Soaking in Spring (Editorial)

This editorial was inspired by Alice in Wonderland, but not to the full extent of the wardrobe. Maybe what some characters would wear during a day-off.

An editorial shot for Promo Magazine, NYC.

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Yukatas at Tenjin Matsuri

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I am not one to choose for myself to be in crowded places. However, I thought Japan is a pretty safe place to be in a crowd. So, I expanded my comfort zone and attended the summer festival in Osaka called, the Tenjin Matsuri.

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This Japanese summer drink is super refreshing and good!

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Tenjin Matsuri is the festival of the Tenmangu Shrine and honors its principle deity Sugawara Michizane, the deity of scholarship. The festival begins by ceremonially inviting the deity out of the shrine and parading him through the city, carrying out various exuberant festivities to entertain him, before taking him back to the shrine. For the people, the lively festivities manifest in a wonderful occasion to enjoy the hot summer day, filled with traditional costumes, spectacular processions and a celebratory atmosphere.

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Sidenote: I am open to being commissioned by all designers as a visual artist/photographer. I am enamored by the sense of fashion and would love to learn more.

In my short two-week stay there, I have not seen the streets so crowded (but with utmost discipline). What drew me out, really were the yukatas! I just had to see more of them and with each turn, there was a new pattern that stared right back at me.

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My non-lingual communication skills and photography was really put into test here because I know only a few Japanese words and most of them belonged in a restaurant’s menu. I love “uni” (sea urchin), “sushi” (duh!), “tamago” (egg), “mochi” (just search it, specially with the fresh frozen fruits inside!). I digress, anyway the Japanese and I used body language and pointing towards the camera and smiling and I got the shots I didn’t even know I would capture.

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The funniest thing I got from my non-English shoot was that in one of the groups, I took a photo of the girls with their yukatas, then the boys they were with who were wearing regular shirts turned to me and said, “What about me?” I laughed and took their photo.

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And so the story goes…

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Photography by Ritz Marie
Captured in Osaka, Japan

As: Unique

The love I have for music could bring me to my knees. So, when the chance revealed itself, I became highly interested in the opportunity. Unique and I are of a different generation, so before I met him, I was pretty unfamiliar.

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My friends brought us together for the purpose of exploring our creativity. Then, something sparked.

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The creative spark was insane.

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When we work together, there is a trinity. A trinity of respect, trust and creativity to begin with.

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We respected each others’ talents and gained trust in each other to soar creatively.

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Most of you who are likely to read this probably know more about the drama that happened around Unique in social media. But let me share with you an insight: Tita Coco (his “Ma”) can so easily be painted as a villain because of her strong ways. One time, I pointed this out to them after Tita Coco said something I would not usually hear. It was really funny! I hope this society of “DRAMANILA” eventually subsides. Tao lang po lahat tayo. I can go on a rampage about all the drama that happens in Manila, but let’s not go there.

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Back to Unique. Where was I?

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It is my composing belief that life is made out of trinities.

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Witnessing the forces that work around, through and over me leaves me in a stupefied state sometimes. Everything that I have witnessed in my life lead me to undeniably believe that THERE IS A GOD. We all have our own processes and connect the dots differently. So, once again – respect nalang.

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There is just some force, that orchestrates some things that no matter what obstacle is set your way, the destination is inevitable.

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In the middle of a highly energized narration of my life during a conversation, a respected cardiologist (Dr. A), once told me,

“What you are doing is creating.”
I thought, “Yeah! Exactly!”
Then as I listened, he continued to say,,, “And creation is the activity of the gods.”

I was super M I N D B L O W N , you hear me!?
M-i-n-d-b-l-o-w-n.

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Grabe eh, as I write this listening to Unique, this line suddenly comes out of my speaker: “Sa labas man, o simbahan, kayang-kaya pag silbihan,,,” SO META!!! I just learned that term now, “meta.”

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I can gush over his talent, but give his album a listen and create your own judgement. GRANDMA (link opens to Spotify) is his first album. He is talented differently and I admire how he has embraced what he can do at such an early age – but with an old soul.

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Kwento ko lang, dahil sa kanya, I discovered the magic in the music of The Beatles. Fan boy rin kasi yan! Haha… Lahat tayo may tinitingalang mga tao, but remember to look beyond the person and deeper into the inspiration of the matter.

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Recovering Heart

This series is about the recovering heart of a mother. Someone who has been through more pain than you care to imagine.

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People would always describe her as someone who had a “big heart.” Little did we know that her heart was really enlarged – literally speaking. Consequently, she suffered a massive stroke.

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Witnessing her example, I believe that matters of the heart can weigh so heavily on the body. It can either lift us or kill us.

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They say that when you close your fist, it represents your heart. Maybe because it is our heart that fights for the person we are and the people we love.

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A Warrior’s Fist

One of the many lessons I learned is that we need to be careful of whose hearts we align ourselves with during battle.

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The allies of our heart greatly define the person we are.

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Of Love And It’s Horrors

Choose allies who have been through the darkest nights but greet each day with a smile.

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Allies who will light your light when your sparkle is weak.

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Befriend the sun and the moon. Make peace with darkness and light.

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1:33 a.m., as I write this in the dark, I contemplate the light that brought me through a pitch black time in my life.

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I remember, writing a letter – I’ll share with you later.

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It’s about the beauty of a heartache and how it can withstand storms the world has not seen.

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1:39 a.m., listening to the song Litrato by Callalily.

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Dearest Glorious Heartaches, 

To expect a perfect and unbroken heart is absurd. Everyone has already been broken. The difference lies with how one handles the painful experience – either with grace or madness. But be mindful, because seeming grace may be catastrophic while outright madness could be logical.

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No matter how many storms a heart has weathered, trust that there will be more. However, no storm is alike. Just as the way raindrops fall so uniquely every time it pours, every tear you shed is different from the tears you have shed and will shed. But know that the clouds that once carried an outpour of love will not come again in the same way, shape and form. Love sometimes comes as light drizzles, rain showers and typhoons with thunderstorms. It can be crazy electric and cause a flooding of emotions. However, love that guises themselves in clouds will always leave with the wind.

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Aim for a love that does not disguise itself as anything other than what it truly is, because even if there may be no perfect and unbroken heart in this world, one must keep themselves hopeful that there is a real love which is pure and steadfast. After cloudy love leaves, do not be angry. Instead, be thankful for it allows you to see again the brilliance of the sun and the growth of yourself.

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Every heartache gloriously serves its purpose, just as the gift of rain helps plants grow towards the sky. Wear your broken pieces as badges of honor, for you risked to love even if you know it could break you.

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Subjects: Mama, Marie, Pepito & Hannah
Photography: Ritz Marie
With special thanks to music.

Bulgari & Bubbly

When Preview called me for a shoot at the Bulgari store, I immediately jumped at the chance. I just knew it was going to be fun. Though, little did I know how charmed the afternoon would be. As usual, I arrived a bit earlier. But I used that time to get educated about the brand.

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By the time I started shooting, I felt the brand was an old friend.

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Maui of Preview with Angelina of Bulgari

Angelina did such a great job at answering my curiosities about the brand. I told her that during college, I always admired this one necklace design from Bulgari that I used to call the power necklace but that afternoon, I found out that the name of the design is actually B.ZERO1. I am particularly fond of the collection by a powerful woman architect named, Zaha Hadid. I want every piece from the Life is a Labyrinth collection. Every detail is just so inspired!

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Earring from the Diva Collection inspired by Elizabeth Taylor

I learned that Miss Taylor had a long-standing affair with the brand.

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The fan-silhouette of the Diva Collection was inspired by the eye make up of Miss Taylor in one of her movies.

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Another collection is called the Serpenti – this collection is (again, so…) INSPIRED! The rings were so dynamically designed. Too bad it only fit my pinky finger.

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“I like this one for you.”

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That is one handsome watch.

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By the time the shoot was done, I wanted soooooo many things from the store. Buuuuuut… You know, it’s Bulgari. In time, in time – I thought.

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Everything was so pretty!

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It was a spectacle to watch.

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That time when apparently I did a “meme” face.

I just had so much fun with this bunch of ladies.

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#PreviewGirls

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Shot by Ritz Marie for Preview in the Bulgari store, Greenbelt 4, Makati, Philippines.
Models: Maui, Yanna, Steph & Nicole of Preview

 

Aranaz SS18 Campaign

Working with this brand was a dream goal come true. More than Aranaz being a Filipino brand, what I really admire about them is THE inspiration – behind the luxury, behind the vision, behind the team. Not to mention, the lifeblood of the brand is that of women, the three Aranaz women, Becky, Amina & Rosanna.

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During the day of the shoot, I had the pleasure to see the team in action and what a joy it was to watch. But more than witnessing the magic take place in their workplace, what a treat it was to be part of their team – even for a day.

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Work was so leisurely by their side.

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One could sense how the brand achieved its success by watching the trio work together with their team.

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Everyone on set breathed the brand’s personality, and that’s what makes it work – I guess!

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Authentic brands are the best! In my honest opinion.

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Looking forward to seeing what’s in store next for Aranaz. Here’s a peek of their next generation.

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Now, I don’t know who sold the bag better! In any case, that was such a great experience.

“Cheers, to a leisurely life.” – Aranaz

Model: Kat of Elite Manila
Make up Artist: Ciari Luna
Photographer: Ritz Marie
Shot for the SS18 campaign of Aranaz.

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As The Ionitas

March 2016. Birthday month.
When the Jedi Brothers came to visit.
Introducing, Alex and Stefan.

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What I am trying to express in this post is my gratitude for love and life. The time these moments happened, I was in a place inexplicable. Life was scattered and intimidating. But as the universe would have it, these two souls were sent to rescue me from drowning. They served as my lifeguards, my life jackets and as I slowly sank into an abyss, they lit my way and held my soul closely to theirs.

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Alex (in green), I’ve known for quite a while. Stefan (in stripes), I met during that trip. The Ionita’s will hold a piece of my heart wherever life takes me. I think it’s the first time I’m truly reflecting and writing about this time in my life, and honestly, it’s already getting me teary-eyed. And I’ve barely started writing!

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Photo by Alex Ionita

Life felt so harsh before their arrival. Total drama in Manila = DRAMANILA. Certain issues with family came to life and questions swirled through my head like a whirlpool. It was a time where I sensed that no one in my immediate vicinity could understand what I was going through. When I tried to communicate it with them, they would literally stare and look at me like I was deluded. So I just kept to myself. It was a challenge just being, you know? Existence can be tiring at times. Just being who you are with company who accepts you for all your are was an alien feeling for me. I know it was something I’ve already experienced before, but I forgot the feeling of being free to be just me. Everyone around me that time, and I mean everyone, wanted me to be someone else. My family wanted me to make more money, so much pressure was put on me to lose weight, work was sullen and I was just a mess. I felt battered just being in the presence of these people. I even ran away. Because I just could not anymore.

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But thankfully, there were still those very few souls who, though questioned their belief in me, still supported me to become. Those few saw something in me that I failed to see in myself. A few months back, I thanked Alex for “dealing” me while I was a mess. He aptly stated, “You were not a mess, you just lost your compass.” I thought about it, and he was right in stating that. So I told him, “Thank you, for serving as my true north during those times.”

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Alex and I met while we were both studying at York University in Toronto. Time and space led us to lose touch for a while, but as destiny would have it, we were brought back together in each others’ lives. One of the many things I really appreciate him doing was when he remained in constant communication with me when my mama had a stroke and was in the hospital for seven weeks (that’s another potent story). He consistently kept me company even from far away. While I would look after mama in the ICU, alone, his messages of encouragements would come in and those would lift me up greatly.

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Alex was also going through some battles of his own, on his own. But even if he was busy fighting whatever forces, he remained there for me. Hopefully he realizes that if there is any war he needs help in fighting, I will be his ally. Always, always.

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At present, all I know is that he will be forever a darling in my heart and a companion of my soul. I clearly remember crying my soul to him one night at the beach. He remained still. He listened to what I had to say, but more than that, he remained. I relentlessly bared my soul to Alex and Stefan and they seemed to understand what it was saying. Even if I couldn’t quite figure it out myself yet.

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Cried. That’s what I did, when we first saw each other in person after almost a decade. I cried not out of sadness, but out of the fact that I was able to breathe again with them. How could I be sad when I knew great people like them flew all the way to the Philippines to spend time? If anything, I did not feel worthy of the love that was being showered to me. I kept on questioning myself. In hind sight, it’s actually hilarious.

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I remember getting out of the car, seeing his back turned from the window – he was seated in the courtyard and I thought to myself, “He’s actually here. He’s right there.” I walked towards him and my knees went weak when he hugged me. He caught me though. I felt strengthened in the sense that I did not have to hide who I am anymore. Because in a sense, my soul knew that his soul knows who I really am.

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In the mornings, I would wake him up so early (while he’s on vacation) to go watch the sunrise. We would go on the boat, talk about existence, purpose and life. I felt love’s presence all around. The light enveloped the surroundings so beautiful and with majesty. Before, my body clock was always that of a vampire. But things change, I’ve learned to appreciate the mornings more. Funnily enough, the Ionitas, before moving to Canada, were from Romania. So I guess, we were in like-blooded company. (Ha!) Pardon the digression to humor, for my eyes need a break from crying while writing this post. The question I’ll have later is if I’m even going to share this. It’s one of the most (if not THE most) personal piece I’ve written here. Actually feels liberating.

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As the sun rose to our delight, we would have moments of silence.

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We would just soak in the surroundings and the present happening. Beauty remained faithful and ever-present.

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Nature is unquestionably perfect, and so it was. We basked in the infinite wellness of the present moment by being in each other’s presence.

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Even if I just personally met Stefan during that trip, I felt that I’ve known him before. There was this one night, we were laying down on the sand and looking up to the universe when we started talking about the movie, The Truman Show. How life really seemed to be that way many, many times. Then a star seemed to move, Stefan caught it and said it was a satellite. I shouted (to NASA) “Please take a photo of and email it to me!” We all had a laugh and continued to marvel at the universe.

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The Ionita’s did more than just to come as they are, they brought out the “as I am” in me. Because they had no expectations of me being any other, I greatly sensed that they accepted me for who I was, who I am and who I want to become. There was no pressure to be anyone else other than myself. And that in itself is quite exhilarating.

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I felt special. Moments like these are beyond the concept of kilig.

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In essence, they breathed life back into my soul and love into my life. Something everyone so desperately craves for but few are brave enough to admit.

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We shared, laughed, dined, sunbathed in the middle of the ocean. There would be moments of peace and quiet, and I would just ponder on all the events that had to happen just to bring us together. I’m fairly certain there’s a mathematical formula to compute the chances of events like this transpiring, somewhere out there. But at the tail end of pondering upon these moments, I just let things be, and enjoyed their presence. Ok, I mean, IMAGINE. I grew up in the Philippines, they grew up in Romania, we met in Canada. Can you even?!

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The magnitude of the moments would make my heart tear with joy.

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The days were a vision of true clarity.

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The sun, our playmate, was cool enough to give us great visions of light.

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As the waves washed all troubles away, my soul was soothed and mind was refreshed.

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They are gentlemen of muse.

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Our time under the sun will forever be a cherished part of me.

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Though not in the photos, I’d like to share that during my birthday (we spent on the boat), dolphins showed up beside us, dancing through existence. It was a wonderful surprise from the forces unseen.

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As the days came to pass and the night revealed itself, we basked in a different light.

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Stars filled our vision of the sky.

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There was not a cloud in the sky. It was spotless and filled with majesty.

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I was enthralled.

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The photos pale weak in comparison to the actual beauty of the moment.

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As the moon gave way for the stars to shine brighter that night, my being was energized. With the Ionita’s, I experienced being part of shared beauty. Grabe. And in a sense, I felt beautiful too around them.

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We could see the Milky Way clearly that time. I’m telling you, not a cloud in the sky.

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The first night we spent together, we were at the beach and fireflies revealed themselves. While sitting by the shore, I thought I saw a shooting star so close to us, but it revealed itself to be light in a different form. A single firefly. Then as we walked back to the resort, we were led to a bush, a seemingly ordinary bush (you could see all its thorns in the light of day). All of a sudden, the plant lit up like a Christmas tree would! Then, we found ourselves in the middle of fireflies – just lighting up our world. It was such a treat! That occurrence on the first night we spent together solidified my belief that life is in deed, beautiful and that there is literally light in every living creature.

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As we played connect-the-dots with destiny, I marveled at the beautiful drawing life was creating and is continuing to do so.

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I am blessed to have had the opportunity to experience moments like these. SO BLESSED. That, I am aware of – and I am grateful to have the capacity to share moments like these.

End so I guess that answers my question whether to post and share this story or not.

Photography: Ritz Marie
Models: Alex and Stefan Ionita
Location: Mindoro, Puerto Galera, Philippines
Special thanks to Marco Vincent Dive Resort