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Filipina Makes The Most Beautiful Things

I was not a big fan of fashion. I always thought it was superficial and leaned towards looking at people stripped of the aesthetics that could get in the way of substance. Until, I started hanging around women and came to understand that anyone’s need to be beautiful comes from everyone’s nature to want to make things beautiful. It is innate in all of us. We may differ on what is perceived to be beautiful but common in the desire for beauty.

It could be because of vanity. Everyone is vain.
It could be because we were born into it. We were born into a beautiful world, that’s the only thing we know.
It could be because we all are beautiful. No one can deny it.

Fashion, then, isn’t just a money-making industry that reshapes and reinvents the concept of beauity. It is but it is also more. It is humanity’s second nature.

One Filipina understands that better than most people in the world.

Monique Lhuillier

She has designed for Jennifer Connelly, Reese Witherspoon, Sarah Jessica Parker, Teri Hatcher and Eva Longoria, Ashley Judd, Sharon Stone, Halle Berry, Alicia Silverstone, Britney Spears, Lea Salonga and Angelina Jolie, among others.
Sensational.

Hillary Swank in Monique Lhuillier

Hillary Swank in Monique Lhuillier

Time Magazine and Newsweek, to name a few, will. And while we’re at it, let’s not forget that her designs were featured in top-rating TV shows in the USA including CNN and the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Legend in the making.

People Magazine feature on Monique Lhuillier

People Magazine feature on Monique Lhuillier

She was educated in Switzerland and designed her own wedding gown and that of her entourage that also turned the heads of the international designing world
Genius.

ashlee simpson on monique lhuillier

ashlee simpson on monique lhuillier

She has four stores in the U.S. for her RTW collection and has solo shows not just in the U.S. but also in Paris, Japan and just about every country where fashion is a big thing.
Unquestionably phenomenal.

monique lhullier

monique lhullier

She was born in Cebu, Philippines to Filipino parents. Never denies her heritage and still talks like a Filipina. No frilly pretentious trying hard accent.
Now, THAT IS HARDCORE.

monique lhuillier

monique lhuillier

I’m A Proud Pinoy, You Got A Problem With That?

Is it me or are nationalistic causes and groups popping out left and right? Not that I am complaining. Greek gods know well enough I feel an elation comparable to a double shot of crystal meth and heroine whenever I see shirts with three stars and a sun or hear Pinoys cheer for other Filipinos be it in sports or entertainment. It makes me want to cartwheel my way to seventh heaven.

The obvious question is whether this thing is just a fad or a beginning of deep-rooted love for the country. Pepe Diokno’s Phony Pride argued that Pinoys’ ever expanding ego is a way to compensate for the Pinoys’ belief that they are inadequate. It is an age-old adage – arrogance is rooted on insecurity. The argument has a basis and not totally insane. It could, actually, be considered legitimate since it is based on some academic psychological theory.

I will not try to disprove his theory. Debate that requires some academic research is a skill I was never born with. I lack that chip in my pea-sized brain. It is so small god decided to put only the cells that will be necessary for my survival – cells that tell me to eat, take a bath, sleep, take a crap and download music and movies. Those are what I have.

http://maki-san07.deviantart.com/art/Papa-Jose-43992626

Photo By Mech Serva a.k.a. TechieSlasher

What I will do is prove that at this point in time, whether or not Pinoys are doing this because they are insecure or “think of ourselves to be inadequate” is not important. You see, when you are out on the ocean with nothing on your horizon but more water – pride, class and all sorts of mothereffin’  values go out the f#@$in’ window. The only thing that will matter is survival.

That is where the Philippines was several years ago. It wasn’t long ago when Jose Rizal, OPM and the Philippine flag were all considered symbols for the lower classes. At some f$%^ed point in history, Senators and Congressmen were openly laughing at the possibility of speaking tagalog in their Congressional sessions. That is an absolute sh!t. Those are Philippines’ leaders, laughing at their country’s language. Now, they probably still can’t get through a session in pure Filipino but they dare not laugh at the suggestion anymore lest they witness their @rses get kicked by Pilipinos always ready and looking for any form of reason to kick some politician’s @ss.  That is how low the Pinoys were. So low, any move they make is up.

There were only a handful of people who was going like “Ok, this is sh!t. Gotta get my @ss moving if this nation is ever to have some semblance of love for its own.” Again, when you are that low, you take whatever step is available for you to recover just until you have enough room to breathe and know for sure you are not going to die. For now, what seems to be working is the dangling of everything and everyone that glitters and shines. That is often entertainers that are able to enter the door of Hollywood – Arnel Pineda, Charice, etc. It is the nudge that seems to knock down a lot of mountains.  There are sports heroes – Manny Pacquaio, Efren “Bata” Reyes, Paeng Nepomuceno, etc. There are Fil-Ams that openly acknowledge they are partly Pinoys – Jo Koy, Batista, etc.

Some people may view this as a superficial way of instilling patriotism. Well, so the f$%# what? If that is what it will take for people to notice and listen, I’ll take that. Certainly beats the h3ll out of waiting for someone to come up with a truly fool-proof way of instilling patriotism.

How do you suggest we do it then? Integrate it to the country’s curriculum? Last time I check, the government can’t even provide enough classrooms, tables and chairs and teachers for students to even learn the basic of history, math and literature. So you go and fix that and then get on my face and talk about this superficial way of promoting patriotism. What I do know is that when they are listening then it is easier for them understand and who knows even develop confidence and love for the country they were born into.

There is no denying that a lot of Filipinos still feel that Pinoys are inadequate – inadequate in and for so many things. It has been that way for ages and nothing was done about it until recently. It’s not like getting to here from that $hithole was an effin’ bliss. It took the assassination of Ninoy and subsequent revolution, a multi-platinum award of Francis M’s Mga Kababayan, the influx of foreign visitors to Boracay, several TV shows tediously researching for international performers who have Pinoy blood in them and many many more efforts that are still unrecognized just to get the brains of the Pilipinos wrap around the concept of this country not being a total loser. It’s paying off a bit but still not to the degree Jose Rizal might have desired but at least something is being done.

Philippines remain poor and that is the real antagonist of patriotism. Everyday people are just trying to survive. The government and other people who claim to care don’t really do much to help. Majority of Pinoys commute everyday to work (if they are luck to have one) below a sky ridden with pollution, on a road equally divided to snatchers, abusers, robbers, killers, bad traffic and monsters in uniform. They go home to a wage never enough for a decent meal three times a day. When you are that down, believe you me, it is difficult not to be angry at everything.  It is hard to think about being proud of the same country that is doing this to you.

Miraculously, watching local celebrities making it internationally seems to do the trick. It gives Pinoys some hope, some breathing space, some sort of an actual proof that this country isn’t so bad and that it ought to be loved even when they don’t know why.

First Filipino Emmy Award Winner

Jess Espanola is hardcore.

He won an Emmy Award back in 2008 for his work as an Assistant Director for the Outstanding Animated Program (for programming less than an hour) Simpson’s Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind.

He never allowed anyone to stop him from pursing his goals, did not permit life-threatening hunger and exhaustion to stop his hands from drawing, and has ten million layers of padding to protect his spirits from all the failures a poor Pinoy could ever encounter in that big bad world of Hollywood.

Jess is a poor boy from Kalookan and when I say poor, i mean f***in’ poor. No one is considered an illegitimate child nowadays. The law pretty much declares every child ever born with equal rights. That’s cool but that wasn’t always the case. Until recently, the law was a d!ck to give only 50% of the rights of a legitimate kid to an illegitimate one. Jess knew it all too well. When his father learned his mother is pregnant with him he said ‘i’m sorta outta here’ and he bounced on them. Luckily, someone was kind enough to adopt his mother.

He was five when he started drawing. He was such a kick ass artist that he learned to draw even before he learned to write. He drew his environment, his shabby house, canal, the sun, and some people without protruding bellies.

He was eight when his mother met a guy from Pampanga who married her and moved them. Jess started working as a farmer to help his mom and new dad out. He realized there was no getting out of it. He couldn’t play, couldn’t make friends, couldn’t buy new clothes and, regularly, couldn’t eat. So he made himself a hard core artist drawing anything he could whenever he could. He drew some awesome shit for his age his teachers started paying him to draw on their bulletin boards.

Everyone in the community knew him as the kid who could draw and intelligent enough to stay on top of his class.  That was actually his first step to success but to a starving belly, he saw nothing of it more than his ticket to eat food… occasionally.

His step father made him works his ass out and take all his earnings and yet he managed to graduated a valedictorian of his class and his step father wanted him to stop schooling and become a farmer like a gadam Farmville character. Well, Jess wasn’t about to let that shit fly. He had other effin’ plans. He packed his bags and left home. He looked for his grandmother and lived with her in Recto. She was no better on the financial department but at least she allowed him to study, he just needed to get his ass workin’ to finance himself but hey.

first Filipino to win an Emmy

his royal coolness

Jess found himself on familiar grounds. He woke up each day to find nothing on the table, not even a empty plates. So he’d go to school with an empty stomach. He was starving so bad his intestines started munching on themselves. Every lunch break, he would walk back home and pump the “poso” (ancient form of water pumps) and drink like it was no one else business just to have enough strength to stay in school for the rest of the day. I don’t know about you but not letting me eat when i am hungry is an invitation to murder. Life showed him no mercy that it almost seem on a perpetual pursuit to make him give up but Jess was like “hell no!”

He made regular trips to the river to look for snails and make himself dinner. He goes around town asking for rice. He puts on a brave face to borrow money from people or from sari-sari stores to sustain himself.

After a year, destiny sorta said “aigth, since i can’t seem to break your spirit, i’ll give your malnourished a$$ an effin’ break.” His teachers [i just love teachers, especially the kind he had. They didn’t sell no longganisa or tocino] noticed his drawing skill were pretty awesome so they started paying him for drawing different stuff.

He finished high school which is a monumental achievement in itself considering he faced the danger of dying of hunger everyday of his life. Just to be freakin’ extra awesome though, he got into UP. That is arguably the most difficult school to get into. The only thing stopping him from enrolling is the lack of dough. He met an angel in the person of Karina David (the wife of Randy David) who loaned her money so he could enroll, talk with all his would-be professors to allow him to enroll despite being late (it was already July) and gave him a job as an assistant and artist. I think Ms. Karina David has a spot on our awesome list, don’t ya think?

Jess paid off his loan via salary deduction and because is hardcore awesome, he earned his scholarship on the next semester.

It is important to note that he is consistently hungry in all the years of his college and if you think that his situation is going to change for the better after he graduated from the almighty UP, you are freakin’ wrong. He applied to different jobs and when he was about to get a permanent gig, Ninoy was assassinated and the whole country went into chaos. In 1985, he was accepted in the Burbank Animation Studio, Inc. located in Makati but life was not done with Jess yet.

He had a decent job and is now able to eat at least three times a day so why… don’t… we… mess… up… his… drawing hand?! That’s what life did to Jess. Soon enough, he starts feeling constant pain on his right hand which he uses to draw and he couldn’t move one of his fingers. Back when he was a kid, a playmate pushed him against a glass and a tiny piece got stuck inside his vein. The broken glass is back with a vengeance. Now, he is just starting out, taking a leave of absence to go through therapy is just the kind of shit he was trying to avoid but he didn’t have a choice.

Trivia: he is a natural leftie but when his mother saw him drawing with his left, she forced him to use his right because the catholics used to believe anything on the left is bad. That’s shit, we all know that by now and Jess knows it, too.

the Filipino animator behind Homer

Jess' masterpiece --- Homer Simpson

He eventually moved to Fil-Cartoons, a subsidiary of Hanna-Barbera. He was sent to LA, California to visit and train in the head office. That was pretty doped for someone who used to eat snails for dinner. Jess was pumped. He was gonna rock this gig but his teammates wouldn’t let him. The classic Filipino mentality came into play. They started backstabbing Jess. Good thing his back was so filled with scars from his painful past, additional scars will only make his back look like the finest tattoo work in progress this country has ever seen. Friends were converted to murder targets and he didn’t have plans of dying as of yet so he he didn’t join the party.

Not like it stopped Jess. He shrugged it off and said “i’ve been through worse. Your $h!t ain’t got no effect on my ass. Eat it.”

He worked on Smurfs, Scooby Doo, and Yogi bear. After a few more years Hanna-Barbera was sold to Warner Brothers.

In 1994, about 50 Filipinos worked for Anastasia feature animation produced by Don Bluth for 20th Centura Fox. The all too familiar game of crab mentality worked its magic among the group. Pinoys were like “I’m going down, you’re going down with me bi@tch!”.

It was all too much for Jess. He understands where they are coming from but he can’t afford this sh!t. So he decided to bounce his own gig. He stayed in Los Angeles and worked for 7th Level Inc. doing CD-Rom games for children. He got it difficult at first, could be because he was working for a white dude, could be because his skills were simply not at par but Jess was a real hardcore. For every rejection, he literally went back to the drawing boards and worked hard to look at things from his boss’ perspective, learn what kind of shit makes him laugh and sought to be the best animator in town.

When he was done with that, he worked in Film Roman for King of the Hill show where he became an assistant director. Then in 1998 – 2002, he worked at Rough Draft Studios for Futurama shows.

He worked more with the whites. Soon enough, he proved himself worthy to become an animator of cartoon’s royal family, the Simpsons. Imagine that, the Simpsons. Jess is so cool, just writing about him makes like my monitor will start producing ice soon.

Jess, i’ll see you soon dude.