Designs by: Jamie Chua
Photography by: Erwin Canlas
Make up and Hair by: Slo Lopez
I am so humbled to be a part of this group of inspiring and talented fashion creatives from SoFA. It’s odd to see my actual face on a glossy magazine page. I don’t know if I’ll ever get this opportunity again but if ever there is a next time, I’ll probably skip the heels and wear something more comfortable (a.k.a. more me).
When I was first contacted by Nicole Ramos, a former SoFA student and currently a Stylist for Mega Magazine, I felt like I hit the jackpot. Mega Magazine is one of the top fashion magazines in the Philippines and I couldn’t help but get giddy by the fact that my designs would be a part of their big fashion issue! Everyone knows that the most important issue is September; all the publications give their all and lucky for me, I was going to be a part of it.
This was the first time that my pieces showed up more than once in an editorial/feature so you wouldn’t believe how excited I was when I finally got my hands on a copy last month! I love the fact that Mega went on location and brought my humble designs and shot it with this gorgeous backdrop.
I shared these photos on my personal Facebook account also and got a message from my best friend, Timmy which honestly, sums up what I had wanted for my collection.
Can I just say, and I’m not being biased, but your collection/designs are so simple but so versatile. I just thought of it after seeing them in different sets.
Versatile, honest and inspired: pretty much sums up what I envisioned for the collection and how I see myself. Hopefully, I get more opportunities to show more of my work and create even more.
Confession: This year, all my self esteem issues that I thought I conquered came back tsunami wave style.
I grew up a fat kid. In the 9th grade, I already weighed in at 130 pounds (59 kgs) and I was already wearing a size 36B bra. I was the biggest in my barkada and maybe even one of the biggest girls in my batch (MAYBE an exaggeration but it felt like it at the time). The self-hate started when my grandmother wouldn’t stop telling me how fat I was (4th grade) and that I needed to lose weight and be sexy like Wowowee girls (noontime show with dancers in pieces of fabric covering only their vital areas which they referred to as “costumes”). Over the years, my demons grew and grew. It took a backseat when I discovered that I was actually smart (just lazy) and kind of pretty (if I had just lost the baby fat). I didn’t begin to start shedding the pounds until my last year in high school but this was because of stress and skipping meals. I started losing more and more as the stress levels shot up because of college life and moving away from the comforts of home.
Finally in 2012, after three episodes of Gastroenteritis and being forced to adapt a real health-conscious lifestyle, I was just right. My body was toned and I exercised 4-5 times a week. I could wear pretty much whatever I want and I would get hit on very often. I mentioned getting hit on because it is/was (?) how I measured my attractiveness (something that I am forever ashamed of). It’s so conceited, I know. Believe me, I didn’t really realise that I was doing this until last week.
Fast forward to the present: I am now close to 160 pounds (73 kgs) and extremely unhappy. I started gaining weight when I stopped exercising and focused on my Graduation collection. This was exactly one year ago, September 2014. Since then, I have graduated, finished internship, joined a couple of classes unrelated to fashion and got my first real job. All with no exercise and ALOT of fast food. And because Manila is so shitty, I decided to stop commuting as well because I simply cannot endure the long lines and terrible service any longer. If Ralf couldn’t drive for me, I would book a
very expensive Grabcar which pretty much sucks my wallet dry. There was no time, money and willpower to get back to my fit lifestyle.
Since I cut my hair early this year, I lost that girlish charm that brought the boys to the yard and because I’ve gained so much weight, my figure is now lost in a sea of body fat. All year, I’ve had breakdowns because of the weight and eventually, became depressed. All I wanted to do was stay home and ignore all the signs that I needed to do something about my situation. I dug a deep hole and wallowed in self pity. It is not my proudest moment, considering that I was/am (?) an advocate of body love and loving yourself unconditionally.
So why am I talking about this? What was the point of this post again?
I’ve known for a while that it was time for me to pick myself back up. I started going back to the gym and yoga last August but my routine is still inconsistent. I’m still trying to find the balance between work and working out. Not to mention that I’ve been working on something BIG with my folks this past 3 weeks and it’s been taking a lot of time and money.
I promise I’m not making any excuses. I promise that I’m really really REALLY trying. <- this is me making excuses again.
I was talking to Ralf about how I felt today. About where I am and how I’ve been handling my insecurities lately. He told me that I was on the right track and I should stop being so hard on myself. I have to stop torturing myself with all these thoughts but I can’t stop. But saying out loud how I felt made me feel a lot better and it made me realise things. Things that I feel are important enough for me to share because maybe somewhere out there someone is feeling the same way too.
2015 is my ugliest year. I made a conscious decision to focus on my career and not my physical appearance. I worked hard and set my goals and took the necessary steps to make my dreams into a reality. I spent a lot of time, effort, tears, and money on my future. I’ve read enough books, articles and essays from strong, inspiring women that have convinced me to set the standards for myself high because I deserve more. I will work and work and work on my passion and eventually it will see me through. I just need to endure the hardships now because no successful person got to where they are now without struggles.
Because I chose my career, me finding time to exercise took the backseat. This made me severely depressed but today will be different. Today I am reminding myself where I am headed and what I need to do. And that it’s okay to be insecure; that one day, I will wake up and finally make peace with my issues. This is all part of a bigger plan.
I promise to not make excuses anymore. I promise that I will be fit again by my next birthday (February next year). I promise to keep my head in the game and stay focused on making things happen. I promise to love my body no matter how much weight I gain and not subject it to any more fast food meals, fad diets and dietary supplements. I promise to work hard on it like how I work hard on my [future] career. I promise to try to see myself through the eyes of the people who love me; a strong and beautiful person no matter what the scale says.
I hope that if you’ve made it this far, you’ve come to realise that you’re not the only one going through this. Even the best of us have bad days and it’s okay. It could be the curse of being a millenial or it could just be because I’m a girl with some deep-rooted self-esteem issues. Who knows. For now though, I’m glad we had this talk and that you’ve decided to stay for the end of this post. I am forever grateful.
I’ll be ending this post with an excerpt from Amy Poehler’s book “Yes, Please” which honestly, hit the nail on the head right down to the last word.
Hopefully as you get older, you start to learn how to live with your demon. It’s hard at first. Some people give their demon so much room that there is no space in their head or bed for love. They feed their demon and it gets really strong and then it makes them stay in abusive relationships or starve their beautiful bodies. But sometimes, you get a little older and get a little bored of the demon. Through good therapy and friends and self-love you can practice treating your demon like a hack, annoying cousin. Maybe a day even comes when you are getting dressed for a fancy event and it whispers, “You aren’t pretty,” and then you go, “I know, I know, now let me find my earrings.” Sometimes you say, “Demon, I promise you I will let you remind me of my ugliness, but right now I am having hot sex so I will check in later.”
Other times I take a more direct approach. When the demon starts to slither my way and say bad shit about me I turn around and say “Hey. Cool it. Amy is my friend. Don’t talk about her like that.” Sticking up for ourselves is the same way we would on of our friends is a hard but satisfying thing to do. Sometimes it works. Even demons gotta sleep.
Goodnight, my demons.
Going to the Global Mala Project has been a mini tradition for me and my best friend, Angel. Our first year was back in 2013, months after we started learning yoga together back in Bacolod (see here). We were so excited and I made sure that we stuck to our agreed schedule of classes. This year, we decided to return to the Global Mala Project as volunteers. We got to meet and talk to other volunteers/yogis as well as attend classes FOR FREE (which by the way was the best part). Angela and I took the morning shift so by 1pm, we were already on our mats.
We attended a total of 3 classes and 1 talk. My favorite class would have to be Gateway to Freedom: Core Awakening Flow Yoga by Christi Christensen. Not only was her personality infectious but what she was teaching us was exactly what I needed. To be honest, when she was repeating over and over again that we should let go and love ourselves, I started to tear up. I had a hard time blinking back the tears; good thing that I was sweating so much so nobody could tell if they were actual tears or my sweat.
These photos are not arranged in order of events and are a mix of when I was volunteering and photos I took before and after classes begun. Excuse the selfies, most of those were Angela’s idea.
I know I mentioned
somewhere that I haven’t had a proper workout since the start of my graduation collection. That’s roughly a year of being stressed/busy/lazy bum. I enrolled in a gym last August to help get myself back in shape. I have a personal trainer named Spike who bugs me almost everyday to work out so that’s really been helping me out. I have gained a total of 30 pounds since I stopped working out. So you can just imagine the struggle of taking classes one after another during Global Mala. Honestly, I had only taken two Flow classes (after x number of months) the week prior to GMP so my body was DEFINITELY not prepared for the physical strain.
This year, I had a lot of time to reflect on my current situation and how bottled up I’ve become. I am honestly not the type to keep things to myself but during Christi’s class, I couldn’t help but feel lousy. It was like she knew what I was unconsciously going through and her energy just woke up something inside of me. I still can’t explain what exactly happened in that flow class but from it, I know that I have to cut myself some slack and relearn everything all over again.
So since GMP, I’ve slowly shifted to a Pescatarian diet, gone to yoga more than once this week and work out at least once a week. I’m trying to not harbor a lot of negativity during the day and I am slowly letting go of my worries and fears for the future. I try as much as possible to journal everyday too, a habit that I’ve let go off because of an insecurity.
I still have a long way to go but this has been the most peaceful my mind has been for months now. I’m just trying to go back to going with the flow.