Playboy's Playhouse in NYC - The Fantasy is Real

This summer I promised myself to take a break from the hustle and enjoy some time off. Then I was offered a chance to freelance for Playboy and I couldn’t resist.

We know what the magazine stood for in past and recent years, but it has changed. It’s not the same Playboy anymore and I think I happen to like the new version way more. In celebration, the iconic establishment hosted a four day, private yet inclusive-to-the-public, pop up shop: Playhouse NYC.

Similar to the LA shop, it was equip with rooms that brought the magazine to life - for those four days, the fantasy was real.

We hosted an exclusive press preview followed by panels, interactive workshops, and talks relevant to the magazine and its new outlook. We even (yes, I participated) built our own vibrators. Win.

Take a look at some of my favorite pictures from the four-day event below and shoutout to Jonathan (@jonathan.jericho) for these pretty sick pics!

What Seeing My Dad In The Hospital Made Me Realize

Man, I’ve been staring at this blank screen for a while now. I don’t even know how to start this post, I just know that I need to write it.

Imagine being with someone for 44 years and for the first time, they’re the one who needs saving. That was the reality for my mom not too long ago. She met my dad when they were both in their early twenties (she claims he picked her up at the local market and the rest was history), and he always took care of her. Don’t get me wrong, their story wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies - they experienced their fare share of hardships, family feuds, and don’t even get me started on how prevalent classism was in 1970’s Philippines. But they got through all of it - together. They built the kind of family life that I want to provide for my children one day, and at the head of that was my father. I can’t remember or name an important day in my life where my dad wasn’t there. I can’t even tell you a time when I needed something and he said no.

So when I got the call from my sister at 5am and she said “we had to call 911 for dad,” I knew everything was going to change. For the first time ever, my dad was asking us for help and we needed to be there for him like he’s always been there for us.

You feel numb when something like this happens. I felt numb the entire train ride. I sat in silence, headphones in my ears but everything around me was empty space. When I arrived to the hospital, I rushed into the emergency room and by that point I knew that my father was in surgery. I didn’t even know what to say to the woman at the desk. I just remember blurting out “my dad’s having surgery but I don’t know where and I don’t know where my mom is but I need to find her.” When I did, my sister and brother in law were there with her. My mom looked tired, I could tell she was tired - worried, sad, confused, numb. We sat. And we waited.

And when it was finally time to see him, he was in surgical ICU. He laid with one tube attached to his nose, a bunch of others attached to a bunch of machines I’ll never understand, something attached to his side that was pumping out liquid from his stomach, and an IV drip.

Needless to say, it was the hardest day of my life. I had never seen my dad in a condition where he couldn’t sit up straight, couldn’t eat or walk on his own. He was tired. I tried to hold back the tears, but there was no doing it - I broke.

It was like that for three days. Home with mom at night, hospital all day. Over and over like a continuous loop. We wanted to stay with him, but with the little strength he had, he said no. Even through his pain, he wanted to make sure we got some rest. I stayed up that first night - thinking of how he was, how I didn’t want him to be alone. I wondered if maybe he had his nurse turn the television on for him, if he needed water, if the room was too dark. That first night was the toughest.

It got a little easier day by day, and he got better.

I remember the third day, walking into the room and seeing him sitting at the recliner. I have never been so happy - he was…sitting up in the chair, watching TV. I knew he was in pain, but he didn’t show it. I knew he was scared, but he didn’t show it. I knew he was worried, but still he didn’t show it. I had never seen such strength - such love.

It was the toughest week - it tested me in ways I never expected. But it was beautiful to see - I witnessed my hero fighting for us just as much as he was fighting for himself, and he triumphed. I witnessed my mom doding over every little thing he needed, my sisters taking turns in the room, friends and family checking in constantly. I imagined a world where everyone cared this much, all the time. With the pain came beauty, support, care, love - lessons.

When he finally came home, he sighed. It was a sigh of relief that the worst of it was over. He was home. We were whole.

The Legacy Collective: The Idea

Something I’ve realized about myself: I give 100% of my efforts to my clients and their projects, but I can’t seem to focus when it comes to the things I’m passionate about in my own life. I can have a million ideas and start on each one of them, but I can never quite put my all into just one. I used to think I got distracted too easily - one day I wanted to DJ full time, the next I knew I was meant to be on the board of a children’s charity. Don’t get me wrong, those are still two of my passions, but neither were my own. I wanted something that began with me, that I could develop into something that would not only bring me satisfaction, but that could change the lives of those around me and those around them.

That’s where I came up with The Legacy Collective. In my mind, I knew what I wanted it to be for quite some time - I even brought the idea to some friends who liked the concept as much as I did - but I couldn’t think of a name for it. That is, until I was in my shower on a late Thursday night and the word Legacy came to me. It checked off all of the boxes: a word that was powerful, had meaning, had lots of meanings to a lot of different people, could be measured in a lot of different ways, and was a word I wouldn’t mind getting a tattoo of (yes, that was a criteria).

In its basic form, The Legacy Collective is a group of like minded individuals, mainly millennials, who are (if we’re going to be frank) getting shit done in the industries they’re in and that they love. Throughout my career and my life, I’ve been so fortunate in meeting some amazing minds in the areas of music, fashion, entertainment, art, medicine, etc., and individually they’ve all made an impact on my life and the lives of so many others. They’ve inspired me and challenged me to think and do bigger.

So I imagined getting all of these magnificent people in one room and wow: what a site that would be.

Imagine sitting in a room of the next generation of game changers. That’s what The Legacy Collective (TLC) is. That’s what it embodies.

I want TLC to inspire us as a generation. I want it to be a place where we get together and we network. Look, we’re all aiming to succeed - why not succeed together, build each other up, and reach a broader audience than if we were to do it alone? We’ll all win.

Now, I don’t have all of the kinks quite figured out yet, but writing down the idea in this blog post is my declaration and my manifestation that it’s going to be real platform, and it’s going to be fucking amazing.

Stay tuned.

Xx.

M

PS, I’ve made an Instagram page for it. Hit a follow if you want to see the process: @thelegacynow

Working on SXSX with Amazon Prime Video. Wow.

Every once in a while, I get to freelance on a project that really amazes me. This was one of them.

When I was asked to help with the talent procurement and logistics management for Amazon Prime Video’s Photo Studio x Entertainment Weekly at SXSW, I couldn’t have imagined how in awe I would be at the result. If you know me, I am a big fan of movies - their artistry, the imagination, the way certain films make you feel like you’re in them.

For this project, we were asked to manage talent outreach for the studio, which took over a parking lot in Austin and transformed it into a garden wonderland of sorts. Acclaimed photographer Peggy Sirota took the lens and created magic. I first fell in love with her work after her GQ cover shot of Rami Malek and have since followed her work, so it was another personal check off of my bucket list.

The result was an exclusive photo gallery on Entertainment Weekly online and in-print, of some of the most sought after celebrity casts that attended SXSW. I’m talking Charlize Theron, Seth Rogen, Trevor Noah, Kathy Griffin, and a hell of a lot more. See some of my favorite images below and see the full gallery here.

Dealing with a loss...

When it comes to family, I am a pretty private person but I was compelled to share a very very special person with my social media family about one week ago. My grandmother passed. 

Those are probably three of the toughest words I've ever had to type in one sentence, and there is no easy way to accept that she is no longer with us. But I don't want this post to be sad or sappy or upsetting. I want it to celebrate her, to share her - who she was, what she meant to me, what she did for our family. 

Her name was Dionisia Francia Villarico Garcia. She was 98 years old - the mother to four children and wife to Martin Garcia. Having been born in the Philippines, she didn't have much. She did though, have a beautiful voice. Alongside her brother, they would go around town and sing for anyone who would listen, bring them smiles and maybe a few pesos. That was the one story she told me over and over again when I visited (and it accompanied an acapella melody each time). 

My grandfather, her husband, passed from an illness at an early age, leaving her with four children. My mom at the time of his death was only eighteen years old. I remember hearing stories of them barely having food or having to sleep on the floor, but nonetheless my grandmother raised her children to be thankful and hardworking.

When you saw and felt her hands, you could see her hard work. Cooking, cleaning, washing clothes one by one. She didn't complain, but she was no pushover. She had the personality of a lion - she wasn't the one you wanted to mess with in town. I remember being eight years old and visiting. When my father moved to New York, he and my mom built a family house where my sisters grew up, and where my grandmother and uncle also lived. It must have been my second time visiting and as much as I wanted to play outside with the rest of the kids, there were dogs in the street that frightened me enough to not go outside of our gate.

My grandmother wasn't having it. At the age of 81 she could probably run faster than me (lol), so she took me outside, cane and all, and scared each of those dogs away. She waited until I was done making friends and if anyone even looked at me the wrong way, she was there to protect me. 

I laugh every time I think of that story because I vividly remember her yelling at those street dogs, literally putting her cane in their faces. Funny enough, my oldest sister recently told me a few other hilarious stories of how my grandmother and I used to argue when I was bout two years old. If you didn't know, I was proudly born in the Philippines and moved to New York when I was about to turn three years old. 

Apparently, my mom would often leave me with my grandmother when she would go into town to wait for phone calls from my dad, who had already been in New York for over ten years on his own. I would stay in the smaller house with my grandmother, probably bored, and yell outside of the door as if my mom was home saying, "oh, mom? is that you calling me? I'm coming!," in my failed attempts to escape her watch. She wasn't having it - I was caught each and every time.

Or I would watch my grandmother go next door to a little store to get some corn chips (her favorite) and see her hiding them in her shirt pocket - she wouldn't share with ANYONE. Directly when she came back I would annoy her senseless, claiming that I knew what she had in her pocket and that she should only share with me. She wouldn't budge at the idea of sharing, but I always found a way to sneak over to the tiny store next door and say, "my grandma told me I could have a pack. She said she'll come back and pay you later." At the age of two and as small as I was, who could resist my tiny face? I was barely tall enough to even see into the store window and actually ask...scheming since 1991. Needless to say, I racked up a pretty hefty tab that she wasn't happy to pay for. If only she would have shared all along (ha). 

Over the years, I was able to spend time with her each time we vacationed there. Language barrier or not, she would simply smile and look at me. In 2014 I sat with her and she said, "I don't have much to leave you" and gave me the most beautiful pair of earrings I think I've ever seen. They are a piece of her that I will never leave. 

I know I wasn't able to be there for her as much as I wish, or called as often as I should have, but I will always remember the moments I was able to share with her. And I will forever be thankful that she struggled growing up, lived comfortably in her later years, and died in peace. 

We love you Inang. Salamat po 💙