She’s the kind of girl who loves Autumn

I’ve loved autumn since I first discovered that the leaves turn yellow and red and the weather becomes cooler, and the fashion requires people to wear coats and boots, a long long time before I actually experienced it for the first time in Beijing. Coming from a country that only has wet and dry weather, it was something out-of-the-ordinary, something amazing. So according to the change in weather, Autumn this year started more or less on September 23, and Xiamen despite being in the South, is still affected by such seasonal changes.

When I first arrived in Xiamen in February, it was transitioning from Winter-Spring, and then I was in Xiamen the entire time it was Summer, and now it’s transitioning into Autumn. The thing I’ve realized about Fall in Xiamen is that despite the relatively hot weather in the afternoons, the past few evenings have been abnormally cool, and when I mean abnormal it means that the difference between afternoon and evening temperatures feels so different that you’d have a hard time imagining how a few hours can change the temperature so drastically. I guess one thing different about Beijing and Xiamen (weather-wise) is that Beijing is relatively dry, and Xiamen is relatively humid – not to mention how it’s beside the sea so sea breezes are ever-present.

Dad was here just last week, so along with the few winter items I had with me when I first arrived, and some of the items I had brought soon after I realized that all my outfits were Summer-ish and it was still Winter in February, dad brought along some scarves and thicker outfits that will hopefully keep me from buying too many winter clothes for winter, since it’s not suppose to be as cold as Beijing anyway. I wonder how much time I have left to wear shorts and sandals, and be able to go out without wearing a jacket or bringing along something to keep the cold at bay….

She’s the Kind of Girl tee from No. 3 Storehouse Xiamen; Light Blue shorts from Manila; Bowler Bag from Taobao; Brown boots from Taobao; Red Urbanears headphones from Mom

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Like working from 9-5

So recently, it’s like I’ve been working from 9-5. Some days it’s 8-5, and some days it’s 10-5. The new semester has begun and I’m finally feeling what it is to be studying and doing part-time work at the same time. I know so many people will think that at (almost) 24, I should know how it feels like, but coming from a country that doesn’t generally allow part-time work to students who haven’t graduated from university, it’s not something completely unheard of especially since I came to China soon after graduating from university. Back to topic, I’ve been doing two things since the semester began this week – studying and working. I’ve been granted a very practical schedule that allows me to study in the mornings and work in the afternoons, though it doesn’t leave me with much time to rest or study, though I’ve tried to remedy that by bringing some of my books to work with me so that during breaks or times that students are answering seatwork I can do my studies.

It’s been very draining and tiring, most especially since most of my classes start at 8 and that means having to wake up a lot earlier than I’m used to, and that means that I don’t come to work fully refreshed unlike during the summer holidays. In fact, this week was so stressful because I was trying to fix all my visa and passport documents (before my visa expires next week) plus I was trying to schedule my classes since I initially wanted my listening class to be on a lower level compared to my other classes, but what was most frustrating was that the language program office decided to re-do the level arrangements and I had to rethink the levels I wanted for my classes. In short, it’s just been really confusing and tiring.

Black blazer from H&M Xiamen; Striped tee from H&M Xiamen; Legging pants from UNIQLO Hong Kong; Eyeglass frame necklace from Xiamen; White and gold bracelet from Xiamen

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My next big adventure – Xiamen

Grey autumn jacket from ONLY Beijing;Three-ringed ring from the best friend; Red empire-cut top from aunt’s christmas gift; black knee-high leather boots from Beijing

Recently, I’ve been so busy and so bewildered. I’m in Xiamen right now, and as this is my first Xiamen entry (for my studies here), I’d like to try to introduce where I am right now.

I arrived alone from Manila, my first international trip by myself. Xiamen is a much quieter city than Beijing which always seems to be bustling with life. Unlike my old neighbourhood, there are less restaurants about, there are less foreigners, and there are no bars in the area where I’m living (which is good as it reduces noise pollution, but a bit disappointing as there isn’t much to do in the evenings). I live pretty near my school, I can even see one of the gates of my university from my window. In fact, I live next to this small park which has a small lake behind it, and yes, I can also see the lake from here though it’s not very clear as trees are blocking the way. Another thing I see from my window is KFC, and I know that right behind that is Mcdonalds, so I guess that’s sort of good news for me (convenience-wise, not health-wise, haha).

The school is smaller than my school back in Beijing though just as beautiful. Xiamen University has wonderful architecture, there’s this really nice European-Chinese styled building with stone-like walls that I pass on my way to class. A few of the buildings here have European influences, like this dorm building I passed by a few days ago. There’s a beautiful lake that I fell in love with back in 2004. The jogging track is near my area, so at least I’ll be encouraged to go running, though I’ll wait for the weather to get a little warmer.  And unlike Beijing where everything is flat, getting to my classes here will be a challenge, as it requires going up a mountain. As I mentioned, Beijing is flat, Xiamen is hilly and mountainous. So getting to the classrooms requires walking up and down stairs every day (apart from walking to and from my flat), and getting to the office for foreign students is even harder as it’s located on a much higher hill/mountain.

Since there aren’t any subways close to where I live, and this area is pretty much a university area plus a temple area, going places requires bus and taxi rides. This kind of thing makes me miss taking the subways in Beijing, but I guess things like that are environment dependent, so buses and cars are more practical here than subways. I love the tunnels that go though mountains though, which Beijing probably has but which isn’t as noticeable. And the air here is cleaner, and the sea is about 10minutes away by foot (an estimate as I’ve not really walked from here to the seaside).

I haven’t taken the time to go around, though my family here has been kind enough to take me around when they bring me out to eat. Maybe when I’m not so busy, I’ll stroll around on my own one day. But for now, I’m getting used to living alone and deciding so many things on my own(I miss my roommates),  I miss talking to someone while I do chores or am on the internet (which is why I’m tempted to get a pet fish or turtle or something), and making my flat as charming as possible without splurging excessively.

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We all leave our nests

Blue top from gift; Keys keys keys necklace from Accessorize;

Blue and brown quilted bowling bag from Mango; Black wedges from H&M

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So a couple of days ago, I had dinner with 2 of my friends from my Beijing days. One was my roommate during my one year stint there. The other was a friend I met during my second semester, who was on a semester-abroad program from his US university. And yes, we’re all Chinese-Filipinos. Putting that aside, we were there as a sort of reunion-slash-bonding because my friend (the one from the US) was on winter vacation and was back in the Philippines and was leaving a few days after. We all hadn’t seen much of each other in over half a year, so it was great just talking about the good old Beijing days, and the future as well.

One was working. One was going back to studying and was thinking of getting an internship. And then there was me, the one was going back to studying in China. Looking at the 3 of us was looking at my younger self watching The Joy Luck Club over and over again, wondering when I would reach that age where me and my friends would be discussing our lives and how we’d all be headed in different directions. It’s really funny how things pass by so quickly. Part of me believes that I’m still that 13 or 14 year old who was in a hurry to get to 15 and 16, and another part of me can’t believe I’m turning 24 this year. It’s really fascinating yet aggravating at the same time, to have time pass by so quickly.

This line of thought brings me back to a dinner I had with my ICA-AdMU girls a while back. It made me think, a couple of years from now, we would all be having dinner or lunch together just like that time, but with our husbands and kids.

This decision of mine to go back to China for another semester, coupled with seeing friends growing up and moving to other countries, as well as seeing friends get married or engaged, just further underlines the reality that we’re all moving away and leaving our nests. It’s a bit scary yet exciting at the same time, especially when we know that there are certain realities that we have to face alone. Just a few years ago, I was still nestled snuggly in my parents’ embrace, protected from the world around me. But seeing the me now, taking on the world one language at a time, deciding to go to China alone and continue with my studies and hopefully to eventually find work, it’s a thrilling and frightening experience.

Deep down, I still feel like a kid. I feel so naive and unsure of the world. But part of me knows that soon, whether I like it or not, reality will catch up and force me into the big bad world.

You know, sometimes I wish time would just stop, that I can enjoy whatever it is that I have and am experiencing right now. Sometimes I wish, things would just remain the way they are. Like how relationships with friends are, or how cute little cousins or nieces and nephews are better as babies and toddlers than when they are all grown up. I wish so many things will last forever, yet I wish that I can have many more of these same experiences for the future.

Oh reality. I feel like I’m me, but I’m looking at a me that I’m not familiar with.

Happy Birthday at Philippine Fashion Week

Dark Blue dress from H&M Hong Kong; Black wedges from H&M Hong Kong; Pearl-like ring from H&M Beijing; Pearl beads from somewhere in the past; Quilted bag from Beijing; Shell earrings from Beijing

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So I finally attended Philippine Fashion Week. After about 3 years of receiving invites but never being able to attend due to conflicts like being out-of-town or being out-of-the-country, I finally found the time to go!  Hm, sometimes things take a while…for a reason. I think back and wonder, 3 years ago…I don’t think I was very fashionable. Now, it’s much better. Maybe that’s it. Then again I can’t help but wonder, Philippine Fashion Week started 3 years ago, so I could have been introduced to that world earlier on in my life.  Things happen for a reason, and there’s no use thinking back  to the past. Haha.

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Leg Lovin Ladies

White short coat from H&M Beijing; One-piece dress from Greenhills; Ankle-cut boots from Westlink Beijing; Brown and Cream bag from H&M Beijing; Black round earrings from H&M Beijing

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Thanks to the invitation of my friend Meggy, I was able to attend a fashion show event (Oct. 11) for this brand called Leg Love by City Lady. It’s basically a stockings brand, something sexy and modern….exactly right for the new modern woman. The first time Meggy told me about the event, I wasn’t too excited since the thing that pops into my mind when I hear of stockings is usually the monochrome ones that working people usually wear. To me, stockings don’t really seem like something you’d like to wear on daily basis since they’re personally, too much of a hassle to wear, plus the weather here is hot and they’ll just add more heat. Yet despite being tired the days before the event because I was taking my Korean friend (classmate from Beijing) around Manila, I was able to dress up and make my way to the event.

Amazingly, the event was more than I had originally thought it would be. Imagine sexy models walking down the runway in nothing but their bra and underwear, stockings, and sexy heels. For both men and women, it was definitely an amazing sight. Sadly, I was too short to take pictures from where we were standing, mostly because the runway wasn’t high enough so unless you were seated directly by the runway….you can only catch glimpses of the stockings. Despite that, the event definitely took my breath away.

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I am my father’s daughter

Marvel Comics top from Samuel and Kevin Beijing; Blue jeggings from Uniqlo Beijing; Knitted cream-colored jacket from H&M Xiamen; Brown platform sandals from taobao.com

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I think it isn’t everyday that you can tell or show someone that you are your parents’ child. You can look like your mom or dad, speak like them or dress like them, but having interests or personalities similar to them is something I think is different altogether.

As a child, I often felt out-of-place in my household because I felt like I didn’t look like my siblings. Growing up, I felt that there were 2 things that connected me to my parents – my handwriting and my interest with languages. The first one is easy enough, my handwriting both in script and print is either very similar or is influenced by my parents handwriting. Even the way I write in Chinese is influenced by my dad’s style. The other is what some people may call a penchant for languages.Watching television often enough, copying accents was something that I liked doing, listening to my parents’ speak in their dialects was another.

Growing up in a household where you hear so many languages being spoken, it becomes a habit to pick up phrases and words here and there. Cebuano, Ilonggo, English, Tagalog, Mandarin and Hokkien. One of the things I’m thankful for in this South East Asian country where most people speak at least 2 languages. Now that I’m almost 23, and I resemble my father a lot, I can’t help but be thankful that my childhood insecurity in some way encouraged me to learn those languages.

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Red is the color of love

Red dress from Metrowalk Manila; Mickey Mouse jacket from UNIQLO Beijing; Blue Jeggings from UNIQLO Beijing; Black soft boots from Westlink Beijing; White Fujifilm Instax Mini25 from Taobao.com

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I am in love. I am in love with the fact that I’m home. It feels different from Beijing, but somehow it’s soothing to the soul. It feels like home. Despite being a bit jittery over the fact that Beijing is much rowdier and Xiamen is more quiet, part of me loves being back.

Because all our things to do (TTD) were finished, dad let me spend the day doing what I wanted. My aunts and uncles came over to the hotel suite to talk to my dad, and gush over the fact that I’m so much bigger (they don’t mean fat) as compared to the last time they saw me either in Beijing, or from 2004. One of my aunts offered to take me shopping in 中山路(ZhongShanLu), this place near the ferry area where they sell lots of street food and also have a lot of small shops and malls. It reminded me somewhat of 前门(QianMen) back in Beijing, except with a lot more people, smaller streets, and less expensive shops. My aunt took me to one of the malls where my other aunt works, but it was more or less empty as it was still a new mall and it didn’t have a lot of open shops. Now that I think about it, those malls didn’t have a lot of people, but the streets more or less did. The smaller streets reminded me of  南锣鼓巷(NanLuGuXiang) which had a lot of small shops selling various knick-knacks from cutesy items for girls to clothes to shoes and whatnot.

After our shopping trip, me and my aunt headed back to the hotel and I got ready to head to anticipated mass with my dad. Apparently, there are 2 Catholic churches in Xiamen. The one I’m familiar with is the one on 鼓浪屿(Gulangyv) Island which I visited back in 2004, which has masses only on Sunday mornings. This one dad took me to is on the Xiamen island and is said entirely in Chinese. The church itself isn’t large or grand, nor is it something that you can see from the main streets. It’s hidden among some old buildings, and what surrounds it are old buildings from a time when foreigners probably lived in the area as the structures aren’t very Chinese-ish.

Old church?

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Homeland Bound

Stripes Top from Beijing; Blue and Brown bag from H&M Beijing; Soft black boots from Westlink Beijing

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Hello Manila and Hello Xiamen. After 7 years of being away from my ancestral hometown….I am back and taking Xiamen by storm. Kidding! I’m sort-of back and figuring out how things will go from now on. A look into my possible future, as I have mentioned in some of my earlier posts. After having a sort-of good night’s sleep, due to my being unable to sleep well in a really big bed alone because of habit, I woke up prepared to head out with my uncle’s friend to Xiamen University.

A long time ago when I was really young, my dad told me how my angkong (paternal grandfather) was born in the Philippines but raised in China. My angkong grew up in Xiamen and eventually went to study at Xiamen University, so back in 2004 when I came to Xiamen with my dad, I was excited to go and visit the university where my grandfather went to study. Back then my Mandarin was pretty bad, and I was excited only to visit my friend who was studying there at that time (on a summer program) so I didn’t take notice of the university much. Fast forward to 7 years later, the things I do remember about Xiamen University, they are still there….almost as fresh as when I first encountered them before.

The beautiful lake, still as breathtaking as ever.

The building by which I spotted my friend, from my visit in 2004.

A lot of people have been asking me what I was doing in Xiamen. Some thought I was here for another semester or year and some thought I was here for work. I guess it’s hard to say exactly what I was doing in Xiamen. Besides helping out my dad and just bonding with my relatives whom I haven’t seen in a while, I had no exact plan as to what I wanted to do while I was in Xiamen. 4 days isn’t a lot of time so though I had wanted to go to Gulangyu Island to go around, it seemed impossible to actually go about doing that since it would take about half a day, or an entire day, to go around the island and sight-see. So a few days before our trip was finally finalized and everything was set in place, dad told me that my uncle had found a friend to take me around campus to check it out. Apparently, this friend prior to our arriving in Xiamen, had already asked about the language program at Xiamen University…

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Dream(ing) Girl

Striped top from Esprit Hong Kong; Head Bands hairpiece from H&M Beijing; Dice necklace from gift; Plaid skirt from Preview Manila; Brown wedges from Jellybean Manila.

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So lately, I’ve been thinking a lot back to my childhood. Like how at this moment in time, how much of the youth (kids and teenagers) know what a diskette is. Like a post I saw somewhere before, tumblr I think, would kids years from now know that the “save” sign on their MS Office is called a diskette? On Google+, a friend posted a youtube video of an old animated movie called The Last Unicorn, which was one of my favorites as a child. Another friend happened to mention that some freshman students at university weren’t familiar with the anime Akazukin Cha-cha. These are just few of the many things that get added on to a list of things the youth no longer recognize, the longer the list, the more we realize how much older we’re getting.

From when I was young, until now, I’ve always been a daydreamer. My parents and sometimes teachers, often tell me that I get easily distracted because I’m thinking of something odd or different. Even now, I think the romantic daydreamer in me still does that. Maybe it’s not as obvious as me staring off into space, or me going on about what I want to do or what I want to become, but it’s there…just more subtle. I don’t think I’ll ever want to get rid of this characteristic of mine though. It’s very child-like, friends often tell me, but still retaining this kind of personality allows me to never give up (to some extent) and to always just dream a little bigger. Aren’t those out-of-this-world and unimaginable inventions and theories made up because people didn’t stick to the norm?

Just a little something to listen to if you’re interested.

In other news, I finally got my books today! After having Fully Booked order them from abroad (since all the UK editions of Clash of Kings ran out, and most people read the US edition here), waiting one week for it to arrive (despite them telling me it’ll probably arrive in about a month) and finally using this week to get them…..I finally have these 4 books to keep me company until Dance with Dragons comes out with a paperback edition next year. I’d like to get that now, but the hardbound edition is beyond my means at around P1.2k, which is more or less how much I got these 4 books for (with a 10% discount using my Fully Booked discount card).

So beyond all the chit-chat and chitter-chatter, I’m really happy that I finally have these to tide me over for the time-being. With books by my side, I’ll be a dreamer forever, always immersing myself in these fantasy worlds and stories.

Cheers to all fellow dreamers and daydreamers.