Friday, June 27, 2014

Forexworld = Shopping Enabler

Over the summer, I discovered Forexworld, a new way to ship my online shopping finds from the US to here without hassling anybody at all. Ever!

It's like, if you are on a secret shopping mission, this is the way to do it. Everything's just between you and your computer. No human contact required. Ahihi.

Prior to Forexworld I would usually:

1) Ship to my friend Me-an or sister Trina so they can ship it to me. This is usually for:

- consolidating several purchases, so they can pre-pack for me, heehee. I love Me-an and Trina!
- big ticket items, so I can have them check it out to see if it everything's perfect. No scratches, no missing parts, etc.
- shoes where I am unsure of sizing and I want Me-an to try it on for me because we pretty much know that if it's small for her then it's gonna fit me. 
- items where I am not sure if it's a good buy, and I want Me-an's approval. Hahaha.

This also allows me to make returns if needed so that I don't have to worry about shipping it back to the US.

2) Ship via Johnny Air direct. 

I'd address my package to Johnny Air and call Johnny Air to check if the package has arrived when online tracking says package has been delivered. Just to double check, because I'm sigurista that way.

I once ordered Tieks online, and it said "Delivered", but the actual package never really arrived. So I've just made it a habit to double check, doesn't hurt to watch your packages like a hawk.

Anyway, once Johnny Air confirms that package has been received, they ship the package to Manila, easy peasy. This is usually for books, not so expensive shoes and clothes, makeup, stuff like that.

I have actually heard of Forexworld's balikbayan box shipping service from our friend Paul, but it was only when Gretel Pery, Paul's sister-in-law, told me about their internet shopping and air freight delivery service that I finally got to try them out.

Because hello, we're talking online shopping support here, heehee.

To cut a long story short, I tried out their service when I bought my summer sunnies online. And I am happy to report that they arrived, intact, and complete. And to think I asked them watch out for 2 separate packages so they can consolidate my order too!

All I had to do was:

1) Sign up for a Forexworld account HERE:

2) Once confirmed, I ordered the sunnies and used Forexworld's Los Angeles Warehouse address as my shipping address, addressed to me. 

Christine Dychiao  
12820 S. Main St. 
Los Angeles, CA 90061 
Tel no. 310 - 523 - 4080

I logged on to my account and chose Drop Ship from the Order Type dropdown menu. I chose Drop Ship because I already bought the items and wanted them delivered to their warehouse. (to get the full step by step on Drop Shipping, click HERE)

You can choose Online Shop if you want them to do the shopping for you if you don't have Paypal or don't want to use your credit card. You just need to pre-fund your account via PayPilipinas or BPI or BDO bank deposit.

3) After filling in the details, I got an update with my Order ID number which meant they were already watching out for my package.

4) When my package was delivered, they notified me that it was received in their warehouse. I didn't have to make any calls or email to follow up with them anymore.

Because I decided to save on shipping by buying another pair (uhm does that make sense? haha) I made another Drop Ship order and asked that this be consolidated with my first order.

Again, I got a notification when my second package was delivered to their warehouse.

5) They put together the contents of both packages and I received another notification, this time advising me of when my package was expected to arrive.

Soon enough, the sunnies arrived at my door, just like that. Without me having to worry about where the packages were, thanks to constant updates from Forexworld.

In fact, I could also choose to check on the status of my order by accessing my Forexworld online shopping account. No need to follow up the local office by calling constantly, which is what happens sometimes with Johnny Air.

Now, how much does this cost?

Air freight charges depends on the items that we purchase i.e. item’s packaging dimensions, weight and its cost. 

Air freight shipping cost is $24.95 for the first pound (lb) with an additional $3.95 for each added pound. For electronics, the additional charge per succeeding pound is $6.95. Weight is rounded off to the next pound. 

If package is bulky, weight is measured by volume. Value calculated to get the cost of shipping is based on actual weight or volumetric weight, whichever is higher. 

Delivery takes approximately seven (7) to ten (10) days. Currently Forexworld can only service Luzon deliveries.

For Pinoys based on the East Coast, you might want to check out Forexworld's Air Freight promo for bigger packages that ship out from their Virginia warehouse. 

$95 for a small box that you may fill up to 20 lbs, and $170 for a larger box that you may fill up to 40 lbs.

For more on Forexworld, visit their website and Like the Forex Facebook page.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A Lysol Giveaway

Would you like to try Lysol's new Disinfectant Spray for Baby's Room? We'll throw in Lysol's new liquid anti-bacterial hand soap too! Simply join by using the Rafflecopter widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I will choose one winner and Lysol will take care of shipping the winner's prize! Entries accepted until July 3, 2014!

UPDATE: Lysol can only ship within Metro Manila because of the aerosol spray can. Winners who live outside of Metro Manila must be able to provide a Metro Manila address.

BetterMe: Attaining and Sustaining Loving Energy in the Family, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1, here's Part 2 of How to Raise Kids with Strong Character & Values:

6. Talk explicitly about your values and why they are important to you.

The values we stress on our kids will help them navigate situations that test them. Reinforce by saying, "The (your last name here) are kind/helpful/have integrity/ honest/trustworthy".

But we should also be prepared to help our children interpret how the world takes in that value. 

Sometimes, certain values are not "valued" by their peers, especially during the adolescent years. Take honesty for instance.  When classmates cheat in class, honesty may only ostracize the honest kid aka "squealer". We should also be ready to guide our kid on how to navigate situations like these without making them resent that value.

If the parents have different values, it's ok. It shows diversity and how other people will not always have the same values you do. What's important is the parents shows teamwork.

7. Talk about why you make certain decisions based on that value.

This is where stories and fables like Aesop's Fables come in. It is important to talk to our kids about why a particular value was incremental in making that decision. Stories hold power, they also make lessons easier to remember.

8. Resist lecturing.

It's so hard to hold back when you have all these ideas ready to spew out from your mouth in the form of a lecture, but hold it in! The best you can do is to ask your child, "What happened?" Sometimes, that's all a child needs, a parent's genuine concern. But this doesn't mean you just let things be.

Time the teaching moment when your emotions have settled down and you have processed the entire situation in an objective manner.

Coach Pia says we should share our own views sparingly unless the child is in harm's way. So in the case of non-negotiables (drugs, danger, accidents, etc) do not back off! Assert yourself.

9. Make it relevant to their world. Take it away from being theoretical.

Let's say you want to teach your kid independence.

A school project comes up and your child says, "Teacher said I should do this myself!"

Aha! The perfect situation to teach independence, right? 

So you let her do it herself. And when she proudly shows her self-made project to you, you summon all the self-control you have to resist the urge to fix that lopsided roof, that loose button, or that really awkward sentence in her school essay.

Yes, that's teaching them independence. You let them do it themselves, even if you can already see a C in the horizon. That project won't give them an A, and you accept that.

Put a premium on effort and enthusiasm. You can't teach independence via a story or by the book. You've got to let them stand on their own feet literally.

BetterMe: Attaining and Sustaining Loving Energy in the Family, was made possible by DMCI Homes and Lysol.

To keep the home full of love, make sure your home is not only stress-free but clean and healthy too! Lysol, a trusted champion of health, partners with mothers and homemakers in caring for the health & well-being of our families and homes.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

BetterMe: Attaining and Sustaining Loving Energy in the Family, Part I

Don't you sometimes wish you were born into a different family?

I've had episodes when I was younger and wished that my parents were cooler, more supportive of my interests, more normal. 

I wish my Dad had a regular office job and went home every day (he was in the military and was away for stretches of time), I wish my mom liked to shop for clothes and shoes, and knew where to get the latest trendy sneakers and jeans (I had to ask Ate Carol, the cool older sister of our playmates/neighbors Juanlo and Miat), but she preferred home stuff (which bored me then but I totally get her now!).  I wish she'd send me off to school with a Cheez Whiz sandwich and Kool Aid, but I was always the one in school with a homemade cheese pimiento sandwich, raisins and freshly squeezed juice in my lunchbox.

Of course, I'd also wish that my siblings were more mellow, less high strung, more driven, more supportive, less noisy, etc. - basically, the opposite of whatever it was that irritated me about someone at the moment.

But as Desmond Tutu famously said, "You don't choose your family. They are God's gift to you, as you are to them." 

So ok, it's like we're stuck with them diba? You take the good with the bad. You look at the bright side of things. You appreciate what's nice about them. All those cliches.

While we can't change the family we are born into, the good thing is, we can always begin with the family we started. Because this time, we made the choice. 

Dada & I chose to be married to each other. We chose to have our kids. They didn't choose us, but well, we can always turn our family into the sort of family they'd be happy to be part of. The kind they won't be embarrassed about, haha.

That's the premise at least of our #BetterMe session with Coach Pia Nazareno-Acevedo last May 21 - Attaining and Sustaining Loving Energy in the Family which was held at Flair Towers by DMCI Homes in Mandaluyong.

Flair Towers at Reliance corner Pines Street, Highway Hills, Mandaluyong has a resort like feel, and is in fact a project of one of our fellow SoMoms - Mommy Fleur! She's an engineer at DMCI, in case you didn't know

Now that I am older, of course I know that it takes more than just cool to raise happy, well-adjusted kids who will grow up into mature, responsible and exceptional adults. 

As parents, the first thing that is required of us is to turn our home into the kind of sanctuary where our children feel safe and loved. They should be raised with strong character and values, because more than just education and material things, their character and values will allow them to navigate life's complexities on their own, even if we are long gone.

Really, those must have toys and trips abroad are really just the fancy fondant figures on the cake - nice to look at, but even without, doesn't detract from one's enjoyment of a deliriously delicious cake.

I have to warn you though, this is a lengthy post, so I will break this down into two parts. 

Everything I learned from the session is worth sharing, and so I will just run through each line quickly. If you want me to expound, feel free to leave a comment after this post! I'm happy to share my learnings.

How to Raise Children with Strong Character and Values:

1. Stop asking your child what he wants to do with his life. Start asking him who he wants to be.

Many parents are guilty of saying that - "Ano ba balak mo sa buhay?" or "What's wrong with you?" when a child does something disappointing. They will go on a lengthy tirade, maybe with a bit of crying on the part of the mom, sermon from the dad, which will all end up in well, nothing really. Maybe the kid just doing something equally disappointing again another time.

But a child takes her cue from her parents. If a parent is fragile, you can't expect the child to be strong.

Instead of approaching your child with worry on your face, be matter of fact. Say, "Anak, tell me what happened?" and open a discussion from there.

When you say words like, "What's wrong with you?", you are eating at their self-esteem. You are essentially saying "You are not meeting my expectations" and this is no way to raise a child.

2. Stop speaking to your child about a career. Talk instead about a calling.

Let's face it, we're fixated with careers: My kid wants to be a doctor, a lawyer, whatever. He'll be a businessman like me. I hope she gets that golf scholarship at Stanford so she can go into tech and start a company in Silicon Valley.

Coach Pia says we shouldn't focus so much on the career. Instead, encourage empathy, the willingness to help others, or whatever it is your child feels he can contribute to - take care of abandoned animals, stop bullying, etc.

We should enhance and encourage strengths. Say things like,"You learn so quickly", ""It's so natural for you to put things in order". Positive reinforcement, always.

3. Stop focusing on grades and start focusing on intellectual curiosity.

Coach Pia says, from babyhood to 7 years old, admire everything they do to heaven and back. Encourage them to be curious, to learn. It will become natural for them.

When they are of school age, do not focus on grades. Anyway, we all know by now that grades do not guarantee success in life.

My takeaway is, focus on the learning process. Encourage the joy of learning. Get them curious enough that they will get those grades that will get them into Harvard. But if they choose to drop out of Harvard to start Facebook or something, it's their choice.

4. Stop speaking to your kids about happiness - start speaking about purpose.

Happiness should be derived from having a sense of purpose. There are many things that are not happy about life, but builds character.

 So instead of saying, "You made me happy because ____", say "I am proud of what you did!

5. Stop emphasizing friends. Start emphasizing FAMILY.

This hit a nerve with me. Growing up, my family was and still is very social. Amongst us, we have hundreds of friends who weave in and out of our home, are part of family occasions and all that. But sometimes, I feel that individually, we spend more time with our friends than with each other. And that's something I want to change in my own family. I want us to spend more time with each other.

Coach Pia says that in this day and age, the ideal ratio of spending time with family to friends should be 5:1, to counteract the effects of technology.

But note that we are talking quality time, and not just spending time in one room, individually hooked to our gadgets ha!

To be continued...

BetterMe: Attaining and Sustaining Loving Energy in the Family, was made possible by DMCI Homes and Lysol.  Lysol recently launched new products - a line of anti-bacterial hand soaps and Lysol Disinfectant Spray for Baby's Room, which is guaranteed safe to use on baby's toys, cribs, strollers, potties, high chairs, etc. Even if the kids are all grown up, this is great to have around the house actually!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

H&M in Manila, Very Very Soon!

Now it can be told!

Sometime back in December of last year, just a few days after H&M officially announced their entry to the Philippines, I got an email from Amirul Shah and Lisa Chai of H&M Singapore, telling me they had been wanting to talk to me, because they were looking for PR agency recommendations here in Manila. 

I had met Lisa years ago in Singapore, when I covered the H&M Singapore opening for The Radar in The Philippine Star and we soon reconnected via phone where she confirmed that H&M really was coming to Manila! OMG.

It was one thing reading it on a press release, and another hearing it straight from the source. I had waited years for this, and it was truly, finally, finally happening! 

The excitement continued to build up when I found that a friend of mine from high school, Gigi Mathay, was in charge of HR for H&M Manila and was keeping us all updated and entertained with her H&M training adventures on Facebook.

Fast forward to yesterday, and I finally got to see the H&M Manila showroom. 

I am also happy to share that Lisa chose well from the list of PR agencies and contacts I shared with her because well, apart from the fact that my list was carefully handpicked with only the names of the ones I have worked with and/or I know will not disappoint, she chose Bridges, one of my personal faves, because they are always the nicest! PR peeps, it pays to be nice to MFO. Just kidding. Hahaha.

And with my little role out of the way, haha, here's a sneak peek of what to expect when the store opens very soon, sometime during the 3Q of 2014. I am guessing that's by August at the earliest. Fingers crossed.

patent leather mules, very on trend

delicate slip dresses, sheer tops, knits, faux fur

a matte chain necklace, which also comes in a glossy taupe/gray

crystal flowers on grosgrain

ultra strappy sandals

real cashmere

silk crepe, chiffon, sequins, leopard spots

crystal embellished top

cropped poodle sweatshirt

sequin top

a bright knit

faux leather shorts, influenced probably by the Alexander Wang for H&M line (worldwide drop is in November, and yes, it will be launched here too!)

slip on sneakers in python and mock croc

priced at a fraction of my Celine skates, not bad!

The H&M Manila flagship, a 3,000 square meter store which dedicated followers of fashion and retail know will be at the Mega Fashion Hall of SM Megamall, will be a full concept store and will carry everything from the kids line to men, women and teens. Sadly, there will be no home section. For that, you'll need to get that from Europe or the US for your fix for now. Hee.

footwear for kids

cute cat leggings for kids

not your usual sweatpants, it's for men, but I want this for myself

nylon bomber jacket, mesh, leather, wool blended shirts for men

boat shoes in tweed, camo slip ons

I missed Lisa  who was in town, and Gigi who was just back from H&M China at the H&M Open House, as they were inside, working at the office, but it was a treat to see another friend, Chef Florabel Yatco who catered the event. I enjoyed her salted caramel tartlet...

...and I wished I could down these mojitos, but had a glass of refreshing dalandan juice instead, which was just as perfect.

But here's the better treat. Prices will not be too far off from pricing in other markets. As with all H&M markets, there are great deals to be had. This slip dress for instance, according to H&M Showroom Manager Nikki Verzo, will retail for just Php899. Imagine that!

H&M will surely rock our local retail scene. And with this taste of what's to come, will only make us wait with bated breath when it finally opens in just a few months time. Exciting!

The H&M Philippines flagship store will be occupying three floors insde Mega Fashion Hall of SM Megamall, and is slated to open Q3 of this year.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Yosi Samra Summer 2014

Mine & my mini me's matchy matchy pairs of shiny, shimmery, splendid Yosi Samra flats

Just when I thought I was done with shiny, glittery flats, I found myself in love again.

Because there's just something captivating about snakeskin flats in a metallic finish. Yosi Samra Summer 2014, you win!

Especially because my little girl can have the exact same pair that we can wear together. Hee hee.

But if sweaty feet bugging you in this heat, take heed of Yosi Samra's perforated flats. 

These pretty flats come in marshmallow colors + with air vents for circulation, what's not to love?

Tasteful YS branding at the back too! As with all the styles out this Summer and as with the past Spring.

For Spring 2014, Yosi Samra came out with the prettiest studded slippers, remember this

For Summer 2014, they take it a step further with their River sandals in metallic python and leather/desert snake leather combinations.

River sandals in black/desert snake, gold python, silver python and whiskey/desert snake

If you're not they type to slip into slippers and want something that hugs your ankles, then the Rae Alsina will totally float your boat. They're cute and sassy and undoubtedly, sexy!

Of course, Yosi Samra's basic colors and styles are available year round, so you can always replace old reliables with a new pair. 

But don't forget to check out these new styles, to add some jolt to your collection.

Get your Yosi Samra fix at GAS Greenbelt 3, 2/F Trinoma Mall, 2/F Rockwell Powerplant Mall, 2/F Alabang Town Center, 2/F SM Mall of Asia Entertainment Mall, 2/F SM Aura Premier Mall, and 2/F Glorietta 4 Ayala Center. 

For more on Yosi Samra Philippines, Like their Facebook page HERE!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Bakit ang #SarapMagingPilipino?

I have never felt more Pinoy until Dada and I lived abroad for years. 

Which was a far cry from how I felt when I was in my teens. Living in the US, and then London during the 90s, everything felt like such an adventure, an escape from the mundane, parochial Pinoy life as I knew it. 

No noisy afternoon variety shows, no smoke belching jeepneys clogging the streets, no depressing shanties peppering the city. No teachers insisting on unreasonable amounts of homework. And wow! We were baking our own brownies and chocolate chip cookies, instead of having guinataan and banana cue for merienda.

Everything seemed fast, vast, green, clean. And in the case of London, so important and grand.

Don't get me wrong, I come from what I'd call a patriotic family. My Dad was in the military, and he was proud to be representing the Philippines wherever he was stationed. Sneakily enough, his impressionable kids i.e. us, after having been exposed to what was out there, were already plotting how to get out of the Philippines and make these new countries home.

But all that changed from 2007-2011 when I finally got what I wished for.

Maybe it was maturity, or a new perspective.

When we started building a family, it made me realize how important it is to be where I felt most at home. In my case, where family and friends are. Where the food tasted like the food I grew up with. Never mind if where I was at that very moment was a lot more efficient, more picturesque, more comfortable.

In short, I found myself looking for the comfort of what was warm and familiar. No amount of shopping at Barneys or at Celine in Ngee Ann City could compensate for the homesickness, and my desire to see my daughter grow up in the company of family.

Because despite the many things that I used to complain about back home, I realized, Ang #SarapMagingPilipino. Here's why, from the perspective of someone who has "been there, done that":

1. The Filipino Support System. I totally get why new moms abroad get post-partum depression. It's the lack of a support system I swear.

Imagine yourself tired, hormonal, lacking sleep, hobbling from pain with a screaming baby who needs to be fed every two hours. Plus you need to prepare three meals a day, get the groceries and laundry done. Not only that, you need to get yourself looking presentable when the husband arrives from work. Think about doing that day in and day out, once you pop out the baby.

I swear, it can drive a woman nuts, no matter how much you love that baby. I mean, even if you can afford a nanny, granted that the one you found is not a psycho nanny, nothing can ever replace the peace of mind knowing that your Mom, Titas, sisters, cousins, in-laws even your girl friends are just a few steps away, ready to take the baby into their eager, equally loving arms, so you can have some precious "me time". Plus, the women in the family would have made sure that there's hot food on the table, fish soup for breastfeeding, black chicken and all your ge lai food and drinks ready when you need them. They would have also done some shopping for you, with lots of gifts for the new baby!

Filipinos can count on family, especially when there are new babies around, and compared to women abroad, we can get spoiled silly, seriously.

I actually have this theory. People who have successfully made a new country their home, usually have their immediate family and friends close by. At least if not immediate family, there are aunties, uncles and cousins who open their homes during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Because there is nothing sadder than a holiday spent "alone".

Case in point, December of 2007. Dada and I spent our first Christmas in New York with our brother-in-law Jun. All three of us had just recently moved to the East Coast at the time. The air was crisp and the sky was clear. We had dinner at Benjamin Steakhouse in Midtown East, just across Grand Central Station.

Christmas dinner at Benjamin Steakhouse

We walked around Manhattan - went to Rockefeller Center to check out the skating rink, Fifth Avenue to look at the brightly lit shops, the kind of New York Christmas we see in the movies.

Jun took our photo here, then we took his picture after, ahihi

And it was nowhere close to being at home with the rest of the family. We were glad and happy to be together, but also nostalgic for the kind of Christmases we grew up with, the noisy, chaotic kind of Christmas with the entire clan present.

2. Friends who are like family. I don't know if this is unique to our culture, but I love how the friends we have are practically like our family. Where even our friends' parents are Tito and Tita, and they treat you as one of their own.

Dada & I can never thank our friends Me-an & Eric enough for all their help and support in helping us get settled when Dada decided to move to New York from Boston to work for a firm in Manhattan. I love how my best friend Nina and my good friend Miriam pulls all the stops so they can supply me with Ilokano pinakbet, replete with Ilokano vegetables when I am craving. I can never forget the pancit that my friend Tet would whip up for us in her Brooklyn townhouse. Quick, impromptu trips to TJ Maxx with my friend Paz and her baby Carissa. How my friends Xsa and Sarj remember me and the kids from out of the blue when they go shopping for themselves. They were also first to visit when I gave birth to Berry in the US. How my other best friend Aileen immediately volunteered to be Berry's Ninang all the way from the Philippines, and how our friends Tots & Ches would invite us over regularly to their apartment in Midtown for home cooked meals that Tots would lovingly prepare in her well-equipped kitchen. A Fourth of July BBQ with Cathy & Jon. When we moved to Singapore, settling in was a breeze, thanks to our friends Naomi & Tony, Frances & Raffy, Sara & Bob. We arranged playdates and activities for the kids, regular lunches and get togethers.

I dare say, Filipino warmth and hospitality is unparalleled elsewhere. 

3. Philippine mangoes, calamansi, adobo, kare kare and Jollibee. It's crazy how I wasn't much into Pinoy pantry essentials like Maggi Savor, canned tuna and champorado back home, but I would feel the need to stock up on them when I would see these in Pinoy stores.

When I was pregnant with Berry, no amount of Mexican mangoes could replace my desire for just one sliver of green mango, or a cheek of sweet, ripe mango from the Philippines. I would dip green apples in bagoong, and imagine they were our green mangoes. It was the saddest thing.

I made kare-kare with kale to replace the pechay, used french beans to replace the sitaw in sinigang. One made do with the ingredients on hand to just get a taste of "home". Oh, the joy when I finally managed to replicate my mom's adobo! You can just imagine my excitement when I found frozen saging na saba and frozen calamansi packets in a Pinoy grocery store.

And how Sarj and I freaked out at the idea of Peach Mango Pie when we found out that Jollibee opened at Woodside in Queens!

As I've said before, sometimes its the things that we take for granted back home that also instantly transport us back home, even for just a while. And I guess, that's what also makes us Pinoy. We don't have to have the fanciest of things to feel connected to our roots. Because what makes us proud about being Pinoy is ingrained deep down in our hearts.

And with that, I leave you with this short video about "Foreign Pinoys".

While many of us dream about leaving the country for greener pastures and better opportunities, there are a new breed of Filipinos who have come to love their adopted country as their own. "Why?! How?!", you ask? Watch this.

How about you? What makes you proud and happy to be Pinoy? 

Join the conversation by tweeting using the hashtag #SarapMagingPilipino!

Because in spite of all the disheartening news that we read in the papers and see on TV, there is still much to be grateful about. 

Let's celebrate our Independence Day by focusing on what's positive, which hopefully will bring in a collective wave of welcome change. 
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