Christmas is fast approaching and employees are definitely looking forward to their year-end bonuses. According to Philippines, Inc., those in the banking and finance industry, as well as those in the Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) or call center and manufacturing fields, may be ending 2014 with fat pockets.

The recent Bonuses Report* survey revealed that the top three industries to provide guaranteed bonuses to their employees are the banking and finance, BPO and call center, and manufacturing sectors. These are followed by food and beverage, real estate, advertising/media, telecommunications, and retail. All of them were found to provide guaranteed bonuses of at least one  up to four month's worth or more on top of the mandated 13th month pay. 

One of my favorite refreshing beverages is milk tea. It not only tastes great, the chewy tapioca pearls make them even more fun to enjoy! Last Monday, I discovered another great addition to milk tea -- my favorite chocolate drink, Milo! 

Tokyo Bubble Tea's Milo Series
Milo has been my comfort liquid at home since I was little because I am not fond of drinking milk. Whenever I can't sleep, I'd usually make myself a hot mug of Milo and watch a little TV to unwind before bed. So I was really excited to try Tokyo Bubble Tea's Milo Series when I found out about it.

Tokyo Bubble Tea all dressed for Halloween

Filipinos love good food and pass on recipes from generation to generation. The same is true with the Romulo Food Group, which is known for its signature dishes that were inherited through three generations of heirloom recipes and traditions.

Roast Beef
The Romulo cuisine is actually inspired by rich historical significance, primarily the career of General Carlos P. Romulo, the first Asian President of the United Nations General Assembly and a proud Filipino diplomat. It has been said that affairs hosted by him were filled with delectable food selections that delighted even international guests. 

Duck Lumpia

Shopping for luxury watches has just been made easier! Watch Style Insider (WSI) is now in the Philippines to offer Filipinos a specific destination where one can find the latest fashion watch styles and the some of the world's most popular brands such as Fossil, Michael Kors, Emporio Armani, Diesel, DKNY, Skagen, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Armani Exchange, and Karl Lagerfeld

WSI is the latest multi-brand retail concept from Fossil Group influenced by the worlds of fashion and culture. Its well-balanced and diverse portfolio of men’s and women’s timepieces has made it an emerging international leader in fashion and designer luxury timepieces.  

Fossil watches for women - gorgeous!

A lot of food lovers know that pasta has to be "al dente" or "firm to the bite." Who'd want mushy pasta anyway? This October, in celebration of National Pasta Month, Doña Elena Al Dente invites moms to take our regular pasta dishes to the next level, starting with the kind of pasta we use.

Shrimp Fettuccine Pasta
Doña Elena Al Dente is the only Artisan Quality Italian Pasta available in the Philippines. It is made using high quality, 100% durum wheat semolina. The artisan way of cooking pasta involves a slow drying process without subjecting ingredients to high heat and uses special bronze dies that leave a rough surface, which creates ridges on the pasta.

See the differences between pasta cut by teflon die vs. bronze die?

I am a fan of Australian meat, which my family regularly buys from Shopwise. The beef steak cuts, especially, are easy to cook. In fact, I've shared a simple steak recipe before in this blog using Aussie beef.

Crowd favorite Mango Tango Australian Beef Tenderloin
For sure, other moms always also find it a pleasure to cook and serve good food to their loved ones. After all, dining with family and friends is considered one of the highlights of weekends and get-togethers. These are where treasured family recipes are usually prepared and culinary secrets are revealed to be handed down to the younger generations who are also interested in cooking.

Australian Beef Sirloin with Hoisin Sauce and Fish Sauce Reduction

Fashion will continue to be a hot and trending topic for today's generation. Men, women, and children are more conscious now about clothes and accessories than ever before. Fortunately, there are a lot of brands that continue to come up with fabulous choices for all ages.

This month, the Philippine Fashion Week debuts with Forever 21's fresh and exciting 2014 Holiday Campaign that features recording artist Iggy Azalea and Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick "Swaggy P" Young

Technology has indeed come a long way with mobile apps that genuinely make life easier. Many of you reading this, I'm sure, have experienced waiting in vain for an unoccupied taxicab at a street corner or falling in line outside a mall, not knowing what time you're going to get home.

Since it was launched in the Philippines in August last year, GrabTaxi has made getting a cab easier for its Metro Manila clients and, more recently, for Cebu residents just last July. GrabTaxi is a free-to-download mobile application that allows passengers to book a taxi ride with just a few taps on their smartphones. 

Starting October 22, those traveling within Davao City will also have a more convenient and faster way to get to their destinations. That's on top of the positive experiences many of us are already familiar with when riding with Davao's generally honest taxi drivers!

One of the most common misconceptions on oral health is that sugar is the main cause of cavities. But, did you know that any kind of food can destroy teeth -- even healthy food like fruits and vegetables -- because they contain sugar acids? 

Which do you think causes cavities -- the vegetables or the cheesecake? 
Sugar acids are formed when common oral bacteria feed on starchy food residue, which causes acid level inside the mouth to rise and enables sugar acids to attack, therefore weakening the teeth and resulting to cavities.  

Dr. Eric Tayag of the DOH

I find it amazing how fast Uniqlo has expanded its operations in the Philippines! It seems not too long ago when I covered their very first press con for MoneySense magazine in early 2012 and written about their other events in this blog

This October 24, 2014, Japan's leading global apparel brand is opening its 17th store in the Philippines at the Power Plant Mall in Rockwell Center, Makati City. I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek of the spacious store yesterday and see the many nice outfits it has to offer its loyal customers.

Two months ago, 40 ladies were treated to a beauty blowout by expert stylists courtesy of Shu Uemura and Blo Blow Dry Bar. They were among those who joined Sangobion's online promo that asked women to submit pledges to change and to take Sangobion everyday.

Yesterday, another set of 40 winners went on a shopping spree and had their own fashion show at Shine Bakery and Cafe in SM Aura. Each of them was given a chance to shop for her own outfit and they gamely strutted like models later to show off their choices. These ladies are proof that Sangobion can truly help empower women to go on and live a better life.

The fun and fab afternoon was also an educational one as Debbie Go, Merck Head of Marketing of Consumer Healthcare, and Jio Igual, Sangobion brand manager, gave tips on how women can look, feel, and be at their best despite crazy schedules and a myriad of responsibilities.

Many of us dislike having fatty bulges that make us very conscious about wearing snug-fitting clothes or outfits that expose certain body parts like the tummy. The thing is, there are some stubborn fat deposits that don't go away even with rigorous exercise. In the past, people who have the budget (and are not afraid of invasive procedures) would often resort to getting liposuction done on their problem areas.

Unfortunately, not everyone can afford costly surgeries, or are intimidated by blades and needles, and are worried about potential complications. It's a good thing that trends in cosmetic procedures now include those that provide benefits without too much downtime or pain to interrupt peoples' busy lives.

I always find it heartwarming to see big corporations making a difference through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL) is one such company that considers community building and giving back as essential parts of its philosophy. CBTL prides itself in building connections through its commitment to engage its loyal customers in an authentic and meaningful way. 

CBTL branch at Net Lima in Bonifacio Global City
Each year, weeks before Christmas, CBTL releases its coveted Giving Journal around a holiday campaign that benefits the Real LIFE Foundation. It is their goal to create something better than the last while continuously evolving the journal to share the company's passion for giving, sharing, and community.

wire bookmarks made during the Giving Journal launch

Underprivileged Filipino kids have seen happier and brighter Christmases for the past 19 years thanks to Jollibee's Maaga ang Pasko annual toy and book drive. For those who still don't know, this campaign had its roots from celebrity Aga Muhlach's simple desire to share his blessings by bringing happiness to a few children during the Yuletide season through gifts of toys. "I was doing Oki Doki Dok at the time and I was really attached to kids."

During the Maaga ang Pasko launch in Jollibee Canlubang, Aga shared how he held a show in the old Delta Theater in Quezon City two decades ago and asked people to bring toys as entrance fees instead of selling tickets. Thus, he was thrilled to find the perfect partner in Jollibee which helped make the advocacy even better. 

Aga attributes the growth of the campaign to the popular Filipino brand. "I knew if I wanted [the advocacy] to go nationwide … kung ako lang, ilan lang ang mararating ko at kaya kong puntahan … so sabi ko, Jollibee is the right venue for this, and hindi ako nagkamali. Umabot na s'ya ng 20 years at lumaki ng ganito kalaki because of Jollibee talaga."

Every kid has a favorite superhero and I would bet his/her friends also have theirs. So imagine how exciting it would be if a group of children gets to celebrate someone's birthday with a superhero-themed party! Heck, I'm sure even the moms and dads would enjoy the fun activities :)

The good news is, Shakey's is making this possible for those who are planning to throw an unforgettable party for their kids. The popular pizza restaurant chain is harnessing the "superpowers" of DC's favorite superheroes to offer Justice League Unlimited Party Packages inclusive of signature dishes, activities, and even props to further make the gathering more interesting. In addition, they even encourage guests to dress up for the party!

We all need to unwind every now and then but our busy lives usually prevent us from doing so. One of the setbacks I personally encounter is finding places that are near enough and which could offer activities that veer away from the usual routines of malling and dining out. 

So I am really glad to discover that Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park in Kawit, Cavite is actually very accessible from Metro Manila! It took us less than an hour to travel from Makati via the Cavitex highway. I went there with several blogger friends last weekend and had such a great time. Here are  10 good reasons why you should also consider paying this place a visit, soon:

Hey dear readers, just want to share that I've redeemed three (3) FREE SM gift certificates by exchanging my BDO Credit Card transaction slips in SM Makati!

The promo is open to all active principal and supplementary cardholders of MasterCard, Visa, UnionPay, JCB, and The American Express Credit Card issued by BDO.

Spend requirements are P3,000 and P15,000 with corresponding P100 and P300 SM Gift Passes

I know how to drive a car but haven't tried my hand at driving a racing kart until last Wednesday. In past media events, I let my sons take my slot so they could thoroughly enjoy real driving as boys tend to do, especially when you're too young to get a license.

So it was my first time to actually drive a kart at City Kart Racing (CKR) located in Circuit Makati. We were given suits, balaclava masks, and a helmet each. Needless to say, the getup itself can make one feel like a professional driver already! :)

costumes can be deceiving LOL

All girls have their own version of a fairy tale. And for young actress Julia Montes, that dream was to be an actress.

Unlike a conventional princess though, Julia was raised by a hearing- and speech-impaired mother and a doting grandmother she lovingly calls Mama Flory. According to Julia, life was simple and quiet but she wanted a better life for herself and, more importantly, her family.

makeup booth during the recent Dreamstarter Fair in Trinoma
As the only girl and the eldest of four siblings, Julia learned early on that girls in the real world didn't have to wait for a prince charming to make life beautiful. This determined young woman decided instead to write her own story.

Dining is always made more special with delicious food and good company. Tucked in Little Baguio, San Juan City is a cozy place where friends and family could enjoy yummy dishes and great ambiance from Tuesdays to Sundays.

According to its owners, they actually started Eataly with get-togethers in mind. In fact, they already have a lot of good memories dining with loved ones at this establishment. I felt that warm vibe myself when I got to dine there with my husband and our good friend, Ruth, recently.   

From the street, the restaurant's fun-looking logo will remove any apprehensions that the posh-looking decorations inside means you have to be in formal attire to enter. The interior is actually very cozy and ideal for intimate conversations or laugh-out-loud swapping of stories with friends (guess in what category we fit in, LOL).

I am a big yogurt fan and enjoy visiting Pinkberry whenever there's a chance to indulge in a cup or two of the brand's delicious frozen yogurt. You can read about my first Pinkberry experience here.

From the initial two flavors -- original and green tea -- launched nine years ago in West Hollywood, California, the brand has expanded its menu to over 18 flavors that are rotated seasonally. Each serving uses only real non-fat yogurt and real non-fat milk. The Philippines is Pinkberry's first market in Asia with the opening of Greenbelt 5 as its flagship store in December 2011.

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Pinkberry's SM Megamall branch for the first time. I love the store's bright colors and cozy ambiance that's perfect for get-togethers with friends and family, especially kids.

I am supposed to be doing a lot of other things right now but my heart has been urging me put my thoughts in writing. 

Earlier today, I went to the supermarket to buy ingredients for a dish that my youngest son specifically requested for dinner to celebrate his birthday with. I passed by the ice cream section and got a couple of tubs as well as a box of sugar cones.

The bottles of maraschino cherries, on the shelf above the freezers, caught my eye and I figured it would be fun to eat ice cream later with cherries on top.

While paying for my purchases, the cashier held the bottle of cherries a little bit longer and innocently asked me, "Mam, saan po ito nilalagay?" (Ma'am where do you put this / how do you use this?) I told her we'll be putting them on top of the ice cream. She replied with a rueful smile, "Ah, akala ko kasi jam na pwedeng ilagay sa tinapay." (Oh, I thought it was jam that you can put on bread).

A lot of technology-driven activities happen at home these days so Lenovo designed its latest set of consumer personal computers (PCs) specifically for family use and home entertainment. The Lenovo C260 all-in-one desktop, Lenovo H500s desktop, and Lenovo G40 laptop contain the latest productivity features from Lenovo and are equipped with powerful processors that deliver rich and immersive user experiences at work and play. They are all powered with the latest Windows operating system. 

powered by Windows
According to Lenovo Philippines' Country General Manager Michael Ngan, all three pack powerful features in space-saving and compact forms. "Each offers a highly-differentiated user experience that showcases Lenovo's superior craftsmanship and innovation prowess," he describes. "With products that help set the bar for quality, design, and speed, Lenovo offers products that address customers' performance requirements but at price points that are within their reach."

the C260

Many individuals who have never had their eyebrows shaped and trimmed usually don't believe that these two hairy lines on top of our faces could actually make or break anyone's looks. 

Not yet convinced? Well, look at the transformations of movie characters like Anne Hathaway's Mia in The Princess Diaries or Sandra Bullock's Agent Gracie Hart in Miss Congeniality. In both cases, part of the changes involved altering their brows' thickness and shapes. 

photo borrowed from
Clothes, hair, and make-up aside, can you see the difference the new brows made? 

Personally, I try not to be too conscious of my brows but I do get them trimmed professionally when I have time. Recently, I had them threaded at The Brow Studio in SM Megamall. I love how bright and happy the place looked and that the members of the staff are very friendly.

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