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    Style Stories

    Pia of unif0rm

    Pia of unif0rm

    Creativity knows no boundaries and for Pia See, her foray into fashion was sparked by her passion for interior design. Pia is the woman behind clothing brand unif0rm known for its avant-garde take on staples tailored for the modern woman. Through her brand, she is able to express the many sides of her personality and taste. 

    Pia shares with us the story behind the brand dressed up in pieces from her summer collection and adorned with jewelry she co-designed for Heyjow. 

    How did you discover your passion for fashion?

    "My professional background is in interior design. I did interior design for a while and worked for a furniture company but I stopped working when I had my first-born. My mother-in-law has a uniform business and she was about to close it down at that time and she offered it to me."

    Pia wearing a plain tank top with a printed skirt with pieces from the Heyjow x unif0rm collection 

    Pia wearing the Lucca earrings with the Valencia necklace layered with a serpent necklace from the Ida set

    "When I accepted the offer, I told my husband I needed to have a formal background about fabrics and fashion designing so I went to the Fashion Institute of the Philippines for one summer before the business was handed to me. I continued her business of making uniforms for the workforce for a year but soon I had to make some changes."

    How did your brand unif0rm come about?

    "The reality was we weren’t really earning that much making the work uniforms. The staff was all in-house and since there wasn’t a lot of business coming in, they would look for other jobs. When I was pregnant, I would ask them to make my maternity clothes so they at least have a salary from me."

    Pia wearing the Lyra earrings, Maia necklace set and Loretta bracelet trio

    "That’s when I noticed one of our tailors. He was very good at making casual clothes and when I wore the pieces I had custom-made, people would notice and ask me where I bought them. There were people who encouraged me to make more and sell them and that gave me the idea to branch out. After I gave birth to my second child in 2015, the brand unif0rm was born."

    Pia wearing the Loretta bracelet trio

    How would you describe your personal style?

    "For interior design, I like mixing styles because it makes the space more interesting and personal. It’s the same with fashion. I wear clothes that are comfortable and express who I am."

    "I’m a fan of classics because they’re simple. I have this shirt in my collection called the Reg tee and I always wear it because it’s so easy to wear. I like basic pieces such as jeans and neutral colors but I also like wearing brightly colored pieces occasionally. I also gravitate towards pieces that have an art deco vibe."

    Pia wearing the Babe tee with statement pearls from the Ida setNellie chain and Loretta bracelet trio

    Pia pairs the Babe tee with frayed jeans and finishes it off with the Emin Ring and  Rosetta ring 

    Pia's shoe collection includes these black statement pieces with an art deco vibe 

    How does your personal style translate to your designs for unif0rm?

    "At first, the pieces tended to literally look like uniforms but we’ve tweaked the fabrics and the details such as the cut and the collar so they stand out from the usual. We have the Babe tee, which is a V-neck shirt but with a lower neckline and longer sleeves compared to the usual shirt. The fabric has a more luxe feel to it, too. If we didn’t design it that way, then people would have no reason to buy our pieces because they can surely get it somewhere else."

    Pia dresses up her monochromatic look with the Lorene necklace layered with the Gaia chain and Kira lariat and finished off with the Gianna earrings

    "I always make sure to put my own spin on every piece I design so I can call them my own. That’s why the variety of clothes we have at unif0rm is quite wide. My vision is to have a unif0rm piece for every style, mood, and event."

    Pia wearing the Holi top and Holi overlap pants from unif0rm's Travel 2020 Collection dressed up with the Lana necklace, Hera necklace, Nellie chain and Gianna earrings

    Are you able to apply your interior design background to your brand?

    "Yes, I do! Design is design and I’m able to apply concepts like color scheme to the clothing pieces I come up with. My eclectic interior design taste comes through with my fashion sensibilities as well like wearing print on print."

    Pia's take on fashion is expressed in her designs for unif0rm: Avante-garde, modern and versatile pieces for the modern woman

    What’s your style when it comes to accessories? 

    "I like rings and earrings with a play on proportions like classic hoop earrings that are larger than the usual. I also like chains. For the summer, we will have a lot of open neck pieces so chunky chains would really look interesting on an exposed neck."

    Statement stack: Eva, Kayla, Clea, and Hollis rings

    What inspired your collaboration with Heyjow?

    "I’d compare this partnership to our Mediterranean-inspired house. Typically, Mediterranean houses are yellow and orange but ours is blue, gray and white. People love our house because the design veers away from the typical and is unexpected but still works."

    Pia's eclectic style can be seen in how she designed her home

    "It’s the same with this collaboration – putting two different things but they still meet. The modern cuts of unif0rm paired with Heyjow’s feminine flair balance each other and when worn together, it makes the look more cohesive."

    What inspires you to create?

    "Everyday life is one of my motivations. I’m a mom but I also work every day so I like to design clothes that can work for someone who has the same lifestyle as me. Another one is travel. You want to look good but you also want to take the stress out of dressing up."

    "When I go to a different country, I find time to research and observe the fashion aesthetic of that place then go home and put my own take on it. The Juku and the Tokyo pants were inspired by my trip to Japan. I went to Morocco and I was inspired by people wearing robes and loose shirts so we made the Dean and the Marrakech robe."

    Pia wearing a Nira dress with the Roan earrings

    "I don’t travel a lot but when I do, I make sure that I make something out of it. I travel to learn and experience new things."

    Pia wearing the Nira dress with the Corina bangle and Vienna earrings

    What’s next for unif0rm?

    "We are slowly spreading our wings in terms of merchandise and other materials. We just launched our handmade bags made of wooden beads. I want to add more merchandise for us to be able to give more jobs to people."

    unif0rm's handmade Alphabet bag

    "And I’m really excited about the unif0rm and Heyjow collaboration – I can’t wait for people to try the different looks we’ve come up with and discover a new way of dressing up!"

    Visit unif0rm's website: www.unif0rm.com 

    Follow unif0rm: @unif0rm

    Photography by Sheila Catilo (@sheilacatilo)  



    Have there been moments when you felt stuck and didn’t know how to move forward with your life? Sometimes you need someone who can hold space for you and guide you through life’s challenges – and a life coach can help you make the changes you need so you can live life in a way that’s authentic to you. Kimi Lu is a life and corporate coach who has been conducting private sessions and mindfulness workshops for the past 10 years. Trained at the Bennet Stellar University, she is a licensed Certified Master Neuro-Linguistic Programming Practitioner, Neuro-Linguistic Hypnotherapy Life Coach, and Reiki Master Practitioner who has built a growing community of positively-charged beings she calls #protons.

    Here, she tells us what inspired her desire to become a life coach, her book on self-love and her newest program designed to boost your confidence.      

    What sparked your interest in pursuing life coaching? Was there a life-changing moment that inspired it?

    "I felt lost. In the middle of my regular work day, I found myself crying out of nowhere. Tears were just falling from my eyes. I couldn’t understand why and that made me reflect a lot about what was happening in my life. I felt empty inside. I didn’t think I had to see a doctor for it but I knew I had to talk to someone about it. I searched online for a life coach in the Philippines and couldn’t find one – and I had a crazy idea of becoming one because I knew that one day, someone else will feel the same way I did and they would need someone to talk to! This year is my 10th year of coaching people and helping them navigate through life's  challenges." 

     Kimi wearing the Loire necklace and Lush earrings

    Tell us about your early days as a life coach.

    "I got two strange looks each time I told people I was a life coach. I started in 2010 when life coaches were not popular at all and social media was not a coined word yet. So the first look they’d give me was a really confused look —- “huh, what’s that?” and the second look was —- “huh, how can you be a life coach, you’re so young?” I had to deal with those looks while trying to remain positive and build my self-esteem to hold on to my mission of helping people find their way through life."

     Kimi wearing the Loire necklace and Lush earrings

    "My first client was a dermatologist. We would meet at his house or at his clinic then I would meet other clients at the mall. That first client eventually offered me his spare clinic in Medical Plaza in Makati – I stayed there for 2 years. 50% of my clients in my first 3 years of practice were expats because I guess they were the ones familiar and open to seeking for help. Then after a while, there were more Filipinos coming to me and are more open to receiving guidance." 

    Kimi wearing the Ara bee necklace and Yani Afghan bead necklace

    How have you evolved as a life coach since you started?

    "I started with just face-to-face, one-on-one coaching. I thought that was all I was going to do in this career. Then I started doing small groups and eventually I expanded to Corporate Wellness or Essential Skills coaching. Currently, I also do global workshops and online coaching. I swear, the Universe is abundant that way! So many possibilities if we just think outside the box!"

    Kimi conducts her one-on-one sessions at the Protons HQ in Makati

    "Having my own space for my practice has also helped me immensely. I’ve lived in my Makati condo since I was 12 years old. When my parents moved to their home in Batangas and my brother got his own place, I decided to stay there and transformed it to what I call now as the #ProtonsHQ where I hold all my sessions."

    How did your book “Masturdating” come about?

    "It is an intentional guidebook to celebrate life. There are exercises inside, which will help people realize how wonderful life is and how much love they should be giving themselves before anyone else. The challenges in the book is a compilation of the top 29 challenges from my online program series for 5 years."

    Kimi's book "Masturdating" is all about self-love and is available on Amazon

    "Everyone was shocked when I announced that I was launching a book because I’m not a writer but I’m a big fan of experiential learning and that’s what the book really is. It is for you to experience little life boosts so that it may spark happiness inside of you!"  

    What do you love most about being a life coach?

    "Just seeing the spark in people’s eyes when they have an “aha!” moment or they feel good and see a glimmer of hope. It is a very fulfilling job and I am obsessed about it. I am addicted to teaching people how to love themselves authentically and deeply." 

    One of Kimi's healing modalities is reiki, a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that promotes healing through the laying of hands. On Kimi: Calla heart lariat and Yani Afghan bead necklace


    What’s next for you?

    "I developed the #ConfidenceBoostProgram last year for one-on-one sessions. I’ve seen how the program’s graduates have progressed and taken huge leaps in just 4 weeks and I wanted more people to experience this! I came up with my first public workshop for the year, the #ConfidenceBoostProgram workshop."

    Kimi wearing the Como necklace 

    "I’ve been talking about setting an intention for the year because being intentional about your goals will help you gain direction and clarity – and this experiential workshop can help amplify that through active and guided meditations and exercises that can help you re-discover yourself. I have 3 special guests who will share their beautiful energy and gifts to empower and inspire all the attendees – it’s going to be a supercharged session full of positivity! I also have slots open for premium one-on-one sessions for those who prefer private coaching and who want to go deeper into their self-discovery journey."

    Kimi wearing the Como necklace and Nia earrings

    "I’m also boosting my Essential Skills training programs to make sure that more and more people learn to love their jobs, the people they’re working with and for, the clients and suppliers that they have. I want people to wake up on Monday mornings and be happy to work and make an impact in their own way!" 

    Follow Kimi: @kimilulifecoach

    Website: www.kimilulifecoach.com

    Photos by Kyle Quismundo (@kylequismundo)



    Kitty Bunag lives and breathes design – so much so that she sees the world in a grid. The interior design consultant and photographer, who is also co-founder of design and creative council Craftsmith Guild and travel brand Nomadic Tendencies, found purpose and healing in art – and believes that design is a platform for improving lives.

    We caught up with Kitty at Southbank Café + Lounge, one of her recent design projects, where we got a glimpse of her in action.  

    How did you discover your passion for design and photography?

    “I’ve always had the need for art in my life since I was young. I studied Interior Design in college then after college, I took on a corporate job but still practiced design on the side. I did everything all at once and reached a point of burn out so I had to choose which path I wanted to take."

    "I did business full-time in the recent years. I went into jewelry design in 2005 then I studied photography in 2008. I co-founded Craftsmith Living, now called Craftsmith Guild, with my cousin-in-law and business partner Mia de Lara, in 2013 and that’s when I decided to do photography and interior styling full-time. It’s really through Craftsmith that I evolved as a stylist and as a designer.”

    Kitty styles a holiday-themed table setting using pieces from Lady Scott Jones 

    How would you describe the role of art in your life?

    “I lost my parents at an early age. When my mom died, that was the time when I really focused on space design and styling. When my dad died, that’s when I took up photography. And then after my dad died, I had a miscarriage and that was around the time Craftsmith Living started. I really turned to art for healing."

    Kitty wearing a stack of Zahava and Dahna bracelets

    "They say when you have kids, you might not be able to do all the things you want to do but it’s the complete opposite for me. Everything happened when had children – they’re my lucky charms.”

    Kitty wearing the Eyla earrings with the Celeste beaded necklace and Nolee multi-charm necklace 

    How would you describe your aesthetic?

    “I call it un-styled or lived in. I want spaces to look authentic as if it’s well-lived in as opposed to being overly styled or decorated. I gravitate towards natural materials like wood, abaca and even rust as well as weathered-looking pieces. Not necessarily rustic but things that can give warmth to modern pieces and cold structures.”

    Kitty wearing the Amya earringsOdette 3-layer necklace and a stack of Femi and Ostara bracelets 

    “The principles that I apply when I design spaces come from my interior design and photography background, and the same ones apply: playing with color, texture, patterns, the rule of thirds, symmetry. And yes, they merge. When I conduct my workshops, I always say I see the world in a grid.”

    What was your vision when you designed Southbank’s interiors?

    “Southbank is founded by a group of friends so it had to feel like their playground. It’s Melbourne-inspired so it’s a mix of industrial, botanical and a bit of mid-century modern. When I design something, especially for a client, it must be about them. But my personal touch would somehow come out in terms of how I cozy pieces up together.”

    What are you currently working on?

    “I‘m currently teaching a certificate course on Event Design at SoFa Design Institute. Aside from that, we’re working closely with DTI-CITEM and different companies all over the Philippines. We’re doing product development, design and styling for the upcoming Ambiente 2020, a trade fair that will be held in Germany. The Philippines will be participating there and will occupy 2 big halls. We are helping DTI-CITEM to position the country in the global market through art and design. These are mostly SMEs but we’re also working with big companies who are already into exporting.”

    Kitty goes maximalist with the Alaina earringsStamp Monogram necklace, Lyra statement chain, and Adela beaded necklace

    “I find this project fulfilling because it has a long-term effect not just on these small businesses but also to the country as a whole. Design, no matter what form, must improve lives – the end-user and the creator – and this has always been my philosophy. And I see that with what we’re doing for this project.”

    Handling multiple projects must take a toll on you. How do you recharge?

     “I travel to unplug. I go on solo trips from time to time to recalibrate. Bali is a current favorite.”

    What’s your advice to creatives who want to pursue different passions?

    "Everything about design is intertwined. The disciplines of one creative pursuit, no matter how small, can be applied to the next."

    Kitty wearing the Emeline earrings, Celeste multi-colored necklace, and Margot necklace 

    "Wherever you are, whatever you do, take what’s good. Pursue, struggle for and live for what inspires you."

    Follow Kitty: @kwittyb

    Follow Craftsmith Guild: @craftsmithguild

    Photography by Kitty Bunag & Sheila Catilo (@sheilacatilo)  

    Shot on location at Southbank Cafe + Lounge (@southbankcafelounge

    Casa Mamas

    Casa Mamas

    To our mommy followers: have you always wanted to travel with your fellow moms minus the kids? Take inspiration from Aliza Apostol, Carmel Villongco, Deux Ciel Bau, Gin Samson, Kat Maderazo, and Leona Panutat aka Casa Mamas who give us a glimpse of their recent trip to Frangipani El Nido. Here, they tell us how their little group was formed and share their tips on looking fab while traveling.

    Tell us a how Casa Mamas was formed.

    Leona: “We all live in the same village and would see each other at mass or other community events. Living in the same community, we decided to carpool to and from events. We got to know one another more and found out that we had a lot in common. We then started taking turns hosting for breakfast and the rest is history.”

    Carmel: “I’ve known almost all of them individually, either through common friends or having done their make-up in the past but it was after our first community wine night (yes, we have that in our village) where we all clicked. Wine really does bring people together.”

    Aliza: “One wine night turned to several and we all bonded in an instant. We all have different personalities that complemented each other.” 

    Describe your personal style in 3 words.

    Aliza: “Summer, chic, and polished.”

    Aliza wearing the Posie earrings 

    Carmel: “Quirky and lots of black with a pop of color.”

    Carmel wearing the Meadow earrings

    Deux: “Functional and simple.”

    Deux wearing the Suki earrings and the Marcia necklace

    Gin: “Classic, neutral, and easy-going.”

    Gin wearing the Rixa earrings

    Kat: “Classic, timeless, and comfortable.”

    Kat wearing the Malika necklace

    Leona: “Easy, relaxed, timeless.”

    Leona wearing the Kari earrings

    What type of accessories are you drawn to? What are your jewelry staples?

    Aliza: “I like jewelry that represents myself like a monogram necklace or a birth stone ring.  I am also drawn to pieces with a tropical vibe because I love the beach.”

    Aliza's beach look: straw hat, a stack of bracelets and the Posie earrings

    Carmel: “I spend a lot on eyewear, whether shades or prescription glasses. I’ve always had poor eyesight and since I’m stuck with wearing glasses, I might as well pick those that fit my personal style. I’m also into head and hair accessories. Turbans, bandanas, and hats are all part of my wardrobe. For fine jewelry, I usually just have my wedding band on. I like to keep it to a minimum since I already have so much going on in my outfit. Plus, my work as a make-up artist keeps me from having too much arm candy.”

    Carmel's beach look: emerald green swimwear, oversized sunnies, printed turban and Meadow earrings

    Deux: “I like accessorizing with a simple set of necklace and earrings, alongside an oversized watch and my Fitbit. My everyday jewelry would be my wedding ring, watch, and pearl earrings.”

    Deux wearing the Suki earrings and the Marcia necklace

    Gin: “Jewelry staples include pearl earrings or a stud, gold initial necklace, and rings on both hands. Every so often, I would wear a statement necklace or bracelet.”

    Gin's picks: Rixa earrings and Corina necklace

    Kat: “I am drawn to small accessories that can be interchanged like charms, pendants, bracelets and rings. I like them even if I don’t wear them a lot. I usually have a ‘flavor of the month’ or season and then I would change into a different set. My staples are silver, white gold and pearl earrings.”  

    Kat wearing the Darla earrings

    Leona: “I like accessories that have interesting little details. Tiny etchings, contrasting stones and textured finishes. If I’m not in good earrings by Heyjow, I’m wearing classic diamond studs. I also wear a stack of rings on both hands that remind me of my family.”

    Leona's pick: the Armina necklace in black

    Any packing and style hacks you can share when traveling?

    Aliza: “One thing for sure is I don’t pack light. I’m the type of person who brings 5 pairs of shoes for a 4-day beach trip! I usually pack my OOTDs based on the places I go to.”

    Aliza's wearing the Posie earrings for her all-white beach look

    Carmel: “I just bring essentials and do layering with thermals and probably bring one or two coats if it’s the winter season. When people look at my photos, it seems like I do take on a lot but I really just wear mostly black with a pop of color. My fave hack is bringing a lot of shades and a good selection of lipstick to add dimension and fun to an otherwise boring black outfit.”

    Carmel's beach essentials include shades and her stash of Dior make-up 

    Deux: “When going on trips, I match outfits on a per day basis and take photos of each set for easy reference. For packing, zip lock bags are the next best thing if no packing cubes are available.

    Gin: “Weather is the most important factor— you should know what to expect. I like basics then layer with jackets and scarves. If it’s a 2-week trip or longer, I plan outfits for at least 7 days and bring pieces I would be able mix and match. I’ve learned to pack light, bringing more neutrals and basics then adding statement pieces for special days or events.”

    A peek at Gin's travel essentials 

    Kat: “For trips, I plan accessories per outfit per day. When I need to pack light, I make sure the accessories I bring will match the other outfits. I pack them individually in a small accessory pouch so it’s safe and yet easy to find.”

    Leona: “I pack light! I list down the itinerary per day along with the expected weather report and plan my outfits around those two. I also make sure to space out the clothes and combinations by including laundry days. I’ve been known to make spreadsheets!”

     Leona's essentials include her Fuji camera and a couple of paperbacks 

    What are your travel must-haves?

    Aliza: “Aside from my phone, I cannot travel without my moisturizer, my flat iron and dry shampoo. You have to be picture ready at all times - even for breakfast!”

    Aliza wearing the Cabra earrings from our Gold Coast collection

    Carmel: “Aside from my selection of shades, black foldable flats which I wear when my sneakers aren’t allowed in a place and it doubles as my slippers, too. I also bring my insulated water bottle because I drink a lot of water and like it icy cold all the time. It’s practical and helps our environment, too. I also bring my traveling Bible for my quiet time.”

    Carmel wears a vibrant one-piece suit with a hoop necklace from the Nayeli set

    Deux: “A large carry-on tote is a traveling must-have for me. I use this to easily stash small and loose items like sunglasses, jacket or scarf while I’m on the go.”

    Gin: “Two to three pairs of shades, scarves, hats, statement accessories, pocket Wi-Fi, eyebrow pencil and lipstick, and a comfy pair of shoes or slides.”

    Kat: “Sunglasses, sunblock, anti-bug bites lotion, reusable bag, and a shawl or jacket.”

    Kat wearing the Dayla necklace in Magenta

    Leona: “My camera, phone, noise-cancelling headset, a good book and a huge block print scarf that can be used as a blanket, dress, cover up and beach mat.”

    What’s the best part of your #GirlfriendsGetaway?

    Aliza: “I am in my element when I’m at the beach. The sun is my best friend, the waves my ally and the breeze my comfort. So, to go on a trip with my Casa Mamas to beautiful El Nido is heaven to me.”

    Gin: “To be able to have fun, relax, let our ‘mommy guard’ down knowing it’s a safe and understanding environment where we can focus on ourselves and indulge in our own lives without distraction.”

    Leona: “Heart-to-heart talks and non-stop laughter.”

    Follow Aliza: @mustlovemom

    Follow Carmel: @carmelsparkle

    Follow Deux: @hey_deux

    Follow Gin: @ginsamson 

    Follow Kat: @iamkatmaderazo

    Follow Leona: @leonapanutat



    California native Amber Folkman aka A Momma Abroad has been living in the Philippines with her family for the past decade – and she has found a way to turn daily Filipino life into creative inspiration. #PerksofPinas is a community hashtag that celebrates all the good things about living in the Philippines, which has evolved into tailored workshops for people who are seeking positivity, particularly those who are still trying to navigate their way around Manila.  

    Amber shows us around her colorful home and shares with us her insights on building an online community.

    Tell us how ‘A Momma Abroad’ started.

    “I started ‘A Momma Abroad’ in 2015. I started it because we had just moved from our old neighborhood, where a lot of foreigners and expats were living, to Pasig. I didn’t know anyone and my friends whom I hung out with were gone so decided I was going to find all the great things in our new neighborhood."

    Amber wearing the Belarus earrings with the Darazi necklace set

    "I also wanted to show my family back home what our life was like in the Philippines so I began with sharing the places I found on Instagram. It keeps evolving into what it is – I grow with it and hopefully it will just keep getting better.”

    “'A Momma Abroad’ is not a parenting blog. I’m not your person for parenting advice but I am your person for activities to do with your family and loving the place where you live.”

    Amber wearing the Jasmine earrings

    Have you always been interested in arts and handicrafts?

    “I have always enjoyed arts and crafts. Sewing was one of my favorite ways to create. I wasn’t particularly gifted with painting and drawing so I really enjoyed decorating my bedroom and sewing clothes, toys and odd-and-end projects. Since living in the Philippines, I’ve been amazed at the local arts and crafts. I realized I had all these amazing finds at my fingertips – I just needed to go out and find them."

    Amber's home is filled with local handicrafts and colorful weaves

    "As I began decorating and feeling attached to these local handicrafts and textiles as well as their makers, I felt more indebted to the community and the Philippines. I felt an actual attachment to the Philippines and that’s why I’m a big supporter of decorating with local finds. Every time you see an inabel blanket, you feel a positive emotion about it and then you feel positive about where you’re living.”

    Amber loves decorating with vibrant pieces like this yellow inabel tablerunner and 'sari-sari store' pillowcase  

    What’s one place you’ve visited in the Philippines that has inspired you?

    “Some of the most inspiring places I’ve visited are the different weaving communities in Ilocos. Two years ago, we did an Ilocos Norte tour and we went to 4 different communities and it was so inspiring to see local woman use their talent and skills to create beautiful textiles.”

    Amber wearing the Arenas earrings with a conch shell necklace

    Do your travels inspire your DIY projects?

    “I do believe that my travels and living in a different country inspires the way I decorate my home. I’m drawn to cultures and countries that have vibrant colors. I’m also drawn to people that are warm and friendly and that’s why I feel very comfortable living in the Philippines – I really feel at home."

    "When I do travel to a new region or even a new part of Manila, I love discovering a local find and bringing it back and incorporating it in my home. I love textiles and I appreciate getting pieces from places I haven’t traveled to or where I hope to travel to.”

    Amber DIY'd these walls by her home office where you can find books and baskets of different sizes

    “I collect mobiles from all my different travels, most recently from Myanmar and Cambodia, which I hang in my children’s room. They add an element of design to our home that reminds that we’re not just from one country but we’re part of an entire world. Another element that inspires me in my DIY projects is color. I like having white walls as a blank canvas then adding something bright and vibrant around it.”

    Inside the kid's playroom 

    Mobiles from different countries can be found in the kid's play area

    Can you tell us what inspired #PerksofPinas?

    “I wanted to narrow down what my dominant voice was with ‘A Momma Abroad’ and our online community was really supportive of sharing my perspective on finding daily magic. As a community, we decided on this hashtag #PerksofPinas and that was to help us look for the positive things whether it’s on your walk home to and from school or at your palengke and you see a really pretty walis tambo. I was at a wet market in Kamuning and I saw these beautiful brooms woven in bright colors. We don’t have beautiful brooms in America. That is a perk of Pinas. That is beauty and daily magic that can be specifically attributed to the Philippines.”  

    Amber wearing the Sundari necklace

    “Whether it’s a Manileno or a foreigner, sometimes people have a hard time living in Manila. We can have a list of all the things that are frustrating about Manila but let's not forget about all the great things about Manila, too. The ‘Perks of Pinas’ workshop is to get people together and look at the skills they already have to find these daily bits of magic and actually love where they live."

    "There’s a term in environmental psychology called ‘place attachment’ and it’s the relationship you have with your place and I’m fascinated by it. You do these tiny experiments to help create a positive relationship with where you live. ‘Perks of Pinas’ is a space where we teach that. We give them a positive perspective and help them see that Manila is a liveable city and that they can find happiness here.”

    Amber wearing the Sundari necklace with the Nueva earrings

    Will you be having a new workshop soon?

    “I have a new workshop coming up in June called ‘Celebrate Perks of Pinas Gracefully’. That will be around the same week as Philippine Independence Day. It will be about celebrating all the uniquely Filipino things that we have here like arts and crafts and cultural practices like pasalubong."

    Amber wearing the Belarus earrings, Mitara necklace and Vieques ring

    "Gift-giving is my love language and when I hear this term from Filipinos, I feel that I understand them and they understand me. I’m also working on a super secret project for people who can’t come to the workshops or for those who need some type of support to help you find #PerksofPinas daily, which will be done by the end of the year. Until then, Instagram is a great place to connect with other people who are part of this community.”

    What are your top 3 #PerksofPinas?

    “Number one, endless summer. I don’t like cold weather. I’ll be happy even if I never see snow again. My second one is the people. The Philippines really is unique and Filipinos are generally warm, friendly and happy. I love that they are family-centered. My third #PerksofPinas that I’m sure no one is surprised about is suman. I love it and I can eat it any time of the day.”

    What’s your advice to people like you who started out with a blog that evolved into a community?

    “Don’t be a know-it-all. When you have a community, you might be a facilitator, in some cases you might be the torch-bearer, but you’re never better. Whatever you want to share, be equally as open to receiving that knowledge. I have learned so much and I never want people to think that I’m telling them ‘You should love this, you should do this, you should buy this.’ I just want to share a perspective of positivity and have others share that with me. As much as you are the facilitator, the leader or the sharer, also be the student and learn from your community.”

    “Just be real. Be wise about it and hold a space for other people to also be that. People need to see more of that online and it goes a really long way. When you are truly who you are and you present yourself that way, there’s nothing to hide and be unsure of.”

    Amber wearing the Boca earringsSundari necklace and Vieques ring

    “Also, make art every day. Do something creative every day. I am a terrible artist – I can’t draw but I buy art books that help me draw every day. I’m not good at it but I love it. If you're someone who has a career or a role that dominates a lot of your time – let’s say you’re a parent or you’re working in a call center all night – if creativity speaks to your soul, keep a little bit of that for yourself. Do something that ignites that creativity within your soul even if it’s just drawing something that takes 10 seconds or cooking something with a new ingredient.”

    Follow Amber: @amommabroad

    Photography by Sheila Catilo (@sheilacatilo)