Top Five Stress Busters

Here’s a short article I wrote about how to handle stress, which you might find useful at some point in your life.

Do you feel easily irritated or annoyed recently?  Is there a significant change in your eating or sleeping habits?  Are you feeling listless or having trouble concentrating?  Hopefully, you haven’t answered “yes” to all of these questions or else you would be on the verge of being stressed out.

It’s easy to manage stress once you’ve identified it but the thing is, people experience it differently.  Its signs and symptoms vary from one person to the next.  You just have to be attuned to your body and know whether you’re acting normal or stressed out.  But don’t worry, you can easily relieve stress by doing the following things:

1.    Manage Your Time

Sometimes you may feel that you have so many things to do and so little time for it.  Yes, it all might be overwhelming and stressful so it would be a good idea to be more organized and learn to prioritize your tasks.  Make a to-do list if it helps.  It would also give you a sense of accomplishment when you tick off each item on your list.  And if you’re becoming too stressed with so much work, why don’t you try getting a virtual assistant instead of waiting for a nervous breakdown to happen?  Delegating tasks to others is an effective way of reducing stress.

2.    Have a Support System

Have you ever felt so tense or anxious that you just want to let it all out?  Well, instead of hurling expletives at an innocent bystander, you would be better off talking about your concerns with a close friend or family member.  Communicating with someone can help you calm down and take the pressure away.

3.    Exercise Everyday

Bring out your sweat pants and go to the gym!  Getting fit is a nice way to loosen up and alleviate stress – a 30-minute run on the treadmill or a boxing session might do the trick.  When you do strenuous exercise, your body releases endorphins, which actually act as natural pain relievers and make you feel good as well.

4.    Reflect and Unwind

When was the last time you did nothing at all?  Sometimes it helps to just take a break for a while, think of nothing and do nothing.  This would clear your mind and help you de-stress.  Or you could choose to relax by getting a massage, listening to music, or even do some retail therapy.  These would all uplift your mood.

5.    Veer Away from Vices

Taking advantage of that “Happy Hour” won’t really do you much good.  Although having a drink or two after a hard day’s work could temporarily reduce your stress, it would actually leave you feeling bad since alcohol has an effect of giving you a depressed feeling.  So stay away from vices like alcohol and drugs to guarantee you a stress-free life.

Remember, once you notice that you’re getting somewhat stressed, just try out some of these stress busters to see which one works best for you.

(Published in, September 25, 2009)

Mineral Mania (Mango Magazine)

What’s all the hype about mineral makeup?  Compared to ordinary cosmetics, it doesn’t have preservatives, alcohol, dyes, and other harsh ingredients that cause skin irritations.  Its chemical-free properties make it safe to apply on your face as often as you want, whether you’re heading to the office or going out for cocktails.  It also contains antioxidants and other properties that help enhance skin.  Mineral makeup is the way to go if you want to prettify yourself while you get that healthy, radiant looking skin.

(Published in the premier issue of Mango Magazine, November 2009)

Travels With Tumi (Mango Magazine)

Whether you’re flying to the Mediterranean or jetting off to New York City, the T-Tech collection by Tumi is the ultimate traveling companion.  This new luggage collection (starts at Php 24,790 / US$509) has a set of hard cases that is relatively lightweight but very strong and durable.  It’s so sturdy that even if you put 100 pounds of weight and take it for an eight-hour walk, its wheel system will still roll smoothly.

It doesn’t hurt to know that many famous personalities use Tumi bags as well — one of whom is President Barack Obama, who carries around the Tumi Alpha Leather Briefcase.

Tumi T-Tech is available at the Travel Club branches in the Power Plant Mall, Ayala Center in Glorietta 4, Alabang Town Center, Ayala Center Cebu, SM Mall of Asia, Trinoma, Shangri-La and Flight 360 at the Podium.

(Published in the premier issue of Mango Magazine, November 2009)

Organic Living (Mabuhay Magazine)

“Organic” may be synonymous to “expensive,” but that isn’t the case with Human Heart Nature.  This local company produces organic personal care products that make use of purely Philippine ingredients.  Their shampoos contain aloe vera to soften your hair and are infused with scents like peppermint to make bath time more enjoyable.  They also have handy pocket soaps and hand sanitizers that don’t dry out your skin.  Another must-try is their facial moisturizer with royal jelly, which makes your skin smoother and healthier.  Aside from being chemical-free, all these products are very, very affordable, too.

Visit; mobile no. +63908-8925510

 (Published in Mabuhay Magazine, December 2009)

Taal Trippin’ (Mabuhay Magazine)

Forget about the volcano for a day.  To learn about Taal, Nikka Sarthou decided to walk through its quaint streets lined with historical ancestral homes.

Did you know that Taal was considered the second most important city during the Spanish era?  Even though it was not able to maintain its pre-eminent stature like Manila, Taal boasts a rich history with its involvement in Philippine politics, economy and society.

 I joined La Isla Pilipinas’ Taal Experience tour to visit this historic city.  It took us more than two hours to get there as we passed through the more scenic route in Tagaytay.  I realized we were there already when I saw 19th century Spanish-style colonial houses along the narrow roads. 

1st stop: Don Gregorio Agoncillo ancestral house 

This was built during the early 20th century.  Agoncillo was a prominent banker and his affluence was apparent in his home with its Edwardian chandeliers and custom-built furnishings.

2nd stop: Villavicencio ancestral homes

Don Eulalio and Doña Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio were be

lieved to have an integral part in the Philippine revolution.  They own a couple of houses made of

 stone, with imported tin ceilings, and other fine pieces of furniture on display that were all well preserved.

While we were there, a balisong (butterfly knife) maker showed us how the country’s most famous weapon is made.  Although the origin of balisong is uncertain, the definite thing is that it could be a very lethal weapon, whatever size it may be.  It is usually made out of Damascus steel and other materials like horse bone, deer antler or wood.

In the same place, we saw how the unique burdang (embroidery) Taal is created.  With this skill, the Taaleños could make intricate detailing in clothing wear and accessories by doing their special hand embroidery.

We also got a taste of the flavorful Taal cuisine as lunch was served inside the grand dining area of the house.  We were treated to a buffet meal that consisted of bulanglang (light vegetable soup), adobong puti (stewed chicken with turmeric), tapang Taal (marinated beef), and suman (sticky rice) with chocolate-eh (Batangas hot chocolate).  

3rd stop: Shrine of Our Lady of Caysasay 

This Blessed Virgin is said to have miraculous powers.  I went inside the church and took a chance by touching the image and prayed for a miracle.

4th stop: Basilica of Saint Martin of Tours 

This is the largest church in Asia.  It measures 88 meters long, 44 meters wide, and 95 meters high.  I had a difficult time trying to fit the image of this imposing structure in my camera screen.  

Last stop: Taal public market

This place features many great finds – from handmade barong Tagalog and embroidered tablecloth, to special suman and cacao tableas.  I just had to grab a souvenir for me to take home.  

For more information, call La Isla Pilipinas Tours, Inc. at tel. no. +632-4260093 or +632-4366581; email [email protected]

(Published in Mabuhay Magazine, November 2009)

Italian News (Mabuhay Magazine)

They say that you shouldn’t order anything you can’t pronounce, but that should not be the case with Il Ponticello.  For 10 years now, this Italian restaurant has been serving authentically prepared traditional Italian cuisine, but now they’ve added some dishes with a modern twist.  The Branzino Tartufato E Risotto Rosso or simply put — truffled wild seabass with beetroot risotto — is a recommended dish.  The freshness and tenderness of the fish perfectly complements the flavor of the risotto.  Best to hit this restaurant in the evening so you can enjoy listening to the live bands or the house DJs while savoring some good ol’ or new Italian dishes.

Il Ponticello – 2F Antel 2000 Building, 121 Valero Street (corner Rufino), Salcedo Village, Makati City; tel. nos. +632-8877168, +632-8874998; Open Mondays to Saturdays 12:00 – 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. onwards.

(Published in Mabuhay Magazine, May 2009)

Chi’s Brick Oven Kitchen (Mabuhay Magazine)

Popular for their wood-fired brick oven dishes.  Must-tries: Puchon or brick oven style lechon kawali (pan-roasted pork) with soy vinaigrette, and the scrumptious dessert pizzas like the Blueberry Cheesecake Delight.

Chi’s Brick Oven Kitchen – Unit 105 Aguirre Ave., B.F. Homes Paranaque City; tel. no. +632-8207210; website  Closed on Mondays.

(Published in Mabuhay Magazine, April 2009)

Porcelain (Mabuhay Magazine)

Cool, urbane, with white-colored light balls adorning the ceiling.  Grab some tasty dimsum treats and mingle your way into Porcelain’s bar.  Feel like taking a punch?  Order the Pacquiao Punch — a splendid mix of brandy, tequila, rum, vodka, gin, orange and pineapple juice, and more —  a total knock-out.  Best to drop in during Crazy Hours, from 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Porcelain – Ground level, Fort Strip, Fort Bonifacio, Global City, Taguig; tel. no. +632-8567442; email [email protected]

(Published in Mabuhay Magazine, April 2009)

Ready Couture (Mabuhay Magazine)

Atelier de Cor 

A good alternative to the usual offerings of mall retail shops.  Flip through chic dresses, skirts, tops, and jackets designed by Cor Sunglao, a graduate and instructor of the Fashion Institute of the Philippines.  She also does made-to-order pieces that are definitely unique.

Atelier de Cor – 462 Barangka Drive, Mandaluyong City; mobile no. +63917-5347165; website

(Published in Mabuhay Magazine, January 2009)

Spa Day (Mabuhay Magazine)

Need to relax?  Nikka Sarthou recommends these spas that are guaranteed to pamper you from head to toe.


The Blue Water Day Spa is best known for its Tibetan Meridian Fire Therapy.  This 45-minute therapy can help you trim down about an inch from the particular body area that needs treatment.  It uses heat from fire and a special massage technique that will make you relax and eliminate excess fat and toxins from your body.

Treatment Cost:  3,000 to 3,500 pesos (US$63-74) per session, depending on the body area.

Ambience:  Feel like you’re at the beach surrounded by cool blue lights, soothing sounds, and furnishings that create a relaxing atmosphere.

What to Expect:  Treatments at Blue Water Day Spa are mid-priced but of high-quality.  Most of its clientele — about 60% male — enjoy the wide-array of treatments specifically for men, among them the cleansing Biodroga Men’s Vitality Treatment and FPL hair removal.  They also offer service-specific gift certificates, and spa party packages for all occasions.

Blue Water Day Spa has six branches all over Metro Manila.  For more information, visit


Ask for the Xiamen-Style Foot Reflexology, a massage technique known for its healing power.  The foot scrub at this spa uses traditionally formulated Chinese herbs, massage creams, and also herbal tea to soothe aching feet and help treat some illnesses.

Treatment Cost:  350 pesos (US$7) for the Xiamen-Style Foot Reflexology or the Xiamen-Style Foot Scrub.

Ambience:  The dim lighting, the background music, and the aroma of peppermint in the air are very calming.  This may not be a high-end spa, but its curtains provide enough privacy.

What to Expect:  Your feet will be pampered for a full hour while you are seated on a recliner enjoying a hot compress on your neck.  Home-service requests are entertained by this spa.

Feet For Us has eight branches all over Metro Manila.  For more information, visit


What could feel more luxurious than getting a diamond peel? Godiva Skin Station has a special machine with diamond-encrusted tips to mechanically scrape off dead skin cells and bring the skin back to its optimum level.  This 30-minute procedure enhances the texture and color of the skin without pain, and with zero downtime, too.

Treatment Cost:  2,200 pesos (US$46) for non-members.

Ambience:  The atmosphere is Zen-like because of the light-green colored walls, bamboo décor, pocket rock gardens and relaxing music.

What to Expect:  Quality skin care need not be expensive.  At Godiva Skin Station, you can be sure of reasonably-priced services compared to other spas.  Among its offerings are free consultation, private rooms, and good service from well-trained personnel, plus complimentary strawberry-flavored tea.  And if you apply for their consumable Club G membership program, you can get a discount of as much as 20 percent on their products and services.

Godiva Skin Station has nine branches all over Metro Manila.  For more information, visit


Aside from regular manicures, California Nails and Day Spa is popular for its acrylic nails, a nail-enhancement procedure wherein acrylic resin is added to the nails to lengthen and strengthen them.  The acrylic nails can last for two to three weeks.

Treatment Cost:  1,100 pesos (US$23) for short nails, 1,230 (US$26) for medium nails, and 1,360 (US$29) for long nails.

Ambience: The pink, green, lilac and periwinkle interiors are fun and flirty.

What to Expect:  The spa’s technicians are well-trained.  Imported quality products are used and the services come with a free hand massage.  While getting your nails done, you can ask for complimentary herbal tea or even have your jewelry cleaned for free.  Gift certificates are available year-round.

California Nails and Day Spa has nine branches all over Metro Manila.  For more information, visit


Since 1996, The Spa has been providing a variety of treatments that stimulate the body and soul.  One of their most popular treatments is the Traditional Hilot, a Filipino massage technique that makes use of virgin coconut oil and heated banana leaves to help ease the body’s tension and restore well-being.

Treatment Cost:  1,200 pesos (US$25) non-members.

Ambience:  This Spa has seven branches with seven different themes ranging from safari to monastery-like, so you’ll have a new experience every time you visit another branch.

What to Expect:  Before any body treatment, you can use the spa’s wet floor area, which include a Jacuzzi, sauna, steam bath, contrast therapy baths and vanity amenities.  If you avail of The Spa’s membership program, you will have unlimited access to these facilities and get discounts and other privileges as well.

The Spa has seven branches all over Metro Manila.  For more information, visit

(Published in Mabuhay Magazine, December 2008)