Saturday, December 26, 2015

Thank you to everyone who made me who I am today

This post is brought to you by SMART Communications.

This video made by SMART made me miss my Mama.

It's the song. A few weeks after Mama died, I was commuting to somewhere I don't remember when "Everything I Own" by Bread played on the radio. I love that song. The taxi driver sang along to the radio. I did, too. I like doing that. But when the lyrics went "Is there someone you know/ You're loving them so/ But taking them all for granted/ You may lose them them one day/ Someone takes them away/ And they don't hear the words you want to say," I started sobbing. The taxi driver was concerned and I told him Mama had just died and he nodded and said, "Kaya dapat lagi tayong nagpapasalamat sa mga taong nagmamahal sa atin talaga."

I never got to thank Mama. The biggest regret of my life. But I have heaven to look forward to, and there I will tell her all the words I want to say.

Meanwhile, here on earth, I'd like to thank those who have made my life so amazing.

First, to my husband, my dearest Vince. You have always always pushed me to be a better version of myself, to dream big, to work hard, to not get lazy, to not mind those who tried to pull me down, to focus, to be disciplined. And when I failed, you always caught me then pushed me back up again. Thank you for seeing in me what I don't see. In many ways, you are my mentor, the very best one, because you teach me everything! From understanding pop culture, history, current events, my many gadgets and apps haha, and the intricacies of writing and editing well all the way to the profound ways I can be a better person. Every day is a lesson of love and learning from you. Thank you!

Second, to my beautiful children, my darling Vito, Iñigo and Piero. I always thought the toughest part of my job as your mother is to teach you about life. In the 5 years I've had that honor, I've realized the toughest part is opening my eyes and heart to the lessons you teach me every day. How to be patient, how to be silly, how to be compassionate, how to forgive, how to be full of wonder, how to be humble, how to be fully alive, how to truly love. I struggle each day to be a better mommy because you deserve no less than the very best. Your patience with me is my inspiration. Thank you!

The light of my life! They teach me so much!

Third, to my family—the Ampers and the Saleses. Vince and I are, well, different from you but you all always accepted us and loved us. You supported us, our dreams and our lifestyles even when you didn't understand. Even though we mostly update each other through Facebook haha, you are always there. You teach us always about generosity of the spirit and the hugeness of hearts bonded together by blood. Thank you!

Fourth, to my friends. My family—because they know I can be obstinate—have long realized it is never a good idea to put me in my place, but you, my dearest friends of which there are few, have always bravely called me out when I'm being an asshole or just stupid. You encourage my dreams and you shoot down my fears. Yet you always show me respect and acceptance despite the many times I can be dumb and full of doubt. You've taught me about fierce loyalty. You inspire me all the time because of how amazing you all are with how you passionately pursue what you want—anything from the outfit you want and the career you desire to the life you want and be absolutely unapologetic about it. We're all so busy now and some of us live far far away but I love that we keep tabs on each other through Facebook, Instagram and emails because you value our friendship. Thank you!

Fifth, to my blog readers and all the friends I've made online. My life would not be this amazing now were it not for you. It's true. I don't know where I'd be now if not for blogging. You made it possible for me to spend every day with my family. Your support for my blogging, my projects, my workshops, my everything I do online is what feeds my family. To top it off, you email me all the time encouraging me to keep blogging, you share with me your life and your wisdom, you edit my grammar and spelling, and you tell me you love my little boys every day! You've taught me that friendship need not be a face-to-face thing. It can be made, forged and sustained virtually and yet be even more real than flesh-and-blood ties. Thank you!

This 2016, I'm going to be more appreciative. Like, if not verbally to their face at least through emails or when Facebook announces it's their birthday and I can expound more on the standard "Happy birthday!" greeting. I will really tell everyone who's made a difference in my life that what they do and how they live their life has made a monumental impact. That's the least I can do. I don't ever want to have unspoken gratitude as my regret ever again.

I also hope I've made a difference in your life, dear Loyal Readers. I've got quite a few plans up my sleeve for my blog this 2016. I want to use whatever influence I have to share with you what I've learned from my husband, my children, my families, my friends, my readers, my work, and my God. It's going to be an exciting year of learning for all of us! Stay tuned! Thanks!

For more on how SMART wants us to be teachers with the help of technology, visit

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Miss Universe candidates react to Miss Philippines win

Wow. That was so un-Miss Universe.

And that's why, Pia, you deserve that crown. I won't feel bad for Colombia anymore. After all, she will always have that moment naman daw.

Ibigay na nga! Pasko naman. World peace, diba?

Read about how Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach tells Entertainment Tonight about that "mean girls" scene. Love how she's so gracious about it! She even said she'll apologize to Miss Colombia one day!

Read about how Miss Universe judge and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton says that Miss Colombia did not deserve the title at all.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

My no-fail gift suggestions: books and stationery

As the Market Editor of BABY Magazine, I get to shop for a living. Well, window shop since I really don't buy anything, just borrow them for the magazine when I do photo shoots. Now, many of my blog readers know I dislike the physical activity of shopping (I like shopping online!) so while I enjoy my job, the window shopping part is my least favorite part. It's a good thing I only do that once every two months!

Anyway, I will confess that there's one part of the window shopping aspect that I really really really enjoy—when I visit the bookstores for books and other paper items. I always look forward to that! At my recent jaunt to National Book Store to pick books for the January-February issue of BABY Magazine (I looked for books that will inspire change), I found other fabulous things that I would love to find under my Christmas tree!

I already have the Kate Spade planners (I have three! Here's my review!) but I would love to get those gold paper clips!

I really don't have time for journalling but I want to believe these journals (Q&A A Day For Moms: A 5-Year Journal, and Do One Thing Every Day That Inspires You: A Creativity Journal by Robbie Rogge and Dian G. Smith) which require just short entries every day, won't be too time-consuming.

Those are my three-year-old son's hands, by the way!

I want All in Good Taste by Kate Spade and Love Style Life by Garance Doré! I snuck a peek at Love Style Life and it is a good read on personal style!

Oh these beautifully bound hardbound book collections!

I've not read Game of Thrones because I started on the HBO show first and my husband, who's read the books, fills me in anyway. But if they look this gorgeous, maybe I will read it!

I'd love all three of these books for my boys! I hate it that the children's section of bookstores these days are overrun by franchises. Disney. Pixar. Marvel. DC. Disney Junior. Nickelodeon. Cartoon Network. It's all Frozen, Batman, Avengers, Sofia the First, Toy Story, etc etc on the shelves! That's okay, okay? But where are the classics??? The myths, the poems, the bedtime stories, the fables, the fairy tales? I'm so happy I saw these at National Book Store!

There's more books and stationery to love at National Book Store! I've always believed that the bookstore is the one-stop shop for gifts. So shop shop shop!

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Monday, December 07, 2015

My skin is now better because of Flawless!

This post is brought to you by Flawless Face & Body Clinic.

I've been promising to review skincare products for a few months now, and I don't know if you've noticed but I have done no such thing. That's because my skin has broken out horribly. It started in July as a smattering of tiny white bumps on my cheeks. By September, they had exploded into angry red acne. I stopped using everything I was using, I went to a dermatologist, but no improvement happened at all.

Until Flawless offered to take of my skin!

Now I know celebrities trust Flawless, so that's a good thing, but many facial clinics also have rosters of stars anyway. What sold me on Flawless were two things: First, when I checked out their rates, the treatments are very affordable. There have been many times before that I'd go to a celebrity-endorsed skin clinic and then when it's time for my follow-up treatment, I decide not to go because I'll have to fork over thousands of pesos. Second, there's a Flawless clinic everywhere! That's happened to me before, when I need to go back for a skin check up, and I'm all ready to go and then the traffic defeats me, and I just decide to stay home. But now I have no excuse because I just walk to my Flawless clinic!

I started my acne treatment last month. Yes, it's only been three weeks but my skin has drastically improved! In fact, halos maiyak ako when the dermatologist told me, "Anak, sisiguraduhin ko na makinis ka na sa Pasko." It's only Dec 6 and I already know her promise will hold!

I'll do a proper review of my advanced acne facial and home treatment in separate posts. For now, I'm inviting everyone to take advantage of the amazing Flawless 7+7 Promo.

Flawless has 22 service combinations so you have lots to choose from. Book 7 sessions within the month of December and then you get an extra 7 sessions of other services for free!!! So, for example, me, I'll book 7 sessions of my advanced acne treatment facial, then I'll book my free whitening facials after so that all my dark pimple scars will lighten! Remember: this promo is until Dec 31, 2015, only so book na!

And another promo! Bring any soap—used or unused—and exchange it for a FREE Flawless whitening soap that has Kojic Acid, Salicylic Acid and papaya extract for its active ingredients. This promo is only for tomorrow so go to your bathroom now and ipagpalit na ang mga soaps mo for Flawless soaps! (see details here)

I just want to say I'm super happy with Flawless. I'm not flawless yet but my skin looks soooo much better! Thanks so much, Flawless!

To find out about more promos (and there's always one!), check out their website StayFlawless, like their Facebook page, and follow them on Instagram @myflawless.

Friday, December 04, 2015

My MANGO holiday wish list

This post is brought to you by MANGO.

It's December and on a rare date with my husband (with three small boys, it is very rare we go out just us two!), we strolled into the big MANGO, MANGO Man and MANGO Kids stores in Glorietta 2 and we had fun picking out stuff we want for Christmas! Check out our picks:

For the boys:
Star Wars shirts! With the vintage design! We haven't watched the new movie yet so we don't know if we'll like it so it's smart of MANGO Kids to get the design the parents will have an attachment to!

Avengers shirts! That red Iron Man shirt is going to be such a hit with my Iñigo, who loves Iron Man and wears only red!

Great cities shirts! Especially that London one since Vince and I had our honeymoon there. Sigh! Wish we could go back!

Thin sweaters. These will look so perfect on my handsome boys!

Button-down long-sleeved shirts! I like that they're soft shirts since my kids don't like scratchy material. Who does, right?

For Vince:
Soft suit jackets (P2,950). Vince likes the gray one. I'm not well versed when it comes to men's fashion so I didn't know there was such a thing as soft suit jackets. They're quite casual and yet throw them over shirt and jeans and your outfit isn't that casual anymore. What a revelation!  

Soft suit jacket (P5,950). I found this one a few racks away and liked it better. It's more expensive than the one Vince wants but I think it's because it's more tailored. It fits his slim frame much better.

Long-sleeved button-down shirts (P2,450). Oh, these are nice! And Vince always looks so dashing in this kind of shirt! Must get him the blue. Or the black. Or both! 

For me:
This sunny outfit! It's yellow shorts (P1,750) and a delicately embroidered blouse (P1,750). I was surprised to find these in the store, to be honest, because everything in MANGO now is their Fall/Winter Collection. So there's a lot of gray, navy, black. I saw that bright yellow and was drawn to its happy hue!

Faux leather jacket (P5,950 sale price). Because it's so frikkin' cool! I mean, look at me. My dorkiness faded and my coolness factor went waaaaay up! I need this in my life!

Taupe tote (P2,950). I love this so much! It has three compartments, and the middle one is zippered so I can keep my wallet and phone safely in there. The size is right, the weight is light, the material sturdy and easy to clean. Love it! 

If you're still shopping for a gift for yourself and your family, do drop by MANGO's many stores. I'm sure you'll find something you'll love, too! Happy shopping!

You can find MANGO stores nationwide. Check out this directory:

MANGO – Robinsons Ermita, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Power Plant Mall, Gateway, SM Mall Of Asia, Alabang Town Center, SM Megamall, SM Davao, SM Clark, Ayala Center Cebu, TriNoma, SM Cebu, Greenbelt 5, Eastwood, Marquee Mall, Newport, Abreeza Davao, Lucky Chinatown, Bonifacio High Street, Robinsons Magnolia, Centrio, Harbor Point, Glorietta 2, Ayala Fairview Terraces, SM BF Parañaque

MANGO MAN – Power Plant Mall, Alabang Town Center, Bonifacio High Street, Glorietta 2, SM Mall Of Asia, Ayala Center Cebu, Abreeza Davao

MANGO TOUCH – Robinsons Ermita, Power Plant Mall, Robinsons Magnolia, SM Megamall, SM Mall Of Asia

MANGO KIDS – SM Mall Of Asia, Ayala Center Cebu, SM BF Parañaque, TriNoma, Glorietta 2, Eastwood


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Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Review: Kate Spade 2016 Agenda plus how I use it

Today is the first of December and if you're looking for a planner to use for next year, let me review for you the Kate Spade 2016 agenda.

I bought mine from an Instagram seller back in September. It's the 17-month 2016 medium agenda so the planners starts in August. Why? I seriously don't know why but I'm guessing it's because school in the U.S. of A. starts in August (September?) so their year starts that month. Someone else told me fiscal years also start in August, September.

So anyway! The review!

The Kate Spade agenda comes in two sizes and four designs. Large and medium, and black-and-white stripes, gold polka dots, one in pale blue and one in green with the words "She is quick and curious and playful and strong," and a fun print. I wanted to get the striped one (I love stripes!) but the IG seller only had the polka-dots so that's what I bought!

Let's start with the cover. I like that it's hard-bound and can withstand the abuse of being used daily. I don't like that it gets so dirty, though. I wipe it down every day and it still gets these weird stains. Maybe Kate Spade should laminate their covers. I mean, I don't want to cover it in plastic!!!

Inside, the polka-dot agenda has a pale pink IFC and IBC (that's inside front cover and inside back cover). On the IFC is the owner's information. Don't mind the washi tape—I made a mistake with my phone number so I had to cover it. The first "page" is a pocket folder. I put a small Moleskine notebook there for my extra notes, plus other stuff like stickers, receipts and raffle stubs. The IBC is empty so I wrote a reminder on it.

The first real page is just a blank space so I taped a passion card from Chasing Dreams. I love Rhiza Oyos's passion cards! Her shop is closed for now, though.

It's not just passion cards I post in my agenda, I also tape photos between each month! Hi, Vito!

There's the calendars and special dates for 2016 and 2017...

The months are separated by polka-dotted pages, which you can easily find because of the laminated tabs.

I use my month spread for scheduling blog posts. This one's for December 2016 because my current December spread is soooo messy!

There are 15 pages for notes, which I find generous. Since I got this agenda in late September, I'm using the August and September pages for notes, too. See those tabs with pink washi tape? I use those now for notes on my blog projects and for BABY Magazine.

The agenda is a weekly layout. I didn't think this horizontal layout would work for me, to be honest. But I like that I can see my week in one spread. I also put my appointments here instead of in the month's spread. This way, I can see if my day is full. If I have many appointments in one day, that day fills up and there's no space (on the page and in my day!) for more things to do!

I used to have a daily planner, you see, and I fill up the whole page with To Do's and I get so exhausted! But with the Kate Spade's super limited space for each day, I can actually stop and say, "Okay, day is full. Move the rest to the other days!" This has given me so much freedom to breathe!

I've had my agenda for more than two months and so far, I am loving it. In fact, I have another one! It was given to me by my Skechers family as a birthday gift. Thanks so much, Skechers!
Pretty print of items like a typewriter and a landline!
Love the elegant gray IFC and IBC.

I use it as my journal. I tried a really blank notebook for journalling but again, the limitless space exhausts me. Having a small space forces me to just pick out the very best (or the very worst) that happened that day. Now journalling isn't so daunting!

I super love my Kate Spade 2016 agendas! It's simple, no frills, no nonsense. Classic and useful and pretty. It's not full of other people's quotes nor is it overly designed, you know, fraught with tips on how to lead my life, telling me why I'm not as successful or peaceful or mindful as I should be. I mean, life is stressful enough already! Don't lecture me na haha. I love that the Kate Spade agenda is not busy. The only busy one is me. It's just plain so I fill it up with stickers and colored pens and washi tape! So by it being a blank slate, I can be creative with it. Just the way I like it! I love it! I finally found the planner that works for me! 

If you also want a Kate Spade 2016 agenda, they are now available at National Book Store and Powerbooks. The large size is P2,399 and the medium one is P1,999. Funnily enough, the Kate Spade stores don't have them. I checked. Don't buy from (I looked) because the sellers charge double. Nyek.

How about you? What planner do you use and why?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gift idea from Fully Booked: Coloring books for grownups! (Plus, a giveaway!)


Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past year, you'd know that adult coloring books are a big thing now. Huge. Like, my Facebook feed is full of people showing off their coloring pages. 

I'm obsessed with the Japanese patterns book!

So I hitched a ride on the adult coloring books bandwagon and, well, it's been fun. I wouldn't say I was relaxed by it, which is the main reason why this trend exploded—it's supposed to relieve us grown-ups from stress as it is a calming activity. I tried it but I think it's an activity meant to be done when you're all alone. Or when you're with fellow grownups. No kids bumping your elbow and thus messing up your work. No kids yelling at you to "Use this purple pencil on that fish, Mama!" No kids trying to destroy your house and so you get up in a rush to rescue the TV and then when you come back to your coloring activity, you find that the baby has picked up an angry orange marker and slashed away at your meticulously colored page. 

Yes, it's definitely an activity with no kids involved!

Still, I've been able to do a few pages and I did enjoy it. See here:
Used my favorite colors—orange and pink—and then used gold and silver, too.
My son Vito helped me color these "rainbow umbrellas." That's what he calls them. 
I'm still doing the sky page while Vito does the hills page. That's what he calls them, too!

I have a few more coloring books that I got from Fully Booked. Lemme share them with you so you can see what fun they are!

Fully Booked has a lot of adult coloring books that will suit various personalities. Check these out and see which one fits yours:
For the animal lover.
For the fan of all things pretty.
For the woman who is intentional in everything she does.
For people who like repetition and symmetry.

I'm the last type. I like patterns. For me, patterns are soothing. My mommy life is chaotic enough already so the repetition and predictability of patterns calm me. 

If you'd also like to join the adult coloring book craze, Fully Booked has great news for you! They have a promo right now called "My Colorful Christmas Raffle." Fifty (yes, that's 50!) lucky shoppers will win colorful prizes this holiday season! Here's how:
  • The promo runs from November 15 to December 15 at all Fully Booked Metro Manila branches. Participating branches include: Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street, Fully Booked Alabang Town Center, Fully Booked Rockwell, Fully Booked Katipunan, Fully Booked SM Mall of Asia, Fully Booked SM Megamall, Fully Booked SM North EDSA, Fully Booked Trinoma, Fully Booked Greenhills, Fully Booked Greenbelt 5, Fully Booked Century City Mall, Fully Booked Eastwood Mall, Fully Booked Taft and Fully Booked Glorietta 3. 
  • Every P300 purchase on adult coloring books entitles the shopper one (1) raffle entry to join the My Colorful Christmas promo. Only single-receipt purchases are qualified to claim raffle entries. Receipts used for claiming raffle entries will be stamped in the back and any excess amount in the receipt will be considered void and cannot be used in the next redemption. 
  • Just show your original receipt/s to the Fully Booked Customer Service counter to verify the purchase and fill up the raffle entry/s. Drop completed entries in the designated My Colorful Christmas raffle drop box at the branch you’re in. Keep your raffle stubs safe as you’ll need this for claiming prizes. 
  • Fifty (50) winners will be drawn on Monday, December 21. Winners will be notified by registered email and other contact information provided in the entry. 
  • Prizes include a 10-piece coloring book set, coloring materials, Fully Booked gift certificates, and a 2016 Planner. 

So easy! Just buy coloring books worth at least P300, get a raffle ticket, and hope you win the fun prizes! 

But wait! Fully Booked sent me extra coloring books to give away to MY Loyal Readers! This is what I'm giving away:

It's so pretty! And you can win this book! All you have to do is leave a comment below completing this sentence: 

"My favorite color is __________ because __________."

That is all!!! I'll publish all the answers when contest ends so that no one copies or gets discouraged by the other answers, okay?

I'll pick five (5) of the best answers (my criteria—can be made me laugh, made me cry, made me think) on December 4! Then I'll announce the winners on my Facebook page. So I hope you like my Topaz Horizon page because you won't know you won unless you're a fan! Have fun! Good luck! Live colorfully!


1. Mary Louise Sanchez
2. Michelle Namilit
3. Ma. Cristina Marchan
4. Rhen E.
5. Lory Alba

Please send me a message on my Toapz Horizon Facebook page to claim your prize.

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