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23 September 2018

The story of Biba, or how it all began

THIS IS the story of Biba, encapsulating 30 years of excellence in product and service. I created this video to help commemorate the company's vision ahead, with the idea of linking past, present, and future. It also celebrates the men and women who have helped build Biba as the most admired ladies' ethnicwear brand in India. The video debuted at the company's annual get-together in June 2018. It is now being used as part of corporate orientation sessions for new employees.

Leaving Biba

I HAVE left Biba after four years and nine months, the longest time I’ve ever spent in a company in India.

I wasn’t planning to stay long in Delhi and with Biba. On my first year, I struggled with the city, an unforgiving place to those who couldn't adjust to its weather extremes, pollution woes, and unfriendly neighborhoods. However, at the end of that first year, I had stopped crying over its chaos and started loving its great, uncompromising ways. The Baha'i House of Worship became my beacon. And the winters were fabulous.

I also found that I enjoyed working in Biba. I had a decent salary, created many experiments in displaying the products, and collaborated with colleagues who had worked there for over five years. These were people who could easily leave, but never did because they believed in what we were all doing there. Passion and commitment were strong values in Biba, and they were infectious.

In the years I spent there, my skills were incubated indirectly by colleagues who were younger than me. While I learned cool ideas about customer engagement, I also unlearned many things that guided me in my younger years as a visual merchandiser. I let go of old ideas. I assimilated new ones. I matured. It was a gratifying time to be there.

And now is the time to leave. I resigned from Biba so that I can do things that I’ve never done and start doing things that I have been wanting—but delaying—to do.

I want to help other companies change the way shoppers experience their products and services. I want to create a visual merchandising program for an industry that has never been exposed to VM, at least exponentially, at least in India.

I want to be more involved in the Baha’i community. I want to make a bigger difference in the collective work that we do. I want to go back to truly practicing the moral values that the Baha’i Faith has taught me.

I want to make a larger bit of money so that I can finally save up for the retail design institute that I’ve always been wanting to create. I want to teach—not just train, but teach.

The next part of my career will be exciting. I was sad to leave Biba, but I’m thrilled to be moving on.

13 September 2018

FOCAL POINT : Barbra Streisand, "The Way She Wore"

BARBRA STREISAND's larger-than-life entertainment persona has always been defined by the way she wore her costumes, hairstyle, and makeup on screen. I've always been impressed with the production values of her film and television projects, and I'm even more fascinated with the manner that she keeps her identity intact even through the various clothes that she wears on screen.

On this video are Ms. Streisand's most memorable looks on television and film in the past 50-plus years. It's my tribute to her legacy on costume design.

03 September 2018

EPITAPH : Nina Lampe-Fiorentino (1923-2018)

"COMO FUERTE brisa, eres tu, eres tu, asi, asi, eres tu (Like a strong breeze, that's how you are to me)", I sang to my aunt, Nina Lampe-Fiorentino (1923-2018), over her kitchen table a few years ago. As the first-born of many cousins, she incessantly showered care and grace on her family during her long life. That heart of gold was matched with a beauty of diamond, a spirit of steel, and a mind of titanium. She was a breathtaking presence. Singing to her that night was my moment of thanking and loving her for all that she'd given.

"Eres tu el fuego de mi hogar (You're the warmth on my home)". Hasta la vista, Tita Neny.

01 September 2018

Back on track

AFTER TAKING a two-year break from active blogging, I'm back. The last 30 months have been so incredibly challenging and intense on the work front that I had to give my creative writing, among a few other pursuits, a temporary hiatus. All that is changing, as I'm embarking on a new career direction that will help me manage a more workable balance of home and office. As I write this post, I realized how sorely I've missed the hours of typing on the keyboard with the fragrant waft of coffee next to me as my thoughts flow, the search for that perfect image or video that catapults those thoughts, and the bit of cleaning up on the HTML as I deliver that final post. It's thrilling to be actively back on Window Views!

16 August 2018

EPITAPH : Aretha Franklin (1942-2018)

ARETHA FRANKLIN (1942-2018), Whitney Houston (1963-2012), and Barbra formed an indelible soundtrack to the way we were as children of a passing generation. Their music flowed straight from the heart and soul, and we understood what it truly meant to sing, to dance, to love, to r-e-s-p-e-c-t, to be part of a society that knows no barriers to race or religion.

With Ms. Franklin's departure, it is even more poignant to remember the empowerment that she fought for, and how much we have been given to help make this world a more united one. Farewell, Ms. Franklin, and thank you.

18 July 2018

FOCAL POINT : Nelson Mandela, "Homeland"

THIS YEAR marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela. In commemorating the event, his family has partnered with WeTransfer to reveal previously-unseen illustrations by Mr. Mandela. They are sketches done after he retired from the presidency in 1999 as a way of making sense of his historic life.

View the exclusive online exhibition of Mr. Mandela's elegiac “Homeland” series (2002-2003).

"Without art which captures our culture, we don’t have history."
- Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

16 July 2018

Viva la France!

THE FRENCH won over the Croatians in one of the most surprise-laden tournaments ever, the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Congratulations to the people of France and their followers! To further sweeten their victory, let me offer a now-trending, limited-edition variation of one of my favorite childhood snacks.

23 June 2018

EPITAPH : Feliza Ancheta-Rellosa (1925-2018)

LAST NIGHT, my father's last surviving sister, Feliza Ancheta-Rellosa (1925-2018), fell peacefully into slumber, sang with the gentle breezes of her dreams, and drifted tenderly to the celestial world. She moved on with the same elegance and grace that she showered on us in her long, beautiful life. Thanks for all the memories, Tita Fely, and see you again.

18 June 2018

The summer flowers of Biba

BIBA'S BEAUTIFUL summer is about to end; those flowers in the windows are about to be plucked. Kudos once again to the hardworking visual merchandising team of Biba for helping make the windows bloom.

06 June 2018

TIME covers drones covering TIME

This week's TIME magazine has arguably its best cover in a very long, er, time. In this case, TIME doesn't just cover drones: drones cover time, literally. And the outcome is both as hopeful and ominous as its well-written coverage. Read about this special coverage (with a special cover) online.

Like Google, TIME's brand authority is so potent that it can totally manipulate its logo and remain recognizable. TIME changes with the times, but the face is still the same.

12 May 2018

EPITAPH : Virginia Somonod-Toledo (1953-2018)

VIRGIE TOLEDO stared at me with mock annoyance, her arched eyebrows ready to fly out of her stern face and zap me. "Ano? Apat na taon kang nasa Israel, wala ka pa ring asawa? (What? You spent four years in Israel, and you're still unmarried?)" We were seated in the capacious living room of a mutual friend in Phnom Penh, and we were meeting for the first time since I left Manila four years earlier. "Virge, wala ka kasing clone, kaya single pa ako (You have no clone, that's why)", I retorted. She bellowed forth that laughter I so missed, then dabbed tears off her eyes. If there was someone I could drive to tears of laughter, it was Virgie.

This steely woman of undeniable resolve and strong opinion could shut her detractors off one day, yet shroud them with genuineness the next. The goodness of Virginia Somonod-Toledo (1953-2018) was in always doing the right thing. The best memories of living in Manila in the nineties included late night and early morning spiritual conversations with Papa, Virgie, and her husband Tony at the park, by the poolside at home, in our living room, in theirs. We debated. We bonded. We laughed, while she shed tears, always.

It was my turn to shed tears today, when I learned that Virgie passed on this week. Oh boy, those stern eyebrows must be so busy acknowledging her dear family and friends in the other world. And there must be a lot of loving going on there right now.

Bell's Palsy, six months later

CHANGE IS constant in life, and so is goodness if you will it. Bell's Palsy is now slowly ebbing away, six months after engulfing me with unwelcome affection. As it ebbed, it is leaving behind new sensations. I can't fully smile anymore. The right side of face twitches by itself. There is always a sense of thickness on the right cheek. Fortunately (and unfortunately for Mr. Palsy), I have the big chunk of my face back, and so is my laughter. Nothing can ever change such goodness. That's constant.

04 March 2018

This thing called Bell's Palsy

ONE HUNDRED days ago, I lost my face to Bell's Palsy. This unexpected ailment paralyzed half of my face, making it agonizing to chew, blink, read or smile properly. The neurologist has extended two more months of therapies for full recovery. The wicked disease has failed in stealing my spirits, though: I've been laughing much more than ever before, usually at myself. To paraphrase an old song, my looks may be laughable and unphotographable, but my sense of self has become a favorite work of art!