Legends are passed on from generation to generation because, in a way, something must have happened a long time ago where those stories were based on. In the action adventure movie Jack the Giant Slayer, two children grew up hearing the same fairy tale from their parents. One is a poor farm boy named Jack (Nicholas Hoult), and the other, a princess named Isabelle (Eleanor Tomlinson). 

Who would have thought that a few beans could grow giant beanstalks? But they did! Thus, the stories about giants and an age-old war, believed to be just stories, became true when Jack accidentally opened a gateway between their world and that of a place where a fearsome race of giants live. Unlike the fairy tale most of us knew during our childhood, the movie version involves not just one, but a whole army of scary, man-eating giants.

For the first time in centuries, a kingdom is to find out that giants did live amongst them and even tried to conquer the land they live in once upon a time. Now, the long-banished enemies are once more attempting to reclaim what they once lost. Jack, a simple young man who happened to fall in love with a brave princess, found himself battling for a kingdom, its people, and the love of the girl of his dreams. Despite the self-doubts, he faced the unstoppable warriors he thought only existed in a book from his childhood and earned the right to be a legend himself.

I watched the press preview at SM Mall of Asia's IMAX Cinema in 3D and found it a mind-blowing experience. The super-sized screen and almost interactive visuals made the story very, very engaging. There was not a dull moment during the whole film and I appreciated the twists in the creative storyline. It was very hard to guess how the tale would wrap up in the end. I'm sure other viewers also found the mystery and the story's conclusion worth the wait from start to finish. 

I also loved the period costumes, the humorous touches, and the special effects. Behind the 3D glasses, I felt like part of the movie as I raptly absorbed what was happening on screen.

Jack the Giant Slayer is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Bryan Singer. Aside from Hoult and Tomlinson (who made a cute onscreen couple), the film also stars Stanley Tucci as the deceitful Roderick; Ian McShane as Isabelle’s father, the besieged King Brahmwell; Bill Nighy as General Fallon, the ferocious two-headed leader of the giant army; and Ewan McGregor as the loyal knight Elmont.

The screenplay was written by Darren Lemke, Christopher McQuarrie, and Dan Studney while Darren Lemke and David Dobkin worked on the story.  The film is produced by Neal H. Moritz, David Dobkin, Bryan Singer, Patrick McCormick and Ori Marmur.  The executive producers are Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni, Alex Garcia, Toby Emmerich, Richard Brener, Michael Disco, and John Rickard.

The creative filmmaking team included director of photography Newton Thomas Sigel, production designer Gavin Bocquet, editors John Ottman and Bob Ducsay, and costume designer Joanna Johnston with music composed by John Ottman.
Dominic Tuohy served as special effects supervisor and Hoyt H. Yeatman Jr. as visual effects supervisor.

Jack the Giant Slayer, which is now showing in Philippine cinemas, is a New Line Cinema presentation in association with Legendary Pictures, an Original Film/Big Kid Pictures/A Bad Hat Harry Production of a Bryan Singer Film.  It is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.  Log on to www.jackthegiantslayer.co.uk for more information.

I am really glad that eating healthier these days is much easier than in past years. We have more choices and healthy foods have actually become genuinely delicious! Sometime last August, I blogged about Mondo Juice and of discovering some of the best smoothies I've ever tasted in my life.

Yesterday, I found out that Mondo Juice is now available in Makati! What's more, this new branch combines two innovative drink bars in one store! This cool and comfy chill-out place not only serves Mondo Juice smoothies, sandwiches, and pastries, it also offers SIP milk teas.

Mondo Juice + SIP, which is tucked in Legaspi Village's Rada Street, will definitely satisfy your healthy beverage and food cravings. As company president Jon Kui predicts, "Milk teas and fruit smoothies will only continue to become more popular, especially with a lot of young people going on a health kick." Thankfully, there's one place where both milk tea lovers and smoothie fans can enjoy their favorite drinks.

Young entrepreneurs Jon Kui and his sister Joey
Both brands have become two of the metro's leading health drink bars with their unique concepts and only the freshest, finest ingredients: Mondo Juice for its 100% all-natural juices and smoothies, and SIP for its high-quality steeped milk tea concoctions.

Inside the Rada branch is a welcoming ambiance that will immediately make you feel at home. It has comfy seats, beautiful light fixtures, and friendly staff who provide excellent service. Jon explains, "We've put together design elements from both Mondo and SIP to get a balanced feel of the two stores while upgrading the overall interiors at the same time."

Although I'm already familiar with Mondo Juice's products, I always feel this child-like excitement when choosing what to order from the wide variety of really yummy smoothies they prepare. This time, I opted to go for the lip-smacking goodness of Berry Blitz and a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

It was my first time to try SIP drinks and I highly recommend their unique concoctions for which you can choose toppings for. I loved the texture of my lychee  flavored tea with nata de coco bits and also took a sip of my hubby's Mesteazo. That also tasted divine! I can't wait to bring the kids to this branch because I'm sure they'll go crazy choosing what to try first. 

Of course, drinks should always be partnered with something to chew on. So complete your chill-out visit to the Rada branch by trying some of their new offerings such as flavorful macarons in chocolate, pistachio, vanilla, coffee, lemon, rose, hazelnut, and black sesame flavors. Take home a box as pasalubong and your family will love you for it! If you're a cheesecake fan, try these decadent varieties: pistachio cheesecake, cheesecake brulee, and the tofu cheesecake. Dropping by for breakfast? Go for the baked egg dishes in bacon and sausage, or the pulled pork sandwich made with lean challah bread.

On the other hand, let SIP entice you with the fried brownie and the Milovaltine drink, two items exclusively sold in the Rada branch. They also have a new line of drinks called fresh sodas, with lychees as the bestseller. Oh, and do check out the SIP shirts which have very creative and funny prints. I love their packaging because I first thought the contents were chips or powdered tea! The store also sells bottled goodies like pickled cucumber, barbeque sauce, hot honey, kosher salt, and a variety of flavored teas in boxes.

Hubby's shirt says, "Awesome ... (wait for it) est!" LOL
Mondo Juice + SIP would definitely change the way you look at healthy beverages. Leave the noise of the city for a while and enter this store with a laidback, homey vibe. It is actually just a stone's throw away from major commercial and residential buildings such as Greenbelt, Ayala Museum, and the Enterprise Center. The Rada branch, which has free WiFi access, is a great place to bond with friends, go on snack breaks with office mates, or find serenity while enjoying personal downtime. I'm looking forward to coming back there again very soon!

Connect with Mondo Juice and SIP Milk Tea on Facebook and on Twitter @mondojuice / @Sipmilktea. For more photos, please visit this Facebook album

Until the early 90's, I have passed by the Nestle Plant along the National Road in Alabang on my way home to Muntinlupa and smelling the aroma of coffee permeating the air around the area. For a long time after it closed down, the place looked really neglected and forlorn.

Sometime last year, I noticed the old plant being closed off with large pieces of construction fences and I idly wondered what's to become of it. Now I know! :)

Avida Land Corp. announced earlier today that it plans to develop South Park District, the company's first large-scale, master-planned, mixed-use development, as part of its continuing expansion in the South and in other key areas around the Philippines.

South Park will be a 6.6-hectare development of the Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI) subsidiary located on the former site of the Nestle coffee factory I mentioned earlier. It is a very accessible place in the heart of Alabang and near major establishments such as schools, hospitals, and malls as well as the South Superhighway exit, which are just a few minutes away.

According to Avida executives, the multiphase South Park District will cost P12B and will be developed over a period of 10 years. This will be a complementary addition to ALI's roster of projects in the area which include Ayala Alabang Village, Madrigal Business Park, Alabang Town Center, Ayala Southvale, and Avida Towers Alabang.

Aside from residential condominiums, South Park will have a regional mall and office buildings anchored by a central park. It is projected to be a venue for convergence on this side of Muntinlupa that embraces a uniquely Southern experience and brings to life the concept of "Part City. Part Nature. Pure South." In partnership with the local government of Muntinlupa, I'm personally glad to know that this development will be a much-needed facelift in my part of the city.

The first tower of the maiden residential condo project, Avida Towers Altura (trivia: Altura is a fine grade coffee, Avida's tribute to the old coffee plant) was already launched last December 2012 with 433 units comprised of Studio, 1BR, and 2BR units ranging in price from P1.8M to P6M. This two-tower cluster has a total of 1,054 units expected to be completed in 4 years. Six more residential towers are expected to be built within the 10-year development plan.

Avida Land President Christopher Maglanoc shared that South Park District will just be the first of major projects that they are launching this year. "With the upbeat macroeconomic environment, low interest rates, and growing middle class, we will continue with our expansion into new geographies and new products to cater to our target market of middle class home buyers," he promised.

The great news is, South Park District is expected to further boost the already flourishing business atmosphere in Alabang once it opens to the public around the 4th quarter of 2015. Aside from the regional mall where people can find local and international shops and commercial establishments, a number of BPO companies will be embodying the live-work-play environment of the project. The mall is expected to accommodate 400 shops while the BPO office is expected to generate 16,000 jobs.

To make the place more accessible, South Park District mall will have its own public transport terminal, a dedicated taxi bay, and lay-by area for public utility buses and jeepneys, covered walkways, and waiting areas for the convenience of the District's homeowners, visitors, mall patrons, and BPO workers.

"Avida upholds the Ayala Land commitment to improve the Filipino's quality of living," affirmed ALI's President and CEO Tony T. Aquino. "South Park District expands our footprint in the Muntinlupa area and builds on Ayala Land's long tradition of building exceptional mixed-used communities."

As a resident of Muntinlupa, I am looking forward to seeing South Park District finally revealed to the public. Here's wishing I'll have the resources to invest in one of those condo units someday! :)

If you've eaten at any of the Uncle Cheffy Restaurant's branches around Metro Manila, I'm sure you've already chosen which your favorite dishes are. Please read my review of the Ortigas branch here if you want to know the kinds of food they serve. I'm getting hungry just thinking of the panizzas and salad I usually order when we eat there :p

Now, creative people have the chance to win thousands worth of gift certificates (GCs) from Uncle Cheffy! Imagine bringing your loved ones to one of the branches and treating them to good food!

Budding artists and professionals are invited to join the Uncle Cheffy Mascot Design Contest. Imagine the man behind the wood-fired oven and bring him out on paper! For that, you'll get to win as much as P50,000 worth of Uncle Cheffy GCs!

The contest is divided into two stages. Phase one requires colored artworks to be submitted to any of the Uncle Cheffy Restaurants nationwide. You have until March 31 to do that.

Next, the five best submissions will be displayed in the different branches from April 10 to May 14 for the restaurants' patrons viewing pleasure. For every P200 purchase, diners can choose a favorite and cast their votes. 

All owners of the top five designs will receive P10,000 worth of Uncle Cheffy GCs each while the grand prize winner, which will be revealed on May 22, will get an additional P40,000 worth of GCs.

For more information and to view the complete mechanics, please log on to www.unclecheffygroup.com.

Want to have hair like Heart Evangelista's?

Watch this: http://youtu.be/xvizjvQX2WE

FIRST and EXCLUSIVE! This is the power of hair that's beyond beautiful -- it's smoother, shinier, and full of life. 

Like Heart, let your hair go beyond just beautiful to healthy gorgeous. Get Hair Reborn with Cream Silk

Here's how you can win a Cream Silk gift pack that you can claim from an office in Ayala Avenue, Makati after the winners are announced.

To win via Facebook:

1. Like the Cream Silk Hair Reborn and Write, Breathe, Live fan pages on Facebook so you can tag us later.
2.  Copy and post this as your status: "Let's go beyond beautiful with Cream Silk Hair Reborn (tagged) and Write, Breathe, Live (tagged)! Watch this http://youtu.be/xvizjvQX2WE and win a Cream Silk gift pack here http://bit.ly/15bt5dj" Make sure your status is "Public" so I can see it in the WBL dashboard.

To win via Twitter:
1. Follow @CreamSilkPH and @ruthfloresca on Twitter.
2. Copy and tweet this: "Let's go #BeyondBeautiful with @CreamSilkPH! Watch this http://youtu.be/xvizjvQX2WE and join @ruthfloresca's contest http://bit.ly/15bt5dj"

Deadline of entries will be at 12MN of March 2, 2013. Two winners (one via Facebook and one via Twitter) will be announced on the first week of March. Get two chances of winning by joining in both FB and Twitter. Winners will be drawn via Random.org and will be sent a PM/DM regarding details on where to claim their prize. 

Note: Only valid entries will be included in the raffle so please make sure you follow the mechanics. Thank you very much and good luck! :)

Edit March 14 - Congratulations to @classic_trish (Twitter winner) and Jana Nevalga (Facebook winner)! Please wait for my PM on how to get your prizes. My apologies for the late announcement. It was really hard to double check all entries as several contestants sent in dozens of multiple tweets which flooded my timeline considerably. Thanks to everyone who joined. Please stay tuned for more giveaways coming soon.

Facebook winner is Jana Nevalga

Twitter winner is @classic_trish

Former Hale frontman Champ Lui Pio, now CEO of Mecca Music, has already proven his aptitude for artist management after successfully launching his first artist Rez Toledo, more popularly known as Somedaydream, two years ago. 

This 2013, Champ proudly presents Luigi D'Avola (pronounced Da-vola), a fresh new face and talent who brings more than music to the entertainment industry. The eighteen-year-old musician who hails from Cebu is more than ready to face the limelight especially now that his first single, Take A Chance, debuted on top of radio lists.

In addition, Take A Chance's music video has already become viral after being uploaded on YouTube, garnering 20,000 views within the first three weeks. The saccharine, bubble-gum pop track that speaks about moving way beyond limits moreover opened doors for Luigi on MYX Channel's Pinoy MYX Countdown's top 15 in just two weeks.

"At Mecca Music, we take pride in producing and managing our artists. It’s a process that we put a lot of time and hard work. We really invest in our artists and make sure we guide them to reach their full potential," shares Champ. "Luigi is a testament to that commitment, we are very excited to launch his music which we have worked on for almost a year now.  We believe that he will break grounds in the music industry this 2013."

Following the success of Mecca Music's first talent Somedaydream, Champ signs up Luigi with a debut album slated to come out this coming March. Luigi is a budding star in his own right, having worked with the likes of multi-awarded sound engineer Angee Rozul and Monty Macalino of Mayonnaise. While completing his album, Luigi admits being drawn to Champ’s “determination and passion for music.”

Luigi, Champ, and Somedaydream
Luigi comes from a family of musicians -- he is the brother of Urbandub's lead vocalist Gabby Alipe. The young man expresses to having "a small dream [and] finally making it bigger than I wished for” by taking a leap, crossing boundaries and pushing the limits while still staying true to himself.

If you watched SMART Telecomm’s LIVE MORE campaign music video It’s Your Life, you would most likely have already seen Luigi there with Somedaydream and Champ. At the moment, Luigi is doing live performances across Metro Manila with a growing fan base on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

According to Champ, “My mission is to uplift the quality of music in the country, to introduce new and fresh music. I want to excite music lovers out there and to challenge the norm. Managing and producing is very personal to me, I want my artists to share the same passion for music.”

The dedicated manager demonstrated that he has the talent and ear to craft a hit record when  Somedaydream became one of the fastest rising artists since his debut in 2011 with the commercially acclaimed song “Hey Daydreamer” and clinching projects with Selecta’s Cornetto, Coke, Yamaha and SMART.

Recently, Somedaydream was awarded as 2012 MYX Music Awards’ Favorite Celebrity VJ; 25th Awit Awards’ Most Downloaded Song and Most downloaded Ring Back Tone for Hey Daydreamer; and RX 93.1’s Song of the Year for Sing This Song.

Download “Take a Chance” from My Music Store and iTunes Philippines. Vote for Take a Chance on MYX.

For more information on Mecca Music’s artists, please visit:  www.meccaph.com
Somedaydream on Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/somedaydream

I love experiencing new things and visiting different places. In the past years, I've often wanted to go and be part of the annual hot air balloon festival in Clark, Pampanga but circumstances did not permit me to do so ... until this year. 

A few days ago, one of my editors asked me if I'd like to do a business-angled story (watch out for it in Manila Bulletin in the coming days) on UPS, the official logistics services provider of the 18th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. I said yes after asking hubby's permission to go on an overnight trip. 

So I found myself in the company of two, very nice and energetic, young people who handle PR for UPS and off we went yesterday afternoon to Clark where we stayed overnight in a villa at the Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino. The place is huge having three bedrooms with queen-sized beds and even a maid's quarter! It also has a spacious living room, a kitchen, and a dining table where we ate dinner. Since we were quite far from the hotel building, we didn't have WiFi access and, unfortunately, our phones' 3G connection (all of us had Globe lines) were useless. 

Later last night, we visited the UPS warehouse just in time to see men unloading packages from a Boeing 767. Mr. Nelson Agbing, Gateway Supervisor, told us they get deliveries twice a day. My companions and I noticed several jets bearing the Breitling name and were informed that those would be flying during the hot air balloon event the next day. I was excited to see what the pilots have in store for us.

Back at the villa past 12MN, we grabbed a few hours of sleep before proceeding to the Omni Aviation Complex early this morning where the balloons would be flying. Good thing we arrived there before the sun was up because it was a long walk going from the parking lot to the main gate. If you're going there this weekend and got a driver, have him drop you off under the flyover first before he parks your vehicle or else you'll be in for a lot of exercise. That's a good thing if you don't have kids with you as little ones would probably get tired from walking even before they arrive at the first gate.

Thanks to the Photo Passes that UPS provided us with, we got inside the VIP area where we could really go near, and even touch, the balloons! I bumped into several blogger friends and we had the time of our lives taking photos of each other beside the colorful balloons spread out around us. Lovely kites were also being flown in one area.

Before the balloon pilots and their crew started firing up the hot air, we first witnessed three skydivers jump from a plane and who gracefully floated down. One of them had a huge Philippine flag (the size of four cars, according to the emcee) tied on one leg. It fascinated me that he landed exactly when the last strains of the Philippine anthem ended. That was some feat!

Among the balloons, I'd have to say that the tulip bouquet design was my top favorite because it is soooo colorful and pretty. Too bad the strong wind prevented it from flying during opening day but I hope it would get its shot in the next coming days.

There were also other creatively-shaped balloons including AXE Philippines' spacecraft (they even brought along an astronaut and shapely AXE girls to promote their goal of sending the first Filipino to space), the Department of Tourism's sun balloon displaying the It's More Fun in the Philippines slogan (DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez was there to show his support), an upside-down boy who looked like it could be Humpty Dumpty, a pink elephant, and a firetruck that thankfully made it up in the air.

I think all the regularly-shaped balloons were able to fly though. It was glorious seeing all of them rise up to the sky one by one. 

Afterwards, we saw several exhibitions including some complicated maneuverings by skilled Filipino pilot Capt. Meynard Halili who flew in a light plane made of fabric and metal. In addition, seeing the seven Breitling jets fly in unison and then in different formations took our breaths away. I got  my wish to see them up in the air and it ... was ... fantastic! 

You still have time to catch the beautiful sights of the 18th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. It runs until this weekend. Some tips and reminders though: 

1. Wear comfortable closed shoes so your feet won't get too dirty from all the dust that are stirred by the wind and the planes.
2. Bring sunglasses, umbrella, sunblock lotion, and water. There are few shaded areas near the field so you'll be at the mercy of the elements. The heat of the sun can get pretty scalding even before 10AM rolls around.
3. If you tend to feel itchy or sneezy because of too much dust, bring something to cover half of your face like a mask or bandanna. 

Entrance tickets are priced at P250 each. For other information that I wasn't able to provide, please visit the event's official Facebook page here.  

To see more photos I took during Opening Day, please view this Facebook album where there are more than 100 pictures.

I am a fan of theater plays as evidenced by my numerous blog posts and reviews. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised that the movie adaptation of Anna Karenina was able to cleverly integrate scenes on a theater stage along with the "real life" ones we commonly see in movies. Needless to say, I became fascinated and stayed glued to my seat from the very beginning of the film until the credits started rolling.

Anna Karenina is based on Leo Tolstoy's timeless novel. The adaptation was written by winning screenwriter Tom Stoppard and acclaimed director Joe Wright. In a nutshell, the epic drama explores the age-old question: What price would you pay for love?

The story is set in Imperial Russia in the late 1800s and revolves around a love triangle made up of  wealthy socialite Anna Karenina (Keira Knightly), her much older husband, high ranking government official Alexie Karenin (Jude Law) and young and dapper cavalry officer Count Vronsky (Aaron Johnson).

Anna meets Vronsky on a trip to Moscow when she visited her brother to help him gain back his wife's favor after committing adultery. Anna and Vronsky found themselves attracted to one another and things led from one thing to another. As their affair progresses, Anna had to decide if she is willing to risk her marriage, family, and status for a love affair that would definitely scandalize the rigid Russian society.

Apart from the complicated love triangle is another love story between rural landowner Levin (Domhnall Gleeson) and his beloved Princess Kitty (Alicia Vikander), who is unfortunately enamored with Vronsky. The parallel stories allow viewers to observe the disparity between infatuation and love and the destructive effects of confusing the two.

Jude Law is amazingly good, as always. Keira Knightly makes a beautiful Anna. I love her dresses and the hats she wore with a veil. Very classy! The dances are also fluidly beautiful. We don't see those anymore these days.

Despite the tragic ending (as most classic storytellers seem to be smitten with), Anna Karenina left me admiring not only its engrossing plot but also its whimsical styling. Director Wright was able to combine gorgeous set pieces and costumes with theatrical devices. As I mentioned earlier, the story literally began on a stage, which makes the film both a visual and dramatic masterpiece.

I saw Anna Karenina at one of the cinemas in Newport Mall in Resorts World Manila. The film is exclusively showing there in and other Megaworld Lifestyle Malls. Eastwood cinemas in Quezon City feature fully carpeted, plush, and cozy interiors as well as reclining, rocker seats with retractable armrests and Dolby Digital Express audio technology. 

Aside from four regular cinemas (Cinemas 1-4) at Eastwood City Walk 2, Eastwood Mall also houses Gold Cinema 5 and 6 and Ultra 7 Cinema, which features the country's first fully reclining twin seats where refillable popcorn and bottomless drinks will be served by butlers to guests' own seats.

Another cinematic innovation can be found at Lucky Chinatown in Binondo where there are four upscale movie theaters equipped with state-of-the-art audio and video equipment. Cinema 1 is ideal for romantic dates because of its unique Emperor Twin Seats that are designed to accommodate two people comfortably. They boast of extra leg room and a retractable middle armrest. The rest are 3D cinemas with Dolby Digital Surround Sound equipment.

Meanwhile, the cinemas in Newport Mall define luxury at its finest with four state of the art cinemas. Newport Ultra Cinema is equipped with fully reclining seats with extended leg rests made of premium fabric and high grade cushion for supreme comfort. The 80 seats are laid-out by pair enclosed by a private viewing pod for utmost privacy. Unlimited drinks and popcorn will be delivered by butlers at your request through a call button allocated per pod for personalized service.

Also open are Newport Cinema 2 and 4 and Newport 3D Digital Cinema which are all equipped with the latest Dolby Digital Audio Technology

Starting February 20, make sure to catch Anna Karenina at any of the Megaworld Lifestyle Malls cinemas. For more information or inquiries, call the concierge at 709-0888 or 709-9888, or visit

A lot of adventurous young people love to dress up and one of the ways they can freely express themselves is through Cosplay. Thus, it was not surprising that dozens of cosplayers from all over flocked to Eton City last February 17 for the New World Cosplay Show to parade their own adaptations of well-loved anime characters and comic heroes. This grand costume play contest capped off Eton City’s series of Chinese New Year activities that started last February 11.

To celebrate the Year of the Snake, Eton City prepared a week-long event themed Heroes and Villains that featured various games and activities for the young and young-at-heart. Launching the week’s festivities was a giant anime display set up for photo-op enthusiasts as well as other family-friendly activities including a robot-making contest, an acoustic night performance, interactive displays, game booths, tournaments, and a grand bazaar of unique and delightful finds.

The week ended with a blast as the new year was welcomed with joy and positive vibes through a dragon dance performance that entertained guests and gave them an energetic start to the Chinese calendar year.

Since we were already there, my friends and I toured the area and checked out the properties in Eton Properties Philippines, Inc.’s most ambitious project yet. Located at a huge area of almost 1,000 hectares, Eton City exudes a relaxed ambiance despite being in an urbanized area. The developers were able to impeccably merge modern living with a tranquil, suburban setting where nature remains the main attraction.

We visited South Lake Village, a tranquil place comprised of 16 distinct islands surrounded by a 35-hectare man-made lake where residents and visitors can go fishing and learn about aquaphonics and how it can help vegetables grow faster. South Lake Village is Eton City’s flagship development and is the first residential island lot development in the Philippines.

Of course, the land prices there are pretty steep for the average Juan but there are other community projects in Eton City such as RiverBend, West Wing Residences, and TierraBela. We were told that you can buy a lot there for as low as P1M and a house and lot for P3M. I can imagine how lovely it could be to live there with the green environment, fresh air, and the cool wind that is ever present.

Eton City is accessible via the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and Sta. Rosa exit. To know more about Eton City, you may call (02) 542-2858 or visit www.etoncity.com.ph

This month of hearts, help make a difference by raising awareness about congenital heart defect (CHD). If you're on Facebook, make sure you like the Save the Little Hearts (STLH) page to help save lives. DM Healthcare will donate P100 for every like which will go to free cardiac surgery of a child with CHD.

Dubbed "1LIKE, 1HEART TO SAVE", the campaign aims not only to raise funds for free heart surgeries for kids but also to make the public more aware of the serious condition that is estimated to affect 8 or 9 newborns per 1000 births.

Dr. Sanjiv Malik, Board of Trustee of the foundation and CEO for Hospitals and Medical Centers Divison of DM Healthcare LLC, shares that through this campaign, they are hoping to accomplish two things simultaneously: "First, to raise funds for the Filipino kids with CHD and to educate the public that CHD is threatening thousands of Filipino infants every year."

"As Facebook users, we like photos and other posts every day. We take it for granted and it's already a routine. Now, why not make that simple act of liking on FB a life-saving activity?" asks Joyce Socao-Alumno, Country Representative of DM Healthcare Foundation in the Philippines who initiated the viral campaign for the program. "In that way, what is routine becomes a vital and meaningful action."

Asked why they put the campaign on Facebook and not just offer free surgeries for the kids, Alumno explains that more than just raising funds, they want to generate social engagement that will, hopefully, spark the public's interest in the issue of CHD in infants.

"That's why we encourage those who like our page to also read through the information and other photos provided there, so they will have an idea how valuable their contribution is to the lives of children with CHD. As more and more people know about [this condition], we will hopefully bring our message across and encourage others to help children with CHD as well," she continues. "We are aiming to raise at least a million pesos for these pediatric CHD patients by February 2013 as a Valentine treat for the children. So we are encouraging FB users to keep liking to STHL FB page."

If you've already liked the STLH page, feel free to use the photo badge that says, "I Saved a Little Heart" as recognition for your contribution to the free surgeries for kids with CHD. Post the badge on your wall, as part of an FB photo album, or pasted onto your profile picture.

According to a study done by the Department of Cardiology at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, about 1.35 million babies were born with CHD in the past 15 years. That is a staggering number!

Another estimate states that around 100,000 babies die every year from complications related to CHD, within their first year of life. Among the many birth defects in newborns, CHD is said to be the number one case of infant deaths.

In the Philippines, the exact number of Filipino newborns with CHD is unknown due to lack of proper tracking. According to the Philippine Heart Center though, the hospital has attended to about 8,710 cases of infant CHD in 2011. Among these children, only 468 were able to undergo surgery.

"We cannot properly address infant CHD cases nationwide if we don't have the proper data about the number of newborn CHD cases per year," points out Dr. Malik. "More research and record-keeping are needed. When we have the data, only then can we identify the risk factors causing CHD among Filipino infants, and then formulate strategies to prevent or treat these patients."

For the past 25 years, DM Foundation has been providing healthcare education programs as well as basic and advanced healthcare services to the less fortunate in India as well as Middle East countries within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). The organization was founded by Padma Shri Dr. Azad Moopen.

On its 25th anniversary, DM Foundation is opening its headquarters in the Philippines in order to expand the reach of its charitable and philanthropic work to Filipinos in urgent need of healthcare services but are unable to do so due to poverty and other difficulties.

In an event held last February 13 at Makati Shangri-la Hotel, Dr. Moopen handed over a Certificate of Donation to the Board of Trustees of DM Healthcare Philippines. The amount is estimated to cost more than P5M which is over and above the equivalent 10,000 likes on the STLH Facebook campaign and will be used for the surgeries of 50 Filipino children.

Dr. Moopen expressed gratitude to Philippine authorities who supported the launching of the program. "Pediatric cardiology is a critical area of medical care. We are glad that, through this initiative, we would be able to extend this care to those who need it." He revealed that STLH is the first of other charity initiatives in the Philippines. "We plan to extend our not-for-profit activities here with a large gamut of services aiming to promote overall wellness in the Philippines. Our aim for our charitable foundation, Healing Touch, is to truly take it beyond boundaries and reach needy people across geographies."

As of this writing two patients were already successfully treated for CHD at the Philippine General Hospital with several other patients selected and approved for DM Healthcare's underwriting of the cardiac surgery.

With the goal to deliver "Care Beyond Boundaries", DM Foundation will continue its ongoing initiatives in the Philippines with adult and pediatric cardiac and other surgical programs, setting up of standalone dialysis centers, and early diseases detection centers as well as cancer screening programs, mobile clinics, village adoption programs, CSR programs, health awareness programs, and general intervention in healthcare activities. 

I do the laundry at home as we've been maid-free (thank goodness!) since 2007. And, even though we have a washing machine to make the task easier, having really dirty clothes to clean can be tedious. Still, it's not avoidable to get grimy laundry especially when all of your four kids are boys. So, I sometimes end up running really dirty clothes in the washer twice.

Like me, today's moms face a lot of decisions when it comes to child-rearing. But it's not surprising to know that recent studies show that mothers have different opinions and varying degrees of flexibility when asked if they would let their children go for hands-on learning or restrict their activities to make household chores, like washing clothes or cleaning up messes, easier.

an old stolen shot I took from a bench in Boni High Street while waiting for my hubby
Consider these findings in child development researches. Did you know that children remember:
10% of what they read 
20% of what they hear, and an astounding
90% of what they do

These results are deemed accurate by child psychologists because 8 of 10 moms agree that the skills learned through play will never be replaced by books, TVs, and computers. In fact, 91% of the moms who were surveyed admitted that they played outdoors during when they were still kids and 96% of them said getting dirty was part of their childhood.

some of our Tree House Day Care kids doing hands-on activities
On the other hand, while modern and busy moms see the value in learning activities, they also cannot help being concerned about dirt and stains and 7 out of 10 confess to being irritated when their kids arrive home with dirt-stained clothing. This stems from the fact that 89% of mothers consider laundry as one of the two most disliked chores and dealing with dirty clothes makes it worse.

According to a study conducted by the Ateneo de Manila University Fr. Jaime C. Bulatao, S.J. Center for Psychological Services, there are two main attitudes that mothers have on children's experiential leaning -- the sige moms and the pigil moms.

Dr. Liane and Dr. Cara
Psychologists Dr. Cara Fernandez and Dr. Liane Alampay describe sige moms as those who are practically open to all possibilities and means in which their kids can learn as much as they can about the world around them. They are hands-on and encourage their little ones to engage in less-structured activities and permit their kids to explore freely to learn new things in the process even if it means getting dirty. 

Pigil moms, on the other hand, are more cautious and restrictive with the kind of activities their kids engage in. They constantly worry about the consequences of a child's actions to the point of inhibiting the kid's potentials that could otherwise be developed through play.

Ok, this is not a kid but he also comes home with dirty laundry from his trail runs :p
The doctors are quick to explain though that pigil moms, who are often viewed in an unfavorable light, have valid reasons for setting parameters in terms of their children's activities such as safety and health issues. 

In the end, it remains a mother's prerogative on how she wants to raise and guide her kids the way she feels is right.  What's certain is that moms will always want and do what is best for her children although they also need to find the balance between being a loving, sige mom and a responsible, pigil parent who wants to maintain her standards of cleanliness.

To help mothers cross this bridge, Unilever launched Breeze with ActivBleach, a new household cleaning product that promises to change how moms view laundry-washing. This powdered soap was developed with moms who have growing kids in mind. As a global brand, Breeze has established itself as a thought leader in child development the world over through its campaign called "Getting Stains is Good."

This thought-provoking platform conducted a study on Filipino moms' attitudes towards stains in relation to child-rearing. Breeze fills the gap by encouraging moms with its Sige sa Mantsa! slogan along with the assurance of the product's unbeatable stain removal capability that is aimed to take away moms' worry of removing tough stains. Thus, Breeze encourages moms to say sige to life experiences and learning for their children.

So, whichever side of the fence moms stands on, the undivided love and attention to one's children should be top priority. We just have to keep in mind that kids only get to be young once in their lifetime. So let's give them a lot of chances to indulge in the joys of experiential learning because it is a very important part of childhood development that is crucial to shaping their future.

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