February 17, 2017 / 07:15 AM
Make-up, Photography: Elisa Aquino / Modeling, Styling: Niki Colet
We were 2 gawky girls fawning over Makati’s red light district – in chunky heels – mesmerized by the glaring signages, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and the occasional foreigner with a young Filipina. It was a bizarre side of Manila we hardly saw, and it was fantastic.
We found ourselves at Filling Station, a 24-hour authentic American diner playing good ol’ songs from the ’50s. Old posters and vinyls were plastered everywhere. Antique telephones were situated in every table. After having our Mexican fix (great but expensive food, by the way) and a tall glass of Root Beer Float, we managed to discover more spots in the area that offered enough light for a good photograph. The night was strange and crazy – definitely worth remembering for a very long time.
Listen to Niki’s song One Day. Follow her on Soundcloud, Facebook, and Instagram.
On Niki: (Base) L’Oréal True Match Liquid Foundation in Nude Beige, (Eyes) Morphe 350 Eyeshadow Palette, Zoeva Rose Golden Eyeshadow Palette, Maybelline Hypercurl Mascara (Cheeks) Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso (Lips) The Balm Meet Matt(e) Hughes Liquid Lipstick in Loyal (Others) Essence Pure Nude Highlighter, NARS Blush in Madly as bronzer, MAC Fix Plus, L’Oréal Infallible Make-up Extender Setting Spray
A good red lipstick is forever a staple in every woman’s kikay kit. A stand-out in my Best of 2016: Beauty entry was definitely The Balm’s Meet Matt(e) Hughes Long Lasting Liquid Lipstick in Loyal.
Hire me/Collaborate with me: firstname.lastname@example.org
December 01, 2016 / 01:47 AM
Hair, Make-up, and Photography: Elisa Aquino / Modeling: Hannah To
Writing about God has been so difficult for me lately. The universe seems so dark and unforgiving. It takes so much courage to make sense of grace. Photography lends a hand during these trying times. When I don’t want to think, and when I feel the need to escape from reality, it takes me back – no matter how long I’ve abandoned it. There are days when I tell myself that I shouldn’t be taking photographs – more so, have it as my bread and butter – I am bad, I am not enough, I could never be someone I’m proud of. Then, there are these strange, unforgettable nights when I’m so certain that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
On Hannah: (Base) Maybelline Dream Velvet Foundation in Natural Beige (Eyes) Stila Eyes Are The Window Shadow Palette in Mind, Zoeva Rose Golden Eyeshadow Palette, Fashion21 Double Up Mascara (Cheeks) Sephora Colorful Blush in Shame on You!, Beauty Treats Perfect Powder Blush in Pink Flush (Lips) Sleek MakeUp Matte Me in Birthday Suit (Others) Essence Soo Glow! Highlighter in Bright Up Your Life, Sleek MakeUp Blush in Suede as bronzer, MAC Fix Plus, Petroleum Jelly
August 25, 2016 / 19:06 PM
A few days after my 24th, I found myself on a plane to uncharted territory.
I lost myself in Bohol upon seeing the most awe-inspiring, pastel colored sunset at the Bohol Bee Farm while, of course, stuffing myself with delicious homemade Avocado and Melon ice cream from The Buzzz Café. How could something so beautiful exist? For the next few days, I forgot the chaos of city life at Hennan Resort cherishing peaceful afternoons at the beach front rereading Captivating by Stasi and John Eldredge. A friendly reminder, “Your feminine heart has been created with the greatest of all possible dignities – as a reflection of God’s own heart.” And, how could I forget such touristy things? On the same day, I found myself aboard the Loboc River Cruise, marveling at the infamous Chocolate Hills on a freezing, rainy noon, and hiding from…tarsiers.
You are something else. I’ll see you soon, Bohol!
When I look at the night sky and see the work of Your fingers – the moon and the stars You set in place – what are mere mortals that You should think about them, human beings that You should care for them? Yet You made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. (Psalm 8:3-5)
June 30, 2016 / 15:17 PM
There is a sense of normalcy, at last. Elections season is over. Friendships have been restored, campaign posters no longer deface the streets of Manila, and my heart is lighter upon letting go of misplaced anger – over headlines and 140-character sentiments. April and May have been unimaginably full: making my new blog live, speaking in a Blogger’s Conference, getting back to my freelance photography and writing jobs, and devoting time for fellowship. It took me a month to process my thoughts and actually make time for this space. Thankfully, I am more available and no longer glued to my 5-year-old dying laptop – slowly begetting one idea after the other – shamelessly singing Jessie Ware songs inside an empty church on a weekday.
I allow myself to daydream once in a while. My body refuses to stay still and wait for worlds to get lost in. Then, I have to remind myself that this is my reality: sometimes dull and uninspiring yet always abounding in grace. When I look for places I can fully devote myself to – sometimes, people’s hearts – I don’t find the wait too exhausting. My photographs become reminders of purposed moments and meetings, which are even capable of changing me.
Early in January, Hannah and I booked a spontaneous trip to beautiful Kota Kinabalu after months of submitting to the so-called wanderlust. Last April, we experienced three days of unbelievable joy. I expected little from a place I hear nothing about but now, I can recount every moment I was in absolute awe of His creation. From post-midnight walks within the small neighborhood to vibrant Sunday morning strolls in the street market…remembering the beauty and character of Kota Kinabalu keeps my soul beaming.
Where to go?
- Klias River Cruise: A 2-hour ride away from the city brings you to Klias River Cruise, home to the endangered proboscis monkey and fireflies. Here, we found ourselves wet from the summer rain and admiring the grandest sunset my eyes have ever seen.
- Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden: The Botanical Garden in the midst of the park is a great escape from the city’s heat and humidity. Bask in the flora and fauna and revel in glorious solitude.
- Desa Cattle Dairy Farm: Our spirits were high upon arriving at the cattle farm – the most surprising part of our trip. We were overwhelmed by boundless pastures and mountain ranges. Don’t forget to enjoy a delicious carton of fresh milk or yogurt before leaving.
- Gaya Street Sunday Market: A perfect place to get local products for pasalubong – art works, clothing, and antiques – the Gaya Market is open from 6 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon.
- IMAGO Shopping Mall: With beauty stores such as Sephora, Sassa, and Watsons, Imago is the best place to spend your hard-earned money. Padini Concept Store is also a favorite for cheap, trendy clothing and apparel!
Where to eat?
- Kedai Kopi Yee Fung: For less than P100, the Yee Fung Laksa is a must-try.
- Oldtown White Coffee: I am still dreaming about the White Curry Pan Mee! The 24-hour restaurant – renowned for their coffee – remains my favorite food destination in Kota.
- Fish Market: A seafood paradise for locals and tourists alike, the night fish market is an experience of its own.
May 01, 2016 / 20:37 PM
On our last day, Hannah and I toured our colorful neighborhood and found the most animated backdrops.
Lately, I find that it takes very little to commit to creativity. Sometimes, it only takes devotion and a heart which desires to find beauty in every corner.
Photography and Make-up: Elisa Aquino
Modeling and Styling: Hannah To
Shot in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia