I recently received this very nice gift from BUM -- a colorful back pack complete with four cute dolls. The bag even has a hood that the wearer can unfold and use. Having been used to BUM's quite gothic styles in the past, it is refreshing to see the brand infuse more colors in its products and apparel.

This school year, BUM takes off from its successful "Teevolution" campaign which called forth an outpouring of vibrant colors, bold, prints, and graphic ethnic patterns to enable students to stand out in school, not because they challenge the rules and break dress codes, but because they're wearing cool pieces and are armed with the right accessories.

I love how BUM came up with stylish and functional bags that carry the brand's style philosophy that goes  for the Modern Goth Look with a touch of Glam Rock -- think studded pieces, motorcycle jackets, tapered pants, oversized shirts, and the like.

BUM's utilitarian concept is further made casual by turning motorcycle jackets into cropped ones along with notched collar jackets for boys. Young men can also go for the casual cook look with chino cuffed pants that allow them to swing from schoolwork to play without breaking a sweat.

As for girls who love mixing and matching pieces, BUM introduces the rayon fabric with exciting new designs such as 2-in-1 tops, casual blazers, and blouses with build-in mini designed to look like tunics. Stylish and comfortable skinny jeans and jeggings are also part of BUM's new collection. They are designed to flatter any shape and can be worn with a baggy top, comfy cardigan, or a fitted jacket to create proportion. Pair these with stilettos or knee-high boots if you have short legs or opt for comfy flats if you are long-legged.

Aside from the clothes, BUM also has trendy bags, like the one I have, that will help complete one's getup. The Tote Bag for girls/teens are splashed with catchy, statement patterns and printed with messages that speak volumes about the wearer's personality or mood for the day.

There's also the Reversible Bag that's made of printed canvas mixed with poly-fine fiber and designed with eye-catching patterns and minimal accent details. And since both the inner and outer sides have designs, it's like having two bags in one!

Going back to school for the young people has never been this cool and fashionable. Check out BUM's many offerings in leading department stores nationwide. For more information, please visit www.bumequipment.com.ph or like them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/bumequip.

Sometime in late May, I received a text message from Resorts World Manila informing me that there would be a free shuttle service to Resorts World from Starmall Alabang starting June 1. I have been searching for that shuttle for weeks every time I needed to go to Resorts World to no avail.

Once, I even tried calling the Resorts World hotline to ask where exactly is the shuttle parked and what color the vehicle is. The person I talked to instructed me to look for either a red or a white van with a Resorts World sign on the side of the van or on the windshield. Still, I met with no success.

And then last Saturday, as I was rushing to make it to the press preview of The King and I and was approaching the jeep bound for Pasay Rotonda, along came a big yellow bus about to exit to the main highway. The big sign made me immediately wave my hand to signal the driver to stop. Thankfully, he did.

Photo taken at the Resorts World parking lot
The door opened and I went inside the cool and spacious interior to find only three passengers. The driver asked for my Resorts World I.D. and it was the moment I felt really grateful to having applied for one many months ago. The bus took the skyway route and exited at Nichols. The ride only took around 20 minutes compared to the usual hour and a half it takes when I go to Pasay Rotonda first then take the paid shuttle near the Taft MRT station.

Many of us must already be aware of the Thank You Mom campaign. After all, there are commercials about it appearing in between TV shows. It actually started last March when Procter & Gamble (P&G) expressed its support to the Filipino athletes who will be competing in the 2012 Olympics. The event moreover honored mothers and highlighted their importance in the life of their children. Read more about it here.

Last Thursday, as the world cheered for this year's London Olympic Games opening in the Isles of Wonder, P&G, the Proud Sponsor of Moms, recognized a milestone for Momsky Melita Barriga. She is a simple housewife from Davao who happens to be the mother of 18-year-old Mark Anthony Barriga, the Philippines' first qualified athlete to compete in light flyweight boxing. He is among the youngest who's coming up against more experienced boxers in the division.

P&G and several members of the online media celebrated with Momsky as her support and diligence as a mom is fulfilled while her son's accomplishment is realized when he walked past huge crowds at the Parade of Colors bearing the Philippine flag on his uniform.

In an intimate afternoon tea party at the Manila Peninsula, Momsky and her husband, Popsky Edgar Barriga, were prepared for their trip to London for the Olympic Games this Sunday. The event was lively hosted by Anama Dimapilis, P&G's Corporate Communications Manager, while the very educational briefing was conducted by Mike Cabigon of the British Council. Along with Momsky and Popsky, we  learned about the London weather, what to wear, the nuances in culture, how to interact with the locals plus a crash course on geography and how to get around in the city.

We also picked up some words that will help the Barrigas communicate better using the language of Londoners such as "the loo" for comfort room, "lift" for elevator, and "telly" for television. And then there's the typical English food fare like the famous Fish and Chips. At the cozy party, we all got to experience having "tea" the British way because we were served with fancy little cakes and scones.

The setup created inside the Nolledo Hernandez room of The Pen was the perfect setting because it personified the culture and elegance that London is known for. We female guests were even given fancy headbands to wear while the guys got really nice hats. All the information shared that afternoon prepared Momsky when she gets to meet other moms from other countries who, through P&G, will also be in London to cheer for their athlete children. I can just imagine how exciting it would be for all those ladies to see their offspring compete in the sports they excel in.

Toward the end of the program, P&G presented the Barriga couple their passports stamped with UK Visa, jackets, and a care package to help them during their first trip outside the country. The British Council also gave them a book of games about London and the Olympics to help while their time in the plane during the long trip.

As Momsky flies to London today, she is bringing the hopes of those who yearn for the first Olympic gold medal for the Philippines as well as the faith of those who wish for her son's success. However, the most important thing she is bringing to London is the unwavering love and support she has always given Mark whom she raised to be the Olympic athlete he is now through her own rather Olympic feat as a champion mom.

Happy trip Momsky and Popsky! Enjoy your time in London! :)

* To see more photos of the tea party, visit this Facebook photo album

Starting August 1, four new refreshing drinks will be served in all Figaro branches. I got to taste test all of them and here are my verdicts ...

The White Chocolate Mocha Frost is purely yum! For me, it has the right balance of sweetness which makes it really nice to drink. 

I found the Choco Chips Java Frost a bit too strong for me as I am not really fond of chocolates. But I'm sure chocolate lovers would choose this one over the others any time.

The Figaroccino Caramel Chips drink tasted a bit like the White Chocolate Mocha Frost. This one though has tiny chocolate bits that add texture to the beverage and make it fun to drink.

Lastly, we also got to taste the Figaroccino Cookie Crumble that's made with Oreo crumbs. This one, I think would be a big hit with my kids.

Aside from the new drinks, don't forget to order one of the complete meals Figaro also offers if you're there during lunch or dinner. Try the Chicken Barbecue or the Fish Fillet. Both come with veggies and tasty sauces. I like the fish dish better though because the mango and cucumber cubes jive nicely with the fish and pesto sauce. 

For dessert, we tried Figaro's Carrot Cake, a moist sponge cake with shredded carrots fudged with nutty and flavorful almond bits. It's too sweet for my taste so I just took a few small bites.  

There's also the Orange Coffee Cake, an orangey soft sponge cake baked with coffee flavored crumbs. It combines sweet and sour orange flavors with bittersweet coffee flavor. Both cakes are best eaten with a cup of steaming coffee by your side.

Hubby and I brought home a slice (P105) of each cake for the kids. I love Figaro's take-out packaging because the cakes's shapes were preserved well throughout our trip from Shangri-la Mall to our house in Alabang. 

Again, make sure you try out one, or all, of the newest cold beverages at Figaro starting August 1! They come in 16oz and 20oz cups and cost P130 and P150 respectively.

I know several people who get allergies when they eat seafood especially shrimp, clams, and crab. I really feel sad for them because they don't get to enjoy the great tastes of these jewels from the sea.

If you are a crab lover like me, you will definitely enjoy eating at Red Crab Alimango House! Recently, my foodie friends and I were invited to discover 24 ways of enjoying crabs in Lucky Chinatown Mall, Binondo. It was a particularly rainy night which made it a bit hard to travel. We arrived more than an hour late for dinner but the trip was really worth it.

Although we were served all 24 dishes, I didn't get to taste all of them because some are quite spicy while others didn't make it to our end of the very long table. Still, those I did get to try were all delicious!

The first dish I tried was very familiar. It has lots of crunchy garlic bits on top and which is named Causeway Bay Typhoon Shelter Crab. I've had it several times in Crustasia (food review here) and Clawdaddy (reviews here, here, and here) before and remains one of my favorites.

I like the soup of the Crab Sinigang sa Sampalok but unfortunately didn't get to try the crab meat.

Then there were these Chinese Salted Egg Crabs with a kind of coating that I think you'd also like to peel off and eat before delving into the juicy goodness of the meat.

I don't remember what the Szechuan (a way of cooking) crabs look like but I can definitely recall that I like its slightly sweet sauce. If you are also not fond of spicy foods, this one should not be confused with the Sichuan (a province in China) crabs which might light your lips and tongue on fire.

The Crabs with Salted Egg is a winner. I was almost tempted to ask for fried rice to go with it. It reminds me of a hearty breakfast and, given a chance, I would gladly eat this dish for breakfast one of these days, if possible.

When I'm not at home and don't need to rush from one chore to another, I tend to be a slow eater so I could savor my food more. That's also one of the reasons why I didn't get to taste everything served on the table. I also opted this time not to stand up and take a photo every time a new dish comes out of the kitchen because my hands have become really messy. So I borrowed some of the photos I used here from my friends Alex, Ryan, Myke, and Cathie who were more diligent than I was in taking pictures that night :p

To know the verdicts on the other dishes, I encourage you to read other food bloggers' review of 24K Ways to Enjoy Your Red Crabs. You can find a lot of links at Red Crab's Facebook page.

If you're wondering about the prices, here they are:

Middleweight Crabs P145 / 100g (500-700g)
Big Crabs P155 / 100g (800-900g)
King Crabs P165 / 100g (1kg-up)
Female Crabs P165 / 100 (all sizes)

Edit, August 1: Check out the buffet offerings at Red Crab Greenbelt 3 this whole month! :)

I have to confess that I am not a true-blue coffee aficionado but when I do drink coffee, I really want it to taste good. In my personal standards, good coffee means not too bitter, a little bit sweet, smells really good, and leaves a lingering lovely flavor on my tongue. Segafredo Zanetti's coffee, particularly the cappuccino, is exactly my kind of coffee.

For many people, including a lot of my friends, a steaming cup of espresso can warm the heart and revive the senses. Some love drinking coffee to soothe oneself after pulling out an all-nighter while others drink coffee as a picker-upper during the day. After all, a strong and aromatic shot of espresso can immediately jump start and lift one's mood. Countless studies show that coffee indeed works wonders in a lot of ways that people consider the drinking experience as a tradition.

To continue this legacy, Segafredo Zanetti, the leading espresso producer in Italy and throughout the world, brought the Italian espresso tradition to the Philippines recently by flying in two world-renowned espresso masters from Italy and Japan to share their knowledge on authentic Italian espresso.

My friends and I listened as Mr. Ilija Naumovski, the Grand Chef Barista & Supervisor of Segafredo Zanetti in Asia, and Mr. Andrea Borghesan, Export Manager of Segafredo Zanetti Coffee Systems Italy,  gave demonstrations and shared secret techniques on how to concoct an excellent cup of espresso. This is to ensure that the quality of Segafredo Zanetti Espresso remains true to its authenticity as it is passed on from one country to another. 

To further strengthen the espresso tradition, Zegafredo Zanetti continues to innovate their expertise by offering new coffee solutions to its consumers. I think we were the first ones to have a look-see at the company's newest machine called Myespresso. It is said to be manufactured with the highest quality in mind as Segafredo believes that the machine is just as important as the coffee it produces.

Myespresso has a 19-bar pressure pump and an exclusive piston erogation system that allows maximum, rich flavor to be quickly delivered in just a few seconds. We were told that it took two years to carefully design this compact and handy machine that is reasonably priced and, at the same time, is able to make an excellent cup of Italian espresso.

Aside from Segafredo Zanetti, the coffee brand for hotels, restaurants and cafes; and Segafredo Zanetti Espresso, the brand exclusive for espresso bars, the company also delivers the Segafredo Coffee System for home and office machines. There are large-scale espresso machines produced under La San Marco brand for industrial use. With different offerings for different industries and uses, the Segafredo Complete Coffee Solutions can excellently cater to specific production needs.

Filipinos can partake in the Italian espresso tradition because Segafredo Complete Coffee Solutions is now available locally.  According to Maxine Chua-Maramba, General Manager of Segafredo Zanetti, their mission is to spread the taste, the culture and preparation method of the true Italian espresso.  "We want to provide complete coffee solutions to households, small offices, hotels, restaurants and cafes, for them to enjoy the quality products Segafredo has to offer."

Mr. Naumovski and my hubby (trailsunlimited.blogspot.com)
Segafredo Zanetti opened its first café in the Philippines in 2002. Since then, it continues to innovate the authentic Italian espresso experience to warm the hearts and energize the minds of its customers. With the new Myespresso machine, Filipinos can now have their strong, creamy cup available in the comfort of their establishments, their offices and in their own homes.

*Segafredo's branches are located at the G/F JP Morgan Building in BGC, 2/F The Podium in Ortigas, and in G/F BDO Building, Greenhills, San Juan.

K-Pop fashion is everywhere! This year, SM Department Store injects their character apparel with the glitzy, glam, funky, and spunky looks inspired by the electrifying excitement of Korean style dynamics to elevate kids' fashion choices while keeping things colorful and fun.

Check out kiddie favorites like Garfield, Mickey Mouse, Snoopy, and Barbie clothing that are highlighted by bright colors and bold patterns which showcase this season's new collections.

Ms. Jo Dy Juanco, VP for SM Children's Fashion, acknowledges that kids today are a lot more conscious of what's "in" and get fashion ideas from their idols. "These days, they draw inspiration from K-Pop stars and want to dress just like them."

The SM Toon Fest collection is available in all SM Department Stores nationwide. It features trendy apparel emblazoned with the familiar faces and logos of kids' favorite licensed characters such as Hello Kitty, Robby Rabbit, Winnie the Pooh, and Marvel Superheroes like Spider-Man. Old favorites like the Disney Princesses, Disney Fairies, and the Sesame Street gang also have their own quirky-yet-stylish collections.

Big and small girls will enjoy SM Toon Fest’s wide range of choices, from Winnie the Pooh’s colorful 70’s disco party girl polka dots and stripes, to Betty Boop’s posh, classic pieces with modern tweaks. Boys, on the other hand, can dazzle with a combination of preppy and urban street clothing elements from Garfield, Cars, and Snoopy. Kids are going to have a blast mixing and matching ensemble pieces to create their own signature K-Pop-inspired looks with the help of their favorite toons!

Parents with talented kids aged 2 to 14 are encouraged to have their children join SM Toon Fest's Search for the K- Pop Rising Star. It is a song, dance, and lip-synch competition for boys, girls, and groups who want to let their inner superstars shine in the spotlight and win the P100,000 grand prize.

Know more about the contest by logging on to www.risingstars.asia/smtoonfest/ and liking www.facebook.com/smkidsfashion on Facebook.

*Photos used in this blog post were taken during the SM Toon Fest launch and fashion show. Check out more pictures here.

There's nothing like hands-on learning. Although I also appreciate acquiring knowledge from lecture-type talks, I appreciate it more when I get to see for myself what a speaker is talking about.

Photo borrowed from Orange Magazine TV
In an afternoon of active fun, several bloggers and I got to experience the impressive features of the new HP Deskjet Ink Advantage printers through a game ala-Amazing Race. We formed teams of two and proceeded to do tasks given by the marshals. For each leg of the race, we had to print something remotely using a smart phone per team on one of several HP printers scattered around the activity area.

The game was heart-pounding as my hubby, Nonoy of trailsunlimited.blogspot.com, (read his blog post about the event here) and I tried to finish faster than the other teams. Although we ended up in second place, it's alright as friends of ours took the first spot. 

HP's expansion of its portfolio of printers with five new ones offers A+ affordability, quality, and reliability for families and students with different printing needs. All have first-to-market technologies such as wireless direct printing that does not require a network plus other features that boost productivity. 

Read this write up about how the new HP printer actually helps make life easier for the teachers and students in a school in Paranaque. It's another testament to the convenience and cost-effectiveness of the HP Ink Advantage line-up in helping enhance learning for children. 

Why Ink Advantage? That's because each original HP ink cartridge for this new line only costs P390 and can already print up to 600 pages! Thus, users can enjoy high-quality printing at up to half the cost. The printers not only come with faster print speeds but also different price-points to address customers'  varying needs. 

Here are specific features of each:

The HP Deskjet Ink Advantage 2515All-in-One printer (P4,490) now comes with an intuitive graphic display for easy scanning and copying, while delivering high-quality prints at low running costs. It is ideal for home users who want a compact and affordable device that can customize images or text with the reduce/enlarge buttons. Students can also take advantage of affordable, borderless prints in HP-quality to create impressive assignments and projects. 

The HP Deskjet Ink Advantage 4615 All-in-One (P6,890) and 4625 e-All-in-One (P7,990) printers allow users to print, scan, copy and fax, and save up to 40% on energy use with Scheduled On/Off feature. These are ideal for school administrations and home offices that need a versatile product. They are ENERGY STAR-qualified devices that feature a 35-page document feeder to help complete print jobs quickly and share resources with wireless networking.

The HP Deskjet Ink Advantage 3525 (P6,990) and 5525 e-All-in-One (P7,990) printers offer automatic two-sided (duplex) printing and wireless direct printing that allow users to easily print from wireless-enabled mobile devices without a network or router. Print virtually anywhere with HP ePrint and directly access and print online educational content with HP print apps such as Lorax, Dreamworks, Yahoo Digest, etc. The 5525 also allows for direct scanning to email without a PC. 

By using original HP ink cartridges, users can further reduce the costs of printer damage and reprints from messy leaks, spills and clogged print heads with the use of alternative and counterfeit cartridges.

Know more about HP Ink Advantage by logging on to www.hp.com/ph/inkadvantage

Kids and kids at heart would be happy to know that Jollitown is coming back for its 5th season. The magical neighborhood opens its gates once more and promises more exciting adventures with Jollibee and friends Yum, Popo, Hetty, and Twirlie as they go on a search for the crystals of values.

The well-loved kiddie show's fifth season was launched at the Rockwell Tent in Makati. Jollibee and Friends along with members of the media and our kids enjoyed the special screening of the newest season's pilot episode. Young guests had a great time joining games that taught them different Filipino values like bravery, love for the environment, and sweetness.

The event's highlights took off from the plot of the new season where the villainous Virus Elvira has gotten hold of the precious Crystals of Values and putting these in danger. Jollibee and Friends must now search for the crystals and bring them back safely before they are destroyed.

Watch the whole season as the quest takes Jollibee and Friends to some of the Philippines' most beautiful provinces that embody the different values represented by the crystals.

Adding to the festivities were drum beaters and colorful decorations which added to the island vibe. Guests were also treated to food that included langhap-sarap favorites from Jollibee. Before the event ended, kids joined the merry crew of Jollibee, Popo, Hetty, Twirlie, and Yum in a special train dance.

"Jollitown has always been about imparting values to kids and educating them in the most fun, exciting way," said Inna Gimenez, Jollibee Senior Brand Manager. "This season, we're proud to showcase the best of the Philippines -- our rich culture, colorful history, and the values that make us a cut above the rest."

*Join Jollibee and Friends on their adventure-filled quest for the crystals of values. Catch Jollitown every Sunday at 9AM starting today, July 22, at ABS-CBN

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