Fashion for a Cause: CustomAid

Hi, everyone! Last week I told you about our experience with kids from the Smokey Mountain, a landfill in Metro Manila. We got to the place and met the people through our Norwegian friend-slash-model Marthe Olsen, who came to the Philippines to do volunteer charity work. I can’t help but admire this woman, who at 21 years old already knows what she wants to do in life. Aside from volunteering for Gawad Kalinga, she is also spearheading CustomAid, a lifestyle company focusing on fashion, health and HELP. Here’s what she wants to share to all of you fashionistas who want to do some good:

Right now, our aim is to start Yoga & Creative workshops at Gawad Kalingas livelihood center in Smokey Mountain—to help the less privileged children to get focused, creative and artistic. We had many kind souls donating us their fashion that were dusting down in their closet, so that the fashion can be passed on to someone else. Maybe that someone is YOU? All profits will go towards our charity project; each item we sell will go to a whole gym outfit, t-shirt and pants. So help a child to get dressed while getting new fashion for your closet, and supporting a good cause! Contact Marthe on marthe.olsen@customaid.org for more info, clothing donations or inquiries. Blessings to all of you!

Here are some of the awesome stuff CustomAid is selling, modelled by Marthe:

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All the items cost Php150 each only. That’s very cheap right? I actually like the pink blazer! To purchase, go to www.customaid.org/products.

I am not paid to do this. It’s just that a lot of us are blessed with a good life and helping the less privileged can be a good way to share our blessings. Joanna Ladrido, one of the country’s first and most influential fashion blogger, supports CustomAid.

By shopping at CustomAid, you will not only look good, but you will also help out and do good. 🙂

Unforeseen

I’m sorry I haven’t been posting as frequently, but Chad and I have started a project and we’re concentrating a lot of our efforts on it. I’m still going to post updates here though  at least once or twice a week (and on my Twitter of course). Like I said earlier, I will never abandon blogging and the small group of people who read my blog (and who I love dearly).

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Before I share my usual narrative, let me skip to the outfit first. I won’t necessarily call it stylish, but it’s my lazy day look. Chad and I had to interview some people and do a photoshoot on the same day so I chose the most comfortable ensemble I could wear—that is an oversized hipster shirt and my trusty maxi and wedges. I was going for a functional, modern-day hippie look so I “forced” myself to wear some earrings, which I kinda abhor. But hey it worked. Lol. That’s about it really.

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So what’s the project going to be about? I can’t reveal the whole thing yet, but it does involve documentary photography and a bit of social work. No complaints though, I’m even more excited to see where this project is going. Chad will be leaving for the States in two months (*teardrop*) and we won’t be seeing each other for a year or two, so we’re making good use of his remaining days in the country. Yesterday was no doubt a very good experience for both of us.

We went to Smokey Mountain to document our friend and the place while also helping out the kids with their costumes for their upcoming festival presentation. No, I’m not pertaining to the band nor the mountain range, but we did see heaps and heaps of trash. Smokey Mountain is the term used to identify a large landfill in Manila. Decades ago, the area was surrounded by slums. Later on, the government provided public tenements to the people, most of whom pick trash for a living, and they stayed there since then. We visited them yesterday and made their costumes for the parade. 🙂

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I got to talk to a lot of kids and asked them about their life in Smokey Mountain.  Oblivious of their brutal surroundings, they told me about the death of their brother (gunshot), their sister’s incarceration, and other horrible things. I even saw one child with his forehead bleeding because his parents couldn’t attend to him. Chad saw a kid using drugs. Outside the tenements are stores selling pagpag, leftover food scavenged from garbage dumps. There was trash everywhere. I felt and am still feeling very sad for the children for living in such an atrocious environment. What’s worse is, there’s a big possibility they’ll never rise above their situations—unless they are assisted by the right people.

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Nevertheless, I’m happy I experienced it. I would have not known their lives and stories if we didn’t go there. I came from a poor family as well, which made me more determined to help out. So I decided to use my blog and my influence to encourage you, the person reading this blog, to help impoverished kids have a better future.

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 Any kind of assistance will suffice. We are young and we can do a lot. If you’re reading this, you know you’re lucky to be in a safe home, with healthy food and nice environment. These kids don’t. We have to remember that when small good deeds come together, they make one big impact. Gawad Kalinga is helping Smokey Mountain, now named as Paradise Heights, rebuild the community. Click THIS LINK to know how you can help out. 🙂

Throwback

EXCUSE MY HAIRRR!!! Anyhoo.. I’m not sure if I have shared this, but I was a teacher before I began blogging here. If you check my About page, it says there that I was a graduate of AB-BSE, a double-degree course which stands for  Bachelor of Arts-Bachelor in Secondary Education. Ateneo de Naga University’s College of Education offered me a full scholarship so I accepted it. I mean, who can say no to a 100% free education? So I took it, even though I was not really passionate about teaching; but I love learning so much—and they’re pretty much the same so I studied my ass off and graduated with high honors. I am a person who doesn’t let issues like that hinder me from reaching my goals. A lot of people cannot afford to go to college and passing up an opportunity like that would have been stupid.

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Right after graduation, I taught my very first subject—English—to high school kids. I was immediately assigned to an advisory class, LG 1329, who are coincidentally graduating on March 16th (I’m proud of you, guys!). I haven’t realized it has been that long since I left my hometown. Teaching is so stressful, but sometimes I do miss it—despite being underpaid. That satisfaction and happiness you feel when children learn from you is priceless.

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Because of my experience, I gained more respect for teachers. And it still saddens me that they do not receive the proper, if not the best, compensation. They spend more time with the children than the parents. They guide them and prepare them for their future, and that for me is the most difficult and challenging occupation in the world. I’ve been there, I know how hard it is to be the second parent.

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I can only hope the government will fully realize this and reward teachers with what they really deserve—a good compensation, a better retirement plan, as well as a more effective teaching facility.

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Ah, March always makes me sentimental. It’s a month full of laughter, tears, and excitement. It’s usually the month where things end and begin—school, relationships, summer, etc.

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And speaking of summer, it has been pretty hot in Manila lately so I decided to wear my backless peplum top from Forever 21 and my scarf print shorts, which I bought ages ago at a bazaar. I’ve learned from a blogger that when you’re selecting backless tops or dresses, always choose the one with a modest front to prevent yourself from looking very tacky. It’s much sexier that way. *wink*

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Forever 21 peplum top and suede flats | Scarf print shorts from bazaar | Thrifted bag

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Electric Dreams

A dream. It’s what fuels us to continuously live. I think, it would be the saddest thing if a person doesn’t dream at all. I created this blog because I knew this would be my gateway to fashion. When things didn’t go well as I had expected, I sank into depression and stopped blogging for a while. But then Chad encouraged me to keep on going, he knows how much I love fashion and that I would keep on doing it–blogging and sharing ideas–anyway. And he was right. When we dream, and we’re passionate about that dream, nothing can stop us from reaching it. This blog has been around for three years, and I don’t see any sign of stopping.

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I guess some people noticed us, and how much work we put in our craft, that Ateneo de Naga University, our alma mater, invited us to talk about what we do on February 28’s Alternative Class Program. I talked about blogging, while Chad shared about photography. The experience was overwhelming and humbling at the same time. We’re quite aware we’re  not popular, but we do know we’re passionate about what we do, and that alone, I believe, makes us worthy of being speakers.

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While a few students did not get the purpose of sending unpopular people to speak to them (which saddens me a bit quite honestly), a handful in my class told me how inspired they were upon hearing my lecture and personal struggles. What I appreciated most were their sincere questions, because that could have meant they related to me. And therefore my purpose was accomplished.

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After my talk, we took pictures of Jamie and Danica, who have been both very helpful to me. Jamie Lou Borile is a quirky girl who currently administers the Bicol Fashion Bloggers group. She accepted my application to join the group late last year upon finding out that Bicol has finally began to form fashion-loving circles. Danica Salazar, on the other hand, was the topic head assigned to me. She was very kind and was very attentive to my needs; without her and her partner Alecxa, I wouldn’t have survived the day. I can totally see a bit of myself in Danica, as she was very enthusiastic and interested in learning more  about blogging. 🙂

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Prior to the big day, Chad and I decided to visit the places we used to hang out in. We finally got to eat Cha Cely’s kinalas in Barlin after so many years. We visited Plaza Quince Martires, Chad’s place of solace when he was young. I like going to places Chad spent time in and having my photo taken there. We’ve been apart for way too long, I want to remember him in every way possible.

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I forgot to bring a lot of my stuff with me so I had to borrow some of my sister’s things. This dress was a gift from me (lol) last year after winning Nivea’s Face Affair. This bag is hers as well. Now I miss my sister.

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 Forever 21 dress | Marikina-made wedges | Bag from Marinduque

Here’s a video Chad made about three years ago, which uses Lali Puna’s version of Phil Oakey’s Together in Electric Dreams–which also happened to be Ateneo de Naga University’s Alternative Class Program theme this semester. The sky and stars are a few of our favorite things, they remind us of our dreams and the infinite possibilities of life. I hope you’ll like it!

P.S. Thanks to Roe Ondis and the rest of the AdNU Supreme Student Government for having us! 🙂

Juxtapose

I love recycling clothes. I don’t like pretending I have tons of clothes because I actually don’t. Chad and I just finished shooting for a couple of magazines when we took these photos. We still had a few shots left and decided to take outfit photos instead, utilizing the clothes we used for the earlier shoot, which I also happened to have worn in many of my previous blog entries.

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The top is actually a dress which I have worn here and here, while the high-waisted shorts have been used here and here as well. The belt is actually from a dress that Persunmall sent me last month. Although I am quite aware this is just a plain look, I am happy that I’ve liberated myself from too much consumerism. I used to succumb to shopping a lot when I’m depressed, and the habit didn’t do me (and savings account) any good.

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Chad said that consumerism kills creativity, and he’s right. When we have limited resources, we tend to remake and modify things. But if we are always provided of what we need, then it leaves no room for creativity—after all, why would we bother if everything’s handed on a platter? This realization made me miss some of the old fashion blogs. People were much more original then, although there are still a few blogs today that are driven by passion and not by consumerism. I hope they stay that way.

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H&M skater dress used as top | Boutique de Reines cross bracelet | Liz Claiborne watch | Thrifted shorts and bag | Solemate flats

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