Our new normal | Inquirer Lifestyle
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Selfies all around

Our new normal

One day, we just woke up, and discovered our new normal—things we could not have predicted, really, all those years ago. On the Inquirer’s 33rd year, this is where our world is at.


Shoot before you eat. Filipinos can’t eat without first posting their meal on social media.


Shoot, just shoot. Suddenly there are frightful initials—EJKs.


Fake news. It’s more convenient to live with it than with the truth. Never before has the global population been more gullible. This only means that while information, low-grade and high-grade, is accessible to almost everyone, education—and with it, knowledge and critical thinking—is not.


Political correctness is out. Civility is out. Racism is in.


Kill. The easiest word to utter these days.


#metoo movement. It’s no joke. A touch, a quip, a joke are no longer innocuous. Sexual harassment is real.


New philosophy: I don’t have a selfie, therefore, I don’t exist.

Selfies all around

Social media is taking over the clout of media. Social media empowers all its users—rich and poor, the intelligent and the dumb, the pretty and the ugly, the classy and the crass.


You too can be a style icon. Thanks to OOTD.


You too can be a chef.


The dog makes a worthy life partner.


Travel is a must. Everyone suddenly has a bucket list.


Experience is more important than book knowledge, especially for the young.


– Thelma Sioson San Juan


Influencer and Belo


The influencer—Today, you need only a cell phone and a social media account to gain fame and notoriety. You can wield influence over tens of thousands with just a few taps on your phone. You can push products with a self-manufactured image that’s filtered to perfection—you are both product and producer.


In the digital age, anyone can create a persona they want to project and sell to the world—and the world is only too willing lap it up. Social media has turned social order on its head—it is the great equalizer between the wealthy and pedigreed, and the Everyman and Everywoman who aspire celebrity and clout.


Aesthetic procedures—A pioneering beauty magnate said that when they started their non-invasive, no-diet, no-pills company in 1985, clients used to sneak into the elevators, hiding from whomever might spot them, lest people find out their “dirty” secret.


That company never put up branches in malls, where chances of being spotted by someone who knows the clients are higher. Going to such centers was somewhat a source of shame, an overt admission of one’s inadequacy and physical imperfection.


The new normal is a different story—being a client of Marie France or Belo is now a status symbol. With the advancements in technology and the multitude of state-of-the-art solutions these beauty centers offer, no one has an excuse to be less than the flawless versions of themselves.


Looking good is no longer considered frivolous—in the age of social media, it has become necessity. Parents pay for nose lifts and double eyelids, essentially fixing the imperfect genes they passed on to their children.—Cheche V. Moral


Dating apps


Ride share. Our parents used to warn us against getting into cars with strangers. Now, we do it all the time with Grab and, when it was still around, Uber.


Dating apps. What happened to friends setting you up on blind dates? These days, those seeking connections swipe left and right on Tinder and Bumble their way into new romance (or hookups).


Online shopping. No need to leave your home. With shopping apps, online stores and concierge services, you can get everything you need brought to your doorstep—from groceries and meals to medicines and pet supplies. Yup, this is how we buy dog food.— Pam Pastor


Water bottle


Grab Car forever, except when it’s being obnoxious and charge P500 from Makati to Quezon City. I’ve since rediscovered taxicabs (and jeepneys, but only on weekends).


Not being afraid to tell people off if they’re being obnoxious, but also keeping in mind to always “choose my battles.”


Making it a point to always bring my own water bottle—to the office and on trips both local and foreign—to avoid single-use plastics. Throughout my stay in Italy last August, I refilled mine with cold potable water at the public water fountains.


Learning to filter out unnecessary noise from the TV, online and all around me. At first it was exciting with all this information in your phone, at your fingertips, 24/7. The constant bombardment now is enough to drive anyone insane, so it’s always good to tune it out from time to time.


Show your appreciation for the people you hold dear every chance you get. This year has been hard for a lot of people who have lost friends and loved ones. Kindness is always welcome.—Raoul J. Chee Kee


Mobility planning


Strategic mobility planning. Planning waaaay in advance for traffic, appointments (will I make it to Makati on time if I leave at…?), having good music, water and munchies in the car, and going to the bathroom before I drive. Making sure my car phone charger stays in the car. And consulting Waze, while giving allowance for the times it freaks out from Manila traffic. On the days when I’m coded, planning to stay home, or praying the Grab driver I book is a nice guy.


Staying healthy. Doctors for periodic checkups, as much exercise as I can manage, yoga to keep me sane, not much bad food and late nights, and remembering that stress and sweating the small stuff can really kill me.


Online disengagement. Enjoying social media, but signing off whenever I see a) political posts, b) animal cruelty cases, c) doomsday predictions and d) oversharers—you know, #hebrokemyheart, #ootd. Escapist? Sure. Give me wise sayings, cute corgis and pandas, and pictures of friends and happy occasions. And I vow to do the same. We never had so much power to spread negativity and bad emotions before today.


Environmental responsibility. That means refusing plastic, bringing my own water bottle, throwing garbage where it belongs. I think we should all get to the point where this is second nature. Reinforcing this by getting close to nature. And spending even more time with my dogs.


Connecting to those who matter. Making sure I schedule regular meet-ups and gatherings with friends, not so much acquaintances. True friendships are the real sunshine in our lives, and I’m old enough to know which one they are. Trying to stay compassionate, but giving less of a sh-t what people who don’t matter say.


Letting go of stuff. Investing more in experiences, people, internal work. Finding more quiet time to pray and think. Going places I’ve always wanted to see (if/when I’ve made the money). I’ve plunked down a deposit for a shark dive adventure in 2019, before I get too old and creaky!


Filial piety. My mother is 94, not long for this world, and after years of internal turmoil, we’re finally friends. I am her primary caregiver, along with Dang her faithful yaya, and I no longer rail against that realization. I know where the boundaries are, but I will take care of her for the rest of her life.


Everything is a gift. ‘Nuff said.-—Alya B. Honasan


Food delivery


24-hour fitness centers. No more excuses. With the proliferation of 24/7 fitness centers in the city, anyone can now workout anytime, anywhere.


Diet-specific food delivery. Too busy to cook yourself that much-hyped diet trend in your kitchen? Keto- or paleo-friendly meals have become more accessible to everyone, thanks to the numerous diet-specific food deliveries offering. Or, if you’re simply looking to control your daily caloric consumption, these diet-specific food deliveries can be a good start to jumpstart your way to weight loss.


Wearables. Everyone wants to be on top of their health, and owning a wearable technology is a good way of staying on track. From fitness tracking bands to smart watches to smart glasses to smartphones, keeping tabs with your fitness goals has never been more convenient. Apple’s latest smartwatch can even provide you an electrocardiogram (ECG) report, technology approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.


Ordering groceries online. There’s no need to physically check out the wet market for the freshest produce. With the popularity of apps like Honestbee and Metromart, everyone can now do their groceries anywhere. Shop before going to bed and receive your fresh market goodies in the morning when you wake up.


Ride-share app. Hailing a cab has become a thing of the past. For people always on the go, booking a ride via Grab is the way to go.


Coworking spaces. Coworking space is a business services provision for individuals working independently or collaboratively in shared office space whether working on a graveyard shift or 9-5. Coworking space is a space you can rent as office for a day, week or month. It doesn’t matter if all you need is a coworking desk space, a meeting room, a virtual office, coworking spaces have everything figured out, including unlimited coffee, free high-speed internet and excellent amenities.—Anne A. Jambora


Makeup on MRT


Makeup on the move. Female commuters apply full makeup, even eyeliner, on crowded moving MRT trains. I also see young women put on their mascara on public transport, like inside a jerking bus and jeepney. Let’s face it, makeup is a necessarily part of (many) women’s daily life.


Long weekend is for Netflix. Always a perfect time to eat popcorn, snuggle under the blankets and Netflix our day away. Binge watching is family bonding leveled up.—Vangie Baga-Reyes


Whisky, gin, speakeasies, big bands


The new normal in the nightlife scene consists of a revived taste for whisky and gin, aside from a wider choice of beer brands; the opening of a number of speakeasy-type bars; and a renewed interest in live big band music, as well as classic pop-rock-jazz acts.


The annual Whisky Live Manila offers unlimited tasting of over 120 whisky style and flavors, whisky master classes, bar-tending competitions, book signings and an opportunity to meet and chat with whisky enthusiasts.


The master classes in this year’s edition, held Nov. 9-10 at Shangri-La at the Fort, included a Chivas Regal blending session presided over by its brand ambassador Hamish Houliston.


Surprisingly, there were a few gin brands represented, including Hendrick’s and Botanist, plus The Brewery’s Compadre craft beer.


Speakeasies have been resurgent in the United States, where it originated in the 1920s and ’30s or the alcohol Prohibition era. One bar in Los Angeles imposed certain rules: its location was revealed via text with a password to be whispered to the bouncer guarding the black curtain “hiding” the entrance to the bar.


The Bank Bar, on the ground floor of RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center in BGC, followed the concept of a black curtain separating its entrance from its “front”—a 7-Eleven branch in the building.


There are now dozens of speakeasies in the metro, including Mandalay in Belle & Dragon restaurant in Makati and Elbert’s Upstairs Room in Mendokoro Ramenba in BGC.

Elbert’s Upstairs Room, BGC

Big band music, introduced to the Philippines in the 1930s during the American commonwealth period, was practically dead until recently—when Mel Villena formed the AMP (Asosasyon ng Musikong Pilipino) Big Band, composed of members of that musicians’ union.

AMP Big Band at [email protected], Quezon City

AMP has since become a busy band, whether as an 18-piece or a nonet, with gigs, from corporate events to Malacañang receptions, including the visit of former US President Barack Oama.


But Villena makes sure it has a regular schedule, usually the first Monday of every month, in its “home” where it first played, [email protected] in Quezon City.


Its most recent Balete gig for the year featured a loose, varied repertoire: Boz Scaggs, Steely Dan, Ed Sheeran, James Taylor, Beatles, Alicia Keys (with Kahlil Durias jamming on drums), and a couple of Aretha Franklin classics to showcase its female lead singer, Gail Viduya.


Other bands that also have many members include Glass Onion and the Black Cows.


The 14-member Glass Onion plays covers of classic pop-rock-disco, standouts of which are Tower of Power’s “You’re Still a Young Man,” Chicago’s “Beginnings” and The Emotions’ “Best of My Love.”


The nine-member Black Cows, formed by Wowee Posadas to be the house band at his own club 19 East, plays an all-Steely Dan repertoire, although Posadas says there are plans to widen the song lineup to include other internationally renowned groups.—Pocholo Concepcion