Sunday, December 31, 2017

Beauty begins at home with Flawless acne control skin care products

And a new year is upon us in 10, 9, 8, 7... ! Okay, sa Monday pa but I'm telling you now that if there's one New Year's resolution you should have, it's to take care of your skin. Yes, eat healthy, drink water, do some exercise 30 minutes a day, but if your skin is shot, no one's going to believe you're healthy. Yep. I stand by what I just said.

I know a lot of fitness enthusiasts, for example, who exercise under the sun and don't wear sunscreen. You may have a healthy body but you gonna get skin cancer if you keep doing that. Okay, let's not get morbid? You're gonna look like a wrinkled old lady even if your body age says you're as fit as an 18-year-old virgin.

As a 41-year-old woman who's always had bad skin, I know for a fact that people judge you the first second they see your face. Unfair but true. So two years ago, I started going to Flawless Face & Body Clinic and for the first time since I was a child, my skin is beautiful. Finally! I'm dewy and fresh, I have a glow, and my skin is smooth and pimple-free. Hooray! I still have ice-pick scars from decades of acne and freckles from those years I didn't use sunscreen, but they are improving with each visit to Flawless.

The visits to the clinic addressed my main skin concern, which is acne, but at home I had to maintain my skin care because I can't go to the clinic every day. Even though Flawless is super affordable, a daily visit will still cost a lot! That's why I was sent home with these products!

This SAS Soap, P140, is great at controlling oil production. I have to rinse my face quickly, though, because if I lather up too much or too long, my skin gets really dry. So I remove makeup first with an oil-based cleanser, then work up a lather between my palms before quickly washing my face. Rinse and pat dry.

This is great for deep pore cleaning and for removing makeup and other dirt that may have escaped the SAS Soap. And it's only P330!

I just need a tiny amount of this to dot on the pimple and it's dry and flat the next day. Get a tube for P360.

This is the P290 moisturizer. I spread just a small amount (like maybe a scoop of my ring finger in the pot) all over my face and it helps lighten dark scars and pigmentation caused by the sun.

And here's the Skin Protect Gel, P290! I love how light this is because when you have oily skin like me, anything thick and greasy—which sunscreens tend to be—is just terrible.

So last year's New Year's resolution was to eat healthy, drink more water, and have clear skin. Done! Hooray! This year, I plan to continue this until I have the fabled glass skin of the Koreans. I don't know if that's achievable, being 41 and all, but I will definitely give it a try! I also plan to get fit and eat less (yes, I may eat healthy but I eat a lot). The peg is impossibly fit Jennifer Lopez who is 48 but looks amazing vs fitness buffs Gwyneth Paltrow, 45, and Victoria Beckham, 43, who are sadly looking lotsa wrinkly. I still love Gwynnie and Posh, though!

Grabe, talagang JLo ang peg. Super hard to achieve! You know, I also thought gorgeous skin is impossible for me. It took me two years but it was done. Let's do this!

Now, since my skin has improved a LOT, I want my oily-skinned readers to experience beauty at home with these Flawless products, too. Check out my Facebook page this weekend as I plan to do a giveaway to welcome 2018—the year of flawless skin!

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

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmas is a time machine

When Christmas is all about family, how do you deal when the one you most love is not there? Well, I'll get there but let me first tell you how I was feeling this Christmas. I wasn't feeling Christmasy, that's what. I was sick. What is this nasty cough-and-colds bug going around??? Everyone except my never-sick Iñigo got it. I also had work plus the never-ending projects and requirements from my kids' school. So I just wasn't feeling it.

But sometime in the middle of December, it finally kicked in—my excitement for the season. I was still sick, the school was (and is actually still) sending homework, and my clients did not pay me at all (so no money huhu) but I didn't care. Christmas was here! Joy to the world! 'Tis the season to be jolly!

This should be my 2nd Christmas =)

I was telling Vince that mothers is what makes Christmas possible. Yep. Who makes the lists, shops for the gifts, wraps them beautifully, plans all the activities, decorates the house, puts up the tree, wakes everyone up for church (if you go), cooks and cooks and cooks, hosts the parties, collects all the money and gifts in her bag, and then posts the photos on Facebook? Mommies. Always mommies! Okay, Vince was the one who posted the photos on Facebook but only because I reminded him to do it haha.

So you see, if mothers decided to boycott Christmas, Christmas as we know it won't happen. And so you see, if you're like me and you don't have a mother anymore, Christmas can be a shock to the system, a yearly reminder that the woman who made this season so magical is no longer there.

Mama's garden was still in the making. She got busy making babies first! 

Christmas has always been Mama's season. She loved it! She put up the tree early. She wrapped all the gifts. We had fabulous holiday decor of felt and glitter and tinsel all over the house. We had different colored lights permanently installed on the soffits of our roof. We always went to ALL the parties and family reunions. And she loved the fruit cake, the fruit salad, that dessert that was a cake topped by gelatin with fruits suspended in it—she loved it all.

It was so funny when we became Born Again and somewhere along the way, we learned that Christmas is a pagan holiday because Jesus ought to have been born around the harvest and that falls around the end of September, but December 25 was decreed the date of Jesus's birth because people were already celebrating the birth of a pagan god and it was just easier for early evangelists to transition to that date. Etc etc. So basically, our then-pastor said, when we celebrate Christmas in December, we were actually worshipping a pagan god.

This was not okay with my mother. I think it was a crisis of faith haha. I remember her upset at the dining table talking about this with my father and Papa was, like, "To hell with facts!" (My papa was never a believer in facts haha). So finally she decided it's the thought that counts because we continued to celebrate Christmas anyway. And that was that.

Christmases at my aunt's QC home was a mandatory thing in those days.

Around the time I was in college, however, Mama decided she wasn't going to do Christmas anymore. I don't know why this happened. Maybe it's because her children were angsty, ungrateful teens. Maybe because by then we had absolutely no money. She told us there will be no tree, no decorations, no Noche Buena, nothing. She just didn't feel it. So we all agreed because we were teens and Christmas was for kiddies, right, but when that week of Christmas rolled around and nothing was happening, we all felt it. Where was Christmas?

We didn't have a tree anymore—for years!—but Mama still kept the vital Christmas traditions alive, which was church, family reunions, and gifts. She always gave gifts. Even when we didn't have money! I remember one Christmas her gift to me was she and my sister arranged all my photos (that had been in a box) in a cheap photo album. And I looked through that album and I was crying because it was such a wonderful gift. It was the gift of time that she gave me. She gave me her time arranging all those photos chronologically and she gave me a time machine because photos are always a trip down memory lane.

And that's all I have of her this Christmas and every Christmas. Photos and memories. Typical mother, she was almost always never in photos so I have very few photos of Mama at Christmas. The ones you see here, that's all I could find. I'm sure there are more. I remember vividly one photo of Mama in an Afro and electric blue eye shadow. Must have been a groovy Christmas!

Our last Christmas together and we didn't know it. The tree was Vince's gift because he thought my family should have one.

When Mama suddenly died in September 2008, we were seriously dreading Christmas. Like, WHAT NOW?! I didn't even want to go home and see that she wasn't there. But my sister Jacqui saved us all. She put up the tree because that's what Mama would've wanted. She said she was making fruit salad and asked what's our contribution.

And so we showed up, all of us except my older brother because it must've been still too painful for him. The tree from Vince was all lit up with Mama's pink decorations (so now you know why my tree is pink) and we ate and laughed and gave gifts and it was okay.

It was okay. We were going to be all right.

Our first Christmas without Mama.

And I know for people like me, people who no longer have mommies on Christmas, this season can be very difficult. We keep seeing who's no longer there. But for me, it's kinda nice. It's like a time machine. It's at Christmas I remember my Mama most. I remember Mama's excitement and singing and how she loved to eat and be with family. She was so happy at Christmas, wrapping gifts. She taught me how to wrap gifts and to make my scissors glide on that wrapping paper like a dream.  Most of the year, I'm too busy and brush aside memories of Mama. On Christmas, she comes back FULL FORCE.

I've learned to open up myself to these memories, to embrace the season, and to step into that time machine. Because New Year is coming up fast and then I will be swept away again by the urgency of small kids and work and marriage but on Christmas, amidst the whirl of it all, Mama comes back and I welcome her home.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, dear fellow orphan. We are so lucky to have been so loved. What a gift!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Take a look inside the pages of the BDJ Planner 2018

What's a great Christmas and New Year's gift? A planner!!! I gave my brothers and sister, my nieces, my sister-in-law, and my officemates planners. I truly believe that a planner—one you write on with pen—can change a life. What a gift!

One of the most popular planners this past decade is the Belle de Jour Power Planner. And I have two! One I opened up so we can take a peek inside, and one I'm giving awaaaay! Happy New Year!

Here's the deluxe edition with the velvet leather cover. It's 5.9 x 8 inches, light and compact and can fit into a busy lady's bag. I tried those huge planners and, nope, not for me. I need something I can bring around everywhere.

Okay, let's look inside:

This page always makes me sing that song from Land Before Time. Does anyone even remember that dinosaur movie from the 80s? It's the Diana Ross song, "If We Hold On Together" and it's such an appropriate song for the New Year.

Don't lose your way with each passing day 
You've come so far, don't throw it away 
Live believing
Dreams are for weaving 
Wonders are waiting to start 
Live your story
Faith, hope and glory 
Hold to the truth in your heart 

Dibaaaa??? Okay, mamas, this year we must believe that wonders are just waiting for us to discover them, that dreams are going to come true, that our life is worth telling!

Anyway, more BDJ planner pages before I get downright distracted...

At the very back is a roomy pocket. Don't you just love planners with pockets? And stickers???

In the pocket is a surprise! It's the Perks of a Bella booklet! Inside is your very own BDJ Lifestyle Card.

There's over P40,000 worth of discount coupons for shopping, eating, beautifying (lookcoupons for Flawless!) and more! Super worth getting a BDJ 2018 planner, right?

This BDJ 2018 Power Planner in velvet leather is P680 at bookstores. If you want it customized with your name, order now at

I'm going to give away this BDJ planner this weekend, mamas. Follow my Facebook page and I'll announce the details there. Exciting!

P.S. Because na-LSS na ako, listen na to the song and believe in your heart that if we hold on together, our dreams will never die! Happy New Year, mamas!

Friday, December 22, 2017

The food at New World Hotel's Jasmine and Café 1228 was love!

Hi mamas! I know you all must be stuffed full this holiday season but I just need to tell you about the food we ate when we stayed at New World Hotel Makati this week. The food was really good at Jasmine and Café 1228, and I'm tempted to go back just to eat!

Lotsa photos so let's just do a photo essay. First, let me tell you about our fantabulous dinner at Jasmine, New World Hotel's authentic Chinese restaurant. We've heard of the delectable dimsum at Jasmine and I know dimsum is everywhere in Manila but, guys, the dimsum here has earned Jasmine a spot in Philippine Tatler's Top 20 Restaurants. And we were not disappointed!

But first, soup! This is the amazing Seafood Hot and Sour Soup. It is indeed spicy and sour and sweet and all the chunks of seafood were tender and perfect. It was really spicy, though. Naubo ako ilang beses haha

"Har Gao" or shrimp dumplings and "Shao Mai" or pork dumplings with crab roe. Also known as hakaw and siomai! These are THE BEST hakaw and siomai I've ever had in my entire life!!! The hakaw was plump and siksik and juicy and the skin was tender and perfect. The siomai is so freshly steamed that the meat was so juicy and tender and flavorful and tender and sooo delicious!

Wagyu Beef Mango Roll. I don't know what that crispy lace is made of but it was crunchy and delicate and a delight. The soft Wagyu beef inside was a great contrast. I want to order this again!

This kid liked it, too!

Barbecued Pork Pastry. This was lovely and flaky and then the pork inside was delicately flavored and tender.

And because we wanted to taste other dishes besides the dimsum, we got the Deep Fried Crispy Chicken which was nice and tasty, and Yeung Chow fried rice, all washed down by Jasmine Tea and iced lemon tea. Yum!

Full tummies means good sleep and we woke refreshed the next morning for more food! Our Yuletide Getaway package included breakfast at Café 1228 so we popped in there and filled our plates.

The breakfast buffet is pretty much what you see at other buffets—cereal, bread, bacon, oatmeal, pancakes, toast, omelettes and other egg preparations, the usual. Then there's Pinoy favorites like taho, garlic rice with adobo, grilled chicken, dilis, etc na ulam with lots of sawsawan—so yum! Not the usual tocino, tapa, longganisa, though. There were lots of other breakfast choices from international cuisines so if you like fruits, salads, congee, baked beans, muffins and pastries, cold cuts and cheeses, or maybe just a fruit shake because some people just drink their brekkie, you can start your day filling up your belly at the breakfast buffet at Cafe 1228.

Aaaaaand there you have it! Our Yuletide Getaway was a lovely and delicious getaway indeed!

If you're looking for a place to go after this Christmas weekend, maybe to be with your balikbayan friends or relatives, or to escape the smoke of the upcoming New Year's festivities and also get to see all the fantastic fireworks all over Makati, I highly recommend the Yuletide Getaway package of New World Hotel. It includes a spacious room that can accommodate your family, breakfast buffet at the Café 1228 for two adults and two kids below 7 years old, and treats depending on what room you book (ours was a bottle of wine and two movie passes to Ayala cinemas). Our Deluxe Room package was just P6,700. Super affordable for such a lovely time! Book here!

See how my family loved our New World Hotel staycation

I just got back, mamas, from a quick getaway at New World Makati! We stayed there for just one night. We needed a break but we didn't have the energy or the time to go somewhere far so we took advantage of New World Hotel's Yuletide Getaway promo and stayed in the city for a truly wonderful time. No kidding—we had so much fun!

There's New World towering behind my little boys. We got the Deluxe Room package. That's a room with two twin beds and it includes breakfast buffet at the Café 1228 for two adults and two kids below 7 years old. You also get a bottle of wine and two movie passes to Ayala cinemas. All that for just P6,700! That's so affordable considering New World is a 5-star hotel!

Okay, mamas, sit tight. Lotsa photos coming up!

Here are the kids and you can tell they're really happy about our room! It's a good-sized room. We've stayed at trendy boutique hotels which we found out soon enough is a bad idea for a family of 5. We need space! So we now like staying at big hotels. Traditional, yes, but hotels have centuries of knowing how to take care of people.

Staking their claim on the beds. Soft, fluffy everything! Look at them—they look like angels surrounded by heavenly clouds. Looks like only haha in reality they are little balls of naughty energy!

Exhibit A: Piero. Blurry because he's jumping up and down the extra cot we got even though they know little monkeys shouldn't be jumping on the bed because they might fall down and bump their heads. Since we have three kids, we needed an extra bed. It was just as comfy!

There's a small seating area which made the room feel cozy. We also got a platter of fresh fruits, which the kids snacked on while watching TV.

Oh, and very important info for bloggers, traveling businesspeople, and work-from-everywhere people like me: There's complimentary WiFi and it is fast! Hotel-wide, too, so even when I was booking an Uber at the lobby, posting Instagram photos by the pool, and checking my mail at the restaurant, I could do it using the hotel WiFi. Plus, I like the compact way they put all the universal sockets together by the desk. So convenient, whatever plug you happen to have!

Now let's check out the bathroom!

The bathroom is great! Big, clean. It doesn't have a TV, which is ubiquitous in many hotels these days. I like that there's no TV actually. I never understood that!

I like the separate shower stall. I also like that kid that squeezed himself beside the toilet.

The bathtub is a little low, which made it a bit hard to get out of. The kids, meanwhile, loved it and said it's built for kids so, "Mama and Papa, don't get in the bathtub!"

Here's the view outside our big window:
New World is just across the upscale mall Greenbelt 3, so it's very convenient if you like shopping and eating. That's what we did. We still needed to buy Christmas gifts so we went shop, shop, shopping! 

The pools are big and we love that there's a kiddie pool! Lots of hotels these days are just business hotels so they either have a lap pool, a jacuzzi and/or a deep pool. Some hotels say they have a kiddie pool but it's so small, it's ridiculous. If you're a family with small kids, you'd be happy to know that New World has a real kiddie pool. Big enough so that if other kids are there, your kids have space to wade or swim.

Now, if you're around the area and you want to buy festive pasalubong or gorgeous edible gifts, stop by The Shop at the lobby of New World and choose from yummy delights like fruit mince pies, rich fruit cake, yule logs, stollen bread, lotsa holiday cookies, and gingerbread confections like our Christmas tree! We gobbled that all up!

Oh, what a lovely time we had at New World Hotel! The holidays have been, as always, stressful not because I hate Christmas (it's my favorite time of the year!) but because of the kids' school stuff, the terrible traffic, and the difficulty of getting around whether it's in an Uber or on a bus or jeep. But because it's my favorite time of the year, I always enjoy the hustle and bustle because the streets are gaily decorated, the people are actually in a better mood than usual haha, everyone's giving gifts, and there's so much food!

Speaking of food, let me tell you about the amazing meals we had at New World's Jasmine and Café 1228 in my next post!

Meanwhile, if you want to book New World Hotel's Yuletide Getaway Package, click here. Highly recommended by me and my family!