In 2013 and early 2014, 90% of Filipinos had a hard time dealing with their finances. This statistic resulted from a survey conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) in partnership with Sun Life of Canada (Philippines) Inc.

Can you identify with 9 out of 10 of our kababayans who experienced shortage on top expenses such as household needs, school fees, medical bills, and loan payments? My family could! We have two sons in college and one in high school so you can imagine the challenges we face when tuition fee time comes around at least once a month!

Mind you, we have fully paid educational college plans for all three kids. Unfortunately, we are among the thousands of families who didn't get even one cent back from College Assurance Plans (CAP). I wish we knew about Sun Life back then. Perhaps things would have been much different today.

Anyhow, the survey was conducted during the first quarter of 2014 and was participated by Filipino adults nationwide coming from all sectors of society. This is part of Sun Life's continuing efforts to further understand the Filipinos' attitude towards personal finance. The country's top life insurance company also regularly conducts SOLAR (Study of Lifestyles, Attitudes, and Relationships), a personal finance research that analyzes how Filipinos handle money. You can read more interesting statistics in the 2012 article I wrote about Sun Life in here.

When asked what areas Filipinos experienced shortage (kakapusan or kakulangan) within the past 12 months, 74% cited household expenses (rent, utility bills, food), 41% said children's school expenses, 25% mentioned expenses for medical treatment, and 25% revealed loan payments.

According to 7 out of 10 Filipino adults surveyed, they consider the rising prices of commodities as the reason behind their financial shortage; 4 in 10 said it was because they were earning less, and 3 in 10 cited unexpected expenses.

Mylene Lopa, Sun Life Chief Marketing Officer, affirmed that price increase and unexpected expenses definitely have an effect on finances, "but these can be countered by proper financial planning. Inflation occurs every year and is something that we can anticipate, so we should prepare ahead of time as much as we can. This way, the impact is softened and is easier to handle, as compared to seeking a solution when the problem is already there."

So what steps had the survey respondents taken or will take to address their kakapusan? Seven out of 10 said they controlled or will control their spending, while 4 in 10 have resorted or will resort to looking for additional sources of income. Still, others addressed or plan to address the problem by borrowing from relatives, friends/neighbors, money lenders, or selling/mortgaging properties.

According to Lopa, it is good practice to be more mindful of one's spending. But, on top of that, people should have an emergency fund that they can dip into when unexpected expenses come. This kind of fund could be in the form of savings or an insurance policy that provides protection for unforeseen events. It also helps to learn more about proper financial planning from experts and seminars to find out about different financial solutions to address your various needs. 

None of the respondents mentioned investing as a strategy to counter financial shortage though. "While more Filipinos are warming up to the idea of investing, it appears that there is still a huge number that is not considering this option, even though one can actually being investing for as low as P5,000 these days," pointed out Lopa. "We hope to change this scenario because we'd like to see more Filipinos enjoy the benefits of having their money work harder for them. To counter the state of being kapos, saving, getting insured, and investing is a good way to go."

FYI, June is Financial Independence Month! Make the bright choice and start changing the way you handle your finances! For starters, you may want to attend Sun Life's free seminars to be conducted in different parts of the country! Listen to Sun Life's Riza Mantaring and Mylene Lopa, and financial experts Randell Tiongson and Marvin Germo and be on your way to achieving financial independence faster.  For more info, please log on to

* The March 2014 SWS survey was conducted from March 27 to 30, 2014 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults in Metro Manila, Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao with sampling error margins of +/- 3% for national percentages, and +/- 6% each for the four areas.

My family enjoys watching Disney channels and movies. In fact, the TV in our bedroom is usually on the Disney Junior channel because my special child loves the programs there. All my kids moreover grew up watching Disney movies so we are familiar with all the classic stories as well as the newer ones.

This weekend, Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia (TWDC SEA), together with pay operator Cignal TV and cable distributor Accion, is launching Disney XD in the Philippines. This brand new kids channel is mainly for young people aged 6 to 14 years old.

Star Wars Rebels
The creative programming mix will be comprised of original Disney XD series, action/adventure movies, animation and anime, and comedy. It will moreover be the TV home of the new Marvel series featuring superheroes such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, and Thor with the aim to introduce dynamic stories full of action, adventure, and heroism to a whole new generation of fans.

Expect also to watch original Disney XD series including the martial arts comedy Kickin' It, the fun animated series Kick Buttowski - Suburban Daredevil, live action series Crash & Bernstein, and the highly anticipated animation series Star Wars Rebels.

Kick Buttowski
According to Natasha Malhotra, TWDC SEA General Manager, Branded Media Content, Disney XD is boy-focused but girl-inclusive. "We are excited to launch Disney XD and to bring a world of superheroes, action, and comedy to kids and families in the Philippines," she shared. "DXD embodies the spirit of being unstoppable, encouraging kids to find their inner superhero while taking them on inspiring adventures that are outrageously fun!"

Ultimate Spider-Man
This May 31, all Cignal TV post-paid plan subscribers will be the first to enjoy Disney XD (Channel 107) in high definition. "We are very excited to be the first Pay-TV service provider to launch Disney XD in HD in the Philippines," expressed Cignal TV COO and Managing Director, Annie Naval. "This partnership with Disney XD proves our commitment to provide the best viewing experience and high-quality content, which is what we guarantee to our subscribers."

Accion COO, Jacque M. Ruby, added, "For Accion, Disney XD holds enormous promise and potential and expands our business portfolio. We are confident that in a short period of time, more Filipinos will be able to watch their classic and iconic Marvel heroes and other Disney characters on the channel.

L-R: Guido Zaballero and Annie Naval of Cignal TV,
Natasha Malhotra of TWDC SEA, and Jacque M. Ruby of Accion
Get introduced more to the world of Disney XD by staying tuned to a host of on-air and off-air promotions in the coming days and months! 

Edit - July 28: Please read my other write up about the Disney XD and Cignal TV partnership in today's issue of Manila BulletinBusiness Agenda section. For the online version, just click here.

Kids should learn to cook as early as possible. At least, that's what I believe. I've taught my sons to cook simple dishes even before they turned 10 years old. Now that they're in their teens and 20's and I don't worry about leaving them at home to fend for themselves. They know how to whip up something any time they get hungry.

pastry chef and baker in training
Apparently, a lot of parents have also found that it is good to encourage youngsters to find their passions in the kitchen. My young niece, Belle, started helping her mom, my sister, bake a lot of scrumptious goodies from their kitchen since she was little. When I got an invite to the launch of Discovery Kids  Channel's latest TV show called Junior Bake Off, I asked the organizers if Belle and my sister could come along as they are the real bakers in our family. 

Belle and her pretty creations
Junior Bake Off is an exciting series hosted by Aaron Craze (also host of Pet School) featuring 32 of Britain's best bakers aged 9 to 12 who will put their cake making, biscuit baking, pastry, and bread making skills to the ultimate test. 

Contestants must impress the show's judges: legendary cookery writer and baker Mary Berry, and acclaimed master baker Paul Hollywood. Watch as the young bakers get pushed to their baking limits starting Tuesday, June 3, at 5PM. The show encores every Saturday at 1:30PM and 6:30PM.

There will be 13 half hour episodes that will showcase the kids' journeys on the greatest baking battle of their lives. Each episode challenges the kids to a technical test and an invention bake where they can let their imaginations run wild. For themes such as outer space or wild animals, sports or chocolate, each of the bakers are expected to deliver a show-stopping, mouthwatering creation that tastes as good as it looks. Only four bakers will reach the grand finals where they will bake for some special celebrity guests.

Aaron Craze, who is also a chef and father to two daughters, knows how to keep kids calm and in check at all times in the kitchen. In the show, he plays cheerleader and advisor especially during baking catastrophes. He comes to the rescue by showing struggling bakers a trick or two that might save the day. 

nurturing passions should start at an early age
Aside from giving the contenders a chance to become a champion, I'm sure Junior Bake Off will inspire young viewers who love baking to also pursue what they enjoy doing. Watching the show will help and teach them to discover how chocolate is made, how to make an exploding volcano cupcake or a werewolf in cake form, and even meet the baker who spent more than one month to make the huge royal wedding cake for Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding.

Manila's Junior Bakers
Stay tuned to Discovery Kids every Tuesdays and Saturdays to find out who will emerge as Britain's best young baker this 2014!

It was in 1954 when the first Shakey's Pizza parlor in America opened. Now, 60 years later, the pizza chain continues to come up with iconic products that become instant favorites of guests who frequently dine at Shakey's.

This 2014, to celebrate good times and great memories, Shakey's is offering a unique dish that is perfect as a tasty throwback. The new Shakey's Pizza 1954 is a secret recipe perfected over time and serves as a salute to the amazing taste that has built the brand. 

Another amazing innovation to add to the line-up of its dishes, the Shakey's Pizza 1954 gives guests added variety because this time around, "the secret's in the crust"! Sporting a chewy, soft, and delectable dough base, this pizza did leave our mouths watering at first bite. 

Koi Castillo, Brand Manager for Shakey's, excitedly announced, "This is truly an innovation for Shakey's since we are the first in the pizza category to offer contemporary gourmet pizza. We will further develop this new category and create more iconic products for our guests."

Boasting of both quality and exceptional flavor combinations, the Shakey's Pizza 1954 is made of juicy morsels of Italian sausage, Angus beef, slices of pepperoni, 100% mozzarella cheese, savory red onions, fresh rosemary and basil leaves, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese atop the soft gourmet dough crust.

I personally loved seeing the basil leaves adding a pop of green color. It's one of my favorite herbs so I enjoyed biting on my pizza slice with the savory taste and aroma of basil. I hope it would be possible to request for more basil leaves the next time I buy the Pizza 1954!

This pizza is definitely a certified standout because of its unique crust and hearty mix of the finest ingredients. Priced at P450 each, the new Shakey's Pizza 1954 is now available in all Shakey's restaurants, nationwide. Try it soon! 

Oh, and in case you want a shot at winning a Mini Cooper, just order the Pizza 1954 with pitcher or bottomless Coca-Cola product OR, get a Monster Meal deal with Pizza 1954 as pizza variant.

Clients of GrabTaxi are already familiar with the convenience of booking a ride without having to fall in line at long taxi queues during rush hours. Now, this Southeast Asian taxi-booking mobile app has launched a brand new service to provide a new option for passengers.

GrabCar, which is now available on the existing mobile app, provides an authorized on-demand private driver for anyone without the hassles of owning a private car. It expands the benefits of Grab Taxi to a new network of drivers by offering private car drivers the opportunity to build on their income by giving them a much wider user-base and an efficient driver-to-passenger matching.

During the media launch held in Vyne at The Fort, co-founder of GrabTaxi Anthony Tan said what ensured GrabTaxi's success in the Philippines has been its ability to adapt and evolve to meet their users' needs. "That's why we are introducing GrabCar; we see that there is an opportunity to fill a gap in the industry without taking away business from our core user-base of taxis," he explained. "Grab Car will give our passengers that upmarket personalized experience while ensuring a fun and authentic ride."

GrabTaxi co-founders Brian Cu and Anthony Tan with Natasha Bautista
Natasha Bautista, Marketing Vice President and Assistant General Manager of GrabTaxi Philippines described how GrabCar will complement the public taxi industry by providing an affordable alternative supply to meet this demand. She and her fellow executives gave assurance that GrabCar will provide passengers the option to select a private car if they require one and a higher change to make a successful booking during peak hours.

"GrabCar not only gives consumers more options. It will also be positive for taxi drivers in the GrabTaxi network. This will increase the volume of cars available to passengers and build consumer confidence and loyalty in GrabTaxi, eventually leading to more people using the GrabTaxi platform and more rides for taxi drivers."

Safety, convenience, and speed. Those are the promises of GrabCar to its clients. Another good news is, you might just be surprised that the vehicle to fetch you is a Mini Cooper! After the media launch, I tried the app for myself to book a ride to my place in Alabang and a Toyota Fortuner arrived to take me home :) 

Unlike in GrabTaxi where the ride is metered, GrabCar shows you the fixed amount you have to pay outright. Thus, no more guessing how much you're going to end up paying. The advantage is, in case you encounter really heavy traffic (which I did because of the sudden rain!), you don't have to worry anymore about your bill shooting up. 

To use GrabCar, just select the GrabCar option on the GrabTaxi app. This will help narrow down the search to GrabCar vehicles for an affordable chauffeured trip. 

Many years ago, a charming young girl was featured in a Jollibee commercial. She grew up to be a lovely lady who had equally beautiful children with her good-looking husband.

This month, Jollibee introduced its newest family endorsers for Jolly Spaghetti in an intimate lunch held at Fairmont Hotel, Makati City. There, Carmina Villarroel-Legaspi expressed how heartwarming it is to come home to her first love -- Jollibee -- and how especially sweet the reunion is because she is now joined by the people closest to her heart, her family.

Carmina, her husband Zoren Legaspi, and their twins Mavy and Cassy made a pretty picture on stage as they shared how much they enjoy eating Jolly Spaghetti. "I've loved Jollibee since I was younger and the Jolly Spaghetti has been an all-time favorite. I'm excited to be back with the Joliibee family and this homecoming is extra special because, this time, I'll be with my own family," said the young-looking mom.

"Together with my husband and kids, I feel that we're going to have the time of our lives sharing the langhap-sarap world of Jollibee with everyone," shared Carmina. Watching them enthusiastically and animatedly answer questions shows just how much this close knit family does enjoy life. 

Zoren described Jolly Spaghetti as having "the perfect blend of flavors we Pinoys want in a spaghetti dish. It has a sweet-sarap [flavor] with rich and appetizing tomato taste that makes me, Carmina, and our kids want more!"

I commend Jollibee for making a good choice and for somehow infusing nostalgia in the new TV commercial because of the subtle similarities to the old one. Please watch both so you'll see what I mean. As the new faces for Jolly Spaghetti, the Legaspi family exhibits a great example of how the distinct personalities of each member can create the perfect blend of a happy Filipino family. As their new TVC shows, Jolly Spaghetti is something truly worth coming home to and sharing memories over.

And like the Legaspis, other Pinoy families can also get to enjoy the delicious blend of sweetness and rich tomato taste, together with the right amount of cheese and meats, in every serving of Jolly Spaghetti.

a photo op with Mavy and Cassy
My own kids also grew up eating Jolly Spaghetti. Now that they're in their teens, they still like ordering spaghetti whenever we eat at Jollibee. After all, who can resist the cheesiest, meatiest, and spaghettiest dish from Jollibee's menu? :) 

By now, many of us already know that we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping. Imagine reaching the age of 75 ... that means you slept for 25 years! So it is just right that we get to lie down every night somewhere we can be most comfortable. After all, nothing beats a full night's rest on top of a very nice bed. 

It was in 1929 when Mr. E.A. Murphy of Dunlop created a new brand of latex foam that became the bedrock of a brand committed to providing a wide range of benefits. Now, Dunlopillo's legacy of comfort is said to be possibly the best in the world.

Recently, Dunlopillo was introduced to members of the media and some VIP guests at the Manila Peninsula Hotel. Hosted by Issa Litton, the event featured Dunlopillo Philippines' three ambassadors who personally experienced the comfort that their chosen Dunlopillo mattresses provide.

Issa interviewing Aly, Jessica, and Grace
Football athlete Aly Borromeo shared how a knee injury used to radiate upwards and become back pains each morning. After several nights sleeping on a Romero mattress, he said he no longer gets out of bed doubled in pain. This mattress is made of premium micro-suede fabric and has individual pocketed spring system, convoluted foam support, a box top design, and foam encasement edge support.

Furniture and interior designer Jessica Kienle agreed that a good mattress is key for a good night's sleep. She shared that the Elizabeth mattress is her favorite among Dunlopillo's line because of its softness. My friends and I tried the Elizabeth and found that it indeed really nice to lie down on! Actually, all the Dunlopillo mattresses are very comfortable so I had difficulties choosing which one I really like the most.

trying out the Cashmerian
Blogger Grace Baja, compared that, "Finding the right mattress is like finding the right partner." She admitted loving the Cashmerian mattress which is kind of in between the firmness of the Romero and the softness of the Elizabeth. This one is made of Dunlopillo Gel II, thermic silk cashmere, and has duo comfort pocketed spring system. 

To further expound, the pocketed spring system means each spring arrangement is based on the body's five zones: head, shoulders, waist, hips, and thighs. The varying degrees of support for each zone relieves pressure points to ensure that the body remains balanced even during sleep. 

You gotta love the beautiful surface designs of these mattresses!
What piqued my interest was when it was mentioned that each mattress has unique temperature-control properties that incorporate technology originally developed by NASA and where Thermocules accumulate and release heat as needed, producing the required temperature control to balance the body's changing requirements. Cool, huh?

Dunlopillo also harnesses Nano Silver Technology by infusing minute silver particles within each exclusive Talalay Latex mattress. The result? The Talasilver Latex kills and prevents the growth and spread of bacteria, dust mites, and other harmful organisms. 

Yes, we literally tried lying down on the Elizabeth and we didn't want to get up!
There are a lot more other nice features that you should discover for yourself when you encounter a Dunlopillo mattress. What I've observed was Dunlopillo has really thoughtfully engineered its mattresses both inside and out. The mattresses are quite pricey though but, if you can afford one, you are definitely assured of refreshed awakenings every morning.

Dunlopillo is available in:
#16 Acropolis Commercial Area, E. Rodriguez Jr. Ave. Libis, Quezon City (Tel. 9111672), EDSA Cubao (Tel. 9131975), MC Home Depot Fort (Tel. 8156217), and Cebu (032-3451378). 

on top of a Romero
For other information and to get updates, like Dunlopillo Philippines on Facebook and follow @dunlopilloph on Instagram.

* For more photos, please visit this Facebook album

It's always nice to know that you can earn freebies when you spend on stuff that you normally buy anyway. I've been using the happyplüs card for a few months now and am looking forward to redeeming food products from some of our favorite stores using my points soon.

Now, there's a new tie-up that will make over 1 million happyplüs card members even happier. Earn happypoints when you gas up from over 500 Caltex stations nationwide!

Every P100 fuel up at Caltex will earn you 1 happypoint which is equal to P1. The easy-to-accumulate happypoints can be redeemed for food products in any participating Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, and Red Ribbon outlets nationwide. For instance, your single or cumulative gas up worth P1000 earns 10 happypoints that can already be used to redeem for a free Vanilla Cone Twirl at Jollibee. 

I'm glad to know that even motorcycle riders, including the tricycle drivers who regularly gas up at the Caltex station right outside our village, can also join because fuel purchases below P100 will still earn a fraction of a happypoint! This means P80 worth of gas is equal to 0.80 happypoints -- no minimum purchase amount required.  

Likewise, whether you use cash, credit, debit, StarCar or StarCash to buy gasoline or diesel, you are qualified to earn happypoints. So, the more you gas up at Caltex, the more free products for you and your family! Cardholders of happyplüs can avail of this benefit up to P20,000 per month of fuel purchases.

Become a happyplüs member by simply buying a membership kit priced at P100 in Caltex stations, Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, and Red Ribbon stores nationwide. You also earn 1 happypoint for every P50 food purchase at participating stores. Fore more details, please visit

The happyplüs rewards promo is a partnership between industry giants Chevron Philippines Inc. (CPI), marketer of Caltex fuel and lubricants, and Jollibee Food Corporation (JFC), owner of Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, and Red Ribbon brands, to provide customers with the most enticing fuel and food rewards.

The ever-smiling Jollibee with Mr. Peter Morris, GM of Chevron Philippines Inc.
and Mr. Ernesto Tanmantiong, COO of Jollibee Foods Corporation 
In 2013, CPI already partnered with JFC in free Jollibee treats promo that became a huge success among motorists. Prior to that, CPI signed a MOA with JFC to build Jollibee stores in Caltex stations.

These days, design and look are equally considered when people look for functional appliances. After all, today's generation of young professionals and start-up families love filling their already beautifully decorated homes with more stylish items that will blend in well with their surroundings.

The Russell Hobbs launch featured a very entertaining mini-musical
featuring Jenny Villegas-dela Cruz and Baihana
One brand that can provide Filipinos with elegantly designed and high quality kitchen appliances is Russell Hobbs, UK's leading name in sleek and efficient small kitchen appliances, which was recently launched in the Philippines at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel.

Clarence Cu, president of Tocoms Philippines, the exclusive distributor of Russell Hobbs in the country, expressed excitement in bringing the brand to the country as it is known for its timeless style and performance. "With this, we strongly believe that Russell Hobbs will be at the heart of Filipino homes from now on."

A household name in the UK for more than 60 years, the company is founded in Great Britain in 1952 by Bill Russell and Peter Hobbs and was the first worldwide to introduce the coffee pot with an automatic keep warm feature as well as the automatic kettle that revolutionized the kettle market.

Said to be unrivaled in innovation, Russell Hobbs continues to introduce and add on to its growing range of practical and easy-to-use small kitchen appliances with sleek designs and distinct lines such as the Kitchen, Desire, Allure, and Illumina Collections.

The Kitchen Collection features uncomplicated designs that are fully coordinated with breakfast and food preparation with items refreshingly styled with white gloss finish and green accents.

The Desire Collection showcases a more seductive look for the passionate cook. Offering the same high-quality functionality, this line has a more striking appeal with its matte black finish and strokes of vibrant red.

The Allure Collection exudes a sleek 21st century design with a brushed chrome finish and bold, embossed Russell Hobbs branding.

The Illumina Collection has top-of-the-line products boasting of a unique color control light ring that changes color to represent speed with clear guidance on which setting is best for different food types.

All these are perfect partners for life-starters who dream of turning their houses into homes. Do check out Russell Hobb's exquisite line of small kitchen appliances that are now available at all leading appliance and department stores nationwide. For more details and updates, like and follow

It happens during travel -- you get in late at night from a flight or you have a very early scheduled flight in the morning. Either way, arriving or leaving the airport at irregular hours can cause inconvenience. One, there might not be any available shuttle to wherever you plan to go or you might not make your flight if you'll be coming from somewhere very far from the airport.

When my family and I had our recent vacation in Boracay, I had to book an early morning flight out of Kalibo airport to save on plane fares. The dilemma though was getting to the airport on time to make the 8AM flight. I weighed the options -- it's either we leave Boracay at 4AM, which may entail unforeseen delays like unavailability of ferries/boats from the island and a land vehicle going to the airport at such an early hour OR leave Boracay the day before the flight and stay overnight at a hotel in Kalibo.

I chose the second option. It's better to be safe than sorry. So I started my quest for a Kalibo hotel via I really love this website because it's so easy to look for accommodations with specific features I am looking for. This time, I searched for hotels with family rooms.

My top choice was Discover Boracay Hotel because, from agoda's built-in map, I saw that this hotel is the closest to the Kalibo airport. However, their family rooms were already booked for May 11 so we booked one double deluxe for me, hubby, and our special child; and one triple deluxe room for our other three boys.

reception area of the hotel with the restaurant right across the entrance 

Our recent family vacation was spent in Boracay and it … was … FUN! I am so grateful to have a few days with my husband and sons in one of the most beautiful places in the Philippines. If you haven't been there yet, or are planning to go back, here's sharing a list of things you can do there to make your stay an enjoyable and fulfilling one :)

1. Aside from staying in pleasant accommodations (read my review of Blue Veranda Suites here), make sure to GO ON FOOD TRIPS! Our hotel is very near D' Talipapa so we headed there for a late lunch after we arrived at the island. Hubby and I bough fresh seafood -- squid and lapu-lapu -- from the wet market then had them cooked grilled and sinigang, respectively, in one of the nearby restaurants. The boys opted to eat chicken at Andok's (toink!)

The next day, we explored the length of the beach going to Station 1 and bought crepes at Crazy Crepes plus cinnamon rolls from Cinnabon. We also tried Dimes juices, which were being sold per cup and poured via cool dispensers worn as backpacks with hoses by some of the promodizers. 

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