looking new

My mom has always been a smart dresser. According to my titas, she would sometimes buy fabric to make into a dress instead of buying food. Being the youngest & the only girl, we used to wear a mother & daughter terno when I was younger. She would force the boyish rug rat I am into wearing jewelry & dresses when all I want is the same Tretorn rubber shoes as my brothers. You could say that I was a late bloomer & started being more girly when I went to college.

"You don't look like you came from France!" I remember my mom telling me when we went home in 2004. I purposely wore the exact same clothes when I left for France 4 years prior & it made me feel good. But the remark was quite puzzling. How does a balikbayan supposed to look?

Looking through the new photos of my friends way back in highschool & college in Friendster has always been fun & surprising. Some you can't recognize, others are amazingly transformed not only physically but also in life. In short, there was an apparent change. And I wondered about my own physical evolution - in what way is it apparent to them?

As much as a comment like, "Grabe, you never changed, ganon pa din looks mo since you left..." from a friend I didn't see for 4 years is not so significant as "You still look the same!" from a friend I didn't see for 20 years. Really makes you wonder if it's a good thing or not. And the idea that your sense of style & complexion normally follows when you change country is evident - more expressive in make-up & clothing & pale skin. My mom likewise told me that I looked better when I'm pale & I have always loved sunbathing & getting a golden color.

My style in clothes has always been discreet &
classic. I have never been expressive in make-up nor in the way I dress. My aunts told me that I look younger without make-up & I just occasionally put some because I am too lazy to wash it off before going to bed. From branded clothes & shoes before I got married to total generic filled cabinet & shoe rack - my discreet black shirt doesn't need a brand & I am seriously thinking of putting more colors in my cabinet.

Change is evident. It is growth. We cannot look the same as 20 years ago. But I'll never know why it is always expected in a new place & after a long absence. Maganda siya ngayon. Does it really say something on where we are in life?

In changing wardrobe, will my mom tell me next year, "Wow, you really look like you came from France!"


From Manila to Paris, then to Marseille & to the Côte d'Azur, now in Singapore, clinging to a map of three worlds, where everything becomes all relative.


  1. hehe, i always hear the same remark when i go back home. not from my family tho, they know that im not a shopaholic, and i dont care on what i wear, as long as i feel comfortable with it.

    my officemates never stop teasing me tho. so i intentionally wear my old clothes hehe. pang asar.

    and yes, i wonder how a balikbayan looks like too...

  2. My friends and family have exactly the same observation when I went back 2001 and Feb-March this year! They were telling me "yan ba ang galing France butas butas ang t-shirt!! ang sagot ko naman "presko nga eh" ! I was always called "BOY" kasi nga boyish, jeans & t-shirt, rubber shoes OK na!

    A friend of mine organized a dinner at Dencios and one of my friend told me "di ka pa rin nagbabago haze, di ba normally pag galing abroad pumuputi tapos they get to change the color of their hair?!"Sagot ko naman "parang di nyo ko kilala make up nga paiyakan pa!"

    Maybe living or going abroad could change our perspective in life but not physically ! I am who I am !

  3. Kakatawa naman wento niyo, analyse & Hazel! Thank goodness I'm not alone in always hearing the same remarks! Kaya nga I tell people that I don't come from France, dyan lang sa tabi-tabi :)

  4. yong mga nagbabago ng image, kasi something wrong with them. Payabang baga to show na they came from abroad.

    When I met some friends in manila last august, kala nila madame na madame ako.Nagulat sila, simple dress naka plastic slippers lang and no make up. Sa init ba naman ng pinas, saan ka pupulutin if mag makeup pa!

    then she met this filipina in France, sabi sa akin: ate amy, bakit ganon yon, meet kami, tsika agad na ganon daw kalaki bahay nya,kotse nila, work ni frenchie nya, then sa alahas, daig si donya buding ! ! !mag kakape lang kami non ha!
    layo sa persona mo when we met!

    eh tunay na madame yon, sagot ko, ako fake, hahaha!

  5. When I first went home in 1998 after 4 years of living in the States, it's true that my skin got lighter but I didn't really even notice it until my relatives brought it to my attention and when the mosquitoes made me a target. A bit embarrasing when they kept telling me that I look like a "kana" daw. Ngeeeh!!! On my next visit, it was around summertime here and I had been spending more time outdoors so I was a bit more tanned. People then said that I'm darker than my sister who's living in Pinas. Ay, sus! Why do they have so much fixation on our skin coloring just because galing ibang bansa? Fashion-wise, I prefer more casual wear (shorts, tees, flats) when in the Phils. I don't get the jeans and high heels that I notice most women are wearing there at the malls. I do notice that some "balikbayans" really do make a point to be seen as such. It's kinda obvious to see at the airport. By the way, my brother asked me once why my hair wasn't rebonded? Huh? Never heard of that at all. The one thing I did notice was the lack of common things to talk about with people I used to hang out with. Kinda awkward when they expect you to be the same and pick up where you left off. I get flustered when asked, "Kumusta ang buhay America?" How do I respond without sounding like I was bragging? So much have changed and as much as I consider myself the same ole me, I can't deny that I have grown and evolved over the years. It's inevitable, regardless of the geographical location, I think.