Confessions: Is Living In Still an Issue? (WMN.ph)

(This “Confessions” article about living in was published in WMN.ph last February 2010)

Is living in still taboo these days? Find out what some Pinay women think about this controversial topic.

“For as long as they love and respect each other, I don’t see any problem with couples living together. It serves as a great dry run for married life. It’s better to uncover the possible points of conflict and work on it before actually saying “I do” and committing yourselves to each other, until death do you part.”
– Cookie, 26


“I’m all for living together. I think it is a practical solution to starting a life together. You never really know someone until you live with him, so it’s better to do it before getting hitched on a more semi-permanent level.”
– Ana, 35

“I prefer that couples get married first before they live under one roof. But I have nothing against couples that live together before marriage. I think every couple is unique with how they handle their relationship and situation.”
– Cielo, 31

“I think that a trial period for young couples is important if they intend to get married in the future. Living in works for some couples, while it’s not an option for other conservative couples.”
– Pauline, 25

“I’m for living in! I think it’s better to test the waters before jumping in.“
– Monica, 30

“I’m against living in because it’s like you’re just playing it safe. I believe that two people who are in love and are committed to each other should get married.”
– Shaine, 34

“I’m personally for it, but I think it’s something that you should do after graduating from college, and of course with the right person.”
– Suby, 29

“I don’t have any issues with couples that live in. Sometimes it’s because of the circumstances that they’re in. I think its pretty much accepted by society already. But being brought up by strict Catholic parents, I would still advocate getting married first. I still believe in the sacrament of matrimony and being part of a union blessed by God.”
– Cor, 29

“Although I’m neutral on this issue, I would not consider this an option if I were in a relationship. Living together should be saved for marriage.”
– Khristine, 31

“Being raised a Catholic, I do a double take on couples living in and do wish that they would get married. But in a way, I am neutral about it because I respect their decision on choosing to live together.”
– Inday D., 28

Finds for Your Baby Fashionista (WMN.ph)

(This “Baby Fashionista” article was published in WMN.ph last December 2009)

Shopping for your baby can be a tedious task if you’re a newbie mom, but you can’t go wrong with buying products that are designed by actual moms who are aware of what you need-and want.

For the modern moms out there, Proud Mama Concepts offers creative and fashionable solutions to parenting. This is the brainchild of Rianna Roces-Trinidad and Sheryll Ang-Tiong- real-life moms who addressed the needs and wants of moms by creating items like the Reversible Nursing Cover and Funkyfeet Not-Quite-Shoes, among others.

All About Funkyfeet

Have you ever seen those cute little socks that look like shoes? Well, these not-quite-shoes are what they call Funkyfeet. These come in adorable designs like Little Miss Mary Janes (bestseller), Retro Ruffles, Bows on My Toes, Super Sneakers (bestseller), Li’l Loafers, and Fashionista Flats. They also have what they call the Patternista Edition, which offers two fun designs-Candy Janes and Skaterboy.

Funkyfeet fits most babies from 0 to 12 months, and these come in pre-packed box sets already, complete with built-in gift tags. A box of three pairs retails at P320, while a box of five costs P500. The great thing about this is that you can customize your own set of Funkyfeet for the same price!

The Truth About Funkytubes

Funkytubes Playsleeves are actually arm and leg warmers that provide minor protection, and not to mention a lot of attitude to your ‘lil fashionista’s attire. It offers a trendy and practical solution for diaper changes (there’s no need to remove them!) or during potty training. Aside from its aesthetic value, it also keeps those little limbs warm so you can do away with their sweaters and leggings. These Funkytubes are very lightweight too-they give some protection from the sun, insect bites and minor scrapes.

The Funkytubes come in one size only but they can fit babies, toddlers, tweens, and adults as well. You can choose from a variety of cool designs like Crayons, Sailor Stripes, Strawberry Sundae, True Blue, Hi Ho Silver, Sugar ‘n Spice, Merry Winkle, and School Spirit. Each pair retails at P380.

Both Funkyfeet and Funkytubes are locally made, and are created using a soft material that makes it really comfortable to wear. Who says you can’t combine style and comfort for your baby?

Visit the Proud Mama Store by clicking on this link: proudmamastore.multiply.com. To check out the Funkyfeet Store, go to http://funkyfeet.multiply.com!

(Image taken from Proud Mama Concepts.)

Shoes in the City (WMN.ph)

(This “Shoe” article was published in WMN.ph last August 2009)

I believe there’s a little bit of Imelda in every Filipina. Who doesn’t love shoes? I bet you have at least 10 pairs in your shoe cabinet and your man couldn’t fathom why you would need one of each kind. I just say that it’s my ultimate indulgence and weakness. For me, every occasion requires a different pair. You need one for the office, another for parties, for the weekend, and for your sports activities. Here are my top picks.

Workaholic Woman

A classic pair of pumps is always your best bet for the office. This black leather pointed-toe pair from Aldo can just about go with any outfit – a suit, a shirt dress, or even slacks. It’s so simple and has such a flattering silhouette that you can easily mix and match it with whatever you wear for work. I suggest you get a plain pair like this to complete your professional look. Besides, spending P3,499 for this Aldo Jolicoeur would be justified since it’s such a timeless piece.


Gimmick Girl

A pair of trendy shoes like this is ideal to show off during a night out with friends or a date with your sweetie. You’ll look really stylish with this beige patent sandals from Charles & Keith (P2,400). Its chic design and high heel will flatter your feet.

Sporty Sister

Practically everyone’s joining a marathon these days. If you’re into running, you’ll need a good pair of shoes that would provide you with nice cushioning for your soles. I recently came across a great bargain at The Sports Warehouse and immediately grabbed a pair for myself. I got the Women’s Nike Zoom Start + 2009 (White/White-Pale Blue-Wd Pink) for only P2,699, from its original price of P4,995. Aside from its fun design and cushioning capabilities, what I like about this pair is that you can use it with your iPod to track your running progress (as long as you have the iPod Sport Kit.) The store carries other brands like Adidas and New Balance, most of which are discounted too.

Casual Chick

Weekends call for a much more laid back style, so putting on some flats is the ideal way to go. You can look chic with this gladiator-inspired pair of flat sandals from Zara. I got this on sale a few weeks ago for only P1,500 and it’s well worth it. It’s both fashionable and comfy-a perfect combination.


(Images taken by Nikka Sarthou)

Confessions: How Did You Get Over Your Ex? (WMN.ph)

(This “Confessions” article about getting over your ex was published in WMN.ph last July 2009)

Women deal with heartbreak in many ways, as some of these ladies shared for this week’s Confessions.

Compiled by Nikka Sarthou

“I met my ex while I was working in Bacolod and realized, after a year, that we had different priorities so I ended the relationship. I then decided to move back home to Manila, start a new career, meet new people, and surround myself with family and friends.”
-Frances, 28, Marketing Manager


“I kept myself busy, hung out with good friends, and constantly thought about a list of things that I didn’t like about him!”
-Rosan, 30, Restaurant and Bar Part-Owner

“Honestly, it was not easy, having been in the relationship for six years. But I just woke up one day with sheer conviction that enough is enough and the time to move on is long overdue. And so I did. I focused on rebuilding myself, went back on track following my path, and bounced back beyond what I even expected myself to be!”
-Yanna, 32, Poet/Musician/Marketing Executive

“Love with all your heart right? Only this time I focused it on me. I channeled all that energy into other things that made me happy-like I started baking and actually made a living out of it!”
-Twinkle, 28, Baker (dessertbarn.multiply.com)

“Work therapy-I accepted all the assignments thrown my way and kept myself busy up to the point that I was ready to drop at the end of the day. It didn’t leave me any room to think about him. Eventually, I realized that I didn’t have room for him in my life anymore.”
-Elizabeth, 40, Bank Manager

“I would constantly remind myself of the reasons why we had to break up-why it didn’t work out and why it won’t. I just reminded myself of the things that I really don’t like about him, or hate about him, or about the relationship.”
-Abi, 30, Student/Homemaker/Striving Entrepreneur

“I allowed myself to mope for a month. But I think the rule is that you’re entitled to mope for half the amount of time that you dated.”
-Anna Rita, 26, Editor

“I spent a lot of time with my family and friends. I also kept myself busy doing things that made me feel better.”
-Jammie, 30, Employee

“I got over my ex by giving myself time to grieve-cried for a couple of days, and even over analyzed the relationship with my friends. When there was nothing left to say, or tears to cry, I found myself looking forward to meeting the next guy.”
-Sharon, 32, Freelance Copywriter

“Moral support from family and friends combined with time helped me with that ‘moving on’ phase. Eventually, I learned how to focus on myself and on things I can control. Then one day, I was okay!”
-Chedriel, 31, Producer

(Image taken from this site.)

Safe Ways to Gain Weight (WMN.ph)

(This “Gain Weight” article was published in WMN.ph last July 2009)

Much has been said about weight loss matters and you can even see several shows about it on TV. Heck, there’s even a popular reality show about it.

But if you look at the other side of the spectrum, you’ll hardly see any program that features the topic of weight gain. Maybe there aren’t as much underweight people compared to overweight ones. But these people have a weighty concern, too (pun intended)-how to gain weight.

Here are three options to choose from:

1. Eat the Right Foods

The most obvious way to gain weight is by increasing your food intake. But don’t binge on those Krispy Kremes just yet. Yes, you can easily gain weight by eating donuts and other junk food, but that’s not a healthy way to do it. You’ll consume lots of fats and sugars, and that’s not good for your body. Choose healthier food options instead: lean meats, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. This way you’ll get all the nutrition your body needs.

How To Do It: Do a health and wellness assessment first. If possible, approach a nutritionist about it. You need to find out your height, weight, and describe your lifestyle (e.g. eating habits, leisure activities). Based on all these information, the nutritionist will recommend the foods you should consume and how often you should eat.

Possible Problems: You might be exposed to unhealthy foods at home or when you’re dining out. Just control your junk food cravings (say “no” to pizza). Also, managing your calorie intake could be a daunting task, so just be particular about your diet.

2. Drink Weight Gain Supplements

The easiest way to put on those pounds is to add some weight gain products to your existing diet. The easy part is mixing the drink and gulping it down. The hard part is choosing what to get from among the three choices: weight gain drinks, protein, and absorption products.

How To Do It: Research on what kind of supplement you need to make your weight gain program more effective. For instance, if you want to gain weight all over, you should guzzle some weight gain drinks to get the best results. If you want to increase your muscle mass, get the protein supplement. And if you need something to help your body take in all the nutrients from the food, then absorption products are for you.

Possible Problems: It could be confusing to select just one product with all the choices out there, and there are products that don’t stay true to their claims. There’s a risk that you might not get the right one you need, so do consult a doctor first before taking any supplements.

3. Do Resistance Training

Exercise is essential in gaining weight the healthy way, although this requires a lot of energy and effort compared to the other two options. But if you do some resistance training like lifting weights, you’ll be able to increase your muscle mass and get in shape at the same time.

How To Do It: It would be best to seek help from a trainer at the gym so he could tell you what kind of program you need and assist you as well. Schedule regular trips to the gym and just stay focused on your weight gain goal.

Possible Problems: You need access to proper equipment when you do your resistance training. It could get a little pricey if you buy your own or enroll at a gym, but you really need to spend some dough on it. You might also need to hire a personal trainer if you don’t know how to go about it.

(Image taken from this site.)

Reality Check: Are You All Set to Live Independently? (WMN.ph)

(This “Reality Check” article was published in WMN.ph last May 2009)

In college, some people get a taste of living somewhat independently from their parents. Why somewhat? Because even though these people have their own apartments, their parents are still the ones who pay for the bills. But it’s a different ballgame after college. You don’t have excuses anymore to get financial support from your parents since you’re already earning your own money. Now if you want to live on your own, you have to consider if you can handle it-and it’s not all about the financial aspect, mind you. You have to be mentally and emotionally prepared for the perils of living alone, too.

So are you ready to move out and live on your own? Here’s a checklist to help you make your decision.

1. Are you earning at least P25,000 a month? That’s what you basically need to live comfortably in a studio apartment. Half of that will go to your monthly rental and utilities, and the rest is for your transportation and food allowance. For instance, if you rent out a studio unit in Cityland Shaw, you have to pay P9,000 monthly for the rent, which doesn’t include parking (condos located in the CBD are more expensive so you need to pay more to live there). Plus, you need to set aside around P2,500 for your utility bills-that’s just a conservative estimate. And once you have paid for everything, you’ll hardly have enough left for your savings.

2. Do you have a stable job? You need to have a regular flow of income in order to pay for all your expenses. It is also important that you learn how to manage your money well so you can properly budget everything.

3. Can you dish up something else besides fried eggs? Unless you want to eat out or order food to go all the time, you need to learn how to cook. You don’t have to be a master in the kitchen; just learn the basics like steaming rice and preparing simple meals. Aside from being able to control what goes to your food, you’ll also save more when you eat at home.

4. Do you know how to get around Metro Manila? Whether or not you have your own transportation, you need to know the ins and outs in your area. The most important route to know is the way from your place to your office.

5. Do you know first aid? Illness and injury may be far from your mind but you need to learn the basics of first aid just in case you get sick or have an accident. Remember, your mom is not there to take care of you anymore. You should put the local emergency hotline in your speed dial just in case something happens. In fact, why not make a list of all the important hotline numbers and post it on your ref?

6. Do you know how to entertain yourself? Imagine not having company most of the time: how would you deal with the solitude and depression? Get involved in activities or sports to keep yourself busy.

If you answered “yes” to one to three items, then you should accept that you’d be living with your parents for quite a while.

If you said “yes” to four to five items, then you’re almost ready to live on your own.

If you answered “yes” to all six, then better pack your bags, kiss your parents goodbye, and say hello to the real world!

(Image taken from this site.)

Investment Tips for Real Women (WMN.ph)

(This “Investment Tips” article was published in WMN.ph last May 2009)

You’ve been working hard for quite some time already. Now what? Well, you could save up and put your money in the bank. But that is not the most practical option since the interest rates in banks are so low nowadays. It would be better if you put your money to good use, say, some kind of investment so you can maximize your money’s worth.

A wise choice is to invest in a house and lot like what Tintin Velasquez, 40, AP Manager for Shell Shared Services, did. She believes that investing in a good home is very important when you have your own family. Just look for an ideal location where your family could settle down nicely. Also, real estate is always a good investment since its value almost always goes up in time. Although buying a house and lot is not that simple, you can do it as long as you set aside some of your monthly earnings and then supplement it by applying for a housing loan at the bank.

Another 40-something, Isabel Santos, a bank product manager, also thinks that real estate property is the best investment she ever made. She says purchasing property either for personal use or for investment purposes is more profitable than putting all your money in the bank. You could always get a housing loan from the bank, your office, or even your parents-whoever offers the lowest rate.

If real estate is not your thing, you can opt to use your money in a way that would help you with your craft. Claudette Cuares, 36, sous chef at Sentro 1771, went to study in Ecole Superieure de Cuisine Francais (a culinary school in Paris) where she served as an apprentice and then worked for a year. She used to save 10 to 15 percent of her salary before she left for Paris. She also attended short courses and seminars to feed her mind, soul, and even her stomach. She says that as long as you have a passion (cooking, in her case), you’ll do anything to achieve it and you won’t even notice that you’re working hard for it.

It was the same for Cor Sunglao, 28, fashion designer of Coeur Clothing. She really pursued her passion for fashion by taking up a design course, buying the necessary equipment and materials, and creating her own atelier. She worked hard for her dream by working in the corporate world first in order to save up for it. If you have set clear goals and are patient enough, you’ll be able to do it too.

Actually, any kind of education is a good investment. A Masters Degree in Business Administration at Asian Institute of Management is the biggest investment for Donna Tambanillo, 29, a corporate planning manager. The MBA degree was a big help for her to step up the corporate ladder. But even with all the savings she put aside, studying in AIM was pricey, so she had to look for ways to cut costs by availing of scholarships and grants. She asked financial help from her parents, too. So don’t be afraid to ask for help and make sure that you really want something before you put all your money and energy into it.

And if you happen to have cash to spare, you can invest it in something that you could use. For instance, Cris de Luna, 31, a unit head in corporate sales for Bayantel, decided to use the incentives and commissions she earned from her job to buy her own car. Even if she could have used that extra money for other things, she had her eyes set on a car, which she finds beneficial in her line of work and gratifying in the end, too.

(Image taken from this site.)

Top 10 Recession Tips (WMN.ph)

(This “Recession” article was published in WMN.ph last April 2009)

You might have noticed that you’re still feeling the economic crunch even with all the hard work that you do and all the savings you’ve set aside. But maybe that’s not enough. You probably need to take some extra measures so you can stay afloat these days. Recession-proof your life by trying the following tips on for size.

1. Most of you probably couldn’t get through the day without your caffeine fix. But you don’t have to get your cup of Joe in a fancy coffee shop; you can just bring 3-in-1 coffee sachets to the office. Or if you really, really need to get coffee from Starbucks, get a short order instead of a venti.

2. Having lunch out everyday can burn a hole in your pocket. Why don’t you prepare a packed lunch instead? Aside from being able to save, you’ll know what goes into your food as well. Now you won’t have any excuse for feeling sleepy from all the Chinese food you ate. Just treat yourself to a lunch out maybe once a week so you won’t feel deprived.

3. Bringing a car to work can get pretty expensive. You have to pay for your gas, parking fees, and sometimes even toll fees. Instead of driving to work everyday, try to hitch a ride with a neighbor-slash-coworker. Or maybe use your parents’ car from time to time.

4. If renting out your own place is becoming too costly for you, consider getting a roommate so you can share the expenses for the meantime. You’d get some girl bonding time on the side, too.

5. Following fashion trends could be somewhat pricey. But instead of buying all those branded items, you could rummage through vintage shops (a.k.a. ukay-ukay) and look for stylish bargains. Just don’t tell your officemates where you shop. It will be your little secret.

6. Newspapers and magazines do feed your mind but could add to your expenses as well. Instead of regularly buying these reading materials, just visit their websites and you’ll see the same content at no extra cost.

7. Be on the lookout for deals and steals. You could get more bang for your buck if you take advantage of promos in shops or restaurants. Keep your eyes open for such deals.

8. Turn your trash into cash. If you have old clothes and other things you want to dispose, you could organize a rummage sale and earn a little money on the side. For other disposables such as papers, bottles, plastics, and old appliances, you could bring these to the recycle fairs in SM and Ayala Malls. Being green wouldn’t only help the environment but also help you earn money as well.

9. Go for the natural look. Don’t waste your hard-earned cash to buy all that gunk you put on your face. You don’t need a lot of makeup to look good; less is more.

10. Work could get pretty stressful so sometimes you just need to unwind and relax. Invite your coworkers or your sweetie to go out while there’s a happy hour at the nearby bar or restaurant. You’ll have a great time at a fraction of the price!

(Image was taken from this site.)

Great Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day (WMN.ph)

(This “Mother’s Day” article was published in WMN.ph last April 2009 )

Each time Mother’s Day comes around, you rack your brain for the perfect gift to give your mom. But what can you give to a woman who has it all? To make it easy for you, here’s a list of gift ideas to suit every budget.

1. A Day at the Spa
Pamper your mom by treating her to a full day at the spa. She would surely enjoy a soothing aromatherapy body massage (P820) and other wellness treatments. Give her a day of rest and relaxation by presenting her with gift certificates from The Spa. Visit their branches around the metro or check out their website.

2. All About Beauty
You can never go wrong with giving a lady some kind of beauty product. Go for a nice-smelling perfume like Lacoste Touch of Pink (P4,150). She’ll definitely love its sweet scent! Look for more beauty products at Watson’s or other department stores.

3. Smell the Roses
Brighten up your mom’s day with some fresh flowers that she can display at home. Choose from a wide variety of floral arrangements (P150+) at Dangwa Flower Market along Dos Castillas Street in Sampaloc.

4. Wine and Dine
Schedule a date with your mom at a fancy restaurant and make sure that you offer to get the tab! Indulge and let her enjoy a scrumptious dinner buffet (P1,600+) at Circles Event Cafe in Shangri-La Hotel Makati. It’s best to make a reservation before going: call (02) 813-8888.

5. Bring Out Her Inner Fashionista
What woman wouldn’t appreciate a new pair of shoes? You can splurge on a designer item, but if your budget wouldn’t permit it, a simple one would do. Just get something that suits her taste. Try bargain bag hunting at Greenhills Shopping Center.

6. Be a Health Buff
Many mothers are striving for a healthy lifestyle but not everyone can do serious workouts. Let your mom try out yoga and see if she likes it. Give the gift of health and enroll her in a beginners’ yoga class. See www.yogamanila.com for more information.

7. All that Glitters
Women have an ongoing love affair with jewelry. You don’t have to get your mom something expensive; a simple pair of pearl earrings (P500) would suffice. Take your pick from the wide selection at the Pearl Market in Greenhills Shopping Center. 

8. Go Nature Tripping
Bring your mom and the rest of your family to the La Mesa Ecopark and enjoy this oasis in the heart of the city. For a mere P40 per person, you can treat your whole family and let them commune with nature. Head to East Farview Subdivision in Quezon City or find out more details first at www.lamesaecopark.com.

9. Get Gadget Crazy
For the tech-savvy mom, only the latest gadget would do. Consider giving her the new iPod shuffle (P4,190) that has a VoiceOver feature. With this, she’ll be able to store more of her favorite songs that she can listen to. Purchase it online at the Apple Store.

10. Be a Culture Vulture
Let your mom see more of the Philippines’ cultural side. Check out the latest exhibit at Ayala Museum in Greenbelt. Or, get a couple of tickets and accompany your mom to see a ballet, musical play, or whatever is showing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

(Image taken from this site.)

Rethinking Your Spending Habits During Recession

Here’s an article I wrote on how you can cope with the current economic crisis.

You’ve probably been spending freely like me before the global economic crisis hit us. Compulsively shopping, frequently going out for dinner, regularly watching movies, getting hour-long massages at spas, drinking designer coffee…

I used to do these things a lot before the recession happened, and I bet I’m not the only one.

Since then, I have managed to tighten my belt just enough so that I could still indulge once in a while but not as much as I used to. There was a big change with my spending habits. Instead of going to the movie theater once a week, I would just wait for the film in DVD. Instead of eating at a fancy restaurant, I would just settle for some fast food. And instead of shopping every weekend, I would just wait for the occasional sale. Even if the recession brought a drastic change to my lifestyle, I believe it has taught me to become more practical and more prudent with my finances.

Here are some tips on how to rethink your spending habits during the recession:

Cut Back on Luxuries

First, list down all your daily expenses so you can figure out what to cut back on. Of course you have to spend for your basic needs like food, clothing and your living expenses. But do you really have to buy designer duds? Or do you really, really need to go to Starbucks everyday? You could live without these luxuries, you just need to do some adjusting.

Buy Used or Refurbished Items

You don’t always have to buy brand new. It’s perfectly fine to get a second hand items as long as you check that they’re it’s in good condition. For instance, if you’re in the market for a car, instead of getting brand new wheels, you could get a used sedan for a fraction of the price. Aside from spending less, you’d also contribute less carbon footprint (Mother Earth would thank you for it.) The same goes for refurbished gadgets like computers and mp3 players.

Ask for Promos or Discounts

Internet, cell phone and cable providers usually offer promotions from time to time. All you have to do is ask about it. Even restaurants and stores sometimes have ongoing promos or discounts. Again, just ask – you’ll have nothing to lose if you do. I actually tried asking for a discount at a sports store once and they gave me an additional 10% off at the counter. I was pleasantly surprised when they granted my request. It could happen to you too.

Pay in Cash

When you’re buying something, I suggest that you pay in cash rather than charge it to your credit card so that it would be easier to keep track of your finances. You’ll know exactly how much money you have left and not be in any risk of credit card debt. Even if these cards are convenient to have around, it’s also risky to have one especially if you have a tendency to go wild with your spending. At least when you’re using cash, you’ll know when to stop – when there’s nothing left in your wallet anymore.

Since the world is still experiencing financial crisis, you can’t do away with spending freely anymore. You can’t just sit back and relax. You need to adjust to the circumstances and welcome change in your life. You need to re-think your spending habits so you can stay afloat of the situation. After all, you don’t know when the recession would end. That’s why you should physically and mentally prepare yourself for whatever may happen. In the meantime, why don’t you try out my suggestions above so you’ll be equipped to face the financial challenges ahead?

(Published in www.PepperVirtualAssistant.com, October 19, 2009)