Have you heard, there’s a rumor in St. Petersburg?

This is not a review.

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Over the course of this trip, my four-year-old self would’ve probably been leaping for joy for having her dreams fulfilled. Growing up, I was obsessed with the cartoon Anastasia as well as the real one. I remembered always researching about Russian history even though I never really needed to learn it in school. I’d get giddy reading about the Romanovs in history books as well as fiction books. I loved learning about Anastasia’s life and family.

I used to have this CD of a collection of songs from the musical cartoons of “my time.”  My mom would play it in the car for me and my sisters and that’s how I was able to memorize the lyrics to even the most random songs such as “Poor Unfortunate Souls” by Ursula from The Little Mermaid or “I’ll Make a Man Out of You” by General Shang from Mulan. One of my favorite songs from that CD was Anastasia’s “Journey to the Past.” There was something about the way she was singing her story that captivated me. I think that started my passion for musicals and theatre.

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When I first found out that they were making a broadway version of one of my favorite cartoons, I just about flipped. I made it a goal to see it live. I never thought that it would’ve even been a slight possibility considering I also made it a goal to watch Britney Spears live and was never able to despite the fact that I lived in Vegas for two years during her residency. I think it began with what was just a random conversation between me and my friend Skippy about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child show that suddenly led us to rush ourselves into buying tickets to New York.

Fast forward to us finally being in the Broadhurst Theatre for their evening performance, watching and falling in love with Christy Altomare and pretty much everything about the show. The best part was me not realizing that my ultimate broadway crush, Ramin Karimloo was also performing. As excited as I was about everything, I did not do research beforehand, so I just enjoyed the pleasurable surprise.

Before it started, I practically had to drag Skippy in with me. He was mostly “Oh this is no big deal,” “These things don’t make sense,” and “I’m not that interested in musicals.” Imagine my surprise when after they ended the first act with “Journey to the Past” I looked at him and realized that both of us were huge emotional wrecks. He told me he’s been crying (in secret) because of how amazing the show was.

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Towards the finale, the crying wasn’t a secret anymore. I have converted my friend into a broadway geek, and finally ladies and gentlemen, my work here is done!

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If you’re ever in New York for a quick visit, I highly recommend watching Anastasia: The Broadway Musical.

 

xx Gizel

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

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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