Perceptions of Time and Page Count

15 Jan


I asked B2 to manage his screen time. We have a theoretical 2-hr screen time limit for the kids. I then took a shower.

After my shower, B2 proudly reported to me, “mom, I played with my Pokemon and Minecraft toys for an hour.”

Hmmm, I don’t think I was in the shower that long. But ok, I’m happy he got absorbed “playing with toys.”



B2 got a Lord of the Rings book for Christmas.

Hubby: how far are you into the book?

B2: Halfway.

Reality. He’s in Chapter 6 of 22. Oh well, he’s 9 years old. I’m pleasantly surprised he did not balk at delving into the thick book in the first place.



Living Green in Manila

7 Jan

I’ve been musing, trying, tweaking my life here and there to be greener. I know many of us would like to do so as well so here is an attempt at a directory to help green your lifestyle. This is meant to be a living document. I’m starting primarily with products/services I have personally used. I’ll edit this page as I get new info, and as I get the time to actually edit this post, hehe.

My gold standard is: local, fair-trade, and organic. Sometimes I find products that work for me and my family that meet all three criteria, sometimes I don’t. You decide what works for you. Don’t sweat it if you can’t find your ideal. Choose the best option available. As more of us clamor for and support these products, I’m sure there will be more supply.

Stores that sell across categories

  • ECHOstore – carries local food products, toiletries, and other products like bags.
  • Healthy Options – carries toiletries, cosmetics, vitamins, supplements, food products. Most items are imported.
  • Human Nature – local brand carrying their own products as well as other consigned local brands.  Available through their stores, groceries like Rustan’s and SM, direct sellers, online stores, and delivery service from their branches. I get most of our toiletries and household products from Human Nature by delivery.
    • Toiletries – they have most things you need from head to toe – shampoo (I like their clarifying shampoo best), conditioner, soap, toothpaste, lotion, etc.
    • Cosmetics – good range of cosmetics. I like their powder foundation, blush, and tinted lip balm.
    • Household products – they have dishwashing soap, laundry detergent, etc.
    • Pet care products – yes, they have pet care products!
    • Food products – not really a grocery but they carry things like Theo & Philo chocolate, Bayani Brew, golden salted eggs, peanut butter, coffee
    • Tip: if you’ll be a repeat customer, sign-up for membership/dealership! Discounts start at 15% and goes up with your monthly purchases.
    • Recycling – you can bring your empty Human Nature bottles back to their stores fore recycling!


  • All Seasons Nature Farms – for chickens, eggs, vegetables
  • Emporium Antipolo – fruits, vegetables, honey, some food products like salad dressings; contact them for delivery options
  • Robinsons groceries – I just noticed recently that they have organic eggs! (may not be available in all branches)

Cosmetics and Toiletries

  • Body Shop – not local and some question how green they really are, but they are available in the major department stores.
  • Burt’s Bees – not local. There are Burt’s Bees stores, plus the products are available in stores like Beauty Bar.

Household Products

  • Messy Bessy – household products. Available at Rustan’s and SM.


  • Solaric – for solar panel installations. They install solar panels as well as train others on how to do it to spread the use of solar. Meralco’s Peak/Off-Peak scheme can add more bang-for-the buck paired with solar.


Disposing responsibly is part of living green. Can someone else use what you don’t want anymore?

  • Books
  • Electronics/Appliances
    • SM Hypermarket Pasig – you can sell them old electronics every first Friday/Saturday of the month. Check the SM nearest you if they have something similar.
    • Don Bosco (crowdsourced lead) – they accept old appliances for their technical/vocational students to take apart and learn from. Call to confirm.
    • Tahanang Walang Hagdanan (crowdsourced lead)
    • Tzu Chi Foundation (crowdsourced lead)
  • Miscellaneous
    • Caritas Manila Segunda Mana – go through their site to see what they accept. They have a spot at the basement of Sta. Lucia East that accepts and sells old clothes. You can also contact them to arrange for pick-up.
  • Other Tips
    • Crowdsource on your Facebook page, your community’s Facebook page, etc. You can ask where you could donate it to, advertise it for selling, or just say, who wants it? Done.
    • Hold a garage sale.
    • Sell it online, e.g. in

Disclaimer: I cannot verify claims of greeness. I have not tried all of these vendors/products. My objective is to provide information on available options. Research and/or test products to find what works for you.

Happy greening!


Flight Attendant Make-Up

2 Dec

Kikay musing as I admire our flight attendant’s vibrant red lipstick on a long-haul flight: How much do they rely on long-wearing make-up vs. periodically retouching? I haven’t seen a flight attendand retouch.

Dermax Facial Cleanser Review

20 Jul

They had me at sulfate-free and paraben-free. 🙂

I was excited upon getting back from a business trip to come home to a package from Skin Station. Dermax facial wash samples, whee! I will promote my Skin Station uncle to kikay-fairy-godfather now.


There are two variants – SoGentle Gel Cleanser and AcneX Pore Clearing Gel Cleanser. I sampled SoGentle for a week and then tried out AcneX.

Both are thin, white liquids reminiscent of Lactacyd, so you really feel like you’re using something gentle on your skin. They left my face feeling wonderfully soft – no tightness, even from AcneX!

What’s in these bottles of beauty? Soapberry and coco betaine, which are surfactants – cleansers that help water wash away oil and dirt from your skin. Soapberry is high in saponin, a substance that foams up with water. Both are better than sulfates, the more popular lathery surfactant, as sulfates are also irritants that strip the skin of its natural oils, moisture, and protective barriers.

Parabens are anti-microbial preservatives commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products. Parabens can mimic estrogen and are linked, albeit inconclusively, to breast cancer. The US FDA studied the most common parabens and concluded that these were safe for use in cosmetic products at levels up to 25%, though typical content only range from 0.01 to 0.3%. But when there are health controversies like this and there are safer options, I’d gladly cleanse on the side of caution!

The bottles flaunt that both SoGentle and AcneX are sulfate-free, paraben-free, and fragrance-free. Sulfate-free and paraben-free are enough to hook my interest. Fragrance-free is a bonus as chemicals added for fragrance can be irritants or allergy triggers as well.

SoGentle is formulated to cleanse, moisturize, and gently remove dirt without over-drying. Its organic aloe vera extract from Jeju Island has a soothing effect that makes it suitable for all skin types, even sensitive skin.

AcneX Pore Clearing Gel Cleanser contains time-release micro-encapsulated salicylic acid, which gently removes dead skin cells, declogs pores to help prevent blackheads, and clears skin of both pimples and acne. This makes it ideal for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

Both skin cleansers are great. While I like how my skin feels after using SoGentle, I love how AcneX has made the pimples on my chin area recede! I’m happy to have found this new skin-clearing beauty aid, especially as I have some pimple-inducing habits. 🙂

Head to your nearest Skin Station branch to get the Dermax cleanser best-suited for your skin!

Rock Star Mom

12 Jul

B2: What did you put on your eyes?

Me: Eyeliner.

B2: Oh, you look like a rock star.

His basis, of course, is Rodrick from Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Meaningful Use of My Breakfast Information

12 Jun

So I learn on this business trip that if I have a big American breakfast, I don’t need to have a mid-morning snack or an early lunch.

I didn’t have to use the little plastic container I brought for my usual fruit-and-nut snacks. To think I brought Axion dishwashing paste and a sponge so I could wash my reusable container everyday. Yeah, I’m a nerd like that. I didn’t want to use disposable sandwich bags.


So how do I make meaningful use of this dietary intake discovery to make a health tweak? Should I have bigger breakfasts moving forward?

Girl-Style Pat on the Back

6 Jun

I love it when ladies sincerely and openly admire another’s outfit or make-up.

I was at a Gap outlet today and an Indian lady asked me where I bought my blouse. She liked the design and couldn’t find anything like it here. I said sorry, I bought this back in the Philippines, and jokingly offered to sell her my shirt on the spot.


The Una Rosa navy blue houndstooth blouse with Peter Pan collar I almost sold off my back

I know how she felt. I was on a plane from Bangalore to Chennai once and the flight attendant had the loveliest orchid-colored eye shadow on. I couldn’t help but let her know I found it so pretty.

Another time while checking in at the Connecticut airport, the Delta lady at the counter complimented my translucent camel ballet-flat Crocs, because they looked so pretty and comfortable. Easy to slip on and off for airport security. Exactly why I bought them!

During these encounters, there’s a shared understanding between the two parties that the girl on the receiving end of the compliment has something desirable that is not that easy to get. And it leaves a warm, fuzzy feeling with the complimented that a kindred appreciates the effort or luck it took to find the perfect .

So the next time you see something that’s so OMG-beautiful, go ahead and compliment the possessor of the coveted item. Chances are she’ll appreciate the appreciation.

Dermax Sunscreen Line Review

3 Jun

DERMAX is a Filipino skin care brand that claims to use only the best, the latest, and the safest ingredients at clinical strength, to create products that are at par with the world’s best.

They recently launched a line of sunscreens – UV ACTIVE (for active lifestyle), UV BABY (safe for kids and babies), UV GEL (for oily and acne-prone skin), and UV MILK (to reverse signs of aging) – and I was thrilled to try them out!


Here’s my review –


According to, sunscreens “should have an SPF rating of 15 or higher for daily usage and at least 30 for extended periods in the sun. Most experts say that anything higher than SPF 50 is overkill.”

I like going for at least SPF 30 for daily use to prevent more dark spots from surfacing on my face. SPF 30 is the minimum for the Dermax sunscreens, with SPF 45 for UV ACTIVE (makes sense, as you would theoretically be under the sun longer if you’re doing sports), and SPF 50 for UV MILK (because sun damage is the #1 enemy to looking young)!

Shine factor

After washing my face, I put UV ACTIVE on half of it. Of course, it looked moist at the start, so I gave it 15 minutes and looked for signs that one side was shinier than the other. No noticeable difference. I coerced my husband to judge my face so I could have a second opinion – a pretty safe exercise for as long as he stuck to judging only the shine factor. No noticeable difference.

I put UV BABY on the other side of the face. Waited and compared. Washed my face and then repeated the experiment for UV GEL and UV MILK. No noticeable difference.

Look, feel, and scent

UV ACTIVE, UV BABY, and UV MILK were all white and felt like a light lotion that doesn’t leave your skin looking white. UV GEL was clear, but because it was in gel-form, felt a bit sticky to me.

The scents were all subtle, which is how I like it. UV ACTIVE was fruity, UV BABY hinted of baby powder, UV MILK smelled clean, while UV GEL was fragrance-free.


Dermax is formulated by SkinStation founder and CEO Fred Reyes, an award-wining chemist and recipient of the 2008 Achievement Award conferred by the Philippine Federation of Chemistry Societies, and 2011 Outstanding Professional Award in Chemistry from the Professional Regulations Commission. My interpretation: the man behind the formulas knows what he’s doing. (Since I’m writing a review of his products, is this also where I should declare that we’re related by a few hops?)

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) published a report on sunscreens in which only 15% of the products they reviewed were considered safe and effective. So unless you’ve been very conscious and selective, your current sunscreen probably does not make the cut.

The two chemicals noted of particular conern were retinyl palmitate (MAY elevate risk of skin cancern) and oxybenzone (for hormone disruption). UV ACTIVE, UV BABY and UV GEL were clear of these two chemicals.

UV MILK has retinyl palmitate. Going beyond EWG, another cosmetics ingredients dictionary, Paula’s Choice Skin Care, notes that the retinyl palmitate is an antioxidant that can be found naturally in your skin. Anti-oxidants improve the effectiveness of sunscreens and have anti-aging properties.

Paula’s Choice cites a publication in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology that says “observations from decades of clinical practice do not support the notion that retinyl palmitate in sunscreen causes or promotes skin cancer” and “years of research suggests that retinoids are helpful in reducing your risk for skin cancer.”

On the natural side, UV GEL has Jeju aloe extract, while UV ACTIVE and UV BABY contain the SPF-boosting nyamplung seed oil extract.


The Dermax sunscreens are pretty affordable, at P720 for the 50 ml bottles and P475 for the 30 ml bottles.

Compare these with two sunscreens from another local brand, VMV, and The Body Shop:
– VMV Armada Baby SPF 50 (50 ml/1.7 fl oz) – P2,080
– VMV Armada Face Cover SPF 30 (3 oz/90 ml) – P1,350
– The Body Shop Moisture White Shiso UV Protector (50 ml) – P1,395

The verdict

So what do I say overall?

I would have preferred more natural ingredients but I have not seen an all-natural sunscreen I would use. I bought something from Echostore last year – it smelled too natural, like oil, and left white grains all over my face. Human Nature launched a sunscreen this summer but it is only SPF 15. The Body Shop’s White Shiso UV Protector, which I do use, has a long list of unpronounceable chemical ingredients.

I’m happy that we have more local brands introducing products that I believe are just as potent than the more expensive international products. Congratulations to Skin Station for launching this sunscreen line!

Dermax products are available at Skin Station branches, which are conveniently cropping up at malls all over the nation.

Happy International Women’s Day – Now Keep that Beautiful Chin Up!

7 Mar

As many of my women colleagues celebrate International Women’s Day at a company-sponsored event, I find myself facing two ultrasounds as I attend to my own, uhm, women’s health matters.

I used the waiting time to finish Lean In on my iPhone. It’s a book by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that encourages women to lean into their careers, instead of holding back because of conscious and subconscious biases on their part and society’s.

IWD-y enough, I must say! It’s a good read for those who have doubts about balancing work and careers. It doesn’t say you should have a career, but that you have a choice and you should go for it if you want to!


I find that a lot of inspirational advice for women also apply to men, not really gender-specific. The Philippines has been called matriarchal and our company’s office here have female executives outnumbering males a wee bit. In this context you wouldn’t think that women needed extra career encouragement. What this book made me realize is that, even despite of our achievements, we have a distortedly low view of ourselves. We constantly doubt our capabilities and fear that we will be exposed as someone who doesn’t know squat.

This is not just true in the corporate world. Moms feel guilty about their parenting even when their kids think the world of them. I got a few kind adjectives from my 6yo last week as his assignment asked for a description of his mother. In Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches ad, women described themselves in far less flattering ways than other people did.

And so yes, even when things are outwardly fine, giving a woman an honest, sincere affirmation of her competency/beauty/whatever or being there for her when she is feeling insecure about it, can help bring her view of herself closer to reality, reducing the mental and emotional pain she needlessly goes through.

Happy IWD to all women, whether you are in the corporate, business, or homemaking world, married or single. May we all lean into whatever pursuits fire us and do so with our beautiful chins up!

A Pranking Lesson

5 Mar

B2 read the story The Boy Who Cried Wolf  out loud tonight.

He concluded by saying, the lesson of the story is that you should not prank anyone many times with the same prank.

Uhm… I hope he’s pranking me.

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