I’m Friends with Benefit.

Something about me: I’m very lazy with makeup and I’m always on the go. I guess that’s why I’m not a makeup blogger. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to spend less time in the makeup chair for more productive things–hence why I do things like microblading (because I can’t draw a decent brow). I woke up like this, y’all. #lazygirlbeautyhacks

But I’m still a woman, and makeup is our birthright. Fine, it might have taken me 20 years to realize that makeup does not have to be high-maintenance… it can be fun too.

Laughter is the best cosmetic.

Whenever I find myself in a cosmetics area department store abroad, I tend to gravitate to Benefit because their area always looks more fresh, warm and friendly–with a quirky sense of humor. Just like your trusted BFF.

In a sea of sophisticated black-and-white brands, the flirty and fun Benefit brand stood out in department store floors. Benefit products come in really unique retro-chic packaging with cheeky names.

cheekathon benefit cosmetics makeup

I love their branding and positioning, and more so for their wacky ideas! A friend told me they saw Benefit have these Cosmetics Vending Machines in US airports. I Googled it up and found these! What an ingenious idea!

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Image source: Makeup and Beauty Blog

Benebabe / Friend with Benefit

So now I’m officially a Friend with Benefit. And a clingy one, too.

Slowly, I’ve grown to enjoy putting on makeup and feeling pretty, but still want to make it as quick and effortless as possible.  So if you like it no-fuss and no-stress like me, you will love the brand. Benefit Cosmetics has real girls (and women!) in mind–girls who are busy, always on the go. The brand knows that every woman is unique, with varying face types and different facial care needs.

My favorite thing about their products? Their handiness–they are so compact, user-friendly and small enough to fit in your purse or makeup kit.

The company said it well: ‘makeup doesn’t have to be serious to be good.’

Benefit: Your Fairy Brow Mother

Benefit has gained quite a reputation in the brow department. A lot of celebrities and influencers live by . They’ve perfected the Art of Brow, even before eyebrows on fleek were a thing!

Benefit has eyebrow solutions for all kind of brow problems: patchy brows, uneven brows, shapeless brows or even absent brows.

The Benefit Brow Bar offers brow waxing services to help shape and groom your brows. Groomed brows make a big difference in your face–it will give an instant facelift and take a few years off your face.

benefit brows cebu

Benefit Opens Now in Cebu!

Imagine my excitement when I heard that Benefit is finally opening in Cebu! I got invited to their media launch and was fortunate enough to be one of the first to sneak a peek into their first boutique in Cebu at SM Seaside City.

benefit cebu sm seaside

Now’s the perfect time to indulge and stock up on my Benefit must-haves! Some favorites are the Battina, Cheekathon, the Brow collection and the Be Porefessional.

The Cebu shop looks pretty and playful in pink! Everyone was just as excited as I to dig into some loot.

Here are some photos with fellow bloggers, influencers and press:

In an upcoming post, I’ll show you my travel makeup kit–a lot of the contents are from Benefit! Watch out for it soon.

Nightlife Guide: How to Party in Cebu

For a lot of travelers, nightlife is ineluctably part of their itinerary. Sure, sightseeing and tours are a great way to see the city–but how do you truly know a city unless you’ve seen the night lights… unless you’ve mingled with the locals?

I myself love to socialize. Hence I’ve decided to make a series of nightlife guides to different cities around the globe I’ve been to–and why not start with my home base, Cebu City?

To upcoming tourists and travelers to Cebu, this is a comprehensive-as-possible guide on nightlife in Cebu, and on how, where and when to party when in the Queen City of the South.

party in cebu

Mind you, this guide features bars and clubs that I personally frequent–bars great for socializing, drinking and just having clean, good fun. So, this isn’t exactly the guide on bars that can help you ‘score’ some girls… sorry, not an expert in that department.

How to Drink and Party in Cebu?

There’s this widely known credence that Asians ‘can’t drink’… but this does not apply to Filipinos! A lot of guys have beer as drink accompaniment with their meals–breakfast, lunch or dinner. Whether you are in the city or the province, you can walk around and will see groups of men huddled in a table, drinking together. They will often invite you to drink with them.

Filipinos love their beer and alcohol. Beer is the poison of choice for most Filipinos. In more formal occasions such as family gatherings where the titas and titos are sure to make an appearance, then they will take out their wine glasses. Otherwise, gin, rum and beer are a safe bet. Filipinos drink to get drunk. Period.

It’s amazing to see how many activities Filipinos can do intoxicated–they can drive, cook, go to work, and do their errands while under the influence of alcohol. It’s not something we’d recommend though.

Tagayan‘ is popular especially among Vis-Min area, a manner of drinking wherein instead of separate glasses for every drinker, only one cup is used and passed around. I know, it sounds very unsafe and unsanitary, but this is how Filipinos bond and show camaraderie.

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Filipinos like to drink with some food, known as ‘pulutan‘. These are often fatty deep-fried foods like chicken skin, sisig or nuts.

Karaoke is another popular nightlife activity, as majority of the Filipino population aspire to become famous singer-celebrities someday.

In Cebu, EDM or electro dance music is the preference of most partygoers, although the hiphop/r&b scene is slowly gaining momentum lately. A lot of visitors complain that Filipino bars and clubs tend to be ‘too loud’, where you can barely hear or speak to each other.

Cebu parties start late and end late. The clubs start getting packed by midnight. The party usually starts to subside by 3AM, although on high peak season party could last until 5-6Am.

It’s customary for partygoers to eat after-party, to regenerate some lost energy. Cebuano’s favorite post-party food of choice is bulalo. Other favorites include siomai and puso, ramen or noodles, silog (breakfast) food at Gian’s or fast food like Jollibee or McDonald’s. Cebuanos don’t care much about eating healthy…

When to Party in Cebu?

There seems to be an annual trend in the party scene in Cebu, with a high peak and low peak season–plan your trip accordingly. The night scene is pretty dead during the summer school break, around on April time, before it starts to pick up again during July when school season starts and tourists coming in. It gets even busier during ‘-ber’ months, peaking on December and January, before winding down again on February.

The best time to come to Cebu to party is during December to January, which is holiday season leading up to Sinulog season. Cebuanos are on ‘party mood’ during this time, as many balikbayans and overseas relatives come home during the holiday season. This means an endless string of christmas parties, reunions, homecomings, family parties, and more. Lechon, lechon, lechon. And plenty of Jose Mari Chan.

Sinulog is a different experience on its own that i would like to immortalize in a separate future blog post. But it’s definitely something one needs to experience, to get to know what Cebu party life and hospitality is all about. I met the best people and had the best experience every Sinulog!

 

Off-peak season is a bit trickier. Unlike major Asian cities like Bangkok, Hong Kong or Manila where something’s always happening every day of the week, Cebu City still has some sleepy days. Nightlife is pretty good on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, Saturdays being the busiest time of the week.

On Wednesdays, the most popular activity is Salsa Nights at MAYA, a Mexican restaurant of the Abaca Group in Crossroads, Banilad. Salsa night is every Wednesdays from 9PM to 12PM every Wednesdays. The crowd is hip and international, sharing the same love for latin music.

Where to Party?

Cebu nightlife is colorful, lively and loud. Filipinos  always have energy to go out and mingle.

  • LIV Superclub

LIV is the biggest nightclub in Cebu offers a club experience set at international standard. Famous local and international EDM DJs have played here, including Otto Knows, Dirty South, EVO-K and more. Even the Maria Ozawa has graced her presence here!

LIV Superclub is located at The Times Square, Mandaue City, Cebu. There is usually an entrance fee of Php300.

(photos grabbed from the LIV Superclub FB page)

  • Distillery

distillery crossroads cebu

Distillery is the default drinking place of choice for the people within my crowd. Distillery is located in the Crossroads, Banilad Cebu City. I could easily go there any day of the week alone, not make plans with anyone, and still find a friend or acquaintance lurking by (I’m looking at you, Jedd and Alvin…).

The problem with Distillery is it can get a bit… clique-ish, because everyone knows everyone in here. It’s still a nice place to have drinks and listen to good music though.

 

  • The Sentral

The Sentral is Cebu’s first all-hiphop bar and lounge, providing the best of hiphop and R&B music in Cebu.The Sentral is located at Norkis Cyberpark, AS Fortuna, Mandaue.

  • Maya

Maya Mexican Restaurant is part of the Abaca group of restaurants and located in The Crossroads, Banilad, Cebu City.

Come to Maya at Wednesdays, when the second floor transforms into a salsa dance floor! Wednesday salsa nights attract a lively and international crowd. Maya Restaurant the best mojitos in town–which is 2-for-1 on salsa night! Starting mid-2016, Maya also has Salsa Sundays with 2-for-1 margaritas!

maya mexican restaurant cebu philippines

  • The Social

The Social is a restaurant and cafe by day, and a bar lounge by night. A lot of expats and foreign tourists prefer The Social because of its location and convenience, located in the 4F Ayala Center Cebu. They have Havana Nights on Tuesdays and one can also easily make friends by just chilling on the bar and watch football.

  • Ibiza

Ibiza Beach Club is a chic bar and lounge located in Movenpick Resort, Mactan. Modeled after the actual Ibiza in Spain, it offers a unique drinking and dining experience with a breathtaking ocean view. They have happy hour everyday from 3-5pm where drinks are 2-in-1, and have a lovely view of the sunset too.

Ibiza is one of my favorite spots in Cebu and would be here more frequently if it wasn’t so far away from the city central.

  • Morals and Malice

Morals and Malice is a posh and stylish lounge bar located about the Tinder Box, and right beside The Crossroads, Banilad. The interiors are a work of art, masterfully crafted by the famed Cebuano designer Kenneth Cobonpue himself.

The bar’s interesting namesake is based on the two-part, yin-and-yang concept nature of the establishment. Half of the place will be serving coffee and brunch (Morals), whereas the Malice part serves drinks and cocktails.

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Image from The Inquirer
  • Mango Ave

I am not an expert when it comes to the party scene in Mango, but I’ve stumbled here on rare occasions when I already had that much to drink to make it ‘okay’ for me to venture out here. Something’s always going on in Mango–popular bars are J-Ave and Alchology. Things always seem to get weird here, one way or another… It’s definitely not boring though.

  • Other Chill Drink Areas

For wine nights, La Vie Parisienne and Ampersand are personal favorites. La Vie is affordable, while Ampersand is the more high-end choice with great food choices. Marriott Hotel offers unlimited wine on the evenings for only Php699/head, and is conveniently located beside Ayala Mall. Gusto Urban Deli + Cafe, District 53rd and Planet Grapes are also good choices.

Cebu has a growing number of pubs around the city to accommodate the growing population of expats and foreign visitors coming in. Aside from The Social, Marshall’s Irish Pub and Emerald Isle are recommended pubs to watch football or rugby (or your sport of choice).

For cocktails, I think Bellini is beautiful and underrated-this champagne lounge is located beside Anzani Restaurant in Nivel Hills, Lahug and offers a nice view. I’d recommend this place if you want some privacy or a quiet date night.

bellini-bar
Bellini (image source: Zee Lifestyle)

Other Nighttime Activities

Not really a party animal? There’s still tons of activities to do in Cebu when the sun goes down. If you enjoy singing as much as most Filipinos do, karaoke is a good nighttime activity. There aren’t many hookah bars in Cebu–although I’ve seen some in IT Park (Figola) and in Times Square, Mandaue City.

If you’re a self-proclaimed geek, you will enjoy trivia nights, slogos nights and board game nights which happen on various days of the week. Cebu Trivia Night is every Wednesdays at Alejandro’s and every Thursdays at Politics. Slogos Night is every Wednesdays at Monkey’s Belly and every Friday’s at Handuraw Kasambagan. Tabletop Nights allow you to play board games with fellow enthusiasts, held every Mondays at Bubble Bee Tea House Escario Central.

 

Postcard Eats: GIBBS’ Hot Wings and What’s New

ewGibbs’ Hot Wings is one of Cebu’s most famous hole-in-the-wall new restaurants and their hot wings are comfort food of choice to many Cebuanos. Reputed for being the best wings in town, I adore the unique flavors of hot wings and their careful selection of craft beers. Coy sure knows his beers.

gibbs angel wings
My personal favorite–the Angel Wings!
gibbs hot wings beers
Gibbs Hot Wings Beers. They also carry a good selection of local craft beers by Cebruery!

I personally love their Angel Wings (affectionately called ‘Carbonara Wings’) because I can’t handle my spice as much as some people could. If you love your spicy, you can choose the spiciness level from 1 to 5.

They started in a small and humble manner. The owner, Coy Oliva, used to drink with friends at home and his wife’s hot wings was the crew’s pulutan of choice. The hot wings were a hit: his friends requested for them all the time, and eventually started ordering them to bring to their family and friends. One friend suggested to them that they should sell their hot wings.

Gibbs’ started as a small-hole-in-the-wall in the extra space of the owner’s house. The hot wings were such a big hit, that within months the owners opened their second shop in Streetscape, Maria Luisa Road, Banilad, Cebu City.

So, What’s New with Gibbs’?

On our media launch last week, we were the first to know the many exciting news for Gibbs’ Hot Wings. First, introducing their newest on the menu: Their Cajun Hot Wings. It had just the right amount of spicy and smoky flavor.

gibbs hot wings cajun

Second, Gibbs’ Hot Wings has partnered with Zomato for delivery orders. You can get your hot wings fix conveniently at the comforts of your home by just ordering via the Zomato app.

Lastly, Gibbs’ has announced that they will be opening their second branch at Robinsons Galleria Cebu, set to open later this year. A very interesting year ahead for Gibbs’!

GIBBS’ Weekly Events and Promos

Gibbs’ holds interesting weekly events, giving you more reasons to visit:

  • Mayday Sundays – Come in groups of at least 5 and for a minimum orders of P1000, to get 10% off.
  • Wing It Wednesdays – Bring your bff, wingman or winggirl, barkada, to get one free order of fries!
  • Acoustic Wednesdays – Listen to the cool tunes by Acoustic Duo Anton & Glynis from 8pm to 10.30pm
  • Thirsty Thursdays – Unlimited Coolers! Order any pitcher of our house blend coolers to avail of bottomless drinks.

You can check their FB page for more info on event and promo updates.

DISCLAIMER: Some photos by the owner and the Gibbs’ official FB page

GIBBS’ Hot Wings is open for lunch from Tuesdays to Sundays at 11am to 2pm and open for dinner daily from 5:30pm to 12:00am. GIBBS’ Hot Wings is located at Streetscape Mall, Maria Luisa Rd, Banilad, Cebu City. Contact number 349-2103 / 09226424888. Check their FB Page here and their official website at http://www.gibbshotwings.com.

Uber for Traveling, Uber for Cebu!

I don’t know about you, but there’s something ‘off’ or ‘weird’ when getting a cab in another country. There’s a ton of things to worry about. Is this safe? Did I bring enough money? Should I tip? Did I give him the right directions? My anxiety levels are high when I feel vulnerable, as I am normally the one behind the wheel at home. Now I have to give my trust to a complete stranger.

I tried to avoid getting a cab abroad because it’s horrendously expensive (especially in London!). However there are times when you really need to cab it: when you’re carrying a giant backpack plus a 30 kg. luggage; and when you’re on the way to a party looking like a million dollars.

I thank the stars that the idea of Uber was conceived where you can hail a cab with a touch of a button. Moreover, there is no awkward exchange of cash (my least favorite thing, especially when you’re handling with alien currencies)–everything is tabbed to your credit card.

My First Uber Ride.

My first Uber ride was in Paris. I was living with a friend in Universitaire and transferring to another friend’s at Cite de Phalsbourg. I know getting there via Metro would be impossible–I did have my 30 kg. luggage this time, and the Paris Metro is infamous for their lack of escalators and elevators. Plus the last time I took the metro, someone stole my box of pizza.

Yes, someone took off with my pizza. That really happened. Everything happens in Paris!

I figured out it was the perfect time to try Uber for the first time. Interestingly, I later learned that the idea of Uber was conceived when the founders couldn’t get a cab in a cold winter night in Paris.

I used my friend’s referral code and got 10 EUR off my first Uber ride. The 10km ride cost me less than 20 EUR. If I had taken the traditional cab, I would’ve paid around 30-40 EUR.

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My Uber Obsession in Manila

If the Uber founders found it difficult to get a taxi in Paris, they haven’t been to Manila.

The cab drivers from hell live in Manila. The moment you arrive the airport, taxi drivers try to rip you off as much as they can. They will pretend to be oblivious on where the hell Greenbelt is even if they’ve lived in Manila all their lives. When you show them the map, they pretend to be stupid and will go around avenues just so they can charge you more.

Fuckers.

If you’re traveling to Manila soon, my advice is to just stick to Uber. Honest taxi drivers are mythical unicorns in Manila.

My stress levels are high every time I get on a traditional taxi in Manila, so I Uber almost everywhere when walking is not an option. Uber cars have a GPS so they can never say ‘I don’t know where that is’. And the tracking makes it harder for them to go around in circles so they can charge higher. All I needed was to get in the Uber car and not worry about anything.

Why Uber is Awesome

Uber is perfect in the Philippine setting for those number of reasons, and more. Philippine taxi drivers will rip unsuspecting tourists off any opportunity they can. With Uber, you have a rating system where riders can rate drivers (and vice versa) so customer satisfaction is optimally better.

Another aspect of customer satisfaction is the quality of the ride. Uber drivers own the car they drive, hence they take care of it and better maintained than the traditional taxi counterparts. A/C will be working, seats will be more comfortable and the car will be cleaner.

UberX, which is available in the Philippines, is the low cost option, which is generally 30% cheaper than getting a regular cab ride. The GPS app they use ensure that they will know where they are going and won’t drive you in circles just to mess with you.

Who says car owners can’t use Uber too? Studies confirm that it is a lot cheaper to Uber than to own a car in Manila, with the hidden costs of maintenance and upkeep. Plus, won’t it be awesome if we could just sit in the backseat, not worry about driving and play Pokémon Go? If you want to go out without the worry of parking or who will be driving after a few beers, just Uber it!

Uber’s advocacy is to have less cars on the road. Traffic is getting worse in the Philippines, and if you could lessen the quantity of cars, we make it easier for all commuters on the road. I myself personally hate driving even if I have my own car, so the convenience Uber brings make ‘owning a car’ a less priority to millennials than before.

More butts into the backseats for fewer cars in the road. The UberHop feature allows you to split costs and carpool with fellow Uber riders going on the same direction as you. I don’t know about you, but sounds like a grand idea.

Uber Celebrates Cebu

Uber is now available in 480 cities around the world, including Manila and Cebu in the Philippines.

Cebu City will be the first city in the Philippines to have a cash payment option for Uber riders! This is good news, as in the Philippines credit card penetration is only 2%. This makes it more accessible to more Cebuanos!

In line with that, all first-time Uber riders in Cebu get 50% off their first five rides from today until July 17. Simply enter the promo code: CELEBRATECEBU upon sign up to avail of the discounted rides.

cebu bloggers society smartlife
CBS with Uber PH heads, Laurence Cua, Uber PH GM and EJ dela Vega, Uber Cebu City lead

How to Use Uber

Simply download the app and register for an account to start using Uber.

Uber How-to JPG

How to use the Cash Payment Option in Uber?

Choose the uberX option in the app. Before requesting a ride, change your payment option to cash on the confirmation page. The payment bar is located at the lower half of your screen. Enter your destination and request a ride.

You’ll see your driver’s details straight away–name, photo and the details of the car. These drivers have professional driving licenses and have undergone an extensive screening process.

At the end of your trip, the app will reflect the fare that you need to pay. Hand your payment to your driver and you’ll receive an electronic receipt via email.

Download Uber now and use my promo code to get your first free ride!

My promo code: rachela5448ue

Or just click this link! https://www.uber.com/invite/postcardpretty

Mum & Baby: My Toddler’s First Trip to the Movies

Caleb knew how to get my attention.

He wasn’t that subtle, either. After half a dozen times of sitting on my laptop and GMAT books, I gave up any hope and concluded no studying is going to happen for the rest of the week.

We need to do something. Mum and son are quickly getting cabin fever at home. I’m the kind of human who gets bored of routine and I have all the reasons to believe that my offspring is the same. The rest of the family were in USA, his nanny went home to the province–what else was there to do? I decided to take him to the cinema.

Finding Dory is already showing, and Caleb already loved Finding Nemo–that movie has been on replay since he was 12 months old. In fact, Caleb can identify more marine animals than land animals. Sharks are his favorite. Finding Dory will make the perfect first mother-and-son movie date.

finding dory

Plus, I already had some Ayala Center Cebu credits that we could use, by being featured at the A Guide (Ayala’s Shopping Style Guide). So I’d like to thank Ayala Cebu for making our first movie date possible!

As we queued up for tickets, I started getting a mini-panic attack. Caleb was already running around back and forth and pretending not to hear me. Was this really a smart idea, to take a 2-year-old to the movies? Will he cry, shout and annoy the other moviegoers?

This should be interesting. Knowing my little man, I was sure he wouldn’t cry or shout–but he’ll probably run around in the movies. I decided to take the 2:00pm schedule and the front row seats for my two-year-old’s viewing purposes.

After buying the tickets, we got the snacks. A lot of patronizing parents will judge me for getting him unhealthy Potato Corner french fries, but it’s his favorite snack and I wanted to indulge him once in a while. If you want a healthier alternative, I also got us Tater’s tofu chips. I tried to feed him these but he barely touched them. I also got Tater’s sugar-free lemonade for our drinks.

Of course, the success of movie-going depend largely on the parent, the child and the movie. Not all kids are the same, and some may find the loud sound and darkness overwhelming. I’m thankful Caleb is unfazed by most things (I am more scared of the dark than he is!) and he tries to help me by carrying the food and drinks. He likes having a role, it makes him feel responsible and has a purpose in life (to take care of this absent-minded adult who calls herself ‘mom’).

Upon coming inside, the cinema staff asked if we would want to have a high seat for Caleb. I didn’t know cinemas offer this because it was my first time taking a kid out to the movies, but it was great. So even if we were sat at the front I still decided to take one. I also took a snack tray because we brought a lot of food!

two year old baby first trip to the movies

The movie is around two-hours long, so I didn’t want to strain Caleb too much. We went outside during the ads and trailers part–I didn’t see the point of him watching the trailers. For toddlers, they don’t see the difference between film and ad content, so I had him run around outside the cinema to entertain himself before the movie starts.

There is a animated short skit before the start of Finding Dory about a baby bird in the beach. The visuals are so impressive now, I couldn’t believe even a single grain of sand is well-defined and high-def!

Caleb was smiling like silly from the first scene to the last. He kept on saying ‘Dory!’ ‘Nemo!’ He was pointing at the sea animals he knew–whales, turtles, octopuses and fish. He was laughing at all the appropriate scenes, and imitating the famous Dory whale talk. One thing about Caleb–he has a great sense of humor, that kid.

So yes, when Sia was already heard singing ‘Unforgettable’ and the credits rolled out, I sighed in relief. Wow, my two-year-old actually sat throughout the whole film! I didn’t even notice the 120 minutes pass by. Sure, in the middle of the film Caleb took out his high seat (it was actually very hard and uncomfortable) and he spilled the lemonade towards the end, but other than that, it was a gratifying experience for both of us!

I would recommend Finding Dory to even little kids like mine. The movie is colorful, funny and full of lovable characters–Dory, Nemo, Marlin, Hank, Destiny, Bailey… and even the hugging otters, they were all so adorable.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.23.51 PMFor doing a very good job in behaving at the movies, I treated Caleb to some post-movie treat, The Suite Room matcha ice cake.

So yes. It is possible to take a two-year-old to the movies. Did he enjoy it? Yes. Will he remember it? Probably not most of it. It was a great experience nonetheless!

As a recap, here are some tips and pointers on what to expect on your little one’s first trip to the movies:

  • If possible, choose an afternoon schedule on a weekday. Choose a not-so-busy movie schedule.
  • You can miss watching the trailers. Your child can’t tell apart movie and ad or trailer content, so why bother?
  • What’s a movie without snacks? You can get the usual popcorn and soda, but there are also healthier alternatives such as the tofu chips and sugar-free lemonade that we got from Tater’s.
  • Your child will be slightly disadvantaged by height, so choose the front row seats whenever possible, or avail of the high chair.
  • Know your child’s interests and preferences as well. Caleb loved aquatic animals and the film kept him interested all throughout. He would also probably love animated movies about cars and animals.
  • Be mindful and respectful of other moviegoers. If your child starts crying or screaming, or kicking on the front seat, don’t pretend like it’s normal. Apologize, and if you can’t control the situation go out of the cinemas to calm your child.

 

Mum & Baby: Kidzoona in Robinsons Galleria Cebu

As a parent I always encourage my son active play and social interaction with other kids. And for Caleb, he doesn’t need much ‘encouragement’ at all. Every time I take him to a playground full of kids, he instantly comes running to them in a panic and forget about me. Not that I minded, I’m thrilled by his energy and independence.

Unfortunately Cebu City does not offer parks and safe public places for children to play. The malls are this generation’s playground–offering safe and indoor play for children. While I would’ve preferred for us to explore the mountains and forests, I’m going to save that when he’s older. Caleb, please hurry up so we can backpack across South America together. So we explored the newest indoor playground, Kidzoona, has to offer.

Kidzoona is located in the 3F Robinsons Galleria Mall, Cebu City, Cebu. Kidzoona is owned by a Japan-based corporation and already has 800 branches across Southeast Asia! There are 20 outlets around Philippines already. They are set to open their 2nd and 3rd branch in SM Seaside City and SM Consolacion, respectively.

Play Fee is Php250 for 1.5 hours and Php400 for 3 hours, including one parent or guardian. Kids 1-12 years old can enjoy the indoor fantasyland for hours! Even a 26-year-old (ehem) enjoyed her time and wished we had facilities like these when we were younger.

lockers in kidzoona cebu
Shoe Lockers in Kidzoona

Upon coming in, we are given a locker for shoes and bags (locker rental is also free!). Hence we could run and play hands-free without worrying about our valuables and stuff.

Kidzoona was much bigger than we expected! On the right side of the room is a massive ball pool with inflatable slides and a pirate ship! Kids can go climb into the island and jump in the sea of balls!

On the left side of the Kidzoona center is the role play area where the little people can pretend to be firemen, doctors, ice cream vendors, florists or sushi chefs.

On the front part of the playzone with a giant zorb ball where little kids pretend to be hamsters and try to run over each other! Little kids should be more careful of the bigger kids!

play toys kidzoona

Finally, this area of the playroom has train sets, playhouses, puzzles and other toys for children to explore. Just beside it is an open space for kids to bike around.

train toys in kidzoona

Aside from that, they also have activities and mini-games–in fact during our time there Caleb won a one-hour free play GC from their raffle! The Kidzoona official mascot pops up once in a while to dance and play with the kids.

So would I bring him here again? Of course! But not too often–I always try to bring my little man to as many new, different and exciting environments as possible.

Kidzoona Cebu is located at Robinson’s Galleria and SM Seaside City. For more information, you can visit their Facebook and official website.

Postcard Eats: The Suite Room’s Ice Cream Cakes

I must’ve been living under a rock, because I only recently knew about this piece of heaven.

Of course I’ve heard of The Suite Room. The Suite Room is located at Ayala Center Cebu Rooftop and Ramos branch (their pioneer branch). It is part of the Casa Verde group and is often known as the more posh and upscale version of the Casa Verde. I’ve tried Suite Room’s main course and steaks, and these were quite good.

This entry however isn’t about The Suite Room’s main course menu. We take a closer look at their dessert choices, particularly their honest-to-goodness ice cream cakes.

They have six different ice cream cake flavors, While they are all so good, everyone has their own preferences as well. As I devoured every spoonful, I kept on thinking: ‘where were you all my life?!’

Okay, that was a bit of overkill. Still, I love ice cream and I love cake. I thank Babe for Food for bringing me here and introducing me to what will be a new cheat favorite. These are their ice cakes’ six different offerings: Matcha Green Tea, Apple Cinnamon Raisin PIe, Caramel Macchiato, Mixed Berry, Double Strawberry and Peach Mango Ice Cake. The serving is huge! One order costs Php 238.

ice cake offerings at the suite room ayala cebu

  • Matcha Green Tea Ice Cake

My favorite. It’s not too sweet, and the slightly bitter taste of matcha perfectly cleanses the palate making it the perfect dish to cap off a full course meal. Matcha green tea paired with cream cheese is genius. I would have this all the time.

matcha green tea ice cream cake the suite room cebu.jpg
Matcha Ice Cake
  • Apple Cinnamon Raisin Pie Ice Cake

This is the frozen version of the All-American favorite dessert, the apple pie. I always have my apple pie warm, but this one I don’t mind served cold at all. The cinnamon smells tempting!

apple raisin walnut ice cake
Apple Cinnamon Raisin Pie
  • Caramel Macchiato Ice Cake

Caramel Macchiato is the frozen cake version of the beloved coffee drink. This is my friend Justinne’s favorite. Caramel Macchiato is rich, flavorful and sinful.

caramel macchiato ice cake.jpg
Caramel Macchiato Ice Cake
  • Mixed Berry Ice Cake

A surprising favorite to most of us! It’s something I would order to share with girlfriends who want to eat something sweet, but not be too guilty about it (Hey, it’s berries! High in antioxidants!)

mixed berry ice cream cake
Mixed Berry Ice Cake
  • Double Strawberry Ice Cake

Double Strawberry was another satisfying one. Probably children’s favorite, and my son could probably eat all this on his own. He hates sharing his desserts!

double strawberry ice cake the suite room.jpg
Double Strawberry Ice Cake
  • Peach Mango Pie Ice Cake

Another frozen version of the famous Jollibee Peach Mango Pie. Peaches and mangoes are always a great combination.

peach mango ice cake.jpg
Peach Mango Ice Cake

I’m no food blogger, so I’ve easily run out of things to say to describe food! Let us know what you think of The Suite Room’s ice cakes. Which flavor is your favorite?

The Suite Room – Ayala Branch is located at 4th Level, Ayala Center Cebu, Archbishop Reyes Ave Cebu Business Park, Cebu City, Philippines.
Their Ramos Branch is located at 69 Lim Tian Teng Street (right beside Casa Verde), Ramos, Cebu City, Philippines.
For more information you can check out their Facebook page and official website.
Contact number: Ayala – (032) 266 3860 Ramos – (032) 254 0508
Opening Hours: Everyday from 10AM to 10PM

‘The Green Man’ Matthias Gelber Comes to Cebu

Climate change is already happening. Global warming is no longer a myth. We have already felt the effects, such as recent climate idiosyncrasies that weren’t supposed to happen, but are already transpiring. A cynic would always say, ‘but… can we really make a difference?’ Well, can we?

I was excited to hear that fellow Climate Reality leader Matthias Gelber is coming to the Philippines’ two biggest cities (Manila and Cebu) in order to give talks on tackling environment issues and climate change. He will also be here as one of the presiding judges of Miss Earth 2016, happening tonight, June 11, 2016.

Matthias Gelber, better known as the ‘GreenMan’, is a professional speaker, green activist, eco-warrior and key advocate to pro-environment living. He is voted the ‘Greenest Person on the Planet’ on 2008 by 3rdWhale, Canada.

Gelber was born and raised in a small German village close to nature, and hence developed a strong connection with the Earth from a young age. Matthias is now based in Malaysia, where he lives without a car and a $10 USD/month electric bill. In Malaysia, he started Eco Warriors, a community movement on taking a proactive stance to fighting climate change.

Malaysia and Philippines are very similar when it comes to climate, geography and demographic, but our buildings are designed for purely aesthetic but totally inappropriate for our hot and humid climate. Gelber shares that the traditional houses, the Philippine bahay kubo and Malaysian kampung houses are more efficient in ventilation and designed for our tropical weather. Industrial progress does not necessitate cemented roads and concrete buildings. A progressive city can live communally with nature and thrive in it, rather than destroy the greenery.

We can all be agents of change through small, lifestyle changes that we can make in your own offices and homes. The first step to green living is assessing our electric consumption. 1kwh generates 600+ g of CO2 emissions. Hence, reducing our electricity bill not only saves money but also reduces our carbon footprint. Of course, making the conscious change of behavior is the biggest challenge we face as we try to live greener.

For more interesting eco-stories, practical tips and ideas, catch the GreenMan on  “A GREEN TALK at the Queen City of the South”, this Saturday, June 18, 2016 from 1PM to 5PM at the Greenery, Mabolo, Cebu City. The event will also feature fellow Cebu green advocates: Joseph Castillo of the JoeGreen Project; Rachel A. of DAKILA & Climate Reality Project; and Archt. Joy Onozawa, Certified Green Design Professional.

To register and know more about the event, you can check their Facebook event page on this link.

greenman in cebu

Around Cebu: Starbucks PH New Offers and my First Coffee Tasting Experience

As a traveler, I collect stuff. Souvenirs provide great memories to trips and unforgettable experiences. I started my Starbucks mug collection last 2014 and it’s the first store I look for in every city I’ve been.

starbucks travel mug collection

As an advertising graduate and later, an educator, I appreciate the brand marketing and PR efforts. They appropriately reach out to its customers and create meaningful relationships with them. As part of Cebu Bloggers Society, I was invited to their coffee tasting event so we could sample their latest food and drink offers.

It was my first coffee tasting experience and a very educational one for a coffee novice like me. We were asked to smell the coffee, and to sample it hot, iced and blended. We were asked to share stories, and to remember experiences as we sampled the taste and aroma of the particular coffee bean.

I didn’t know there were a million ways to define coffee. I thought ‘coffee’ was only meant to be bitter… and never would i have described it as ‘citrusy’, ‘berry-like’, ‘nutty’ or ‘alkaline’!

As a writer, I consume a lot of coffee and tea. Coffee keeps me awake, and tea keeps me relaxed. Without the two I will be either slightly neurotic or completely useless with the pen.

Their new offers are interesting, because they are a bit of blend of both my elixirs: The Chocolate Black Tea Frappuccino with Earl Grey Jelly and the Double Chocolate Green Frappuccino. A perfect combination of energizing and refreshing anyone on a hot day this summer. (Wait, what am I talking about. This is the Philippines–it’s always summer!)

 

As a foodie, I am pretty psyched about their new items too. Pair these reinvigorating drinks with their new food items such as the Purple Yam Cheesecake (with red bean and macapuno..yum!), Chicken Milk Bun and Parmagiana Wrap.

Finally, as an environmentalist, I appreciate Starbucks efforts to be more green and to encourage their customers to be green. The new Starbucks BPA-free cup is means it’s reusable, recyclable and re-enjoyable. Every time you bring these cups in, you get a discount off your order. These are all responsible efforts to the company’s waste reduction objective.

reusable cups in starbucks ph

  • All new food and drink offers will be available at all Starbucks Philippine Branches from June 7 – July 25, 2016. For more information, visit them in their stores or online at their website, www.starbucks.ph.

Postcard Eats: Hamakaze, Authentically Japanese

Kanpai!’

We gave a toast as we started drinking and eating in Hamakaze, a tiny restaurant nestled in A.S. Fortuna, right beside Oftana Suites and across the new Jollibee.

Admittedly, I am not so well-versed with the Japanese pop culture and like. I never got into the whole manga thing as a child; and despite having been to Japan before, my knowledge on Japan culture is dismal.

Well, this is embarrassing.

Thus, the invite to Hamakaze with the rest of the Cebu Bloggers Society was like a Japanese food crash course. Ramen shops have been popping up like mushrooms in Cebu lately, so getting some pointers on how to order in a ramen shop truly helps!

We were greeted by the owner Taka-san, a Japanese based in Singapore. Hamakaze is his 11th restaurant venture across Southeast Asia.

According to Taka-san, ramen is the national drunk food in Japan (as ‘pochero’ is in Cebu), hence they are open after hours–from 6PM until 5AM. Good news for the party goers (although this might change after Duterte’s curfew implementation…)

Price range per dish is around P230-P300. Click on the menu to see the hi-res version.

hamakaze japanese restaurant cebu menu 2hamakaze japanese restaurant cebu menu

To work up our appetite, we were served Gyoza, Japanese fried dumplings, Tori Kaage, Japanese-style fried chicken with Kimuchi Chahan, Japanese-style fried rice on the side. The Fried Chicken was a big hit. We paired the food with different types of iced tea, which were refreshing and not as sweet as what most of the restaurants in Cebu serve (if you like it sweeter, you can always ask for some sugar syrup).

Types of Ramen

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish

Call me ignorant, but I didn’t know there were that many types of ramen! I don’t want to go too technical, so here are just some of the basic types we got to try in the restaurant.

  1. Reimen (Cold Ramen)

cold ramen cebu japanese restaurant

Zaru Ramen is basically ramen without the broth–a kind of salad on a plate with different toppings. Taka-san shares that Zaru Ramen is seasonally offered in China, especially during summer season when it is too warm to have the typical hot ramen.

 

2. Yakisoba (Oily Ramen)

oily ramen hamakaze

Also ramen without the hot broth, but instead the noodles are stir-fried, tossed with different toppings on top.

3. Shoyu Ramen (Ramen with Clear Broth)

hot ramen cebu japanese

The most commonly known type,

4. Tonkotsu Ramen (Collagen Soup)

collagen soup ramen cebu

Tori Ramen or Collagen soup usually has a rich, cloudy broth, achieved by boiling pork bone, fat and collagen over high heat for at least eight hours.

Collagen is esteemed to have anti-aging effects reputed to be better than botox, with active ingredients that strengthen the joints, bones, skin and hair. Now–that makes this ramen my favorite!

5. Tsukemen (Japanese Dipping Noodles)

hamakaze as fortuna collagen

This is the most unique one I tried and a recommended must-have if you dine in Hamakaze! Japanese Dipping noodles consist of separate bowls, one containing noodles and another of the soup. Simply take a few strands of noodles and dip into the collagen soup!

Hamakaze is open daily from 12PM-3:30PM for lunch and 6:30PM-5AM for dinner and after hours. Hamakaze is located at AYS Bldg., A.S. Fortuna, Mandaue City. Contact number: (032) 505-4220. Check their FB Page here.