Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Crowdsource the BLISS of a #LiveFreePH

How do you feel about the future? Is your family doing okay? Are the people around you hopeful or gloomy? With the Brighter Life Index: Social Sentiment or BLISS, Sun Life will show how optimism, prosperity, and the bayanihan spirit can produce a positive ripple from ourselves to our loved ones and to the community where we live.

BLISS is a Facebook application that aims to get the pulse of Filipinos about their current financial situation as well as their outlook for the future.

“BLISS gives us the canvas to paint our #LiveFreePH campaign. Through crowdsourcing, we seek the brightest spots while also determining the areas that are in need of a bit more sunshine,” explained Sun Life of Canada (Philippines), Inc. Chief Marketing Officer Mylene Lopa.“Together with the Sun Life Foundation, we will help turn dim prospects to bright opportunities.”

How BLISS happens

Harnessing the power of crowdsourcing, BLISS gathers insights directly from consumers by asking Filipinos about their current state and their outlook for the future. Responses will be collected primarily via Facebook.

The results will be embodied by a map of the Philippines, where positive sentiments will be represented by sunny weather, while negative ones will be indicated by thunderstorms. This will be updated real time, with different aggregations available for viewing.

BLISS will also radiatewarmth in real life, as the Sun Life Foundation pledges to match survey responses with a donation to help localities with bleak outlooks, as indicated by the stormy icons in the results map. Inspired by the practice of bayanihan (communal work), the initiative translates insight to action, viathe information that will be shared by online users.

"Sun Life Foundation believes in action that is powered by insight, and we’re bringing that to the social media platform through BLISS,” said Sun Life Foundation Executive Director Anne Zillah Flores. “We’re taking it further by actually responding to the gaps that will be determined. We will fund projects to help communities with bleak prospects so they can adopt a brighter outlook.”

BLISS to #LiveFreePH

From the present to the future, BLISS narrates the changing story of Filipinos from multiple points of view: self, family, and community. Income, health, and work-life balance are identified as personal concerns;food, nutrition and financial security comprise the familial territory; while access to quality education, healthcare, and livelihood opportunities are the societal factors that impact the nation as a whole. When addressed properly, these concerns can become the building blocks of a nationwide movement towards financial independence.

“From BLISS, we lay down the blueprint of #LiveFreePH – to practice foresight by being conscious of our needs while sharing the benefits of living the brighter life,” Lopa said.“We hope that by working together towards financial freedom, we can create a story of a prosperous and optimistic nation, because in our journey to financial freedom, we can go far if we go together.”

Share the BLISS to help communities in need and the chance to win awesome prizes like an iPad Air. Go to to begin.

 About Sun Life Financial

Celebrating 150 years in 2015, Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial and its partners have operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2015, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $813 billion. For more information please visit

Eco House, an environment-friendly home

Recent years have shown the destructive effects of climate change. Thus, building with the preservation of our environment as a key factor, is no longer a fad but a necessity. One example is an Eco House--an environmentally low-impact home designed and built using materials and technology that reduces carbon footprint and lowers energy needs. The Eco House is a project by National President of the Philippine Institute of Interior Design and Architect James Jao. Jao is a pioneer of eco-architecture and sustainable development in the Philippines. He has translated inspired visions into actual full-scale projects from stand-alone residences to master-planned communities.

Armed with a degree in Architecture from the University of Santo Tomas and a post-graduate degree in City Design and Social Science from the London School of Economics in the UK, Jao embarked on his Eco House projects when he returned to the Philippines. He has built several residential buildings designed with a tropical climate in mind — PVC roof, polystyrene-lined concrete walls that stabilize indoor temperature, and non-toxic paint, among other things.
Architect James Jao

It was during a trip in Antwerp, Belgium in April of 2008 when Jao first saw a model unit of an Eco House. This started his dream of designing and building a Filipino version of an Eco House suitable for a tropical climate. The succeeding year he created the Eco Jao Bahay Kubo, a 1-bedroom take on the indigenous house found in the country’s lowlands but updated for the modern times with solar panels and Thermawalls.

Eco Houses are made of Thermawall that insulates the building envelope of the entire house keeping off the heat from coming into the interior spaces and giving it a comfortable indoor temperature. Here are the technical requirements according to Jao, “the Thermawall is sandwiched between a 6 mm. Hardiflex panel with a high-density 1" polystyrene insulation on the exterior and spaced a minimum of 100 mm. for reinforced concrete and another 4.5 mm. panel on the inside. It is a load bearing wall built on a mat foundation.” This can supposedly withstand a magnitude 9 earthquake.

Architect Jao shares the other components that make up an Eco House, “steel is used to frame the roof and 2 mm. PVC corrugated roofing is used for the material. The window frame is made of UPVc frame with Low-E glass and double glazed with clear glass on the inside. Only the door jambs and panels are made of wood. All bathroom fixtures and fittings are water saver and all lighting fixtures are energy saver using LED and CFL bulbs. Low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) and non-toxic paints are used.” Furthermore, rainwater is collected in a cistern tank plus, the principle of passive cooling is used to create cross ventilation into the house.

The Eco House is not site-specific and so it can be built in any location in the country. Best of all, the materials specified for an Eco House are readily available in the market. Jao has built Eco House projects all over the Philippines. His current projects include the first Eco Schools, a 3-hectare master planned campus for the Holy Spirit School of Tagbilaran in Bohol and the 4-storey academic building of the College of the Holy Spirit in Tarlac. “My dream project is to build a master planned eco towns throughout the Philippines with exemplary standards of sustainability. This low-impact development can survive the impact of climate change, a magnitude 9 earthquake, strong typhoons and thus, all the structures are climate resilient,” explains Architect Jao.

Jao has always spoken to media, colleagues and the general public about the urgency of adapting green solutions. He continues to generously share his time and expertise to students, peers and shareholders whenever invited as a resource speaker on the latest materials, technology and solutions in green architecture. If you are interested to know more about Eco Houses or would like to build one, you can contact Eco Jao Development Corporation at and It’s time for ecologically sustainable and economically affordable structures.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Shroff Travel offers exclusive travel deals up to 50% off on the 26th Philippine Travel Mart

Backed with more than  21 years of experience in the travel and tourism industry, Shroff Travel guarantees its customers with professional services in providing overall solutions to their travel needs. This year, as they participate in PHILTOAs 26th Philippine Travel Mart, they are offering international and domestic exclusive travel deals that will surely make everyone excited to take their next holiday!

3D 2N - SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA with Tours - USD 173
3D 2N - BEIJING, CHINA with compulsory Tours - USD 64
3D 2N - HO CHI MINH Free & Easy Only - USD 72
3D 2N - HANOI Free & Easy - USD 75
3D 2N - BALI INDONESIA Free & Easy Only - USD 62
3D 2N - KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA with Half Day City Tour - USD 76
3D 2N - BANGKOK, THAILAND with Tour - USD 92
3D 2N - SEOUL, KOREA with Complimentary City Tour - USD 170
3D 2N - MYANMAR with Tours - USD 196
4D 3N - OSAKA, JAPAN Free & Easy Only - USD 720
4D 3N - TOKYO, JAPAN Free & Easy Only - USD 812

Puerto Princesa - Php 1,948
Cebu - Php 1,959
Coron - Php 1,969
Boracay - Php 1,990
Batanes - Php 2,736
Davao - Php 2,754
Bohol - Php 2,756
Ilocos - Php 3,782
El Nido - Php 3,932

For  more details about these travel deals and other tour packages, please check the NOTES on Shroff Travel Facebook Page.

Experience Life with Shroff Travel!
SHROFF TRAVEL aims to give everyone memorable travel experiences especially those who have great passion for exploration. That's one of the reasons why they make it easier and affordable for tourists to discover the Philippines and the rest of world by offering these special travel deals. They also offer flight promos and issues ticket on all airlines so booking your tour with them is hassle free.

For more information about Shroff Travel exclusive travel deals, please visit their BOOTH # F1037 & F1042 during the 26th Philippine Travel Mart at SMX Convention Center (SM MoA) on September 4-6, 2015.

For complete information about their available services and packages, please contact  (+63 2) 524 2222 / (+63 2) 524 3636 or text 0917 890 3637. You may also visit their website to search for available tours, flights, hotels, transfers and other travel needs. Book competitive offers with great value for your money!

Stay connected with Shroff Travel! Like them on Facebook for a chance to win a 3day 3 nights stay in Boracay! Follow their Instagram / Twitter @ShroffTraveland dont forget to them your travel photos and use their hashtag for a chance to win surprise gift from them. #ExperienceLife#ShroffTravel#WeCare

Friday, August 28, 2015

Kinabuchs: Food-tripping in Puerto Princesa (Part 2)

Second stop for this series: Kinabuchs Grill and Bar.

Also located along Rizal Avenue, and almost across KaLui, is Kinabuchs Grill and Bar. Kinabuchs is also one of the highly recommended restaurants in Puerto Princesa, especially for late night gimmicks or for those who would want to try exotic dishes like tamilok and crocodile.

And for our first night in Puerto Princesa, my friends and I went to Kinabuchs to try tamilok. Tamilok are woodworms found inside trunks of mangroves. Although they look like slimy gray worms, they are actually mollusks. It is usually served raw with vinegar. Unfortunately, (or fortunately for me! haha) the staff warned us that tamilok cannot be eaten on an empty stomach (we just came from our flight, hungry), so no tamilok experience for us!

Instead, we tried another popular exotic dish in Palawan, the crocodile sisig. So how does a crocodile tastes like? Well, it tastes like pork, but I think crocodile meat is leaner and more tender. Like the usual sisig, it has egg, bell pepper, onion, and calamansi. Well, you can’t go wrong with a sisig and it really goes well with hot steamed white rice!

We also ordered gising-gising. Kinabuchs’ version is made with water spinach, ground pork and some shrimp and chilli. My first time to eat gising-gising, and I find the spiciness moderate (I dont like spicy food!). We also had another popular Kinabuchs dish, the bulalo. Although the soup is comforting, there’s not much meat in the bone marrows. We also tried their fresh lumpia and it was okay. We all had iced tea slush. It was interesting because it is frozen iced tea or like an iced tea shake, refreshing and not that sweet.

Kinabuchs is a Filipino-themed open-air restaurant-cum-sports bar. It has a big and spacious area. Some of tables are “inside nipa huts” while other tables are sprawled along the “parking lot”, al fresco, under lit trees. They also have a big projector screen showing sports events (although you can’t hear what was being shown on screen!) They have bars and I heard they also have billiard tables and dart boards, but I wasn’t able see it.

Even though service is kinda slow, Kinabuchs is ideal for that laid back night in Puerto Princesa, not to mention, it is affordable too!

For more information:
Tel Nos: (048) 4345194 or (48) 4332580

Soon to be posted as part of this Food-tripping in Puerto Princesa series are reviews on Balinsasayaw, The Gypsy’s Lair Art Cafe and K’na Boyet sa Baywalk.

For the meantime, read previous posts on my Puerto Princesa adventure:
Coming soon: Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour and Ysabelle Mansion 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Vikings bags top awards at World Food Expo 2015

Vikings Group Chefs Jonathan Jota, Anton Abad, Mark Wilhelm Ragudos, Jennifer Gumboc, Don Aries Jerome Duenas, Joel Mondelo, Mark Reyes, Charles Andrei Santos and Raphael De Jesus won top honors for the country and their restaurants Vikings, Niu by Vikings and Four Seasons Hotpot City.

The chefs spent four days battling the best of the best at the Philippine Culinary Cup (PCC) of the World Food Expo 2015 (WOFEX) which is the only World Association of Chef’s Society (WACS) endorsed competition in the country.

The internationally renowned chefs received a total of 13 medals across different categories. Chef Jonathan Jota won a gold medal for the Quick Fire Salad Category, winning silver medal is Chef Anton Abad for the US Beef Category, Chef Mark Wilhelm Ragudos for the US Poultry Category and Chef Don Aries Jerome Duenas for the Creative Breakfast Challenge Category.

"The Vikings Team placed 3rd on overall performance for the Professional Category at the PCC 2015, beating international competitors from Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and other local hotels and de luxe restaurants,” said Over-all Coach Chef Jonathan Jota.

The Vikings chefs after the awarding at WOFEX 2015

The prestigious competition is an avenue for Filipino chefs to gauge their skills against chefs from other countries, and gain international recognition for their culinary expertise.

This year’s PCC had 1,200 competitors from more than 15 countries and is still the number one culinary food event to watch out for.

Also organized by WOFEX, Blogging and Social Media Expo (BLOSOMEX) was held at SMX Convention Center where Vikings took home the “People’s Choice Award for Favorite Buffet”

“The Choice” had 2,075 respondents from Our Awesome Planet, K.T.G. Collective Food Blogs, and Zomato. They voted to settle foodie debates of favorite buffet, favorite ramen, favorite specialty restaurants and favorites in 45 other categories.

Friday, August 14, 2015

KaLui: Food-tripping in Puerto Princesa (Part 1)

Puerto Princesa in Palawan is among the popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. But this “city in a forest” is not just about the Underground River or Dos Palmas, Puerto Princesa is also a must-visit for food adventurers. And about seven months ago (this is a super late post!), my friends and I were able to try some of the restaurants that make Puerto Princesa City a gastronomic tourist destination. First stop for this series: KaLui.

The top-of-mind restaurant in Puerto Princesa City is KaLui, located along Rizal Avenue in Puerto Princesa City’s town proper.  Although KaLui accepts walk-in customers, reservation is highly encouraged as this restaurant always gets filled up fast.

Staff will greet you at the entrance, then lead you towards a big, native "house". But first you will be asked to remove your footwear before entering the restaurant, just like the traditional Filipino custom when visiting a house. Don't worry because your footwear will be placed in shoe lockers. It gave me a strange feeling to be walking barefoot in a restaurant, but hey, it adds to the experience. Plus, their wooden floor is well-polished, so no problem!

The dim lighting and table set-up make KaLui a perfect venue for a romantic dinner date. The place is decorated with various paintings, artwork and indigenous materials. KaLui also has a sort of mini art gallery at the far end of the restaurant. Another amazing thing is that KaLui’s restrooms are just like the hotel lounge restrooms with a native artistic twist!

KaLui has only limited items on the menu. Just look at the photo below, that’s the entire food and beverage they offer.

We ordered their bestseller, Tubbataha Salad. This is composed of fresh tuna strips, cashew nuts (which is aplenty in Palawan), lato seaweed, bits of fruits in season (this time, ripe mangoes, pomelo, papaya) in Palawan dressing (sweet vinegar-lime). I’m not a fan of sashimi and lato so I just tasted a little but my friends liked it.

We also got Choice Catch Fish Cordon Bleu meal. It is served with veggies of the day, lato and rice. The KaLui Veggie Plate meanwhile, consists of vegetables in season. It had okra, squash, string beans with lato , fried bananas, and mashed sweet potato. I’m not a veggie-eater but I loved the fried saba and the mashed kamote (better than mashed potato!).

For the drinks we had Bukoconut (coconut water served in coconut fruit) and fresh fruit shakes. KaLui also gives complimentary soup and fruit platter. The fresh fruit cuts (pineapple, watermelon, etc) was nicely presented in a halved coconut and sprinkled with muscovado sugar.

The food wasn’t that extraordinary but the price is affordable and the serving size, decent. Service was also okay. But I guess what really makes KaLui popular is because of the total experience one will get when dining here.

For more information, visit:

Soon to be posted as part of this Food-tripping in Puerto Princesa series are reviews on Kinabuchs, Balinsasayaw, The Gypsy’s Lair Art Cafe and K’na Boyet sa Baywalk.

For the meantime, read previous posts on my Puerto Princesa adventure:
Coming soon: Puerto Princesa Underground River Tour and Ysabelle Mansion Review

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Japanese comfort food at Yaku

About two months ago, I was able to dine at Yaku Japanese Grill (“yaku” means “grill’ in Japanese). Yaku has been at the Podium Mall for how many years already and it has been a favorite Japanese restaurant for some.

Although the entrance of Yaku is quite hidden because of the huge pillar blocking its view, the interior of the restaurant has this “zen” vibe. Yaku has this homey ambiance because of its warm lighting and mostly wooden fixtures.

My companions chose the area wherein low-lying tables with wooden benches cushioned with pillows make it look like you’re dining seated on the floor, Japanese-style! I also noticed that Yaku has this “service button” on tables which you can use if you want to call their staff. They also have this cute paper placemats with chopstick holder.

We were all famished so we ordered from the donburi (rice toppings) section and of course their specialty, yakitori (skewered or grilled). While waiting for our orders, they gave us complimentary fried anchovies (dilis). It was sweet, spicy and crunchy but bitin! (it was just a small serving).

Finally, our orders came. The Yaku Platter (PhP 229) is for those who want to have a sample of Yaku’s various yakitoris. It has gindara (cod fish), butabara (pork belly), asparamaki (asaparagus wrapped in bacon), uzura (quail eggs), okura (okra), and negima (chicken with onion leeks). I liked the uzura and asparamaki (because I love eggs and bacon!).

Yaku Platter

I’m not really a fan of Japanese cuisine, so I usually order the “safe” one—the katsudon (PhP 239), well you can never go wrong with a katsudon! The pork is tender and the breading is thin and the flavor is just right, not overpowering. The Japanese rice (short-grain) served with it was still steaming hot and quite plenty. I was able to finish the breaded pork off, but consumed only half of the rice. I also liked that it was topped with egg and a few strips of nori (seaweed).


My friends, on the other hand, had tendon and gyudon. Tendon (PhP 239) is breaded shrimp, siliago and crabstick on top of steamed Japanese rice. Gyudon (PhP 239) is beef strips with onions, raw egg and mirin sauce. I haven’t tasted it, but they too were satisfied with their orders.


Fried anchovies and Gyudon

Yaku’s servers were friendly and attentive although I find their service kinda slow to think that there were only a few of us dining at that time (weekday, late dinner). 

Yaku Japanese Grill is located at 3F, The Podium Mall in Ortigas Center, Madaluyong City.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

TGFI opens financial literacy hub in Makati, announces partnerships

The Global Filipino Investors (TGFI), a group whose advocacy is to spread financial literacy to Filipinos, opens their new office and Web Academy studio at Unit 2512 Cityland 10 Tower 1, 156 H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City. On the same day, August 6, 2015, TGFI and its partners sealed valuable partnerships driven by a common goal in helping Filipinos become financially literate.

TGFI was founded by Floi Wycoco—after finding himself bankrupt due to multiple credit card debts. Floi capitalized on this unfortunate experience and found inspiration to break the endless cycle of Filipinos mismanaging their wealth; preventing them from entering the wrong investments due to the lack of proper financial education programs in the country.

In 2012, Floi shared his experiences and ideas with entrepreneur Mario Jordan “Magellan” Fetalino III and Dr. Khristian Santos. United by a common advocacy, they started their own company and social media platform, TGFI, which initially had only around a thousand members.

Since then, the group has been advocating financial literacy through digital media and regular meet-ups among members in their respective country of residence. Communities have been formed in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Brunei, Greece, Australia, Manila, and Cebu.

TGFI’s methods and advocacy gained the recognition of multiple business and financial organizations like COL Financial, different Philippine Embassies, Association of Filipino Franchisers, Inc (AFFI), Money Summit, as well as media groups in the Philippines like ANC – On the Money and CNN Philippines. The group has now over 55,000 members (and growing) and has formed communities in more than ten countries.

TGFI Board and AFFI Officers

And now, TGFI and AFFI agreed to provide financial literacy to aspiring Filipino entrepreneurs. AFFI is the Philippines’ prime trade organization committed to promote responsible micro-small-medium enterprise businesses through franchising. It consists of Filipino corporate presidents, CEOs, and prominent businessmen who recognize the competitive potential of the local franchising industry in the global market.

TGFI’s Founder Floi Wycoco and 8990 Holdings, Inc.’s President JJ Atencio

TGFI also welcomes Januario Jesus "JJ" Atencio as its Board Member. JJ Atencio is the President of 8990 Housing Development Corporation, which principally aims to develop low-cost mass housing subdivisions particularly for Filipinos in the middle to lower income brackets.

Bro Bo. Sanchez during the event

The event was graced by members of the media and best-selling author and motivational speaker Bro. Bo Sanchez. “This is just the beginning for TGFI. We will stand strong until we’ve reached every Filipino in the world,” Mr. Wycoco said firmly.

For more information about TGFI, please visit:

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Poco Deli in Kapitolyo, Pasig

About two months ago, I was able to eat at Poco Deli, one of the hole-in-the-wall restaurants in Kapitolyo, Pasig City. It’s within a neighborhood, so parking (for those who have cars) and commuting (for those who don’t have cars) is difficult. 

As its name suggests, Poco Deli is a small delicatessen serving various deli meat, pizza, wine and other dishes. The warm lighting and wooden tables and chairs (unfortunately, with no backrest) give it a homey ambiance.

For starters, we ordered the Quattro Formaggi Pizza (PhP 400). It is freshly made thin crust dough topped with four cheeses (mozzarella, pecorino, gorgonzola and grana padano). It was delicious in its simplicity.

We also tried Poco Deli’s pastas—Aglio Olio Pasta (olive oil and garlic) (PhP 270) and Pomodoro Pasta (rich, slow-cooked tomato sauce) (PhP 270). The spaghettini strands were cooked just right, the flavors not empowering.

Of course we wouldn’t leave Poco Deli without having their popular dish, the Bacon Steak (PhP 420). I was expecting the usual thin and crispy bacon but lo and behold, it was two thick chunks of bacon (hello cholesterol and calories!) that I cannot finish even if it was delectable. It comes with a sunny side up egg and steamed rice with bacon bits on top.

For dessert, we had the famous Blackout Chocolate Cake (PhP 220). It has caramel filling and topped with chocolate. It is moist and rich but not that sweet. The Red Velvet Cake (PhP 180) on the other hand was quite dry. Though Poco Deli's version is different because it is strawberry-flavored!

I also tried Poco Deli’s Blueberry Smoothie (PhP 205). I love blueberries and I’m so happy they have this!

Sorry for the quality of the photos. We were already eating when I remembered to take photos!

Poco Deli’s prices are a tad expensive but in my opinion, worth it. Service is commendable too. I’d definitely go back to try their other dishes, especially Poco Deli’s artisanal sausages (hey, it’s okay to indulge once-in-a-while!).

For more information, you can visit their website at:

Monday, August 03, 2015

Asia E- Commerce Expo this November 2015 at SMX Aura #AECoE

Asia E- Commerce Expo 2015 (#AECoE) will be held at SMX Aura, Taguig on November 25, 2015. This is organized by TAG Media and Public Relations.

#AECoE will give you a unique opportunity to learn from, and network with senior leaders from the biggest brands in the  Asia Pacific region. At #AECoE, the leading e-commerce experts from emerging markets, award winning e-commerce players and established e-retailers in APAC gather under one roof. Industry leaders will share independent experiences and insights for delegates from different countries. You can be a part of this inspiring event and benefit from the excellent networking opportunities it offers.

It features:
- Pre-conference sessions on ePayments, eLogistics and ePrivacy
- Opening reception
- Conference programme
- Over 15 local and international high level speakers
 - 30+ sponsors
- 1 hour of networking

What you will learn:
· Market Analysis
· Digital Marketing
· Strategy
· E Commerce
· Going Global

Why you should attend:
· To grow your business
· To meet investors
· 300 APAC Audience
· Maximizing cross border e-commerce

Speakers are leaders from different industries and engaged in momentous pursuits of significance to the ASEAN region. Attendees are senior business people, high-ranking government officials and media journalists. #AECoE is not just about learning but a potential future collaboration that’s why we allot time for networking.

Asia E Commerce Expo 2015 (#AECoE) is expecting 300 visitors and up to 30 companies to share their products and services in the expo. For more info please check For partnership/sponsorship, please contact the organizer at 09166299381 or at Registration Fee per delegate: Php 3,000.00 (Inclusion: Snacks and Lunch, Conference and Expo.)
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