Friday, November 25, 2011

We've Got Spirits

It's Manila Spirits weekend, so if you're interested in seeing some super competitive disc action, head on over to Alabang Country Club to watch local and foreign teams at play. Today, the first day, the Pilipinas Bebots faced defending champs Kung Pao Chicks in the Women's Division finals, but the Kung Pao Chicks were able to hold on to their crown. The Boracay Dragons, however, beat CUUP (China United Ultimate Party, made up mostly of white guys from Beijing, Hong Kong, etc.) by one point, 17-16, to become this year's Open Division champs. Hurray!

I'll be away for a few days, so I'll be missing all the games for the second year in a row. My travel plans aren't quite as grand as people have guessed, but I still have high hopes for the trip. At the very least, I'm getting the break I've long been hankering for.

Happy weekend, everyone.:)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Oprah Was Right

Fourth-grade teachers are pretty special. Oprah had Mrs. Dunkin/Duncan (it's spelled differently on two different episodes), I had Ms. Blas.

Ms. Blas was our Reading teacher 20 (!) years ago. Grade 4 wasn't one of my best years--this was when family life was going through a rough patch, and I think it reflected on my academics. But having Ms. Blas was one of the brighter spots that year--she was the nicest teacher I had, and it didn't hurt that she taught one of my absolute favorite subjects.

The last I heard from her was April 1991, report card day. That was the day she gave me a copy of The Secret Garden, which ended up becoming one of my favorite books--I read it every summer for years. Every time I read it, I would think of her.

Well, I had my own Oprah-surprise moment when I got this message a couple of months ago through Facebook:

"Good to see former students like you doing so well in your chosen fields. Was happy to see you as EIC of GH. Great job!"

She was no longer Ms. Blas, having gotten married soon after she stopped teaching at my school, and now has four kids (including a college student and a fourth grader--boggles the mind thinking I was that age when I had her as my teacher!). We made arrangements to meet up, and one of my BFFs (who was my best friend in fourth grade!) and I had dinner with her.

With BFF and the teacher formerly known as Ms. Blas. We also got to meet her husband. They're so cute together!

Oh, and that book she gave me 20 years ago? I still have it.

It's seen better days, but I still have it!

3 April 19-frickin'-91!

Twenty years. The story of our reunion is a Facebook ad waiting to happen.

Who was your favorite fourth-grade teacher? Are you in touch?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

There's a Bag Named After Me!

My good friend (and one of the secondary sponsors at my wedding) Mona asked if she could name one of the bags in her latest collection after me. How could I possibly say no? Presenting...Two Oranges' Tisha cosmetic bag!

P450, free shipping within Metro Manila

So cute. Pink snakeskin. And it's pretty roomy too!



Other bags in the collection are named after our other former co-workers at SGV. Which one's your favorite?

I think you can guess which one I love the most.;)

To check out all the other Two Oranges bags (and order for Christmas!) visit their website.

All photos courtesy of Two Oranges

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Jabbawockee Surprise (You Have to See This!)

Caught the finale of America's Best Dance Crew Season 6, and the winners from all the previous seasons performed. Possibly the most awaited performance of the night was that of season one winners, Jabbawockeez. Seriously, nobody can compare.

I loved, loved, LOVED this number because of the little surprise at the end. It's so cute that the mask and gloves were too big for the Li'l Babywockee. But that's not the big surprise--watch until after the performance. I went nuts when they took off the mask! (Li'l Mama and I probably had the exact same expression on our faces!)



(because I don't want to spoil it for you)



(watch the video before you keep reading)



AAAAHHH!!! It's a girl!!! Isn't she such a cutie? Her name is Ariah, she's six, and she first tried to copy the Jabbawockeez at the ripe old age of four! She is the first official female member of the group. Isolation and popping have never been my strong points, but now I am inspired--I might just muster enough courage to attend the iso workshop next week!

Happy weekend, everyone!:)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Gift Ideas for P49 and Up

Yup, you read it right--49 bucks!

Christmas started in the Philippines in September, but for me it started around August when I had to put together our gift guide for the November issue of Good Housekeeping.

This particular cover looks very US GH.

In previous years, the gift guide would appear in the December issue, but we figured that GH readers are girl scouts--they like to be prepared, so November's the best time to come out with a list. Last year, three of us put it together and, let me tell you, it wasn't easy. This year, I did it myself (with the pullout powers of our trusty EA), and I quite enjoyed it. There's a mix of super cheap finds, reasonably priced items, and blowout gifts for the ones you truly love! I especially liked putting together the food page (mostly because we got to eat everything after the shoot)...

The photo that didn't make it. By Ocs Alvarez. I originally intended to do setups for all categories, but dropouts seemed like the best way to go in the end. The space at the top portion and on the side was supposed to be for text.

The goodies pictured above are (from top): a cheesecake from new store Tous Les Jours (a Korean bakeshop officially opening on Friday), cookies from Luxe by Goldilocks, apple crumble pie from Secret Passion with a scoop of Fog City Creamery whild cherry vanilla ice cream (I love their salted caramel), Devil's Food Cake (and super cute Little Devils) from Chocolate Kiss, Pinoy chocolate from Theo & Philo, native tea from Kultura Filipino, and a red velvet cake by Bob's Red Velvet. Drooool.

Aside from the gift guide, we've got lots of other great features this month, making it by far one of my most favorite issues since I came on board:
  • a cover story on Daphne Osena-Paez, whose list of jobs has me feeling out of breath. Ready? *deep breath* TV host, producer, furniture designer, jewelry designer, linen designer, blogger, UNICEF ambassador, wife, and mom of three! Phew!
  • feeling sluggish? Bloated? Always cold? Our health feature tells you just what might be the cause.
  • how to make better decisions. This article speaks to me because, well, I have a hard enough time deciding where to eat and what to order! Lots of women are indecisive. This helps you (and me) address that!
  • a quiz to help you find your fragrance personality and the best scent for you.
  • great kitchen tips from the Junior MasterChef judges, including their smart suggestions for dinner in a hurry.
  • "Never Be Late Again"--tried and tested ways to get kids out of bed and out the door, on the dot! The tips can help you get to work on time too!
  • recipes with a secret ingredient that makes every dish tastier!
  • decorating rules for every room of the house (do you know how much space there should be between your sofa and coffee table?).
And loooots more. It's just a hundred bucks, so do grab a copy from the nearest bookstore, supermarket, newsstand, or wherever else magazines are sold.:)

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Won! I Won! (Version 2011)

Last year was a winning year (and not in a Charlie Sheen kind of way). I would go to events and just envision myself going home with something, and quite a few times, I was able to The Secret the stuff. (Yep, I used it as a verb.) This year, not so much. I blame it mostly on my general lack of focus. Sigh.

But today, I got such awesome news--I won the Cocomo Best Getaway Ever promo! If you'll recall, earlier this year, I hosted a giveaway of Cocomo swimsuits. I so wanted to join my own giveaway because I am a fan of the brand. I was thrilled to find out that they had a promo lasting 13 weeks, and each week, they would be giving away a swimsuit, a coverup, and accessories. I waited for a set that truly appealed to me. And last week, I saw this posted on their wall:

In previous weeks, they gave away a hat instead of a necklace, but I was totally digging the bikini and coverup (rarr!), so I decided that this was the week I was going to join. All I had to do was mail them a photo of my best getaway ever with a short explanation. I was seriously considering sending a photo of me in a Cocomo swimsuit for sipsip purposes, but decided to bring out the big guns and sent this instead...

Background story here

And I won! I won!:) Just in time for a planned getaway this month! *happy dance* If you'd like a shot at winning some Cocomo goodies too, do visit their Facebook promo page. Promo runs til the end of the year. Good luck!:)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Are You Afraid Of?

I'm scared of cockroaches (especially the flying kind) and deep water and tunnels and small, cramped spaces. But it was only on Halloween that I realized just how claustrophobic I actually am.

This Halloween story doesn't take place in a big old haunted house. Instead, it takes place in a luxurious spa villa. On the 31st of October, I booked what was supposed to be an incredibly relaxing two-and-a-half-hour spa treatment, which consisted of a scrub, wrap, massage, and my first-ever facial treatment. For years, people have complimented me on my skin, and I was scared that a facial would change it somehow. But I got a gift certificate and some free time and, well, the sun hasn't been good to me and I ain't getting any younger, so I figured I'd give it a shot.

So anyway, it started off with a scrub. Then my body was wrapped in plastic, and I was a human lumpia. This has always been my least favorite part of any extensive spa treatment because it restricts my movements. Thankfully, Spa Lady 1 gave me a head massage while the wrap worked its magic, so that calmed me down some.

But then we moved on to the facial. Right before we started, Spa Lady 2 warned me, "Ma'am, matatakpan ng mask ang eyes at mouth." ("Ma'am, the mask will cover your eyes and mouth.") I said OK, not fully understanding what I was saying OK to. After she cleaned my skin thoroughly and removed all the blackheads and whiteheads, she began applying the mask--it was thick and heavy and cold, like cookie dough straight from the fridge. (Mmmm cookie dough. But I digress.)

As she covered my eyes with the stuff, I began to feel uncomfortable. (I never enjoyed being forced to keep my eyes shut, whether it was in surgery or during an eyelash extension application.) And then she covered my mouth. As she stepped away from me, I felt a panic I had never known before. I could feel my blood pressure go up, and I absolutely dreaded the thought of being left there by myself, with no sight and sound, even for just a minute. I bolted upright and frantically signaled to Spa Lady 2 to come back (I couldn't talk). I pointed to my mouth, and she started removing the layer that literally sealed my lips. "Pwede wala na sa mouth?" ("Can we not cover my mouth?") I sputtered. She consented. I asked how long it would take. Ten to 15 minutes, she replied. I begged her to just leave it on for 10; she promised to remove it as soon as it dried. Then I asked her to stay in the villa with me the entire time. Again, she consented. I think I would have gone nuts if I was left there by myself. I left her a nice tip.

The whole incident surprised me. I chalked it up to the fact that I've been heavily into A Song of Fire and Ice the last few months, and all forms of torture just ran through my head. The following scenarios have always terrified me:
  • being buried alive
  • being walled up and left to die (and years later, my bones would be found, broken fingers and all from trying to claw my way out of the space)
  • being stuck in a tunnel forever (there's this long tunnel that goes from NYC to Long Island that I absolutely HATE, especially when the traffic is bad!)
The common thread, I realized, is being trapped. I cannot stand the idea of being trapped. And losing my mobility and my sight and my ability to speak just made that fear all too real for me.

Silly, right? To feel this fear during a frickin' spa treatment. Afterwards, I told my husband that I really had to learn how to meditate. So that's on my list now.

At least I have the clearest skin I've had in a really long time!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Recipe: Chicken Tikka Masala (Plus Two Side Dishes)

It had been a while since I last had dinner at my Indian family's house, so I was seriously craving for Indian cuisine. I thus declared last night Indian Night at our household! (Belated Happy Diwali!)

Found a recipe at, but made do without cilantro--the supermarket was all out. Boo. I thought there was too much salt in the original recipe, so I cut it by about a third. Also, the chicken is supposed to be grilled, but since I still don't have my own grill (double boo), I just lightly fried it. This is quite spicy, so if you're not a fan of the burn, you might want to take it down a notch by cutting all spices in half.

Chicken Tikka Masala


1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1-2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. In a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 4 teaspoons salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat a grill for high heat.
  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side. (Note: I lightly fried the chicken in a bit of oil instead.)
  4. Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 3 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. (Note: Make sure to scrape the spices from the bottom of the pan.) Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. (Note: I only simmered it for about 10 minutes.) Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. (Note: I only simmered it for about 5 minutes.) Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro. Serves 3.
Because it's so spicy, you'll want a lot of starch to sop it up. Aside from rice, I prepared two side dishes (shown in the photo above): a simple potato dish which I got from my BFF Madhuri, and a super-refreshing cucumber dish that I got from some forum and modified.

You Say "Po-tah-to"


1 clove garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 small-ish potatoes, cubed
Juice of half a lemon
Curry powder
  1. Saute garlic and pepper in a bit of oil until garlic is lightly browned.
  2. Add potatoes, lemon juice, salt, and curry powder. Mix well.
  3. Cook for five minutes. Done!
Cool as a Cucumber


1 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 tomatoes, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
  1. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together. You can add cilantro if you've got it.
  2. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve. Nice and refreshing!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In Loving Memory

Today is All Saints' Day, a holiday and traditionally a day when Filipinos trek to the cemeteries to visit their dearly departed. Because the crowds have become insane over the years, my family and I normally do our rounds a few days before.

It's said that people only really die when the ones they leave behind cease to remember them. While we were doing our cemetery run, I started to think about my loved ones who've moved on, and it scared me to think that I can barely remember some of their voices anymore. So today, allow me to tell you a little about the close relatives that have passed away, with an anecdote or two about each. This is me trying to keep their memory alive.

Tonton. I knew death before I was even born--my brother died while my mom was around seven months pregnant with me. He was six. People say I look like him. (I barely look like my other brothers.) Sometimes I think that the concept of death never had to be explained to me. I just somehow...knew.

Tatay. My paternal grandfather. I was around three when he died of lung cancer, so I don't really have any memories of him. I do remember having a picture of him with his arm around a toddler me.

Lolo. My maternal grandfather. The day he died, I witnessed one of the most heartbreaking things ever. My lola came home from the hospital, and went straight to my lolo's bed. She cried into the pillows, her hands caressing the sheets. I get teary-eyed whenever I remember it.

I cried a lot when he died. I remember, on summer days, he would be sitting in his favorite butaka chair and I would lie on the bed beside the chair. We would watch TV and I would fall asleep, holding my lolo's hand.

Ate Minnie. This cousin died after giving birth to her first child. We weren't close, but I remember her having a great sense of humor.

Kuya Ramon. My cousin, based in New York, died due to an aneurysm, so sudden. He was in a coma for a few days, and I remember praying, "Please God, save his life, as he once saved mine." See, one New Year's Day when they were in town (I was about six), at the stroke of midnight, I was standing in one spot, greeting everybody a happy new year. Kuya Ramon suddenly ran, picked me up, and carried me away. I was bewildered, confused--until a firecracker exploded near where I had been standing. Dude saved my life.

Tito Boy. I was in my senior year of high school, and I remember one of the teachers calling me to the principal's office over lunch. The principal went on to say that they got news reports that my uncle--who had been suffering an unknown illness and was confined at the hospital for a couple of days--had died. I had to call home to confirm. "Kamusta si Tito Boy?" ("How is Tito Boy?") I asked my yaya, who answered the phone. I can't forget the words and how she said it: "Ay--patay na." ("Oh--he's dead.") And I can't forget screaming in the principal's office. (Very similar to that scene in Gone with the Wind, where Scarlett comes home and finds her mother has died.) I broke down. I remember saying that, through everything that had happened in my family, this was the only time I asked God, "Why?" My uncle was a good man. He was my second father.

A year before his death, things at home (and in school) weren't great. I don't really blog about this period in my life because there are just some things I'm intensely private about. And I normally write about the happy stuff, because I'd rather spread positivity and sunshine. But anyway, things weren't great, and I wasn't doing great, but I wasn't really showing my immediate family that I was affected. But my tito--he really cared. It was only in his company that I allowed myself to really break down. And to have him taken away from me, from a family who loved him so dearly, on top of all the other stuff I had to deal with at that was just too much.

His sickness, death, funeral, and burial received extensive media coverage. For a time, I hated the media because they kept printing rumors-disguised-as-fact about his sickness, and we couldn't even say goodbye to my uncle in peace because of the hordes of journalists and photogs surrounding his burial spot. I think that was the moment I decided that, even though I was most likely going to end up in media, I was never going to be a news reporter.

Tito Roger. Just a few weeks after Tito Boy's death, another beloved uncle passed away.:( I wasn't really close to him. But the closer I get to parenthood, the more I think about what a great parent he was. He and my tita made such a great team, and raised such awesome kids.

Jonathan. "Patay na si Jonathan." ("Jonathan's dead.") I remember my mom telling me that the minute I walked into her office when I came to pick her up. "Jonathan who?" I asked, confused. It couldn't be my cousin, I thought. He was my age! But indeed it was him. I was stunned. Jonathan was based in the US. We used to write letters to each other (before the age of email and Facebook), and he would ask me to translate lines to Filipino so he could use them on girls. He was shot to death.:(

Dada Flora. The yaya mentioned earlier was more than a yaya; she was family. She was with us for decades, and her relatives worked for us as well. Around 2003, she retired, went home to her province, and suddenly passed away a couple of weeks later.

Lola. My maternal grandmother. We lived together for years. She used to sit with her legs apart so that some cloth from her daster would dangle, and I could use it as a little swing. as we watched Jon en Marsha. She was a stickler for cleanliness and she was a great cook who made the best leche flan ever. Even in her 90s, when she was bedridden, her mind was still razor-sharp. She could remember things like how much a kilo of fish was in 1927!

Inay. My paternal grandmother passed away while I was in New York last November, and it devastated me that I wasn't able to say goodbye. Nor was I able to go to her funeral. I found out about her death right before I had to give a talk at Hearst. I cried in my hotel room, then had to get myself together. This was the grandma who, when I was around four, patiently removed bristles from my hair, one by one, when a brush got entangled.

They were all wonderful people, all sorely missed. But we look back on our time with them with fondness. And though they're no longer with us, our love for them stays strong. We won't forget.