Showing posts with label Reviews & Recommendations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Reviews & Recommendations. Show all posts

Monday, March 29, 2021

Review (skin and hair care): 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:


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!


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 Padala, Southstar 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.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Review (book): "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 teenage 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, and 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 when 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 P223.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Who's the best match for Daphne Bridgerton: Duke of Hastings, Prince of Prussia, or Baron Berbrooke?

Sorry sorry! I know I have a 30-Day Blogging Challenge but I was derailed by Netflix's Bridgerton. Who's watching??? 

Such a fun show. It's like Gossip Girl. I hear it's right down Downton Abbey alley, too, but I haven't watched that show so I won't know. I love the modern touches. The Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish songs in 19th century settings. The obviously modern high heels with sumptuous gowns. 

Anyway! This isn't going to be a review haha. I'm an absolute royalty nerd so I was a little annoyed at one thing. The issue of peerage. 

Just a note on peerage. There was a scene where Lady Gossip Girl said Daphne traded up by choosing the Prince from Prussia vs the Duke of Hastings. Not quite.

A duke is a title just under king. The peerage goes like so:

1. King or Queen

2. Duke or Duchess

3. Marquess or Marchioness

4. Earl or Countess

5. Viscount or Viscountess

6. Baron or Baroness

A prince, meanwhile, is a title that simply means the son of a king. So unless Prince from Prussia is the heir to the throne, he's basically just a rich brat with no future and no real money of his own (think Prince Harry, Andrew, Edward). If you're a prince, you want to be a duke! That's why on their wedding day,  Queen Elizabeth II gifted William the Duke of Cambridge title and Harry the Duke of Sussex title. Before their dukedoms, they were literally just COOs or "child of the owner".

So again, the only prince who matters is the heir to the throne. And since Prince of Prussia said he planned to stay in London to raise his family, he is obviously not the heir.

Also, side note on Daphne's brother, Anthony, marrying her off to Nigel Berbrooke. That made no sense at all. Anthony is Viscount Bridgerton. Berbrooke is just a baron, a title lower than theirs. It's a terrible match because Daphne would've married below their status. So ridiculous. 

Which means the Duke of Hastings is the best choice. He has the better title, his own land, his own money, and - with no siblings - absolutely no one else to share all that fortune with. And if the Queen in the show has no children (and it doesn't look like she does), Hastings has a chance at the throne. Well, all the dukes in the kingdom will, er, duke it out first but he definitely has a chance. Which means Daphne has a chance to be Queen. So Hastings is the right choice.

That's all! 

Thursday, January 07, 2021

Review (fashion): Silouex compression leggings

I'm just going to start this review with my conclusion: I have found leggings that I love! Ladies, meet Silouex compression leggings. It's not a new brand. I think it's been around for a couple of years. I've definitely seen the brand featured on women's lifestyle websites but I only got a pair myself a few months ago. And I love it!

Exercising and lounging at home in my favorite leggings! 

Here are all the reasons why:

1. It's thick. 
You may think that's a bad thing in a tropical country but I am just tired of leggings that rip at the bum, split at the seams, and when you're out under the sun, kita na kaluluwa mo sa nipis. Yuck. The Silouex leggings are thick. sturdy, but not hot. Definitely warmer than your regular leggings but better warm than embarrassed!

2. It's easy to put on and take off. 
I have had battles with other kinds of leggings. Pulling them up can leave me breathless, taking them off can be a nightmare (especially when you need to pee!). Silouex leggings are no trouble at all!

3. It can be worn outside your house. 
Like I said, it's thick. Some leggings are so thin, people can see your camel toe. Not chic at all. Silouex leggings protect my modesty while showing off my legs, too!
I can twist and stretch and my leggings won't split, roll down, or reveal my butt! 

4. It's high-waisted. 
You know what that means? They keep my tummy in and they don't roll down! Ladies with big bellies know what I mean!

5. It separates my ass cheeks. 
Yes! Not only does my butt get a nice lift from the compression, there's also a seam in the butt part of the leggings that makes my ass look like two round buns instead of one flat piece of meat.

6. It holds me together. 
Did I mention Silouex is a pair of compression leggings? That means all my jiggly parts are contained! It's shape wear disguised as leggings!

7. It's comfortable. 
At the end of the day, we ladies use leggings because we want to be comfy. Silouex is soooo comfy.

8. It's affordable. 
A pair is P2,300. Is that a good and reasonable price for leggings? Yes. Why? It's really shape wear, and shape wear is expensive. But super affordable nga actually their price compared to the ones you buy from foreign brands.

Once the quarantine is over, I'm definitely wearing my Silouex leggings to the gym, on the streets, to the mall, while hiking, etc etc. Check out some of these OOTDs I got:

Nice! Anyway, if you're on the lookout for really good leggings, buy Silouex! I super recommend it!

Wednesday, January 06, 2021

How to know if I'm sharing a sponsored post

I've been blogging for 15 years by May this year. And, boy, have things changed! Before 2010, bloggers just wrote about everything they fancied. That's why bloggers were so trusted. Reviews were always from personal experience and since these were paid for from our own pockets, readers knew we had every right to say whatever we wanted - positive or negative.

Oh, those were the days! Such freedom! I didn't do reviews, though. I couldn't because I was the editor in chief of a magazine. I once wrote a glowing review of Olay on my blog. Pond's, a major advertiser of my magazine, complained. I protested, "My blog is a personal hobby. It has nothing to do with my job!" But my bosses persisted and so I deleted the Olay post and avoided doing reviews thereafter. It's okay. Reviews are an expensive thing to do anyway! (But do it because people Google reviews all the time!)

Around the start of the decade, brands started taking note of the huge following of bloggers and so advertising budgets were shifted from print publications to blogs. But with bloggers now taking payment for featuring a product, a restaurant, a salon, or a hotel, readers began doubting their credibility. I avoided this by choosing to work only with brands I believe in. That meant not raking it in, however. Sometimes, I will admit, I wished I could just say yes to all the offers since who's to know anyway? Well, I would. My family, too. And eventually, my readers would, too. The loss of my integrity is the most costly of all so I can't do it. 

I wanted to be transparent so all my blog posts were marked at the beginning or at the end with a "This blog post is brought to you by [brand]." And they were also tagged as sponsored posts. On Instagram and Facebook, I used the hashtags #THx[Brand] and #thblogsp (Topaz Horizon Blog Sponsored Post) until the platforms added the Paid Partnership feature. 

Now, it's my 15th year in the blogging world, and I know from emails from my Loyal Readers that they don't like blogs and Instagram accounts that are all about products and services because they never can tell if what they're reading is paid for or not. Influencers usually don't like marking posts as sponsored because followers don't trust paid posts. While it would be nice for bloggers to never charge for anything, a blog isn't a cheap hobby. And for influencers with massive followings, it really makes sense to earn from their influence, right? 

I'm not a huge blogger but I've built enough credibility to be considered an influencer (or in agency speak, KOL - key opinion leader). Even though disclosing sponsorships usually means fewer likes and views, I'll still disclose anyway and hope you'll still support me by liking the IG/FB post and reading the blog feature. I'm making it easier for you all to know if what I'm sharing is a sponsored post or a press gift. Here's how to know:


Sponsored posts on the blog, Instagram, and Facebook will all have my face on it! That will differentiate it from the other products that I share. That way, you'll immediately know I'm endorsing it. And brands like it when people pose with their products. 

I want to make sponsored posts more special because a few years ago, a sponsor complained that I'm posting and writing about other brands for free. The brand felt gypped. Struck me as a little petty but I've thought about it and I'll do something about it. Hence this blog post!


This is actually tricky. Some press gifts are sooo nice or I really love them that I blog about them happily and people assume it's a paid post. I will always always always disclose if a post is sponsored. Always have, always will. But to differentiate them further, press gifts will not have my face on them when I share on social media. And they can be lumped together with other similar gifts in a thank you post or a blog feature. 

On the blog, however, I haven't decided. Some gifts need to be worn (clothes, makeup, jewelry) or experienced (a resort, a salon makeover, restaurant). I figured I'll present the gifts the best way I can on the blog even if that includes me with the product/service and then just disclose that it's a gift. But I'll only share the experience on IG Stories. Same goes for events.

Some bloggers advised that they share gifts and events on Instagram as a carousel, but the first photo will not have the brand in it at all. That seems like a good idea. 

Oh, and all gifts will be shared on my blog's Facebook page, in the Blogger Gifts album. If I extra love them, then they get an IG post and a blog feature, too! But as a thank you, every gift will be shared in this album.


One thing that I do that baffles people is I don't post events in real time. My reason is I don't want anyone to know where I am. I always post about an event hours or even days after it happened. Many brands ask that I post in real time. I never say yes. And they can't make me because I never charge for event attendance.

I don't think you should follow my example, though. Agencies and brands love influencers who post in real time and stay throughout the event. So if you want lots of campaigns, go to all the events! It really helps you become visible to brands and agencies so they think of you for campaigns. It's really a good idea to go to events, guys. However, brands don't like people who charge an attendance fee but if you want to, then do so. I know why other people charge. Parking, gas, Grab fare, outfits, the time spent in traffic - all of these cost money. 

I will charge if I'm asked to work at the event as the host, part of a panel, or as a speaker. So if you notice I'm posting about an event in real time, then you know I was hired to be there. But if I'm invited as a guest, then I go as a guest. That way, if I want to leave, I can leave and no one can stop me. And because I don't have an attendance fee, I only go to events I like. It has to be worth my time and money and what makes that worth it? If it's a brand I really like, if it's for a friend, or if my friends will be there. Events are a great place to catch up - there's free food, free drinks, and everyone's all dressed up! 

Again, don't do what I do. Events are a great way to build your brand and network. Attend as many relevant events as you can!  


I used to publish press releases on the blog on Press Release Tuesdays. I think that some announcements are interesting for my readers to know and it makes for additional content. But now I'm putting all press releases in my News to Know album. Mostly because news gets old fast and it's easier to post them on Facebook then delete after it's no longer relevant.

And that's it! That's what's you can expect this year on my blog and social media platforms! Okay, and just in case you're not following me yet, please like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram

Thanks so much!

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Review: Maybelline Color Drama Brow Mascara to make brows match hair colors!

To greet the new year, I went back to an old look. Short and red! Everyone I know tells me I look much better with long hair. And I agree haha That's why I always cut my hair short once a year then I let it grow, then I cut it again. People may like me with long hair but I think I'm most me with a red bob. My hair grows really fast, about half an inch a month, so it's fun to just cut and cut and cut because it's going to grow out fast anyway.

However, in all of 2020, I wasn't able to go to the salon. In fact, the last time I had my hair cut and colored professionally was mid-2019. I gave myself trims throughout quarantine but I finally chopped it all off, colored it a deep red, and I feel like myself again! This is me from the past two decades!

Hello, 2021! Imma ready for ya!

Except my eyebrows aren't haha. To be honest, I only learned to do my brows when I turned 40 (that's 4 years ago). So if you look at my looks above, some photos have no eyebrows haha

Anyway, I used to bleach my brows to match my red hair but now I just use Maybelline Color Drama Brow Mascara in Brick Brown. It's my secret for a cohesive look without bleach. When I'm dark blonde, I use Yellow Brown. When I'm a brunette, then it's the Deep Brown. 

Again, the shade I use to match my red hair is Brick Brown. It's a nice reddish brown. In fact, I chose my hair color to match the shade of the brow mascara haha

It's super easy to apply, too. Just brush it down and then up then shape. Then let it dry. It keeps my brows' shape all day. It really coats each strand of my brows. And I like that it still looks natural. And that it's waterproof and smudge-proof. I look so pretty!!! Check it out!

Sadly, I couldn't find the Brick Brown shade in the Maybelline official store in Lazada or in BeautyMNL. So I'm kinda in panic mode haha But if you have brown or blonde hair and want to try a brow mascara, try Maybelline Color Drama Brow Mascara!

Monday, January 04, 2021

New year, time to clean! Stock up on cleaning essentials!

The last 2 weeks of the old year and the first 2 weeks of the new year is when my cleaning spirit is resurrected and I scrub and wipe and sweep and freak my husband out who goes around the house asking, "Who are you? Why are you doing this? Where is my wife???" Hahahaha my poor husband having to live with messy, cluttery me.

I actually enjoy cleaning but having kids is so defeating. Like, what is the point of cleaning when they mess up everything within seconds? So I just do what I can to keep the mess at bay, but during that short period when the old year dies and a new one is born, I clean! And I love it!

Here are a few of the cleaning items I used:

Thanks so much to Clorox, Defensil, Smart Spray, and Aller Plasma Nano+ for the cleansing products! I had a grand time cleaning because of your gifts. Here's why:

With all the rubbing alcohol out in the market today, a gift of bottles upon bottles of Defensil was amazing! Especially since Defensil is 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol. Yes, not all alcohol is created equal. It needs to be in concentrations of 60% and above to be effective at disinfecting your hands and surfaces. I had to check if alcohol actually kills the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. According to Healthline, yes it does but it has to be in high concentrations, or pharmaceutical grade. So no, mouthwash, gin, beer, perfume, Eskinol - these will not protect you LOL.

Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol kills 99.9% of germs on contact. That said, the NCBI notes that "alcohol is flammable [so] limit its use as a surface disinfectant to small surface-areas and use it in well-ventilated spaces only. Prolonged and repeated use of alcohol as a disinfectant can also cause discoloration, swelling, hardening, and cracking of rubber and certain plastics." So the best and safest way to kill germs is still good old soap and water and washing your hands for at least 20 seconds.

For more information on how to stay protected, the Defensil Health Defense Council is inviting Filipino families to visit the Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol’s Facebook page.

Here's an old and credible brand I trust! Clorox! I think we've been using Clorox since I was a kid. And I'm in my 40s so that's a long relationship we have.

Bleach is a truly effective disinfectant and, yes, it can kill the coronavirus! Yes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends it. Its active ingredient is sodium hypochlorite and it can destroy bacteria, fungi, and viruses at full strength. But at full strength, bleach can be irritating to skin and the respiratory system. That's why we dilute it with water. As long as you use the recommended dilutions, that won't lessen its effectivity but it slows it down, disinfecting within 10–60 minutes' contact time.

Since you're not going to use bleach to wash your hands, this is fine. I use bleach on household surfaces like the kitchen, bathroom, and tiled or linoleum floors. I also use it on the laundry (Clorox has a color-safe bleach) to make sure our clothes are completely disinfected.

I love the Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, by the way! They don't contain bleach, but they are EPA-registered to kill SARS-CoV-2! So make sure you stock up on these wipes. Please note these wipes are for disinfecting surfaces, not for your face, nose, or private parts.

For more information, like the Facebook page of Clorox Philippines.

For those who are wary of chemicals, why not make your own chemicals? But first, I just want to establish that I'm a great believer in chemicals as everything on earth is made of chemicals. Your whole body, the air, water, the earth, our food (even organic food), every single thing you can see, smell, touch, and taste is made of chemicals. Chemicals are good. 

It's toxic chemicals that aren't good. Let us all use the correct terminology! But for those who don't want to buy bleach, make your own with Smart Spray. It's a simple bottle that uses electrolysis technology to transform water and salt to sodium hypochlorite. If you read my Clorox write-up, you'd recognize that term as the effective ingredient of Clorox bleach. 

I haven't actually used this gadget much because I have real bleach on hand but I read that the homemade disinfectant Smart Spray makes can be used to clean fruits, seafood and meat, bottles, phones, furniture, school and office supplies, car interiors, toys, packages, and all other surfaces at home. Woah. That's a lot and even on food! And it won't harm wooden furniture. 

Okay, the American Chemistry Council says that sodium hypochlorite is safe for food preparation. You can even add it to drinking water. I just don't know the amounts so until I'm sure, I'll use my Smart Spray on surfaces that we put our faces on - pillows, phones, the sofa, dining table, and the like since I don't use bleach on those things. But I'm happy that now there is a safe disinfectant for those!

For more information on Smart Spray, please go to

Okay, this is our new nifty gadget for fighting off viruses and bacteria in the air! Meet Aller Plasma Nano+ Sterilizer. We did the research and cold plasma technology kills viruses and bacteria suspended in the air. And, according to Science Daily, plasma can kill SARS-CoV-2 cultures not just in the air but also on surfaces in less than three minutes, destroying most of the virus after 30 seconds. 

We love it! I'll do a more detailed review next week. Just all I want to do now is buy 2 more units of this small hero so that our entire condo can be sterilized.

For more information on Plasma Technology and Aller Plasma Nano+, you may visit, like the Aller Plasma Sterilizer Facebook page and Instagram: @allerplasma.

There you have it - my cleaning essentials to start off 2021 right! Check them out, too!

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Review (book): "Mesa ni Misis" by Juana Yupangco

Juana Manahan Yupangco was my editor in chief when I was the market editor for BABY Magazine way back in 2014-2016. When we'd have meetings at restaurants and start looking over the menu, she would always bring up her newfound passion for healthy food and how to get our kids (and husbands haha) to eat healthy. There was this story we did for the magazine where Juana held up bunches of vegetables in her well-manicured hands for the photographer to shoot. Vegetables are not sexy, okay, but I swear I have never seen veggies so lovingly shot. It looked like a veggie beauty pageant. That's how much Juana loves vegetables.

So when she launched her NGO, Mesa ni Misis, and its beautifully shot Instagram and helpful website, I was not surprised. I was in fact full of admiration for her because most moms, myself included, are passionate about how we can give the very best to our kids. And our passion ends there. Juana decided she wanted the whole Philippines to benefit from a plant-based diet, too. 

Another thing I really loved was her insistence that healthy doesn't mean costly. I blogged before about how it hurts me when I watch news documentaries about our poor fellow Pinoys and they would use their daily wage of P100 to buy instant noodles. I grew up without money but we always ate so well. Boiled eggs, tinapa with grilled tomatoes, steaming hot champorado with dilis, lato salad, talbos ng kamote salad, adobong kangkong, nilaga, tinola, sinigang. I was never hungry. 

In my blog post Market Day!, I said, "I think I may have found a new advocacy. Wouldn't it be great if we can teach families in poor neighborhoods really inexpensive but healthy and delicious recipes? If you know any group that does this, please tell me. I would love to help!" 

That was in 2011. I never got to act on this advocacy. Lots of excuses (a.k.a. lots of kids haha) so when I saw Juana doing this and doing it so well, I'm just in awe. And I have got to help her in her mission!

On top of all the recipes she cooks to share on her website and all the feeding and educating programs she does in poor communities, Juana just launched her first book, Mesa Ni Misis: A Guide to Cooking and Enjoying Native Filipino Vegetables. I got a copy and here's my book review:

I love it! There are 40 recipes to try, from appetizers and main courses to dessert and drinks. All of them feature ingredients that can be bought from the palengke. No foreigners like quinoa, kale, or brussel sprouts in here! All familiar, all cheap, and therefore all stripping us of our excuses that vegetables are so expensive and hard to find.

Juana said, “In my recipes, I try to make cooking as easy and convenient and affordable as possible, so that eating healthy does not have to be hard. Most of the recipes are hearty meals meant to feed up to four people, with lots to go around.”

But even though Juana used humble vegetables in her recipes, all of them are so fancy! Just check these out:

Local ingredients, international flavors! Love it! Juana said, “I wanted to use local vegetables to create international dishes; this way, eating vegetables could still be exciting. Filipino food is not big on vegetables, and when we do have it, it’s topped with pork.” That would be my family - we always have pork or chicken while veggies are the tiny side dish. But with the pandemic (and advancing old age for me and my husband haha), it's really time for us to put fruits and vegetables front and center on our dinner table.

Let's help Juana in her mission of spreading the word that eating healthy is affordable, nutritious, and delicious. We'll not just be helping ourselves and our families, but every Filipino. How amazing is that? We can start by buying this cookbook!

“My hope is that by eating more vegetables, we will be able to help our local vegetable farmers, and in the long run, enjoy better health for ourselves and our families,” she added.

Prepare more healthy meals for the family with the help of Mesa Ni Misis: A Guide to Cooking and Enjoying Native Filipino Vegetables, available now on ABS-CBN Books’ Lazada and Shopee stores and in leading bookstores nationwide for only Php 250.00.

Visit for updates, information on how to help their programs, and events and activities. Watch the Mesa ni Misis channel for cooking tutorials. Follow Mesa ni Misis on Instagram and Facebook to be part of the plant-based diet community.

P.S. Congrats, Juana! Praying that your cookbook and advocacies reach every Filipino home!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Review (book): "The Overseas Fabulous Pinay" by Donna Avellana Kunzler

I just put down this super interesting book, The Overseas Fabulous Pinay: A Modern Filipina's Handbook on How to Thrive Abroad. It's by Donna Avellana Künzler. She may have a foreign last name but she's Pinay through and through. Donna was born and raised in Cavite and took up accounting because all she ever wanted to be was a CPA like her dad. However, she became an Information Technology Auditor and Consultant instead. Her #ovfabpinay life started almost 20 years ago when she moved to Singapore for work. From there, she moved to the USA and then to my favorite city, London. Always because of work (how lucky is this woman?). She is now based in Switzerland, working for a Swiss global company, responsible for finance process governance and standardization in the finance organization. 

Donna's a new mommy to a baby girl and I really admire her because she was working, writing and producing a book, and making a baby all at the same time! That's amazing! I know this because - full disclosure - I helped edit the manuscript so my deadline was the most unusual in my editing career: I had to finish editing before Donna gives birth. And there's no pushing that deadline haha I was also working when I was in the delivery room with my first baby but I had already turned over most everything to my staff. A whole book is a whole different story. It's personal. It's also like a child. So for Donna to be working on her book and preparing to give birth is a whole new level of devotion.

The author is talking to the bold Pinay who wants to leave the constraints comforts of home and be on her own abroad. No mommy and daddy, no allowance, no friends, no yaya, no driver, no boyfriend or husband. Gosh, just writing that down is so exciting. I've always wanted to work in London or Singapore, far far away from everyone I know and who knew me. But - after making careful decisions - life became just too good here. No regrets! But that's a dead part of me that was prodded awake by Donna's book.

Because Donna is so conversational, even chatty, the book is so easy to read. It literally feels like I'm sitting on my couch, sipping my coffee, and chatting with a friend. Well, the author is the one doing the chatting while I'm eagerly listening.

It feels fast-paced, though. Is that a bad thing? Well, no. I just feel like the author was rattling off all her useful information (there's a plethora!) and I haven't absorbed anything yet and she's already off on her new topic. That's why I'm glad this is a book. I can go back and take notes. I feel like if this was a talk, I'd be asking her to "Wait, wait, let me just write that down!"

I think Donna anticipated this. Her book is well designed to highlight the lists upon lists of tips, advice, documents, rules, and many more. So you can easily find everything you need to know. There are colored boxes, checklists - it's really quite a useful reference book. In fact, it was a finalist for Best Interior Design at the 2020 International Book Awards. 

Speaking of awards, Donna's book is a Gold Winner at the Nonfiction Book Awards."This is a really upbeat book that is helpful and inspiring for anyone considering moving overseas. It has lots of tips, lists and questions to consider both before and after a move," the review says.

As you can tell, it's worth your pesos to grab this book and worth your time to also read it. And don't let those awards intimidate you - this is such an easy-to-read book. I do think you won't finish it in half a day since there is a ton of information to process. So take it slow and pay attention, especially when you reach the chapters of settling abroad.

Every single part of the book offers practical tips. What I found especially useful was the chapter on the unique lifestyles of each country. I've always been a tourist, staying at hotels and going to places that catered to the foreigner so I've never actually experienced how it is to be a local. 

So all of Donna's stories about paying attention to the culture was eye-opening because of course people treat tourists differently than they do people they work with, no matter what country you came from. As they say, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." I also liked all the stories on how to find a home, getting a driver's license, and being aware of rules and certain ways of life that comes from living in a cold country or a disciplined country. 

For example, I was amazed that in Zurich, you have to buy official trash bags. And they are expensive. You can't just use any trash bag like we do here in the Philippines. Trash is also segregated and you better make sure you sort your trash because if you don't, the district council will issue warning letters to you, your neighbors will complain against you, and you just might find yourself homeless. Serious stuff! 

I would've wanted to know how to find work and move to another country, though. Donna didn't address that because that wasn't her experience. She's lucky enough to have gotten job offers before moving to the countries she's lived in. But for my husband and I who are contemplating moving abroad since we're not happy with where our country is going, we'd love to know how to grab those good jobs. 

We're told by our immigration agent that we need to move first then look for a job there. That's terrifying. We're old so it may take time for us to find the good jobs and neighborhood that we can live happily in. But we have kids so we can't afford to fail. So it's like a chicken-or-the-egg thing for us. Do we look for a job first and hope the employer asks us to move there? Does one of us go first and establish our home? Do we just risk it all and move everyone and hope we don't hate our new life? Tough decisions.

Another thing I wanted to know was sure tips on how to become a permanent resident or citizen in the country we're moving to. Are there secrets? Will it cost a lot of money? Will it take years upon years? Those issues were important to me but weren't discussed. Maybe those will come up in her next book (I hope she writes The Overseas Fabulous Pinay Mom!) or in one of her online talks.

Yes, Donna has lots of online talks! Just visit because Donna always has events lined up. She has other #ovfabpinays over for chats about how to live fabulously abroad. Join the #ovfabpinay Facebook community and follow @ovfabpinay on Instagram for more updates. Donna is very friendly and encouraging of her fellow Pinays who would love to start a new life abroad.

And of course, do grab your own copy of The Overseas Fabulous Pinay: A Modern Filipina’s Guide on How to Thrive Abroad by Donna Avellana Künzler. It's a really good read! Get it at major online book shops Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Amazon for P750. 

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Review: Flawless Nano Power Peel

Hello mamas! I'm going to do a short review of what I've been doing to my face lately—the Flawless Nano Power Peel. Hindi naman siya regular. I'm in my 40s so I my skin is thinner now. Too much exfoliation and peeling can harm skin. So twice ko pa lang ito nagawa, every 2 months, but I am very happy with it because my face now is really smooth and the texture is finer.

What is the Nano Power Peel? Here's what I got from the website:

"Nano Power Peel, P2,200
Propels corundum crystals onto the skin to slough off dead skin cells, rejuvenate, lighten, and even out skin tone. It also helps reduce the appearance of certain types of scars."

Every session at Flawless starts with me sanitizing my hands and getting a fresh kit of tools for maximum hygiene. Here's my pretty aesthetician with my unopened kit. Then I climb onto my therapy bed, get aromatherapy to relax, get a heated bag for my hands, and get a hand massage, too. That's why I like Flawless—it's very affordable but the experience is luxe.

Sorry—not diamonds but crystals! The peeling session is after my steaming and pricking. The peel feels rough on my skin but buti na lang magaan ang kamay ng aesthetician ko. She was very gentle habang pinapasada niya yung wand. So hindi masakit.

Here's what I look like—my whole face underwent the procedure save for the sensitive skin around my eyes and mouth. She repeats the procedure again, so dalawang beses iikot yung wand sa mukha.

After the wand, the dust is gently brushed off. The sand goes into everything—hair, ears, mouth, nose, neck, cleavage. Haaay, nakakaloka siya. Lalo na kasi kailangan next day pa ako pwede maghilamos so I go to sleep feeling sand everywhere!

Pero WORTH IT. Look at my super fine complexion! My acne scars are fading. My skin tone has improved. Malapit na sa glass skin levels. I love my Flawless Nano Peel! Must book a session before the holidays para mega ganda ang glow ko. Try niyo na rin!

P.S. Happy anniversary, Flawless! Thanks for being the start of my beauty journey last 2016. I never thought I'd be free from my acne (my constant companion since I turned 14!) but thanks to you, I'm finally rid of that pesky problem. Congratulations on helping other people with their skin problems and giving us the confidence to face the world!!! 

*ERRATUM: Price of treatment updated to reflect current one.