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Posts Tagged ‘postaday2011’

A little “Photoshop” for your skin

In Philippine Star Column on July 22, 2011 at 2:30 am

All in one treatment for your skin :-)

I’m pretty lazy when it comes to sunscreens or sun protection in general. I am, however, a fan of the great outdoors, so not slapping on my SPF is not the most ideal situation for my skin, both health-wise and appearance-wise. Although it didn’t really bother me, I did start to notice I had some discoloration on my cheeks and nose, which sometimes get redder due to continued sun exposure. Although the unevenness wasn’t, in my opinion, as unattractive as bad tan lines, I thought it would be a learning experience to check out the new Optilight treatment at Facial Care Centre that promised a “Photoshop” for the face. I met with dermatologist Dr. Lee who flew in from Shanyang, China; she is the so-called “laser” expert. Optilight is short for Optimal Pulse Technology and Lee has treated over 20,000 patients in the China Medical University. “Most people are familiar with traditional IPL treatments,” explained Dr. Lee, “but what most don’t know is that there can be an inconsistency in the energy of heat which may result in more damage to your skin. With this new generation Optimal Pulse Technology or Optilight, there is more control during application, no extreme highs or lows; it is much more effective and more safe as there is a way to evenly time out the application of pulse on the skin.”

So what are the advantages of using Optilight over the other treatments that promise “new-looking” skin? “Good question,” chuckled Dr. Lee. “While other treatments target specific ‘concerns’ such as wrinkles, sagging skin, discoloration and acne, Optilight can actually target all of those through regular sessions.” I was also told later on that it is not limited to just the face but can be used on parts of the body like the arms and legs. Age is also not a limiting factor, either, as even infants suffering from skin inflammation have been treated by Dr. Lee. “Optilight can take care of photo-aged skin which is prone to wrinkles, melasma and sagging skin, hyperpigmentation (like freckles), rosacea (redness) and pigmented lesions such as brown pigmented spots and scars,” she shared. In my case, after my consultation, I was to be treated for the sun-induced pigmentation. I was told I would see results after a couple of days, but full effect (an even, almost flawless skin tone) would be achieved after about five to 10 treatments over a course of time.

So how exactly does Optilight work? With a machine that uses the appropriate wavelength and parameters, a spectrum of light is transmitted through a small handpiece that is gently placed on the skin. The light then penetrates the tissue that is absorbed by either the blood or the melanin, depending on the condition being treated. My biggest question though after that explanation was “Would it hurt?” They were going to be zapping me on very sensitive points and, in some areas, very close to the eyes so I was letting my paranoia get the best of me. No, I was told, it wouldn’t hurt per se, but there could be discomfort caused by the heat penetrating the skin. Discomfort sounded okay to me and I allowed myself to be escorted to my room for what would consist of me lying down for 10-15 minutes during the treatment. Sounded quick and easy. A gel was spread over my face as my eyes were covered with cold cotton. The therapist (another dermatologist) told me that my cheeks and my nose would be the target areas and that even if my eyes were closed, I would still be able to see the light. But I was not to be alarmed and should just keep my eyes closed.

There was no pain, but the heat did cause a little discomfort, albeit temporarily since it was over so fast. I don’t think I was there for more than 10 minutes. After an Optilight session, sunblock is even more important so they actually applied some SPF 50 on me before I left the room. I was also advised to wash my face that night and the next morning with a very gentle or mild soap. The next day, my skin felt a little tighter and firmer and after a week, I noticed that the freckles around my nose had gotten lighter. I was told that it would take three more sessions for more “dramatic” results, especially for those with more serious skin problems, but I thought this was pretty dramatic already, considering the treatment was practically painless and didn’t require any downtime at all. And I’ve now made applying sunscreen a daily habit.

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For more information on Optilight at Facial Care Centre call (02) 892 –SKIN (7546) or visit http://www.facialcarecentre.com.ph/.

For more Soul Train visit www.thesoultrain.net.

Say ‘moshi moshi’ to a new kind of phone accessory

In Philippine Star Column on July 15, 2011 at 1:18 am

Colorful retro-style POP earpieces for your smartphone

Hands on: Moshi Moshi’s handsets are all iPad, iPhone and laptop-compatible

The mobile phone has made conversation easier. Or has it? Sure, we can now contact (and be contacted) almost anywhere and anyplace, providing cell coverage is adequate but the smaller the gadget, sometimes the harder to hold it in place for too long. Think about it: you’re on the phone delicately trying to balance it in the crook of your neck and shoulder while typing out instructions, or you’ve just engaged in a riveting conversation with your best friend and wonder why, after hours of chatter, your ear seems to be on fire. It is commonly believed that the radiation emitted from the modern smart phone is damaging. I certainly believe it, not to mention the posture problems you may experience having had your head bent to the side for most parts of the day. Telebabad, whether for work or play, can be hazardous to your health. There have been solutions, of course, the first is to limit your time on the phone (in this day and age? Yeah, right) or equip yourself with a bluetooth headset which allows you more freedom and may eliminate radiation melting your brain cells.

Moshi Moshi accessories for your Smartphones and Laptops

Old news: The MoshiMoshi 01 is a handset and weighted base that has a high-quality speaker and a microphone.

A much more fashionable option would be the line of MoshiMoshi (MM) mobile phone accessories. One can choose from whimsical (and vintage) designs you can simply attach to the jack of your iPhone, Blackberry or the latest laptop models. Still loyal to an older unit of talk gadgetry? Not to worry: most phones can still use MM products when fitted with an adaptor. Just using one of these retro-inspired designs (think the classic ‘50s Bakelite telephones) can reduce up to 95 percent of the radiation absorbed compared to direct use of your mobile phone. There are two styles to choose from, one that can be plugged directly to your mobile or iPad, or the MM01R that looks like an actual telephone with its own base. For those old timers, think back to your youth when you could just hang the handset on your shoulder without having to contort your neck to Cirque du Soleil standards. Not into retro? You might be seduced by the sleeker likes of the MM 03 and 03i. These handset and weighted base units have no need for wires as you can do all your communication via bluetooth. The 03i can even act as a charger for your iPhone with a talk time of about six hours. If you don’t have an iPhone, you can still place calls using a bluetooth wireless computer. Another cool feature is you can pair up to five wireless gadgets with this handset and the sound is crystal clear, plus you reduce up to 90 percent of radiation.

The MM04i comes in two colors silver and black and copper and taupe

The ultimate: Use the MM04i as a handset, a charging dock and speakers or just to impress.

If you want to go the extra mile, and want multiuse for your MoshiMoshi, then go for the MM04 and MMO4i, which are likely to elicit envy from your audiophile and gaga-over-gadgets friends. Looking like it would be comfortable right beside Agent 007, these phones were crafted by multi-awarded British designer Michael Young, and marry contemporary with functionality. From afar, they look like speakers, but are actually handsets that can be used as speakers as well, plus you can use bluetooth streaming to play songs from your smart phone or any other bluetooth wireless-equipped contraption. I’m not much of a techie but everything was pretty straightforward in terms of getting my BlackBerry to work with all the MM products although the lazy girl in me thought of just getting the simpler, colorful Pop model to just plug and go. Color-wise you can choose from red, green, violet, pink and a rich deep indigo from the Pop line while the MM03s are in monochromatic black or white. From afar, the MM04s could look like leather, adding to its sophistication, especially the burnished copper-taupe one.

The MMO3 is a sleek way to chat via Bluetooth

Next time you get a crick in your neck or earburn from too much talk time, you may want to consider giving your poor brain and posture a break with a MoshiMoshi.

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For more information on MoshiMoshi call 0917-5754812 and ask for Eugene Go or e-mail waido.info@gmail.com.

SOUL TRAIN By Katrina A. Holigores (The Philippine Star) Updated July 15, 2011 12:00 

Proudly Pinoy arm candy inspired by Frank Gehry

In Philippine Star Column on July 8, 2011 at 2:35 am

Proudly Pinoy arm candy inspired by Frank Gehry

SCV Nanna reversible bags

The new bayong: S.C.Vizcarra’s Limited’s Nanna bags are hand-woven natural leather totes that are reversible and appear seamless.

Although a woman’s love for bags remains many a (straight) man’s mystery, this doesn’t deter a lot of us from cluttering our closet space with keep-alls and keep-(sm)alls. We change our bag when we change outfits, points of destination or even our moods. Bags can change an entire ensemble and, like a beautiful piece of art, can be a conversation starter, which can result in a gaggle of girls crowding around you, cooing over it like a freshly-bathed baby.

S.C. Vizcarra’s Rita Nazareno is no stranger to this phenomenon; in fact it was how I made her acquaintance during an art exhibit last year. Although surrounded by the provocative artworks of Schnabel, I was introduced to her and my eyes immediately zeroed in on her arm candy, a beautiful brown weave that looked as soft as butter and was of an unusual shape. Not realizing that she came from a family of designers (both her parents have their own lines of bags under the Vizcarra label), I asked in total ignorance where she bought it, and she replied, almost shyly, “I made it.” Within minutes, a small crowd had formed around us and her bag became the evening’s most talked-about piece.

The Pez Clutch

Form and structure: The El Pez clutch inspired by the structure created by Frank Gehry.

Shortly after that evening, Nazareno returned to the UK to finish her MA in design management for the Fashion Industries at the London College of Design. Even while abroad, she already started working on her first line called Zacarias for S.C. Vizcarra, showing her first five pieces in October of 2010. She won the KATHA award (given by Manila FAME at CITEM) for fashion that same year. The bags included a woven leather bag based on Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao bag), a wicker clutch based on an Anish Kapoor sculpture (Marsupial clutch) and a recycled leather bag based on an Isa Genzken cement sculpture (Porthole bag). The Porthole bag was the very same one that got my attention the night that Nazareno and I met.

SCV Salcedo Tote

Weave the future: Bags are created using weaving techniques traditionally used in basketry.

Since returning to Manila, Nazareno has plunged wholeheartedly into design depths. One of her first projects was the re-design of S.C. Vizcarra’s Nanna bags, which were originally designed by Nazareno’s father, Butch Sales. “It took him and our development team a long time to come up with this new version, to perfect the weaving for this particular reversible Nanna bag. I’m still very impressed how the weaving was realized. This bag hides nothing really, if you look at it closely. And it comes with a great pouch for the inside as well,” she shares. The Nanna bags are fresh and fun, with stunning color combinations such as purple and pewter that will please even the most bipolar bag lover.

There are also additions to the Zacarias line, which is the El Pez clutch, inspired by Frank Gehry’s El Pez structure in Barcelona. “Even when viewed from the plane, that structure is quite fabulous, so much so that I just had to try to see how this massive, woven-looking sculpture could translate into a ti ny, handwoven bag,” says Nazareno. One can see the craftsmanship and attention to detail needed in the production of a bag. Most of them are made from natural materials (the Cruise Collection in particular) and weaving techniques traditionally used in basketry are applied. It is an intricate method with finer shapes, and there is an effort to meld luxury and fashion with artisan-crafted, handwoven objects. These make the bags challenging to produce; in fact some of the S.C. Vizcarra Limited bags are hand woven from a single piece of leather.

Zacarias by SCV Uchida

Even with all the work needed, the bags appear to be seamless, and have successfully married functionality with fashion. The Salcedo line, whose original version also won the Katha Award last April, is reinvented in a combination of materials, like woven jute and microfiber with a denim lining. All of the S.C.Vizcarra bags are produced in their workshop on Roxas Boulevard, and are not limited to just the designer’s imagination but to a team effort. “We also do bespoke products. We can customize a bag to one’s needs in terms of size, pockets, material and colors,” explains Nazareno, something which will definitely be sweet music to the ears of every bag lady out there. Imagine being able to choose from materials such as chaircane, wicker, water hyacinth and, of course, leather plus a rainbow of colors all woven into one beautiful seamless package.

zacarias-by-scv-bilbao-laptop bag

Totable art: Zacarias by S.C.Vizcarra is named after designer Rita Nazareno’s grandfather, a sculptor. The designs in this line are based on contemporary art, architecture and design.

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For more information, e-mail info@vizcarra1925. com or rnazareno @vizcarra1925.com.

Check out www. vizcarra1925.com.

SOUL TRAIN By Katrina A. Holigores (The Philippine Star) Updated July 08, 2011 12:00

How a bunch of kids recreate the past

In Philippine Star Column on July 1, 2011 at 5:57 am

Metal lampstand with design originating from an eight pointed star

Summer’s over and school has started, an inevitability that is met with mixed reactions from students around the country. For the scholars of Escuela Taller (ET) de Intramuros, the summer was spent in school as part of their two-year curriculum. It is not a curriculum that you would find at more traditional institutions, as it comprises workshops and classes focused on the art of craftsmanship. One can take wood or brick carving, metallurgy, carpentry and masonry from the curriculum menu — all with the goal of producing future restorers and conservators of heritage sites. These skills will allow them to find employment in the field both here and abroad after graduation. I first heard of ET coming to the Philippines back in 2007 when it was about to start its first two-year term. The students were comprised of 75 out-of-school young adults from the Baseco Compound in Manila, who were carefully selected by the ET administration. Aside from an education and a chance to work onsite, the students were provided with free transportation and meals. Although the thrust of ET was aimed towards specific skills (even bringing in lecturers and professionals from abroad), it also made provisions to teach basic mathematics, English, value formation and more “modern” technologies such as plumbing and electrical repair.

Booker prize: A reproduction of Jose Rizal’s own wooden book stand

Even with free transport, meals and the opportunity of a world-class education, there were students who opted to drop out before graduation. Many of them needed to help out their families instead. The school also had its fair share of challenges. Even though Escuela Taller was established in the ’80s and is found in over 17 countries in Latin America and North Africa (Manila being the only one in Asia), it basically still had to write its own manual of processes and procedures, a real baptism by fire — in essence, it was a franchise without a franchisor’s handbook. There were also restrictions that came with the grant it was given, as well as those dictated by local government units and partners. In spite of these challenges and restrictions, ET’s students managed to finish their first term with several projects under their belts, including the restoration of sections of the old city wall, the loggia of Casa Manila and rebuilding the 14-classroomF. Tiongson Building at the Concepcion Elementary School in Malabon.

Dine and (dash)ing: A replica of a Mudejar roof and ceiling, placed upside down and fitted with 1/2 inch thick glass

Stoner fare: A bulol made out of adobe stone


Growing pains aside, ET is now in its second term, with a new batch of scholars hailing from various parts of the Philippines. Students are currently restoring the Almacenes Reales (Royal Storehouse) building just inside the Fort Santiago gate, which was severely damaged during World War II. It is to be reopened as the Intramuros Visitor’s Center upon completion. Recently, the school held an exhibit entitled “Homenaje: Restoring a Legacy, Reviving our Heritage,” hosted by the Embassy of Spain and held at the lobby of Greenbelt 3 last June 22. The exhibit featured the works of students and graduates of Escuela Taller de Intramuros, opening with a reproduction of National Hero Jose Rizal’s wooden book stand. Guests of the exhibit greatly admired other products such as a table with intricate woodwork, stone sculptures and metal lamp stands that had many inquiring if some of the pieces were for sale. Some even expressed interest in commissioning some of the work for the offices and residences. Although ET cannot sell the products from their workshops or accept monetary donations, it does have plans to form a placement agency, a co-op (to sell some of the students’ work) as well as a foundation. For now, it is the school’s goal to shed light on its scholars, the skills they have acquired, and most importantly, how the youth — given the right skills — can ensure our past and our heritage is never forgotten.

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Escuela Taller de Intramuros is a collaboration among Agencia Española de Cooperación Internacionál para el Desarrollo (AECID); National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA); Intramuros Administration (IA); Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

For more information on Escuela Taller de Intramuros, e-mail etintramuros @gmail.com or visit etintramuros. wordpress.com.

Fashion Watch: Joey Samson

In Living a Life Off-Center on June 30, 2011 at 6:23 am

I have had had the pleasure of being dressed by Joey Samson, who is not only brilliant in his tailoring but also someone who is generous and open-hearted. I do hope you enjoy looking at the photos from his show as much as I enjoyed attending :-) Reposting once more from the blog of Luis Espiritu. For the full story and photos click on Style Narratives-Joey Samson for Fashion Watch

A new take on the skirt suit :-)

A home for the four legged

In Philippine Star Column on June 24, 2011 at 2:02 am

Love animals? Read on…having a pet is definitely good for the heart and soul :-) But please practice responsible ownership!

William suffered severe mange and lost his eye due to infection but is now healthy and ready to go home

Weekends are normally a time for me to kick back, relax and watch mindless episode upon episode of “stupid” TV shows. Last Sunday was very different as I was invited by good friend and fashion designer Louis Claparols to go to the Philippine Animal and Welfare Society (PAWS) Rehabilitation Center to spend the afternoon. He informed me that the shelter was in need of supplies so we collectively brought dog and cat food as well as medicine to be donated that day. It was an eye-opening trip to say the least. The PAWS facility is on a hill nestled by trees and, as of this article, houses approximately 256 cats and 53 dogs. There have been many articles already written by animal lovers about this place but there is always something new that can be done in order to help out PAWS and its abused and abandoned wards who are all in need of good homes and much love. I’m not really a cat person but my heart went out to the felinecommunity in the cattery area, where these purr-poseful beings strutted around or lazily came up for a belly rub when I entered. “You don’t really choose a cat,” remarked PAWS program director Anna Cabrera, “the cat chooses you.” True enough, a contented looking tri-color kitty took the time to pick itself up and head over to me for some ear-scratching. The others watched and milled around nonchalantly as cats are wont to do.

Nalan was bottlefed and hand reared by volunteers, she is also playful and loves ear scratches

Still, this is far from the state that most of these furry friends were found in. There are many heartbreaking stories which range from a dog that was beaten repeatedly whenever its drunken owner came home: its wails of pain were so loud they could be heard several houses down. There was also a puppy that was left chained to the steering wheel of an abandoned car and was found drinking its own urine, so emaciated that it looked like its bones were slowly going to tear free from its body. There are kittens that were found en masse in trash bags ready to be thrown off the side of a truck… The stories go on, and who knows how many animals are still left out there, victims of irresponsible ownership and plain old human cruelty. Those that have found their way to PAWS by rescue from volunteers undergo a lot of medical supervision and lots of TLC. It is the PAWS group that works their hardest in the hope that these animals can soon find their “forever” homes with new owners that will erase their past memories of abuse. “The misconception about PAWS is that we are an orphanage,” says Cabrera. “That is not so. We try to house animals that are victims of ‘criminal cases’ based on the Animal Welfare Act.” There have been too many times that they have found pets just left at their doorstep, a product perhaps of owners who thought having a pet was akin to a “toy.” Once it dawned on them that raising an animal was work, they would rather just “throw it away.” Humans.

Lucius-a jeepney ran over him as a pup, but even with just 3 working legs, he is still very active and playful


So what can one do? Firstly, have a long hard think with your family, with your partner, with yourself about buying and raising a pet. Remember (especially if it’s a dog), it will need to be fed, exercised, bathed and require veterinarycheck-ups regularly. If you’ve decided you are ready to take all this on then look into reputable breeders over pet shops, or better yet, look into adopting. There is a high success rate of rehabilitated dogs and rescued cats that are just waiting for a new home and a brand new start. If having a pet right now is not an option but you still wish to help animals in need there are several things you can do.

Leslie sports a scar on her belly due to burns from boiling oil, but she is just as loving and pretty as any other cat

First, donate: Cash is always helpful. A new spay and neuter mobile van has been acquired which helps PAWS go around more remote parts of the country helping in animal population control and P50,000 is what is needed now to make it fully operational inside and out. To run the entire center each month costs about P160,000 so any additional monetary donation is always welcome. They also now have a debit option, where you can fill up a form and have a specific amount (as low as P100) charged to your credit card every month.

Crumpy was rescued from the highway,very playful and loves belly rubs

You may also opt to give dog and cat food and medicine. More ideas? Most of the cages in the quarantine area use newspaper that is changed three times a day, so supplies can run low and there are also lots of litter boxes to fill, which is done with shaved wood since it is a cheaper and still effective alternative to kitty litter. What you may no longer need at your home, school or office may now be recycled and put to good use.


If you are a true animal lover then you may want to extend a loving “paw” out to PAWS.

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Check out their website http://www.paws.org.ph.

Ronaldo Arnaldo enters the RTW Realm

In Philippine Star Column on June 17, 2011 at 2:21 am

Midnight blue crepe jacket with chartreuse silk cut out sleeves

Every girl needs a good designer, a no-fail fashion-y friend she can run to during any style emergency. If you are trying your best to work on your inner self, then it’s always good to know you have someone to go to when you need to pamper your outer self. I have had the good fortune of coming into contact with several designers who have generously dressed me for the bajillion events that I have to attend (both for work and for pleasure) and it does relieve a lot of the dress-stress. I had the pleasure of meeting Ronaldo Arnaldo when I was in the midst of preparing the production of a big fashion show (100 designers/one venue) about two years ago. I liked his calm, quiet manner and his creation was one of my favorites among the 100 presented; his lines were strong yet feminine (in other words, curve-friendly) and he had an eye for color. Fast forward to a fitting with him and I was amazed: he took my measurements once. The second time I went in for another fitting, the dress was practically perfect, and I took it home the next day after some final touches.

Over the years, I have seen Arnaldo’s star continue to rise with favorable review after favorable review of his collections both on the runway and in editorial spreads. Although he is still a favorite for bespoke creations, he has now decided to expand into the land of retail, with his first collection, “The New Filipiniana,” available at L Manila in Greenbelt 3.

After more than 13 years in the industry, what made him decide to expand? “Ready to wear is the future of fashion,” shares Arnaldo. “I’m not saying couture is dying but nowadays, it is limited to weddings and formal dresses. And I wanted to reach out to a wider audience in retail.”

Taupe cotton knit jacket with moss green silk damask swirls on the bodice

 

Taupe cotton knit jacket with moss green silk damask swirls on the bodice

Arnaldo’s work is known for its wearability and comfort and this remains true for his initial pieces that consist of dresses and tops in neutral shades. “I wanted to do something that was modern and Filipino, using indigenous and organic fabrics such as piña, Philippine dupione, linens and Philippine silks,” remarks the designer. “For this first collection, I’m starting with natural colors of the fabrics such as ecru and beige but in the near future, I will be infusing colors. I’m going to be experimenting with dyes.” Variations from his runway collection will also be available soon, and will have a lot more hues and tones to choose from. The dresses are perfect for a day in the office and, when paired with bright accessories, can make the intelligent shift from work to play. The silhouettes are female-friendly, giving the figure a flattering look, and also allowing the body to move without constriction. Versatility is further exemplified with a Philippine dupione ecru overblouse trimmed with French Alencon lace, perfect for evenings when a touch of elegance is required without going too over-the-top formal. Perfect for people like me who sometimes get the lazy bug when getting ready for a big night out. Think about it: you have something you can throw over a LBD or even a tank and dark jeans, and off you go.

Arnaldo’s background is an interesting one. He actually graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Medical Technolgy but ended up taking a crash course in fashion design at the now-defunct Premiere Fashion Arts Center. For five years, he assisted senior designer Mike de La Rosa and pursued his craft by taking up basic, advanced and couture pattern-making at the Fashion Institute of the Philippines. His interest in fashion, though, came much earlier. “My grandmother was a seamstress and at a very young age. I found myself playing with threads and needles on scrap fabrics with dolls and handicrafts,” he chuckles. Nowadays, Arnaldo looks to international designers such as Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Lacroix, Doori Chung, Alexander Wang, Narciso Rodriguez and Proenza Schouler for inspiration. He also plans further studies in 3D pattern making at the Central St. Martins in London to upgrade his knowledge in cutting and construction.

Philippine dupione ecru overblouse trimmed with French Alencon lace

Having a go-to designer is a godsend, especially when you find one who has figured out your figure, your style and, best of all, is within your budget. It’s also an extra perk if said designer has a line that you can just grab off the rack when you’re in a fashion pinch. To those who like to dress up, dress down or would rather have someone dress them, I wish you all find a fall-back fashion designer. In the meantime, check out what’s on the RTW menu of Ronaldo Arnaldo.

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For more info on Ronaldo Arnaldo, contact tel. 403-0507 / 252-4369

A few moments of complete calm-repost

In Living a Life Off-Center on June 10, 2011 at 5:47 am

Found this and wanted to share with everyone.

The energies of June are turning out to be rather manic and energy filled. I hope this short video helps you find some bliss in order to recharge with grace.:-)

you can see everything on this link http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/a-few-moments-of-complete-calm-video-2491111/

 

A Few Moments of Complete Calm (Video)

by Jessica Ashley, Shine staff

Between the crazy storms and sticky-hot extremes of weather, it feels like we’ve skipped spring altogether. There were barely 48 hours to enjoy the magnolia trees in bloom before high winds and rain washed the delicate pink petals away. The flowers in my neighbors’ yards seem to droop under the weight of the humidity or pause for some sign that it really is the right time to emerge completely. And isn’t this what we wait for all winter, what we negotiate in our heads as we shovel snow and pile on layers of down, wool, and fleece — that it will all be worth it once spring arrives?

Until the weather evens out or we just admit it’s never coming, perhaps these beautiful time-lapse videos will bring you the the same ahhhh it did for me. I love that all of the fragility of a flower opening is captured, helping us appreciate what goes in to one little bud opening to the world. It’s simple, it’s sweet, and I do believe this morning meditation is a wonderful start to the day, no matter what the weather outside the window.

If you are lucky enough to have a perfectly sunshiney spring day where you are, watch anyway. These stunning videos can only make it even better.
See the vids: http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/health/a-few-moments-of-complete-calm-video-2491111/

Have a Happy Hour: The Natasha Goulbourn Foundation launches a new campaign

In Philippine Star Column on June 3, 2011 at 2:46 am

How do you beat the blues? It isn’t uncommon to have your down days, especially with the bipolar weather conditions we’ve been experiencing. We complain of the heat, we blame our mood on the traffic caused by the rain, or we just seem to find excuses to easily put us in a state of looking at the not-too-bright side of things. It’s okay to have your bad moods, your emotional ups and downs, just be aware of them and know that it is up to you to switch your state of mind. What is it that you do or can do to go from sad to happy? This is the core mission of the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation (NGF)’s new campaign called “Be Happy.” I took a look at their Facebook page (facebook.com/MyHappyHour), which encourages everyone to commit to doing something either at a certain hour, or even for an hour to find their bliss. I thought the concept to be delightful, with fans of the page sharing their stories about what they did that day to invest in their “joy.” It reminded me of another website I follow, author Cami Walker’s 29 Days Of Giving (www.29gifts.org), wherein people are encouraged to open their hearts to giving something every day for 29 days. The energy behind these two websites is similar in essence: when you make a conscious effort to take yourself to a better place, then the emotional hiccups we encounter in life became fewer and fewer. Or at least, we find a way to deal with our “life bumps” with more positivity.

Be Happy Hour!

Psychiatrist Dr. Lou Casimiro-Querubin, who was present during the launch, believes the “Be Happy!” initiative can succeed in espousing a “circle of connectedness” at various levels. “First, a connectedness to one’s inner self, which is crucial in being able to help a person identify what he feels and thus be able to do something about it. Second, a connectedness to others, in the context of a universal need of people to feel affirmed and appreciated,” he says, adding that, “To consciously practice moments of random acts of kindness means to reach out on those two trajectories — to the self (which is the inward trajectory) and to others (which is the outward trajectory).”

It’s true, isn’t it? Even if we may not admit it openly, we do want to be needed, we feel better when we know that we “matter” to someone else. In finding ways (during your own “happy hour”) to experience appreciation for what is around you, especially the wonderful individual that you are, you have taken one small, simple step towards lightening your emotional load. Depression can take on many forms, and it can take root from something seemingly trivial, but our personal dramas are relative to us, and it hurts when we’re going through something and someone else scoffs and says it’s “no big deal.”

The NGF Group

Top row: Toni Gregory (NGF), Mely Nicolas (chairperson for Commission of Overseas Filipinos), Jean Goulbourn (president of NGF), Frances Lim (NGF board member) Bottom row: David Drilon, Ambassador Isabel Wilson (chairperson of NGF), Katrina Goulbourn Feist

Jean Goulbourn, founder of NGF explains, “We are trying everything to catch people who may be on the road to depression. NGF has developed partnerships with depression advocacy groups like the Department of Health, UGAT Foundation, In Touch Community Services, Dial a Friend, San Antonio Parish Health Ministry, among others to bring to fruition our mission of reaching out to the general public, the young, especially students at all levels, OFWs in Hong Kong and the families they leave behind and letting them know as much as possible about depression.”

With its “Be Happy!” program the foundation hopes to further reach people so that they can be proactive in bringing happiness to themselves and to others by one very easy means so that depression cannot progress. Having a “happy hour” is essential to keeping each person balanced and healthy in body, mind and spirit.

In my personal experience, I’ve found that regular physical activity is a great way to get one to a happy place. Your body was made to move; sitting for long hours and mulling about what went wrong or what’s not happening will make things fester even more if you just keep focusing on it. Get up and go out, join a gym, a yoga class, learn to run, bike, dance: the options are endless. Already active but sometimes feel, once all the movement stops, that you go back to ruminating on regret? Learn how to meditate, quiet the mind, buy a candle or room scent that ignites happy memories or just add some sweetness to your living or workspace. Want to amp this effort up? Then give something. As stated in the 29 Gifts website it doesn’t have to something material; it can be something as simple as giving your time to someone, a kind word or a (sincere) compliment to a family member, a friend, or a work colleague. It’s time to be kinder to others and especially, kinder to ourselves. Make your own happy hour, share your story and inspire others.

Turning 30 Doesn’t Have to be the End of the World ( a Guest Post)

In Living a Life Off-Center on June 2, 2011 at 3:05 am

My good friend, and creator of the The 30 Before 30 Project, Celine Novenario has been generous enough to do a guest post for me. I hope it helps all of you who are turning the big 3-0, and if you’ve already seen the 3s come and go, this may inspire reflection and motivation for the lifetime that is still left ahead for you. It will be a wonderful one if you allow it! :-)

Turning 30 Doesn’t Have to be the End of the World

by Celine Novenario

For most people, the thought of turning 30 brings about such panic and despair that it might as well be the end of the world. For me, it almost literally was.

The end?

My 30th birthday fell on May 21, 2011, the day designated by infamous evangelist Harold Camping as Judgment Day. To me, it seemed oddly serendipitous that the Rapture fell on the day of my big 3-0. There’s nothing quite like the impending end of the world to make people stop and take stock of their lives. Though I never did believe that the world would come to an end once the clock struck 6, I did find myself thinking at that moment: If it all ended right here and right now, I would be fine with that.

It was amazing to me that I could think that when it wasn’t so long ago that I was drifting through life, aimless after the relationship I had anchored the past three years of my life on disintegrated. When you spend that much time in a serious relationship, you map your life out in terms of where the relationship is going: Should I go to graduate school? If I really want to, I should do it now since we’ll probably get married within the next two years … and if I get pregnant right away, good luck getting any studying done! What should I do this summer? I’d really love to experience summer in Ibiza but we haven’t done summer in his country yet so maybe it’s best to go there and get to know his family and friends more. Wait, is he even free to travel this summer?

I had gotten so accustomed to planning my life around our relationship that our eventual break-up was not just devastating; it also caused me to lose my bearings. What was I supposed to do now?

A horizon of possibilities ahead

Thankfully, I found the beautiful answer to this question relatively quickly: Whatever the hell I want! For once in my life, I wasn’t tied down by my father’s rules or a boyfriend’s plans. So I gave myself permission to be selfish and pursue my heart’s desires, no matter how frivolous or outlandish. I wrote a list of 30 things I wanted to do and slapped on my 30th birthday as a deadline to make it stick.

Coachella cheer!

What followed was an unforgettable 15 months of no-holds-barred living. I pursued and overcame challenges with a single-mindedness I was both surprised and proud to find out I possessed. I spent an entire month on a vegetarian diet and practicing Bikram yoga every single day, which both restored my health and belief that my body still had some tricks up its sleeve. I went from running zero to 26.2 miles in 8 months and accomplished something that seemed impossible years ago when I crossed the finish line of the New York Marathon. I got over my insecurities in the kitchen by successfully banging out a five-course gourmet dinner for my friends. I discovered the fearless adrenaline junkie within when I skydived from a plane at 14,000 feet, bungee-jumped off the Macau Tower, learned how to surf in the waters of Portugal, swam with whalesharks and spelunked for over four hours through the underground caves of Sagada. I got rid of that nagging “Did I miss out?” feeling that hits most people as they approach their 30s with some unapologetic partying: dancing my ass off in Ibiza, whooping it up at Mardi Gras in New Orleans and rocking out in the three-day music festival, Coachella. I learned to be comfortable in my own skin and to celebrate womanhood: I took lessons in burlesque, tried my hand at pole-dancing, and joined the denizens of Ibiza in baring bosoms to the Mediterranean sun.

Believe you can fly....

By the time I blew out those candles brandishing the big 3-0, I didn’t feel an ounce of sadness at bidding my 20s adieu. There were no more what-ifs and would’ve, could’ve, should’ves. If it all had to end that day, it would have been fine because I know I’ve lived.

Life is not a sprint...it's a....

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