According to the latest Manulife Investor Sentiment Index*, majority of Filipino investors feel satisfied about their government pension. However, this sentiment is based on specific assumptions and a cash-dominant approach to retirement.

photo borrowed from www.montague.net
Two-thirds of respondents expressed confidence that their government pension would be enough to meet their needs when they finally retire – the highest level among all surveyed markets in Asia. On the other hand, across all Asian countries surveyed, the proportion of confident investors was less than 40 percent, and as low as one-in-ten in some markets.

Although the Filipinos’ optimism seems positive, the survey indicates it is based on some risky assumptions: 

1. Investors expect their retirement income to be relatively high, at 92% of their current income – the highest estimate among all surveyed markets (Asia average 69%). 
2. They expect their retirement expenses to be relatively low, at just 61 percent of their current income, at the lower end of surveyed markets (Asia average 66%). 
3. Nearly all (95%) said that in retirement, they expect to rely on private healthcare – by contrast, in every other market only a minority expected to rely on private healthcare (Asia average 38%).

photo borrowed from www.life-academy.co.uk



I would bet that we all know someone -- a loved one, a friend, even an admired celebrity -- who is battling, or who has battled, breast cancer. I do and spreading awareness about prevention is as much an advocacy with me as it is with them.

Marc Coblen Pink Ribbon Watch
October, the Breast Cancer Awareness month, is almost here and it would be good to know that those prone to, or are already suffering from, this dreaded disease are able to afford the appropriate medical procedures they need. 

Unfortunately, the Philippine Cancer Society says a staggering percentage of Filipinas have a difficult time paying for their treatment, while others are too nervous to continue with theirs. In addition, there are Filipinas who choose to ignore the importance of an annual breast check-up and refuse to seek treatment once diagnosed with breast cancer.

Dr. Roberto Paterno, president of the Philippine Cancer Society
and Christel Slagt, Marc Coblen Global Manager



A lot of women, and an increasing number of men, are aware that hair care is a very essential part to beauty and self-confidence. That is why many of us really take time to groom our tresses before we go out of the house and meet other people. 

Filipino vloggers for ATH
Now, hair-conscious Filipinos have a reason to go online more often as the virtual source for hair solutions and inspiration has finally arrived in the Philippines. The first in Asia, All Things Hair (ATH) was officially launched last September 18 at The Green Sun Creative Hub in Pasong Tamo Extension.

Finding hair solutions has been made easy as All Things Hair helps netizens by displaying top hair-related Google searches online and responds by creating video tutorials that suit Filipinos and their hair needs. Just launched in the UK and in Canada, ATH collaborated with popular Filipino vloggers to provide unique and personalized hairstyles for modern day Filipinos.

Phil, James, Laureen, and Agoo 



The 1990s was memorable for me for many reasons. It is the decade where I graduated from college, found my first job, got married, and had all my four kids. In between working for a living and raising a family, my husband and I got to appreciate a lot of things that this decade brought.


National Geographic Channel (NGC) pays tribute to the 90s by coming up with a new series that will remind viewers of a golden decade of technological, political, and entertainment milestones. My most memorable ones, I guess, would have to be watching Friends and Ally McBeal

Last week, NatGeo heralded the premier of The '90s: The Decade That Connected Us with a fun party at the Samsung Hall in SM Aura. Guests got to enjoy music from the era while the first episode of the TV series was also being aired. Cosplayers dressed in 'popular 90s characters made the photo ops more engaging.


The '90s series features the biggest newsmakers that shocked, wowed, or changed the world and helped make it what it is today. Some of the things you'll expect to see include the popularity of grunge music, the advent of Viagra, a salacious White House scandal, innovations in personal computers, and various episodes of political upheavals around the globe.

This TV show basically looks back on various developments in history to show how the world reacted to the fledging reality of globalization, as we slowly learned how connected human beings were becoming despite geographical and cultural differences.


Memorable video footage were used to recall the spirit of the decade along with 120 interviews with unsung heroes behind riveting events in addition to well-known personalities in various fields. Hear what Courtney Love, Arsenio Hall, Vanilla Ice, Jerry Springer, Tony Blair, Colin Powell, Connie Chung, and Dan Rather had to say. These are celebrities whose voices will narrate the remarkable affairs that weave the story of this extraordinary decade.

This decade between the Cold War and the War on Terror saw numerous highs and lows as technology advanced the world into the digital age: Bill Clinton's promise of change as he became US president, the violent LA riots, Nelson Mandela's release from prison and rise as leader of South Africa, and the horrific civil war in Rwanda.


Remember, too, cultural benchmarks such as the TV show Friends and the Macarena dance, along with the first successful reality shows of The Real World and Jerry Springer, which paved the way for reality TV in succeeding years.

The '90s: The Decade That Connected Us serves as a guide as viewers navigate through this historical and nostalgic roller coaster ride so we may better grasp politics and the global culture in their current states, as well as understand ourselves.


Catch the series exclusively on National Geographic Channel every Thursday at 9PM beginning September 18, 2014.

  


The Philippines is undisputedly one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world. We get 20 or more typhoons a year as well as other natural calamities, which often result in the loss of lives and properties. 

photo borrowed from www.satelliteco.com
Recently, SM Supermalls held its annual symposium on sustainable business practices at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City. Dubbed the 2014 Green Retail Agenda, the event featured disaster reduction experts who discussed disaster preparedness measures to protect businesses and communities from the onslaught and aftermath of natural calamities; new technologies in disaster management; and communicating disaster preparations.

Speakers in the symposium included Dr. Renato Solidum Jr., director of PHIVOLCS (Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology); Dr. Alfred Mahar Lagmay, director of Project NOAH; Atom Araullo, TV host and reporter of ABS-CBN; Nathaniel "Mang Tani" Cruz, former director of PAGASA (Philippines Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration); Sharon Almanza, deputy national treasurer of Department of Finance; Vince Rapisura, President and CEO of SEDPI (Social Enterprise Development Partnerships, Inc.); Ramon Isberto, public affairs head of Smart Communications; Leandro Leviste, president of Solar Philippines; and Usec. Lesley Cordero, undersecretary of Office of the Presidential Adviser for Rehabilitation and Recovery

photo borrowed from www.stpaul.gov
Julio Camarena-Villasenor, Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines, made the keynote address and shared how his country's proactive approach on disasters have garnered deep rooted resilience in its people. I believe that we, Filipinos, are also highly resilient. But this should not mean we have to endure and continue experiencing the negative effects of calamities especially if they can be minimized or outright prevented through better and wiser measures.

The Green Retail Agenda's aim is to address the lack of awareness on the connection between business investment practices and disaster risks. SMPHI President Hans Sy stressed the need for businesses to understand that the growing environment problem is relevant to everyone, not only for the business community, but for the economy as a whole.

photo borrowed from www.earthtimes.org
"Trillions of dollars of new investments will pour into hazard-exposed regions. In most economies, the private sector is responsible for 70-85% of these new investments," pointed out Sy. "Therefore the decisions made by the private sector have far-reaching consequences on disaster risk accumulation and on underlying risk drivers."

The theme for this year's conference, The Business Case for Disaster Risk Reduction, emphasizes the need to prepare for the unforeseen to protect both businesses and communities. By seeking to educate, create awareness, and emphasize action points within the private sector and other key stakeholders, I join SM Supermalls' goal to ensure that disasters will be prepared for and more easily recovered from.    

photo borrowed from ec.europa.eu
In March 2015, the Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction will be held in Sendai, Japan. With this, it is hoped that the role of the private sector will become much more in the center of global efforts in reducing current disaster risks, prevent future disaster risks, and strengthen the resilience of communities and nations.




I'm sure we're all familiar with the legendary Victorinox Swiss Army Knives. To mark its 130th anniversary this year, the iconic brand pulls off a tour de force -- a watch of sharp, versatile design that is so strong, it defies the imagination!


I.N.O.X. is the new watch that pays tribute to the history and industrial know-how of Victorinox by showcasing authenticity, strength, quality, expertise, and Swiss design --values that made the brand famous.

Mr. Alex Bennouna, Victorinox Swiss Army CEO
Like the popular Swiss Army Knife, I.N.O.X. was made to be as iconic because it represents nothing less than the very essence of the brand. Its name comes from the French word for stainless steel, which is the solid, durable, and corrosion-resistant material that Victorinox has been using for more than half a century before stainless steel even became the norm in the Swiss watch industry.


What's different about I.N.O.X. is that it's designed to withstand the kinds of stress never before seen in watchmaking. In fact, it has passed a ruthless battery of 130 strength tests with flying colors. The 130 tests go beyond the standard tests of the Swiss watch industry because a series of new tests was developed specifically for I.N.O.X., showing Victorinox's passion for pushing boundaries and imposing new rules on resistance.


Over a period of six months, the brand's testing team sacrificed 421 I.N.O.X. prototypes to answer a single philosophical question: What does it take for a Swiss-Made watch to become a Victorinox Swiss Army watch?


I watched several videos of the tests done on the I.N.O.X. during the launch held at Whitespace and I was definitely impressed! Some were so insane, one really has to see the clips to believe them. Some examples:
  • 8 tons compression under a hydraulic press and being driven over by a truck of 25 tons and a military truck weighing up to 64 tons
  • temperature shocks from -57 to +71 degrees Celsius, which corresponds to the standard set by the US Army for manufacturing missiles
  • salt spray corrosion or chemical attacks by all kinds of fuels, oils, solvents, cleaning products, insecticides, including sulfuric acid and nitric acid solutions, which are, again, standards for the military
  • a fall of 10 meters (equivalent to a 3-floor building) onto a smooth concrete surface with an impact speed of 50km/hr
  • exposure to a flame at a distance of 5mm for more than one minute, corresponding to +1200 degrees Celsius
  • glacial cold still enables the watch to function non-stop; even when frozen in an ice cube for 168 hours 
  • extreme conditions at a stratospheric altitude of 21,300 meters; twice the height where airplanes fly
  • two hours in a washing machine at 90 degrees Celsius and with full spin cycle


Someone who has heard of these mind-blowing tests and not see the videos would probably expect I.N.O.X. to look like an ugly, overly fortified watch. Surprisingly, it looks very elegant! This timepiece has a 43mm stainless steel case enhanced by a skillfully polished hexagonal bezel. It is available in black, green, and blue, and can be further personalized with a bumper, a removable accessory made of silicone and nylon that lets users change the watch's look to match their mood. 

Andrew Wolff
It should be noted though that all 130 watch tests were done without the bumper. I.N.O.X. will change how you perceive quality and functionality as well as convince you that it is no doubt a perfect "companion for life."  

John Spainhour
I.N.O.X. endorsers Andrew Wolff and John Spainhour, as well as friends of the brand Mark Nelson and event host Rovilson Fernandez, all shared how impressed they were at the watch's craftsmanship and durability. 


Now, here's hoping I can save up for one so I can give my husband a Christmas gift he would most likely be ecstatic to have :)

The Victorinox Swiss Army Watch is available at SM Megamall Boutique, Century City Mall Boutique, Lucerne, Elemento, Chronos, Wrist Pod, Swiss Gear, L Timestudio, SM Department Stores, and Robinson’s Department Stores.




September is always a special month in our family because this is the month my third son celebrates his birthday. Our James has special needs and we have gone through a lot since he was born. 


This year, we once again celebrate his life and all the joys and lessons he has brought to our family. As a treat, we've gotten him a Red Ribbon Dedication Cake for his birthday. I found that this is a great way to express a personalized message for special occasions like this. 

Not only for birthdays, Red Ribbon Dedication Cakes are great gifts for greeting couples celebrating an anniversary, congratulating a loved one during graduation, for a job promotion, or simply sending love to someone, "just because".  After all, any day could be made extraordinary especially if there's something sweet, like a delicious Red Ribbon cake! 


So, I'd like to share this kind of happiness to one of my readers! From today until Thursday (Sept. 25), you can get a chance to win an 8" x 8" Red Ribbon Chocolate Dedication Cake. In case you haven't tasted it yet, it is good! The frosting and the cake itself are really moist and yummy!

Mechanics are as follows:

1. Like Red Ribbon and Write, Breathe, Live on Facebook.

2. Post on your status your short but most unique and creative birthday message (maximum of 4 lines) for a loved one who is celebrating his/her birthday soon. Make sure the status is set as public and that you tagged Red Ribbon and Write, Breathe, Live. Please also add the URL of this blog post: http://www.mommywrites.blogspot.com/2014/09/express-personalized-birthday-greetings.html 

3. Leave a comment under this blog post to let me know you joined and don't forget to include the link to your Facebook status entry.

4. Most unique/creative birthday greeting gets the prize!


That's it! This giveaway* ends on Thursday (September 25, 2014) at 12MN. So hurry and post your entries now! 

*Open only to readers who can provide a Metro Manila mailing address if he/she wins. Good luck! :)   

==

Congratulations Maylyn Panaligan! Please reply to my Facebook message and send me your mailing address. 



Thanks everyone for joining! Please stay tuned for more giveaways in the coming days.



It is natural for skin to shed and be replaced by a new layer. However, a buildup of dead skin that stays in one's pores can mix with sebum and end up clogging pore openings. When bacteria enters the picture, this bad combination could lead to an acne breakout and infections. This is why dermatologists recommend gentle exfoliation to remove dead skin cells. 


At Ysa Skin Care Center, a beam of laser energy (think miniature Star Wars light saber :D) is used to vaporize the upper layers of damaged skin with accurate precision. This helps give way for new cells to form and result in a smoother, tighter, and younger-looking skin surface. It is also an ideal treatment for open pores.



In case you guys still haven't noticed, the past couple of years have seen Metro Manila booming with new dining places that aim to cater to Filipinos' ever increasing appetite for foreign cuisine. If you love Japanese dishes but haven't yet tried Japan's ultimate comfort food that features a unique special curry sauce, head on to Eri Curry soon!

Katsu Curry - P320
Curry originated from India and was introduced by the British. Ever innovative, the Japanese reinvented curry to suit their palates and created a version with a milder flavor and thicker sauce. The result became one of the most commonly served dishes in every Japanese household that might as well be considered one of Japan's national dishes.

Eri Curry, located at the 3rd level of SM Megamall Atrium, gave the Japanese curry a twist to suit Filipino tastebuds. What you'll get to taste contains a medley of spices that, I heard, are also beneficial to one's body. 

pickled red radish
What's great about this restaurant is that it offers a variety of curry plates that include Katsu Curry, Thin Sliced Beef Curry, Shrimp Curry, and Eggplant Curry, among others. In addition, curry plates can be customized according to individual diners' preferences!

Step 1: Choose your curry plate with your favorite proteins or vegetables. 

Step 2: Choose your Japanese rice portion. It can be 200g, 300g, or 400g.

Step 3: Choose your spice level. Options are Just Right (a mild, almost no hint of spice flavor), Spicy (a sure kick of heat), or Fiery. 

Step 4: Add toppings by choosing from a wide selection of protein (crispy chicken, fried squid, or thin sliced pork), or vegetables (eggplant, asparagus, or tomatoes).

Thin Sliced Beef Curry - P290
I ordered the Thin Sliced Beef Curry with Just Right sauce. The taste is something I couldn't quite describe but it sure was interesting and very filling to the tummy. The serving was generous so I wasn't able to finish all the rice on my plate. 

If you prefer eggs with your meal, how about ordering the Katsu Omelette Curry or Creamed Chicken Omelette Curry? I haven't tried those yet, though. So do leave a comment under this blog post if you have and share with me your experience.

Sakana - P100; Ebi Futo - P125
Of course, a visit to a Japanese establishment shouldn't be without the infamous rolls. We were served with Ebi Futo (a shrimp maki with romaine lettuce and cucumber) and Sakana Warm and Tender (sole fish with mayonnaise), which both tasted great. Next time, I might try their Kani Warm and Tender (fried crab sticks topped with teriyaki sauce) or the Sugoi Maki Spicy (a crunchy crab stick with mozzarella cheese, topped with a special spicy sauce).

Dining with children? Have them order a Juicy Hamburger Meal that's topped with fried quail egg, or the Crispy Chicken Meal, which is obviously and easily every little kid's favorite.

Let's eat!
For dessert, options include the best-selling Kagigori (shaved iced dessert with vanilla ice cream and azuki beans), Fruit Plate for the health-conscious, and Banana Split for those with a serious sweet tooth. 

Eri Curry's interiors were designed using wood and in colors that will make diners think of sunset or the warmth of a Japanese hearth while they enjoy Japanese curry dishes to their heart's content. 




I've been a Windows Phone user for more than three years now and haven't found a huge reason yet to switch to another operating system. So I was genuinely excited when I found out that Cherry Mobile will be showcasing a new line of Windows devices!


The Alpha Series launch, held last week at the Harbor Tent in Sofitel Manila and hosted by Victor Basa and Phoemela Baranda, featured the latest tablet and smartphone offerings for Filipino consumers looking for powerful, stylish, yet affordable Windows devices. The event also premiered Cherry Mobile's TVC for the new gadgets, which stars Kim Chiu who shared her excitement over the latest devices.


According to Calum Chisholm, Intel Philippines Country Manager, there is no point in carrying a device around that is always low on battery. He assured event guests that with the Alpha Series there would be no trade off between mobile experience and battery life.

Victor and Calum
Cherry Mobile partnered with Microsoft, Intel, and Qualcomm to develop two smartphones (dual sim) and two tablets that all run on Windows 8.1 operating system:

Alpha Style is for the young techie with its 4-inch 800x480 IPS screen, 4GB of memory, and 512MB of RAM. SRP is P2,999.

Alpha Luxe is for professionals who need powerful smartphones for work. It has a 5-inch 1280x720 HD screen, 8GB of memory and 1GB of RAM. SRP is 4,999.

Style, Luxe, and Play
Alpha Play is an 8-inch, sleek tablet designed for mobile play and media consumption. It has 16GB of memory and 1GB of RAM. SRP is P7,999.

Alpha Morph is a 10-inch, high-definition tablet that is more productivity-oriented and comes with its own keyboard in-box, 32GB of on-board memory, and 2GB of RAM. SRP is P11,999.

Both tablets run on 1.33GHz quad core processors and Intel Gen7 HD graphics.

Morph
Complimenting these devices to meet the needs of tech-savvy users like Kim, both Alpha Series Windows phones come with a free download of Office Mobile, while the tablets come with a one-year free subscription of Microsoft Office 365 Personal plus 1TB of storage on Microsoft's cloud-based OneDrive.

Victor, Calum, Karrie, and Phoem
Karrie Ilagan, General Manager of Microsoft Philippines described their partnership with Cherry Mobile as a representation of their strong commitment to deliver a family of consumer devices that Filipinos will love. "In line [with this], we strive to forge strategic alliances with local device manufacturers such as Cherry Mobile. We hope that these exciting Windows gadgets will empower more Filipino users at home, at work, life on-the-go, and for the activities they value most."

Victor, Lonson, and Phoem
"Cherry Mobile takes pride in partnering with Microsoft," expressed Cherry Mobile Product Manager Lonson Alejandrino. "Like Microsoft, we believe that in this era of consumer technology, people should be provided with a no-compromise computing experience between work and play." He added that with the new Windows gadgets, they hope to further enhance the digital lifestyle of Filipinos by offering them an enjoyable and affordable gadget experience without compromising their need to achieve more.


Personally, I find it good to know that Microsoft is evolving its Windows business model to enable partners like Cherry Mobile to offer devices at lower costs in the highly competitive smartphone, tablet, and PC market.

With Windows 8.1, hardware partners can also more easily build lower-cost machines -- such as devices with 1GB of RAM and a 16GB hard disk drive -- without sacrificing the experience customers expect. This combination of new efficiencies and innovations means consumers will be able to choose from a wider range of more budget-friendly Windows devices. So I say "Yay!" to that! :)


For more updates, log on to www.cherrymobile.com.ph or visit the official Cherry Mobile Facebook page. For more information on Windows 8.1, visit windows.microsoft.com; and for Windows Phone 8.1, visit windowsphone.com.




Those of us who live in tropical countries grow up imagining how magical it must be like to experience autumn or winter in another part of the world. I am not surprised that a lot of movies and TV shows depicting those seasons usually become instant hits with Filipinos. 


This year, Pandora takes its cue from peoples' fascination with all things magical and nature-inspired by creating classic items that mirror mystique and novelty polished off with signature sophistication. The jewelry brand, which has always been in step with the changing waves of fashion and culture, launched its 2014 Autumn/Winter Collection last week at SM Megamall's Mega Fashion Hall


The pieces were designed to captivate the senses in a modern tale of femininity and features beautifully textured and ultra-feminine rings, earrings, charms, and pendants that clients can collect over time to be combined and styled with other pieces to come up with a truly personal look. The collection melds tradition with innovation as pieces were crafted from sterling silver, 14k gold, colored enamel, and cubic zirconia.


Lee Anthony Gray, Pandora's designer, explained that they use micro-setting techniques for the pave cubic zirconia to capture the delicacy and detail in the series. "All the techniques we use are similar to high-end jewelry because we want to offer people the best experience with their jewelry."


Here are pieces you may want to see:

Shimmering Leaves - a precious heirloom in the making that's waiting to be passed down through generations. While on-trend, it is also a timeless set to be cherished for many years. This was built on last year's Fairy Feather series but is crafted through months of painstakingly made renderings and meticulously honed prototypes, using fine jewelry techniques to create micro-set sterling silver and yellow gold details.


Dark Flowers - are made with sculptural elements and textural combinations featuring mysterious and magical floral motifs. Lustrous white pearls are offset by enchanting black enamel flowers on sterling silver, while intricately detailed floral charms are decorated with 14k gold, sparkling enamel, and shimmering stones.


Night Blue Crystal - with cool blue jewels inspired by the serene sky at night, this series comprises a captivating cocktail ring, delicate stud earrings, and a necklace pendant set with a beautiful deep blue crystal each that's faceted to catch the light. The crystal is encircled with decorative dots of sterling silver, adding textural element to jewelry reminiscent of the enchanting night sky.


I was caught in heavy traffic and didn't get to catch what I heard was a beautiful performance by the Philippine Ballet Theatre. "A Mystical Tale with Pandora" interpreted the fantasy-inspired Autumn/Winter collection. It was directed by playwright Floy Quintos with set and costume design by Gino Gonzalez. The story narrates the lead character's (Pandora) journey in search of precious discoveries and valuable moments.


One of the Philippines' best theater actresses, Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, narrated the story and was quoted saying, "You have gone through the forest and the night unafraid. Imagine if you could go through life, gathering the precious charms that are symbols of life's mysterious and wondrous unfolding." 


My takeaway from that? Always look at the bright side and at all the good things that happen to you because only then will you fully be able to embrace and enjoy life. Then again, some dewy drops made up of Pandora stones would definitely make the journey even more memorable. Well, maybe someday, I could finally afford to own a piece or two. 


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