30 April 2013

Nivea Fruity Shine Lipbalm

I'm sure you've experienced having chapped lips. It's a pain! Ever since I've experienced having chapped lips, I've relied on lip balms to help soothe the pain. I started with the then most famous lip balm (it started with a C) but then, I developed allergies for reasons unknown. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying this to glorify Nivea. I've been using that same lip balm for nearly three years when I developed allergies. I still don't know what caused it. Going back, since my allergies, I had to try other lip balms that will not give me the same reaction. I didn't know what Nivea was back then but I discovered it because of their lip balm. It was among the many others I've tried back then, which thankfully, did not give me any reaction. 

It was difficult for me to try Nivea's lip balm because of two primary reasons. 1) I was very much loyal to my first one, I still couldn't get over how I couldn't use it anymore, 2) Nivea was a little bit more expensive than my previous one. But it was either those two reasons or.. Suffer a long and painful relationship with chapped lips and windburns. I chose to get over my reasons and try out Nivea's Lip Balm.

29 April 2013

Red Hot: MAC Russian Red

I don't know a lot about the chemistry of make-up. I'm still trying to understand undertones. From what I've learned so far, our skin has undertones, and lipsticks also have undertones. Certain lip colors look better, or best, depending on the person's skin undertone. Lipstick colors also have different undertones which determine the shades that would look better or best on people. But as I said, I don't understand much about it yet. I do notice how some colors really do look great and awful on certain people though. 

Red is a very difficult lip color to deal with. Not everyone will look good with red lips. I'm not being a know-it-all or anything, but I've seen some girls with red lips that didn't look so great on them. Hey, I've had my fair share of those awkward looking red lips. That's exactly why I don't really wear lipstick often. But, there is always an exception. 

I tend to be loyal to certain brands, especially if they've proven themselves to me. One of these brands is the well-known brand, MAC Cosmetics. I've been using their concealer and powder foundation since I was in high school, and well, when it was time for me to grow up, I decided to look at their other products. That's when I discovered one of their most famous lip shade: Russian Red.

25 April 2013

My First "Real" Online Shopping Experience at Zalora PH

I discovered online shopping through coupon sites. Before trying these out, I never really bought anything online for, well, fear of being duped. Even after buying lots of coupons online, I still haven't tried (or though of trying) purchasing real products because apart form the possibility of being duped, 1) the actual photo may vary form the real product, 2) the size may not be the same size we have here in the Philippines, and 3) the courier may damage the product (I've had experience with products arriving broken/damaged after being sent through a courier). I just wasn't ready to take a risk. Yet.

But a few weeks ago, I received some really good news. I got into law school! Excited as I was, I knew that I had to go shopping for some new clothes and shoes since most of mine were very "casual" and "summery." I had to "grow up" in a few weeks and start wearing more formal and business attire-ish clothing. What was the problem? I can't just shell out thousands of pesos in a day just to prepare for school. I had to think smart and improvise.

I've been hearing of this new online shopping website from friends and well, trusted sources. When I say trusted sources, I knew that they wouldn't recommend anything which will affect their reputation.  Despite this supposed "reputable" shopping website, I still had my doubts. But they did offer good-looking and affordable shoes that it was very hard to say no to them. After thinking about it and visiting their website numerous times, I took a leap of faith and just "ordered."

I got four pairs of shoes from Zalora Philippines. According to their website, the products will be delivered within 1-3 days. True enough, I received my package on the 3rd day (I was actually expecting it to arrive later than what they posted because sometimes, these things fail you).

24 April 2013

Sun Coral Cafe at Pico de Loro

This is my separate post for our dinner at Pico de Loro's Sun Coral Cafe. As I've mentioned in my vacation getaway post, there were only two restaurants open at Pico de Loro that time -- the Pico Sands Hotel restaurant and Sun Coral Cafe. Since we read a lot of good reviews about Sun Coral Cafe, we decided to have dinner here.

The restaurant was packed when we got there. It was around 7:30 then. The waiter informed us that our dishes will be served after 15 minutes given the current situation. We were okay with it since we really wanted to try the food here. Based on all the travel blogs we read, the cafe's Crispy Pork Belly is a must try. So that's what we got.

Since I couldn't really eat anything dry, we also ordered their Cream of Lettuce Soup. They had other soups, but this was new to us so we decided to try it.

We waited for more than 15 minutes for our food to arrive but all we can say is: IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT! Words cannot describe how good the pork belly was. It had a crisp outer layer, and the meat was just really tender and flavorful. I usually avoid eating the fatty portion of pork bellies because the taste usually makes me throw up, but this was one of the few exceptions. I didn't mind having small fatty portions still sticking to the meat or skin. Every inch of that belly was delicious!

Buffet at Cafe on the Ridge

As I mentioned in my previous getaway entry, I will be posting a separate blog entry for our dinner buffet at Taal Vista. Since I have had the same breakfast buffet here twice, I decided to make a comparison entry on Taal Vista's Cafe on the Ridge breakfast and dinner buffet. 

Cafe on the Ridge's breakfast buffet is not impressive, to be honest. It had the basic dishes we would expect in a typical Filipino home breakfast table -- fried rice, bacon, tapa, fried fish or daing, champorado, arroz caldo, fresh fruits, and cereals. But it lacked variety. Both times we were there, we saw and ate pretty much the same dishes we did the first time. We didn't even bother taking pictures of all the dishes because our pictures would look similar with our first visit. 

1st Visit

Wait! I am not saying it wasn't satisfying. All I'm saying is that I wouldn't pay PhP699++ for a spread like that. Some dishes were actually good, notable. A couple of our favorites include their champorado, scrambled eggs, and fried fish. The champorado was not so sweet and not from a box. It was traditional, home-cooked champorado made with cacao. Gus really liked the scrambled eggs, and as he is an egg person, when he says it's good, I trust him. The fried fish was crispy and just right. It wasn't too salty or too bland. But even if there were exceptions, we think the price for their breakfast buffet is too much. 

2nd Visit

22 April 2013

My Weekly Ritual: Simple Skincare Recipes

I haven't had time to really take care of myself the past few weeks. I guess I fell in love with work too much that I let go of myself. My skin was becoming too dry to the point that I actually felt rough patches on the side of my face/mouth. I freaked out! So a couple weeks ago, I told myself that I needed to get back to my skin care ritual and stick to it. Getting enough sleep at night is just as important as cleansing and moisturizing one's face.

To get rid of the rough patches on my face, I decided to try a homemade remedy. I've been reading a lot about do-it-yourself beauty remedies with ingredients that you can easily find in your kitchen. These are all-natural products with no added chemicals since you'll be making them from scratch using natural ingredients like fruits, vegetables, eggs, etc. With no time to spare shopping for beauty products, I decided to make one using the articles I've read as a guide. My inspiration? An unopened cup of Nestle yogurt in the refrigerator. Here is my simple rough patch remedy:

1/2 tbsp plain yogurt (preferably cooled)
1 tbsp white sugar (salt will be too rough for facial skin)

Cleanse your face thoroughly using a mild facial wash. Mix the two ingredients well and lightly rub the mixture on your face. Don't rush! Enjoy scrubbing away those impurities, and leave the mixture on your face for another minute before washing off with cool water.

Why use yogurt? Yogurt contains lactic acid, which helps smooth and exfoliate the skin. It also contains anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that help heal acne.

What about sugar? Aside from the mildly rough texture of sugar, which can help exfoliate the skin, it also contains glycolic acid. Glycolic acid is essential in conditioning and moisturizing the skin. It encourages a quicker turnover of skin cells, revealing younger-looking skin.

The rough patches on my face became smoother after just one scrub. This is the reason why I decided to continue using this yogurt scrub every week. It really does help make your skin more youthful and supple. 

For my second homemade remedy (I actually learned this from my co-worker), I use fresh, cooled, lemon slices. Lemon is known to have antimicrobial properties that help dry acne. Its acidity is also believed to lighten skin. However, some people experience mild irritation from lemon juice so it is best to try it out on a small area of your skin before applying it on your face. This very easy skin care routine will help brighten and clear your skin.

1 slice of lemon (preferably cooled)

Gently rub the slice of lemon on your face, carefully avoiding the eye area. Let it sit for around 5-10 minutes and rinse with cool water. I do this on a weekly basis since I barely have time to do this every day, but I'm NOT advising you to do it ever day. Keep in mind that lemon juice can dry skin easily because of its acidic property, so it's better to use with an interval. Based on my experience, results can be achieved even if you do this on a weekly basis only. I've been using this for almost a month and a half, and I have to say that my skin definitely improved. I haven't seen the changes in my complexion, but my skin is smoother and it looks fresher than before.

DISCLAIMER: I am in NO WAY a dermatologist or doctor. This article is based on my own experience after reading about the many benefits of homemade remedies for the skin, and after researching on the different properties of the ingredients I used. Experiences with these products may vary since we all have different skin types and allergens. If you wish to try any of my suggestions, PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU ARE NOT ALLERGIC TO ANY OF THE PRODUCTS before trying these recipes.

If you do try any of my suggestions, please leave a comment in my comments box and tell me about your experience. :)

Some articles you might want to read/check out:
Yogurt and Skin
Health benefits of yogurt
Why sugar is good for you
Lemon Juice and Your Skin

21 April 2013

Hair Love: Dove Damage Therapy Intense Repair Deep Repairing Mask

I'm going to blog about my favorite hair mask treatment. Last year, I already blogged about a similar product, which I also liked, but I forgot to write a follow-up featuring the #1 on my list: Dove's Intense Repair Deep Repairing Mask.

As I've already mentioned in my other blog entries, I have really damaged hair because of my annual trips to the salon to have my hair straightened. Before I started having my hair straightened, my hair was already thin. Imagine torturing your already-thin hair with tons of chemicals every year just to look beautiful. Yup, it's not a pretty picture, especially when your hair has lost all its nutrients already.

A year ago, I decided to let my hair grow naturally. No hair treatments that involved chemicals AT ALL. I was able to succeed in that part but since I have very wild, wavy hair, I couldn't let go of the straightening iron completely. I would still use it to straighten my hair from time to time, especially if I have to attend events. Since I couldn't really stop using the iron, I knew that I had to do something to make sure my hair doesn't completely dry. I looked at different products that promised healthier hair, products that "healed" damage hair, and other products that promised to give you shinier, bouncier hair. 

Dove came out with their own line of damaged hair treatments. I heard some really good things about it, especially from some well-known ladies in the entertainment industry *cough*Delamar*cough* Since I trusted the opinions and views of some of those ladies, I decided to try Dove and see the results myself.

I tried Dove's Damage Therapy Intense Repair Treatment. Just like most hair treatments, it had a coagulated texture, somewhat viscous. It had a really nice smell, one that I would later find out, could last for more than a day. After trying it out for a month, using it once a week, I noticed how soft my hair had become. It also obviously looked healthier to me. It wasn't limp and dry anymore!

I really liked what I saw and decided to make Dove a part of my weekly beauty ritual. Ever since I started using Dove, my hair had become more manageable, even without the help of my trusty (but unhealthy) straightening iron. I would sometimes go out without ironing my hair anymore. Plus, as I've already mentioned, the smell is really nice. It wasn't a strong, flowery smell. It had a refreshing smell that wasn't irritating to the nose that could last until the next day. Your hair is sure to smell good even after walking under the sun for quite some time.

This product is a MUST HAVE. I didn't find any downside to the product. Even the price is reasonable. This big container costs only P239.75 (and that could still be lower, depending on where you buy it). 

If you want real healthier hair, try Dove's Damage Therapy Intense Repair Treatment. It really works! If you've tried this before, leave a message in the comments section below and tell me about your experience. Do we have the same experience/results? If not, try it and let me know what you think.

Price Range: +/- P239.75

5 out of 5 for Dove's Damage Therapy Intense Hair Treatment

***This is NOT a paid blog entry. I write what I feel like writing, based on personal experience. Besides, I'm not a huge blogger for companies to ask me to write reviews of their products. I'm just someone who really likes praising (or calling the attention of) products and services that are worthy (or not). :) ***

18 April 2013

Something New: Caffe Bene

As I mentioned in my introductory post on Caffe Bene, it has a wide range of pastries and new drinks. During our visit, we didn't really know what to get since we weren't able to familiarize ourselves with their pastries and beverage selection. Instead of wasting time trying to get to know each product on their menu boards, we decided to go with the first thing that caught our attention.

I ordered a scoop of their espresso gelato after trying out other flavors like green tea and strawberry. I also liked the other two flavors but I thought of getting the flavor which I rarely had. The espresso gelato was really good. The coffee flavor wasn't too strong to the point of overcoming the gelato's creaminess, but strong enough just to let you know it is made with coffee.

Gus tried one of their specialty drinks, the Misugaru Latte, a roasted multigrain based beverage . The multigrain part of this latte caught his attention so he wanted to know how it tasted. Luckily, the drink was very good, he and his sister enjoyed it.

Our first Caffe Bene products.

The best thing I liked about our first Caffe Bene experience is that they actually spelled my name correct. Such a shallow reason but this really made me smile.

Caffe Bene
Eastwood City Walk (along Coffee bean and Tea Leaf, across People are People)
Libis, Quezon City

Binondo Eats: Ang Tunay na Beef House

Another Chinatown post courtesy of my beloved Chinese boyfriend. 

A few weeks back, Gus and I found ourselves in Chinatown, again. This time, I was running an errand for my dad, who wanted to find out the price range of gold rings here in the Philippines (he's in the US).  He requested that we look for it in Chinatown. After going around Binondo, looking for daddy's gold rings, we decided to have lunch before heading home. Since Binondo is like a big pot of delicious, varying delicacies and dishes, we had to spend a few minutes walking around, deciding what and where to eat. We finally decided to eat where Gus' angkong usually eats every Sunday -- Ang Tunay na Beef House.

Ang Tunay na Beef House is like a cleaner, more posh carinderia-style restaurant. It is air-conditioned with very simple tables and chairs. The different dishes they offer are posted on a menu board on the wall behind the food counter. Unfortunately, the prices are not posted.

Most of their dishes can be seen behind this long, stainless steel food counter. Dishes are placed either on plates or in rectangular chafing dishes. Other dishes are made-to-order and are not on display. A serving staff usually comes up to you to take your order once you reach the stainless steel counter. Just tell her which dish you want (and if you're not sure what the dishes are, just point and ask her what it is -- the serving staff are Filipinos.)

17 April 2013

Day 3 of 3: The Last Stop -- Kainan sa Dalampasigan

Before we went back to civilization, Gus and I made sure our vacation was worth more than the expense. We dropped by the famous Kainan Sa Dalampasigan for a late lunch to check out why this restaurant is the most talked about in Nasugbu.

Kainan sa Dalampasigan is along R. Martinez St. It's easy to miss unless you really are looking for the place. If you're coming from Manila-Tagaytay, the street will be on your left side. The restaurant is also on the left side of the street, just a few houses away from the corner where you turned.

You can't miss the entrance to the restaurant. It looks like an enchanted garden with greens hanging above the driveway, and trees and plants along the sides. But, cars give and take as they enter and exit the restaurant compound because the driveway is not wide enough for two cars. 

16 April 2013

Day 2 of 3: A Tale of Two Cities (From Tagaytay to Pico de Loro)

After a wonderful overnight stay, we packed our bags, looked at the view one last time, and bid goodbye to Taal Vista Hotel. We readied ourselves for our next adventure, which was a trip to Hamilo Coast in Batangas City. Our next stop? Pico de Loro.

We've been to other parts of Batangas but this is actually our first time in Pico de Loro. Armed with just a virtual map of Tagaytay to Hamilo Coast, we went on our way to our next destination.

3rd Stop: Pico de Loro Cove, Hamilo Coast, Batangas (Click here for Stop #2)

We didn't really know how to get to Batangas from Tagaytay City. I could vaguely remember going straight, just following the road and eventually finding a sign that says, "Welcome to Batangas City." But of course, my memory could be faulty. So we put our virtual map and my memory together to hopefully get to Batangas just in time for check-in.

12 April 2013

Taiwan Visa Application for Filipinos

Gus and I were supposed to go to Taiwan for a 6-day vacation. Unlike the more famous tourist destinations Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, a visa is required if you want to enter the beautiful land of F4. :)

We planned our vacation for three months. We bought plane tickets as early as January of 2013. We made reservations in this quaint little hostel in Taipei City. Our itinerary was fixed, packed with various tourist destinations that included traveling from the north of Taiwan (Yilan County) to the south (Kaohsiung). Everything was well-planned, including where we would have our first dinner, our first street food, our first night market visit. All we needed was the visa.

Unfortunately, we didn't get one. We had to cancel all the reservations me made, our plane tickets wasted. Why? Because contrary to most of the blog posts I've read about getting a Taiwanese visa, it is actually very difficult to get one. Especially if you're a fresh graduate or on your first job.

Because of our very unfortunate experience, I decided to blog about the process of attaining a Taiwanese visa, to at least prepare/warn those who really want to visit this beautiful country. The process is actually easy. The requirements are the difficult part.

So how do I apply for a Taiwan visa?

Day 1 of 3: Revisiting Tagaytay -- Taal Vista Hotel

Gus and I were supposed to go to Taiwan this summer, but unfortunately, the Taiwanese Embassy denied our visa application. Since we already had a 3-day leave from work, we decided to find an alternative summer getaway. Fortunately, I stumbled upon Taal Vista's tweet about the Ultimate Vacation Package. For PhP12,100, you get to stay overnight in one of Taal Vista's Premier Lake Wing rooms, which has a perfect and beautiful view of the Taal Volcano, and another overnight stay at Pico de Loro in Hamilo Coast, Batangas. It sounds a bit pricey for a 3-day/2-night holiday, right? But let me give you the breakdown of their regular room rates.

Taal Vista Premier Lake Wing Room = PhP8,000-10,000 (depending on the day -- weekday/weekend, peak/non-peak, with or without breakfast buffet)

Pico de Loro Premier Lagoon View Room = PhP6,699 + PhP500/head for non-members/guests of members

Had we availed of separate, regular rates for each room, we would've spent around PhP17,000. This is a PhP5,000 saving!

Day 1 of 3: Cecil's Cafe

1st Stop: Cecil's Cafe

Cecil's Cafe was the first stop on our 3-day vacation getaway. Gus discovered it by accident while he was browsing through various travel blogs. We didn't know whether this stop would break or make our first day on the road. We've been going to Tagaytay since college, but not once did we notice this quaint little cafe on the side of the Sta. Rosa Road. Being the adventurous duo that we are, we decided to just try it out and see if we made the right choice.

Cecil's Cafe is located along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road. You can find it on the right side, if you're coming from Manila, just a few blocks after Nuvali.

02 April 2013

R&J Bulalohan and Tapsilogan: The taste of victory.

The past week has been hell for me and quite frankly, I had lost interest in everything, even blogging. But amidst the darkness that clouded me during what was supposed to be a "Holy Week," the Lord had given me some sunshine.

The results of the Law Aptitude Exam of the Ateneo Law School came out yesterday. I've been planning to apply to law school for the past two years but my fears of being rejected and failing prevented me from doing so. But after two long years, I finally conquered my fear and took the exam. And finally, the day came for me to know whether or not I was going to law school this year.

The 1st of April 2013 was a very long day for me. I knew that the results would come out, but somehow, fate decided to prolong my agony for a few more hours. I couldn't access the website so I still had no idea whether or not I passed. The day was about to end already and still, I was clueless. Until two of my closest friends sent me congratulatory messages.

That's when I knew.

Since I go home at 11:00 at night, Gus and I couldn't really celebrate yet. Most restaurants and malls were already closed. We didn't want to celebrate that night by getting drunk since we were both tired from work and doing errands, so we had to think of a good place to celebrate our little success. That's when I remembered this well-known bulalo house that was open 24/7.

R&J Bulalohan and Tapsilogan is located beside Petron, near the Mandaluyong City Hall. It is a famous bulalo house simply because their bulalo is made of real meat and bones, not beef bouillons. They have two kinds of bulalo -- regular and special. Since there were only two of us, Gus and I decided to order their regular bulalo. For PhP199 only, this was definitely a steal. We got a big bowl of pure meat and bones, with refillable bulalo soup. The only mistake we made was not knowing that the regular bulalo had no vegetables. It was just pure meat and bones.

 PhP 199.00