A spring menu and rooms with a view at Qiwellness Living (GMA News Online)

Cocktails with a view. Cheers to that!

(This was featured in GMA News Online last June 1, 2015)

From afar, the big crimson front door seemed like part of a private residence. It wasn’t until I saw the sign saying Qiwellness Living (qi is pronounced “chee”) that my interest was piqued by this discreet Tagaytay destination.

Once inside, a picturesque view of Taal Lake and Volcano welcomed me and my dinner mates. It was a bit foggy when we arrived late in the afternoon, but I could still see the faint silhouette of the famous peak.

I turned to my immediate surroundings—modest interiors with Chinese-inspired furnishings and décor. The entrance is on the third level where we somehow got a closer view of the volcano, compared to the perspective from the lower level.

The dining area with its 18-seater table and chairs with two-meter-high backs was the first thing I noticed when I entered the establishment. We were told that it was inspired by the Ming Dynasty, when the Chinese would wear heavy fur coats and hang them on the back of the chairs.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Recharge and rejuvenate at The Farm at San Benito (GMA News Online)

(This feature was published in GMA News Online last January 31, 2013)

I thought I would start the year right by disconnecting from the busy city life and going on a quiet retreat somewhere.

Since I didn’t want to go too far, I decided check out The Farm at San Benito, in Batangas, which attracts visitors from all over – both local and foreign. I brought my mom with me so we can both experience a healing journey at The Farm and have some mother-daughter bonding time, too.

Although guests of The Farm may avail of transportation from them, I decided to drive myself and enjoy the first part of the journey. From south of the Metro, it took us an hour and a half to get to this secluded sanctuary in Lipa.

A secluded sanctuary

As we got nearer, we passed through a winding road that was lined with tall mahogany trees. We haven’t arrived at our destination yet, but I felt one with nature already. I couldn’t wait to breathe the cool and fresh air!

I have always been curious about The Farm since I’ve heard of its health and wellness retreats. I discovered that it specializes in organic weight loss, diabetes prevention and management, beauty & longevity, heart health and stress reduction, environmental detox and an all-inclusive luxury premier retreat.

<Read the rest of the article HERE.>

Confessions of a Bikram Yoga Beginner (WhenInManila.com)

(This piece was published in WhenInManila.com last April 20, 2012)

When in Manila, it’s normal to feel hot and humid, but sweating it out in Bikram Yoga is a whole different thing. What makes this particular yoga more challenging is that practitioners get to do their usual poses in a heated room that is about 35 degrees Celsius. Yes, this is one hot yoga!

There are actually health reasons behind the use of heat. The primary reason is that it lessens the chance of injury, as muscles get some sort of outside assistance in warming up. Also, since it is more challenging to breathe in warm air than in an air-conditioned place, the heat provides an opportunity to strengthen the lungs as well. Lastly, it is believed that the immune system gets a boost as white blood cells proliferate in a warm environment.

Tristan Choa, Founder of Bikram Yoga Manila and an advocate of yoga in its many forms, explains all these and believes that, “Pretty much anyone can practice yoga.” It has done him wonders as well. When he started practicing Bikram Yoga ten years ago, he was 204 pounds, had a 38-inch waistline, and had scoliosis of 10-degrees of vertical and three knee operations. Now, he’s 173 pounds, has a 34.5-inch waist, and gained half an inch in height as his scoliosis corrected. He’s also able to participate in triathlons already.

Tristan was the instructor when I first tried Bikram Yoga and I can imagine how he must have lost all the excess weight and become more fit. The simple breathing exercises at the start made me perspire already! I thought it would be challenging to stay in the heated room for an hour while doing yoga poses, but I was able to go through it. I just acclimatized to the environment and listened to the instructions given. Tristan was very motivating and he went around the room to check on everyone and made sure that we’re doing the right thing.

<Read the rest of the article HERE.>

The Raw Truth (Herword.com)

(This was published in the Healthdesk section of Herword.com last February 28, 2012)

South Beach. Atkins. Cohen. These are just a few of the most famous diet programs that have been all the rage among the health-conscious lot, some of which have become only a fad to some. The raw food lifestyle, however, is not just another diet craze. It is more of a lifestyle change where a person shifts from eating the usual cooked food to purely raw cuisine.

But why go raw?

The beauty of raw food is that it has live enzymes and all the vitamins, minerals, proteins, and phytonutrients are in their natural state. Raw food advocates have enhanced vitality since they are able to take in 100 per cent of all those goodness, compared to cooked food which only has 20 per cent.

According to certified raw food chef and health coach Mona Lisa Neuboeck, “The raw food lifestyle is the simplest, healthiest, most satisfying way to detoxify the body and obtain/maintain a slim figure, great skin quality, and with the bonus of being the most environmentally friendly way of eating.”

<Read the rest of the article HERE.>




A Spa Sanctum Called Suriya (asianTraveler)

(This piece was featured in asianTraveler: Cosmopolitan Sanctuaries 2011 issue)

City life can be so stressful at times–with its hectic pace, crowded streets, and constant pollution, among other things. Seeking refuge in spas offers urbanites a respite from their busting life in the metropolis. A full pampering experience can do wonders for the senses, and Suriya Spa offers such, as it is one of the more established spas in the metro.

Leading a raw-volution (Herword.com)

(This article was published in Herword.com last September 23, 2010)

Does one really need to be a chef in order to prepare raw food?  How difficult could it be to mix together a few leafy greens, sliced veggies, and vinaigrette?  There’s actually more to raw food and its preparation than putting together a simple salad.  Vegan raw food chef and health coach, Cheloy Ignacio, can actually whip up your favorite comfort food using all raw ingredients.  She has been doing so for years now, ever since she became a raw food advocate.  Her passion for it has led to opening her own raw food restaurant aptly called RawVolution—Cheloy’s Living Food Cuisine.

(Source: www.rawfoodphils.com)Chef Cheloy did not always live on raw food.  In fact, she used to own one of the most successful ensaymada businesses out there.  And when she was younger, she used to indulge on very fatty foods such as bacon and aligue (crab fat).  She says, back then, she could finish two kilos of prawns in one sitting, and that her favorite part of the shrimp was its head with all its fatty goodness.  But that is all in the past now.  Nowadays, she is happy and content on living on fresh fruits, vegetables, and everything else that would be suitable to her raw food lifestyle.

The defining moment

The raw food diet is not the first diet she has tried.  She has experimented with practically all kinds of diets before, but none really worked.  For her, a diet is not only a means to change her physical appearance; she actually wanted to overhaul her health.  At the young age of 19, she was diagnosed with preeclampsia while she was pregnant with her first child.  The fluctuation in her blood pressure and sugar level had a negative—and ultimately, fatal—effect on her baby.  The baby passed away a couple of days before the actual due date.  But going through that traumatic situation did not change Cheloy’s lifestyle.  Her unhealthy way of life put her in and out of the hospital.  Her blood pressure even reached as high as 280/110, and at the age of 23, she suffered a mild stroke.

From that time on, until she was about in her midforties, she became a regular visitor to hospitals and also became very dependent on medication.  She experienced so many different ailments that her application for health insurance was not approved.  For years, she survived on her medications, until one day, she had the strength to say to herself that enough is enough.  Her will to live free from any sickness was so strong that she was able to find a way to do so.

In her quest for good health, she came across some information about raw food diet and became so passionate with it that she gave up her successful ensaymada business for it.  Her interest in it led her to the U.S. where raw food is all the rage.  She went to Boston and studied raw food preparation under Alissa Cohen.  Now she is a certified health coach and raw food chef, and she is putting both to good use in her restaurant.  When Cheloy is not preparing some seaweed salad or some other dish, she is teaching raw and vegetarian food preparation.

A lifestyle change

For Cheloy, the raw food diet is not just a craze; it has become part of her daily life.  Since she has integrated this diet in her life in 2006, she never took maintenance medicines like she had to before.  Her general health has greatly improved, and most especially, her zest for life.  Her priorities have changed, too.  Cheloy honestly admitted she used to be so vain that she would spend thousands of pesos on cosmetic products, and burn more money on her other indulgences.  As her perception changed, she learned to give up those luxuries and prioritized her health instead.  Now, she would rather spend more on updating her restaurant’s kitchen equipment rather than adding another coveted beauty product to her cosmetic collection.

Health is her number one priority now.  She cringes every time she thinks about what happened in the past.  She enjoys living healthy now and even confessed that she does not have cravings for normal cooked foods anymore.  She would rather prepare a fresh banana shake in the morning rather than go back to her old lifestyle where she had her daily dose of maintenance medicines.  She found healing through her raw food diet.  Aside from providing the necessary nutrition she needs, eating raw food helped eliminate the toxins in her body.  Since raw food is high in fiber but low in cholesterol and sugar, it showed a great improvement in her blood pressure, blood circulation and other body functions.  Cheloy also lost about five pounds within three days of getting into the raw food diet.  She hopes to inspire others to try eating raw food and living a healthier life.  Cheloy happily shares that, “This is my lifestyle and this is my choice.”

All about anti-perspirant deodorants (Herword.com)

(This article was published in Herword.com last September 21, 2010)

I’m no athlete but I pride myself in maintaining an active lifestyle for the last few years or so. I’ve tried the past and present sports crazes such as badminton, boxing, and running. Aside from the equipment and gear that were required in each sport, the other important thing to have so one can participate in these activities is an effective anti-perspirant deodorant. Nothing spells major embarrassment than having noticeable sweat stains on your underarms when you’re in the company of others, which is why it is vital to use a good anti-perspirant deodorant.
Rexona Bioprotection

My latest discovery is the newest product by Rexona – Rexona Women Naturals BIOPROTECTION. It’s a spray type of deodorant that comes in a 150 ml green and white pressurized can. It claims to be made with natural ingredients that “Lets your skin breathe,” which is one of the main reasons why I decided to try it out. The other reason is its claim to have anti-perspirant properties that lasts for 24 hours. Since I am still on the lookout for the perfect deodorant, I bought one home to sample it out for myself.

The nice thing about a spray type of deodorant is that you don’t have to apply it directly on your underarms unlike roll-on types that could darken your skin and leave unsightly white residue on your clothes. This deodorant spray doesn’t leave any marks, but it leaves a fresh-smelling scent that definitely protects you against body odor. The scent, though, can be a bit overpowering, which is why it would be better to spray it in a room where there is adequate ventilation. A useful feature of this product is its “on and off” switch that allows you to turn it on and spray as needed. You can also leave it in its “off” switch so there won’t be any chance of accidentally pushing the spray feature, especially in places where there are sources of ignition, as this spray is flammable.

I like this particular deodorant spray for everyday use because it is effective as an anti-perspirant and it provides protection against unpleasant body odor. But when I used it during those times when I really needed it – when I go jogging in a fun run, or take part in some sport – I discovered that it doesn’t really deliver on its promise. It did not give me enough anti-perspirant protection, but it did provide a fresh scent to mask bad odors.

This Rexona deodorant claims to have “Natural ingredients essential for healthy skin,” and I have no way to confirming or disproving that; although I can say that it did not darken or dry out the skin on my underarms. I would definitely recommend this deodorant spray for everyday use. But for those who have active lifestyles, well, maybe you should join me in my ongoing quest for the perfect anti-perspirant deodorant!

Sunblock for the rainy season (Herword.com)

(This product review, which was co-written with Ana Santos, was published in the Tester section of Herword.com last July 20, 2010)

Nivea Sun Invisible Protection Spray

Product Category:
sunscreen spray

Php510 for a 150mL bottle

Available at:
Watsons nationwide

Nikka Sarthou with Ana Santos

Just because it’s overcast outside it doesn’t mean that you can leave the house without any sun protection. Although the sun may not be shining in its full force, some of its UV rays can still pass through and cause harm to your skin. Even during cloudy days, it is still possible to be exposed to the sun’s UV rays since the clouds can only filter so much.
Nivea Sun Invisible Protection Spray

The sunburn that it could cause may not be as apparent as the one during summertime, but constant exposure to the sun may eventually lead to skin cancer, which is why it is important to apply sunscreen all the time.

I’m a big fan of sunscreen but what gets to me is that it leaves that greasy feeling and that mild scent of coconut, which I don’t mind at all when I’m at the beach. But here in the metro, I prefer something light and unnoticeable. Then I discovered Nivea Sun Invisible Protection Spray.

This sunscreen in a bottle is different from the usual sunblock products that I’ve tried. First of all, it comes in a spray bottle, which makes its application easier. I don’t have to depend on someone else to spread some sunblock on those hard to reach places like my back area. I can simply spray it on myself as I please. The bottle doesn’t even have to be on an upright position when I use it. I can turn it upside down and spray it at any angle I want and it can still do its job.

The other thing that I really like about it is that it is “invisible.” It doesn’t leave white residue like other sunblock products do, but it is not entirely invisible. You can see the spray product on your skin as you use it, but it gets absorbed easily, which is what makes it “invisible.” Its clear formula makes it very convenient for everyday use. I can apply some before I leave the house and nobody will notice that I’m wearing sunblock. No embarrassing white marks or noticeable sunblock scent.

Since its texture is clear and ultra-light, it doesn’t leave that sticky and greasy feeling on my skin. This is one of the things that I love about it because it doesn’t make me feel uncomfortable, especially during those very humid days when I would sweat like a pig. I mean, it’s one thing when you’re at the beach and you can simply head to the water to cool off, but it’s different when you’re in the city.

This new formula from Nivea makes the sunscreen quick to absorb, which can immediately protect your skin upon application. No need to wait for a few minutes before heading out. Other sunscreen products require around twenty minutes or so before it can take effect. But this particular brand of sunscreen gives you immediate protection so you can head out as soon as you want to and let you enjoy your day right away.

Nivea Sun Invisible Protection Spray is definitely a cut above the rest among other sunscreen products. My only reservation about it is that it comes in a big bottle, which doesn’t make it handy to bring along with you wherever you go. It would be nice if it came in a smaller bottle that can easily fit in any bag, and make it possible for you to reapply it as often as needed.