Thursday, November 23, 2017

Alternative Clutter-Free Christmas Cheer Ideas

Christmas time has come again and malls are getting really crowded and so are bazaars for some Christmas shopping. Most of the time, we find ourselves getting knick-knacks which end up unused even up to the end of next year. However, if you still want to give something, here are a few ideas to show that you care that will not end up catching dust or regifted like the fruitcake from last Christmas.

Homemade Food

I used to make these cookies and give them as gifts
If you're a whiz in the kitchen, use your kitchen skills to whip up something yummy. It doesn't have to be limited to just breads, cookies, and cakes. You can make granola and put them in tiny mason jars and give as gifts. Pasta sauces, hummus, dips, homemade butters and pates also make great gifts. I've just joined pinterest and there are so many food gift ideas. The nice thing about food gifts is that they can be shared, spreading the love and joy to more people.


If you're a makeup artist, you can offer your makeup service for your balikbayan tita spending the Holidays here in the Philippines when she attends her high school or college reunion. Not only will she look so gorgeous, but she will have a gift that won't take extra space in her luggage when she comes home. Pro photographers can also give their nieces and nephews a photo session or give their super close friend or relative's baby a newborn photoshoot (it's the perfect gift for the family too). You can offer also to teach your younger cousin a new skill or craft or how to master a dish. There are so many (non-material) ways to show you care.

Watch a show

Instead of toys which are only good for a few months before catching dust at the back of the toy closet, treat the kids to something new like watching shows based on their favorite cartoons and fairy tales. Ballet Manila would be having their world premiere of Snow White this weekend and will have shows running on November 25, November 26, December 2, and December 3 all at 6 pm. This will also feature familiar tunes with that feel-good reminiscing feeling adults and children will all like. You can check our their suprise performance at Glorietta in the video below for a preview.

Host/Organize a Meal

My fresh pasta will be part of an annual dinner with friends
I did say that this will take my entire morning and day so I had someone make the sauce
Sometimes, a quiet meal with a few close friends is what we need instead of a Christmas party with loud music and different versions of Despacito playing in the background where you could hardly hear each other. Gather a few of your friends and just have a quiet, intimate dinner where each of you bring a dish (you can even have a theme say Japanese, vegan/vegetarian, Asian, etc) instead of fighting for a seat at a mall restaurant. Come in comfy clothes, enjoy great food, fun stories, and have a merry time with less stress, gifts not necessary.

Spread Good Vibes

Extending Christmas cheer not just to humans but four-legged friends:
Feeding the stray kitties at BGC
Be the friend who is there to calm that friend of yours already stressed reviewing for a big exam. Feed a stray animal. Help someone cross the street or offer your seat at the bus or train. Drive for your friend who has a lot of errands and wouldn't want to commute from one location to the other with the rush hour. Not really a gift gift, but it spreads good cheer too.

Let's spend the Holidays worry-free, stress-free, and clutter free!

Image directory:

gift photo:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

No 'Poo Hair Care

My hair and scalp went haywire and this was due to an overabundance of chemical buildup on my scalp from chemical treatments, residues, as well as dirt and sweat. Aside from dry, parchy hair, my scalp was in an embarassing state of flaking and I would see some red, irritated patches. It would also itch and sometimes, I would see rough eczema patches on my left ear and my neck. I planned to color my hair for the Holidays but with my hair in this situation, hair color might make it worse. So just like being supersaturated with the toxicity of social media that we unfollow, my hair had to go on forced detox.

This detox didn't mean that I should stop washing my hair because that would be gross. So what to use to clean my hair? DIY 'poo-free shampoo, meaning a shampoo that's free of sulfates, silicones, and all these chemicals my hair is already quota na with. You can make your own shampoo with a few things. Some of them can even be found in your own kitchen such as apple cider vinegar, olive oil, VCO, water (distilled), baking soda, lemon juice, etc. As natural as it can get with ingredients that are easily pronounced and uncomplicated.

For my DIY chemical-free shampoo, I googled recipes with ingredients that are not hard to find. I found a recipe that uses castile soap. Since castile soap would be too harsh for my colored hair, I found another soap/shampoo base alternative - Coconut Oil soap, which I purchased from Naoe, a local online shop that sells raw materials to make your own DIY home and body care products. Coconut oil soap can both be used as soap/shower gel and shampoo. The ingredients for this soap base are just water, coconut oil, and vegetable glycerin.

Naoe essential oils  for my DIY products, prouldy local
To make my no 'poo shampoo smell better, I use essential oils, which made my hair product (and other things I can make on my own) smell better and more spa-like Even before essential oils became a thing, I've been using them just in my air purifier or burning them in my oil burner (I got one as a wedding favor from a wedding that I did many years ago). It was mostly for aromatherapy really but I didn't know these oils had awesome uses aside from smelling good. Naoe also has essential oils (starting at Php 180) but you can also purchase essential oils from Ilog Maria, which is also the same that they use to make their soaps.

DIY shower gel ingredients
The procedure to make this is simple. All I had to do was combine coconut oil soap base, almond oil (or jojoba oil) for moisture,  lemon EO, rosemary EO, and peppermint EO (peppermint feels so good and soothing on my scalp. Not to mention I smell like a Christmas candy cane after). Topped this with distilled water and gave it a good shake and I'm ready with my shampoo. I sometimes follow up with an ACV rinse (a 1:1 ratio of apple cider vinegar and distilled water) to balance the pH of my scalp. If there's no ACV, a squeeze of lemon or juice from two calamansi would do the trick just fine. I actually prefer the latter because the ACV smell still lingers even though very mildly.

We can purchase bottles to store our DIY care from Beabi, True Value, or The Oil Lifestyle. The Oil Lifestyle also has mini funnels (Php 18 for a pack of 2) if you would want to make small batches of these products. 

going hipster with pastel labels
A little over a week into this and I've noticed that my scalp does not itch even if I didn't wash it in the morning. There's no more eczema on my hairline and ear and the flakes slowly disappeared as the days went on. My hair doesn't have that gross "hasn't been washed" smell or feel. I do not itch after a workout, even a sweaty Corewell session. Also, less hairfall when I brush or blow dry my hair.

a literal I-woke-up-like-this look daily
There's one con to this DIY product though: How my hair feels. It may smell really great and my scalp and ears are so behaved but my hair was in a state of stickiness. I thought I totally murdered my hair at the expense of my scalp but when I googled about it, it was actually a period of my hair detoxing and going through a withdrawal phase from all the chemicals it has been used to -all the silicon coatings, the chemical buildup, and my scalp producing more sebum than it should thinking my hair is so dry. It does go away though.

To make me look less like Professor Snape, I periodically brush my hair to redistribute the oils so they don't get stuck at the roots. This made my hair look smoother and shinier instead of taong grasa waves. Blowdrying in a cool setting also helps it "set" better after a shower. If I still look horrible, I just tie my hair and no one notices my roots.

I didn't have that "detox" period on my skin though as my skin loved the DIY shower gel. It was great for a nighttime bath since I scented it with lavender, ylang ylang, and frankincense. My hair rebelled though when I used it as a shampoo but this is my chemical-dependent hair still undergoing a detox.

The fun part though was making other things from the raw materials. I made my own linen spray when I ran out of linen spray (a mix of witch hazel, lavender, and distilled water) which also served as a dusting spray and since these are so mild ingredients, I used them also to tame my greasy hair.

A DIY spray for home and even hair
I also noticed that my hands do not crack as much with these DIY home care products or do my nails break like crazy from harsh chemicals (I do wear gloves just in case). Since I have pets, I steer clear of EOs that are not good for pets and give a good rinsing on  surfaces and keep my materials away from them. I also make sure that I do not use phototoxic oils on surfaces that would be exposed to sunlight. Caution should always be exercised and if an oil is not safe due to allergies or whatever, it's best to stop using it.

I do would like to continue using DIY skin and home care, even the DIY shampoo. The shampoo though isn't for me to do so forever, but I can use it on the occasion that I would want to go on a detox. I can continue on using my DIY home care, knowing that linen and dusting sprays can cost so much money when I can make something on my own.  I should also remember to make small batches since these, being freshly made in my own kitchen usually do not last longer in storage than commercial products. I can try mixing different blends too, to match my mood. Any blends for me to try out?

Store Directory


Ilog Maria; 

available at Retail lab Glorietta and Ayala at the 30th and The Park, Shangri-La Plaza;;

The Oil Lifestyle;

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Back To School for Halloween

Even if I've been experimenting so much with special effects makeup in my makeup posts, I never really went to school for it, for the reason that it was more of something that I just want to do for myself and most of what I do is usually beauty and bridal. It was a very expensive course too to take on its own so I figured out I'd wait it out first and put my money on other things. However, when the time and opportunity came for me to attend a Basic Special Effects workshop at the Center for Aesthetic Studies last month, I decided to go and grab this time. Although I'm not doing makeup as much as I did before, I still couldn't say no to this seasonal skill. My heart, after all, beats for special effects.

Literally I stepped into this school 10 years ago when I first had my very basic makeup training. Right now, it's in a different location.

Back then, the Center for Aesthetic Studies (or CAS) used to be in Jupiter Street and I used to walk from de la Costa to Jupiter with my makeup bag to get to class. Now, it's located along Gamboa Street in Legaspi Village on the other side of Makati, a walking distance away from Greenbelt 1.

We now have director's chairs! I recall the time I would hoard monoblock chairs to stack them together so I have a relatively high chair.

BYS Philippines has a special FX line to cater to your Halloween looks
We just had to bring our brushes and some other tools which fit a way smaller and lighter makeup bag. Makeup products were provided by the school with their partner brand, BYS Cosmetics, even for their special effects line. Yes! BYS also has a special effects line now!

Thanks to my student/friend Moe who agreed to be my practice model for the day despite the fact he had little sleep the night before. This is his photo before the crazies happened.

We started out with an introduction to special effects. We would learn ageing, bruises, cuts, lacerations, and burns. Already with the outline and my heart was pumping like doing cardio. Making stuff like these is so much fun. Also, we would be doing the other end. If in beauty makeup we hide flaws, here, we enhance flaws and make flaws. It's like my mind did an inversion.

For every segment, there would be a demo. Here is Teacher Bo giving a demo on the model. He has worked in countless TV productions and horror films (including the iconic horror movie series Shake Rattle and Roll). He even has a page in IMDb! Yes, being the nerd that I am, I actually researched this.  Teacher Bo has been my forever teacher in CAS since he was my teacher in basic makeup before.

ageing using cream/powder shading, stippling, liquid latex, and white greasepaint.
One important tip I learned from him is less is more. It's better to layer on products and blend it evenly to make things look more realistic. This holds especially true in bruises where it's not supposed to be one mask of purple paint but there should be a gradation of colors and the skin underneath should show through. I also learned that it's not just showering a fake would with red makeup and fake blood. There's a bit of other colors thrown in as well. If you get a real bruise, take a good look at it and see the different colors.

Nose laceration created with scar wax
Scar wax was a tricky thing to work with especially with spirit gum. This gets really sticky sometimes.

In special effects, we use old brushes and paint brushes (yes, the ones we buy at National Bookstore). This also puts to good use our powder brushes and other brushes that have seen better days. The sponges we use in beauty makeup can still be put to good use. Just give them a good wash and use them to apply liquid latex or tear them to create texture. We can even use old mascara wands to create texture or brush color on brows and mustaches or so on.  This is a good take on upcycling and lessen the turnaround time for a lot of sponges and brushes to be thrown out. 

blisters and third-degree burn
I had the most fun in creating burns because it involves layering of products. If you are not that squeamish, you can search actual photos of burns and wounds to make your work more realistic. If you're like me who's a bit squeamish, just type "special fx burn makeup". The search engine will give you graphic images, but at least you know that these were made by other makeup artists using fx makeup and not medical cases, so less chances for the stomach to turn.

I must admit that doing special effects was longer than doing beauty makeup. I usually do like a full glam makeup in 20-30 minutes (excluding hair). However, for special effects, it usually takes me an hour or more. Sometimes it takes even two hours depending on the concept. I do love it still because of the challenge and also, each look has a story. Like for a burn, how did the character get burned? What kind of burn? Is it an acid burn like Harvey Dent in Batman or was he burned by an angry mob like Freddy Krueger? If it's a cut, what kind of a cut is it, who or what made it, and so on. There are different kinds of fake blood to use and I already wrote ways on how they are used.

Of course this would not be complete without a photo-op with my teacher!

He even gave tips on how we could fine-tune our skills and how to store products, like pre-prepped prosethetic gelatin. He also gave tips on special fx equipment shopping should we start building our kit, like what to look out for, what colors to buy, and so on.

If not doing special effects makeup for Halloween for movies/tv or for Halloween, there are ways where I can apply this:

Gorify a vintage-themed party with a sexy zombie pinup girl look.

  • Christmas parties. I know of some people who would extend Halloween gore to their themed Christmas parties. I once did a makeup on a friend who went for a drowned zombie look for her under-the-sea themed office Christmas Party. They had a standout zombie with the mermaids and fish.
  • Prenup shoot - Some couples get creative beyond the usual HH-WW photos by the beach or garden or the staple flower crown smiling photo with a flowy skirt. You can have a Doom, Call of Duty, Walking Dead, or Zombieland - themed prenup shoot. Get your entourage in the fun and transform them to zombies in a zombie apocalypse themed shoot. 
  • Recitals and performances - My brain has gone somersaults with conceptualizing a look with my friend Ronnie during his pole competition looks. Just in case he would have a zombie-themed competition look going, I am fully equipped. 
  • Plays  - doing special effects makeup for stage requires a bit more heavy hand and less blending so the look can be seen from afar. Last 2015, I did an ageing look on veteran actor Bembol Roco for his role in the play Arbol de Fuego. He had to look around 20 years older than his actual age.

This is a tad more crude and the lines less natural for stage purposes.

I have more special effects makeup looks on Instagram. You can search for them via the hashtag #bambidelacruzmakeup on IG. Have fun coz I did!

Image Directory

Center for Aesthetic Studies Facebook page (workshop poster and school demo photo)

Store Directory:

BYS Cosmetics /;

Center for Aesthetic Studies
Unit 103 1st Midland Condominium Gamboa St., Legaspi Village, Makati City ; 897-0383 / 897-0307 / 0917-8970383 / 0918-8970383 ; ; ;

Monday, October 23, 2017

Breakfast You Make While You Sleep

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you skip breakfast, you ruin your entire day. That's why my healthy, homemade breakfasts are a must for me and I wake up extra early to make them. But when I really have no time, overnight oats are my go-to breakfast on mornings when I'm in a rush. You just dunk the ingredients in a mason jar and place these in the ref and in the morning, you have a healthy, delicious meal waiting for you with minimal or no time to prepare.

This is practically one of the easiest breakfasts to make and there's no culinary skill required. I just need a mason jar, some basic kitchen equipment, and ingredients. I prefer using a wide-mouthed mason jar for this but a regular mason jar works as fine. Just be sure there's a cover.

For your basic ingredient formula you need:

1. Rolled oats. Not the instant one and not the steel-cut (that one you use for regular, slow-cooking oatmeal). Use old fashioned rolled oats. Have these with you because these are very versatile.
2. Milk - I use almond milk or soy milk for my milk but if you're not lactose intolerant like I am, then go ahead and use dairy milk. My ratio of rolled oats to milk is 1 part oats to 1 part and some more milk (like 1/3 cup oats to 1/3 cup plus a little less than 1/4 cup milk) , and you will see why.
3. Chia seeds - you can purchase chia seeds at a health food store like Healthy Options, S&R, or The Superfood Grocer. Chia seeds when soaked have this gelatinous coating that give the oats a nice, thick, creamy texture. That is why my ratio of milk is 1 part and then some more, so our chia has enough room to expand. I do this trial and error. If I see my oats look too thick and crowded, I just add a splash or two of liquid and give it a good stir and I'm good to go
4. Yogurt - Yogurt has all these yummy probiotics that are good for you. They also contribute to the creamy consistency. Use coconut yogurt if you're vegan. The best yogurt though to use for me is low fat Greek yogurt because of the protein content (for muscle!). There are also some recipes that use coconut milk or coconut cream instead of Greek Yogurt or a combination of both.

That's your base. Then you add in sweeteners, spices, toppings, or whatever. Sometimes, fruit is added already during the prep time. For the toppings, I usually place them before I eat them, especially nuts, so they stay crunchy. If I have time, I take photos and upload in Instagram.

Look online and there are so many recipes of overnight oats to choose from. Even restaurants and health food stores have their own versions

I have here in this post a few overnight oats recipes for you to try so you literally wake up to a yummy, effortless, and healthy breakfast every single day.

Banana Bread Oats

You can make your overnight oats as a snack.
If you want nuts, place them in a separate container.
This is like a warm hug to wake you up in the morning. Great for pre-workout energy food

You will need:
  • Banana
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon
  • a sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Almond milk/soy milk
  • maple syrup
  • sea salt
  • vanilla
  • rolled oats
  • yogurt.
  • Place the banana in a blender and blend with soymilk until you get a smooth consistency. Allow the froth to settle a bit.
  • In a mason jar, dunk the oats, chia, a sprinkle of nutmeg, cinnamon, and a pinch of sea salt. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
  • Dunk a big dollop of yogurt, a splash of vanilla, and drizzle with maple syrup. 
  • Add your banana milk. remember the ratio (1 part oats to 1 part and some more milk).
  • Mix the whole thing up. Close the mason jar and place this in the fridge. Go to bed.
  • In the morning, get your mason jar and give the contents a good stir. If it's a bit too thick, splash some almond milk until you reach a desired consistency. 
  • Top with some more sliced banana and pecans and cinnamon if you wish and eat with tea.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Oats

Chocolate. Peanut Butter. No explanation needed.

You will need:
  • Rolled Oats
  • Vanilla Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp Chia seeds
  • Almond milk/soy milk
  • vanilla
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • maple syrup or coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Mix the milk, peanut butter, syrup/sugar, and cocoa powder until you get a chocolate milk like consistency
  • In a mason jar, combine well the oats and chia seeds.
  • Pour in the chocolate milk and give it a good stir. sprinkle a bit of seasalt and add a splash of vanilla. Mix Well. Cover your jar and store in fridge. Go to bed and dream pleasant dreams.
  • Eat as is in the morning or top with desired toppings. I like using banana, nuts (cashews and walnuts), cacao nibs, flax, maca powder, and shredded coconut. 
  • Optional: before eating, I take out the contents out of the mason jar and pulse it on the food processor for like 20 seconds until I get a porridge like consistency, like champorado.

Good Morning, Sunshine

This one I added a bit of turmeric powder. Don't get scared. The flavor of turmeric blends well with cinnamon. It also has a lot of nutritional benefits and gives your breakfast a sunny yellow color.

You will need:
  • Rolled Oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Soy/Almond Milk
  • Cinnamon
  • Turmeric
  • Vanilla
  • Maple Syrup or coconut sugar
  • Yogurt
  • Dried Blueberries

Dunk them all  in a mason jar. Since this is the third recipe, you pretty much know the drill already.
In the morning, eat with nuts, bananas, mangoes, and cacao nibs. Add a dollop of coconut cream and a sprinkle of more coconut sugar for sweetness.

Ube Overnight Oats

Love local and lilac with this sweet treat
If you purchased a jar of ube jam from your recent Baguio trip, add a scoop of this to your oats for a pretty, lilac breakfast. If your ube is already sweet, you may skip the sweetener because that and the fruit is gonna make this breakfast so sweet. Since ube is like the new salted caramel or salted egg, I thought if I made ube waffles and ube pancakes, why not make ube overnight oats as well?

You will need:
  • Rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • Soy/Almond/Cashew milk
  • A scoop of ube jam
  • Coconut milk/Coconut cream

Place oats and chia in a mason jar and combine well. Add some coconut cream or coconut milk. Coconut cream makes it so much thicker and richer but milk will do fine. Add your ube jam and top with milk. Stir so the ube jam is well distributed onto the mixture. Alternatively, you can blend the ube and the milk in the blender for a more homogenous consistency of ube milk. Stir well and place in the fridge overnight. Top with fruits of the season. #Lovelocal with bananas, mangoes, cashews, and coconut flakes. For added sweetness, sprinkle with coconut sugar.

Have healthy, happy mornings with your overnight oats! Never skip breakfast and stay healthy!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Why I Put Myself in a No-Buy Makeup Challenge (and tips that can get you started too)

There comes a time when I asked myself if I really need that much makeup. Lately, I've been evaluating my rituals and observed that my routine has been simplified singificantly. I'm practically makeup-less most of the time since I spend most of my days teaching or practicing, and I really tend to sweat a lot. I used to surprise people when I appear without makeup. Now, people actually get surprised whenever I wear even just red lipstick.

Back then,  I kept justifying my makeup shopping as being a makeup artist, I need a whole lot because I work on different people with different looks and I need a separate stash for myself, one for clients, and one for practice sessions. Looking now at how my makeup collection has blown up to gigantic proportions that definitely needs intervention, I need to put myself in a makeup shopping ban, which I started at the beginning of the month. It's been a few weeks into this month and it has been quite liberating. Besides, even the busiest pro artists are also trimming down their kits.

Yes, there is such a thing as too much makeup
(Photo by Alfred Mendoza)
This No-Makeup Buying or Makeup Shopping Ban or No-Buy Ban has been going around for quite some time. Some girls I know are on that challenge (like for a year even) and there are some girls who even blogged about their own challenges to motivate them. There are those who even upped the challenge by including a Project Pan challenge, where they not only not buy new makeup but they have to empty out palettes or hit pan before buying anything new. The description of this ban is exactly what the name means: that I do not buy any makeup for a certain period of time (I'm doing a few months. I will see how my life fares after the first month. So far, I'm not foaming at the mouth yet). This, however does not include the makeup I buy for gifts to friends and loved ones or if I need to really replenish something (like I ran out of toner, sunblock, mascara, etc). This also does not include makeup that I receive as presents, presskits, or gifts (but before I get started, I will not ask for makeup as Christmas gift to go around this loophole).

I admit the first few days was hard especially when there are new collections coming out left and right just in time for the holidays. I actually thought that by the first week I might go into like a shocking withdrawal phase especially when I see all the reviews coming up. However, after getting over the first few days of withdrawal phase, I can now walk at the beauty section of the department store with a straight face and not even care or leave with a bag of purchases. I think back to what a blogger said after her challenge - that she ended up saving a lot of money. And more money in your bank account is a good thing, right?

So I thought as well, that while I'm in this no-buy challenge, I also learn to maximize what's in my current collection. I throw in a bit of a modified Project Pan challenge. This encourages me to appreciate what I have and challenges me to be more creative with my stuff - learn how to mix, be more resourceful and creative. Oooh now my mind can do somersaults - just like what I do in real life.

Now how did I survive the first month without foaming at the mouth or breaking into a hysteria everytime I'm in the beauty section of a deparment store? Here are tips that can work:

Empty out what you don't need

You might have had a clumpy mascara there in your kit, or lipsticks that have turned rancid. Throw out expired items and give away items that are still good but something you don't really need or like or probably just bought out of a whim.

Have a buddy

My friend Azaza is on a Project Pan challenge. She has a palette of the month where she uses to play around looks. Having a friend who's into this challenge or something similar gets you motivated. Instead of seeing this as a punishment, I'm seeing this as an opportunity to also get creative, exploring colors I don't usually use and looks to do because let's admit, we all have a go-to look.

Look for Dupes in Your Kit

Sometimes, when a collection comes up, they're actually just recycling old shades and repackaging them in new limited edition packaging. That super duper limited edition lipstick which costs like a week's worth of coffee may have a very similar shade that exists in your kit. Hey, when the color is on your lips, no one would know the brand.

Stop, Breathe, and Think

Sometimes when we buy, it's usually on an impulse. Think if you really need it or if you're just after the hype. Read reviews or watch vlogs first before buying, even super limited editions. If the product suddenly becomes out of stock because you didn't buy in a heartbeat, it's okay. You will survive without it. At least you are a few hundred (or thousand) bucks richer.

Have an encouraging goal

Think that for the money you save, you have money to for a trip or for a class you would want to take. I'm telling myself that the money I get to save can be used for future masterclasses, workshops, and teacher training programs. Education is an investment with no expiration date. Remember, you are not doing this to punish yourself.

Document your progress

It's like pole dancing where you take photos of your progress. If it helps to blog about it, then go. You can even blog together with your co-shopping ban buddy so you can monitor each other's progress. Post photos of the palettes you used that hit pan or the creative looks you come up with from the palettes. Sometimes when a goal is out there, people are more encouraged to stick to their goals because other people are watching.

Two weeks into this ban and so far I'm doing great. I'll let you know my progress. If you are in this no-shopping ban too, let me know your tips on how to get going on this challenge.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Boracay After 12 (Years)

I don't really get to travel much but when the opportunity beckoned once again, I was like omigod, can we go to Boracay again? The last time I was there was 2005 and I fell in love with it. Much has changed after twelve years from all the photos I see online and I wanted to go back once again.

When I said I shall be going back, I got asked a lot why I chose Boracay instead of Palawan, Siargao, etc. since Boracay has been so commercialized. I said why not? It has been so long and the last two times I was there (my first was in 2004) I had wonderful memories of the place. It was September anyway, so less of the LABORacay crowd or summer crowd that would cause the extreme introvert that I am to cower in fear. If it was really horrible as it is described now, then at least I can say for myself. If it gets rained on, at least it's still a beach trip, golden tan or no golden tan.

Back then, PAL would only fly from Manila to Kalibo so from the airport, we would board a van for a 2-hour road trip to Caticlan. PAL now flies straight to Caticlan so that shaves off  2 hours of travel. The Caticlan airport has really improved in their facilities with better lavatories, facilities, air conditioning, and stricter security. They also don't take you directly to the beach front anymore unlike before.  First, from the plane, you take a shuttle bus going to the old airport where you claim your baggage.  Then, depending on how much you want to spend and how adventurous you are, you can do like a worry-free transpo package to your hotel or take one trike that will take you a 10-minute ride to the Caticlan Jetty Port, take a ferry (or a pump boat) going to Boracay Island then another trike ride going to your hotel.  I prefer the ferry especially since I get super seasick and it's more roomy. Now depending where your hotel is, the trike ride from port to hotel varies. If your hotel is in station 3, then it takes a short while. But if your hotel is in station 1, maybe 30 minutes or so, depending on the traffic. The hotel was in station 1. The locals though were very nice and friendly and assured me that despite the slopes, our luggage at the back of the trike was still very much stable.

A view that's totally #nofilter and with lighting that's the best IG filter, ever.
A Boracay September low-peak season is pretty much perfect for the introverted person who wants quiet beaches. If you can spare a few VLs, best go there on weekdays as Stations 2 and 3 can get pretty much crowded on weekends. With regards to rains, it usually rains on early morning but the sun would be so generous enough and shine after. The waters aren't that icy cold. There seemed to be like built-in heaters in the ocean, even on 6 am. Contrary to popular belief, there are no green stuff on the ocean at this time. It's clear and gorgeous. Weeks before, we already checked weather forecasts and thankfully, there were no thunderstorms the time we were there. Thankfully, there are now movements and projects to clean up the beach so it still stays pristine white and the ocean water super clear.

"See the line where the sky meets the sea? It calls me."

The beauty of the place is that it has the perfect natural lighting with no need for Instagram filters. Most of my photos have no filter or photo editing done. The sand is powdery white and doesn't feel like granite when you walk barefoot but soft and pillowy. During low tide, the shore would be super wide (I would say, wider than EDSA) you can run from your beach bed to the water and you're done for the day's cardio. Whereas some people are annoyed at the existence of commercial areas and buildings, I welcome this commercialization as the perfect mix of urban city life and salty sea air for your dose of #vitaminSEA (think Hawaii or L.A. where a beach is just a tambling away and live your Sweet Valley High dreams of going to the beach every weekend or after school). For people who are more at home with cities and concrete, this is the perfect compromise. The best part I like at how urban this place is is the convenience at the event of an emergency.  If ever an accident would happen like allergy attack, asthma attack, or broken bone that may happen, or natural calamity, there is ample cellphone signal and a hospital to rush to. I swear if I were to be an island girl for the rest of my life and choose one island to live, this would be it.

The restaurants we love are still there. Manana is still there to serve yummy Mexican food and margarita in their gigantic glasses.

Mango Margarita virginized

Super yummy enchiladas
Jonah's Milkshakes is very near the hotel and still served their yummy milkshakes. This time, they have their own to-go paper cups for those sipping their drinks to-go instead of mineral water bottles (yay for less plastic). Tip too, if you have reusable stainless steel straws, please bring them with you in your checked-in luggage. Let's keep our oceans clean and be kind to the turtles by eliminating the use of plastic straws.

Jonah's Watermelon milkshake. Just watermelon and water.
No Sugar or milk. Super refreshing!
Straw from GozeroPH
Ti Braz Creperie and French Bistro has you covered with both sweet and savory crepes. On Tuesdays, their crepes are 50% off. So yummy! You can also order smoothie bowls by Fuel Bowls for your dose of raw fruit and superfood yumminess.

Did you know that I only got to see Real Coffee and Tea Cafe's Calamansi Muffins now? They are so good and are one of the most perfect breakfasts ever. So good with coffee. Real Coffee and Tea also does not use straws, helping eliminate more plastic waste. They also sell their muffins for Php350 a box of six pieces. Perfect for pasalubong.

The place has a breezy beach hut vibe where you can people watch while sipping your shake or coffee and eat some muffins.

Speaking of breakfast, I would have to say that the best place ever to have breakfast there (or any meal) is The Sunny Side Cafe located at Station 3 in Sands hotel. When you get there, the place is like morning every day with its sunny yellow and gray interiors I feel like singing Here Comes The Sun by The Beatles. So pretty!

You know how much I love real food made from scratch? This restaurant follows that principle. Everything is in-house: bread, ice cream, chorizo burger, bacon, patties, and pancakes, omigod their pancakes!

These are their ube and cereal milk pancakes. These are just so good and are a mixture of a lot of awesome sweet flavors in your mouth it will bring you happy tears. The Sunny Side also has airconditioning when you want to take a break from the heat and WiFi to Instagram all these food that's gorgeous as it is good enough to eat. I can probably eat all my meals there and then just run around the beach to burn all the calories off.

Familiar food joints like McDonald's, Starbucks, Shakey's and Jollibee were also seen in the island. I was also able to spot a few MiniStop branches and a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf by the main road. There was even a JT Manukan over there! I'm looking at the existence of these familiar food places as a plus for those travelling on a budget or with kids or yayas not really adventurous to try out food places or eat food very familiar with them. I know I remember when I was a kid I would crave for McDonald's everywhere we went.

Of course Boracay is more than just a strip of sea and sand. There are also activities to try like paddleboard and parasailing. I'm not much on the water sports since I really want the body and the brain to really chill during these four days and take a short break from training and working out and let some refined carbs in my system.  so pretty much I sunned out, happy swam, ate food (all the happy carbs!), and my workout was morning light yoga by the shore and walking along the beach.

I will be back, love. That's for sure

When the 2005 vacation ended, it was a bittersweet one. This one had me the same feeling that I didn't want to leave yet and four days felt really bitin. I know that I will be back once again. I actually liked and welcomed it being commercialized. I appreciate too also the fact that there are now efforts in maintaining the clean shores and water like clean-up runs and prohibiting of bringing back sand and corals back home. I really believe that this will be that perfect balance of island life and city life like I see in these shows like Sweet Valley High or 90210 where they take walks by the shores after a long day. If I get to go there even for work and some time on the sun, I will be happy. Maybe during low-peak season with not much people, yes?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Flights of Fancy: Ballet Manila's 22nd Season Lineup

Once upon my childhood dreams, I wanted to be a ballerina. Fast forward now, I live that dream through occasional ballet classes, somewhat ballet moves in pole dancing, practicing my point and splits, and watching a ballet show. Last year, I had the privilege to watch several ballet shows in Ballet Manila's 21st season, Revenge of the Classics, which takes a ballet company's growth up a notch by showcasing an entire season full of classics. This time, Ballet Manila's 22nd performance season, which they named Flights of Fantasy takes you up in the air with popular tales, a timeless classic, and ending the season with love songs that transcends time.

Ballet Manila brings the gift of dance to everyone, and not just the elite artsy crowd or the dance world. They curate shows that everyone sure would enjoy whether you're a ballet geek (I'm looking at one of my friends right now so to speak), a person who once had or maybe still has #dancerdreams, or the one the two previous drags along to watch a show. When I looked at the lineup of this season, I pretty much blocked like four Saturday nights of my life from this month to February.

The 22nd season opens with a story reminiscent of a classic Filipino folk tale. We all had to read it at one point in our class and there have been probably several movie and stage adaptations. I'm talking about Ibong Adarna.

For those who don't know the story, it is a tale of three princes in search of a magical bird whose song can cure their father. The two older brothers, who had some sort of attitude problems fail, but the youngest brother, who has a good heart, succeeds in capturing the very hard-to-get bird with a few tricks learned from a wise old man that he helped. Depending on the adaptation, the story ends with the father being well and the bird becoming an enchanted princess and marrying the youngest or the story continues with a love story somehow intertwined with that.

From a dance point of view, I'm pretty much excited with the choreography since this involves leaps and jumps and power moves which probably made every rehearsal day for the dancers a major leg day. I'm also wanting to know how this version of our high school Filipino literature assignment would unfold. Also featured in the production is Gia Macuja Atchinson as the singing voice of Ibong Adarna.

Swan Lake is the classic for this season, and also the first time for me to see it as a full-length ballet production. Swan Lake is familiar to most of us, even if we haven't watched it as a ballet. As kids, we probably watched animated versions of it, dialed down for younger audience, such as Swan Princess or Barbie Swan Lake. As adults, we have probably seen Black Swan with Natalie Portman and probably had a Halloween or Christmas Party photo wearing the Black Swan costume. There's also a Jim Carrey SNL spoof of that as well. The story features the original Lev Ivanov choreography with new costumes created by fashion designer Michael Miguel and live accompaniment from the ABS-CBN Philharmonic orchestra.

Last year during Christmas season, I enjoyed a fairy tale come to life in Cinderella featuring familiar songs from the Rodgers and Hammerstein version as well as the Disney version. A classic Disney princess comes to life in Snow White. This is the second full-length choreography of Lisa Macuja Elizalde and this is pretty much the show to bring every member of the family to. It's fun, heartwarming, and definitely one we need in life right now. Just like Cinderella, this story is very relateable and brings concepts from Disney and the classic fairy tale read to us from children's books.

The world needs love and so love and dance come together with the season ender Ballet &  Ballads, with classic and popular love songs interpreted through ballet. This would be happening in February 2018, just in time for Valentine's day. Date night for the ballet nerd and the signficant other perhaps?

I would be watching Ibong Adarna this weekend and pretty much I'm excited with the choreography, costumes, makeup, and how this story would be unfolding to us and which version the story would take. I'm looking forward to leaps and jumps and #splitgoals in life to work on my hanuman more.

Excited for this season, yet? Come watch a show and bring friends. All shows would be shown at the Aliw Theater in Pasay City. You can call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or visit for tickets.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

My Superfood Grocer Haul

Since I make my own food most of the time, I try to get the most out of what I eat. I let food be my medicine by eating good-quality food. I'm on the lookout for weekend markets that sell local produce at a fraction of the cost, bonus too for organic finds (I'm not super strict on the organic food, but I know and recognize that there are food that as much as possible we get organic such as greens, eggs, etc.). It makes meal prepping so much more fun because I'm working with a rainbow of high-quality ingredients.

I've been adding superfood to what I make.  Superfoods are food that will not turn me to a superhero but it is a fun (marketing) term used to describe food with health benefits that our body needs. I would like to think of it as getting nutrients from other food sources or to up the nutritional value of my food by sneaking in some other food sources. Popular superfood include chia seeds, quinoa, flax, etc. Since most superfoods are plant-based, it makes those with a plant-based diet or those with seafood allergy to still get nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids other than fish or seafood.

I already have food like chia seeds, flax, and quinoa in my stock so I thought I'd add more to my stash. Doing more research led me to the Superfood Grocer website, and I purchased a few products from their list which I would like to show you.

Superfood staples (L-R): Spirulina, Maca Power, Raw Cacao Nibs, and Chia Seeds

I purchased these items in separate days, since I purchased them through their dealer stores such as Rustan's Supermarket and The Green Company. For this time, I decided to go to the physical stores since I like seeing what I buy. Also, it's like making a little trip and discovering new places too where I can source out materials.

Chia Seeds, Php350 (1/2 lb)  and  Php625 (1 lb)
 I really use chia seeds  and they are practically in almost all of  my breakfasts. Chia contains fiber, protein, and omega-3. They are fun to work with. When you soak them, they form a jelly-like coating that thickens up smoothies.

Use chia seeds to make coconut-chia pudding. Just add some mangoes and you have a dessert that reminds you of a popular Thai dessert. Added to overnight oats, it gives you that thick, creamy consistency.  One bag of chia seeds last really long for me (unless you make chia pudding everytime), since a tablespoon is more than enough for topping for my granola or oatmeal already.

You can take a cue from my friend Jinky, where she placed chia seeds on her Bayani Brew drink. It adds an interesting texture and keeps you fuller so you don't go mindlessly snacking throughout the day.

Raw Cacao Nibs, Php 225 (1/2 lb) and Php 395 (1 lb)

Cacao nibs are quite interesting because they look and taste like dark chocolate. These bits that look (and taste) like chocolate-covered raisins contain magnesium and manganese as well as iron. They also contain antioxidants that the body needs to fight free radicals.

Mix these in oatmeal or your granola and yogurt or have a few when you're craving for chocolate. I purchased a small packet of cacao nibs from a different brand a while back, but they were a bit too nutty and bitter for me. This one, since they are coated with raw sugar are a bit yummier and sweeter. You can actually include them in homemade trail mixes you can take when you want a snack wherever.

Maca Power, Php 850 (1/2 lb), and Php 1,600 (1 lb)
I'm actually curious about Maca Power because it practically contains everything I needed in my life right now plus there were so much good reviews about it. Sleep is important. It's the body's natural way of repairing itself.  I've actually planned my day and my life that I should get proper amount of sleep every single day. Since working out is practically my job and my life right now, I need faster recovery so I don't run on empty batteries and an injured body. All you need is 1/2 teaspoon blended into your smoothies, juices, oatmeal, etc. It also doesn't interfere with the taste of my smoothies. Actually, with life so busy and running on instant and fast paced and all these Facebook statuses that I read of people running on coffee, 2 hours of sleep and ready to beast mode at work, we should have this all the time. It's been a week of taking my Maca Powder (I add it to my smoothies and oatmeal). I haven't had coffee the entire week and I have this steady energy like I supercharged my fire meridians. I don't have broken sleep (like being interrupted midway). My sleep is steady and I constantly wake up at 5:00 a.m. every single day. It's like being a car getting VIP tune-up service every single time.

Spirulina, Php 400 (1/4 lb), Php 700 (1/2 lb), and Php 1,300
What actually got me wanting to purchase a packet of spirulina was because it gives a pretty blue color for my smoothies and colored pasta. This spirulina however, is more a deep blue-green color rather than navy blue. However, even though it didn't color my pasta or smoothie to a blue color, it's still worth it to have some spirulina present. Spirulina in the highest known natural protein source.  It has the highest concentration of protein per gram compared to any food on the planet. Any food, yes, that includes protein from animal sources and the yucky monggo. It contains powerful antioxidants, aids in quick recovery and for breastfeeding mommies who are getting umay with eating 25,745 malunggay (moringa) leaves in all forms (including in yucky monggo soup). I have this in smoothies and smoothie bowls. I even made fresh pasta with spirulina.

I do have to warn you though, that spirulina, since it comes from algae, may have an initial fishy smell. However, those who tasted it says it tastes like seaweed or nori. I'm thinking of adding this to my vegan puttanesca sauce next time as an alternative for anchovies.

The Superfood Grocer website has the most complete listing of food we could include to stock up our pantries. I'm eyeing on the camu camu berry on my smoothie next time as well as chlorella. They also have starter packs for those who want to get started on including superfood in their system. The website has all their products but if you are like me and like looking at the actual product before buying, they also have partner stores listed in their site. The groceries though like Landmark, Rustan's, and Robinsons contain just the quinoa, chia seeds, flax, coconut sugar, and cacao nibs. For the maca power and spirulina, you may have to go to organic food stores. Next time, I shall try ordering online. If you're at a loss on how to incorporate them in food, the website also has (plant-based) recipes for you to try.

I've got so much ideas now on my smoothie bowls and juices and I always look forward to making breakfast and meals supercharged with superfood. If you have an idea, let me know how to use them.

Store Directory

The Superfood Grocer;;

The Green Company
San Juan: 17-D DPL Bldg, M. Paterno St., San Juan. (02) 5315201;
QC: 920 Banawe St. Brgy Manresa, QC (02) 3512982
Pasig: Ground Floor, Ace Plaza Hotel and Suites, United St. cor. Brixton St., Kapitolyo, Pasig (02) 9416165;

Friday, July 14, 2017

Gelish Dip: No-chip, High shine safe and fast nail color made affordable

We all love our gel manicure. For most of us, it stays put like an annoying suitor that will not let go even if nail regrowth is pretty obvious. I like the fact that as soon as the procedure is over, I'm super good to go, no need for "flyaway" nails like Edward Scissorhands in fear of smudging your freshly-painted nails. Gel polish is perfect for weddings when you are super busy the day before your wedding you need to do your nails like 2 days before and still have shiny, gorgeous nails on the big day. It's perfect when you travel so you have nice, Instagrammable-worthy nails perfect for your food photos and flatlays. No need to worry about chips at times like these.

I was invited to try Gelish's newest nail system - The Gelish Dip, a revolutionary acrylic powder nail system that allows you to get gel-like perfect nails without the need of a UV or LED lamp.

This service is faster and simpler than our usual gel polish - it takes just 20-30 minutes for both hands. That's half a lunchbreak so you have more time to eat or coffee or whatever.  Also, for those who do not prefer gel polish because of the cost, Gelish Dip is super affordable as it costs only half of what we would usually pay for a gel polish service - Php 450.00. This service also is gentle on the nails and does not strip the nail of its protective barrier - perfect for girls like me with thin nails.

The service is available at all Beauty and Butter shops (we currently have three here in Manila - SM Jazz, SM MOA, and SM Megamall).

Dip Powder in Scandalous

The difference from a traditional gel manicure and the Gelish Dip is that instead of bottles containing the nail polish in liquid form, the color actually comes in a jar in powder form, similar to caviar nails or glitter nails. There's so much colors and finishes to choose from (around 120!) so they've got you covered with all the colors of the rainbow and more.

Instead of a UV lamp, they have an activator, which cures the color.

The product is also safe for pregnant and breastfeeding mommies so no need to worry about getting your mani-pedi fix. If anyone is scared of cross-contamination from the dip powder, you would be glad to know that technicians really clean the nails of each individual client very well with properly sanitized materials (Beauty and Butter has their equipment in sealed packages before the nail technician uses them on the client, which the client has to sign first) before dipping your nail in the acrylic powder.

Choosing colors is hard!
Since it was my birthday when I had this service done, I chose something glittery gold, because what is life without glitter?

The glitter polish took two coats and I left with super sparkly nails level 100 which got me singing Beyonce's "One Night Only" in my mind. Glittery polishes look gorgeous in whatever angle and the colors come to life with the sparkle, even for me who wears short nails a lot. I just have to remind you that the glitter dip powders can get quite messy (just like working with glitter for any purpose) so have a scarf or towel ready to cover your dress or bag should you be going somewhere and not have glitters all over you. Check out how the nail tech magically transformed my glitter dip powder to a liquidy, glittery gold nail color.

Depending on your activities, the Gelish Dip promises up to 14 days of no-chip gorgeousness. If you're a bride, it's perfect for the wedding day and honeymoon travel photos. I'm thinking of gettting a holographic-looking one in the perfect occasion, say an event or if i'm travelling. Whaddya think?