Wednesday, October 24, 2012

There’s nothing stiff about Miss Selfridge

By Ana Valenzuela, · Thursday, July 26, 2012 · 8:50 am

Miss Selfridge offers feminine clothes that are both exciting and details-driven to make each limited edition a statement outfit. Photo courtesy of Miss Selfridge Philippines.
Sophie Sumner may have won in the recently concluded Cycle 18 of America’s Next Top Model—a Brit toppling the other contenders and grabbing the crown from the Americans—but another Brit, Miss Selfridge, is making her presence felt in the Philippine fashion scene.
Miss Selfridge, a British brand, recently arrived in town to open its first boutique in Greenbelt 5 in Makati City. Miss Selfridge first began in the 1960s as a fashion section for the young in the Selfridges and Co. department store in London. It was later acquired by the Arcadia group (owner of Topshop, Topman, and Dorothy Perkins) in the late 90’s. The brand was brought here thanks to Robinsons Specialty Stores, which also handles Topshop, Topman, and Dorothy Perkins.
“We want to bring in the young, flirty and feminine side of British fashion on top of our current brands,” says Vanessa Domingo, brand manager of Miss Selfridge. “British fashion always has an edge to it,” stresses Vanessa. This new brand certainly is no different in terms of offering unconventional designs.
In fact, she describes the brand as “quite an individualist, I think that this would stand out and would work well with the market.”
Whimsical outfits by Miss Selfridge. Photo courtesy of Miss Selfridge Philippines.
“Miss Selfridge is definitely about going out, but not just for a night out. It is more of having fun dressing up anywhere you go, whichever occasion you attend to, and at anytime of the day,” she says. Miss Selfridge key pieces could also be statement wear because its stores’ one-of-a-kind tops and dresses that have amazing detail work.
Feather Swirl Bardot dress by Miss Selfridge. Photo courtesy of Miss Selfridge Philippines.
“We offer fashion products with a lot of detailing unique to Miss Selfridge,” says Vanessa. “There is always some sheer, embellishments, draping, pleats, and other details in our garments. More than these details, our prints are also developed by the in-house design team in the UK, so you won’t find these styles anywhere.”
Evidently so, the store lights up with a wonderful collection of colors mostly in pastels and fantastic finds in prints such as floral and Aztecs or amazing mix of solid colors.
Apart from this, Vanessa states there are various elements put into each fashionable item. Like in its most recent collection, “now, we have a lot of peplums, skater, drop hems, mesh, cut-outs or embellishment details in the range,” she says.
“Dresses are essential for the Miss Selfridge range,” states Vanessa. “You will not see the styles in a redundant way because of the variety and detailing put into each piece.” The devil is in the details. Definitely, you won’t walk out of here, buying any regular little black dress.
“We actually have a category of dresses called 18-hour dresses that are perfect from day to night,” she adds.
Neon embellished dress by Miss Selfridge. Photo courtesy of Miss Selfridge Philippines.
But if some local shoppers fear that the some of the sizes may be too big or “too European,” fear not as, Vanessa advises, “Miss Selfridge also has a special collection for petites—perfect for a lot of Filipinas. And some of the good finds in store include heels and going out accessories to compliment the outfits in store.”
The store promises to keep itself updated with new arrivals that go with each current fashion season. “The [collection] will, of course, evolve as the next season comes up—whether in color, print or silhouette. And, these [upcoming] dresses are not to be expected just for a night out or for special occasions there is also something for the office or just a casual day in school or the mall.”

Clothes for your so-cold life

TV host and sports personality Chris Tiu in his favorite Uniqlo Ultra Light Down Vest. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla,
The cool winds might be felt only by September but this month’s monsoon rains is having us reach for a jacket to keep warm and toasty.
But do those jackets need to be thermal and fluffed up to keep our bodies extra warm? In the Philippines? Well, Uniqlo seems to think so as it recently showcased its Fall/Winter 2012 collection, which is headlined by Heatteach, Knitwear, Poncho, Stretch jeans, among others.
Cozy knitwear are among the store's new arrivals. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla,
“We are highlighting the items that are innovative especially the changes in lifestyle in Japan, and other winter countries,” Joanne Torres, Management Trainee/Inventory Control of Uniqlo begins. “Like the knitwear, we call it the merino, it’s thinner compared to the regular wool, but it’s also warm.”
“We are also introducing the Ultra Light Down jacket, the heat tech, and the thermal wear,” Joanne says. These items are most useful not only during the cold weather but also for traveling in cold-climate countries.
Uniqlo's Ultra Light jackets. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla,
The Ultra Light Down jacket or the ULD is made from nylon and is 20% lighter than the regular down jacket. In fact it only weighs about 260 grams. “The ultra down jacket is thinner than the regular down jacket, that is why it’s also applicable for countries, like the Philippines, that do not have winter or fall,” Janet shares.
Chris Tiu whose fashion style is mostly sporty and preppy is a fan of the Ultra Light Down jacket. “Its something that we might not be used to here in the Philippines but I travel a lot and the best thing about this, is it looks bulky, but its actually not. It is easy to wear and bring around especially of you travel a lot. You can pack it in your bag, and it’s not going to use up all the space, and the weight allocation in the airlines.”
Uniqlo Undercover
“Uniqlo undercover is collaboration between Uniqlo and the brand Undercover, which is trendier and more stylish than Uniqlo,” says Katsumi Kubota, COO for Uniqlo, Fast Retailing Philippines.
Think of clothes meant for the modern, edgy, and stylish family—from Dad, Mom, to the kids. Cold season basics include knitwear, and shirts and trousers in solid colors. Some pieces also feature your favorite cartoon characters such as Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, Barbie, Hello Kitty and more. “Mainly we are working with cartoon characters on our t-shirts, and from time to time we try to catch what the customers or the market requires.  We constantly change every year. Its a mix of western and Japanese characters, we always try to mix it,” says Katsumi.
At the well-attended Uniqlo fashion show's finale held Wednesday, August 22, Parokya ni Edgar lead singer Chito Miranda (in red vest) and Chris Tiu are joined by Uniqlo Philippines' COO Katsumi Kubota. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla,

How to shop with your guy

How to shop with your guy

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Window Shopper: Let’s get Laud!

By Ana Valenzuela, · Tuesday, August 7, 2012 · 10:00 am

Get Laud is known for its chic blouses with flattering cuts for women of all shapes.
If you are familiar with 168 mall in Divisoria, then you certainly are familiar with Get Laud.
You probably bought not just one, but definitely a bag full of shirts, and even dresses from their stall in the Divisoria mall. The tops and dresses have silhouettes that are figure flattering, the prints are amazing, plus the price is hard to say no to!
Get Laud started out in 2004, selling only shirts in basic colors and different prints. From there, the business expanded to what it is today, selling casual but stylish clothes in different malls around the country.
This print dress from Get Laud makes the perfect 9-to-5 outfit when worn with the right accessories.
Get Laud owner Geraldine Tiu-Laudencia shares that the brand is a mishmash of her name: Ge from her first name, T from her middle name, and Laud from her last name. And literally, Geraldine declares, “We also want our customers to be lauded whenever they wear our clothes, thus, the name Get Laud.
“When I started the business, I noticed that there are only few brands that offer unique clothes at affordable prices. With Get Laud, I’m giving Filipinas the opportunity to own quality and fashionable clothes without spending too much,” Geraldine says. “I was inspired by that market that wants to express themselves through fashion.
“Most brands sell shirts in simple and basic cuts. I made ours with shape to fit a woman’s body perfectly such that even if it’s just a shirt, it’s sexy. As the years passed by and because of the positive responses and market demand, our products evolved and our offerings expanded to blouses, dresses and other kinds.”
Here’s Geraldine sharing her savvy shopping tips, the little black dress, adding plus-size clothes to the brand, and how to look chic during the drab and rainy season:
What’s your advice to shopaholics?
Before you shop, it’s best that you know your personality, what works for you, and what does not. Go for cuts, prints, and colors that suit you, your budget and your lifestyle accordingly. Buy items that you can mix and match with other pieces.
How does one spruce up her style even with a simple outfit?
Accessorizing can spruce up one’s style. A playful brooch or collar necklace can spice up even the simplest wardrobe. With the right accessories and attitude, one can never go wrong.
Get Laud's black shirt can be worn by itself or played up with an edgy brooch, a classic pearl necklace, or elaborate neckpiece for contrast.
What’s the most important item of clothing in any woman’s closet?
The little black dress is the most important item of clothing in any woman’s closet. It can be worn to dressy occasions, since the color black is always flattering for any woman.
How can one find the perfect tee or dress, especially when we shop at Get Laud?
One should know her needs before finding the perfect tee or dress. She also has to understand her body shape and the colors that will suit and flatter her skin tone well. Armed with knowledge, together with your budget, you are sure to have great finds that will complement your look and lifestyle.
You have a line, that’s called Get Laud Plus, what made you decide to also cater to plus-size women? 
One of our goals is to dress up Filipinas of all shapes and sizes. We recognize that plus size is a growing trend. Also, we want also women to be comfy yet sexy whatever her shape is.
What fashion trends are you seeing this rainy season?
Denims are in season especially during the rainy days. Paisleys, floral prints, and vibrant colors are getting to be popular for chasing the gloominess of the season away.
Maxi dress with sweetheart neckline is a versatile piece that ought to be part of a woman's wardrobe staple.
That’s something to look forward to. How do you conceptualize Get Laud’s designs?
Get Laud started in the marketplace with basic tees and eventually expanded its merchandise mix by offering party dresses. The designs are based on the brand personality of Get Laud which is fun, flirty and sexy. We want our customers to be lauded and recognized whenever one wears our merchandise.
In addition, we study existing trends in the market and tailor fit these trends to the existing persona of Get Laud. We stick to our brand DNA as much as we can but we are trying to inject casual wear in our merchandise mix.
So, how do you innovate your designs from other brands so that consumers can tell that ‘uy Get Laud yan‘?
We believe that through Get Laud’s prints and cuts, we have created a niche in the marketplace. We try to diversify our offering through our signature fabric and cuts.

Window Shopper: Good jeans for the cold ‘ber’ season

By Ana Valenzuela | Photo by Rhoy Cobilla, · Monday, September 3, 2012 · 8:47 am

Models present Wrangler's latest jean collection during a recent mall roadshow. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla,
“It starts with a good fabric,” Daisy Yunam Go tells us on how to select a good pair of jeans.  Daisy is the President of Magnifico Jeans, local distributor of US-based Wrangler that has been around since 1947.
The type of fabric on the jeans that you are investing on would measure the pants sturdiness. “If a brand is crimping on good quality, they would buy not so premium cotton fiber” says Daisy during the recent launch of Wrangler’s Fall Winter collection. There are types of cloth fabric is actually short so when you weave its not very durable.
Dark jeans dominate Wrangler's Fall/Winter 2012 collection. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla,
“Second, fit is very, very important especially for women because it stretches, as it really hugs your body.  Nothing beats a good fit in jeans,” she stresses.  “You don’t have to buy the expensive brands or the generic brands when it comes to jeans. You just need a good fit because it’s supposed to last you for several years.”
“Third, very important, especially in modern times, the shade of the wash, because if you want something rugged then you want something of a lighter color but heavily washed with chemicals,” Yunam says.
The Early Risers series features stylish travel-worthy lightweight denim bottoms paired with bright-colored tops. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla,
There are also other options for colors, especially in denim. You might opt to go for a versatile shade of black that would accommodate you form day time to evening wear.
“Fourth, you have to look at the quality of the sewing,” Yunam starts. “When you talk about Wrangler jeans, try to invert the jeans, it is so clean, you can actually wear it that way.” Wrangler even has an inverted style of jeans.
Also part of Wrangler’s sewing pride is the seven icons that you can see in the denims: the watch pocket, the rear guard (the downward lip at the back yoke above high pockets), the seven belt loop, the fully felled outseam, the flat rivets, the W stitch and patch on the pockets, and the rope logo (of Wrangler).
“Part of Wrangler’s story is its DNA—the seven icons. We are rich in history, rich in heritage, but yet we are contemporary. We try to bring it to the modern times, to the modern needs so that’s what makes us different from the rest,” Yunam says proudly. “There are only three denim brand (the other two is Levi’s and Lee) in the whole world that can claim to have hundreds of years of heritage, of history, the others are all fashion denim brands.”
For braving the cold season, slim-fit jeans paired with a bright top for her and jacket and shirt for him. Photo by Rhoy Cobilla,

Angelica and Christine keep their mane issues light

Text by Ana Valenzuela | Photos by Joseph Agcaoili, · Thursday, August 23, 2012 · 1:34 pm

Angelica Panganiban and Christine Reyes reveal at Pantene's launch of its newest line of shampoo products. Photo by Joseph Agcaoili,
Want to know the secret to healthy, beautiful hair, great enough to command its own showbiz spotlight?
Two of today’s beautiful, often controversial and much-talked about actresses, Angelica Panganiban and Christine Reyes, recently met up with members of the press to talk about, ehem, their mane issues.
Simple lang,” Angelica started. “Importante kasi na namo-moisturize yung buhok at compatible sa product na ginagamit moat mabigay yung hinahanap ng hair mo na sana maging healthy siya. Katulad ng katawan mo ‘di ba—binibigay mo yung mga vitamins na kailangan ng hair mo, at nakita ko naman lahat yun sa Pantene.”
To which Christine added, “Malaking tulong talaga ang Pantene, especially pag madalian at wala ka nang timepara mag-blower or kung anu-anong gagawin sa hair, wala ka na din time para magpunta sa salon, para magpa-treatment ng hair. Ngayon, seryoso talaga, nagsha-shampoo lang talaga ako ng Pantene then okay na talaga yunghair ko.”
The secret to blow-dried hair that doesn’t feel heavy or stiff is the cacia complex in Pantene’s newest products: Pantene Nature care Smoothness of Life and Fullness of Life Shampoos. Tristan Patricio, Brand Manager of Pantene, explained, “Cacia complex has a healing property that coats your hair, it puts in an invisible layer around it, so that it protects your hair from damage.”
In showbiz where “long hair” is also a figure of speech for a great love life, the two stars who have been attraction the entertainment press’ curiosity lately for their love life status kept mum about their personal issues. Well, at least by the looks of their sleek and sexy locks—these girls will never lack in getting swooning suitors. Should they need one.
Pantene's latest Nature Care shampoo.

Window Shopper: It’s beginning to look a lot like Divi season

By Ana Valenzuela, · Tuesday, September 4, 2012 · 8:42 am
A Divisoria landmark, this Bonifacio monument is at the center of three malls: Cluster Mall, Tutuban Mall, and Prime Block. Photo by Ana Valenzuela,
One of the best places to hit for wholesale or bulk shopping at very affordable prices is Divisoria, the bargain shopping district in Manila. Old-timers say that September is the best time to drop by for your early holiday preparations as October is when the early Christmas crowd really starts to throng the streets everyday till December.
Not to worry, there are several gift-worthy items even as early as September. If you intend to do some baking—fruitcake, anyone?—walk towards Sto. Cristo Street for baking materials and items, including flour, butter, margarine, even dried fruits by the bulk. For wholesale t-shirts, wrapping paper, ribbons, shoes, Christmas decor—practically everything—just stroll along the length of Juan Luna Street. If you’re looking for native crafts to give away or as part of your holiday packages, Tabora Street is the go-to place.
Of course, if you still prefer the comforts of an air-conditioned mall, Divisoria has establishments such as 168, Tutuban Mall, Divisoria Mall, Cluster Mall, and Prime Block. You can still haggle in these malls’ shops though merchandise here is sold at a slightly higher price than the one you’d find on Divisoria’s streets.
But, it is not just money you’ll need: some preparation and a sense of adventure are also key to enjoying the experience despite the huge crowd occupying the streets and its main malls.
Have a game plan. The thought of braving crowded Divisoria might discourage you to return for a second time. So be sure to accomplish everything you want during your shopping trip. Prepare a list. Who are on your gifts list this year? Jot down what you want to get for them and where to source their presents in Divisoria. Plan your route, check the Internet for maps and articles on the shopping district.
Keep safe and secure. Divisoria is not just the stomping ground of bargain shopper but it’s also a favorite spot for pickpockets. Leave that signature bag at home and drop the urge to look like an artista. Wear simple, comfortable clothes. Bring a simple, plain bag instead, preferably a big one with easy compartments for the items you’ll be shopping for. Bring an extra foldable tote.
Wear your bag in front of you. Remember, you’ll be transacting your purchases using money and not with a credit card, so be sure to keep your wallet close to your body. Don’t put your bag on the floor even for a minute and if you have to dine in a restaurant, always put your bag on the table and never underneath it.
For car owners, whether parked on the street or in a mall, put your shopping bags inside the trunk where it’s not exposed to bystanders.
Check the quality. Yes, Divisoria is bargain haven but it also pays to check the quality of the item before making your actual purchase. Don’t buy from the fist store you see. Go through other stores to compare the quality of items and prices.
For instance, items like plates or figurines could be cheaper than others because of factory defects. Check if a dress is made of sturdy fabric and its buttons are all in place. See how the soles of a stylish pair of shoes are fastened to the upper part of the footwear.
Do the haggle. Anytime you’re in Divisoria, it isn’t just your eyes at work, but also your gift of tongue as you would need to bargain for the right price. Don’t haggle immediately, make a connection with the vendor first. Remain polite but definite when negotiating.
Once, I found a pair of shoes worth P150, the lowest price the shop owner can offer is P120. I said “P80?” A few minutes later, I was able to convince her to sell the item at the price that I was willing to pay for.
When haggling, the best person to strike a deal with would always be the owner. According to a stall owner in Prime Block Building, “Kasi yung may-ari ng stall yung nakakaalam kung hanggang magkano. Kahit na yung sales ladyalam nila na yun na yung last price, pag sobrang tumal, pwede pang bawasan para magkabenta lang, babawasan.”
Know your boundaries. Finally, and obviously, when a street peddler waves a sign that screams, “Tapat na po,” don’t push it—it just means move on.

Window Shopper: Will e-invoicing be a boost or bane to e-preneurs?

With the proposed e-invoicing of BIR, established online shopping websites such as Zalora will have few adjustments as their systems are already in place. It's the unregistered online entrepreneurs that may have to face the big challenge. Photo source: Zalora website.
With the emergence of e-invoicing, online traders are expressing mixed reactions to the move of Bureau of Investigation (BIR) of taxing online entrepreneurs.
E-preneurs favoring the move explain that it will help keep online purchasing more secure. “The e-invoice system will filter the brands that sell online, meaning legitimate purchases only,” says Kato Chua Ednacot of
According to Kato, the onslaught of BIR to tax sellers will lessen those who try to sell online as a part-time business and, hopefully, control the quality of items sold. “At least, the quality of the online shops is better. (There will be) less scammers, and items will be nicer if e-invoice was applied because some would be discouraged to do business online, which is really anyone who has access to facebook and multiply,” she says.
What’s more, the e-invoice system could also provide leverage to the consumers. As Kertsie See of, says, “I think the buyers will feel safer with purchasing online as the transaction will be legit in the eyes of the law.”
Those who disagree, on the other hand, said. “I am against e-invoice, only if they will implement a special site wherein everything is electronically capable of discounts, expenses like paying sites etc. (then it will be good),” says Janice dela Cruz who runs, a DTI and BIR registered boutique.
“I suggest that BIR should provide a Philippine website wherein all Filipino sellers are obliged to use electronic invoicing system and also DTI and BIR registered with permits,” she says.
Janice’s response is due to her loyal customers who she often gives discounts to. Some online stores, especially those with small or home-based operations, actually offer incentives to regular shoppers either through haggling or giving them special prices or rates. Janice explains that her prices would be affected by the e-invoicing.“Pag-electronic invoice, automatic yung tax ng BIR, what if the client requests for discount?”
To this, Kato of Moonshine responds that the current taxing system already affects their price, even though the e-invoice is not yet in full swing. “The e-invoice (or tax) affects our pricing, that’s why our prices are a bit high compared to other e-shops. I guess the others would really be affected,” says Kato. “Plus, we don’t give discounts to our customers, but, we do inform them if we have a sale.”
According to Kertsie of Cocomo, the e-invoicing would not affect their prices. She adds, “we will shoulder the additional tax cost for the buyer.”
Still, Janice asserts, “Kindly consider whether or not our business is technologically prepared to embrace the electronic invoice procedure. Prior to implementation, BIR should consider that there are small-time sellers. There must be an exemption.”
Elaine Marantan who used to run Rainbow Bling on Facebook, and is still selling overruns of her inventory shares, “(Taxing) online shops, even though they’re selling just as a hobby or simply do it just like selling lemonade, can surely both have good and bad effects to sellers and buyers.”
It’s the big-time online sellers who will have no problem with the e-invoicing, as they are already registered with the BIR and are thus already paying their dues.  Small-time entrepreneurs—such as the young fashion designer selling her clothes, the homemaker selling her bottled atchara or baked cookies, or disabled entrepreneur making craft items from home, for instance—or those who are creating their niche in the online market are the people that the BIR must consider.
Until then, where entrepreneurs need to be encouraged and motivated as they are an important part of a vibrant economy—online entrepreneurs, let us know your views.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grad Gimmicks for Batch ‘12

Now that school's out and summer's in, it's time to celebrate with good food and the good company of your friends.
By Ana Valenzuela, · Wednesday, April 4, 2012 · 9:09 am

Nothing in life can be as memorable as the day one walks off that stage, the dean shakes your hand, moves the tassel to the other direction.  You’ve finally made it through the four years of college and it is all encapsulated in this one memory of graduation.
To cap off that day and moment, celebrate with family and friends with style. Here are our suggestions.
Dine out with the gang
Resorts World in New Port City, Pasay City offers discounts and freebies at selected restaurants especially for newly grads through April 30. Get a free White Chocolate Macadamia Cookie The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf for every single receipt purchase worth P300, free dessert over at Café Republiq for a single receipt purchase worth P1,000 , free Pannacotta from Parmigiano for a single receipt purchase worth P1,000 and many other perks from participating establishments. Bring a school ID or any proof of graduation to avail of this special offer.
Most schools hold commencement rites at their own hall, but there are countless others who hold their graduation rites in PICC or CCP. This is why most graduates like to party at the SM Mall of Asia in Bay City, Pasay CityThere are countless restaurants and bar just by the sea side waiting for you and your friends to come and drink cheers to a new chapter in your life.
But if you prefer a more cozy and even more laidback get-together, then you and your friends could opt to go to Dampa at Macapagal Avenue instead.  Find the best deals as you haggle with the selection of fish over at the seafood market and have nearby restaurants such as Aling Tonya’s, Aling Mahsya’s and many others cook the dish that you have been craving for.  
Whether you are with your family or friends, Eastwood City in Bagumbayan, Quezon City provides the perfect backdrop as the place to celebrate that momentous occasion. Treat the whole gang to a fun celebration at Agave, Sizzlin’ Pepper Steak, Bedroom, or Distillery at Eastwood City Walk or go family style at Eastwood Mall’s many restaurant options such as Chuck’s Deli, Dome, Flying Pig, and many more. You’ll definitely find more than one way to enjoy yourself in one of the most important days in the academic life.
Venice Piazza Mall in McKinley Hill, which has been called as the metro’s gourmet oasis, in Fort Bonifacio would not be last in toasting to our newly grads. Sumptuous meals and exciting freebies can be found in establishments such as Carlo’s Pizza, Dencio’s, Old Vine Grille, Little Asia, My Thai and others provide quick fillers, full meals, and desserts. Enjoy the premium offers with a minimum purchase requirement.
In Makati City, at Hotel Intercontinental Manila, enjoy a five-course set menu especially catered for newly grads at its Prince Albert Rotisserie. The set menu is priced at Php2,350++ per person and school graduates can dine for free when accompanied by at least three persons partaking of the said menu. They could also choose to partake of Café Jeepney’s lunch or dinner buffet as it entitles a free buffet meal to newly grads when accompanied by least three adults partaking of the lunch or dinner buffet at regular price. To avail of the offers, the graduate must present his diploma. For reservations and inquiries, (+632) 793-7000.
Have a sleepover
Book an overnight stay in a suite in a hotel with your friends and enjoy the night that says ‘you made it.’ Instead of your previous sleepovers where you diligently finished your term papers or had a study group it’s now time to relax and reward yourself. That is, just before you start hitting the want ads.  There are good deals you can get from group buying sites that would get you discounts from top hotels.
Have yourself a little get-together in the comforts of Discovery Suites' two-bedroom or three-bedroom suites. Photo from suites.
At Discovery Suites at the Ortigas Center in Pasig City, chat and bond with your barkada in the comforts of your suite complete with its own dining area and kitchen. The hotel offers free WiFi, the better for you to check your e-mail greetings or post your grad pics on Facebook. The hotel’s amenities also include a fitness club, swimming pool, and various restaurant outlets. But if you want a bigger celebration, the hotel also provides function rooms with feasts prepared by its renowned culinary team. For reservations and inquiries, call (+632) 719-8888 or 914-9888.

Go beach!
This would probably be the last break you’ll ever be granted before you join the world of minimum wages where vacation leaves need to be requested and scheduled. So enjoy and have fun.  Check out different beaches such as Boracay and Palawan. Find out for yourself why these top beaches are getting all the raves and and enjoy the night life that this top tourist spots have to offer.

Don’t have enough money yet to book a flight to Boracay? Then go instead to nearby beaches inBatangas and Zambales. Your best bet would be Puerto Galera, as the beaches there offer a variety of lifestyle—whether you’re game for watersports activities or partying at night.  White Beach’s resorts often start at P700 and up, depending on room type.
Travel and have fun in the Philippines
If all you’ve been doing the past year was go to school, home, and back again to school, then start the new chapter of your life by explore the Philippines.  Go camping with a group of friends, or go mountaineering. There are a lot of offers online that provide guides in Bicol, Zambales, and others. Go trekking in Mount Pinatubo in Pampanga or even to Taal, Batangas .

Monday, May 28, 2012

Getting over the VDay Blues
By Ana Valenzuela · Tuesday, February 14, 2012 · 12:11 pm

February 14 is day of the year that singles shun the most. Comments such as “why celebrate, it is not even a holiday?”, “everybody’s got somebody but me,” and “kapag ba single malungkot, bakit lahat ba ng taken masaya?” would fill social networking sites.
After all, what makes this day so special? Why spend your hard earned money on roses, chocolates, and what not’s just to profess your undying love for someone. Isn’t Valentine’s Day supposed to be a saint’s feast day not a commercial hype to promote love and couples? According to research, $1.7 billion have been spent on flowers on Valentines Day in the US alone and $116.21 is the average money spent on a Valentine’s dinner date in 2011. Couldn’t you say that you love them each day and make those memories memorable?
Hey, I’m not being bitter. Even though I’ve been single most of my life, I get to enjoy Valentines Day with a date. Since high school, I’ve been spending Valentines Day with my barkada. It’s just us girls, the four of us together.
I remember the first time we spent Valentines together at my friend’s house, our usual tambayan. We cooked pasta, carbonara, and had chicken, and a bottle of wine. Last year’s date had a little bit more of tweaking as we were already working. We met early as we decided to do something special—feed and take care of children at the House of Joy in Tayuman. Afterwards, we had some pork-silog at one of my friend’s favorite carinderia at the University Belt, and got all made up and headed to Cloud 9 in Antipolo, to get a view overlooking the city.
There we were surprised by one of my friend’s partner. She had with her flowers, not only for my friend, but for all of us. She gave Mela a dozen hand-tied bouquet of roses, and to each of us, a single long stemmed rose. Now, I wonder, what is it that made this day so special that Doris would go out of the way to track us down, wait for the right moment to surprise us, particularly Mela, with flowers?
Especially since flowers cost more than a movie ticket or two on the day of hearts. On Dangwa Flower Market, a bouquet of assorted flowers, ranging from Malaysian mums, gerberas, and stargazers, would cost from P200 to P450. A bouquet of roses would run from P300 to P650 depending on whether you would like a teddy bear and a balloon to go with the flowers. A bulk of roses, usually two dozen, would cost P200, however the vendor did warn me that the price would increase by night and as Valentines day approaches. Apparently the cost of the flowers rises up three times the regular price.
If you are the type who does not like to haggle and order from a flower shop like Paraiso flowers, which has a store at Waltermart Makati or online through, a dozen flowers cost about P2,500 to P8,000 depending on the type of flowers and the arrangement.
People go all out and spend thousands of money on Valentines Day and they make it so special like it’s their anniversary. (Heck, some people don’t even celebrate their anniversary.) A great tasting chocolate bar lik Machiavelli costs P125 per 25 grams. A room at the Manila Hotel runs between P7,250 to P18,250. You could also buy an airplane ticket to a local or Southeast Asia destination with that.

Khay, one of my barkada, spent her Valentines a week late last year. Her boyfriend of more than four years gave her bouquet of assorted flowers. Then, she and her boyfriend went up to Tagaytay and enjoyed the food and also each other’s company at the Greek Taverna. Although the celebration for the day of hearts was delayed, they still made the effort to do so.
It might be more than the smile that you see on your loved ones’ face. Couples would not save their money and look for the best gifts, reserve in the best restaurants so as to have a memorable evening together. It’s more than the cliché-ish answer: love, or to be more exact, part of that is.
Even though you are single, you are still expecting something out of February 14. Maybe from a secret admirer or maybe even a smile or a “hi” from an office crush. If not, then why bother with all the fuss about Valentine’s Day.
I may not feel the way couples feel on Valentines—so much in love with their pupils dilating. But, at least I feel special without having the need to spring for a high cost bouquet of roses or a Valentine’s gift for anybody. I maybe the only single person in the group, since time immemorial; still I thank my friends for making me feel that Valentines day is not all about the couples, but also a day to spend single blessedness. Who knows what we would do next this year?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In the mood for love concerts

No plans yet for the season of love? Well, fret not as there many places to be, performers to see and entertain you, and just fill that date with enough romance. Here is a roundup of the showshappening this Valentine Season.

Sharon Cuneta and Martin Nieverra

Once in a Lifetime

February 11, 2012, Smart Araneta Coliseum

What took them so long? For the first time, the Megastar will share the stage with the Leading Man of Concerts. Good friends since way back, expect an animated evening of the best of OPM love songs as well as the witty banter of these two seasoned concert artists.

Once in a Lifetime also promises a lot more withsurprise guest performers and Louie Ocampo as musical director and Rowell Santiago as diretor. Call Viva Concerts at 687-7236 or Ticketnet at 911-5555 for inquiries and reservations.

Dingdong Avanzado and Rachel Alejandro

February 11, 7:00 PM, Eastwood Mall Open Park

February 14, 7:00 PM, Venice Piazza, Mc Kinley Hill

Fall in love all over again with Rachel and Dingdong.The OPM singer-songwriters and former lovers would perform love songs such as ‘Nakapagtataka’, ‘Paalam Na’, ‘Maybe This Time’ and ‘You Should Know By Now’.Relive your sweetest memories with the two as they perform at the Eastwood Mall Open Park and at the Venice Piazza, Mc Kinley Hill.

Rex Smith

February 12, 7:00 PM, Venice Piazza, McKinley Hill

February 14, 8:30 PM, Midas Hotel

Be serenaded by the man who gave hits such as, ‘Simply Jessie’, ‘Forever’, ‘You Take My Breath Away’, and ‘Foolish Heart’ as he performs in Manila. Reminisce to Rex Smith’s classic love songs on February 12, 7PM at the Venice Piazza and on Valentines Day at the Midas Hotel.

The Midas Hotel’s premiere 2702 Lobby Lounge also offers turndown pralines and two complimentary show tickets. Tickets are priced at 1584 which includes two free drinks. Prior reservations required. Call Ticketworld at 891-9999 for reservations and inquiries

Basil Valdez, Rachelle Ann Go, and The CompanY

Seasons of Love

February 13, 2012, Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World

Hear love songs as they reach new heights, as three of the country’s top performing acts, Basil Valdez, Rachelle Ann Go and the Company, join together for one lovely night.

Basil first made his mark as the vocalist of the Circus Band in the 70’s, but a more successful solo career did give him hits that became popular standards, ‘Ngayon at Kailanman’, Let the Pain Remain, ‘Kastilyong Buhangin’, and many others. The Ultimate Champion, Rachelle Ann is one of singing contests discoveries with hits such as ‘Don’t Cry Out Loud’, ‘Masasabi Mo Ba’. The Company, the country’s premiere vocal group, on the other hand is responsible for such its like ‘Now that I have you’, and ‘Pakisabi Na Lang’.

One of the show’s highlight would definitely be the duet a capella of ‘Pagdating ng Panahon’ between Basil and the Company. The latter’s recent single. Call Ticketworld 891-9999 and Viva Concerts 687-7236 for tickets and inquiries.

Nina and Luke Mijares

Update Your Status

February 13, Music Museum

Whether you be single, in a relationship or ‘it’s complicated’, it is time for you to update your Status with Soul Siren, Nina. Hear her belt out some of her hits like ‘Through the Fire’ and ‘Love Moves in Mysterious Ways’. Nina will be joined by the Philippine’s R&B Kine, Luke Mijares. For ticket and reservations call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or Music Museum at 721-6726.

Charlie Green

February 14, 7:00 PM,Eastwood Mall Open Park

International teen sensation Charlie Green is here in the country promoting his new album Rainbow. Apart from that, the British-Filipino crooner will sing his way into everyone’s hearts this Valentines Day at the Eastwood Mall Open Park. Let Charlie set fire to the passions in your hearts and witness how Charlie has grown-up from his breakout act in Britain’s Got Talent to the crooner that he is.

Rico J. Puno

The Best of Rico J. Puno

February 14, Newport Performing Arts Theater

Let the ‘Macho Gwapito’ performer entertain you on Valentines day with his unique blend of soulful singing and humor. Rico J. Puno, named after the legendary Italian tenor Enrico Caruso and born on Valentine’s Day, has been a top concert draw here and abroad. Why not? Rico played a major part in the Manila Sound explosion of the 70s era with his hits such as ‘Kapalaran’, ‘Sorry Pwede Ba’, and‘May Bukas Pa’. Rico will perform these hits one more time at the Newport Performing Arts Theater on February 14. The show also features, singer and actress Katya Santos and Philippine music’s Vamp, Vernie Varga. Call Ticketworld 891-9999 and Viva Concerts 687-7236 for tickets and inquiries.

Aiza Seguerra and Duncan Ramos

Sessions of Love

February 14, 8:00 PM Music Museum

Unwind and enjoy the cooling sounds of the ‘Pagdating ng Panahon’ hitmaker Aize Seguerra, as she joins the stage with Duncan Ramos. The night promises to be a session of love and acoustic sounds, as the two artists performs their hits and crowd favorite covers.

For ticket and reservations call Ticketworld at 891-9999 or Music Museum at 721-6726.

Engelbert Humperdinck

February 14, 7:00 PM Manila Hotel

February 15, Smart Araneta Coliseum

Reminisce to classic love songs made famous by Engelbert Humperdinck. Be captivated by the voice of the singer who brought us the hit songs ‘Release Me, ‘ Have I told You’ and ‘Quando, Quando, Quando’.

Engelbert would be performing at Fiesta Pavillion of the Manila Hotel on Valentines Day, with guests Pilita Corrales, Angelos, and many more.

For tickets and inquires you may call Ticketnet at 911-5555. For Manila Hotel tickets, call 527-0011 or 911-5615.

Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez

Mr. And Mrs. A

Feb. 14, 8:00 PM, Smart Araneta Coliseum

Rekindle the fire of romance and go weak in the knees as Ogie Alcasid and Regine Velasquez, a.k.a. Mr. and Mrs. Alcasid, perform together this day of hearts at the Araneta Colisuem. The dynamic couple are set to carry out duets of their hits together with guests Angeline Quinto, Kyla, Eric Santos, Dingdong Dantes and Vice Ganda. For tickets and other inquiries call Ticketnet at 911-5555.

Jon Santos

Love in 3D

Newport Performing Arts Theatre, Resorts World

February 15

Enjoy Armida Siguon-Reyna, Vilma Santos and Charice Pempengco all in one show, as the witty comedian Jon Santos take on his beloved characters namely D Queen of Philippine Music Tita Mids, D’ Star for All Season Ate Vee, and D’ Gleeful Star Chareez.

“My characters are chosen because they are really, really liked or there is strong public opinion about them,” says Jon.“When I take the stage my characters come out first. I put on the masks first and towards the end come out as myself,” shares Jon.“That persona has always taken a back seat to my characters. I guess I’m star struck!

“It’s a celebrity fiesta,” Jon swears. People can certainly count on seeing Tita Gloring, Krissy, Sherrap Estrada, and Jon’s numerous impersonations. Tickets for Love In 3D are available at Ticketworld 891-9999 andViva Concerts 687-7236.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Enchong reveals his secrets

by Ana Valenzuela

(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on 2012/february/6.)

Enchong Dee keeps in shape not because he is an actor but because he really is used to living a healthy lifestyle.

Even before he joined show business, Enchong was a member of the La Salle and national swimming teams. He competed in the Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games.

Despite Enchong’s busy schedule, he finds the time to run and swim and of course, have a healthy and balanced diet.

During Amway’s Color UR Life Campaign launch, Enchong bared some of his secrets.

“I take Nutrilite Double X. I take the hair, nail and skin [supplement], green tea, and kapag nagbibinge ako pag (when I binge every) Sunday [which is my cheat day], [I also take the] Nutrilite Carb Blocker,” share Enchong.

He has been taking Nutrilite even before he was tapped to endorse the supplement.

“There was a direct seller na nagpunta sa bahay(who visited our house), so I have tried it even before Amway got me, three to four years ago,” Enchong tells us.

“You’ll be surprised when you take Double X,” he says. “The effect to me is hindi ako nagkre-crave (I don’t crave that) much, like when it comes to sweet food. Sometimes that is my problem, naghahanap ako ng matamis (I crave for something sweet).”

Enchong also wants to give his onscreen partner Erich Gonzales, Double X supplements.

“Double X has minerals, vitamins, and nutrients, lahat na andoon (it has everything in it),” he says.

Aside from taking his daily dose of Nutrilite vitamins, Enchong shares his other secrets

“Consistently drink water, kung lalagpas man ng (if you go over) eight glasses a day its okay. Tamang bilad lang sa (Do not over expose yourself to) sunlight, and ihawalay mo lang yung taba sa kinakain mo (Keep off fatty food),” he says.

“Choose an exercise or sport that you will enjoy, because kung napipilitan ka lang, (if you are just being forced into it) you will stop at a certain point. Tatamarain ka lang and hindi mo na magagawa yung pagiging healthy (You will just procrastinate and it won’t be healthy),” he adds.

To know more about Nutrilite and the Color Ur Life Campaign, visit and

Saturday, February 11, 2012

That Bon Chon Bite

by Ana Valenzuela

(Published in the Manila Standard Today newspaper on 2011/november/9.)

“I lived in the US for 10 years, and I frequent New York. My first and last destination would always be Bon Chon,” Scott Tan, the owner of the Philippine franchise of the chicken resto, recalls at the opening of the newest branch of Bon Chon in Il Terrazzo in Tomas Morato.

A big fan of Bon Chon's soy garlic chicken and spicy chicken wings, Tan began recommending Bon Chon to his friends. When he came back home, he eagerly bought the franchise and set up the first Bon Chon at the Ayala Triangle Gardens.

“I wanted every Filipino to experience what I had experience at my first bon chon bite,” Tan says. “What makes Bon Chon special I think is pretty much---the crispiness factor, the health factor and the flavour.”

Yummy secret

There must be some secret to making this chicken so yummy that you would just want to continuously feed your mouth nothing more. “The crispiness is due to the secret technique in cooking which no other chicken place in the Philippines does. Second, because of the cooking technique, it actually melts the fat off the chicken that is what makes it healthier than most chickens here in the Philippines. Lastly it’s flavourful because of the cooking technique there is no more fat in between the skin and the meat, the soy garlic and hot and spicy flavour is absorbed in every bite that makes it like a pure bite,” he says.

Now that the the restaurant has become a hit, Tan is thinking of expanding its offerings. “When we first started we only had the chicken,” he shares. “Then we added the fish taco for lent, then it proved to be very popular so we left it, then now the chap chae (Korean noodles) and the calamari.”

“Funny story about the fish taco and the calamari, it was supposed to be seasonal, we took it out after Lent, and then people started asking, where is it? So we brought it back,” says Andrea See, Bon Chon’s marketing head.

“Bon Chon is very flexible in customizing the food in each country, because they know that every country is different. They have to tailor it to the culture. (In the US, they) don’t have rice, but here we have value meals,” Scott states.

Apart from the difference in the menu, there is also a difference in Bon Chon‘s ambience. “In the US, Bon Chon is more of a bar/restaurant. People drink and everything. So when I brought it here, I decided I wanted to make it more of a quick service-restaurant--for a casual dining experience, so more people can try our food. We have beers, but we don’t market it,” he adds.

Bon Chon opted for a quick service setting so as to cater to a more family-centered market. Tan would like as much people as possible to try Bon Chon’s sumptuous recipe. “When we got the master franchise, we proposed to the owner that when we bring it here, we wanted to make it in to quick service. In order for us to reach the majority of the whole Philippines, and let everyone to try our food, we had to be quick service, because of you are a bar, it restricts a lot of age group,” he says.

“If you noticed, you order at the counter then we bring it to you. It is because we wanted the interaction, that still that differentiates us from the other fast food places,’’ says Andrea, stressing their difference on other fast-food chains.

More and more Filipinos seem to be craving this flavorful chicken, as they have plans for expansion. “This is our tenth store. By the year end we are going to have fourteen stores. At the Mall of Asia , Bonifacio High Street Extension , Trinoma and Alabang Town Center. Next year we are targeting to franchise out in the provincial area, so next year expect about 35 to 40 stores ,” discloses Tan. Surely many more hulks of eaters would be unleashed with every bite.

Mario Maurer graces Bon Chon opening

Bon Chon formally opened in the Philippines with no less than Thai superstar Mario Maurer gracing the event.