Some of the things that can transform a day from bad to better and good to great are gestures of love and affection like hugs and kisses. Just look at how big a husband's smile can be when he goes to work in the morning after getting a sweet kiss from his wife before leaving home. Or at how a sad child's demeanor can change from frowning to beaming after being given a big hug and words of reassurance by her mom or dad.

A warm hug can definitely turn any bad day around. Watch this Jack 'n Jill Presto Creams latest TV commercial:

According to Kat Limchoc, Black Pencil's Creative Director, the inspiration behind the Yakap (Tagalog word for "hug") campaign for the iconic brand came from the cookie itself, "The product was like a hug -- two delicious cookies hugging a yummy cream filling. Much like a hug, it was comforting and wonderful."

The latest variant in the already yummy line of Presto Creams cookies is the Peanut Butter and Jelly flavor. This classic pairing is sweet, familiar, and comforting. The cookies can definitely represent hugs and kisses that add a touch of warmth and love. 

Presto Creams' Yakap Campaign centers on how hugs have the power to make even the most ordinary days and smallest victories more meaningful. To capture this, the creative team worked with Director Henry Frejas to come up with the new TVC that features different hugs that could be likened to Presto Creams.

Kat says they created a world of hugs "from the comforting to the sweet, to the delight brought by both familiar and surprise hugs." Infused with a theme song with a rich folk sound and sentimental lyrics, the TVC jingle is sure to tug at anyone's heartstrings. Hearing it may even evoke a sudden yearning for the soothing effect a sincere hug can bring.

I've been eating Presto Creams cookies for as long as I remember. My favorite as a child was the variant with vanilla filling and it's cool to try the newest Peanut Butter and Jelly flavor. I shared some with friends and family members recently and was reminded that this is one kind of treat that does bring smiles to those who receive them and a reciprocal happiness to those who give them away.

So feel, share, and savor the love with the new Presto Creams Peanut Butter and Jelly-Filled Cookies! They are now available in leading supermarkets, groceries, and convenience stores nationwide.

For many people, watching telenovelas is a guilty pleasure. One gets to take a peek into the lives of various characters, laugh with them, feel empathy and, sometimes, even identify with what they are going through. 

These days, I no longer have the time, nor the inclination, to watch any local TV series regularly but I have friends and relatives who are hooked on telenovelas. So I was very amused when I've read on Facebook some theater people describing Repertory Philippines' second offering for 2014 like a "Filipino soap opera from hell" delivered in English. It made me more curious to watch it.

I know that there's a Hollywood film version of August: Osage County but I have no idea what it is all about. I went to Onstage, Greenbelt 1 last Thursday night with zero knowledge about the plot and was looking forward to simply be surprised. After all, with a powerhouse cast, I know this theater version is going to be great. And it is!

Chris Millado
According to Director Chris Millado, if he were to sum up in one word what this play is all about, it would be guilt. He describes this as "one family's obsession with burying secrets [that] transforms a nondescript household into a battle-ground littered with emotional land mines." Intriguing, right?

Violet Weston
August: Osage County stars Baby Barredo (in one of her now rare appearances; her most recent was in Boeing Boeing early last year) as Violet, the matriarch of the dysfunctional Weston clan who deals with a turbulent past by escaping into a drug-dependent present. Tita Baby gave an outstanding performance. I am so amazed at the way she could evoke pity, doubt, fear, and even laughter from everyone on the audience during the length of the play. Her punchlines, facial expressions, and dance moves will have you chuckling in a beat! 

Violet's husband Beverly, played by Leo Rialp, couldn't forgive himself for something he did decades ago, so he drowns the guilt in alcohol and literary allusions. His monologue at the start of the show is riveting. Make sure to catch every word. 

Barbara, Karen, and Ivy
Tami Monsod, Pinky Amador, and Liesl Batucan play the Weston sisters Ivy, Barbara, and Karen -- siblings who technically abandoned their elderly parents and blame each other with righteous indignation. Each of these ladies were able to individually shine on stage. They've successfully made their characters very relatable. I'm sure one, or all of them, would remind you of someone you know, maybe including yourself.  

Thea Gloria, who plays Barbara's daughter Jean, represented many of the rebellious young people today. Her acting is very convincing. It would be great to see more of her in future plays. On the other hand, I think Kenneth Moraleda's role as Jean's father Bill, would be relatable to men who are undergoing a mid-life crisis. He, too, is a complex character who refuses to reveal his reasons for doing some of the things he did.

Bill and Sheriff Deon
It's uncanny how Richard Cunanan's and Sheila Francisco's roles as husband and wife Charlie and Mattie Fae Aiken seem like the typical Filipino couples we do see on TV. She's a strong-willed woman who says anything she likes and he's the spouse whose quiet nature happens to complement his wife's loud and pushy nature. 

Little Charles and Mattie Fae
Stay tuned because Charlie's entertaining prayer during the family meal would make you laugh while his dialogue during a crucial moment in the play would make you cheer for him.

Arnel Carrion (who, like Liesl, did exceptionally well in Wait Until Dark last month), plays Sheriff Deon Gilbeau; Hans Eckstein (the dashing Oberon in Shakespeare in Hollywood), is Steve, Karen's not-so-perfect fiancé; and Noel Rayos (who will remain my all-time favorite Carmen Ghia in The Producers), plays Little Charles Aiken

Karen, Steve, and Jean
All three gave outstanding performances like the rest of the cast. Each one also had a time to fully "share" their own stories to the audiences.

Jean and Johnna
Angeli Bayani as Johnna, the Cheyenne Indian maid, likewise portrayed a silent but strong and memorable character. I first saw her in Care Divas and would love to see her sing on stage again in a future production.   

Barbara and Violet
August: Osage County is one heck of a terrifying roller coaster ride which would, in Chris Millado's words, "make sure that audiences come out shaken but alive - emotionally and intellectually". The play is quite long with three acts spanning more than three hours but it was worth it. The set is gorgeous, too! I love the attic area best of all.

I salute this wonderful ensemble work with its excellent cast and crew because they successfully gave justice to Tracy Letts' powerful writing. Make sure you watch it!

Catch August: Osage County on its Gala Shows: Feb. 21, 22, 28, March 1, 7, 8, 14, 15 at 8PM and Matinee Shows: Feb 22, 23, March 1, 2, 8, 9, 15, 16 at 3:30PM. 

*To see more photos taken during the press preview, please click here

Earlier today, after a 30-hour flight from Sochi, Russia, ice skater Michael Christian Martinez and his mom Maria Teresa went straight to the SM Mall of Asia to a warm homecoming from fellow Filipinos. The event was hosted by Patricia Bermudez-Hizon and Divine Lee of TV5.

The 17-year-old made history and brought much honor to the Philippines by being the very first home grown figure skater to represent the country and Southeast Asia in the recent 2014 Winter Olympics. Michael ranked 19th out of 24 in the men's singles, a great achievement for someone from a tropical nation.

This admirable young man first started ice skating at age 8 in SM Southmall Skating Rink. Eventually, he transferred to SM Mall of Asia Skating Rink, which is bigger, to continue his trainings. Michael's participation in various local and international competitions has already garnered him 194 medals and trophies. What qualified him for the Sochi Olympics was clinching 7th place at the 2013 Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany.

Mr. Ed Tejerero, President of SM Lifestyle Entertainment Inc. (SMLE) shared that the SM skating rinks were created to allow Filipinos to also experience the kind of entertainment that four-season countries enjoy. "Little did we know that through this, we'd also be able to hone the first ever South East Asian Winter Olympian," he said.

SM Prime Holdings, Inc. President Hans T. Sy expressed how proud they are of Michael. "He is a shining example to the youth as someone who saw no limits to what he can achieve. He has already inspired millions by following his dream and by competing in the Winter Olympics and will continue to inspire us all as he works towards earning more medals in future Olympic competitions." 

Mr. Sy surprised Michael this afternoon with a USD$10,000 cheque from SM Foundation, Inc. SM also gave the shy yet zealous Olympian a Lifetime Skating Privilege that allows him to skate for free on any of SM's skating rinks. In addition, Michael was presented with a Global Pinoy Card as an honorary member since SM believes in rewarding each and every hardworking Filipino who has achieved success abroad.

Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto, on the other hand, gave Michael a symbolic "key to the city".

Michael Martinez's homecoming is sweet but short though as he will be leaving the country again on the 27th to go to Sofia, Bulgaria where he would compete on March 10 to 16 in the prestigious World Junior Figure Skating Championships where he ranked 5th overall last year. Let's pray that he earns a medal this time following his experience at, and training for, the Winter Olympics. 

After that, Michael will train in the United States to prepare for the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Championships series that will begin in August. 

While he's still in the country, catch this young man dazzle on ice as he gives a special performance at SM Southmall tomorrow, February 24 at 4PM. Those who want to meet and greet Michael can get that chance when he performs on Tuesday, February 25, at Mall of Asia at 12NN and 4PM at SM Megamall.

*More photos taken during the press conference at SM Mall of Asia can be found here

I learned something new yesterday. Although Vaseline has been a household name since I was a little kid, I didn't know that it was established way back in 1870! That was such a looooong time ago! 

It was fascinating to finally know how the Vaseline journey started with a chemist named Robert Chesebrough who discovered a rich, creamy substance in Pennsylvania known as "Rod Wax". That discovery led to the creation of one of the most popular household products today, the Vaseline Petroleum Jelly

In the past 140 years, Vaseline has added more items to its lineup of products that include the moisturizing lip therapy and an innovative range of lotions. Today, Vaseline products are available in over 60 countries. Its rich heritage of healing and moisturizing qualities continues to be passed on from generation to generation. 

This 2014, the skin expert brand has come up with its newest lotion that ensures world class quality and instant customer satisfaction. Vaseline Instant Fair Lotion is an instant whitening product that allows for fairer and even-toned skin immediately upon application. 

The main ingredients include Microreflectors that allow for instant fairer skin; Vitamin B3 to give long term and healthy whitening; and triple sunscreens for protection against the sun's harmful UVA and UVB rays.

Vaseline / Unilever Executives
The launch last night was held in Black Sheep at the W Building in Bonifacio Global City and was hosted by Maxene Magalona. There, guests got to experience the breakthrough product and learn more about the Vaseline story through a gallery that showcased the innovations, growth, and success of the brand through the years. 

Since I already have fair skin, I only noticed a very slight difference between the color of my arms after I applied the product. So when I got home last night, I experimented on one of my son's arms and saw that the lotion could, indeed, make skin look lighter upon first application. 

Catch Vaseline Instant Fair Lotion booths in selected venues around the Philippines so you can also try the product and see for yourself how it can make your skin visibly fairer in an instant. 

I grew up in a small town in Laguna where my siblings and I get to eat hot and freshly baked breads every morning from the bakery located two houses away. I am familiar with biscuits like paborita, jacobina, and biscocho, which my mom sometimes bring to Manila whenever we have family get-togethers. 

Recently, I was finally able to try some of Panaderia Pantoja's products, which evoked fond memories of my childhood. I learned that this bakery originated in Tanauan, Batangas in the 1950's as a family business that offers handmade breads. Eventually, the brand expanded its operations and put up stores in different parts of Batangas, Laguna, and Metro Manila.

I like that their paboritas and jacobinas can be separated into thin flakes. That makes them more fun to eat. Many times, I'd grab a small pack and munch on these biscuits as midnight snacks and partner them with a mug of coffee or chocolate milk while I'm finishing my article deadlines until the wee hours of the morning.

For the health-conscious, you'd enjoy the paborita variant with malunggay. It is very tasty and has become an instant hit with my family. The second pack I brought home disappeared without a trace the other morning :p 

The biscocho, likewise, is a must try! Unlike some of the biscochos I've tried in the past, which were hard to bite on, Panaderia Pantoja's biscocho is soft but crunchy and has the right blend of margarine and sugar flavor. 

If you prefer soft breads, I suggest your try their Malolos Special. This is ensaymada topped with grated cheese and slices of salted eggs. The cheese and eggs perfectly complement the sweet bread such that it does away with the umay factor some people, including myself, get from eating too sweet pastries.

I heard that Panaderia Pantoja's Yema Cake is also a bestseller. I'll make sure to buy that one the next time I pass by one of their branches. 

To know more about this bakery that serves heritage breads, please visit

Every time we go out of the house, we see advertisements almost everywhere we look -- from huge billboards and ads painted on vehicle bodies down to small posters and fliers pasted on establishment walls and even inside mall comfort rooms! 

Many Out-of-Home (OOH) Media like these is a great way for businesses to gain more exposure for their products and services. But how far does OOH gets in promoting YOUR brand? According to Kinetic Worldwide Philippines, it can go as far as it can possibly go and beyond. 

How? Kinetic offers benefits to local businesses that can really put brands on the edge through the Kinetic Advantage. This is the pioneering in-depth study in the country that gives its customers better insights and perspectives about OOH media in the Philippines.

Rowell Santiago of Kinetic Philippines (rightmost)
Rowell Santiago, Media and Insights Director at Kinetic Philippines explained that, "Given the amount of time consumers are spending out of their homes and the continuously changing urban landscape providing new venues for them to spend time in, whether for leisure or work, it has indeed changed the game on how brands can be more receptive to their target audiences."

Here in Metro Manila, OOH media's popularity is evident as brands compete for space across the metropolis. However, the question remains on how effective the medium is in terms of generating awareness and capturing the right audiences.

This is where the Kinetic Advantage comes in. The study, launched recently at The Mind Museum and attended by marketing leaders, site owners, and media vendors in the country, showcased the findings of TNS, a leading market research company.

Santiago shared how excited they were in launching the study as they have been working on it for over a year to bring something really valuable to their clients and partners. "This breakthrough undertaking demonstrates our continuous commitment in enhancing our planning and buying capabilities by spearheading the discovery of fresh insights on out-of-home media," he expressed.

Kinetic's goal is to make local businesses prosper more as they build their brand and bring their business to the highest level. TNS representatives said that a major highlight of the study are the critical pieces of information gathered from the profiles of the 2,200 people studied who pass by Metro Manila's arterial roads.

Results were mapped out in zones identified by Kinetic. The study was customized for the unique landscape of the country as it also examines other touch points and compares them to OOH media as a promotional tool. It highlights how OOH media adds value to a business' investments in the medium. 

An interesting output is the revelation from the study that OOH is 2nd to television when it comes to ad awareness for most consumers. Brands are then given another reason to consider even more OOH's reach and effectiveness.

With the help of Kinetic Advantage, businesses can now customize their own OOH media campaigns to fit with the interests of the audience profiled in the study as well as where to correctly place those campaigns so they reach the most of their customers.

Kinetic Worldwide and TNS executives
With this new tool at hand, Kinetic Worldwide underscored how important insight development is in OOH communications planning to stay ahead of the curve not just by knowing WHERE to advertise, but also WHO to influence more precisely.

Where can one access the complete results of the study? You have to contact Kinetic Worldwide and discuss those with them offline :)

We all have our favorite comfort foods with some dating back to our childhood. For sisters Bea and Pia, mornings in their home with their grandma's cooking wafting from the kitchen always bring back happy memories. This led them to conceptualize a restaurant that serves hearty comfort food specialties that include all-day breakfast fares, premium entrees, and heart-warming desserts.

B&P is the newest casual dining establishment located along Shaw Boulevard (across S&R) in Mandaluyong City. This resto is the latest brand from the Cravings Group that aims to fulfill customers' gastronomic longings.

I had the chance to sample some of B&P's fares and found many of them to be really good. Here are some of the dishes you may also want to try when you visit:

The Creole Style Eggs (P290) is a dish made with two poached eggs topped with beef patty, melted Swiss cheese, and a rich spicy buttermilk cream sauce. For me, it was a new way to eat eggs in the morning.

Speaking of eggs, I also got to try Baxter (P175) which is scrambled egg topped with grilled onions, spinach, mushroom, and avocado. I enjoyed eating the egg and mushroom but found the avocado a bit unripe for my taste. 

Fans of Baby Back Ribs (P390) should try B&P's because the meat of the grilled pork belly marinated in a special sauce is really tender and very tasty. 

The Primera Tapa (P280) reminded me of Korean bibimbap because of the serving dish but this one is very Pinoy in flavor. It's got premium Angus Beef tapa served on a bed of garlic rice, scrambled egg, and pickled relish. Really good!

Love pasta? B&P serves Baked Macaroni (P190) with bolognese, béchamel, and cheese sauce. Another must try.

I didn't take a bite of the Salmon Hash and Eggs (P290) though because I didn't feel like eating fish that day but I heard it tastes good. This one has fresh salmon sautéed with garlic, peppers, onions, and served with a side of homemade fries. 

For dessert, we were served with two kinds of pancakes. I sliced a portion of the Pancake Supreme (P210) because I love fruits and it's got a lot of my favorite ones. The five layers of pancake was filled with strawberry, blueberry, banana, orange, and mango. It was served with whipped butter and assorted syrup.

I was already full by then so I didn't try the Triple Decker (P220) anymore. That decision I regretted when I found out what's in it. The pancakes are filled with Nutella, fresh banana, and caramel then topped with whipped cream. I'll probably order one the next time I visit B&P so I'd know how Nutella would taste like with pancakes.

When it comes to refreshments, I'm giving two thumbs up to the Strawberry Lemon Quench (P110) that has real strawberry bits and unique pearls that, when bitten, has flavorful liquid that would burst inside your  mouth. I like how each serving of these coolers come in sealed bottles that one could pour on glasses filled with ice. I am definitely going back to B&P for those again!

There are more dishes on the menu that have to wait until a next visit. Make sure you also drop by, not only to sample the fares, but also to savor the warm ambiance inside the restaurant. It is homey and stylish, which makes it a great, cozy hang-out place with people who matter, like family and friends. 

We were told that B&P is coming up with a digital menu and WiFi soon so guests can simply "swipe" for their orders and also get to post photos of their favorite dishes on their social media accounts. 

B&P's operating hours are from 7AM to 12MN, Sundays to Thursdays and 7AM to 2AM on Fridays and Saturdays. For updates, like and follow @bnphome on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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