Support Small Businesses This Quarantine

I love making roundups, especially on brands and businesses that need to be shared to you.

Since the start of the quarantine I’ve been deep into listing down websites and IG accounts to know where to order certain foods, since going to the grocery is not the best option at the moment. Here are some of my personal recommendations—these are not sponsored by the way! But I personally have tried / have most of these on my stash so I thought it’d be worth sharing. 🙂

Coffee

BUT OF COURSE we start with coffee!

Yay coffee! My Jacob’s stash (which is pre-ground and I realize, not really the best kind for my pourover lol) is close to finished, so I finally decided on ordering two bags of Weekender from Nine Three Coffee for pourover and french press. Lately I’ve been prefering FP more because it uses less waste (no filter for mine) and I love how I can make cold brew with it too. The brew is not too strong but perfect with a cookie or to start a day (I usually just have a cup per day).

Also: not a big milk person (#allergies) but their Milk Brew is great! Worth a try, and worth the lactose lololol

If you’re looking for big batches of cold brew or Vietnamese latte, Stout Coffee is your go-to! They also have beans and drip packs.

Recently ordered bags from LICK.ph (based in El Nido) to support my dear friend from LU (who now lives in Palawan) Maka. Have yet to try but will report back if it’s good! I got Millalitra and Honey. Wish I could try the Horchata but it’s only exclusive to El Nido. Also: yay, free shipping for 400g and up of coffee!

Was looking for tea leaves and Sophie directed me to Celestea. I got both Chamomile and Peppermint—I haven’t tried the former yet but the Peppermint was good. Personally, I just find it way too expensive especially ’cause the shipping costed me PHP250 🙁 I’ve long accepted that shipping with Metro Manila is around PHP150 tops so, yeah. Anyway, I think this will last me long so I’m looking forward to have more cups of tea during the night time, before bed (the ones I ordered are caffeine free).

Plant-based treats

I love sweets! I mean, not always—and also, most definitely not thanks to the breakouts I get after especially for treats with dairy. So instead, I found some plant-based treats that don’t taste vegan at all. I could go on and on about how good these are!

Always been a fan of Everyday Mom‘s banana bread with walnuts (!) and also their coffee jelly (that I can finish in a short amount of time…oops). When they released their plant-based cookies and loaves, I was so excited to place an order. Luckily auntie Pam (thanks Sophie lol) sent me some to try. My current faves are the PB Sea Salt Dark Chocolate (above) and Carrot Walnut loaf. Still savoring the last few pieces here on our pantry as I type this out!

For the taste, they really don’t skimp on the ingredients and it’s hard to believe this is actually butter, egg and dairy-free. It’s still very rich and goes well with a cup of black coffee (I LOVE contrasting flavors).

If you’re looking for sweets to munch on—also cookies—Honest Junk is your best bet. My personal faves are their Super Gummies in Mango and Calamansi, as well as their Zooper Cookies in Coco Chia flavor. Warning: super addictive. Best part? Vegan and gluten-free. Another thing: I love their packaging. I’ve kept one to display in my room because why not!

Last but not the least in this category is Earth Desserts. I’m in love with their Vegan Fudgy Brownie and I can eat them at least once a day for the next week, but I might be giving my stomach a disservice, lol. Prices are also very reasonable. I’m looking forward to try their brownie brittle soon. I try to limit ordering stuff every week because I gotta check on my finances, haha.

Health and Wellness

If you’re looking for some essentials to unwind, here are some of my faves.

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It’s almost here! 🌱🌱🌱BLEMISH BE GONE Blemish Clearing Oil Spot Corrector back in stock 1st week of May! LIMITED PRE-ORDER PIECES ONLY! www.oiamnatural.com Aside from it really does work, here are tons of reasons why you’ll love it! Helps fight acne, clogged pores, and inflamed skin. Tiny bottle, BIG RESULTS! -antibacterial -anti-inflammatory -non-acnegenic -noncomodegenic -fades dark spots & discoloration -rich in vitamin A, amino acids, and fatty acid -aids in healthy cell growth -rejuvinates damaged and inflamed skin PLANT-POWERED🍃 -Black Cumin Seed Oil (legendary secret of the goddesses like Cleopatra in having clear skin) -Tamanu Oil (exotic oil known for its potent healing properties) -Tea Trea (known for its antibacterial, anti-acne, anti-fungal properties) -Clove Leaf (known for its anti-acne, antioxidant, anti-microbial, and antiseptic properties) -Grapefruit (acts as a natural mild astringent)

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I don’t share a lot about makeup and skincare on my platforms, because OBVIOUSLY I’m an artist and that’s not why you’re here lol. Also my skin has had its extremely dark days; I have suffered most of my early years (until now) because of horrible dermatologists and poorly managed skin. These days, I’m really focusing on eating well and giving my skin pure nutrients and oils in order for it to be healthy.

I saw OIAM at one of my Instagram stalking sprees (I do this a lot to research on local brands, hehe). I bought a bottle of their Blemish Be Gone oil spot corrector and so far my skin likes it. I developed cystic acne again this quarantine (must be the heat and a combo of stress and sometimes falling out of my dairy-free diet on some days) so I needed something natural to treat it (since I no longer take BC pills—but I still have PCOS lol woo). Noreen (the owner) was also kind enough to send me oil rollers and I’ve been keeping them on my side regularly. So good.

Let’s just cut to the chase here—these tarot cards will NOT determine your future, but they’ll help you figure out your path. Practical Magic is owned by one of my good friends, Chinggay, and her latest baby is a PM Pinoy deck. If you’re into reading tarot, consider getting a deck. If not, maybe try out her online reading bundles. Hopefully it’ll give you some clarity during this time.

ALSO: since we’re here, I’m collaborating with PM on a goodie bag for the shop! More about it soon. *confetti*

If you’re looking for eco-friendly products, check out Loop, which is owned by Sip (correct me if I’m wrong). They’ve got stuff for your kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.

Olk Candle was kind enough to send me some samples, and I highly recommend their candles. They smell so good and the prices are very reasonable. Plus points for the really cute decorations!

Daily Essentials

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Tote-ally chic. 〰️ Maxi Tote in Powder.

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I’ve been a longtime fan of Badass Tote Girl because of their functional tote bags in beautiful colors (I’m talking mustard and salmon colors). One of their new releases is a mask shield which sold out v fast (I hope they will restock)—I managed to get one and the colors are lovely as well. If we’re talking function + aesthetic, Badass Tote Girl delivers indeed.

Highly recommend the Basic Tote, and Campus Tote if you want a zippered tote. Size is perfect for a laptop and other essentials. You can also watch my video here to see it.

Bought these washable face masks from EIKA and because I’m such a basic b*tch I had to get the white one. It’s breathable and durable, so double yay! I also got the neoprene masks because they had it in pretty colors, but unfortunately I’m disappointed with the sizing as it was too big for me. Obviously there are no more returns, so I’m thinking of fixing the measurements and designing them for a creative project, lol.

Who needs Ziplocs when you’ve got Zippies? These sustainable zip bags are great for storing anything—meat, snacks, dry goods, and yes, stationery. My cousin achi Jac owns this, and I’m currently planning to order these for my future goodie bags as they’re perfect for storing washi tapes and samplers. Stay tuned!

PS: I love these new colors. Reminds me of Mildliners!

I’m so happy to see more sustainable clothing brands on the rise in the local scene. As someone who’s an advocate for sustainable fashion (I mean, I’m slowly getting there—baby steps!) I’m very interested to purchase from Candid Clothing. I’m on their site now checking out which top to get, lol. Probably the Reversible Blouse since it’s an innovative concept.

Stationery & Art Supplies

Save the best for last, amirite?

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What’s your first fountain pen?

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Y’all, bye savings.

Ordered stuff from Scribe because I “needed” Japanese stationery. I’ve also been writing in cursive lately for personal practice (and an exercise in lesser screen time) so I recently purchased a TWSBI Eco fountain pen (which I have yet to unbox). Apart from that, I bit the bullet during their warehouse sale (Tombow brush pens at 50% off!) and you get free shipping with a minimum of P2,500. Woops. I guess, treat yo self is always valid 😛

Really though, quite happy I can shop for my favorite Japanese stationery on Scribe without leaving my home. The price markups also aren’t very high!

A homegrown brand and one of my personal favorites, Papemelroti is pretty much known for their wide variety of stationery and home decor. My personal favorite collection is the Artists and Philippine Stamps collection. Some items are on sale as well; check it out on their website.

Plus points for their deliveries because they come in a lovely kraft box that says Special Delivery. Feels like Christmas!

Also: I will be filming my quarantine stationery haul in July!

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How many Philippine native fruits do you know? Tbh I only learned about Antipolo, Pasang, Malabagang, and many others while working on this #ForestFruitsPh postcard set together with @forestfoundationph. 🌳 The 30-piece set was officially announced yesterday and it features botanical paintings of and info on some of the most interesting fruits of our Philippine native trees – like the Almaciga, Bignay, Lipote, and Tambis – that you can frame as prints or send to your friends! It might be a nice way for you to connect with each other and share your love for the environment while maintaining physical distancing. 💚 This follows our #ForestBloomsPH and #DrawNativeTreesPH collaborative projects, and through the postcards, we hope to raise awareness on the important role of native trees in the protection and conservation of our forests, and inspire more people to plant them. 🌿 Click the linktree in my bio to order (please choose “shop Forest Blooms items.”). All proceeds from the sales of this product will be used to produce more materials that can help promote the advocacy.

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I’ve got a soft spot for flowers—moreover, vintage style, hand drawn ones. Cynthia Arre‘s illustrations remind me so much of that, and I love her initiative for Philippine flowers to be more recognized and known. Check out Cyn’s stuff at her Instagram and webshop. They’re great for journaling, sending out cards to friends, and more.

La Local hosts a variety of local brands. Some of my items are stocked with them in the UST branch, but due to the quarantine a lot of foot traffic has been lost. Check out their Instagram Stories highlights for their catalogue and which items you can order. They ship within Metro Manila.

Yeah OF COURSE my shop is here. With every purchase from Shop Abbey Sy, you’re helping our team invest more back into the businesses by making new products, producing YouTube videos and funding for stuff such as hosting for this website and my Shopify pages. Plus, you get to be inspired to create and make things. Win win, yes?

Hoping this roundup inspires you to support small businesses especially during this time.


Bonus!

Places where you can shop for groceries online (YES I have become that person)

Onto The Next

I’m writing this on the last week of June, but in my calendar it’s basically just a reminder that this quarantine isn’t going to be over soon, and I’ve long accepted that fact.

The question now is what to do with all this time indoors. If you tell me to work, well damn, I’ve worked more hours in the past week that I pretty much lost track of being a human. But that’s not to blame, though—I feel like I’m slowly seeing the light of day as my deadlines become more manageable and more work gets finished.

So, if you’re like me who counts the year not in months but in quarters, we’re heading into quarter three this July. Usually, on my calendar, this is where I gear up for PaperCon (supposedly this October but we’re turning it into an online event), prepare for production (aka shelling out $$$ for the next half of the year, in time for the holidays), maybe sneak in a trip during the last weeks of summer in the other side of the world, and/or maybe put out a book in the process.

Now that I think about it, wow it’s a lot. Lol. But such is the life of my workaholic self.

Anyway, for obvious reasons, this year is different in many ways. But I am excited for the change, even if it’s the only part of my life that I cannot control.

First thing’s first, ya girl finally sat on it and revamped this website. I’ve started editing it since last November but I had a little issue working with JupiterX and Elementor, because I am not used to this language. I just know basic UI/UX and what web design entails. So the past two weeks, I calibrated and dove into all the technicals. I’m pretty happy that I did this because I was considering on moving to another domain and hosting (Squarespace) but realized it would take so much time to set up again from scratch, especially if I could just edit this and make it better—which is what I did. Also, I already spent so much money paying my web developer before and paying my previous host who ghosted me for realz that I don’t want to spend more.

Thank you to GreenGeeks for keeping this site up and running and thank you to myself for learning to work on your own shit, seriously. Solopreneur life is the best path I’ve chosen since last year.

Another thing I did is this email course called Unlock Your Creative Potential that came up randomly in my brain’s storage ware (LOL). One thing I keep forgetting is that a lot of my learning experiences in this field have equipped me with the ability to share my knowledge and impart my insights to those who need it—YOU. So when I received a COVID aid (free for 3 months, omg) from Mailchimp (after attending a Creative Mornings talk featuring JK Glei, one of my idols ever), I knew it was time to jump in. The main reason I stopped my toolkit last year was because I couldn’t afford to pay the Mailchimp fees as my budget has significantly reduced. Now that the shop is up and running, and I’m earning a bit on YouTube (a bit like I get less than $50 in two months lol not much but it’s ok), as well as launching my Patreon this coming July, I am hoping I can afford it after the free period ends this August. For now, enjoy the 7 days of me saying hello in your inbox!

Quick shop update! It’s been good. I’ve been better at managing orders. I had to fire a previous assistant and I’m so relieved to finally get my other assistant back on track, even if she is way down south in the PH. Either way, we’ve been getting by, and it’s thanks to you! I’m working on the international logistics so that’s another challenge I’m taking on this next month.

Lastly, as mentioned, I finally worked on my Patreon page. It WAS NOT easy—I owe my thanks to Kaila big time for a Patreon crash course she gave me last year while staying with her in Japan. But it took me around half a year (plus the past three years because I made an account in 2017 LOL) to fully flesh out what I wanted out of it. Sure, I can do lettering, journaling, share my work, yeah okay. But I’ve been wanting to transition into something more than that—and I found that sweet spot. I want to be able to share my resources to you, as well as guide you on YOUR creative journey. This deemed really fitting ever since I started writing about it in Always Be Creating: A Field Guide to Living a Creative Life. There is so much more information I want to share with you, and through Patreon, I am hoping to do just that.

Earlier in the summer I started offering classes via Zoom. It was tiring. Huhu. I enjoyed it but I think my energy is not very suited to speaking a lot. I’m actually better at writing—even video editing and filming stresses me so much. I think I’ve accepted that fact in latter years of my life, especially also after putting out the email course which took me just two days to type (not counting the layout work, automation planning and all the technical stuff ok? It takes a lot of time haha). I’m glad I’m slowly learning to embrace the things I’m good at and focusing on my strengths. It’s one of the best things I’ve been doing in my career so far this year.

I stopped updating this blog for the obvious reason that most creators will tell you—either because of YouTube, Instagram, or both. And it’s true. It’s so easy to get sucked in the world of social media, where direct connection to your audience is available. I know that, and I’m fallen to that trap. But honestly, nothing makes me more comfortable than carving out this space where you can dive deep into the stories that exceed the caption count on Instagram, or don’t get that much views on YouTube since there are billions of users around the world. When I started moving to an actual website after my glory days on Tumblr (10 years ago WOEW), the idea of a website was so essential that I called it my “home” on the digital space—which is true. I learned this from my previous job in Advertising. Then all the social media platforms are just apartments or Airbnbs (haha) or rented spaces.

After doing a little website overhaul, I’ve started to go back into that mindset and decided to update here as frequently as possible. Since I went absent on social media for two weeks, a lot of my priorities have drastically shifted; and so has my energy. Where can I put my 100% where I know that I’ll get back the same 100% or more? What avenues of my career do I need to pay attention to, and what needs to go? What’s next for this uncertain creative career? Where am I headed in the next five years?

Of course, I don’t know. But I have a gut feeling the next half of 2020 will be equal parts exciting and scary. Not just for me, but for the rest of humanity and what the world is going to look like.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Is that still a popular thing to say? I always say that when I finish ranting a very long sermon to my friends on Telegram. LOL.


And since the first half of the year was mostly spent in quarantine, here are some recommendations from my current consumption history:

From my YouTube watch history:

On my current reading list:

  • Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport
  • Up next: either The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka or The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason or Normal People by Sally Rooney
  • Or maybe I’ll finally finish up An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (I feel I’ve been out of YA novels as I get older)

From my podcast history:

On my series and films watch list:

  • Finished seasons 4 & 5 of Orange Is the New Black last week. I couldn’t turn off my iPad, lol. It was so good—also very relevant and important to watch especially at this time.
  • Queueing up The Politician season 2 next week
  • Watching RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 5 every Saturday with Sophie for live commentaries, lol
  • Not on Netflix, but I’ve downloaded Chernobyl and finished it in a short few days. It’s hauntingly beautiful and depressing.
  • I have switched my genre to mystery/thriller and sci-fi. HU U, ABBEY? Recently watched Gone Girl, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and The Truman Show. ALL AMAZINGLY DONE.
  • Also very much not over Portrait of a Young Lady on Fire. Films like these make me happy to be alive.

What are you looking forward to for the next half of the year?

Abbey

Easy Art Projects To Do At Home

Hello! It’s been awhile—almost a month here already since the quarantine started and while I’ve been busy with work, I’ve also been busy experimenting and using my art materials here at home. I mean, it’s a no brainer as I’ve been constantly rearranging things and finding ways to be more creative and work on things for myself. Today, I’m sharing some easy projects you can do at home to stay creative during this time. [Watch the YouTube video here!]

Practice Brush Lettering

Nothing like brushing up on your skills, amirite? Take this time to practice brush lettering. It’s often overlooked how mastering your strokes is not something you can do overnight. As you work on your drills, you’ll also be able to find different techniques and ways that you can play up on your brush lettering further (there’s not just one style—there are many!) and use it to enhance your skills.

Looking for worksheets to practice with? I have them available at my digital shop—click here to purchase.

Decorate your notebook cover

Jazz up a blank notebook cover with stickers, stationery, and lettering. Simple, easy, and very DIY-friendly. You will need a blank notebook, stuff from your journaling stash, scissors, tape and glue to combine everything together.

Create a collage on your journal

Got nothing to do with old magazines, newspaper, booklets and scrap paper? Use everything up and create collages on your journal. Lately I’ve been diving into collage—it’s such an interesting way to decorate your journal pages and uses a lot of “editing”, by picking out elements from already existing material and making it your own. Looking for more collage kits? Check out Rookie’s archives (for printing). It’s a gold mine!

Paint your own postcard

Keep it simple with a postcard! Use your postcard-sized watercolor paper or excess stash (aka the ones you cut up from extra pieces from your last painting sesh) to paint works of art. May it be inspiring, uplifting, or simply a form of self-expression. The possibilities are endless. You can use watercolor, gouache, or mixed media. Collage, too! Because why not?

Making your own bookmarks

Cut up your watercolor paper into bookmark sizes (or cut up the postcard sized one in half) and whip up these easy bookmarks aka the perfect partner to your dog-eared books (guilty!). Since watercolor paper is around 300gsm, it works well as a bookmark. Play it up with patterns, lettering, or doodles and you’re good to go.

What creative topics are you keeping busy with this month? Take care and stay safe!

Free Classes, Downloadables & Events You Can Sign Up For While Staying Home

Hey!

I’ve been seeing a lot of different online content which I want to share with you guys. As a fellow creative, I wanted to round up some of the free things you can do while staying at home. Enjoy this list, and if you find more, please don’t hesitate to let me know so I can add it to this directory.

Please take note some of them are expiring / not long-term, so make sure to snag them while you can!

Reach 2020 Summit by Teachable

If you’re a content creator, freelancer or tutor, sign up for this free online summit to gain more knowledge and how to make the most out of your job. Register at bit.ly/teachff20

Brit+Co Online Classes

Whether you want to brush up on your creative skills, dive into a new hobby, or simply want to add a little artistic touch to your daily life, Brit+Co is offering classes for FREE until March 31.  Go to brit.co/learn and use the code SELFCARE at checkout.

Girlboss Rally 2020

I’ve attended Girlboss Rally in 2018, and have learned so much about growing a community, empowering my inner #girlboss, and connecting with others. Now, you get to do it on the comfort of your own home—FOR FREE! Sign up here to RSVP: https://www.girlbossrally.com/rsvp

ABC Toolkit

Shameless plug, but the ABC Toolkit is now available for FREE DOWNLOAD until March 31st. Access it at the digital shop: http://abbeysydigital.store

The Serious Review: Issue 1

The Serious Studio recently launched The Serious Review, and it’s available for FREE DOWNLOAD at https://theseriousreview.com/. Snag a print copy as well if you’re keen—guaranteed 10/10 design and content from one of my personal favorite branding studios.

Darling Magazine Digital Issues

I’ve always loved reading Darling’s articles online, and this quarantine period they’re offering some of their digital issues for free. This week, it’s Issue 4. Last week I got Issue 1. Check out their shop here:  https://shop.darlingmagazine.org/collections/digital

Kuya Robert’s Live Drawing Class

Want to get into daily drawing? Illustrator Robert Alejandro is having daily live drawing sessions every morning (PH time) on his Facebook page. Perfect for kids and adults alike. Join the session by going to Robert’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kuya.robert.

January 2020: A Roundup

It’s been a month since the year started, and I’ve been easing into February with more work—so while I’m in this transitional phase of figuring out my next batch of work for the following week, let me just type this out first and share with you some of the things I’ve been consuming last January.

There have been quite a handful of films I’ve been meaning to watch in recent months, so it was time that I *finally* get to watch them.

Miss Americana

Taylor Swift’s heartfelt documentary on her career evolution hit me hard. I’ve been a fan since Teardrops On My Guitar and seeing her flourish in her music, as well as learn to face the adversities that crossed her path is admirable. I am so happy for her now, since she’s in a better headspace (and I didn’t realize she was *that* skinny before, omg? scary). I particularly loved the songwriting videos! I binged most of them on YouTube during the time Reputation came out. Oh, and I will say this: Taylor Swift’s concert was easily the most memorable one I’ve watched in my life.

Jojo Rabbit

Not sure how I found out about this…I think it was when the Oscar noms came out. Either way, I like a good satire, and I missed listening to an English-German accent (wait, is that how it’s said? Or anyway…basically Germans speaking in English). First of all, some parts were very Wes Anderson (especially the Hitler Youth Camp portrayal), and then this adorable bond between Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo) and Archie Yates (Yorki), as well as the captivating Thomasin McKenzie and ScarJo’s quirky but mysterious character. Rebel Wilson was a funny addition, too. 10/10 would watch again—actually watched it twice in a week!

Also: director Taika Waititi’s TEDxDoha talk was fun.

Judy

Much to my expectations, this was a heavy drama that I *literally* went straight to watching Carpool Karaoke videos after before hitting the sack. I watched The Wizard of Oz late last year on an open cinema event in Singapore, then I did a Google—THEN I found out about the tumultuous childhood and life Judy Garland had. Prior to that, I only knew of her because of RuPaul (which makes sense: she is a gay icon and supposedly the catalyst of the Stonewall Riots). So it was eye-opening to see this film, having known the background of her life already. Ultimately heartbreaking, but also worth a watch. Renee Zellweger was spectacular.

Ever since discovering Harry Styles’ crosswalk musical that night I watched Judy (one thing led to another, really), I went into an obsession with my ex crush (LOOOL). I used to gush over Harry during my Directioner fandom days (I still am, but I guess I’m not as crazy as before—BUT I still listen to 1D’s discography like twice a month) so his new album Fine Line is SO GOOD. I personally didn’t like his self-titled one (although Kiwi is a fave), so this pop vibe is something I like from him. But wait, there’s more: yes, I watched all his interviews (he loves I’m Every Woman by Chaka Khan and I’m SOLD!), his music videos, I replayed Adore You’s MV so many times (that fish though, I love the concept, so Aquarius), I watched Late Late Styles…the next thing I want is to watch him on tour. Hahaha

For now, here’s his album. My personal favorite is Treat People with Kindness, but Watermelon Sugar, Golden and Adore You are always on repeat.

In Netflix-related things…yes I have been glued to my Netflix since Sex Education season 2 came out last January. I finished it in one day, felt so empty, then rewatched season 1, then now I want to rewatch season 2 again. LOL.

Sex Education

Never knew I’d actually press play on this but it’s quite the awkward, quirky yet humor-filled coming of age series that I needed to watch. I love all the characters and their own narratives, and I love the story that unfolds on every episode. I’m patiently waiting for season 3! Plus points for the beautiful locations where they shot the series (Wales, I think?) as well as the color grading, the outfits! and basically everything else apart from the story and actors. *Chef’s kiss* Also their accent. I watched so much of their interviews too. Hahaha.

Orange is the New Black

Don’t ask me how I picked up this series because I honestly have NO IDEA either. The first few episodes were steady…then suddenly it was like whoa. My college best friend told me she watched it, so at least I have someone to talk to about it! It’s a very interesting look inside female incarceration—I’d say I felt more woke (ugh, this word lol) after watching this. Suddenly my world opened up to so many other things. I’m on Season 4 now, and started watching this late last year every morning in Berlin. My personal favorite episodes are the ones on the prisoner’s back stories. So much depth and emotion that it literally draws you in.

Last but not the least.

Terrace House

Kaila got me into watching TH and I was initially like “hm what is this” and then two episodes later…I could not stop watching. I didn’t think Japanese doing mundane things would interest me so much (my favorites are when they cook dinner and I’m just like…I WANT TO EAT TOO) but, well, they are interesting. I love seeing the friendships unfold, analyzing the dynamics between the housemates, and figuring out their next move. I know it says it’s R-18 and it’s all about dating, but honestly, there’s more to it than the love part. I personally loved seeing the ambitious housemates that come in (literally cried when one of them left…huhu) and seeing their drive and passion.

But anyway, this is a very intriguing and highly debatable show (sometimes I’d scroll Reddit JUST to get more out of the show). The latest part of the latest season isn’t on Netflix so I’m relying on a (reliable) Facebook page to feed me the weekly episodes while Kaila and I discuss after watching, lol.

Not sure where or when I mentioned this, but it was only later in life (I think 2017? 2018?) that I got into watching films and series in general. So it’s surprisingly cool (I guess?) to see my tastes evolve and my interests do change over time. But I still am very much fascinated with how people think and come up with these ideas. It’s amazing.

What’s on your roundup list last January?

2019 Favorites: A Roundup

In the years I’ve started to become more interested in consuming film, music, books and (recently) series, my preferences for the genres that surround it have changed so much. I used to think I was only the one who preferred rom-com or avoided thriller films or series at all costs. Needless to say, my affinity for true-to-life pieces ultimately defines a very specific period in my life—one that is probably the more transitional ones I’ve had so far.

FILMS

I managed to watch a lot of films this year, maybe around 30-40? Ultimately, my top 5 films are very different yet seem to have some sort of connection in terms of the values in each film.

Parasite

I recently watched this and I really don’t know what to say. It’s probably one of the more extreme choices I’ve made in terms of film watching (I even dragged my sister to watch because it felt risky watching it alone) but definitely one that is magnificent, to say the least. From the symbolisms to the cinematography and amazing visual storytelling, Bong Joon Ho’s Palmes d’Or recipient definitely made a mark on my way of thinking (yes, I’m still not over it).

Plus points for Park Seo-Joon’s supporting role!

First Man

As someone who’s highly interested in NASA and space—and the persistence of human endeavour, First Man was interesting to watch. Seeing Neil Armstrong’s character evolve and transform throughout the duration of the events that happened was impactful. Also: we often think highly of these achievements yet don’t take into consideration the sacrificial aspect that led from one thing to another. I think that was one of my key takeaways from this in general.

Also, I didn’t like La La Land but director Damien Chazelle outdid himself in this film (and also Whiplash).

Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé

Initially assumed this would just be one of those “concert films” but alas, I was mistaken. From the home video style footage to the heart-pounding performances, Beyoncé proves that she is a kween—and a truly amazing one, at that. I also did an in-depth research on black culture after her Coachella performance, which for me felt like the perfect opportunity to showcase her heritage to the world stage.

Sid & Aya: Not a Love Story

I’ve never seen Anne Curtis and Dingdong Dantes in a film together, so this was quite an interesting mix. It also perfectly illustrates the blur between wants and needs, the contrast between two lovers leading two extremely different lives yet could not meet in the middle. Plus points for the coloring, as well as the screenwriting. I couldn’t stop thinking about the film way after I watched it for the first time.

Second runner up for pinoy film would be Hello, Love, Goodbye by Olivia M. Lamasan (who is a genius with these types of films). 

Always Be My Maybe

Since Ali Wong announced this film, I had been waiting for it to be released on Netflix. I remember ordering Chinese takeout and watched it while sipping on Coke and eating fried rice (#veryAsianindeed). What drew me most was the striking similarity between the two lovers and two typical Asian lovers—in theory, I can totally see myself as Ali Wong’s character, and I could easily pinpoint who Rendell Park’s character would be (again, in theory!). But overall, a v cute film. 10/10 would rewatch over and over (I think I’ve watched it more than three times now).

Usually I don’t like throwing films under the bus, but I found these really worth writing about. 

Yesterday

Look, I LOVE the Beatles. I changed my name’s spelling in relation to Abbey Road, and Ticket to Ride was my 18th birthday theme song. But this film just didn’t cut it for me. The whole time, I was like, “Wait, what?” and while the ending was ~okay~, I really didn’t like it. I’m sorry. 

Eighth Grade

I dragged myself to finish the movie on my second flight (or did I? I actually forgot) and I was in ??? while watching. Yes, I get it, this girl has social anxiety. She also has quite an insecurity which she tries to combat by uploading videos on YouTube and trying to seek approval from her peers in middle school. Although I think in terms of cultural context, I couldn’t relate to what she was going through because maybe this period of a person’s life (in America?) felt like this. But I could be wrong.

Overall I would never watch it again. Also because I was so anxious for her while watching lol.

Tracktown

Tracktown is one of those films that I liked, but also questioned, then eventually disliked. Whilst this is loosely based on the director and actor’s life as a professional sports player, I found the climax weird. Also, for me her indecisiveness led her to ultimately lose sight of her own goals and what she wanted out of life. There were a lot of question marks (again) that popped in my head during the period I was watching this, so I did a lot of Googling before fully understanding the context. So that made me not like it as much. I mean, if I could sum it up, I would say it was…interesting.


SERIES

Since a lot of my months were spent abroad, my ultimate companion was Netflix, all the way. So it was no surprise that I got myself hooked on a lot of different series—but personally, the drag genre was hands down, my favorite.

Atypical

I watched the first episode two years ago, skipped it, and rewatched it again. A week later, I finished both seasons. The third season came out last November, and I enjoyed it so much that I can’t wait for Season 4. This coming-of-age series focuses on Sam, a boy with autism, as he navigates his life with his family and peers. What I loved about this series is not the focus on autism as a weakness, but as a strength—with Sam’s outlook on life, he inspires his family to be better. I’m not a family person (do NOT hug me, lol) but the camaraderie and internal conflicts in this series really make you think and see how the characters transform throughout the seasons.

She Was Pretty

An impulse “press play” moment on a sick Monday in Berlin made me finish this in less than two days. Park Seo Joon stars as the main character, and this cute romantic comedy focuses on true friendship, love, running a magazine (!) and everything in between. While I know the ultimately formula for a highly rated kdrama, I gotta admit, She Was Pretty is right there on the top spot, throwing over Fight For My Way.

Also: Si Won’s quirky character makes him such a strong contender. He’s the character you’ll hate at first but you start loving as you move to each episode. I even cried at one point, lol?

Deutschland 83

I believe I’ve watched this since last year but never got to finish it because #actionfilmnewbie lol. Really though, as I was preparing for my stay in Berlin, this series drew me more into the world of this East-West division (but also the coming of age feel of this series was an instant plus). 

Master of None

Binged on this the week after I arrived home from my summer in Berlin, and it was just wow. A lot of topics were covered in the series which I find very good to watch (but also makes you think a lot—aka the type of content I prefer watching). Aziz Ansari was great.

RuPaul’s Drag Race

Why did I get on the bandwagon just this year? As of this writing I’ve already watched from S5-S11 (+ All Stars 4) and all I can say is…she done already had herses~

I loved Project Runway growing up so this felt exactly like that but 100x better because it’s drag—more sass, more Britney (and Whitney!), more glam and glitter, more tea spilling, and more reading (because it’s fundamental). Can’t wait for the next season.

Also, I love Jinx Monsoon, Sasha Velour, and Alyssa Edwards. *clicks tongue*

Explained

Nothing like nuggets of new knowledge to take in once a week, eh? That’s how Explained feels to me. Produced by Vox and Netflix, this series tackles different topics (all v interesting) from animal production, diamonds, to mental health (The Mind: Explained is a fave indeed). I must say, the graphics really were stimulatingly good and that’s what kept me hooked as well (apart from the information, of course).

Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!

I’ve seen the OG Queer Eye (I was still a teenager back then!) and it’s nice to see the show evolve (BUT ALSO ANTONI <3) and be available on Netflix. I particularly loved this Japan series because 1) I love Japan and 2) it’s nice that the Fab Five are getting to know the Asian culture and seeing how they transform it based on the person they are making over. 

POSE

My best friend Erika recommended this to me after my whole RPDR fandom started to peak. POSE is based on Paris is Burning, an award-winning documentary showcasing the origins of drag and ball culture. A drama-heavy series, the series focuses on the prevalence of drag culture, trans culture, and also the initial arrival of AIDS in the society. Very, very interesting. I’m now on Season 2 and I don’t want it to end.

Plus: 80s and 90s tunes for daaaays.



BOOKS

The Art of the Good Life, Rolf Dobelli

While I haven’t finished The Art of Thinking Clearly (as it’s sitting pretty on my desk shelf back in Manila), I picked up this book at the Berlin train station during my 8-hour stay there (long story). I read this regularly during commute as it provided nuggets of wisdom and insights that make you go, “I can’t believe I didn’t think of it that way!” with certain life situations. Haven’t finished yet but I’m halfway (#progress) and so far, so good.

I Might Regret This, Abbi Jacobson

I’ve known of Abbi thanks to Broad City and A Piece of Work (her podcast series w/ MoMA), but reading I Might Regret This and getting deep into her way of thinking, writing, and analyzing the world around her was a whole different story. I couldn’t put the book down—it was so friendly, and it was like reading a friend’s diary. Lots of insights I’m taking into heart as I make my way to adulthood.

Keep Going, Austin Kleon

I picked up this book during the start of my career crisis. As a long-time Austin Kleon fan (and a loyal newsletter subscriber), this book was what I needed to…keep going. I keep this on my bedside table so I can revisit it every so often.


MUSIC

The Head and the Heart, Living Mirage

A no-skip album. 10/10. All the feelings, really.

Taylor Swift, Lover

Taytay’s best album YET.

My on-repeat playlists below: 

BECAUSE RPDR:

Because I am that person who *still* listens to music I listen to 24/7:

And because I’m an old soul:


PODCASTS

I’ve been a true blue podcast listener since 2016, so it’s no-brainer that I always recommend the usuals for creatives: Design Matters and Creative Pep Talk are always on my list. This year, however, I binged on Modern Love so much that I probably have to scroll down to the very first episode to find ones that I haven’t listened to yet.

My personal favorite is He’s Playing Our Song because it was the cutest. 


OMG. It was so hard to narrow this down, tbh. How about you, what were your favorites for 2019?

A Local Gift Guide for the Stationery Lover

It’s that time of the year again where gift giving is by no means, necessary—but also, essential, especially to friends and family. Personally, I love giving thoughtful and meaningful gifts to family and friends—things that instantly remind me of them, or something they would like. As someone who’s particularly interested in local products, anything stationery and art-related, and functional (also cute) things, I’ve rounded up a few gift ideas for the stationery lover in your life.

Let’s Be Explorers Undated Planner (2020 Edition) by Everyday Explorers

Whether you’re starting to plan for the new year, or simply looking into filling your stocking stash with a no-frills planner, Everyday Explorers’ Let’s Be Explorers planner is definitely your best option. With monthly trackers, undated weekly layouts and regular check-ins, this is your ultimate companion for 2020. 

Available online at Everyday Explorers Co.

Journaling Time Stamp Set 

Always make time for documenting—this stamp set is a constant reminder that any time of the day is journaling time. Designed by yours truly for the shop and by Christine of Everyday Explorers, this limited edition clear stamp set is 

Available online at BeautyMNL.

Shop Abbey Sy washi tapes

I have new designs out—perfect for the mystic lover and astrology fan. Our shop is currently under renovation, but all Shop Abbey Sy online exclusive products are available at BeautyMNL for the holidays. Get first dibs while you can!

PS: Yes I made pastel colored tapes!

Available online at BeautyMNL.

Tote by Bad Ass Tote Girl

There’s nothing more functional than a tote bag—with zippers—in colors that are so easy to pair with! I discovered Bad Ass Tote Girl thru CH, and I’ve been a fan ever since. All their totes and lovingly made in the Philippines, and Reese (the owner) is so sweet! I have two of their bags and I’ve been using them non-stop for daily errands and for (stationery) shopping.

Available via DM on Instagram.

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✨ Coming soon when the stars align ✨

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Astro Cards by The 3 Little Prints

Let your stars align with this set of astro cards by The 3 Little Prints—pick your sign, learn more about it, and gift a set to your bestie! It comes with an exclusive pin as well, and retro-inspired designs for a little twist to the usual zodiac aesthetic.

Available via DM on Instagram.

Pen Case by Noted Journal PH

Store your writing tools in this nifty pen case made by Noted Journal PH. Easily the perfect, no-frills gift to your officemate or journaling buddy. The best part? It comes in many colors! My personal faves would be mustard and sea green. It also comes in wide or narrow sizes, depending on your preferences.

Available online at Noted Journal PH.

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Here it is: The Sunday Night Journal Washi Tape 💖 52 journaling prompts. One washi tape. This journaling innovation can be used to cover prompts in The Sunday Night Journal (Volumes 1 or 2) if you have built this #sundayselfcare habit already. Alternatively, you can also get a blank journal, stick the washi tape on the page and start writing. There are 52 prompts—one for every Sunday night of the year (whenever you want to start your year). You can also use it for a daily journaling challenge, as part of your tarot exercise or even as coaching questions. Each prompt is printed against a varying pink or blue watercolor background so you know where to cut. You can purchase The Sunday Journal Washi Tape for P199 or as part of the Volume 1 bundle for P699. Thank you to @abbeysy and @christine.herrin for the advice and to @lionskingly for the graphic design. Head to the link in my profile or to yoursundaynight.com to get your washi! • • • #yoursundaynight #sundaynightjournal #sundaysareforselfcare #sundayselfcare #washi #washitape #journal #journaling #lifecoach #lifecoaching #lifecoachingph #yourheartcraftedlife #craftalifeyoulove💖 #havecourage #bekind #embraceyourawesome

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The Sunday Night Journal Washi Tape 

Make your journaling sessions more meaningful with The Sunday Night Journal washi tape. Featuring different prompts and questions to start your writing, this was a concept by Aueeie (my life coach), based off her Sunday Night Journal (which is also totally an awesome gift idea!). With prompts that help you find clarity and purpose in your own life and goals, this is the perfect present to surprise anyone who needs a little reminder to keep going, dreaming, and doing.

Available online at YourSundayNight.com

Custom Stamp by Digistamps

Whether it’s a name label, a bullet journaling prompt, or just something to label your journal with, Digistamps PH provides custom stamp making—choose a model, design your stamp, and you’re off to using it! They have excellent customer service and of course, a variety of options to work with depending on your budget.

Check out their website here.

Have you started picking out your holiday faves? Hope this little list helped!

Always be creating,

Abbey

My First Month in New York: Managing Expectations

Being fragile and vulnerable to address my issues these past few weeks have given me enough clarity to figure out the things that matter to me at this point in time. I’m writing this and it’s been seven days of no app checking and maybe just once a day checking of Facebook (mostly just to chat with friends and family). I love the quiet. I forgot I craved this for the longest time.

The silence and freedom has helped me focus on myself more. Is it a good thing? I guess. I only assume I know myself to a certain level, but now that I’m older, I really do know my limits. It’s just been roughly a month since I arrived here in New York and I’ve changed a lot. Interesting how a place can just…change you in that way.

Did I mention how nice it is to not have to be updating my Instagram 24/7??? Here’s how life has been so far. Of course, I still document everything for the memz ~

Painting on a quiet Saturday afternoon is my new favorite me-time

Went to the NY Art Book Fair with Amber. We had Thai food after! I was so happy. Lol.

New tote I got from the book fair…because I can totes (ooh) imagine myself saying that in a very sarcastic tone.

(Thanks for the mail, Koko and Chinggay!)

Last weekend I was out and about even if the G train was down, lol. Had brunch with Adam and Mitchell, two lovely people. I met Adam in Graphika Manila last February and he’s an amazing artist and author based in Brooklyn (he has cool books out in the market and you should definitely get a copy for yourself).

I had a bad episode of…idk what to call it (mental breakdown? severe burnout? almost giving up on my career?) last week (as indicated in this post). The cure? A night well-spent with Hank and John Green (also, eep, signed copy of AART!). I finally met John Green IRL! Did you know the first artwork I hand lettered was from Looking for Alaska?

I had ramyun earlier that day coupled with some tears. TBH, I still can’t poach an egg. :<

Fall colors! I totally copped this Madewell top because it was on sale (ugh, excuses) and my school outfit is always a shirt, jeans, and jacket. That’s it. Also, there’s a nearby Japanese grocery called Sunrise Mart in SoHo—so guess where my weekly lunch go-to place is? *cries*

I needed to get a tripod for plein air class (ugh, bye money) but I also needed one to film my videos, so yay, more stuff coming soon. I updated my channel with some of my current NYC journaling things (yes, I got a basket and some organizers like a true OC person lol):

Decided to run at noon because it was freezing cold last Friday. This is my “I’m tired but I can’t believe I’m actually running” face.

Running has been teaching me a lot of things, particularly the importance of keeping a steady pace, and not to rush things too much (applies to all aspects in life, if you’ve noticed). Still a work in progress!

Explored Chinatown with Carly! Carly is one of Kaila’s friends and I’m so glad we got to meet up. I’m a very selective person when it comes to friends and I am just so grateful for the people I’ve been meeting in this city. 🙂 Just goes to show that having the same values and mindsets really help establish how I get to build relationships with people.

Goosebumps seeing this banner this year. Last year I was here touring the campus and telling myself, “I’ll make a way to be back here to study”.

This late brunch photo deserves to be posted here because it was this day that I had a light bulb moment for one of the projects I’ve been brewing…and it’s so far out from what I’ve done so far. I can’t wait to share it with you all but it has to be kept secret for now. 😛

I met one of my heroes, David Levithan, and I AM NOT OVER IT. I am not. This is so surreal and I am so grateful this happened.

If you’ve read my blog / Tumblr since 2013 you have probably seen me hand-letter his quotes or talk about how much I love Every Day, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares, and so much more. Here’s the thing; David Levithan opened up my world to beautifully written and heartfelt stories—I remember I was in tears reading Every Day. I still reread most of his books especially The Lover’s Dictionary (I love his Twitter account by the way) and I have always, always said I would want to meet him someday. Well, that someday finally came!


Some notes from my first month in New York:

  • Hoodies feel like a warm hug. Like, they really do. I just put on a shirt, a hoodie, jeans, sneakers and run off to do errands. I’ve never been this happy over a piece of clothing, tbh. (And if you know me, I never liked hoodies!)
  • I have two art classes and design classes (four in total). I’m quite surprised I like design classes better—they make me think beyond the usual. Art class is giving me so much insecurity; I now realize how grateful I am I didn’t take up art as a degree. I’d probably drop out first thing.
  • Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Ask specifically, and people will respond. People are nice, you have to smile more often and make them feel important to you. Case in point: I’m really terrified of post office people so last week I was nice and asked questions. And the clerk didn’t get mad. Achievement? Yay!
  • How wonderful it is to be in this chaos of people in the subway, and realizing you are just a tiny dot in this universe? That your problems are little things that don’t really matter in the big picture of life. It’s a crazy analogy, but I have always felt like this. It’s nice to remember that feeling here.
  • But also tbh seeing so many people every day is just exhausting. I never end the day here not feeling tired unless I stay home. New York is that overwhelming, coupled with lots of walking.
  • An economically correct decision: choosing a $6.40 brunch meal (eggs, sausage, toast + $1 coffee) over a $5 oat milk latte plus tax. I now know where to dine if I’m lazy to cook at home. Also: preparing sandwiches for school dinners save so much money. This is college all over again, tbh.
  • Living in New York is not the same as visiting it. I haven’t even explored most of the go-to places here and I’m too caught up getting my daily sh*t together, you know? It’s crazy.

Since we’re here, thought I’d share about some things I’ve been consuming lately…

Books on my desk:

  • You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero (done and loved it)
  • Goodbye to All That, edited by Sari Botton (halfway!)
  • An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami (I’ve been running so it’s apt to be reading this memoir, which I find very insightful.)
  • Someday by David Levithan

Podcasts I’ve been listening to:

Music on my current playlist:

I’ll be honest and say that I did not see all of this coming. I expected my stay here to be…ermm…I can’t describe it. Okay? I did know I was not going to see the city the same way again, from the starry-eyed self I was last year. I don’t hate that fact. It actually grounds me—you’d think New York is this glamorous place and it’s been romanticized that way…but when you look at how days go, you realize how mundane it is, how simple it is. But also, at the same time, very complex. It’s like this hodge podge of different people, different places, and you just have to keep up with the pace. I walk faster now, not because I’m rushing, but it’s what I picked up from a month of living in NYC.

I still have three months and I’ve felt a bit homesick the past few weeks. But I’m not one to give up easily; I’ll stick it out. October’s another story; I’ll let it unfold as I take my next flight to one of my dream destinations. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that choosing to take this time off is one of the better decisions I’ve made so far this year. That’s something I’d attest to for the rest of my life.

Until then!

 

50% of 2018: Recap + Roundup + Realizations

I’m lying in bed on a Sunday night, feeling sick (or I actually am), still on vacation mode (forced; because I’ve been feeling under the weather since last week), just finished watching two films, and realizing I miss writing daily things so much. I stopped keeping a daily journal and only write when I feel like life is not cooperating, because sometimes, my feelings meter just goes beyond me (sometimes I blame being an INFJ for this).

To be honest, I’m becoming less open about sharing bits of my life now that I’m older. It’s so typical to want to blame the age thing, really (I started blogging at 15? I’m now 25)—but I feel that I now prefer to keep most of my personal thoughts private because I want to keep making art and sharing things about art, not exactly things about my life. Maybe I’ll get to weave it in, maybe not. We’ll see. I’m still working on it.

However, my boundaries have always been a blur because I do hand lettering and journaling—two art forms that sort of have a way to subtly share about things that are in relation to my life. I letter quotes that make me feel things; I am particularly drawn to words that inspire me and push me at certain points in my own creative journey. I document mostly about my life, my travels, my experiences—none of those are unreal. I also write, and my most vulnerable self is captured in words, sentences, paragraphs, blog posts, articles. And that’s also why it’s relatively not easy for me to just whip out a bunch of stuff if it doesn’t personally mean anything to me. As much as half my job is sharing my work to the world, I want to be able to understand that I share it because I love what I made first and foremost, and hope that somewhere out there, you will love it as well.

Recently I’ve been drafting a lot of blog posts about my quarter life crisis. I’ve deleted them all; they all made no sense. I’ve been so fixated on how crazy and chaotic the past few months have been that I almost forgot I actually enjoyed them. I’m writing this post as a little ode to my past self, how she’s been able to hold up, and how things are going to be different from here on out.

Here’s a little recap on how my 2018’s been. And some learnings. And some notes. And a roundup of things I’ve consumed for the first half of the year.

Turned Twenty Five

Nothing like the start of the year to turn a year older—it’s always been a way for me to manage my own expectations of the coming year. We had a little party (which I enjoyed DIY-ing!) to celebrate quarter life, and overall, I really enjoyed my birthday. But, well, that was just the beginning.

Halfway in being twenty five has made me realize that I think way too much beyond my years. I’m not interested with keeping things around that no longer serve me—people, things, experiences. How jumping from my naive (and marupok) 24 year old self to this strong and independent adult is quite a leap.

Spoke at Graphika Manila + Taught Classes

For someone who told herself in her college years (upon seeing Jessica Hische on stage at GM 2012) that one day, she will be on the same stage giving a talk for Graphika Manila, she surprisingly fulfilled that dream six years later—all in good timing. I’m so grateful to have spoken in GM this year not because I ticked something off my life bucket list, but because it felt rewarding to be able to share my story to a new generation of artists and designers. Plus points was getting to meet a roster of amazing speakers (hello, I fangirled over bonding with Adam over the GM weekend!) and spending two days celebrating nothing but creativity and design.

I also have been putting off teaching for a few months now because I haven’t really given it that much attention (but also because I’ve been really busy). Earlier this year, I had an opportunity to collaborate with L’Occitane for a travel journaling workshop, go to Baguio to teach lettering, partner with Kaila for a journaling x brush lettering workshop in Japan (!!!), organised a meet-up / session with readers at Common Folk, participated in Design Week Philippines, and put up a few classes with Art Bar over the summer. It’s been great; I always say teaching is something I love doing because I get to talk to my students personally and find a way to help them hone their own skills. Thank you so much to everyone who attended / enrolled / took part; I’m on hiatus until next year for the time being (in the Philippines)—but who knows, maybe I’ll have a few more events before I leave in a few months. 🙂

Read more books + started on my fifth book

Partly why I love my friends (and the Internet) is I get to borrow books or get recommendations on titles I might have otherwise not considered to read. This year I’ve been trying my best to get back to reading—and I think it’s quite timely that I’m working on a book. I get a lot of reading done during book writing period, for some odd reason.

A list of favourites from this year (so far):

The Shape of Ideas by Grant Snider

Probably the most accurate set of comics I have read as it talks about, well, the shape of ideas. I love the interpretations and visuals!

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

I was 100% convinced I am on the right path in my career / life after reading this book.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

The kind of tough love I needed when I told myself I couldn’t do the things I am doing now.

On Writing by Stephen King

Wise words and sound advice from one of the greatest writers of our time.

Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky

A repository of procedures and steps to get you from idea to execution; breaks the concept that creatives should not be organized people (they have to be! I attest to that).

*

Since we’re on the topic of books, I’ve been working on my fifth book for quite a while now. It’s not as easy as I expected; and honestly, the energy being drawn out of me to produce this book is beyond what I imagined. I think this is how most writers feel when they work on biographical stuff with a side of nonfiction and a pinch of instructional tips here and there. Needless to say, we’re halfway through it and I’m hoping to get all the nitty gritty details together. It comes out in August; I’ll share more about it soon!

Traveled purely for leisure + Saved up (yay!)

Not to a lot of places—I’m saving that for September. I’ve managed to keep track of my travels recently because of course, I need to save up for school. Haven’t figured out the budgeting and all yet, but I’m quite positive everything is within budget for now (if you must know, I am a stingy person when it comes to money and spending, lol). In adult accomplishments, I was so happy to have converted part of my Singapore workshop earnings to pocket money for school. HUHU. It feels like things are coming full circle from here on out.

In the past months, I went to Singapore twice (mostly to visit my friends and see an exhibit!), La Union twice (lol), Baguio, Tokyo and Osaka. You can read up on my Tokyo roundup here and, well, my Osaka one is still a work in progress. But it’s definitely coming out in a few weeks’ time! It was nice to not have to worry about work so much. I think I took a lot of work trips last year and it was just overwhelming. You never really get to do fun things except eat and sleep apart from the work shifts (in my case, workshops). When I travel, I always hate being rushed and not having time to appreciate what’s around me; so traveling just for the sake of exploring is really important to me. I’m glad I managed to do that more this time.

Enrolled myself in a yoga studio + Started meditation

Might have mentioned it somewhere but my mental health is not really in 100% good condition, and meditation (so far) has helped me immensely—so I took another step and enrolled myself to yoga. It’s been doing me good; I’d like to think. I’m the least flexible person out there but I enjoy every class because I have this tendency of forgetting to breathe and stay present, and that’s exactly what yoga requires.

I’ve been having a recurring habit (or preference) of going to class at 2PM on a work-from-home day. No idea why but my brain sort of attributes it as a break from the hectic workday, which should be okay. I’m nowhere near becoming a flexible person but I’m trying. I’m tryingggg. Growing up, I was the chubby girl to the point that our dance teacher ousted me out of the group because 1) I was fat and 2) I couldn’t do the gymnast poses she required. Of course, I’m quite pleased I didn’t end up becoming a dancer (but mind you, I love to sing and dance…alone in my room LOL). Anyway, I hope I get to do a full wheel soon.

Realized I needed a break + Took responsibility for my health

Break in the form of Netflix and endless movie marathons on weekends. LOL, kidding. But really, though, I’ve been watching a few films every so often (always in genres that I favour the most). Here’s a few of my favourites:

Love, Simon (a new film! I loved it!)

Wonder (plus points for Passion Pit’s Moth’s Wings playing in this film)

Lady Bird (Christine reminds me of…me lol)

Call Me By Your Name (Sufjan Stevens and that heart-wrenching final scene. And Timothee Chalamet!)

The Shape of Water (this was eerie but I actually liked it)

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There have been lots of things I had to pay attention to recently because I’ve always been focused on the end goal. Which is weird, because it got me thinking, “What the hell is my end goal, anyway?”. I keep forgetting to live life day by day and always wanting to look for what’s on the other side. Little did I know that my health has been catching up on me—let’s just say being a girl is quite hard. Hahaha. I’ve started taking meds and my daily dose of nausea and migraine is definitely not bearable. So here I am *trying* to just trust that I’ll get to recover soon.

 

In other news, I’m sure you’ve heard about the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. I am in deep damage upon hearing this news; because these are people who have reached some sort of “pinnacle” of success by doing what they love, sharing it to the world, and then it dawned on me that what else did they ever want? It pains me to know they have battled with their demons, but their demons have won. It breaks my heart taking in the fact that while they embodied qualities of who we wanted to become (well, I know I am one of them), it wasn’t enough to save their lives. Truth be told, mental health has been an invisible sickness most people don’t acknowledge. I hope this helps us realise how important it is to be kind, talk to people, and to address issues that you know you can’t deal with yourself.

Planned my upcoming NYC trip + Pitched New Ideas

OK, booking the tickets wasn’t so bad (lol, I did it a week after my birthday, hello? I’m an impulsive traveler)—I’m still waiting for enrolment, actually. But while that was ongoing, I came up with the craziest idea—well, it wasn’t impossible, now that I think about it (until now I’m so shook but it got approved! AHHH!)—that will take me to places I never imagined I’ll actually get to visit for work. I’m going to Europe (alone!) and it’s been something I’ve been looking forward to since I’m visiting a dream city (!!!!!!!!!!!!!! legit dream because I have finally found a reason to go…not just for work). Also, collaborating with a few folks and traveling across the US (and down south) to visit some relatives and teach…and watch Taylor Swift live. That is all. My sixteen year old self will thank me for this (I’m referring to the TSwift part for context).

I still surprise myself sometimes. Suddenly, I’ve found this immense courage to just go after what I want by finding ways to get there, and plotting out the possibilities. I leave some of it to luck and good timing (more on the timing part actually). It doesn’t hurt to try…I kept asking myself “what if I did this? what if I did that?” but my life right now has been all fingers crossed to the nth power and all, “whatever I’m going to do it anyway and let’s cross the bridge when we get there”. The spontaneity keeps me going. And it keeps me inspired to constantly go after bigger dreams and bigger goals (that don’t have to be just in one place). It’s a wonderful feeling. 🙂

Finally made personal decisions I won’t regret (I hope)

As someone who’s always on social media 24/7, I’ve gotten what, tons of messages from readers saying, “Why are you leaving us? Why are you going on hiatus?” as if I have to keep myself accountable for actually doing this and wanting to impact other people BY leaving.

Ok, first of all—I am going back by end of the year. Whether or not I’ll decide to move to another country next year, that’s for me to figure out soon.

At a very young age, I have always envisioned an alter ego of myself—one who went to art school, became an artist, and pushed the boundaries of what she thought were limitations. Guess what: I became an artist, I pushed the boundaries. But I never went to art school. I’m going back to school to make an impossible dream come to life. It has nothing to do with wanting to prove anyone wrong. I just want to give my past self a bit of justice and it is not, by any means, anything I should feel guilty about.

Being a full-time artist is a hard path to take on, career-wise. I wish I could sugarcoat it for you, but my life is just as disorganised as everyone. I struggle with constant self-doubt and live with uncertainty every day of my life. My goals are ever-changing, because not only do I think about what art I should make, but what I want others to get from it. I know most artists create for themselves, and I’m fine with that. But that’s just not me. I feel that as someone who holds a responsibility to somehow influence a set of people, I want to be able to share what I can in the best way. You can call it paying it forward, but for me it’s just been hardwired into my mission as an artist and author.

There comes a point when you feel like you’ve just given yourself too much already, that you’re finding a way to replenish yourself without feeling toxic about it. Naturally, I’m a curious person—I question things every single time. My interests for other non-art things has always given me a reason to keep exploring, keep wondering, and to keep learning. I don’t want to always be in a state where I have to put out art “for the sake of Instagram”, be constantly online “for the sake of being there”.

So yeah, that’s one personal decision I don’t regret on making. I have a few more lined up…but I digress. It’s too early to tell whether it’ll work out. Decision-making has been such a daunting task for me, mostly because I trust on my instincts 100% of the time and am kinda scared that it might not work out.

I listened to this podcast episode featuring Scott Belsky and he was talking about how making decisions is just half the battle…the rest is for you to take action. It doesn’t matter if you make the “right” decision at this point, but know that you have to be accountable for it in the long run. Whether what you decide on works or not, it all boils down to how you take it from there. And it’s such a comforting thought, you know? You can always make decisions that feel right for you. If it works out according to plan, great! If it doesn’t, then you have the capability to make it better—for your own sake.

I’m not sure how to end this post. But I did mention I’m relatively bad with ending things, right? So I’m just going to cut it right here.

Hope your 2018 has been all sorts of interesting and amazing. And crazy. And memorable, maybe?

Always be creating,

Abbey

My Favorite Museums

One of my non-negotiables when traveling is visiting museums. Most of the people I’ve traveled with know this—it’s been an essential part of my itinerary ever since I started to venture out into exploring new places.

I still remember my first museum visit in Musee de Louvre 5 years ago. I had initially wanted to go to the Louvre (who wouldn’t?!), but we were on a tight schedule (tour problems tbh). Luckily, some of our tourmates wanted to go as well, so my sister and I tagged along with their family. The lines were long and we waited three hours in the cold to get in; coincidentally, I brought out a tiny journal and started drawing. That was also the first time I discovered my love for documenting my trips.

Above: my first ever travel journal spreads, 2013.

Anyway, back to the Louvre. Apart from seeing the famed Mona Lisa (which was small…and surrounded by so many tourists), I had goosebumps the whole time as I walked in the halls and saw different forms of art. We didn’t explore all floors but I managed to revisit in 2015, and I fangirled seeing a Monet painting on the third floor, among other things.

In the years that followed, I have associated my liking for art as I spent more time reading up on artists and people I generally look up to: Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Frida Kahlo, Yayoi Kusama, Juan Luna, Andy Warhol, etc. And because of this, I promised myself that I would be able to see their work in person someday. So far, I have seen most of them—but I’d like to see more and immerse myself further in the world of art.

Here’s a list of museums I’ve visited so far all over the world, which have become my favorites. A disclaimer though, I have criteria that I weigh in apart from the art collections per museum—such as location, architecture, and museum shop (lol #priorities). I also rounded up a list of museums I want to visit in the coming years…and months. If you find something that piques your interest, maybe you can add it to your list as well. Enjoy!

National Gallery of Singapore

Location: Singapore | http://www.nationalgallery.sg/

By default, NGS has been a staple because it’s the nearest one from Manila. Lol. Apart from that, I’ve always loved its architecture both inside and out. Also going to say their museum shop is a trap—lots of books and tastefully curated merch for you to hoard! There are also restaurants and a cafe inside the building, and the location is relatively near Raffles City (mall), beside City Hall MRT.

This museum just opened three years ago, but the variety of exhibitions here are amazing. I was able to see Yayoi Kusama’s Life is the Heart of a Rainbow (June 2017) and Century of Light (February 2018). Their permanent collection features Southeast Asian art (also works by Filipino artists) and do check out their ongoing exhibitions. They change every few months!

Also: get a glimpse inside the exhibitions I was able to see inside NGS below.

ArtScience Museum

Location: Singapore | https://www.marinabaysands.com/museum.html

The ArtScience museum is a visual treat for both art and science lovers. As someone who is generally fascinated with all things art (by default) and science (particularly Physics and things about the universe), I loved the Future World exhibition. The architecture of ArtScience museum is shaped like a flower of sorts, and as you head to the escalator, you’ll see a display of sketches and behind the scenes of the museum’s construction (obvs I geeked out…photo below).

Catch their ongoing temporary and permanent exhibitions and be immersed in the different installations inside the museum. Loved the surrounding walls full of quotes on art and science!

Museum of Modern Art

Location: Manhattan, New York | https://www.moma.org

One of the most famous museums in the world—and for good reason. I was ecstatic entering the MoMA, partly because I am well-aware that the selection of paintings here are by my favorites. How does it feel walking into a room filled with works by Dali, Basquiat, Warhol, Kahlo, and Richtenstein, among others? Quite overwhelming, really. Not to mention a huge Waterlilies painting by Monet and a crowd favorite, Starry Night by Van Gogh welcoming you into one of the halls. My personal favorite was a special gallery dedicated to Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect responsible for the beautiful Guggenheim Museum.

Cross to the other side for the standalone MoMA store if you’re looking for unique items to take home. The MoMA store inside is pretty impressive too; I got a MoMA Highlights book as a souvenir (also a reason to read up more on modern art).

Whitney Museum of American Art

Location: Manhattan, New York | https://whitney.org/

I met up with my book editors on a weekday, and after lunch we went to the Whitney. Newly relocated at the end of the High Line, this museum is definitely hard to miss with its beautiful white architecture.

Featuring a selection of American art, there’s something worth seeing on every floor of the Whitney. Don’t miss the view on the top floor overlooking NYC, and get yourself some exclusive merch at the ground floor before leaving! Also, go up the High Line and spend some time exploring the area—Chelsea Market is right around the corner.

Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

Location: Washington, DC | https://airandspace.si.edu/

First thing’s first, this museum has no entrance fee! But what drew me in more is the fact that it’s all about air and space—two things I love fondly. Airplanes and flights have always been special to me because I love traveling, and inside the museum is an in-depth look into the history of flight (from the Wright Brothers to Amelia Earhart to the different wars encompassing this period) and everything about space (and the concept of time). The interiors are reminiscent of being in a space facility, and the real remnants of airplane models are displayed are part of the museum’s interiors.

Also: my ephemera-loving self was so happy to see vintage packaging, posters, and a series of design work from airlines and different facets of air and space. Spent only an hour here (huhu) but I’ve already bookmarked this museum on my next trip to DC this September! I think I need a full day to see everything inside. #geekmode

Musee de Louvre

Location: Paris, France | https://www.louvre.fr/en

Housing a beautiful (and extensive) collection of European art from different time periods, the Louvre is a go-to museum for people visiting Paris. The highlight is of course, seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa amidst a crowd (because it’s always packed in that area) of visitors. Personally though, I found the other paintings more significant than the Mona Lisa.

Don’t miss the iconic triangular structure outside the Louvre, as well as the stores inside the building. There’s also a food court in case you go hungry. I forgot where exactly we commuted but the Metro isn’t far from the Louvre (and if you can, come early on a weekday!).

National Museum

Location: Manila, Philippines | www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph/

The first thing you’ll find as you enter the National Museum is the Spoliarium by national artist Juan Luna—a sight to see with its enormous size filling the room. In the different galleries are artworks, sculptures, and paintings by Filipino artists—all talented and amazing. Look for Fernando Amorsolo’s workspace which showcases his tools of the trade!

Also: Don’t miss the new wing of the National Museum! I haven’t seen it yet but I hope to visit again soon.

The National Art Center

Location: Tokyo, Japan | www.nact.jp/english/

One of my favorite modern architecture buildings! The National Art Center in Roppongi Hills is a visual treat—check their calendar for exhibitions before going. I got to see Yayoi Kusama’s My Eternal Soul (April 2017) in the NAC and it was such a memorable experience.

That’s it for my current roundup. Which ones did you add to your bucket list? 🙂

I feel like one of my life’s missions is to get to visit as many museums as I can, and take in all the beautiful art. I have an ongoing list, which I hope to complete (half???) this year. (Below)

Europe

  • Neue Pinakothek (Munich, Germany)
  • Buchstabenmuseum (Berlin, Germany)
  • Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung studies (Berlin, Germany)
  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (Bilbao, Spain)
  • Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
  • Musée d’Orsay (Paris, France)

USA

  • Guggenheim Museum (Manhattan, New York)
  • New York Transit Museum (Manhattan, New York)
  • MoMA PS1 (Queens, New York)
  • Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Museum of Science & Industry (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Smithsonian National Postal Museum (Washington, DC)
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, DC)
  • Newseum (Washington, DC)
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum & Renwich Gallery (Washington, DC)