The Reluctant Stylista is a fashion and lifestyle blog written by Alex Lapa--the tomboy who suddenly discovered the joys and perks of dressing up. Original illustrations by Paolo Lazatin.
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Man cannot discover new oceans
unless he has the courage
to lose sight of the shore.
― André Gide
I couldn’t let the first month of 2014 pass by without looking back on what may have been one of my most eventful (although at the time it was happening, it didn’t feel that way) years so far: 2013. While other people would do a “Year in Review” post, I’m doing one of those “Best of” posts. Except that in this case, I hardly ever talked about the most exciting times of 2013 in my own blog, so it’s not exactly a “review” in that sense. So mostly, this is a post dedicated to the wonderful things I had left unwritten the past year. I haven’t decided yet if this is a good thing or not. I wasn’t able to chronicle these experiences right away, yes, but I think it also shows that during these memorable (maybe some even noteworthy!) moments, I was too busy living them instead.
So now, let me try and put it to words for you.
#1: I Jumped Off a 50-ft Cliff Three Times
I started 2013 year with a bang. I spent the second week of January in Boracay, just a few days shy of the Ati-Atihan festival. I spent a whole week in the island and ate bulalo everyday (mostly at Smoke’s, but also kansi at Island Inasal). When I wasn’t shortening my life with the cholesterol fest, I was busy doing island activities. It’s been maybe my fourth or fifth time in Boracay but I was always with people who would rather relax by the beach front or party by the resorts. That shouldn’t have stopped me, I know, but I made up for it big time during my January 2013 trip. I booked cliff diving by Ariel’s Point via Boracay Beach Club, which is a short boat ride away from Boracay. For P1,600, you can enjoy a barbecue buffet and unlimited drinks, and also kayaking and snorkeling. But the highlight is really the cliff diving.
There are several heights. I had jumped off 18 feet years ago from the top of a waterfall (at CDO’s Mapawa Nature Park), and I had fun, and it didn’t hurt at all. At Ariel’s Point, the highest ledge was 50 feet then. So I started at 8 feet first. It hurt like hell, because the body has the tendency to fold while in mid-air if you’re not careful. It had never happened to me before, so I didn’t know that the best way was to try and keep the body straight (if you’re a non-diver, and you’re just jumping off the cliff) so that you drop like a knife into the ocean. But that was the most painful it got. It definitely made me wary of the higher ones. But I was already there, and just a few hours prior, I was dead set to jump off their highest ledge. I had been waiting to do it for weeks! So then I went to 25 feet, and that was when I started doing better at it. Eventually, much to everyone’s amazement, I jumped off the 50 feet without much thinking (I didn’t want to stop lest I chicken out!). At that time, even grown men didn’t want to jump off that particular ledge–and no amount of teasing that a scrawny little girl such as myself could be manlier than they were got them off their asses.
While I was up there, my line of vision was filled with clouds and the open sea. I would like to say that it’s beautiful, and it really was–but it was also one of the scariest things I’ve ever witnessed. And falling? It felt forever before I had hit the water.
The 50 feet jump:
I did it 2 more times to encourage the others to start jumping off the highest ledge as well. The men on that trip tried to build up their courage by drinking more beer, though I hardly see drunken cliff-jumping to be the wisest course for anyone. I’m glad I did jump off that cliff, though. I’ve often thought about going back and trying it again (even though it never got easier even after several jumps. Plus, I was black and blue all over the next day). But after my neck scare last September, I’ve been a lot more careful about my bones and my spine and I probably won’t do this kind of thing again.
…Or maybe not in quick succession.
P.S. — Jumping off 50 feet is not for people with weak bones, back and neck problems. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
#2 I had a series of portraits taken
Getting portraits shouldn’t be a big deal, right? But to me, this one was.
This takes me back to my memories the summer after high school graduation, I was still going to school because I had to wrap up the yearbook (of which I was EIC. In our school, you get the year book a few months to a year after graduation). It was one of those afternoons, on our way to Tropical Hut, when a friend and I got into an interesting discussion. (Interesting” maybe for the nuns who ran our very Catholic high school, the very same ones who confiscated my historical romance novel because it had sex in it.) It went something like this:
Friend: “In a few years, when I feel like I’m at my best so far, I’d like to have an artistic nude photo taken.”
Me: “That’s great! Hmm, but photos are kinda scary. Maybe I’d like to be sketched or painted instead.” We then proceeded to hash out the pros and cons of each process. I think my friend said she’d like to have that portrait when she turned 18, while I said something much older.
Take note that this was before Friendster, which was there before Facebook and most of the other social media giants now where photos are viewed by everyone in your (mostly) real-life network. Camera-whoring wasn’t even that popular; most people didn’t even like putting up real photos as avatars when they went online. And I thought photos were dangerous property even then, because it could be easily duplicated and end up in the wrong hands.
Fast forward to 2013, and I ended up having both of those when I was approached for collaborations: a sketch and a number of black and white photos done artistically. They weren’t strict nudes, but I think it’s the closest I’d ever get. It’s a little more risque than the usual Boudoir Dolls production, but I was also emphatic that the artworks were not meant to be sexy. I wanted it to look natural and maybe even poignant. So first, it was by photographer Adrian Teng who was in town only for a few weeks before leaving for NZ where he was stationed. He was an old classmate from DLSU. The other artist was my illustrator friend Mark Ganzon, who’s based in Dubai. Mark was once part of WeWillDoodle, and was then doing a series of sketches that were based on real women. Mine was entitled “Regeneration”.
And like the last time when I did the lingerie show for House of Vanita, I’m not posting photos here, sorry. But if you know my Instagram, you might find some in there. And to women who have been thinking of getting their own boudoir shoot but keep postponing it because they want to work out first, you’ll never get around to it. Just get the shoot done now; let’s face it, you never know if today is the best you’ll ever look. You can always work out after your first shoot, and if you succeed then you’ll surely want another one done.
#3 I had my first road trip as the designated driver, to Taal Heritage Town in Batangas
I had started writing about this months ago (it was supposed to be Part 2 of 2), and it’s now gathering imaginary dust in my drafts folder. Which is a shame. Sometimes, when there are so many things to say about the experience, you don’t know where to start. In my case, it often ends up not being talked/written about at all.
But I discovered that Part 1 was one of my most searched blog posts and destination of organic traffic last year, so I figured I can recommend Taal to people looking for things to do around the Tagaytay-Batangas area. Most only really know about Tagaytay, and when you say Taal, they only think of the volcano. As I found out last year, Taal is also the name of a quaint town in Batangas with some well-preserved documentation of its history.
Full credit goes out to Shell, who ran the campaign Shell Journeys last year and sponsored my first roadtrip (with myself as the driver, that is). I’ve been using V-Power Nitro+ Diesel ever since and so do my parents (and no, Shell didn’t ask for this extra feature). I could have gone anywhere for my trip, and I’m particularly fond of the beach, but the message of their campaign encouraged us to be more personal. So I thought of going somewhere different from my usual out of town choices. I had chosen Taal because my maternal side, the Venturanza family, is connected to the Agoncillos. In fact, some cousins of mine still bear this name. In Philippine history taught in schools, we’ve known that Marcela Agoncillo was the principal seamstress of the first Philippine flag, as requested by Emilio Aguinaldo–the first president of the Philippine Republic. Marcela Agoncillo was married to Don Felipe Agoncillo, a rich and well-connected revolutionist who was one of the country’s first diplomats. My cousin and I went inside the houses of the Agoncillos and visited several historical sites. A street named Venturanza was also near the Taal area. I hadn’t checked, but it could’ve been named after some of my ancestors, as I do know for a fact that some of my family had lived in Batangas (this of course includes the Agoncillos).
There are many other things to see around Taal Heritage Town, including small museums. The oldest and largest church in the country is also found here: Basilica de San Martin de Tours. We’ve also enjoyed viewing the best of their local wares, from the balisong (butterfly knives) to embroideries, and tasting delicacies such as their own version of longganisa and empanada (which is probably now my favorite kind! It had vermicelli noodles inside).
My cousin and I inside the Agoncillo/Aguinaldo houses:
We must dare, and dare again,
and go on daring.
–Georges Jacques Danton
I’m a serial non-continuer of serial posts, but I do promise to finish this one. Stay tuned for Part 2 and more awesome.Related posts: