Noelle, Closet Raider

Long before I was Tomb Raider, I was raiding my mom’s and my friends’ closets for stuff they no longer wear. After all, they say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Usually I end up with shirts, skirts, and shoes (if we’re the same size).

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

im in ur closets, raiding dem. whut.

Sometimes, like what happened last year when a friend went to Dubai to work, I get to raid closets for free. At other times, like two weeks ago at another friend’s garage sale, there’s a (low) price tag on the items. In any case, here’s the top three lessons I’ve learned about being a closet raider.

  1. Be prepared to dig. When there’s a huge amount of stuff your friend needs to get rid of, she usually doesn’t have the time to sort through everything and put them on hangers. It’s pretty much old-school ukay-ukay style, except you know who’s worn those things before.
  2. Examine everything closely. Just because they’re you’re friends doesn’t mean they’re giving out stuff in pristine condition — they are, after all, cast-offs. Watch out for small holes and tears, stains, deformed collars and sleeves, dirt, etc. Weigh whether or not you can do something about them before you take the items home.
  3. Edit, edit, edit. Don’t go crazy because you’re getting these items for a reduced price or for free. Is there enough space in your closet? Are you really going to use these things? What I do is put everything that interests me into a pile, and then I sort through that later on to separate the things I really like from the takaw-mata stuff I just found shiny and pretty, but won’t have occasion to use in the near future.

Another friend of mine is leaving soon to work in Morocco. My own closet is bursting with clothes, so I hope to be prudent about raiding her closet.

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Lian, Batangas

Since May 2009, my friend Migs has been asking our barkada to set aside a date to come over to his aunt’s beach house in Lian, Batangas. Finally, to shut him up (hehe), five of us blocked off an overnight stay and took him up on the offer.

Lian, Batangas: Lalah
Lian, Batangas: Noelle

Lian, Batangas: Michael
Lian, Batangas: Marielle

Lalah, Noelle, Michael, Marielle (not in photos: Judith)

I took driving duty because the car was an automatic and a breeze to drive. Also, Michael was sick as a dog. It was pretty much an uneventful long drive to Lian — except for the parts where I was trying to overtake slow vehicles on a narrow road and turned some of my passengers’ hair white because of oncoming vehicles. 😀 Sorry guys.

I know there are some pretty popular beaches in Lian, like Matabungkay, a yellow sand beach. In comparison, the beach house is very isolated, very private, accessible by a dirt road. In fact, according to Migs it was the first time he’d taken guests there. Usually, the beach house is populated by his cousins and their friends on weekends.

We’d left Manila shortly after 12 noon and got to the beach house by 4 pm. After a quick pick-me-up snack prepared by Judith, it was just about time to catch the sunset.

Lian, Batangas: Sunset
Lian, Batangas: Orange Lining

It was very quiet and we were able to relax away from big city horns and road noise. The fresh air was a respite from smog, and Michael and Lalah (who was also sick) claimed to feel better the next day.

Hopefully next time we can bring more friends along and really make it one big party, with a barbecue and a bonfire by the beach.

Lian, Batangas: Black Sand

Voters Education at SaGuijo

Last week was pretty crazy, what with the corporate seven-day fast at my church, practice sessions for BODYJAM at the gym, and a taping for ShopTV Live. There was one unexpected racket that I received during that week: to host the Voters Education gig at SaGuijo organized by It featured indie bands such as Drip, Techy Romantics, Wagyu, and Beatbox Philippines as well as a demonstration of the PCOS machine by Gaye Cabalo of Smartmatic.

(PCOS stands for Precinct Count Optical Scan. It can also mean Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome, but you can’t use that to vote with, right?)

The event was sponsored by,, Smartmatic, and COMELEC. It was basically a way to bring awareness of the new way to vote. Check out the websites to find out more.

Azrael was there to cover the event, and he took these great photos of me while hosting:


with Ms. Gaye showing the new ballot design


Paul hired me

I was brought in nearly at the last minute because the original host had to rush someone to the hospital. So I braved the maze-like streets of Makati, ignored the SaGuijo mosquitoes, and pretty much had a great time listening to the bands play from 9:30pm to 3:30am.

Hopefully I get to host more events. Loved loved loved it!

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Headshot Clinic Project OneYouth

Last November 14, I joined the Headshot Clinic Project OneYouth shoot sponsored by Globe Tattoo at Cava! in Somerset Hotel, Makati. So I trooped there, was handed a number and a release form (pretty much signing away my rights to use of my face from that shoot), and waited for Niccolo Cosme of Project Headshot Clinic to finish setting up.

We had to decide what advocacy to support: poverty eradication, improvement of education, gender equality and women’s rights, maternal and child welfare, combating communicable diseases, and environmental sustainability. Our advocacies would appear in our headshots. I chose Education because I believe a lot of problems in society are caused by ignorance, lack of ability for independent and analytical thought, and improper civic socialization — all of which can be remedied by proper education.

It was a very simple shoot, with a painted backdrop, one or two light sources, and a bounce board. From what I understand, Niccolo post-processes Headshot Clinic photos a certain way to give them a hyper-real look. He’s already done many other ones, like the One World series which featured my friend Luke, and most recently and prominently UNAIDS MOVE for AIDS awareness, which our very own YogaJane was part of.

We were told that we would be emailed a download link to our photos during the December 2009 launch of the Youth Vote online forums. We were asked to upload our headshots immediately to our social media accounts so that people would be pointed toward the forums. The forums would facilitate discussion leading to the creation of the OneYouth Manifesto, containing the advocacies supported by the youth to be presented to future leaders. It was a very noble cause indeed.

Project Headshot Clinic: One Youth

photo by Niccolo Cosme

The photos turned out great, and the shoot was a success. Niccolo was very easy to please and I was done in less than two minutes. I met the lovely Hannah (of there, and she has one of the most beautiful photos from the set, which you can view at the Globe Tattoo website.

The only failing? Lack of follow-through and coordination among the agencies involved. When December rolled around, the Youth Vote forums still hadn’t been launched, our photos hadn’t been uploaded, and Headshot Clinic was busy promoting MOVE. I was finally able to download a low-res version of my photo when the Tattoo website finally updated with our photos on December 15.

Last week, the Globe OneYouth team sent me an email:

Dear OneYouth Ambassador,

Good day!

We have just uploaded your OneYouth Headshot photo online. Your photo contains the advocacy that you support, along with other information about you. Your photo is now free for you to download at the Globe Tattoo site.

To grab your photo from the OneYouth gallery, follow these steps:

  • Log in to the Globe Tattoo site with your username and password
  • Visit the OneYouth gallery
  • Click on “View All” button on the right-hand side of the site.
  • Type your name on the search box.
  • Grab your widget at the Flash pop-up.

Thank you for your support of OneYouth, and we hope you enjoy your photos. See you guys soon!

Even here I encountered a road block. The website requires a valid email address to release my widget, but won’t accept the email address I supplied them with (which was the email address they sent that message to). I can’t even email the OneYouth team to ask for help, because they sent their email from a noreply address. I’m not even sure if there really is any effective discussion taking place on the Youth Philippines online forum, because the website is so darned hard to navigate.

I hate to come down on Globe like this, but this was a FAIL from my viewpoint. I’m writing this post now because I’m frustrated and I have no idea to whom to address my concerns. I mean, seriously, I signed away rights to my likeness from that shoot, only to have it misused this way? Hay nako…

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All’s Well That Ends Well

After the brouhaha at the Big Blue Run where my bag was stolen (and later recovered, minus some items), someone from Ateneo contacted me and offered to replace the Havaianas flipflops that had been taken. I took her up on that offer, but since Ateneo closes for the Christmas and New Year holidays, I had to wait.

Yesterday, I picked up my replacement pair from the Blue Eagle Gym. They’re not the model I lost… They’re so much better! These Havaianas are from the current season line-up, so I’m glad they didn’t buy something from the bargain bin. I also received another BBR finisher shirt, even if I didn’t ask for one.

Big Blue Run Swag Bag
above and beyond a replacement

In a few weeks’ time I’ll also receive a new singlet to replace the one that was taken from my bag. Thank you to the Ateneo University Athletics Office. Now if you guys can release the results of the Big Blue Run, it’d be perfect!

When I lost my bag, I knew that in one way or another God would give me everything back, or something much better. Ü

UPDATE (01/18/2010): I was rummaging through my empty paper bags today and found a Silverworks Big Blue Run pendant in the bag that had contained the Havaianas. I hadn’t been able to grab one of these limited-edition pendants after the Big Blue Run because I thought they’d run out of them. It was really a nice surprise after I thought it had all come to a close. Ü

(18/365) Big Blue Surprise

Big Blue Surprise

UPDATE (01/20/2010): Isn’t this race the gift that keeps on giving? The results were released, and even though the women’s field was small, here’s how I fared:

Big Blue Run results
Top 10, baby!


To Go: My Travel Make-up Kit

I only started wearing make-up regularly last year. While I’ve now built up a good collection of make-up essentials, only a few things wind up traveling with me. The rest stay at home on top of my dresser.

Makeup Kit: Scale
my make-up kit, with a ballpen for size comparison

This kit is small and light enough for me to pack into my gym bag, but contains enough make-up options if I want to change my look.

Makeup Kit: Contents
foundation, concealer, mascara, lip, eyeshadow, blush

The only reason there are so many eyeshadows in there is I can’t bring myself to edit and only bring the ones I use for my everyday look. What if I need a smoky eye? What if I need to contour my nose and cheeks? In fact, the only reason this kit is this small is I hate carrying heavy bags. Otherwise, my packrat instincts come alive.

Makeup Kit: Brushes
my brushes

I only have one set of brushes (made of the brushes from two smaller sets), so these slide into a separate compartment in my kit. I bought the majority of them from Landmark Department Store Trinoma (near the generic false eyelashes) and got them for less than P500 pesos. The brushes are soft but pick up product well — I really love them!

So if you see me walking down the street with a made-up face, this kit is the source of it all. What’s in your travel make-up kit?

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Project 365

Well, it’s a new year and in order to keep growing one must keep challenging herself, right? After watching Helga successfully complete her Project 365 in 2009, I was inspired to do the same — and of course the new camera came just in time for it.

A Project 365 requires you to take one photo a day for the next 365 days. It’s up to you to decide what the subject of your photos will be. Some of my online friends chose to start their 365s on January 1, which is what I did:

(1/365) Morning

(1/365) Morning

I’ve chosen to take either self-portraits or photos of things that are important to me on that particular day. You can follow on Tumblr and suggest themes, provide advice on how to take better photos, comment on how weird I look, etc. In other words, HELP! I’ve got 361 days left!

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Pico de Loro

Just before 2009 ended, I took my last beach trip. Ths time, it wasn’t to Boracay. Instead, my family and I headed to Nasugbu, Batangas. My aunt had acquired a condo unit at Hamilo Coast, a leisure estate being developed by SM Land.

By this summer a ferry will take passengers from the Mall of Asia complex to Hamilo Coast in 45 minutes. For this trip, we had to pack ourselves into our cars and drive four long hours on the SLEX, through the traffic caused by market day in Tagaytay, and over long winding stretches of single-lane road before we finally arrived.


Hamilo Coast: Pico de Loro Beach Club



Hamilo Coast: Sunset Light


 Pico de Loro Beach Club

Since my aunt’s condo isn’t completed yet, she took us to the Pico de Loro Beach Club instead for a buffet lunch and some activities in the water. The beach was developed by layering lighter brown sand over the natural dark brown sand on that coastline, and any rough rock had either been carted out or smoothed away. There was also a shallow pool and kiddie pool at the beach club, which was our refuge from the many small fish at the beach. For some reason, those fish were overly curious about swimmers, and either nibbled at our skin or swam up our mens’ board shorts. (Gay fish?)

My only scheduled activity when we got there was to soak up the rays, and hopefully get rid of my pallor from being indoors all day. And so that’s what I did right after lunch.

Hamilo Coast: Sunbathing

sunbathing near the roofdeck bar

 When I got crispy enough, I amused myself by taking photos of the facilities. There’s even a lifeguard station!


Hamilo Coast: Lifeguard Station



When the ferry service becomes fully operational, I think I’ll be there more often to get my beach fix. 🙂