I was meandering about at my favorite fabric shop when I recalled that one conversation I had with my bosom Boston buddy Mia, where we looked back with fondness and mild disgust at our prom looks. I wore a miserably mismatched suit that included a heavy gray tweed jacket (in the heat of Manila!) with a drawstring necktie from a mall kiosk, while she wore a saccharine-bright beaded, corseted gown with matching fabric purse and shoes, all in the unflatteringly iridescent fabric du jour at the time: silk shantung. Silk shantung, a textured type of silk usually blended with polyester, is sold in abundance and at attractive prices today in the year 2011. I thought to myself, why not reinvent the textile of terror and make something wearable out of it?
tailor-made shantung jacket with velvet lapels, American Apparel tank top, H&M jeans, Gucci loafers
And that's just what I did. I purchased enough of fabric in black to make a jacket, and picked up some velvet for trim. I had the vision of the jacket in my head, and gave my tailor the specifications for this project: sharp, fitted shoulders, a relaxed torso with barely any taper, and velvet peaked lapels as wide as humanly possible.
I thought plastic buttons would be too mundane, and bright metal buttons would be too strong. So I finished off the jacket with these silk knot buttons that I had purchased a while back but never got to use. I think there is a certain refinement in using fabric buttons, especially on a jacket in a rather delicate material.
Hermès silk scarf worn as a cummerbund
Though I may not be the biggest Gucci groupie, these shoes are a classic style from ages ago and are the closest I could get to owning a piece of Tom Ford-era Gucci... at least for now.
I had a late morning meal at Resto Leon in the East Village, where Sundays, it turns into Maharlika, a guerilla brunch spot serving modern Filipino cuisine.
at Leon, cross ring a gift from my friend Kathleen Sullivan
Brunch was excellent. Flavorful, well-executed, with just the right touch of inventiveness.
The food ranged from the kitschy-cool:
my plate, Eggs Imelda. Their take on Eggs Florentine, with laing (taro leaves in coconut milk) in place of spinach, pan de sal in lieu of English muffins, and a hollandaise sauce made with the Filipino mini-limes called calamansi. Fried sweet potatoes and prawns on the side.
Tang mimosas, bright and surprisingly subtle
to just plain kitschy (and pretty darn enjoyable!):
Walk into a typical Filipino home and they would offer you a glass of Tang orange juice, with just a little too much water and sugar to keep it mild and sweet.
Nagaraya cracker nuts
sisig (grilled sizzling pork face) with liquid MSG also known as Maggi seasoning
to superbly-done classics:
Good balut (fertilized, half-way formed duck eggs typically served as the ultimate challenge on Fear Factor) is hard to find in Manila; in Manhattan, it's quite an impressive feat.
the tastiest arroz caldo (congee/rice porridge) with shredded chicken and anatto oil
posing away my brunch on 11th Street
Dearest readers, I write to you now from my new apartment in New York. Yes, I've finally made the move after months of being a couch-surfing resident of the city. Feel free to say hi if you see me on the street. I don't smile, but neither do I bite. And I promise not to set up camp in front of your favorite mirror at the next sample sale.
photos by Pop Bop and Snap