Join the Search for Pharmaton’s 2015 Life Changers (Updated!)

Over 99% of all businesses in the Philippines are small and medium-sized enterprises and a great majority of that 99% is micro- or small social enterprises. Social enterprise is a big thing here and we should encourage it. We’ve seen cottage industries spring up for several decades now. Then as more Moms opted to leave the work force and stay home, the community of mompreneurs began to grow.

But one big factor has kept these micro to small social enterprises from really growing and taking off.


This is where Pharmaton seeks to close the yawning gap with its campaign, Life Changers’ Challenge: Success in Numbers.

An online, video-driven, nationwide competition, Life Changers’ Challenge seeks to find exceptional Filipinos whose social enterprise ideas can cause positive change in society. This challenge is open to social entrepreneurs, advocates and other relevant groups of people spearheading high-impact projects. A microsite will open up on May 12, 2015 is already up ( where social entrepreneurs can upload their videos.
Tell your friends and family who may have social enterprise ideas that they can start conceptualizing their videos starting now, even before the microsite opens up.

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See the eco-friendly dandelion light show by artist Olivia d’Aboville at SM Aura

During the Christmas holidays, one of the things families do is enjoy the Christmas lights and decorations all around the metro. Here’s one that you should not miss especially if you are a supporter of protecting the environment.

A young French-Filipino artist, Olivia d’Aboville, who is based in Manila, is a famed textile artist specializing in tapestry and textile structures. Even as a design student in Paris, recycling was already a major component and influence in her work.

The artist behind the Giant Dandelions — Olivia d’Aboville

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Pinoys, let’s promise to #ChangefortheBetter as a nation

In a few weeks, it will be 2015. Another year, another chance to change for the better.

As a citizen advocate, I strongly believe that before we can change a nation, we must start from within ourselves. When each one of us does our part, before we know it, those wonderful values emanate out and manifest within our families, then within barangays, within cities and eventually within the country. This is what the Change for the Better campaign is all about.

Actually, I was curious and googled this campaign to learn more about it and found out that the Change for the Better campaign actually launched way back in 2012. Back then, the campaign was a call to personal change. This time, the campaign is a call to be a nation of citizens changing for the better. From a personal, individualistic focus, the spotlight of the Change for the Better campaign is now on the entire nation and what the true Filipino spirit is.

The Change for the Better campaign is one that believes that small changes put together can create a huge impact on a community (I am reminded of the analogy of the strength of a bundle of sticks that no one can break versus a single stick that can easily be snapped in half). We may not realize it but as a nation, we exhibit some values that oftentimes we may not be aware of because it comes naturally to us, but foreigners notice them and appreciate them. Hopefully, when we become aware that these Filipino values indeed set us apart from the rest of the world, and we practice them regularly, it becomes an integral part of us as a nation.

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Sharp Calculators launches the Search for the Ten Outstanding Young Mathematicians 2015 (TOYM)

Do you know anyone who is a math wizard? Then give them and their school a heads-up to join the recently lauched search for the Top Outstanding Young Mathematicians 2015 (TOYM).

In the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report for 2013-14, the Philippines was ranked 96th out of 142 countries in perceived quality of Math and Science education. While that is a considerable improvement from 115th in a similar report for 2011-12, it is no comfort to know we lag far behind Hongkong (10th), Taiwan (11th), Malaysia (27th), Japan (34th) and even Indonesia  (35th). Singapore, as usual, continues to top this list. We can, and should, do more to inspire more young people to excel in Math and the sciences.
My youngest son loved Math. In fact, for a few years, he participated in the Mathematics Trainers Guild (MTG) Philippines and Mathematics Teachers Association of the Philippines (MTAP) programs. On his second year in high school, the school shifted to Singapore Math. It was a huge leap…and a great one at that, on hindsight.

The importance of Math cannot be overemphasized. Beyond just being a subject that many consider challenging, Math is present in our daily lives. Wherever we turn, whatever we do, there is always an element of Math in life. But for the Philippines to be more competitive in this field, we need to provide an environment that nurtures smart minds and makes them strive for excellence in Math.

Sharp Calculators, through Collins International Trading Corporation, had launched a SHARP Minds program 6 years ago in partnership with MTG and MTAP, to uplift the standard of education, particularly in the teaching of Math subjects.

Mr. Lucero Ong, AVP-Collins International Trading Corp.

This year, Sharp Calculators goes one step further by partnering with several organizations to launch the search for the TOYM in the National Capital Region (NCR): Department of Education-NCR, Department of Science and Technology-Science Education Institute (DOST-SEI), Mathematics Trainers’ Guild Philippines (MTG), Mathematical Society of the Philippines (MSP), and the Philippine Council of Mathematics Educators, Inc. (MathTEd).

What are the mechanics of the nomination?

1. High school students from public and private schools in NCR who have completed at least 2 years of high school can be nominated. They must be Filipino citizens, natural-born or naturalized.
2. The nominee must be among the Top 3 students in Math as certified by the school principal.
3. The award will be based primarily on the nominee’s performace in national and international competitions recognized by the Department of Education or Department of Science and Technology.
4. Presentations or publications of original work in mathematics are desirable.
5. Students who contribute to the promotion of Mathematics and show leadership skills are desirable. Good moral character will be considered.

What criteria will judges use?

The judging criteria is as follows:

What is the screening process?

The Deliberation/Final interview of finalists will be conducted by representatives from DepEd NCR, DOST-SEI, MTG Philippines, MSP and MathTEd.

The deadline for nominations will be on January 5, 2015 with awarding ceremonies scheduled on February 2015. Nomination period is November 3, 2014 to January 10, 2015. Nomination kits are now available at select National Book Store branches in NCR. You can also download these from
The people behind the search pose with emcee Atom Araullo

For me, this is the start of recognizing young math minds and inspire them to achieve even more. I hope that future search tilts will also include a search for underprivileged, but math smart, kids so they can also be recognized and given a chance at a better life. Imagine, we have poor Pinoys who can be somebody someday if given a unique chance, just like this kid I saw featured on TV Patrol and whose video I found on YouTube. Impressive!


San Miguel Great Food Club brings an early Christmas to Mercato Centrale

My friend Kitty invited me to her media event recently at Mercato Centrale. Actually, I went for two purposes. One, I have not seen Kitty in over 3 decades. Second, I wanted to check out what the San Miguel Great Food Club was all about. I was not a member (it shows that I’m no culinary person) but I do love good food. And the theme for this event was “The Flavors of Christmas”. How can you resist such a title????

The event revolved around making the celebration of the Yuletide season as easy as possible, stress-free and yet festive enough.

It all began with Danny Dela Cuesta, a food expert and event stylist, who briefed the audience on different ways of decorating the Christmas table, even using recycled Christmas decor. He gave tips on different topics: the menu, the buffet table, the dining table and food presentation. Danny works as the VP for Food Business Marketing of Contagious Consultancy Group and was schooled in culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine et de Patisserie in London, England under the tutelage of Chef Jean Claude Boucheret.

I could not stay long enough to see the actual demos but I was able to interview the 3 chefs who were part of the program.

Chef Dennis Edillon

Chef Edillon is the Corporate Executive Chef of Urban Chef. He said he was speaking about how to prepare just the right portions for Christmas meals so as to minimize or totally eliminate food wastage or over-preparation. Now this really caught my fancy because I do see that in many Christmas parties, there is either too much or too little food for guests. Here are some tips I picked up from Chef Edillon:
  • When buying meat to prepare a dish, consider that you will be trimming off fat and bones. What remains must be adequate for the dish you want to prepare.
  • People eat 250-300 grams (max of 400-450 grams for bigger appetites) of food per his estimate so this is his general benchmark for estimating portions
  • There are different ways to apportion for appetizers, main dishes and dessert. If you have 3 kinds of viands, portions will be smaller. If you only serve a single main dish, portions should be larger. For cocktails, it depends on time of day or depends if cocktail party takes place of dinner, in which case you serve more for people to feel full. If you serve cocktails before dinner, you can serve smaller portions.
  • When it’s a potluck get-together, ask how many people are bringing food and what they plan to bring so that you don’t end up with too much food or similar food.
  • Stick to your favorites for Noche Buena because you can never go wrong. Kids will always remember the occasion by the food that was served.

Lori Baltazar

Lori is well known in the blogosphere as a very popular food blogger who specializes in desserts. She blogs at Dessert Comes First. She developed 2 desserts for San Miguel: Brownie-in-a-Cookie Cookie (like chocolate chips in a cookie but instead it’s frozen brownie chunks) and Chocnut-Queso de Bola Cheescake in a vanilla wafer biscuit crust.

Chef Ed Quimson

Chef Ed Quimson calls himself a high school dropout who just loves to cook and cook, which is why he says that all his recipes are so easy that a housewife can easily follow them. Chef Ed says he’s not technical at all. For San Miguel, Chef Ed developed his special sauce for the Christmas Ham using Purefoods Fiesta Ham (yay, I have 2 hams here that I can prepare using this recipe!), Roast Jumbo Chicken with Green Grapes and Cranberry Jelly, and Pork Pata with Yellow Lentils (recipes are also in my Yogini Foodie blog).

Guests at the event got to try these goodies as well.

For more delish recipes from San Miguel Great Food Club, register FOR FREE at


Wanna Be a Human OREO and Get Dunked?

If you registered on the OREO site, have you claimed your free OREOs already from 7-Eleven and played their Twist, Lick, Dunk game as well as the OREO Bonding Puzzle games?

The fun does not stop there!

Imagine this. You transform into a human OREO and together with your loved ones who likewise turn in human OREOs, you all take a special leap of faith onto a Velcro wall and literally get dunked.

This special event, which includes other side activities for parents and their children like the OREO Face Painting Booth, OREO Find the Word Game Booth and the OREO Sticky Darts Booth, can be found in several malls beginning August 29.

Bring the entire family and join in the fun, fun, fun! The mall schedules are as follows:

SM Megamall (August 29)
Trinoma (September 12)
Market! Market! (September 26)
Festival Mall (October 3)



The Philippine Beat Takes on the Downy Passion Challenge!

Downy had been my constant companion during my years of living in Pennsylvania as a grad student. Doing the laundry in the school’s laundromat, I’d haul my load of clothes down to the basement where the machines were located, with a Downy bottle sitting right on top of the entire heap.

So imagine my delight to see a basket at home marked “Downy”.

On hindsight though, I should have taken a picture before unboxing that Downy basket but excitement got the better of me. Imagine my surprise when the basket DID NOT HAVE any Downy inside it!

Instead, the contents of the basket revealed 2 towels mysteriously marked “Towel 1” and “Towel 2” (my thought bubble: Now why did they have to label 2 towels that look similar?

The basket also had 3 scented candles in two-toned pink (my favorite color!). These ones I liked! Still, what were these here for?

And why no Downy???

It was only when I opened the PR envelope inside that I realized the purpose of the towels and scented candles. I was being invited to 2 challenges that would test the sensitivity of *drum roll* my nose!

In Challenge 1, I am supposed to tell which towel was sprinkled with perfume and which one was washed with the new Passion by Downy fabric conditioner.

In Challenge 2, I had to decide what additional ingredient (besides Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang and soft musk) was added to Passion by Downy. There were 3 options to choose from: Cinnamon, Rose, or Lavender.

CHALLENGE 1: Guess which towel was washed with Downy Passion

I carefully opened both towels, making sure that I just exposed one side of it so the fragrance won’t easily dissipate. I took deep breaths from both, really trying to make out which one was perfume-y and which was Downy-smelling. Wow, hard to tell! They both smelled nice. I had to reach deep, deep down into the recesses of my memory to recall what freshly washed laundry smelled like and which would be the more probable choice.

My Answer? TOWEL 1 IS THE ONE WASHED WITH DOWNY PASSION. And Towel 2 is the one with perfume.

CHALLENGE 2: Guess the additional ingredient in Downy Passion

I opened up Towel 1 again (which of course was my bet for having been washed with Downy) and took several deep breaths to check it out. Is the additional ingredient Cinnamon? Or Rose? Or could it be Lavender? By process of elimination, cinnamon was the first to be eliminated. Definitely did not smell cinnamon-y, like cinnamon rolls do. So it was a toss-up between Rose and Lavender. I got stuck here for some time. Until I realized that I had an idea what Lavender smelled like. It’s what I often spray on my pillows and sheets before I head for bed. Lavender is known in aromatherapy to induce relaxation, you see. As i continued to take in the scent of towel #1, it didn’t seem to fit my memory of what Lavender should smell like. So by default (and here, I’m crossing my fingers), I say —


Now that I’ve cast my votes on the 2 challenges. I’ll just sit back and really hope that my guesses are spot on. Being a Downy lover, I really would love to win a whole year’s supply of it.

And while this challenge is all about Passion by Downy, they do have another fabric conditioner called Attraction by Downy with its fruity, sweet fragrance of apple blossom, freesia and vanilla.

So there you go, the two new perfume scents in your favorite Downy fabric conditioner.

How do they get the perfume into the conditioner? They use an advanced, touch-activated Perfume Microcapsule (PMC) Technology – the perfume-blended oils are placed in microcapsules which, when rubbed or touched, slowly release more fragrance into the air. As you keep touching your clothes, sheets or just about anything, you actually release more of your favorite fragrance.

Aromatherapy in the wash…neat!


Manila Slows Down Once Again with Pacquiao-Clottey Fight

It’s just a few more minutes to the Pacquiao-Clottey fight at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas and over here in Manila, a Pacquiao Sunday is a sight to behold.

(courtesy of
Pacquiao’s fights are always national events in the Philippines. Everything comes to a standstill. People knock off from work early and head home to watch on their TV sets. Hordes of families and friends meet up in movie theaters, malls, bars, restaurants, schools and just about anywhere where there will be livestreaming. Such livestreaming places have evolved these into income-generating product as bars price a livestreaming ticket with free beer and restaurants package lunch or snacks for their paying patrons.
Personally, I enjoy the free roads. In a place like Metro Manila where every day is a survival race against traffic, seeing a highway almost free of vehicles is a sight to behold. And statistics have shown that crime drops to almost insignificant rates during a Pacquiao fight. It seems that even criminal elements actually stop to watch his fights.
A website, Pacquiao Video, gives the following “tale of the tape:
The whole Philippine nation is rooting for Pacquiao, naturally. In a while, we will all be at the edge of our seats, cheering every punch that lands squarely on Clottey, and wincing at every punch that lands on Manny. And if Pacquiao once again wins this fight, he will be the talk of the town as work resumes tomorrow, Monday. 

Today is International Women’s Day 2010

International Women’s Day (8 March) is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.

In my world, there are many women achievers that I see, some of whom I personally know — women of all ages who are moving in different spheres of influence trying to make this world better for others, women climbing the corporate ladder just as fast as their male counterparts, women making marks in the fields of arts, science, government, industry, medicine and in many more areas.

But today, I want to honor the women who are not as visible to the world as we know it. These are the women in many countries who continue to be discriminated against; abused by their own culture, family and husbands; tortured as political prisoners; forced into heavy labor under abject conditions; and many other women who suffer in silence despite domestic violence for the sake of their children.

I truly feel blessed to be born a free woman — free to grow up under the care of a loving family, free to be educated as much as i wish to, free to choose who I love and marry, free to travel, free to express myself in any form (within reasonable bounds), free to be recognized for my God-given talents in a society that treats men and women equally.

How sad it is to see that even in world that has gone through centuries witnessing slavery, discrimination, abuse and the like, these have not been totally eradicated till now despite the technological and educational advancement that people living in this century have access to.

I fervently hope that it will not be long before women are accorded the dignity, respect and equality that we have a right to as human beings and children of a God that sees all men and women as equals. Equality not in the sense that men and women should have the same roles all the time (as women definitely have roles that are best served by our nurturing nature) but equality in the sense that a woman who chooses to stay home to take care of children should be accorded the same respect as one who chooses to pursue a career. After all, careers have office hours. Full-time mothers work 24/7.

I wish I live to see the day when societies with castes and social classes break these barriers down and afford women the same rights to dignity, education and work as men. I hope that I or my children will be able to witness a world where women are free to be the best they can be as citizens of this world with the same opportunity to make a contribution to mankind.

To all my women family and friends, here’s wishing ourselves a HAPPY INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY!


Pacquiao-Cotto Fight Live Streaming on Sandbox

Pacquiao Sotto on Sandbox

 The Pacquiao-Cotto fight will be streamed LIVE on Sunday, November 15, via Smart’s Sandbox. I will be out of the house around this time so this is good news. I plan to bring my Macbook with me and hopefully, get to follow the games. Am sure those who will be with me will also be excited to watch the games live.

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