Manila Mysteries

11890969_990661064298096_6093648069736031015_nHow do I describe the textures of Manila?

Standing at a busy street corner with rumbling jeepneys and pressing crowds around me, I try to pin down the unfamiliar energies of the city. For me, its an ambivalent sensation of excitement, unease, curiosity and caution, all rolled into one. While trying to navigate Manilas vibrant, gritty streets, Ive learned firsthand the importance of flexibility and respect when it comes to the unknown. As I witness the mix of East and West here in Manila, I realize that the chances of confronting the unfamiliar are increasing for everyone. Continue reading

Transcending Ethnicity

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When I think of who I am, my first instinct is to define myself using personality traits rather than by ethnicity. I often wonder why many multicultural people intuitively do the opposite. Have I dishonored my heritage by not prioritizing Filipino-American as my core identity? My personal reflections on race have been admittedly stifled. I probably don’t give enough praise to Filipino culture as I should. I’m not sure if I’m to blame for this or if my parents are, with their progressive break from conventional Filipino customs when they came to America. Then again, exactly how much attention does my cultural identity merit, when in reality, the things I believe distinguish me (indecisiveness, corny humor, chocolate habit, introversion, soccer) don’t involve it? In such a global and diverse community as Georgetown, just how important is one’s ethnicity when it comes to identity? Continue reading

Snapshots No. 10 – Urban Suburbans

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Meet my two friends, Ross and Shannon. I won’t see them for four months because in five days I’m up and going off to university! ‘Tis a bittersweet affair. Enjoy some snaps of a few urban suburbans kicking it out on the Septa. There’s nothing like Mexican food, city lights, and public transportation to take you away from cul-de-sac-ville.

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NEW DAWN, NEW ERA, DEMI LOVATO. Alternate title: Out from the Shadows

An important announcement, an even more important metaphor, and a random moment of life reflection. I’ll regret this later, but let’s get personal.

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I once had a secret dream two years ago to become a legitimate fashion blogger. Today, my furtive efforts to achieve that dream have been revealed. Against all odds, I have officially imported my old fashion blog of two years, Coco Carte Blanche, into my new supposedly literary blog of barely two months. (The Fraicheurie Files starts where Coco Carte Blanche ends, after the post, “l’art pour l’art,” and with the inaugural post, “A Riotous Introduction of Sorts“). The result is a mishmash mutt of a personal compendium with little sense of what direction it’s headed in or where it came from to begin with, which works well as a life metaphor for me personally.

Moving on to that important metaphor.

Continue reading

Announcement (plus a story, which is why this post is so long)

If anyone out there reads this blog regularly, you’ve probably noticed the dwindling number of posts I’ve been getting around to. Truth be told, my fashion blogging craze has begun to lose its sparkle and I’ve started drifting off towards other quote-on-quote “creative projects.” Over the past week, I’ve been cooking up a short story, so I’ll post the first few paragraphs at the end of this post to prove it to you. Hopefully, I’ll be blending in more creative pieces into the typical fodder of le blog.

Start of untitled short story:

The golden sun, milky and pure, that poured into the road took me by surprise. And so did the skinny ribbon of cracked asphalt, and the wheat fields miles away from any shopping center or subdivision. Something raw and wild crept out from behind the landscape. From the rusty pick up trucks that spotted the curbs, to the creaking traffic lights that swung above the intersections, something was wedged between the cracks of it all that felt blissfully untouched. I couldn’t tell you how, but the world that lined route 463 felt perfectly removed from the rest of the universe that whirled beyond it. It was a beautiful anachronism, the idea of a two-lane road that stretched for miles like a quaint curving stripe. I sped along it with a goofy smile smeared on my face and music pumping through the speaker system, a study in smooth happiness.
Eventually, I reached the hills. They bubbled up and down making the road rise and fall and twist back over itself. I drove right past Mill Road, where I was supposed to turn right. I had to make a looping U-turn through a sparse neighborhood in order to get back to it. Driving on Mill Road was like riding a children’s roller coaster, one of those wooden Gemini Jr. ones that didn’t have any upside-down loops but had plenty of swooping turns and drops. I thought it was a sheer delight. And between the skinny skeletons of trees, when I rounded a bend, I could catch a glimpse of a huge basin of water beyond. It almost looked like a wide river if you didn’t know any better. The hills cradled it into a valley where it shimmered like dull silver.

I drove along Mill Road for 2.7 miles until it brought me to a mailbox labeled 1129. A long driveway stretched behind it leading to a house that couldn’t be seen. I pulled in slowly, rolling along the ashen pavement and passing a carved wooden sign that read “Fantasy Farm” in large, cartoonish letters. The house was made of dark panels of wood punctuated with black triangles for décor. Another big black triangle of a roof sloped casually over everything. It was a squat, horizontal house, only two floors high, and it sat like a solemn wooden dwarf in a forest clearing. The air around it had an evergreen tint, and the grass at its feet was a faded olive. It all felt a bit tired, as if the dwarf-house had been waiting for someone to arrive. But the moment people came, every crease of weariness melted into a warm welcome.

Snapshots No. 7 – Due to Inclement Weather…

Speaking from giddy experience, there’s nothing more fantastic than a snow day except another completely unexpected snow day, announced just as your first one draws to a reluctant close. The phrase “due to inclement weather” is a beautiful thing indeed. I’ve been whiling away my sweet time reading a great book (Specialty Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, which, for those who might not know, is not in fact a discourse on colliding particles but a whirring fiction novel that sweeps one off his/her feet) and drinking Keurig’s Single Cup Dark Chocolate Hot Cocoa. If you’re familiar with Blue van Meer, I’m starting to think my writing has subconsciously picked up a “Bluish” tint to it. As in, I feel like I’m talking like the character whose murder-mysterious, electrifying world I’ve currently fallen into..

To book lovers the world over, pick up this read for your next escapade. It’s crackling with intelligence (there are more esoteric literary, political, and academic references in this novel than snow flakes on my front lawn),  brimming with one-of-a-kind analogies (“If Servo were in a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, he’d be the Painfully Tragic character, the one who wore bronze suits and alligator shoes”), full of marvelous observations (“The fluorescent lights made a soured halo around his hair so he looked like a hand-painted Jesus one finds hanging on clammy walls of churches that smell of Gruyère.” And also, “Shutting down disturbances…was the only reason Ms. Hambone ever emerged from her office, where she allegedly spent her day shopping http://www.QVC.com for Easter Limited-Quantity Collectibles and Goddess Glamour Jewelry.”), and populated by extremely three-dimensional, larger than life characters that threaten to step off the page and invite you to a cup of coffee, or, depending on who you’re dealing with here, invite you to go camping only to leave you stranded in the forest.

There I go again, talking like the narrator of whatever book I’m reading at the time. It’s a pesky habit I have.

Snapshots No. 6 – Adios 2013, Buenos Dias 2014!

Behold the stowaways from my latest escapades to zesty, guacamole-infused Mexico. The skull, his name is Julio-José Fernando Santos The First, is my pride and joy. I begged my madré to do away with a well-spent 6,500 pesos (not dollars) for this guy, which actually isn’t too bad for such a jewel-encrusted treasure as Julio-José. And really, what better way to kick of 2014 than with my very own (pseudo-)crystal skull, the stuff of old Mayan legends and Indiana Jones blockbusters!

I hope all of you celebrated a wonderful New Year’s Eve 🙂 Asides from the absence of Papa Richard, who flew home to the Philippines to visit my grandfather, mine was an especially memorable one. In place of string-in-a-can fights and plastic ponchos, this year’s countdown salsa’d beachfront to the peppery beat of Latino melodies. And there’s nothing more festive than Latino music (I’ve been going through a phase long before our trip), authentic tortillas, and beaded sombreros.

Below, enjoy a mishmash of pics from my trip in various, rosy-tinged filters

As for New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve typed up and printed mine out in the meager hopes that I’ll actually abide to them this time. I also drafted up a completely separate NYR list just for the blog. My top three? 1) a personal outfit post each Saturday, even though I abhor the inherently awkward and self-absorbed nature of these. 2) blog consistently, following a structured timeline. 3) quality over quantity.

I’d love to hear your resolutions, whether blog-related, food-related, fashion-related, or stave-off-senioritis-until-at-least-end-of-first-semester-related, so please comment below!

P.S. I wasn’t lying when I said I’ve been going through a Latino music phase. To hear the Pandora-playlist evidence, just click here. I’ve been furiously thumbing-up my favorites, a lot of which are by Marc Anthony btw, and have now achieved a sultry mix to ease the unbearably endless haul between now and June. Post-Christmas winter is always so depressing 😦

P.P.S. If you like that kinda music, why not try some Spanish? Click here or here.

P.P.P.S. Or just listen to this now:

Snapshots No. 5 – Home for the Holidays

Contrary to typical teenage instincts, I believe my parents have pretty good taste. In fact, I even find that we have similar tastes, and that goes for clothes, music,and  movies. This means that either I have the style sense of a fifty year-old, or my parents are actually somewhat hip. Anyway, I’ve got to hand it to them for the Christmas decorations this year. They quite outdid themselves, puttering around like magical Christmas elves and adding twinkling lights and wreaths everywhere. I can’t even remember registering when any of their decorating happened. I feel like I just woke up one day and voilà, the place was all lush with red poinsettias, holly branches, and pseudo-vintage tin cherubs. Or maybe, the reason I haven’t noticed anything until now is due to the fact that I’ve locked myself in my room to write college supplementals..#bestchristmasever. But hey, at least our house is pretty and filled with random boxes of Christmas cookies (extra pounds) lying everywhere 🙂

Snapshots No. 4 – Snow Day :)

As I write this, I’m sitting happily in my cozy house reveling in the bliss of the first snow day of the year. I woke up this morning, drowsily peeked open one eye, and almost cried when I registered the unbelievable winter wonderland scene outside my window, the bedside alarm clock that read 9 A.M., and the realization that I’d evaded the educational system for one heavenly day. So, in order to appreciate the joy of a snow day to its utmost authenticity, I swear that after this update I won’t go on the internet again. Instead, I’m looking forward to the old-fashioned drill of watching movies, reading books, playing boardgames, and sipping hot cocoa.