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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet Christine, a Rags2Riches Carry-All

Nothing says summer like cool drinks, canvas slip-ons, colorful straw mats, breezy clothes, the company of your favorite people and oh, a fun summer bag!

Rags2Riches makes it fun to shop for our next summer bag with the Viaje Collection, their Spring/Summer 2015 offering.

The collection is made up of five different bags, all using handwoven, artisanal panels created by artisans from three different Filipino communities:

1) the solid color basket-weave is made by R2R urban artisans,
2) the vibrant striped textile is handloomed by the Mangyan of Mindoro,
2) and the geometric textile is handloomed by the DAWN artisans of Metro Manila.

The leather embroidery is hand-stitched by R2R artisans, and assembled with genuine leather accents in the R2R workshop in San Juan City, Philippines.

My favorite bag, I have to say is the Christine Carry-All. It comes in 5 color ways and may be worn 3 ways. Making it the perfect bag to pack along on your summer adventures!

As with all bags from the Viaje Collection, its foundation is a tote with a basic solid color and leather trims, but with a few smart snaps and simple hooks, plus the addition of a detachable pouch, transforms it into a more intricate and unique bag.

You can wear it as carry-all with the pouch attached.

Take out the detachable pouch, and you get a basic, no nonsense carry-all.

Wear the detachable pouch as a sling bag, it comes with an antique gold chain strap.

Ok, full disclosure. The Christine Carry-All is named after me. Heehee. I was asked by Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2Riches to be part of their Design Council, but never imagined they would name one of their bags, Christine.

For this, I am grateful, thrilled and happy to be part of a fun summer collection, that also happens to be a meaningful initiative. 

After all, Rags2Riches is more than just a lifestyle brand. It is a social enterprise that teaches skills and provides jobs to those in need, supports artisans, and makes use of indigenous fabrics to weave a story of a product that is proudly Filipino.

I hope you continue supporting Rags2Riches by choosing your summer bag from the Viaje Collection! The bags are up for pre-order until tonight, March 25 and shall ship by March 27, 2015.

Shop the Christine Carry-All at http://viaje.rags2riches.ph/christine-bag/ 

Shop the Rags2Riches Viaje Collection at http://viaje.rags2riches.ph/

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It's Time to Simplify

I have a new buddy:

Because these days, I don't go anywhere without my UNIONBANK Platinum MasterCard. It's pretty much the card Dada, Nana and I use for most of our expenses. Sorry na lang to our old, no evident benefit, credit cards.

From buying groceries, and stuff for the house...

To dining out...

To paying bills, it's the card we choose.

A huge come on is the fact that we get a 1.5% cash rebate every time our cards get swiped. That's instant cash back that I can credit back to my card, to offset our expenses. Which, is so much better than racking up credit card points that I don't even get to use.

But more than that, it has made my life so much simpler. Let me tell you how:

1) It's straightforward. There's no messing with your head with this one. You see, not all cash back cards are created equal. This card is a game changer. 

There are NO CAPS. If you spend Php1,000, you know you get Php15. If you spend Php1,000,000 you know you get Php10,500. You get the cash back you've earned from spending, no ifs and buts. 

That said, there are NO CONDITIONS. There's no need to do a minimum spend on certain spending categories just to earn cash back.

More important, there is NO EXPIRY date on your cash back amount. You can accumulate it for as long as you like, if you like.

2) I use it to shop safely online. Online shopping has allowed me to save on time, precious time. 

I don't have to do emergency runs to the grocery to buy disposable diapers. When I am alerted by Nana that stocks are running low, I just order a pack online at Cudsly.com, and I get it the next day. Imagine the time I saved from having to shower, dressing up, getting stuck in traffic, lining up, and all that.

Let me tell you, this card is so safe to use online, that when I used it to buy at Cudsly.com and net-a-porter.com, I was contacted both times by UNIONBANK, asking me to confirm my purchase.

Talk about peace of mind.

3) I delegate tasks via supplementary cards. I applied for supplementary cards for Dada and Nana. This allows me to earn cash back every time they swipe the cards, and also frees up my time to spend extra hours at home with the kids, focus on work, and all the other things I have to attend to.

As much as I enjoy shopping, yes, even for groceries, I've empowered Nana to do those unscheduled grocery runs, to accompany the driver for when he needs to put gas in the cars, to run to Mercury Drug or Watson's when we're in need of medicines or National Bookstore when we need supplies. Again, saving me precious time.

Because goodness knows I have no more time to kill. The concept of "killing time" escapes me now. "Free Time", what's that?

Gone are the days when I could read a book in one seating, stroll the mall aimlessly, have quiet time with a cup of tea, or goodness, even just have three minutes without at least one child calling out, if not wailing for me while I'm in the shower, or worse, sitting on the toilet. I swear, with the way my kids treat me when I'm in the bathroom, it's like I'm committing a crime. Bawal na bawal!

That's why anything that makes my life easier, I'm game. At the rate things are progressing, with my time being consumed by the needs of the family, errands, deadlines that I need to be on top of, work and everything else that need to be done ora mismo, I seriously need tools to keep things on track, and the UNIONBANK Platinum Mastercard allows me to do just that. It will help you too, as it has helped me and my friend Kris, aka OC Mom in Manila, promise.

To apply for your UNIONBANK Platinum MasterCard:

- Fill out an online application form from http://unionbankph.com/personal/credit-cards/apply-now
- Download application form and fax it to (02) 636-6256
- Visit your nearest UnionBank branch. For the branch nearest you, click HERE.

For more about this card, click HERE or call their Customer Service Hotline at +632 8418600 or Domestic Toll Free 1-800-1888-2277. 

P.S. Next on my "to simplify" list, is a brilliant suggestion by Ana Delgado of UNIONBANK to get EON Debit Cards for the household staff. This makes salary pay-outs so much easier and safer. It is also more financially sound for the staff to have their money go straight to the bank. The EON Card also allows them to use the card for purchases, and transfer money to a relative's bank account, whatever bank it may be.

P.P.S. Watch Kris, Eliza and I on Karrot's show, Live Love Lolz, where we hash out how we've simplified our life, our shopping life, with the UNIONBANK Platinum MasterCard.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MUJI Launches Cotton Denim Series this Summer

If there is one fabric I can’t get enough of in my closet, it’s denim.

With three kids, anything denim is my default piece. It’s hard wearing, comfortable, and has the ability to make me look pulled together because it hardly creases.

It’s so easy to take care of too. Just throw it in the wash, and it looks brand new again. Actually, the older and more faded it gets, the better it looks.

As if denim can’t get any better, MUJI takes denim to a whole new level with the use of 100% Organic Cotton as a sustainable initiative, a conscious move to care for the environment.

All that without compromising comfort and style. I played dress up with a couple of pieces from the collection, and they’re just love. Love. Love.

MUJI organic cotton double gauze dress, perfect for shuttling the kids around to their summer activities

MUJI denim pencil skirt, and a crisp white shirt, casual but polished enough for meetings 

 MUJI stretch boyfriend jeans and striped button down shirt, for running errands

The beauty of MUJI denim is that the fabrics are exposed to less color treatment and minimal wash to maintain their best, natural state and keep their true color and shape.

Oh, and one more thing about denim? Even if it looks great in its minimal state, it is also such a fun piece to dress up, and I can really inject each piece with my own personality.

A casual, minimalist look with pops of red

A summer in the city inspired look

Pieces from the MUJI Cotton Denim Series are so versatile, and are designed to complement other pieces to fill a mixed bag of stylish combinations, from denim on denim to the classic match up of jeans and a crisp white shirt.

That said, come on over to MUJI this month. Get 25% OFF on any DENIM for every garment purchase. Promo period is from March 6 to March 31, 2015.

In the Philippines, MUJI is exclusively distributed by Stores Specialists, Inc. (SSI) - a member of The SSI Group,Inc. Muji is located at Bonifacio High Street Central, Power Plant Mall at Rockwell Center, Greenbelt 3, SM Mall of Asia, Robinsons Magnolia, Shangri-La Plaza East Wing and Ayala Center Cebu. 

Photo credits: Camille King of Camille King Photography

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Warts and All: The 411 on Electrocauterization

As soon as Tepper turned 2 months old, I told myself, no more excuses. 

I was going to exercise (c/o my friend Kat Garcia's recommended nutrition/workout routine), and really make an effort to go to Dr. Yanee Santos at Aesthetic Science Clinic to get my post-pregnancy skin issues sorted out. 

Let me tell you, I have never been this excited for a facial. Especially since my last facial, also at Aesthetic Science, must have happened, oh about two years ago. 

I was actually looking forward to getting my face pricked and primed, and diamond peeled to perfection.

But how to achieve perfection when I've got warts staring at me in the face every time I looked in the mirror? Especially since they multiplied during pregnancy. (Oversharing? Well, this is me, warts and all! Heehee.) So I finally made a go to get all my warts removed. 

I'm sharing with you the 411 because I know, I am not alone with a secret of this dastardly sort. Shhhh. Anyhoo, here's what to expect, when you're expecting to say bye to warts.

Step 1. EMLA cream (a topical anesthetic) was applied directly on the warts, after my facial. Some kind of medical grade tape was applied over the cream. For my neck which was festered with warts, it was covered with cling wrap, no less. Lolz.

Step 2. Electrocauterization. After 45 minutes, and the anesthesia had numbed my skin, the warts were zapped to kingdom come by Dr. Leah Salido via electrocauterization.

Because I have sensitive skin, it turned all red like this. This is expected, and is absolutely normal.

Step 3. A therapist applied antibiotic/anti-inflammatory cream to all affected areas after Dr. Leah was done. I was told not take a bath for 24 hours, and reminded to just let the scabs fall off on its own.

Step 4. Before settling my bill, I was given a set of instructions, all printed out, which I appreciate.

I would probably forget if this was given to me verbally. I like that Aesthetic Science has thought of all the little details such as this. 


Before I left the clinic, Dr. Yanee told me what to expect (itching, no scratching, etc.) and ran me through the list, reminding me to just take a bath after 24 hours, and apply the healing cream, 2X a day for 2 weeks.

She told me to stay away from direct sunlight, 2 to 3 weeks post treatment as it could darken the spots where the scabs fell off. The perfect excuse for me to buy this Ines dela Fressange hat for Uniqlo actually, heehee.

She told me not to apply my usual facial creams five days post-treatment, although it was highly recommended that I protect my face with sunblock of SPF 15 or more.


About a day later, the treated areas had turned into scabs.

I couldn't wait for them to fall out. I was so tempted to pick at it, but then I remembered I was explicitly told, "DO NOT PICK ON THE SCABS." 

But I think the scabs bothered me more than it bothered friends I met up with over the course of healing. Come to think of it, if I didn't tell people and drew attention to my face and neck, they wouldn't even have noticed.

About 5 days later, the scabs started to fall off. I would swipe at my neck with Bioderma Sensibio H20 and some would come off on the pad.

Close to two weeks later, everything is totally gone. And finally, my skin feels so smooth when I run  my hands down my neck. No scars or dark spots too, thank goodness to my liberal use of healing cream.

I kind of actually miss the scabs, I'm looking for more areas to treat, haha. There's a certain kind of satisfaction seeing those little bastards fall off. 

So worth the discomfort, trouble and a little bit of embarrassment, promise.

Wart Removal via electrocauterization costs about Php2,500 at Aesthetic Science, but if you have 2 or more areas treated in one go, it will cost Php2,000 per area.

For inquiries contact:
Telephone No.: 809-8021/899-3643
Website: www.aestheticscienceclinic.com
E-mail: aestheticscienceclinic@yahoo.com

Aesthetic Science Alabang
Ground Floor of the Kennedy Center
Prime cor. Venture Sts. Madrigal Business Park
Muntinlupa City
8098021 / 09178082921

Aesthetic Science Makati
Ground Floor, Jupiter Place
Jupiter St., Bel-air Makati City
8993643 / 09178082926

Thursday, March 05, 2015

A Tooth's Tale: 6 Things to Remember When Caring for Your Child's Teeth

Along with the joys of childhood aka candies, chocolates and all sorts of sweets comes a rite of passage almost everyone goes through -- cavities. 

This is the situation we found ourselves in as Berry started complaining of non-stop toothaches. Nothing we did, not the regular visits to our old dentist, could help. This called for a miracle-worker na -- so we searched far and wide, asked around, bugged friends, family, and other dentists we knew.

Our search led us to Dr. Mayee Regudo-Almoro, a diplomate, board member and examiner of the Philippine Board of Pediatric Dentistry and a member of the Philippine Pediatric Dental Society. Like Dada, she spent some time in Boston, where she took her Master’s Degree in Pediatric Dentistry at the prestigious Boston University-Goldman School of Graduate Dentistry.

Since she passed our initial qualifications check with flying colors (hehe), Dada and I lost no time in getting an appointment and brought Berry to her clinic in St. Luke's QC.

She examined Berry's teeth, took a series of x-rays, and showed us a live video feed of the "problem spots". I liked that she took all the purposeful steps necessary to fully assess the state of Berry's teeth. Unfortunately, she confirmed what I've been dreading to hear. Most of Berry's molars needed to go through remedial procedures - some were even beyond saving.

Sometimes, when you are faced with tough decisions to be made on behalf of someone you love, like your child, it becomes very hard to distinguish one decision from another. Thankfully, Dr. Mayee was very knowledgeable and she laid out several options and provided us a view on possible outcomes.

The first option was to have Berry's teeth treated (including possible extractions) individually in a normal dental clinic setting -- however, this would require several visits and, we surmised, not a small deal of trauma. The second option was to undergo an outpatient procedure at St. Luke's Medical Center Quezon City where Berry would be partially sedated while the entire procedure was carried out.

Dr. Mayee patiently provided us with the pros and cons of each option and answered each imaginable question we had. We appreciated the fact that she did not insist on either option, but allowed us to make the final decision.

Ultimately, Dada and I decided we wanted to spare Berry the trauma of repeat visits and opted for the outpatient procedure. 
Berry smiling after her dental operation, yay!

It wasn't any ordinary procedure. With the extent of the tooth damage we witnessed, we're talking of a root canal, teeth extractions, fillings, fitting for a space maintainer, the works.

Of course we were nervous! It was one thing to see your child complaining of a toothache, but the idea of getting her sedated, was nerve wracking to say the least. Nakakaawa even if nakakainis sya that it led to this!

Thankfully, Berry's dental operation was a success, and our experience with Dr. Mayee was a good one. She gently but firmly guided us through the entire process, told us what to expect, and calmed our fears.

Berry back at Dr. Mayee's chair a week after her operation

This is why I want to share with you the lessons I learned the hard way and, for me, these lessons are worth their weight in gold when it comes time to choosing your child's dentist. You don't have to go through what we went through, if you do it right the first time.

1) Bring your child to a dentist as soon as the first tooth comes out. Even if it just means having her sit at the dentist's chair, so she gets used to the idea of going to a dentist even before she needs any cleaning or filling. It will help her get comfortable at the dentist's chair, saving you a lot of trouble for when any actual procedure needs to be done, if at all.

In fact, Dr. Mayee says children can grow up cavity free. The point of early dental visits is for mothers to learn how to clean baby teeth properly, understand correct feeding and eating habits, be aware of the bad habits that cause tooth decay, know the correct products to use, and have the dentist perform proper assessment if there are problems early on. 

2)  Look for a pediatric dentist straight away. I used to think going to our regular dentist was good enough. After all, I grew up going to my parents' dentist. Not all kids are built the same though, and if your child is anything like Berry, who gets fidgety in a dentist's chair, then go for someone who is trained to deal with kids (for more info, visit www.pbpdonline.com) day in and day out.  We were impressed with Dr. Mayee's ability to work with Berry, given Donya Beriray's, shall we say, "grit" and "persistence"!

3) Go for highly-recommended pediatric dentists. As with anything, go for tried and tested pediatric dentists, those respected by fellow dentists and loved by their patients. When it comes to your family's health, don't settle simply for what's geographically convenient or the least expensive option. Look at the big picture and think of what will be good for the long term. 

I have to admit, I brought Berry to my dentist because it was convenient. Not realizing that all those visits where she refused to be treated correctly were just a waste of time, effort and money in the long run. One trip to Dr. Mayee and all her teeth issues were resolved. Imagine if we brought Berry to Dr. Mayee from the beginning!

4) Get a pediatric dentist who is thorough, answers all your questions, gives you options, and runs you through the pros and cons. I liked that Dr. Mayee was very patient in answering all our questions and addressing our concerns. Getting your child's teeth pulled out, with a root canal done as well, is no easy matter. There really was a lot of hand holding and explaining that needed to be done, and Dr. Mayee was tireless in our "kakulitan". Even after our consultation, Dr. Mayee made herself available to take my calls and answer follow-up questions. After the operation, she made sure to check up on Berry's progress on a regular basis.

When we decided to go for the total operation, Dr. Mayee's husband, Dr. Romel Almoro, who was also Berry's anesthesiologist, personally called us the night before the operation to remind us not to feed or give Berry anything to drink hours before the operation. On the day itself, he turned out to be a very funny guy -- that said, he was very effective in keeping us informed about what to expect, was right beside Berry the entire operation to monitor her, and made himself available to take our calls in case we had any concerns. We didn't have to call him because he told us what to expect, and it helped ease any fears. Nevertheless, he still called us that evening to check on Berry.

Needless to say, Dada and I were impressed with them both. That's the kind of doctors you want on your side.

5) Be firm. If your child needs drilling to get a cavity filled, then just have it done, whatever it takes. A pediatric dentist should be equipped to deal with your stubborn child. Dada says I was too lenient with Berry, letting her have her way in refusing to be drilled. If I was more firm in getting her teeth fixed right away, and if I was quick enough to shift to a pediatric dentist early on, maybe her molars would have been saved.

6) Supervise your child's brushing. Most kids hate to brush their teeth. They usually just do an obligatory run through, which is not enough to clean every surface. If you have to do the brushing yourself, do it. Just to make sure every tooth gets brushed correctly, at least twice a day. Make sure to use fluoride toothpaste, and floss their teeth too.

I will do a more thorough post on this, as taught to me and Berry by Dr. Mayee.

Why all the trouble for milk teeth you ask? Well, my mom's sister died of rheumatic heart disease, which is caused by abscesses in baby teeth that are left untreated. She passed away at 29, which made my mom & I very conscious about caring for our children's teeth.

It's easy to say, "Oh, it's just milk teeth, it will be replaced." But the reality is, milk teeth is important not just for aesthetic reasons but also for proper digestion, and in guiding permanent teeth to their proper place to prevent crowding later on (hence the space maintainer that Berry had to have on, because she lost some molars).

I tell you, toothaches can be stressful. It was so frustrating when Berry would complain about her teeth, I swear. Thankfully, we don't have to worry about it anymore, save for the regular cleaning and check-ups. In fact, Dr. Mayee's goal is for her patients to just visit her twice a year for cleaning and check-ups, and that's the goal we want for all three kids moving forward.

Really, if there's one advice I have to give parents of young kids, it's this. Take care of your children's teeth early on and don't wait until it gets really bad. If you've reached the point of no return like we did, then go for a dentist you can trust. For us, seeing Berry smile is extra sweeter, after all she's been through!

Thanks Dr. Mayee -- see you in a couple of months for Berry's next appointment!

Fellow parents, Dr. Mayee holds clinic at St. Luke's Medical Center
 in QC. Room 705 South Tower, CHBC
279 E. Rodriguez Sr. Blvd., Quezon City 1102. Telephone number is (02) 721 7003.

For more info on Pediatric Dentistry, visit the Philippine Board of Pediatric Dentistry and Philippine Pediatric Dental Society websites.
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