Monday, March 29, 2021

Brittle nails, falling hair? Wolvit Biotin to the rescue!

I am so excited to tell you about my latest find: Wolvit biotin supplements! This is going to be a long post because I need to explain my hair and nail problems, what biotin is, and then give my Wolvit biotin review. So I hope you have a bit of time to read through! 

I started taking Wolvit in the first week of February. Just before that, I was desperately looking for a solution to my thinning hair and brittle nails. The Project Vanity Facebook group recommended taking biotin supplements for those exact same problems. So imagine my delight when Wolvit - by sheer coincidence! - sent me Wolvit Biotin pills to review!


My hair and nail issues

To be honest, I was skeptical. I've tried everything - shampoos and topical solutions on my scalp, extra soft brushes and wide-toothed combs, hair masks; then cuticle creams and fortified polishes that promised to strengthen my nails. Nothing worked!

I know the exact date my nails started peeling. It was September 27, 2008. It was the day my Mama died and I was standing in the parking lot of the funeral home, staring down at my shaking hands. It was then I noticed my thumbnail was split at the edge. I thought it was just an accident. I must've hit my nail on something and I didn't notice it during the terror of the day. But in the following days and weeks, I noticed further that my nails kept breaking and splitting. Finally, I just cut them short. I haven't grown my nails long since then. I have big nails anyway so there was still plenty of space for nail polish. Still, the state of my nails was worrying. I worried it was a sign of poor health.

Throughout my 30s, my hair also started falling. Experts say we lose a hundred strands of hair every day. That's normal. But I was losing A LOT. Like "I need to clean up my brush and bathroom floor every time I brush my hair" a lot. I just brushed my hair once a day and also washed my hair after 2-3 days so that I won't have to brush it out so much. Still, the hair kept falling. It's very sad! I was only in my 30s! I was worried again that it was another sign of poor health.


A dozen years later, I learned that my splitting nails and falling hair are probably due to a vitamin deficiency. At a Wolvit biotin bloggers conference, I learned about biotin, a vitamin in the B-complex family that helps your body convert food into energy. When your body has enough biotin, it manifests as healthy hair, glowing skin, and strong nails. Signs of a biotin deficiency? Hair loss, scaly red skin, rashes, or bristled nails. Oh my!

So you can bet I was excited to try Wolvit biotin supplements. This is my review!

What is Wolvit?

Wolvit is an over-the-counter biotin supplement. I take one tablet, or 5,000 micrograms (5 mg), every day. You can actually take more than one tablet if your diet is really biotin-deficient (usually happens when you're on a plant-based diet). It's safe since any extra biotin just gets peed out! 

What are the benefits of Wolvit biotin?

1. It hydrates skin from within.
2. It strengthens the hair shaft. 
3. It restores hair texture.
4. It helps thicken nail cuticles.
5. It strengthens nails to prevent breakage.


My review:

NAILS

After just 2 weeks of taking Wolvit biotin, I noticed that my nails were stronger. Usually, if they grow about 2 millimeters, they already start peeling. But I didn't see any peeling, splitting or breaking so I decided to let my nails grow longer. 

As my nails got longer, I also noticed they were harder. Before taking Wolvit Biotin, my nails easily bent at the slightest pressure. They were that soft! Now, they didn't bend no matter how much I pressed them. I also tried cutting plastic and opening canned soda with my nails. They didn't break!!!

Now, look at how long my nails are! They haven't been this long in 12 years!

The nails of my thumb and pointing finger are shorter because I sliced them when I was cutting onions.

I feel so vain about my nails! I think they make my hands look feminine again! Too bad we're all still in quarantine. I haven't been to a nail salon for more than a year. It would be soooo nice to have my new strong and healthy nails professionally groomed!


HAIR

So I've been taking Wolvit biotin for 2 months now. As for my hair, well, I haven't seen any new extra growth. But my hair feels thicker. That's because my hair isn't falling so much anymore. I literally don't need to clean up my brush and bathroom floor every day anymore. My hair stays put on my head! 

I also learned from the Project Vanity community that when they take biotin over a long period, their hair grows thicker and faster. A friend says her lashes are longer and thicker after 6 months of taking biotin. That's all I need to know! I'm taking Wolvit forever!!! 

I highly recommend Wolvit biotin supplements. It's a safe vitamin pill to take every day. You and your husband can take it, although if your hubby is going through male pattern baldness, best to see a dermatologist for that concern.

You can buy Wolvit biotin at Mercury Drug, Watsons, Southstar Drug, St. Joseph, Curamed, St Joseph, All Day Rx, Sure Rx, and other leading drugstores nationwide. Since we have a pandemic, do stay home and have Wolvit biotin delivered to you! You can buy from the online shops of: Watsons (promo price of just P186 for a box of 30 tablets!), Mercury Drug Gamot PadalaSouthstar Drug online delivery  (P225 for a box of 30 tablets), Lazada and Shopee.

I hope my Wolvit biotin review makes you want to try it, too! I'll update this review after 6 months. So excited to see if my lashes will grow!


*This post is brought to you by Wolvit Biotin 5mg.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

For one hour, I wasn't brave

Yesterday, I finally allowed myself to cry. The Department of Health reported that there are 9,838 people with COVID-19. Numbers. We hear numbers every day so I was shocked but, really now, is anyone surprised? 

Then at around lunch time, we found out through our neighborhood Viber group chat that one of our neighbors, her family, four of them died. Only the mom and her little girl are recovering from COVID. Her husband, her son, and her mother- and father-in-law all succumbed to the disease. We sent our condolences but we were all rattled.

I called my friends in our condo complex, my Praying Wives, that's what we call ourselves. At first, we were just telling each other to be extra extra careful, and then we slowly realized that the dreaded virus was floating around our home. It was finally here and, while several neighbors had it last year, they recovered. This time, people died. Our safe space for more than a year didn't feel safe anymore.

Last year, I was depressed for a whole month. That was June. It was pandemic fatigue, health worries, sadness that my kids won't go to school, many things. I only got out of my funk because my middle boy told me I had to celebrate his baby brother's birthday. I had been so sad, it slipped my mind. I was horrified and I promised I'll be more in charge of my emotions.

And I've been good. I think I was a great quarantine mom. I kept them safe. More than safe! They were happy and healthy. My husband says I spoil them. Maybe I do. But I'm pretty strict when they misbehave, and, to be honest, they hardly ever are naughty. They're good boys. Being mommy to them isn't really that hard.

But yesterday, the shadow that I firmly shut behind a door in the deepest parts of my heart, well, it slipped out. It slipped out quietly while my Praying Wives and I told each other we love each other, and to not forget that in case the worst happened. We said, "Thank you for everything," and that shadow - fear - suddenly loomed over me and I dropped my phone and cried. 

I've been so good this last year. I attacked this pandemic by imposing lifestyle changes on everyone at home. No one leave the house unless for very important errands! Everyone wash their hands for 20 seconds! Alcohol in every room! No one touch the packages till they're sanitized! We will all have online lessons to keep our minds alive. I will be the best teacher in the world! 

There was no time to be afraid. I didn't allow myself to be afraid.

But yesterday, I was so very frightened at last. And I cried and cried. I let myself cry, because I realized I needed to be scared now. Because if that virus ever finds its way inside our home, our sanctuary, I can't ever cry because then I will need to fight. 

After all, courage isn't the absence of fear. It's going on and facing another day, even when you're scared. And I may be scared now, but I also feel my soul fortifying itself. This pandemic is far from over and we parents need to protect our families. The circumstances are all so infuriating and frustrating but I can't control that. I just pray to God that He will save us from all this madness - the bad governance, the mutating virus, the misuse of funds. Till that happens, I'm going to keep my family safe. We did it for a year. God help me, we'll do it again for as long as we have to.

“Tell everyone who is discouraged, 'Be strong and don’t be afraid! God is coming to your rescue.'” Isaiah 35:4


*photos by my husband, Vince, when we were at beautiful Bohol six years ago. One day, we will travel again. For now, we stay home and stay safe.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Hada Labo now in the Philippines! Excited to get that mochi skin!

Exciting news! Hada Labo is here in the Philippines and I can't wait to try this famous Japanese skin care brand!



Okay, so a few weeks ago, I got this mysterious box and when I opened it, I squealed! Hada Labo products!!! The Hada Labo Gokujyun Hydrating Lotion is the No. 1 facial lotion in Japan for 13 consecutive years. I've always wanted to try it. And now I finally can. YOU finally can!

So what's Hada Labo? 

Hada Labo is a beloved Japanese skin care brand that infuses skin with intense hydration. It uses Super Hyaluronic Acid, a substance naturally occurring in the human body, to bind water to skin. Skin is plumper, smoother, and soooo moist. And if you're a middle-aged woman like me, faced with drying skin and fine lines, moist is a very good word.



I'm really excited to use the Gokujyun Hydrating Lotion (Php 195 for 30ml, Php 685 for 170ml). It has FOUR kinds of Hyaluronic Acid. Is that a bit much? No. When you want dewy skin, you want that much! And yet this lotion is not thick and icky. It's lightweight and is quickly absorbed into your skin, which becomes so deeply moisturized, it becomes pillowy soft with a clear, almost translucent effect that it kinda looks like a mochi cake. That's why Hada labo skin is known as "mochi skin." 

Now, Hada Labo doesn't have just one star product. It has a whole range of skin-caring goodies. Meet the facial washes:

The Hada Labo White range or Gokujyun range has three face washes for different skin types. 

1. Hydrating Face Wash, Php 385 for 100g - fragrance-free and gentle for hydrated and refreshed skin
2. Hydra and Whitening Face Wash, Php 295 for 100g - Brown Algae Extract and Resveratrol help brighten skin
3. Deep Clean & Pore Refining Face Wash, Php 295 for 100g - Japanese Green Tea extract helps control and remove excess oil while Bentonite Clay absorbs dirt and impurities from pores



Hada Labo also has moisturizers to seal all that water in: 

1. Hydrating Light Cream, Php 850 for 50g - ingredients like Aloe Vera and other moisturizing natural botanicals deeply nourish skin while the Aqua Oil Volume Matrix technology helps prevent moisture loss and boosts skin hydration. 
2. Hydrating Water Gel, Php 850 for 50g - an ultralight gel with a watery feel, perfect for those who just want a light moisturizer. This has Ceramides to protect and nourish your skin barrier.



What I like about the Hada Labo system is it's a simple regimen only - face wash, hydrating lotion, and moisturizer. No 10 steps to follow! It's in keeping with the brand philosophy of "It's Perfectly X Simple" – a skincare range that brings beauty back to the basics. Hada Labo emphasizes simplicity in its skin care process, not just by keeping their product range basic but also by keeping its ingredients pure. No unnecessary additives, colorants, fragrances, and mineral oils. So whatever your skin type, it will love Hada Labo! 

Well, at least that's my hope. I'm going to try Hada Labo! I'm currently doing a 10-step routine now so I'll rest my skin for a few days and then I'll use the Hada Labo products I got. Then I'll update this post with a review after a month. Exciting! Mochi skin, here I come!

By the way! You can try Hada Labo products at up to 10% off on March 27, 2021. That's this Saturday, on Lazada's 9th Birthday Sale. HBD, Lazada!


To find out more about the Hada Labo White range, like their Facebook page.


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Another Mid Century Modern dream house

Time to share a new dream house! I found this Mid-Century Modern baby in my favorite Facebook group, MCM Daily. This house is in Citrus Heights, California. So if you're in the area, look it up (or look here!


The design was by Carter Sparks, from 1968. I love the clean lines! Well, that's what I love about MCM. The clean lines of the architecture. Let's look inside!


Oooh, even the furniture and the colors are authentic to the period!


I like that there's a separate sitting area from the living room. Although I'll probably make this a library and, because of the pandemic, we need a dedicated place for homeschooling our kids, too.


Cute and compact kitchen!


Look at that! A vending machine! How fun! And what a great idea. I should do that so that my kids won't eat us out of house and home! Growing boys eat so much!

Okay, this area looks like a home office. Is that a desk on the left? And then another smaller office beyond? Perfect for my husband and myself since we both work from home.


Love the deep navy and the bright yellow color combo! That's what's so nice about MCM. No shying away from bold colors!
 

Then a big yard! I can see the kids running around here. A pool party. A night out with a campfire under the stars. Us having a barbecue on Sundays like today. We can finally have a dog! Sigh. When will this pandemic end?

What's your dream house like?


*Photos by https://www.chipallenphotography.com/

Saturday, March 20, 2021

5 ways my blog made my dreams come true

In a few weeks, I'll be celebrating the 15th anniversary of Topaz Horizon. I've been blogging for almost 15 years! Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would be my longest and most fulfilling career. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine blogging would bring me the joy, love, friendship, and community I've longed for all my life. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this little hobby would make 5 of my most cherished dreams come true, too!

Dream #1: Tell stories.

When I started blogging in 2006, all I ever wanted to do was tell stories. I had a lot of stories to tell. I was brimming with them. As a writer, I never really run out of stories. The problem is I'm not very good at telling them face-to-face. I don't really talk. That's why I write.

Back then, the only ones lucky enough to tell their stories to an audience are those who got themselves published in books and magazines. In 2005, I was working in a magazine and have had the great luck to be published. But greedy me, these weren't enough. Mostly because the stories I wrote for these titles weren't mine; they were other people's stories. I longed to tell my own.

Then a friend told me about this strange new platform called blogging. So I tried it. My world exploded. I was telling stories—silly, stupid, funny, sad, angry—and people were reading them! Blogging made my storytelling dream come true!

This was my last blogging workshop, I think! I love meeting my readers and chatting with them!

Dream #2: Win friends and influence people.

No, I've never read the Dale Carnegie book but blogging's allowed me to do what his bestselling book said everyone should do: win friends and influence people! Two years after I published my first blog post here on Topaz Horizon, I was not only telling stories to a worldwide audience (mind-boggling!), I also started to have real friends online. I say "real" because they didn't feel real at first. No faces, sometimes no names even, which made them feel unreal, but their friendship, jokes, empathy, words of encouragement, and comfort were real. And suddenly I wasn't feeling lonely anymore. I had friends! There were people who understood me and my weirdness. There were people who also put me in my place when I was being cocky, mean, and stupid, but they were always constructive. Sure, there are haters. That can't be avoided when you share your thoughts and beliefs. But mostly, the online world's been kind to me, and for that I'm grateful.

The one thing I didn't expect from blogging was the influence part. When people think of how to be an "influencer," they think it's as simple as peddling products. It's more than that since sharing your life has the incredible power of compelling people to change their minds. I had to be convinced my platform can be used to sway people's opinions. In my mind, I'm just telling my stories. But many of you have written me telling me I've helped you decide on career, love life, marriage, friendship, motherhood, and household issues. From shallow to profound. That scared me. It still scares me. Every time I blog, I'm always mindful of my message. I'm also still in the process of editing, even deleting, blog posts from years and years ago because I know I'm different now. I have to be careful every time I tell a story. 

Met my friend and Lean In PH co-founder, Ginger Arboleda, because of blogging! She's the one who actually told me to use my influence to empower women, especially moms.

Dream #3: Work from home.

As my blogging world grew bigger, another impossible dream was realized - I can work from home! And to a new mom, that means the world! I could work and be with my kids 24/7. I never thought I'd be able to do this since I was (still is) in media and media people are notoriously married to their work. It was difficult for me to choose between my work and my babies back in 2010-2012. Then fate decided for me when I was laid off (internet killed magazines). I could've looked for another job but my blog made it possible for me to just be a mom. I will always be grateful I chose to do this blogging business!

Dream #4: Become a businesswoman.

Yes, my blog was the reason I became a businesswoman! For this blog to work as my main source of income, I had to attract bigger clients and a big way to do that was go legit. I registered as a business offering writing and editing services. For a good long while, my business was just that. But in recent years, I've eased more and more to influencer marketing. I realized my professional experience as an editor, writer, and blogger made me especially good at managing influencers so that both brand and influencer are happy. I had insight from brand and agency side and from the influencer side, too. It's really been good for business and I'm so happy my blog made this possible.

My pre-pandemic life: bring kids to school, run around the city, work on my phone!

Dream #5: Publish a book.

Fifteen years after my first blog post, I have now given birth to a book. A real book with pages you can smell! This blog became a book and I still can't believe this last and biggest dream has come true. I remember praying about it in September and just one month later, a publisher emailed me saying they loved my blog and could I write a book for them. And so I did! Please email me at frances@topazhorizon.com to grab a copy of Not Invisible!

Five dreams. Now all real. Time to dream new dreams then! And thank you - ALL OF YOU! - for making these dreams come true. God bless you, dearest Loyal Readers! Love you all!

*This post was made with links provided by Intellifluence. To learn more and sign up for paid campaigns, click here!

Monday, March 15, 2021

The beginner's guide to PEMF therapy

The pandemic made one thing possible for me: I didn't get sick of respiratory infections all year long! But maybe the stress of COVID-19 on top of my middle-aged body highlighted the fact that I'm 44 and not young anymore. Headaches, bloating, acidity, muscle pain, thinning hair, splitting nails. Normal things an aging person goes through right? But what if we can manage and even delay or prevent these? That's why I finally went and got a complete check up! Not all is good news but it was better than I expected. I'll blog about that soon. Meanwhile, today's guest post is all about a unique kind of therapy that can address pain and inflammation. 

* * * * * * *


GUEST POST - Health is wealth for all living beings, but our health starts to deteriorate as we age. Furthermore, there are times when we don't take proper care of ourselves, which makes us more susceptible to developing various diseases. One of the leading health complications is suffering from pain and inflammation.

While there are several drugs that can help you deal with this condition, there is a new treatment for curing severe pain and inflammation. This therapy is known as PEMF, and we have gathered all the information you will need regarding this latest technique.

What is PEMF Therapy?

PEMF means Pulsed Electromagnetic Field, and it's performed using PEMF devices. These devices use electromagnetic waves of various frequencies to encourage your body's innate healing process. While most electromagnetic waves are harmful to humans, these devices use small bursts of electromagnetic waves that have a very low frequency. This technique is entirely safe, and it's one of the best treatments for pain and inflammation management.

How Does It Work?


As mentioned before, PEMF therapy is performed using a device that uses mild bursts of electromagnetic waves. These pulses can be targeted to heal your bones, tissues, organs, and cells. They work by promoting cellular growth and development that also leads to improved recovery. However, using a low frequency is key since high-frequency usage might lead to genetic alterations.

Therefore, it means that this device uses safe pulses that help your body recover independently without the use of any drugs or invasive treatments. This procedure can help manage sleep complications, treat bones and tissues, depression management, promote optimal blood circulation and overall immunity that helps manage intense pain.

Different PEMF Devices

There are various types of PEMF devices that deal with numerous diseases and health complications. Each device has been designed to deal with specific health conditions, and they all look very different from one another. For instance, you could opt for a PEMF mat, coil, PEMF portable device, or a big machine.

That being said, the main difference lies in the way they work rather than their structural appearance. However, these differences are less significant than the differences in how they work. Therefore, let’s have a look at the various distinguishing features of these devices.

The first one is the strength of the electromagnetic waves. Mild pulses usually don't affect you that deep, and you might end up needing various treatments to get good results. However, the required strength also depends upon your medical condition. The more serious the issue, the higher the pulse strength will be.

The frequency of the device matters a lot as well. However, your disease will again be the deciding factor to help you understand your required frequency. A mild frequency would be ideal for mild complications, but you'd need a bit higher frequency for something serious.

However, you can never exceed a set limit of the frequency range; otherwise, it might damage your DNA. The shape of the waves is also another factor, but it still requires some research.

Who Should Try PEMF Therapy?

PEMF therapy is ideal for anyone dealing with pain, injuries, or joint inflammation. This is a non-invasive treatment that treats you without using drugs as well. Moreover, there aren’t any known side-effects of this therapy either. That being said, it’s always best to consult your doctor before trying any new treatment.

PEMF therapy is a non-invasive and drug-free treatment that helps to provide instant relief against pain and inflammation. It's performed using a device that emits low-frequency electromagnetic waves, and it has proved to be a safe and effective treatment so far.

* This is a guest post, with my edits. To place a guest post, email frances@topazhorizon.com for my rates. Photo by Johny Georgiadis from Unsplash.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Our last normal day

Today, March 9, marks the anniversary of the last day my children were out in the world. 

On this date last year, it was a Monday. It was the last week of the school year and my kids were excited for school to end. Just 4 more days and it's summer! Piero and I went to fetch his older brothers. I had already heard of the mysterious new disease but I decided we won't wear masks that day. This Covid-19 seemed unreal. And it was such a beautiful day!


This is where we wait. It's the amenities deck of the condo across my kids' school. It has a playground and a 7-Eleven, a salon, and a couple of tutorial centers, so it's nice to hang out there by the pool. I take pictures for my husband. I always bother him at work by sending him photos of what his family is up to. 

This is mommy me! Hair in a ponytail, no makeup, no jewelry. Definitely not glam when I'm on mommy duty haha 

With me are Vito and Piero waiting for Inigo to finish his one-hour session with the Chinese tutor. They love waiting because just look at where we are. The boys play with their iPad or run around in the playground or we lounge by the pool. It's really nice there! We miss it.

And we're off! That day, we had a hard time again with getting a Grab. So after 30 minutes of attempted bookings, we walked to Ortigas Ave. to try and hail a taxi. What we usually do is go to the gasoline station near the boys' school. There's a nice cafe and pizza place there. I leave the boys there with pizza or chips and they do their homework while I go out and wait by the highway to get a taxi. I'll forever be grateful to the staff of that gasoline station for watching over the kids.

Eventually, I was able to book a Grab and so I went back to the kids and had merienda with them. Then our car arrived, the kids chattered away, and we were home. As I type this, it's 5:30 PM. That's exactly the time we get home from school. 

That's how our regular normal weekdays are. We just didn't realize that that would be the last one. That night, the schools canceled the rest of the week's remaining days. The kids didn't even get to say good-bye to their friends. But we thought, "That's okay, they'll see each other again in June." What did we know.

I don't want to be sad because one year in lockdown later, we are all still alive. And healthy. We never even got the sniffles - the first year in maybe a decade no one in the family got sick. And I tell myself I have to count my blessings every day so I don't take this for granted. 

But oh how I'm ready for that normal life once more.

Covid-19 cases are on the rise again. I see many people on social media having parties, lunches, weddings, and reunions. This pandemic is never going to end if we don't follow the safety protocols. Please stay home, everyone. Stay safe. 

Monday, March 08, 2021

What we can learn from the circus around Meghan's yet-to-be-seen Oprah interview

In my neck of the woods - that would be Facebook and Instagram Stories - I have been talking non-stop about the upcoming exclusive interview of Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, with Oprah Winfrey.

I won't rehash all the stuff I said on FB and IGS (please follow me @francesampersales!). I'll just say this hours before the much anticipated/dreaded/hated interview in recent memory airs: 

WE DON'T KNOW ANYTHING!!! 

I'm guilty of my own theories. I just loved chatting with fellow royal watchers, whether they're fans of Meghan or not, about all the possible things the Duchess could reveal to Oprah. But when this video came out, I realized I should just wait!


Shame. Shame.

But I feel ashamed, too, since I've been gleefully jumping to conclusions. For the record, I love anything British royalty - Diana, Charles, Camilla, William, Kate, Harry and Meghan! I don't have any teams. I love all of them. Yes, even Camilla! Now, there's a ton of juicy items coming out on the reasons why the Palace would gang up on Meghan (a very strong reason is to bury any news items on William's alleged cheating and Andrew's confirmed pedophilia). But do we actually know what Meghan and Harry will share???

No. Not until 9 AM Manila time. And till then, I've been controlling my emotions, too.

What I was reminded of by all this hullabaloo was this time when I was in college. Someone told me my boyfriend at that time (not the abusive one) was spotted talking to this girl. I shrugged it off, didn't really think much of it. But then my friends were freaking out. I said, "I'll ask him about it." But they started telling me all about how he was spending way too much time with her. And I couldn't talk to him because I didn't have a mobile phone and neither did he. So I spent 2 days agonizing over this issue. Finally, when I got to see him, I was an angry, emotional mess. I asked him if he was cheating on me. He said he was just tutoring her on some math. And I felt so bad because I had made a huge issue over nothing. 

We broke up anyway. I never loved him and I'm pretty sure he didn't love me. So the emotional distress I felt that time was curious. Why was I upset over something I didn't really care about? It was because I got infected by other people's drama, that's why.

The lesson I learned there is unless I have proof, unless I see it myself, and even then until the person admits it, I shouldn't overthink it. Do I still overthink things? I do. But I mindfully tell myself to stop. It's gotten to the point that I refuse to let my imagination get away with me. My husband says I'm so literal. I have to be or else I'll never trust anybody!

So back to Meghan and Harry (he joins the interview mid-way, I hear)... 

Can we calm down and stop putting words in his and her mouths? I think we've all become infected with hysteria. My favorite Duchess of Cambridge Instagram accounts are already declaring war on Meghan. They are so sure Meghan will spill ugly things about Kate. I'm sorry but at this point, does Kate even count? It's not like she makes any important decisions concerning the Sussexes.

So there. We go through so much grief with unknown entities. "My boss wants to meet - I'm getting fired! My husband hasn't picked up my calls - he's cheating! My friend went shopping with this other friend - she must hate me! This meme says Leni said she has three daughters and they're all girls - she must be stupid!" It's crazy. I go through this all the time actually. I'm anxious all the time. Well, I use to be. That's why I forcefully stop myself from reacting. I tell myself, "Calm down. Investigate." 

With this Megan interview and with all things in life, maybe we should wait and listen and watch. Then when we get all the facts, then we react to the facts. Not to the hysteria, not to our fears. That is all!

P.S. I am soooo excited to know what the Sussexes have to say! Can't wait!

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Life update!

Oh my! I hardly blogged last month! Didn't I have a 30-Day Blogging Challenge? Whatever happened to that???

Well, this has been the happy happening:


The paperback copies of Not Invisible finally arrived on our shores and I've been so busy handling and sending out orders. This being the pandemic, I can't hire people to help me, although my second son sometimes helps with the packing. So it's been slow but so exciting!

I also have brand partnerships! Thanks so much to Welch's 100% Grape Juice, Champion by Energen chocolate malt drink, and to Wolvit biotin supplement for supporting me! 


To my readers, please help me and support them back. I'll be blogging a review on Wolvit soon. Spoiler alert: I'm so excited about this hair, nails, and skin supplement! Then Welch's wants me to give away their products and my book to you! Watch for these exciting posts this March!

Finally and most wonderful of all, my husband celebrated his birthday, which was right after Valentine's Day, so that weekend and week was FUN! We had chocolates, ice cream, cake, and lots of sashimi! Vince didn't want me to greet him publicly (also known as a Fezbook greeting haha) so I didn't say anything at all, save for this vague one:

My husband and our boys having tons of fun! Today is a special day for our family but the celebrant
doesn't want a social media greeting so let me just say may the Force be with these boys always and 
may their bond be stronger than the interstellar one Mando and Baby Yoda has.

It's been a good start of the year, even though we still aren't out of the woods yet. In fact, despite the COVID-19 vaccination program starting this month, this is far from over. The anniversary of our quarantine is just around the corner and for us who survived or have avoided COVID-19 so far, the last year has been full of fear and also relief. I sometimes feel guilty for escaping 2020 unscathed. I've never been more aware of my privilege till the pandemic happened. I've been so good and careful. Never going anywhere unless it's for food, medicine, and essentials. Always washing my hands and adding the extra step of using alcohol. 

We can't take our health and life for granted! Please don't let your guard down. But I confess I kinda did today. I had to do some lab tests at 8 AM and because I had to fast for 10 hours, I was so hungry that I ate at a restaurant as soon as my blood was drawn by the clinic. The restaurant was empty. The A/C wasn't on. I wiped down my table and chair with alcohol. I was so safe. Then I forgot to sanitize the utensils and scratched my nose after eating. I was terrified for an hour. What if...?

But we can't worry about the future too much. And I had to remind myself of my new mantra these past couple of years - "I'll cross that bridge when I get there." I'll do my best to be prepared for the future but there's no point worrying about it until tomorrow is finally today. 

So many happy news! I went through a few bad ones, too. I hope this 2021 will be filled with more happy news than bad ones. The only things I pray for now are our good health and for God's provision. He's been good and faithful. So all's good! And that's my life update!  

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

That most famous engagement ring and a few stories about it


Forty years ago today! On February 24, 1981, Prince Charles presented his future bride to the press. They had just gotten engaged 21 days prior and Diana, all of 19 years old, and hidden away from the world in her aristocratic life, didn't realize what she was getting herself into. 

For their engagement announcement, the future Princess of Wales wore an inexpensive off-the-rack dress from Harrod's and a relatively affordable engagement ring from the Garrard holiday catalog. Yes, not a jewel from the royal collection because Charles couldn't even be bothered to commission a special ring just for her. The sapphire ring was just £47,000, or $60,000 today. Not even the Kardashians will wear that!

With Camilla, his then-mistress and now-wife, he thoughtfully customized a ring to reflect the Art Deco design he and Camilla like. He chose a special family heirloom diamond that belonged to the most special woman in his life, the Queen Mother.

Diana had a ring from a catalog. Oh, Diana. 


To be fair to Charles, he has always liked the huge sapphire brooch that belonged to the ladies in his family. A century and forty-one years before he proposed to Diana, another Prince gave his bride a sapphire. On the eve of their wedding day, Prince Albert presented to Queen Victoria a brooch that was a huge deep blue sapphire surrounded by diamonds. She loved it so much, she wore it on her bridal gown as her "something blue." 


In fact, Victoria loved it sooo much, she declared the brooch as a Crown Heirloom piece. That means only future Queens can wear it. So far, we haven't seen Camilla or Catherine wear it. Diana never got to wear that brooch either. That must mean it's an extra special piece for the Queen!

 
Anyway, back to Charles. So he liked that extra special brooch his mother loved. It's said Diana's extraordinarily blue eyes reminded him of that particular sapphire brooch so he thought the Garrard ring was perfect for her. So I guess that's romantic, too.

Diana's eyes look exactly like her famous ring.

It's so sad how that marriage went. So sad that sapphires symbolize faithfulness but, as Diana famously said, "There are three of us in this marriage so it's a bit crowded."

Nevertheless, I always wanted her exact ring for my own engagement ring. I told Vince about this but he replied that it was a bad luck ring. "Look at what happened to that marriage," he pointed out. So he gave me a diamond. And I bought myself the ring I wanted.  


I actually like it better, that I bought it myself. It's more meaningful because I bought it as a Diana fan haha There's no romantic love involved at all. Just like Charles and Diana's marriage haha huhu

No, no, that's not true. For a while, they were happy. Look at these photos I found on Diana fan accounts on Instagram:

Holding hands while whispering sweet nothings
Despite all their worries about the wedding, happy to meet at the altar
Honeymoon! Diana's pregnant here.
Touches, looks, and smiles
Charles said he's always loved Diana's humor. She always made him laugh.

I found more actually! Fellow royal fans love tagging me on Diana posts on IG! I'll share more soon. 

Sigh. I loved Diana and Charles together. I really wanted that fairy tale to end in happily ever after. And it could've, in a way, if fate hadn't intervened. After they divorced, they actually got along better. Charles would visit her for tea, for example. How strange. Maybe some people are better off as friends. It's always sad when marriages end. But if a friendship happens after, then that's also a beautiful thing. Too bad Diana died just one year after her divorce. Who knows? Maybe she and Charles could've gotten back together? At the very least, they could've been great at this co-parenting thing. Oh well. We'll never know.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Review: At the School Gate by Sandra Nicole Roldan

I bought At the School Gate by Sandra Nicole Roldan a couple of months ago. I met Sandra at the 1999 U.P. National Writers Workshop in Baguio, the same workshop where I met my husband, Vince. Sandra also met her husband, Paul de Guzman, there. We were all fellows in possibly the most romantic writers workshop ever. So join workshops if you're looking for your soul mate! Joking aside, Vince and I like supporting local literature, especially the work created by our fellows. At the School Gate is Sandra's first book.

Since my readers are mostly mommies, I figured I'd do a book review because At the School Gate is a children's book. At just 40 pages, all fully illustrated by Nina Martinez, it appears to be a simple little story about a teenaged girl's adventures outside her school. And it is, except that the story is dark and scary because the girl's father is hunted down by real monsters.

This is the story of Ella Cortez, a child of an activist against Martial Law. In the 1970s, activists who criticized Marcos were arrested and jailed without evidence. Many were tortured, many were killed. My parents were Marcos Loyalists and they told me this was a lie. And I was a Marcos fan, too, until I met the survivors - my professor Marra Lanot, my mentor Jo-Ann Maglipon, and my colleague Pete Lacaba. I was so embarrassed to declare one time that Marcos was an amazing President in front of Sir Pete. He looked at me and smiled sadly. That was when another colleague told me about his activism. Then I had to confront the fact that my parents were the ones who lied.   

The book follows Ella's story as she is fetched from school by her auntie at the school gate. Ella is not living in Martial Law times anymore. She is 15 years old so this is 1991. The country is under the Aquino administration, supposedly the golden era of democracy, a safe time. Her father is now an NGO worker, making documentaries. But Ella finds out from her aunt that the government captured and tortured her father again. The whole family must now stay together to keep her safe. It didn't feel safe. There is malevolence and fear haunting every page. Ella realizes quickly that even though it's her father the government is after, the threatening presence of a henchman shadows her every move. Will she be afraid or will she be brave just like her father?

At the School Gate is an important book, especially and frighteningly relevant in these dark times. Many would argue that recent events of red-tagging schools is a good thing. The government is just trying to protect students from communists sweeping through the halls and recruiting gullible young girls and boys to go against the government. But my argument to that is this: What's the overwhelming proof that state universities are churning out communists? You'd think there are thousands upon thousands of students joining the New People's Army every year. But there hardly are any. Not one person can come up with a verified list of even just a hundred students who joined the NPA in the last year. 

I don't even understand why the government is threatening the universities when there are no physical classes. The campuses are ghost towns in the nearly year-long quarantine. There's no one there to recruit, and therefore this issue is illogical. Yet we are haunted and threatened by it. 

Student activism shouldn't be a priority, especially while there is a global pandemic. Yet it seems to be an issue that won't go away. What's the oft-used phrase of this administration and its defenders? Kung walang masamang ginagawa, walang dapat katakutan. Something like that. Why are all our administrations so afraid of students and activists then? 

At the School Gate shows us that activists just want a better life for their children, except that in their fight for a better world, their families suffer. Is it worth it to sacrifice your family, your life, on the altar of democracy and freedom? It's a question I'd have said yes to when I didn't have children. But I'm ashamed to say motherhood has made me a coward. That's what this book made me realize.  

And that's why this book must be included in every Filipino home. It opens our eyes to the truth that democracy is a tenuous thing. We must not take it for granted. Some people risk their safety, happiness, and their lives fighting for it. Will At the School Gate ever be required reading? Sad to say, as long as we have leaders who are corrupt and hungry for power, this book will be dangerous material. 

To be honest, I haven't read this book to my kids yet because it's too raw and scary. It shouldn't be. Martial Law was three decades ago. But it's all still happening, especially today. I thought I'd be able to tell the boys, "And that was a dark time but these brave men and women saved us from a dictator and now we're free! There's nothing to worry about anymore. We are all safe." But I can't say that. Not yet. I hope, in 2022, I will.

At the School Gate by Sandra Nicole Roldan is available on Shopee for just P195.