On Wines and Castles.

I am one of those people who’s slightly a little bit obsessed with old castles. It’s not the grandeur or the lifestyle, but more of the history and mystery of huge places that  served as a home for some people that’s just so attractive to me.

Castles are dark, outdated, dingy, sometimes scary, but for some reason, something about it draws me in. I am in love with them! I love watching old movies set in castles, or the new ones that feature them. I’ve always wanted to live in one (not as a royal, but just a regular person living in a really old, really big house.)

Because everybody in my family has a weird work schedule, we knew that spending the holidays together would be difficult. So we planned to see each other earlier to spend our very own “Christmas” and “New Year.”

The thought of traveling always puts me in a good mood.

This December, we flew to San Francisco and visited a little castle-slash-vineyard in Napa Valley.

The drive up to Castello di Amorosa was such a sight. I’ve never seen this much greenery in Vegas, where I currently live. It made me sad for a little bit, but I quickly moved on as soon as I saw the castle.

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I don’t understand what it is about a dark place that could make me so happy, but I just let myself bask in the joy it gave me. I was slightly disappointed the vineyard looked a little empty, I wasn’t sure if we arrived before harvest season or just after harvest time, so I just  went ahead and distracted myself with walking around inside.

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Also, wine tasting, because why not?

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Maybe it’s because I’m weak, or just because I’m Asian and get embarassingly tomato-red when I’m a little drunk, that I prefer getting buzzed as slow as possible. I may know my way around tequilas and gins, but for wines, the sweets will always be my go-to.

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The courtyard was pretty, the corridors were charming. I may have secretly pretended to be a princess prancing around the hallways the whole time we were there. I wish they had an AirBnb or bed-and-breakfast sort of setting because I would definitely book a week’s stay to just day drink and run away from work.

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Castles and Wines are the perfect combo!

Link to location for questions and reservations

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#FindGizel

xx Gizel

Yes and No

After graduating, (yes I already graduated, finally!) I had hoped to have at least a few months to unwind, relax and RECOVER from 17 years of education. But life apparently has other plans for me. Not more than four days later, I was offered a job at sales. I did not look for it, it came to find me, and as much as I understand how it is an actual opportunity to at least try, I can’t shake the feeling that I’m too afraid to.

The fear of the next chapter is too real for someone like me.

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This is now a time for job hunting, embarrassing interviews, new kinds of stresses, failed relationships and an even more extreme dependency for coffee. But here I am looking for great places to get lost to in a short period of time .

And I know EXACTLY what people will say about it.

“That’s not practical.”

“What are you going to do with your life?”

“Do you even have goals?”

“How do you expect to feed yourself without money?”

“Find a job first, then travel all you want after.”

 And I also know EXACTLY how to answer those questions; I know it’s not practical but I still DON’T know what to do with my life and I’m hoping that this bit of soul-searching will lead me to my actual goals. I’m not too picky on food but I’m more specific on experiences that will feed my soul and my being, and I’d rather travel and call it a job, or find a career that revolves around that. You see I am a restless wanderer, and keeping me stuck in a routine will literally make me crazy.

But I know this answer is selfish, so usually to the people who judge my decisions I’d just shrug and say:

Yesterday was the second day for the Panaad Festival which featured a concert where Joey Ayala and Gary Granada will perform.

If you don’t know them, I have no right to ask you if you’ve been living under a rock because they seriously are not that popular, IN THIS GENERATION. But during their time, they were basically legends.

And how is this connected to my current post-grad-quarter-life-crisis? Well, I just happened to spend the whole day with them. (Sometimes my volunteer work in the culture and the arts industry has its perks!)

Yesterday was a fulfilling experience to my heart, mind and soul (and tummy!) The food and company was amazing in a place where nature was overwhelmingly welcomed.

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I was again in the presence of people who knew what their passion was and it resonated in everything they did. Sure they were a bit eccentric, talking openly about marijuana, depression, mental disorders and hippie life in the 80′s but being around them made you feel a sort of freedom. Their openness was welcoming and a bit, liberating.

We had this conversation about the educational system in the country; Sir Joey said something about the difference between training and education that “training was teaching you what exactly you’re supposed to do in an organized routine” and that “Education was actually learning by yourself how to handle the surprise attacks of life.” It was pretty deep, and I honestly can’t remember how our conversation led to that but it made me ponder and share my thoughts to the group as well.

“Then in school, we were not being educated, we were being trained.”

“Exactly.”

I felt cheated. 17 years of “education” which was actually training for employment.

And now, I don’t know what to do next.

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The talks about their experiences became sort of life advices for me who is just trying to start out in life. Whatever career I want to pursue, all actions of today will lead to that.

I will still be looking for my passion, and whatever feels like it’s not right for me, I won’t do it; and all the things I think I could maybe do, I will. Yesterday I was told that, I shouldn’t study deeper into the things I’m already good at. It’s there and will still be there for me to improve on and excel in. What I should try to learn will be things I haven’t tried yet, coz then, that’s how I will find my passion.

Learn to say no, and at the same time, don’t let your fears stop you from saying “Yes.”

 

xx Gizel

2013 in a tiny Box.

Who knew events of the year could fit in a tiny, old DKNY watch box?

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I got the concept from tumblr exactly a year ago. It was New Year’s Eve, and I saw this picture of a glass with what seemed like letters inside it. The idea was to write out things that made you happy in the course of the year in small pieces of paper, and store them in a jar, and then read everything you wrote by the end of the year.

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When I opened my tiny “Best of 2013” box, I felt excited. I haven’t opened any of these small pieces of paper ever since I started writing them. One by one I slowly opened, and read these happy moments that I wrote

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They made me remember the moments and made me feel all sorts of things: happiness, nostalgia, and sometimes, regret, for missed opportunities, plans that didn’t pull through, things that don’t happen, and people that I don’t see anymore.

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But here I am, on my first day of 2014, reading memories about life, love, friends, and family that made me happy throughout 2013. I giggled at some, and cried happy tears in the others.

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They made me realize that what makes me happy the most are simple things, like having random sleepovers with my friends, coffee dates, roadtrips, and the beach. I wrote about the most random and small things that made me appreciate my days, some as simple as “waking up to a good hair day” or something big like “seeing a falling star for the first time.”

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I’m pretty sure I wasn’t able to write about every happy memory that happened to me in the year, but it’s okay. I had a tiny box, that was filled with love letters to myself. It’s proof that, despite the lows that I’ve experienced, a lot of good things happened to me in 2013, and I’m thankful for that.

xx Gizel

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Photos by: Me

Fashion Wednesdays: Bikinis for your Body Shapes

Tomorrow, I’m going to the beach.

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And I’m not exactly sure about the internet connection from there, but whatever. Beach trips, are like those “one-with-the-nature” kind of trips anyway, so I’m probably gonna be out (with nature) a lot. But since it’s still Wednesday, and I have a Fashion Blog to post, let me share with you the different types of body shapes, and how to choose beach wear for them. I had a hard time preparing myself for that ultimate beach-body before this trip. It involved a lot of lifting (the remote) and pulling (the popcorn bowl closer to me.) What can I say? You need to exert a lot of effort to get THAT body you so badly want. But most people, myself included, are not so lucky with getting the body type they wish to have, so instead, they learn how to maximize their assets on the body that they DO have. Image

For Triangle Shape (Pear Shaped):

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If you are bigger on the bottom, don’t wear something that would make it look like your thighs were cut in the wrong place. Bikinis with higher cut bottoms never fail!

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For Inverted Triangle Shape:

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You’re sure to have broad shoulders, show them off with a bandeau top! Having no symmetry between the top part and the lower part of your body means it wouldn’t matter if your top and bottom pairs are not exactly, pairs! It’s more fun to mix and match and be creative. Or, a high waist bikini can do the trick!

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For Rectangle Shape:

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My Fellow, Flat-chested Friends, stuffing your bra just wont work in the beach! Focus on just making an illusion that you have the body that Victoria’s Secret Angels would cry for by wearing tops with ruffled designs, and shapely details. Trust me, these  days, everything can pass off as what you want it to be.

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For Hour-Glass Shape:

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You lucky bitch. You can pretty much wear anything you want and pull it off. You can even go naked for all I care.

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For Diamond Shape:

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Create a defined waistline with details like belts, etc. Dark tops and light bottoms always create a sort of divide between the upper and lower part of your body, people will forget to look at the middle!

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For Rounded Shape:

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You don’t exactly have to cover yourself all over. They key to hiding your belly is distraction. Distract them from checking out your body center by wearing graphic or floral printed one piece suits. Also, try ones with details in the waistline to fake abs, bright colors usually work best. 😉

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xx

Gizel

NaBloPoMo_November_small

Thursday Throwback to a different Lifetime

I spent the whole afternoon with my grandmother today. I was her personal chauffeur and official “errand-girl” Despite the tiring day of carrying her stuff, and driving her to her bidding, I had a lot of fun (and pizza.)

Today I got to talk to my grandmother about her life when she wasn’t you know- a grandmother. I mean, I never saw her as anything else, but she’s in her late sixties already, she recently just celebrated her birthday, and before all of us, she had a life. She had her own dreams, failures and experiences, basically, she’s human, just like myself.

Image My grandmother graduated high school from a small town in Negros, grew up the youngest of ten siblings, and as I just learned today; got maried at the age of twenty-one.

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DAMN. I’m just a year younger now than she was when she married my grandfather in a courthouse in Manila. I couldn’t even take relationships seriously at this age, and yet there she was, getting married, and starting her own family.

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I loved getting to know this side of my grandmother. I only always see her as the funny old lady who loved to cook and sew. My friends that know her describe her as “groovy” or “hip” She’s usually up for anything, and she’s probably one of the most positive people I know. My grandmother is very simple. She does laundry, cooks dinner, and keeps the house clean. Once a week she attends her bible study class along with all her retired friends. She’s like everyone’s typical grandma.

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 But hidden in that simplicity, is her secret. When she was younger, probably just a few years older than me, she was a strong independent woman with class, and style. She worked at one of the city’s top companies to support her children. She suffered three miscarriages and had to go through a very long time without her husband because my grandfather used to work away most of the time as a seaman. In her twenties, she had an envious waistline of 23-inches and the most amazing collection of self-made wardrobe. I have her to thank for all the vintage stuff I own. Me and my older sister have a field day whenever our grandmother decides to open her closet to us.

My grandmother is very humble and down-to-earth. When you look at her and the way she lives, you wouldn’t have known that she’s already traveled to a lot of places around the world, and has seen a lot it has to offer. I love my grandmother, and she’s one of my inspirations why I want to travel the world. I think she’s a wonderful role model, and I’d like to pattern my lifestyle to hers. She’s an adorable  woman whom every one of my aunts, uncles, and cousins love. She has the kind of personality that just makes her so lovable, and I’d like to be the same.

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Honestly, I think my grandmother is secretly a queen.

In my eyes she had always been old, always been mine, always been Granny Dan. But in another time, another place, there had been dancing, people, laughter, love. . . . She had had another life before she came to us, long before she came to me. . .  – Granny Dan, Danielle Steel

xx Gizel

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Travel “Shoe-Selfies”

For some strange reason, I’ve acquired the strange habit of taking shoe-selfies.

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I have been doing it for quite some time now, and only recently have I figured out why exactly. I realized, that most of these “feet pictures” are usually taken in places where I felt that “calmness.” Like when you go to a certain place and you look at the view and think to yourself: “This is amazing, and I want to document it.”

But somehow, you’re too ashamed to take a photo of yourself in a public place, or in a somewhat weird position (i.e. backriding on a motorbike) so you tend to just look down at your feet and decide they’re more interesting than what surrounds you.

You subtly take a photo of your shoes as proof that you’ve set foot on that wonderful place (even though it doesn’t show anything much, aside from the ground you’re standing on) and walk away contented with what you took.

But as soon as I went through my cellphone and camera photos, I have no idea how to appreciate these pictures of the ground and my shoes. I don’t have a foot-fetish, so I don’t know why I’ve been keeping these pictures all this time.

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Somehow, I’ve found a purpose for these “shoe-selfies.”

I’ve always wanted to try and create a travel tradition. Like get something wherever I go to take home with me and keep as memorabilia. I used to collect rocks from places I had happy moments when I was a little kid. What can I say? I’m sentimental. But it didn’t work because they’re too bulky, and not everywhere I went to had rocks. Most of the places I had happy moments were indoors, plus, I keep forgetting where exactly I got those rocks from since I never really labeled them.

Instead of rocks, I decided another creative way of keeping memories from places I went to would be these shoe-selfies. However, because these photos obviously don’t show the actual places I went to, I made collages. Simple, yet effective.

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Orchard Central Mall Singapore

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Universal Studios Singapore

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On-the-Spot trip from Cadiz to Concepcion with my friends Anika and Rhaizza.

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For RJ’s birthday, we went from Dumaguete to Dauin.

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Mission to the recently disaster-struck Bohol that was ruined by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake.

I had a lot of travel experiences, mostly in beaches, but I figured 7 more pictures of my weird looking feet wearing slippers would be annoying.

A new tradition begins! Although I do realize, for this sort of collection, I’d probably need a bunch of new shoes.

xx

Gizel

NaBloPoMo November 2013

#BangonBohol

Four years ago, I went to Bohol for a field trip with all of my batch mates. Together, we experienced the beauty that the place, the culture, and the Boholanons had to share. I had a lot of first times in that place, and all of those experiences were amazing.

I got to eat lunch on a floating restaurant in Loboc. I saw the amazing Chocolate Hills, that up until then, I’ve only seen in books. I came close to touching a real life tarsier (although I never did because it wasn’t allowed then, and I was too scared to stress them out.) And, I made a wish in one of the oldest, and most beautiful churches in the country, the Baclayon Church.

That trip had some of the most incredible moments I’ve ever experienced, and I remember writing in my journal that I thought Bohol was one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Fast-forward to four years later, and I was suddenly woken up, because my bed was heavily being shaken. I kept thinking that I was probably just dreaming, so I just brushed it off, simply stretched and went back to sleep. By the time I woke up again, everything in my social media timeline and newsfeeds confirmed that it wasn’t just a dream. It was a 5.0 magnitude earthquake that shook our city, and worse, a 7.2 magnitude that destroyed Bohol.

My sister showed me a comparative before and after photo online of the Baclayon Church. The same church that I made a wish on a couple of years ago, where one of my prayers got answered. The “after” photo was devastating. I could never have imagined that the church would be ruined, just like that. So much history, so many moments, and memories, all just toppled to the ground. The church that stood since the 1500s finally met its end.

It was dark times for the city of Bohol. There were still a lot of unsafe aftershocks, landslides, deaths, and missing people. For a couple of days, those that survived had no electricity, no water, and no homes. But there will always be a silver lining in every darkness, and little by little, Bohol is slowly finding its light.

Gawad Kalinga immediately started the “Operation Walang Iwanan: Bohol” which translates to ‘nobody gets left behind’ and extended the meaning of it’s slogan to the disaster-struck city. GK Team Negros Occidental responded to the call of heroism by gathering hundreds of volunteers to donate, gather, and pack relief goods to be sent to Bohol.

The people of Negros Occidental overwhelmingly gathered a total of 1,750 relief packets and 73 boxes of bottled water, which were packed by more than 200 volunteers just a few days after the tragedy.

A couple of us volunteers decided to personally hand out these relief packs to Bohol, and see for ourselves how the place was coping with the calamity. I felt really excited and horrible at the same time about the thought of going there. The last time I went there, it was beautiful, but now, it’s a ruined city.

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As soon as we arrived, the place spared no warnings; everywhere you looked was damaged. Even those structures and roads that seemed capable of withstanding anything had the tiniest bits of cracks. Before you even got to the center of the city, you already knew how horrible the rest of it was going to be.

On our way to the school where we will be staying along with the other volunteers from GK, we saw all kinds of destroyed buildings, churches, roads, and houses. Most of the people there set up tents just outside their houses for fear that it would collapse when another aftershock strikes. I couldn’t even imagine not feeling the least bit of safety even in the confines of your own home.

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We met a few other volunteers from GK and a couple of locals who extended their help to the different volunteer teams. Some families opened their homes for us to at least have the comfort of using a bathroom. The mother of the household humbly said that it was their contribution, because they were very thankful that we were there to lend a hand. It was simply just people helping each other, breaking language barriers, and letting strangers in their homes simply because they knew that we all shared the same cause – we all wanted to help Bohol.

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In the middle of friendly conversation and getting to know the family, we experienced our first aftershock since we arrived. It was definitely a scary moment, one that I would never want to feel again. Their aftershocks are much stronger than the earthquakes we had in Bacolod. It wasn’t something you could simply just stretch from and go back to bed in. I finally understood how serious this mission was becoming. I can only imagine how the people who have been here since day 1 felt, when all those aftershocks kept coming in varied intervals and magnitudes.

As the day went on we went around to see more of the ruins and met even more locals. We talked to them about their experience during the earthquake and how they were doing after everything. We went to the mangroves and saw houses that were just a few feet away from completely being submerged underwater. The water level by the pier was alarmingly high, and the view of the mountain was destroyed. There was now a chunk of white dirt that covered the greenery, a proof of the continuing landslides. There was a village that cannot be found anymore because it was completely covered. Most of the people from there live in tents just outside the church grounds or in evacuation areas. Their stories were heartbreaking, but they were all just thankful they survived.

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Surprisingly though, the people of Bohol didn’t seem swayed by the calamity. Of course they were in mourning for the loss of their houses, and their loved ones, but talking to them just makes you realize just how strong these people were. Homeless, and still in danger, they still were welcoming enough to talk to us and show us around. The San Miguel Church that we went to was completely damaged; the roof collapsed in the center and all the walls and glass windows were piled up in the middle, only the front facade was still upright, and the people we talked to told us that it was lucky the mass had ended and everyone was already outside before the earthquake took place. Just behind it, they were already building a small chapel to accommodate them, for mass or prayers. Even in the most devastating calamities, these Filipinos will never lose their faith.

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I think that the reason why they seem so strong, positive despite the tragedy and determined to rebuild their city was because they knew that we are behind them every step of the way. Gawad Kalinga, a couple other organizations, and a lot more Filipinos are willing to help them and show them that definitely, nobody gets left behind.

We never got around to see the ruined tourist spots like the Chocolate Hills, and the Baclayon church, but I think it was easier that way because I can understand how heartbreaking it will be to see how ruined those beautiful places will be, but I still have hope in my heart for Bohol. The way I saw the willingness between the volunteers and the locals to unite in rebuilding the city, I know that it’s not long before Bohol will slowly begin to rise again.

The Boholanos are humble and grateful people. They deserve to be helped in anyway that they could. Maybe we could come back again, and this time bring with us even more volunteers, relief packs, water, and tents. They still need our help, and let’s show them what we believe in: Walang Iwanan!

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NaBloPoMo November 2013