I recently attended an event where Dr. Bernabe Marinduque, Cosmetic Gynecologist and Medical Director of Beverly Hills 6750, discussed about bacterial vaginosis.  He reported that the condition is fast afflicting women, of any age or lifestyle, everywhere. Normally, this happens whenever the vagina undergoes a radical pH level change that it becomes a very rich environment for bacterial growth.

In the Philippines, many women who suffer bacterial vaginosis often resort to strong antibiotics that promise to get rid of this disturbing and embarrassing condition. Other women, on the other hand, rely on scented sanitary napkins to mask feminine odor, one of the symptoms of bacterial vaginosis. Unfortunately, this solution of using napkins on a regular basis, according to Dr. Marinduque, can lead to irritation and, sometimes, infection.

The good news is, there is now a product in the market that promises to prevent vaginal odor and discharge that bacterial vaginosis brings. RepHresh, which is currently making waves in the US for its effectiveness, is finally available in the Philippines. It is an FDA-approved vaginal gel that stays in the area for three (3) days after each application. It eliminates itching and odor brought by bacterial vaginosis. In addition, it maintains the physiologic pH level of the vagina, which is important since radical change in vaginal pH contributes to the development of bacteria that leads to bacterial vaginosis.

RepHresh is proven safe and is highly recommended to women who are sexually active. It is also best to use during times when the vaginal pH is susceptible to changes such as the duration of menstruation, douching, after excessive exercising, or whenever freshness is required. Dr. Marinduque shared that women who have already used it swear to the cool and clean feeling that lasts up to three days.

Rephresh is available in all Mercury Drugstores at P850 SRP for four applicators. For more inquiries, please contact New Marketlink Pharmaceutical Corporation at 836-5838 to 47.

Know more about another feminine product called Replens that was specifically designed for women undergoing menopause or those who experience pain and dryness during intimacy. Click here to read more about it.

I discovered a new place in the Ortigas area where families and friends could hang out and enjoy delicious food and drinks. Several friends and I were invited to sample the sumptuous fares offered at Buon Giorno  Caffe and Bistro located at the Rockwell Business Center. It’s just beside The Medical City and near the Meralco Theater.

We were warmly welcomed by Mr. Mark Floro, the owner, who shared with us the history of their restaurant. Buon Giorno is actually a popular establishment in Tagaytay and I’m sure frequent visitors of that branch who live in Manila would be glad to know that their favorite eating place has just become more accessible. 

There, we got to taste several items on their menu. I love how the Bevanda (Drinks) were served. I ordered a Strawberry Lemonade Smoothie and it came with a piece of strawberry and a tiny umbrella! The taste is not too sweet which is just the way I like it. I couldn’t resist taking photos of the drinks my tablemates ordered. Each was beautifully presented with slices of different fruits depending on the flavor they ordered. 

Next, we were served Zuppe (Soup). Mine was one of the best mushroom soups I’ve ever tasted in a long time. Unlike the usual mushroom soups that are creamy white with bits of mushrooms floating in it, Buon Giorno’s Mushroom Soup was a thick brownish gray which, I think, was made by running the mushrooms in a blender. The result is a concoction that is bursting with real mushroom flavor.

We were also served pizza in New York and another flavor that escapes me at the moment. What I remember though was the crisp crusty dough that thin crust pizza lovers would definitely love.

The buffet table was laden with more delicious dishes that had us salivating while we first took photos of each. I fell in love with Buon Giorno’s Special Insalata (Salad) drizzled with their well-revered house dressing called MarLinJo (which stands for Mark, Linda, and Jonathan of the Floro family). I would have come back for more if not for the other tasty offerings waiting to be sampled.

I found the Seafood Puttanesca too spicy for my taste but I am positive that my husband would have eaten a lot if he had been with me that night. The Cream Dory Fish tasted lovely with both the Lemon Cream Sauce and Three Fruit Salsa.

If you love paella, go for Buon Giorno’s Chicken and Mushroom Risotto which is white (instead of red) and is bursting with a lot of flavor. Unfortunately, I think my palate was already overwhelmed when I tasted the Canneloni Spinaci because I can’t recall what it tasted like! 

However, the star of the night would have to be the Beef Wagyu with Shittake Mushroom Gravy. If I were to rate it in a scale of 1 to 10, I’d readily say it scored 15 for me. It was that delicious especially if paired with mashed potatoes and veggies!

Come Dolci (Dessert) time, our table was served with four sweet items: Chocolate Pistachio Sansrival, Blueberry Cheesecake, Molten Chocolate Cake, and Apple Strudel. It would be an understatement to say we were stuffed by the time we finished tasting everything. 

Visit Buon Giorno with your loved ones. Enjoy the lovely ambiance, the beautiful food plating, and friendly service and you’re sure to leave the place with smiles on your faces. My friends and I did :) 

For more photos of Buon Giorno's mouthwatering dishes, visit the photo album I uploaded in my Facebook page.

I'm impressed! Last week, I saw two of the newest gadgets to hit Philippines shores. One of these is what Acer calls the Touchbook. The first time I saw it, I first thought of a blown up Nintendo DS that is way cooler.

The Acer Iconica features not one, but two 14-inch touch screen displays with multi-touch, high-definition and high-brightness 1366 x 768 resolution that support up to 10-finger touch. These LCD screens are made of tempered glass which are ultra-thin yet extremely durable. The scratch- and fingerprint-resistant face is made by Corning, a renowned manufacturer of tough glasses. The touch-screens are also mercury-free which make them totally environment-friendly.

For a more life-like video chatting experience, the Iconia's video support is handled by Intel HD Graphics with 128MB of dedicated system memory that supports Microsoft DirectX 10 plus the Acer CrystalEye webcam that has a 1280 x 1024 resolution to up the ante of face-to-face communication over the internet.

The Iconia also has the Acer Ring Control Interface which fast tracks the launching of Acer's touch applications and handy built-in features and controls. I like how users can customize gestures. For example, the person who demoed the product programmed the Iconia to recognize a straight horizontal line as a signal to open his Yahoo Messenger. It would be cool to draw a star on the screen to launch my favorite website or an X to lock other users (a.k.a. my kids :p) out.

There's also the Virtual Keyboard that features adaptive typing intelligence and predictive text input (like a cell phone!) that gives a real keyboard experience.

Here are other specs I'm sure techies would love to know with regards to the Iconia's computing powers: an Intel Core i5-480M processor, Mobile Intel HM55 Express Chipset, and 2x2GB DDRIII memory plus a 640GB hard drive.

But, there's more! Aside from the dual screen Touchbook, there's also the Acer Iconia Tab W500, an ultra-portable and touch-optimized Windows-based tablet that promotes simplicity, foregoing the need for format conversion for its various applications. Its hybrid design offers the best of worlds because of its high-definition multi-touch tablet portability combined with the full productivity features of a standard notebook via its dockable keyboard.

As to its specs, the Iconia Tab has an AMD C-Series C-50 processor, an AMD A50M Fusion Controller Hub chipset and up to 2GB DDR3 memory chip with a 32GB SDD capacity. The LED-backlit TFT LCD screen measures 10.1 inches with hi-def 1280 x 800 resolution which supports finger touch and image auto rotation. The Iconia tab also has a Radeon HD 6250 graphics card with 256MB dedicated system memory as well as the multi-touch Acer Ring Control Interface, touch optimization interface, and the Device Control console.

For more info, please read the press release here.

People who know my family are aware that I have a child with special needs. My third son has cerebral palsy and is 100% tube-fed. He "eats" via a Bard button that was surgically placed on his tummy several years ago. We feed him blenderized food and specially formulated food supplements using extension tubes, feeding bags and a feeding pump.

I am fortunate to have found an international support group where a lot of members (mostly from the US)  generously share their excess medical supplies with other families. My son has received some of those blessings in the form of tube-feeding supplies, formulas, and medical equipment. What I am always on the look out for though are nutritional supplements that would provide more calories to my son's diet in addition to his regular food intake.

Of all those that we've tried, we've found that his stomach can tolerate Polycose and  Duocal which are not available locally. When our supplies run out, it could take months before we get a new batch depending on availability from donors and my capability to pay for the shipping fees within the continental US.

I was happy to find out that a low-sugar, high-protein nutritional drink called Resurgex Select™ was launched in the Philippines a few weeks ago. It's actually marketed mainly as a supplement for cancer patients but can also be taken by patients with nutritional issues like my son.

I was not able to attend the event but the organizers graciously gave me some samples to try. So far, we've used two of the sachets and I'm glad to note that Resurgex seems to agree with his tummy. I love the strawberry smell although I find the powder hard to dissolve in water. I have to stir for a long time before all the little balls of powder that formed here and there would finally disappear.

For more information on Resurgex, please click here to read the press release and product description.

I love to cook and surprise my family with delicious meals. I'm well aware that to be able to come up with great dishes, all the ingredients should be as fresh as possible. Which is why I am very particular with the products I use for cooking.

The other day, I was invited to a cooking-demo event at SM Hypermarket Pasig where several chefs showed us how to make various dishes using fresh ingredients that can be easily found in the supermarket's shelves. I'm delighted to find out that SM Hypermarket now offers more food products that we can use for basic as well as exotic dishes.

And since the Lent season is upon us and many people are looking for non-meat meals, here's sharing two vegetable dishes that Chef Jeremy Favia taught us how to do as well as two recipes from the makers of Gardenia bread.

Mushroom Stuffed Red Capsicums

Pan roast or pan grill 3-4 red bell peppers (seeds removed). Set aside. Make the mushroom mixture. Heat a pan, sauté 1 can of sliced button mushrooms in 2tbsps unsalted butter and 4-5 cloves of minced garlic in olive oil then season with salt, pepper, a pinch of cumin, a pinch of cayenne pepper, 1 stalk chopped fresh rosemary and 1 stalk chopped fresh thyme.

Stuff the bell peppers with the mushroom mixture. Top with grated gruyere cheese and fresh flat leaf parsley.

Carrot and Pumpkin Soup

In a large pot, saute 4 cloves crushed garlic and 1 large chopped onion in olive oil. Add 2 large carrots (peeled and diced) and a quarter of a pumpkin and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add 1 stalk of chopped celery and cook for another 2 minutes. Add a pinch of paprika and 5 cups of water (or vegetable stock) and let it simmer. Then add 1 sprig of rosemary and 1 sprig of thyme.

Pour the mixture into a food processor or blender. Process until the mixture is smooth. Put the mixture back in the pot, add 1 tbsp. unsalted butter and season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil or a swirl of yogurt/sour cream.

Gardenia Tuna Maki Rolls

Mix together 1 can (184g) drained tuna chunks in water, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tbsp. chopped red bell pepper and 1 tbsp chopped green onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread mixture evenly over 6 slices of Gardenia Classic White Bread. Place a slice of cheese on each slice then roll tightly. Wrap a roll in plastic wrap or aliuminum foil and chill for at least one hour. Slice into 1-inch pieces and serve cut-side-up to show filling. Serves twelve half rolls.

Gardenia Frozen Delight

Combine 250 ml chilled all-purpose cream and 1/4 cup condensed milk in a small bowl. Spread 1-2 tbsp of the cream mixture at the bottom of a loaf pan. Place 2 slices of Gardenia Double Delights Ube and Cheese Loaf. Top with cream mixture and layer sliced peaches on top. Repeat until the pan is filled. Pour 1/2 cup cooked instant gulaman on top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake at least one hour before serving. Serves 5-10 slices.

Edit March 31: OMF Lit just featured this blog post in their blog! Check out the re-post here. Thanks OMF! :)

Joining the workforce for the first time after graduating from college can be overwhelming. I remember feeling lost the first time I worked in an office. At the time, I didn't know much about office protocols and how best to make a mark in the corporate world. All I instinctively knew was that I had to do the tasks I was told to do with no questions asked.

I wished there was a book back then that I could have read to give me better guidance on the right things to say, what to do, how to make the right choices, etc. etc. inside a working environment.

New graduates are given that chance now. Grab a copy of Going Up? Making Right Choices at Work by Yay Padua-Olmedo. It is something you should read even before you apply for a job or start at one. It is also a good read for those who have been working for a long time and who'd like to have a refresher on office etiquette. With this, you can gain new insights which you can apply in everyday work scenarios.

My copy of the book is filled with highlighted passages that really spoke to and inspired me. Here's sharing some of them:

On putting value to a first job - "The working man has value, no matter how far down on the organizational ladder he is ... All of us are learners, and work attitude is more important that a job title."

On taking risks - "Whether or not you consider yourself in the league of extraordinary inventors when it comes to creativity, you can believe you are an inveterate problem-solver, because it has been hard-wired into your psyche."

On being proactive - "But see, bosses can take things for granted. They may assume that you know. By all means ... ask for the guidelines that will enable you to do the job well."

On professionalism -"Your reputation for dependability grows a little every time you commit to do something and fulfill your promise ... Your trust rating goes up or down depending on how you fulfill your superiors' expectations."

There are more nuggets of wisdom to be learned in this little, but fully-packed, book. Discover them for yourself and use them to your advantage whether you are just starting on a new job or have already been working for quite some time. You may also want to give it as a gift to a young friend or relative who will soon be transitioning from university life into the corporate world.

This book is published by OMF Literature and is available in all their branches.

I watched the premier of Sucker Punch with my teenage son the other night. He enjoyed the movie because he's an anime and gaming aficionado. On the other hand, I liked the musical scoring and CGI effects.

I'll post a proper review of the movie soon.In the meantime, go to the cinemas and see Sucker Punch this weekend! Gamers, cosplayers, anime lovers, and those who simply like watching action-adventure films will most likely enjoy this one. Warning, just don't bring very young kids as there are violent scenes.

If you haven't heard of the animated film Rio yet, check out the video below. Just watching the trailer will make you laugh and marvel at all those wonderful colors! The music is foot-tapping too!

Learn the basic skills of writing lifestyle stories from well-respected PR Communications and Special Events consultant Toots Tolentino.

Join “The Art of Writing Lifestyle Stories” Summer Workshop which is open to high school and college students, and to those who want to discover their own hidden talent for writing lifestyle stories.

The workshop shall cover the following subjects: Art and Culture, Health and Wellness, Home and Interiors, Food and Restaurants, Fashion and Beauty, Travel, Family, and Personalities. More about the activity lineup here.

Workshop session starts April 4, 2011.

For schedules and further details, call/text: 0917-8604205, email tolentino_toots@yahoo.com or click here.

Edit April 8: You can now read my full-length review of Shakespeare in Hollywood entitled "A No Holds 'Bard' Comedy" at HerWord.com

Get ready for another masterpiece from Repertory Philippines this coming April! Watch out for Shakespeare in Hollywood, a Ken Ludwig comedy tale set in 1930's Hollywood. The story is about the making of Warner Brothers' 1935 movie version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. However, this one is served with a twist along with some painless lessons in Shakespeare and a lot of good laughs.

Press Release:

The “real” Oberon and Puck from Shakespeare’s day have taken a wrong turn in their time travel and have landed right on the sound stage of a Burbank lot, just before shooting begins. As luck would have it, Victor Jory, who was to play Oberon, walks off the picture and Mickey Rooney, who is to play Puck, has broken his leg.

Max Reinhardt is ecstatic to have two wonderful, real Shakespearean actors. What follows is a farce that involves the likes of Will Hayes, Joe E. Brown, Jimmy Cagney, Dick Powell, Louella Parsons, Olivia De Havilland, the bimbo Lydia and the Warner brothers. It also involves that famous flower that makes the first person you see upon awaking fall immediately in love with you.

The play's director, Jaime Del Mundo, has assembled a classy cast of movieland characters who are all in sync with the fast, furious pace and comedic timing of the story.

Hans Eckstein takes the lead as the “real” Oberon. He has the perfect speech for Shakespeare’s words as he speaks various lines from the play. Red Concepcion plays Puck like a British punk star. He is delightful with his speech inflections and jaunty movements on stage.

Robie Zialcita brings both vision and reality to Max Reinhardt. His nervous fits as a European director trying to helm an American movie are par excellence. Arnel Carrion is spot on as Jack Warner. He portrays the man with the right amount of skepticism and hounding, yet is meek and mild with his brothers and his movie star bimbo girlfriend.

Caisa Borromeo plays the new young actress from the midwest, Olivia, with appropriate sincerity. Cris Villonco plays Lydia like a true Hollywood blonde bimbo, destined only to play in sexual films. Her recitation of the Bard’s word backwards is going to be a howl with the audience. Miguel Faustmann is a hilarious Will Hayes. Joy Virata is the very beautiful Louella Parsons.

Reuben Uy does a fine job as the loveable Dick Powell using some of the mannerisms that Powell used in the early Warner films. Topper Fabregas plays Jack Warner’s yes man Daryl perfectly, bowing and scraping before the great man.

Rem Zamora plays a good Cagney. Nic Campos is Joe E. Brown. He looks like the famous '30s comedian and he has all of the mannerisms down pat.

Co-presented by Enderun and the City of Makati, “Shakespeare in Hollywood” is a must-see farce full of slapstick-style humor with ludicrous puns, hackneyed jokes and pure pandemonium.

The rollicking production plays through April 1- 17, 2011 with shows on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and matinee shows on Saturdays and Sundays at 3:30 p.m. All performances are at Onstage, Greenbelt 1, Makati City .

For tickets, inquiries and other information, call Repertory Philippines at 571-6926 and 571-4941 or email info@repertory.ph. Tickets are also available at Ticketworld at 891-9999 or www.ticketworld.com.ph.

Visit www.repertory.ph, subscribe to youtube.com/repertoryphils, and add “Rep Phils” in Facebook.

If you watch local TV channels regularly, you've probably seen the Knorr Cubes commercial where Chef Tristan Encarnacion challenged Filipino consumers to present a seasoning granule with more meat content than Knorr Chicken Cubes.

The deal was, if a consumer finds a seasoning granule meatier than Knorr Chicken Cubes, he or she can get a prize of P1 million. But, should there be no product proven to be meatier, the P1 million prize will be donated to fund a feeding program to help improve the nutritional level of Filipino kids.

Unilever Philippines tapped Eurofins Analytik Gmbh, an independent third party testing firm in Germany, and worked in accordance with an FDA-approved testing protocol for meat content analysis to ensure credibility. Despite the entries submitted, results showed that Knorr Chicken Cubes' meat content is at least five times more than other local brands'.

Chef Tristan affirms, “When it comes to making great soups, no other brand beats Knorr Cubes! For me, soup is not a good enough soup without the very meaty taste of Knorr Cubes.”

And since no one won the challenge prize, Knorr Cubes donated P1 million to Kabisig ng Kalahi – a non-government organization that does community-based feeding programs in selected depressed communities in the Philippines.

The money will greatly help address hunger and malnutrition, which continue to affect thousands of school-age Filipino children. One province at a time, Knorr is making a dent in reducing the national malnutrition level among school children through its Makulay ang Buhay ng Batang Pinoy (MBBP) feeding program.

According to Ms. Bajeng Cruz, Knorr Brand Manager, they chose Kabisig because it "has a module that's already working so we need not reinvent the wheel to do something about children's malnutrition." Knorr has been partnering with Kabisig since 2002 in operationalizing a feeding program. The P1 million donation will provide hundreds of children with nutritious meals and will help in training more parents to prepare healthy, affordable meals for their families. To date, the MBBP feeding program has already benefited more than 20,000 malnourished Filipino children.

“Our commitment to good food goes beyond providing excellent cooking aids,” says Cruz. “We believe that good food matters and the Sabaw Challenge gave us an opportunity to live out that commitment by offering undernourished kids and their families the value of quality and healthful cooking. We can only be very happy and proud to be of help in this way.”

The P1 million donation was turned over to Ms. Vicky Wieneke of Kabisig ng Kalahi last March 16 in a ceremony witnessed by members of the media in the Magkaibigan Hall at the Unilever compound in Manila.

Please support a good cause ...

Twestival (or Twitter-Festival) is a single day, global movement which uses the power of social media to organize offline events that mobilize communities in support of a local cause. Twestival was born out of the idea that if communities were able to collaborate on an international scale, but working from a local level, it could have a spectacular impact.

Since 2009, over 200 cities have participated in Twestival, raising close to $1.2 million for important causes like clean water and education. Twestival Local events are coordinated 100% by volunteers and 100% of the funds raised through ticket sales and donations go directly to support charitable projects.

Get involved by contributing your time, talent and resources. Get a ticket for your local event, donate or tweet about it. Cities are always looking for volunteers to help on the night or sponsors who want to underwrite the event or provide prizes. Tweet them and get involved!

The first ever Twestival in the Philippines will happen on March 24, 8:00 p.m. at Le Bistro Vert on Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City. More info about this event can be found here. Proceeds will benefit JeepneED, a mobile science and tech lab for rural schools in the Philippines.

This organization's mission is to provide community-driven, sustainable, in-school support in science and technology on a redesigned jeepney that runs on used vegetable oil.

JeepneED serves as an engaging outdoor learning lab with 10 netbooks, a 3G hub for Internet connectivity, a printer and scanner, a projector, and other basic science materials for a community of 8 to 12 rural public schools.

The school year is almost over and graduation is just around the corner. Congratulate graduates by surprising them with a Goldilocks’ Choco Orange Greeting Cake!

Goldilocks is giving graduates a reason to celebrate with this luscious combination of chocolate and orange-flavored chiffon, infused with refreshing citrus buttercreme. The cake is bordered with sumptuous chocolate fudge frosting and topped with chocolate crescents. Make this one of the ways to show your graduate how proud you are of his/her accomplishments.

On the other hand, summer is practically here. As the weather becomes hotter every day, say hello to Goldilocks' Thirst Quenchers available in five flavors: Classic Halo-Halo, refreshing Sago’t Gulaman, delicious Mais con Hielo, delectable Mango with Sago, and ice-cold Pandan Ice Jelly.

Goldilocks also brings you their one-of-a-kind Bubble Popz in Pandan Green Tea and Almond Lychee flavors. All these are a sure-fire way to enjoy the summer.

Taste the goodness of these treats by visiting the Goldilocks branch nearest you, or call 888-1-999 Go-Delivery to have them delivered to your doorstep.

I am so glad I accepted the invitation to watch Next to Normal last week. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the show and marveling once again at world-class Filipino theater talents.

N2N is Broadway's acclaimed and groundbreaking musical that has lots of beautiful songs and which has already garnered a lot of accolades from prestigious award-giving bodies.

Please read my full-length review here to find out just what you'll be missing if you don't catch this production while it's still running.

Next to Normal is presented by Atlantis Productions, Inc. It is directed by Bobby Garcia, and stars Menchu Lauchengco Yulo, Jett Pangan, Felix Rivera, Bea Garcia, Jake Macapagal, and Markki Stroem.

Playdates: March 11-27, 2011 Fri and Sat - 8pm, Sat - 2pm, Sun - 3pm 4th Floor Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium RCBC Makati City. For more info on how to reserve/buy tickets, please visit http://www.atlantisproductionsinc.com/

A group of Filipinos believe that posting updates on social networking sites and writing blog entries could be made more meaningful through well-written messages. According to Matt Mullenweg who's the founding developer of WordPress, "there's still more that can be said in just 140 characters." I agree!

This weekend, those who want to write, or are already writing, online aand would like to improve their craft re invited to attend WWW - What to Write on the Web: A Writing Workshop that Works. The two-day event will feature a series of talks on how to effectively communicate through blogging as well as how online writing impacts today's generation and ways to profit from such activity.

The workshop is to be led by PinoyBida’s editor-in-chief Leineriza Villanueva-Divina along with food writer-blogger Chun Valencia and photo hobbyist-blogger Gerum Quiming.

Join them this coming March 19 and 20, 2:00 p.m. at TheROOM in Quezon City. Only 30 slots are allocated for participants. For more information, send an e-mail to judecartalabaonline@gmail.com or contact (63915) 910-9015.

Edit April 5: Part of this blog post, plus a screen capture, can now be found at NYPP's website :)

I love pizzas and pastas. Bring me to a place that serves good ones anytime and I'm bound to eat a lot! 

This happened the other day when some friends and I were invited to try out the sumptuous fare at New York Pizza Palace located at A. Venue Mall in Makati. I was immediately impressed the moment I walked in the door because there was this long electronic LED board on the ceiling flashing various news tidbits and stock market infos alongside TV screens showing live feed of a New York street corner. 

As my eyes roved around the store's interior, I was more amazed at how much attention was given to make sure that all the details (street signs, graffiti, subway seats, etc.) would make visitors feel like they're  really somewhere in New York City instead of just being inside another Manila establishment.

NYPP's Chairman, Eric Orland, gave us a tour of the place and explained how even the littlest touches came about. His enthusiasm and positive outlook are contagious. Many of us became excited when we found out that they're planning to open several more branches all over Metro Manila this year. I hope Alabang is among the target areas so I won't have to travel to Makati anymore to try more of their delicious offerings.

We got to sample several of NYPP's dishes and everything, as in everything, I got to taste were all a wonderful treat to the palate. They were also nicely plated and served by solicitous members of the staff who, by the way, wear baseball uniforms and caps with the names of some of the famous NY greats stitched at the back. I find that such a nice touch!

The good news is, eating at NYPP will not cost you an arm and a leg despite its very posh appearance. Most of their prices are very competitive to what are served in other pizza parlors although their signature pizzas do cost a bit higher given the special toppings.

What I can assure you though is that you'll get your money's worth when you do try their products. I can't wait to come back and bring my kids and hubby there one of these days. I'm positive my boys will go bonkers over the buffalo wings as I did and will wolf down slices of pizza before they say they're full :p

Oh, but NYPP delivers too for a minimum order of just P350! Just call their hotline at 720.5977 and choose from the wide variety of yummy stuff that you will enjoy sharing with family and friends as I definitely did!

I'm not telling! :p

I watched Red Riding Hood and found it challenging to guess who the real werewolf is. Amanda Seyfried stars as Valerie, a beautiful young woman who lives in a remote village where moonlight sacrifices continue to be practiced and where mystery lurks in every corner.

She has been betrothed to Henry (Max Irons), a blacksmith who can give her a good future, but she is in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), the woodcutter her parents don't approve of.

Valerie's internal turmoil was further complicated by the death of a family member, the villagers' thirst for vengeance, and the arrival of a priest who claims to know how to get rid of the wolf once and for all.

This movie also stars Billy Burke as Cesaire and Virginia Madsen as Suzette, Valerie's parents; Julie Kristie as Valerie's grandmother and Gary Oldman as the intimidating Father Solomon who acted more like a vigilante wolf hunter than a priest.

I liked how the production team was able to create an other-worldly place where you can almost feel the cold wind blowing and the people's heightened sense of dread every time darkness falls. It's also clever how viewers are kept wondering who the villain is as long as possible.

What I didn't like much about this film though is how the panning motion of the camera over a large expanse of scenery during the start made me quite dizzy. I'm glad I got to regain some sort of equilibrium later to follow the story better. I'm also quite not satisfied with the ending although my husband said he's okay with it.

If you're wondering if the story is as scary as the trailer intimates it to be, it's actually not. Although there were some parts that would shake you a little bit, in general, it's more of a love story, drama, action, and mystery rolled into one. But, and it's a big BUT! It is not recommended for very little children. I had the unfortunate experience of sitting in front of two sets of parents who brought preschoolers along who kept on asking numerous questions all throughout the movie. Moms and dads, this Red Riding Hood version is NOT a fairytale, okay?

Catch Red Riding Hood in cinemas starting March 11 in all Philippine cinemas to see what the fuss is all about ...

I should have blogged about this weeks ago but  I only had time to do this now. Still, I think it's never too late to warn people to be careful when dealing with questionable practices. Please read and be warned ...

Every time I attend expos, there are booths where people are encouraged to fill out "raffle coupons" that might win the person a free stay in a hotel or resort. I've filled out my share a few times and would get almost daily calls and texts the week after from agents telling me that I won or I was chosen as one of few who are entitled to claim a gift certificate for a 3-days, 2-nights stay at blah-blah-blah resort.

However, due to my busy schedule plus the fact that some of the claiming venues are too far from our place, I haven't been able to go. Until I finally had time to attend one last month ... which turned out to be a bad experience :(

For three weeks, THREE WEEKS!, I kept receiving calls and texts almost everyday from  either a Ms. Vangie or a Ms. Liza Perez who said they're the confirmation managers of Pearl of the Pacific Boracay and that it's "sayang" if I don't claim my GC for a free 3-days, 2-nights stay at the famous Station 1 resort.

Last Feb. 19, I was at a brunch media event in Makati when, yet again, my cell phone rang (tsk, Sun Cellular's unlimited calls have made these people's lives easier). It was Liza again calling to ask if I could drop by that afternoon and claim my GC. I figured, since I have to be at EDSA Shang at 4 p.m. for another event, I could make a detour to the Raffles Bldg. in Ortigas around 2 p.m.

Once there, someone named Cel talked to me one-on-one and gave me an almost 60-minute talk about the advantages of timesharing. I didn't mind listening, actually, because I wanted to learn if it could really be advantageous to me and my family. In between our conversations, she kept asking me if I think I'd be interested in this kind of arrangement. I said it's worth considering but, in my mind, I was thinking, "Half a million pesos?! They should approach millionaires instead of regular people like me!"

After "the talk", I was led to a small room where Cel showed me a video about Pearl of the Pacific Boracay and the international company (I forgot the name) they belong to. I wasn't able to concentrate much on what I was supposed to watch because she kept asking me if I think I'd be interested in signing up for their timeshare program. I replied that something like that is not mine to decide alone. I would have to talk this over with my husband first. Upon hearing that, she stood up, turned off the TV without waiting for the video to finish, and ushered me out saying, "Anyway Ma'am, I've explained about it to you so please think about it."

She pointed me to the reception area (no friendly smiles anymore by this time) where she said I will be receiving the GC shortly. She then proceeded to enthusiastically greet a man who waiting there and led him inside. I wondered what her face would look like if the guy also declined to sign up after they talked.

Anyway, a woman handed me an envelope and explained that the GC is not transferable as it is made out in my name. I took the GC out, examined it, and turned it over. I was bemused when I saw this: "Confirmation Voucher shall be issued for every confirmed reservation and pay the non-refundable reservation fee of PHP 3,900 until option date." (click the photo to enlarge and read what's printed there)

"Oh," I said, "So I'm supposed to pay P3,900 to reserve a slot?" The woman confirmed that, yes, that is how it's done and after that, I'll be able to enjoy a wonderful stay at Pearl of the Pacific Boracay for free. Duh?! And that doesn't even include airfare yet!

I left the office fuming, "They shouldn't advertise something as free when it's not!" As it is, I won't be using that GC because if I do, it would mean I'm affirming the actions of these people that it's okay to use deceit to lure people to avail of their "promo". And there I was, even planning earlier that if I get to go and enjoy my stay at the resort, I'll make sure to write about it and pitch the article to one of the print and online publications I write for.

Sure, a "free" 3-days, 2 nights stay at Pearl of the Pacific Boracay would probably be great. But going there under such circumstances? Thanks, but no thanks.

What's doubly odd about all these is that when I looked closely at the contact details on the GC, I saw several discrepancies:

1. The GC indicates http://www.pearlpacific.com.ph/ as the company's website (it doesn't have any substantial content!) and boracay@pearlpacific.com.ph as their email address. When I went online, I found out that the real website of Pearl of the Pacific Boracay is at http://www.pearlofthepacific.ph/ and their email address is info@pearlofthepacific.ph

2. The address I went to was at the 14/F Unit 1401 Raffles Corporate Center, F. Ortigas Jr. Rd. Ortigas Ctr. Pasig City. But printed on the GC was the real address of the sales and marketing office of the resort which is at the R&G Tirol Building, 831 EDSA corner Eugenio Lopez St., Quezon City.

I am not accusing the people at the Raffles Building that they are scamming people. For all I know, everyone who went there for a presentation and who paid the P3900 reservation fee did get that free stay in Boracay. I am, however, very turned off at the way they are promoting Pearl of the Pacific especially now that they seem to be just a timeshare company and not really directly connected with the resort.

If I didn't investigate further online, I would probably still have a negative view of Pearl of the Pacific Boracay  and discourage friends from dealing with their people. But, as you've read above, it seems that the real resort is not aware of the bad publicity that the people at the Raffles Building are generating for them :( 

Just a warning to everybody ...
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