Tuesday, August 31, 2010

SCREAMING SHOES by Mafelou Leagogo Agriam

Do you want to stand out in a crowd? Do you want to look stunning without trying hard? Do you want to be noticed without making a scene? Do you want to feel like a celebrity with the best-looking pair of shoes? Walk in Shoe Up! by Nielette because it’s the only one of its kind in the world. To say they are unique or unusual is too trite; they are flamboyant.

The latest obsession of Nielette “Tweety” Tupas-Balleza is creating flats and high shoes that scream of sheer individuality, flashiness and out-of-the-box designs and styles. Tweety’s shoes can be described as sparkling and showy, flippant and frivolous, richly-adorned and ornamented. Needless to say, her own happy feet proudly shoe-off, errrr, show-off her shoes; whenever she walks by, not a few eyes turn toward the flashy footwear, gaping.

Women who will fall in love with Shoe-Up by Nielette must have a lot of oomph. Tessa Prieto Valdes easily comes to mind. Just maybe if she opts to wear a simple black dress rather than her usual carnival gowns, and a pair of Shoe Up! by Nielette to match, she will still be the dandiest woman in town. What makes Tweety’s creations distinct are its garnishing: feathers, Swarovski gems, beads and baubles, ruffles, knick-knacks, flowers, sequins, earrings and necklaces, shiny buttons and anything cutesy and glittering. How did she come upon this novelty idea, you may ask?

One time while on vacation in Bangkok, Thailand, with her husband Parly, Tweety chanced upon a shop selling shoes decorated on the spot at the shopper’s specs. Fascinated, she bought a pair for herself and had shiny angels glued on them. The outcome was simply far-out and at that instant she was inspired.

“I thought I could do the same stuff in the Philippines, and even better than what they were doing (in Bangkok), “ she exclaimed in a quiet corner of her Zen-influenced house in Jaro, where just a few number of her enormous one-of-a-kind odds and ends define her preferred home decors.

Today, 18 designs characterize her line, exclusively done for her in China. The basic footwears, however, are manufactured in a Marikina factory while Tweety and her workers embellish them.

A client can have customized shoes.A woman may want the names of her children on them if she’s married or her boyfriend’s name if she’s single. She may want images of the sun, stars or moon on it. Would you like a smiling sun or one that’s crying? The creative ideas are simply limitless and the business prospect exciting.

“I’ve always wanted to have a legit business of my own,” Tweety said. “Many of my friends were surprised to find out I put this business sooner than expected.”

Many also are not privy to the fact that Tweety has always had an artistic side. She was an avid watercolor painter in high school at the Stella Maris College in Quezon City, and represented her school in inter-school art competitions. Her artistic genes may have emanated from her mother, the former Barotac Viejo Mayor Myrna Causing-Tupas. “You should see the photo albums she has made. They are meticulously and beautifully decorated,” Tweety enthused.

If curious about Tweety’s shoes, Shoe Up! by Nielette may be viewed up-close in the internet through the shoe brand name. A lot of people have visited the site. One of them, a renowned, Manila-based Filipino designer – unnamed until negotiations are firmed up – wants Tweety’s pairs paraded on his runway fashion show. Another, a potential European client, has ordered 1,000 pairs from each of Tweety’s 10 designs. The young shoemaker, however, takes his wonderful proposition in stride, inviting instead the foreign client to visit the Philippines first and see her products first-hand. He has accepted her invite.

Because positive words have spread around, local orders are thus forthcoming. A bride wants Tweety to do her wedding shoes, with fancy and elaborate things on them. Birthday girls, anniversary honorees, debutants, prom girls who need to stand out during their milestones know Shoe Up! by Nielette will do the works. But why wait for a special occasion to shine? Make everyday a screaming I-feel-great day while striding on the pavement in Shoe Up! by Nielette. It’s a shoe-in, baby.

Friday, May 28, 2010


if this word has all the negative connotations to you, let them all fly... high!

i am proud to be kaladkarin.

i lived my life as cloistered as possible, that is from elementary to high school. not by choice mind you, err, it must be by authority. you see, we grew up with a father whose mistress is politics. the best dad ever minus the time constraint. so my mother took it upon herself to discipline the 7 lot, her 6 boys and 1 girl. to say that nanay was strict is an understatement. boy, i had the time of my life looking at them trying to explain so hard why they had to come back at 1am when they were told to so by 12 midnight. hehe, the cinderella boys. coupled with the fact that they all studied at de la salle green hills where boys would be boys, how hard could it be for them? if my brothers were under her strict baton, i graciously accepted the fact that her ways would be even 3x harder for her unica hija. of course there were some lapses. but the acceptance was there... as if i had a choice. *wink*

nanay was elected mayor of barotac viejo come 1992. the brgy captains who made the signature campaign to push tatay to make her run for office were happy. the TUPAS kids were even happier. we had the grandest times of our lives. if before we were allowed to go out only with a yaya and a personal driver with us, nanay's leadership in barotac would mean freedom. and freedom we got. manoy, the eldest among us and should i say the most scholarly, would get so frustrated with me: with my non-stop disco weekends. fortunately for me, i chose friends according to my mom's choice. responsible ones who just know how to have clean fun.

fast-forward to me getting married. life was a blast with parl. add to that, with cousins like Beej, Jiffy, Cindy and Bechay, how could life ever go wrong? i enjoy our late nights. our girls nights out. our cousins bonding times. that's how kalakarin i got now. a simple text, a late call or even a spur-of-the-moment decision would lead us to such happy moments. none is different when i have my brothers and their respective fams here in iloilo... or everytime i'm in manila. how do i go about getting the whole Tupas fam together? simple. i text them the time, date and place. perfect the attendance and usually ask the congressman bro to pay. hehe. i'm sure glad being the only girl in times like this.

nico and m are now 11 and 8 years old respectively. they're growing up with more freedom and understanding than we had ages ago. they are allowed to decide on some things. and they are asked to reason out every time we have an argument. what makes me bulge once in awhile? when they ask for permission to go out with their friends, or when m tries her luck for a pajama party with her girl friends. oh no, i have truly come full circle!

now the realizations set in. nanay's way of disciplining us made us what we are now. the values she and tatay instilled in us kept us away from harm during our college freedom years. their constant reminders are shaping our lives today.

my solution? let the kaladkarin word be exclusive to adults! i am proud to be one... at this age!

it's time to say goodbye... for now

every time i encounter some bumps on the road, i stop and count my blessings.

the kind of family i have is one that lives by the dictum, "all for one, one for all." the success of one is considered the success of many; while the grief of a member is equated to the need to comfort one another.

life was not easy for the family for the past nine years. our political opponents made sure that we lived a very controversy-filled life. it was traumatic in a way. we were in power, but it seemed the gang of four were out to hurl intrigues against tatay to eliminate the TUPAS clan from the political arena. they devised ways to come out with scenarios and employed paid hacks and block timers to attack us. we were advised to hire the same to counteract such as early as 2001, but my father refused. he stood by his principles. he finished his three terms with unprecedented lead. so despite some creatures' best efforts to destroy the family, it even made us stay grounded the past years.

now that our life at the capitol is soon to end, i can honestly heave a sigh of relief. sure i'm not that far from the maddening crowd, with 4 of my sibs embroiled in politics and with my hubby parl jumping off the fray the second time around, but it has its advantages now. somehow along the way, we can start to live an ordinary life. well, as ordinary as it can get.***wink*** i now have the freedom to say what i honestly feel about certain events, people and situations. my self-declared gag order is about to finish with the term. i'll devote a whole chapter on this. ang tamaan, well, matatamaan.

i'll be missing a lot of people... from those i get to say "good morning" regularly (our security guards, utility staff, and employees) to those i bonded with for the past 9 years. there are people i feel i can live without, and there are those i will sorely miss. we were taught by tatay to treat others equally, so it is no wonder that i am even close to those identified with the past administration.

thank you. and goodbye... for now.

Friday, March 6, 2009

happiness is just around the corner

i'm sooo over birthday celebrations ... or so i thought.

unlike most women i know, i announce my age proudly. when people ask me the number of years i've been in existence, i would inform every guest who cared to listen to my age. yesterday, i turned 34. there was no party.... yet. but i felt so light-hearted, happy and contented. and what made my life extra special now? i think i'm over the littlest hang-ups i ever had.

years ago, i was so pessimistic. i focused more on the possible negative outcome of my plans, rather than the good stuff that it might bring. i was very afraid of failure that there was a time when i was scared of my own shadow. now, i openly accept every possibility. and the cardinal rule that i live with: in times of failure, just think that that too shall pass.

years ago, i thought of having the world and the people in it owe me a number things. i felt so dissatisfied. disappointment came one after the other, if not altogether. now i know that the world and the people in it don't owe me a cent. my triumph is shared by people i know, but my failure is my own responsibility. i am responsible to who i am and who i want to be. not even chains of failures could break my spirit. as they say, failure is success turned upside down. anyway, it's just a matter of perception.

years ago, i longed for some people's appreciation. i pressured myself to come up with new things that would make them love me more. i patterned my life to some nuances that i thought would make them proud. i was too tired then. i did not enjoy whatever little success i had. by that time that i was supposed to cherish the moment, i was thinking of how to make them happier. i was living someone's life. now i am at peace with myself. i am proud of whatever improvements i have made in my life. i still admire them though, but i respect myself more now.

years ago, it was enough for me to have a "passable life". it was enough that my husband and i have work, and my kids go to school. now i know i can do more and help other people in the process. i wish to come up with a foundation and a school for poor and talented kids someday. yes, i can now say that i'm an improved person.... but i know i can exceed the limitations.

it's time for a celebration indeed. i may be in my 30's now, but i want to party like never before. there's a new strength in me. a new dash of hope. a new set of expectations. there's this new-found abundance of love. for those who remembered, thank you! for the record, i got 979 text messages yesterday and 534 personal greetings and posts in my friendster, facebook and tagged accounts. not bad for my 34 years of existence. again, i'm truly grateful.

hey! it's funny but true. i found my happiness.... it's just around the corner.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


i don't get starstruck so easily. even if the subject is that goodlooking, interesting, and accomplished, i would take it upon myself to think of what those people who already hate me might say. if this does not stop the rush of adrenaline i'm feeling, i would think of my kids' reaction. haha. i just can imagine myrnaloi and nico looking at me in disgust coupled with their pang-asar smirk. if that does not stop the teen-ager tweety in me, i would simply act as dead pan as possible and let out a loud cry infront of my hubby parl afterwards.

these resolutions i threw uncaringly last week. i was in a meeting with my brother lex and one common friend. while waiting for the program to start and trying real hard to wake up due to an after-meal drowsiness, my gaze focused on this individual. he was a bundle of ironies: a beautiful creation with a super sharp tongue, a foreign-laced specimen with a magical ilonggo twang, a "jologs" porma that wrapped itself around a 140plus IQ-ed human being. heck! i couldn't let my mind wander away from him. and i called parl as soon as i found out who he really was. let's just call him X.

well the guy was popular in UP, no doubt about that. he was known for his liberal views. i can only describe him that far. hahaha. kakaawa naman ako pag nalaman niya how i "worship" him.

as the first day was about to come to a close, i decided to do some stretching outside the room. on my way out, i met atty diaz, senator noy's COS (chief-of-staff) . we were discussing my referral to them two days ago. he was asking me why i did not even drop by the senate. then the topic shifted to noy's girlfriend. i asked him if noy is up and about to introducing her to the world. i knew back then the guy was in love. anyways, atty told me to watch the DEAL OR NO DEAL episode come feb. 13. it was noy's turn to play, and my brother junjun's time to act as one of his "advisers."

out of nowhere, X appeared. you can just imagine me looking like an idiot. i was smiling during the entire conversation! atty left us, which until now keeps me guessing on how he eased his way out of our talk, and we had no choice but continue with the topic. he gave me the feeling that he knew me. i was thinking, ah, now i know how it feels to be in oblivion. i have been guilty of making someone feel i know him even if i honestly don't for fear of being rude. having this in mind, i just went on talking, unabashedly enjoying every minute of it. and looking more like my daughter's puppy while hanging on to every word X said. suddenly, i felt my phone vibrate. so i introduced myself to him before making the excuse of taking the call. i was shocked with his response, "Yes, i know but si Junjun ang ka-batch ko." i almost didn't make it going out of the room. i felt like a fan.

on second thought... who cares?! at least he recognized me. sige na nga, another confession. on the second day, i had a souvenir photo taken with him. hahaha. kabaduyan to the highest level.

my daughter myrnaloi

i was looking at my little girl last night. i just couldn't get enough of her. she looks so much like her father but she's the mini-me when it comes to her total package. she has straight, shiny, long hair. whereas i couldn't live without rebonding. she has the total mestiza features minus the color. whereas i got the color but not the mestiza feature. sayang! she plays biatchiness to a T. with that alone, she is soooo me.

she idolizes her father as much as i do mine. she thinks of him first when being asked who her fave is. she snuggles to him everytime we are on a trip. she admits to not being able to sleep without her tatay by her side. she puts up her defenses for him everytime we get into argument. and do i feel jealous? no, not a bit. i am confident that i can change her views in a minute. how? by telling her to just imagine how many baby alive i could give her with my plastic.

one time i was so pikon with parl i had to tell him to get lost. when in the afternoon he complained of high fever that got me into panic. he told me with some tinge of tampo not to worry because i would love to do away with him anyway. i smiled and answered casually, "siguro before, but not now."lo and behold, his little keeper butted in from nowhere: "tay, nanay would love that! she has _______ (referring to a very good friend Parl has nothing to do with except think of him only when it comes to project proposal) anyway!". oh, i think i have to upgrade my silver card to gold!

i have always loved those kikay stuff but since i don't think i can give justice to them, i passed this porma obsession on her. and mind you, she loves it! she can come out with those cute poses effortlessly . but i realized not to push her with it when she was busy playing with friends and with some boy classmates... until it was too late. i just got back from my trip. i was sooo excited with the dresses, blouses and pants i bought her that i made her kulit to try them on. she told me to put the things "somewhere near the bed,"when i insisted that she put it on so i could ask someone to ship and change them if ever anything did not suit her well. she just ignored me that i continued to blabber about her weight gain when she grabbed me by the hand and led me to our room. she then slowly closed the door and whispered, "nay, stop embarrassing me."oh my! and she is only 7 years old! i know i could learn a lot from her. Fifteen years from now, i bet i could claim to be a magna cum laude.... a dream that slipped away when i was too busy with faces, harlequin and euphoria during my college days.