Wednesday, March 20, 2019

My favorite pink prettifying products

As I was washing my face last weekend, I noticed my bathroom counter and shelves had a dominant color scheme. Black. It was all black.

Hehe! With pink. There was a lot of pink, too. Kaya na-inspire ako to share with you a few (yes, just 10 out of many haha) of my pink prettifiers. Look at them!

Okay, I need to improve my flat lay skills.

From left, clockwise:
1. Simple Mama Pure Beauté Facial Wash in Rose
2. Girlstuff nail polish in Pretty in Pink
3. Solique by Girlstuff gel nail polish in Just a Fantasy
4. NYX Angel Veil primer
5. L'Oréal Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise mascara
6. L'Oréal Paris Infallible Lip Liner in Rose
7. Maybelline Super Stay Matte Ink in Lover
8. L'Oréal Paris Colour Riche Metal Addiction in Rose Champagne
9. Maybelline lipstick in Almond
10. In Her Element Petal Skin Toning Essence.

Let's start with the skin lovers...

Pure Beauté Facial Wash in Rose is a limited edition product so it's not available on the Simple Mama website. But I think if you send them a message, you can ask for them to make you one. I did and my request was granted. I was soooo happy, I cried! Why??? Okay, the start of summer 2018, I ran out of my usual trusted products so I started using the stuff in my blogger giveaway box. Big name products, too. My skin wasn't happy. I started breaking out again.

For Mother's Day, Simple Mama sent me their limited edition Rose Geranium line. By this time, I had stopped using anything on my face. But I still needed to wash my face, right, so I used this facial wash and only this facial wash for my skin care regimen. Plus sunscreen, of course. In 2 weeks, my skin cleared up and was rosy and glowy and just damn gorgeous! I was stunned! I can't live without this facial wash!!! It's the only facial wash I've been using since May last year. I'll do a more in-depth review next month. You deserve to know this amazing product! Meanwhile, you can browse the other Pure Beauté products in the Simple Mama shop.

In Her Element Petal Skin Toning Essence, P875, literally makes your skin feel like rose petals. I bought the rose products of In Her Element because of Pure Beauté. I figured if the rose facial wash is amazing then I'm hoarding every product that has roses in it!!! This has rose water and aloe vera as its major ingredients. Mamas, my skin after using this feels soooo nice. I keep touching my face because it's so soft and velvety! I use it twice a day, every day. Buy this!!!

NYX Angel Veil Skin Perfecting Primer is what I apply when I'm going to be out all day or if I'm going to an event or meeting and I'll be commuting. I don't use primer every day, just on those aforementioned days. Primer helps keep my makeup from sliding off my face, and since I'm very oily, this is necessary! I like Angel Veil because it's super light, feels like nothing, fills in pores and acne scars so I have a smooth surface, and leaves me matte. Oh, big plus: It doesn't make me break out!

Now let's check out my pink prettifiers for my puckers...

I have a LOT of lipsticks in all colors—from essentials like nude and red to wild ones like green and blue!— but these are the ones I wear nearly every day. They're all a wearable pink!

Well, I don't really wear this metallic lipstick every day. But I do love it because nearly all my lipsticks are matte and this adds a sheer metallic sheen on my lips that isn't wet like a gloss. I don't like moist mouths.

Here's a sample of what it looks like. The left is a swipe of my Maybelline Almond lipstick. The right is the sheer champagne lipstick. The middle is what it looks like together.

Lash Paradise is probably the best volumizing mascara I've ever tried. My oily skin loves it because it doesn't budge at all. It stays on your lashes all day long without smudging, smearing or flaking. Lashes stay thick and gorgeous! That said, it's extremely difficult to remove.

There's your sneak peek! I can do more thorough reviews if you like! But for now, just know that these are my reliables and my face is so happy I found these pink prettifiers!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Freelancers, professionals, small business owners: Let Taxumo manage your taxes!

I saw my photo on the Taxumo website. I didn't know it was there, dun sa may reviews section. And yes, it's a real review and a really positive one pa. Sobrang happy ako as a small business owner (writing services so freelance writer and editor, editorial consultant, PR consultant, and professional blogger). In the two years or so I've been using Taxumo, wala talaga akong problema sa kanila. And I'm even happier now because dumami na their scope of services. Kung before monthly percentage taxes lang and a bit of accounting, ngayon they are offering to file more tax forms and even take care of your business registration and renewal. And more!

For example, it's only March but I'm already done filing my 2018 income taxes. I AM DONE! No hassle, no lines, no stress. I practically didn't do anything except click, click, clicked and yet I feel so accomplished. Thanks, Taxumo!

If you're a business owner like me, a freelancer, a professional, a doctor, a blogger, please do check out Taxumo. And sign up (use my code: FRANCES)! You will love it! This is not a sponsored post but—full disclosure—I do get a little commission for every sign up (so use my code: FRANCES!). I'm just really happy with how Taxumo has helped me and I want you all to experience what I've experienced, too.

By the way, if you also want Taxumo to file your annual income taxes, today is the last day to reserve a slot. You also get a discount in filing your BIR Form 1701 but you have to reserve a slot TODAY. Good luck and enjoy!

Click here to pay your taxes easily: TAXUMO

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

10 tips on how to care for colored hair

It's been a month since I visited the salon for a much needed hair color. Before that, I've been dyeing my hair with boxed DIY color. I'm so busy now as a mommy of three, a business owner, a blogger, and now also an employee that it's difficult to find the time for a professional color job.

But I decided I needed to take care of myself more this year and one of the first things I did was book an appointment at Lifestyle Salon by Louis Phillip Kee. It's really different when your hair color is done at a salon!

Sorry for looking like a ghost! I don't wear makeup when I go to the salon!

Since I'm acutely aware that time is the one thing that I have so little of, I decided not to do my usual vivid reds or blonde highlights. When you're a busy woman (mommy or not), choose colors that aren't so far from your real hair color. So I chose a rich brown which Louis then threaded with subtle red highlights.

Now, considering that I go to the salon just once a year for color, people always wonder how I keep my hair color looking good. And last loooooong, too. Here are my tips from more than 20 years of coloring my hair:

Good-bye, dull hair!

1. After coloring, wait 24 hours or longer before you wash hair. 
Let your mane absorb the new color fully. Water is color’s worst enemy so each shower means color down the drain. So try to wash your hair three times a week or every other day if you can’t resist. 

2. Use a shampoo designed specially for colored hair. 
Your hair has just been chemically processed so it needs extra pampering. Shampoo for color-treated hair has ingredients that are gentler on hair, that seal the cuticle (locking in color), add shine and protect hair from UV rays.

I've been using Beach Born Classy Not Brassy Purple Shampoo for a long time now. IT REALLY WORKS! I can't recommend it enough especially if you're blonde or a bright red. It keeps your color from fading. 

A good trim gets rid of dry ends.

3. Avoid clarifying and dandruff shampoos. 
These products are great for cleaning hair of oils, dirt, and build-up (hair spray, gels, mousse). However, they also strip away color. 

4. Wash hair with cold water. 
Hot water dries out hair and your newly colored strands are already parched. Plus, hot water opens up the hair cuticle and color leaches out faster.

5. Nourish with a conditioner. 
Colored hair becomes dry hair because of the chemicals. Bring back moisture and your mane’s health with a repairing conditioner. I use Beach Born Classy Not Brassy Purple Conditioner. Another hair product I can't live without!

Just a dark brown with red highlights throughout

6. Treat your hair to an intense treatment. 
Louis says, “Studies have proven hair color does damage your hair but not to an extreme extent unless you use it monthly for years upon years. Almost all dyes have chemicals in varying levels.” To repair damaged hair, use a hair mask every week or twice a month. I try different products but right now I'm using Human Nature Natural Hair Revival Coco Mask. My hair doesn't look or feel damaged as a result.

7. Avoid the sun. 
Sun is a natural bleach so prolonged exposure will change your new color. It will also dry out your locks further. If you must be outside, wear a hat or wrap your hair in a scarf. 

8. No pool water and salt water. 
Chlorine can actually change your color, especially if you’ve gone blonde. Salt water dries out hair. So before dipping, wear a bathing cap. If that cramps your style, soak hair in non-chlorinated water first. Wet hair is saturated which means it won’t soak up the pool/seawater so much. 

Subtle but pretty!

9. Refresh color. 
Louis advises to drop by the salon for a quick touch up. “Every 4 to 5 weeks would be ideal as by then there will be evidently hair regrowth and time for retouch and refreshing the color.” On a budget like me? Use temporary at-home coloring spray for your roots. I use L'Oréal Paris Magic Retouch. It's super easy to use, stays on hair even through brushing, and even when I get sweaty. You just wash it off after.

10. Pamper professionally.
If you have the time and the money to get a root touch up at the salon, you might as well get a pampering treatment “Cellophane or Brazilian Keratin blowouts give vibrancy,” Louis adds.

There you go! My top 10 tips to care for colored hair! It's not that hard really. Just the right products and a little pamper time on weekends should be enough for us busy mamas.

*Photos courtesy of Louis Kee. Book a coloring appointment at Lifestyle Salon by Louis Phillip Kee. It's at the ground floor of Forbeswood Heights at BGC, Taguig. Almost across Mind Museum. Call 856-4848 or 856-3388.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Going strong

Guys, can I make sorta yabang? LOL

I'm emailing influencers and editors now, right, introducing myself and all. And some of them reply, "Aren't you TOPAZ HORIZON???" And when I giddily say, "YES!", they go sumtin' like dis:

1. "My MOM is such a fan!"

2. "You're one of the pioneer bloggers! And you're STILL AROUND! So galing!"

3. "Aren't you still blogging? It's been YEARS! Amazing your LONGEVITY in the business!"

4. "Wow, you're doing PR now. But you're still blogging? That's great! So many of your peers have RETIRED."

This is good. This is good. Riiiiight???

Wow. Thirteen years this May, folks. 13 YEARS. Thanks for sticking around, my dearest Loyal Readers. I so love you all!

P.S. That's a throwback photo of me blogging on my first ever netbook, an HP Mini. Best investment evaaaar!

P.P.S. Who are the bloggers who have retired??? Kaloka naman these kids!

Monday, February 18, 2019

Top 30 mommy bloggers in the Philippines ranked according to Facebook and Instagram followers

As a newly minted PR Manager, I now have to keep an eye on bloggers, vloggers and KOLs (that's key opinion leaders) a.k.a. influencers. I guess a lot of people roll their eyes at the job title "influencer" because that is an invented word as well as an invented career so the world had to invent the term KOL.

Anyway, I wanted to blog about the top mommy bloggers in the Philippines today because...

(a) Marketing and PR people research this topic all the time so I want this post to be on page 1 of Google search hehe. And also to help out my colleagues in the industry. Of course!

(b) I want to tell you, my dear Loyal Readers, that I'm not even on the Top 10 list! What! Please help me out by sharing my blog, FB page and IG with your friends and family!!! Thank you. Love you!

(c) I need to remind myself to prioritize blogging because it is more lucrative than ever and I'm being lazy lazy lazy.

There are hundreds of mom KOLs in the Philippines but most of them are celebrities who charge hundreds of thousands of pesos per mention. Most are only on Instagram, which means they can't explain a brand campaign or do a thorough product or service review. Also, branded posts on IG are not searchable on Google. Many mom KOLs don't have a Facebook page so they can't share a partner brand's FB links and therefore have a harder time making posts go viral. And lastly but most important of all, many mom KOLs don't have blogs!

So for this report, I picked mom bloggers who:
- regularly update their blogs
- have an Instagram account set to public, and
- have Facebook pages for their blogs.

These then make them very attractive to brands. I didn't check site stats because, honestly, some blogs get huge visits because ang galing lang nila mag-SEO pero walang saysay ang blogs nila. Meanwhile, some "small" blogs are very well written and influential. Some of the bloggers here are more known as beauty bloggers (Askmewhats and Misty Mom, for example) or as food/lifestyle bloggers (Frannywanny and Animetric), but as long as they blog about motherhood, they're considered a mom blogger.

Aaaaand now, without further ado, the Top 30 Mommy Bloggers in the Philippines!!! ranks 18.  

For brands, these are the bloggers you want to recruit to share your links and Facebook posts. Facebook is the home for viral content because everything is so easy to share on this platform.

Ranked according to Facebook page followers:

1. Pehpot Pineda of Mommy Pehpot - 154,781
2. Denise Rayala of Royal Domesticity - 126,163
3. Peachy Adarne of Mommy Peach - 19,691
4. Ginger Arboleda of Mommy Ginger - 16,982
5. Louise Fandiño Santos of Mommy Practicality - 14,914
6. Levy Martinez of Mommy Levy - 13,112
7. Michelle Ressa Aventajado of Momma ‘n Manila - 12,852
8. Jackie Go of Go, Jackie Go! - 11,761
9. Rowena Wendy Lei of Animetric's World - 11,661
10. Rochelle Rivera of Rochelle Rivera - 10,508

11. Istin Dizon Paigna of Rants & Raves of a Bum - 9,413
12. Shari Poquiz of The Misty Mom - 7,835
13. Mauie Flores of The 24 Hour Mommy - 7,754
14. Kath Rivera of Dear Kittie Kittie Kath - 7,046
15. Fleur Sombrero of Mommy Fleur - 5,951
16. Shen Cala-or of Shen's Addiction - 5,354
17. Glaiza Tominio of Moomy Musings - 5,340
18. Frances Sales of Topaz Horizon - 5,087
19. Michelle Lim of My Mom-Friday - 4,556
20. Michelle Estranero of RockstarMomma - 4,501

21. Nikki Tiu of Askmewhats - 4,217 
22. Frances Ang of Frannywanny - 3,848
23. Jen Maslang of Shop Girl Jen - 3,935
24. Mamanee San Luis of Mamanee's Nest - 3,651
25. Ava Zabat of Artsy Fartsy Ava - 3,405
26. Nish Dyosa of Dyosa the Momma - 3,007
27. Kimberley Reyes of Mom On Duty - 2,996
28. Richelle Molon of Morena Mom - 2,838
29. Teresa Dumadag of Hands-On Parenting While Earning - 2,400
30. Marie Bulatao of Mommy Unwired - 2,165 ranks at 14.

If you want your products styled, or your services, restaurant or vacation spot presented in a gorgeous format, or if you just want beautiful people to represent your brand, then IG KOLs are the best people to tap. As a bonus, here are the moms who actually have amazing blogs that can support those beautiful photos.

Ranked according to Instagram followers:

1. Shari Poquiz of The Misty Mom - 38.6K
2. Jackie Go of Go, Jackie Go! - 35.9K
3. Peachy Adarne of Mommy Peach - 35.7K
4. Ginger Arboleda of Mommy Ginger - 16.7K
5. Nikki Tiu of Askmewhats - 15.6K
6. Ava Zabat of Artsy Fartsy Ava - 14.1K
7. Pehpot Pineda of Mommy Pehpot - 12.9K
8. Levy Martinez of Mommy Levy - 10.5K
9. Michelle Ressa Aventajado of Momma ‘n Manila - 10.2K
10. Rowena Wendy Lei of Animetric's World - 10.2K

11. Nish Dyosa of Dyosa the Momma - 9.8K
12. Shen Cala-or of Shen's Addiction - 8.9K
13. Rochelle Rivera of Rochelle Rivera - 8K
14. Frances Sales of Topaz Horizon - 7.5K
15. Michelle Estranero of RockstarMomma - 6.9K
16. Kath Rivera of Dear Kittie Kittie Kath - 6.6K
17. Frances Ang of Frannywanny - 6K
18. Fleur Sombrero of Mommy Fleur - 5.9K
19. Michelle Lim of My Mom-Friday - 5.6K
20. Denise Rayala of Royal Domesticity - 4.7K

21. Louise Fandiño Santos of Mommy Practicality - 3.5K
22. Jen Maslang of Shop Girl Jen - 3.4K
23. Richelle Molon of Morena Mom - 2.2K
24. Glaiza Tominio of Moomy Musings - 2K
25. Istin Dizon Paigna of Rants & Raves of a Bum - 1.7K
26. Mamanee San Luis of Mamanee's Nest - 1.7K
27. Marie Bulatao of Mommy Unwired - 1.2K
28. Kimberley Reyes of Mom On Duty - 1K
29. Teresa Dumadag of Hands-On Parenting While Earning - 494
30. Mauie Flores of The 24 Hour Mommy - 474

Instagram is very volatile, though. You lose or gain followers by the dozens in a day! Crazy. I feel like IG fans are fickle and not loyal (for example, I unfollow accounts every day!). Also, if you're the type who posts sexy bikini shots, then your following is a lot of horny males, which is not the target market of mom brands. Plus, KOLs delete sponsored posts all the time especially if the brand art directs the photo (a.k.a. obvious ang product placement). Worst of all, the link is in bio. Who actually goes and taps the link in bio anyway? Even the "swipe up" option, I hardly ever swipe up. In my opinion, Instagram is not really a great place to put your money. But that's me and that's not my money so don't listen to me haha

Anyway, if you know a mommy blogger who needs exposure, kindly tell me about her so I can include her on this list. Remember: She has to regularly update her blog, have an Instagram account set to public, and have a Facebook page for her blog.

By the way, many of you may be wondering why some popular mom bloggers aren't on the list. That's because I checked many mom blogs and some don't do sponsored posts or they have reached mega celebrity status that they are just way too expensive. But if you think they should be on a top mommy bloggers in the Philippines list anyway—regardless whether they accept brand sponsorships or not, or simply because they have a huge following and therefore is a top blogger—tell me and I'll make another list!

As for me, my goal this 2019 is to increase my Facebook followers to 6K and my IG followers to 8K. Very humble goals. I believe in organic growth but I think I've reached critical mass. It's time to advertise. Hopefully, the next time I make a top mommy bloggers in the Philippines list like this, tumaas na po ang ranking ko haha

Help meeeeeee!!! Love you all!

Monday, February 11, 2019

Of boys and school buses, and my breaking heart

I know I've disappeared. I started this year with my L'Oréal contract ending and me with no other plans for anything else really. I wasn't worried. The past 7 years have been like that anyway—start with nothing and end with everything. But by mid-January, I had a chat with an old friend who has a boutique PR and events agency and before I knew it, I'm the new PR Manager of Paint It Red.

I have a very good feeling about this year and so I can't help but be excited for the new adventure I'm about to take. I'm back in the corporate world but with a very flexible schedule. How lucky am I? I'm very grateful.

And yet, in the last week before I started work, I picked up my kids from school as usual and cried. I was at the fetcher's waiting area, booking a Grab, fanning myself in the heat of the afternoon sun. As usual. From there, I can see the students walking down the long path from their classrooms to the gate. As always. I was watching out for my own in that long and unruly line of boys when I saw my kids and they saw me and their eyes lit up and in that moment, I felt it. The grief. It smashed into me and I was out of breath.

Because I'm employed now, I won't be able to fetch them from school anymore. I've never really liked that chore so I had always taken this for granted but at that moment, I knew with terrible clarity that I'm going to fucking miss this shit. And I cried with longing for the days that will be no more.

How many of us have the painful privilege of seeing a chapter closing?

So the last three weeks have been me and the boys going through sudden changes. I found a school bus. At first, we were all anxious. They've never been on a school bus. I rode it a few times with them to check the routes, the other passengers, how the driver drove. I gave them extra baon because now our daily after-school merienda won't happen anymore. I gave them so many instructions on being safe, being kind, and watching out for each other.

And then finally, it was time to let them go. The night before they had to go on their own, Iñigo stayed up late. "Iñigo, you have an early day tomorrow," I said. "Go to sleep na."

"I'll help you fix our baon and breakfast, Mama," he stalled.

So I let him help me. And then softly he said, "I'm going to miss you, Mama."

And I couldn't say anything because my throat had closed up. So I just hugged him and let his love wash through my breaking heart, grateful for the comfort my little boy gave me.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Shopee Payday Sale pala ngayon!!! Plus, the mostly geeky stuff I want to buy

It's Shopee Payday Sale today, mamas! And it's happening on January 15-17, 2019. That's 3 days of promos and sales! And yes, I may not be employed as of the moment but I soon will be so na-excite ako kasi by next month, I can be super excited every time the 15th rolls around. Yes, Shopee told me that every month na ang Payday Sale! Pero kahit next month pa ang sweldo ko, willing ako mag-shopping today!

Okay, first things first—what's in store for us shoppers:

*** Free shipping! Well, at least the site says free shipping today so kung ang pinagnanasaan mong items ay may katagang "ships overseas", i-check ngayon kung free ang shipping niya!

*** Super discounts! Up to 90% off across all categories!

*** More Flash Sale time slots! Usually kasi mga two times lang ang Flash Sale sa isang araw. But this Payday Sale will have more Flash Sales throughout the day!

*** There will be celebrity guest hosts on Shopee Quiz on Jan 15-17 at 9 pm! Tune in tonight and tomorrow night and on Thursday night! Baka mamigay ng mga bonggang discount codes!

*** Tomorrow, January 16, abangan ang Shopee Shake because there will be a bigger coin pool!

Ang saya-saya! Okay, I'm currently window-shopping and here's what I want so far:

It's 30% discount and free shipping! My new office is just 3 kilometers away but because of traffic, it takes 30-45 minutes to get there. Plus P315 Grab fare papunta pa lang yun. So I'm seriously considering getting a scooter or a bike. I just dunno if that's a good idea, safety-wise.

Eto walang discount but meron namang vouchers and free shipping again. I don't really know the difference of this scooter vs the previous one but it is a couple thousand cheaper so I'm definitely interested. I need to do some research!

No discounts or free shipping, though. But it's a bike and maybe that's safer than a scooter? What do you think?

File Drawers, P1,645
No discount but I can use vouchers upon checkout. Also it's free shipping from abroad! Like I said, this is the perfect time to shop for stuff overseas! Anyway, I super need organizers. My husband and I have been KonMari-ing all throughout January and we're not the sort of people who will get rid of books and papers so we need a LOT of organizers for our files. 
Aaaaand this is for the kids! They have so many drawings and test papers and art supplies that we really need to corral them all together. Plus, it's on wheels. I can totally see my bunso pulling this with him from room to room (he follows me around). It's not on sale, though. Still, I'm very happy I found this on Shopee! 

Wala lang. I've always loved coloring my hair but the wildest I've gone is a vivid red. This collection of hair dye mascaras (at just P54 each) is a fun way to experiment with colors and see if pink and purple will look good on me before I commit!

Okay, now that you know that today is the Shopee Payday Sale and what's on my wishlist/shopping cart, mag-Shopee-ing na rin kayo! 

Visit the Shopee website:
Download the Shopee app on iOS and Android!
Like the Shopee FB Page:!
Follow the Shopee Instagram account:!
Follow the Shopee Twitter account:!
*This post is brought to you by Shopee.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Looking for a condo? Check out the Camella CoHo lifestyle

One of the places my family and I love to visit is the All Home complex along Libis in Quezon City. We don't go there often since it is out of our way, but when we do, it's always such a happy place. Just look at these kids!

The Libis complex is a taste of the CoHo lifestyle. That's what Camella calls their new real estate phase of building Camella Condo Homes all over the country, with each development having its own commercial complex with lifestyle amenities its residents will love.

I know this because I got a big brochure (more like a magazine) and I got interested in investing in maybe a small condo unit in Tagaytay, a place we love. Actually, Vince and I were thinking of a house in Tagaytay but when I looked through the CoHo Lifestyle magazine, I remembered why I'm a city girl. I love living in a condo and having everything I want and need steps away from my door! Just read this:

"What is the CoHo Lifestyle? It means living just a few steps away from a luxury mall that offers global retail selections. It means having world-class cinemas as your home theater. It means having a beautiful coffee shop as an extension of your living and working space. It means having an innovative, fun and fresh supermarket as your pantry."

Sounds like the life I love!

The CoHo lifestyle means having a complete and affordable home store and a modern and convenient supermarket right outside my residence. Just look at the boys testing out chairs. We gave away our old chairs and now I'm thinking I need a new one for my work desk. (I can feel Vince rolling his eyes once he reads that sentence hehe.)

The CoHo lifestyle means having a wonderful café and pastry shop a few feet away from work-at-home me so I can always run down and out if I need a java jolt or just a change of scenery but without dealing with traffic.

Plus check out how gorgeous Coffee Project is!

Their cakes are a bit too rich, though. But that makes them go well with the coffee, I guess, so it's okay.

At Libis, the boys and I discovered that there's actually a showroom hidden way at the back of the second floor.


The boys were delighted at this new "playhouse" (and here's me yelling, "Don't run around! Don't break anything!").

The condo unit is quite small. Definitely not for a big family like mine. But my kumare, realtor Kabbie Alipio, said that it's perfect for OFWs saving up for a retirement home in the city, or for parents looking for a place for their college students to stay in, or for newlyweds or young professionals. All CoHo developments are near or are in urban areas all over the country, so they really are perfect for those who want to be in the center of it all. Like me!

I checked the Camella CoHo website and, depending on the property, meron naman daw units na 1-BR, 2-BR and 3-BR. Yun nga lang, the place I want — The Pine Suites at Tagaytay — only has 2 bedrooms in 48sqm. That's very cozy, but okay na for when we visit on weekends, diba?

What do you think? Have you seen any of the showrooms yet? Did any of you buy??? Vince and I are thinking of a home outside Manila but still in an urban setting since we like living in a city.

Anyway, something to think about this 2019! I have a good feeling about this year. May we all have a really great year!

Friday, January 11, 2019

My word for the year is cheerful. I'm going to be cheerful in 2019!

Yep, it's CHEERFUL. My word for the year is cheerful. It came to me on my birthday last November when I was thinking about my new year. "Lord," I prayed. "What do you want me to be this year? What should I do for You and my family and the people around me?" And this verse blossomed in my head:

"The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9: 6-7

So I was focusing on BOUNTIFUL, you know, because I want to be inundated with money, blessings, and lots of good things this 2019. I wanted to stop worrying. I believed if I just had more, I'd be less anxious. But I just kept gravitating towards CHEERFUL. Not even "cheerful giver." Just CHEERFUL. And I realized - BAM! - I was being convicted by the Holy Spirit because I've been so masungit and fearful and depressed the last few years!

I struggled with that word. I didn't like that word. It was too, I dunno... It doesn't sound like me. I have a big smile but I'm not a sunny person. Cheerful sounds like someone else. Cheerful sounds so immature and undignified. And then another verse came up a few weeks later:

"She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future." Proverbs 31:25

Okay. So God replied, "You can laugh and be dignified at the same time. Cheer up first and then watch Me make things happen."

Jelly Bean

And so I finally said yes. Yes, God, I'm going to be cheerful na! And if you read my 42nd birthday post, you can see that my attitude had already changed. I'm willing myself to be happier now, to just focus on the good—nope, not to ignore the bad but not to be blind to the goodness of life either. So there, mamas. Join me on my mission to be cheerful this year! That's my word and I'm going to obey and I'm going to be grateful and happy with what I have and what's to come. This time, I'm not going to be "I'll be happy when the world is finally a better place." This time, I'll be happy no matter what!

I will confess that I'm afraid I'll have a hard time sticking to this CHEERFUL word. Let me explain why.

In 2013, my word of the year was SIMPLICITY. I had just lost my dream job as a glamorous magazine editor and it was a blow to my ego. I prayed for a similar glamorous job but God impressed upon my heart to let that go. It was a time for diminishing, for becoming humble, for simplicity. Well, I tried but my blog picked up big time and it got to my head. I became even more mayabang than ever.

In 2014, my word was FAMILY. I was going to be a mommy of 3 boys this year! But I was also in the thick of my new career as a professional blogger. I wanted to work work work, especially since so many new bloggers were coming into the scene. But again God told me to focus on what matters: my family. So I said, "Okay!" But I didn't really obey. I said yes to so many projects this year—on top of my burgeoning blogger campaigns, I had my Manila Bulletin column, my articles, and Baby Magazine. Guess what happens when you disobey God? Bad stuff. Overwhelmed with work and three young children, I failed in everything I did! Even as a wife and mommy! I was finally humbled because I was so embarrassed by my failures.


In 2015, my word was COURAGE. It had to be. I needed courage to face a year where my career prospects were non-existent and so I had only my blog to rely on for our family's income. I wasn't a very good mommy nor was I a great wife. With three small kids, I was overwhelmed and exhausted and all of that frustration came out as rage. I just wanted to give up really. So I told myself I've always said courage was my biggest and best trait. And that year, courage to face another day after mistakes and failure is why I'm still here today, with my boys, still incredibly blessed. Courage and hope—these are the best things in life!

In 2016, my word was LOVE. With a toddler in his fiercest tantrum stage ever (his two older brothers never had tantrums like this last one) and then the elections where I got into terrible arguments with family and friends, you can bet love was a very hard word to embrace. To apply it in my life? That year, I felt it was impossible. I have never felt so much hate, anger, disillusion and fear in all my life. I guess that's why God impressed upon my heart for "love" to be my 2016 word, to prepare me for what's ahead. But did I love people? Nope. Not at all. I was a disgrace.

So in 2017 and 2018, I had no words. I was just too angry, disillusioned, upset and afraid. I was also aware that I haven't been living up to any of the words I've been supposedly using as the guide for my year. Obviously, this "word of the year" is nonsense for me. Or hopeless for me. But God worked on my heart and renewed my mind. I let go of a lot of anger and hate slowly. In its place, gratitude and hope and faith took over. I had to believe that the world is still a good place, for my children's sake! And I had to ask for forgiveness because I wasn't a very good person these past 2 years. I needed to work on myself and it's slowly happening. I think I'm a better person now.

And so here we are in 2019! I'm going to choose happiness this year. Not really positivity. I detest that word or attitude. It's come to mean ignoring the evil around us or refusing to acknowledge suffering (others' and our own) just to keep the peace. I will still fight for what's right. I will still use my anger for good change. I will still point out what's wrong and what's bad. I will never stop talking about problems - especially of women and mothers! - because we must never be blind or deaf or unfeeling for the sake of positivity. But I will also not allow the evil of the current times to dampen my spirits and affect my mental health. I'm going to have fortitude this year! I will draw on the joy and peace that passes all understanding to choose happiness this year... and hopefully for every single day of my life.

Baby Chicken

So here's to cheerfulness! Wish me luck! I'm such a grumpy person I don't know if I can do this haha And I wish you all the joy and happiness, too, my dear friends. God bless us all this 2019! Let us all laugh without fear of the future!'

P.S. Which of my happy boys look most like baby me??? That was a rare smile, I was told. Even as a child, I wasn't a cheerful one. We'll change that about me!

P.P.S. That's just chocolate on Vito's teeth. He has clean teeth - no cavities!!!

Monday, January 07, 2019

Backstreet Boys' song "No Place" brings up all sorts of love for mamas

If you grew up in the 90s like me, you're most likely a fan of the Backstreet Boys. If not, that's okay. You'll like this new song of theirs anyway, if you're a mommy like me, or if you want to have a family, or if you just want a home. Yes, dearest readers, Backstreet's back with "No Place" and it's bringing up all these warm and fuzzy feelings in my wife-and-mama heart.

Now, I haven't followed the BSB for a long while now. Like them, the past decade of my life has been focused on making a family, too. So it was a huge delight for me to see them all together, singing... and with their families! I can relate so much! The "No Place" single is from their new studio album, DNA, out on January 25. I already know this is my favorite song because of this video!

I love all the sneak peeks at their homes and family lives! I love going behind the scenes and tours of celebrity homes. It was sooo nice seeing their kitchens, for example haha

If I loved them before for being so hot, I love them even more now for being so much hotter! Devoted husbands and fathers are the sexiest men in the world, am I right???

Their kids are sooo adorable! And they're mini me's of their daddies, too! Especially the kids of Nick and AJ. I love looking at families. I'm one of those annoying people who go, "Wow, you look so alike!"

More than looking alike, it was also nice seeing the kids reflect their daddies, too. For example, Kevin's son who was singing and dancing to the song. That kid looks like a future entertainer! Or Brian's son who was playing the guitar with his dad. That boy looks like he'll be a teen heartthrob soon (if not already).

Don't you just love seeing the wives and kids being so alive and present? How they interact with each other—that's real. It almost feels like a home video. It feels so intimate. I love how Howie looks deep into his wife's eyes, or how AJ and his wife sing together, or how Kevin sings to his wife while they slow dance, or how Brian gives his wife a quick peck (such a married kiss haha).

You know what I love best about their song and video? It celebrates family. Family isn't something they left behind because they had to work. Family isn't holding them back. You know how people go, "I'd rather travel the world than have kids because kids will prevent me from doing what I want/seeing the world/go places/achieve greatness/etc"? I just want to say that traveling is so much better with your spouse because love makes the world more beautiful (no kidding!). And traveling with kids is so much more fun because you see the world through their eyes! And kids make every endeavour more meaningful! Making money and building dreams have a resonance it never had before when you're doing it for the loves of your life. At the end of the day, at the end of a trip, at the end of your life, there's still no place like home. You got that right, Backstreet Boys. Thank you for making what's so real and practical and ordinary so romantic and special.

Aaaaaaagh I'm such a fan! Please watch!!!