Discovering what it means to be truly healthy with LifeScience

I don’t need much to know that at my current state: I am beyond unhealthy. It’s not even the excess 25 kilograms that I can’t seem to shake off – it’s the long nights awake, the stressful situations, the fact that I don’t eat right and almost have zero exercise.

For the longest time, I have been trying to understand what’s wrong with my body and what I can do to fix this health mess that I am in. There are days when I feel helpless with what’s happening with my body, especially since I am getting older and my metabolism has been out of whack for about 10 years already. To say that I am in bad shape is a gross understatement, but I wanted to know how and why.

One of the things that I have been looking with much interest is Functional Medicine, a science-based approach to health, which turns the disease-centered focus of the traditional medical practice on its head by focusing on the whole person, his lifestyle habits, work and environment, and not the symptoms alone. Functional Medicine first started in the States but has started to pick steam here in the Philippines.

Practitioners of Functional Medicine spend time getting to know the patient’s history, and looking into the genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can affect their long-term health. By incorporating the latest developments in genetic science, the relationships between body organs, and analyzing the patient’s lifestyle and environment, Functional Medicine gives solutions to the individual’s health issues tailor-made just for them. This data and knowledge not only enables physicians and other health professionals to practice proactive, predictive, and personalized medicine, but it also empowers patient to have an active role in their own health.

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The foremost practitioner of Functional Medicine in the Philippines is LifeScience Center for Health and Wellness (LSC) in Bonifacio Global City, which is staffed with health care practitioners who specialize in Functional Medicine for many years already. They are all about finding ways to optimize health and prevent diseases by customizing programs specific to you, the individual. There are no one-size-fits-all treatment programs here.

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The relaxing deck at the LifeScience Center facility

I was recently invited to their top-of-the-line facility to know more about the service they offer and also to meet the men behind LifeScience, Group CEO Michael Genato and Senior Medical Consultant Dr. Roland Aquino Balburias.

LifeScience Center is the place for people from all over the world who don’t want to get sick, and for patients with multiple health issues who have tried conventional medicine but have yet to feel whole and better. To fully understand and know your needs, every LSC program begins with an in-depth consultation with you — the patient — about your health, medical history, and lifestyle.

From this conversation, the doctors get an idea what kind of diagnostic tests you can consider taking in order to understand your body better and to see what imbalances in body that need to be addressed. LSC partners with the best laboratories around the world so it can give its patients access to cutting-edge diagnostic tests, including gene tests. From there, LSC designs programs that are tailor made for your health goals, using the exact type of nutrition, movement, and medical treatments suited for your body. This way, you and the doctor work together using these information and programs towards the goal of optimized health and wellness just for you.

During the event at LifeScience, we were given a preliminary study of our health. My results did not came really as a surprise, but only validated the many things that I worry about my health. Dr. Balburias shared that all of our health concerns actually begin with our food intake, as they affect the performance of our body’s cell. This means that from the get-go, it’s important that we watch what we eat and we put inside our body. Exercise, proper sleep and steering away from the sedentary lifestyle also helps.

 

For more information about LifeScience Center for Wellness and Preventive Medicine, visit http://www.lifescience.ph. The center is located at the 8/F AccraLaw Tower, 2nd Avenue corner 30th Street, Bonifacio Global City.

 

Sun Life retells client stories with new set of digital short films, “Sun Shorts”

Top life insurance company marks 4th Financial Independence Month

There is no doubt that Sun Life has helped transform countless lives over the years. But behind each success lies the story of the many people it has touched, of lives changed and of dreams that came true.

To inspire Filipinos to pursue their financial freedom, Sun Life is launching a new collection of its digital films dubbed Sun Shorts, which will highlight the relationships that make lives #brightertogether.

“The people we love give us the courage to dream big and the strength to keep going even if sometimes it feels like the odds are against us. Truly, we are brighter together,” Sun Life Chief Marketing Officer Mylene Lopa said. “Sun Life shines a spotlight on these relationships to inspire every Filipino to keep chasing their dreams. Our three new Sun Shorts films ‘Waves,’ ‘She Said, She Said’ and ‘Sayaw’ will present this in stories inspired by the stories of Sun Life clients. Through the Sun Shorts, we hope to show Filipinos how life insurance can help them ease their life’s burdens and celebrate their lives’ triumphs giving them the opportunity to show the people they love their commitment to a brighter future for them.”

The roster of short films is part of celebrations prepared by Sun Life of Canada (Philippines), Inc., the number one life insurance company in the Philippines, to mark  the 4th Financial Independence Month this June  to remind Filipinos break free from the cycle of financial shortage and insecurity.

“Waves” by Zig Marasigan gives a peek into the mindset of millennials, who are often criticized for adhering to the “YOLO” mindset and not preparing well enough for the future; a young single mom’s journey takes centerstage in “She Said, She Said” by Nic Reyes; while Mihk Vergara will delve into the reality of coping with a long-time marriage that has gone cold in “Sayaw.”

The films will be released on June 7 at http://www.sunshorts2.com, and will also be uploaded on Facebook so it may be easily accessed and shared by viewers. Each film will also come with an explainer video, where Sun Life brand ambassadors Matteo Guidicelli, Judy Ann Santos, and Piolo Pascual will share their thoughts and shed light on how insurance and investments enable us to protect the relationships that matter to us.

Sun Life released its first collection of Sun Shorts in 2012 and the project has been recognized by different prestigious local and international award-giving bodies, which lauded the creative approach to promoting insurance and investment products.

Empowering Filipinos with concrete steps to financial freedom

To complement the new Sun Shorts films and to give Filipinos the opportunity to learn about life insurance and mutual funds, Sun Life will hold a series of activities throughout June as a next step for those who would like to boost their financial journey.

For the millennials, Sun Life will offer a workshop on achieving their travel goals, while moms and dads will be treated to a pampering activity to help put them in the best mindset to create future goals. For details on these activities, visit @sunlifeph on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Meanwhile, for those who prefer to learn at their convenience, Sun Life offers basic financial planning courses in the Brighter Life Institute at www.brighterlife.com.ph.

Sun Life will also launch PA Armor, an affordable personal accident protection for Filipino online shoppers. Through Sun Life’s partnership with Voyager Innovations, Inc., members of the online marketplace Takatack.com will exclusively enjoy the benefits of this protection.

“This Financial Independence Month, Sun Life reiterates its commitment to Filipinos who are in pursuit of their financial freedom,” Lopa said. “For as long as they have dreams to pursue and relationships to care for, Sun Life will be here for them as their partner in this journey.”

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About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individuals and corporate Clients. Sun Life Financial has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of December 31, 2016, Sun Life Financial had total assets under management of $903 billion. For more information please visit http://www.sunlife.com.

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Change is not for wussies

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There’s a reason for my protracted absence in the last three months: I was in the midst of a job change and was in the process of adjusting, finding my footing and proving myself.

The new position, in a very challenging but very good company, also placed me in a manager position which meant being responsible for four (talented) souls under my team.

From being someone who used to do ALL the work, I am now expected to delegate and manage people efficiently. While I am very grateful for the opportunity, I am also scared shitless. I am scared that I will mess up, disappoint/annoy/embarrass my team and/or fall short on the expectations of my bosses. I am afraid that from being the “Wonder Girl” of my previous company, I will amount to nothing but a mediocre boss in this new one. I am afraid to fail and lose all the things I have painstakingly built on my own during the past six years in my old company. I am afraid to become a failure.

You say: If you are so afraid, then why make the change at all?

Because it’s time.

I’d rather take the leap of faith and start from scratch than deal with the “what if’s;” I’d rather wake up and go to work anxious about proving myself than remain complacent; I’d rather rather bust my ass off working than live each day trapped in monotomy. I figured that in my old age, I don’t want to live with any regrets.

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I started writing Daily Affirmations in my journal when stress gets to me. I always tell myself, each and every day – Be Brave!

 

I’ve always believed that being scared is always a good thing, because that meant that you are hell-bent on avoiding failure. When there’s too much at stake, you will do your best – even if the process consumes your whole being. Being afraid is a good things, because it will make you conscious of success. Being afraid usually gives way to check and balance. Being afraid pushes you to be brave. And honestly, this is what I do each and everyday of my life.

Sometimes, I wonder if I’ll be less stressed if I chose to just stay put with my old company. The allure of comfort + familiarity + routine was tempting. But I asked myself why I wanted to go in the first place, and each and every time, I am reminded of my desire to do something different, something difficult…something challenging in my life.

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Conquering my fear

So yes, embarking on a life change when you’re in your 30s can be nerve-wracking. But who says life is easy?

 

World Street Food Congress celebrates the year of Pinoy street food

Some of the Philippines most loved comfort street food will be taking center stage, but will be served with fun twists and new interpretations, at the World’s Street Food Congress 2017 (WSFC17). 

A brain child of foodie and TV personality K.F. Seetoh of Makansutra fame and presented by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), the five-day gastronomic adventure, happening at SM MOA Concert Grounds on 31 May – 04 June 2017, will unearth Filipino specialties from six provinces across the country.

 

Kare-Kare Palabok

Sisig Paella

 

You will get to taste a rare fusion of Kare-kare and Palabok from Pampanga, Grilled Chicken with Black Grated Coconut from Davao, as well as discover the delicious pork monggo from Pres. Duterte’s favorite karinderia in Davao.

Each major region will also have its signature street food showcased. From Luzon are Sisig Paella, three (3) types of pizza: Pinakbet, Longganisa, and Bagnet, Cheese Empanada, Bicol Express Risotto and Pinangat Burger.

Beef Tongue or Lengua Con Setas Olivias Gua Bao

Representing the Visayas are Beef Tongue or Lengua con setas oliva gua bao, Piaya, and Chicken Inasal served with soft shell coconut tacos. Pyanggang, a grilled chicken with black grated coconut and Junay, a steamed, spicy rice wrapped in a leaf with boiled egg will represent Mindanao.

 

Chicken Inasal served with soft shell coconut tacos

If you are a foodie then, you are in for a treat as more than 40 different international street food dishes from Germany, Mexico, USA, Thailand, Japan, India, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Singapore will also be sharing the limelight. Must-tries are Marmite chicken burger from Singapore, Kushikatsu Daruma from Japan and Claypot Apom Manis from Malaysia, to name a few.

WSFC is now in its fourth edition and will once again be hosted in Manila, which is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing gastro cities in Asia. It annually celebrates and addresses inherent opportunities of global heritage street food culture. Through this event, the Philippines once again takes the spotlight for being a premier destination for gastronomy and culture.

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I wonder if the rock star of the foodie world (and my personal hero) will be back for this year’s Food Congress

For more information about WSFC17 visit, http://www.wsfcongress.com

PayMaya redefines parenting and adulting in the Digital Age

Look, I am not a parent yet (except if you count my feline mommyhood) – but like all parents, I know how it feels to juggle bills, a career, various side hustles and even me time. That’s why I felt right at home during the recently-concluded PayMaya event held specifically for millennial moms and dads. Because while parenting might not be in the cards for everyone yet, then responsible adulting definitely is.

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Sorry, I had to ruin the photo by erasing my PayMaya card number. Don’t post any of your account details online, kids! 

PayMaya, the country’s pioneer and leader in digital financial services and mobile money, underscores how basic household transactions can be made hassle-free and more secure through an e-wallet. Designed for the undeserved to have a safe and accessible means to pay online, PayMaya extends its services to millennial parents in search for a better way to pay bills, send and receive money and more.

“As a generation that grew up surrounded by technology, millennials expect the same level of convenience in paying bills, sending money and shopping online. PayMaya evolves with its market by empowering millennial parents with the financial services they need, in the most secure, user-friendly and most convenient way possible,” said PayMaya Philippines COO Paolo Azzola.

I can relate. Ever since I started hitting my 30s, I became very conscious of the way I earn and spend money. I still have a long way to go, but I know I am making progress. For three years now, all my bills are taken cared of and enrolled in an automatic debit system which removed from me the stress of paying them. All my bank accounts are interconnected and I just transfer money from one to account to another when needed – but I needed the freedom of purchasing things online without having to use my credit card. PayMaya is answering that need because I can easily buy plane tickets or book hotels online using my virtual PayMaya Visa account card, which is connected to my account in the PayMaya app. My PayMaya account also allows me to pay the bills for merchants that are currently not enrolled or existing in my automatic debit bank account, like MERALCO, NSO Helpline Plus, a number of HMOs, Sunlife, among others.

Parents will love the convenience of having the ability to give their kids allowance or emergency money without leaving the office or while on-the-go. They can even pay the family driver or give the household help a grocery budget with just a few taps on their smart phone.

To help account holders keep track of their expenses, as well as the expenses of PayMaya cards linked to their account, a real-time SMS notification is sent for every transaction. A transaction record is also automatically updated in the app.

For parents who are “digipreneurs” or freelancers like me, PayMaya can also be used to pay for webhosting and sponsored posts on social media. They can also rely on PayMaya to pay suppliers and receive payments from customers. For freelancers who receives fees from clients overseas, PayMaya can be linked to a global payment platform like PayPal to withdraw their earnings. MOney transferred to their PayMaya wallet can be immediately used to transact online, to pay bills, or to be withdrawn as cash in any BancNet ATM.

PayMaya can be used to pay anywhere Visa and Mastercard is accepted, including seat sales, paid mobile apps and on-demand services including Uber, Netflix and Spotify. User can also save on mobile and date load in all networks with all bundles and offers at 5% off in the PayMaya app.

With PayMaya, you are on track to becoming someone who has their finances under control.

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PayMaya Philippines COO Paolo Azzola, PayMaya brand ambassadors and millennial mommies Ava Te-Zabat and Wiji Lacsamana, and PayMaya Marketing and Brand Head Sharon Kayanan during the PayMaya launch 

What is PayMaya? 

PayMaya is a free and secure app that gives users a reloadable mobile wallet, which allows them to send and receive money, pay their bills and shop anywhere online even without having a credit card. Users simply have to download the PayMaya app, register, load up in over 15,000 touch points nationwide. Smart, TNT and Sun Cellular subscribers will receive a virtual Mastercard upon registration to PayMaya, while Globe subscribers will receive a virtual Visa card.

Users may also opt to have a PayMaya Visa physical card or PayMaya Smart MasterCard, which can be linked to their mobile wallet. PayMaya physical cards can be used to pay in groceries, bookstores, malls or any store that accepts card payments. It can be offered online at paymaya.com/shop, free of delivery charge nationwide. To reload, head to any SM Business Centers, Robinsons Department Stores, 711 with Cliqq kiosks, Petron stations along NLEX, Ministop outlets with Touchpay Kiosks, UnionBank ATMS, Shopwise, Wellcome, 2Go outlets, SmartPadala centers and online banking via BDO.

For more information, visit paymaya.com.

 

 

 

Xia Vigor welcomes you to her Sweet-Sarap life with Jollibee Spaghetti 

One of my fondest memory as a child is going to church then eating at Jollibee after. My food choices were always the same: chicken (thigh part, please) and spaghetti combo with pineapple juice. 

For times when I wanted to think that I am eating healthy, I’d swap my Spaghetti with the Palabok. And then, I’ll proceed to stealing the huge chunky hotdog from my sister’s spaghetti. 

 

Now that I am a lot older, my choice still remained the same. My definition of a good spaghetti still remained that of Jollibee: noodles done just right, sweet-tasty-savory sauce, sweet ham slices and grated cheese. It’s not surprising that I have shared this love of Jollibee Spaghetti with my niece, Penny – who counts the words “‘Bee!” as one of her first words. 

 


That’s why it was a nice surprise (and a very fun afternoon for me) to be invited to the recent launch of Jollibee’s latest TV commercial for the best-selling Jolly Spaghetti, which began airing in late March. The new TVC featured the British-Filipino child star Xia Vigor who was shown  enjoying the product and how its timelessly appealing tamis-linamnam flavor will always bring out the jolly kid in everyone.

Xia is the latest celebrity endorser to join the ever-growing Jollibee family. She was given the official welcome in a media event held at Jollibee Biopolis Macapagal recently. 

 “Since its launch nearly four decades ago, the Jolly Spaghetti has remained a favorite among Filipino children from different generations and walks of life,” said Luis Berba, Jollibee Brand Manager. “Our newest TVC illustrates that unforgettable sweet-sarap feeling that Pinoys get whenever they eat Jolly Spaghetti. It’s like being a jolly kid again, when every moment is filled with fun, good food, and the company of our loved ones.”

Jollibee Brand Manager Luis Berba

“Xia’s genuine love for Jolly Spaghetti and her cheerful and articulate personality are why we believe she’s the best choice as kid endorser of our product.”

 

Sweet-sarap moments with Xia

Despite the recent national and global attention the young child actress has been getting through a slew of successful TV shows and viral videos, Xia remains to be like any other Pinoy child. She loves spending time with her family and, of course, eating at Jollibee.

With her doll-like features and wide-eyed innocence, it’s sad to say that everyone fell in love with Xia during the launch. Xia professed that she has always loved Jollibee Spaghetti. 


The child actress said. “Even when I wasn’t in showbiz yet, Jollibee has always been my favorite place to eat Jolly Spaghetti with my Mommy, kuya, and cousins. I love it because sweet-sarap, tamis-linamnam siya talaga and it has a lot of hotdogs and cheese. Sana more kids like me will keep eating and enjoy Jolly Spaghetti!”

 
The Pinoy spaghetti 

Xia with Team Jollibee


Jollibee pioneered the introduction of the sweet-style spaghetti in the Philippines. The brand took all the basic elements of a spaghetti dish and elevated it into a treat that Pinoys will definitely love. The rich tomato sauce is carefully seasoned to achieve peak tamis-linamnam goodness. Generous amounts of beefy and juicy hotdog slices are added in for a filling meal. Finally, creamy shreds of cheese are sprinkled on top to complete the one-of-a-kind Jolly Spaghetti taste.

 “The Jolly Spaghetti is the Pinoy spaghetti,” added Berba. “Our recipe is tailored to fit the Pinoy palate, which leans toward the sweeter side. It also has that well-rounded flavor that delights the taste buds. Jolly Spaghetti has become a comfort food for many Pinoys and it evokes all those wonderful memories of childhood.”

 

Enjoy the best-tasting, sweet-sarap Jolly Spaghetti for only P50.00 Solo and P55.00 for the value meal with drink.. This sweet-sarap treat is available in all Jollibee stores nationwide and through #87000 Jollibee Delivery.

Let’s get Nude…! With Ever Bilena Nude Lipsticks, that is! 

 I’m a fan of lipsticks. With just a quick swipe, they add color and a certain bit of ooomph to an otherwise plain face. 

For supermarket runs and days when I can’t be bothered to bring a large bag, I only carry a small tub of powder and the deepest, darkest plum lippie. Yes, I am the girl with an aversion for pink and red shades – I prefer my shades very dark, totally “The Craft” instead of the “Legally Blonde.”

However, there are days when the mood and situation calls for something more subdued. Days like these is when I choose to go Nude… Nude lippies, that is. 

It’s the perfect go-to color all year round, a quick swipe will automatically make a statement to the “no-make-up make-up” look with just the slightest color to make its presence known.   

But did you know that nude lipsticks come in shades that, if not matched with the skin tone, may end up giving apale-faced look? Good thing Ever Bilena, the country’s leading cosmetics brand, offers a spectrum of shades in the Matte Lipstick Nude Collection to ensure that there’s a perfect shade for every skin type.

 

For instance, tinges of dusty, baby pink will work best for women with alabaster or fair complexion. This will warm up the lips and draw a separation between the lips and the skin. With Ever Bilena Matte Lipstick in Mirrored Mocha, they can immediately color to the face with its fabulous mix of nude and red. 

Meanwhile, beige and caramel hues are perfect for medium skin tone. Go a shade lighter than your skin tone with The Ever Bilena Matte Lipstick in Skin, then add dimension to your whole look with smoky, more defined eye make-up.

Lastly, women with dark skin tone should go for shades that are darker than their complexion. To brighten the face, use bronzy browns with hints of shimmer or dusty rose with toffee shades like Ever Bilena Matte Lipstick in Port. Its subdued red color is guaranteed to flatter this skin type. 

The Ever Bilena Matte Lipstick in Nude Collection (P165 each) has a stunning matte finish and has a rich pigment that glides smoothly. What’s even better is that each lipstick in this line-up is rich in vitamin E content to ensure that its matte finish won’t dry up the lips, making it a worthy addition to your make-up arsenal. 

Personally, I like Ever Bilena because it’s a make up brand that is affordable but works really well for every skin types. I have been using some of their products, mixing them with high-end name brands, and they work just fine – complementing  very well with other make-up brands. It’s high quality without the steep price tag. 

 To know more about Ever Bilena, visit Ever Bilena’s website, http://www.everbilena.com.ph and Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/everbilenacosmetics

Century Tuna makes summer more sizzlin’ hot with Paulo, Gerald and Mateo 

The path to a truly sexy body doesn’t end with a vow to get washboard abs and a Pinterest board on the art of being hot.

To be truly and wholly hot, one must consider getting healthy first. After all, when you consider the big picture, isn’t “hot” just a trendy term to being healthy?


Putting more fire into an already scorching summer is the launch of the Century Tina’s latest line of endorsers: certified hunks Gerald Anderson, Mateo Guidicelli and my own guilty pleasure, Paulo Avelino.


The three has been tasked to rep the country’s premium and most-trusted Tuna brand, now with its Century Tuna hot variant made spicier. 



Like the three Kapamilya hunks who forever captured the fancy of many Pinoys even worldwide, Century Tuna has been a constant and trusted fare to every Pinoy since it was first launched many years ago. Through the years, Century Tuna served as the go-to meal for those who want something quick, delicious and healthy on their plate. Gracing meal times – from office Bain and even as a cocktail entree during events – Century Tuna has cemented its reputation as a versatile Tuna brand. 

Further underscoring this is the latest ad which showcases the three hunks favorite version of Century Tuna: as pansit canton for Paulo; a tunasilog breakfast fare for Gerald and as healthy Century tuna salad sandwich spread for Mateo. 

The three even got to showcase how to prepare these sumptuous fares during the media launch held recently – while, please take note – half naked. 

Swoon.

Deftly removing their shirts, much to the numbing shrieks of the attending media, Paulo, Gerald and Mateo displayed a wicked sense of humor as they prepared their favorite Century Tuna dishes sans t-shirt and in just apron and a pair of pants. Needless to say, I can vouch that while the girls in the audience did try to bask in the easy task of prepping a Century Tuna meal; the fact that Paulo Avelino was standing shirtless (in a make shift kitchen) isn’t doing any wonders to our attention span. 


I asked the guys how they keep motivated to work out especially during “tamad” days – and Mateo said it best when he said that he doesn’t even entertain “Tamad” days. Mateo, who is an avid race car driver and marathon man, has taken into being healthy as part of his lifestyle. Aside from watching what he eats, Mateo also makes sure to regularly exercise and live a healthy lifestyle just to remain in good shape. 


For Paulo, trying to maintain a fit body is a conscious choice. While he doesn’t maintain a rigorous schedule and as much discipline into working out like Gerald and Mateo, what he usually does is to everything “just right” – while he doesn’t hold back on what he eats, he makes sure to eat in moderation and he always goes for the healthier choice. 

With the demand to have beach-ready bodies, it is only natural to ask the three how to achieve that perfect “summer washboard abs.” Here’s what Gerald thinks: the best way to have a fit body in to think beyond summer. Make getting fit and being healthy a daily commitment. Eat what’s right, exercise regularly and always maintain a positive attitude. 

La Espanola shows clever ways to use and enjoy your olive oil


I had the pleasure of being invited to the recently-concluded Madrid Fusion Manila courtesy of La Espanola Olive Oil

Considered to be the oldest olive oil company in Spain, La Espanola prides itself for having the widest collection of olive oils in the market. 

As a health nut (or trying to be a health nut), I have always looked for ways to make the food that I eat tastier and healthier. One of these hacks is to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil for frying and as the perfect dressing for salads. I find that La Espanola has the bitter-sweet distinct taste that is not so common in other brands. 

What makes La Espanola Olive Oil healthy is the presence of polyphenols which contributes to the protection of blood lipids from oxidative stress; and oleic acids which contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. 

For Madrid Fusion Manila, La Espanola brought in Chef Xavier Btesh, the genius behind the kitchen of some of Manila’s hottest hotels and restaurants. A health aficionado, Chef Btesh showed clever ways to prepare a Medittarenean dish Tabouleh using San Remo Couscous, La Espanola Olive Oil and the choicest tomatoes, raisins and cucumber. As a fan of couscous, this was an immediate favorite. 

Chef Xavier Btesh shows how to make homemade healthy mayonnaise


Tabouleh


While the tried and tested way of preparing couscous is to soak it in hot water, Chef Btesh showed an alternative way using only olive oil and lemon juice. 


Next in line is Chef Btesh’ homemade Mayo using only mustard and olive oil while the finale was the Olive Oil infused vanilla ice cream which was a hit among the media and guests present during the demo. 

Using La Espanola olive oil made a lot of difference. For one, the flavors are more refreshing, heightening the freshness and taste of the individual ingredients. 


La Espanola shares the following tips on choosing your olive oil: 

  1. Always go Extra – extra virgin olive oils retain more polyphenol because they are mechanically extracted. 
  2. Olive oil bottles should be dark to shield the oil away from light and protect the special nutrients present in the olive oil 
  3. The best way to check the olive oil is to smell and taste it. 

    La Espanola Etra Virgin Olive Oil comes in three flavors, basil, garlic and lemon. Available in all supermarkets and groceries nationwide. 

    Sleep, Indulge and Discover: A weekend at Mt. Purro Nature Resort 

    There is a reason why the word, “toxic” exists and why it’s use to connote a punishing schedule, non-existent work life balance, less-than-ideal relationships and even a general outlook in life. 

    For some demented reason, my generation has made the word toxic like a badge of honor; to connote that you have so many things happening in your life and you can’t help but to be in the middle of it. 


    But what will you do when you are given the option to disconnect from it all. Will you take it? 

    This is the premise I had to face when I received the invitation to spend the weekend at Mt. Purro Nature Reserve, a promising new vacation resort hidden in the foothills of Mt. Purro in Antipolo, Rizal. 


    The 36-hectare family-owned forest resort boasts of well-maintained cabins, it’s very own swimming pool, forest trails where guests are encouraged to commune with nature, home-cooked meals lovingly prepared by the family matriarch , a mini zip line and other nature-based activities including an experiential encounter with the Dumagat community which calls Mt. Purro and the surrounding mountains home. 

    I will not lie. I was stuck with a very bad case of cabin fever when I first arrived. To put it bluntly, my too wired body was looking for something to do – there was no TV, or radio or even data connection so I can’t really tinker with my phone. With no other thing to do, I slept. And slept. And slept, giving me the best sleep that I had in a while. Maybe it’s the fact that nothing was screeching, ringing or even beeping to interrupt sleep; surrounded by the cool breeze, I was like a baby being lulled to sleep by the chirping of the birds and the soft swaying of the trees. When I woke up, it’s like six years of my punishing schedule was erased by a single nap. 

    While today’s wired world pushes vacation houses and resorts to have that wifi connection and have all the trappings of technology; Mt. Purro Nature Reserve prides itself of being off the grid. Disconnect to Connect, the resort’s founder and the family patriarch Toti Malvar proudly shared and espoused with glee. Vacations were supposed to be about moments and memories shared with friends and family: catch up with friends, talk to your loved ones, commune with Nature, and more importantly renew your relationship with God. 


    Sleep

    Mt. Purro Nature Reserve maintains an array of beautifully maintained cottages sprinkled along the vast property, which can accommodate from 6 to groups of 12 or more. 




    The cottages all have the comfort of spending your time in peace: soft mattresses, with pillows and sheets; two bathrooms, with one located inside one of the bedrooms and another on the living room area; the rooms have electric fans and doesn’t need air conditioning due to the open layout of the cottages with their large windows protected by netting to let the air in and keep the insects at bay. 

    Each cottage is large, with enough space to sprawl on the floor (if you want to), it also has a dedicated space for reading as the window doubles as a love seat-slash-sleeping area.


    Here’s what’s not available: there’s no TV, much less cable access. If you want to spend the week bingeing on your favorite shows, you have to download ahead and bring your laptop with you. Of course, there’s no WIFI and there’s no phone signal. If you are a SMART/TNT subscriber then you have a sliver of hope of even reaching the outside world; if you are on GLOBE, like I am, congratulations – you may now consider your phone as a very expensive paperweight or at most, a portable camera. 


    But let me tell you something – having no access to the wired world made me more appreciative of the peace and quiet that MPNR has to offer. I recommend you bring a good book to read, or start on that journal you were hoping to work on. Bottom line – there’s a lot to do even without technology. 
    We can’t deny it. While food at large hotels and resorts can be always sumptuous, however nothing beats a home cooked meal.
    MNPR offers home cooked meals lovingly prepared by the matriarch of the family, Ms. Baby Malvar lovingly referred to as “Loli” by her family and us too. 

    Relationship goals: Toti and Baby Malvar




     

    The mess hall, often referred to LOLI’s KITCHEN, serves meals for all those who stay at MPNR. Since cooking is not recommended during overnight stays, meals can be arranged at the mess hall where healthy and sumptuous meals are served. Loli sources her ingredients in the resort’s surrounding areas like the greens and fruits served in the buffet; otherwise, Loli plans her meal offerings from what’s available at Farmer’s Market in Cubao where she sources ingredients that are not available in the self sufficient community. 





    Both healthy and delicious – we indulged on the sumptuous spread prepared by Loli. As a testament on how fresh and how yummy the food were: I was tempted and finally tried eating variations of dishes that I always steered away from, like Pakó Salad, a mix of fresh pakó which a fern-like vegetable variety with onions and plump tomatoes; as well as Indonesian Talong Salad, which was a dish Loli learned from one of her travels.

    And oh, always try their coffee. It’s to die for. I was told that the beans were harvested from the surrounding mountains. 

    The meals, whether plated or from the buffet, can be arranged at the reception area when you arrive. Because the management is making sure that the cottages will continue to be clean and insect free, cooking is discouraged. You are allowed though to bring chips and snacks but full meals has to be ordered in-house. 

    Indulge 

    Other fun activities that you can do while at MPNR include: 


    Have a full body massage scheduled
    , you have the option of having your massage at their massage hut (P350) or at the comfort of your own room (P500). 

    Like all the grounds and kitchen staff, MPNR employs certified and trained therapists from the surrounding Dumagat community so by staying at the resort, you are not only enjoying yourself but also helping the Dumagats have a sustainable livelihood. 

    Take a trek at Kabunsuran Falls
    – a highlight of the trip for me. Though, be forewarned – the water pressure from the falls during summer is just so-so, and hardly impressive. You also need to prepare yourself for a very arduous trek going down (and then up) to see the falls. Note that Kabunsuran Falls is outside MPNR, however they always assign a guide when you do want to explore. Instead of opting to go there via a 30-minute walk from the resort, ride the trike (P40) the rest of the way and save the trekking for the dirt road leading to the falls – trust me, you will thank me for it. 


    While hiking at Kabunsuran Falls, I was reminded of the cheap iced buco of my childhood and was bemoaning of the fact that I can no longer buy it in Makati. Guess who we encountered on the trek back from the Falls: an iced buco vendor: 


    Take a trek around MPNR
    – now is your chance to recall high school biography and see if you can identify the many tree and plant species surrounding the resort as part of the nature reserve. You can opt for the services of an experienced guide when you book through the resort’s reception area. 



    Meet and Dine with the Dumagats
    – another trip highlight and cannot be missed. The Dumagats are the indigenous community that call Mt. Purro and the surrounding mountains home. For years, they have also helped Tito Toti and Loli as the couple worked tirelessly for nature conservation. 

    To help the Dumagats earn extra livelihood, they were invited by the Malvars to be part of the “back to basics” advocacy of MPNR by doing cooking demos with the guests. The Dumagats use bamboo as their means to cook rice and viands, and even demonstrates starting fire without using matches or lighters. They also make a mean version of sinigang na baboy, which was a sure hit to us the guests. 
    Aside from these, there is also a game room where guests can opt for a game of billiards, fooseball or table tennis. Please note that hourly charges apply. 

    For those who want to cool off, MPNR also maintains a swimming pool with a great view of the surrounding mountains and forests. Beside the pool is camp site for guests who opt to sleep on tents. 


    MPNR is a testament that like the Malvars, it is possible to have time to recharge and have fun while appreciating love nature. Honestly, after about 30 minutes of moping because i don’t have Internet or data connection, I decided to turn off my phone and in the process, forgot about it. I had so much fun just enjoying the surroundings and the company I keep. 
    That type of connection is something no wifi signal can give. 

    Interested to stay at MPNR? Contact them via their Facebook page: Mt. Purro Nature Reserve. The resort is still fixing it’s website so inquiries can be directed at the FB page. They strongly encourage visitors to reserve before going to the resort. 

    Disclaimer: 

    My stay at MPNR is upon invitation of the resort. The views and opinions indicated on this piece is mine alone. 

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