Things I wish my country, the Philippines, has


Having lived in a first world country for four years now, the thought “Unta naa pud ani sa Pinas” (Sana may ganito din ang Pinas) never really left my mind. There are so many things I wish for my dear country that would make it a better place.

If only I wasn’t ambitious enough, I wouldn’t have left my country and just stayed close to my family, friends and career.

1. Higher wages

Specifically for nurses, teachers, builders/carpenters, etc. These are the jobs that make a huge difference in our daily living. In first world countries, nurses are one of the highest paid jobs as they look after human life. It’s sad to know that some of the nurses in the Philippines only gets 2000 php a fortnight. I hope our country would know the importance of these jobs and many others and pay them accordingly.

2. Disciplined drivers, better roads, better driving test

Can’t deny it, our roads have too many undisciplined drivers. Drivers always cutting off the line, not using indicators, and using the honk more than necessary. Our roads weren’t built for long term scalability, thus, suffering from sudden congestion in cities and longer traffic jams. We don’t even have a driving test to get a driver’s license. A better and stricter driving license requirements would mean more disciplined drivers on the road that may help ease up traffic.

3. Separate rubbish bins for general waste and recycling for each household

Having separate bins for each household may not be feasible in the Philippine setting, but maybe at least huge skip bins for each barangay. Everyone will be required to separate general waste from recycling and the barangay leader needs to arrange collection weekly and put it in the huge skip bins for CENRO/DENR to collect. These would help the environment and there will be many uses for the recyclable materials.

4. National parks with accessible foot paths

The Philippines has so many beautiful wonders but not all are easily accessible, not all are well-maintained. Australia has protected national parks all over their country and it’s the best way to relax and unwind. Their government makes it accessible for the public, most of them free of charge, are great for kids, and some are wheelchair-accessible. These then encourages the people to go out more often and enjoy nature. Their beaches are also open to public, free-of-charge with showers and tables provided. How wonderful it would be to spend a day outside surrounded by nature and not shopping malls?

5. The freedom to wear anything you want

I would love to live in a country where you will not be judged by the clothes you wear. We are so conscious about anything we wear that sometimes we end up not wearing it because we’re so worried about what other people might think. We can be labeled as ‘Jejemon‘, ‘Hypebeast‘, or ‘Pasosyal‘. We’ll wear crop tops and be make fun of. Heck, it’s a tropical country, let people wear what they want, they don’t judge you when you wear your cardigan in 33-degree weather, right?

Hay. Still so many things I wish for my country. It’s not fun having to leave everyone behind just to seek greener pastures. I’ll come back for you. I still love you, Pinas!

Why I love my mother


Aside from the fact that she carried me for nine whole months, whom needs to have her stomach turned as I was a breech baby, she will always be the person who will never turn her back against me.

I haven’t been the best daughter to my mother. I’ve never invited her to watch any of my dance competitions when I was younger. I’ve answered back most of the time when she reprimands me for going home late until she gave up.


But she was always there throughout all my phases.

You see, my mother thinks she isn’t perfect. Sometimes, she looks down on herself. She thinks that just because she wasn’t able to go to college then she gets embarrassed when trying new things.


But she is and will always be the best mother in the world. No bias. *wink

She’s will always be the one who tries to sneak into school, who would let me see her leave but would secretly come back just to watch me dance.

She will always be the one who will support me in everything I want to do, even it costs her their savings because I can’t decide on what to do with my life.


She will always be the one who will selflessly provide for her family just so we wouldn’t experience what she experienced when she was younger.

She will always be one of the strongest people I know, who will carry her own problems because she doesn’t want to worry the people around her.

But she will also be that person who will confide in her husband and children because she knows we are there for her as much as she is there for us.


She will always be that person who thinks ahead and wants to provide all of us the best present and future possible.

My friends would always tell me how they like my mom and how they wish they could have a mom like her, and I just usually pass it off.

And now, I see what they meant..


She is one of the most generous and caring person I’ve met. (The other one is my father. 🙂 )

She loves the people I love as much as I love them, sometimes even more.

And I will always be proud to be her daughter.


I love you, Ma. Thank you for always having our backs no matter what.

You deserve all the love in the world and we’ll do our best to provide you and Papa, the best life possible.

Happy Mother’s Day!


Can we go back?

Can we go back to the time..


when we didn’t have any issues waking up as early as 5 for school on a Monday morning with our parents’ cooking ready on the table?

when we didn’t even notice the year pass by because we had so many extra co-curricular activities and responsibilities and we weren’t even overwhelmed by it?

when people around us were appreciative and supportive of what we do and didn’t always turn it into competition?

when it was okay to embarrass ourselves and laugh about it because it wasn’t always a big deal?

when we can still wear whatever we want and not be labeled by it?

when we always have the time to do what we love and not have so many excuses to put it off?


when we were always surrounded by our friends because we go to the same school and do the same activities?

when our family was always around and we actually spent weekends together?


Back to the time..

when we weren’t so afraid of failure and rejection?
when people always meant what they said?
when it was easier to forgive and forget?
when we had fun without spending too much?
when we laughed over the simplest things?

I want to be young again.

Life was easier back then.

To my friends going through a difficult time


No matter how many times you go back to the past, it will never change.

This difficult time is temporary. Nothing in this world is permanent. Whatever you’re going through right now won’t last. It may seem like you’re facing endless problems in your life, but trust me, it will never be for long. Take them as challenges, as motivations, to do better and to push yourself to overcome these difficult times.

You are not alone. I am here. I will always be here. If you ever need someone to vent out to or when you feel like nobody is willing to listen, I may be a hundred or thousand miles away, but you still got me. I will listen without judgment. I may not be able to take away your pain, but letting it all out may help you.

Stop blaming yourself or anyone else. We’re humans. We all make mistakes and we can always learn from them. No matter how many times you go back to the past, it will never change. Live in the present. Do whatever you can do today to improve your future. Change your mindset and focus more on solutions.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself some credit. You’ve gone through hard times before and have always come out stronger and better. I’ve witnessed some of your losses and struggles. But I’ve also seen your victories. I will always be proud of you. Be proud of yourself, too.

But remember this…

No matter how many times you ask for my advice, it will not help you as much. You know what’s best for you. It’s always your decision to help yourself. And no matter what you decide, I’ll be there to support you.

So, my friend, cry when you must, but never forget to chin up, breathe and face each day as a new beginning.

Through thick and thin,


Five lessons I’ve learned from past relationships

1. People are not possessions.

Yes, both of you made a promise to be committed to each other, or to date exclusively, but it doesn’t mean that you own your partner. Let them go out with their friends or have hobbies that don’t include you. Don’t try to access all their social media accounts, and worse, even emails.

Never control them because possessiveness is a sign of insecurity. Trust them. If they truly love you, they will not do anything that will ruin your relationship. And if you don’t trust them, why be in a relationship with them in the first place?

2. Closures shouldn’t be forced.

When relationships end, we all demand closure. We all want answers to all our unanswered questions. We want to have that ‘one last conversation‘, ‘one last hug‘ or ‘one last kiss‘ to “formally” end a relationship, if there’s such a thing.

What I’ve actually noticed is that, we demand these closures because we’re clinging on to that slim chance that they’ll get back with us after the talk. But no. Never force closure because you’ll only get more questions instead of answers.

There’s nothing more liberating than getting the closure you deserved at the right time.

3. Never talk when you’re angry.

When we’re angry, we become heartless. Our minds are clouded with emotions. We become deaf to what our partner is saying. We only hear our words and most of the time, we regret them afterwards. Anything you say to a person when you’re angry will always be etched in their minds. They may forgive you but they’ll never forget it.

4. Compatibility and chemistry are important.

Chemistry, or that “click” or “spark” we feel, and compatibility, or being “on the same page“, with your partner, usually determine how long the relationship will last.

Compatibility without chemistry end up with a dry and dull relationship, usually waiting for the other to end the relationship first. While chemistry without compatibility start with a passionate attraction and end up with a toxic and selfish relationship.

Having these two together in a relationship is a bit rare. Usually, it’s one or the other. It’s still possible to love someone without these but they don’t usually last, unless you just settled.

5. Love also means to let go.

Going back to #1, your partner is not your possession. When you love someone and you see that they’re unhappy with you, you have to let them go. We can’t keep someone just because we want to. If we’re okay to see our partners suffer as long as they’re with us, then that’s not love, that’s selfishness. Don’t be that person.


5 things I’ve realized at 25

1. Everyone is as lost as you are.

Sometimes, we get envious of people in our news feed posting photos and following their dreams. What we don’t know is that they are as lost as we are, they are just better at hiding it. What people post in social media are just the ‘tip of the iceberg‘. Life crisis happens at any age.

2. It’s okay to say ‘No’.

I’ve always been a ‘Yes’ person because I wanted to avoid conflicts and I hated to upset anyone. There were many times I’ve tolerated other people’s actions (and mine’s) because I was too afraid to reject people. I had this turning point in my life when I said ‘No’ to someone I care about because I know it will hurt more if I stayed. It was sad, but it was also a relief.

3. People come and go.

People whom you hold dear to your heart will leave. People you thought you’ll have for the rest of your life won’t have second thoughts letting you go. It will hurt at first but you will be fine. People are temporary. People grow apart.

4. It’s okay to be selfish.

Giving can be tiring, especially when you feel empty. Giving to others isn’t always the solution. Sometimes, you have to give some to yourself, too. Which in turn, will let you give more to others. Remember, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup.’

5. Family is important.

Your family will always be there for you no matter what. They will stay through your ups and downs and will always support you. I wouldn’t have survived without mine. Love you, Fam!

One last note:

Don’t try to make everything perfect. You’re still young. It’s okay to make mistakes, but learn from them. Don’t compare your life to others because you’ll always be disappointed. Follow your own vibe and your own pace. You’re doing okay. 🙂

#BELLEssima18 in the Land Down Under

As we now all know, Presidential granddaughter, Isabelle Duterte, is celebrating her debut in a few days. Her Malacañang palace pre-debut shoot has been published last month.

But unbeknownst to many, she had her first shoot early December.

So as everyone were in awe with the beautiful ensemble she wore in her palace shoot, here’s another set to amaze us.

Isabelle had three gown changes for this shoot: Another two of Garimon Roferos couture gowns and an Edgar Buyan couture terno; all a perfect fit for the theme: “Belle of the Ball.”

Isabelle in Garimon Roferos © Gianne Carlo Chua
Isabelle in Edgar Buyan at Martin’s Place © Jp Velarde
Isabelle in Garimon Roferos at Sydney Opera House © Gianne Carlo Chua

And yes! That’s the iconic Opera House in the background as the two-day shoot was set in Sydney, Australia and the beautiful South Coast as her family were here on vacation.

L to R: Gianne Carlo, Angel, Isabelle and Shen
The team at Westfield Sydney

Her production team are friends of the family who are originally from Davao: Sydney-based photographers, JP Velarde and Gianne Carlo Chua, together with camera assistants, Angel Go, Icon Jen Chua and yours truly, Shen Sabater, and stylist Ivan Jeric Digamon. Make-ups were done by Isabelle herself and by Julio Caro at Chanel’s make up studio.

Cronulla Sand Dunes
Isabelle in Garimon Roferos at Cronulla Sand Dunes © Jp Velarde
Isabelle in Garimon Roferos at Coolangatta Estate © Gianne Carlo Chua

It was a light, fun and easy shoot as the debutante looked effortlessly gorgeous and was a natural in front of the camera.

Isabelle in Garimon Roferos at Kiama Blowhole © Gianne Carlo Chua
Isabelle in Garimon Roferos at Kiama Blowhole © Gianne Carlo Chua

We’re all lucky and honored to be a part of this team!

Some of the official pre-debut photos are already out in the respective photographers Facebook and Instagram accounts.

All our thanks to Wows Sangkola-Magno and Ate Lovelie Sangkola-Rumera!

Isabelle’s official debut hashtag: #BELLEssima18

LOOK: Isabelle’s Save the Date by GCC Visuals (Australia):


P.S. No taxes of any people from any country were spent on the production of this pre-debut shoot. 

Follow JP Velarde Photography and Gianne Carlo Chua Visuals on Facebook for any photo and video services and enquiries. (Australian residents only)