Posted in Events

PSID marks start of 50th Year with “Saturday Soirée”

Flowers has always been the easiest and cheapest way to liven up any room. Its pop of color can brighten up and bring joy any space. While you can always order flowers from the shop, there’s a certain joy and pride when you did the design yourself. 

My creation

I had a very pleasant weekend courtesy of a flower workshop offered by the Philippine School for Interior Design (PSID). As the premium design school in the Philippines, PSID has been producing some of the best interior designers of the country. Since 1968, the school has been the noteworthy name when it comes to interior design education. 

To mark the school’s 50th year, bloggers were given the opportunity to take a peek on the the usual day at PSID is like through “Saturday Soiree,” a delightful afternoon tea mixed with lessons in flower arrangement. Helming the class is well-respected and sought-after interior designer, Prof. Leo Almeria. Prof. Almeria is also an alumnus and a faculty at the PSID, who is also affiliated with Philippine Institute of Interior Designers, Asia Pacific Space Designer Association (APSDA) and the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI). He is also a principal of his own design firm (Leo Almeria Design Studio) and also a contributing writer and a published author. Prof. Almeria is sought after for his advises related to furniture/product design, visual merchandising, special settings and styling. 


In spite these notable achievements, Prof. Almeria remained humble and approachable, as manifested by the fun class we had with him. He encouraged everyone to approach flower design and arrangement with courage, highlighting that everyone has the talent and the skills to come out with a note-worthy design. True enough, soon – we were all snipping away branches and leaves and shaping through our own arrangements. 

A very classic, very Game-of-Thronish arrangement and my personal favorite out of all the demo projects shown by Prof. Almeria


The best classmate ever 🙂

Being able to experience first hand how it was like to be a student at PSID rekindled my dreams of studying at the school when I was younger. After my years as part of the press corps, I dreamed of studying interior design at PSID, but since I knew I couldn’t afford to study at that time, I decided to move to corporate and the rest is history. While I am happy with my career in PR, seeing how dynamic and how informative classes are at PSID made me remember one of my childhood dreams. 

As it celebrates its golden years, PSID had indeed come a long way as a small design school located in Makati. It is now the home and the proud source of some of the best interior designers in the Philippines. 

Posted in Eat!

Grilla: Pinoy Comfort Food Meant for Sharing 

The plates came out one at a time, usually steaming hot – the smell of familiar, comfort cooking wafting through the air. 

We were at Grilla Restaurant and Bar, a sprawling restaurant and bar serving delectable Pinoy dishes along the SM by the Bay strip within the MOA Complex. At Grilla, your pot of sinigang or sizzling plate of Sisig comes with the magnificent view of the famous Filipino sunset. 

We were first served Tokwa’t Manok (P155), which was their version of tokwa’t baboy. The chicken was supposed to offset the richness of the Pork and give a healthier version of this classic Pinoy pulutan and it was, indeed, good. The chicken was flavorful and tender and the tofu cubes were fried just right However, my coronary arteries were missing the sinfulness of the pork, so this one didn’t fly as much for me. 


Next, we were served the Crispy Chicharon Bacon (P185) which was a run-away hit to the people at the table. Imagine a wide cut of bacon, dressed and breaded then deep fried and served with vinegar as dipping sauce. Yum. 


The following came in quick succession: Beef Kansi (P325), which was a cross between sinigang and bulalo. Served steaming hot, with a soup pour-over, the soup was a nice combination of sour and spicy; the massive serving of Crispy Fish Trio (P450), deep-fried tilapia, bangus and hito served in a large plate; the Sisig Sampler (P320) which became my quick favorite and composed of Grilla’s famous pork Sisig, chicken Sisig and tofu-sigarilyas Sisig. 





If we thought that was the end of the feast we were mistaken. We were just about to attack the fish trio when the efficient servers brought out the Lechon Liempo Ala Cebu (P225) served with sinamak; and the Grilla original dish Grill-A-Palayok (P750), which is the restaurant’s version of a boullabaise – mussels, clams, maya-maya fillet, thinly sliced Beef and pork belly served steaming hot on very hot stones in a palayok. The broth was was made of ginger and lemon grass and reminds you of the kind of soup that warms not only the stomach but also the heart. It was so hearty and delicious. 


Not to be outdone is the final piece-de-resistance: “Pista Sa Nayon” – a collection of Crispy Pata, Sinampalukang Inihaw na Manok, Seafood Gising-Gising, Fried Okoy served with Steamed Rice. This one large serving is perfect for the family lunch and only costs P995. 

Capping off the delicious lunch was Halo-Halo Spring Roll (P165), Grilla’s take on the classic Filipino dessert served on deep fried spring rolls; and the Grilla Dessert Sampler


At the helm of Grilla is a group of friends with a passion for good food and an ambience that brings family and friends together. The interior inside the restaurant is distinctly Filipino, while service is quick and light. At the forefront during the launch is former PBA cater Ritchie Ticzon whose good looks continued to turn heads in spite the passing of time. 

Former cager turned restaurateur Ritchie Tucson with the rest of the Grilla team

Grilla is the kind of place where you often end up meeting with family and friends for a “salo-salo” – a gathering of good company while enjoying good food. The food servings are huge; served piping hot and evokes good ol’ Pinoy cooking. 

If you’re looking for a place to dine in within the usually chaotic MOA complex, give Grilla a try – it’s at the thick of the action but minus the chaos. 

Posted in Eat!

Skippy’s knows how it’s like to Party Down Under 

There’s hundreds of bars and restaurants in Metro Manila but how do you find one that’s so chill – without any air or pretense? 

Try going to Skippy’s Bar and Grill, conveniently located at the BGC Forum, right across the new MCDonald’s Cafe in BGC. They know how to unwind just right. 


I was fortunate to be one of the invited bloggers as the bar celebrated Aussie Day. Since the establishment was owned by a Filipino-Australian couple, the chill party vibe of the Land Down Under was alive and well. 

As I got older, I noticed that I started to shun bars and even restos where you had to put in an effort to feel welcome. You know, gotta have the flashy clothes and the swag, but none of that is needed when you’re at Skippy’s – just bring a healthy appetite and a very chill vibe and you’re all set for a fun evening. 

Let’s talk about the food: 

We began the evening with a good serving of Cajun Pizza, served on a round block of wood,  its melted gooey cheese complemented the generous toppings heaped piping hot: fat, juicy prawns, green and red bell pepper, Cajun sauce and tomatoes. Then we were served with Buffalo Wings topped with fries. The Wings were just right, a bit spicy for my liking but very soft and juicy. 

Cajun Pizza
Buffalo Wings with Fries


Then someone in the group had the brilliant idea of getting Skippy’s version of the good ‘ol Sisig. It. Was. Heavenly. Prolly one of the best sisigs in town. The combination of the meat and the selection of veggies was brilliant, with the meet having that melt-in-your-mouth, cheesy feel. I take sucky photos but I can assure you that the photo above will not do justice to the masterpiece that was Skippy’s Sisig. 


Beef Pot Pie
Crispy Pata

Salpicao

Then, the Beef Pot Pie I ordered finally came. I had high expectations but a bit disappointed on the heartiness and the size of the servings. Nonetheless, the come-off-the-bone goodness of the Crispy Pata and the garlicky-salty yumminess of Salpicao easily made up for my heartbreak over my Beef Pot Pie. 

From the bar: 


WaZZup Pilipinas founder Ross del Rosario and one huge cocktail

My drink of choice – Iced Tea

Skippy’s had a collection of local, international and artisanal/craft beer, as well as a long list of cocktails/mocktails – whatever floats your boat. 

The bar also also stocks wine and other hard drinks including Vodka, Tequila, Rhums, Whisky, Cognac and Brandy. For those looking for a long night of drinking with the barkada, a bucket of San Miguel Premium or Cervesa Negra is only PHP540, while a bucket of San Miguel Pale Pilsen is PHP480. 

The entertainment: 

There’s a band (so a lot of singing and dancing) on some nights; otherwise you can go for a game of pool in one of the pool tables inside. Dancing is heavily encouraged. 

The servers are friendly and efficient, though it can get a bit slow during busy nights. There’s a welcoming and happy atmosphere – people chat and often times spill outside, nursing a beer while chatting or just hanging out. 

Check out Skippy’s at The Forum, BGC. 
Disclosure: I was part of a blogger group treated by Skippy’s for a night of dining and drinking. Nonetheless, the views expressed in this article are entirely my own. 

Posted in i like, Popular Culture

Paper Junkie, Journal Love

People can be addicted to a lot of things: money, good make-up, nice clothes, living the high life, travel, smokes, drugs and sex. Me — my addiction is pinnacle geek girl — I am hopelessly, addicted to paper.

happy-valentines-day

My love affair with paper (notebooks, journals, drawing pad) began as a snot-nosed six year old. Usually depleting a month’s worth of pad paper in a matter of days because I can’t stop writing or drawing in them. Since I write quite heavily and forcefully on paper, my notebooks all bear the marks of previous day’s note like a forgotten fossil unearthed embedded in stone.

By the time I was twelve years old, I was already keeping journals. Back in the day, they come heavily-scented, with lock and key and usually in color pink. I would usually write my teenage angst and wrote laborious love letters to whoever was my object of affection at that time. I would detail perceived injustices, parental woes, dreams and wishes and pinings and drew whatever tickled my fancy back then. When I was in my 20s, I made the mistake of reading all of them (diary entries from the time I was in my early teens to right after college) and I immediately barfed on how clueless and how woefully romantic I was. I wanted to burn them lest I get famous and they come back to haunt me.

_aaa_calligraphie

Now in my 30s, I am happy to say that I have a really good collection of notebooks/journals – they range from Harry Potter journals from Universal Studios in Japan; a stitched-up notebook made from an old book by a street-side gypsy in Paris; to Calligraphy worksheets bought from a Paperia in Barcelona; to the ubiquitous Starbucks and Coffee Bean Christmas journals.

In between that are the many notebooks I collect, now gathering dust in my bed side table because it takes me a great effort to use them. In my paper-junkie mind, I wanted to use them for something great (like a travel notebook or bullet journaling) and not just as a mere notebook for mundane stuff like Comm Campaigns or work notes (for that purpose, I often use a Jordi Labanda/Milquerius wide-bodied, graph lined hard covered notebook).

_aaa_journalcbtl

In between the notebook hoarding, of course there’s the extensive pen collection: ball point pens, nib-point, calligraphy pens, brush pens, etc.

Some women love the smell of a newly-bought leather bag, me -I get a kick out of the smell of a newly-opened notebook and the sound of a pen scratching on paper.

_aaa_paperjunkie

Hopefully, one day, when I am already blessed with kids — I hope to have a little tyke who will share her mother’s love for paper and ink. Sure, everything is online now – but, tell me what can be more romantic than a wonderfully-written poem, it’s ink barely dry, on parchment? Or a great journal entry, detailing an adventurous travel, concealed in a leather-bound, well-worn, dog-eared journal?

 

Posted in Finance

“Now is the time to invest,” says Sun Life Asset Management as sales expand by 50% in 2016

Financial literacy is a topic that is very dear to my heart. As someone who didn’t know anything about savings and investing, I struggled early in life financially – not because I was wanting but because I was irresponsible.

When I was younger, I was one of the “one day millionaire” kids who go through hard-earned salary in a matter of days, spending it on shopping, food and my many juvenile hobbies that I always end up in the red days before the next payday.

_aaaa_financial-independence_

I spent my twenties subsisting paycheck-to-paycheck, not because I do not have enough in life, but because I was too irresponsible to fix my own finances. The sad thing is I am not alone. A recent study by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) showed that only 25% of Filipinos understand financial literacy.

“While the array of financial products available in Asia continues to grow rapidly, S&P’s FinLit Survey suggests that most consumers lack a general understanding of credit, compound interest and other key concepts,” the ratings firm noted. (SOURCE)

In a recent media briefing, leading Financial organization Sun Life Asset Management Company, Inc. shared the good news that the Philippine economy continues to grow strong. In a media statement, Sun Life Chief Investments Officer Michael Enriquez explained that with the increased consumer and government spending, the outlook remains fundamentally positive:“Remittances from overseas Filipino workers, the BPO industry, and the large number of Filipinos who are of working age are among the factors boosting our economy from the consumer’s end. On the other hand, the rise in government spending is bringing about more jobs and has also increased the demand for construction materials.”

Enriquez advised investors to stay the course, and even boost their investments. “With stock prices cheaper, it’s a good time to buy so they can enjoy the greater gains once the market goes up,” he said.

This is the best opportunity to invest in Mutual Funds, Enriquez advised.

_aaa_photocredit-to-sunlife-facebook-page
Photo credit: Sun Life Facebook page (here)

One way to take advantage of this scenario is by investing in mutual funds, such as the Sun Life Prosperity Funds managed by Sun Life Asset Management Company, Inc (SLAMCI). The Sun Life Prosperity Funds have been performing strongly amid the developments in the market. The Sun Life Prosperity Philippine Equity Fund, for instance, yielded a five-year return of 39% and a 10-year return of 119%; while Sun Life Prosperity Balanced Fund marked a 28% and 89% growth in the five and ten-year return respectively; and the Sun Life Prosperity Bond Fund lodged a 12% and 44% return for the same duration. The said figures are as of December 31, 2016.

“We’re delighted that our investors are reaping the rewards of their commitment to invest for the long-term, and we hope to see more Filipinos treading the same path so they too can experience financial security,” SLAMCI President Valerie Pama said.

As a leading financial organization, Sun Life espouses the importance of financial literacy among Filipinos. This is something that the company spends time and effort as part of its advocacy, Pama shares. To do this, the company conducts active engagement of new financial advisors and even rolls out free seminars on financial literacy that are open to the public.

I can relate. After my disastrous twenties, I finally settled into a more responsible financial outlook when I started my 30s. I began a triple bank account dividing my monthly salary, savings/emergency account and travel account. I started buying insurance – maintaining accounts on two different insurance companies. Two years ago, I discovered Mutual Funds and Sun Life and began my investment with just PHP5,000. I figured that all my hard work and all that overtime work will go to waste if I don’t start investing in my future. One day, my health will fail, I will retire but will still have a fairly-comfortable lifestyle, thanks to my savings and investments.

The recent pronouncement of SLAMCI gave me courage to be more bullish on my investments. My mutual fund with Sun Life still needs a lot to be desired and are on the very conservative side. The bullish approach and the positive economic outlook as announced by the company gave me the idea to shift the fund into a more risky approach across a ten-year period. Currently, I am still crunching numbers but hopes to achieve this dream within the year.

Considering the volatility of the economy and what ever may be happening in the world, I am comforted with the fact that SLAMCI continues to look out to its many customers. Their advocacy to financial literacy is slowly chipping away the notion that “investing is complicated.” With proper knowledge and research, and with a company you can depend on like Sun Life, a brighter tomorrow is possible.

Posted in Press Release

Baskin-Robbins lets you get lucky with a free scoop from January 22 to February 05 


I never thought I’d find more reasons to visit Baskin-Robbins, literally the only place in the world that can lift my mood from zero to a hundred. 

In celebration of Chinese New Year, Baskin-Robbins, the world’s most loved ice cream brand, lets you try your luck to enjoy an extra junior scoop of your favorite flavor for free! 

To get a free junior scoop, simply buy any of the participating Baskin-Robbins’ delicious treats and get a chance to crack open a fortune waffle for your free junior scoop. 

The Baskin-Robbins treats included in this promo are the Double Value Scoop, Sundae, Banana Royale, Banana Split and Milkshakes. This fun offer is ongoing from January 22, 2017 until February 5, 2017. 

Visit Baskin-Robbins shops at the Central Square, Bonifacio High Street, Uptown Place Mall, and SM Aura in Bonifacio Global City; Greenbelt 5 and Glorietta 5 in Makati; Fairview Terraces, Trinoma Mall, SM North (Main Building and The Block) in Quezon City; SM Southmall in Las Pinas; Solenad in Sta Rosa, Laguna; SM Dasmariñas in Cavite; and SM Pampanga. 

For more information, log on to http://www.baskinrobbins.ph or check out their social media accounts: facebook.com/baskinrobbinsph, Twitter, and Instagram @baskinrobbinsph.

Posted in Health, Uncategorized

The Fitness Diaries: Day One of Boxing – where I hardly floated, but looked like a bee

The Greatest of All Time, Muhammad Ali once said, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee…”

In my case, “it was floated pathetically like a bee…” THIS. BEE. 

jollibee12
The most famous bee in history – Photo not my property – credit to owner

Seriously speaking, I always knew that starting to get healthy is not a walk in the park. I have wasted a lot of years reveling in my sedentary lifestyle – too stressed, too busy and too broke to start a fitness regimen.

However, the bitter pill of being overweight is not something that can be ignored. Especially when I suffer from PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which was one of the off-shoots of being overweight. Other health issues are also mounting: Breathing became hard when doing physical activities, I easily get tired and my knees are killing me. I tended to dread Annual Physical Examinations because I always hear the same thing from my doctors – the blood sugar is elevated, there’s too many carbs in my body and yes, I need to lose weight if I wanted the PCOS to go away.

Further adding to misery is the hassle of buying clothes. My friends know that I can be really picky when it comes to the things I wear. I am all for style, but I also can’t resist a good bargain. Thing is, local brands tend to carry small sizes, you’re lucky if you can find an XL that fitted really well. Since my ass can rival that of the Kardashians’ – looking for jeans can be a hassle.

Let’s not even get started on the style. Even before, I noticed how local plus sized clothing can be frustrating for those who wanted a bit of style in their clothes. If it’s not the God-forsaken color-blocking pattern which can make anyone look like a glorified chess board, it’s a whole lot of animal patterns (cheetah, tiger, zebra, you name it!) I always end up buying from Marks & Spencer, Forever 21 and H&M who carries European sizes. For someone who doesn’t have a secret stash of unlimited cash somewhere, this is a big hassle and a pain in the pocket.

Lastly, being overweight, especially in the Philippines, is not exactly good to your self-esteem. People can be really cruel and insensitive. Classmates and colleagues from ten years back will not greet you hello, but the standard, “ay bakit ang taba mo na?! (why have you gotten fat?)”To some, to laugh about your expanding girth is not considered offensive but just “part of the joke,” a means to toy with you or simply part of the conversation.  If you’re heavier than the usual, you have to have guts of steel – not to digest the food you eat,  but basically to keep yourself sane from people who seemed to find offense in being heavy. You have to have a good comeback, a witty, sarcastic personality or be really funny to survive.

boxing

At the end of the day, it wasn’t the off-center jokes, the usually shopping bill that got to me. It was the need to get healthy. I became tired of being lazy – heavily dependent on the laptop and the smart phone, while Chromecasting my way to early death. I knew that if I wanted to see positive change in myself, I needed to start on the physical.

So, I enrolled into a boxing gym, started eating healthy (eschewing cake and pastries which was like death to me)  and started guzzling massive amounts of water.

First day at the boxing gym was tough. While I never entertained notions of going all “Girlfight” on my first day, I also didn’t anticipate that I’ll be the lamest person in attendance. I go to Empire Boxing Gym in Makati where they have good trainers and coaches, and maintained a “no-bully, no-judgement environment” but being around people who box like a long-lost Pacquiao sparring partner can be jarring. Especially if you’re that someone who looks like a munchkin armed with a borrowed boxing gloves.

However, what I lack in physical strength, I more than make up for in determination. I might be taking a long time finishing my reps, but I tell you – I will finish it. I may take a long time doing burpees – but I will finish it. I may look like I was punching on nothing but air – but I will throw my best straights and lefts, so help me God. Given that I was on my first day, I went home with all parts of my body screaming for mercy. And you know what? I cannot wait to go back.

I am also thankful for people who had my best interest at heart. A good doctor friend reached out to me and – via Facebook messenger – gave me tips on how I can lead a healthier lifestyle and do physical activities even when I am not going to the gym:

  • Keep hydrated and drink 8 glasses of water
  • Always eat a good, sizable breakfast but stay away from carbs during dinner
  • Choose fruits and vegetables as much as you can
  • As much as possible, and if you can, walk. Aim for 10,000 steps everyday
  • Don’t sit the whole day. If you are working, try to designate times when you are standing. I recently started doing this. After lunch, I work standing — I propped my laptop on an old box so my posture won’t suffer. Fidget as much as you can.

I know it’s tempting to revert to the old lifestyle – and honestly, I allow myself to be lazy during weekends. But at the end of the day, my determination and my will to live a longer life, a healthier life so I could enjoy the fruits of my labor secedes any lingering pangs of “wanting to just be lazy.”

I will never have the body I had when I was 23, but I can always have the better version of me.

Wish me luck on my wellness journey 🙂 I really needed it.