The millennial consumer market is a huge one. It's no wonder brands often align their marketing strategies to appeal to this younger generation of spenders. While it's good that young people nowadays seem to have better purchasing power, they also need to be educated on how to properly manage their hard-earned salaries. This is so they can also enjoy the fruits of their labor when they get much older.

FWD Life, the country's fastest growing insurance company (read about their Philippine launch in 2014, here), partnered with Wattpad, the global multiplatform entertainment company for original stories, to revolutionize financial education via the Piso Tales advocacy campaign.

read and learn from three engaging Piso Tales!
Piso Tales, a one-of-a-kind initiative that aims to bring financial literacy closer to the Philippines' rapidly expanding millennial market, is geared towards changing the way people learn and share financial stories. FWD passionately worked with three Filipino Wattpad authors in coming up with stories showcasing how millennials can succeed financially in life.

Chris Stefanyk, Wattpad Business Operations and Strategy Lead, expressed, "FWD Life's Piso Tales Campaign will empower a new generation of Filipinos to take control of their finances to prepare for their and their loved ones' future."

During an intimate gathering for the media and several Wattpad fans held at Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street recently, Wattpad subscribers were encouraged to read the following stories:

  • Detour by Natsuri Ayuko and Gandang Sora -- Milly, the lady behind the latter pen name shared that the story shows how we can all learn from our mistakes.
  • BTW, It's Love by AB Castueras -- Bernadette, the author, explained that this story aims to help young people understand that handling money should not be seen as a difficult task. Rather, they should learn to do this as early in life as possible.  
  • My Fangirl Dream by blue_maiden - Tina, who's behind the K-Pop inspired story, advises young people to find a balance between enjoying life and growing wealth. "Don't let age hinder your dreams. Live life fearlessly!"

millennials should learn to discern early the advantages of
saving and investing instead of spending
Did you know? Every month, Filipinos spend 500 million minutes engaged in stories about the things they love! With a total monthly audience of six million, Wattpad is a good channel to spread and make financial literacy relevant and entertaining for millions of Filipino millennials. According to Adspark Business Director Miki Yuhiko, "Through this, I hope we make financial literacy easier and more digestible for our target market."

"At FWD, Piso Tales is truly close to our heart. As a company which aims to encourage Filipinos to live life without hesitation, we are delighted to breathe life to the Piso Tales campaign," illustrated Roche Vandenberghe, FWD Life Philippines' Head of Marketing. 

She said that they recognize the potential of the country's millennial market and that, "Through this advocacy, we are reaching out to a huge segment that has been, thus far, quite underserved in terms of financial education."

Wattpad authors with event host David Celdran
and representatives of FWD Life, Wattpad, and Adspark
"Our partnership with Wattpad is premised on the idea that financial literacy need not be boring," added Vandenberghe who pointed out that Piso Tales is entirely aligned with their vision to change the way people feel about insurance.

Just a few hours after the upload of the last chapters on Wattpad last December 16, the stories already garnered 35,000 readers / views proving how effective this way is in reaching Piso Tales' intended audience. "Let this be a new way of sharing money talks!" concluded Vandenberghe. 


The Philippines Statistics Authority reported that last year, restaurant and hotel spending grew by 11% (from P345.2B in 2014 to P383.2B in 2015). These figures indicate that today's consumer lifestyles are indeed very much geared towards dining out and enjoying the food experience. 

Filipinos are now spending more to enjoy the food experience 
"While Filipinos spend at least 42% of household expenditure on food and beverage, customers today are also more informed and discerning in their choices," described May Juan, President of Phil. Asia Conferences and Exhibitions, Inc.

As such, this coming March 2-4, 2017, the Philippines is set to have its first sourcing platform dedicated to the restaurant cafe and bar industry. The Philippine Restaurant, Cafe, and Bar Expo (Philresca) 2017 will run as a trade-exclusive event for the industry's established and emerging buyers and sellers. It will also feature a series of educational and competitive events sanctioned by World Coffee Events (WCE).

Amy Ball and May Juan
During a press conference recently held at the World Trade Center, WCE Creative Director Amy Ball, shared how many processes it takes before coffee can travel from the tree to a consumer's cup. She described and affirmed how and why this beverage is an inclusive commodity that has a big global impact. Thus, WCE will be bringing international coffee experts and industry leaders to the country to talk about themes such as farming, retail strategy and marketing, trends (where coffee's been and where it's going), success stories, and more.     

The three-day B2B exhibition aims to match buyers with suppliers, distributors, manufacturers,and service providers of commercial kitchen equipment, cafe, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, baking and pastries, specialty food, delicatessen, and other allied services. 

serving beverages is an art
Aside from being able to source their requirements, professionals from the F&B and hospitality industry, HRM, and culinary and tourism schools, and international buyers will also learn new tricks of the trade during the exhibition.

As the first of its kind in the Philippines, the expo stands to carve out its own niche in the world of food and beverage where about 50% of visitors in food trade exhibitions come from the restaurant, cafe, and bar industry. As per government data, the restaurant, cafe, and bar industry is predicted to employ 795,000 people by 2017. 

having good connections is key to doing good business
"It's not enough to open a restaurant. Supplier partners are key," explained Ms. Juan. "The winners in the business are those who can source the right ingredients that will cater to today's taste."

Prior to the exhibition proper, Phil. Asia Conferences and Exhibitions, inc. and World Coffee Events will co-organize Re:Verb Manila on March 1, a one-day symposium that would focus on connecting stories to introduce and expound upon the world of specialty coffee. As I mentioned above, there will be speakers brought in by WCE as well as media who will create conversations among participants. 

find some of the best suppliers at Philresca
Moreover, Philresca will feature this year's Philippine National Barista Championship and Philippine National Latte Art Championship. Winners will be sent to world championships to compete among the best in the coffee industry. 

According to Ms. Juan, "Beyond business, we envision Philresca as an educational venue to discover new talent and sharpen the craft of future service leaders. We are glad to host [the championships] and help bolster the position of Filipinos in the global coffee industry." 

Philresca organizers and partners
Philresca is supported by UCC Ueshima Coffee Phils., Inc., MK Kitchen Equipment & Supplies, Barista Depot, Allegro Beverage Corporation, Fly Ace Corporation, Blu Coffee Distributors Corporation, Equilibrium Intertrade Corporation, Goldbell Philippines Impex Corporation, Ricmas Commercial Eqpt., Ltd., HORESCA Concept Specialist, Inc., Cafe Amadeo, California Milk Advisory Board, Bote Central Inc., Manila Bambi Foods Corp., Culinary Generals & Razor Chef Philippines, and El Kapitan Food Enterprise.

To register as a buyer, book a space as a seller or inquire about sponsorship opportunities, send an email at or call 02.5097767. For more information, visit

I love the HOOQ app. These past months, I was able to catch up on old and new TV series I like as well as movies I wasn't able to catch in cinemas -- during my most convenient times! Last year, I was also able to watch on HOOQ some entries from the New Wave Category of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF).

HOOQ team with the cast of Seklusyon and Direk Eric Matti
This year, HOOQ is once more a co-presenter of the 42nd MMFF and concludes 2016 with a special HOOQ HANGOUTS feature by holding a celebrity-studded premiere of Direk Erik Matti's SEKLUSYON  a few days before its regular run in theaters.

Jane Cruz-Walker, HOOQ Philippines Country Manager, shared that they started HOOQ HANGOUTS this year to provide a forum to showcase HOOQ's vast library that includes local content spanning almost five decades. "That is why we are ending the year with this HOOQ HANGOUTS featuring an exclusive screening of Seklusyon, produced by Reality Entertainment, which incidentally is also our partner in creating OTJ: The Series," she explained.

Seklusyon starts showing on December 25, 2016
Seklusyon stars Ronnie Alonte, Neil Ryan Sese, Lou Veloso, Rhed Bustamante, Phoebe Walker, Elora Espano, Dominique Roque, John Vic De Guzman, and JR Versales. Set in the 1940's, the story revolves around the ritual imposed on deacons seven days before they are ordained as priests. Required to stay inside a sacred sanctuary, each soon-to-be priest has to fight his own "demons" and past sins to be worthy of the ordination.

Although I had to cover my eyes several times to avoid getting a heart attack, I liked the film for the following reasons:
  • The story has a strong parallelism with what's happening right now in the Philippines. One of the dialogues that struck (and saddened) me was about people wanting to do something not because it is the right thing to do, but because it is the easiest. How I wish more Filipinos would learn to go beyond that bad habit.
  • Viewers would likely identify themselves with one or more of the characters. After all, who among us isn't guilty of one sin or another? By watching Seklusyon, Direk Erik expressed how he hopes people to get relevant insights about religion and their faith and relationship with God.  
  • The movie features promising young talents. I especially admired the young girl, Rhed Bustamante, for playing her role like a pro. Do catch Seklusyon in cinemas to see what I mean as I wouldn't want to post any spoilers, here.
with Rhed, a very sweet and talented young actress 
With positive reviews since making its international premier at the recent Macau International Film Festival, it's no wonder Seklusyon has become one of the most anticipated entries being the only horror-themed film in the 2016 MMFF.

Catch Seklusyon starting December 25 in local cinemas and also support other Filipino films included in the MMFF. This Christmas break, you may also want to catch past winners and finalists of the MMFF on HOOQ such as Baler, Tanging Yaman, Mulawin the Movie, Muro-Ami, and many more. 

Sign up today for a 7-day trial on

Owners of food establishments and bakeries, even home cooks and bakers, know how inconvenient it can sometimes be to hop from one store to another just to find all the ingredients and equipment needed to create delicious dishes. 

at Restaurant Depot, savings come in big sizes
Switch to convenient shopping! The newly-opened Restaurant Depot in Pasay City gives its members access to a large selection of ingredients, food supplies, and kitchenware. This membership-only warehouse club guarantees that buying in bulk translates to big savings. 

Restaurant Depot was built for people involved in the foodservice industry like caterers, home bakers, and chefs as well as those who own canteens, food stalls, and restaurants. Membership is free! You just have to fill out the registration form in their website or in the store.

fresh seafood

The Christmas season is one of the best times to wear outfits designed with festive colors. The Bayo 2016 Holiday Collection makes that possible as it features warm, playful, and trendy pieces.

Iza Calzado for Bayo
This year's Style Harvest: A Playful Holiday showcases pieces with flattering silhouettes, cuts, and prints to take every Filipina down memory lane. You see, the clothes are inspired by classic children's toys like yoyos, slinkys, pick-up sticks, building blocks, puzzles, and toy soldiers. To my contemporaries, I'm sure you have also played with those things during your childhood. I did!

As such, expect the latest collection to highlight cheerful Christmas colors -- mainly blues, reds, yellows, and greens -- in timeless pieces such as tops pants, skirts, and dresses. Bayo's color palette was based on happy hues and shades that complement the season.
clothes inspired by slinkys and yoyos

Digital game enthusiasts are always on the lookout for the latest hardware that can enhance their gaming experiences. This mid-December 2016, Dell is releasing what they call their most powerful Inspiron laptop, ever.

Apart from laptops, Dell also offers premium monitors such as
the S 2716DG and the 24" SE 2417 that has a fast response time
These powerful gaming laptops feature the most aggressive performance design and components to be offered within the entire Inspiron laptop family. The first clue to this system's capabilities are the dedicated forward and rearward thermal vents. Behind them are extra-capacity heat exchangers connected by oversized piping to dual cooling fans with high-efficiency blade pitch, engineered specifically to handle the following:
  • Intel’s latest 6th Gen H-series quad core mobile CPUs 
  • NVIDIA’s latest GeForce® GTX 950M (14) and 960M (15) discrete graphics with 4 GB* of blazing fast GDDR5 memory 
  • up to 1 TB* conventional or dual-drive M.2 128 GB* + 1 TB* HDD configurations
These features are what easily handle the latest gaming titles or industrial-grade video editing which come to life on displays ranging from FHD up to a brilliant 4K UHD display.

Inspiron gaming tech specs

A huge number of Filipinos still don't fully understand the concept of insurance. According to Sun Life President and CEO Riza Mantaring, when she's abroad and gets to talk to Overseas Filipino Workers, the OFWs often express their worries about their families in case something happen to them. "They understand the need for insurance but they just don't realize it's insurance that they have to buy." 

a need to protect the future
photo credit:
Unfortunately, those living here don't necessarily perceive that need to protect their future. While OFWs clearly see it, those in the marginalized sectors still have to be educated on their need for protection because their mindset is just to survive from day to day, or week to week. "That is why they have to develop the habit of saving. Just as you have the money to buy food, you should also be able to save even just a small amount regularly [for your future]," reasoned Ms. Riza

The thing is, many people are still not aware that such products exist or, if they do, they think these products are very expensive. Ms. Riza explained how hard it is for some people to grasp how, for instance, P25 can already get them P25,000 in benefits in case of an accident. "It's hard for them to believe it's possible because they don't understand the concept of pooling people's money."

This coming 2017, Sun Life of Canada (Philippines), Inc., in partnership with Universal Storefront Services Corporation (USSC), will be introducing the mass market to life insurance products and services. Under this program, Sun Life will expand the reach of financial inclusion to the largely underserved market segment of the Philippine population.   

contract signing between Sun Life and USSC

It is always fun to discover new food items from all over the world, even if you can't physically visit those places any time, soon. This December, Asian flavors come together inside every limited-edition Oishi World of O, Wow! Bag. It gives snack lovers a taste of what Oishi has to offer around the world.

the contents of my World of O, Wow! Bag
A few months ago, Liwayway Marketing Corporation celebrated its 70th year with the Oishi Snacktacular 2016 bash at the SM Mall of Asia (read my blog post about it, here). From its humble origins of repacking gawgaw (corn starch) and local coffee as well as introducing classics such as Oishi Prawn Crackers and Kirei, the company has indeed come a long way in the last seven decades.

Since then, Liwayway Marketing Corporation continued to redefine snack time for Filipino families as more items were introduced and have also become favorites of both the young and young-at-heart. I'm sure many of you are familiar with and also buy Bread Pan, Ribbed Cracklings, Pillows, Marty's, Potato Fries, and Ridges whenever you pass the snacks aisle at the grocery store. I do!

Oishi in the Philippines

This coming February 2017 will mark the 20th Anniversary of Gerry's Restaurant and Bar, the beloved homegrown dining establishment, which originated in Tomas Morato in Quezon City, that Filipinos love to visit. 

Gerry's very first branch
Formerly known as Gerry's Grill, which metamorphosed into a place that now serves more than just beer and 'pulutan,' Gerry's is honestly one of my family's favorite places to dine in because they serve some of the best-tasting Pinoy dishes we like.

my favorite Gerry's grilled squid
Like us, customers who grew up enjoying the restaurant's bestsellers can now bring their kids (and even their children's friends!) to Gerry's to try out the wide variety of menu items whipped up by its resident chefs. 

this holiday season, how about ordering one of these Christmas packages?

I like going to NUVALI because it seems to always have something new to offer every time I visit. In fact, just last month, my husband and I were at Nuvali's Camp N, for the launching of its exciting activities for both new and skilled bike enthusiasts. 

one of the must-visit areas in Nuvali this Christmas
This December, we went to Nuvali again and discovered more stuff we can do there! First, we checked out Ayala Malls Solenad 3 and watched the latest Disney movie, Moana, in one of four nice cinemas. I highly recommend parents to watch this film with their kids. It has memorable characters and a lot of beautiful songs!

Moana in Nuvali Cinemas
Next, we went around the "Christkindl Market" holiday village that's being held until the end of the month and features traditional and modern gifts for sale including affordable items that fashionistas would love. If I have little girl, I'd probably have bought one of those pretty matching mommy and daughter outfits I saw in one of the booths! There's also a Christmas Bazaar that offers unique local goods from Laguna.

shop for gifts at Nuvali's Christkindl Market

FACT: No matter how much you keep your house clean, there's always the possibility of cockroaches getting in, especially if you have neighbors who are not as conscious as you are about cleanliness. In that case, it's better to always have an effective product that could get rid of cockroaches since we all know these pests are carriers of all sorts of diseases, right?

photo credit:
Unfortunately, many pest control agents are not only strong enough to kill roaches, they can also be harmful to people. The good news is, there are now effective roach control products that are safe for humans. One such brand to try is Captain ZERO. It is formulated using a combination of very low toxic compounds including its main ingredient call Trihydroxyborane.

Unlike other cockroach killers, Captain ZERO Cockroach Bait acts as food bait and comes in paste form. Homeowners simply have to put it in shallow containers and place those in areas where roaches often thrive like the kitchen, bathroom, and garage.

eliminate "ipis" at home by using Captain ZERO

"When your circle of friends decreases in size, it actually increases in value." I am a believer of that quote. For many years, I've said YES to so many people in attempts to avoid conflicts and preserve personal and professional connections. However, I slowly and painfully learned that not all of them deserved to be nurtured because they were one-sided relationships.

Oprah Winfrey said, "Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo,
but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you
when the limo breaks down."
Based on a lot of bad experiences in the past, I've found that not everyone who appears to be nice, funny, and friendly all the time can be trusted. Instinctively, I knew what qualities I want to see in people I'd want to surround myself with but couldn't exactly explain how and why I came to that point.  

That question was finally answered when I recently attended a Personal Branding workshop at La Vie Institute located at Commercenter in Alabang. I experienced several light bulb moments that day as our mentor, Ren Ming Zi, clarified ideas that used to be amorphous concepts in my brain. She affirmed the validity of the many thoughts that have been going around in my mind and I am grateful for the enlightenment.

"Character is doing the right thing when no one is looking."
One of the top things that resonated with me is the differentiation between Personality and Character. Finally, it's now easier to for me to grasp why I've never warmed up to certain people or why I drifted away from some. In a nutshell -- it's because we don't share the same values.

Have you experienced meeting individuals who appear to be very likeable because they love paying others compliments, they always have a smile for everyone, and are generous in giving gifts? I am not saying all of them are not genuinely nice but I've honestly encountered fake ones. 

going with the flow is not always a good thing
learn when you have to say NO

Filipinos are known to value our families much more than those from other nations. This is evident in the way we try to take good care of our elderly and the efforts many of us make to give our children the best lives possible.

Filipinos are known to highly value family
photo credit:
This 2016, Pru Life UK launched Asia’s first Relationship Index, a study across ten (10) Asian countries that measured peoples’ satisfaction with their primary relationships and what can be done to improve them. These pertain to relationships with partners, children, family, and friends.

Results showed that the Philippines ranked second (next to Vietnam) out of 10 Asian countries in terms of relationship fulfillment with a satisfaction score of 79/100. This means Filipinos’ primary relationships, on average, fulfill 79% of their desired relationship needs.

“Relationships are at the heart of our business. We know our customers buy our products to protect the people and relationships they care most about. We also know that good relationships are crucial to our happiness and good health,” explained Pru Life UK CEO and President Antonio de Rosas during the Index’s media launch held in Dusit Thani, Makati City.

Q and A moderated by event host Tonipet Gaba with Antonio de Rosas, Rose Fausto,
Marie Lee of IPSOS, and Gizelle Villareal-Camua of Pru Life UK

Parents, I believe, are the best teachers who should guide our children towards a successful future. Unfortunately, many of us are not equipped to transfer adequate knowledge about personal finance

my son, at age 9, already learned that small things add up over time
That's one of my frustrations, actually -- my generation's lack of education on properly handling money. Filipinos are fortunate these days though because so many resources are available to those who are willing to learn. 

As part of my personal advocacy to help improve fellow Filipinos' financial literacy, I am giving away a set of two personal finance books each to two of my readers, courtesy of CSM Publishing, a publisher of many helpful and inspiring books.  

two sets of books for two winners!

Last year, I conquered my farthest run with a distance of 11 kilometers from the usual 10k races I'd often join. This was during the first Gatorade 1122 Race, which offered 11k and 22k and was aptly scheduled on November 22.

I love the materials of the Adidas singlet and Finisher's shirt!
Unfortunately, the medium size was too big for Gab
so he had to wear my shirt from last year 
This 2016, my husband and I once more joined the run held last November 27 and were able to tag along our 21-year-old son who's also a barefoot runner like his dad. (Read Gab's own race review, here). We arrived at the Mall of Asia past 3AM but spent a lot of precious time finding a parking space no thanks to hundreds of other cars brought by the runners and the confusing rerouting around the race village. 

More than 6,700 runners participated in the second year of the Gatorade Run 1122. 
The titular run, fueled by the world’s number one sports drink and organized by Runrio
aimed to promote proper hydration in the country’s fast-growing and active running communities.
With only a few minutes left to spare, my husband had to suit up quickly and we only realized after the race that he had mistakenly pinned on our son's 11k race bib instead of the one for 22k. Still, he got to run in his category while Gab and I waited for our own gun start.

runners plucking their own finisher ribbons

Every successful venture is earned through determination and hard work. In Eastern Visayas, there used to be a place overgrown with cogon grass that now attracts visitors from all over the country. 

breathtaking view from the top of the hill
Canaan Hill Farms and Honey Garden started as a dream. Eduardo Espinazo, a fisherman married to homemaker Priscilla, raised nine children -- six boys and three girls. According to their eldest son, Sandro, they grew up trying to make ends meet. "We'd eat cassava for breakfast and lunch, and corn for dinner. My siblings and I would also walk five kilometers to and from school."

OA Bloggers with some of the Espinazo siblings
As the Espinazo children finished their studies one by one, the husband and wife were finally able to "breathe" from the heavy financial obligations of putting the kids through school. In 2011, the family bought six hectares of land in Caibiran, Biliran to finally help realize Eduardo's dream to become a farmer.

an indian mango tree laden with fruits

I learned to cook proper meals when I became a wife and mom more than 20 years ago. It's one of the ways I show my love for my family -- to provide them with delicious and nutritious meals that I enjoy making in the kitchen.

a good cook knows how important sharp knives are in the kitchen
One of my pet peeves though is having to use dull knives. Most times, trying to sharpen existing ones that were poorly made would just give us damaged blades. Some knives also break off from their handles. So, over the years, my husband and I kept buying various types of knives that could help us be more efficient in preparing and cooking meals. 

Imagine how glad I am to finally be able to attend a Knife Skills Class at Gourdo's where I learned so much about knives! The class featured Wüsthof knives, which are being manufactured in Solingen, Germany for over 200 years.

Chef Brando after demonstrating how to cut a whole chicken

Earlier this month, I posted a giveaway for a free 3D Tomosynthesis Mammogram at Health Cube because I really wanted to encourage other women, especially those who NEED to undergo the procedure, to be proactive when it comes to our health.

I underwent the procedure myself because I don't want to take chances. I've learned years ago that when it comes to our wellbeing, it is better to get diagnosed early with whatever medical condition we have rather than find out about it too late and be needing intensive and more costly treatments. 

a bit nervous but ready for mammo
Prior to your mammogram appointment, here are reminders from Ms. Tes Mendoza of Health Cube Advanced Medical Imaging Unit:
  1. Do not apply deodorant, perfume, and/or powder on your underarm and near your breast
  2. Undergo the procedure 7 to 10 days AFTER the first day of menstruation to minimize discomfort
  3. If you underwent a previous mammogram/breast ultrasound before, please bring the results
  4. Wear a top with skirt or pants instead of a dress
mammo technicians' monitoring area

Martina Reyna is an agricultural engineer by profession. She worked in government for four years before deciding to cultivate her in-laws' large plot of land in Tacloban City. According to her, La Granja de Reyna's original area was 15.8 hectares, the first property bought by her husband's parents in 1935 for P500 and a sack of rice. 

a view from the top of La Granja's hill
Many years later, as neighboring owners started selling their lands, the Reyna property expanded into 51 hectares with one hectare donated for senior citizens. Tina started developing La Granja and registered it with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in 1994. It is now home to 13 varieties of fruit trees, 5000 coconut trees, high-value crops used as salad ingredients, and several kinds of livestock. 

one of the lettuce plots
The farm harvests around P2,000 worth of lettuce in a day and supplies these to Chowking and Ocho, a local restaurant in the city. It also produces a continuous supply of organic fertilizer totaling 500 bags per week, ready for delivery. 

a beautiful torch flower growing at the entrance of a hut
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