Saturday, November 24, 2018

A Magical Day At Tokyo Disneyland

There's something with Disney that transcends generations. So when the occasion came for me to visit Tokyo, I wanted a trip to Disneyland. The last time I was in Disneyland was in California in 2002 and I had a marvelous time and didn't know how it happened but I managed to ride even roller coasters and thrill rides. I missed the happiness and even with people telling me to go to Disney Sea, as it was more for adults, I wanted to relive the nostalgia of my childhood first and went to Disneyland in Tokyo.

With Google Maps, it was easy to get to Tokyo Disneyland via train. Before going there, I already watched travel vlogs and ride walkthroughs so I could know where to go. To save time, we already bought our tickets ahead of time via and I downloaded the Tokyo Disneyland Wait Time App in my phone so we could plan out the rides and check out parade and character greeting schedules. To get there, you need to get to Maihama station and from there take a 6-minute walk to Disneyland, the happiest place on earth.

We go to Disneyland on a Tuesday, which was a relatively light weekday. In weekends, the park reaches maximum capacity. We were also lucky that it didn't rain and it was quite sunny (and a bit hot) during noontime.

The moment I saw Cinderalla's castle and Disney music started wafting on air, I cried. It was just the right time we got there because the Spooky Boo Parade (annual Halloween Parade) was about to start. As it was Halloween, the park was decorated with pumpkins and halloween decor. Guests even came in Disney-related costumes. When I mean Disney-related costumes I meant full gear, with wigs, makeup, and shoes. It was actually hard to distinguish who was the park guest and the cast member.

wore my Little Mermaid t-shirt for this occasion.
Next time, I'm going full gear.
The Spooky Boo parade featured classic characters such as Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy, and Chip and Dale in Halloween floats and cast members dressed like ghouls and skulls dancing.

Before the parade started, the cast members taught the guests a bit of choreography to join in. Since it was in Japanese, I couldn't understand it though but I watched the guests who did the choreography.

What I did notice in the parades was that everyone was sitting down. Even if there were lots of people watching the parade, it was very orderly and I was able to take decent photos.

check out the guests in full costume
Fantasyland had almost all the nostalgic Disney rides there. There was the Peter Pan's Flight, Snow White's Adventure, and Pinnochio ride there too. The first ride we had was It's a  Small World, which had a relatively short wait time (25 minutes)

It's A Small World gets a different upgrade since popular Disney characters were included in the ride. I was able to spot Peter Pan, Lilo and Stitch, Moana, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Mulan, Mushu, and Ariel making cameos in Small World children form.

Of course, who wouldn't forget that sole Filipina every Pinoy takes photos of?

By the time the first ride was done, we were hungry. Since it wasn't lunchtime yet, we decided to get popcorn with an unusual flavor. Hence, the honey-flavored popcorn near Pooh's Hunny Hunt.

I was super surprised too that not only was there presence of very popular Disney characters and characters we see in Disney channel, even super throwback and lesser-known characters were there too. Guests dressed as them too. I was only able to take a photo with one character, Max Goof, from A Goofy Movie, which I used to watch.

I swear the cast members are the sweetest. They give super tight hugs to guests and even kiss the little children. A little girl even came back to give Alice a few more hugs.

 There were lots of photo-op corners in the park, and interactive displays especially in Toon Town, which took you to a quirky land reminsicent of Roger Rabbit cartoons complete with sound effects. It was also in Toon Town where we watched the second parade of the day.


When I was a little girl, I was quietly watching the parade. Now, I was waving back at the characters and singing with the songs and saying "Hi Minnie! Hi Mickey!!!!" But wait, am I not a cat person?

The main waterworks for me for this was the floats of the Disney Princesses. As a little girl, Cinderella was my Disney princess. Then, it became Ariel when The Little Mermaid came. When Frozen was shown, I added Queen Elsa to my list. Well, here I saw one of my princesses and I super waved at her.

A nod to modern-time Disney was this Baymax float

This is Peter Pan, the first person who showed us that adulting sucks.

I'm not really much of a roller coaster fan (lol, such a tita) and since this version of Tomorrowland was full of them, we decided to make our Tomorrowland experience to be where to have lunch. Park food can get quite expensive. However, it's also part of the experience. So what you can do is eat small bites or share food. That way, your tummy isn't super full so you can maximize your ride time too. I just had nuggets and a melon soda sugar churro that looked like a lightsaber. How does melon soda sugar churros taste like? Like Froot Loops. Not bad.

Also, even it was fall, it does get a bit hot during noon time. Have a reusable water bottle with you that you can fill up with water so you stay hydrated all the time.

Most of the afternoon was busy exploring the park and riding rides. One ride that we waited super long was The Haunted Mansion, which took 40 minutes. However, it wasn't much of a long wait because the mansion itself had a lot of decor to take photos of.

The Haunted Mansion takes a different spin because the ghost host happened to be Jack Skellington of Nightmare Before Christmas, and this feature would continue over at the Holidays. It was a total Tim Burton-fest with more creepy creatures and monsters, not just ghosts.

I also saw one of my favorite rides of my childhood - Splash Mountain.

Did anyone dare try ride this? I remember it not being super fast though with the thrill part being just the 52-feet drop.

Mark Twain Steamboat made me sing Pocahontas songs in my brain and took amazing photos of the sunset.

It captured autumn leaves and sunset colors at just the right moment. Honestly, it was a ride I would definitely ride twice.

While I was doing my Disney research, I came across the waffle cone. It does look like an ice cream cone but it wasn't as it was a steak and potatoes cone. For 500 Yen, you get this cute cone which had beef in yakiniku sauce and purple potato on top with a bit of cheese sauce.

This is not ice cream. 
 At first I thought it was weird, but I wanted to try it since it seemed like a bestseller. It was pretty good actually. It would have made a good lunch or pre-fireworks snack. There was also  maple churros as a special autumn food but since I already had my melon churros, I thought I would have just one churros for the day.

The Celebrate! Tokyo Disneyland at Cinderella's castle had fountains, lights, pyrotechnic effects, and music show attractions and throwback Disney clips which got adults who have been going to Disneyland as kids sentimental. I guess this was the show/parade that made me cry a lot since I saw all the rides, even the rides I no longer ride and the cartoons I used to watch. This was the perfect feature that showed that the magic of Disney reaches many generations as it will definitely live in many people's hearts forever.

A day in Disneyland would not be complete without the Nighttime Parade. So another tip for those going to Disneyland, be prepared to stay until nighttime because these are shows you wouldn't want to miss. If you are bringing children, have them nap first in the afternoon because they would surely not want to miss this as well.

You get your usual Mickey and the gang, classic Disney characters like Alice, Pete's Dragon, and every little girl's favorite- The Princesses, from classics like Cinderella and Belle up to today's Rapunzel and Frozen. I was happy to see two of my Disney Princesses and even sang their songs with them.

I think I cried probably about 7 times in this visit. I cried at the park when I saw the entrance. I cried in all 3 parades and in Celebrate! I cried at It's a Small World. When the park was closing and we had to go home, I also cried. Even though that Disneyland was the "kiddie" version, I enjoyed every minute of it. Maybe the cold weather helped but I didn't realized that I walked so much steps in that day with no complaints at all. It was super nice to relive the nostalgia of Disney and just like Peter Pan, being a kid is super fun!

Is a Tokyo Disneyland trip worth visiting and returning to? Yes. They change every season and they have different character greetings every time. Maybe when I'm ready to grow up, I can go give Disney Sea a visit as well and see Ariel too. As Disney transcends many generations, It's a perfect place to bring your children. Don't forget to take plenty of photos and relive the magic and share it with your loved ones. Now that I know, maybe I'll level up my dress up a bit.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Happy Skin X Posh Nails Express Gel Polish Collaboration

Our hands reflect our daily lives. A friend of mine who reads palm lines even said our palm lines change over time, depending on what direction or situation our life takes and each line tells a story and reveals something about our personality. When we work or do sports, our hands take a beating. Just like the eyes, there's so much the hands have to say since our hands help us everyday. They make us lift, hold things like our food, or smartphones or makeup brushes, etc.

With social media posts, our hands make an appearance in our photos. They take side roles in our flatlays or when we hold that item for that #travelphoto in IG. As makeup artists, our hands get photographed a lot. In the recent bridal masterclass I took, there was a joke that we also need to have nice manicure for your hands just in case the photographer takes a photo of your hands holding the brush or airbrush gun. I actually looked back to see if a wedding photographer took a photo of my hand in its beat-up glory.  With that in mind, part of my travel and work preps is to get my nails done for picture-perfect hands, because you will never know.

Happy Skin X Posh Nails Express Gel Polish
L-R Pampered, TLC, Posh, and Luxe
Happy Skin, one of my favorite local beauty brands collaborates with top nail salon Posh Nails in their latest collection of Express Gel Polish. They feature four shades that can suit every woman in any occasion that she chooses. These are four classic shades which can be worn by anyone: Pampered (white), TLC (nude), Posh (pink), and Luxe (red). These four shades  happen to be the favorite shades of  most Posh Nails clients and they can have these shades at the comfort of their own homes whenever they need a manicure with no time to go to the nearest Posh Nails salon. I'm a fan of Happy Skin's Express Gel Polish because they give awesome color without compromise meaning they are 10-free (none of the top 10 toxic ingredients are in their formulations) and are vegan so yay for my vegan friends out there. The formula also nourishes the skin as it is enriched with hydrolyzed keratin and almond oil to strengthen and nourish your nails.

  I was able to see the collection for myself as I was invited to the event a few weeks ago held at the East Tower of One Rockwell.

So glad to have spend my afternoon here for a much-needed pampering session!
The function room was transformed to a nail bar where guests were treated to a mini nail pampering treat by Posh Nails therapists. Stations were set up corresponding to nail color and guests were free to choose whatever color they like.

Nail Bar courtesy of Posh Nails therapists.
I was on a debate to choose either red (which is my go-to color usually) or nude. I then decided on TLC for my nails. I'm usually into brights and darks when I wear polish for events so I thought a nude color could be a nice change. Not only is it a classic and wearable color, they actually make the nails look neater and cleaner. For those wearing this during travel, nail regrowth isn't as obvious. They are perfect for warm-toned skins and morenas but fair-skinned girls can wear this and still look like they are wearing polish.

TLC on my nails
Drying time too was fast, around 20 minutes so it wasn't long that I went around in my "Edward Scissorhands" mode.

I also checked out the other colors. Luxe was a very bold and statement red. Now if you're that person who is afraid of red polish because it's too bold, red is actually a very classic color that never looks dated. In fact, with the right red, it can make the feet and hands look neater and whiter, and that's this type of red is. So if you're that shy girl who wants to try red, this could be yours. Pampered, the white color actually I was happy. Some whites kind of look like I experimented on correction fluid on my nails. This one looked nice like creamy nail polish. White also enhances a nice tan making it perfect for summer. Posh happens to be a very pretty blush pink. Think that millenial pink that's understated and muted instead of candy color pink. This is the type of pink that's not too tita pink but nice enough to be worn even by tita. You don't have to be a millenial to wear Posh. In fact, this can be the perfect daytime wedding polish for a bride, bridesmaid, or mother of the bride. I am so recommending this to my January bride and her mom.

For our take-home shades, we were asked to choose two of our favorite out of the four. I was happy with TLC so I chose that. I already have a plethora of reds already and I have one white one so I guess I chose the millenial pink of Posh since I don't have a pink of that kind yet.

I already took Posh in my pedi trip and wore it in my recent travel. Although I wore closed shoes the entire time, they totally stayed put for a legs-up-the-wall IG stories photo. I may try it again in my next mani-pedi. This time, I will bring my Happy Skin Express Gel Polish Mirror-Shine Top Coat for an added shine.

For those wondering, Happy Skin has affordable polishes. The Express Gel Polish retail for Php 299 and the Top Coat retails for Php 249. Use the two together to get gel polish results that aren't such a hassle to remove.  They are available at all Happy Skin stores and counters as well as Posh Nails salons. If you have no time to visit a physical store, order them online via, Lazada, Shopee, Zalora, and BeautyMNL. When you find you shade, take a photo and tag @happyskin_ph and @poshnails_ on Instagram and use the hashtag #HappySkinxPoshNails.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

The Reason For My Absence Revealed

Hey everyone! So for the first time in a while I'll be writing about something very personal which I've told a few people only. If you religiously or used to follow this blog, you might have noticed a long period of time since I wrote something and you guys might have asked what ever happened to the blog? Also, when I do post, it's been very rare for me to post about makeup, reviews, or even book some gigs. I was not as active in writing or posting works or even advertising my services. Well, here's the reason. Last year, I went on a self-imposed makeup semi-retirement. Yes. You heard that right.  I wanted to call it quits already with the world that has been my life for a decade.

Sunset taken in Boracay 2017
That sunset I thought was the stage of my makeup life
I actually contemplated on doing this a few years prior, only for gigs to just pop up when I least expected it. Also, I pretty much did not have a choice because 1. We all got to earn a decent living. 2. I valued my self-worth (I never believed in the saying "This girl really doesn't need to work." Everyone needs to work. Even heiresses need to work because they will have to know how to manage the business when the time comes).  3. I just left a project . However, there were times that I felt sad and fatigued when I got homeafter a job  even when my pockets were full. And it wasn't just the lack of recovery food because I ate healthier food choices than my contemporaries. It was my emotions that were tiring me out. It was the drama. SO. MUCH. DRAMA.

If I were to count the drama I experienced in the world of makeup from the time I decided to study makeup, while I was in makeup school, graduated, and up to now and write each experience down and make it to a soap opera, it would probably last longer than FPJ's Ang Probinsyano probably would. From building our portfolios during Multiply days (yes, it has been that long) up to social media hashtags and Twitter wars, there was drama. There was inggitan, fake news, blocking, gossip, ego tripping, and people trying to undermine the other. Someone told me that to stay long in this industry, you needed to have a strong gut. One day, my gut couldn't just handle the drama.

Maybe it was the yoga teacher in me that asked, do you really need the drama and negativity in your life? Yoga teaches me to let go. We let go of what we do not need, what is negative, what does not serve us. Then I realized one thing. What I liked with makeup was actually working. I liked to create looks. I liked making people beautiful (or ugly, if I were doing special effects). I wanted to create characters and challenge my capabilities. I didn't like being bullied just because my rates were different. I didn't like sucking up to people who were treating me like crap because I was just "a beautician". Nor did I like staying up late in a club to network. The moment I was done with my work, the first thing I look forward to doing is 1. removing the dirt and makeup sitting on my face 2. feeding and hugging my cats and 3. cleaning their litterboxes. I felt unappreciated for what I could do especially when my gigs get cancelled because I am "out of their budget". I felt that I stayed because I was just so used to this and I've been so well invested here materially and financially. I felt that I was in a toxic relationship. So one day, I packed my pro kit, placed them in storage, delisted myself in wedding supplier directories, and silently transitioned out.

I never made a formal announcement because I thought why add to the drama which I was avoiding in the first place? With the influx too of newer, younger, and much more affordable makeup artists, I was bound to be forgotten anyway. Thankfully, I wasn't super bored and unemployed. There were also times that I would take my things out of storage because good friends and past clients would hire me to get their makeup done. I was thankful that my job as a yoga teacher kept me busy. There were months that I was teaching around 5 classes a week. The students joked that no day is complete if they do not see me in the yoga studio. I started eating better because my creative energies were focused on my meal prepping which I sometimes shared in my blog. However, shortly my blog took a break too. Why? Blogger drama of course! Allergic ako sa real-life drama. I was already following 5 telenovelas and Game of Thrones already (LOL).  It was a very welcome change for me physically and emotionally. No withdrawals. I was so thankful that I got so busy and life found a way for my energy to be diverted to something positive. Had I experienced a lull I probably would have been so bitter and angry.
                      most of my healing days were spent makeup-free and experiencing "normal people" weekends.
Here's a weekend visit at Ilog Maria Honeybee farm, and cuddling their kitties.

Even though I never made a formal announcement, I told a handful of people of my self-imposed retirement which got mixed reactions. Some accepted my decision. A lot were saddened. The first thing a lot of people asked was "What are you going to do with all your equipment?"  I wasn't really thinking about them. They were just things. I did give some away, though. When I get asked what my things were doing I would say, They're just there. Sometimes I would use them on myself (hence my project pan) but most of the time I wouldn't since I was almost always gym mode. It came to the point I would get so annoyed when someone would tell me I'm back in the game when I would post a photo. It was like telling me to take that toxic boyfriend back because we look so cute in Instagram together. I started unsubscribing from makeup brand mailing lists so I do not get tempted to buy.

What I felt then was that I felt my spirit was broken and I just wanted to heal. I had to get out, detox, and take time off. As of the moment, I knew it would later on be a permanent thing. Slowly, I was like panindigan ko na and took my absence further and deleted the aspect of beauty in all my social media accounts (even put ex-MUA in case you guys didn't notice). I was just relieved. I was able to breathe better. I didn't do this for anyone. I had to do this for myself. Manghinayang na ang world with the talent I put in retirement. They will just have to deal. Besides, my creative channels were unleashed elsewhere.
creative energies were channeled making food, crafts, and ways to annoy my cats
Here's the thing I realized though, drama is EVERYWHERE as in literally everywhere. Even within the four corners of my home, my cats have their own dramas. It's just cuter in their case since they are cats. I may have escaped the drama of blogging and makeup but there is drama too outside it. There was drama between friends, between family, even the world of pole dancing and yoga, which rescued me from being battered and broken in spirit had their own little dramas. I open Facebook, there's drama. Even if I escaped all of this and flew in some remote island with more cats than there are people, there's bound to be drama as well. Drama, retrogrades, name it.

While I couldn't take a step back in life (because how?) I still took in some makeup jobs hired by friends.  One time, a photographer friend of mine called me for a shoot. When I got to his studio early (because he's always early) we got to talking and I found out he also went on a silent break. However, he decided to come back again, but take in jobs that were less taxing to the emotions. Then I figured out, the jobs I took while I was in self-retirement, I was hardly stressed at all. Those I took in were with people who knew my worth and respected my job as an artist. They knew that this wasn't playtime but a real, legitimate job.  Maybe I would be a little bit physically exhausted but I didn't feel like my life was sucked away from me. Drama may be present but it's up to us to learn to manage the energies surrounding it.

Luckily during my retirement,  life directed me to work that was in tune to my own energies. Still on retirement mode, a friend of mine was offering a series of makeup masterclasses at affordable promo rates. I enrolled because I wanted to be a supportive friend and also for added knowledge. The masterclass wasn't your typical technique-based class. It had a big chunk of business side, not just to market yourself as a professional but also how to protect your business from loopholes in your contracts. I also learned one thing: To know my market and my worth. I also found a circle that encourages people rather than put them down. As my friend said "I am not competing with anyone. I believe we will all make it."

Life gives you lot of dramas. It's up to us to choose how to deal with them. I can either not mind the chismis or choose to direct my energy to what I could do rather than dwelling on the boo-boo. It is possible to not let the drama affect what I could do.

I can't say that I'm fully back since my workload is not the same as it was. I guess I will have to learn to balance and of course the most important part is to take care of myself, which I have neglected in the past. Not just physically like health, diet, etc. But also emotions. I meditate more. I listen to my body if it's tired. I give myself self-imposed day offs once a week where I spend time by myself at home hugging my cats, cooking, or doing chores (I love doing chores! It's my therapy). I tell myself to travel at least once a year and space my travels well so I don't get stressed. Since I'm in my late 30's already, I can't do the monster hectic schedule I had when I was in my early 20's. So I also have to choose the jobs that I have to do, taking into account what I have learned as a yoga teacher. I now should work smarter, not harder.

I know it's hard to pick up the pieces I left. I'm still healing so I'm doing this baby steps. My blog traffic TBH is not the same as it was a few years back, but hopefully I will get new following and new traffic.

Let's just be patient and not too hard on ourselves or hard on others. We will get there.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Platform 1094: A Taste of Hogwarts In Asia

I'm a Harry Potter fan. The magic still lives on even after reading the books. I would re-read them and watch the movies and they would still have the same effect. There's something about the novels and the entire  universe that makes it practically immortal and ageless - it appeals to young children and adults. It also comes alive in your imagination. I would joke that it's the only book series I ever enjoyed since I'm not a book person.

If a trip to the Harry Potter theme parks in Osaka or London is still a bit of a stretch, you can have your Hogwarts fix in Asia because there is a Harry Potter-themed restaurant in Singapore and it's called Platform 1094 (sounds like a train stop, right?). I was able to have a visit there during my recent Singapore trip (yaay for a 2018 #kittiesinSG).

The benches reminded me of the Great Hall
The chairs gave a pub-ish vibe like The Three Broomsticks
I think inspired from Platform 9-3/4, Platform 1094 is named as such because of its address - 1094 Serangoon Road. If you are coming from the Bencoolen station, take the Downtown Line (Blue line) to Geylang Bahru MRT Station. From there, it's a 14-minute walk from Geylang Bahru to Serangoon Road (you can also reach Geylang Bahru from the Little India Station by taking the North East Line). There are also routes via Google Maps, so depending on your location and mode to get by, either bus, Grab, or train. The location is more suburb, say a very residential. So if your air BNB is in the city, it's like going from Makati to say, Paranaque or Maginhawa and it's a really cute tiny resto and yes, they have WiFi so feel free to IG your stay there.

Oh, so that's my notebook! 

It was actually like a mixture of what The Three Broomsticks, a common room, and a mini Great Hall would look like. There were props to pose and play with as well as murals on the wall.

I had my dolls pose with the props on the shelves

The Legos, glasses, and books are the resto's own.

Dany with her fellow dollies.
Following her yet? She and her friends have Instagram.
The best part also were actually the cloaks, scarves, and hats that you could pose for a magical OOTD.

Look, Professor Slughorn! I fit!
Also, in Hogwarts Southeast Asia we can wear shorts 
I actually waited to have a full-on Slytherin gear because Slytherin is my Hogwarts house according to Pottermore (also I love Slytherin. I am not making things up).

a bird of paradise (svarga dvijasana) with tight legs from walking 

my "Hogwarts Letter"
I pretended that I got my Hogwarts letter after so many years. The envelope actually just holds the menu, printed in very Daily Prophet-ish fashion. So you can don Hary Potter-like glasses and pretend you are reading the Daily Prophet when you are actually deciding on what to eat.

Truffle Fries
I guess this is one theme restaurant that did not disappoint on food, because the food was pretty good. We were truffle fans so we ordered truffle fries and we could actually smell the truffle from the kitchen. There were also Spam fries but they tasted like Ma-Ling so I wasn't into it. But the truffle fries were a win at SGD10.

Saffron Pan-Seared Salmon
They serve real food such as pasta, salad, and mains. For my omega-3 fix, I got Saffron Pan-Seared Salmon (SGD 18), which was also a bestseller. This yumminess is served with beetroot mashed potatoes and topped with crushed herbs, saffron cream sauce, and came with a side of sauteed veggies. I actually finished the big plate, maybe because I walked to the point of crawling in hunger.

Flexi Frog pre-fancy fog effect
I wanted to complete the experience ordering a wizardy-drink. Platform 1094 has got a selection of wines, beers, coffee, teas, and potions (non-alcoholic smoothies and butterscotch ales), and poisons (alcoholic). It was still early on the day so I chose a potion called Flexi Frog. The name also called to the hip-opening yoga teacher that I am. It was actually just a nice and cold green tea drink served in a flask. It even came with a tiny cauldron with tiny pellets of dry ice to place inside the drink (using a cute spoon) for a foggy effect.

I waited for the dry ice to be gone before drinking it. It was pretty refreshing. I dunno if it would help with my splits but it sure helped as it was a hot day.

They will be one reason to come back
Sadly we didn't have room for dessert but they had pretty good desserts in the menu. Their bestsellers are the Sweet Treats of the Wizardry World (SGD 12), the Chocolate Blackout (SGD 7.5), and Tea By Lupicia Infused Cake (SGD 7.5).The desserts were in the shapes of spellbooks and the golden snitch. I guess it means I am due for another Platform 1094 so I can sample out their sweets and coffee.

I really recommend coming in groups or in pairs here so you can sample out the dishes and have someone take your Hogwarts-inspired photo. Just take note of their hours as they are closed on Mondays. Weekdays are 11 am to 10 pm and they open on weekends 10 am and still close at 10 pm. Aside from mains, desserts, and coffee, you can have tapas and drinks here. One of their best poisons is the Mr. Lich's Flaming Brew (SGD 15), which is a platform secret recipe.

Is it a place I would come back? Yes it is. Would I recommend it to my Harry Potter - faney friends? Yes. Will I eat the dessert? Of course I will.