The Blissmakerie 2016: Beautiful Businesses

Collaboration, inspiration, new friends, and more. That’s the Blissmakerie.

Blissmakerie

What’s the Blissmakerie? In the words of its founder, Martine de Luna of makeitblissful.com, it “is a gathering of creative, bliss-making women — bloggers, small business owners and creative entrepreneurs — who believe in authentic community and collaboration.”

the inspiring Martine de Luna of makeitblissful.com

the inspiring Martine de Luna of makeitblissful.com

I first discovered it in 2014 through my most favorite blogger Patty Laurel (I’ve read and continues to read every. single. blog. entry. she posted since 2010 and counting!) when she wrote about the very first Blissmakerie. Back then, it was exclusive to people invited by Martine herself. Fast forward this year, several Blissmakeries have already been open to the public for a fee. So when I found out about this year’s event, I didn’t think twice about attending! I immediately signed up. Haha.

This was my second time to attend a Martine-hosted event (the first was Blog : Inspired back in 2014), and the theme of the Blissmakerie I’ve attended last month (there’s a different theme per event) was “Beautiful Businesses.” It was held at a very Instagram-worthy location: La Creperie in Salcedo, Makati. 🙂

Blissmakerie

Blissmakerie

Blissmakerie

From the moment I read what it was all about, I knew that I wanted it. Although I’m very much happy and satisfied with my current day job (at my dream workplace nonetheless! hehe!), I’ve always dreamed of owning businesses, too. I already have several ideas on my mind about what businesses I’d like to have in the future, and attending the Blissmakerie encouraged me more to pursue ’em — just like the special guests.

The special guests — Maricel Mendoza of A Sweet Cottage and Maggie Leather Crafts, sisters Steph and Lady Badoy of Boqueria Lifestyle Market (they styled the actual event!), and Kim Tiam Lee of Pulseras by Kim (who’s my instant newfound friend! Hi Kim!!!) — all have businesses that started as hobbies/passions.

Maricel of "A Sweet Cottage" and "Maggie Leather Crafts"

Maricel of “A Sweet Cottage” and “Maggie Leather Crafts”

Steph and Lady of "Boqueria Lifestyle Market"

Steph and Lady of “Boqueria Lifestyle Market”

Kim of "Pulseras by Kim"

Kim of “Pulseras by Kim”

It’s empowering, at the same time heartwarming, to know that more and more women have the chance to pursue their passions, turn these passions into businesses, collaborate, and then repeat!

As a millennial myself, meeting Kim was extra special because I could relate to her more, and she really inspired me. She’s a full-time architect and a jewelry maker both at the same time! I’ve always believed that quitting one’s day job (especially if you love it, as is my case) isn’t necessary to pursue other passions — including running a business. It’s always a choice (and mad time management skills, of course!). So Kim, marami pa talaga tayong pag-uusapan! Hahaha!

millennial blissmakers represent! (L-R: Kim, yours truly, Tiffy - thanks for this photo!, and RJ with her baby)

millennial blissmakers represent! (L-R: Kim, yours truly, Tiffy – thanks for this photo!, and RJ with her baby)

Anyway, another thing I love about the Blissmakerie is the Blissful Box! 😉

my Blissful Box...

my Blissful Box…

Every Blissmakerie ain’t complete without it. For each event, Martine and her team collate different brands (some are collaborators), which they think the attendees will love! They were right! I love each item in my own box!!!

...and its contents!

…and its contents!

(For the complete list of brands, click HERE.)

The Blissmakerie 2016 attendees (photo courtesy of Maricel Mendoza)

The Blissmakerie 2016 attendees (photo courtesy of Maricel Mendoza)

goal: to be a blissmaker in my own little way <3

goal: to be a blissmaker in my own little way ❤

And that’s pretty much it! As always, I hope you can also attend a Blissmakerie (or any Martine-hosted event for that matter!). I promise, they’re always pretty, inspiring, and of course, BLISSFUL!!! 😀

Are YOU Ready for May 9, 2016?

Are You Ready for May 9?

Six years ago, I voted for the first time, and I voted for someone I thought would be a great leader for the Philippines. I’ve even attended his miting de avance (see photo above). Heck, I even voted for his Vice President (VP) — even though a lot of people told me it would be “a waste of my vote” because he was a celebrity and inexperienced in politics. I still voted for my President’s VP thinking that since my presidential candidate chose to be “partners” with him, then my candidate saw him as the “best” person he could run the Philippines with. Why vote for someone who doesn’t share the same “vision and mission” of my President, right? But that was in 2010.

For my non-Filipino friends reading this, my President and VP back in 2010 were Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro and Eduardo “Edu” Manzano respectively. They both lost, by the way.

But even if they both lost, I don’t have any regrets. I don’t regret voting for them because in a way, I proved to myself that I could stand for what I believed in, regardless if many people were against my decision/s or told me otherwise.

Of course some will say that “standing for what I believe in” is also a dangerous mantra, especially if it’s something “wrong” in other people’s eyes. That’s where discernment comes in. And it’s always a case-to-case basis. I’m only talking about the elections here, capisce?

So yes, a couple of days from now (May 9, 2016), Filipinos will once again choose “leaders” who they think will bring the Philippines “improvement.” This is probably the first time I said anything about the 2016 Philippine elections (at least publicly), and man, I’m not liking the way how things have been diirrrty and uuugly.

Unlike in other countries who “benefit” from a two-party system, in the Philippines, that’s the exact opposite. Currently, we have five presidential candidates — and these five also endorse their own vice presidential candidates (unlike in other countries that whoever wins as President, his Vice President of choice automatically runs the country with him). So yes, you can say that Filipino voters carry a lot of “election weight” on their shoulders. Given the number of candidates, it’s also no wonder why the Philippines is now “divided we stand, united we fall.” 😦

We’re all divided right now because of the different candidates we support. Check at least the social media feed of one Filipino (voter or not), and there’s at least one election-related post. Some even became “friends to enemies” without realizing that at the end of election day, whichever candidates win, we’re all going to either rise or fall as one nation. And then these people will think, WAS ALL THE SOCIAL MEDIA DRAMA WORTH IT?! Let me be the one to answer that: NO!

It’s clear that WE, Filipinos, are NOT yet ready for May 9. Or maybe that’s just me. But since we don’t have any choice, we must act on that day.

Coincidentally, May 9 is also the death anniversary of my mother. This year’s election day marks the Philippines’ 16th presidential election, and also the 13th year I’ve learned to live without my beloved mother. And although the pain of losing a loved one, especially a parent, never really goes away, I can at least continue to try to honor them.

Right now, one of the ways I can honor them is to fight for what I believe is right — just like how my parents raised me. I’m not gonna bash other candidates. I’m not gonna fight with my family and friends who will vote for other candidates I’m not voting for. I’m not gonna try to “convince” another person to vote for my candidate/s; that’s the candidate’s job. (Who are we to think that we’re better than others just because they want to vote for a different President/candidate? Don’t you think that doing so just makes you the “worse” person, trying to hold their free will and whatnot? So just don’t.) Heck, I’m not even gonna “blame” the next leaders of this country if the Philippines doesn’t change (and God forbid, gets worse!).

All I’m gonna do on May 9 is exercise my right to choose and vote. After that, I’ll continue to try to be a better person (and not just “a better Filipino”) than I was yesterday.

me, after voting in 2010

me, after voting in 2010

I’ll start by NOT throwing trash at inappropriate places. Simple, but effective. Maybe you have a different idea, and that’s okay. But come to think of it, maybe we should exert more energy on tackling climate change considering how HOT it has been in the Philippines lately. (Now don’t say that that’s probably a reason why people are also hot-headed these days. Seriously, how do you expect the Philippines to change for the better if YOU can’t change for the better?!)

For what it’s worth, I’m voting for a female presidential candidate. There are only two of them, but I’m still choosing not to disclose who. What for? Even if you knew and try to convince me to think otherwise, I won’t budge.

I’ve already decided who I’m gonna vote for this coming May 9, albeit not being “ready” in the broadest sense of the word.

How about YOU, my fellow Filipino voter???

Featured Traveler: Rica’s Third World Travels

This is a long overdue post (almost a year, sorry!), but here it is anyway. 😛

My “travelers” are back this year, starting with one of my graduate school friends (and travel book author!) Ma. Patricia Yulo or simply Rica.

Rica in Singapore during her

Rica in Singapore during her “no bag” travel challenge

I met Rica when I was still taking up my Master’s Degree at this university along Taft Avenue (ahem, #animo!), and we were classmates in one of my electives called Creative Nonfiction. We kept in touch with the help of social media (I also found out that she’s a relative of one of my friends from college — who was also one of my featured travelers before! What a small world!), and I’m so glad she agreed to do this despite her busy travel schedule. Hehe!

So let’s get down to business. How did all the “travel” start for her? Rica said, “I started traveling when I was a kid but my life changed when I backpacked the Banana Pancake route covering Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam in 2009. For the first time in my life, I felt free — free in a sense that I was able to unchain myself from oppressive worldviews because I was exposed to different cultures and met so many beautiful and friendly people from all over the world.”

Rica's first visit in Bangkok, Thailand

Rica’s first visit in Bangkok, Thailand

with the Hmong Tribe in Vietnam

with the Hmong Tribe in Vietnam

Rica has been around Asia (she loves Southeast Asian countries), Australia, and North America. But what makes her standout in a world full of “travelers” (aside from the fact that she has written a travel book, but more on that later!) is she actually dared to travel to a foreign country without any luggage! She shared, “Most Filipinos I know bring big suitcases with them whenever they travel even for just a short period. I wanted to challenge that and prove that you don’t have to bring your entire closet with you if you’re traveling short term. So in May 2012, I traveled to Singapore for three days without bringing a single bag (not even a cellphone case!). I used a vest with many pockets to carry my passport, a few pieces of clothing, toiletries, and the most important gadget of all — mobile phone (to call loved ones in case of an emergency).

“I went around Singapore alone without carrying anything which made my walks easy. I didn’t even have a hard time entering or leaving the airport because I had no luggage. Plus, I saved a lot of money because checked-in luggage can be a bit costly. The biggest lesson is this: for a short vacation, you only need one backpack. Laptops and other gadgets are unnecessary. Do away with things you spend a lot of time with at home while you travel.”

After sharing that, Rica also mentioned what traveling is for her and how it affects her. “Traveling for me is a form of spiritual nourishment. Traveling gives me a reason to live because it challenges me and makes me see or experience new things. My travels have also helped me become more conscious of dealing with other people from different backgrounds. I’m not saying that I’m perfect but because of traveling, I’ve become more sane… and sober.”

chillin' at a hostel in Malaysia

chillin’ at a hostel in Malaysia

made a friend in Burma (Myanmar)

made a friend in Burma (Myanmar)

elephant ride in Laos

elephant ride in Laos

Her next dream destination? “I always say Norway due to its contribution to metal music (which I love), but right now, my dream is to backpack Northern Pakistan, the Kashmir region, Israel, and Iraq. Some of the places mentioned are quite dangerous but give me a black belt travel companion, a translator, and a bulletproof vest and I’ll go there in a snap to eat, explore, and ask questions. I’m not the type of tourist who simply wants to take a photo of a monument. I want to talk to the locals, share a meal with them, meet their families, hang out where they hang out, and I would love to do these things in the places mentioned.”

lunch with locals in Indonesia

lunch with locals in Indonesia

More about the photo above: “After exploring a Javanese village in Jogja by bicycle for four hours, a local invited my tired legs and my two lovely tour guides to have lunch with her and her ‘org mates.’  She served authentic Indonesian food, which was too spicy, but I enjoyed the entire experience.”

with tea pickers in Sri Lanka

with tea pickers in Sri Lanka

with friends at the summit of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

with friends at the summit of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines

Her travel tips (aside from the things you can read in her book):

Know your priorities if you want to travel. Yes, you need money but you don’t have to be a millionaire. For example, if you’re a smoker and a drinker but love to travel, don’t buy cigarettes and alcohol for two months — that’ll definitely save you a lot of money! [And you’re health, too! See next tip. Haha! -Ed.]
Stay healthy.
Be curious, but don’t be stupid.
Travel SLOWLY — spend five days in one city if you can.

The 3rd World Traveler

As mentioned earlier, Rica has written a book about her travels (particularly in third world countries). Here, she shares what inspired her to do it and all that comes with it.

She said, “I spent a year saving for a one month trip, and I made it happen! Then I came home and wanted to share my story — focusing more on how I was able to save money. I didn’t just want to write about what I saw in Myanmar or what I ate in Laos. I mean, seriously, who gives a shit? I have my blog for that, and interested readers can always access it. I wanted to create ‘a manual’ that teaches people how to save money so they, too, can travel. I thought, if I could do it despite all the obstacles I had to face, anyone with a dream would be able to do it as long as they’re disciplined enough to know their priorities.

“I wrote the manuscript two days after my month long journey — with a little push from the book entitled, Who Moved My Cheese which I read while I was in Bangkok. After a month of writing and polishing, I sent the first complete draft to my college professor Dra. Lilia Sevillano for a review. It was somehow her ‘approval’ that gave me the motivation to take the entire thing seriously. And because I had to make it readable/comprehensive, I sought the assistance of a published writer named Roel Cruz who did a fine job editing the entire manuscript.

“Around April of 2013, I was looking for a publisher when Ces Cabangon of Art Initiative approached me. That was the turning point. She offered to publish my work without asking me to change anything. She simply wanted to make the manuscript reader-friendly and more marketable so we got Louella Tumaneng of National Bookstore who guided us in our decision-making and added graphic designers Myish Endonila (IxM Collective and Design Brewery) and Jack Policarpio to the team for layout and illustration.

“It took us months to finish everything but we’re happy that the manuscript finally saw the light of day last January 2014. The book, The 3rd World Traveler, is now out in National Bookstore and Powerbooks branches throughout the metro.”

Know more about Rica‘s book by visiting
the official Facebook page.

Disclaimer: I do not own this photo.


You can also check out my other featured travelers HERE.