Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hello, this is brilliant!

If you've been around during the 80s, chances are, you'll know the classic song "Hello" by Lionel Richie. (Or as today's kids know him, "'Yung daddy ni Nicole Richie.")

While browsing youtube today, I came across this new rendition of "Hello," which was edited by a truly imaginative and creative man. It takes a seed of creative genius, and an eye for execution to come up with a video this brilliant. It's one of those creative moments that makes me think: "Heck, I wish I did that."

I can't wait to see what other videos he'll do in the future.

Monday, January 30, 2012

School Fixture

Between the thesis defense, Obra Kulasa, arranging our Journalism class field trip and other advertising class activities, I've been in school practically everyday the past few weeks. This is such a departure from my old school schedule when I'd just be there on Saturday.

I've also adjusted my "look" whenever I go to school on weekdays. I've always been a t-shirt and jeans person, and I usually wear this to class on Saturdays. After all, no one from admin is in school on weekends, so I can get away with it. But since I often go to school on weekdays now, I have to dress up in a more "admin-friendly" way. Ergo, jeans give way to khaki slacks, my t-shirt is now hidden under a polo, and my sneakers temporarily sneak away in favor of decent looking shoes. After all, the chances of me running into the Dean, School President and other head honchos are bigger on weekdays.

And it looks like I'm not the only one who notices the change in attire and schedule.

When I dropped by the campus this morning, I ran into our college checker along the hallway. She looks at me with a perplexed expression, hesitates a bit, but eventually asks the question which must've been bugging her the last month:

"Sir, parang araw-araw ko na kayong nakikita sa school, at ang pormal niyo ngayon. Nasa Admin na ba kayo?"

Yup, when you're mistaken for someone from the School's administration team, it's a sign that you're in school just a wee bit too often. (And dressed up a wee bit too formal.)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hale Storm

Bench made a good move when it made Lucy Hale one of their endorsers. Lucy Hale made me do 2 things that I haven't done in years:

1. Go inside a Bench store
2. Buy something from Bench.

Seriously, I don't even remember the last time I stepped into a Bench store. Maybe it was around 2007. Really, it escapes me.

Although I do like their Advertising campaigns and their pro-Pinoy stance, I'm not a big fan of Bench clothes. Mainly because I find their fabrics weird and their fit even weirder. There was a time when I was a small at H&M, a medium at Zara, and when I got to Bench, I was a, (drumroll please) a 2XL! I guess Bench never got the memo on Vanity sizing.

Anyway, I stormed the Bench store in Megamall in the hopes of seeing more Lucy Hale posters inside. Alas, there was none. What I saw were two items that eventually found themselves in a bag for me to carry home.

And these two items were khaki pants.

I don't have a lot of khaki pants. Most of my pants are jeans. And since I've been showing up in school on weekdays quite often, I thought it best to buy 2 pairs of khaki pants. (Technically, we're not allowed to wear jeans to school on weekdays.)

While the fabrics of these 2 pants aren't uber nice, I found the cuts very modern. Plus, the fit wasn't as bad as I remembered Bench jeans to be. I especially like the Carrot Jeans. And of course, the best part about these jeans was the price. I can't remember buying pants this nice for less than P1,000.00.

I asked the sales lady if they had these jeans in different colors, and she said that they do have it in other stores.

And that's a good reason to storm another Bench store, too. (That, and more posters of Lucy Hale, of course.)

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Macy's Impulse is really working hard to establish its cred as a hub for high/low collaborations.

After its successful design partnerships with Karl Lagerfeld and Giambattista Valli, they have another designer collaboration coming out in a few weeks time, and they chose someone equally impressive.

It's Doo-Ri Chung!

Doo-ri came into the scene at the same time as Thakoon and Alexander Wang, and she's part of the Asian-American group of talented designers. Her aesthetic is very clean and linear, and she also has a penchant for prints. Those are two of the trends for Spring 2012, so Macy's is right to bring her in.

I can't wait to see her full collection.

Friday, January 27, 2012

FMM: The eyes have it

In one of our faculty lunches, the conversation shifted to old songs, and one song in particular - "Can't take my eyes off you." It turns out to be a favorite among the older faculty folks, and I just found out that the song was around longer than I thought it was.

My first recollection of that song was the swing version which Ate Lissa's friend, Mitos, danced to during a Miss Caloocan pageant. (Or something of that sort.)

With my newfound curiosity, I went around youtube looking for the song. And yes, the song indeed has so many incarnations.

From the Frankie Valli vintage version:

The unique version that only Vikki Carr can sing. (According to the host)

The funky, chill version of The Fugees, featuring Lauryn Hill, of course.

And the rock, head bang version from Muse.

This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There's actually a lot, lot more. Including Frank Sinatra, Barry White, and of course, that swing version from my memory.

Looks like I'm going to have my ears full with eyes before this night is over.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Hail Hale

When I passed by the Bench store in Ali Mall on my way home, I saw something on their window display that made me do a double take.

Could it be? The girl on their poster looks a lot like Lucy Hale. The girl making waves in "Pretty Little Liars," but someone I've liked way back since "Privileged."

Yes, it did look like her. And the tagline below said it all: Lucy Loves Bench.

And as final confirmation, I found this floating around in cyberspace.

It looks like more and more local fashion brands are trying to out-Kamiseta Kamiseta in drawing in Hollywood endorsers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tough Call

They've announced the nominees for the 2012 Oscars, and I find myself in a dilemma for the Best Supporting Actress category.

As much as I adore Octavia Spencer, another actress in the running is Melissa McCarthy. And she was just HILARIOUS in "Bridesmaids." Her turn as a butch acting, gun-toting, redneck talking Bridesmaid was simply brilliant! And since she was snubbed by the Globes, maybe the Oscars are giving her that much deserved win.

Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hei, hei!

You'd think that after living in different Chinese countries for several years, I'd be more aware of their big holidays.

Then again, even when I was living in HKG, or when I was in Beijing for CNY, I didn't really see it as that big a deal. In fact, CNY was the time when I enjoyed staying in HKG because everyone's out, the entire city is quiet, and it's one of the few times when you see the usually crowded city as an empty shell.

But since everyone in Manila is in the spirit of it, I say, "Hey, let's say Kung Hei Fat Choi!"

Or Gong Xi Fai Cai in HKG.

Or Xin Nian Kuail Le in Beijing!

Happy Chinese New Year! I hear the year of the Water Dragon is an auspicious one for all of us. So, here's to a prosperous new year ahead.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pros and Body Con

When Herve Leger created his bandage dress - or more commonly known as the "body con" dress - I doubt if he realized how much of a hit it would be. It's been 26 years since he came up with this ubiquitous dress, and it still has no signs of slowing down.

Of course, this design is now owned by Max Azria who bought out Herve Leger. Now, Herve Leger is known as Herve L. Leroux, and he continues to make spectacular dresses out of this atelier in Paris.

And here in Manila, the influence of the body con dress is still all over the place. A lot of fast fashion brands, from the established to the little Mom and Pop designers in tiangges, peddle their own version of this iconic dress. Some are total knock offs and copies (like the Apartment 8 versions), and some take the creative liberty to refashion it.

One such version I saw was from Kamiseta. Yes, they had some total knock-offs which were a bit "meh," but they had some pieces which took the body con concept and re-fashioned them to look younger. Among that lot, there were 2 that really stood out.

First is this knit dress with color blocking details that resemble a body con dress.

The shapes and colors of this dress are well-placed and will definitely have a slimming effect on the lady who'll wear it. And if the lady is slim to begin with, then this will definitely add curves to her physique.

The other is this gray and white number made of a thick knit material. Aside from the nice and muted color combination, the paneling of this dress is thoughtfully made. The white curved lines create a slimming pattern on the wearer. And who doesn't want that, right?

I've mentioned before that Kamiseta has had a couple of misses the past few years, but with this body con influenced pieces, they definitely have a hit.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Joy of teaching

Checking midterms is easy - actually, more of a joy - when you have such talented students who come up with the most creative ideas in such a short amount of time.

These girls are going to rock the advertising world!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sweet discovery

I've always been buying fruit teas at Simple Line since it opened across the school. And just to shake things up, I decided to order a milk based tea today. In particular, I tried the Caramel Black Tea with Konjac Jelly.

And I only have 3 words for it:


Thanks to this discovery, I'm now going to go out of my fruit tea comfort zone and start ordering milk teas next time.

Friday, January 20, 2012

FMM: See Cyndi

Sometime this week, Dad mentioned to me that Cyndi Lauper was having a concert in Manila, and his next question was whether I would watch her perform live.

Yes, Dad remembers that I was such a big Cyndi Lauper fan back in my primary school years. Back then, it was Team Cyndi vs. Team Madonna. And I was part of the team that cheered the quirky girl with the colored hair and powerful pipes.

And thinking of her makes me crave for her music once again. So, on this Friday Magic Madness day, I'm driving back to 1989 and listen to Cyndi sing one of my favorite songs: "I drove all night."

Now the question is, will I watch the concert? And will she sing this song?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A sketchy story

When Lu-Ann told me that she was going to get married, we immediately met-up and discussed the details of her big day. In one meeting, she asked me that very important question: "What am I going to wear?"

She knew her wedding theme was "Modern Filipiniana," but she had no idea how to translate that into her wedding gown. And that's when she sprang this mind-boggling challenge for me: "I-drawing mo naman ako ng wedding gown."

While my passion is in writing, I also dabble in drawing. In fact, when I was in primary school, I drew a lot. I was a member of the art club, my "paintings" were always chosen by my art teacher and posted it on our classroom wall, I wrote a full length comic book about superheroes and I remember I even had a notebook which served as my dossier of characters.

Unfortunately, the growth of my drawing skills was stunted. Harhar. The way I drew back then is pretty much the same way I draw now. And it ain't that pretty, I kid you not.

Anyway, I took that challenge from Lu-Ann as a way to further enhance my creativity. And just as any advertising practitioner will tell you, the place to start the creative process is through inspiration.

I came back to Lu-Ann with 3 options, all under the theme of "Modern Filipiniana." One was inspired by the Vinta of Mindanao, the second was inspired by the lowly "tapis", and the third one was inspired by the Spanish-era jewelry, the "tambourin."

Lu-Ann immediately fell in love with the "tambourin" concept. The gown's silhouette was the classic Filipino terno, but I made it contemporary by adding the tambourin accents along the front and back seams of the dress. Another modern touch was to make the pattern more angular and geometric, thus, I designed it as a diamond instead of the usual circle. Finally, since I'm a believer of the "change costume" concept, there were two tops that could be worn with the gown. Aside from the butterfly sleeved top, there was also a "kimona" styled top with tulip sleeves. This was intended to be worn during the reception.

After Lu-Ann approved the design, I immediately brought it to Aling Bright for her masterful execution. We did several back and forth meetings in terms of the materials and embellishments to be used. And after a few months of work, this was how it turned out. It was actually better than what I envisioned.

Everything about the gown was custom designed. Even the geometric pattern was made from scratch. Good thing Aling Bright is a master at embroidery and beadwork. She captured the essence of the tambourin splendidly.

When the make-up artist saw the dress, she immediately remarked how classic and classy that it looked. Her words were "elegant," "mamahalin," and "ang yaman-yaman." And Lu-Ann said that the make-up artist was a good gauge of how nice the dress really is.

Before, during and after the wedding, people were telling Lu-Ann how beautiful her wedding gown was. She would always reply" "Gawa ni Lester 'yan," and I would always counter "Nope. I was just the Creative Director/sketcher."

And after seeing the two articles of clothing side by side, and seeing it in action, I thought, "Not bad for something that started out as chicken scratch." Harhar.

(It's worthy to note, though, that this wasn't my first foray into "chicken scratch-ing" a dress. I did the same thing for Rona last May. And that's worth another post.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Very Vera 2

Whenever Mark and I attend weddings, he usually asks me about how I found the particulars. Like the overall organization of the event, the flowers, food and all those little bits that people often comment about.

During Bea and Turda's wedding, he asked me about the cake, and Bea's wedding dress.

With regards to Bea's wedding dress, I told him that it was very elegant, and subdued in its elegance. Except for the belt, there was no trace of beadwork on the entire gown. It relied on its soft pleats and detailed skirt for drama.

Then, I told him that the aesthetic of the gown looked very Vera Wang, and that it was probably brought in from the U.S., and likely bought at David's Bridal.

On our way out of the ballroom, one of the coordinators was carrying a David's Bridal garment bag, so, check on one observation. And a few days ago, Bea emailed me and said that it was indeed a Vera Wang. Two out of two! Woot!

You can never really go wrong with a Vera Wang. (And you can ask my sisters who have a couple of Vera Wang dresses in their closets.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

That's a (b)lot

Speaking of the Golden Globes, I direct your attention to the Monique Lhuillier dress that a lot of fashion observers didn't really like. It was this strapless gown worn by Sarah Michelle Gellar.

It was one of the three Monique Lhuilliers that walked down the red carpet. Including Paula Patton's and Debra Messing's.

Personally, what I found eye catching about this gown was the print. It looked like a cross between an ink-blot and a water shot. It's the image that you get when you dip a watercolor brush into a glass of water, and swirls of color travel from the top to the bottom.

Style-wise, I do agree with some observers that it made Sarah Michelle Gellar look a bit thick in the middle, and the silhouette is quite similar to the wedding gowns that she makes. But the print alone is enough to make me overlook that. It's the highlight of the gown, and a beautiful highlight it was.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Oh, Octavia.

I have much admiration for supporting stars in Hollywood. They put in as much work as the big stars, but they do it for less pay. But when you see them act in the film or TV series, you can see how much they put in into the scene, even if they're just relegated as a support or just put in the background.

Aside from Regina King, one of my favorite supporting actresses is Octavia Spencer. She's often typecast as a comic relief, and one of my favorite Octavia performances was in Ugly Betty. She played the woman obsessed with Betty's Father, Nacho.

And just as you're thinking that she'll just be another high-impact but not noticed star, Octavia Spencer just won a Golden Globes tonight!

Go Octavia! I'm looking forward to seeing more of your work soon!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More sibling revelry

This holiday season, it wasn't just the Regalado-Morales siblings that had a reunion.

For the first time in many, many, many years. The Murillo-Morales siblings (aka, my Dad and Tita and Titos) were complete.

Last New Year, the 5 siblings who are spread over Manila, Barcelona and Bicol, found themselves at home, counting down to the New Year, and enjoying their time together. And enjoy they did. After all, they haven't been complete in almost a decade.

The Murillo-Morales siblings are, in chronological order, Tito Ting, Tita Evelyn, Tito Hector, Dad, and Tito Linden. In the picture, we have Tita Evelyn and Dad sitting down, and Tito Hector, Tito Linden, and Tito Ting behind them.

It was wonderful to see the 5 siblings together because you can see how much they enjoyed each other's company after being apart for so long. Especially Tita Evelyn who left the Philippines more than 50 years ago to plant her new roots and raise her family in far, far away Barcelona.

Yup, there was definitely a lot of sibling love this Holiday season. And it was really the best way of spending the New Year. With a reunion of siblings from 2 generations.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Lace in place

While Eileen and I were talking about her wardrobe last Thursday, the subject shifted to the subject of lace. She mentioned that she actually likes lace, unlike Grace who thinks lace is very Grandma-ish and quite marmy.

I beg to disagree. Yes, lace was initially very frilly, frou-frou, and would be reserved for syrupy occasions. But nowadays, lace is considered very edgy and chic. With its different textures, needlepoint techniques and backing, lace has taken its place in the fashion hierarchy as a versatile and all-occasion fabric.

And fast fashion brands are in on it, too. Just this week, I saw 3 different lace items in the mall. One was a dress from Avel Bacudio, the second was a white lace shift from Space, and the last was a lace blouse from Bysi.

The combination of black lace and white lining is very genteel. It's something that Audrey Hepburn or Jackie O. would wear. But the cut of this dress is very modern, with a tulip skirt is very structured. A nice counterbalance to the softness of the lace.

Also, a lot of people think that lace is very itchy. There are different lace blends now, and some of them are very light and airy. Just like this one from Bysi.

I should tell Grace about how lace has moved forward from Granny's closet to every fashionista's wardrobe. It just might change her mind regarding this very nice fabric.

Friday, January 13, 2012

FMM: Happy

It's Friday the 13th, and a lot of people think that this day is all about bad luck and bad vibes.

So, how do you counter this superstition? Simple, just be happy!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Me & You is Mads & Lu

Whenever I organize a wedding, I'm so focused on making everything run like clockwork that I sometimes don't remember parts of what happened. There are portions which are a blur, and those portions usually happen when I'm running around. Much like a blur.

But during the wedding of Lu-Ann and Mads, I remembered everything clearly. Even if I was running around a lot. As Maricar said, I was "The Invisible Man" during the wedding because she would always remark: "Nawala na naman si Lester."

As the wedding progressed, I knew that it was going smoothly, that every detail was in place, every part of the plan was executed perfectly, and there was a lot of heart and emotion in the entire proceedings.

And when Lu-Ann showed me the link to her wedding day video, my observations above were confirmed. From the preparation to the ceremony to the reception, everything unfolded beautifully. And when Lu-Ann told me about the video, she said that it felt like my wedding, too, because I was in a lot of scenes. Both physically present, and by name. (You'll hear my name being mentioned and shrieked at certain parts.)

MADS+LU-ANN:SAME DAY EDIT from Franz Arrogante on Vimeo.

This is such a beautiful video, made even more beautiful by the song that was written by the couple's friends. Entitled "Ikaw at Ako," or "Me & You," it was the perfect backdrop for the proceedings last December 30. Because after everything is finished - after the ceremony is completed and the reception is done, after people finished talking about the event and guests traded all the pics that they took, after all the preparation and execution, the wedding is really about two people.

And that's what a wedding is all about.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Lap it up

Practicality was one of the recurring themes of the gifts I received this holiday season. Among the lot of them, some were already in use a day after Christmas.

One of the gifts I received was this laptop cushion from Ate Lissa.

I've actually seen the box from afar a couple of times, but never got around to checking out what the product was or what it can do. Thanks to Ate, I discovered what a wonderful contraption this laptop cushion is!

This is one of the things that you think you don't need, but when you finally start using it, you realize what an indispensable item it is. Previous to this, I'd get a magazine (usually InStyle or Marie Claire), then set it on my lap, then put the laptop on top of the magazine. Primitive, I know. But it got the job done.

But with the laptop cushion, I can work with my laptop on my lap all-day, with so much ease! (I sound like an infomercial!)

Markbook fits on the cushion perfectly, so now, I can do my lessons, grades and transcription work from the comfort of my bed. Woot!

Hurray for practical gifts!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Out of the blue

En route to and from the MRT, I usually pass by New Farmer's Plaza. And really, there's really not much to see there. The only reason I stop by is for Salazar Bakery, and sometimes, Mr. Donut.

Today, I decided to go around the mall since they renovated some parts, and it actually looked decent. One area where I wandered off to was on the 2nd floor, and I saw this dress shop which was on sale. I decided to give it a whirl, and found this little blue gem of a dress among a whole bunch of blah frocks.

The photos don't show it, but the material of this dress is nice. It has this tweed texture that's very light.

While it looks deceptively simple, the dress had a couple of details that were thoughtfully added. One was a folded sleeve with a little button. The extended cap sleeve itself was also a nice touch.

Then, there's this odd, asymmetric detail on the neckline as well. And it adds visual interest to the dress.

Off hand, the dress looks like something that Roland Mouret would create. And who would've thought that something like this would appear in an out-of-the-blue place like Farmer's Plaza.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Scenes from a surprise

Last Saturday, the family gathered at Secret Garden for an equally Secret event. It was a surprise Quincinera for Kai-kai! She was set to celebrate her 15th birthday on January 14, but since she'll be back in the U.S. by then, we decided to celebrate it a week in advance.

The venue lived up to its name. It's a bit hard to find, to the point that it's really a secret. But when we got there, we found the place to be very quaint and photogenic. Much like Fernwood, but in a much smaller scale.

There was a Cinderella carriage where Javier posed for a few snaps.

And my folks also had to have their photos taken there.

Kaikai's favorite color is purple, so everyone came in that motif. Dad and Javier came in matching purple shirts, while Ate Lissa rocked the purplish-fuschiaish Giambattista Valli dress.

There was a cave room which was admittedly a bit camp, and quite spooky. But it made for a nice backdrop.

And what's a party without music? The boys practiced 3 songs, and they performed excellently for their cousin.

Overall, the party was fun and was a big success. I had to host it, though, so I didn't have photos of the actual event. I sure hope Biboy posts those photos soon.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Sales ahead. Proceed with caution.

It's the first month of the year, and retailers are itching to ditch their old stocks and usher in the new. And what better way to do that than to bring out that 4 letter word that everyone just loves.

Now is definitely a good time to stay away from the malls.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Bring back the Color!

Just read that Fox is planning a reboot of "In Living Color" this 2012. If this is true, I'm totally watching the show!

"In Living Color" was one of my favorite shows in the 90s. I remember it was being aired on Channel 9, and I would really wait for the show to go on. (Something I rarely do now.)

This show was famous for their hilarious sketches like "Homey the Clown" and the "Men on..." series. They also had unforgettable characters like Andrea Dice Clay and Vera de Milo.

And of course, this show will be remembered as the launching pad of the careers of Jim Carrey (then known as James Carrey), and a then-unknown Fly Girl named Jennifer Lopez.

I hope the reboot will be as colorful as the original show. And with Keenen Ivory Wayans on the helm of the 2012 edition, I think it will definitely be as funny.

Friday, January 06, 2012

FMM: Where it's at!

Back in the 90s, while everyone was going gaga over the Spice Girls, I was paying attention to THE OTHER girl group from Great Britain.

While All Saints wasn't as immensely popular like the Spice Girls, they had their own cult following. The fact that it was an all-girl group was the only similarity these 2 groups had. But in terms of look and sound, they were very distinct.

All Saints was a bit more brooding and melancholic. Their music was catchy, although it wasn't the stereotypical pop. Yes, you can sing and dance along to their songs, but in a more laid back and relaxed way.

And since it's Friday, I'm reliving my All Saints mania by going back to my favorite song from the group:

Yup, All Saints is where it's at.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Sibling Revelries

My siblings and I grew up in a very tight knit family. One reason why this was the case was because we didn't have cousins in Manila. When we were growing up, our cousins would either be in Bicol, in California or in Barcelona. And because of this lack of other cousins to play with, we grew up becoming both siblings, cousins and friends.

(One of our earlier photos in Morato. I blocked Kuya Marv and yes, I went out of the house wearing that.)

Yes, we had our disagreements and fights while growing up. And those fights were LEGENDARY! (Biboy and I used to chase each other with 2x2 wooden posts.) But as we grew older, we fought less, and appreciated each other more. And we appreciated everything, even the little quirks and flaws that would get on our nerves every so often.

Since Biboy moved to the U.S. in 2001, we made it a point to have our photos taken whenever he's in town. Actually, we had our photo taken without Biboy in 2006, and it just didn't feel complete.

(We were actually planning to add him via photoshop, but that plan didn't materialize.)

Thankfully, Biboy has been coming home regularly the past few years. And that's why we're able to have our usual sibling photos taken each time he's in Manila.

(Our "showband" shot.)

There's this one from 2007.

Then in 2009.

And our latest "Sibling Revelry" photo for 2011.

Whenever we take these photos, it's usually a riotous affair filled with the same banter and "kulitan" as we did when we were kids.

I guess in some aspects, my siblings and I never grew up.