COMETs are coming! (E-jeepneys now in Quezon City)

Just when I was starting to live like a total hermit (with occasional trips to the nearest shopping mall, the nearest supermarket, and church), hope sprung again when I saw this article online. There are many reasons to love Quezon City in the Philippines. There’s the city’s laid-back vibe as seen in areas like the Maginhawa Street food strip, Tomas Morato, UP Town Center, and the Trinoma and SM North Edsa mall area. The country’s two best universities are housed here. And then this: eco-friendly and rider-friendly e-jeepneys called COMETs (City Optimized Managed Electric Transport) now ply the LRT Katipunan – Trinoma route!

But wait, there’s more. Thirty e-jeepneys are just the beginning. Soon, we will see more routes and more jeepneys, which will bring us an overload of good vibes:

  • An eco-friendly upgrade to the iconic Philippine jeepneys. Sure, it’s not as colorful and crazily decorated as the jeepneys we’d come to love, but that can be fixed. What’s important is that they now use lithium ion batteries which lessens too much dependence on oil. This also means (hopefully!) less transport strikes which cripple our movements around the city!
  • Safer jeepney design.  We passengers don’t have to worry about getting accidentally hit by upcoming cars on the road because the door is now located at the side of the jeepney, allowing us to board safely from sidewalks. And whenever the rains relentlessly beat the pavement and floods ensue, these jeepneys can still brave the roads, thanks to hydraulic wheels that can rise by one foot.
  • More orderly boarding and alighting, plus some creature comforts for the tech-savvy commuter. We all know that the way jeepneys (and other forms of public transportation) randomly stop at various parts of the road causes traffic. This behavior also reinforces lack of discipline among people, both drivers and passengers. It seems that a more orderly way of commuting is about to be institutionalized through the COMET. The COMET has designated stops which are actually followed from LRT Katipunan to Trinoma and vice versa. Passengers conveniently pay for the fare via a card that they tap-in when boarding and tap-out when alighting.  What’s more, this e-jeepney also housess some creature comforts for the tech-savvy: GPS and Wifi connection, flat screen TV that displays news and ads, CCTV camera for monitoring the safety of passengers, and continuous communication between the COMET command center and e-jeepney to effectively forsee and manage congestion to and from the destination. I like this a lot because it resembles my bus adventures while I was studying in Seoul. Very convenient!
  •  Better compensation for drivers. Gone are the days when jeepney drivers are unsure of how much they will bring home to their family – or if they will bring anything substantial at all. By being a COMET driver, they are given monthly salaries plus benefits. Here, drivers, passengers, and the environment wins. What’s good for one sector is also good for the others. A dream come true.

According to the aforementioned Rappler article, this is the COMET’s route. I haven’t tried it yet but I’m excited!

COMET e-jeepney route from LRT Katipunan to Trinoma, and vice versa. Taken from http://www.rappler.com/nation/69948-quezon-city-electric-shuttles-operational.

COMET e-jeepney route from LRT Katipunan to Trinoma, and vice versa. Taken from http://www.rappler.com/nation/69948-quezon-city-electric-shuttles-operational.

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Naturally Beautiful: Ancient Korean Makeup

If you like watching Korean historical  dramas, you’ve probably seen scenes where women color their faces with various concoctions laid out neatly in tiny ceramic containers. In Hwang Jin-Yi, for example, there’s this scene were the courtesans were being taught and trained in applying makeup, using charcoal to define their eyebrows.

K-drama Hwang Jin Yi

K-drama Hwang Jin Yi.

This scene (among many others) got me curious about how Korean women from the olden times prettified themselves. Charcoal? For the eyebrows? Really? But why?

Makeup according to class

A quick Google search got me some preliminary answers. Based from articles I read from the internet, I learned that makeup of upper class women and common people differed, so you can usually tell which class a woman belonged to based not only on the way they dressed but on the way they colored their faces as well.

18th century Korean Beauty

An 18th century Korean beauty. Attributed to Kim Hong-Do (A.D. 1745- ?) © Seoul National University Museum.

Simple and light makeup was especially preferred by the upper class women and was seen by them as the ideal look of beauty, according to the Record of the Chinese Embassy to the Koryo Court, Xuanhe fengshi Gaoli tujing (1123) . Applying too much makeup was a no-no, so the only cosmetic they colored their faces with were powder without rouge. They also liked drawing eyebrows in the shape of a willow leaf.

During the Chosun period, aristocratic women began using a mixture of flower ashes, indigo plants and gold powder for the eyebrows. Makeup made of saffron flowers and cinnabar, meanwhile, were used for the cheeks and lips. A pale skin color was preferred, in accordance to the Confucian ideal of dignified and simple demeanor.  They avoided white powder for the face, since this was associated with the lowly kisaeng, or women entertainers who were trained in the art of music, dance and poetry. Instead, aristocratic women of the time used light-peach-colored makeup.  To make their hair shiny, upper class women applied peony flower oil.

The common people of Chosun were not to be left out. They also enhanced their features with color, but with less expensive cosmetics. To highlight their eyebrows, they used a piece of charcoal (which explains the charcoal-for-the-eyebrows scene in K-drama Hwang Jin-Yi). For the lips, they used dried red pepper.

Natural makeup, which didn’t contain preservatives, was made in small batches according to what women needed per makeup application. Makeup items were kept in small containers with narrow openings to prevent contamination and spoilage.

Kyuhapch’ongso: Aristocratic women’s guidebook  

More can be learned about how Korean women beautified themselves through the book Kyuhapch’ongso (1809), which contains a comprehensive guide for Chosun period’s upper class women on how to make cosmetic products and fragrances, perfumes, and oils for the hair. The book even has descriptions of shapes of eyebrows.

Aside from beauty, majority of the book’s contents details other useful advice for women, such as cooking, cloth-making, gardening, and family life, among other things. It was written by Lady Bingheogak Yi.

I tried searching for more information on Google (in English) but didn’t find much. A trip to my local library didn’t yield many results either. I wish I can get a hold of this guidebook to learn more about women’s lives in ancient Korea, preferably a version that’s been translated to English. =) Sigh. I suppose that will be one of my projects for the year. So if anyone of my readers can point me to the right direction and resources, please do. Someone here really wants to try making her own natural and organic concoctions and potions the Korean way! =)

References:

http://www.asianartnewspaper.com/article/the-cosmetic-culture-of-ancient-korea

http://www.mimifroufrou.com/scentedsalamander/2008/04/beauty_perfume_in_traditional.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyuhap_chongseo

Sanuk’s Happy Half Promo just upped my collection to…9 pairs of sandals! Squee!

The Rain Dance Yoga Mat slippers and Pay Raise flip-flops are two new additions to my growing Sanuk collection. I chose the yoga mat slippers for its buttery softness–I feel like walking on Cloud 9! I chose the Pay Raise flip-flops because the wedge design makes me look a little taller.  Again, I got these new pairs at a hefty discount!

Last week, Sanuk launched their Happy Half promo for the benefit of public school children. For a 50-peso donation, Sanuk fans were given a 50% discount on selected Sanuk sandals. The P50 is for a school kit composed of notebooks, pens, pad papers, and more for kids coming to school this June.

I say this is a brilliant promo – we fans got our Sanuks at half the price, and public school kids will get new supplies for free!

Bebop Guesthouse

What’s playing in my head: “Tell Me Your Wish (Genie)” by Girl’s Generation.

What’s running through my mind: My wish

And what’s my wish? To get my butt to South Korea!

South Korea has been hard at work, waving their magic wand marked “Soft Power” around the Southeast Asian region. And I must say it’s working on me. I’m hooked on K-pop and K-dramas. I’m always craving for kimchi, kimbap and bulgogi. I’m contemplating enrolling for a Korean language class. I got worried and upset when North Korea bombed one of the islands in South Korea. One of the topics I’m exploring for independent study for graduate school is about South Korea. AND (and I mean AND!), I’m planning to go there soon!

Except for some visa issues (I’ll only be able to get my butt to Korea IF the Korean Embassy grants me a visa), everything’s been set: tentative travel dates, things to see and do, budget, and (ta-daaan!) possible lodging.

Here’s the hostel me and my friend are eying:

It’s called Bebop Guesthouse 2, also known as Tango Guesthouse. It’s said to be a homey hostel at the heart of the artsy Hongdae area–totally my kind of place! What’s more, it’s very environment friendly. Use of canvas bags instead of plastic bags for shopping is highly encouraged. You can fill up your water bottle with water from the hostel so you won’t have to buy tons of bottled water. Trash is segregated so biodegradables are separated from non-biodegradables.

And to top it all off, the owners are 20-something Korean backpackers who love to read and who appreciate art!

So I really hope the Korean Embassy grants me a visa. Wield your soft power on me all you want. It’s okay, it’s totally okay!

My latest ukay-ukay finds

It’s been a while since I visited Querra Thrift Shop. I prioritized the completion of my grad school coursework, so I was practically buried in journals and books and constantly tapping on the keyboard to finish my final papers (Take note of the “s” in papers). So when I saw the 3-for-100 sign at Querra last Monday, I knew I had to pay this place a visit.

But it seems every student in the area had it easy in school. Almost all the good second hand clothes were taken. I had to wade through the seemingly endless rack of rags before I got my “shortlist” of six blouses, which I later narrowed down to three–for the 3-for-100 deal, of course!

Having been made to attend a ” corporate image workshop” at work in Summer 2010, I have learned to train my eyes to chuck colors outside of the winter color palette. That is, cool colors reminiscent of winter. According to the workshop trainer, I am a “winter person”, so only cool and pure colors suit me. This is well and good, because this means I can easily weed out clothes on racks with colors that don’t suit me. Ergo, I can quickly zoom in and choose from clothes whose colors fit my supposed skin tone.

Anyway, here are my finds, and why I like them.

Trendy black tee. Photo by Me.

This is a trendy black tee. I like it because it’s a t-shirt with a twist. The cream-colored cord wrapped around the neckline and the bottom edge of the shirt lends this piece a trendy and creative vibe. The lace detail at the bottom adds a sweet girly touch. This is a great top to wear on casual Fridays at the office and on weekend trips to artsy places, especially for people working in the creative field. It gives off the right impression and makes you look the part of the mysterious and young lady writer.

Peasant blouse. Photo by Me.

I couldn’t remember if something light brown (with hints of gray) suits my skin tone but I bought this piece anyway for the sweet and innocent vibe it evokes. I already have a blouse that looks somewhat like this, but the cloth and the drawstring detail at the bottom made all the difference. This is a nice summer piece that I can see myself wearing with khaki clam diggers or khaki capri pants.

Denim button-down blouse. Photo by Me.

This denim button-down blouse barely made it to my top 3 picks. What made me decide to buy it was that it looked new and hardly used. The material was light enough, even if it’s denim. The embroidery at the top was a nice touch, too. So I can see myself wearing it this summer, maybe with navy blue capri pants or with walking shorts. In cooler months, I can layer it on top of a white tank. Or maybe I can wear it with a vest or with a sleeveless sweater for a preppy look.

First Impressions: Human Nature Love Minerals Mineral Powder Blush

Photo by Me.

Mineral makeup has always been a curiosity for me. So when Human Nature announced that they’ll be coming out with a mineral makeup line, I was pretty excited. I wanted to try it as soon as it hit the shelves, but since my makeup supply was still sufficient for a few weeks’ use, I waited until it completely ran out.

The first to disappear from the pot was my blush, so that’s the product I bought first from the Love Minerals line of Human Nature.

Despite being organic and good for the skin, I was pretty disappointed about how too sheer the coverage of this blush is. Even two swipes won’t do. I have to do four. That is, to pile on the color because the pigment isn’t so strong. Moreover, it has this weird, metallic smell that I tend to forget that this is supposed to be organic makeup.

I’ll just go for something from The Face Shop or The Body Shop next time. Sigh.

20% and counting!

I’m getting a kick out of seeing the signs on the ukay-ukay (second hand) store change from “New Arrival” to “3-for-100” on my way home from work. The last time I checked, the pre-loved clothes are being sold for 20% off. It’s been hovering around that price range for days now. Soon, the stuff will be sold for 50% off. And then at PHP50. Until the clothes reach the 3-for-100 and PHP20 mark, in which I’ll go in for the kill. Oh yeah. I can’t wait!

No turning back now from ukay-ukay

After getting a two blouses and a dress at the mind-boggling price of 3-for-100 (3 pieces of clothing for just Php100) at ukay-ukay (second-hand store) last Friday, the gray cardigan being sold at the SM Surplus Shop for Php 299.75 seemed a wee bit expensive.  Although a gray cardigan was what I patiently searched for among the racks at ukay-ukay, and although I did not find what I wanted, and although what I wanted popped right in front of me at the Surplus Shop days after my ukay-ukay trip, the price just wasn’t right. In the end, I had to let go of it, hopeful that I will find something similar to that the next time ukay-ukay holds a 3-for-100 sale.

Other stuff that I scored at my ukay-ukay venture (if you can call it that) were a black cardigan and a black-ish denim jacket accented with thin orange-y and green-ish stripes–Two stylish and good-as-new pieces which set me back just Php 50 each.

I believe that if you just look hard and patiently enough, you’ll score great high quality finds here for a fraction of the price at malls, department stores, and even tiangges. And that’s true value for money, IMHO.

Moreover, re-using beautiful clothes that the original owners don’t want anymore helps save the earth’s resources. It’s a win-win situation for you and Mother Nature.

How to Score Sanuk Footwear on a Budget

I now have five Sanuk Sidewalk Surfers and two Sanuk sandals in my shoe collection. To say I love the Sanuk brand is an understatement. I buy the brand because the designs are stylish enough, the sandals are ultra comfy (I can walk around Mall of Asia in these all day without getting sore feet), and the people behind it strive to be environment friendly (Their Multiply page tells us how).

But of course, each pair of Sanuk does not come cheap. The price ranges from Php 1,500 to Php 3,500. But I have managed to score all seven of my Sanuk footwear on a budget.

Photo by Me.

I scored my Sanuk Daydreamer by getting a Php 300 gift certificate. See, there was a Sanuk stall in one of the events at work last 2009, and they happened to be giving away these gift certificates (one GC per person, actually). I got one and bought this pair. Once I wore it, I was instantly hooked!

Photo by Me.

I was just window-shopping with a friend at the mall but Sanuk had an offer I couldn’t resist: 20% off in celebration of Quezon City Day! It’s not everyday that you get 20% off, and it’s not everyday that I have extra money with me (I just came from guesting at a game show–Don’t ask!–and therefore had my honorarium in my wallet), so at the prodding of a friend, I bought it! In soft, bright pink! I love it! It makes my feet look fairer.

Photo by Me.

This one’s where I got the biggest discount at 50% off at a sale in Trinoma. It was also the craziest sale event ever as the guys at the Trinoma kiosk had to cordon off the place and let customers take turns buying. We fell in line for a few minutes before we got to go inside the store. It was THAT packed!

This pair looks like something you get for free at hotels, I know, but it’s so soft and comfy and the color goes well with everything! I love it!

Photo by Me.

Ah, this is my one-of-a-kind Sanuk. I’m the only one in the world who has this pair. It’s a green June Bug painted by an artist (I forgot who) during Fashion/Design Week, I think. I got this at an online auction held at the Sanuk Philippines Facebook page.

Auctions have the tendency to turn expensive, but I had a game plan. I gave a bid that was just Php 10 higher than the original bidding price. When someone else placed a bid on it, I added just Php 1 to make it higher. I also pointed out to the other bidder–a guy–that this shoe is in girl’s size. That shut him up. =)

On the last night of the bidding, fearing some other bidder might make a surprise bid, I woke up 15 minutes before 12midnight to monitor the Sanuk Philippines Facebook page. Thank God no other person placed a bid on it. And that’s how I got it! (The claiming process, though, is a different story…)

Photo by Me.

I fell in love with this Sanuk Shasta because it reminds me of the ’90s. I love the ’90s, especially the music. The tag’s still intact, so I obviously haven’t used this yet. But I think I might wear this with a dress to celebrate (what else!) the ’90s!

Oh yeah, I bought this during Sanuk’s third anniversary (the whole month of October!) in the Philippines. Got this for 20% off PLUS this freebie:

Photo by Me.

Sanuk Tubeflops! I haven’t worn it yet, too (see the tag peeking out from the left?), and I’m still thinking of what outfit to wear it with. I know this is a trend that has already passed, but I think this is still cool to wear, especially in the -ber months or during cold summer nights.

Photo by Me.

Last (thus far) but not least is my Sanuk Rosalyn sandals, which I also got at 20% off during Sanuk Philippines’ third anniversary sale. I love the color, the style, and the extra two inches it gives me vertically! Hehe! As with the Sanuk sidewalk surfers, this is also very comfortable to wear. I bought this the day after buying the Sanuk Shasta, so the only freebie I got was a lanyard. But that’s okay, I still love getting this pretty pair at less 20%!

Next on my list is the Sanuk Espathrill in grey, but of course, being the economical person I am, I shall wait for another sale event OR gift certificate!

Rags2Riches Bag

I’m not very much into buying designer bags unless they’re sold dirt cheap at ukay-ukay (second hand shop) or an outlet store. I find buying something ridiculously expensive at the mall a bit pointless, especially if you can buy a more reasonably-priced version of it elsewhere.

My Rags2Riches bags are an exception, though. Mine are the ones designed by Rajo Laurel back when Rags2Riches first came out.

My Rags2Riches Bag. Photo by Me.

I like them because they’re pretty and look one-of-a-kind. It’s made of rags and scrap cloth, yes, but the rich forest green shade of it makes it look elegant and classic and not rag-like at all. I can use it for years to come.

Another reason why I like it is because each bag is lovingly made by a “nanay” (mother) at Payatas in Quezon City. This means that each bag takes days to make as each is handmade. And in the age of automation and instant noodles, each handmade Rags2Riches bag is extra-special.

Rags2Riches envelope bag. Photo by Me.

Making each bag also gives each “nanay” a decent income–enough to live a simple and happy life with one’s family. Every purchase thus makes everyone happy: you with your beautiful bag and the “nanay” with her well-earned income.

Nowadays, it’s bag designer Amina Aranaz who designs Rags2Riches bags. I haven’t bought anything from her collection yet, but I would love to. The bags are prettier, especially the ones with rosettes and mother of pearl. It’s very Filipino, too!  Totally worth every penny. Hoping, hoping, hoping to buy another one soon!