I feel abandoned *coz my voice abandoned me hehehe*. I was back in- store today despite not having that voice (which makes it difficult to “work” actually). Anyway, I went back to work today for good reason. My partner and I were meeting our shop girls– one of whom was severely affected by the flood– her house in Rizal is still partly submerged in water (waist- deep).

She told us what had happened, and was very frustrated that no representative from the local government was present in her area to help. (Who is tasked from the local government to help anyway? Sorry but I honestly don’t know, so someone please enlighten me) Sad enough, this was a sentiment echoed by one of the other people who works for us, whose aunt’s house was likewise flooded with water, leaving little in acceptable condition. I have also gotten numerous comments (which I cannot publish here because there are names mentioned) from frustrated readers about how “help hasn’t trickled down to those who are in need of it.” These are the very words that came from flood victims in those areas, so there is definitely truth in what they say. I am hoping someone from the government can read this and do something about it. Why wasn’t there enough equipment to handle such a catastrophe? 🙁

So here are some suggestions to those who want to help flood victims whom they personally know, as we had done this for our girl, Margie.

1. Give them plastic bins (we got ours at True Value for Php 280– I’m sure if you have time to look, you can get them cheaper?) so when they go back to the flooded areas, they need not worry about soiling the relief goods you give them.

2. If you have used plastic bags (not new please), it might be a good idea to give it to them because they will be needing them to sort their things (whatever is left that can be salvaged)

3. Give them plenty snack foods like those individually packed crackers, sliced bread, or cupcakes (that have long shelf life still– make sure they’re nowhere near expiration) since they’re easier to eat (rip plastic off and eat), as opposed to instant noodles whereby you’d still need to boil water *if they can even get clean water easily*, plus what if they still don’t have electricity.

4. As for food, if you are sure to give to them directly, cooked food, especially cooked rice, is ok (as long as it’s to be eaten within a few hours) packed in plastic (no need for those plastic containers as they’re bulky) with a spoon. Also make sure to let them know to dispose of those properly.

5. Give them clothes they can already use immediately. If you have those very “fashionable” pieces of clothing, I’d suggest holding them off and sorting out the more practical ones first instead. The simpler the clothes the better. The more complicated looking pieces and frills can always be given for later, when their conditions improve (fashion will have to take a back seat for the moment).

6. Don’t give everything in one go if you’re giving to individuals you know personally affected by the flood. Best to ask them what they need first, so you can prioritize getting them the essentials. Ask them to regularly update you of the things they need. That way you can buy their necessities in tranches. Better that you give them things on a regular basis than doing it all in one go and just once. At least also you can allow them to clean out their places and make room for the new things.

I said a silent prayer for our girl as she left our shop today to go back to the flood stricken area where her home is. I’m glad that we have communication (there is cellphone signal there), so she can regularly update us. Anyway, after our meeting, I had to do some store work. Plus, I had to authenticate an Hermes birkin from someone who had purchased the bag from a local reseller. (proceeds of authentications will be used to buy more relief goods for Ondoy victims) The bag was already apparently looked at by a bag pawnshop and they had reservations about the authenticity, so the buyer asked to see me. I thought it was to be a routine authentication, but I was about to be shocked out of my seat once again.

From the initial looks of the said birkin in 35cm with black pebbled leather, palladium hardware, it looked authentic. Upon closer inspection, I became very alarmed. There were so many details that were not right. And yet, the details that almost everyone knows about in a birkin (i.e. zipper pull– yes, it has the SAME pull as an authentic one, heat stamp, blindstamp), were all in their proper place.

What made the birkin fake? Again, it was all in the details. The workmanship gave it away. For one, there was glue residue by the back spine of the flap (!!!)– and you will certainly never see Hermes bags with visible clumsily glued areas (they won’t pass quality control).

Even the hardware plate where the central twistlock is located, is off. The hardware was far too similar to the old fake black birkin I had once blogged about.The dustbags on the bag were fake as well, though they could’ve passed as the real thing if you have no point of comparison.

I will refrain from giving out all information about why I believe (150% believe) that this birkin is just a replica of an Hermes birkin because the counterfeiters are getting really good. and are using every information they can get to better their products. Sorry if the photos aren’t that good. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera with me today, as I really was not intending to “work” and was just going to the shop to meet with our girl. 🙁 I know what I saw, and I had scrutinized the bag heavily, making triply sure that my margin of error is practically nil. I am not saying I am an expert in Hermes, but I can say that over 8 years of experience looking at Hermes birkins had made me more knowledgeable. And this birkin that I saw, is really fake.

I will tell you now, there is MUCH reason to be alarmed. I have NEVER seen a birkin replicated THIS GOOD. This is really the first time I’ve seen a fake birkin that’s so close to perfect. The buyer paid a solid 6- figures for this bag. *Sigh* There are SO MANY good fakes floating around in the second hand bag market today, and are being sold off as the real thing– and sometimes, the sellers (who act as agents of the main sellers/ suppliers) might not even know about this (as is the case with this particular bag).

I have spoken to both seller and buyer of the said bag, and am willing to meet up with them, together with the “main supplier” of this birkin to identify the exact details that made me believe this is a fake Hermes bag. Because no matter which way you try to justify that its details are the same as those present in a store- bought Hermes bag, it still doesn’t make it authentic. Apparently, the main supplier refuses to accept the validity of the authentication and wants to have the buyer authenticate the birkin from Hermes. Hermes though, does not, and will not on record authenticate any birkins. But I have suggested some alternatives which would yield an answer that would suffice for the main supplier to refund the victim. Hopefully this main supplier will refund. 🙁 Because even if this birkin “looked” real, it’s still worth nowhere near the price the buyer paid for.

So peeps, another lesson is learned today. BUYERS, BEWARE. My end goal here really, more than anything, is to make sure that the people who have wanted to buy an authentic designer bag get exactly that authentic designer bag for the amount of money that they have paid for. This is the very reason why this blog exists now when it comes to bags (before it was just meant to be used as a poll to determine if I was to buy a couch, or a bag hahaha) . This blog has really evolved into an all- around blog of sorts, with the main focus still on designer bags (and then food, and then bling, and then all other things that matter in my life *cough, narcissistic bastaaaaahhhd hahaha* and etc, etc. Call me shallow, but hey, this is still MY blog the last time I checked 😀 And well, I am shallow!).

P.S. Thank you so much, IsabelC, for giving clothes to our shop girls. They are really grateful for the help. God bless!! Special thanks to Mrs.Commi Vic *hehehe* and also to super cool pediatrician Dr. Aye Nuguid— you both are my lifesavers tonight!!!!

P.P.S. Total Fabella fund channeled to Alay ng Puso has now reached Php 130,000 to buy food, milk, diapers, bottled water. (Our original collected amount of Php 668,500 is now sitting at Php 538,500). We have received word that Fabella’s first floor is flooded, and they are in need of relief goods for the hospital’s new moms, nurses, and employees whose families were directly affected by the flood. For those interested to donate in kind (crackers, noodles, bottled water, blankets, towels) please contact me via 0916 7580857 (text please– coz I have no voice!) or Rea 0917 8505766.