old photos are gems : part 2

Back in October, I posted an old photo of my maternal relatives. It's a lot more unusual for me to see old photos of my father's side of the family. I loved seeing these. It may very well be the first photo I've ever seen of my great grandmother (center) and the first time I've ever seen such a large group photo of my paternal relatives. 

Take a WILD guess which one my father is. It's so obvious, it's hilarious. He's the man with the thick framed glasses on the left (he's standing directly behind his dad, my grandfather). Funny that decades later, we would share similar taste in eyewear! I love the suit and the hairstyle as well. Well done, Pa.  

I also love this photo below. I love how handsome my grandparents look here. My dad is second from the right. The look on his face already showing a faint defiance – a hint of the little trouble maker he apparently grew up to be. Ha!

old photos are gems

With my mom and her mom both celebrating October birthdays (14th, 28th, respectively), it was only fitting to share another recently discovered gem of a photo. It's a follow up to the photo I posted in July. Thanks to my cousin Joel for sharing photos he recently unearthed in Manila. That's my lola (grandmother) in the middle, my parents to the right and my my mom's sister-in-law, sister and brother-in-law to the left. This must have been in the very early 70s. I love how elegant everyone looks. My mom looks like a teenager here. But she had to have been in her early 20s. Whenever I see old family photos, I feel like I know my family just a little bit more. And I love that.

Happy October birthdays to Mama & (my late) Lola! 

caffé roma, amaretti and me

My friend Melanie introduced me to these amaretti cookies from Caffé Roma in Little Italy in NYC a couple of weeks ago. Now, I'm not usually so interested in amaretti cookies. But I took a bite of this and nearly melted. I recommend stopping by in the morning, like I did, and get them fresh out of the oven. They are crispy outside and soft inside. They are heavenly, take my word for it.

As a side note, I remembered Caffe Roma from my first ever trip to NYC in 1997. I stumbled in with my 35mm Pentax and took photos of it way back then (that's an unrelated photo of one of my sisters in the middle, also in NYC). Interesting how much time has passed and how much I have since lived in and have gotten to know New York. I had such a different perspective of the city then. All the years passed in a flash. Humbling to say the least. 

New York, 1997

dear new york

Mindrelic - Manhattan in motion from Mindrelic on Vimeo.


Dear New York, 

Things are good over here. I'm very well. But do you know that I really miss you? I wasn't ready to let you go when I left. I can say that now. And it's ok. Watching this killed me just a little inside. Yeah, there were tears in my eyes. That's all. 

I'll see you soon. Four more sleeps. 

Love always,


learning legacies 2

My cousin Joel sent me this photo of my Lola (grandmother) and her kids that I have never seen before. Her name was Leonarda – Lony for short. Doesn't she look fantastic?! I love that she looks so relaxed and elegant. My mom is the one to the right of my grandmother. I've seen very few photos of my mom at this exact age. It inspired me to write another post about my family history as a kind of follow-up to my post last year. Another thing that inspired me today is a comment someone left on my old blog about my ancestors. It was nice to be reminded of your ancestry.

My Lola lost her husband, my grandfather Tomas, when he was only 51 years old. He suffered from severe asthma for years and eventually lost the battle. Back then, there were limited options for treament. I never actually had the chance to meet him. He probably took this photo, now that I think about it. My grandma was left to raise six kids on her own. From what I can recall, her family was fortunate enough to own several pieces of property in and around Manila. She earned a living collecting rent from tenants of several apartment buildings. I still remember going with my grandma to collect rent. Between raising six kids and managing property, she also spent a great deal of her time volunteering for an organization that helped the poor. I also remember accompanying my grandmother many times to visit the sick and the poor. Even as a child, I found this to be very humbling. She would always bring them baked goods that she made. She would sit, hold the hands of, and and talk with people who were sick. It was all very much a part of what my Lola was about. The Lola I remember was eternally (and fiercely) independent, generous, sassy and charming. She wasn't afraid to speak her mind. She had to. During the 60s until she passed during the 90s, she was on her own. It's also great to learn that she descends from a long line of strong women — matriarchs. This of course means that I, too, (along with my mom and her sisters) are part of this lineage. I realize that it's a big part of who I am, too. That's something that's to be proud of. 


my dad, birthday boy

This is a hand-tinted black and white photo of my father that I recently restored. I'm guessing he was in second grade here – his First Communion portrait. He looks so adorable here with that sweet face and that bow tie. And check out the very ominous looking shadow of a crucifix behind him. I like the unlit candle, too. Oh, Catholicism. I took liberties with toning down some of the colour – too generously and inappropriately applied in certain areas. I think my dad was pleased with the result.

Happy Birthday, Papa :)  
June 2nd

saturday, march 18, 1981

This was my first ever diary entry – in the first diary I ever owned. It was began while we still lived in the Philippines. I won't reveal my age by admitting how old I was when I wrote this (in pencil, no less). But suffice it to say, I was young. I hated writing with a pen back then because I couldn't erase anything whenever I made mistakes.

During my recent trip to Brooklyn, it was unearthed from deep in storage. I have not cracked open the pages of this in YEARS. It made me laugh to see what I wrote back then and remember things I had long forgotten about. It's quite humbling and moving, too. I am so glad I saved this. I had to document and share.

Below is an exact transcription of the entry – including all misspellings and run-on sentences: 

March 18, Saturday

Dear Diary, 

Today was my sister's graduation, I had a nice time; Then we went home and we got ready to go for binangonan. And I swam there, Before we went we rode on the banka (a small boat with outriggers) and all of us went to the house in the water. And we went home I watered the plants and we went to mass I resieved Communion. 

Above is the second entry written the day after my birthday – the same year. Below is the exact transcription:

April 18, Saturday

It was my birthday and we went to Taal lake and we swam there we had a long trip and we brough baby Christine the water was blue, we saw some fisher men catch some fish, and mama and my lola (grandmother) went near the net and they saw a snake in the water one man threw the snake far away. and we ate, and went home after that.  

new york from where i stood

For the first time in history, I visited New York and felt...nostalgic. Even though it felt like I was only there two weeks ago, I realized as I stepped outside and then into the subway that New York had since become part of my past. It was a different feeling from my last (stressful) business trip there in December of 2010. Despite feeling very 'at-home' there, I was filled with emotion as the train made it's way into the city from Brooklyn. I was back on the same train line I used to take to work each day. I was suddenly able to articulate what I was feeling because it was as clear as day and so intense:

New York (to me) had become like that ex-boyfriend who completely broke my heart once. New York is the man I'm still in love with and still want – but I know exactly why it didn't work out between us back then. I couldn't get over the feeling – it was the best way I could descibe it. I choked back tears as I made my way into the West Village. Apparently, I'm not the first person to ever feel this way about New York. I guess I shouldn't be so surprised.

My hectic but amazing week there was filled with quality time with friends, a great wedding party, great food and fantastic art, fashion and film. It also revealed a lot. For one, some (not all) of my friends who still live there tend to forget how to appreciate the city. It's easy to be caught up in the stresses of life, I suppose. New York can be unkind after all. I realized how unhappy I was before I left. The reasons behind this had little to do with the city itself but more to do with my circumstances at the time. I realized that I never forgot how to love it even when I lived there – and that NO ONE can ever belittle how difficult it was for me to leave. Second, I appreciated even more the friendships I had built during my nearly 12 years there. I was reminded that forging new friendships in a new city will take time. I also realized I had actually become a much stronger person in the midst of the huge challenges I faced in the past year. It was good to get some perspective and to be reminded that New York will always be there. The future still lies ahead and there's no telling where it will take me. 


mama styling

It's already Mother's Day where my mom is. So I figured, a slightly early post would be just fine. 

That's my mom in the center of the photo with her cousins next to her. I recently finished restoring this image. I love this photo so much. Everything about it.  I even kept the skewed angle it had originally been scanned in. Perhaps it's simply because I love her look in this photo. She's beautiful. It must have been taken of her in the 60s before I was ever born. I really first learned about style and how to love clothes from my mom. She did dress me and made a lot clothes for my sister and me when we were young. It made me think: my mom was my original stylist! ;) 

Thanks, Mama. Happy Mother's Day! 

I love you.


dr. martens, how you've changed!

I strolled past the Dr. Martens store on Queen West this week – mostly out of nostalgia. Needless to say, I left with this pair of wedges. I was surprised to learn that the shoe company I wore like a uniform back in the day and loved dearly had evolved (remember the New Wave era?). I used to live in my 8-hole Docs with a POINTY toe in high school, thank you very much. I still remember buying them (on sale for $80!) on Melrose Ave. in LA. This was back when my black turtleneck wearing days began. Back when I made clothes for myself, bought a lot of vintage and rode on the back of my friend Barry's Vespa everyday to school. Docs have had a longer history, of course, especially in the UK. The resurgence in popularity in the past few years is thanks to the return of everything 80s. To me, Docs are synonymous with listening to bands like New Order, Modern English, The Psychedelic Furs and watching Pretty in Pink. They were synonymous with rebelliousness. It wore Docs back when I was crimping my hair. They hold a particular significance to a specific time in my life. It was before I worried about rent and debt and when boys would still call me on a landline. 

So I was curious to see whether they might have some new (maybe more refined?) boot silhouettes I might want to consider for the fall. But as soon as I saw these wedges, I stopped looking anything else. And you know what? They're unbelievable comfortable. Just like the boots. And they're a perfect grey. I couldn't help thinking: 'Well, well, well. Dr. Martens look at you now.' They still make the original boot (now called 'vintage' of course) and I might have to buy myself a pair. You know, for old times sake. 

The manner in which they brand themselves is so consistent with how I've come to remember them. It's an evolution and at the same time ...not.


Dr. Martens 1461 shoes - Sceptered Isle from Dr. Martens on Vimeo.


hair : 1988 to 1998

All the discussions with my Twitter gang last night about the 90s music and haircuts inspired the excavation of this hilarious collection of photos. It's actually been a fun process looking back, flipping through all my old photo albums. Admit it, you had a crimping iron too! How did I manage to look old in 1990? It must be the spiral perm! And note the turtleneck I wore back in high school under one of my dad's shiny old suit jackets (that is when the whole turtleneck thing was born). Some of these outfits and eyewear were just as hilarious as the hair. I'm also pretty amazed at how short I cropped my hair in the mid 90s – my college days. Having a sister and (then) boyfriend who were both photographers made it virtually impossible to not be photographed. I'm still scarred by the reaction of my male friends to my new short hair: total disappointment. All in all, this whole thing makes me realize the following:  

1) In life, you have to be able to laugh at yourself.

2) I'm old.

3) I appreciate all those years SANS social media.

With that, I'd like to propose to other Gen-X bloggers to post their haircut photos between the years 1988-1998. At least make me feel a little less like an idiot! 

1988-1990  crimped to spiral (left: 10th grade school portrait + right: high school graduation portrait)


1991-1994 crunchy to vintage


1995-1996 baby bangs and platinum streaks  (left photo by John Morstad, right photo by Caroline Mangosing)


1996-1998 cropped to shaggy (left photo by Caroline Mangosing

the girl from ipanema


The Girl From Ipanema is probably my all-time favorite song. I didn't realize it was originally released in 1964! I was born in the 70s and I have distinct memories of this song being played a lot on the radio in Manila well into the early 80s. In fact, I remember first taking a liking to this song while sitting in the back seat of my dad's tricked out, two-door blue Datsun (tricked out meaning he installed eight speakers into it – probably not common then. This was years before surround sound!). We'd typically be driving to one of my grandmothers' houses on a Sunday afternoon. So my love of bossa nova started in the 70s.
Other memories/images conjured up by this song:
1) tropical weather
2) beaches
3) bikinis
4) sexy Brazilians
I found this corny version on youtube (clearly from the 60s). I thought it was season appropriate. The version I love the most is by Astrud Gilberto and Stan Getz (audio only).




remember the time : off the wall

It must have been around '83, days before our dreaded school quarterly exams in the Philippines and not long before we moved to California. My mom had stepped out for a few hours expecting my sister Caroline and I to study. Instead, I popped the Off the Wall cassette tape into my dad's stereo and set the volume louder than we would ever be allowed to play anything. I'm certain the whole neighbourhood heard. We proceeded to dance all over the house, on the furniture, everywhere — for what felt like hours. We convinced our youngest sister Christine (who was 3 years old at the time) NOT to tell my mom that we were listening to music instead of studying while she was out. She agreed and we thought we were safe.
Of course the second my mom walked into door, Christine says to my mom: "Mama! They weren't listening to music while you were out!" ...I just remember my mom not knowing whether to laugh or get angry. I don't even recall whether we got in too much trouble at the time. She probably found it too humorous an incident to punish us harshly.
As strange as Michael Jackson's personal life turned out to be, he was quite a talent that continues to influence music today. Like most of us born in the 70s to early 80s, MJ's music was undeniably part all our childhood memories. And although most people's favourite MJ album is Thriller (though I do love PYT), mine will always be Off The Wall.
RIP, Michael Jackson.
Here are photos of us around that time...
That's me in the back with Caroline (guess who's big sis?)
Christine and her big mouth