Coffee… Truly Glorious Coffee

How do you define really good, glorious coffee? In my case, whose day MUST begin and end with a steaming hot cup of coffee — it’s always about the flavor, the kick, the benefit.

As much as possible, I try to drink decaf, and take as little sugar as possible. If there’s Stevia around, That’s why it’s a nice treat to discover coffee that puts premium consideration not only on the flavor–but also on the health benefits present in every cup.

For decades, coffee had always received a bad reputation. Besides allegedly triggering high blood pressure, insomnia, and hyperacidity, the Filipino habit of adding lots of sugar and cream to one’s cup has been said to aggravate diabetes.

While there’s no denying the Pinoy coffee fan his morning cup, there is concern over the amount of sugar present in commercial 3-in-1 coffee mixes. The leading brand has 14.6 grams of sugar in one 20-gram sachet alone. Imagine how much sugar you’re taking in if you drink an average of three cups of coffee a day.

What About Sugar-Free Coffee?

For health-conscious individuals, especially diabetics, turning to sugar-free coffee mixes seems to be the only option. This meant enduring tasteless cups of coffee just to satisfy their caffeine fix —until Stevia came along. Stevia is the low calorie, zero sugar sweetener that tastes so much better than artificial sweeteners.

Stevia is an herb with a sweet-tasting extract that comes from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana plant. It has been enjoyed since pre-Columbian South America where indigenous people used the herb to sweeten their tea and other drinks. The plant’s taste stems from steviol glycosides, molecules which are 250–300 times sweeter than regular sugar. It became popular among health-conscious individuals because stevia has a very low caloric content. This makes it perfect for dieters and people who are trying to lose weight. Moreover, Stevia makes coffee and tea taste so much better without adding any calories.

Aside from beverages, Stevia is also used as an alternative sweetener when cooking or baking.

The Health Advantages of Stevia

Stevia is a safe, healthy sugar substitute that can sweeten up food without the negative health effects of refined sugar. It’s also associated with several impressive benefits such as reduced calorie intake, managed blood sugar levels, and minimized risk of cavities. Additionally, while other sugar substitutes like Aspartame have been linked with cancer, there’s no evidence linking stevia to cancer since it is a natural ingredient. This means you can add stevia to dishes and drinks without fear that you’re taking too much sugar, or that you’ll get sick a few years down the road.

For coffee lovers, it’s also good to note that locally-made Glorious Blend coffees and instant beverages have Stevia as its natural sweetener. The blend of natural and healthful ingredients make the drink not only refreshing and safe, but also good for one’s overall health. The Glorious Blend boasts a full line of healthy drinks, including a 7-in-1 healthy coffee mix. This special blend is made with proven medicinal ingredients like Malunggay, Mangosteen, Calcium, Gotu Kola, and sweetened with Sweet & Fit Stevia.

What’s even better is that the Glorious Blend 7in1 Coffee is non-acidic and promotes regular bowel movement. The Glorious line-up also includes the 3-in-1 coffee mix with Stevia; 7-in-1 choco mix; 4-in-1 coffee with Malunggay; 5-in-1 coffee mix with Brown Rice; and the MaxiTrim coffee. All Glorious Blend beverages use Stevia which has no calories, no carbohydrates, and zero glycemic index. All of their instant drinks will keep you alert and energized throughout the day. Also, Glorious Blend products are locally sourced and manufactured. Their company supports local farmers, stevia growers, and other agricultural communities. So if you’ve been cutting back on drinking coffee because of health problems like diabetes or hyper acidity, Glorious Blend coffee mixes are here to help. You can enjoy all the aroma and flavor of freshly made coffee all day —without the guilt! Now, you can drink coffee for better health! Glorious, isn’t it?

Visit here for more information about Glorious Blend coffee mixes.

#1stSteviaCompanyInPH#PH1stCoffeewithStevia#GloriousBlend#NoSugarAdded#DeliciouslyNatural#SalgadoPR

Choosing the right center table for your home

The past year –and by the looks of it, the rest of 2021 as well — proved to be a year of reinvention. Suddenly, everyone had side projects and self/home/work-improvements going on all at at the same time.

It’s no different in my case. Last year, my sister and I embarked on a home-redecorating spree where we started changing the furnitures in the living room, bought the house a new dinner table set, and even changed all the china and flatware at home. One of our best buys from the past year is this center table with a Japan/Scandi flair which has always been my peg when it comes to home furnishing.

We’re obsessed with the aesthetics that combine clean lines and aesthetics, doing away with too much clutter, while also combining the Scandi/Japanese minimalism with a touch of industrial. This has always been our peg for the living room:

white-scandi-apartment-living-room | Scandinavian interior living room,  Interior design living room, Living room scandinavian
Here’s my ideal living room. Photo from Pinterest (Not Mine)

Because we spend majority of the time in our living room, we needed a center table/coffee table which can serve a variety of uses. Since we’re out of the home most of the time or staying in our rooms, staying in the living room is our bonding activity, where we hang out or eat or watch TV with the whole family. We needed a coffee table where we can eat our meals (when we’re too engrossed with the TV that we ditch the kitchen table for the living room); but also one that can serve as my niece’s study table for her online classes.

We were lucky because we were able to find a center table that’s close to what we wanted and needed for our home. The funny thing is we saw it displayed at SM Aura’s home section and immediately loved it. For reference, this is what we got and even purchased the accompanying side table since both were offered at really great prices!

The Furio Center Table from Our Home

But more than the hunch or more than “falling in love” with a specific furniture, how do you pick centertables that will complement your home, and your over-all style?

  1. Think about your room size – This is basic. You don’t furniture that will not fit the room; or the rest of your other furniture. In choosing center tables, it should complement the size of your sofa and the whole room. According to ModernTables.eu, the ideal center table should anchor the furniture in a room by filling in the gap, while providing enough space around it for movement or for some simple leg stretching.
  2. Consider the shape of your coffee table – Coffee tables or center tables come in a variety of shapes and sizes. But in the end, what matters is if complements the look and size of your sofa set. Usually rectangular sofas or L-shape sofas go best with rectangle shaped center tables since this will provides bigger space for those seated to put their glasses or coffee mugs, regardless of where in the sofa they’re seating. For smaller sofas, best to get a square or round center table. \
Cosy living room ideas | John Lewis & Partners
Here’s a cosy living room. Photo courtesy of John Lewis.com

3. Define its purpose – What’s your center table for? Purely for aesthetic/decorative purposes? Or something that will obviously go through wear and tear since it’s in the most used area of the room? This will play a big role in the center table you will choose: from the material, make, size, shape and even added functionalities built into it. It’s not common nowadays to see center tables used as extra storage, especially if the space is too tight.

4. Check your budget – Like or not, budget plays a big role in the center table you’ll eventually take home with you. If you’re on a tight budget, look for pieces that look good, well made and can serve as great dupes for the ideal table you have in mind. Look out for sale announcements or buy from shops that offer great designs and great deals.

One of our go-to shops for stylish pieces is Our Home which carries a host of amazing furniture designs on a range of prices that fits any budget. For more information, visit their website at www.OurHome.PH.

Homecooked goodness made possible by Purefoods’ Ready-to-Eat Viands

I wish it was easier nowadays to prepare food – but with work hours back into regular programming (9 to 5 in the time of pandemic); multiple work loads, side hustles and chores to match; wouldn’t it be great to have access to healthy, yummy ready-to-eat meals that can feed the whole family

That’s why it was a pleasure to discover Purefoods’ Ready-to-Eat Viands, a collection of home favorites that can be easily reheated and prepared for quick meals that satisfy the whole family. In our case, that would include Penny, my niece who also happens to be a picky eater.

The great thing about these home-cooked meals is there’s definitely a layer of authenticity in them: there’s no chemical after taste that is often present in preserved foods, and the servings are very generous (good for 3-4 person per viand). You can easily heat in via over or stovetop, and you’re good to go in less than 10 minutes.

Purefoods’ selection of Ready-to-Eat Viands: tasty and affordable

An easy favorite for the whole family is definitely Bistek Tagalog — there is the tasty salty-sourish flavor that we oftentimes associate with my dad’s very own Bistek. This authentic taste extends to the full line-up of dishes made available by Purefoods.

I guess the secret to this line-up of homemade goodness is how they’re meticulously developed and prepared. It delivers the “lutong bahay” feel, in an instant — minus the hassle of slaving long hours cooking any of these Pinoy classics, like Kare-Kare, Beef Kaldereta, Mechado, and the like. The meat, whether pork, chicken, or beef, were always deliciously tender, and they were always a significant size that one can always enjoy.

Get your Purefoods Ready-to-Eat Meals through Home Foodie PH or at select grocery stores nationwide.

MEGA Sardines adds special meaning to National Sardines Day celebration with “Mega Bigay Sustansya sa Pasko” Launch

After all the challenges and tribulations of this year, is it still possible to feel the spirit of Christmas?

For some of our kababayans, especially those hard-hit by the pandemic or the recent typhoon, the spirit of Christmas is often felt through the goodwill of the people around us. There is something beautiful and genuine about the Filipino value of malasakit — the act of caring and taking care of the needs and welfare of others for the common good.

This is the inspiration behind Mega Sardines’ celebration of National Sardine Day for this year. In its second year, Mega Global commemorates this day by launching the nationwide Mega Bigay Sustansya sa Pasko Program. 

Driven by a culture of malasakit, Mega Global has always strived to uplift the Filipino community by providing only the best products to their consumers and contributing to nation-building efforts. Led by the Mega Tiu Lim Foundation, Mega Global’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) arm, the company has been giving back to the people and helping those that need it most through various initiatives and programs. This year alone, Mega Global has been taking part in different COVID-19 and disaster relief donation drives in partnership with LGUs, hospitals and other private organizations and has been consistently providing meals to frontliners and underprivileged communities. 

Recognizing that malasakit is needed now more than ever, Mega Global decided to celebrate the 2nd National Sardines Day by launching the Mega Bigay Sustansya sa Pasko CSR program that aims to feed 100,000 nutritious meals to Filipino families and communities all over the country, and building their Mega Manufacturing Plant to help drive economic growth and create over 1,000 jobs.

The culture of malasakit is deeply embedded in our company, and it is second nature for us to step in when and where we can,” says William Tiu Lim. “That’s why we wanted this year’s National Sardines Day to be more meaningful by scaling up our CSR program to reach more Filipinos and breaking ground on our newest manufacturing plant which will be fully operational by February 2022.”

Mega Global invested over PHP 1 billion to build its second manufacturing plant in order to meet the growing demand for its canned goods both in Luzon and abroad and to help boost the nation’s economy amidst the pandemic. Located in Sto. Tomas Batangas, this state-of-the-art, multi-line food manufacturing facility will implement Mega Global’s meticulous and sustainable practices in all its operations and will run on an energy-efficient light source to minimize its carbon footprint. 

Improving Everyday Lives

As a company that not only provides Mega Sardines but other well-loved products like Mega Tuna, Mega Creations and Mega Prime, Mega Global has always been focused on health and nutrition. 

With every product it makes, they hope to provide the Filipino people with food that not only tastes good but is also able to provide them with the nutrients they need every day. 

The Mega Bigay Sustansya sa Pasko Program is another step towards Mega Global’s goal of improving the health and nutrition of their fellow Filipinos. Led by their Mega Tiu Lim Foundation in partnership with Reach Out Feed Philippines (ROFP) and Nutrition Center of the Philippines, (NCP), this initiative is a 30-day meal planning and distribution program that aims to feed over 100,000 Filipino families nationwide before the year ends. Seeing how their Covid-19 response program last April was able to positively impact the lives of those they served, the company wanted to extend this to more communities in need and to make the holiday season special for everyone despite the pandemic.

Mega Pasko sa Puso ng Pilipino

For Mega Global, National Sardines Day has gone beyond simply appreciating sardines and their importance in our pantry and on our tables. National Sardines Day has become a way for them to continue their mission in uplifting the lives of the Filipinos and at the same time, pushing for the importance of proper nutrition for everyone.   

 

That is why Mega Global is inviting everyone to join the culmination of the 2nd National Sardines Day on November 24. They will be hosting an online celebration on their Facebook page so that everyone can celebrate and share their love for sardines together. Leading the event is Mega Sardines’ brand ambassador Piolo Pascual together with key personalities and influencers, who will talk about the importance of nutrition in the family and their love for this Filipino food staple. Everyone is welcome to join the fun!

 

An Invitation to Help

Mega Global is also encouraging Filipinos to take part in this year’s Mega Bigay Sustansya sa Pasko Program. Through the participation of its consumers, Mega Global will be able to reach more people and to impact more lives. For every purchase of any National Sardines Day Bundle in the Mega Online Store, Official Mega Global Stores in Shopee and Lazada, 100 pesos will be donated to the ROFP beneficiaries. 

“We will always work hard to improve the lives of Filipinos, whether it’s through providing quality and nutritious canned goods, providing jobs, or through the company’s CSR initiatives. We believe that if we all work together, whether you’re working inside the company or just a regular consumer, we will be able to make a difference in the lives of those around us” shares Tiu Lim.

For more information on National Sardines Day and Mega Bigay Sustansya sa Pasko Program, visit Mega Sardines’ social media page – https://www.facebook.com/officialmegasardines/

The Fountain Pen Obsession

I studied Broadcast Journalism in college, partly due to my unhealthy obsession with Superman (in my mind, I had the makings of the next Lois Lane) and partly, because my math skills were left stuck in the primary level.

If you’re a maskom kid, or have journalism as one of your college courses, one oft-repeated phrase is this: “The pen is mightier than the sword.” And while my weird collection of pens through the years never started a revolution, nor was used to write a Palanca-winning essay; all my pens have been with me through my highest highs and my lowest lows — through work achievement, health scares, failed side gigs and personal triumphs.

Call it signs of my age – but I have never been comfortable with “going digital.” I prefer using an agenda than using my smartphone to keep track of my schedule; I have been keeping a journal for close to thirty years of my life; and have become more immersed with bullet journaling as the quarantine closed in last March. While I have dabbled before in fountain pens, they are usually the cheap type which comes with cartridges and a standard nib.

That is until I saw this beautiful Harry Potter crossover fountain pen by Montegrappa and The Classic Brush Fountain Pen from Ferris Wheel Press. I have never seen something so beautiful and intricate:

Harry Potter: House Colours, Hogwarts, Fountain Pen
Montegrappa Harry Potter: House Colors Fountain Pen, retailing at 370 euros (also available for pre-order on Scribe at PHP24K)
The Brush Fountain Pen | Ferris Wheel Press
The Classic Brush Fountain Pen from Ferris Wheel Press (Canada), retails for 118USD

So, right in the middle of the ECQ, I became a serious collector of fountain pens. I started with the basics, pens I can use to practice on, and even bring to work for everyday use.

My first-ever purchase was the Pilot Kakuno with the fine nib. For those who are still starting on their collection, they said that the Kakuno is a great fountain pen for beginners, especially since it’s nib features a smiley face. They say that as long as you can see the smiley face, then you are using your pen correctly. I bought this for only PHP700 via Shopee.

My second and third pens were bought from the Fountain Pen marketplace in Facebook, which has become the bane of my existence and the regular litmus test of my vow of frugality. I try to stay away from the Facebook group during paydays because I always end up with a purchase. This is where I got my Noodler’s Ink Ahab Flex with the fine nib and a Noodler’s Ink Charlie.

Noodler’s Ink is a US-based fountain pen and ink brand where one can get really nice and affordable pens and fountain pen inks. The inks here are cheap and writes really nice, though you have to be careful when you use them since they are a pain to remove once you got them in your hands. My clumsy self got shakey once while inking the Ahab with the Noodler’s Ink Bay State Blue – suffice to say, I looked like I voted way too early for 2022 elections.

Because I tend to get pissed off with people who borrow my pens (and don’t return them), I decided to buy cheaper fountain pens that I can bring to work and use, without breaking relationships in the process:

You can’t get any basic with these two. They are from the brand Jinhao, usually retails from PHP200++ to PHP300++ — and maybe even cheaper during a sale at Shopee and Lazada. Both pens above are Jinhao 260, with a fine nib. The only difference is that the silver one uses cartridge ink, while the black one uses a converter (a set of grooves or fins just beneath the nib, this part of the feed collects ink flowing from the reservoir). For pens that are very cheap, its body has enough heft and the nibs work just fine for every day writing.

This is currently the star of my collection – a TWSBI Eco Pink fountain pen that was given to me by the hubby on my recent birthday. I have yet to ink this, mainly because I am still looking for a nice ink that I can load it with.

I guess the next question would be is if I am using all of these pens at the same time. Well, not yet — but I am already excited thinking of a rotation schedule for these babies (yuuuuup, I’m a nerd). I am also looking forward to buying something really pricey for the collection, aside from the obvious favorites from Lamy, Sailor, Cross, and Pilot. I told myself that, from now on, I will celebrate milestones with fountain pens — and I am already excited for the next purchase.

For now, I am excited to share my journey with my new fountain pens and my inks. Hopefully, I won’t be covered in them when I share my next post.

Through the pandemic: finding –and nurturing a new hope within

Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

I am publishing this piece on a blog that, at some point this year, I was determined to either abandon or overhaul. Earlier this year, right in the middle of my “turning-40-so-I-should-get-a-stock-of-my-life” phase, I started questioning everything I was doing: a blog that is slowly losing its voice; a highly-stressful corporate job that makes me cry at night; the utter neglect of my health in favor of making sure I tick all of the boxes in my KRA, and a lot more of adulting plans that involved retirement, grad school, and a bigger space in the corner office somewhere.

I had it all mapped in my head and I was convinced that 2020 is the year that I WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN.

Then, COVID-19 struck us: thousands of people losing their lives due to an unseen enemy; modern-day heroes sacrificing life to honor their duty, and a multitude of uncertainties that affected not only the routine, but the livelihood, physical and emotional well-being of every person out there.

Suddenly, in one silent swoop sometime in March, our lives as we know it have become classified into specific blocks in time: pre- and post-COVID. Where all of our greatest griefs and grandest plans became wrapped up and filed under the pre-COVID years; turning into constant worries and never-ending prayers for health and safety for ourselves, our families, our countries in a time wholly dictated and controlled by the pandemic.

Unconsciously, we all knew, the little worries we have back then were simply immeasurable to the uncertainties that lie before us.

My ECQ Life: Finding my purpose amidst the stress of corporate life

My day job is in corporate communications – we’re the kind of people tasked to excite and inform the workforce, and yes – plan and host the yearly Christmas party. Do I love my job? Yes. Does it make me cry? Double yes. Does it make me happy? Maybe.

Did COVID-19 gave me a clearer definition of my purpose within the company? Definitely.

Communications, in its most basic form, is often defined as the means of imparting or sharing information or news.

For two months, my team and myself did just that. We send out breaking news and health updates, corporate updates, and advice on how to best address the raging pandemic became a necessity rather than the norm. Suddenly, the health, well-being and safety of thousands of employees depended on the timely release of information, which came from my office. We needed to become more agile and tapped into harnessing social media to make sure we are delivering as much information as we can, given we have employees from the farthest point of Luzon down to the deepest corners of Southern Mindanao. From 6AM to 12MN, my team were churning out health advisories, developed breaking news posts in the community page in Facebook, produced multiple videos coming from the senior executives, which we then shared within the community

For more than 60 days of the initial ECQ, we were breathing and processing memos coming from HR, advisories from senior management and breaking down corporate speak into bite-size, easily understandable pieces that the rest of the work force can understand and appreciate.

To help keep the mind of everyone out of the ranging pandemic, my team were hosting Tiktok competitions online; producing mailers to recognize our very own frontliners – this is in between commiserating how stressed and tired we were, and that Work-From-Home is the bane of our very existence.

While we were all tired, we also knew that in the midst of ECQ, our purpose as a team and our role in the company has never been more defined. We are just not “doing our jobs,” we are making a contribution to the health and well-being of our co-employees. We were making a difference.

Finding little pockets of heaven in between the storm

A few days in at the height of the pandemic, I started looking for little pieces of happiness to take my mind off the situation happening outside, as well as a means of breather from the stress at work.

One of the best decisions I’ve done is to just step away from consuming every piece of news about the pandemic and the toll it’s giving the world. I listened to a few channels and read on WHO Health Updates, but that’s basically it. I only focused on the things that matter to me: my health, keeping the family healthy and well-fed (as a designated runner), and doing a good job at work.

After reading about displaced workers, I was given the opportunity to do my share through an online community supporting a group of displaced construction workers in Manila. The opportunity to be able to help out even in the comforts of my house felt really good, and remains to this day, one of the humbling experiences I had during the lock down.

Cooped up inside the house, with nowhere to go and nothing to do (aside from work), I rediscovered the things I used to love before work took over my life. I started painting again, went back to taking up calligraphy and brush lettering and had more time to journal. In between, I taught my niece how to paint and encouraged her love to draw – sacrificing her bedroom walls in the process, which now doubles as a permanent art installation of scrawls of crayons and markers.

Realizations and moving forward

If there’s something COVID-19 taught me is to recognize and value what’s really important in life. And that to me – more than anything – is my family. The fact that three months from the time ECQ started, and all of us remained healthy is a blessing in itself. I learned to let go of the worries I had early this year when I was stressing so much about so many things.

I also became more thankful for my job. Without stating the obvious, the pandemic has changed so much of the world’s economy and has affected the livelihood of millions of people around the world. The fact that I am still able to provide for my family, pay my bills, keep something for the rainy day, give to those in need, and even indulge in my hobbies meant that I have so much to be thankful for already.

The past three months taught me “not to sweat the small stuff,” – the little worries that I have early this year seemed light years away now. These days, I focused more on things that make me happy and value what’s really important, maintaining relationships with friends and family, and finding time for myself – either to exercise, read a good book, restart the blog, and build short-term and long-term plans along the way.

Socrates said that it’s about building the new – not fighting the old. And little by little, I am doing just that. It’s constantly being grateful for what I have and constantly battling through the odds, just bravely finding my way, finding a New Hope within.

This story is an entry to ComCo Southeast Asia’s “Write to Ignite Blogging Project”. The initiative is a response to the need of our times, as every story comes a long way during this period of crisis. Igniting and championing the human spirit, “Write to Ignite Blog Project” aims to pull and collate powerful stories from the Philippine blogging communities to inspire the nation to rise and move forward amidst the difficult situation. This project is made possible by ComCo Southeast Asia, co-presented by Eastern Communications and sponsored by Electrolux, Jobstreet and Teleperformance.

Get that Hallyu-worthy skin as Korea’s “So Natural” launches in the Philippines

When I started becoming interested in K-Pop waaaaaaay back in the early aughts, one of the things I loved about them Hallyu-babes and boys is how great-looking their skin is. It’s smooth, clean-looking and very fresh. When I saw how big their skin-care market was, and how inclusive it was (extensive skincare and cosmetics are also for men, yes — thank you very much), I became more interested to use only Korean or Japanese skincare products on my face.

It began with the first The Face Shop stores which opened in the Philippines until I was able to go to Korea myself and got to know a lot of other products that I loved, including Labiotte, Nature Republic and a lot more which wasn’t present yet in local shores. I became more partial to products that use all-natural ingredients not only because it has a lesser carbon footprint but also because, in reality, that’s what’s really good for my skin.

78596812_569750950504370_361365530239565824_n.jpg

That’s why I am so excited to know that another all-natural skincare brand has found its way to the Philippines. So Natural was founded in 2007, a beauty company that sells its products exclusively online.

78307570_797872903987950_2639213848128651264_n.jpg

 

So Natural believes in strengthening the natural properties of our skin, inspired by nature and formulated carefully, using the philosophy healing in creating a healthy, beautiful skin that is best-achieved through intensive research and product development using only the best ingredients only found in nature.

So Natural features these beauty lines that everyone should look out for So’natural, a highly functional, dermatological based line; the pure which touts to be purest line in naturalism; and powder 4 room which is a creative and unique make-up line

Some of their best-selling products include:

FACIAL DESIGN PINK MUD MASKSo Natural FACIAL DESIGN PINK MUD MASK 14g

Out with the toxins and in with the baby smooth skin finish. Create a fresh and youthful skin with this mud mask. Take out sebum, dirt and toxins in one go. It includes activated volcanic ash and a blend of plant extracts. It detoxifies and cleanses the skin as well as providing hydration and a nutrient boost for a clear and radiant skin.

CENTELLA ASIATICA OINTMENTSo Natural CENTELLA ASIATICA OINTMENTIt contains the highest level of Centella Asiatica 1% that effectively soothes and calms the skin. It also helps rejuvenate wounded skin and also serves as a powerful micro-thin defense membrane on the skin surface to protect it from external stressors and diminish scars. 

ALL-KILL BLACKHEAD NOSE STICKSo Natural ALL KILL BLACKHEAD CLEAR STICKFirst — I LOVE the name. In Kpop language, all-kill means to actually top all music charts or emerge as number one in all music shows during the promotion period. So, I can already say that this will be my favorite product, just by the witty name alone. All-Kill stops you from pricking away those nasty blackheads and whiteheads (which leads to further skin damage, btw) just by simply swiping away those blackheads with the All Kill Blackhead Nose Stick. It contains charcoal powder and yellow cleansing grains containing silica and vitamins that reduces blackheads and whitehead while making your skin smooth and clear.

ALL-DAY TIGHT MAKEUP SETTING FIXERSo Natural ALL DAY TIGHT MAKE UP SETTING FIXER-SPRAYStay fresh all-day with smooth and smear-free make-up with the All Day Tight Makeup Setting Fixer. It helps makeup stay put on the skin and has perfect coverage using a fine mist. It’s also enriched with lemon, tea tree, Centella Asiatica extract that will help make your makeup look more refreshing and hydrated.
75513528_2773563119369144_1040462042273677312_n.jpg

With these exciting products coming into the Philippines this year, Filipino customers can get to experience the difference of switching to all-natural products and the best of Korean Beauty all in one site. All of these best-selling products and a huge range of So Natural products and more can be found on the official website of Seoul Unni (www.seoulunni.com), which also houses some of the biggest natural skincare brands onsite.

 

A Bella Returns: My Review of Belle De Jour Planner 2020

My love of planners was ignited more than ten years ago, courtesy of Belle de Jour.

Back in 2007, I finally got tired of using the same old boring organizers (remember them?) when I chanced upon Belle De Jour’s 2008 planners at National Book Store. The first thing I noticed is how well-thought-of it was: a space to write your thoughts, schedule, a space to track moods and all the things that a then-twenty something girl usually worried about: bills, budgeting, monthly period (!) plus, even coupons to my favorite shops back in the day. The second was definitely, its design and artwork. My last BDJ journal was for the year 2012, after that – I kinda gravitated towards bare, simple ones.

Well, guess who decided to become a returning Bella.

IMG_7758.jpg
The 2020 Belle de Jour Power Planner joins my arsenal for the coming year

After a seven-year absence, BDJ is making a comeback on my journaling table. Right off the bat, I loved its striking cover (the cover girl bearing a resemblance to a certain reigning  Ms. Universe) — as usual, the illustrations reminded me of some of the works of Spanish artist Jordi Labanda displayed in his collab with Milquerus notebooks.

Eager to test it out, let’s do a quick review:

IMG_7850.jpg

True to the BDJ content, dedicated pages are promoting new learnings. One of these is “Ikigai,” the Japanese concept of “the reason to jump out of bed in the morning.” I love that Belle de Jour retained the “can-do, kick-ass femme mantra” content it has always been known for.

The rest of the content still remained on-brand. The 2020 BDJ contains the following:

  • Size: 8.1 inches x 5.75 inches
  • Comes in 3 variants/looks: BDJ Classic, BDJ Leather and BDJ Limited Edition. What I have is the Classic edition.
  • 192 full-color pages
  • Pocket at the back to keep receipts and cards
  • Elastic to hold the planner together or use as a page marker
  • With Magnetic Bookmark to mark your planner’s pages
  • 13-monthly calendars from December 2019 to December 2020
  • 12-monthly dividers with workbooks about lifestyle, fashion, career, financial, and more
  • Vertical weekly layout
  • Special pages to help you set and achieve your goals
  • Perks of a Bella Coupon Booklet with over Php40,000 worth coupons from BDJ brand partners such as CBTL, Ace Water Spa, and many more.
  • With BDJ Lifestyle Card for a special discount from selected BDJ brand partners (The PR-given planner that I have did not have the Lifestyle Card and the Bella Coupon Booklet; but this is a standard-issue in any BDJ planner and thus makes any purchase a good buy due to the many discounts you’ll get with their partner merchants)

IMG_7841.jpg

IMG_7846.jpg

IMG_7849.jpg

IMG_7848.jpg

Here’s what I liked with the BDJ 2020 Planner:

  1. Aesthetics/design – In my late 20s and early 30s, the visuals of any BDJ planner is my jam. I love the mix of colors, the art which is basically a hallmark of the BDJ planner. The designs have always been on-point regardless of the theme, and it’s truly something that women in their 20s and 30s would absolutely love.
  2. Content – BDJ planners have always made use of writing prompts, which allowed its users to begin an entry at their own piece and with a specific theme in mind. This year’s BDJ did not disappoint as it continues to provide interesting content for its users. There’s always a space available, no matter how you use it — whether to track your finances, schedules, moods, etc — it’s all there
  3. Creativity – The great thing about BDJ planners is that you can expect it’s always well-thought of. Content and aesthetics is always on-point and complementing. The bookmark is a nice touch too.
  4. Quality –  As a self-confessed planner junkie, I’ve always had a thing for smooth, crisp pages (because to me, it would mean that the pen will easily glide on paper). You can tell it’s well-made and the cover, with its soft cushion type material, is really nice.

I guess my only concern about the planner is that I find the printing too soft or too muted for my liking — I guess I wanted the colors and the design to pop out more. I don’t know if the intention really was for the lines and background to blend in case the user wants to use the planner according to her whim and without regard to the lines and the dates. Personally, I am now at a certain stage in my life where I prefer fewer visuals and graphics in my planners and would now opt for a simpler, cleaner look.

Would I use it? Of course. It’s normal for me to maintain 3-4 planners for me at the same time. The BDJ is definitely my personal planner intended for notes on the budget, bills payment and basically everything non-work-related while one of the coffeeshop planners will become my work planner. I am also getting the 2020 Hobonichi Techo A6 but that will function more like a bullet journal and outlet for anything creative.

Buy Belle De Jour for only PHP540 here. If you’re in the market for a good quality planner, this one is a nice choice without spending more than a thousand bucks.

 

 

 

 

Are you Ready for Shopee11.11 Sale? Kapuso stars join in on the fun via TV special

Planning to get your Holiday shopping in order but wanted to do it as painless and hassle-free as possible?

shopee1

You’re in luck as Shopee, the biggest and leading eCommerce platform for SoutheastAsia and Taiwan, recently announced its “11.11 Biggest Christmas Day Sale” in celebration of November 11. The site-wide sale offers up to 90% discounts from leading brands — along with the promise of free shipping (with 0 minimal spend) because let’s face it – online shopping is more fun when you don’t have to pay for shipping!

If you’re still planning to stay away from your tablet or laptop, to survive the “biggest sale of the year,” let me break it down to you just how tempting that day will be: Ready?

  • If you plan to stock up on the essentials and do some Christmas shopping on the side, you’re in luck because there will be exclusive deals from leading household brands including Pampers, Unilever, Pantene, Safeguard and Watsons; as well as on must-have gift items from Silverworks Bosch, Maybelline (yey! time to stock up on my favorite Primer), Anker, Huawei and even Globe!
  • Did I mention the free shipping? Yes, with 0 minimum spend!
  • Buy a nifty gadget for only P11 pesos! Up to 90% off on deals from electronics products like Xiaomi Redmi 7 and Xiaomi 7A, while the HUG 32″ LED TV LT32, and the Rapoo V600 Gamepad XB30 will be both made available for P11 only!
  • Stream and win. 12-hour nonstop live stream during the exclusive Shopee Live session from 12 noon to 12 midnight. Enjoy the games, challenges and vouchers — plus watch out for five iPhone 11 giveaways
  • Shake it! Exciting giveaways via Shopee Shake and Shopee Catch. Stand a chance to win from a pool of 2 million Shopee coins and get an iPhone 11 by playing the Shopee Shake. Shopee will also upsize its Shopee Catch game, putting in a total of 6 game sessions and a 1M coin pool to be won.
  • Charge it! Because shopping is more fun when you have the option of paying it for later, Metrobank is joining in on the fun by offering a 12% additional discount when you check out using your Metrobank card. On the other hand, you also get two months’ worth of load for free when you buy the Cignal Ultimate Prepaid HD at only P2,290 during the sale.

While these deals are exciting and mind-blowing enough already, Shopee is upping the ante (again!) by marking this year’s 11.11 with a never-before done televised show through the 11.11 Big Christmas TV Special to be held on November 10 at 10:30PM, aired through the Kapuso channel. The televised special will bring together GMA7’s biggest stars and Shopee’s biggest deals and steals.

Martin Yu, associate director for Shopee Philippines shares, “Christmas is an important holiday for Filipinos, and we are thrilled to kickstart the celebrations in the biggest way possible with our very first televised Christmas concert, the Shopee 11.11 Big Christmas TV Special. With this, we hope to deepen engagement with our users by bringing them closer to their favorite stars and brands, and also to foster the festive spirit in the Philippines. We invite everyone to join in the excitement on 10 November as we count down together to our 11.11 Big Christmas Sale.”

shopee2.png

The special features GMA 7’s creme de la creme from its stable of talents, led by Asia Multi-Media Star Alden Richards, Maine Mendoza, and Heart Evangelista, with Gabbi Garcia, Julie Anne San Jose, Lani Misalucha and other GMA regulars lending support. Shopee brand ambassador and the unofficial harbinger of Pinoy Christmas, Jose Mari Chan will also debut his new Shopee jingle especially made for the Christmas season. New Shopee brand ambassador and Pambansang Kamao Manny Pacquiao are also expected to make an appearance.

Over P11M worth off prizes, deals and discounts including a house and lot from Avida! You also stand the chance to win exciting prizes including a Rusi Mojo 200 motorcycle and a Toyota Fortuner just by tuning in to three special Shopee Shake sessions during the program. You can also score amazing deals and vouchers throughout the program, with up to 70% discounts from leading brands.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Whew. 

If you ask me, my Shopee app has been working overtime already. I already started Christmas shopping online and have begun saving my favorite stuff on my cart, ready for the checkout. Also expecting a few deliveries already — like five, to be exact with some of my favorite finds: running shoes for my planned “walk-home-exercise-regimen,” dimmable LED lighting and gorilla pod for the long-planned venture into vlogging, and phone cases from PeaceMinusOne.

See you on the 11th! Enjoy shopping!

 

Going to South Korea? Here are my visa-application survival tips

Back in 2012, I went to South Korea by accident. I was helping my sister work on her visa requirements when her friend had to stay in Manila due to family concerns. Since I already knew the drill and because I don’t want my sister to travel on her own, I decided to submit their requirements and got my visa in less than five days.

I’ve been to Seoul once again last 2016 — both times, visa processing was easy, fast and hassle-free.

Much has changed since then. So when the time came for the sister and myself to bring the whole family to Seoul for a late birthday celeb for our father, we were not prepared with the stress and worry.  And while we thought to get a visa has become easier since it’s now handled by agencies – clearly, that wasn’t the case.

IMG_6045.jpg
Cable car going up Mt. Namsan and to N Seoul Tower

Before you start plotting a walking course for Gangnam to track your favorite K-stars, read this survival guide in order to successfully get your visa to South Korea:

  1. Make sure your documents are complete – Having the complete documents is already winning half the battle. It also automatically makes life easier for you because that’s one of the strongest basis they use to evaluate if they should grant you a visa. If you are applying for a tourist visa, here are the requirements you should prepare:
  • Application Form – make sure to print out your application form and make sure that it’s without any erasures. Print in A4 sized paper.
  • 1 piece of Passport size colored picture – submit the latest copy; please don’t reuse your old ID photos; if you can afford to go to Korea, you can surely afford a quick ID photo sesh. If you go to FotoMe or any of the mall-based photo studios, usually they offer ID packages intended for visa applications. Usually, they cost PHP150-PHP200 per person and already includes 4 pieces.
  • Original Passport – make sure your passport is still valid for more than 6months
  • Photocopy of Passport Bio-page (page 2)
  •  Original & Photocopy of valid visa/s and arrival stamps to OECD member countries from the past 5 years (If applicable only). For those who are confused, OECD (or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries are those considered first-world countries including USA, Australia, member-countries of the European Union, UK, and Japan. Before, having a visa from Japan is already considered a plus, but recently the Korean Embassy removed Japan for consideration among OECD countries following a spate of incidents where visa applicants are caught using fake Japan visas in order to beef up their applications. <<insert face palm>>
  • Original Certificate of Employment – this should include the applicant’s position, date hired, compensation and office address. The COE should also be printed in a company letterhead indicating the HR landline number(cell-phone number is not allowed), and HR e-mail address.
  • Original Personal Bank Certificate – Your bank certificate should include account type, current balance, account opening date, and ADB. I got mine from BPI, which I have to pay PHP200/ application. I usually get questions asking how much they should have in their account as “show money.” Quite frankly, I don’t have a clear answer to this. However, let’s use the advice of the embassy on their recommended budget for the tour (there is a part in the application where you need to write this). In our case, they said that we should indicate 500 US or roughly PHP25,000 per person as a budget for the four-day stay. This meant that your bank account should have more than this amount, depending on the length of your stay.
  • Bank Statement – Your bank statement should indicate your transactions for the last 3 months. You can ask your bank for this. BPI usually charges PHP50 per sheet.
  • Photocopy of ITR (Income Tax Return) or Form 2316 – you should submit your latest ITR. If you don’t have an ITR, please don’t be someone I know who falsified his ITR and got denied in the process (yes, they DO check). What to do if you don’t have an ITR? You write a letter explaining why – state if you’re new at the job, an entrepreneur, online seller or  a freelancer, and then offer alternate proof. This could be your business registration, a contract or appointment letter from a client or a student ID or school registration (for students).
  • If applicable: Copy of PRC Card or IBP Card (If applicable only)

IMG_6425
My four-year-old niece’s first ever tourist visa to South Korea

Once you have completed all the documents, you can now submit them to your preferred travel agency. For this application, we chose to submit through JTB, a travel agency that traces its roots in Japan.

So, the big question is — is it really easier now to apply for a visa compared to before?

In my experience, I had a harder time now compared before. For reference, the recent application was my third one. The first two was direct to the South Korean embassy, (2012 and 2016) this one is my first time to apply through an agency.

Here’s why:

  • The process now required more documents compared to the process before. During my first two applications, the embassy only required me to submit a bank certificate, but not the bank statements. The embassy has become more cautious about documents. During this application, we were asked to prepare letters of explanation – one to explain why there are parts of my parents’ marriage contract that are not as legible and another to explain why my husband was not able to provide an ITR and COE (he is a freelancer). Since my sister was the guarantor for most of the party, she was also asked to submit a guarantee letter.
  • By submitting to agencies, you needed to allot more time to your application on top of the usual prescribed processing time – Make sure you submit your papers with enough time before you travel. Due to some personal reasons, we were only able to submit our papers 15 days before the trip. Though, in a nutshell, this should be sufficient since regular processing time is usually 5-7 working days. However, because we were submitting through an agency, processing time was extended to 10 working days. In between that, the agency has texted us at least twice asking for additional documents which further lengthened the process and prolonged the anxiety for us. We were so pissed off and stressed at this point, but we really can’t fault the agency for doing their job.

80B9178A-88C9-4B01-BDCE-A6BE5F2628D1.JPG

2. Choose the right travel agency. Here is the list of agencies that have been authorized by the South Korean embassy for visa applications. (agency list with branches 2019.4.8) Applying a visa is stressful as it is, choose an agency that you’re comfortable working it. Are they friendly and accommodating, near your office or home and with an affordable processing fee? If you find yourself getting annoyed and even more stressed just by dealing with the agency, better to look for other options. JTB, the agency where we submitted our application, had a branch in Glorietta. This meant we can submit applications on weekends and I can even drop by during lunch hour to submit additional documents, as needed. Their application fee for a single-entry tourist visa to South Korea is just PHP600, and we even got discounts due to their Independence Day promo. I do have to say that JTB is thorough and very particular when it comes to the documentary requirements — this alone added to the stress of getting visas for us. However, if you will submit your requirements with proper lead time, I don’t think this will be a problem.

3. Allot enough time – I cannot stress this enough. Allot enough time for you to complete your documents, along with the many other possible requirements needed by the agency. Be patient, it will work out in the end. 

In our case, we got our visas a day before we were supposed to leave (stressful, I know!) and were finally able to fulfill our promises to our parents and bring them to Seoul. My sister and I, owing to our multiple entry visas for Japan and a Schengen visa for my sister, were given five-year multiple entry visas – we plan on using them again early next year for a winter trip to Jeju.

I hope this guide will be helpful to those who really wanted to experience South Korea. I really made it a point to blog this because, in spite of applying twice before, I was really flabbergasted by the new process and requirements and even felt helpless, confused and resigned at one point.

 

POSTSCRIPT: Note that the decision of the embassy is final. In case you get denied, you can reapply after six months. They do not usually disclose their reasons for issuing a visa denial.

 

%d bloggers like this: