Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Pollution spoiling your skin? Physiogel Daily Defence to the rescue!

This post is brought to you by Physiogel.

This weekend, I'm starting a new skincare regimen using Physiogel's Daily Defence range. I actually tried the products a couple of months ago but after a few days, habit took over and I reached for my usual Physiogel Calming Relief products. But because 2017 is going to be a lot different from 2016, I'm switching to Daily Defence. Here's why:

1. Thanks to Physiogel's Calming Relief line, my skin has already calmed down. Literally. Just look at what my skin looked like before using Physiogel! 
After 2 months' use, my skin calmed down and felt relief!

Scary. But now that my condition has improved, I can move to another skincare line. But Physiogel pa rin! Since my skin is now healthier and stronger, I need to protect it from the harsh environment. Hence, Daily Defense!

2. This coming year, I'll have two kids in big school and my plan is for them to get involved in lots of extra-curricular activities. Because they'll be in school and also because my youngest son has finally weaned (hooray!), I can now focus more on my work. Whatever it will be! That means I'm changing my safely-working-at-home lifestyle to one that's out and about. So working mama me needs extra protection from pollution, UV rays, and stress!  

3. Well, it's New Year's Eve this weekend and the pollution will be extra thick so what better time to start a skincare regimen that aims to defend skin from the environment, right?

So let's talk about environmental pollution. As a working woman in the city, I'm well aware that pollution posts high risks on our health—our lungs and our skin most especially. I breathe in the city air every day. I get exposed to skin-damaging UV rays even when I'm in the shade because the glass-and-concrete buildings and the pavement reflect the sun's harmful rays. Pollution brings with it dirt, irritants, germs. Add sticky, oily sweat and you've got a recipe for skin disaster. I should know because my skin is super oily and extra sensitive so I break out at the slightest excuse! 

I actually didn't know my skin was sensitive. Akala ko super pimply lang talaga ako. Yun pala I have sensitive skin that's highly allergic to practically everything! Dirt, dust, allergens, makeup, perfume, my own husband's stubble! My skin reacts immediately—redness, rashes, pimples. Ang arte!

Living and working in the city hasn't helped my skin either. Especially in a megacity like Manila. Megacities are urban areas with at least 10 million people. I learned this from Physiogel: 

"Air pollution in megacities can be up to 15 times higher across the globe than recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) air quality guidelines. When pollution comes into contact on the skin, the particles’ tiny size – which could be up to 20 times smaller than pores – allows them to infiltrate deeper layers of the epidermis. The breakdown of skin barrier functions at a cellular-level can make skin extra sensitive, and can cause skin irritation, dryness, dehydration, premature aging and dullness.

"Based on the 2016 report from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the worsening air quality in Metro Manila, 80% of the air pollution in the country is to be blamed on mobile sources such as vehicles, and 20% of pollutants from stationary sources such as buildings and factories."

Jon Lee, Head of Skin Health & Nutrition, GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Philippines, said, “We are talking to women who are driven by the megacity lifestyle. Studies have provided data linking the fast development of megacities like Metro Manila with the rapid increase in city pollution. And alongside that, the problem it brings to sensitive skin. It’s hard to escape pollution and other environmental aggressors, so it’s time to properly defend the skin.”

And here's where Physiogel Daily Defense comes in. 
Physiogel Daily Defence is a complete day-to-night facial skin regimen that promises to defend the skin against pollution and environmental irritants. How? Through a unique triple-action formula!
1. Physiogel BioMimic Technology® to repair and strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier
2. broad spectrum UV protection to help protect against harmful UV rays
3. Antioxidant Complex to neutralize free radicals caused by pollution and radiation

Physiogel picked new brand ambassadors for Daily Defense: Liz Uy, Fay Hokulani, and Martine Cajucom. I know Liz from my past life as a magazine editor and she's shot through the sartorial stratosphere as a celebrity stylist, fashion editorial consultant, and international street style star. Liz said,  “As I travel to different megacities around the globe, I used to never really care about city pollution – not until I started noticing the visible changes on my skin. Sun spots, skin dryness and sensitivity, and practically aging faster are the effects of urban-living.” 

Liz started using the entire Physiogel Daily Defense line: Start with the Physiogel Daily Defence Gentle Facial Cleanser, which effectively removes makeup, dirt and other impurities while respecting the skin’s moisture barrier then finish with Physiogel Daily Defence Replenishing Night Cream to strengthen and repair the skin's moisture barrier function while you sleep. In the morning, use Physiogel Daily Defence Protective Day Cream Light with SPF 15 (or Physiogel Daily Defence Protective Day Cream Rich with SPF 15 if you have extra dry and irritated skin).

After just two weeks, women who tried the Daily Defense regimen noticed visibly healthier skin! Liz said, "To all women living and enjoying the megacity lifestyle, and to those who will pursue this path in their careers, the best decision you can make for yourself is to carefully defend your skin. So go out there and let Physiogel Daily Defence take care of your skin.” 

Oooh! I totally believe Liz because I'm a Physiogel user! I can't wait to start using Daily Defense! I'll do a review at the end of January. Watch for it!

For more information, visit: http://www.physiogel.com/ph and their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/PhysiogelPH/.

Monday, December 26, 2016

A truly adorable Christmas story

For my sake, I'm sharing this absolutely adorable Christmas story that's gone viral, so I can always have it on my blog and I'll always watch it whenever I want to. But I'm also sharing it with you if you haven't seen it yet because, mommies, you have GOT to watch it! It's not accurate but it's still true. And hilarious! And soooo adorable.

Dearest mommies, the Christmas story according to kids:

So now my kids think that Mary was doing laundry when she got pregnant with the baby Jesus. Oh well! Be ready to explain a lot to your kids when you watch this with them. We had to talk about the whole Christmas story, like the real one in the Bible, after watching this, and my sons still insist they like the part of Mary doing laundry when she got the good news. So we're still talking about that. We all do agree on the last line of the video:

"The new baby is going to change the world."

Oh yes, yes He did. He changed mine and I hope He changes yours, my dear Loyal Readers. May you accept Jesus Christ in your weary, wonderful hearts and let Him lead you to a life of abundance, joy, and peace that passes all understanding.

From our family to yours, we wish you, "Merry Christmas!"

Saturday, December 24, 2016

My blessed blogger Christmas

At the National Book Store gift-shopping event. 
Just a quick little post to say thanks before we go off to see our loved ones!

My blogger life is a blessing. Because of National Book Store and Landers Superstore, may mga gifts na ako for everyone. Because of Tony Ahn, we have duck ham for Noche Buena. Because of Lady's Choice, meron na akong pang-macaroni salad. Because of Jolly, we have food. Period! Wala akong ginastos halos ngayong Pasko! I love my work! Dear God, thank you for what I do!

And no this isn't a sponsored post but I do live a sponsored life haha But joking aside, I'd like to thank a LOT of people for helping me and my family this 2016.

To the dearest brands who blessed me this year with campaigns, collaborations, and brand ambassadorships, thanks soooo much! Dear Jolly, Smart, Biogenic, Windows 10, Alaska Milk, Physiogel, Avon, Skechers, Flawless, Nutella, Mango, Glad Wrap, Belo Baby, Philips Avent, National Book Store, Elin.ph, Ariel, Landers Superstore, EverydayMe, Security Bank, Traveloka, Fern-C kidz, Vita Cubes, Adobomall, SM Home, Solane, Domex, Lady's Choice, McCormick, Pampers, and Heinz, you have blessed me and my family this year. Thank you!!!

To my amazing friends in digital PR and marketing agencies, thank you for all the work you send my way. Dearest Fuse, Red Events, FleishmanHillard, Fuentes, Huddle Room, Dominguez, Nuffnang, Gamechangers, Bridges, Creative Juice, and Icons, thank you for always including me in your campaigns. Thanks for taking care of bloggers and I hope you enjoyed working with me as much as I enjoyed working with you.

To my blogger friends who recommended me for campaigns, thank you for thinking of me. Nikki Tiu of Askmewhats, Rowena Lei of Animetric's World, and Monica Manzano of My Little Globetrotters, you just proved my sincere belief that a dog-eat-dog world is not how we should be. We should all help each other succeed!

To the lovely people who signed up for my blogging workshops, thanks so much! I was very encouraged by your enthusiasm and I also learned a lot from you. I'm planning more workshops in 2017 because you gave me a huge confidence boost. I hope you start blogging na and I also hope you apply all the tips and tricks I shared with you. I want you all to be HUGE influencers!

Last but definitely not the least, to all my dear Loyal Readers... THANK YOU. I've been blogging for 10 years and sometimes I get tired of it, especially when I'm punished by trolls (usually people I know haha) for putting myself out there. But thanks for sticking around. Thanks for all the kind words. Thanks for the grammar edits haha. Thanks for encouraging me when I'm feeling low and cheering for me when I'm about to do new stuff and even telling me off nicely when I'm all bitchy.

Pang-Manila Filmfest 2016 na ang speech ko! Hindi pwede pang-Oscars kasi 2 minutes lang ang allowed sa speeches ng mga winners. Medyo 20 minutes na ito haha

Oh my, what a year! And what a good year. And a bad year, too. This year wasn't a good one for a lot of people. I must confess that my relationships with my family and friends (well, come to think of it, they weren't really my friends) have suffered because of the ugly elections and the even uglier days that followed. But other than that little glitch, 2016 was actually a great year for me. My marriage, my wonderful little boys, and the friendships that do matter have kept me happy and full of hope for a better world. And it IS a good world filled with good people doing good things. I just thanked a lot of you good people for making my life good! And I hope to do the same for others—to be good and to do good. Thank you all and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Don't forget your toilet this Christmas!

This post is brought to you by Domex.

If you live in a house with three little boys, you'd know that the bathroom is a scary place. And if you live with that horror, you kinda get used to it hahaha. Joke joke. Our bathroom's fine! Maybe the grout needs more scrubbing (sigh) but at least the bathrooms are clean. Thanks to my husband and his favorite (as in he will never use anything else!) multi-purpose cleanser, Domex!

Despite the different bottle colors, the concentrate inside is the same color. Wala lang! Observation lang haha

Now, the holidays means we have to clean our home extra. Because visitors, you know! It's not just about presenting your house in the best way possible; it's really also about more people means more germs and you may like the people visiting your home but you definitely do not like the germs they bring. Yes, I said it. Our dearly beloved are full of germs!

So today, the day before Christmas Eve, make sure you give your bathrooms a thorough cleansing, and when all the family and friends leave, make sure you do another, even more thorough cleanup! My recommendation is Domex. I got extra new bottles of Domex (thanks, Domex, Unilever, Bridges PR, and Animetric's World!) when I went to their fun event a few weeks ago. It was a great lunch attended by lots of media and mommy bloggers.

The event was to raise awareness for World Toilet Day. Yes, such a day exists. It's even a United Nations initiative and you can't get more legit than having the United Nations declare a day of observance of the global sanitation crisis. It's their way of making people discuss toilet sanitation, admittedly a gross subject and not something people want to talk about. Not even me. But when I learned something very important about health at the Domex event, I was ready to talk about gross stuff on my working mama blog! 

At the World Toilet Day event, I learned this: "In the developing world, 443 million days of school are missed because of diseases caused by germs found in unsanitary toilets. That is equivalent to 1 month of school missed by every child in the Philippines." That's horrible! Our kids not only get sick, they also miss days of valuable education. As working moms, we are affected doubly because when our kids miss school, we also miss work. Not only do we have to worry about our poor babies, we also now worry because of work we have to leave behind. So this is an issue that should be of extra concern to us!   

Here's just three of the gross and dangerous germs lurking in our toilet:
1. Fungi, which causes skin diseases
2. Gram negative bacteria, which causes diarrhea
3. Myco bacteria, which is the cause of tuberculosis

In the last three years, Domex, with Philippine Public Health Association, Maxicare, and UNICEF, has been pushing the One Million Clean Toilets project, which aims to educate 1 million people on proper toilet sanitation. This year, Domex wants to address homemakers especially because we moms are the vanguards of our family's health. If we can keep our homes, especially our bathrooms, clean, and then teach our children (girls AND boys!) about cleanliness, then we're looking at an entire generation who will become health-conscious.

So, dear mommies, let's join the One Million Clean Toilets project! Say this:

"A toilet that smells nice and looks clean is NOT enough! It must be germ-free. I pledge to use Domex, a special cleanser that is 5x thicker than other bleach, lasts up to 7 flushes, can access hard-to-reach areas inside your toilet, thus thoroughly cleansing the bathroom and effectively killing nasty germs, bacteria and viruses."

Let our 2017 be much better and healthier! Let's keep our kids protected from germs by 

beginning proper cleanliness in our home. I already joined the #1MCleanToilets movement. Join, too, dear mommies! 

Like the Facebook page of Domex Philippines to know more! Then don't forget to make your toilet Domex-clean today! That's what I'm doing after publishing this. Happy Friday before the crazy holiday weekend, mommies!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Life as a working mom: Top tips to help you improve your juggling skills

I'm a working mama. I've always been career-driven so when I became a mother six years ago, a lot of changes and adjustments and soul-searching were done. I tried full-time work, I tried exclusive stay-at-home mommyhood, I tried part-time jobs and freelance work, and now that my youngest son has weaned (more on that soon!), I'm actively looking for a full-time job. I now know I'm so much more fulfilled when I'm working—with or without kids, whether I need to or not, and whatever the job may be. I just really like working!

More and more moms are working. Going to work every day gives you a sense of purpose, some time to be you, and of course financial independence. To stand on your own two feet financially is one of the most empowering joys in life and I believe every woman should have this. 

However, working and raising children can be a juggling act—and mothers get a lot of criticism for daring to be more than wives and mothers. How do you find time to do everything? Is it cruel to leave the kids in preschool or with a sitter? Is it ever possible to find a solution that benefits everyone? If you’re a working mom, here are top tips that I've used which will hopefully help you achieve the balance that works for you and your family.
My Baby Magazine job was perfect because we all worked from home and met at the office once a month!
1. Choose the right job.
If you already have a job that you love, you probably don’t want to give it up. If this is the case, there are alternatives to looking for a new job. You could ask your boss about reducing hours and working part-time. Or you may wish to consider working from home instead of spending every day at the office. More and more people work remotely, and this can help you to strike a balance between enjoying your work and being there to bring up your kids. When you work from home, you have more flexibility. You also save time on your commute, and you can adjust your working day around your parenting commitments. This is my life now! It's absolutely amazing, but I'm ready for something new now that the kids are more independent.

If you’re looking for a new position, try and opt for child-friendly options. You don’t have to change careers completely but look for ways of making your working week more flexible. I know a few moms who took a nursing job for newborns, for example. This actually pays really well! And they get to take care of cute babies, too. It's not exactly like a nanny job, it's more like an experienced mom helping out a new mom. If you love helping out people but working in someone else's home doesn’t suit you, consider other health care vacancies

2. Work near home.
With our terrible commute, people spend up to 6 hours in traffic. That's 6 hours you could've spent with the kids! So much time is wasted just being stuck in traffic and that makes us moms exhausted—physically, mentally and psychologically. So if your dream job is three cities away and your boss won't let you work remotely, you might consider looking for work nearer your home. 

That's my plan. I'm looking for jobs based in my residential community. I'm also considering jobs near my sons' school. It will definitely make it convenient for us because we can go to school together, go home together, and I'll be near in case of emergency.

3. Learn to say no.
When you’re single and you don't have children to rush back to after your working day, you may be more eager when it comes to taking on extra work or working overtime. Yes, do that while you can! But when you're a parent, you’ll quickly learn two things: Your time is precious and you can’t do everything. 

One of the best lessons you can learn is how to say no. You have to prioritize when you have children, and they always come first. Moms actually learn this quite fast because our lives will fall apart if we're not efficient, and ruthlessly so. So many people depend on us—and if you're a working mom, even more people count on you. We need to plan every minute of our day and if something—a project, a favor, work taken home, a night out yet again with co-workers—takes up too much of our time, it makes us less efficient. Worst of all, it takes us away from the most important people in our life. So say no. And don't feel guilty about it!

4. Make the most of your time.
Children grow up rapidly, and before you know it, years have passed, and they’re toddling off through the school gates. This is why working moms feel so much anguish about having a career. Now, I believe that the presence of both parents is vital in their children's lives, especially in the formative years. That's why my husband and I chose to work from home the last 5 years. But not all of us can work from home, so don't feel bad if you do work. Your job puts food in your kids' tummies, clothes on their back, and everything they need. That's a good thing! Be proud of it, mama!

As a working mom, you have limited time with your kids, so make sure you take advantage of every minute. Organize days out, or have fun together at home. I love going out on weekends with my kids—just a simple lunch out and a movie makes everyone happy. If my project allows it, I take my kids with me to work. 

Being stuck in traffic isn't so bad because I get to spend so much time with my kids!

Many of us are working moms trying to establish a balance between work and being a parent. It’s not easy to get it right, especially if you work full-time. However, there are ways of making life easier. Plan ahead, manage your time effectively, and try and come up with solutions that enable you to be more flexible at work. Learn to say no, and make the most of the time you have together as a family. 

Creating happy memories doesn't mean you have to be with your kids 24/7. In fact, I've found that when we spend too much time together, we get annoyed with each other. Just make sure you carve out special times with your kids and be truly present when you're together. Good luck, fellow working mamas! We can do this! 

Monday, December 19, 2016

How to transform your staff into a dream team

I've been thinking of my former editorial team recently because (1) I'm in the middle of being interviewed for some jobs and the topic of managing a team always comes up, so I've been asked about specific stories about my time as an editor-in-chief; and (2) my Facebook feed reminded me that this time 4 years ago was me saying good-bye to my OK! magazine team.

Boy, do I miss them! 

I miss them not because they were my friends (and yes, they are still), but mostly because I've had the immense luck of having had really talented and driven people on my staff. They were much better than I was, to be honest, and my only real skill was I knew how to manage them well and make a group of wildly different, stubborn, passionate, and amazing people work well as a team.

So for today's working woman post, let's talk about turning your staff into an A-team.

In business, there are generally two types of teams. There are those that are unbelievably productive and manage to rattle through projects and churn out new products at lightning pace (like my OK! staff!). And then there are those that are dysfunctional, don’t get things done, and generally cost a lot of money.

But crafting the perfect team is something that is tough to do. Each person might seem like a great addition individually, but once they join the team, they can suddenly become a liability.

So what are the keys to transforming your workers into the A-Team? Let’s take a look.

1. Team members should make decisions together.
The team leader will always make the final decision. That's a fact. But a leader who doesn't listen to her staff or makes decisions without taking her staff's needs, opinions or situations into consideration will face a mutiny sooner or later. 

One of the reasons why teams can become dysfunctional is that one person alone takes over the decision-making process. On one hand, other team members (usually the lazy ones) are happy to let one person take over the difficult task of making decisions allowing them extra time to relax, chill out and exonerate themselves from responsibility. On the other hand, when one person just decides on everything, it will deny other team members a voice and this will make the team less cohesive. 

Teams that don’t rely on the input and intelligence of all members often find that they don’t make the best decisions: many brains are almost always better than just one. For example, in OK! magazine, which was a Hollywood entertainment title, Twilight and Gossip Girl were huge hits. I don't know why. I like sci-fi, mystery, thrillers, crime, and adventure shows so I just couldn't understand the allure of Twilight and Gossip Girl. If I had made all the decisions, we'd never have featured Rob Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Ed Westwick, and the whole gang in our pages. So thank goodness I listened to my staff! Whenever we put those people or just even those words on our cover, sales skyrocketed. So listen to your team. They know better than you do sometimes! 

2. Communication needs to be respectful.
As employment law specialists will tell you, there are a lot of rules about how team members can interact with each other in the work environment. These rules are designed to protect individuals and companies from litigation. But all too often, communication is disrespectful or nonexistent, and teams quickly fall apart. If people are unable to express their feelings and opinions, they’ll stop feeling as if they have a stake in the success of the team. When this happens, some members will feel apathetic and not as interested in helping the team achieve its goals. 

I'm sad to say that this happened to us in OK!. When I became a mom for the first time, I was overwhelmed with new motherhood. I focused on my new role so completely that I forgot about my staff. I had mistakenly assumed that because they were so amazing, they can do everything on their own now with minimal supervision. My managing editor now suddenly was taking on my responsibilities and she was feeling the strain. Instead of talking to me, her resentment festered. Instead of me talking to her and to the team, I blissfully basked in my new job as a mommy. You know what happened next. A complete meltdown from my managing editor, who had always been my most trusted member of the team, and me feeling awful and ashamed that I had let them down. We sorted it out, but the damage was done and it took a while to fix things. That experience definitely made me realize that motherhood may be the most important job in the world but that doesn't mean I should forget that other people were counting on me, and in fact my team also sees me as their mother. Because we failed to communicate, I failed them.

Good teams spend time listening to the concerns of all people on the team, making sure that they ask questions and listen deeply to what is being said, rather than dismissing the comments of other team members without proper consideration. Always talk to your staff not just about the work itself, but also how they feel about being part of your team and how you can improve your relationship. If your staff knows they can talk to you anytime, they will give you their undying loyalty.

3. Team members understand goals.
Every team has to have a mission or purpose that each person is able to comprehend. All too often some team members are left in the dark with respect to what a particular team is trying to achieve. When this happens, they are just going through the motions, performing a process, and not really working towards anything greater than themselves. It’s important, therefore, that teams set clear expectations and that everybody is on the same page throughout a project. Shared goals create common purpose and ambition. 

With OK! magazine, we were obviously about reporting entertainment news, celebrity stories, and everything fun and fashionable from the world of glitz and glamour. And that sounds really silly and shallow. So around two years in, we had a big staff pow-wow and talked about how to make our job more meaningful. First, we wanted to make people—the fans—happy. That meant no unflattering stories or photos of their idols ever. Second, we wanted to say thanks to the stars because without them, we wouldn't have our fun jobs. That meant only true stories—no gossip, no unfair treatment, no damaging reports (unless the story is true). Third, we wanted to make our readers aspire for a life that's just as glam as their favorite stars' lifestyles but we promised to make it achievable. That meant local finds that will make fans feel they're living the fine life but on a budget. This part was the hardest haha but we did it!

When your staff feels they're part of something bigger, they all want to help out. Don't just talk about "the job," talk about the dream, the vision, the mission, the purpose. It's easier to get everyone passionate when they're inspired.

I hope these three tips will help you make your team better in 2017! As a sole businesswoman these past 4 years, I really value a good team now more than ever. It's so hard to do everything on your own! So to my former OK! staff, thank you for everything you did for our magazine, for me, and for each other. You were amazing! You inspire me to this day. Mwah!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

OMG. Duck ham!

Our Noche Buena will be super extra special because I am serving True Deli Peking Duck Ham. And it is the most delicious ham I have ever tasted. Ever!

Kinda strange to call a duck a ham when ham is the upper part of a pig's luscious leg which is preserved through salting, drying or smoking. So I'm going to just accept that ham is now also a bird. And what a bird!

Take a look:

I also got True Deli's Pinoy Pork Ham and we're finishing it off na. As in now pa lang I already opened the big box, sliced it, fried it, and served it. With rice, in sandwiches, in omelettes, and today I'm slicing that ham into cubes for my macaroni salad. It's such a big ham, though, so we're still working through that who leg of sweet, juicy meat. And you know what—kahit ilang ulit ko nang ininit, it's still juicy. It didn't become dry and stringy. Sobrang sarap pa rin!

Mommies, may kamahalan yung duck ham but it is so WORTH IT!!! Like, mapapapikit ka sa sarap. It is that good! Plus, it's also gahigante so sulit. This is not a sponsored review! If wala pa kayong ham for Noche Buena or for New Year's Eve, get the True Deli hams. Get both the Peking Duck and the Pinoy Ham! Pasayahin ang buong pamilya!

True Deli Cafe
Victoria Station 1 South Triangle
EDSA Kamuning, Quezon City
(Beside GMA 7)
Tel no. 441-8560
Mobile no. 0917 524-3815

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Blog Biz: 7 tips to improve quality no matter what you produce

This post is brought to you by Solane.

I've been in the publishing industry for 18 years. I started as a writer for magazines, websites and newspapers, then I became the editor-in-chief of a magazine. In the middle of all that, I started blogging as a hobby, but my blog soon turned into an income-generating activity and now baliktad na—writing for magazines is now a hobby while I've turned my blogging into a business. This post, for example, is a collaboration between my blog and Solane, and when major companies like Solane want to work with me, I know that I made the right decision to become a digital entrepreneur.

Solane wants working moms like me to be part of their "Dapat Lang" campaign, which encourages everyone—mom, dad, single or married, young and old!—to always do what is right. Kasi ang tama ay dapat lang nating gawin! The campaign hopes to bring back traditional Filipino values of kasipagan, katapatan, paggalang sa matanda, and just being good and decent folk. Part of being a good person is having integrity. For working moms like me, that means being committed to always delivering quality work. Today, I will share with you tips on how to improve the quality of your work. For me, that's my blogging business and if you have a blog, too, then these tips might help.

When I began my blog ten years ago, it was just an online journal. So I just wrote whatever I wanted and published it without really thinking about how it reads or how it will affect the readers, because back then I had no readers. As the blog's audience grew, I slowly realized that I had to create quality content because I was taking people's time and whatever they read should be worth their time.

This realization was stressed when brands started paying me to work with them. When people are paying you good money, you can't just wing it anymore. I had to make sure what I produce will be worth the brand's budget and will be useful and appreciated by my readers.

Here are a few tips on how I improved the quality of my blog so that both my clients and readers will love it:

1. Plan ahead.
Whether you work from home or in an office, planning always makes your day easier to manage. In my case, as a professional blogger, I create an editorial calendar of blog posts helps me plan out my content better. I can research, do interviews, look for stock photos, and style products and take photos of them well ahead of time. This is especially important when I have a lot of brand collaborations because I have to schedule their sponsored posts and balance them with my own personal stories. No one wants back-to-back sponsored posts—not my clients and definitely not my readers.

2. Pay attention to details.
With my personal posts, I'm usually more relaxed. But when I'm writing a sponsored post, I have to consider the client's instructions and still make sure that what I write still sounds like me and not a press release. Readers are turned off by press release-types of blog posts. So I have to plan every word in consideration of the needs of both my client and my readers.

3. Use the right images.
Fact: Blog posts that are accompanied by great photos are read more. So always put at least one photo for every post you write. But it can't be just any kind of photo. It has to support the content of your post and it has to be beautiful. Blog posts that have Pinterest-worthy images are also more likely to be shared so when you plan your calendar and your post, think of the best photos that will accompany your post and prepare to create them.

4. Edit mercilessly.
Write with the heart, edit with the brain. Read what you wrote at least 10 times, then look at it again in the morning. Check for spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, especially on sponsored posts because your client has an image to protect. Check the links, especially if they're links provided by your client.

5. Be visually appealing.
Sometimes, even if you're the best writer in the world, if the reader has a hard time reading what you wrote, they're not going to read it. Your content is your product and the design of your blog is its packaging. Heaven knows that a lot of blogs aren't even that well written but because they look so nice, the blogs become popular. So choose a good design—you can either download free templates or buy them from many designers. You can also hire a designer. Just make sure to keep your blog free of clutter, choose fonts that are easy to read, and pick colors that won't hurt eyes.

6. Be useful.
If you want to succeed in blogging, you have to create content that matters. It's not enough you say what you think about a product, you should also provide information about where it's sold and for how much. When you review restaurants, say how much the dish costs and where the parking is. Always try to add something useful to your blog post so that your readers can take away good things—especially when it's a sponsored post because readers are usually leery of sponsored content but if you included useful tips, not only will they read the whole thing, they might also share it!

7. Engage with readers.
Your readers are your customers. They devour your content and if you're really lucky, they'll tell everyone about you. So always open the comments section and pay attention to what your readers like and dislike. Not only will this help you plan your content better, it also creates a friendship with your readers. And once they're loyal, they'll be your best marketers ever!

I was inspired to write about these tips because I was studying Solane's 7-Point Safety Check, a system they created to make sure their LPG is the best their customers can get. I've been a Solane user for 4 years now and I've been very happy with their service and their product. I like how they have a system for quality control and it made me think: Do I have a system, too? I knew I had one but I've never written it down. And now I have so I can share it with all of you so that your blogs will also improve!

If you're an entrepreneur like me, you can tweak my tips to apply to your own business. For example, if your business is planners, your quality-improvement tips can look like this:
1. Create a production plan.
2. Design the planner down to the very last detail.
3. Use the right illustrations and fonts.
4. Edit mercilessly.
5. Create a planner and a marketing campaign that is visually appealing.
6. Make sure every feature in the planner will be useful.
7. Ask what customers think and take action on improvements they suggest.

I hope you liked my 7 tips to improve the quality of your blog and your business! If you have more tips or a special system for your own blog or business, I hope you can share them in the comments below. Thank you!

For more information or to order your very own Solane LPG tank (like I do!), go to Solane.com.ph or like their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/solane.ph.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Money-making tips while you're in between jobs

I'm a blogger. That's my job now and it's making me good money. Problem is the money doesn't come in regularly and collection is a painful task. So I've decided that next year, looking for a job is my top priority. With two kids in big school by June 2017, I need regular income to sustain us especially when my blogging income is sporadic.

If you're job-hunting like me, the money situation can be stressful. Landing your dream job can take time, and time is expensive! Plus, all those interviews, procurement of documents, and ticking off the list of requirements will cost money. So what to do? Don't wait for that dream job. Make money now! Income can come from anything at all—something I learned quickly when I left my cushy corporate magazine job and entered the world of freelancing.

Brands call me an "influencer" yet I can't seem to put that on my résumé!

Knowing that you’ve got enough to tide you over will take off a lot of the job-hunt pressure. Getting creative with money-making ideas is essential for getting through the hard times. There are many more ways to make money from home than you might realize! I should know because I've been hustling like crazy for the past 4 years! Here’s a list of what I've done over the years:

Sell your stuff!
Selling household items you don’t use can be lucrative. One time I sold my preloved stuff on eBay and made 20K in one weekend! It’s surprising, once you start selling, how much you find you don’t need anymore. Go through everything—your closets, jewelry box, bookshelves, attic, basement, garage. You are going to find sooooo much stuff and most of it will earn you so much cash! If you're lucky, you might even come across old items in your house that have tons of value. Check paintings, jewelry, the labels of your old clothes, first-edition books, and even your old stamp collection. Vintage stuff is big business. Selling things couldn’t be easier, with sites like eBay there to do the hard work for you. Put your old stuff online and see how much money you can make!

Every so often, I'd post all my preloved stuff or all the press products still lying around in my house on eBay and I'd earn enough for a nice dinner, a new dress, or even a fun shopping expedition. In fact, I'm going to start selling stuff on eBay next week!

Blog your loves!
As I can attest, blogging can be a fun way to make money. Have you got a niche subject you’re dying to tell the world about? Setting up a blog is much easier than you’d think, and could lead you to massive success. Blogging isn’t just a way to make a little extra cash either. If you put in a fair amount of effort, you might find this is the dream job you never knew you wanted. I seriously never thought blogging would become my highest-paying job!

You can have a lot of fun with a blog. Most importantly, it's an easy way to get yourself out there. In fact, a blog can be one effective way of getting noticed by brands who might become your future employer. So start a blog and learn how to draw traffic to your blog. Getting a large enough audience is essential if you want to start making money. Most of the money you’ll make is off of advertising (banner ads, sponsored posts, paid links, etc) and companies will pay well if you have a strong-enough audience. It’s also essential that you integrate yourself into the blogging community. As my BeautyBizBliss community advocates—collaboration over competition! Get your name out there by becoming familiar to existing bloggers. Be friendly and be nice!

Sell what you know and do
Got crazy crafting skills? Homemade items are always desirable. It’ll amaze you how much people are willing to pay for your crafting goods. If you’ve got a knack for knitting, use it to make you money! Knitted goods sell for top money. If you’re a wiz on the sewing machine, why not get to grips with your inner designer, and sell your creations? Take a look at what’s on the market and see if you can do anything a little different. If knitting and sewing aren’t for you, there are many other options. How about making candles? If you’re good with design, you could create your own art prints. If you're amazing at baking, make cookies, cupcakes and other pastries to sell.

As for me, I offer services. As a blogger of 10 years, I hold workshops where I share blogging tips. As a former magazine editor, I also do workshops on beauty and fashion. And soon, as a writer and editor, I plan to teach creative writing to kids! If you have a skill you can teach others—anything from journaling, calligraphy, baking, cooking, playing an instrument to building a business or making a relationship work—offering your services can be fulfilling and lucrative!

Answer surveys
Various online panels offer cash rewards for the completion of surveys. The money's not much (I tried around 8 years ago) and signing up for one of these is unlikely to make you rich, but it will give you a little extra spending money each month. Studies usually last between 10-30 minutes. You’ll be required to answer a series of questions about a variety of subjects, ranging from shopping habits to your opinions on a product. This is a hassle-free way to make money. Once you’ve signed up, survey invitations will go straight to your inbox. Many survey sites even offer the option to take part in control groups. If you’re able to travel to these, you could make even more money! Remember to check that you will be making money, even after travel expenses. If you’re not making money, don’t go! 

Enter competitions
Early in my blogging career, I loved joining contests. It's a great way to get stuff I otherwise couldn't afford. That's how I got my Gucci bag, a Samsung phone, and Evita Peroni hair accessories, for example. Some of my blogger friends have won trips abroad. So fun! Sites like Loquax give you a low-down of a variety of competitions. Most of these are free to enter and offer anything from money to rewards. Even if a competition offers a reward, it’s worth entering. You can sell any prizes you don’t want and get your money that way! Take the time to enter as many free competitions as you can. You have to be in it to win it, after all!

Invest your extra money
If all your work up there earns you decent cash, you could look into the investment world. Investing in stocks and shares can be a lucrative money-making scheme if you do it right. Yes, you have to do it right. My husband and I invested a few years ago in the stock market and we lost money. Be aware that investing in the wrong shares could result in losing your money. Take care and study the market.

If you want market information, find it from Money Morning. Sites like this are a huge help in giving you an idea of where it’s worth investing. There’s no denying that the world of stocks and shares can be overwhelming. I can't knock it even though we've tried it (and failed) because we know so many people who have become millionaires simply by investing wisely in the market. So do your research and don’t jump into anything. If you think you’ve got the hang of the market, investing could be the perfect thing for you!

Getting creative can take your mind off your job-hunting dilemmas, at the same time as making you some money. It gives you something to focus your energy on during your unemployment, as well as offering potentially large payouts! In fact, whatever you do now to make money might become your new career. Look at what happened to me and my blogging hobby! Good luck!

Thursday, December 08, 2016

What I learned about skin tightening

Did that title freak you out or what! "Skin tightening? What is Frances up to now?" Well, as of now, nothing. But if I haven't mentioned it yet, I turned 40 last month and things are going downhill for my body. Literally. Neck, boobs, tummy, butt and thighs. Sigh!

Pudgy me the day after my 40th birthday. The tree and I are twinning haha 
Getting older is something none of us can avoid or hide from. We can try but sooner or later, our body goes through changes that make it obvious to everyone around us that we have aged. Wrinkles and thinning skin, especially on our faces, make it clear we are no longer young. So far I don't have lines on my face yet. For a 40-year-old, that is an achievement! Well, maybe not. My derma says it's because of my extremely oily skin. So, dear oily skin, I will not thank you for the terrible acne you made me suffer through the years but thanks for keeping my middle-aged face supple and wrinkle-free!

There are other less greasy ways to reduce signs of aging. One of the best ways to keep skin looking young is through a procedure called skin tightening. As a former lifestyle magazine editor, I know quite a bit about skin tightening but I never actually processed that information till now. Why? Because I'm saggy now! I was never saggy before! (Lemme wipe away a tear for a second.) So let me share with you information I've recently reviewed to help me choose between the various methods and maybe this little primer will also help you find the skin-tightening procedure that will work best for you.

What is Skin Tightening?

Early in our lives, our body produces collagen, a substance that heals and renews our skin cells, making them plump and thicker. The elastins in our skin keeps the cells close together so the skin is tight. As we age, our body slows down the collagen production, causing the skin to stretch and thin, making it sag. Skin tightening is a procedure in which the skin cells are stimulated to produce more of the collagen, plumping the cells and tightening the fibers.

Types of Skin Tightening Treatments

The skin care industry has made dramatic improvements over the years. The result is that there are numerous treatment methods available:

Topical creams. The least expensive choice also produces the mildest results. On their own, serums cannot penetrate deep into the skin where collagen production occurs. This method also has minimal risks, with allergic reactions being the most common. I'm currently using a pricey cream for my breasts, tummy and butt. No dice.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL). This treatment uses a laser device to penetrate deep into the skin to stimulate collagen production within those cells, plumping the skin and tightening at the same time. Spas have used cosmetic lasers to tighten skin for patients for well over a decade, since the treatment has few side effects and lasts for longer periods of time.

I have tried this! It works! I looked like hell for a week, though, and oh how it hurts! I did three sessions before I gave up. I was supposed to do 6-8 sessions but by the third session, my laugh lines had vanished so I didn't go back. I did IPL way back in 2010. My laugh lines haven't come back and I'm laughing more now, now that I'm a mommy. So IPL works! (Hmm, maybe that's also why I don't look 40. It's not just my greasy face but also the laser treatment I had 6 years ago!)

Ultherapy. This non-invasive method uses ultrasound technology to target skin cells under the surface of the skin, heating them in order to encourage the production of collagen. While the results are effective, the treatment has only been FDA approved for the facial area, décolletage,and neck region of the body. Many skin clinics have actually offered to do this to me for free but I have always declined because, after my IPL treatments before and I came home each time with painfully red face, my husband glowers, "Don't mess with your face!" But, honey, maybe I can try this now for my neck and boobies? 

Plastic surgery. The most expensive and invasive choice is also the method with the most dramatic results. By cutting away the loose skin and reshaping it, the medical procedure creates tight skin. This method also comes with high risks, including increased chance of infection, and major side effects. I don't need this yet as I'm not THAT saggy. 

What Factors Affect Treatments?

It would be so easy if every treatment worked exactly the same way on each person. The truth is that many things influence the outcome of each procedure, starting with your age. Obviously, the older a person is, the more difficult it will be to tighten and improve the skin. Ideally, most skin therapy treatments work best on younger clients aged 30 to 45 years old. That way, you delay aging. Because it will look really weird when you're all wrinkly today and then super smooth tomorrow. Kinda hard to explain that, right?

Another factor that can affect skin tightening is how well you care for your skin before, during, and after the procedure. If the skin is exposed to too much sun, heavy smoking, or the skin is in very poor condition, you will have less than satisfactory results and recovery time will take far longer.

Of course, each different treatment has a different result. Like I said, plastic surgery is the most dramatic while topical creams have milder (non-existent) results. Deciding on a less expensive method will likely mean less pronounced results. And newer treatment methods tend to be more effective than older methods. An IPL device from 20 years ago won't be as effective as one recently developed. Hmm, maybe I should try IPL again! But if all over my saggy mommy areas, I don't think I'll be able to afford it! I guess I'll have to do it the hard way: proper diet and exercise!

Friday, December 02, 2016

Amazing deals and steals await at Landers Superstore!

I just became a member of the newest, most amazing, membership shopping destination extraordinaire for working mommies like me—Landers Superstore!

I signed up yesterday because I needed to finish up my Christmas gift shopping and I heard that Landers has truly incredible deals and steals. The first Landers superstore opened in Balintawak, Quezon City, but it's very far from where I live so even though many of my mommy friends loved shopping there, I resigned myself to never seeing the wonderland that is Landers. But then I heard that a second branch opened up in Otis, Manila, and this one is a few kilometers closer so off we went!

Look at how big it is! Landers Otis is at 1890 Paz Guazon St., Paco, Manila. It's very near where I grew up. Pandacan, Paco, Ermita and Sta. Ana were my old stomping grounds and I haven't gone back in decades so to go back and see so many changes (and that so little has changed, too) was a shock. Anyway, Landers is very near Malacañang. It has a HUGE parking lot so you seriously cannot miss it!

First things first: Sign up to be a member! Here I am getting my ID photo taken. Parang DFA lang pero mas mabilis! Now is the time to become a member because you really don't want to miss the exciting deals for your Christmas shopping! I'm done with my gift shopping and even got extra stuff for my husband and kids simply because everything was soooo affordable that my budget stretched out over more things!

The membership card is worth P800. One (1) extension card is an additional P400. If you're a working mom who owns a business (like I do), business membership fee is P1,000, and you can get up to four (4) extension cards for an additional P400 each. All memberships are valid for 12 months and may be renewed with the same fee. Your membership card will be honored at both Landers Superstores.

And I have extra good news! Right now, Landers Superstore is offering a 20% discount on all membership fees. So that makes the Premium or Personal membership fee at P640 only and its extension at P320, while the Business membership is at P800 only and its extension at P320 also. So I will say is again: Now is the time to become a member!

As I mentioned, we were at Landers to finish up our Christmas shopping. Iñigo is an expert on all things sweet so he came along to help me pick out goodies for his cousins. But before we shopped, we were attracted to the holiday decor on sale!
Merry Christmas!
Showrooms to give shoppers an idea on how to use the items for sale.
Christmas trees and holiday decor everywhere!

 Landers Superstore President, Gwen Lim, said, “This Christmas, we are inviting everyone to visit Landers Superstore where members can enjoy and shop at their own leisure without going through the frantic holiday rush.' She added that Landers aims to change the harried pace of our Christmas shopping by giving “more value to customers so they will always have a blissful shopping experience.”

“Plus, we have special holiday offerings which will surely delight the members,” Ms Lim added. Here's just a couple of those offers:
1. Fresh Nova Scotia Balsam Fir Trees. Available only at Landers Superstore, this sturdy fresh Christmas tree with its aromatic and soft needles makes the holiday celebration even more festive and unforgettable.
2. Holiday Baskets, which make a perfect gift for your loved ones! For only P2,999, the Noche Buena basket is complete with favorite ingredients perfect for a family’s Christmas dinner. Want to give a thoughtful present to friends who are health buffs? The Organic Basket, at P1,999, is filled with wholesome and healthy treats. And for those who love to sit down for a drink or two, there’s the Snacks and Beer Basket for only P1,499.

We didn't buy a real fir tree or holiday baskets, but we did feel oh so merry with our finds! For starters, we bought a 3-kilogram bucket of Nutella for only P1,100! CRAZY! Here's the rest!
He was wondering why these candy canes were pink. He's only seen the red-green-white ones.

So much candy!!! And this weekend, you really ought to sign up and shop because it's the Super Crazy Sale on December 3 and 4! For only this weekend, members can exclusively shop and enjoy 50% discounts, buy-one-and-take-one deals, and get lots of SurPrices!

I'm seriously thinking of going back even though I'm done with my gift shopping because these caught my eye:
I need this copper cookware set from Kitchen Aid! Each piece was sooo heavy! I can use these FOREVER! And P15K lang!
Even more affordable are these cooking sets from Oster, Farberware and Cuisinart! Gusto kong bumalik talaga!
Because I'm a working mama and my kids are in school, kiddie meals can save my sanity once in a while!
Yes for more frozen meals! A working mama needs all the help she can get!
Check out the big box of cereal. It's so much cheaper here than in regular supermarkets!
Gigantic bottles of skincare goodies from the best brands in the world.
Affordable grooming and pampering products for babies and kids in big bottles are a treat because I have three kids!   
Funny Iñigo. As soon as he saw baby wipes, he grabbed them. These are a must-have in any home with kids!
Speaking of kids, yes, there are toys and art materials, too! I have to go back and buy that Spider-Man plushie for Piero.
Fake grass! This is actually a good idea if you want a lawn but want to conserve water. Maybe I can use it for my condo! 
On your new faux grass lawn, plunk this. This patio set is just P25,000. It's crazy!
Last night, when I asked the kids at bedtime what their favorite part of the day was, Iñigo replied, "Shopping for candy with you, Mama. I really liked that big store!" Awww! And he really did. He was so happy there, he wants to go back with his Papa and brothers. I don't like shopping with all my kids in tow (it's very stressful!) but Iñigo and I had such a good time at Landers. Because it's 8,000-square meters big, there's so much space to move around in. When you're a mom with malikot kids, packed grocery aisles is a nightmare. With such a vast shopping space at Landers, we easily navigated the well-lit aisles and I didn't worry too much about my kid running around.
Everything fresh displayed in such a brightly lit space!
He couldn't believe the size of the place! And that this particular aisle was full of candy!!!
Safety first! Guards block an aisle because they were moving boxes. Iñigo was impressed.

I also liked that Landers Superstore had a huge area for hanging out and eating. There's a lovely café (Doppio), a comfortable diner (Landers Central), and a delectable bakery (Dough & Co.).
Bread baked fresh daily! Cakes, pastries and other treats are also offered.
Relaxing diner for members who love fried chicken, hotdogs, fries, and pizza.
Mmm, coffee! They serve pastries and ice cream, too.

For husbands and kids who want to relax while we mommies shop, there's a barbershop for them to get some pampering. And Landers Balintawak, the barbershop is Talas Manileño while in Landers Otis, it's Federal Barbers. It's free for members. Freeeeeee!!!

Another perk? Gasoline discounts. Yep! Landers Superstore has its very own gas station in its very big parking lot. Members get P2 off per liter of gasoline and P1.50 per liter of diesel from five-star gasoline station, Caltex. And members get this discount all year long!

So if you want to avoid the nightmare of looking for parking at the mall to join scary hordes of shoppers fighting over the same brands and same Christmas promo bundles in the same crowded and narrow supermarket aisles, and then all of you will then line up forever at the cashier, then Landers Superstore is the place for you! It's definitely the superstore for me. I'm done with my holiday shopping and I never even felt any stress. Thanks so much, Landers!

Landers Superstores are found at 1240 EDSA Balintawak, Apolonio Samson, Quezon City and at Otis at 1890 Paz Guazon St., Paco, Manila. For more information and to know more about Landers’ exclusive Christmas shopping promo, visit http://landers.ph/, follow @LandersPH on Instagram, and like Landers Superstore on Facebook.