Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Win a Doublemint gift pack worth over P3,000!

Do you have a Multiply account? If you do, you can win a Doublemint gift pack over P3,000! All you have to do is log on to http://closertoconfidence.multiply.com and join the group. Upload your photo entry by following the instructions on the site. Hurry! You only have until November 2009 to join.

Doublemint gift pack worth P3,000!The photo above is the Doublemint gift pack I won. It consists of three boxes (one for each flavor of Peppermint, Spearmint, and Winterfrost) containing 15 tins each -- and each costs about P78 in supermarkets! I was one of the first people who joined the promo so I got my prize already.

Be warned that there is a stringent verification procedure once your photo entry is approved. Make sure you give a cellphone number that is always with you because they will call to confirm your contest entry and contact details to facilitate the delivery of the prize. After you pass the verification, they will email you with a congratulatory notice which you will have to print out and show the courier along with two valid IDs upon delivery of the prize.

Hurry! Contest deadline is on November 4, 2009! It has never been this easy to win a prize worth a few thousand pesos!

Correction: I mentioned earlier that the boxes contain 30 tins each, I was mistaken... it's 15 tins per box.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A big thumbs up for San Miguel Corporation's customer service!

My 4-year old daughter loves pancakes, and not just any pancake mix will do. After sampling several brands, both of my children unanimously agreed that Magnolia Pancake and Waffle Mix made the best tasting pancakes of the bunch. It was settled, I would always get Magnolia Pancake and Waffle Mix as part of our groceries.

Magnolia Pancake and Waffle Mix by San Miguel MillsOne holiday Monday, the kids wanted to have pancakes for breakfast. I opened a pack of Magnolia Pancake and Waffle Mix and to my surprise, I was greeted by the faint scent of roaches. We poured some of the mix onto a plate and it really reeked of roaches. I called San Miguel Corporation's customer hotline which I found at the back of the pack. I reported what I encountered but since it was a holiday that day I was told that the person in charge would have to get back to me during a regular working day.

Sure enough, within that week someone from San Miguel Corporation called me and told me she would pick up the roach-scented pack from our house. She did and gave us three packs to replace the one which I reported. She also assured us that they would check the batch that the pack came from and the supermarket from where I bought it.

Working Mom Magazine October 2008 issueThis incident reminds me of the first article I wrote for ABS-CBN Publishing's Working Mom Magazine which was published last October 2008. I've been a contributing writer to WM for about a year now and I can say that this feature is still one of my favorites. Entitled "Exercise your consumer rights!", I shared several experiences about bad buys and detailed steps on how to avail of customer service from the companies concerned. It's special to me because I was the one who proposed the topic which the editor-in-chief approved, and it kind of paved the way for my freelance writing career. You can read the full article by clicking HERE.

During these hard times, it's more important than ever that we be aware of our consumer rights and exercise it.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Echo (Movie Review)

The Echo is the Hollywood adaptation of Filipino director Yam Laranas' horror movie Sigaw. Sigaw starred local actors Richard Gutierrez, Angel Locsin, Jomari Yllana, and Iza Calzado. When I heard that Sigaw was going to be remade into a Hollywood film with Iza Calzado reprising her role in the original, I was really looking forward to watching it. The thing is, I've never seen Sigaw. I've only heard good things about it.

The Echo is about an ex-convict named Bobby (Jesse Bradford) who moves in to his mom's apartment when he is released on parole. Soon after he starts hearing noises in the middle of the night and realizes that there's something going on in the apartment beside his. It seems that an abusive cop lives next door, frequently beating up his own wife and daughter.

Bobby finds himself more and more drawn to what's happening next door, only to find out there's much more to the situation than meets the eye.

I'll say it straight off, I didn't find The Echo all that scary. I say this without much expectation since I have aboslutely no idea about the original film, thus I don't really know what's supposed to happen in the story. I fell asleep in the first part of the film because everything unraveled at a snail's pace -- and it didn't help that we waited two whole hours for the movie premiere to start. It was about 9pm when they finally dimmed the lights in the theater. The Echo is extremely dragging up until the part when Bobby finally finds a job and settles in his mom's apartment. After that, things start to get more exciting.

Jesse Bradford does a great job as Bobby. The film doesn't have too much dialogue in general but you can feel Jesse's confusion and paranoia gradually build up over the course of the strange events around him. Amelia Warner plays his pretty girlfriend Alyssa, while Iza Calzado reprises her role as the abused wife next door Gina. Typical Asian horror elements can be found in The Echo. I mean, what is it with the creepy woman and child with hair in their pale faces walking around extra slowly stalking people? I think I've seen this phenomenon in several Asian horror films. As I have never watched Sigaw, I was quite surprised by The Echo's ending. Iza Calzado gets to say a few lines in the final scenes of the movie, and I thought she delivered them quite well.

All in all The Echo isn't a bad film, but I find that a lot of areas could use improvement. The pacing is way too slow for me to get really scared. Although I've seen the creepy woman and child bit many times in the past, it's still admittedly pretty frightening.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Toblerone kicks off Thank You Day Philippines!

I know the timing of this post may be a little off, since we are experiencing the aftermath of Typhoon Ondoy. But if you are this post right now it means that you:
  • ...are alive and well.
  • ...have electricity and internet access.
  • ...are not injured or in trouble as you can still afford to surf the internet.
Now those are things you can be thankful for.

Last Sept. 22, 2009, Toblerone officially launched Thank You Day Philippines at Fiamma in Makati City.

Toblerone Thank You Day Philippines Launch Party at FiammaA Toblerone-themed Post Office was set up so guests could send Thank You postcards to friends and loved ones. There was also a recording booth so you could make your own Thank You video message. Internet stations set up where you could view Toblerone's official Thank You Day Philippines website and nominate people who you think deserve to be thanked. Some of the nominees include Cory Aquino, Dolphy, Manny Pacquiao, and Francis Magalona.

A Toblerone Thank You postcard at Toblerone's Thank You Day Philippines LaunchI filled out the postcard pictured above and addressed it to my sister. I sent it via the Toblerone Post Office. I think she'll be very surprised when she finds it in the mail in the coming days, hehe. :D

Host Karen Pamintuan and Kraft Senior Brand Manager Carlo LicuananModel and TV personality Karen Pamintuan hosted the event, pictured above with Kraft Senior Brand Manager Carlo Licuanan. "Last year, we wanted Filipinos to express their gratitude more often and we did just that with the success of the celebration of the first National Thank You Day," says Carlo Licuanan. "But for this year, we went a step further by urging Filipinos to say more meaningful thank you's."

Visit the official Thank You Day Philippines website at http://www.thankyoudayphilippines.com. You can join Toblerone's Thank You Day Photo Competition there, nominate people who you think we should say Thank You to, and send E-cards and Graticards to your friends and family. You can even sign the petition to make October 20, National Thank You Day, a national holiday.

I'm just thankful that despite the floods and the power failure, my hubby and I were able to get home safely by noon yesterday and the water from raging river which used to be our street didn't reach our home.

UPDATE: My sister received the Thank You postcard today -- Sept. 28, 2009! Talk about efficient! :)

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Get a free GC from Gonuts Donuts!

Gonuts Donuts GodoeIf you have a Facebook account, log in and take the "How much of a sweet tooth are you?" quiz at http://apps.facebook.com/howmuchofaswyuwnjs/quiz/questions?quiz_metric. You will be given instructions on how to get a FREE Gonuts Donuts GC right after you get your quiz results! It is important that you follow instructions and email them your contact details after the quiz so they can contact you and confirm the status of your GC.

I received an email from Gonuts Donuts today that my GC is already on the way via snail mail.

So don't delay, a free Gonuts Donuts GC is just a few clicks away! :D

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Time management with Kids Watch Central

I'm a real stickler for being prompt. I'm appalled that here in our country, it's considered a big deal when you are actually on time or early for something. Being prompt is not an extraordinary feat -- it's supposed to be the norm! Thus when I got an invitation for Kids Watch Central Family Fun Summit 2009, I didn't think twice about going. It was guaranteed to make the whole concept of time management fun for my children, and I really want to start them off the right track this early.

Kids Watch Central Family Fun Summit 2009 at the Ark Avilon ZooArk Avilon Zoo was converted into a gigantic play and party space to accommodate the kiddie guests. There was a Barbie salon where kids could get their hair done and their faces painted, a Sanrio area where you could color and do activity pages, and a Smarties activity section where a coloring contest was ongoing.

Kelvin Ngo, the Operations Manager of Kids Watch Central, shared that since time is an abstract concept, concrete time-telling tools such as a wristwatch is a must. Point in case, all the kiddie attendees were given a wristwatch at the event and my little girl excitedly asked me to help her wear her digital Mickey Mouse watch right off. She asked me if she had the correct time, which she did after I made a few adjustments.

It's been several days after the event and my little girl still insists on wearing her wristwatch on a daily basis. She checks it before we leave for school, making sure she's not going to be late. She'd check it to see if her favorite show is going to be on already. It's just as Kelvin said, kids will be more interested in looking at watches that feature their favorite characters as opposed to a plain-faced one.

It's never too early so instill the value of time in our children. :)

Kids Watch Central is located in the Children's Accessories section of leading department stores such as SM, The Landmark, and Rustan's.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Shuji Kida Hair Salon's magnetic straightening passes shampoo test!

Anyone who has had her hair rebonded or straightened chemically knows that the real test comes after you actually wash your hair. You will almost always be instructed not to shampoo for at least 2 days after the procedure so the style will lock in.

Now a lot of people were impressed by the results I got from Shuji Kida Hair Salon's Japanese Magnetic Hair Straightening service some two weeks ago. The question is, what was it going to be like after I've actually shampooed my hair? At home, I don't have anyone to blow dry it perfectly for me like in the salon.

Hair straightened by Shuji Kida's Japanese Magnetic Hair Straightening after shampooAnyways, check out the photos above. That is how it looks like post-shampoo. I used the cold air setting on my hair dryer to dry it using my fingers without any special brushes. Still pretty nice, soft, and natural-looking I must say, still a very far cry from the other rebonding techniques I've tried. It's on the pricey side, yes, but so are the straightening services from other salons I inquired at! Everyone quoted me more or less the same price range for my thick and coarse hair.

I love Shuji Kida Hair Salon!

Shuji Kida Hair Salon
Ground Level, City Center Bldg.
338 Ortigas Ave., San Juan City
726-9928

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Red Ribbon launches the White Forest Cake!

Red Ribbon introduced its newest meals and dessert treat last Aug. 17, 2009 at the Libis branch.

We started off with Red Ribbon's Spaghetti with Meatballs (P88, pictured below left). I immediately noticed that this wasn't the same spaghetti we had gotten used to over the years. It was more Italian in flavor. Instead of sweet, it was tangy and there were crushed tomatoes and spices in the sauce. Two big juicy meatballs top it off with a slice of Red Ribbon's special soft focaccia-inspired bread served on the side.

Spaghetti with Meatballs and Mushroom Garlic Chicken at Red RibbonAccording to the Marketing Manager Ms. Marizu Baser, Red Ribbon reformulated its spaghetti sauce in order to veer away from the similarity it shared with sister company Jollibee's spaghetti. I liked the new Italian-style spaghetti, and I found the P88 price tag very reasonable since it would easily cost a lot more if you had some spaghetti at an Italian restaurant. Spaghetti with Meatballs is set to replace the old Red Ribbon spaghetti.

Slices of breaded chicken stuffed with garlic and mushroom (pictured above right) were also brought out for us to sample. Unfortunately, this dish has not yet been officially launched in the branches.

Grilled Ensaymada with Farmer's Ham at Red RibbonAnother new dish we got to try was the Grilled Ensaimada with Farmer's Ham (P75, pictured above). We all agreed that the grilled ensaymada topped with whipped butter is simply heavenly. The farmer's ham is glazed with maple syrup and served with scrambled eggs on the side. The actual order includes only one ensaymada piece sliced into four and two pieces of ham. This one was upsized to be shared by the group.

White Forest Cake and Cappuccino Hot Brew at Red RibbonFor the grand finale, the White Forest cake (P560, pictured above left) was unveiled. Comprised of white chiffon, white chocolate, and maraschino cherries, it was really quite a sight to behold. Think of it as your all-time favorite Black Forest cake -- just replace the chocolate chiffon with vanilla, and the milk and dark chocolate with white chocolate. I love how generous Red Ribbon is with the crushed maraschino cherry bits infused in the cream between layers of chiffon. The White Forest cake went so well with Red Ribbon's Hot Brews. I ordered a Cappuccino (P45, pictured above right) to go with my cake and it was just perfect. The Cappuccino was so good I had it without the sugar packet that came along with it. For a mere P45, that was really one of the best cups of Cappuccino I've ever had! I'm definitely going back to have some more.

Special thanks to Jonel Uy of Nomnom Club and Ms. Marizu Baser of Red Ribbon for a delightful afternoon with fellow mom bloggers. :)

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Email and win a Sony Cyber-Shot TX-1!

Win a Sony Cyber-Shot TX1 digicam simply by emailing Sony your favorite blog sites!

Sony Online Blogger Search
Send in your top 3 favorite local blogs under Food, Fashion, Tech, and Travel categories -- that would be 12 blogsites in all that you will need to send in. Email your name, address, contact number, plus the twelve sites to cybershottx1@gmail.com. Follow the entry format on the poster at the right, click on it for a closer look.

That's all you need to do to qualify for the Sony Cyber-Shot TX1 giveaway!

Submission of nominees is from Sept. 15 to Sept. 30, 2009. That's just a two-week period so the chances of winning are pretty big!

Please do nominate my blog, Animetric's World - http://animetric.blogspot.com for the Food Category. :D

Thank you and good luck! If you need more ideas for blogs to submit, do check out my friends' blogs at the blogroll on your right. Almost all of them fit in at least one of the categories. :D

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A taste of Asian Twist Fusion Restaurant

Our friend brought us to this fairly new dining establishment in Quezon City named Asian Twist Fusion Restaurant.

Twist Asian Cuisine interiorsFor some reason, Asian Twist reminded me of the now defunct A-ku restaurant chain which had something like 3-4 branches years ago. Something about their menu and the pastries being sold in the bakery area... I'm convinced Asian Twist has something to do with the owners of A-ku. Asian Twist is a bit more upscale compared to the cafeteria-esque A-Ku though, with its bright modern interiors accented by colorful tableware.

Sesame Rice Tuna Tataki and Tropical Kimchi Salad at Asian Twist Fusion RestaurantThere were so many delicious-looking appetizers on the menu that we were hard-pressed to order just one. We decided to call for three: Sesame Rice Tuna Tataki (P135, pictured above left), Tropical Kimchi Salad (P60, pictured above right), and Jane's Pajion (P145, pictured below left). We also threw in an order of Prawn Tempura (P195, pictured below left).

Jane's Pajion and Prawn Tempura from Asian Twist Fusion RestaurantSesame Tuna Tataki is really well worth the P135 price tag. The dish was comprised of four big sushi pieces generously topped with spicy raw tuna and served with fresh mango slices. The pieces are a lot bigger than your normal sushi appetizer and they are very flavorful as well. Tropical Kimchi Salad is nothing like the usual spicy pickled cabbage you usually get in Korean restaurants. Instead of the cabbage, you get cubed fruits and veggies in lemon and sesame oil dressing. It was more on the sweet side. Jane's Pajion is actually a Korean-style pancake with bits of cured meat, veggies, and kimchi mixed in the batter. As is the case with the Sesame Rice Tuna Tataki, the serving portion is for sharing. Prawn Tempura was served with banana fritters, or turon, on the side.

Bibimbop Bagnet and Tonkatsu Curry Bibimbop at Asian Twist Fusion RestaurantFor our main course, I ordered the Bibimbop Bagnet (P175, pictured above left). It was served sizzling hot in this big cast iron bowl. The rice was topped with sautéed beansprouts, spinach, kimchi, crunchy lechon kawali (pork) pieces, and a raw egg in the middle. It was delicious, my only complaint being there were only four small pieces of pork. Meanwhile, my hubby went for the Tonkatsu Curry Bibimbop (P175, pictured above right), Japanese-style breaded pork chop slices topped with curry sauce and served over steamed rice.

We were so stuffed by the time we were done with our entrées that we no longer had room for dessert. Twist has a bakery portion selling various breads, cakes, and pastries such as Twist Ensaymada and Cheese Cupcake.

Twist Asian Cuisine is perfect if you can't make up your mind as to what kind of Asian food you want to have since they have Korean, Japanese, Filipino, and even American-inspired dishes fused into their menu. I like that they have a wide variety of tasty dishes at reasonable prices.

Asian Twist Fusion Restaurant
101 N.S. Amoranto cor. Speaker Perez St., Quezon City
711-2248 / 749-3878

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Lucky Me! launches Kainang Pamilya Mahalaga

Lucky Me! formally launched its Kainang Pamilya Mahalaga advocacy last Sept. 11, 2009 at the Oakwood Premier in Ortigas.

Lucky Me's Kainang Pamilya Mahalaga launch hosted by Tintin Bersola-BabaoUpon registration, attendees were asked to write down a Kainang Pamilya Mahalaga pledge on a plate-shaped piece of cardboard to be attached to the Lucky Me! pledge wall. Themed "Make Time for Family Meals", the event was hosted by television personality Tintin Bersola-Babao.

Lucky Me Kainang Pamilya Mahalaga advocates Senator Kiko Pangilinan, Sharon Cuneta, Luis Manzano, and Dr. Honey CarandangThe highlight of the program was a panel discussion featuring Senator Kiko Pangilinan, celebrity mom Sharon Cuneta, father-son tandem Edu and Luis Manzano, and award-winning psychologist Dr. Honey Carandang (pictured above, left).

Kiko and Sharon shared many family anecdotes of how they would take time out to eat together as a family with their daughters KC, Frankie, and Miel. Since Edu had to leave early for another engagement, Luis "Lucky" Manzano took over and elicited chuckles from the guests for his candid comments. Point is, dinner with the family isn't just about sitting down and eating together. It's also the perfect time for exchanging stories, bonding, and getting to know each other better. To commemorate the event, each of the Kainang Pamilya Mahalaga advocates and guests were presented with a collectible Lucky Me! Kainang Pamilya Mahalaga wristwatch (pictured above, right).

This short Lucky Me! TVC illustrates the importance of eating together as a family:



I remember this interview with Lance Gokongwei that I read in a newspaper some time ago. As we all know, Lance is the only son of taipan John Gokongwei Jr., the man behind Universal Robina Corporation, Robinsons Land, and Digitel among many others. Lance mentioned that during the time he was growing up his father always made it a point to have dinner at home with the whole family on a daily basis. Now I'm sure someone like John Gokongwei Jr. is a very, very busy man. If he could manage to make time, why not us?

Every year, the fourth Monday of September is touted as the official National FaMEALy Day. It has officially become a part of the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) annual "Family Week Celebration" which kicks off on Sept. 21 this year. National FaMEALy Day is on Sept. 28, 2009.

I am all for quality time with the family so I really support this movement that encourages families to spend meal times together. Since we're all either working or studying, it's understandable that we can't be together for lunch or even breakfast. But we all have to go home sometime, right? Why not be home for dinner? :)

Special thanks to Jen of Mom Exchange and Monde Nissin Corporation for giving me a chance to witness the launch of such a worthwhile advocacy.

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Fish & Co. launches Just For Me meals!

Fish & Co. revealed five new dishes at the Shangrila Plaza Mall branch last Sept. 10, 2009 -- namely Bangus ala Pobre, Boneless Chicken BBQ, Baked Fish Napolitana, Beef and Eggplant Curry, and Eggplant and Mozzarella Pasta.

These new offerings will be available in the "Just For Me" size, which is a smaller portion of the regular menu items available at a lower price as most are under P300. Although the "Just For Me" meals are supposed to be good for a single-serving, they are still larger than usual and I'd say they are still good enough for at least two people who want something light or who want to try other dishes aside from one particular entrée.

Chips and Bangus ala Pobre Just For Me meal at Fish and Co.We started off with some Chips (P90, pictured above left), which were thinly sliced potatoes fried to a crisp with some garlic mayonnaise on the side. They were sooo good and you just know that these are real potatoes from the taste and texture. The first new dish introduced was the Bangus ala Pobre (P265, pictured above right) -- crunchy bangus strips topped with garlic sauce served with seafood rice and vegetables on the side. It was good, but I think I would've liked it better if they had removed the scales from the bangus strips. :p

Boneless Chicken BBQ and Baked Fish Neapolitana at Fish and Co.Next in line were Boneless Chicken BBQ (P250, pictured above left) and Baked Fish Napolitana (P265, pictured above right). The Boneless Chicken BBQ is reminiscent of T.G.I. Friday's Jack Daniel's Chicken. It was glazed in what was unmistakably Jack Daniel's sauce, my favorite! Obviously, I'm quite partial to this dish. Yummy! Baked Fish Napolitana had battered dory fillet with mozzarella cheese and napolitana sauce on top of buttered spaghetti noodles.

Beef and Eggplant Curry and Eggplant and Mozarella Pasta at Fish and Co.Two eggplant dishes were up next: Beef and Eggplant Curry (P275, pictured above left) and Eggplant and Mozzarella Pasta (P225, pictured above right). I didn't really taste the curry in Beef and Eggplant Curry, the dish can be likened more to the Philippines' native laing or Bicol Express since the dominant flavors were those of the coconut milk and chili peppers. It is served over steamed white rice to boot, further lending a Pinoy touch to the dish. It was interesting to say the least, and it is the hands-down favorite of the Fish & Co. management. Eggplant and Mozzarella Pasta is a white-sauce based pasta dish that is creamy and well... kind of bland actually. I imagine it could work if one has an aversion to strong flavors, otherwise, I highly recommend ordering something else.

Good news! Fish & Co. is giving away "Just For Me" meals to Facebook fans who bring two friends to any Fish & Co. branch. Become a fan now and get a free dish! Log on to http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fish-Co/129789591909?ref=nf for more details.

Fish & Co.
G/F Shangri-la Plaza Mall
EDSA cor. Shaw Blvd.,
Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila
910-2140 to 42

Note: The mechanics for the Facebook promo are a bit fuzzy at the moment. I will make another post about it when I get the exact details. Thank you and sorry for the inconvenience. :(

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Navigating Metro Manila with a Garmin 255 GPS unit!

I drive myself everywhere. Whether it's to school, the office, collection, or media events, I'm always driving. In fact, I have a Metro Manila CitiAtlas tucked in one of my car door's pockets.

Garmin 255 GPS unit mounted on my windshieldHubby decided to get a Garmin 255 GPS unit from the US to try. We didn't even know if we could actually load a decent Philippine map at the time, but we went for it anyway. That's the Garmin 255 mounted right below my rear-view mirror.

Garmin 255 GPS unitLo and behold, it worked! In fact it worked a lot better than we expected. Soon we were discovering new shortcuts to old routes and passing through roads we never knew existed. We were definitely saving time and gas!

Garmin 255 GPS unitYou can even save your own favorite destinations into the unit, because not every single place in the Philippines is recorded there. I plotted SM Fairview when we passed by some time ago so now I can just pull up that destination any time and find the shortest route going there. Thus you're continually updating the points of interest saved in your unit. The unit can hold several countries' maps, but it also has an SD card slot in case you need to upload more. The Garmin 255 comes with a mount, a dashboard disc, and a lighter charger.

To give you a better idea of how it works, view the short video clip I took while navigating through San Juan City below:



You don't have to subscribe to any service to get this to work because it gets location information from satellites located high above us. All you have to do is use it in a place that has a clear view of the open sky (such as your windshield or your dashboard) with no roof that could obstruct the satellite reception. Once you have the unit, the satellite services are free forever. :p

We've driven with the Garmin 255 from Metro Manila to Subic, Quezon, Laguna, and a few other nearby provinces. It also has a pedestrian mode so you can actually use it to navigate even if you're just walking. :)

At the moment we have a few units of Garmin 255W (the widescreen version of our Garmin 255 with more features) on hand. This particular model can speak out street names too, so it's more convenient for the driver since you don't have to be always looking at the unit. Interested parties may email me at animetric@gmail.com for information and pricing.

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Japanese Magnetic Hair Straightening at Shuji Kida Hair Salon!

I have terrible hair. Thick, coarse, and wavy, it's every stylist's nightmare. In fact just about the only local stylist who didn't flinch and was able to give me a good cut was Alex Carbonell, formerly of Propaganda, but has now moved on to be the head honcho at Bench Fix in Glorietta 5. Every day is a bad hair day if I don't pull my hair back into a ponytail.

For many years I've gone back and forth researching and observing various hair straightening techniques. I underwent milk rebonding at Ricky Reyes several years ago. I was at the salon by 10am, and I went out nearly 6pm. It was okay, except that when the roots grew out, I was stuck with very awkward hair. Milk rebonding dries your hair out severely too, so you can't really do anything with it afterwards. Several months after milk rebonding, you are left with what I refer to as "crunchy" hair. It isn't even touchable anymore. I swear it makes breaking sounds when I try to bend the strands.

I've been going without any form of straightening for the last 4 years or so. I let my whole head of hair grow out so I can start anew. For my next experiment I considered L'oreal Xtenso and Shuji Kida's Japanese Magnetic Hair Straightening. I stalked a few nearby salons looking at the before and after condition of their clients' hair after the said procedures. I wasn't happy with how Xtenso looked. It seemed as if all your hair was stuck on your head -- stick-straight and non-moving. I wanted my hair to still look and feel like hair, with body, bounce, and so forth. Was I asking for too much?

Japanese magnetic hair straightening at Shuji Kida Hair SalonAs you can see from my before photo above, my hair is really close to impossible to style or manage without a ton of effort. I met a girl who underwent Shuji Kida's magnetic hair straightening and I really liked what I saw. Her hair looked very natural. Root problems are also minimized since the hair retains its natural body. So after years of research and observation, I finally went for it.

Japanese magnetic hair straightening at Shuji Kida Hair SalonThe procedure started at about 9:45am. I was shampooed and then my hair was saturated in a solution which I was told is seaweed-based. There was no strong chemical odor, and Japanese stylist Shigeki Ogaki used his bare hands to work it in my hair. For milk rebonding at Ricky Reyes and L'oreal Xtenso at Piandre Salon, the staff had to wear thick gloves so their hands would not get in contact with the chemicals. This is a good indication that the solution Shuji Kida Hair Salon uses is a lot milder compared to others. My hair was wrapped in clear cellophane and subjected to a heating machine at some point (pictured above left).

I went through the usual ironing (pictured above right) and blow-drying, after which a neutralizer was applied all over my hair. After 10 minutes, the neutralizer was rinsed off and my hair was blow-dried for the last time. I was instructed by Shigeki not to tie my hair, not to use clips, and not to wash it for two days. By the time I was done it was 1:45pm. The process took four hours to complete.

Results of Japanese magnetic hair straightening at Shuji Kida Hair SalonI love the results of Shuji Kida Hair Salon's Japanese Magnetic Hair Straightening. My hair is soft, shiny, plus it looks and feels natural. It has body and bounce. It doesn't just lie there flat and unmoving. There's no overpowering chemical odor afterwards too. What's more, I was told I can actually color my hair a week after whereas for L'oreal Xtenso, hair coloring is a no-no and the closest thing you can go for is a cellophane treatment. I have a lot of white strands so coloring is a must hehe...

Shuji Kida Hair Salon
Ground Level, City Center Bldg.
338 Ortigas Ave., San Juan City
726-9928

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Living the good life with Nestlé!

Nestlé Philippines invited food and lifestyle bloggers for an intimate getting-to-know-you session last Sept. 3, 2009 at the Julius Maggi Kitchen in Rockwell Center.

Nestle Wellness Starter KitNestlé Wellness Starter Kits were distributed to start us off. It contained charts to monitor your weight and measurements, a special tape measure, and a BMI calculator. We would use these to measure our personal health indicators. You can actually get your own Nestlé Wellness Starter Kit just by logging on to http://www.choosewellness.com.ph.

Ms. Cora Sager of Nestle Philippines and the Nestle Wellness PassportMs. Cora Sager, Nestlé Philippines' Corporate Wellness Unit Head, explained that Nestlé promotes wellness as part of its corporate responsibility. She then discussed how we could use the Nestlé Wellness Starter Kits to measure personal wellness indicators such as our ideal weight and Body Mass Index. She also circulated the Nestlé Wellness Passports which you can avail of upon registration at http://www.choosewellness.com.ph. These passports enable you to earn points and redeem rewards just by doing things that help you attain personal wellness. For example, buying Nestlé products and participating in free Nestlé fitness activities or wellness seminars lets you earn points in your passport. Redeemable prizes include Nestlé products, appliances, and other useful items.

Chef Tess Sutilo of Nestle Philippines at the Julius Maggi Kitchen
Papaya, Carrots, and Fried Fish Salad and Crispy Cream Dory Fillet by Chef Tess Sutilo of Nestle PhilippinesChef Tess Sutilo of Nestlé Philippines delighted the group with a live cooking demo, whipping up two delicious dishes right before our eyes -- Papaya, Carrots, and Fried Fish Salad and Crispy Cream Dory Fillet. Chef Tess is responsible for creating the many recipes you see featured on Nestlé product labels and various publications. The salad was divine, and she made it in just a few minutes! The slightly spicy vinaigrette and the crispy seasoned wanton strips made all the difference. We were all unanimous that the salad was one of the best ever. I found myself going back for seconds, hehe.

Ms. Au Alipao of Nestle Philippines and a Nestle micro distributorLast but not least, Ms. Au Alipao, Consumer Service Head of Nestlé Philippines shared with us some Nestlé Good News Stories. Stories of how Nestlé helped small entrepreneurs get on their feet with a stable source of income. People like Jaypee Padilla (pictured above right), who had gone on to become a Nestlé micro distributor. Under the micro distribution program, hardworking folks get a chance to make a good life for themselves with training and assistance from Nestlé.

It was a truly enlightening evening for me. Measuring my personal wellness indicators was a scary experience, and I realized that I should stop living in denial and start taking steps towards a healthier life. Research shows that what kills people a lot of the time in this day and age are lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, and cancer among others. These are avoidable to a certain extent, and the best way to prevent them is to make a personal choice to get on the road to wellness.

For more information, log on to http://www.choosewellness.com.ph
To join the Nestlé Club, log on to http://www.nestle.com.ph/recipe/nestleclub/

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The story behind Seafood Surprise -- a winning recipe!

It was an early Thursday morning when I read about SM Mall of Asia and Philippine Star's seafood recipe contest while I was having my coffee. Now I happen to be fortunate enough to have a really talented cook in my employ, which is our household helper Josie. I just knew she had what it takes to win this contest.

I showed her the paper and told her to write down a seafood recipe that would fit in any of the contest categories. She was reluctant. I told her she could really use the prize, which was P5,000 worth of SM GCs. I badgered her every single day until she gave me a piece of paper with the ingredients and procedure. I told her I'd take care of giving it a name, translating the procedure to English, and emailing her entry. And so I did. Seafood Surprise it was, and I told her to cook up a batch so I could take a photo to complete her entry.

SM and Philippine Star's winning recipe Seafood SurpriseShe cooked up a batch, which I styled, plated, and photographed. It's the very picture you see above that we submitted.

Some days later, we got an email saying Seafood Surprise was chosen as one of the ten finalists in the contest. There was going to be a cook-off at the SM Mall of Asia. Josie was going to have a student chef partner from CCA who was going to do the cooking. I would've accompanied her to MoA if my kids didn't have an activity scheduled for that particular afternoon. I wished her good luck, told her to take lots of pics with her cellphone cam, and reminded her to leave early so she could be there on time.

Unfortunately, Josie's student chef partner got the jitters and finished last in terms of cooking. Since everyone else was done, she rushed the plating so Seafood Surprise looked really dishevelled and nothing at all like our photograph. I told her it looked like a bomb explosion when I saw her cellphone photo. Still, the taste won the judges over so she managed to land in the top five winners. Seafood Surprise got really high scores with regards to taste and everything else but flunked in the plating.

Josie got her P5k SM GCs, a teflon wok from Maxim, and a gift pack from Knorr. So this story got a happy ending after all. Josie wanted to share her winnings, but my hubby and I told her to keep them all and just enjoy herself for a change.

Last Sunday, all the winners were published on The Philippine Star... but Josie just got a one-line text credit and her recipe was not featured unlike the other winners, the reason stated being "photo not available". I don't blame them. The food styling was really pathetic and it won't take an expert to tell that the plating sucks. They should've asked us for a hi-res photo of Seafood Surprise instead. :p

Anyways let me share the winning recipe on this blog...

Seafood Surprise by Jocelyn Sudario

Ingredients:

1/2 kilo medium-size shrimps (about 30 pcs), de-veined, peeled, with tails left on
1/2 kilo chopped mussels (tahong) - boiled and removed from shells
1/4 kilo fish fillet, diced
1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped spring onions
1 pc medium-size onion, chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp Knorr Real Sarap
1 tbsp Knorr Liquid Seasoning
1 egg
1 tbsp cornstarch
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying
15 pcs large lumpia wrappers, cut in half

Sauce:

1/2 cup light mayonnaise
1 tbsp Knorr Real Sarap
1/2 tsp diced green bell pepper
1 tbsp diced carrot

Procedure:

1. In a bowl, combine mussels, fish fillet, mushrooms, spring onions, chopped onions, and minced garlic. Add Knorr Real Sarap, Knorr Liquid Seasoning, egg, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Lay lumpia wrapper on a flat surface. Place one tbsp of the mixture on the center of the wrapper and put the shrimp on top of the mixture. Fold the wrapper so it forms a triangle leaving only the shrimp tail exposed.

3. Deep fry the triangles in hot oil until golden brown.

4. Combine sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Serve beside the deep fried triangles.

Bon Appetit!

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Level 15 on Hello Kitty Online Philippines!

After a little more than a week of playing, I've finally managed to reach level 15 on Hello Kitty Online Philippines! So from this bare-to-the-bones character:

Animetric on Hello Kitty Online HKO PhilippinesAnimetric on Hello Kitty Online Philippines, or HKO, has become this:

Animetric on Hello Kitty Online HKO PhilippinesIt wasn't easy. It took time and lots of sleepless nights! HKO is that addictive. Even my kids love it. We make sure we play on the least populated server as to avoid the pasaways. So far our HKO Philippines playing experience has been pleasant and peaceful.

Farming on Hello Kitty Online HKO PhilippinesI farmed... collecting the necessary crops for my numerous quests. You fertilize, plant seeds, harvest, and finally cut down dead plants.

Item creation or crafting on Hello Kitty Online HKO PhilippinesI crafted items -- cooking, sewing, and forging... it's really fun creating items you can use in the game.

Now finally I'm level 15! Wheee! Looks like there are gonna be a lot more sleepless nights since I've finally reached London and will soon be making my way to Paris in Sanrio World.

If you want to play Hello Kitty Online Philippines, you can simply go to http://www.levelupgames.ph/hko/index.php, download the installer, and register for a free account. The game is currently in its beta phase and slots are limited, so better hurry if you want to experience HKO. Alternatively, if you can't or don't want to download it, you can get installer DVDs from Netopia and Gift Gate.

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Hello Kitty Online comes to the Philippines!
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