Nielette Tupas

Screaming Shoes

In uncategorized on July 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm

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.

BEAUTIFUL SHOES

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My Friend

In uncategorized on February 7, 2009 at 4:49 pm

i’ve been fortunate enough to know this person for 5 years now. it was chance that got us acquainted, but it was more  than luck that sustained our friendship.

i met his dad way before i saw him. he was guest speaker of  a high school graduation while i stood as tatay’s representative. it was their group in congress that once played nostradamus to tatay when he was on his third term and when he finally decided to pick my cousin as his successor. “Niel you’re making your own monster,” was the assembly’s ominous statement.  nothing could have been more accurate.

come 2004, my brother raul asked me to join the core group of his newly formed movement for its pre-launching meet.  he was in the states that time. as his only sister, i graciously agreed. the meeting ran smoothly until the names of possible guest speakers came out. i just did not see  their suggestions as an embodiment of the movement that they represent. i was thinking of someone who can both be intellectually and socially stimulating; someone  who can both be sosyal and masa; someone who can be serious and funny at the same time; and most importantly, someone who understands the society’s gripes and the government’s stand from one angle. i blurted out his name.  all eyes were on me. i heard one leader encouraged me to start the invitation process and to get back to them a week after our speaker’s confirmation. i wanted to tell them i did not know him personally, moreso anybody who was a kilometer close to him. then i heard my good friend comment, “Kaya mo siya haw?” he knew me well enough to realize that i don’t say no to a challenge.  so i took it with the most fervent prayer that HE pity me and grant me a miracle.

a few days later, my social group called for a meeting. when a possible speaker was asked, i condfidently mentioned his name, suggesting further the need to coordinate with my brother’s group when it came to the scheduled date. in my mind, his appointment secretary would see the advantage of hitting two activities in just one date. my experience in the world of politics taught me that politicians, especially those with capabilities to run for higher positions, tend to maximize their time when going around a particular province to meet as many people and to create as many acquaintances as possible.

the date came. i was tasked to fetch our speaker. he was cool. he knew how to dress not necessarily to impress, but to make people comfortable.  he was wearing his trademark fitted  shirt. he joked and shared stories. we listened, laughed, and before we realized it, each had shared his own jokes and anecdotes.  he told me my cousin knew that he was coming to iloilo. i answered, “ök”.

we first dropped by the provincial capitol. he talked to tatay for 30 minutes. we let him sample our famous batchoy. he was impressed. he told me he got a message from my cousin. sensing that something was amiss, he told me that there was no need for me to know and for him to  fuel that bad blood between us. i almost declared that there was no need to worry since there would be no love lost anyway. hehe. we went to a rotarian event, to my brother’s activity and to my group’s induction. while we were to start with the induction, my cousin dropped by. my newfound friend texted me, “asan ka? andiyan si insan.” i texted back, “bakit?!” he explained that my cousin wanted to bring him to the 5th district… i texted back half-jokingly, “sige iwan mo kami, la nang pansinan agad.” haha! i guess having UP as our common ground made me more open in dealing with him. as it was, my cousin left with a heavy heart. **wink**

i decided to change after the induction proper. he texted me to go with him downstairs since he wanted to watch the late evening news.  we had so much in common: background, principles, friends, teachers, associates and even UP experiences!  halfway to our yabangan portion, he noticed that i was fidgety. he asked why. i told him i had to go back to the pack for some dancing. he laughed and asked me to stay. it was 2am when i realized that my stomach was growling. i told him he had to rest, i need to eat. he thought i was staying in the same hotel. i told him i would be going home after my late dinner.   i did not expect it when he volunteered to join. i brought him back  to his hotel at 5am and fetch him at 7am for his morning flight to manila.

two weeks from the induction, he called. he asked if i would be in iloilo four days after. he then shared his schedule. i laughingly asked, “so ano ang plano?”he answered back with the same honesty, “ëh di sunduin mo ako!”

five years later, we’re still dealing with each other  the same way. like most friendship, ours had gone through a lot of asaran and kalokohan. but there are things that will forever remain special to me. he was first to call when tatay’s political standing was disputed by the so-called dismissal order. he was first to pacify when i was crying due to frustration with the things that were beyond my control.  he was first to help strengthen my resolve when i was standing on the plastic chairs during the capitol siege.  basta ako, i will forever be his friend.  regardless of party affiliations,  i pledge to be his staunchest ally.  but what truly sealed the friendship you may ask? it was all this and, after years of proddings, the text message my cousin sent .  it stated: “if you’re beside him, hold on to your wallet!”  no respectable man would ever send this kind of text message. THAT my cousin should have realized by now.

as what my daughter claims, “what you say is what you are…”

The Big Decision

In uncategorized on February 2, 2009 at 1:48 am

i have always been proud of my parents.  despite tatay’s busy sched while he was assemblyman and congressman for years, he made it a point to be part of our activities in every opportunity that he had.  nanay was our constant companion, she entered politics when we were already responsible enough to be left  on our own. the most vivid memory i have of tatay was seeing him arrive in time for dinner and admonishing us to remain seated and continue eating, while he went around kissing each child. he was never strict. he encouraged us to reason out and defend ourselves in the midst of opposing views and opinions. he underscored for us the need to respect each other.  he trained us to be supportive of what the eldest among us has to say when it comes to issues. he taught us to be patient and grateful for the things that come our way.  tatay’s democratic take on us  served as a balance to nanay’s disciplinarian rule. in short, we had a picture-perfect family.

as we started to shape our dreams and realize our aspirations, conflict set in between tatay and my brother junjun.  he wanted to run for board member, my cousin asked for the same position, tatay gave it to the latter. gone were the lively debates during mealtime, the easy camaraderie between father and son, the happy atmosphere in our household.  it was replaced by a stoic air that could be traced from a still solid foundation called family. although this time, UP and his room served as my brother’s comfort zones.  when everybody else was concerned with how strained the father and son bondage was, my cousin took it in his hand to get my father’s attention as far away from his eldest son as possible (please refer to “The Real Score”) .

three years after, manoy junjun shared with us his wish to run for congress. my cousin asked for the same position. tatay gave in to the latter explaining manoy’s need to finish law and practice for another two years as his considerations. i saw how hurt my brother was. we were all behind him but still, tatay had the last say.  my cousin was very confident of tatay’s support. he was just wary of nanay. he knew even before that his only problem was the family matriarch.

although my cousin had been our constant visitor, a date was set for the whole family to face the issue of tatay’s successor. we all knew too well that our main man’s decision was final. we only hoped that a certain degree of principle and trust be practiced after the meeting was adjourned.  while waiting for my cousin to arrive, manoy went to talk to tatay. we heard our father raise his voice, telling manoy to abide by his decision. i saw how devastated my brother was, how he cried while asking tatay what he did to deserve this 2nd blow. nanay came down to assist tatay while another brother went to stand beside manoy.  i saw tatay limping towards manoy while pointing his finger at him and shouting “pamati ka sa akon kay buhi pa ako!” i guess he was trying to drown manoy’s question of what made him believe in his nephew more than he did his  own son.  i wasn’t aware that i was already crying that time. i was afraid that tatay might suffer a stroke or heart attack with the way his feet were wobbling. nanay told manoy to stop because tatay was already mumbling his words. my brother beng was crying as well. i shouted at nobody in particular that it had to end. 

tatay would have given his life for his nephew. and that was clear indication that regardless of what we thought, my cousin had won his case. bigtime.

when he arrived, he directly went to my parents’room. we were all there. nanay, who has a heart ailment, was lying on the bed with her hot water bag placed on top of her chest.  she was quiet. but i felt the hurt that she was feeling then. she was helpless. she was left with no choice but to support her husband while knowing fully well that the family was about to create its own frankenstein.  i heard my cousin explain to nanay that all he was asking was just one term. i saw him kneel, cry and hold her hand.  i heard him say again and again that it was just for one term.

one man left the house that night triumphantly. one relationship was broken explicitly. it took three long years for the wound to heal, for father and son to understand each other anew.  one term was not it was supposed to be.  three terms it took with blasphemy and coarseness. broken promises. broken dreams. but our family came out of this situation solid, victorious and free.  free from my cousin’s clutches, free from his calculations.

yes, i still cry everytime i remember that night.  i still wish that tatay did not make that one big decision.  i still get mad everytime i hear him lambast my father with his arrogant ways and unusual claims/fantasies.  but now, i’ve learned to look at the bright side. we would have been willing to do away with politics in his favor if he and his cohorts were tatay’s replica. as it is, his downfall is his own making. he continues to unmask himself to the public. with that, i am truly thankful. indeed there is a God.