Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in retrospect... a year-ender post from Animetric

I was a writer before I was a blogger.

I got published for the first time back in 2006, when I won The Philippine Star and National Bookstore's My Favorite Book Contest. After that, Philippine Star Entertainment Editor Ricky Lo published my review for the film The Devil Wears Prada.

The Philippine Star pretty much got the ball rolling for me.

I'm something of a late bloomer. See, I shunned writing after graduating from Ateneo de Manila University back in 1995. My whole college career consisted of writing all sorts of papers whose topics ranged from a reaction to the latest mass I attended (and I'm not even Catholic!) to Immanuel Kant's investigation into reason. Ateneo = writing. You can't not write and survive in the Ateneo. I had papers coming out of my ears, which was why I refused to write after college.

Animetric's WorldGood Housekeeping Philippines is technically the first magazine where I got published, but it's at ABS-CBN's Working Mom where I became a regular contributor... although I did get to contribute to GH again after almost two years -- watch out for it in the upcoming March 2010 issue!

Working Mom Magazine November 2009 issue2009 marks one year of writing for WM for me, and by this time I have a few more publications under my belt: Health Today, Moms Today, and Cradle Magazine. I also had a brief stint as a food writer for Summit Media's Spot.ph earlier this year and I am forever thankful for the experience. It was during that time that I learned how to photograph food plus I got to meet and work with such great people.

All the while I was writing professionally, I kept an online journal at Multiply wherein I had a network of moms and friends who would actually take time to read whatever it is that I'd post. My friend the IT Professor Beia urged me to activate my blogger account, which I did back in February 2009 (with a meager four posts for the whole month!). I was worried that my Multiply readers would not migrate with me, and that no one would bother to even look at what I'd put up. My move to blogger/blogspot was my formal initiation into the Pinoy blogosphere. I didn't have a hard time since I could code raw html. I did after all, create and maintain the anime review site animetric.com for seven years before I got bored and sold it to an American guy.

2009 is ending. As I look back in the last several months that I've been a blogger, I'm rather surprised that I've somehow managed to:
  • Become a finalist at the 2009 Philippine Blog Awards' Family and Living Category
  • Become a brand ambassador for the Sony Cyber-shot TX-1
  • Become Nuffnang's Featured Blogger for November AND December
  • Become a blogger for Tech Exchange
  • Get 2,500+ unique visits on my blog every week
  • Get over 200 feed subscribers and Facebook fans
  • Get Google PR3 and top Google search results for whatever it is that I blog about... try googling "Chowking Delivery"... :p
For all this I am very thankful. Thankful to each and everyone who takes time to drop by and read what I post. Thankful to those who believe in me and what I can do. Thankful that God still lets me do things that make me happy on top of the many responsibilities that I need to fulfill. Unfortunately, I cannot write and blog full time and this is something I can do only on the side.

As 2009 comes to a close, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! :D


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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Share your financial goal for 2010 and win a Sunlife Kulay Pinoy Planner!

I was taught to save money at an early age by my aunt. She was very thrifty, the type of person who would always remind us to save water. electricity, and just about everything one could save. I had my own savings account during my elementary years, wherein I'd deposit my weekly allowance, birthday and Christmas money... it became a habit which I kept until I graduated and started working. Most of my salary would go into savings.

Now that I'm a mother, I try my best to teach my children about the value of money and how to use it wisely. It's never too early to start them on the path to financial freedom.

Kulay Pinoy Daily Organizer from Sunlife FinancialWhat about you? Do you have a financial goal for 2010? Share your thoughts by posting a comment below and you could be one of five (5) winners of a Sunlife Financial Kulay Pinoy Daily Organizer pictured above.
  • Contest is open to Philippine residents.
  • Deadline for entries is January 3, 2009.
  • Five (5) winners with the best answers will win a Sunlife Financial Kulay Pinoy Daily Organizer to help them keep track of their financial goals for 2010.
  • Prizes will be shipped to the winners.
Plus, get a chance to win a Rudy Project watch by posting the same goals you posted here on http://www.itstime.com.ph/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=23

Special thanks to Sunlife Financial Philippines for making this contest possible. Check out http://www.itstime.com.ph/ to learn about Sunlife's advocacy on financial literacy for Filipinos.

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Hot Pot gets personal at Healthy Shabu-Shabu

My hubby and I tried Healthy Shabu-Shabu at the Podium for the first time last Dec. 19, 2009. In this age of eat-all-you-can hot pot restaurants, I was surprised that that they still sold ingredients for cooking ala carte.

Table setting at Healthy Shabu-ShabuWhat sets Healthy Shabu-Shabu apart from other hot pot places is the fact that you can order personal servings of your desired ingredient -- thus saving you from pigging out and actually living up to the name Healthy Shabu-Shabu. Check out the solo-sized cooker on the table above. Each person gets his own hot pot.

US Angus Beef Set at Healthy Shabu-ShabuThe solo hot pot servings are categorized in the menu under Individual Sets. I ordered US Angus Beef Set (P615, pictured above). The server poured hot soup stock into my pot. Afterwards, she set a plate full of raw hot pot ingredients like noodles, vegetables, fish balls, corn, etc. and 100g of thinly sliced beef in front of me. I was also given small bowls of minced garlic, sate, green onion, and chili so I can make my own hot pot sauce. If you're clueless, you can ask the server to concoct it for you. My hubby settled for the Pork Tenderloin Set (P315), which was exactly the same as what I had, except that instead of beef he got 100g of thinly sliced pork.

Ebi Tempura Rice at Healthy Shabu-ShabuIn case the Individual Sets don't satisfy your hunger, you can always order rice toppings. Hubby ordered an Ebi Tempura Rice (P195, pictured above) since he was really hungry at the time.

Healthy Shabu-Shabu is a very pricey hot pot place with lovely interiors and good service. Ordering an individual Wagyu Beef Set will set you back P1,250 -- but the meat slices are paper thin anyway so I don't think you can actually taste the difference between that and the P615 US Angus Beef Set and the P325 Beef Striploin Set. Meanwhile, an individual King Crab Set will cost you a whopping P2,595. I can't even begin to imagine how much a group meal consisting of Wagyu Beef and King Crab would cost. To be fair though, hubby and I agreed that we felt just the right level of fullness after eating an individual hot pot set at Healthy Shabu-Shabu.

But really folks, you're better off going to KingOne Rotary Hot Pot where you can get all the US beef you want and over 90 other hot pot ingredients for a very reasonable price of P499.

Healthy Shabu-Shabu
2/F The Podium
ADB Ave., Ortigas Center
914-1028

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Did you win the special gift basket from Tang?

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who shared their thoughts on Tang's social experiment on Filipino kids' independence. There were a total of 93 valid entries for the Tang gift basket, and I entered each and every single name into random.org's list randomizer.

Tang gift basket e-raffle resultsAs you can see, the winner is... mrsmartinez!

Special gift basket from Tang
Congratulations mrsmartinez! You will receive a special gift basket from Tang. I'll contact you with regards to prize claiming. Hopefully the basket will make it in time for Media Noche. :D

Again, special thanks to Tang and Kraft Philippines for making this contest possible.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The New Me

From shabby to silky!

The photos above were taken on the same day, before and after I underwent the Japanese Magnetic Hair Straightening procedure at Shuji Kida Hair Salon. It cost me quite a bit of money and it took several hours to complete, but it was worth every cent and every minute of my time.

Animetric at 3 years old
I wasn't born with coarse, thick, and unmanageable hair. In fact, when I was a little girl, my hair was straight -- that's me on the extreme left, beside my mom during my third birthday. Sometime during my adolescent years, it changed. Suddenly I had waves. My hair went from flat to fluffy. I had a hard time getting ready for school because it was so hard to style and I had to live through one bad haircut after another.

When rebonding became the rage, I went for it but ended up with stick straight hair with texture that rivalled that of a walis tingting. I searched long and hard for a solution to my hair problem until at last I stumbled upon this process.

Hair straightened by Shuji Kida's Japanese Magnetic Hair Straightening after shampoo
Having soft and silky hair has given me the confidence to take on more challenges. As a writer and blogger, I have to attend many events which require me to look at the very least presentable. Even after months have passed, my hair is still as manageable as the day I had it magnetically straightened. No more hiding behind a boring ponytail, no more struggling with my brush and blower. I was transformed.

Me and my Glutamax
GlutaMAX, See the Results.

If the hair is a woman's crowning glory, it's equally important to have clear, fair, and flawless skin. With good skin, you won't even need make-up -- your smile is all you'll need to light up your face. Get it with GlutaMax.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Award-winning sisig at Congo Grille!

I'm very picky about sisig. I don't want it too moist, I'm particular about the smell, and I don't like sisig that's made purely of chopped pig ears, nose, and stuff like that. Given that, I was quite intrigued when Congo Grille invited Hearty, Mrs. Martinez, and myself to sample their famous Pork Sisig (and then some), which was hailed as the 2007 Sisig Festival Champ in Pampanga.

Cheese Sticks and Tex Mex Nachos at Congo GrilleWe started off with Cheese Sticks (pictured above left) and Tex Mex Nachos (P170, pictured above right). Strangely enough I didn't find the Cheese Sticks in the menu, so I have no idea how much it costs. The crunchy, slightly spicy, and very flavorful Tex Mex Nachos was served with salsa on the side. These are great starters that get the table conversation going while you wait for the main dishes.

Bagoong Rice at Congo GrilleWe were asked for our choice of rice, to which I agreed to Bagoong Rice (P125, pictured above). There was also Congo Rice (P180) which was steamed rice coated in squid ink topped and with calamares. I've actually never had squid ink before so I tried one spoonful of the Congo Rice. I discovered squid ink has no taste. I think I prefer the Bagoong Rice.

Pork Sisig at Congo GrilleNext up was the much-awaited award-winning Pork Sisig. I squeezed the calamansi all over it and took a spoonful. It was delicious. Yes, it was moist, and normally I don't like moist sisig but this one was crunchy at the same time. In fact it tasted quite a bit like chicharon. It was very good, and it's now up there along with the only other sisig which I actually eat -- Dencio's.

Tuna Belly at Congo GrilleA 300g portion of Tuna Belly (P300, pictured above) was also served, along with a plate of Sizzling Stuffed Squid which I unfortunately failed to take a picture of. I loved the Sizzling Stuffed Squid. Grilled, sliced, and served with this stuffing made of diced onions, cheese (yes cheese!), bell peppers, and a little bits of squid -- simply delicious!

Congo Mango at Congo GrilleOf course, no meal is complete without yummy desserts... Congo Mango (P85, pictured above) was brought out. Made of graham layers and cream infused with mango bits, it was lovely. The cream filling had the cold temperature and consistency of ice cream with the sweet-tangy flavor of ripe mangoes.

Frozen Maki at Congo GrilleFrozen Maki (P120, pictured above) is another unique dessert creation. Creamy vanilla ice cream is wrapped in frozen chocolate crepe and served with chocolate sauce on the side. I liked that it was not overly sweet.

Congo Grille also offers kiddie meals in its menu for family dining. The smoking area is fully enclosed while the non-smoking areas are very brightly lit and cheerful so it is rather conducive to wholesome family meals. For a complete list of branches, check out their website at http://www.congogrille.com

Congo Grille
Tomas Morato cor. Sct. Limbaga St., Quezon City
332-2193 or 94
http://www.congogrille.com

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tang's social experiment on Filipino kids' independence

Can Filipino kids be trusted to make bigger decisions and more grown-up choices? This is the question that Tang asked when it conducted its first social experiment recently.

One hundred kids aged 7-9 years old from the C and D socio-economic classes were given P500 each and ushered into a makeshift store. They could buy anything from food to toys to school supplies. They could event opt to donate to Ondoy victims.

What did they decide to do with the money? I encourage you to watch the video below to find out.


A whopping 99 out of 100 children chose to save a large percentage of the money. The average amount spent was P150, while the remaining money was set aside for savings. Of the money spent, most were used to buy school supplies. 20% of the children decided to donate to Ondoy victims, and of this 20%, half were victims of Ondoy themselves. The one child who decided to spend all the money did so in order to buy school supplies for all his siblings.

Surprised? What do you think?

I'd like to point out that all of these kids are in school, so I am inclined to believe that education has a lot to do with this type of behavioral development. It is very good to know that kids are learning to be responsible at an early age. There is still hope for our country after all. :)

Share your thoughts on Tang's social experiment on Filipino kids' independence. Post a comment below, who knows you just might win a special gift basket from Tang.

Special gift basket from Tang
All comments posted from now until Dec. 27, 2009 will be entered in a special contest. There will be one winner of a special gift basket from Tang. Only one comment per person please.

Special thanks to Tang and Kraft Philippines for making all of this possible. Also check out http://www.knowkids.org.ph.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Love the Night -- 2 more weeks to win a Sony Cybershot TX-1!

What do these food photos have in common?

Starbucks Cheer Party invitation and Peppermint Brownies at Starbucks
Lots-a-Tots at Hooters Manila Bay
Melt-in-your-mouth Braised Pork at Tokyo Tokyo Metro
Braised Pork Rice at Feng Wei Wee
They were all taken indoors at night, either as part of an evening meal. They were all taken with the Sony Cybershot TX-1.

The good news is, you still have two more weeks to win the Sony Cybershot TX-1 by joining the Sony Cybershot TX-1 Snapshot Challenge. All you have to do is take a photo of any of the following categories: Food, Fashion, Travel, and Technology -- and no, you don't have to use a Sony Cybershot TX-1. Any point-and-shoot camera will do.

View the complete contest mechanics HERE.

Go go go! The Sony Cybershot TX-1 is an excellent camera. All the photos you see on this blog from October 26, 2009 onwards were taken by my lovely little pink Sony Cybershot TX-1.

Sony Cybershot TX-1 digital camera in pink
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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Delicious portable pasta noodles at Goodles!

There's a new pasta place in town -- Goodles, which specializes in fresh and delicious pasta-to-go.

Goodles at Robinsons GalleriaLocated on the 4th level of Robinsons Galleria right across the cinema area, Goodles' portable pasta is a good alternative to the usual movie food fare of popcorn, chips, and burgers -- it's perfect if you're rushing to catch a flick and have no time for lunch or dinner.

Goodles portable noodles owner Sharlene TanAlthough Goodles has a dining area for customers who wish to eat there, Goodles General Manager Sharlene Tan says that Goodles aims to provide the same high-quality pasta you would normally experience at a full-service restaurant on-the-go. Prices are also lower than the usual P200-P400 you'd pay at such an establishment. All of Goodles' offerings are priced below P200, but Shar assures us that she uses no less than the finest ingredients. She doesn't use canned mushrooms and sauces, everything is fresh and concocted in her own kitchen. If Shar looks familiar, it's because she used to be the Food Editor of Summit Media's Yummy Magazine. :)

Goodles Classic with sauteed fresh mushrooms and Chill Beverage at Goodles Robinsons GalleriaFor my first taste of Goodles, I decided to order the Goodles Classic (P125, pictured above left) as recommended by Fran. It was an olive oil-based pasta with lots of juicy fresh tomato chunks, white cheese, and fresh basil. I went for the optional sauteed fresh mushrooms, which costs an additional P25. It tasted so fresh and light so it was pretty easy to polish off. In fact, I loved it so much I had the exact same thing for lunch the next day. I found the Chill orange-flavored water they serve quite intriguing too -- light and refreshing, with a bit of the soda-pop effect of soft drinks but not as strong. :)

Grape Carbonara at Goodles Robinsons GalleriaGoodles has ten different yummy pasta offerings in its menu, but I will highlight my top three faves here. Another must-try is the Grape Carbonara (P165, pictured above). Large pieces of sweet, juicy, and seedless grapes are mixed in the light and creamy white sauce. There's also a generous helping of bacon bits and mushrooms... it's easily one of the best carbonaras I've ever had. My daughter, who hates fruits and pasta, really loved the Grape Carbonara. I was so amazed that for the first time in her life she finished a small plate of pasta thanks to Goodles -- and she ate the grapes too. She never eats fruit no matter how hard I try to make her.

Moroccan Beef at Goodles Robinsons GalleriaAnother pasta variant that left a lasting impression on me was the Moroccan Beef (P145, pictured above). It's very flavorful, I could smell and taste a variety of spices in the sauce, including curry. It is topped with cream, cheese sauce, and chopped chives.

Goodles pasta are incredibly al dente too. I can't get over how perfectly cooked they are. Yum! I want to go back already. :)

Goodles
4th Level, Robinsons Galleria
Ortigas Ave. cor Edsa, Quezon City

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Get clear and pimple-free skin this Christmas -- 50% off Clean and Clear Oil Control Film!

All the late-night partying and food tripping this holiday season could very well wreak havoc on the skin. Not only that, the cooler weather during the -ber months can dry the skin and make oil glands overcompensate. I for one wouldn't want my face to look all shiny in all the Christmas photos we'll surely be taking.

Clean and Clear Christmas promo bundlesThe good news is, Clean & Clear is giving us 50% off the Clean & Clear Oil Control Film. I always have a pack in my bag because my skin tends to get oily. I don't normally wear make-up so it's perfect for me -- all I have to do is get a sheet and pat it all over my face and voila! I have a matte and clean-looking face in a jiffy.

You can avail of the 50% off in two ways:
  • Purchase Clean & Clear's Pimple Clearing Kit, which consists of one tube of Clean & Clear Active Clear Pimple Clearing Cleanser (50g) and a pack of Clean & Clear Oil Control Film for P 133.50
  • Purchase Clean & Clear's Fair Glow Kit, which contains one tube of Clean & Clear Clear Fairness Cleanser (100g) and a pack of Clean & Clear Oil Control Film for P 186.50
When I was younger, I'd buy Clean & Clear products during trips to the US. It's finally here and it's a lot more affordable compared to those days.

Promo will run until December 31, 2009.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A taste of Taiwan at Feng Wei Wee

Feng Wei Wee is a little Taiwanese eatery along Wilson St. which serves great tasting and affordable home-style Chinese food. It's one of our top picks for a quick and delicious meal when we're in the area.

Feng Wei Wee interiors and Onion PizzaThe interiors are simple and brightly lit. There is a glass counter where you can pretty much point at the dish you want to order (think Chinese turo-turo). One of the more unique offerings is the Onion Pizza (P40, pictured above right) which is served with a tasty soy-based sauce. For an additional P10, they will top the Onion Pizza with a thin layer of scrambled egg. I prefer it as is, but my hubby likes it better with the egg. Onion Pizza is a great way to get your children to eat veggies -- our kids love it!

Braised Pork Rice at Feng Wei WeeAnother favorite is the Braised Pork Rice (P50, pictured above), which is steamed white rice topped with saucy ground pork. Again, it's a big hit with the kids. My 5-year old daughter, who normally shies away from meat, was able to finish one serving all by herself.

Soy Tofu at Feng Wei WeeSoy Tofu (P60, pictured above) is a good side dish for the Braised Pork Rice.

Kikiam at Feng Wei WeeWe tried the Kikiam (P80, pictured above), which is freshly fried until the outer layer is crispy and served with the most delicious chili garlic sauce I've ever tasted. Wow, if I could bottle that sauce and take it home I would.

Cuapao and Banana with Milk and Sago at Feng Wei WeeFeng Wei Wee also has the BEST Cuapao (P60, pictured above left). It's made to order so the bread is always freshly steamed when served, and the hongma (slow-cooked pork) slices are piping hot. They are quite generous with the filling as you get lots of hongma, kiamchay (mustasa pickled in salt), parsley, and chopped peanuts with sugar. So yummy, it's definitely my favorite merienda fare... I mean, I'd rather have Feng Wei Wee's cuapao than any burger from a fast-food joint any day. For dessert, there's Banana with Milk and Sago (P40, pictured above right) among other iced treats. It had caramelized saba, chewy black pearls, milk, and crushed ice. I liked it, but my son complained that the syrup had a certain bitterness.

Feng Wei Wee also serves authentic pearl milk teas at an average price of P80 per glass. Kind of pricey compared to the food prices but they are really good. The flavor of the brewed tea really comes out and it's not too sweet.

Feng Wei Wee is a great place to go if you're hankering for a good home-cooked meal but don't want to cook. Perfect for when our cook goes on vacation... :p

Feng Wei Wee
Wilson St., San Juan City
723-2039

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nickelodeon Wishology at SM Mall of Asia

Nickelodeon held its Fairly OddParents Wishology event at the SM Mall of Asia last Dec. 6, 2009. A friend gave us a couple of Wishology tickets, and since my kids had never been to a Nickelodeon event before, they were pretty excited.

When we got to the Music Hall at about 2pm, I was shocked by the loooong line of people waiting to get in. It went around in circles and extended as far as outside the mall area. I was really ready to call it a day despite the fact that we came all the way from Quezon City. Fortunately, there was a media registration table and we were able to get in without having to line up for hours.

I registered my kids for the onstage games. I was asked for their genders and ages, and they were assigned to games that suited them. My son was supposed to play in the relay game sponsored by Guess Kids while my daughter was supposed to play in a Barbie-sponsored game for girls. They were given stickers with a letter and a number that corresponded to the game they registered in. After that, the ushers led my kids to the bleachers at the side and told them to sit and wait to be called.

Well guess what, they were never called. They were sitting there and sweating it out the entire time with other contestants and I was just surprised when the Guess Kids Relay Game came up my son was still sitting in the area he was ushered to. He didn't get to play. Not one to take something sitting down, I immediately complained to the usher and game organizer. They line up my son for the next game instead. I informed them that my daughter's letter and number was coming up in a while and I would not want her to be bypassed. They assured me the game was in the later half of the show and that we would be called. They suggested that we go around and visit the sponsor booths to pass the time, which we did.

We couldn't even go near the sponsor booths since they were all very crowded, we could barely move around. Some minutes later I saw little girls being ushered on stage for the Barbie game my daughter registered for. She was bypassed, as my son was. Again I approached the game people and they told me my daughter would play in the second batch which was around 6pm. I was seething at this point because I was not willing to wait till evening just to get a sheet of stickers or something to that effect -- that is if my daughter isn't bypassed yet again. I wanted my kids to experience playing the unique Fairly OddParents themed games on stage, but despite following their protocol and registering ahead of time my daughter was denied that.

My daughter was complaining about not getting her turn at this point. She did sit in the waiting area from 2:30pm to 4:30pm as instructed with her letter and number stuck to her shirt. I told her that we would just go to another party next time and she'd get to participate in the games there. I got my kids and walked out of the event at about 4:45pm.

Thus ended our unpleasant experience at the Nickelodeon Wishology event. This will probably be the first and last time I will take my kids to a Nickelodeon event.

A Merry Spongy Christmas at NickelodeonThis incident reminded me of another bad experience we had with Nickelodeon last December 2008. They held a Christmas promo on their website entitled "A Merry Spongy Christmas". What you had to do was upload a photo and they would cartoonize it and then flash it on TV. If you see your photo on TV, you would get a Spongebob gift pack. Well, my kids photos were flashed on TV. We saw it, their classmates saw it, and even our relatives on the other side of town saw it. But were they given prizes? No they were not. Incidentally, my friend's kids also won in that same promo and got their prizes in the mail.

Bad bad bad. How could they do that to kids during Christmas? I went as far as to call Nickelodeon's marketing department to inquire about the prizes and a woman told me that there were no prizes for that promo. I said it's shown on your website and I have friends who got prizes from that same promo. She mumbled something incoherent and told me to just call again next time. Whatever. I didn't even bother anymore.

At least Cartoon Network delivers what it promises.

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Animetric for Tech Exchange

I posted my first entry for the tech blog Tech Exchange http://tech.exchange.ph last night. Tech Exchange belongs to the Exchange group of sites which include Mom Exchange, Kikay Exchange, and Basketball Exchange.

Friendster Gets a Facelift at Tech ExchangeI've always been techie. Back in the days when blogs were non-existent I'd make websites out of raw html. I pretty much know my way around gadgets, and as is I think I'm one of the few moms out there who personally does her son's Sony PSP modifications and upgrades...

For my first Tech Exchange post, I talked to Ben Dunn, Friendster's Vice President for the Philippines and Global Head of Brand Experience. To see what the new Friendster has in store for you, check out http://tech.exchange.ph/blog/animetric/2009/12/07/friendster-gets-a-facelift.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Give in to giving at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf

This Christmas, give in to your coffee (or tea) cravings at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf and give back by supporting a worthy cause with Give in to Giving: 24 Cups with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

24 Cups with The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf with a CBTL Chai LatteWith this holiday program, every cup of coffee or tea beverage you order at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf automatically lets you help one of 24 non-profit organizations (three of which are based in Cebu for CBTL's Cebu branches) which include the following:
  • Autism Society of the Philippines
  • PAWS
  • Kythe
  • Haribon Foundation
  • Knowledge Channel Foundation Inc.
  • Museo Pambata Foundation
Each branch of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL) will donate a percentage from every cup sold to a specific non-profit organization it is assigned to. For example, having a piping hot cup of CBTL's Chai Latte at the Greenbelt 3 branch helps out the Autism Society of the Philippines, whereas having the same cup at CBTL SM Mall of Asia donates to the Museo Pambata Foundation.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Giving Journal and stamp card
Upon purchase of a CBTL beverage, you'll be given a ticker card to fill up. The ticker card has twelve boxes, so you get a stamp for each drink you order. After twelve drinks, you can exchange your stamp card for a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Giving Journal (pictured above). If you want to give more to the organization the particular CBTL branch is representing, you can also purchase donation certificates.

The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Giving Journal's couponsEach CBTL Giving Journal comes with twelve coupons stored in the back pocket. There's one for every month of the year. The coupons consist of buy one-take one deals, free upsizes, and free drinks. They are CBTL's way of thanking customers for their support and patronage.

For more information about CBTL's holiday program, log on to The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (Philippines) Facebook Page.

CBTL's Chai Latte and Gingerbread Cookies are just the thing for warm fuzzy feelings this Christmas. It's hard to find good gingerbread cookies here in the Philippines but I just found them at CBTL. :D

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A holiday treat from Neutrogena -- 50% off Fine Fairness UV Compacts!

You could say I'm addicted to sunscreen. I don't leave the house without it on my face and exposed body parts such as my arms and neck. It's always on top of my beauty and health necessities list.

50% off on Neutrogena Fine Fairness UV CompactsOne of the products I use is Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Complete UV Waterlight Lotion, but in the event that I actually need to use make-up during the daytime, I'd of course go for something that offers sun protection... like Neutrogena's Fine Fairness UV Compact. It contains vitamin C, licorice extract, and sunscreen so it protects your skin from harmful UV rays that cause dark spots and premature aging. It's great because it feels very light and looks really natural.

The good news is, Neutrogena is taking 50% off the price of its Fine Fairness UV Compacts this Christmas season. Buy one Neutrogena Fine Fairness UV Compact and get a second one at 50% off for P1,063.59 or buy one Neutrogena Body Oil and get a Neutrogena Fine Fairness UV Compact for P939.50. I get really dry skin during the cool -ber months (Jan and Feb too!) so Neutrogena Body Oil is something I actually need this time of year.

These Neutrogena gift bundles will be available at select drugstores and department stores from December 1 to 31, 2009. It's your chance to grab some Neutrogena beauty must-haves at bargain prices!

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Red Ribbon's cakes for Christmas featuring Chocolate Walnut Fudge with Hershey's Dark Chocolate

Since Christmas is the time for giving, sharing, and lots of eating, Red Ribbon recently unveiled two new cakes that will surely brighten up the holidays.

Red Ribbon's Santa's Wish CakeFirst is the Santa's Wish Cake (P550, pictured above). Santa's Wish Cake by Red Ribbon is a rhum butter chiffon cake with a creamy caramel middle layer covered with smooth buttercream icing. Santa's Wish will be available on a pre-order basis from all Red Ribbon branches from November 27 to December 15, 2009. Meanwhile, it will be sold off the shelves from December 22-24, 2009. The Santa design is very cute. :)

Chocolate Walnut Fudge with Hershey's Dark Chocolate at Red RibbonNext up is Chocolate Walnut Fudge with Hershey's Dark Chocolate (pictured above, P680), a Premium Selection cake by Red Ribbon. For such an impressive cake, it's surprisingly affordable.

The Chocolate Walnut Fudge with Hershey's Dark Chocolate is extremely rich, moist, and well... fudgy. The bottom layer is like a chocolatey and nutty fudge brownie while a thick and creamy chocolate mousse comprises the middle layer. It is topped with Hershey's Dark Chocolate shavings and surrounded by Hershey's Dark Chocolate rolls. The folks over at Red Ribbon highly recommend serving it frozen, and I couldn't agree more. A slice can be likened to a dreamy ice cream cake when served out of the freezer. These cakes go so well with my favorite Red Ribbon Hot Brew -- Cappuccino (P45 for a cup, pictured above right).

It's going to be one very decadent Christmas with these new offerings from Red Ribbon.

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Hasbro Family Game Night winners!

First of all, a big thank you to everyone who joined the Hasbro Family Game Night contest!

Hasbro's Trivial Pursuit Digital Choice and Electronic Hyperslide from Color Mix CorporationWithout further ado, I'd like to announce the winners as judged by the management of Color Mix Corporation, the distributor of Hasbro games in the Philippines.

Blog contest winner: Eleanor Aguilar -- check out her winning entry at http://www.darlingaguilar.com/2009/11/family-game-night.html

Photo contest winner: Pearlie Uy

E-raffle winner: Maureen Arevalo

Congratulations to the winners! I will email you with regards to prize delivery.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Free ice cream from Gonuts Donuts!

Whoa! I didn't even know Gonuts Donuts had ice cream...

Free Gonuts Donuts ice creamAnyways, Gonuts Donuts is giving away a FREE tub of ice cream to the first 2000 Facebook Fans, and then a FREE double scoop to the succeeding 1000. That's 3000 freebies in all! Go go go... only 45 fans at the time of this posting.


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Coffee and liquor at Metro by Tokyo Tokyo

What do you get when you combine the quaint and casual charm of a café and the full menu selection of an izakaya? Metro by Tokyo Tokyo!

An izakaya is a type of drinking place usually found on the sidestreets of Japan. Izakaya are known for their wide variety of liquor like sake, beers, and the like served with matching food offerings (think pulutan) which usually consist of yakitori (skewered chicken), sashimi (raw seafood), and oden (Japanese winter soup) among others.

The interiors and Spicy Salmon Gunkan at Tokyo Tokyo MetroWe were invited to experience this fresh urban dining concept last Dec. 1, 2009 at the Glorietta 5 branch of Tokyo Tokyo Metro. I immediately took a liking to the brightly lit and clean modern interiors. Without much ado, we were started off with a serving of Spicy Salmon Gunkan (P195, pictured above right).

The Colossal Metro Burger and Wacky Maki at Tokyo Tokyo Metro
Surprisingly, a humongous burger was laid out in front of us. I even commented that it did not seem very Japanese, but this was one of the three "Headliners", or signature dishes, of Metro by Tokyo Tokyo. The Colossal Metro Burger (P375, pictured above left), which consists of a thick and juicy beef patty, a slice of cheese, a fried egg, chopped mushrooms, and assorted vegetables is sure to challenge one's appetite. It is served with your choice of either nori (seaweed) or wasabi (horseradish) seasoned potato wedges on the side. An interesting-looking sushi called Wacky Maki (P140, pictured above right) also popped up on our table. Tempura shrimp and cream cheese were rolled with nori and vinegared rice and then coated with colored rice puffs.

Metro Meltique Steak at Tokyo Tokyo MetroAnother Headliner is the Metro Meltique Steak (P450, pictured above), which features Australia's Meltique beef. It was very tender, succulent, and flavorful. I can actually say that it's one of the better steaks I've had. Like the burger, it is also served with your choice of seasoned potato wedges. Again though, it's not very Japanese.

Melt-in-your-mouth Braised Pork at Tokyo Tokyo MetroMelt-in-your-mouth Braised Pork (P195, pictured above) is the last of the three Headliners at Metro by Tokyo Tokyo. A bento of rice topped with pork which quite literally does melt in your mouth. It's reminiscent of the Chinese dish Hong Ma, which is stewed and slow-cooked pork. They're not exaggerating with the dish's name, it really lives up to it. This is definitely my favorite Headliner.

Kushiyaki Platter at Tokyo Tokyo MetroFor the izakaya side of Metro by Tokyo Tokyo, yakitori (skewered grilled chicken) and kushiyaki (skewered grilled non-poultry meats) are served alongside alcoholic drinks like sake (rice wine), an assortment of beers, and vodka. The Kushiyaki Platter (pictured above), contains skewers of Aspara Bacon, Chicken Wings, Beef with Shitake Mushrooms, and Butabara (pork belly) among others. Think Japanese pulutan.

Banana Toffee and Cappuccino at Tokyo Tokyo MetroTo cap off a filling meal, a slice of Banana Toffee (P110, pictured above left) along with a piping hot cup of Cappuccino (P75, pictured above right) is highly recommended. Coffee is served with Metro by Tokyo Tokyo's trademark swirl and two sticks of chocolate-flavored Pocky (a popular Japanese snack) which you can also use for stirring.

Metro by Tokyo Tokyo
Ground Level, Glorietta 5
Ayala Center, Makati City
403-1707

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