Hillsong Conference Sydney

As I was decluttering my closet this morning, I was ready to toss an old orange romper into my pile of giveaways. I took a second look at it and a surge of emotions came rushing in---it was the romper I wore on our very first date!!!!! NOOO! Romper, come back to the closet and stay here---FOREVER! :) :) Patrick even texted me after our date and said "I really enjoyed our date tonight. You looked AMAZING by the way." Aba syempre, AMAZING talaga! Excuse me, AKO PA?!?!?! Helloooo!  Kaya hindi pwede itapon 'tong AMAZING romper na ito. Hahahaha!!! 

I still remember our first date like it was yesterday. I remember the movie we watched, what I ordered for dinner, the exact parking slot in Power Plant mall, what he was wearing----but of all the details that I was trying to piece together in my mind that evening, it was the music that was playing in his car that really gave a lasting impression. He was playing 90's music (hooray!) and Christian music (so I was like wuuuhhhhaaaaat?!).  

So let me explain myself first. Like 90% of the Philippine population, I grew up in a Christian home, went to a Christian school, went to church every Sunday, gave to charity. Jesus was all over--including Mary, Joseph, and his whole barkada of disciples, saints and angels. Jesus was all around me---except inside of me. I was never really ashamed to call myself a Christian, but I wasn't exactly proud of it either. I was just one of those "let's keep it on the down low" kind of believers---trying to still live a cool, normal, secular life from Monday to Saturday and then willing to put the Christian hat on when Sunday morning came calling. So when I heard  the songs of praise and worship blasting through his iPod ON OUR FIRST DATE, I didn't really know how to feel about it. I thought to myself "Don't we just sing these songs on Sunday mornings or during retreats? I mean, you're on a date---and you're trying to impress this girl and you're playing Jesus tracks?!". Half of me was probably on the defensive, feeling guilty for my own ailing spiritual life. I was in denial, I was struggling, ultimately..I was lost. And without really meaning it, just by playing a few songs on shuffle mode, this fella stirred up some unsettling feelings inside of me. Feelings that I thought no longer mattered because I was in control of my own life and had it all figured out (I was obviously sooooo wrong!). 

As the date progressed I started noticing something about Patrick that I've never ever encountered in any other man---I realized that his confidence and countenance were  anchored on one thing: his relationship with God. He had a sureness about him that didn't come from his own merit, it came from something bigger and greater. He didn't really say "Jesus this-Jesus that" in fact our conversations weren't really on the holy moly guacamole side but there was just something about him and the way he carried himself that made him very different. 

For years, I always attached my feelings of self-awareness to things I've accomplished (graduating from a prestigious university, thriving in the industry, making my own money, etc) and to how I am able relate to the rest of the world. The world's standards became my standards and I derived my faux happiness from things that were fleeting and temporal. For the first time in my life, my perspective was challenged. And I felt uncomfortable with it. Here was Patrick just singing along to some old church song like a 75 year old Lola---not caring at all if it was baduy, corny, or too "Christian-y". Praising the Lord through traffic from Salcedo Village to Rockwell---was his thing and he didn't feel the need to downplay this part of his life for anyone, even ME, a girl he was trying to style on. He was just being himself, a dude who really liked Jesus---no edits, no pretensions. It took a while for me to be on the same boat, a lot of humbling had to happen for me to really break down my walls and fully understand it. But I'm really thankful that the Lord was very patient in shaping me---this very stubborn and selfish heart of mine needed a major makeover! Hindi pa tapos!

Some of the songs that played on Patrick's iPod that evening came from HILLSONG. And that is why ever since then I've been a fan of HILLSONG. For those who aren't familiar with HILLSONG, they are a church movement that started in Australia 30 years ago. A lot of the songs we sing in our own little churches were penned and produced by them. They have been used by God to serve millions around the world through their ministry of music and missions. Every year they have a Hillsong Conference which is open to EVERYONE. You don't have to be a member of Hillsong or any church org really---as long as you have the heart to serve the Lord and others in your own little way, then you can definitely sign up for it! Patrick attended this conference back in 2006 (long before we met) and to this day he calls it one of the most life-changing events of his adult life. So while we were still dating, we promised each other that once we got married, we would save up and do the Hillsong Conference together. Our dream came true a few weeks back---after months of major pagtitipid, we made it to the Hillsong Conference in Sydney!!!!! The actual conference ran from Monday to Friday. We flew in on a Saturday morning and did a bit of sightseeing before the start of the actual conference---we also managed to squeeze in some pasyal-pasyal in between sessions too. 

More than 25,000 people flocked to Sydney from all parts of the globe to attend the conference so it was really packed! There were morning and night rallies---which were like super concerts! It was such a feast for the senses with amazing production numbers, powerhouse performances, props, light, videos, and great guest speakers--- the works!!! We were all singing our lungs out (even if out of tune!) and were just so happy to be celebrating Jesus through their excellent productions! In the afternoon, we attended several workshops called "Masterclasses". This year they allowed us to just move freely and select the classes that really fit our lifestyle, current professions and ministries. We attended the classes on FILM, Social Media, Creativity, etc and learned so much from the Hillsong team and other guest facilitators. The classes were so inspiring---Patrick and I were raring to go back home so we could apply all the things we learned! Hopefully I will have more time to blog about each session in detail, but in the meantime I hope you'll be good with just this photo teaser:) Thank you Lord for giving me and my husband the opportunity to attend this year's conference. Salamat, Salamat, Salamat!

Keeping it Casual with The Gap

A few weeks ago, THE GAP invited me (along with other global fashionistas around the world) to play dress up with their current collection. Oh what a dream!!! I've always been a fan of the brand! I was given free rein to style myself with their clothes (and adding a few personal pieces too) and so here are my 3 favorite looks. I thought I'd share the photos with you today just in case you're looking for some cool and casual outfits. And yes, all of the GAP pieces I used are available in their Manila stores. :)

Thanks again to my good friend (and awesome photographer at Little People Photography) Krissy Rodriguez. I'm not really a pro "fashion blogger", but she did such an excellent job of putting me at ease and making me feel pretty in my favorite GAP clothes.  For this shoot, we kept it easy breezy and just shot these images at home. :) :)

I love going white-on-white so I kept it immaculately clean with this GAP White Linen Button Down and White Always Skinny Skimmers.
I wanted to make these rugged Sexy Boyfriend Jeans by GAP work-appropriate so I paired it with a simple white tank, a structured pink blazer, and some heels. 
This one's the perfect lazy Saturday morning: cute Maddie Shorts and soft knit top by GAP. 
Special thanks to GAP Glorietta

Keira's Looks in Begin Again

If you haven't seen BEGIN AGAIN, please set a date to watch it PLEASE. It's a very simple story with adorable characters and catchy tunes. I won't spoil it for you but I just wanted to dedicate this morning to just marvel at Keira Knightley's clothes in the movie. I couldn't get over the impeccable styling of Indian stylist, Arjun Bhasin! She did an amazing job with Keira! Of course Keira's ballerina figure just makes her the perfect clothes hanger for these looks---BUT I really believe any woman can pull off these casual, down-to-earth looks too! Her looks are so easy on the eyes without trying too hard. :) Style crushing big time!!!!

Seafood Shack

Calling all you seafood lovers, you should start "swimming" your way to the SEAFOOD SHACK in Scout Rallos in Tomas Morato. My buddy Martin Kabigting, one of the geniuses behind this new "fishy venture" (and I mean it in a good way of course!), invited me to try their best sellers a few weeks ago along with the soon-to-be weds Muffin and Don and we had a blast. It was a super quick  (and bitin) lunch for me since I was heading to my class in Ateneo right after. Next time, I promise to stay a bit longer so I can really enjoy my seafood binge all the more.  I'll make this a quick review and go straight to the point...errr...bullet point(s) I mean. Hehehe! 
  • I am a fan of CLEAN restaurants. I do love discovering hole-in-the-wall restos with worn out interiors that add a bit of history and charm, that's all perfectly understandable. A place can be old and look a bit shabby but clean. Hygiene is a non-negotiable for me, especially when it comes to food. I don't care if you're a Michelin starred resto, if it smells like a sewer and you have dirty utensils, forget it! Hehehe! This resto wins in the CLEANLINESS department. I guess it's a given since it's brand new but I really do hope they keep it this way and maintain the level of cleanliness. 
  • I love the interiors of this resto---it reminds me of San Francisco! It helps that the interiors are crisp and clean, you don't get that "langsa" feeling especially since they serve mostly seafood in the menu. The design takes you seaside while in the concrete jungle.
  • If you're looking for a less touristy alternative to eating at a local Dampa, this may be your best bet. Masaya pa rin kumain sa Dampa, especially since they serve the freshest of the fresh but sometimes it can become a tourist and balikbayan trap with overpriced dishes. Here at Seafood Shack, you get fresh seafood without the stress of haggling---and you can still get down and dirty kamayan style. I mean, you have to admit... finger licking makes the seafood eating experience all the more fun right?
  • Their boiled shacks are quite generous and their sauces are really tasty. You can choose either Lemon Peppery, Soy Garlic, Southern Cajun, Shack Daddy (all in). These flavors don't overpower the seafood---katamtaman lang ang timpla and you can always make adjustments with the spice level too. 
  • Aside from their boiled shacks, customers can also order other none seafood items (if you have someone in the group who's allergic to seafood) like their Grilled Chicken, Pulled Pork BBQ, Chicken Hash Nachos, and Cajun Wings. I loved their Texas Cheese Sticks and Grilled corn and cheese on a cob! We had these for starters and I was sold! Sobrang sarap! And they serve dessert also!!!
  • The prices are quite reasonable especially since the serving portions are quite hefty. This is really a place for families and barkadas. 
For more information about Seafood Shack, you can visit their FB page HERE. Thanks again for having me over! 

How To Shoot Travel Videos

Hi folks! I've been getting lots of emails about our Europe travel videos so I figured I'd write a bit about it today. Thanks so much for the generous compliments--as much as I would like to take credit for them, it's ALL the work of Patrick and his Blackmagic Design Pocket Camera! I just picked the music and made pa-cute! Hahahaha! 

Like I've mentioned before, Patrick shoots all the video on his own (except for a few shaky bits, by me!) using this very compact video camera. You'll see below that it's just as big as a standard point and shoot camera so it's perfect for traveling. It doesn't command a lot of attention like other giant video cameras/DSLRs so you can shoot discreetly while on the go. Plus it's very light too, Patrick just keeps it handheld most of the time or packs it in his backpack with a tripod and a few lenses. I don't know much about the technical stuff so if you have any more questions about the actual specs, just hop on over www.tsodistribution.com for more details. For those asking, the Blackmagic Pocket Camera we got was around 1,000 USD--- but it's on sale now at 50% off! This makes it cheaper than an iPhone or your standard DSLR! I love taking photos but I find that videos can really capture the vibe and energy of a place more effectively. I am quite lucky to have a videographer/editor for a husband, I love that all our trips are documented nicely on film.. But thanks to this user friendly and super affordable video camera, anyone with an eye for detail can shoot amazing videos too! :) You can scroll down further to see all our Europe travel vids shot with a Blackmagic Pocket Camera. 

All the videos above were shot with a Blackmagic Pocket Camera 
and edited using Da Vinci Resolve on a Macbook Pro :)
 Lucky for you, the camera is actually on sale for a limited period! 
To find a dealer near you, click HERE

Sydney Days 3&4

Sharing more photos from our Sydney adventure. :) :)

I don't really drink beer but this caught my attention. What a nice ceiling display!
Our favorite el cheapo burrito!!! 
Buying some snacks at Woolies
Heading to the Allphones Arena for our first Hillsong session
Before heading to the conference, we spent the morning at the nearby Museum of Contemporary Art and we found lots of great modern gems :)

The Everyday Kind of Love

I am currently in Japan for a few days of happy work. Patrick will be following shortly so we can enjoy Tokyo together over the weekend..and I can't wait!!!! I always have difficulty spending time away from Patrick, whether it's for 1 night or 10. The temporary separation always gets to me. I've become this annoyingly cheesy wife who's grown dependent on the body warmth of my husband. Hahaha! But I do appreciate these moments too because it really puts things in perspective for me. Today, I woke up grateful.

We are very simple folk. What we have is the EVERYDAY kind of love, or at least that's what I would like to call it. I say EVERYDAY because not all days are made the same, and that's why it's important to have a kind of love that can weather any type of day. And I'm not only talking about the GOOD and the BAD days here. (They may seem like polar opposites but are still great backdrops for cultivating a love story because both the GOOD and BAD days make for solid memories and character shaping.) But what a lot of people forget are the days in between, the ho-hum days. The days filled with chores, errands, work deadlines, bills, and everything else. These days are forgotten and these are the days that can become a vacuum if you are not careful. You can easily get sucked in and lost in the normalcy of life. We do have our rare moments of grand gestures, surprises and sweet romantics---but I find that my marriage to Patrick is further refined by how we tread through the mundane together. 

We don't live in romantic comedy settings wherein days seem endless, with lots of lounging around in bed in sexy lingerie and finding philosophical connections and engaging in deep conversations. Regular folk like us don't have the time to lie in the grass and look at the stars and recite poetry to one another. For most, we don't have that grand takbo-takbo sa airport and declare your love in front of everyone scenes. More often than not our days consist of being stuck in traffic,  wading through the floods, lining up to pay our bills, stressing over clients, agonizing over taxes, doctor's visits, scrubbing the toilet, and other not so fun moments that we don't see in the movies. They sort of just graze through these daily rituals and just skip to the juicy bits and make us believe that love is supposed to be always intense, exciting, dramatic and eventful with quotable quotes, pensive stares and sexy brooding, lots and lots of brooding. Hahahahaha! Just because you're not having an exciting day, it doesn't necessarily fall under boring. The world has taught us to just categorize routine, work, responsibility and obligation as boring--when in fact they should be moments that are celebrated as well. These are moments wherein our character is being polished, where we can show kindness, integrity, honesty and yes LOVE. When my husband pays the bills, when he meets the deadline, when he sets aside money for tithes---I don't see duty or obligation, I see LOVE. And that to me is romantic. 

After a long day of work, we just lie down and just lambast each other with jokes. Patrick is an alaskador and we retreat back to our grade school days and just torture each other with (not so) witty comebacks and hirits in bed until we fall asleep. Sometimes it's OKAY to just have a good laugh. Sometimes it's okay to have Adobong Pusit and left over Lumpia and not a Wagyu Steak dinner. Sometimes it's OKAY to not discuss Plato and Socrates. Sometimes it's OKAY to just be in the same room and be present physically and emotionally for one another. My husband is very intelligent and this is one of the traits that I admire most about him (and I think  know he sees me as smart too), but I love that his intelligence is quiet and not boastful and that it shines through context, life decisions, and when he explains techie things to me in lay man's terms, hehehe. 

I have been very, very, very grateful for the opportunity to travel with my husband (both for work and leisure) and we have had such an exciting marriage because of all the wonderful memories formed during our trips. I still highly recommend traveling with your spouse, it's an amazing way to develop your friendship and appreciation for one another. Other people like to shop and have shiny things, we like to save up for travel. BUT, I also find that the days that are spent back home--being regular law abiding citizens doing work and all the other "boring" things---are just as fun, memorable and marriage-strengthening. You don't need special occasions, trips abroad, expensive gifts to feel loved (okay, you do sometimes! HAHAHA! Who am I kidding?!?!) but what I'm trying to say is--EVERYDAY LOVE is sweeter because it is grounded on the tenants of commitment and dedication. It's not sporadic, it's consistent. It's a 24-7, round the clock, rain or shine, affection or no affection, flowers and chocolates or just a peck on the cheek, traffic or no traffic on EDSA kind of love that the Bible teaches all couples to adhere to. 

I know social media can be quite a monster if you let it be, but often times I find good things about it too. Aside from all the baby pictures that make me gigil throughout the day, I especially love seeing my friends HAPPY and IN LOVE. It blesses me to see how God has blessed them in their own respective relationships---it makes it a much more tangible experience for me. To see others happy makes me understand God's love more. I remember in one Hillsong message, the Pastor mentioned "If God can do this for them, HE can do this for me!" and that line really hit me because that's what I've always practiced in my life. I love celebrating the goodness in other people's lives. Here are some IG posts that made me smile, I thought it would be nice to post it here. To all the single ladies out there, I pray that you find a man who will love you EVERYDAY too. :) :) 


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