make their way through the clouds so even if you feel like you’re protected by the shade, those rays are actually still making their way to your skin. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you take the proper precautions.

If the product you’re using offers only SPF, you may not get sunburnt but your skin will still be exposed to the damaging effects of UVA radiation, among them skin ageing and cancer. The perfect sunblock for you should offer both a good SPF rating as well as UVA-screening ingredients like zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, avobenzone, ecamsule, and oxybenzone, according to the good doctor Steven Q. Wang at the Skin Cancer Foundation.child-538029_640

What you should be looking for, aside from an acceptable SPF rating (the recommended range is 30-50), is UVB protection. The label should say “broad spectrum,” “multi spectrum,” or “UVA/UVB protection.”

The science behind becoming an expert beach bum

To become an expert beach bum (or mountain momma), you need to understand how the sun and your skin work. Sunblock will not make you immune to sunburn so the key is always to apply enough of it, and frequently.

And just because you’re wearing sunblock, it doesn’t mean you can or should stay under the sun for longer. Remember: sunblock only works as a preventive measure, so just because you use it, it doesn’t mean you won’t get sunburn or, god forbid, skin cancer. Make sure you aren’t tempting the fates by treating your Beach Hut lotion like an all-powerful shield against UV radiation.

When you can, stay under the shade because it can reduce the risk of exposure to harmful sun by 50%. Even the things you wear play their roles in keeping your skin healthy and just the right amount of sun-kissed, with breezy summer clothing having a typical SPF rating of 6 and sun hats, a typical rating of SPF 3 to 6.

Now with all this talk about how to keep your skin protected from the sun, you might end up just avoiding the sun completely. Don’t do that either, because—science or no science—we all know that just enough sunshine can do wonders for you and your skin (and not to mention, all the awesome photos you’ll be taking as a result).

Photos courtesy of free use photos in Pixabay

This little cup will change your life

Why you should start using a menstrual cup instead

Sunday, 20 March 2016 | Written by
This little cup will change your life

Over the centuries, women (and even some men) have come up with many different ways to deal with menstruation.

In native North American tribes it was believed that women possessed a mystical power when they were menstruating. During their monthly cycles, women would stay in “moon huts” where they were encouraged to meditate on life’s big problems or engage in creative pursuits together. Contrarily, to this day in Nepal, there is a practice called Chaupadi in which menstruating women, seen as impure, are sent to temporary settlements away from the community and are forbidden from touching public resources, entering temples and engaging in social events, including going to school.

This little cup will change your life

This little cup will change your life

Taboo

For something that is experienced by practically half of the entire world’s population, menstruation doesn’t get much public attention. The topic has been taboo even between sisters, mothers and daughters.

Since women have had to deal with their periods in their own discreet ways, it’s no surprise that it took hundreds of years before anyone decided to come up with a better solution for dealing with menstruation.

From the beginning of time and well into the 20th century, women were pretty much left to their own devices. There are records of women using cloth rags and diapers, sheepskin that would be boiled clean after every use and even lint wrapped around small pieces of wood (ouch) to form a primitive sort of tampon.

Modern inventions

It wasn’t until 1896 that the first sanitary pads, called Lister’s Towels, were sold commercially. Unfortunately, the product did not take off with a market that was horrified at the idea of purchasing sanitary pads in public, thereby revealing to the world that they were menstruating at all; god forbid anyone judge them for being human.

Up until the 70s, women were still using sanitary belts—these bulky contraptions which, in a way, could pass as sexy bondage harnesses when put in the context of 2016—used to hold the pads in place. These belts were still not very effective in keeping leaks from occurring.

Some brands available in Mamaway include Sckoon, Me Luna, and Lunette

Some brands available in Mamaway include Sckoon, Me Luna, and Lunette

Early tampons which came out commercially in 1929 were not very good at keeping leaks in either. There used to be such a thing as a “tampon panty” designed specifically to catch the leaks a tampon couldn’t (at least there was something to catch the blood at all). For the longest time, women were simply letting the blood flow and undergarments were made especially thick just so that stains would not become visible on the outside.

Knowing what women had to go through before just makes our modern feminine hygiene products sound so fantastic. Yes, we still have to deal with cramps, mood swings and the general discomfort that comes with bleeding like a leaky faucet for one week every month but at least now there are products that make life much easier for menstruating women.

Enter the menstrual cup and 5 big reasons you should start using one, if you haven’t already.

The cup overfloweth

  1. Convenient

Menstrual cups, in their varying shapes and sizes, are designed to hold anywhere between 8 to 24 hours’ worth of period blood. This means fewer trips to the bathroom to change. And if you’re one of the lucky ones with a light flow, this means no changing at all until you have to shower and go to bed.

Apart from fewer trips to the bathroom, having a cup also means not having to scramble to buy or borrow a pad when your monthly visitor comes unexpected. And even when you are expecting it, your cup will save you the trouble. Imagine never having to buy a feminine hygiene product again—or at least not for another two years or so.

  1. Cheaper

The price tag of 1,200-2500 pesos for one cup may sound a bit expensive but it is clearly an investment. Assuming you spend between 100-300 pesos on a pack of sanitary napkins or a box of tampons every month, your cup will quickly prove its worth within the first year.

  1. Better for the planet

And because menstrual cups are reusable, you will not only be saving money, but saving the planet as well. The waste that is generated from disposable feminine hygiene products is equivalent to 300 pounds per woman in her lifetime. It actually doesn’t account for much in the “grand scheme of things,” but if you could take away that 300 pounds altogether, why wouldn’t you?

  1. Safer

Good brands of menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone and do not have the chemicals and bleaches that you find in most tampons and sanitary napkins. With cups, you can skip the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) that comes with most tampons while still benefitting from the comfort and freedom it gives.

  1. Sets you free

Those who have tried tampons will know that it’s definitely easier to move around when there is an internal device taking care of your flow. The menstrual cup has the same effect. It’s clean and comfortable and you can say goodbye to diaper (or rather, napkin) rash.

With a cup, you can move freely whether in water, jumping up in the air, making your way up a mountain or just trying to have a good night’s sleep.

The journey to clean, stress-free periods has been a long and bloody one spanning centuries. 2016 is the year the USA might have its first female president, the Pirelli calendar is finally featuring something more than just naked women and the Philippines has been introduced to its first homegrown menstrual cup brand—what a time to be a woman.

Where to get one 

Now here comes the most important part. Menstrual cups have actually been available in the local market as early as 2008 and now there are even more places to buy and brands to choose from than you’d think.

Sinaya Cup –                   This homegrown menstrual cup brand is a strong, young contender. Established just last December 2015, Sinaya is not just a feminine hygiene product but a social enterprise and a community of “modern active Filipinas.”

Mama.Baby.Love –          The online maternity shop that has been around since 2008, offering alternatives for feminine hygiene like reusable pads Lunapads and Dominopads. Mama.Baby.Love carries a wide range of menstrual cup brands from the more affordable Me Luna that comes in over 5 different colors to the pricier Lily Cup that has a rare, collapsible variant.

Mamaway –                     Possibly the only physical store that carries several brands of menstrual cups, this is your best bet if you need to see before buying. Mamaway is located in Shangri-La Plaza, Mandaluyong.

Babymama PH –              Babymama carries the Anytime brand of menstrual cups, which is an affordable option compared to other brands in the market. Babymama is located in the Philippine Stock Exchange Center in Ortigas, Pasig City.

It takes a few twists and turns to get into the slightly more advanced Peter Pan pose

Right-side up with Manila’s anti-gravity yoga scene

Monday, 29 February 2016 | Written by
It takes a few twists and turns to get into the slightly more advanced Peter Pan pose
Beyond Yoga, Serendra

Beyond Yoga, Serendra

“Do I need to bring a mat?” is what I almost asked Benedict Bernabe, Head of Operations at Beyond Yoga as I psyched myself up for my first Anti-Gravity Yoga session.

Being very un-athletic, I’ve had my speculations about this form of yoga because it seemed like something with physical prerequisites like a flexible body or a flair for acrobatics (neither of which have I been blessed with). But as I discovered after a swinging first session, Anti-Gravity Yoga (AGY) is actually not as difficult as it seems, and I was surprised with what I was able to achieve in just one session.

Accomplishment and abs

Together with me was 15 year-old Ten Monteverde, who has been practicing AGY for two years. Monteverde, who also plays football and badminton, said that she likes AGY because of its calming effect and the gracefulness that comes with it; very different from the sweaty running involved in her other sports. Apart from helping her relax, AGY also brings her a great sense of accomplishment—that, and abs.

As we went through the different poses from the topsy-turvy “Monkey” to the bonus, non-fundamental “Peter Pan,” it was evident that she was comfortable and experienced with the hammock although she claimed that it did not start out that way.

“It was so bad… I was so scared,” she laughed, when asked how she faired the first time she tried the exercise. Her tip for beginners is to “trust the hammock… and the teachers, cause they know what they’re doing.”

 Kaine and Ten do the Monkey pose

Kaine and Ten do the Monkey pose

New lifestyle

Funnily enough, Beyond Yoga co-owner and head teacher Anna Carbonell claimed that she “had no ability whatsoever” when she first started practicing Anti-Gravity Yoga.

“You know those hopeless gymnasts? I was one of those hopeless gymnasts,” she joked in an interview over the phone.

Our teacher for that day, Kaine Cordova, also shared how she fell flat on her face when she first tried AGY about 3 years ago. Now she is a part-time teacher at Beyond Yoga, managing to balance a hectic retailer’s schedule during the week with regular yoga sessions on the weekends.

“It changed my lifestyle… before, I didn’t really have time for fitness,” said Cordova, explaining how AGY was her “return to a fitness life” after a 4-year gap from dancing, which was her initial practice.

“You actually really sweat a lot… from holding the pose,” she continued. It was her practice of AGY that helped her lose over 10 pounds, but apart from the fitness benefits, AGY also instills a philosophy of openness, which comes from traditional yoga.

“It’s a personal thing… it’s fitness with a mind,” said Cordova.

Learning to let go

Carbonell, who was practically born into the practice, being the daughter of one of the pioneers of yoga in the Philippines, explained that even long-time practitioners have room to grow.

“Always have a beginner’s state of mind because when you are starting to be good at something, you get into an autopilot phase… the practice of yoga helps in cultivating mindfulness. Come into a pose as if you’re doing it for the first, second or third time,” she advised.

For veterans and first-timers alike, the key is also, and always will be, letting go of your inhibitions.

It takes a few twists and turns to get into the slightly more advanced Peter Pan pose

It takes a few twists and turns to get into the slightly more advanced Peter Pan pose

“The thing about starting something new is the fear factor. People are afraid to try something new. The biggest obstacle is fear. It’s not your strength, it’s not your skill, it’s not your age, it’s not your technique—it’s fear,” continued Carbonell.

And when you finally let go of the fear, you’ll find that AGY is actually very fun and quite different from other workouts. For Cordova, it’s “new and exciting” and “thrilling.”

Carbonell had similar sentiments, saying that while other workouts can become boring and repetitive after some time, Anti-Gravity Yoga “brings the childhood fun back to working out.”

Tough silk

Now you may be wondering how fun it could be to be suspended in mid-air with nothing but a silk cocoon to hold you up.

At Beyond Yoga, every class starts with the teacher’s spiel about the strength of the Harrison AntiGravity® Hammock, which can hold up to 2000 pounds (roughly the weight of a baby elephant, or 13 full-grown adults—the latter has been tried, tested and certified true).

The founder of AntiGravity® Fitness, New York-based Christopher Harrison is a seasoned Broadway choreographer, dancer, acrobat and director whose unique creation combines traditional yoga with many other forms of exercise like Pilates and dance.

The Harrison AntiGravity Hammock is designed to hold over 2000 pounds, which is roughly the weight of a baby elephant. They once successfully fit 13 full-grown adults in one hammock.

The Harrison AntiGravity Hammock is designed to hold over 2000 pounds, which is roughly the weight of a baby elephant. They once successfully fit 13 full-grown adults in one hammock.

The hammock is the main factor that differentiates the practice. Cordova explained how “what the hammock does is it either intensifies or makes the practice easier,” working everything from your core to your spine. 

Bernabe, whose astigmatism keeps him from enjoying the spinning and swinging involved in AGY, prefers traditional mat yoga, which he has been practicing for close to 6 years.

“I have astigmatism… so it makes me throw-up… actually they don’t recommend it if you have vertigo… but it’s good for many other things,” he explained.

“When you’re on the mat, everything just falls on to your spine… so you need to have strong shoulders, strong arms, but if you use the hammock, you can go upside down without straining your neck.”

Bernabe pointed out that having the hammock when you do your poses could do wonders for spine decompression. As a result, Anti-Gravity is especially beneficial for those with back pains and scoliosis. Additionally, he said that the inversions involved in AGY are also good for lubricating the joints.

t's a bonus that the brightly colored silk hammocks make for a pretty picture

t’s a bonus that the brightly colored silk hammocks make for a pretty picture

Going beyond

According to Bernabe, the way Beyond Yoga grows is “to innovate,” adding that “Yoga will be there forever,” even if AGY may have just started out as a fitness trend.

When Beyond Yoga first opened in Manila 4 years ago, it was incredibly popular. At the time it seemed that many were just jumping onto the bandwagon, taking pictures for social media and then never coming back.

“It’s not just about looking pretty in a hammock. It’s about physical and mental well-being and being able to commit to that,” said Carbonell.

She then pointed out, though, that those who do keep coming back know how to commit, especially in the Philippines, as compared to New York. However, the most “hardcore” practitioners Carbonell has seen are in Australia, where she is currently based.

“I would say that Filipinos have a bit more commitment… When Filipinos like something they become loyal to it but sometimes it’s just a fad.”

Fad or no, there are still many practitioners who keep coming back to Beyond for the practice and for the community—the fact that there are already 8 branches of Beyond Yoga spread out across Metro Manila is a testament to that.

Next month, Beyond Yoga will be launching new advanced and specialized classes like AntiGravity® AIRbarre and AIRography or Aerial Dance to meet the demands of their clients seeking more challenging exercises. So long as clients continue to “go beyond yoga,” growth—in every which way, whether sideways or upside down—will be inevitable.

For more information on AntiGravity® Yoga, visit the Beyond Yoga website: http://www.igobeyondyoga.com/

All photos taken by author

PAUL FRANK

A look at fashion’s most famous primates from around the world

Tuesday, 9 February 2016 | Written by
PAUL FRANK

Aside from humans, we’ve seen a number of iconic primates dominate the fashion scene around the world, from our key chains to the bottoms of our soles, and our PJs to the runway.

As we enter the Year of the Monkey, we take a look at the some of the most well-known stylish simians in fashion.

  1. Paul Frank

The wide-mouthed cartoon monkey whose face has appeared on everything from wallets to surfboards to billboards started out as a humble DIY project by a college-age Paul Frank Sunich back in 1995. The monkey, whose name is Julius (not Paul), together with Mr. Sunich and his former partners John Oswald and Ryan Heuser went on to grow the business Paul Frank Industries into a 40 million-dollar company with a global presence and iconic status which not many cartoon animals enjoy.

 Collabs and a cult following

Officially incorporated in December of 1997, Paul Frank was a brand that dominated—or rather, infiltrated—the noughties with its fun, humorous and original designs that were a favorite among such pop culture greats like The Andy Warhol Foundation and David Bowie and varied musical talents, from Christina Aguilera to Weezer and The White Stripes. The eponymous brand also had the rare opportunity to collaborate with famous franchises like Barbie and Hello Kitty.

The South Californian brand was one of the few to make it big as primarily an accessories brand, selling wallets and other knick-knacks in its signature playful style. The brand has since expanded to include men’s, women’s and teens’ apparel as well as a children’s line called Small Paul. Characterized by a bright, bold color palette and fun, whimsical patterns and prints, Paul Frank is one unlikely fashion brand that has since gained mainstream popularity.

Monkey in the middle

Unfortunately, and as with all good things, Paul Frank Sunich’s success had to come to an end. The Paul Frank we know today runs completely free of any contribution or influence from its namesake artist, due to major disagreements between Sunich and his two partners.

In an in-depth article on Vanity Fair, the dramatic decade-spanning riff involving a classic conflict between art and business and a Disneyland wedding not everyone was invited to is explained. John Oswald, the “finance and accounting” side of their trio was quoted saying, “We all worked our asses off, just three guys who had a dream together to build something cool.”

There’s no doubt that they did, and Julius the Monkey continues to grin through it all.

  1. A Bathing Ape

In 1993, a Japanese man named Nigo (“Number Two”) founded Nowhere Co., Ltd. in the heart of Tokyo’s fashion and culture district, colorful Harajuku. With humble beginnings in a small t-shirt shop, A Bathing Ape was born, setting the pace for cool street wear as we know it today.

Nigo took inspiration from the 1968 film Planet of the Apes and named his brand as a reference to “a bathing ape in lukewarm water,” which in Japan is considered an indulgence. It is also meant to be a sarcastic reference to the brand’s original target market, the Japanese youth, whom Nigo said he considered “spoiled, pampered and too complacent”

“It wasn’t really meant as a social message. It was just something that I felt was right at the time,” he explained in an interview with CNN.bape culture

BAPE culture

But it was this same “spoiled, pampered and too complacent” youth that took the brand and its iconic characters and creations to the heights they have reached today. Before we even knew what hip hop and street fashion looked like, BAPE was creating it. Best known for its fun camouflage prints and playful designs like the shark hoodie, Baby MILO and the iconic ape head logo, this was a brand that inspired a cult following in celebrities—from Kanye, Biggie Smalls and Pharell to MIA and even Paris Hilton—and regular people on the streets alike.

Famous for fueling hunger in the brand’s fans, Nigo was a pioneer in lowering supply to increase demand. There was an air of exclusivity about the brand that just made it all the more desirable.

Sold out

After sales peaked around 2007, the company began to experience some trouble and in 2009, Nigo sold the brand he’d been growing for 20 years to Hong Kong fashion retailer I.T.

The fashion designer and DJ, an artist in his own right, admitted that he was never very good with business.

“After the sale, I learnt a lot from I.T, especially about how to keep costs down, which looking back on my time as manager, was the thing I needed to reevaluate the most,” he shared in an interview with WWD.

Despite having to step back from the unique brand he built, Nigo was confident that BAPE would continue to do well without him.

“Bape is Bape. There are people who are fanatical about the logo alone,“ he said.

It’s been over 20 years since Nowhere was founded and ironically, the brands it fueled are now everywhere.

  1. Kipling

“The world’s best-travelled primates” started their journey in Antwerp, Belgium in 1987. Born out of an idea which three friends had to create bags for women that were practical, durable and most of all, not boring, the Kipling brand stands for fun and adventure—hence the monkeys and the lines of bags and accessories that are meant to travel the world.

The brand is named after Rudyard Kipling, the author of the well-known classic The Jungle Book. “Whenever you think of Kipling, you think of the monkey,” it says on the Kipling USA website.

“Of course the brand name “Kipling” and Rudy Kipling’s famous work “The Jungle Book” give Kipling the perfect connection. Monkeys are symbols of fun and adventure, so the monkey naturally became the brand’s mascot.”kipling monkey

Monkey business

The colorful monkey key chains that dangle from every crinkled nylon bag are each named after different Kipling employees from around the world. In their many different colors and styles, the key chains still follow the same fun-loving mold that has been heavily pirated. On its own the monkey is already a coveted item, with the biggest collection of a fan consisting of 425 monkeys to date.

After almost 30 years, Kipling has grown into a formidable retail force. The brand sells about 23 bags a minute from locations in over 60 countries around the world—they’re definitely not monkeying around.

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Sharpen your fashion vocabulary

Monday, 8 February 2016 | Written by
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PrintWhat do you call those tiny buttons at the edge of your collar used to hold the collar in place? What about that red and white checkered print that always appears on picnic mats, aprons, and a bunch of other things you can find in the kitchen? Did you know that there was a name for those little metal circles on your jeans and jackets or that part of the shoe that Louboutin always colors in his signature red? All questions, from head to toe, answered below.

  1. Balaclava – A wooly black mask resembling a sock for the head that is the standard in any major heist. In Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, our little underdog Ash modified an actual tube sock because his dad didn’t give him what he called a “bandit hat.” A pink version with a cute cartoon unicorn on the forehead took its place over the faces of Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine in 2012 teen flick Spring Breakers. Also known as a ski mask, the balaclava does not just offer protection for those committing crimes but for those facing the bitter cold as well.
  2. Temple – There is a name for the stem that extends from your glasses across the temples and sits atop the ears to keep the whole piece in place. Yep, you guessed it—temple.
  3. Peter Pan collar – A flat, rounded collar commonly seen in children’s clothing which is named as such because of the costume worn by Maude Adams in her role as Peter Pan in the 1905 Broadway musical Peter and Wendy.
  4. Collar button – This is what they’re called, those little buttons that hold your collar in place.
  5. Collar stay/stiffener – Smooth rigid strips of metal, plastic or other materials inserted into the collar to maintain the collar’s shape.
  6. Fly-front shirt – The term for a shirt where the buttons become invisible or hidden because of that extra vertical flap of fabric that covers them. Bonus: the flap as well as the entire strip where the buttons are is called a placket.
  7. Epaulet – Ornaments on the shoulder of a jacket, as in military or marching band uniforms.
  8. Yoke – A separate panel in a shirt that fits around the neck, over the shoulders and across the upper chest and back or across the hips in a skirt that is often decorated or in a different color or material from the rest of the garment.
  9. Raglan – Sleeves that extend to the neckline without a seam along the shoulder. From the neckline, the seams cut diagonally across the chest towards the underarms. First appearing on baseball shirts, the raglan is also a popular style for sportswear and casual clothing.
  10. Lapel – The part of a coat or jacket below the collar that is folded back on either side of the opening. The late David Bowie’s many suits always had such interesting lapels.
  11. Surplice – You know how a wrap-around blouse or dress forms a natural v-shaped neckline that may or may not be good for your cleavage depending on how tightly you wrap each end? The same neckline is achieved with overlapping fabric often combined with gathers or ruching. (Another bonus—gathers or ruching: when fabric is gathered together to form ruffles or pleats)
  12. Dart – Ever wondered what those lines in the small of your button-down shirt’s back were for? Those lines, made from folding or tucking a small portion of the fabric in areas where the body tapers (usually around the waist) are called darts and they’re used to give shape to your clothes.
  13. Rivet – Those small metal circles we were talking about earlier. They’re actually fasteners that are used to hold together pieces of fabric or material which are too thick to stitch. Hence, their appearance in jeans, jackets and other hardwearing items.
  14. Houndstooth – A checked pattern often in black and white with jagged, distorted shapes resembling canine teeth. A classic that easily exudes sophistication and is often used on coats, stockings and bags. You’ve surely seen this one.
  15. Heather grey – That go-to grey you get all your t-shirts, t-shirt dresses, sweatpants, tank tops and other athleisure staples in.
  16. Mesh – Interlaced or netted fabric as in stockings, sportswear and tulle which is filled with many holes as a result. Fine mesh fabric with many tiny holes often appears delicate and sheer or see-through while those with larger holes appear more athletic and are often made as such to allow breathability and comfort for the wearer.
  17. Gingham – That picnic mat fabric we were talking about. Most often in red and white but can come in other colors such as blue, yellow or orange, all paired with white.
  18. Argyle – A diamond pattern, usually in dark drab shades of green, blue, black or grey, originally used on Scottish kilts and socks. Commonly used on vests or sweaters.
  19. Toile de Jouy – Light colored cotton, linen or silk with a fine elaborate pattern of landscapes or figures which became popular in the late 18th Has made appearances on many a curtain, tablecloth and pillowcase.
  20. Distressed – Not the word for what for what you might be feeling, but for the treatment of a garment (especially a t-shirt) which makes it appear loved. Think grunge, punk street wear.
  21. Watch pocket – That little rectangular pocket in your jeans has a name and, as the name suggests, it was originally intended for pocket watches but is now used for various other little items, from lighter to condom to movie ticket.
  22. Gusset – Extra fabric sewn into a part of a garment to strengthen, extend or support it. Also, that piece of fabric inside the crotch of your underwear that looks like it could be a little pocket (but it isn’t, okay?).
  23. Aglet – Phineas and Ferb had a song about these, these tiny cylindrical caps at the ends of your shoelaces that keep them from unravelling.
  24. Bobby sock – Remember those frilly white socks you’d wear with your Mary Janes to school on Sunday Dress day?
  25. Oxfords, not brogues – Wise words from Colin Firth in 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service. The Oxford shoe is any shoe traditionally made of leather that is laced up through eyelets connected to the vamp (will explain later) of the shoe. Oxfords are considered more formal than brogues, which are pretty much just Oxfords with a dotted or perforated ornamental pattern along the toe cap.
  26. Heel breast – The part of a shoe’s sole facing the back, towards the heel, a.k.a. the part where they put those pesky sticky price tags, a.k.a. the part that shows you’re wearing Louboutin, or some version of it.
  27. Quarter – For some reason, the parts of a shoe are not very different from the parts of a chicken. The quarter is that rear part of the shoe that covers the back of the heel and is connected to the vamp.
  28. Vamp – Not the blood-sucking kind. The vamp, mentioned earlier, is the biggest portion of the shoe’s upper that extends from the toes in front all the way to the back where it connects to the quarter. This is an important part of the shoe because it’s where the laces, straps and other easily noticeable details go. Those “from where I’m standing” pictures you take are 50% toe cap and 50% vamp. Now you know.

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