It cannot be helped. There will always be impromptu circumstances that may make us panic because we have to buy food for a large group of people.

Prosciutto e Formaggio - P1125
My husband and I love having friends over so we don't mind when one or two would suddenly message us to say they're planning to drop by within a few hours. Still, we do feel the pressure of finding somewhere to buy good food without resorting to fast food ones that many of us often buy anyway.

Sicilian Chicken Salad - P695
I recently discovered a great option! Italianni's is now offering Take-Away Platters that are great for impromptu get-togethers with family and friends as well as those sudden office meetings. You don't have to deal with the hassle of finding somewhere to dine out and, perhaps, even wait for a table instead of focusing on simply enjoying each other's company at home or working more efficiently in the office.

Take-Away Menu and prices
Italianni's Take-Away Platters have generous servings that will make you enjoy sharing. Choose platters, that are good for six to eight people, from a selection of appetizers, organic salads, pasta, and classic Italian favorites. They are packed in specially-designed carry-on bags that can be folded and reused again. Disposable cutleries are also included for your convenience.

Take Away Menu and prices
I brought home a platter of delicious Seafood Cioppino for my family and it didn't last long with my boys :)

The Take-Away Platters are available for take out or delivery from one of the 17 Italianni's branches. You can also order via Quick Delivery or City Delivery.

contact numbers of Italianni's branches
For updates and promos, please visit, like, and follow @italiannisph on Instragram.

In the Philippines, when you say "tapa", people will mostly likely think about slices of delicious marinated meat that we like eating during breakfast along with fried rice and egg (think tapsilog!). I only recently discovered that tapa in Spanish means bite-sized appetizer or snack. 

According to legend, the tapas tradition began in 13th century Spain during the reign of King Alfonso X "The Wise". When the monarch fell ill, he was prescribed wine as a remedy to relieve his pain. To help moderate the adverse effects of alcohol, he was served "a small bite" of food along with the drink, which was served on a plate covering the glass. Tapa, in Spanish, also means lid.

When the king recovered, he passed a law stating that a free tapa must be served with every alcoholic drink across the land. This tradition continues at Tapeo Tapas and Wine Bar located at The Fort Strip in Bonifacio Global City.

The restaurant opened in February 2013 and is managed and operated by chef-consultants Mon Urbano and Day Salonga -- the MonDay Chefs. They designed the place to have a casual vibe where diners can avail of unlimited Traditional Spanish tapas, bar style. They also serve a la carte dishes that tickle the palate and warm the tummy. Last Wednesday, I ate dinner there with friends and loved the food. 

The salad lover in me enjoyed the Lechuga Romana con Cabrales (P195) very much. It is made of Romaine lettuce, tomatoes, apple slices, honey roasted almonds and crumbled blue cheese with roasted apple piñon dressing. The light dressing perfectly balanced the sweet tartness of the apples and the savory saltiness of the cheese.

I also liked the Manchego Frito (P342), made of one of my favorite cheeses. I would have finished the whole serving if we were not eating other food :)

I'd say the most interesting dish I got to taste that evening would have to be the Angulas (P695) made of baby eel in garlic infused oil. I tried it on top of a slice of bread and also ate a spoonful. I can't really say I dislike it because it does taste good, but the thought of eating eels ( I didn't look closely enough anymore to see if they have eyes) felt a bit weird. Besides, I'm a quite averse to worms and they kinda look alike :p Still, you can always think you're eating Spanish sardines without the fish.

In case you'd like a less daring appetizer, try the Tortilla de Patatas y Jamon Serrano (P195) instead. This is traditional potato and Serrano ham omelette served with aioli sauce. It's actually perfect to pair with rice.

For the main course, we had Costillas Asadas (P498), a dish composed of Spanish pork riblets barbecue served with Patatas Bravas. The meat is very flavorful and you'd love to munch on the potato siding until there's nothing left on the wood serving board.

Another dish that awakened my taste buds was Cerdo al Horno (P340). This is slow roasted pork belly (like a different version of lechon kawali) served with fabada and zaffron rice. It's another must-try dish at Tapeo that I would personally recommend.

For dessert, we had Churros con Chocolate (P152) and Brazo de Tapeo or Gypsy Cake (P152). Both tasted lovely but I'd have to say that the second dessert literally took the cake! According to Chef Mon, this is like the evil twin sister of Brazo de Mercedes because of its color, which was accomplished by adding chocolate to the egg white. What sets it apart from the usual brazo though is the cherry wine infusion that gives it its unique taste.

That evening though, I had no idea that aside from eating a sumptuous meal, I would also be having a crash course in Flamenco! It turned out that every Wednesday, Tapeo alternately features "Baile Flamenco" with Spain's Señor Juan Antonio and "La Guitarra" with Classic Guitarist Iyo Enginco on Spanish Guitar Night.

We happened to dine on a Wednesday and Señor Juan pulled the ladies one by one from our table to dance with him. I thought I was already safe when he came back for his second set but was proven  wrong. He once again invited us to the "dance floor" and taught us some flamenco moves. With two left feet, imagine how I frantically tried to follow his steps and hand movements while laughing at how silly I must have looked! 

It's a good thing Instagram only allows 15 seconds of footage. My friend Nana happily (in Tagalog, aliw na aliw!) uploaded a video of me dancing with Señor Juan and we had some hearty laughs about it. So in case I get to go back to Tapeo when this feisty Spanish gentleman is performing again, I should watch some YouTube tutorials on flamenco 101 first! 

Do drop by Tapeo Tapas and Wine Bar to see for yourself how good their dishes are and how fun it could be when eating there. Here are some of their promos you may want to avail of:

Unlimited Tapas (P495/person) from Monday to Saturday 2PM - 9PM and Sunday 6PM to 10PM
Happy Hour 50% on all classic cocktails from M to F 2PM - 7PM and Sat and Sun 6PM onwards
WineDown Wednesday 50% off on featured wine every Wednesday 6PM onwards
Sangria Weekend's Buy 1 and Get 2nd pitcher at 50% off Sat and Sun 6PM onwards
Lunch for 3 for only P650.00 which includes main course, drinks, and dessert M to S 11AM to 2PM

with the MonDay Chefs :)
Tapeo accommodates exclusive functions. They also have Party Platters to go which you can order one day in advance. Choose from Paella, Callos, Beef Estofada, Lengua, and their famous Cerdo al Horno.

Restaurant Hours are Mon and Tues 11AM to 12MN, Wed and Thurs 11AM to 1AM, Fri and Sat 11AM to 2AM, and Sun 11AM to 2PM, 6PM to 10PM. For more information, please call (02) 556-2668, like and follow @Tapeo on Instagram.

 * To see more photos, please visit this Facebook album

All of us need to have some pampering every now and then. With all the work that we do, which takes up so much of our time, we deserve to sit back and relax once in a while. And that was exactly what I did yesterday!

blissful pampering!
Much as I would love to, I seldom get to have my nails done in salons because of my busy schedule. I even don't have time to do my nails at home so they often remain colorless. But, my inner goddess does get to prod me every now and then to "drop everything for once and take a break!"

Tips 'N Toes located at 2/F Glorietta 5
So it was with utmost delight to find that Tips 'N Toes now has a branch in Glorietta 5, Makati because it is very accessible for someone like me who is often in the area for media coverages. The place is really nice! I love the classy interior decorations and furniture especially the dominantly greenish-blue motif because it relaxes the eyes and mind the moment you step inside the inner sanctum where the treatments happen.

hands and feet pampering while lounging on massage chairs
I was amazed at the chairs because it was the first time I got to have my nails done while getting a back massage! I think Tips 'N Toes is the only establishment that uses massage chairs and I find that a truly innovative concept. Expectedly, I thoroughly savored my time sitting on the customized chair and being attended to by Francine and Nelly, who I enjoyed chatting with. They were very solicitous and would regularly ask me if I was comfortable enough.

with Francine and Nelly
I had the Signature Foot Spa Therapy Plus (P700), which is the perfect indulgence for those who want to rest their tired feet. I enjoyed an ultimate scrub that polished my legs and feet followed by aromatherapy mud. Next, warm honey was applied to my skin followed by an intensive sole smoothing treatment that kept my feet cool and soft for hours. 

Likewise, the Signature Spa Manicure (P650) was refreshing and relaxing complete with essential oils and scrubs, Vitamin C and antioxidants formulated to smooth, refine, and condition the skin. My hands and arms came out rejuvenated and really fragrant after the exfoliation and massage. 

yes, they wrap your arms and hands for maximum absorption of the lotion!
For the first time, I decided not to choose my usual nail polish color preferences which usually fall in between the hues of cream, beige, or light pink. Inspired by Tips 'N Toes' interiors, I selected a blue shade from the China Glaze collection called Sci-Fi By. I was thinking, since I am most comfortable in denim jeans and often wear them, the color would definitely complement my OOTDs :)

ultra soft hands
The final results were pretty. I love my new nail colors! Maybe this would be the start of more daring hue selections next time. Let's see! I just hope I'd have more time in the coming days to attend to my hands and feet. 

love, love, love the Sci-Fi By nail color
Tips 'N Toes owner Jennifer Tipton-Angeles reminded us that we should take care of our hands and feet like we do with our faces. This principle actually led her to search for the latest trends, products, and technologies in nail care whenever she travels outside the country. 

with Jennifer (in black) and her sister Margaret
Since she opened her first branch in 1994 at SM Megamall, Jennifer has since expanded their services to include waxing, eyelash extensions, massage, and other deluxe treatments for their premier clientele. Her staff are moreover trained using international standards to become professional nail technicians - a term first used by Tips 'N Toes as it veered away from the usual "manicurist" title.

next time, I just might try one of these gel polishes
With over 20 years' experience in the nail care industry, Tips 'N Toes has indeed established itself as a trendsetter and go to salon for premium sculptured nails. Visit one of these havens in the city because their pool of expert and internationally trained nail therapists and technicians will make sure you get the best possible care. After all, their products and equipment are the same as those used in Hollywood and top hotels around the world! 

I just had to take a photo of these miniature reproductions of paintings
by famous artists that I found inside the bathroom! So beautiful!
Experience pampering from the tips of your lashes to the ends of your toes at Tips 'N Toes. I'm sure you'll come out feeling refreshed and pretty as I did, afterwards. For more information and to look for a branch near you, please visit their website at

* Photos without watermark courtesy of HDI Admix. For other photos I took with my camera, please visit this Facebook album

A mom is born once her baby is born. That is something that all mothers know to be true. Having a child brings about a lot of changes that are often surprising and delightful. In my case, I've learned so much about myself and about life, in general, when I became a mom. 

Motherhood is a gift and my children are my treasures. For the past 20 years, and counting, my sons have educated and helped me work on improving important life skills such as patience (lots and lots of it!), faith, love, compromise, selflessness, generosity, bravery, fairness, discipline, wisdom, and so much more.  

Last Mother's Day, Pampers came out with a heartwarming video that I'm sure moms could definitely relate to. We have discovered new sides to our personalities because of our babies and it is only fitting to thank them for helping us change into better persons. 

As a reward and thank you to mommies who are doing a great job in raising their kids, Pampers and Write, Breathe, Live are giving away two (2) packs each of Pampers Active Baby XL 16s to two (2) winners. That's a total of 4 packs to be given away!

Please join via the Rafflecopter widget above to earn entries. Take note that we can send prizes to Metro Manila addresses only. Thank you for understanding. This giveaway ends on July 1, 12MN.

For more info and updates about Pampers, please like

Edit - July 2: Congratulations Faith Almario and Jeda Gonzales! You each won 2 packs of Pampers XL 16s! Please respond to my email with your Metro Manila mailing address.

Thank you very much dear readers for joining this giveaway. Much as I would like to be able to send prizes to all of you, my resources are limited. However, a new giveaway of Tiny Buds baby products is now up, here

OREO, one of my top favorite cookie brands, has partnered with Paramount Pictures for the release of the upcoming Michael Bay film “Transformers: Age of Extinction”, which will be released in the Philippines on June 27.  

Covering over 35 countries, including the Philippines, this first-ever global movie partnership has launched a global TV commercial directed by Bay himself as well as Transformers brand-themed OREO cookies and packaging, point-of-sale activations, and digital and social media efforts.

Juni Corleto, Category Marketing Manager for Snacks at Mondelez Philippines expressed excitement about the partnership as it brings two iconic brands together in a big way. "The play value and optimistic view of the world that are inherent to the OREO brand fit perfectly into the environment of Transformers.  We cannot wait to showcase all of the marketing support that’s sure to surprise and delight consumers everywhere."

Transformers and OREO fans, wherever they are, are sure to be delighted (I am!) with the new packaging and movie-themed activities on the OREO Twist, Lick and Dunk app. I love the film-themed OREO cookies in blue Prime Berry Creme and lively yellow Action Fruit Creme flavors. Both have a hint of mint in them, which leaves a cool feeling inside the mouth. Although OREO is known to be a perfect partner for milk, I also enjoy eating them with a mug of coffee :)

Lee Ann Stables, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Partnerships at Paramount Pictures affirmed that the OREO team has created one of the most integrated and innovative Transformers partner campaigns for the movie franchise to date. "We are fortunate to have Michael Bay dedicate the time, while still in production on 'Transformers: Age of Extinction,' to personally direct the new OREO television campaign, which Transformers movie fans around the world will no doubt love to see.” 

In collaboration with ad company, The Martin Agency, the TVC shows how an OREO cookie provides a moment of support as the giant Transformers robot carries on in the fight for good.  Titled “Little Help,” the spot will air in over 15 markets, including the Philippines. 

The global deal between Mondelez International, the parent company of Mondelez Philippines, OREO and Paramount Pictures was negotiated and executed in collaboration with LiquidThread, the brand content division within SMG’s MediaVest.

See OREO in action by joining the OREO community at and get to win prizes such as a trip for 4 to Universal Studios in Hollywood. Log on to, play the game, and get higher chances of winning if you enter the codes found behind the stickers inside every OREO Transformers pack!

Fans of Transformers are highly anticipating the fourth movie that's coming out later this month.

But, before the film premiers, do visit the Transformers exhibit at the Mall of Asia Atrium where you not only get to buy cool merchandise, but also get to have photos taken with popular characters such as Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Grimlock.

Check out the cool setup done by MCT Events Management and the various Transformers stuff for sale that, I'm sure, both kid and adult fans would love to have.

They've got toys, apparel, stationery sets, school bags and supplies, accessories, drink ware, canteen sets, and footwear from Toy Kingdom and Honey Barn.

Don't forget to visit the booths of Oreo (check out my next post on how to win a trip to Universal Studios in Hollywood and other exciting prizes) and Oppo plus, get your kids to join fun activities like face painting and coloring for a minimum required purchase.

The Transformers 4 exhibit runs from June 13 to 26, 2014.

I distinctly remember Benjie Paras as a UAAP player during my college days because my dorm roommate had a huge crush on him. Despite being a UP student who should also be rooting for the Maroons, I, on the other hand, was cheering for La Salle's Green Archers back then because my crush (I am not revealing who!) was playing for that team! :D

Benjie went on to become very successful in his chosen sport along with being in show business. Now, the new Handyman endorser is enjoying his most fulfilling role yet, that of being a doting father to kids Kobe, Andre, Sam, and Riley, and a wonderful husband to Lyxen. More than being a court superstar, he is the star center of his family. 

He started playing at 11 and became at member of the UP Fighting Maroons in college, where he led the team to their first championship in 1986. Next, he became the star center for PBA's Shell Turbo Chargers and was one of the vital factors behind the team's victories. Among his awards was being one of PBA's 25 Greatest Players of All-Time and was given the moniker of "Tower of Power."

Benjie was realistic enough to admit that "one cannot play basketball forever" though and retired after 14 years with the PBA to concentrate on being an actor/comedian, which he was also good at.

He confessed that his shift from basketball to acting was quite unexpected because he didn't even know if he could act, much less make people laugh. But he took on the challenge believing, "The passion to improve your performance is the same with both basketball and showbiz. Whether you play on court or are onscreen, there is the challenge that you should test yourself, every time."

While he is a legend on and off the basketball court, Benjie is first and foremost a dad who is strict with his kids but treats them with respect and kindness. "I let them decide what they want to do or to be," he explained. But one non-negotiable rule in the Paras household has always been "sports and outdoor activities over computer games and gadgets."

His efforts paid off because Andre (18) and Kobe (16) are now rising basketball stars in their own right. Andre was a highly recruited high school prospect out of La Salle Greenhills before he joined the UP Fighting Maroons, which Handyman has been supporting for the last three years. Kobe, on the other hand, is a La Salle Greenhills player and was part of the Philippine team on the FIBA Asia Under-18 Championships.

The proud father is also a do-it-yourself dad who loves to stay home and tinker on stuff that he can fix and improve. "I wish I could do a lot but I have such a busy schedule. It always gives me joy to do simple things for the family like installing the shower or the light, fixing the heater, and setting up a bidet," he said. "I have gadgets and tools that come in handy when I need to repair things around the house. And I got them from Handyman."

Given more time and opportunity, Benjie's dream project is to build things, like household furniture, from scratch. This is why Handyman's home improvement and tools sections are his favorite places to get lost in. "The store's extensive product lines are of superior quality and are reasonably priced. One can find great Father's Day gifts for do-it-yourself dads like me," he hinted with a smile.

Handyman has indeed made shopping more convenient by evolving into a one-stop-shop for customers who want to improve their spaces with ease and convenience. Benjie described that Handyman has well-organized and customer-friendly aisles that make shopping easier. "Their efficient and knowledgeable staff are always ready to help out in any home project anytime. Furthermore, Handyman stores are conveniently located and accessible for both professional builders and for [enthusiasts like me who like doing] recreational home improvement projects." 

Know more about Handyman Do It Best and the products they carry. Visit their website, like, and follow @handymanph on Twitter and Instagram.

*Handyman is a subsidiary of Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc.

We all have our shameless pleasures that, often, only we knew about. After all, it's not easy to reveal things we love doing that may be perceived by others as weird or embarrassing. Thus, I do admire women who can confidently say what makes them deliriously happy without any shame.

Speaking of shameless pleasures, Herbal Essences made a provocative and scentsual comeback via a visually and mentally stimulating event held last night at 71 Gramercy. The brand's return comes with a bold campaign that encourages the pursuit of shameless pleasures. 

The event had a segment called Shameless Talk featuring actress/host Kat Alano and writer Erika Paredes. These two colorful and candid personalities presented attention-grabbing and thought-provoking monologues about unapologetically admitting and seeking one's own definition of shameless pleasure and how women should be empowered to openly chase after them. 

But the highlight of the night was the playful reveal of TV host and celebrity blogger Divine Lee as the brand ambassador of Herbal Essences. Her shameless pleasure? Taking a shower with Herbal Essences especially after a very long day. "Sobrang scentsual! When I'm in the shower, I look forward to the refreshing scent of the shampoo. Sarap na sarap ako sa shower experience," she confesses.

Divine said she takes pride in and celebrates her reputation as a "babaeng bakla", which is evident in her fun, spirited, and even naughty personality. Aside from headlining the hit podcast Becky Nights and expressing herself on Twitter, Divine shares her hilarious takes on anything under the sun through her blog and is very open in declaring her affections for boyfriend, actor Victor Basa. I like how she reminded guests that it's perfectly alright to seek shameless pleasure as long as you don't hurt anybody in the process. That is wise advice. 

Procter & Gamble Philippines chose Divine to represent Herbal Essences because she epitomizes what the brand stands for: the female go-getter who's naughty and nice, playful, adventure-seeking, and unafraid to chase after what she wants.

thanks @earthlngorgeous for this "groupfie" with Divine :)
Pepe Torres, country marketing manager for P&G hair care, described Divine as "deliberate and bold in the decisions she has made both in her professional and personal life. [She] demonstrates how to want pleasure and act on it. She's charmingly unapologetic about her pursuit of pleasure [and] is a perfect fit for Herbal Essences, which makes even the most ordinary act of showering pleasurable and rapturous."

The launch included games and other scentsual activities then ended on a high note with music by DJ Callum

Stay up to date on the exciting activities planned for Herbal Essences by liking and following HerbalEssencesPH on Facebook and Twitter.

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