Thursday, December 31, 2009


As I am writing this, I am home with yet another respiratory infection (good gravy, these things are an annual thing for me), so it does sound like I'm ending 2009 the same way I started it: in terrible health. Many things have happened in between, though, and 2010 looks quite optimistic in comparison - especially with a new teaching job in January, with a possibility of a renewed career in education down the pike. So, in the spirit of New Year's Eve, I will put forth some of my hopes for 2010.
  • Concentrate more on making my own "good" than reacting to other people's "bad."
  • More running, more yoga, more dancing.
  • Also: more vegetables, more fruit, more soup, more herbal tea.
  • Definitely more decaf.
  • Hopefully more time for books.
  • More pictures to post on this blog.
  • More... um, material of note to post on this blog. (Hee.)
  • Meditation. As often as possible.
  • Give up on the dating/marriage thing, for now, so I can fully concentrate on what really matters: God, career, family, and friends.
  • Better grooming. My new job has a strict policy regarding good grooming, but they'd rather you show up on time than blame your tardiness on your style issues. Therefore, I resolve to bring makeup and a hairbrush to work.
  • Start working on an honest-to-goodness schedule - for work, for home, for everything - and stick with all of it.
  • Create more room for empathy. Or, at the very least, diplomacy and mutual respect, even for those who disagree with me.
Until then, I wish you all a safe and wonderful beginning to your Happy New Year!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide, Part 2: Pinoy Holiday Gifts

Apologies for the lag time; I've been preoccupied with some stuff relating to my new job in January (spoiler alert!) and now I have to prepare for BroMei's upcoming visit to the Hacienda this week. On to the entry currently in progress...

Unfortunately for us, you will not find any puto bumbong, or any other holiday treat from the Philippines, in this entry. That's because we're turning our attention to our Filipino friends and relatives overseas, who are either terribly homesick or at least curious about the big to-do about anything Pinoy-related. There has been a significant increase in product quality for many "Pinoy" products in the last few years - be it products from Philippine companies, or goods created by Filipinos for the international market - so now's a good time to check 'em out.

(Disclaimer: No samples were provided by the manufacturers for this story. Yep, not even the manufacturers of puto bumbong... darnit!)

For the glamazon Pinay: While the Filipino fashion press continues to rave about our countrymen conquering the global market (Monique Lhuillier, Rafe Totengco, Bea Valdes, etc.), not much has been written about makeup-artist-to-the-stars Mally Roncal. Leaving aside any theories about ethnicity and aesthetic taste here, I think that part of the reason why she's been slept on in the local press is because her eponymous line, Mally Beauty, has yet to be made available locally... or at least legally, through an actual brick-and-mortar Manila retail outlet. Until that happens, though, let me save everyone the trouble of going through QVC by providing some Amazon Associates links to a few Pinay-friendly Mally products.

As an extra bonus, here's Mally extolling the virtues of a quintessential Filipino favorite: Jufran Banana Sauce! (From one Pinay to another, Mal: Jufran has always been considered "ghetto ketchup" in this household! Bless.)

For the glamazon Pinay, TFC edition: As tacky as it would be for me to suggest a "skin whitener" in this blog, I have to throw some love to the celebrity-endorsed Belo Essentials skincare line. For one thing, I have a (non-Filipino) friend who's super-impressed by the moisturizers in this line, which were developed by celebrity dermatologist Dr. Vicki Belo and her BeloMed team.* Then there's the Smoothening Whitening Bar, which recently got kudos from Preview's Best of Beauty awards for being an excellent exfoliating soap for the shower. I won't recommend these products for their original purpose of "whitening" (unless you really want to look like Sammy Sosa - and, seriously, no) but I can recommend it for evening out pigmentation issues on most Filipino and Asian complexions.

*And as of November of this year, the Belo Med team no longer includes this guy. FINALLY.

For the nationalist Pinay: You've got your Pilipinas shirts and national-hero wallets... so why not show more love for your country with some Pinoy-lovin' bath products? This is where the Human Heart Nature brand comes in: their organic ingredients are sourced from the Philippines, including plants and herbs grown by Gawad Kalinga residents in community gardens. (No surprise, given that the folks behind the brand are the daughters of GK founder Tony Meloto.) The current Human Heart Nature online store ships mostly to the Philippines (with international shipping via FedEx for an additional fee), so those of you who are interested in the line can start with the Christmas bundles, which feature sets for everything from lip balm and body butter to insect repellant and hand sanitizer.

For the spa-loving Pinay: Another emerging Filipino brand, Leyende Organics, works in a similar vein as Human Heart Nature: biodegradable, sulfate-free organic products for hair and skin, produced as part of livelihood projects to benefit members of the community - in this case, single mothers and disadvantaged women. In Leyende's case, however, these efforts translate to the production of gorgeously packaged, spa-worthy products with cheeky names like Mother Butter lotion (with cocoa butter) and Cool Hand Soup hand sanitizer. The current Leyende online store ships mostly within the Philippines (check here for brick-and-mortar outlets that carry the line) but international customers can purchase gift packs from - saving transplanted folks lots of dough on shipping, packaging, handling, and individual pricing for certain products. Awesome. :)

And, on that note, we shall conclude this year's edition of the Domesticity Holiday Gift Guide. Will be back soon after Christmas with a proposed entry on how to tastefully recycle one's Christmas gifts. Toodle-oo for now... and hope you have a blessed, beautiful, and thoroughly happy Christmas holiday season!

Friday, December 04, 2009

Holiday Gift Guide 2009, Part 1

Evidence above to the contrary (that would be The Eraserheads, BTW), you will not find any fruitcake in this year's holiday gift guide. Nor will you find any of your typical Christmas-basket giveaways like scented candles, wine, or any other gift that you can find from everyone else's basket. What you will find, however, are some excellent gift-giving finds, beauty-related and otherwise.*

*Disclaimer: Some items in this entry are marked with links via Amazon Associates, where indicated. No press samples were furnished by the manufacturers for any of the products mentioned.

For the new moms: Apart from The Scribes, this year has been a particularly fecund one for most of my friends, who have been blessed with their own long-awaited bundles of joy. Since I'm one of those silly auntie-types who enjoy spoiling other people's children, I like to buy high-quality baby toiletries - it's my way of saving mommies the hassle of buying baby bath stuff in case the little one develops an allergy or any other aversion to the usual drugstore swag. Some of the cute new lines I've seen in the market include The Body Shop's Buriti Baby and the Grandma Minnie's line from Pinoy brand VMV Hypoallergenics (pictured at right) - both of which work exceptionally well for moms, as well.

Also, because I can't resist product names that get to the point, there's always this American classic:

You read that right, folks: One whole pound of Butt Paste. If this doesn't change your life, I don't know what else will.

For your lovely hosts and hostesses: Inevitably you will find at least one person on your gifting list who will end up camping out in the kitchen, cooking and cleaning up. You can, of course, offer up an edible gift... or you can also lend a hand in the kitchen by offering up some festive cleaning supplies. Fruits and Passion, for example, offers up the Cucina line of kitchen staples with planet-friendly ingredients; their dishwashing liquids look like bubble baths for plates. F&P products are easily available in the Philippines (among other international locations) and online in North America, but you can also go the budget-friendly route with Method Home (gotta love the gorgeous bottles!) and Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day (like Kiehl's for your kitchen!) - all of which come with equally unexpected scents to go with the cheery packaging.

Coming up next: The best gifts for your transplanted Filipino friends.