Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas from Charlotte & Christine!

Here's my virtual gift to you dear readers!!! Because I love you all! When I hit the jackpot, I swear, Charlotte Olympia giveaway na tayo!

In the meantime, just sharing with you my picks from her Christmas 2012 Collection, hangganda!

A Berry Merry Christmas! Hope you got all you wished for and more! Ho! Ho! Ho! 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Last Minute Gift Ideas for Kids!

Who's on panic mode? Breathe deeply and listen up. Here are some great gift ideas for the little kiddos, available now at select Toys R Us, Powerbooks and National Bookstore outlets. Check these out:

Chuckimals (Php590) - plush toys with voice recorders. Capture a few seconds of audio and then pass the message! Your friend will hear it upon impact.

Magiglow books (Php549.75) and boards (Php999.75) at National Bookstore - Improves writing skills, promotes dexterity, and overall makes learning fun. Even in the dark!

Glow to Bed Sleepy Bear and Sleepy Monkey (Php899.75) - use the magic light wand to write with light on the plush toys belly. Makes bedtime and lights out less scary.

Talking Tom and Talking Ben plush toys (from Php299.75 for the keyrings, Php599.75 for the soft toy with app sounds, and Php1499.75 for the Animation toy) - needs no explanation. Kids love these two on your iPhone, all the more in person!

Magiglow books and boards are available at Powerbooks, National Bookstore and Toys R Us stores. Chuckimals, Glow To Bed and Talking Friends plush toys are available at Toys R Us Eastwood, Trinoma, Galleria, Shangri-la, Glorietta 4, Greenbelt, and Bonifacio High Street.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Tips for Blogging Success Part 2

As promised, and as my Christmas gift to you hehe, here's the continuation of my earlier post on the things I shared and learned at Blogopolis 2012.

6. Strategic Branding.  One thing that you have to remember is that your blog is your brand. To put it in context, let's say with clothes, how you dress up is how you present yourself to the world. In the blogosphere, your blog, whether you intend to or not, is a representation of who you are. Apart from writing quality content and steering away from writing about things that will potentially embarrass you in the future, it is important to find your niche, and to be recognized as an expert in your chosen topic. Think of it this way, when you think of a blog, you instantly associate it with something right? Like, Yugatech=techie stuff, Ivan About Town=Philippine travel blog, Fashion Pulis=chismis, David Guison=men's fashion. You would want to be known or branded for something. The same way Starbucks is coffee and Levi's is denim. As with consumer brands and celebrities, you can also build your blog's brand equity. How? Read on.

7. Strategic Promotion. In short, Network. Network. Network. And the best part? You can do this both online & offline. Offline, you can attend events and blogging conferences. Online, simply comment on blog posts, go on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and say hello, ask questions or whatever. Just make sure you don't get too overbearing or stalker-ish, haha! But seriously, a lot of my friends now like Karrots, Kris and the SoMoms (Jackie, Jenny R., Jenny O., Jen, Eli, Janice, Cai, Michelle) started out as my online ka-chikas but are now my regular lunch mates. We started off reading each others blogs, asking each other about shopping, breastfeeding, baby wearing etc. and thanks to our blogs and constant kulitan online, it feels like we all have known each other forever. Since most of us also have businesses on the side, it's like we have an instant barkada to help us promote each other's blogs and businesses too. Strategic, right? But let me clarify, we all came together because we sincerely liked hanging out with each other. Do not "target" someone just because they are popular. It helps, but bottom line is, reach out to those who you genuinely feel an affinity with.

8. Attracting Advertisers. Ahhh, isn't this what everybody wants? To attract advertisers? The good news is, you don't need to have millions of hits to get advertisers. What advertisers look at is quality, not just quantity. Your personality and how you come across your readers is important. Why? If they were to choose a blog/ger to advertise their products or service in, they would of course go for the ones they would want to be associated with. It's just like choosing a friend or barkada. You want to be seen with your kind of crowd. Second, your influence matters. Are your readers the kind of market advertisers want to tap? Are you able to get your readers to try and/or buy the products you share with them? Also, are you perceived as a reputable source of information?

Think of it this way, when brands choose celebrity endorsers, they want someone who can best represent their brand, and who can also make their products move. The same goes for advertisers when it comes to choosing the bloggers they will partner with. Make sure that you build your brand and reputation to a point where brands will want to be seen in your blog. That should be your goal.

9. Your Blog as a Business. There are many ways to monetize your blog - through ads, sponsored posts, affiliate marketing, co-branding, endorsements etc. Abe Olandres and Carlo Ople have taken their blogs to a point where it has become a business. They have a staff of writers, they have a steady stream of advertisers that provide them with more than enough to cover their overhead expenses. In short, they have made their blogs into a business, and yes, it can be done! If you really want to earn money from blogging, explore different avenues of monetizing your blog, and see what works for you.

10. The 4 P's of Duct Tape Marketing applies to blogs too. As a blogger, ask yourself the purpose of why you blog. Do you want to do it because it's uso? Is it for fun? Is it because you want to earn money? Let me reiterate, money should never be your primary reason for blogging. Just remember that when you enjoy and love what you do, the money will follow. Next, you need to think about your positioning. What is your blog about? What are you known for? Who are your readers? This helps you find your niche. Third, write with passion. Enjoy the process, write because you want to, not because you have to. Lastly, do not be afraid to let your personality shine through. It is who you are, and how you write that will get your readers to keep coming back for more.

Happy Blogging!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The 12 Yosi Samras of Christmas: Part 6

The last two girls in my Yosi Samra gift list are friends who I am extremely proud of. They are often in the spotlight because they excel in what they do. Kristine is a jewelry artist who often gets featured in magazines and newspapers, while Gretchen hosts a TV show on GMA Bacolod called “Isyu Subong”. I am excited to share with them these equally fabulous flats from Yosi Samra’s Holiday 2012 Collection. 

Day 11: Pewter Glitter

When I think of Kristine, I think pretty, sparkly thoughts, because that’s exactly what she does. She makes gorgeous jewelry that any girl would love to have. I picked out these shiny glitter flats in pewter for her, because they are as stunning as her pieces. Which reminds me, Kristine’s jewelry comes prettily packaged in orange jewelry boxes. As with all things precious, presentation is everything. Thankfully, her Yosi Samras also come in a sturdy, elegant box that is a promising precursor to what can be found within. Fine, not exactly as awe inducing as her designs and not as expensive, but just as fun to wear!

Yosi Samras are elegantly packaged inside a pouch, which goes inside a sturdy black box. Just wrap a ribbon around it, and voila! Gift-ready! 

Day 12: Quilted Gold

Gretch is sweet, soft spoken and always looks so prim and proper that I never expected for her to work in front of the camera. Then again, she is one tough cookie, and is in fact a feisty girl inside that demure exterior. When I saw these gold quilted Yosi Samras, it made me think of her - looks delicate but packs a punch! It’s great for slipping into between shoots, and perfect for running around Bacolod in. I am also sure her kids Gabe and Ella would love to see their mommy wearing such pretty flats.

My 12 favorite girls and the 12 Yosi Samras of Christmas, they’ve all met their perfect match! Now if only it were as easy to give gifts to husbands, brothers and dads no? Happy Holidays dear readers! Make sure you’ve got your own pair of Yosi Samras as well!

About Yosi Samra’s Holiday 2012 Collection: 

Yosi Samra fold-up flats are known for their unmatched comfort. The flats are made from the softest leathers, with elastic straps to ensure a secure and snug fit. So versatile that they fold up to fit anywhere for convenient shoe changes on the go. 

The Holiday 2012 Collection features the same ultra-flexible design, but in this seasons hottest materials – from tweed and velvet to glitter and patent leather. Trendy cap toe details and studded metallics highlight the collection. 

Tweed Series from the Holiday 2012 Collection

Velvet with Glitter Cap Toe Series from the Holiday 2012 Collection

In the Philippines, Yosi Samra is available at GAS in Greenbelt 3, Trinoma, Rockwell Power Plant Mall, and Alabang Town Center. The first Yosi Samra concept store opened at Mall of Asia in November of 2012.


Here's a great gift idea for your artsy friend - intricately beaded accessories from Bulacan designer Merriam Batara! I've actually seen her line on Ava.ph some time back, and didn't realize my school  mates from graduate school - Leslie & Anna Suntay are behind the line. 

Apparently the trio got their start when Anna's love for art would bring her to Merriam's stall at the St James the Great Bazaar every year. She fell in love with, and couldn't get enough of Merriam's pieces and so like a dutiful husband (joke lang Les!), the entrepreneurial Leslie got into the picture - i.e. provided funding to build a collection and now helps out with distribution. 

Today, MerriaMBatara pieces did the high-end bazaar rounds too but are now also found at Firma, Chimes Davao and House of Laurel year-round. 

Anyhoo, before I ramble on, check out some of these pieces from the latest collection and see what it is all about:

Quite charming no? These beaded costume jewelry are made out of semi-precious gemstones, Swarovski crystals, and sometimes vintage pendants, pins, and buttons, which are either sourced locally or sometimes bought from trips abroad. These materials are embroidered on scrap leather cutoffs which we source from a local manufacturer. On occasion, 'plateros' or goldsmiths are commissioned to make custom metal findings like studs, metal flora and fauna made of silver and copper. All of the products are hand sewn and handcrafted by women in Bulacan.
About Merriam Batara:

Merriam Batara is a self-taught jewelry designer and bead embroiderer from Bulacan, who comes from a family of jewelers and beaders. In the mid-2000s she discovered a knack for design when she made a bag and a necklace to wear to school, after hours of shopping in vain. She learned jewelry design techniques and embroidering through reading and experimenting. She now employs several women in Baliuag, Bulacan where her studio is based; all of whom she has taught how to embroider. 

For more on Merriam Batara, visit her Facebook page  or call 02-9758674/0917-6216696.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The 12 Yosi Samras of Christmas: Part 5

Sometimes, when you read a person’s blog, you instantly feel like you know her, and that if she knew you, you would be friends. That’s exactly what happened to Kris, Karrots and myself. We started off reading each other’s blogs and today, I meet up and hang out with them like we’ve been friends forever. They are not just my online buddies, but fellow moms of two who are also accomplished women that I respect and admire. With such busy lives online and offline, they deserve nothing less than Yosi Samras. 

Day 9: Metallic Bronze

Kris owns a boutique marketing agency with her friend and partner Jenny Reyes. Her days consist of client meetings, photo shoots, organizing brand activities and such. But she is better known to her online followers as OC Mom in Manila - a blog where she chronicles her OC tendencies. I fondly call her Donya Aquasana because she brought in Aquasana water purifiers to the Philippines. At home, she is wife and partner to her husband Jake and mom to two precocious little girls. Obviously, she’s got her hands full with work and the demands of her daily life. As a friend, I see that it is in her best interest that she wear comfortable flats that can do double duty for busy work days and family activities. Being OC about everything, I am pretty sure the comfort, fit and structure of metallic bronze Yosi Samras will pass her scrutiny.

The Metallic Series comes in gold, rose gold and silver too. 

Day 10: Quilted Pewter

Karrots is always fun to be with because we can talk about anything and everything. She is kengkoy and kalog yet kool and klazz. She is such a natural talker that she has taken her talkativeness to a whole new level – she hosts a podcast entitled Live Love Lolz where she and her guests talk about well, their lives and what they love, with lots of laughter thrown in. She is also a wife to her long time buddy Bryan, and mom to their two boys Santino and Luca. Her days are filled with donya duties (her glammed up term for household errands/chores) and driving her young boys to and/or from school. Like any busy mom, comfort is key but losyang should never be in our dictionary. Yosi Samras in quilted pewter provides just the right dose of glamour that Karrots’ brand of motherhood needs.

 The quilted detail makes this pair extra pretty. The vamp is not too long, nor too short – so if you don’t like toe cleavage, this is the perfect pair to wear. 

10 girls and their gifts done, 2 more to go!

Mustela Stelatopia for Infant Eczema

To say that we are huge fans of Mustela is an understatement. Because I swear by it. Berry even knows the line by heart. This morning, she saw Mustela products at our pediatrician's office and she told her that she and Xavi use Mustela shampoo and body wash.

We also use Mustela Stelatria for itchy rashes and flare-ups. I actually took this photo of Berry's rashes that I sent to our pedia. She recommended we use Stelatria, so I went straight to the Mustela store in Shangri-la and in two days, I swear, the rashes were totally gone. Like they were never there.

These rashes disappeared in 2 days with Mustela Stelatria!

When I was pregnant with Xavi, I used the moisturizer and stretch marks cream, and loved the Instant Comfort Legs cream. Each night, Dada would massage my legs with it, and the tiredness in my legs seemed to just melt away.
The full range of Mustela products for babies and moms

A few months ago, Tammy Tancinco and Sharleen Cu-Unjieng of Mustela Philippines launched Mustela's Stelatopia line for babies with dry and eczema-prone skin.  Like Mustela's Nine Months, Dermo-Pediatrics and Sun Protection lines, Stelatopia is very safe, paraben-free and made from ingredients that are from natural origins. Say bye to steroids, forever!

Pediatrician, Dr. Vienne Saulog, is also a huge fan of Mustela

Mustela Philippines distributors Sharleen Cu-Unjieng and Tammy Tancinco with Juana Yupangco, Jackie Antonio and Amanda Jacob

Here's the 411:

Stelatopia is a line of high quality skin care for babies developed to gently yet effectively treat infant eczema. It offers a complete response to dry and eczema-prone skin with four high quality products guaranteed safe for babies. Stelatopia’s active ingredient is Sunflower Oil Distillate. It’s a patented ingredient of natural origin. It has lipid replenishing action and breaks the vicious cycle of atopic dermatitis by reducing xerosis, desquamation and itching.
From L to R: Stelatopia Emollient Cream in tube and pump, Cleansing Cream, No Rinse Cleansing Water and Milky Bath Oil

Stelatopia Cream Cleanser is ideal for daily cleansing of baby’s face, hair and body. It protects skin against dryness with its patented Active Lipid-Replenishing Process, and quickly soothes discomfort by reducing the sensation of irritation and itching.

When skin flare-ups occur, Stelatopia Milky Bath Oil comes to the rescue. Frequent use of this emollient-rich bath oil diminishes the frequency and intensity of flare-ups due to the presence of sunflower oil distillate. Stelatopia Milky Bath Oil requires no rinsing and does not leave an oily film.

Stelatopia Emollient Cream is a handy companion to keep skin nourished. It restores moisture balance by replenishing lipids while purifying the skin as it restructures even the driest skin, rebalances cutaneous flora and limits microbial proliferation. Stelatopia Emollient Cream limits the need for corticosteroids by up to 100%.

Finally, Stelatopia No-rinse Cleansing Water is a gentle, one-step daily use cleanser for face, body, and diaper area of babies. It gently cleanses the skin with an ultra-mild, no-rinse washing base to help form a barrier against hard water that may cause more irritation.

About Mustela:
Mustela continues to break new grounds as the skin care expert for babies and mothers to be, and holds its position as the number one selling product in European pharmacies. Mustela is manufactured by Laboratoires Expanscience, which is the 6th largest independent laboratory in France, and ensures its high quality products that are free from paraben, phthalate, phenoxyethanol, alcohol, chlorphenesin and essential oils. Priority is given to ingredients of natural origins ranging form 80% to 98%.

Mustela is available at the following outlets:

Ayala Trinoma, 1st Level (beside Cafe Mary Grace)
Robinson's Manila, 1st Level Midtown Wing (beside Topshop)
Glorietta 4, 3rd Level (in front of Gourdo's and Play & Display)
Shangri-la Mall, 4th Level (in front of Mothercare)
Megamall A, 2nd Level (in front of Esprit)
The Shops, Greenhills Shopping Center 1st Level (in front of Watson’s and Mary Grace)
Alabang Town Center, Upper Ground Floor, Connector Mall (in front of K & Company)

Distributed at the following: 

PureBeauty, 2nd Floor Serendra, BGC
All Landmark Department Stores
All Rustan's Department Stores
Numa Echo Baby Store, QC

For more information: 
MUSTELA HOTLINE: 0917-8959988
Email: mustelaphilippines@yahoo.com
Website: www.mustela.com
Facebook: Mustela Philippines

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The 12 Yosi Samras of Christmas: Part 4

They say birds of the same feather flock together, so meet my gorgeous friends Nina and Aileen. Heehee. Seriously though, these girls have been my bestest friends since we were in our early teens. We’ve known each other way back when we were stick thin kids who hadn’t sprouted boobs yet. We saw each other go through life with ugly braces on our teeth and zits on our faces. Nina and Aileen have bloomed into motherhood and are blessed with equally gorgeous little ones today. As first time moms, they need stylish, reliable flats in their mommy arsenal. Just the pair to wear when caring for their wee ones.

Day 7: Two Tone in White

Nina is a devoted mom to her 7-month old Stella. So much so that she bring her baby girl along everywhere, so she can breastfeed her directly. That sounds easy, but her work as a news reporter takes her all over the city, and even to far-flung provinces. Like any super mom, Nina juggles work and motherhood with so much ease. In most scenarios, fashion and dressing up is the least of a mom’s concerns but Nina has always been stylish in her own classic, elegant way. A pair of Yosi Samras in two tone black and white is just the pair to add to her closet. It’s got loads of comfort and style, and can be worn with practically anything. So she can just throw on a dress, or a top and trousers and instantly look good, without having to worry about her shoes matching. This way, she can focus on the task at hand, while taking care of Stella. 

I have a similar pair as Nina’s, but in two tone nude. These flats surprisingly go with a lot of things in my closet and are super comfortable. 

Day 8: Stud Cap Toe in Black/Bronze 

Aileen is blessed with fraternal twins - two boys who are quite a handful, but are thankfully too cute that she doesn’t mind spending time with them 24/7. Her boys recently turned a year old two months ago, which means she will be running after two boisterous boys in no time. I’ve picked out these studded cap toe Yosi Samras for Aileen, because I foresee she will be living in these comfy, buttery soft flats till the next year or so. Forget all your other shoes, these flats are a new mom’s best friends. 

This style looks edgy and tough, but the leather is the exact opposite. So buttery soft and molds to the shape of your feet. The elastic sides guarantee a secure fit, and don’t dig into the back of heel. So comfortable you can sprint in these babies. 

8 girls and their gifts done, 4 more to go!

Moms for Moms: Our Fabella Hospital Visit

I have heard of Fabella Hospital and have only seen it in pictures, so when Kris of OC Mom in Manila invited me to join the Johnson's Baby team and our mommy friends for a visit to the OB ward, I said yes right away.  

Having heard so much about the conditions at Fabella, we were prepared for the worst. After all, this is the hospital known as the "baby factory", and on the day we visited, there were a total of 744 patients in the hospital and 47 moms who had just delivered a baby. Imagine that.

But you know what, despite the cramped atmosphere, the strength and resilience of spirit was evident in each of the moms faces. It was not depressing at all. The rooms were bright and airy. The moms, although reserved (I mean, who wouldn't be, I've given birth too and I didn't exactly like receiving strangers in my room soon after heehee) most of them had a ready smile and didn't mind us coming up to them to talk about breastfeeding, touch therapy/baby massage and how to give their babies a bath.

Yes, Touch Therapy. Johnson & Johnson sponsors a Touch Therapy room in Fabella hospital, to teach the moms the importance of touching their baby for bonding via baby massage, skin-to-skin contact and kangaroo care among others.

While we were inside the Touch Therapy room, neonatologist Dr. Imperial shared with us the practice of kangaroo care for pre-term babies. It was wonderful seeing it put to practice in Fabella, and heartening to see daddies cradling their babies in their own blue "pouches".

After meeting the key doctors in Fabella, we all set out to talk to the mommy patients by twos. My partner for the day, Jenny Reyes of My Mommyology and I went from bed to bed talking to the moms and handing out baby care products from J&J. Some moms were quiet and probably did not want to be disturbed, but there were a few who were genuinely interested in baby massage and bathing tips for their newborns. It was fun learning from each other.

We were there for just an hour, but seeing all the cute babies made me miss Xavi and Berry. As soon as we were done making chika with the moms, I just had to check on my little ones. Ayan tuloy, caught texting on camera haha!

Thanks so much to Johnson's Baby Philippines and Kris for inviting us. It was a great way to spend a morning. And good to know that Fabella while old and shabby is a clean, happy place. They are doing such a great job with Unang Yakap, breastfeeding, and taking care of their patients with the limited resources they have. Although of course, every help from corporations and private citizens would do so much in making Fabella a truly world-class hospital. 

It would be nice to see every Filipino mom give birth to her baby in a most ideal atmosphere conducive to labor, rest and rooming in. Every drop in the proverbial bucket counts. When you can, maybe you and your friends can organize activities or raise funds to purchase equipment and supplies that could help Fabella's patients too.

Photography by Lawrence del Mundo
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