Sunday, December 16, 2012


Early this year, the High Street Central in Bonifacio Global City opened. It's an open-planned development with a mix of restaurants and shops around it. In the middle of the development is an atrium with lots of greens -- trees, topiaries and shrubs and bleachers. It's a great hang out place for people who want to enjoy a breezy night. 

One of the restaurants here is Stella. It's an American franchise that offers wood-fired pizza, pasta and the most succulent ribs in town.

We've been here a few times. And I say that each time, the food is just great. You get value for your money. And the ambiance is cozier than the usual. Wood panels, small booths, muted chandeliers and fancy touches of glam decor.

California Style Baby Back Ribs (P395)
Roasted Firecracker Fusilli (P390)
Anchovies & Olives Pizza (P350)
A bottle of Red Wine (P790)
A glass of Merlot Rose (P195)
Sweet Dough (P195)
I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a bit of fancy dining without necessarily burning a hole in one's pocket.

G/F Bonifacio High Street Central, East Superblock, 7th Ave cor 29th St Fort Bonifacio, Taguig (02) 621-3222
Bon appetit! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ladies Who Lunch

Two years in a row that we have celebrated our Christmas Party with girlfriends who work in the same office but belong to different functions. What gels us together is our usual lunch and penchant for playing board games and sharing stories during our daily one hour break. We usually congregate in my cube as it's big enough to provide elbow room for all eight or ten of us, as we eat. 

Last year, we had a grand time in Mamou Too (Rockwell Power Plant) and in Barcino (Greenbelt 2). For this year, we shared a sumptuous dinner at Stella in Bonifacio High Street Central. Some of us -- Sandra and I mostly, had a bottle of wine to go with the succulent ribs we ate. 

Me-an and Mars arrived late (work stuff). Nonetheless, the conversation just picked up as if they were already there at the onset. I think it's one of the reasons that this group just rock. 

Everyone is heard. You just have to fight your way to getting everyone's attention. All extrovert women with stories to tell, yapping away every chance we get. But no one minds because at the end of the day, we all have a grand time. 
Beautiful women. Sandra & Dawn.
Equally beautiful set -- Mei, Mara and Erica (Mrs. F!)
In their model's pose: (L-R) Sandra, Dawn, Mars & Mean
A group shot before the exchange gift
Just like last year, we continued the tradition of exchanging gifts. We exchanged views on Twitter, sent DMs for the wishlist and did the confirmation through social media. This year though, the general theme hands down is Gift Certificate. The store varied but the underlying tone is each is just too happy to walk into the store and buy an item using the gift (GC) given.
Mean & Mei
Mara & Erica

GC galore. Look at the faces! Pwede.
Wish granted. Starbucks tumbler to add to Mei's collection.
We found a new lunch buddy and friend, too. Dawn, a gifted writer but on the shy side started joining us for lunch a few months back. And we love to keep her in the group. We gained not just a companion but a friend we wish to have for life. 

I think that years down the road, we would still have our annual get-together to bookend the in-between dinners in swanky restaurants or newly-discovered hole-in-the-wall/quaint resto and the occasional wine and cheese night on Dawn's roof deck. 

2012 has marked another milestone for us. Some got promoted, got married, having a baby and traveled. We look forward to more years of stories, book swaps and travelogues.
Mr & Mrs Flores. Handsome couple, eh?
The couple needed to bid adieu early. Obviously, the preggers might pop anytime.

Here's to a more vibrant 2013 wherever we may be. Cheers! To Kat, we missed you. We know though that you are having a grand time in the big apple -- from Manila to New York, cheers!
Tradition lives on. My Christmas wish is for these lovely people to be chums for life.


Friday, December 14, 2012

What's in your bag?

Through the years, I've noticed that working women are carrying bigger bags. Year after year, the bag gets bigger. And it doesn't help that fashion trends lean towards the outrageously over-sized totes. But is it really outrageous? 

Studies have shown that carrying heavy shoulder bags causes lingering back pain. If it isn't good for one's physical condition, why then women persist on wearing one? Is this the same case with the oft-repeated caveat on wearing high heels?

This got me into thinking when I pondered on my own bag dilemma. While waiting for the elevator this morning, I was trying to think about the reasons why I have a hard time carrying my own bag. And how do I ensure that its content do not spill over. And that it does not get deformed. 

Mind you, I feel sort of naked when I only tote one bag. I mean, there's the laptop bag, the lunch bag and the miscellaneous bag. Yes, you don't lug around all these stuff but hey, the walk to and from the parking to the cubicle is something. And if you decide to raid the mall after work, you catch yourself feeling a dull ache on your shoulder (where the bag is hung) after a few minutes of blissful shopping or just window-drooling.

So, I took stock of my bag's content. I realized that these are already carefully curated. Ahem. 
Pared down content.
I have been constantly taking out non-essential stuff inside my bag. It's as often as every week. Here's the curated version: 
1. iPad (for note taking during meetings/to play with when bored)
2. wallet (very essential, I believe)
3. hair brush (this acca kappa brush has served me well)
4. alcohol (to sanitize one's hands)
5. fragrance spritzer (when the bath room doesn't smell very nice)
6. wet wipes 
7. MiLi (there's no excuse to not having battery power)
8. lip balm (the cold temp could dry the lippy)
9. wrist bag (for quick trips to the coffee shop --this is where I place my coffee budget)
10. pochi pouch for small note pads, pen, car key, hair pins

The things that are not in the picture but I do carry with me all the time: 
1. checkbook (you never know what needs to be paid)
2. pencil case (obviously for all my pens & lipstick tubes)
3. a small wallet (for bill payment)
4. coin purse

The reason they're not in the picture is because am on a holiday break and I felt it was safe to leave them behind in the car. 

Today, I was dropped off by my hubby at the mall. I have a few hours to enjoy a cup of coffee and do some online stuff before my evening meeting. On my way to the cafe, I realized that my broadband stick is inside the pencil case which I purposely left in the car. Thank God for technology I was able to call and get it before he sped off to work.

See, inadvertently some things can be left behind when we struggle so much to bring as few things as possible. 

Yet, when I think about it the few things I carry with me can seriously be heavy. They don't weigh like cotton, at all. And to think that I don't carry my make-up case and brushes with me. I leave them all in the car. 

How then can working women avoid the long-term effect of carrying heavy loads? What about you, are you a small or big bag carrier? 

Share your thoughts, please. 



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Happy Ever After

Forty days ago, I exchanged 'I do' with Tyrone in a simple and beautiful ceremony in my home city in Davao. We were surrounded by family and friends. 

Our vision was to share the special day with a select few -- only those that were closest to us. And our working number was just 75 people. Lo and behold, we pulled it off. Although we missed some friends who didn't make it because they're abroad or have other pressing family matters, we remembered them in our celebration. 

We are so grateful that friends traveled almost 600 miles to witness and be part of the beginning of our journey as a couple. We are especially grateful to everyone who lent their talent, shared beautiful speeches, and the generous gifts given for the start of our new life. 

A few years from now, I'd like to look back to this day and how I was able to capture the moments in this entry. Mind you there are literally thousands of outtakes from the four DVDs given to us. These were all raw files. We only need to choose 130 photos that will go to our wedding album.

Yesterday, I tried curating the album for Facebook. I tried to second guess myself whether I needed to post it there. But some family and friends weren't able to celebrate with us. And those who did wants to see the photos, too. And then, after uploading Facebook just messed up my carefully curated album. LOL.

It took me the better part of the evening selecting, choosing, coping and posting these on another folder. It was so tedious I wished I had a MacBook Air so I can just drag and drop. 

Carefully but hastily made beautiful throw away bouquet. Thanks, Bonna!
The elegance of calla lilies.

It's been over a month but we still marvel at how things worked together to make our big day, as awesome as it was... more than what we could hope for.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Manila Sunset

It's fascinating when an opportunity like a long weekend rolls by and you haven't made plans to go out of town. 

Well, we had great plans of spending a night in the cooler side of Manila with a nice vista of the Taal lake in Tagaytay. But some plans aren't meant to be. 

The past two weeks I've been having bouts with hives. I know not the kind that needs to be shared. But I just wanted to point out that I've been having trouble getting my share of forty winks. It's so darn itchy at night. The sad news is there's really no medicine for it. Only some antihastamines that may or may not really prevent itching and a lotion that at least soothes the skin. 

Because of that and among other things, we decided to just sleep away our Friday. You'd think we'd wasted an opportunity to be outside -- shop, dine and enjoy the mall's idea of what the Christmas season is all about. 

But when the afternoon sun sets west, I happen to glimpse its incredible beauty. 
Lovely Manila sunset. (Unfiltered; iPhone shot only)
I think we were meant to stay home and just enjoy the natural wonder of what we have. Without spending so much, we have this as a backdrop while we enjoy the afternoon breeze in our tiny balcony. 

Staycation wasn't that bad at all. I got to enjoy my three great loves in one day: hang out with my hubby in my crappy house clothes, enjoy many sips of my favorite java and read to my heart's content. Thank God for iPads. But it's another story. 

Happy long weekend, everyone! Here's to hoping that you were able to spend it with your great loves doing what your heart desired.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Gifts for P150 or less!

Times are hard. You may be thinking that you'll pass the chance to be a santa this year because everything else is so expensive you can hardly afford a gift for yourself! Well, let me tell you that for a P150 or less, you can make your niece, nephew, brother, sister and friends happy this gift-giving season. 

Here are my great finds in the Avon brochure. 

Check out this list:  

For Kiddos

Roll-a-soap (P99 each)

Avon Mickey Mouse Mug (P99)

Heaven Scent Colognes (P99) comes with a free gift bag!

For Her
 Christmas Edition Hand & Body Lotion (P119 each)
Skin So Soft (P149 each)
Chic Christmas decanters for only P99 each!
These are just what I have in my stash for the special people in my life. Looking at the brochure, there are so many more that you can choose from. 

So, why don't you give your favorite Avon Lady a call or check us out at for unbelievable offers of Christmas giftables!

Disclaimer: Am an Avon associate. But these products are my own purchases. And my own recommendations.

Samsonite Travel Lock

What comes to mind when one is given a TSA-approved luggage lock? Travel, of course. 
Thank you, Avon Philippines for this cool token!
Recently, we attended Avon Philippines' Q5 Conference -- last rally, stretch for the year. This is to ensure that no one, absolutely no one, let go of the 2012 sales objectives. 

The year is not a walk in the park. There are so many variables at play that we have to ensure everyone holds on to the same card. It was a sales rally and at the same time a moment of great motivational grain to the team. Avon associates have had always been known to pull a miracle, each time. 

So everyone looks forward to the 2013 landscape, we were given a taste of what or where could be, if we hit the 2012 targets. The 2013 conference will be in the land of cherry blossoms and san rio. 
Hello, Osaka!
Before having a sip of sake though we need to close the year with a bang. So, friends buy your gifts at any Avon branch store. Now. Or check us out at

Friday, November 23, 2012

Travel Companions x Kate Spade

I must confess that when it comes to bags, I'd choose Kate Spade anytime. In my previous post, I admitted that I have my dream bags, dream brands. Someday.

On any given day though, I browse through the shelves of Kate Spade, at the shops or online. So, when my good friend Mei went to New York two weeks ago, I asked her to buy me a few KS stuff. She searched high and low, nada. 

We had to have an emergency skype session! Hiding my dismay, I told her that perhaps am not meant to have them. But since she's a very resourceful person, she found a way to buy the items on my wishlist online. Pronto, it got shipped to her sister's house in Oklahoma as she spent the last leg of her vacation there. Ate Christy, thank you for paying for my stash! We learned that Asian-issued credit cards aren't accepted in the US for online payment these days. Boo!

This morning, I received my smells-like-stateside Kate Spade stuff. 
Of course, the purple color. (Apologies, I haven't taken a snap of my bag yet. This one from Kate Spade online.)

Swag passport holder. Am celebrating my change in status!
These two are my essentials for the next travel season. Am keeping my fingers crossed that my EENT will give me the clearance to fly, very soon. 

Welcome aboard, Kates!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Too costly to be sick

An old adage goes, 'health is wealth.' Too often though, health is neglected especially when you're (relatively) young and then are no pains anywhere in your body. 
Photo credit: Grabbed from Pinterest
Recently, I got married. My hubby and I would really have enjoyed our weeklong trip to Taipei had I not gotten sick. Yes, I got sick a few days before our scheduled flight. The sad news is, even if I get well before the flight, I am not permitted to fly yet... for the next two months.

However, to me it's just a small thing. What really bugged me was the reason why I got confined in the hospital. 

It started with a pain in the ear commonly experienced by travelers who have colds. It's the kind that you just sort of pop so the pressure gets off your ears. I've had experiences of this kind in the past. Normally, it'll just go away. But not this one. 

Twice, I was brought to the Emergency Room (ER) because the pain and fever are really intolerable despite 2 tablets of advil and a paracetamol. 

On the second trip to the ER, the doctor asked if I want to be confined already. He has noticed that there is redness and swelling inside my middle ear. They refer to it as barotrauma. But since I've been having on and off fever, it might be best to be admitted so I said yes. It's that painful. 

That was in the wee hours of Saturday. Come Sunday night, my left ear started flushing out a yellowish fluid. This after I was told that the barotrauma has developed into otitis media or ear infection. 

The first 2 days in the hospital, I was on a continuous pain reliever drip. Even then, there were moments that the pain gets unbearable. And the fever just rages on. 

It has been far too long that I have not been confined. Not that I want to. It's just that I don't know anything about being hospitalized. So, I was pleasantly surprised that the HMO (Intellicare) representative showed up in my room to give me a short orientation on my coverage, etc. I was actually spacing out because I couldn't hear a thing. My ear infection rendered me temporarily deaf.When she finished her spiel, she presented me with an Intellibear. It tickled me. Hihihi. 

Every single day thereafter, for the next seven days, the Intellicare Rep would drop by room to ask how am I and to give me a running summary of my hospital bill. 

Looking at the bill, I and anyone would wish they were staying in a five-star hotel or resort for the price am paying at the hospital. That expensive. 

Every single item used whether it's just a cotton swab or a dispensing cup is to be paid for. Or billed to the patient's account. 

But when you're sick you don't think too much of the bill. You want to focus on getting better. By the fourth day, my right ear is still in a bad state. The EENT want to do ear surgery (myringotomy). Prior to the surgery, all sorts of medical professional came to my room to discuss the risks and the procedure. I think they were trying to manage my emotions. But then the cardiologist almost gave me a heart attack. Well, kinda. He talked about the risks involved in a surgery. 

He said that since I am still relatively young and relatively healthy, the risk of any cardiac complications is low. That conversation sent me desperately praying that I don't have to go through the surgery the next day. I was so very nervous and afraid. 

I sent a text blast to all my friends to pray for me. I was that scared. But I was torn between being afraid and being cured of my infection. 

On the day of the surgery, I remember nothing except that I was sedated, the anaesthesiologist told me to just sleep and I woke up to this warm and toasty bed. It was successful and I thank God for it. 

After getting restless and still not well for five days already, I started asking the doctor if I can just continue my medication outside of the hospital. Inside the hospital though the antibiotics were given intravenouosly but in spite that the recovery process is slow. Add to that is my daily bouts with fever. 

The doctors are wondering what hinders me from being healed. Is it my blood sugar? Ok, fast overnight to check if I am diabetic. My result came out negative. Next they check if I have any thyroid problem. I went to have an ultrasound done. They saw four nodules. Next day, I was scheduled for a biopsy. When the result came out, I am just so glad that the pain and discomfort were nothing because it says that my nodes are benign. 

Seven days later, I finally got a clearance from my doctor to discharge. When the final bill was presented, I almost fell off the bed. My bill is almost P200,000 for a seven day confinement. And my health coverage is only 75% of that. Stressful.

Fortunately, I was able to reach our HR so I can discuss my situation. After a few hours, my excess bill was covered by my HMO. But I was informed that the excess amount would still be charged to me. The consolation is that I can get out of the hospital without an out-of-pocket expense. 

What did I learn from this experience: 
  1. Update your HMO coverage. If your company does not provide, get one for yourself and family. Getting sick is really expensive. The premium for a health card comes out as peanuts compared to the hospitalization cost. 
  2. Be informed. Ask your HR partner to discuss with you the existing coverage. What are the allowed charges, room allowance, maximum benefit and all that. 
  3. Ensure that your HR is updated on your condition at the hospital. 
  4. Ensure that you have all the PhilHealth requirements. At the end of the day, it's not much when you look at the amount this agency will shoulder. But in the greater scheme of things, it's already something that can be deducted from your total bill. 
  5. Subtly inform your hospital and doctors that you're only relying on your HMO coverage. You won't have the capacity to pay for the excess bill. This way, they'll be more prudent in giving procedures and or medication. 
  6. Health care in the Philippines is very expensive. It pays to prevent any sickness because the cost breaks a bank. In other words, it would cost you an arm and a limb.
Our desire and prayer should be to be away from sickness, to be healthy. However, when it becomes inevitable, it pays to be prepared psychologically, emotionally and financially.
So, there our hospital room became our honeymoon suite for a week where I slept on a bed that can be adjusted several ways and where my hubby slept in a cot far too small for his height. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Keep Calm and Be Married

Many brides say that their wedding was just a blur. To us, it's as vivid as the blue sky when the heavens decided to smile down on us with a good weather. I can still feel the excitement, the many greetings and the small glitches that hounded us even at the last minute. There's always a backstage drama.

Let me walk you through.

Wedding Ceremony -- Garden Gazebo, Waterfront Insular Hotel Davao

"There will be times when your flame gets extinguished," says Pastor Alvin "but you have to remember that you need to work together to keep it burning."

Lighting the unity candle (with a message that went beyond the ritual)
I shall never forget what the Unity Candle stands for. Our friends and family got acquainted with what the candle really symbolizes in a married couple's relationship. Thank you, Pastor Alvin for truly making our ceremony meaningful, not just to us, but to our guests as well.
Garden ceremony x beach side. (Thank you, Bonna for translating my vision into this beautiful setup)

The bible. A marriage should be anchored on God's word.

I promised myself that I will not cry on my wedding day. Almost did on my my walk down the aisle. And really shed some tears on our thank you speech.  
The violinist texted me early in the morning with this message: Please walk as slowly as possible. Make it the longest walk of your life. (Cute)
More bubbles, please.
Tales at the reception. 
We kept everything minimal and small -- the guest list, the decors and the program. Just the way we liked it. We hoped that our wedding be remembered not because of the ostentatious decorations but of its intimate ambiance, camaraderie and love permeating the air. 
My friend and florist, Bonna.
Thank you to my "childhood" friend, Bonna whom I've known since I was a naive college freshman and just plucked from the barrio. On a short notice, she stepped to the plate of being my host, florist, decorator, driver and friend extraordinaire.

Our host and my makeup artist, Erika -- a colleague and a friend did an incredible job. Because I wanted our wedding to be really personal to us and our guests, on top of being the bride I was also the over-all chairman of our event. I wrote the script. And I wrote from the heart peppering it with anecdotes from years back and sharing the overwhelming generosity of time, talent and resources of everyone present. 
Make-up artist and host. Incredible feat; incredible friend.
After 'I do' tender moment I shared with my ex-boyfriend.

A long time ago, I've already decided that when the day comes that I'll become a bride, I will have calla lilies on my big day. I fell in love with them. They're unpretentious. They're elegant. My friend and sponsor, Berna flew in 80 dozens of them from Baguio. Flying them in had some glitches from the airline but in the greater scheme of things, it was nothing. 
Callas, candle lanterns and million dollar flowers. So, pinteresting!
Thank you, Sette for the cake.

 The cake was just a few details short of how I intended it to be. Still, it’s simply pretty and scrumptious, too.
Red velvet cake underneath the white ruffle design.

our personalized cake cutter
Thank you, Abby for singing Norah Jones' Come Away With Me. Even jamming with the pianist.
In the flurry of things, I haven't really seen or tasted the food served. But I got rave reviews from family and friends. Our photographer managed to snap a picture of the desserts
Davao is also famous for its lechon. So my matron of honor and dearest friend, Jinggay gifted us with one whole roasted pig. 
With my matron of honor Jinggay and hubby Buddy. Thanks for the lechon, dearie!
The speeches given were nothing short of exceptional. They were very personal and spoken with optimism, wisdom and love. 

Chris led the toast. I love that it was unconventional. It wasn't all about underhanded comments but a pragmatic reminder that as a couple -- it's all about being a 'WE' and less of I and You. And that the day marked the beginning of a TEAM. Thanks, Chris. In moments of absolute brattiness, I only need to pause and remind myself of the day, I raised my glass in your toast.

My dear friend & sponsor Berna, my Proverbs 31 woman and on being "not always insisting to be right" for a marriage to work.
Miguel on change and leadership, at home.
Family and friends flew in from Manila and Cebu. Those who were abroad gave their love in advance. Our heartfelt gratitude to all of you who have given us so much of your time and resources. 
a bit of fun. look at my girlfriends still looking very poised

Sneak peak on the pre-ceremony preps:

I believe it’s customary to document the littlest of things that are part of the wedding celebration. So, these were given artistic attention by our very reliable photographer and videographer from the Davao team of Lito Sy studio.

If you will notice, every detail of our wedding has branding; a nuance coming from a creative hubby.
the invite.
sponsor's giveaway

for the secondary sponsors
every guest went home with this

My throwaway bouquet (as created by Bonna)
my pretty shoes. thank you friends for pledging.
my groom looking dapper in his custom suit
They say that weddings are memorable. I say, ours is truly awesome. We made it an affair for us and the family and friends who were there. 

We sealed our union with a fervent prayer that God will always be at the center of our marriage. And that we grow as a couple in His love and grace.

Family and friends, cheers! And thank you for making our big day an awesome celebration. Thanks too for live tweeting. Our friends who couldn't come felt they were present because of you. 

P.S. The barrio girl is now a missus. And loving it.