Friday, May 25, 2007

Made in China

i am still bothered by a PBS documentary i saw 2 hours ago.

i believe the title was Brutal Work.
a documentary chronicling the life of a Chinese girl working at a jeans sewing factory.
it begins with a glimpse of her life in a rural province, then...

leaves home, journeys to the city, applies for a job at a sewing factory, gets accepted, learns the ropes, struggles, fights for the wages due her, then ends with her conscious decision to continue working there.

it was difficult for me to see because i own my own company.
i too create products to sell here in the States.
produced in Asia... but in the Philippines, not in China.

which made me question this whole culture of consumerism and consumption.

people here in the States spend so much money on fashion.
fashion that will inevitably become disposable.
since we tire of fashion so quickly.

i just feel bad that we can easily tire of a garment that someone sacrificed so much to create.

not just that.
so much money spent for that same garment.
and so so little paid to the person who made it.

last Christmas, i told the printing factory who printed our gift wrap paper to hold a party for everyone, thanking them for all their effort and help with the year's production. i wired money to my Mom and she threw a party filled with food and gifts for everyone. i checked with my parents also whether the workers were treated fairly. according to her, they were.

i do not know how this behemoth of Chinese manufacturing can be stopped.
i am not even sure if it can be stopped or whether it should be stopped.
it would be hypocritical for us to call for its halt considering we benefit from it so much.

i just hope someone out there can devise of a model that will make it a Win-Win situation for all 3 parties: the company outsourcing the production, the factory manufacturing and finally the employee doing the actual labor.

as much as i want to, my spiritual mission and talent are not in the field of global politics, management and economics. nor is my life one that is marked naturally and inherently by an activist nature.

someone out there must surely know how to solve it.
may he or she wake up to this mission sooner than later.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

last question

this Sunday morning, i woke up early thinking it was Monday.
that i was late for work.

thankfully i realized my mistake.

my first instinct was to open the television.
despite my need for more silence in life.

i chanced upon the movie, Serendipity.
prompting me to quickly change the channel.

romantic films annoy me.
maybe because they reveal my loneliness.
or, maybe because they unearth the pain from a breakup two years ago.
or, really, perhaps because they simply are corny and inaccurate representations of falling in love.

so, several channels later,
as i was surfing mindlessly through several buttons,
i encountered Serendipity once more.

this time, it was ending.
so i thought about seeing the last parts of the film, for the humor of it.

the male sidekick was consoling the lead character about his choice of calling off the wedding.

the sidekick said:
the Greeks do not have obituaries.
but when a person dies, they only have One Question.
did that person have Passion?

after that,
the sidekick gave the lead a letter.
then their paths separated.

over a voice-over,
the contents of the letter were revealed to the audience.

it was composed as an obituary:
here lies a man who died pursuing his soul mate.
but, he utterly failed.
and died of a broken heart.
but in the last moments before his death, his friends described him as having a certain clarity.

you must watch the movie.
this voice-over in the last part was so good.
and definitely better than what i am trying to paraphrase.

and so,
if the Greeks were to ask me this question before i die.
if i did have Passion?

i would say, Yes.

how about you?

Saturday, May 19, 2007


today was a rainy Spring Saturday.
extremely unfortunate since, after a long work week, i needed this weekend to be exceptionally special.

i invited my business partner / best friend to tour an emerging area of Brooklyn with me.

we drove to DUMBO.
it is the neighborhood Down Under the Manhattan Brooklyn Overpass.
meaning, under the bridge connecting the cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

imagine several abandoned warehouses and factories converted into lofts and hip boutiques. with cobblestone streets. redbrick decayed buildings. overlooking the river.

on this rainy day, the area was fairly abandoned.
maybe it was the rain.
or maybe, regardless of the rain, it was still not as busy as i expected it to be.

hence, the beauty.
so much silence.
and so much emerging beauty.
amidst all the decaying architecture.

that is why i like fashion and design so much.
because of their Promise of Renewal and their Reminders of Beauty.
amidst all the ugliness of the world, a person confronted with a beautiful piece of clothing or design will see God.

later that day, i saw a white zip-up jacket from a store i've never visited but always passed by. called American Apparel.

i walked in with my friend.
and there i saw a low-priced unique white jacket made from Tyvek paper, the same durable and tear-proof material used for postal envelopes.

for just 28 dollars, i experienced God.
for Joy is a slice of God.

and i never would have seen this jacket if i chose to see the same things in my life all over again. and if did not decide to venture into neighborhoods that were new to me.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

thom browne

i took my lunch break from my day job at a top magazine...
and walked along my usual route - Rockefeller Center.

on my way to Barnes & Noble,
i saw Thom Browne.

he is, as of the moment of this writing, the most influential menswear designer in NY.
he was wearing his signature aesthetic - a formal men's suit cut unconventionally and unsafely short.

imagine pants cut shorter - with one's socks and shoes definitely showing.

i wanted to ask for his autograph.
but, unfortunately, this was the only day that i did not bring my red pen and journal.

so here he was,
my omen - walking in real life.

an Omen of my dream walking away from me.
and so i followed.

abandoning the possibility of gaining an autograph,
i followed him as far as i could.
and basked in the moment and the experience.

before letting him go,
i told myself that i was on the right path.
in my belief that my next step in life is menswear.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

films that made me cry:

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Garden State
Brokeback Mountain
The Queen
Under the Tuscan Sun
The Namesake

by the way,
i am listening to the song, Such Great Heights, as i am composing this list.

the song feels so sad, authentic, sincere and hopeful all at the same time.

pretty much like the films listed above.
that is why, despite my passion for men's fashion, i don't think i will ever lose my quiet love for film as a medium.

films are big omens in my life.
the right film always comes along whenever i feel lost in life.
mostly whenever i need to heal a certain pain.

only film has the power to make me cry.
the only other thing is a broken heart.

i now honestly think that we cannot heal a broken heart from a failed relationship.
no matter how much we move on or tell things to ourselves to help us move on.

i now believe that, as bad as it may sound, only a new romantic relationship can cure a previous pain.

not that we need to jump into a new relationship immediately after the dissolution of a previous one... just to heal a current pain...

maybe it is just me,
but some pain from my ex still hurts whenever i hear a sad song.
or see a romantic film or tv show.

i am mentally over it.
and my life has not stopped just to grieve about it.
nor do i put my life goals on hold while waiting to get over it.

i am now doing my dreams in life.
it is just sad that the relationship had to end just so that i can evolve to be a better person... so i can be ready for my dreams in life.

a friend told me that the key to getting over someone is to imagine the scenario as if the relationship still continued even if things were extremely rocky and negative.

i thought about it...

and concluded that even if our relationship survived and continued,
it would be so emotionally difficult for both my significant other and myself.

because being an emotional mess during that time,
i would have been a burden to him.

and he would be a constant savior to me.
and i would never have learned to stand on my own feet.
and come to my own as an individual.

so my friend was correct.
imagining this scenario was helpful.
because it gave the conclusion that the break-up was best for both parties.

my friend added that one must question whether the break-up was beneficial to the evolution of the parties involved.

in my case, yes.
i just wished that he was still around to experience my better self.

i asked for a second chance during that time.
and he said no.

as sad as it may be,
my better self perhaps is meant to be reserved for the next one.

best dinner

so this is the last night that my television and internet are cut off because of non-payment

to pass the time,
i went to a nearby McDonalds to grab a late-night dinner.
this was after a trip to the bookstore (also to pass the time).

i went to the cashier.
and an African-American woman behind the register immediately asked if i was going to get the usual, a medium iced coffee - vanilla.

after ordering the same thing from them several times, and her being the cashier most of the time... i must admit that her gesture (her remembering what i liked) warmed me deeply.

it dispels the judgment that African American folks are rough, rude and impolite.
people like her is what their community needs to uplift their tarnished image and reputation.

it is nice to see a genuine act of kindness from a place where you least expect it.

my happiness is simple.
a bucket of Kentucky's Fried Chicken.
McDonalds iced coffee.
creative men's fashion (no matter how cheap).
a good film,
a good TV show.

and this girl valued my happiness.

i do hope that someone will value her happiness too.

i ate my dinner there alone.
but felt comforted by the fact that there are other people around me.
i am an extreme introvert.
and value being alone.
but this whole time of being alone in an apartment with no television and internet broke my heart.
even though the silence was beneficial, considering all the life insights i've gained...
it was still a rough 4 days.

and the strangers around me,
that i usually hate for being too loud,
somehow felt welcome.

amidst the silence of being alone at my table,
i viewed the people around me with detached fascination.

a few tables occupied at 10:30pm.
and here we all were.
perhaps we all felt lonely at our respective apartments.
and just needed to get out of the house and establish some form of human contact.

in front of me were two old women eating chicken nuggets.
chatting sparsely.
shallow conversation mostly.

i hope i do not grow old alone.
and hope that i still have people in my life, decades from now, to share a meal with.

which makes me think:
maybe this is the reason why most of my aunts are grumpy.
a mixture of anger over lost opportunities, wrong life decisions and finally, a looming but hidden fear of growing a lot more older alone.

it is indeed a scary thought.

hopefully i remember to be more compassionate to them when i wake up.

my future film

even though fashion is my next path.
the poet in me begs for some expression in film.

i have long solved this dilemma of focus in life.

i used to be afraid of becoming a cliche:
Jack of All Trades and Master of None

as well as fearful of the constant reminder of society:
that to be successful, one must choose to focus.

i agree with the need for focus.
but only as a method for pursuing goals.
meaning, focus and execute one goal at a time.

but i disagree with the need to focus on only one path in life.
paths in life change.
and we are obliged to honor our spiritual evolution.
evolution comes first.
so if life asks us to change life directions in an effort to make us better, happier or more meaningful individuals, i feel that we must do so.

i have tons of film ideas.
but 2 come to mind when i am ready to do a short film once again.
both are very emotional concepts.

which really mirror what my creativity is all about.
be it fashion, film, writing or packaging... all are essentially creative, personal and emotional at the same time.

i can be edgy.
but it must be personal and emotional.

i can be humorous and irreverent.
but it must be personal and emotional.

i had an omen recently.
as i was going through an interior design magazine,
i came across a feature on Laura Faggioni, the set designer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind... one of my all time favorite films.

the editorial page showed elements of both fashion and film.
so this was too coincidental ... hence an omen in nature.
love the fashion the model was wearing.
and love the set design.
and love what was written about Laura and her work on the film.

which reminded me of who i really was as an artist.
creative, extremely unique but personal and emotional.

this reminder was so timely.
because my full-time job was increasingly changing me into a corporate robot.

as if that was not enough,
i encountered an article about a men's fashion designer i admired.
from another magazine.

this designer closely paralleled how i thought about fashion and life in general.
the editorial wrote something about the designer's personality.
he said that his friends had difficulty with him because he took life and everything else so seriously.

this was important for me to read because recently i experienced more and more isolated.
as if i was going through something so difficult that no one could understand.

the editorial continued with the designer saying that it was ok with him.
because Meaning is more important than everything else.
that he needed to make sure what he is doing has meaning to him.

he said it so perfectly.
that i began feeling comfortable with who i really am.
quirks and all.
because the article implied that he, after all, meant well.

a GAP coat holds the key to Happiness

today, i got a green but artistically edgy GAP winter coat.
the weather is warmer.
but i still got it.
it was a coat i've been silently desiring for some time.
but in the past decided it was a bit expensive and not really essential considering the price of 98 dollars.

yesterday, i saw that it was on sale.
the price went down to 25 dollars.
that made me ecstatic.
but unfortunately the size was too big.
only 6 pieces were left and all of them were XL.
i decided to buy one.
despite being disappointed by the size.

back at home, i decided to give it to my business partner who dropped by for a visit.
he deserves more gifts in life.
he is one of the kindest souls on this planet.
and kind souls deserve more incentive to continue to be kind.
so i gave it to him.

the next day,
i decided to return a pair of pants, same place where i got this coat.
throughout the whole trip, i resigned myself to the fact that i would have to buy this coat on eBay, where i saw my size (Extra Small) being sold for 70 dollars.
the only one left with my size.

surprise of all surprises,
i see the same coat, Extra Small, 3 remaining pairs on a coat rack.
with the discounted price of 25 dollars.
i of course purchased it without hesitation.

after several days of experiencing no television and internet at my apartment (because i did not have enough money to pay the bill for the month - see previous blog entry)...
i needed this miracle.

throughout the silence of an apartment with no sound,
i sifted through thoughts about my next step in life.
fashion is definitely next.
but it does scare me a little.

and with this GAP coat in the bag,
i knew i was being nudged towards this direction.

i went home.
and immediately wore it.

unlike many social-climbing fashion elites,
i sincerely am a happier person when great fashion is experienced.
at a very deep creative level, life gains meaning when i see a piece of men's clothing artfully done.
the best way of describing it is like seeing God for the first time.

i wore it the whole night.
and am still wearing it as i type this blog entry.

the rawness of my body reaction to this coat indicates what is truly obvious.
that i love men's fashion.
and what i authentically love is what should be authentically pursue.

seek your Joy.
all omens remind us of this.

turn the phone off (as well as Life's ringer)

so i blew my budget to help out a friend at a crossroad in her life
she snapped emotionally
so i pulled all the stops and used my remaining budget to offer her comfort

she will never know the consequence of what i did
and have no intention of boasting about it to anyone or to her directly

needless to say,
i had both my cable TV and phone bill suspended because of that financial help.

and i am typing this blog entry without going online.
composing instead on my desktop sticky note program.

imagine a world without television and internet for four days.
trust me, it is hard.
i am thankful to my business partner who kept me company for two days.
he dropped by around 9pm and offered me a bite to eat until 12 midnight.
for 2 days only.

it is now the midnight between Thursday and Friday.
and had no form of media since Tuesday.
missed all my favorite TV shows for the week.
as well as my favorite websites.

yes, i took my television and internet for granted.
but that is not the core realization.

the core insight is:
i've been hiding behind all this Noise for a long time.
unconsciously afraid of confronting certain thoughts in my head.

the peak of the pain happened the first night of forced Silence.
inside a white walled apartment room, in 3 hours, i thought of every possible regret and shameful experience left unexplored.

from my ex.
and what went wrong.
and what i did wrong.
and how, even if i ask for forgiveness and a second chance, it will never be.

to an intense fear of what is ultimately going to happen next in my life.

in between were thoughts so random.
and so varied.
and so fleetingly quick in succession.
around 2 seconds in duration.

like a window view from a speeding train, passing by a dark sleeping rural town.

that night,
most of my thoughts were dark.
nothing suicidal.
but definitely filed with intense despair, fear and doubt.

what i found strange was the lack of anger directed towards anyone.
but rather, an intense anger directed towards myself.
which makes me wonder,
could all human anger be mere projections of anger towards one's self?

in my case, it was.
i was so angry at myself for being less than ideal.

for being an emotional mess during the time i met my ex.
for being a cruel person to the significant other i am currently dating.
for being hormonally depressed.

so i sat there on my bed, giving all these thoughts and emotions the chance to run their course.
they deserve the light of day after all, considering the prison they've been in.

around 2am,
the height of all that darkness just lifted.

it was as if nothing else was left to purge.

what followed was not peace.
nor goodness.
nor light.

what followed was so neutral.
it was Silence.

my mind was finally silent for a full 30 minutes.
there was nothing more to Think.
every possible scenario (false or real) was sufficiently chewed and digested.

so i just laid there on my bed.
enjoying the silence that was so rare in my life.

i then noticed a light peeping from my bedroom window.
peeping from a small exposed corner left unblocked by my yellow window curtain.

it was a sliver of light from a full moon.
this can make you puke, i am sure.
don't worry, this is not meant to be romantic or cinematic.

but this event carries so much significance to me.
because the moon has been a life Omen to me since i was young.
and only made an appearance three times in my life.

i remember being 9 years old.
inside my dad's first car.
he came home one night, in our very first rented apartment.
announcing that he finally got a job.
that came with a company car with it.
and we took our very first ride.
went out for dinner.
on the way, i saw the Moon above, on a clear night sky.

and noticed that the Moon was following us.
i asked my parents:
why was the Moon following our car?

no matter where we turned,
it was there.
my parents never answered me.
but i kept on looking.

the second time was the peak of my depression after quitting my first job.
i just resigned from the biggest film company in my home country.
because my boss (together with all her bosses) did not treat me with respect.
and i felt that i deserved to be happy in life.

after quitting, i honestly thought the Universe will conspire to help me focus on my dreams.
it did not.
i did not get the film grant that would have allowed me to be an artist and create something beautiful.

so what happens after both your True Dream and Manufactured Dream (read: professional career expected of a college grad) dissolves?

one questions everything.
then, one falls into despair.

so after not knowing what to do next in my life,
i just snapped.

one night,
inside my bedroom, located in the attic of our new house,
i suddenly felt angry at God.
no words uttered.
in my head, i told him he was a piece of shit.
because he does not reward people who are brave enough to pursue their dreams.

after all that intense anger and blasphemy,
i somehow started crying.
a quiet but very deep-seated sob.
i told God that i just needed a break.
that i deserve to be helped.
because this world needs people who are in a niche where they are happy.
and where their talents are expressed and appreciated.
because only then can they be of service to others.

i told him that all i needed was a job that i can be creative.
and one that did not force me to wake up so early.
i added that it must be something to do with brainstorming creative ideas because that was something easy to me.
although i was pretty sure that there was not a job out there that paid someone to just think.

apparently there was.

a month after that drama,
i got a call from an ex-colleague.
he said the TV station that owns the film outfit where i resigned is forming a Creative Think Tank.
composed of 10 young individuals whose only job was to think of new shows, films, media ideas, etc.

after an initial interview, i got the job.

and that was the happiest two career years of my life.

now i am in the US.
my new home.
and from my bedroom window i see the moon again.

this is not a story about converting you to believe in God.
rather, a story about a God-like experience.

this latest appearance of the moon as an omen is very comforting.
i again felt safe in this world.

the days that followed were not easy.
the same mental demons tormented me.
and they will continue to do so as that is my burden.
until i am able to generate my own mental peace.
and not wait for the moon to do it for me.