Autumn Leaves at Central Park, New York City.
I know I’ve been MIA for the past couple of weeks, but I’m working on something really special for you guys! Just thought I’d welcome the New Year with something special.
“Probably some of the best things that have ever happened to you in life, happened because you said yes to something. Otherwise things just sort of stay the same.” Danny Wallace, Yes Man
I’m really glad that I said yes to this.
A few months back, my sister and I ordered tickets for the Ed Sheeran concert in Madison Square Garden. It would not only be my first international concert, but also the first time I actually get to see him live.
That is another one off my bucketlist. I’m at a loss for the right words to tell you how fun the night was. Ed Sheeran is such a talented and amazing performer. He managed to entertain us, a crowd of thousands, with a single guitar, a pedal, and his amazing voice. He didn’t need back-up dancers, fireworks, or costume changes at all. I was blown away by his live versions of “Kiss Me”, “Give Me Love” and “Wake Me Up”.
I can still feel the hair standing up on the back of my neck. Yes people, he’s THAT good. And if you ever get the opportunity to see him live, you should take it. I swear you will never regret it.
And if THAT wasn’t enough to knock my socks off, THIS part definitely hit the ball out of the park. He surprised the crowd with a guest since it was his first sold out night in MSG. And guess who he brings out? His best friend, the one and only, talented Ms. Taylor Swift!
I think the minute she stepped onto the stage I stopped breathing. It was too good to be true. Tears started to fall from my eyes. I felt like the luckiest 22 year old in the entire stadium. I’ve always wanted to see her perform live, and even though they only sang one song together – “Everything Has Changed”, the title couldn’t be more fitting. I was definitely changed after those precious five minutes.
It was definitely a night I will remember for the rest of my life.
But the fun doesn’t end there. That week, I also enjoyed my first New York Broadway show with my sister, entitled (quite fittingly again, if I may say so myself) FIRST DATE. I laughed so much I almost cried. If you’ve ever been on a first date, you can definitely relate to the story. On the one hand you have a gorgeous girl, who always falls in love with the bad boys – and because of the many times she’s gotten her heart broken, she puts these walls up and refuses to believe in true love. On the other, you have the typical good boy, one you could bring home to your parents. He’s got a stable job, and the looks to match.
Unfortunately, he’s been in only one relationship in his entire life, and he got his heart broken so bad he doesn’t know if he’ll ever recover. It may sound stereotypical, be we can all relate to these characters, one way or another.
The rest, they say, is history. Every love story is different. And it was pretty darn entertaining to see how these opposites made, or did not, make it work. The way I see it, it’s a Broadway show worth watching, and that’s not just because Zachary Levi is so damn sexy.
Truly, there is a first time for everything, and I couldn’t be any happier to experience all of this with my big sister.
"Always be yourself unless you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn" - Unknown
I didn’t get to dress up as a unicorn this year, but unlike most Halloweens spent in my hometown, I actually got into the whole spirit of things and wore a costume! It was like being a little kid all over again, dressed up for trick-or-treating.
But let’s not get ahead of things, shall we? When I said I got into the whole Halloween spirit, I meant it. I actually visited a pumpkin patch for once in my life, and it was definitely a fun experience. My sister Alexa, our family friend Clarissa and I headed down to the Demarest Farm in NJ. After a quick bite to eat, we took a wagon to the farm itself. Can I just say that their apple cider and cinnamon apple donuts are to die for? Because it’s true.
Now back to the whole costume thing. I was debating whether to go scary or sexy, superhero or straight out of a fairytale; or something a little more reality tv. Guess what I ended up dressing as?
A RINGMASTER, of course! I’ve always wanted to be the queen of the circus and now I finally got the opportunity. Alexa's best friend and our extraordinarily talented stylist/housemate Jaymee helped me with the hat and the ringmaster's coat, while I put the rest of the outfit together. Check out what our other housemates decided to be!
Big Bad Wolf
All Photos Taken Using Pat’s Camera
We headed out to the Seven Deadly Sins event at the Gansevoort Hotel in the city, and it turned out to be our own little dance party! Instead of getting drunk on our asses, we simply danced the night away, and it was so much fun.
I would love to see what you guys dressed as this year and how you spent your halloween! In the meantime, welcome to my circus and a belated happy halloween to you all!
And if I lived a thousand years
You know I never could explain
The way I lost my heart to you that day
But if destiny decided I should look the other way
Then the world would never know
The greatest story ever told
and did I tell you that I love you tonight?
I wish I could say this was MY night to remember, MY greatest story, but it isn’t. Part of the reason why I haven’t been able to blog for the past few months, and a big reason at that – is because my older sister Alexa got married last September 8, 2013.
And of course, it’s better late than never to tell you guys all about it. Right now as I try to recall that day and put it into words, everything seems like a dream. It was such a beautiful moment to witness Macky and Alexa tie the knot. Just like any fairytale, their “greatest story” had it’s own happily ever after, that it made all the months of hard work and preparation worth it.
Admittedly, being the maid of honor was no easy task. I now have a newfound appreciation for wedding planners. Jennifer Lopez made it look so easy. From the catering, to the dress, to the hell that breaks loose on the day itself – you might as well be running a marathon. But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, to see my sister all happy and in love – I would definitely do everything again if I had to.
Weddings always make me cry, and this one was no different. From seeing my older sister walk down the aisle with my mom and dad, to the bride and groom finally sharing their first kiss as a married couple, to my father’s speech, the couple’s first dance and me, the lovely maid of honor finally giving my toast – there was never a dry eye in the room. The best man and I both alluded to stories in our speeches, which is basically why my sister’s wedding theme: Our Greatest Story is quite fitting.
I’d like to share a part of my toast with you all:
If there’s one thing that you should know about Alexa and I, it’s that the two of us were practically twins as little kids. Never mind the two-year age gap, or the fact that she was a lot paler than I was – we were, and still are, inseparable.
There’s this one memory I always come back to when I think about how we were as kids. We were still living in Virginia and we had this huge basement decked out in carpeted floors. While it seemed like a huge amount of space for two little girls, it was perfect for an imagination as big as my sister’s. That particular afternoon, she decided that we needed to build a kingdom for our Barbie Dolls. So there we were, building mansions and a ski resort out of tupperwares and boxes, lego and whatever else we would find lying around. And of course, Alexa had to have Ken and Barbie, while I was left with Skipper and some Ken doll I named Jordan, I didn’t really mind what character I had to be as long as I was living in her story. We spent hours in that basement, our couples getting married then kidnapped then skiing for their honeymoon – anything her imagination would take us to.
And boy did that imagination of hers go far. When we got older, we outgrew the dolls, and soon her stories came to life on paper. This was now our boy band phase. Alexa would write fan fictions and short stories – all of which I read and re-read several times over the years – where the topic of conversation was always the same, even with the many changes in boy band characters, settings, or plot twists – Alexa always wrote about love. And she inspired me to write my own stories as well.
You can probably guess where I’m going with these little memories of mine. And you’re right. Alexa always had the talent for cooking up love stories. But I have to be honest with you, and I’m sure all of you will agree, that the best love story she’s ever written is the one we were lucky enough to witness today.
And now, without further ado, I am proud and incredibly happy to share this story with all of you.
The Groom: Mr. Macky Santiago
The Lovely Bride: Alexa Yupangco
Alexa and I, her lady-in-waiting
You may now kiss the bride!
Mr. and Mrs. Macky Santiago
"Our Greatest Story": The Reception
Ceremonial Cutting of the Cake
My Father trying (and failing) NOT to cry while giving his speech
ABJPJ aka Bride’s Highschool Besties
The MOH and her flower crown (and best friends)
The Yupangcos + Instabarkada
And they all danced/partied/loved/lived happily ever after.
PS: Check out their prenup video for more on their greatest story
The second day of our Seoul adventure didn’t quite go as planned. We left our hotel at around 830 am to catch the Shuttle Bus to Nami Island at Jamsil Station at 930 am. The subway ride took around 30 minutes so by the time we made it to the station it was already past nine.
Talk about morning rush. We scrambled around Lotte World, asking directions as to where we could find the bus station. It was really difficult since the guards stationed around could barely speak English. So when that didn’t work, we tried following the map we got from the Internet.
I guess it wasn’t our lucky day. It was already 925 and we still didn’t know where to go. We gave up our search then, and decided to find a tourist desk where we could ask about alternate transportation to the island.
Apparently, the subway can take you to the Nami Wharf! But I have to warn you though, be prepared for a lot of standing, walking, and transfers. The trip was definitely not like taking candy from a baby. I suggest leg exercises and packing a whole lot of patience. Here’s what we had to do: 45 minutes subway ride to Gapyeong station (with 2 line transfers), 5-10 minute taxi ride to the wharf (piece of advice: make sure to ask a tourist desk/hotel for the Korean translation of Gapyeong Wharf because most taxi drivers barely speak English) and then a 5-10 minute ferry ride to the island.
The journey to Nami Island with my mom and sister was well worth the trouble. We made it to the island at around 11:30 am, so the first thing we did was look for a place to eat; well, that and stop to take pictures every minute or two. We couldn’t help it. Imagine standing in the middle of two rows of trees (yes, if you’ve watched Winter Sonata, this is what I’m talking about) with the sunlight peeking through the foliage. It’s definitely a sight to behold. I could only imagine how beautiful it would be capped in white snow.
We found a Korean restaurant called Nammoon that served delectable bibimbap. And to top it off, we grabbed some ice cream at a nearby café.
After we ate, we wanted to explore the island some more. What better way to do so then by roaming around Winter Sonata-style. And yes, by that I mean renting some bikes.
By the time we finished, I swear, our legs felt like jelly. We knew we had a long journey back so we stopped by the popular site where the Winter Sonata characters had their “first kiss” – yes, my mom was reminiscing the whole time we were there – and then we took the ferry back to the wharf.
That was around four in the afternoon. The trip (ferry-taxi-subway) back to our hotel at Euljiro 1-ga took us about an hour and I tell you, all that walking certainly took its toll on us. The minute we got to our hotel room, we couldn’t help but laugh at ourselves. We could barely stand up.
After an hour of rest, though, we decided to take our hotel shuttle to Dongdaemun Market. I don’t know what we were thinking, but apparently we must have been in some sort of adrenaline rush to get our butts off our beds.
It’s a good thing that Dongdaemun was catered to the ladies. Retail therapy did the trick. Surrounded by cosmetics, apparel of all sorts and colorful accessories, we forgot all about the pain in our legs. We even tried some street food while we were there!
By midnight though, the shopping couldn’t relieve us of our pain any longer. We knew we were definitely pushing it, and if we didn’t head home we would probably get sick.
At the end of the day, I can say that this was by and far the most tiring 15 hours of the trip, but at the same time, the most adventurous that I’ve seen my mom commit to. She barely goes on road trips with us and to places that don’t have a mall. But on that day she proved us wrong – and that alone is one for the books.