Sitting Down with Nina Pineda

Every single one of us knows how rough and trying high school can be. I think that my day is full, with a seven class schedule, no breaks, film class, newspaper, field hockey practice for a minimum of two hours, and loads and loads of homework... and that's one of my good days!
   Try being in high school, just fifteen, running one of the Philippines' hottest fashion blogs, staking your claim as one of the biggest Filipino One Direction fans, and trying to manage all the same normal stuff. It seems impossible, doesn't it?
   I now introduce to you Nina Pineda: superstar, super blogger, super pretty, super sweet, super funny, and an all around super person. If Nina had a superhero alter-ego, it would definitely be Kim Possible, because she the makes the impossible a reality. 
   I was fortunate enough to grab some of her precious time and interview her on what it's like being so ridiculously interesting and successful at such a young age. I know I don't have to go out on a limb here to say that Nina should be an inspiration for all young teenagers looking to make a difference.

WRITTEN CITIZEN: Hey Nina! It's such a pleasure to get the chance to talk to you. How are you doing?

NINA PINEDA: Hello! The feeling is mutual! I’m good, thanks for asking.

WC: Ok, so you're only fifteen, but one of the biggest bloggers in the Philippines. When did you start blogging, and why?

NP: I started blogging when I was seven, because back then, all of my online peers were doing it, and I thought it was so cool to have your own little space on the Internet. I’ve always been a talkative person, so seven year-old me was thrilled by the idea of being heard by people I wouldn’t have been able to reach otherwise. I didn’t have much to say though, obviously, but I guess it worked out for me in the end, though I wouldn’t say I’m one of the biggest!

WC: It must be difficult to balance a normal fifteen year-old's life along with all of the other cool and fun opportunities you get from your blog. Take us through a day in the life of you, Nina!

NP: Oh man. I wish I could say I had a routine of some sort that gets me through each day, but honestly, I do little to no planning, which most people would say is a bad idea. I’ve had a pretty messed up sleeping pattern for as long as I can remember, so sometimes my day starts at night, and then I do all of my writing post-midnight. I wouldn’t say I’m a recluse, but I could go for weeks without going out of my house… or the second floor of it.
But, during the days when I live like a normal person and actually go out, I’m almost always accompanied by my best friend, Jam, who is often mistaken as my twin sister. We either hit the malls, or just lounge at the nearest Starbucks, and then come back to my house to get crafty (i.e. plot stories together, and create artworks for said stories without ever writing the actual thing).
A lot of people also assume that I go out every single day from what they see on my social media accounts, but it’s usually just me taking a lot of photos in one go, and scheduling them for future posts. That’s a blogging tip right there: schedule your content so you never run out!
And then finally, there’s school. I’m homeschooled, thankfully, so I don’t have to wake up in the morning five times a week. It also gives me a more flexible schedule to attend events that I’ve been invited to and whatnot.

WC: What's the coolest thing you've ever gotten from running your blog?

NP: I can’t think of anything tangible-wise, so I’m going to be cheesy and say it’s definitely been the experience. I never thought a hobby I didn’t take too seriously until I was thirteen would get me places! I never imagined I’d get tapped by big brands to pop by their store and do a bit of styling, for example, so it’s heartwarming to know that these people believe in what I do. It really fuels my motivation.
And then, meeting my readers in public places will never get old. Usually, I’m more excited than they are,but just better at hiding it. It’s all still surreal for me.

WC: What kind of music do you like to listen to?

NP: Ah, I have an eclectic music taste. One second, I’ll be listening to the latest pop hit like Shower by Becky G, and then the next, I’m jamming to Led Zeppelin or The Rolling Stones or Pink Floyd. I suppose it’s because of the different genres I’ve been exposed to at home and grown up with: the usual Beatles and Diana Krall songs from my dad, 80's hits from my mom, and more recently, my brother’s music. Yeah, he got all the virtuoso gene). I’m also into EDM and deep house. I listen to everything, basically.

WC: I know that you are a huge One Direction fan! Explain to me a little more about your role in their Filipino fan base, and why you love them so much.

NP: Oh God. Oh my God. Don’t get me started on One Direction! It started out as a bit of a happy crush; I was twelve, for crying out loud, and an online friend got me hooked. I’ve heard about them before, but I never really paid attention, as I was too into a different Harry to care. By Harry, I mean Harry Potter.
Long story short, by September of 2011, I was part of the only Philippine fan page, which we eventually took to greater heights and turned into a street teamnote the difference - after being tapped by their record label. This has led to a series of planning album launches and movie screenings, events in which I have met some of my closest friends.
I did a vlog on it recently, on how this boy band has changed my life; and while most people would try to shame a teenage girl for "not listening to real music," thus resulting to a lot of people referring to their music as a guilty pleasure, I’m not ashamed of it. The band has made a large impact on my life just by existing, and I can say without a single doubt that I wouldn’t be where I am today — personal life and blogging career-wise — if I hadn’t developed a love for them.

WC: What are your favorite things to do in your hometown?

NP: I moved to Metro Manila late last year, but I was born and raised in Pampanga. Just to clarify: no, I don’t speak the dialect! My parents are both from Manila, so I wasn’t raised to speak it. It’s a relatively small town, so there wasn’t much to do. Now, however, there have been recent developments of establishments, but considering I don’t live there anymore, I’m not too well informed about it.
Back when I lived there, I lived about three minutes away from my closest friends. We’d just go about each other’s neighborhoods and take photos, or skate. Sometimes, we’d head to my family’s resort and go for a swim.
The mall was about five minutes away from my old school, so sometimes, we’d head there after class too, or you know, skate in the malls just because we could get away with it.

WC: You have such an incredible sense of style. What are your fashion essentials?

NP: I’m really into monochromes, so let me be cliche and say black shirts, black dresses, black skinny jeans, and black shoes. And then of course, their white counterparts. It’s hot in the Philippines, but you will never go wrong with a monochromatic outfit, regardless of the weather. It’s all down to how you accessorize, so if you’re going for a casual get-up, little to no jewelry is fine, but for more formal events, a little black dress with gold accents will do wonders. But to be more specific: all I’ve been wearing lately are my Birkenstocks.

WC: You worked for Stache Magazine. Tell us a little more about that!

NP: I was there to witness the beginning of Stache a few years back, and I’ve always wanted to write for them. I always considered working for a magazine to be one of my pipe dreamsup there with being Mrs. Harry Styles - so it wasn’t until late 2013 that I applied. After a nerve-wracking e-mail from Jared — who eventually became the EIC — with "Unfortunately…" as its opening line, I got in, and the rest is history.
It was an interesting experience, being able to go behind the scenes and see how magazines work - it takes a lot of work. It was a passion project for everybody; it was non-profit, and all done out of love.
I got to write my first cover story on a local artist for Stache, despite my constant whining of being incapable of doing so. I was convinced my skills weren’t up to par with the other writers’, and so I was intimidated to the point of a mental immobility. I thought the workload would be too overwhelming, but thanks to the encouragement and support from the rest of the staffers, I saw through it, and after being told by Jared that I could pack a punch, well… I’m a little more confident now. I’ve still got a long way to go, though, but writing is and always will be my main passion, and I don’t see myself ever giving up on it. Hopefully, Stache will be back soon.

WC: From your blog, it is obvious that you are extremely cultured. Where are some of your favorite places you have traveled, or wish to travel to?

NP: Ah, thank you! I’ve gone to Italy and France as a child, but I don’t really remember any of it. Plus, most of the photos I have are of me pulling the dumbest faces, so I’m not going to get into that, though I do have a vivid memory of riding the train on the way to Florence, I think, and the view from the window whipping past me like it had been motion-blurred on Photoshop.
My favorite place on Earth — aside from my bedroom — is and always will be Melbourne. It’s home away from home, and I’ve had plenty of good memories to associate with the place.
I’d love to go to England or Santorini, though, and have made plans with my best friends to go around Europe when we turn eighteen.

WC: Who are your influences and inspirations?

NP: I don’t have someone to directly attribute my inspiration. I always get asked questions following this sentiment: "Who is your style idol?" Or something of that ilk.
I would say that I’m an observant person, bordering on nosy and creepy sometimes, and I grew up with a habit of people watching. You wouldn’t believe the amount of times I’ve been reprimanded for staring at people and listening in on their conversations… I thought it was just me, but then I later find out that a lot of other writers do this, and I’ve since felt a little less creepy.
But anyways, would it be cheesy if I said 'everything'? I’m influenced and inspired by other artists. I pick things up from the things I read, the things I see, and then I’m also influ-spired - because typing both words repeatedly gets a bit much - by doing; by going out there and exposing myself to the world, but not in an unclothed manner, just so we’re clear.
I’m not too concerned with trends, though. If I like something, then I like it; I’ve never been one to jump on bandwagons. If the current trend is pajamas at formal events, and I happen to like it and it makes me feel comfortable - while it’s socially acceptable too - then I’d do it. But, if I didn’t, then I won’t. Simple enough!
In other words, I don’t feel the need to conform to be accepted by my peers. As long as I’m not harming anyone, then I don’t see the need to.

WC: What qualities do you look for in a friend?

NP: A good humor and trustworthiness, for sure. Someone who isn’t going to judge my random outbursts of ideas — “Oh my God, we should shoot underwater photos in dinosaur onesies” — but also someone who wouldn’t take my nonsense sitting down: "No, Nina, we’re not going to cartwheel our way the mall." I don’t know, as long as we get along, and I’m comfortable around you, I think it’s all good. I’m not too picky, despite what people would like to believe!

WC: What does style mean to you?

NP: Another form of self-expression and release. At least, for me.

WC: How has your blog affected, changed, or influenced your life? For good or for bad? Or both?
NP: There are more pros than there are cons, which I’ve already talked about in a few questions above, but I think the only part I’m not enjoying too much is the sudden lack of privacy. Everyone wants to know everything. Everybody thinks they know you and can dictate your life for you, or tell you you’ve changed, as if there’s ever been a permanent state of self. It’s part of the territory, though. As a blogger, you willingly put bits and pieces of your life up for the world to see, and therefore have to understand that some people won’t understand that they're just what they are: bits and pieces, and not the whole thing.

WC: Any quotes, words of empowerment or wisdom, or anything else additional you wish to add?

NP: Beyonce. Also, becoming a feminist has made me so incredibly comfortable in my own skin, that I highly recommend other ladies to look into it. Contrary to popular beliefs and what extremists and trolls have led you to believe, feminism is not misandry.
Lastly, it’s all down to perspective. When you spot a penny on the ground, would you consider yourself unlucky? Of course not. So, what’s stopping you from believing that the roadblocks in your path aren’t little lessons to pick up on the way? And, happiness isn’t a destination. It’s a journey.

WC: It has been such an honor to get the chance to talk to you. Obviously, big things are in store in your future. But, what do you think is next for you?

NP: World domination. I’m joking. But am I, really? It would be nice.
Find Nina at her blog here, and follow her on Instagram here.
All images are credited to Nina, and are her exclusive property.