Monday, July 21, 2014

The 3-month late Birthday

Here's a 3-month late post on how I spent my 29th birthday. It was a difficult time because my dad was still in the hospital then, hence the missed birthday blog. But despite that, my family was still able to arrange a swimming party for the April celebrants and some relatives from abroad spending summer vacation in the PH. How blessed can I be! :) 
It was a fun night of hot spring pools, cakes and bubblies.

On top of that, my colleagues invited me to a pseudo brainstorming, which turned out to be a Japanese birthday lunch. Hooray for good friends!
For what it's worth, Happy Birthday to me! :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Gratitude List: Downtime

Glenda, one of the most powerful storms to hit the the Philippines this year, has left eastern and southern Luzon in shambles. Manila, the mega city and the country's capital, was left in chaos and some areas remain powerless for several days now. We got our power back a few hours ago after four days of struggling with darkness. While I'm too happy that the power, along with all the comforts it brings our home, is back, I'm also grateful to have a bit of a lull to see a few things in a totally different light. So today, I woke up early from a fake cold night, grabbed my computer and listed some things I'm thankful for during my forced downtime. 

Preparation is key. Parts of Manila was (and some are still) in the dark. Most households I know are equipped with the usual emergency supplies but only to a certain extent. Are we prepared in the event that the blackout stretches to a week or more? With the batteries, emergency lights and candles sold out in almost all groceries in our area (only on the second day!), I guess not. Time to beef up my Doomsday Preppers vibe.

Be with an employer who genuinely cares for you. It was 3am, and I was desperately trying to do something about the banging windows and ceiling when I read the office thread over WhatsApp. It was our business unit head, tracing the whereabouts and safety of each and every employee. I know some companies, especially those whose clients are overseas, cannot suspend work because of the nature of their business. Not entirely their fault, but I'm just happy to be where I am right now where people's safety matters more than anything. 

Do not take communication for granted. I cannot stress enough how it's so hassle-free to communicate these days. You can message or call anyone with a few tap on your personal gadgets. For a digital immigrant who still remembers how my dad and uncles send voice tapes from abroad, I value how communication is now at our fingertips. Sadly, once a thing becomes too easy and too abundant, people tend to take it for granted. So when the networks went wonky, people scrambled to their phones to reach their loved ones. Do we really have to wait for a storm to reach out? 

Home is where my heart is. Power was out in our place for four days. That's almost a hundred hours of sweltering in the dark. By the second day, cabin fever sets in. In this time and age when I and most people in my circle are connected to the web 24/7, I'm sure you get where this is heading. A number of good friends who live in buildings with generators or in unaffected areas offered to host me and my family until we get our power back. But my mom is old-school and didn't want to leave the house. I was very tempted to stay at a friend's place since I needed to sleep to be able to work, but somehow, I long for my home. It's where I'm most at peace despite the lack of all the usual comforts. Aside from the sleepless nights, it still wasn't so bad. 

Makeup-less and home with the boss

Live a simple life. A friend posted about how they drove for hours to find a hotel because her kids cannot take the power-less night. They didn't find any because all hotels are fully booked, and people were actually waiting in line. She also said how she remembers that when they were kids, they managed to survive a few days without electricity and how people nowadays will die of the inconvenience rather than the typhoon. I have nothing against people, especially families with kids, who cannot survive a night without hot water and air conditioning. But personally, I want to try to keep a simple lifestyle and be less dependent on the everyday luxuries. Just in case we get doomed, I have better chances of adapting.

No sandwich maker? That's fine. I'm happy with my hot and freshly delivered taho! :)

One day at a time. In relation to living a simple life, no power means no fridge, which means we have to cook food just enough to finish in one sitting. On a broader sense, there will be days and instances when the world will ask us to slow down and not be sick and worried too much about the future and just live one day at a time. We could all use a break from paranoia. 

Sharing one of my favorite verses from the scriptures
Pray for resilience. In times of difficulties, we usually pray for the energy and strength to survive. In life, we aim to display courage and power. In truth, when our humanly strength and betrays us, what we need is the ability to spring back to our original form and bounce back from all the difficulties. SHRUG. IT. OFF. 

My mind is a bottomless pit of insights and life lessons the past days. I guess 96 hours of downtime did me well. Wishing everyone's safe after the storm. Take care!

Much Love,

Monday, July 14, 2014

12 Things You Need to Know About Oral Care

I had the funniest conversation with my closest girls about always smelling good, people's natural scents and well - nasty body odors. As much as I want to impose equality, I have to agree that girls are ALWAYS expected to smell good compared to boys. Of course it's no excuse for boys to put their guards (and deodorants) down, but somehow, their athletic activities and abundant sweat glands give them a bit of a leeway to occasionally smell otherwise.  Girls do not have any excuse. 

Fortunately, this is not the case for oral care. Boys, girls, young and old, we are all expected to always mind our breath. Being social beings, it is a must to ensure that we have fresh breath whenever we talk to people, which means all the time! My friends and I agreed that it's a social responsibility, and we even made a pact to be honest with each other and with people around us in an effort to promote healthy mouths and fresh breath all around! :)

In view of this, here are 12 things you should know about oral care:

1.  The perfect angle to tilt your toothbrush is 45 degrees for that optimal reach. To properly brush your teeth tilt the brush at a 45° angle against the gumline and sweep or roll the brush away from the gumline by using short strokes. Gently brush the outside, inside and chewing surface of each tooth using short back-and-forth strokes. Gently brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen breath. Proper brushing takes at least two minutes — that's right, 120 seconds! FACT: Most adults do not come close to brushing that long.  

2. The ideal length of floss to use is 20 inches. Ideally, floss should be waxed. Floss removes plaque and debris that sticks in between teeth and below the gumline, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath. Waxed floss allows the floss to glide along your gums.

3.  Three months is the ideal lifespan of a toothbrush. Clinical research shows that a new toothbrush can remove more plaque than one that's worn out, ensuring that your brush is working its hardest to help keep your teeth clean and healthy. That's because, no matter what type of toothbrush you use, its bristles can become frayed and worn and may lose their effectiveness.

4.  A healthy gum is pink in color and does not bleed when brushing or flossing.  If you experience bleeding gums often, visit your dentist as this may be a sign of oral problem.  

5. There are 500-650 types of bacteria species living in the oral cavity, one of the main reasons for having bad breath. Over 500 different strains of bacteria have been detected in the human mouth, though most people are only host to 34 to 72 different varieties. Most of these bacterial species appear to be harmless when it comes to our health. Other bacteria actually protect our teeth and gums. There are some bacteria, however, that we'd rather do without, since they cause tooth decay, bad breath and gum disease.  

6.  Mouthwash takes care of the spaces inside the mouth that your toothbrush cannot reach. A mouthwash with fluoride will help reduce cavities and periodontal disease.

7.   There are two kinds of tooth stains: intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic stains are those that appear on the surface of the teeth as a result of exposure to dark-colored beverages, foods and tobacco, and routine wear and tear. Superficial extrinsic stains are minor and can be removed with brushing and prophylactic dental cleaning. Stubborn extrinsic stains can be removed with more involved efforts, like teeth bleaching. Persistent extrinsic stains can penetrate into the dentin and become ingrained if they are not dealt with early. Intrinsic stains are those that form on the interior of teeth. Intrinsic stains result from trauma, aging, exposure to minerals (like tetracycline) during tooth formation and/or excessive ingestion of fluoride

8.   We need to use a tongue cleaner. A tongue cleaner (also called a tongue scraper or tongue brush) is an oral hygiene device designed to clean the bacterial build-up, food debris, fungi, and dead cells from the surface of the tongue. Using a tongue cleaner will ensure a cleaner, healthier mouth. 

9.   Oral Health is linked to systemic health. Did you know that your oral health can offer clues about your overall health — or that problems in your mouth can affect the rest of your body?    

10. Canine teeth are the cornerstones of the mouth. Known as the strongest teeth, the canine teeth are also responsible for keeping the face shape intact. Most common action of the canines is tearing of food. The canine teeth are able to withstand the tremendous lateral pressures from chewing. There is a single cusp on canines, and they resemble the grasping teeth found in carnivorous animals.  

11. Tooth Sensitivity is triggered by food, drinks, air and touch. This problem often happens when gums recede. The gum tissue acts like a protective blanket to cover the roots of the teeth. As the gums recede the underlying tooth roots are exposed. They are not covered by hard enamel. Think of your gums and the enamel on your teeth as a down comforter covering and protecting your body from the cool winter air. Over time, the gums may recede or the enamel or dentin on your teeth may wear down, creating the condition for tooth sensitivity. Thousands of tiny dentinal tubules (channels) leading to the tooth's nerve center (pulp) are than exposed. These tubules allow more stimuli like heat, cold or pressure to reach the nerve in the tooth and you feel pain.

12.  Visit your dentist at least twice a year. You should have your teeth checked and cleaned at least twice a year, though they may recommend more frequent visits. Regular dental exams and cleaning visits are essential in preventing dental problems and maintaining the health of your teeth and gums. At these visits, your teeth are cleaned and checked for cavities. Additionally, there are many other things that are checked and monitored to help detect, prevent, and maintain your dental health like stains, crooked teeth, cause of bad breath and other mouth problems.  
     Thank you to Colgate Philippines for the useful information. To know more, visit Colgate’s official Facebook Page or Website

Much Love, 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Secret of Tips 'N Toes Nail Salon

Filipinos have become more and more particular when it comes to nail care. Hence, nail salons appeared everywhere, offering women (and even men) with a hundred ways to pamper their nails, hands and feet. With the many options on hand, it's easy to get confused where to go to get the best nail care that fits your need and budget. So what should we look for in a nail salon? My personal standards remained simple and the same through the years.  

Hygiene, Practicality and Professionalism.

Hygiene is top priority. If the salon does not clean and sanitize their tools and towels, I'll head straight the door. Cutting, buffing and polishing our nails can result to some small nicks and cuts that can go unnoticed. This is the perfect entry point for nasty infections especially if the manicure and pedicure tools are not sterilized in between clients. So make sure that your salon is strict in their sterilization procedures.

I'm a practical girl. While it's true that manicures and pedicures can go as low as under Php100, they simply don't last and worse, can even chip the next day. So I stick to pricier salons that use quality polishes that can last at least two weeks. At the end of the day, I save myself from ugly nails (which is a no no in my line of work), frustration and I get more value for my money. 

Lastly, going to a nail salon is one of the few "me time" of most girls. Relaxing ambiance and professional service seal the deal for me. I don't like televisions, loud chatters and most especially, inattentive and nosy staff. For me, the level and quality of service of any nail salon depends heavily on their people. Training and proper decorum should always be observed. Nail technicians who are attentive to the client's needs, courteous and friendly are the best assets of any business. 

Such is the case of Tips 'N Toes Nail Salon. They've been in the business for more the 20 years and even pioneered the sculptured nails (nail extension service) in the country. They were also first to use the term "nail technicians", in efforts to professionalize their services and veer away from the usual "manicurista." I was lucky to get invited by a good friend to try the services of Tips 'N Toes and meet the owners alongside. Jennifer Tipton-Angeles is the powerhouse behind Manila's foremost nail salon. After a long and very fun chat over manicures and later on, seafood katsu; I learned from her that their foot spa actually started from her idea of doing "facials" for the feet. It was a brilliant proposition (20 years ago!) that people started flocking to Tips 'N Toes to get their tired hands and feet pampered and the industry soon followed suit. Aside from that, Jennifer also made sure that their nail technicians are trained professionally using international standards, with trainers that they hired straight from abroad. They also use premium products and equipments similar to what's used in Hollywood.

The rest as they say, is history. While new salons with different gimmicks surfaced, Tips 'N Toes remained true to their core value of offering only the best products and the highest level of professional service. Jennifer and her sister Margaret also keep their eyes open for new technologies and trainings whenever they travel abroad. These, and a pool of seasoned and loyal technicians, most of them have been with them for more than 10 years, are the secret "weapons" of Tips 'N Toes. 

I visited their Glorietta 5 branch and tried their signature spa manicure and pedicure. I'll let the photos tell more about my experience. 

White, teal and silver dominated the interior. Not too girly and very classy. It's no surprise that they also have a strong male clientele.
The most comfy nail salon chair I've tried. It's actually a massage chair equipped with built in foot tub with neon lights. Very nice!
Rows and rows of imported polishes. As always, it was a hard decision to choose just one.
Best of all, the nail technicians are all well-trained, attentive and courteous. The kind lady who did my nails has been with Tips 'N Toes for 16 years! Just wow. It's no surprise especially that the owners treat them like family, which actually warms my heart. :)
They use special scrubs, warm honey and grapeseed oil which made my hands instantly softer and fairer.
Perfect Nails Day
Say hi to the beautiful bride-to-be, Gem of Rare Vanity. Trivia: This sweet and fun lady is a Harry Potter geek! :)
With the owners, Jennifer (in black) and Margaret (in beige), and other invited guests in a "Familia Zaragoza" photo. :D
I'm obviously a happy customer. It's been almost two weeks and my nails are still okay especially my toes.

Try Tips 'N Toes the next time you need some pampering. They offer mani-pedi, waxing, eyelash extensions and even massages. The most basic manicure and pedicure starts at Ph190 and Php220. For a complete list of their services and prices, visit their Facebook Page or visit their website at

Thank you to Elaine, Jennifer and Margaret for having me. I hope to visit you again soon! :) 

Much Love,

*Products and services were offered to the author for review purposes.