As most of you know, Emeka and I officially moved to Manila last month to establish and grow our respective careers and begin a brand new adventure as newlyweds! When we boarded that plane on February 17th, I had no idea what to expect. In many ways, it felt very similar to my plane ride from Texas to New York City: full of expectation, a bit of fear, but most prominently, hope in that the best was yet to come.

And indeed, Manila has been all-around the BEST. Each day Emeka and I are astounded by the heart of The Philippines; each person we have been blessed to encounter has been a breath of fresh air and it is safe to say, we are ready to call this place Home. My desire is to transport you through these pages to join me in the journey of a lifetime as I highlight all things fashion, travel, and food in Manila. I’d like to start with a few of my favorite events last week. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

When I received an invite for the L’Oreal Wake Up in Paradise event, I was giddy with excitement. Back when I worked in buying for Barneys New York on 5th Avenue, we shared a building with the corporate headquarters of L’Oreal. I fondly remember sharing the elevator with the L’Oreal girls and noticing how confidently beautiful they were; I thought to myself, “Surely, this is a wonderful and empowering environment to work in!”

Upon reading the dress code was “chic resort wear”, I rushed into my closet to find my freshest dress of the season and chose a floral tassel earring with a cascading braid to finish off my look. I decided to keep my makeup to a minimum, secretly hoping to get a chance to try out the new mascara everyone was raving about!

Upon stepping off the elevator doors, I was greeted with a group of smiling ladies in silky pink robes and before I could ask where I could buy my own, to my pleasant surprise, not only was I handed a robe of my own, but pink bubbly champagne to match as well! (Talk about Insta-worthy right?!) The program, while short, was very sweet; L’Oreal experts introduced the Voluminous Lash Paradise mascara as a must-have in the beauty market. A few guests came forward to show off the long-lasting product. After trying it myself, I couldn’t believe how fresh the mascara had lasted through the heat and humidity! (Did I mention it’s waterproof?!)

For the rest of the evening, guests were welcome to an evening of pampering! You could get a massage of your choice out on the roof overlooking Metro Manila while sipping on a cocktail and/or choose an indoor makeover by a professional L’Oreal makeup artist! All this beauty goodness at your fingertips while munching on a Poké Poké Shoya bowl with hand crafted cotton candy for dessert. Beauty Heaven, am I right?! I never wanted the experience to end and made sure to snag my very own Voluminous Lash Paradise mascara to keep the beauty party going... you can grab your very own here too here!

Fast forward a few days and when Emeka and I recieved our invite to the 2018 Summer Polo Cup hosted by FILA X Manila Polo Club, we could hardly contain our excitement! In cooperation with Philippine Tatler, FILA would be showcasing their latest summer collection. One of the many things I love about my husband include his passion for refined style, so you can imagine how much fun we had choosing our "summer chic" outfits to honour the dress code. I chose a ruffled multi-coloured stripe maxi dress with statement earrings while Emeka chose a white ensemble with a light grey blazer, yellow pocket square, and alligator dress shoes to tie in the whole look. We had no idea what to expect but we had heard many times that Manila Polo Club was THE premier location in the area so we came dressed to impress!

Upon arrival, we were greeted with chilled cocktails and handed the newest addition of Philippine Tatler featuring fashion's finest: Kim Jones, Heart Evangelista, and Liz Uy; perfectly setting the tone of excellence for the evening. Soon after entering the main space showcasing the latest FILA collection, we spotted the ever-fabulous President and CEO of FILA Philippines, Cris Albert. Ms. Albert gracefully led the style parade wearing a white peplum dress with cascading florals. While there were many guests, I marvelled at her ability to still find the time to greet us with a genuine smile and welcoming hug.

A very accommodating server led us to a front table overlooking the polo game, offering us another round of cocktails. For the next hour I was amazed as I watched my very first polo game, the highlight being a 17 year old scoring the most points of the entire game! In between the program Tim Yap, premiere eventologist, and Tessa Vades, fashion icon and extraordinaire, seamlessly hosted the event. The lineup included a game on the field and finally a major giveaway to drive a Mazerati for a day! While enjoying the FILA-festivities, we were served beautiful hors d'oeuvres (my favourite was the wagyu sliders!). Once the award ceremony concluded, to our sheer joy, a giant truck in the middle of the field opened up to reveal a full reggae band called Chocolate Factory. 

As if that wasn't enough to entice a party, the servers began to parade onto the field with trays upon trays of main courses and desserts to a beat reminiscient of "Be Our Guest" from Beauty and the Beast (except in this case, only Beauties present!). On queue, my husband jumped up towards the feast (food is his love language!) and I swiftly followed with the intention of observing the Manila fashion scene. The first thing I noticed was the celebration of color (I would like to specifically call out "color-queen" Tessa Valdes in her opulent yellow ensemble for setting the standard for celebrating style!) . Pinks, yellows, reds, and greens lit up the whole space and perfectly complimented the laughter and fun-filled conversations. Secondly I appreciated the bold style choices from exaggerated ruffles to expertly curated combinations of prints. Finally, I was inspired by the confidence that exuded from the men and women alike. It reminded me once again that fashion, more than anything else, is indeed YOUR message to the world. Style can speak the contents of your heart and soul without a word! And just when we thought the soirée couldn't get any better, fireworks lit up the sky as we danced the rest of the night away. 

We have officially passed our first month in Manila and cannot believe how much we have fallen in love with this city in such a short amount of time! Oh am I ever so glad that I chose to push past fear in pursuit of the mission to empower all through beauty and style. The road towards excellence is by no means always easy and it is a sure guarantee that discomfort will meet you time and time again, BUT the confidence in the plan and purpose put before you is a light worth fixing your eyes (and hope!) upon. So if you are reading this and have a passion burning within you longing to burst into reality, I encourage you to let go and take the leap! I dare you to dream bigger. Remember: If you reach for the stars all you'll get are the stars. If you reach for the Heavens, you'll get the stars thrown in.

A special THANK YOU to L'Oreal, EON, FILA, Philippine Tatler, and Manila Polo Club for being such gracious and wonderful hosts! And disclaimer:  Nothing in this post in sponsored; just wanted to share genuine excitement for some amazing experiences!


Love + Light, Nika


Photo credit:

Jose Caculitan // Facebook // Website // Instagram: @jmcaculitan & @jmcaculitanphotography

Hoppie Polla // Website // Instagram: @hoppiepolla