Stef+Naomi Photography: Sunbeams and You

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Flowers in her hair,
Eyes closed.
Endless dreams,
Mind wandering.
Alive,
And truthful…

She dreams.

-Jcaf
(Moi ;) )

Photography by Stef + Naomi Photography
Hair and Make up by Alain Adeva

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Shoot: The Light

13 Jan

Live in rooms full of light.

~Cornelius CelsusImage ImageImage

“There is a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
Leonard Cohen, Selected Poems, 1956-1968

Shoot: The Sky

30 Dec

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The night walked down the sky with the moon in her hand.

- Frederic Lawrence Knowles

Shoot: The I Love You Store

26 Jul

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My Artwork: 7/19

19 Jul

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I couldn’t stop myself from picking up my charcoal pencils and drawing the night away.

This is what I ended up with.

Wanderlust: Phuket, Thailand!

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Where do I even begin?

I have about roughly 1000 pictures from this trip, a few videos, wonderful memories, soulful new friends, and battle scars to document out of this 7-day trip of mine.

My traveler friends always find it slightly shocking when I say that this has been the longest trip I’ve ever taken this year. Out of the four out-of-the-country trips I’ve taken in 2014, this is indeed the longest. Most of the time, I escape only on weekends. And, sometimes, when I’m lucky, I get to add another day and have three days all in all. Status quo for my trips is always fly out on a Saturday, come back on a Monday.

So why did I go for it? I celebrated my birthday last month, and despite knowing how busy my December will be, I decided to give myself the gift of time and disappearing in a place I’ve never been to before.

I’ve gone to Thailand twice, but never to Phuket. The first time was in Pattaya and the second, in Bangkok.

I have to say, out of my three Thailand trips, this side is my favorite. I have, however, yet to see Chiang Mai. This place I surely must visit for the lantern festival in the near future.

Anyway, back to my Phuket trip.

I went barely with a plan in mind. I had two thoughts, get to Patong, then head to Ko Phi Phi.

This is the route I ended up taking:
Phuket town –> Patong (Barely a day) –> Ko Phi Phi (3 days) –> Railay (1 day) –> Kata Beach (2 days)

This is what it visually was like for this route:

Stop 1:
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Stop 2:

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Stop 3:

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Stop 4:

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There are other islands that I hear are good that I could have visited like Ko Lanta and Ko tao that would have been nice stops, but I guess it only means I have to head back.

The only way I can probably talk about this trip of mine is to talk about each place, each stop, and all that I enjoyed (and didn’t enjoy) doing while I was there.

Let’s start with the infamous… PATONG!

Even before I flew to Thailand, one of my friends had already warned me. Don’t go to Patong! “It’s a red light district,” he said.

Considering I got to Phuket at about 10ish, I was in a rush to choose a place to head to and Patong seemed to have a good hostel there so I ended up choosing that as my first stop.

From the Patong airport, you can take a cab which is about 700-900 Baht. I opted for the mini-van, because it’s only for 150 Baht.

Although, the first indecent proposal I got there was at the airport where you are tasked to book the van ride. “You come with me, and ride free…”

Uhmm tempting (…not), but no thanks.

The van ride is about an hour and maybe 30 minutes or less. I remember getting to the place, Bodega hostel, at about midnight.

The only thing I could pretty much do aftet that, according to the nice receptionist, was head to Bangla Road. You see, I never knew what Bangla Road was prior to my field trip there. I had asked the receptionist where I could get street Pad Thai and he quickly said “Bangla Road.”

Excited for my street pad thai, I freshened up, left my bags, and headed to the streets.

I stopped at a pharmacy and asked where Bangla Road is and one guy who was buying medicine as well chuckled and said “You won’t miss it…it’s the noisiest part of this area.”

And he was absolutely right. Bangla Road was just about 5-10 minutes away from where I was staying. One thing that surprised me, though, was how it transported me back to my shocking trip to Pattaya.

“Ahh, so this is what my friend meant,” I thought to myself.

I felt rather uncomfortable walking around, so I quickly found my spot, which is highly disappointing for my first meal during this trip, but I ended up in Mcdonalds, ordering what I normally get, Mcchicken and fries.

I cannot be blamed, though, as a female lonesome traveler, all I wanted to do was eat and be gone!

And that I did.

Below are some pics of my hostel in Patong and Bangla Road:

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Recommendations for those who plan to stay in Patong:
– If you’re the type who likes hostels, I give Bodega 3.5 stars out of 5. I like that it’s artsy and the beds are comfortable (except for the pillows), the lockers in the room, and most of all the really helpful and nice receptionist.
– From the airport, if you take a mini-van, they will take you to a tour company. Please do not avail of the trips there unless you know it’s the cheapest. I got talked into buying a van+boat ride to Phi-Phi deal for 500 Baht. Had I read Bodega’s thank-you-reserving-a-room-email, I would have known I could have gotten it for only 350 Baht. Oh well, lesson learned.;)
– Go eat at No. 6 Restaurant. That’s probably the only place I got to eat at because I had to leave for Phi-Phi. How did I find out about it? I asked one of the guards in one of the streets in Patong, and he said that was one of the best. They were good, yes, but I still heartily missed the street food in Khao San Road in Bangkok.
– Go see the beach! I certainly wasn’t able to go.

Next stop… Ko Phi Phi!

Oh beautiful Ko Phi Phi. It wasn’t much of a hassle to go there. For 550 Baht, I was able to get a van ride and boat trip to the island.

I didn’t know what to expect, all I knew was everybody, and I mean everybody, told me to make sure I won’t leave Phuket without a trip to Phi Phi.

As an obedient girl (hah!), I did exactly that and boy am I glad that I did! The minute we caught a glimpse of the island, everybody was obviously in awe of the place. Picturesque. The beach. The longboats. Everything
was just so lovely!

Here are a few pics of Phi Phi:

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Things to do in Ko Phi Phi:

1. Go on tours! I went for the Ibex Tour which outlined about 4 stops, including Maya Bay. I only got to enjoy about 2 since I got myself into a bit of a predicament after cliff diving. Despite this, I absolutely enjoyed the experience! Well, admittedly, it could’ve been better without my injured eye and back.:p

Below are some pictures to show you how beautiful this tour was for me (and the whole group):

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2. The only other thing to go for aside from going to the other islands or on tours is to check the night life and the restaurants or food stalls there.

The best bar I got to go to there was Banana Bar. Rooftop. Big screens. Music Videos. Good drinks (Loved their Hawaiian Margarita). Great vibe!

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Other party places are lined up mostly by the beach. Stones. Blancos. Ibiza. And the list goes on.

You’ll see electrical rodeo bulls there. Fire dancing. Fire limbo rock. Buckets for drinks.

If that’s what you are after, Ko Phi Phi is the right place for you.

Here are some pics of my first night there:

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3. Food. For those who’ve read my other travel blogs, you’d know I’m not a big eater. I did, however, enjoy some of my favorite Thai dishes while I was there. My favorite spot is but a stall on the way to the beach called Ko Phi Phi Fast Food.

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Other places to try are Grand PP Arcade and Capu Latte.

Aside from those two, I must say it’s quite easy to find an eating spot. There several food stalls and restaurants all over the place.

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4. Enjoy the beautiful beach! I stayed at Stones Hostel so it was quite easy to do this. Stepping outside was all I needed to do to enjoy the sun and beautiful view.

There are lots of options for accomodations and it really depends on what you prefer.

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Next stop: RAILAY!

Oh beautiful Railay! I moved to another island because three days in Ko Phi Phi was enough for me. I had seen and done all there was to do.

I’m so glad I chose Railay because I saw the best beach there. I spent only a day there, but, boy, was it enough!💗

Beautiful scenery. Lesser people. Quiet hideaway. Peaceful. It was a welcome change, after spending three days in Ko Phi Phi.

Here are some beautiful pictures of Railay:

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The highlight of this stop was the trip to Phra Nang Beach.

The walk to the beach itself was already amazing. The beach, even more mindblowing.

Despite carrying my backpack (with my fractured spine–an unknown fact then), I still loved every minute of it!

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Oh and when I saw the beach, I completely fell in love. I’ll let the pictures show you why:

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We stayed at Diamond Cove Resort, by the way. Beautiful and serene place:

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By the way, I paid about 350 Baht for a boat ride from Phi Phi to Railay.

After my Railay stop, I had to decide on where to go to be near Phuket for my flight back to Manila.

I didn’t want to go back to Patong and it seemed like the most logical thing to do was head to Kata.

Kata is a lil more quiet than all the other spots I went to. I would say it’s more of a family or couple destination.

I had fun though, thanks to the wonderful folks I met. I stayed at FIN Hostel. I loved how it looked; it was so vibrant and beautiful. I loved their rooftop pool and common area.

One of the highlights was seeing another lonesome lit lantern up in the sky! My newfound besties and I tried to look for one while I wasn’t there, but to no avail. The sweethearts found one on the night I left though and lit and let it fly for me!

Oh such sweet friends they are!

Anyway, here are some pics from Kata:

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Here are some pics of FIN Hostel and my newfound besties there:

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Countless beautiful islands. Wonderful beaches. Soulful new friends from all over the world. Sunsets. Swimming with planktons. Lanterns. Amazing, precious memories.

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Thank you, Phuket!

Will I ever head back? Definitely! Sans cliff diving and injuries, of course.;)

My Heart: HBD My Forever Hero!

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I will think about you a little more today than I normally do (which is already a lot).

You will always be my hero.

Mom would always tell me how you would always be quick to pacify me whenever I’d cry when I was a baby. The only sure thing that could make me stop then was to drive me around. And even when mom would tell you not to (so I wouldn’t get used to it, so I wouldn’t be too spoiled), you still always did. The minute I cried, she said you’d take me from her and drive me around, just you and me.

I remember early mornings on my birthdays growing up when I’d find you with a big smile walking into my room, greeting me first. I remember how you would always give to everybody, there was never a limit with you. I remember how I jumped up and down one day when you came home from work and I happily shared how I was P10 away from P100. You quickly reached for your wallet and made me even happier that day. A hundred, I thought to myself!

I remember how you gave me the perfect prom dress, but more so, how you waited for me to get home that night. With a prom queen trophy in my hands, in the dress that you gave me, I could see how joyful you were to see me happy.

That was always you, always loving, always caring.

I remember how you adored lola, how you talked about her, how your eyes sparkled whenever you looked at her. I remember you always joking about how she liked you first. She’d always roll her eyes when you would say that.

I remember how everyday, I’d see you at the porch, or by the gate, always patiently waiting for us, your girls (Mom, tita Ninf, and me), to get home.

People say I have a big heart, I wish they saw how you were. If they did, then they would understand how I came to be this way.

By just being around you then, I have learned the greatest value out there, and that is to give and love unconditionally.

You are my first hero, lolo. I loved you then, I love you now, and I love you forever.

I hope you’re enjoying a game of golf up in heaven and then some beers/shots of Tanduay after.

I’ll have a lil birthday party for you tonight as well!

Happy birthday, my forever hero!

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Wanderlust: Visiting Paradise – Coron, Palawan

20 Nov

As always, another adventure beckons, so here I am unloading pictures from my phone in hopes of capturing the beautiful moments of my last trip far longer than this phone can ever fathom. I do so because I know there will be days when I’ll be stuck in 14-hour sleepless work days and I’ll need a reminder of what I’m doing all this for.

And this reminder, Coron, will be one of the most beautiful reminders I can ever have.

Somewhere out there is a paradise waiting to be visited. Less than an hour away from Manila with limitless beautiful spots to devour.

I went for a quick weekend, but even that was enough to induce the energy and excitement I have been yearning for for a while now.

Although this wasn’t my first time to see Coron’s beauty, I still was pretty much in awe during the whole time I was there.

Why? Well, let’s start with the string of pictures below and maybe you won’t need my words to explain. Although you know I still will. Here it goes:

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The view on the hike up to go see Kayangan Lake

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Special thanks to Darss for taking most of these amazing pictures, by the way.

So there you go. Do you get what I mean when I say that there’s no need to say anything about these beautiful spots? In every corner, every boat ride, every Island stop… I was in complete awe of the world’s beauty.

I purposely did not mention the specific places as going Island/Lake hopping is quite easy. All you need to do is go for any package and the friendly and helpful guides will take you around paradise after paradise. Yes, to your heart’s content. It would normally just cost 650 for one tour.

Aside from the beauty around, the beauty under the sea waiting for you to unravel is indescribable.

I’m not an avid fan of diving but I have to say I enjoyed snorkeling.

Take a look at these:

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Photo credit: Darss ;)

For those who are wondering about what they should do there, below are spots I believe you should not miss out on:

1. Kayangan Lake

This is simply my favorite spot in Coron! Serene, relaxing, and beautiiiiful!! I stayed on a wooden plank relaxing sans any toxic thoughts and it was simply amazing!

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2. Go island hopping!!

Beautiful, almost-secluded, beaches. Lakes. Clear water. Beautiful creatures under the sea. The first string of pictures shows the sights I saw while Island hopping. We started the tour at about 9 am and ended at about 4 pm. All this for only P650.

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3. Visit Maquinit Hot Springs

I have not gone for this during my first two Coron trips, but a lot of my friends say it’s worth it. Even if you get to Coron in the afternoon, you’ll still be able to manage in the evening. It worth a visit, I hear. I’ll definitely go during my 3rd trip.

4. Climb Mt. Payas

I didn’t get to do this; obviously because I only had practically half a day.

Here are pictures taken by Darss though:

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5. Meet people! Go out there, join big traveling groups. That’s the best part about traveling anyway.

Our island hopping tour was composed of six individuals. Individuals I would otherwise never have met had I not gone for this adventure. I was lucky, my trip was made even more memorable thanks to them.

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Oh and where did I stay? During my first trip two years ago, I stayed in Coron Gateway Hotel. They had exceptional service. They upgraded our room to the best suite they had which was awesome! Spacious and fairly new when we stayed there.

For this trip, we stayed in Sea Dive Restaurant which was just as nice. My favorite part about that place is the view from the restaurant. So beautiful.

Below are some pictures:

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How much was the damage? And this, I always include so everyone can see that it is pretty much manageable! Coron isn’t as expensive as most people think.

Below is the breakdown:
* P4,900 for my plane ticket from PAL (which I bought on the Wednesday before my trip that Saturday)
* P1,300 per night from Sea Dive Resort
* Food per meal is about P100-P300
* Island hopping per day is about P650. You can also rent a boat for about P2000
* P150 for the van to and from the airport

As I traveled through Coron for the second time, what made it a lil more special this time around was having my Travel Finds Jcaf Art bag with me. I had a little bit of my art world with me while exploring which was amazing.

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Oh beautiful Coron, this blog will never ever be enough to let everyone know how beautiful you are…

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For those reading this, if you have not
gone there… It’s high time you book a flight and head out there. Trust me! ;)

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All she wanted,
was to find a place to stretch her bones
A place to lengthen her smiles
and spread her hair
A place where her legs could walk
without cutting and bruising
A place unchained
She was born out of ocean breath.
I reminded her:
‘Stop pouring so much of yourself
into hearts that have no room for themselves
Do not thin yourself
Be vast
You do not bring the ocean to a river.

- Tapiwa Mugabe

To All The Girls Who Thought of Giving up on Real And Beautiful Love

17 Nov

To all the girls who thought of giving up on REAL & beautiful love,

I’ve been there. I thought that the vision I had of love that was magical, beautiful, and unconditional was but a product of all the fairy-tales we have been made to watch as little dainty girls.

At 30, a lil more grown-up, I have seen love through different stages. Falling in love. Loving. Staying in love. Fighting to keep it. Struggling. And failing, yes failing. After the last relationship I had, I seriously told myself that maybe love is but a decision. I tried to convince myself that that feeling that I was waiting for, the “you just know” feeling was just another myth…an illusion, a far-fetched idea.

I pretty much almost successfully convinced myself to believe in that absurd idea. I reached a point where I altered my standards and my expectations here and there to be able to find love and keep love.

But the grown-up me was wrong and the little girl version of me was right all along.

There will be a love so strong that will be able to make you forget about all the things that made you believe in its non-existence. A love so undeniable, it just takes over and you’re just sure it’s where you need to be at that very moment.

There is a guy who will look you in the eye when you share your innermost thoughts. Someone who will listen to the bad, alongside the good, parts of your story and will still find you beautiful. There is a guy who will pay attention to what makes your heart skip a beat as if it were his own heart he’s keeping an eye on. There is a guy out there who takes note of the scars and wounds this life has left on you, and carefully kisses them in hopes of making them slowly fade away, or at least to lessen the pain they have left on your soul. There is a guy out there who knows what your heart says, even if you’re too afraid to admit it. A guy who’s patient enough to wait for you to open up again as he knows what your fear is made of and he’s certain of what his love is capable of. There is a guy who will be able to sprinkle a bit of magic to every simple thing you do in life. Watching a movie becomes a hundred times more touching. Cuddling at night suddenly gives you the peace you’ve run after in thousands of places and in numerous ways. Talking becomes as entertaining as having 10 or more people around even if it’s just really you and him across each other. There is a guy out there who will make you feel like you never have to question whether he wants you or not…the way he seeks time with you, the way he treats you…Well, it will just make your heart swell with love and certainty. There is a guy out there who will hug you so tight that every little crack, every little broken piece, will seem a little a new again… And one day you’ll wake up to see that what you thought was unfixable, actually is.

To those who think this doesn’t exist, you need to know it does. As the famous quote says “We accept the love we think we deserve.” And if we should ever succumb to thinking we deserve less than what is actually out there for us, than what is actually waiting for us to discover, then it will definitely be such a tragedy.

Love is supposed to be beautiful. It is supposed to be magical. And you should never ever forget that. Somewhere out there and somewhere in time, you will find a love so true, a love so beautiful, that will make you understand why you had to wait…and why you had to keep the faith.

I’m so glad I fought back and kept my heart intact and hope full.

“Someday your prince will come,” as fairy-tales always say and you should never ever believe otherwise.

You, my dear girl, deserve the fairy-tale of your life.

We all do.

Year 30, Day 1

29 Oct

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Four more hours to go before I bid my 29th year goodbye. Here I am again writing my annual blog-slash-informal-summary of what the year has been like as I always do. This year is a bit more special as I am kissing such an essential decade of my life farewell. It is true, what they say, your 20s will truly make you understand who you are and what you want in life, if you use your years well.

The last few hours of my 29th self are invaded by nostalgic and happy thoughts of where I was 10 years ago, and all that has happened in between then and now. Being the only girl of six children and to add to that, being raised by my grandparents, I have always been the girl with the curfew, the girl who was NOT allowed to hang out with boys, the girl who was not allowed to go out of the house, the girl whose granddad (bless him) would wait for me to get home at 6 pm even when I already was in college.

I could have chosen to be that girl forever, but I didn’t. I gave my family an ultimatum. Okay, I’ll stay in my hometown for college but I must, and I mean MUST, leave for work the minute I graduate. And that is what I exactly did. Was I scared? Hell yes! Scared to walk alone, scared to commute, scared of almost everything. But not for too long.

More than two jobs and a sum of 10 years after, here I am, doing what I always thought I should be doing… living far away from home, sans curfews, sans protective brothers hovering around (well occasionally they’re around which I love lol), but mostly sans the fear instilled in me since I was young.

I was once told I should pursue a certain profession to live a happy life. I knew what my heart wanted and I never forgot the passions I have always vividly understood since I could remember thinking for myself. And that is precisely why this year, my 29th year, proved to be such an important phase of my life. It is truly this year that I have fallen madly and COMPLETELY in love with my passions in life and that I am slowly but surely pursuing what I think I was meant to do in this universe.

I, The little girl who once painted on her bedroom door (against her grandmother’s wishes), finally got to join an exhibit! I would never have known that this would be possible as I have never pursued it in the last 9 years. But I believe if something is meant for you, it will find its way knocking on your door if you keep your love for it alive. Aside from that, I am doing a job I love, hosting. Talking to people, performing, and it keeps my heart alive and full.

I think what I am most grateful for this year is how my life took an unexpected turn which forced me to reorganize my priorities and plans in life, for the better. Looking back and remembering how that particular experience affected me at first, I know it had to happen. It gave me a new perspective of the next steps I should focus on.

With all that has happened, I only have one piece of advice to give those living their splendid 20s, remember to love yourself first. KNOW yourself. Pursue your dreams. Make mistakes. And don’t be in a hurry to give your life to someone, unless you have given YOURSELF your best shot.

I am close to that, close to saying wow, I made it happen. And I can’t help but be joyful for having faith in my dreams and in what I could do with them.

Yes, I am turning 30 soon, and I am welcoming this whole new adventure with arms wide open.

I’m Jamie…I’m 30 years old and happy. :)

Memories for keeps, highlights of year 29.

*New sunsets, new places, new friends, priceless. Bali, Siem Reap, Bangkok.

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*Love revisited. Friends’ special moments. Brothers. CDO. Camiguin. Family.

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*Unforgettable Events…I’m one lucky host! ;)

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*Travel Finds Jcaf Art Bags and Throw Pillows – 2nd Collection. My babies. My heart skips a beat every time I see a random person using the bag/pillow or when I see posts online. Indescribable!

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*My artspired year!<3 I go through days when I can’t stop thinking about an idea and I feel like I just have pick my paint brushes up and paint away. That’s bliss for me… This year I was lucky enough to be asked to participate in an exhibit called Babae to remember a great Philippine artist Petrona Nakpil and showcasing female artists.

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Thank you year 29… You have been the most interesting year of my life. Year 30, I’m ready for you!:)

My Art: Gretta

29 Aug

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Gretta, 8/23/14
Watercolor

My Art – Jcaf Art Bag: Sian

21 Aug

Sian
8/21/2014
Hand-painted, textile and acrylic paint

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