No Collars in La Union

31 March 2015

Thirty seasons on and Survivor is still going strong. For its 30th season, Survivor: Worlds Apart, three tribes divided by social class - white collar, blue collar, and no collar - are pitted against each other to determine who will play the best social, physical, and psychological game to earn the title of Sole Survivor and the one million dollars prize money that comes with it.

Career-wise, I belong in the white collar category. I need an administrative and office setting in order to work productively. I cannot work from home (the bed and TV would be too tempting!) and neither can I pack my proverbial briefcase up and shift to freelancing because I don't think I am wired for that. Kudos to those who are their own bosses and who are able to work under their own terms!

Now even though I'm white collar-ing it up in the workplace, I still need a break every once in a while. A week ago, I shed my collar, so to speak, and went to La Union with my friends Alex, Anne, and Kira for a rendezvous that involved a lot of surfing (for them) and laying on the sand (for me).

Because my friends wanted the waves to themselves, we left Manila Saturday night and got there at 2 o'clock Sunday morning. We stayed in Circle Hostel which is just a five minute stroll from the beach. It was my first time to go there although you might remember I got to go to their "branch" in Zambales last year. It has the same cheerful and free-spirited vibe but it's maintained better, the toilet and bath area is cleaner, and I also appreciated not having to go up four levels to get to my bunk bed. 

Plus points for the swings and the tree house, too.

We stayed there until Tuesday so we pretty much had the place to ourselves and just a handful of foreign tourists. La Union is a famous spot for surfing so there are more tourists and foreigners here than in Zambales. Because Circle Hostel believes that it's a place where "there are no strangers," we befriended a few!

Most of them, like Doris, Adrien, and Esme, have been in the Philippines for quite a while, backpacking around our country's top destinations. I was embarrassed to admit they've been in more places here than I have, and that should be rectified!

My girls playing cards while Adrien serenades us
It was fun talking to them and sharing travel experiences with one another. Our folks tell us you shouldn't talk to strangers, but when you're in a place like the Circle Hostel, doing so will close you off interesting anecdotes to learn from.

The main reason why Kira organized this trip was to go surfing ever since she caught the bug. They bargained (a lot!) and tried to convince me to try it too but I was set on just swimming and laying on the sand. I know how to swim but I am not particularly a sporty person and I don't think a surfboard, the waves, and I would mesh well.

Anne opted to hang out in the hostel so I was left a third wheel to #KirAlex2015
Blue on blue
How can you look at that and not think the beach can fix everything?
Tankini c/o Sassa Activewear, available in Robinsons Department Stores
I was perfectly content seeing them have fun in the water

while I stayed on the shore taking selfies acting as their photographer while working on my tan.

Good job, us!
Time seems to crawl more slowly when you're away from busy and fast-paced Manila. For all the napping, eating, beach-ing, and lounging around that we did, I even got to finish reading two books! Still, all good things must come to an end and before we knew it, it was already time to go.

And just because I couldn't help but compare, I liked the Circle Hostel in La Union better than the one in Zambales. I didn't mind paying a higher fee because I also liked the La Union beach more. Just prepare extra money though because the food in eateries and restaurants around the area is also more expensive. 

When it comes to my job I'm a true-blue white collar, but I cannot deny how nice it was to kick back and be a no collar even just for a weekend and not mind anything aside from where we would eat next and what time we would go to the beach. It was one of the most rejuvenating out-of-town trips I've had and it definitely restored my mind and prepared me for the three events we had the same week.

The success of any trip hugely depends on the company you keep. I'll always be thankful for my girls! Read Alex's account of our La Union trip here, and Kira's here

Also, never forget: feeling the sand between your toes is one of the best feelings in the world. ♡

Currently Vol. 13

30 March 2015

"Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got." The first time I saw this quote attributed to Robert Brault I was all, "Huh." and instantly felt myself entering a state of zen, with my past hurts dissipating faster than you can say om.

That is the ideal scenario; in reality, this is a lot easier said than done. I don't know about you but if someone does something that hurt me, I would always want to have the last say. Holding grudges is one of my character flaws unless time and space work their magic and really make me forget.

In this specific instance, time and space have indeed helped me forget, so it was a pleasant surprise when someone from my past resurfaced out of the blue after all these years to apologize for hurting me. I guess growing up and experiencing many other different things have given me a new perspective, but I can honestly say I am no longer affected by everything that happened between us before. Either way, him saying sorry and asking for forgiveness was such a nice and sweet gesture.

Here is this week's Currently.


My submission for Activity 1 of Spark NA. I already have a plot in mind, now I just need to execute it properly. But first, yeah, Activity 1.

Myself yawn every couple of minutes.

My comfy pajamas. Sleeping shortly after publishing this!

Of other possible plot lines I can pursue after Spark NA. But first, Spark NA!

Sleepy. It has been a long day and my bed is waiting.

The cover of my buqo YA story designed by Vlad! Technically my story will be part of an ebook bundle so it wouldn't really need a cover, but I had one made just the same. ♥

To think of something to do on my birthday. IT'S EXACTLY A WEEK FROM TODAY!

You all a lovely welcome to summer!

Gonna leave you with this artwork by The Notebook Doodles.

Choose your battles. Take care of your hearts. ♥

Shakey's Colorful Fun Run 2015

28 March 2015

I used to go to the gym regularly for a weight-gain program and I've also tried my hands on yoga and boxing but I am not particularly a sporty person. I am skinny but I am far from being fit as the only physical activities I've done lately were flipping through channels or a book's pages and going down my office building to grab a bite. However, I recognize that I am not getting any younger (I'm turning a year older exactly a week and a day from today!) so I'd like to take the necessary steps to fitness. When our client Shakey's decided on having a Fun Run to celebrate its 40th year in the Philippines, I got so pumped up to participate that I even trained for it by running around Ayala Triangle Gardens more than a week before the event. (I really took it seriously because I wasn't too keen on repeating Earth Run 2011's scenario where I almost passed out from sheer exhaustion due to lack of preparation, LOL.)

The Colorful Fun Run was held last Saturday, March 21, and started from Shakey's Raja Sulayman -its first store in the country - ran for 5KM, and ended in Baywalk. It was well-attended and even my bosses and the big bosses of Shakey's joined, all for the love of the pizza brand! Here are some photos.

Alex, Kira, me, and Ava with our spotless shirts on

What made the Run even more fun was being showered with different colors to signify Shakey's rich and colorful history in the Philippines!

Ava and her husband Gersh
Shakey's Jam and her boyfriend Raffy
Miss Chez and Sir Koi of Shakey's
Shakey's EVP and CEO Sir Vic Gregorio

Finish line!
Everyone who finished got a medal, yay!
Fellow finishers and Balesinners Miguel, Kito, and Raiza
My Dad and I!
My bosses Celine and Jenny, who looked like they didn't break a sweat at all!
Group photo with the fastest finishers
They won Shakey's GCs! Congratulations, everyone!
Good Times and Great Memories. This is definitely one of the most fun I've had in a while and was a perfect overture to my beach weekend with my girl friends! I've also considered continuing running around Ayala Triangle Gardens at least two times a week after office hours to have a legit physical activity and build up my endurance. Thank you, Shakey's!

Currently Vol. 12

23 March 2015

At the beach, life is different.
Time doesn't move hour to hour, but mood to moment.
We live by the currents, plan by the tides, and follow the sun.

This is a different kind of Currently because I am taking a quick break from answering a set of questions about what I'm reading, thinking of, wishing for, et cetera, as I am currently at the beach, lying on the sand and watching surfers ride the waves.

I am in La Union with my friends Alex, Anne, and Kira for a vacation. We will be here until tomorrow, and suffice it to say we are enjoying it very much and making the most out of it.

Regular Currently programming resumes next week. See you when I see you! ♡ 

Beach, please.

22 March 2015

Focus on the powerful, euphoric, magical, synchronistic, beautiful parts of life, and the universe will keep giving them to you.

And what a synchronistic message from the universe it is, when a huge package arrived for me last Friday with this loot:

Goodies from Nivea, Banana Peel, Angelfish, Sassa, Banana Boat, AXN, and Beach Hut
Thank you so much, Robinsons Department Store!
By the time this scheduled post gets published, I would already be in the beach with my friends Alex, Anne, and Kira, enjoying a much-needed getaway from the hustle, bustle, and humidity of the city.

Sunblock reservoir
See you again soon! The sun, sand, and waves are calling. ♡ 

Review: Belo Intensive Whitening

20 March 2015

I am not really one to splurge on or treat myself to whitening products or treatments as I am quite happy with my natural skin color, but when I was contacted for this review I instantly thought it was timely because summer = swimsuits. I imagine it would be nice to have fairer skin to show off at the beach or the pool and to also lighten my scars on my legs that came from a skin allergy years ago. And so I said yes, and so here we are.

The Belo Intensive Whitening line boasts of the combination of two powerful whitening ingredients: Kojic Acid and Tranexamic Acid. A quick browse at supermarket aisles will yield several bath and personal care products that have Kojic Acid, but I think this is the first time I encountered Tranexamic Acid. Seeing “acid” on skin care products sounds a little scary to be honest, so I did a quick Google search. Kojic Acid is an organic compound that stops the production of melanin, giving the skin a visibly lighter appearance, while Tranexamic Acid is a peptide that prevents inflammation and melanin formation and works best on stubborn dark spots. Belo is already a household name when it comes to skincare so I guess I don’t have anything to worry about. I didn’t set high expectations though, but if these products could at least lighten my scars, then I would be satisfied.

I was sent three products from the line: the Belo Intensive Whitening Bar (SRP P59.75 for 65g), Belo Intensive Whitening Face and Neck Cream (SRP P249.75 for 50g), and Belo Intensive Whitening Body Cream (SRP P199.75 for 150mL). I stopped my usual bath and skincare regimen so I could use these exclusively for two weeks.

The Belo Intensive Whitening Bar suds up easily and cleans my skin well. Unlike some horror stories about Kojic soaps I heard from my friends who’ve tried other brands, this one did not leave a stinging feeling at all. There was a “tight” feeling after but it didn’t feel dry at all. I tried to run my nails over my skin after using it to see if it would leave a chalk-like mark indicating dry skin and I’m happy to report that it did not. I also liked its light citrusy scent.

The Belo Intensive Whitening Body Cream is a bit thick but not greasy. As with other lotions and body creams, it is recommended to apply it while the skin is still damp. It is moisturizing, but not enough for my dry skin as I had to re-apply in the afternoon. Note though that I am cooped up in an air-conditioned office the whole day so that could be a factor. SPF is also very important for me so I liked that it has SPF30 already. It is recommended to apply it liberally on the whole body at least twice a day for maximum effect, so I use it in the morning after bathing and at night before I go to sleep in lieu of my usual body butter or body oil.

Aside from whitening the skin on the face and neck, the Belo Intensive Whitening Face and Neck Cream aims to rejuvenate. It also has SPF30, which is a big plus since I didn’t have to use a separate sunscreen. I like that it has a spatula for hygienic purposes. It has a pleasant light floral-citrusy scent that might not sit well for some people who don’t like fragrance on their skincare products, but it was okay with me.

My skin with BB Cream. Photo taken under fluorescent lighting, with no filters used.
For those of you who are interested to try the Belo Intensive Whitening line, it is important to remember that Kojic Acid is also a peeling agent that assists in removing dead skin cells, so it is also important to exfoliate at least twice a week. Also, as the outermost layer is stripped off, it gives way to new skin which is more sensitive so you should avoid exposure to direct sunlight, pollution, and other harsh products as much as possible. Again, SPF is very important; it’s good that the Belo Intensive Whitening Body Cream has it but you might also want to top it off with another product. I use Belo SunExpert Face Cover SPF40 and Belo SunExpert Body Shield SPF60.

Photo taken during the Sample Room BBQ
Using the Belo Intensive Whitening line for two weeks made my skin at least a couple of shades lighter and whilst it did not really remove all traces of my scars, I noticed that they also got lighter. I will continue using the Belo Intensive Whitening Bar and Belo Intensive Whitening Body Cream together with sunscreen and hopefully they’ll finally fade away to oblivion.

Have you tried any products from the Belo Intensive Whitening line before? How did you find it?

Connect with Belo Essentials

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post but all opinions are my own. Please see my blog’s complete Disclosure Policy here.

Shiseido International Beauty Fair 2015

18 March 2015

Because what better way to celebrate Women's Month than with a Beauty Fair, amirite?

Global brand Shiseido is known for creating continuous innovations in beauty by combining the most advanced human science with exquisite aesthetic elements. I was able to use the Shiseido Ibuki skincare line and my skin loved it. They started the Shiseido International Beauty Fair last year with the "aim of empowering women through beauty" and this year, they wanted to continue this streak by inviting all of you beautiful ladies to a series of events that will inspire you in bringing out your beauty from within.

Here are the special activities you can expect at the International Beauty Fair when you go:

• A masterclass makeup and skincare workshop conducted by Naka Maeda, Shiseido's highly-trained beauty consultant who flew straight from Shiseido Japan, as well as their chief makeup artist Carmel Villongco. In it, you can learn the secrets in achieving flawless, healthy, and glowing skin, as well as discuss advanced yet office-friendly makeup techniques. Shiseido will also be giving personalized course certificates to all attendees.

• Swatch parties! Parties like these are fun but quite stressful because all the colors are too pretty that it's impossible to choose!

• Skincare analysis and consultation using Shiseido’s state-of-the-art skin diagnostic tools like Skin Visiom and Skin Sensor. The latter instantly measures your skin’s actual age (versus your real age), moisture level, melanin concentration, immunity of the skin, and your facial skin’s turn-over rate.

• Beauty Simulator that mirrors the state of your skin once you’ve started on the right skin care regimen. It also simulates a chosen makeup look using Shiseido’s newly-launched makeup collection without you having to take your makeup off. Basically, it's like those editing apps that put makeup on you, virtually. The Shiseido Beauty Simulator is not available for download from Play or the App Store, heh. This feature is now available at all Shiseido counters nationwide.

• Complete Shiseido Makeover that includes eyebrow reshaping and personalized makeup tutorial that touches on balancing techniques specific to your face proportions.

• Pampering activities like hand massages and quick facials that relax, tone, and lift facial muscles.

• Special discounts and gifts with purchase. This is your chance to treat yo'self via a slew of new products that aim to revive your skin’s "glow from within." Included in this list of star products are Bio-Performance Glow Revival Serum, Glow Enhancing Primer, The Makeup Perfecting Stick Concealers, Shimmering Cream Eye Color, and Veiled Rouge Lipstick.

The  Shiseido International Beauty Fair 2015 is even more fun when you go with your girl friends so tag them along!

My twinnie Tellie and I
Great minds think alike!
Shiseido was extra generous and gave all of us shopping sprees! Here are the things I got:

Shimmering Cream Eye Color,Veiled Rouge Lipsticks, 50+ Wet Force, and Glow Enhancing Primer
Of these, I have only been able to use the Shimmering Cream Eye Color in Fog and Veiled Rouge Lipstick in Venetian Rose and I absolutely loved them! I'm bringing Wet Force to the beach this weekend because sunscreen is important, heh. I'm also intrigued by Shiseido's claims that exposure to water makes it even stronger. My skin is a little choosy when it comes to sunscreen so I'm really hoping this will work on me.

The 2015 International Beauty Fair will run in three premiere malls this month:
• SM Mega Fashion Hall Activity Center - March 13 - 19
• Podium Activity Center - March 23 - 28
• SM Mall of Asia Atrium - March 29 - 31

Sample Room is also sampling Shiseido soon! Watch their space for the flash announcement!

Connect with Shiseido

Currently Vol. 11

16 March 2015

To celebrate their 40th year of Good Times and Great Memories here in the Philippines, Shakey's is holding a colorful Fun Run this Saturday! The 5K run will start from Shakey's Malate, their first branch here, and will end in Shakey's ASEANA which, incidentally, is the newest.

The first and only time I joined a run was the Earth Run way back in 2011. Now, to say that I am out of shape is a terrible understatement. As you know, I am not a sporty person. It's been months since I last practiced yoga, more than a year since I boxed, and the only physical activities I have are flipping my book or Kindle to the next page and painting/ organizing my brushes and paints. I desperately need to train if I want to join the Fun Run, or else I'll end up with jelly legs at the beach (my girl friends and I are going to La Union!) after!

I actually wanted to jump-start this training early and was supposed to jog last week but Fate had other plans; it literally rained on my parade.

Today, with my red hair, pink striped top, mint sports bra, and pink and aqua trainers I looked like a running cupcake but HA! I did it!

Not so bad for an out of shape first-timer, yes?

View of the Ayala Triangle Gardens from the 9th floor of my office building
I'm planning to run again tomorrow! And now, my friends, we begin this week's Currently.


I just started Fall Like Rain by Ana Tejano in preparation for #SparkNA.

A blurb for my buqo YA story Once Upon a Sticky Note. I've been buried in a pile of work that I didn't realize the deadline is this weekend already! I'm not sure if stories in the ebook bundle will be given our own Acknowledgements section, but I guess I'll prepare one just in case.

Fool Me Too by Emile Haynie featuring Nate Ruess over and over and over.

A natural flush that only exercise can bring.

Of how I can conserve energy for all the work-things I need to attend to this month.

Sore all over. A physical activity after being lazy for soooo long does that, heh.

My Shiseido loot from the Shiseido International Beauty Fair 2015! I will share more details about that on a future post, and I might even give away a Shiseido Veiled Rouge Lipstick!

New bikinis for my coming beach trip, but I don't have the budget anymore because I just bought new clothes ahuhuhu.

To come up with a plan for my birthday, stat!

This week goes by quickly and without any other hitches.

I'm wishing you all an amazing week ahead! Take care of your hearts. ♡