I've heard good things about Uncle Cheffy but haven't had the pleasure of dining there until a friend invited us for dinner at the Ortigas branch last week. The restaurant is located at the 2/F of the Wynsum Corporate Plaza along Ruby Road. The location is not as prominent as the dining places near the Megamall, Podium, or Galleria, and that makes it sort of like a hidden gem that's waiting to be discovered.

I like the restaurant's casual and cozy ambiance. It's very spacious and the walls are decorated with colorful artworks which, I was to find out later, are displayed there to help the artists sell their creations. If you're in the market for some paintings, head on to Uncle Cheffy's because there are a lot of awesome pieces there that you might want to buy and take home.

My friend had us try all three sizes of Panizza which is pizza baked on charcoal brick oven with a concoction of toppings. The crust is very thin and we were told that we were supposed to roll each slice for easy eating. What's great about the choice of sizes is that office workers in the area can grab a bite to eat in smaller servings that they can finish by themselves. You see, only this Uncle Cheffy branch offers Junior sizes as compared to its other branches where you can only buy panizza and other dishes in medium and family orders.

Panizza - Junior (P98 - P135), Medium (195 - 240)
Family (P380 - 475) depending on flavors
Next, we got to taste the Uncle Cheffy Salad which is made of crispy pork belly, asparagus, potato, and mesclun in dijonaise dressing. This, I tell you, is a must-have when you eat there! I love this so much it now rivals my other favorite greens dish called Tessie Tomas Salad which is available in Old Vine and Chef's Quarters, sister restaurants of Uncle Cheffy. 

Junior (P175), Medium (230)
For soup, we had what they call Boiled Corned Beef which has very tender pieces of beef in a soup that's practically bursting with real beef flavor. This has to be the most savory Nilaga-like version of beef I've ever tasted!

Junior (P110), Family (P395)
The Special Rice served to us was a great companion to the next mouth-watering dishes that came one after the other.

 Lip-smacking Memphis BBQ U.S. Beef Rib Finger

Junior (P300), Family (P595)
Grilled Cream Dory in Meuniere Sauce

Junior (195), Family (P350)
Roasted Chicken Maurino

P120 (2 pcs.), P295 (5 pcs.)
Of course, a great meal won't be complete without dessert. Here's what we got:

The Sugar Free Cheesecake, since it's sugar-free, wasn't as sweet as I would like it to be so I'm recommending that to people who are watching their sugar intake :p

The Chocolate Roulade (stuffed with mango yogurt) is moist and soft and would delight chocolate lovers who have a sweet tooth.

Then there's the Chocolate Parfait in Pandan Crepe with its unusual color and beautiful presentation.

I really like how all the dishes are plated. They make the dining experience much more enjoyable.

I found out that Uncle Cheffy started in 2009 after owners Larry Cortez and Chef Mau Arjona were inspired by a book on slow cooking and grilling. So that's why the meat dishes are so flavorful! We were told that they don't take shortcuts and devote three to four hours whipping up each dish. The smoky goodness, on the other hand, come from the charcoal-fueled brick oven where 80% of the menu items go through.

Looking around the place, I noticed a separate room at one end where private functions can be held. My friends and I suddenly thought of holding our next Christmas party there. Aside from providing a place for parties though, Uncle Cheffy also caters for special occasions and for those who just want to throw a barbecue and panizza party. Just call 3813449 or 3817716 for catering and even franchising inquiries.

The Uncle Cheffy branch in Ortigas (6966957), which has a 300 pax seating capacity, is open from Mondays-Saturdays from 11AM to 11PM. Other branches are located at Eastwood Mall (3837215), Forbes Town Center in BGC (6598030), Ali Mall in Cubao (7094105), Eton Centris Walk, QC (3760051), Nuvali in Sta. Rosa Laguna (049-5025970), and Pilahan, Sabang, Lipa City Batangas (09178078901).

Olay recently presented its newest celebrity ambassador for Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Relaxing Cream in an event recently held at Watson’s SM Department Store Makati. Anne Curtis, one of the country’s most popular actresses today who’s also the ambassador to Olay Natural White cheerfully welcomed Tessa Prieto-Valdes, the newest addition to the Olay family. “I’m so pleased to introduce the new ‘other woman’ of Olay,” joked Anne who starred in the blockbuster hit movie No Other Woman a few months back.

Both ladies shared to the audience how they discovered the right Olay product for their skin needs. Anne revealed that Olay Natural White’s 4-in-1 benefits for picture-perfect fairness is a great fit for her busy schedule. “Olay Natural White evens out my skin tone and lightens dark spots for picture-perfect fairness,” she described.

Tessa, who’s constantly on the lookout for the best beauty products, is more concerned about skin ageing. Finally, she said she finally found the right product for her. “With Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Relaxing Cream, I don’t need to resort to ‘drastic’ measures to address fine lines and wrinkles. In just one application, you can reduce the appearance of wrinkles,” she enthused. “In just the time it takes to finish reading a magazine article or fixing your hair, you will already have smoother, younger-looking skin.”

Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Relaxing Cream, which is made with breakthrough anti-ageing technology, proves dramatic wrinkle reduction is possible after one application without the need to wait for 7 days for younger-looking skin. This much-anticipated cream is finally available in the Philippines after being sold out in Australia.

The cream is said to reduce wrinkles dramatically in just one application through optical manipulators or micro-fillers – a proprietary combination of three different particle sizes fills in the ‘valleys’ of lines and wrinkles to effectively diminish the appearance of facial lines and wrinkles almost instantly.

Aside from giving amazing results after the first use, the product is recognized to also address chronic wrinkles with continued application for 14 days. This is made possible through the strengthening of the skin’s moisture barrier, helping skin to retain its own natural moisture and regain its elasticity.

Olay Brand Manager Jia Salindong, expressed how excited they are to bring in breakthrough products like Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Relaxing Cream to the Philippines. “Who would have thought that a cream can give results so dramatic in just 1 application? Definitely with Olay, we challenge what’s possible.”

For more information and updates about Olay, check out www.facebook.com/OlayPhilippines.

* Olay Regenerist Wrinkle Relaxing Cream is exclusively available at Watson’s and SM Department Stores for Php 1,499.00 (50g)

Edit, March 21: Win a signed Zia Quizon CD! Click here to find out how.

I now officially have a new favorite female music artist! I've seen Zia Quizon a couple of times in two different events (and heard her sing in one) but it was during her Bloggers' Night recently when I became a true blue fan.

Zia's voice is AMAZING! It was so nice to hear this young lady belt out beautiful renditions of old and new songs. She has indeed managed to carve a name for herself in the local music scene. That night, she proved that she has already gone beyond being the daughter of Comedy King Dolphy and OPM's Divine Diva ZsaZsa Padilla or the younger sister of singer, actress, and TV host Karylle.

The 20-year-old singer with the sultry voice currently has three hit singles: Simple Girl, Ako Na Lang, and Dear Lonely which are tracks in her self-titled first album released by PolyEast Records. The album debuted last October 2011 with Simple Girl as the positioning single, a song Zia wrote herself and which mirrors the simple girl she really is. 

According to her, she draws inspiration from everyday experiences or a particularly strong feeling that she has at the moment. "I believe that songs become more meaningful when you're feeling emotional and, in a way, come from a very real place. And when you finally finish a song, the most fulfilling feeling about the whole process is when you take a step back and think, 'That pretty much sums up how I felt at the time.'"

Following the success of Zia's first single, Ako Na Lang, which was composed and produced by Jungee Marcelo, stayed for eight weeks on top ten radio charts and MYX charts last year. As more and more people came to know her particular brand of music, Dear Lonely is currently gaining momentum with its music video, directed by Nani Naguit, also being played on the MYX Channel. This perky song was penned by Kiko Salazar, another award-winning composer who also wrote songs for Kyla.

Zia expressed how proud and grateful she is that all the songs in the album were arranged to her style of singing. "My producers made sure I was comfortable with [each song]."

The exceptional six-track includes three original compositions and three revivals. Included there is Mambobola, a song that led Zia's mom, ZsaZsa, to the height of her career in the '80s. "I think I actually suggested the song myself," revealed Zia. "I felt that it would be very nice to have one of my mom's songs on the album as a kind of tribute to her for all the things she has done for me."

The song, Smile, a Charlie Chaplin original, was also included to give credit to Zia's very supportive dad, Dolphy. "Aside from my mom, I'd say that my dad's taste in music really shaped mine. He influenced me to appreciate the classics -- from standards to classical to world music and even oldies." The third remake in the album is the track So Much in Love, first sung by Sheena Easton, brings out Zia's melodic sensibilities mixed with much jazz and her carefree spirit. 

I enjoy listening to Zia's album. It's like a breath of fresh air in the OPM scene and I really hope she would come out with more songs that will showcase her boundless talents. As she tapped into the elements of soul, jazz, and pop, Zia has beautifully shaped the songs to become her own. "I think each song has its own character, kind of like the different sides of me. So, each song gives you a different feel without losing the general flow of the album," she explained. "I tried to put as much of my personality in the song choice and the music as I could. So it isn't just an album to me, it's a piece of me that I am offering to anyone who will listen. The album may not be different, but hopefully, I am."

During the event, Zia sang a few songs from her album, a medley of old songs (beautifully done! if I may say so), and a piece called My Heart Belongs to Daddy which made her mom, who was quietly watching from the sidelines, teary-eyed. When ZsaZsa was invited in front to speak to the audience, she expressed pride in her daughter and joy at finally being given a chance to be a stage mom which she was not able to do with Karylle.   Looking at them, I found the mother and daughter making a really pretty picture -- two beautiful ladies each with her own singing style that charm their respective fans. 

Grab Zia's self-titled debut album in music stores or download them on www.MyMusicStore.com.ph. For more information, please visit the PolyEast Records website, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter. To get to know more about Zia, log on to her website or follow her on Facebook.

Special thanks to Terranova, Mossimo, and Club Phi Bar for the special night.

Mention Mardi Gras to me and my mind will be filled with thoughts of a big parade with people wearing colorful costumes dancing in the streets. This celebration, also known as Carnaval, is mostly known to be held in Brazil and which attracts tourists from all over the world.

It was a pleasant surprise to be invited to a version of Mardi Gras in the Philippines. My friends and I joined the festive atmosphere at Bonifacio High Street the other night and had a nice time listening to and watching performers entertain guests and passersby alike.

The festivities were fittingly held in front of the New Orleans Restaurant. Beside it is Clawdaddy where we ate dinner. 

Here are some of the delicious dishes that we got to enjoy that night:

Tasty BBQ Baby Back Ribs (Half P398.00, Full P698.00) 
that came with French fries and sweet corn

Crunchy BBQ Nachos with flavorful dressing (P265.00)

I loooove the Shrimp Popcorn (P299.00)! 
It is crunchy when you bite on each piece but the shrimp inside is succulent! 
I like eating it even without the dip :)

We were also served small pieces of bread with various toppings ...
Clawdaddy's Bread Basket (P145.00)

Garlic and Cheese Oysters! (P295.00) 

And here's one of my favorite foods that's also available in Claw Daddy's 
sister establishment Crustasia -- the Typhoon Crab that's called 
Butter and Ginger Crab in Clawdaddy (P105.00-135.00/100grams) Super yum!

Having that nice dinner with friends (we forgot to take a group photo, darn!) along with all the fun and laughter did make for a perfect way to celebrate a happy event such as Mardi Gras. Cheers! :)

I love going to museums with interactive exhibits. As a parent, I know that children (even adults!) learn better when they not only have to see and observe but also get to touch and explore things. 

This March, Filipinos will be brought to the frontiers of science and technology as Sony partners with The Mind Museum in bringing top-of-the-line and state-of-the-art gadgets like Bravia LCD television units, touch screen VAIOs, and 3D Projector Systems, among others, to the first world-class science museum in the country.  

My son (who writes for Manila Bulletin's Funpage section) and I were invited to The Mind Museum the other day to experience the wonders of Science in this enthralling facility that is now home to over 250 interactive exhibits just waiting to be discovered and explored in five main galleries. We both were fascinated to see, hear, touch, and even smell various stuff that made us appreciate the different aspects of science more. 

The place is quite huge so prepare to spend more than two hours to be able to check out everything. Some of the exhibits that impressed me the most include the Shadow Box, the "laser" and mirrors, and the solar-powered insects, among many, many others. I wouldn't want to spoil your own discoveries so I won't describe them much in detail.

But to whet your appetites for what to expect when you do visit The Mind Museum, here are the descriptions of the facility's five main sections:

1. The Atom Gallery features exhibit pieces but goes further to explore these at the atomic and particle level. The force of these articles comes alive in Sony Bravia TV screens and Sony 3D active glasses. VAIO touch screen units are also present in this gallery to show a video on the use of nuclear energy and about nuclear physics, among others.

2. The Earth Gallery features the majesty of Mother Earth as it unfolds in all its grandeur. Watch 3D animated films here made possible by Sony's revolutionary 3D Projection System; something that Sony will only make available locally in The Mind Museum. There's "Birthplace," a 12-minute show of the 4.6 billion year history of the Earth, and the film "Simula" which shows the history of the Philippines in six minutes.

3. The Life Gallery offers a deeper understanding of how living things -- from microbes to large animals -- grow and survive, and provides a glimpse at their amazing transformation from mere DNA particles into complete organisms. This gallery also has a giant human brain model with sections that light up when you step on huge buttons on the floor.

4. The Universe Gallery showcases distant galaxies, planets and other astronomical bodies which come to life via VAIO touch screens, Bravia TV screens, and S-Frames. The exhibits attempts to explain the origin of the universe and also take guests on a unique stargazing experience. There, we got to enter a mini planetarium where there are soft cushions to literally lie on while we watched an educational clip about asteroids.

5. The Technology Gallery takes guests on a journey of man's innovations as captured in the tools and technologies that humans invented through the years. It tells the story of how science inspired man to create, invent, and innovate using the elements that the Earth naturally provides.

As part of its advocacy to support education in the Philippines, aside from media friends, Sony also invited students from the Buting Elementary School and children from the Virlanie Foundation to experience the museum before it is formally opened to the public on March 16, 2012. 

As the exclusive electronic partner of The Mind Museum, Sony will also hold workshops related to technology in addition to providing cutting-edge technology. For more information, please log on to www.themindmuseum.org or call 909-MIND (6463). The Mind Museum is located at JY Campos Park, 3rd Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.


I think it is safe to say that most of us dream of traveling to various destinations that we've only seen in movies and TV, or read in books and magazines. This year, get a chance to go to Spain for free via Sun Life Financial-Philippines' (SLFP) latest promo.

Dubbed "Shine Big in Barcelona", the grand winner may just learn how to tango; unearth the secrets to a mouth-watering paella; and marvel at the beauty and magnificence of La Sagrada Familia. SLFP brings together the alluring Catalan culture along with the rewarding career of a financial advisor through the promo. 

You may just be the winner of the digital contest via Sun Life's official Facebook page. You just have to refer five friends, who you think may be interested in a career in Sun Life, and their valid email addresses to earn one raffle entry. The promo ends on March 30, 2012. Click here for the complete contest mechanics

Shine Big is an annual campaign that aims to bring the benefits and opportunities of being a Sun Life financial advisor closer to Filipinos. During a Spanish-themed dinner held at Gaudi, Serendra last Monday, media attendees got to meet last year's Shine Big winner who shared how much she enjoyed visiting New York, the city that never sleeps, while also getting to know the many possibilities that being a financial advisor offers.  

Mylene Daez-Lopa, Chief Marketing Officer of Sun Life Philippines, described, “Being a Sun Life Financial advisor is a rewarding career in itself --- it allows one to help Filipinos achieve financial security. We also reward our advisors with incentives that are experiential, such as trips to exciting destinations, here and abroad. This campaign aims to share with the public what one can get from shining with Sun Life Financial.”

Sun Life financial advisors share they enjoy the freedom of determining their own work schedules, allowing for family and personal time. Unlimited earning potential is also possible, as their earnings are commensurate to how hard they work. More than incentives such as trips around the world, being a financial advisor is considered a noble profession, one that can make a difference in the lives of countless Filipinos.

Fulfill your dreams to see Spain while also reaching for your bigger and brighter goals. Join the contest and you may not only get to visit Barcelona but also help people plan for their future while also enriching your present. For more information about Shine Big, visit www.sunlife.com.ph or call 8499888.

I love listening to various types of music and would often consider one song a favorite even without knowing much about the artist. This is true with my experience with Evanescence. I immediately liked “My Immortal” the first time I heard it and transferred the MP3 to my iPod even though I still wasn’t familiar with the band that performed it.

My eldest son, who knows more about music artists than I do, is a fan of Evanescence and was the reason I found myself among the throng of enthusiastic fans during the a meet and greet session in SM Megamall last Sunday. This was held a few hours before the band’s concert at the Smart Araneta Coliseum that night and was made possible by Polyeast Records, Ovations Productions Manila, and Odyssey Music & Video.

Amy Lee, the vocalist, signed a total of 300 albums bought by fans prior to her arrival. It was hard to take good shots of the stage though. Even if we were in the media pit, the guards manning the front of the stage wouldn’t let us pass them. Still, the crowd patiently stayed, seemingly content to gaze at the pretty girl who was smiling and shaking hands with the lucky 300 who got to go near her.

In line with their first visit in the Philippines, the Grammy Award-winning band released their third studio production and self-titled album EVANESCENCE. This latest compilation of their music follows the multi-platinum, worldwide success of their sophomore effort, The Open Door, after a three-year sabbatical.

The third album is produced by Grammy-winning Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Rush). EVANESCENCE contains the hard-driving anthems and introspective ballads the hard rock group has been known for, and mastered, since their breakout debut in 2003. The first album, Fallen, brought the band to global success, selling more than 17 million copies. It spawned two Top 10 singles, “My Immortal” and “Bring Me to Life”, and two Grammy Awards in 2003. Sales of the first two albums are more than 24 million worldwide.

Now, eight years later, the new 12 tracks demonstrate the growth of the band’s writing style and lyrical content. The latest album is powerful and aggressive, backed by the heavy guitar sound of Terry Balsamo and the pounding drums of Will Hunt. “This album is about us and also our fans. We’re combining the best of Evanescence with some new attitude and we’re just dying to share it,” pronounces Amy Lee.

She describes the first single, “My Heart is Broken”, to be about freedom and which has her signature lyrics and piano playing. Other tracks include “Lost in Paradise”, which Lee shares as “the most intimate song on the album”, and the hard-charging, “What You Want.”

The inherent drama in Evanescence’s music – a kind of audio odyssey that switches from piano-led introspection to hammering guitar – has captured the hearts of music lovers everywhere. The band’s music core, which ranges from beautiful to subtle to aggressive, finds the perfect partner in Lee’s passionate vocals and in lyrics that build connections with listeners who are searching for identity or are struggling with feelings of desire, hope, love, and loss.

EVANESCENCE albums are exclusively available under POLYEAST RECORDS and can be bought from  all Astrovision/Astroplus, Odyssey Music & Video, O Music, Fully Booked, SM Department Stores’ Record Bars and Landmark Department Stores nationwide.

I have been a fan of Kevyn Lettau since the early '90s thanks to my then boyfriend's (now husband) influence. Aside from loving the hugely popular, Sunlight, there are three particular songs of hers that I really love listening to: Spring, Seeing for the Very First Time, and Bridges. Of course, I enjoy listening to many of her other pieces. There was a time, the only music I kept playing over and over for days were just her songs.

After being a big fan all these years, I was able to tell her that in person the other night before she performed for the PI Jazzfest in Eastwood. Along with fellow journalists (thank you soooo much Pinky Aseron for taking photos!) I was able to ask her a few questions which Kevyn graciously answered. She has a very lovely speaking voice that would make you want to just listen to her talk forever :)

Here's sharing our conversation transcribed verbatim from my iPod recording:

Ruth:  How many times have you been in the Philippines?
Kevyn: About 15

R: What do you like most about this country?
K: You guys! Your energy, your love and passion for music, your loyalty.

R: How different are Filipino fans from other fans from all over the world?
K: Much better than anywhere else in the world.

R: Are there Filipino artists you admire?
K: Gary V and Regine Velasquez, she’s a great singer, and Lea Salonga.

R: Who would you say is your biggest music influence?
K: How many can I mention? (smiles) Um, Al Jarreau because he has a way of combining all the kinds of music that I love; combining jazz, R&B, Brazilian, sometimes, and he improvises. So he would be the first one. 

R: You came from German descent? So why Brazilian music?
K: I grew up in Germany. Who knows?! I have no idea why. It’s sort of like asking someone “Why do you love ice cream?” You just can’t answer, right? You just say the taste is so good and I can say the feeling is so good [when I sing] Brazilian music. The thing about Brazilian music is it combines incredibly happy music rhythms with really wonderful harmony and interesting melodies. So that’s what makes Brazilian music so special for me.

R: What kinds of songs do you like composing?
K: That’s a really hard question to answer. I love rhythm, I love interesting harmony. Every kind of song has a different appeal for a different reason. Some songs you fall in love with because it touches you, while with some songs, the rhythm is just so infectious and, sometimes, it’s the combination between the melody and the harmony. So I can’t generalize.

R: Do you have a favorite song among all your songs?
K: Ask a mother if she has a favorite child, right? I would say that I have favorite songs that change all the time. When I’ve written something, that song would be my favorite song for a while and then I’ll look back at my catalogue of material and go “Oh, I love that one too! I should sing that one again” you know? 

R: You had an album released last year called Drawn to You. how different is it from your past albums?
K: It’s one of the first ones that I helped produce. You know they’re all different because they grow and change. The music changes. That is the first album where I played piano so that is something different.

R: After your visit to the Philippines, where will you be performing next?
K: There’s a big Filipino community in Los Angeles and every year, I do a concert in March for the Filipino community up there. And I’m also doing a big tribute to the Beatles down in San Diego where I live.

R: Are you also a big fan of the Beatles?
K: Of course! You would be crazy not to be!

And then she flashed once more that beautiful smile. She is such a wonderful lady! After our interview, Kevyn excused herself to rest her voice before she performed a beautiful set of songs for the large crowd outside that gathered to hear her sing live. I feel very blessed to be able to chat with one of the persons I admire most in the world. I hope I could get to meet and hear hear sing live again the next time she's in town.

Thank you Kevyn Lettau for spending those precious moments with me. I am deeply grateful :)

A few days ago, Dell unveiled its newest offering -- the XPS 14z laptop, one of the thinnest, fully featured 14-inch laptops featuring an internal optical drive and discrete graphics options. This powerful work station is the latest in a series of thin and powerful solutions from Dell aimed to help professionals maximize working hours as well as take advantage of the system's HD screen to watch movies or videos to unwind at the end of the day. 

The XPS 14z is a performance laptop with a sleek and compact design that is less than an inch thin! Despite its size, the unique design is said to maximize screen size by delivering a 14-inch screen in a 13-inch form factor. It is available with second-generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, an HD WLED display for great entertainment experiences, a slot-load optical drive and NVIDIA graphics option.

The latest member of Dell's portfolio of thin and powerful solutions, the XPS 14z joins the XPS 15z, Inspiron 13z and Inspiron 14z laptops including the Inspiron One all-in-one computer that are all ideal solutions for both parents and students, as well as the Vostro V131 laptop made for small businesses. 

According to Dell, customers will get more from the XPS 14z because of its bigger screen size and surprising portability for such a fully-loaded machine. It weighs starting at 4.36 pounds with up to six hours and 42 minutes of battery life. It has anodized-aluminum  finish and a latch-less design.

Dell Philippines' Chris Papa, Country Manager, Consumer and Small Business, describes the XPS 14z as being specifically engineered to help their customers do more in their personal and professional lives. "And it advances our industry-leading vision for thin-and-powerful solutions that deliver performance without compromise."

"It's about delivering the right feature-set and design to provide the best user experience for our customers," adds Sam Burd, VP of Dell's Consumer and Small/Medium Business product group. "With the XPS 14z, our challenge was to build a laptop that provided customers the performance and portability that they need, with the design and finish they desire."

Dell XPS laptops come with the Dell Stage user interface which offers one-click access to favorite content including music, photos, and video. SyncUP powered by Nero can keep content and personal information synched with other Stage-enabled Dell PCs and mobile devices within a home WiFi network.

Pricing: PhP 65,150 (with Intel Core i5) and PhP 69, 590 (with Intel Core i7)

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