Centennial Mile

Published in Metro Society magazine, November 2011

From its humble beginnings in June 1911 in a small house with only nine De La Salle Christian brothers for teachers and 125 male students, DLSU now has over 15,000 co-ed students and is part of De La Salle Philippines (DLSP), a network of seventeen Lasallian institutions across the Philippines with over 100,000 student enrolled nationwide. During World War II DLSU–Manila provided shelter for wounded soldiers and civilians, and continued to hold classes despite severe damage and repeated bombings.  It was shut down in 1945, and reopened a few months later. The school closed down for a while during Martial Law, but eventually classes resumed and the school welcomed female students in 1973. It is now one of the most well-known universities in the country, and has recently been recognized as one (out of four) of the best Philippine universities in Asia by international organizations. This year marks the Centennial of De La Salle University (DLSU) and to commemorate this milestone, DLSU will be hosting a range of events and activities throughout the year, the first of which started last June.

In order to prepare for their 100th year, the DLSU Centennial Celebration Executive Committee was formed in April 2009. Dean of Student Affairs, Fritzie De Vera, was chair of the Centennial Celebration Committee. The celebration started the morning of June 16, with people coming in as early as 5 am. There was an Eucharistic Mass presided by Cardinal Rosales with Bishop Tagle giving the homily. The Vicar General from Rome was also present and gave a short message before the final blessing. After the mass, President Noynoy gave a message as well. “During the 16th there was a lot of people here – an estimate of over 20, 000 people on campus for the entire day. It was good to see so many people happy to be back and proud to be from De La Salle,” De Vera shared.

The official countdown started at 12 noon, with all the Lasallian institutions celebrating simultaneously. At the main campus there was the Green Mile, when all the students, faculty and visitors went out to Taft Avenue, standing from the South gate to the Andrew Gate while cheering and making jubilant noises. True to its “green” roots, De La Salle has been involved in a reforestation activity for the past few years, with trees planted in different areas all over the Philippines .The ceremonial planting of the 1 millionth tree occurred that afternoon, an activity shared by all the La Salle schools.

Later that afternoon, there was a pre-show where the Lasallian Centennial Dance anthem was performed, with various bands such as Sandwich, Kjwan, and Periodyko featured. The highlight of the celebration was the Centennial Concert, Isang Daang Sangangdaan, where different Lasallian performers (such as Barbie Almalbis, The Dawn, Kitchie Nadal and Gary Valenciano) took the stage. The show was directed by Ruel Santiago, with music by Louie Ocampo.

Aside from the main concert at the Yuchengco Theater, there were pocket events going on simultaneously in different areas of the campus, such as Strings and Stanzas – an acoustic concert and poetry reading event with Richard Poon, and the Animo Street Party. The celebration ended with everyone gathering at the amphitheater at around 9:30 pm to watch the fireworks, a pyro-musical and to sing the Alma Mater song.

The Centennial events and activities will continue until June of next year, with De La Salle students, alumni and supporters having a lot to look forward to. There will be an art exhibit, book launches, a Centennial sculpture competition, a series of lectures on various topics, the 5th World Union of Former La Salle Students (UMAEL), the World Universities Debate Championship, and a Tour of St. La Salle’s Relics around the various Lasallian schools, among others.

A hundred years may not seem like a long time in the course of history, but it is enough to raise up generations of achievers, leaders and performers who have helped shape our culture and country. As said in DLSU’s mission, they are committed to “train leaders, competent professionals, scholars, researchers and entrepreneurs, who will participate actively in improving the quality of life in Philippine society.” As De La Salle celebrates its past and prepares for its future, the promise of another hundred years of shaping minds is something that people can look forward to.

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Defiant Beat

Published in Metro Society magazine, August 2014

Can you hear the sound, she sings, in a voice that soars. The enunciation and clarity of tone is reminiscent of a young Lea Salonga and the vocals are distinctly Filipina, with a delicate lilt that is the singer’s own. We dance to the beat of a different drum, she declares. From the rooftops hear the distant hum. This is the music video for the single “Different Drum” and it shows a woman dressed all in black with kohl-lined eyes, wearing a feathered fascinator and neckpiece inspired by Black Swan and1920s dark glam.

Get ready to meet Cherrie Anderson, fierce frontwoman for London-based electronica band Ooberfuse. They describe their songs as, “audio footprints left behind by people impelled towards invisible things.” Although not as well-known in the Philippines, the band has a sizeable following in London due to their spirited East-meets-West beats and fearlessness in tackling serious themes, from political oppression to sex trafficking. They were named as the most original band in a UK-wide competition out of 10,000 initial entrants, where the final play off was in London’s iconic O2 arena.

If that wasn’t enough, the band packs some serious credentials. Who else can say they opened for Pope Benedict during the World Youth Day 2011 in Spain (playing to a live audience of about 2 million), or that they once performed live in the House of Lords? The band has also toured and headlined concerts in Brazil, Canada, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the Vatican. They have released two albums so far, with their third album in the works.

Cherrie’s musical anointing is in her blood. “My mom loves to sing. She also taught me how to play the piano.  My mother is passionate about all kinds of music, folk pop in particular. In addition to la-la-la-la-ing along to Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Boxer’, I was rocked to sleep as a baby to Freddie Aguilar,” she said. At the age of six, Cherrie began singing and playing the piano in her local church, eventually singing in various churches and other venues in her teens. She amassed a repertoire of songs in her head and aside from folk songs and OPM, is familiar with jazz standards, gospel, R&B and British pop. If she’s in the mood, she might sing something from Oasis or the musical Grease as well.

Despite the early start and obvious talent, Cherrie didn’t set out to become a professional musician; instead, she wanted to become a lawyer. “My dad is a lawyer, so I was always interested in social justice.” She completed an LLM (Law) degree at the London School of Economics and Political Science. It’s one of the most prestigious universities in Europe, and their Law Department is the UK’s number one research institution.

Eventually, Cherrie realized that her interest in social issues and passion for music could be brought together – fused, as it were. When she met her current bandmate Hal St. John, she started writing music. Today, Cherrie, Hal and producer Kinky Roland make up Ooberfuse. True to their name, the band experiments with combining an assortment of musical traditions, melodies, and instruments.

“Music, for me, is one of the more effective ways of highlighting social justice issues. It is not a solitary occupation. Inspiration comes from engaging with others. Meeting people in London who share a common vision about the power of music to lift up those who have fallen down and to heal the hurts of a broken world provided the impetus to write and launch out into the shark-infested waters of the music industry,” Cherrie explained.

One of the challenges she faced when she started out was being a Filipina who was trying to break into the British music industry. “As with any industry, it is natural to want to protect local initiative from outside competition,” she said. “The lovely thing about London though, is that it is such a melting pot of cultures.”

“Initially, it was a challenge working out how my Filipino identity could be blended with other nationalities without compromising or offending either. But we found that it pays to be true to who you are. For example, we sometimes fuse Filipino instruments like the kulintang in our music and to our surprise, British people like it!” Ooberfuse has received support from Ministry of Sound, BBC Radio, Swedish House Mafia, London dance act Faithless and even 80s icon Boy George, who complimented their cover of “Turn 2 Dust”, calling it cool and quirky.

Cherrie shared, “We’ve also partnered with various charities where we use the power of music to give a voice to the voiceless – such as the Sophie Hayes Foundation, the British Pakistani Christian Association, Christian Solidarity Network, Aid to the Church in Need and others.”

This desire to engage their audience on a deeper level and call attention to a diverse number of issues can be heard in tracks such as “Free Asia Bibi” and “Blood Cries Out” on their album Seventh Wave, which both reference the persecution of Christians in Pakistan. “Rescue” is a song from the perspective of a sex trafficking survivor, and the more recent single “March of the Downtrodden” gives voice to victims of sexual abuse. They have also collaborated with North Korea’s only known death camp survivor in the song “Vanish the Night”. The weight of their musical subject matter is balanced by their catchy beats and rhythms.

Such depth and complexity is unusual in the current electronica/techno scene, making Ooberfuse a rebel of sincerity in a sea of synthetic, surface-level lyrics. Their focus is a result of Cherrie’s Filipino values and beliefs. “My faith, which was nurtured in the Philippines, infiltrates all aspects of my life.”

Even though she’s been in different places growing up (aside from Manila, she’s lived in San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur, and London), Cherrie still counts the Philippines as her home, and makes it a point to visit Manila or other parts of the country at least once a year. “I love Christmas in Manila. Filipinos are the best at showing the world how to celebrate Christmas. The tradition of Noche Buena, singing carols, and families coming together make up my favorite childhood memories.” Last year, Ooberfuse did a haunting rendition of “Oh Holy Night” featuring five children who survived Typhoon Yolanda for charity.

One interesting fact about Cherrie is that her palate has remained quite Pinoy, in spite of her travels and years spent abroad. “Whilst most people in London are happy with pasta, bread or potatoes, I have to eat rice once a day. I also love tortang talong, kesong puti, pandesal, ube cake and danggit,” she enumerated. She’s also familiar with some local restaurants. “I like Tapa King, Kimpura and Pancake House.”

Cherrie works tirelessly on developing new material inspired by her faith, current events and whatever topic, theme or issue captures her or her bandmates interest. A typical day for her and the rest of Ooberfuse starts with breakfast in Brixton, South London, where they discuss plans for their new album, music videos or upcoming events. Afterwards, they usually head over to the studio to work on a track for their album.

“We also make time for phone interviews, email interviews and radio shows. At night, if we have a gig somewhere, such as in Camden Town, we do the necessary preparations and soundcheck for a set. After the gig, we have dinner while dissecting how the show went. Then we all go home and do it all over again the next day,” she cheerfully added.

This year has been a busy one for Cherrie. Recently, Ooberfuse was selected to be part of a 20-date tour of UK universities as part of The Coffee House Sessions, curated by Huw Stephens of Radio 1. It’s a fun project that brings students and artists together for live performances on university grounds. Those interested can check out the band’s Facebook page, Soundcloud, Twitter or their official website www.ooberfuse.com.

The band released a couple of new songs earlier this year, and has just released their latest single, “Different Drum”, last July 28 via Peak Flow Records. It’s a bold encouragement to those who choose to declare their difference to the world. “We would like to keep making music that connects with people all around the world. We are currently working on an album which we are looking to release later within the year. It will include a couple of Filipino-inspired tracks.” It’s an album that long-time fans in the UK and other parts of Europe are anticipating, and could be the thing that reaches out to local Filipino audiences looking for something fresh, significant and cross-cultural.

For Cherrie, being a Filipino means acknowledging the greater things. “It means a love for God, family and community. Being Filipino means finding beauty and generosity in humanity.” This is exactly what Cherrie seeks to do with her music, as she challenges listeners to stand up, pay attention and dance to the defiant beat of a different drum.

Richard and Maricar Poon

Published in Hola Magazine Ph, November 2013

There are celebrity couples that are lovely only on-screen, when the lights are on them. Then there are celebrity couples that are lovely in real life, bringing their own light when they walk into a room. Richard and Maricar Poon are the latter. One of the newest showbiz couples have managed to inspire thousands with a love story that reminds people that happily ever after exists – not as a fairy tale, but as a commitment.

Maricar first caught Richard’s eye during her Betty La Fea days as he admits to finding her pretty even then. They officially met in 2009, when she was cast in his music video for “You and I”. The two clicked, but Richard vowed years before that his next girlfriend would be the woman he married. “I used to be a womanizer,” he explained. “So after all the physical stuff, there just comes a day when you want somebody to talk to.” He wanted to be sure that Maricar was the one, so he took a step back. “Di ko sya kinausap – umiwas ako. Finally, I saw her after a year at the Star Magic Ball. My feelings were still the same, so I pursued her.”

“The first time we met, maayos yun conversations namin,” Maricar recalled. “My conversations with him were always meaningful and fruitful. It made me think that this was a guy I could talk to for the rest of my life.”

“He’s very up-front and direct. When we got together as boyfriend-girlfriend, he was already clear na he wouldn’t have a girlfriend without the intention of marriage so by the time nag-propose sya, I knew it was coming. I just didn’t know when or how – the day itself, what the ring looked like, how he proposed – that was the surprise.” Maricar explained.

“By 2012, we were stable. Sa kanya ko na feel yun. She turned out to be my best friend slash crush ko.” Richard said. “My friends and I were planning a big celebration – yun tipong may fireworks and maraming friends. I was 90% down that road, until I talked to Juris sa Sessionistas. She said nun nag-propose sa kanya yun husband nya, sila lang.” He started hearing accounts of intimate proposals, with only the couple at the scene. He realized that Maricar was a very private person, and immediately scrapped his first idea. “One night we were just talking, and I said it. Relaxed lang. I think we’re such good friends kaya walang drama.

Richard and Maricar tied the knot in a private ceremony at the Bellevue Hotel in Alabang last June 9, with close friends and family witnessing their first ever kiss during the wedding itself. It was a testament to how much honor and respect Richard and Maricar had for each other, and the vows they exchanged. “The wedding was surreal, in a way. I knew it was happening, but it only dawned on me sa reception. I remember after the ceremony, we were in the lobby hugging and I thought, ‘We’re married!’” Maricar smiled at the memory.

When asked what it was like now, months after the wedding, Richard said, “It’s relaxed and masaya. We’re not perfect – we’ve already fought a couple of times – pero masayang-masaya ako. Ang daming reasons eh. When I look at her at night and she’s sleeping, kahit tulog sya, crush ko sya. I thank God for not answering my prayers in the past. Ang dami ko kasing prayers na ‘Lord, sana kami na nun taong to’ in the past. Mail ako eh. I’m glad that I ended up with her.”

Asked what she’s learned so far, Maricar shared, “I’ve learned that I support well, and appreciate a strong leader. That makes us a very good combo. Also, I learned that I can’t cook,” she laughed. “Well, I can, but I need to learn more.” While Richard teaches Maricar to cook, she’s influenced him to try biking. “She likes biking and joining triathlons. So I bought a bike. Tuwang-tuwa naman sya.” Richard grinned.

Quality time has always been an issue for showbiz couples, so Richard and Maricar have agreed to not be apart for extended periods of time. “We committed to making sure na hindi kami malalayo physically from each other for long. For example, if I have to stay abroad for long, like a tour, nakikiusap ako sa producer ko kung pwede sya yun +1 ko. We try to stay close but at the same time, pag may trabaho, tangap lang.” Richard said.

“If there are out of town trips longer than a week, dapat magkasama kami.   And when we’re at home, we make it a point na at least one day a week, no work. We just hang out.” Maricar added. As for children, “If they come, welcome naman. In terms of planning though, we want at least a year, kami lang muna.” Maricar said. Richard explained, “I want a year or two with Maricar lang. She’s gone through a lot and deserves to be the center of my attention right now.”

It was Lao Tzu who said that ‘being deeply loved by someone gives your strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.’ These are the traits that both Richard and Maricar exhibit, and it’s refreshing to see newlyweds still in the honeymoon stage rise above the emotional high, their hearts focused and determined as they begin a new chapter together.

“I’m looking forward to changing with him. I’m sure he’ll change and so will I, so I’m looking forward to seeing us adjust and grow. If there are challenges, I want to see how we will overcome them.” Maricar’s eyes shine with excitement. “That’s always interesting.”

In Pursuit of Justice

Published in Metro Society magazine, July 2014

Once Andrey Sawchenko talks about justice for victims of human trafficking, passion and urgency resonate in voice. “It matters for people who are, desperate for rescue today, and survivors who need hope for a new life. We get that for real people – today.”

Sawchenko is National Director of International Justice Mission (IJM), a global organization that protects the poor from violence. The organization is composed of lawyers, investigators, social workers, community activists and other professionals at work in nearly 20 communities in the developing world. They partner with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.

He discovered IJM when he was at the University of Washington, School of Law and part of the Christian Legal Society in 1998. “We had a conference and IJM’S President, Gary Haugen, was one of the presenters.  I was just a law student, but I thought that what Gary was presenting as a possibility was really exciting, and it seemed right to me that when the Bible said that we should seek justice we should actually be doing that in the most practical sense.” After completing law school, he interned in the Manila field office.

After his internship, Sawchenko returned to the US where he practiced law for three years in Seattle. But the desire to pursue the work of justice had seized him, and he returned to IJM. He went to Thailand and led a team dedicated to fighting sex trafficking. After another three years, he found himself back in the Philippines, where the staff now tackles cases of child sexual abuse and the sex trafficking of minors.

There are currently three field offices. The Manila office was established in 2001, and provided IJM’s first ever conviction, that of a rapist who had assaulted a young girl. The Cebu office followed in 2007, where they launched Project Lantern, a study that put to the test the idea that when anti-trafficking laws are enforced by well-trained and equipped police and courts, minors would be better protected from traffickers. External auditors found that the availability of minors for sex decreased by 79% after four years of partnership with local authorities. The latest office, opened in 2012, is in Pampanga.

IJM has been lauded as one of the ten non-profits “making a difference” by U.S. News and World Report. The model that it has developed to combat everyday violence has proven to be so effective that it is recognized by the U.S State Department, the World Economic Forum and leaders around the globe. Its effectiveness lies in its specificity and willingness to engage different sectors of society. “Our work couldn’t be more practical, and the connections with local communities and organizations more necessary. It takes collaboration between all kinds of agencies for just one victim to be rescued, restored, and for justice to be achieved,” he said.

“One of the things we learned over the past few years is that dedicated law enforcement focused on a specific issue, like human trafficking, are more effective.” He emphasized. “We’ve been partnering with the Philippine National Police (PNP) to establish, train and deploy police anti-trafficking units, and these units have been effective in intervening on behalf of trafficking victims in Manila, Cebu and Pampanga. We’re excited to be partnering with the PNP as they look to expand that model into other areas.”

He added that, “When victims are rescued, they’re brought to police stations. Unfortunately, police stations are not the most therapeutic environment for newly rescued victims, so several years ago IJM Cebu partnered with the DSWD to create a special place for victims to go to immediately after being rescued. Now, the DSWD is replicating that model in something they’re calling ‘SafeSpace’ right here in the national capital region. We’re really excited to be able to partner with them for that excellent project, and we believe that it will be a model for various regions here in the Philippines and even other countries around the world.”

Local communities also have a part to play in the fight against human trafficking, which IJM acknowledges and encourages. “One of the best opportunities for people in the community to get involved is to participate in activities leading up to the International Day Against Trafficking on December 12. We will be working very closely with the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking, the Philippine Interfaith Movement Against Human Trafficking and other civil society groups to raise our voices and say that human trafficking is absolutely unacceptable and we won’t stand for it.”

The work Sawchenko is engaged in is serious and intense, but he has his own haven to retreat to: his wife and daughter. They are currently based in Cebu and have embraced the local culture easily. He knows a smattering of words in Bisaya, and without realizing it, has adopted some Pinoy quirks. “When I go back to the US or Canada, I find myself pointing with my lips or raising my eyebrows. Sometimes that kind of stuff can get you in trouble in some places,” he laughed.

He also enjoys Filipino food. “I love lechon. But my other favorite Filipino food is kinilaw. I also like utang bisaya and tinola. It’s delicious. I do not like balut.” He shared. “I love nature. In Cebu, you can go up to the mountains. Sometimes we just go out of town to breathe some fresh air, run around and fly a kite. Or you can go to the ocean and it’s pretty great to be able to ride around in a little boat and jump into the sea to do some snorkeling or diving.”

After seven years in the Philippines, Sawchenko is still ready and willing to continue the fight – this time, against labor trafficking in India. Leaving the country, while exciting, won’t be easy for Sawchenko and his family, especially his daughter (who was born here). “We love living in the Philippines and it’s really been home to us. Everything just fell into place when we came in. The best thing about the Philippines is the Filipinos. That’s an un-artful quote, but it’s true.”

“When you first move aboard, the things that strike you are the differences; how everybody is so different, how people’s perspectives and the way they communicate and understand and even use their eyebrows are so different.” He smiled.

“But after you live abroad longer, you realize that actually, we aren’t so different. The fundamental things about who we are as people are the same, everywhere. We all want enough food to eat. We all want our kids to be okay. We all want to be safe. We all want to be loved. We’re pretty much the same. That’s the thing to remember.”

Supplier Spotlight

Published in Metro Weddings Magazine, 2012

Be it crazy, classy or cool, colorful weddings are always exciting for everyone. Meet three wedding planners who can make colourful wedding dreams come true with flair and style.

Gideon Hermosa: Events Studio

From weddings to corporate occasions, Events Studio has it covered. As the proprietor of this company, Gideon is hands-on and it’s easy to see his passion and vision through the unique touches he adds to the weddings he has handled, like Marc Kenn Fortanilla and Feb Robles’ Moroccan-themed wedding. Bursts of aqua blue and purple brought their day to life. “I added other rich and jewel colors to compliment the motif, such as gold-bronze, orange, fuchsia, ruby red, emerald green, and more. Intricate Arabian patterns were also used. We also added gems, rhinestones, Moroccan lamps, candelabras and stained glass,” Gideon shared.

Being a relatively young wedding planner means that Gideon can take to unusual themes quite readily. For example, Dohdoh and Tetchie De Leon’s Avatar inspired wedding last June 2011. “Since the theme was Avatar, I added some elements from the movie such as huge mushrooms, giant flora, vines, huge leaves, the tree of life, wild flowers, and tiny lights on the backdrop to add some magical effects.” The result was a dramatic meld of the cinematic and ethereal.

Ernest Pascual: Bespoke Manila

Ernest personally crafts themed invitations, give art direction to the florists, and even braves Divisoria to find the best bargains for reception décor. He’s been dubbed The Details Diva, a title given by a satisfied bride. “She had a lot of ideas in her mind but needed someone to pull off everything – consistently, and exquisitely. After her wedding, I think she was so blown away that in her thank you note to me, she addressed me as the Details Diva. She was also part of this online forum and wrote an evaluation/rating of my services, which co-suppliers and clients read and picked up.”

His Detail Diva-ness is readily seen in weddings such as that of Norwelle and Gen, who wanted something ‘Light and Airy’.  Hot air balloons became the focal point for their 2012 wedding, with blue and yellow as the main colors. Graphic elements were consistently used on the invitations, menu cards and napkin rings. Yellow papiermâché numbers were used as table numbers, and Ernest incorporated glittered ribbons, buttons and lace trimmings to decorate the candle holders and place cards.

For Andrew and Abi’s Tagaytay wedding last 2011, he helped illustrate their love affair with wine using lilac and plum, while their tables were named after the various wines they enjoyed. “Escort cards were placed on wine corks. Real grapes were made part of the centerpieces. Bejewelled bracelets acted as napkin holders, and added on the tables were repackaged white chocolate pretzels with the phrase ‘We tied the knot.’” It’s fun and quirky elements like these that illustrate Ernest’s creative and conscientious eye.

Henry Pascual: Event Stylist

Henry is something of a pioneer, having been in the wedding industry for a decade. “When I first started out doing weddings the concept of ‘styling’ was alien to most brides, and I had to slowly introduce how to make a wedding celebration more heartfelt, intimate and memorable by creating an overall mood and feel.” His experience and dedication have helped him establish an excellent reputation, and his clients’ input is encouraged and valued. “I try to collaborate with the couple, make sure their personality comes through and not just the elements I want for them.”

Henry has managed to pull off a Bollywood wedding, complete with dancers. “The colors were in bold jewel tones of ruby, sapphire, emerald, cobalt, teal. We incorporated gold as accent color to make it more ornate and lavish.”One of the dangers with colorful weddings is that they can come across as too bold. Henry’s advice is, “When using colors, you have to have a clear grasp of what you want, otherwise it can come off as tacky and overboard. As in everything, editing is key. Try to have a clear-cut vision of what you like and edit, edit, edit!” He’ll be launching a brand new website soon, which is definitely something to look forward to.

The following Wedding Stylists can be contacted through the following:

Gideon Hermosa: Email guide_on_plz2004@yahoo.com or call 0928 722 3945 for more information.

Ernest Pascual: Check facebook.com/Bespokemanila1 for more details. Email bespokemanila@gmail.com, or call 09175215447 to schedule an appointment. Note: Photos from his weddings were by Mimi and Karl de Leon of Fotogra Weddings.

Henry Pascual: Call 0917 323 7921 or check out his current website, http://henrypascualeventstylist.blogspot.com/

Two Hot to Handle

Published in Metro Magazine, December 2009 – January 2010

Legs slightly apart, she leans towards him. His hand is on her waist, his face serious yet expectant. Her fingers tentatively brush the edges of his jacket. Their faces are less than an inch apart, and they feel each other’s breath.

A scene from a movie? Not quite. Although Kim Chui and Gerald Anderson are working on a new one, this is just a regular photo shoot, on a regular day. Their body movements and expressions are dictated by a photographer, their outfits carefully constructed by a stylist. In a few seconds the risqué pose is broken by teasing side comments from the crew and their bodies relax, laughter and an easy camaraderie replacing the sensual air of the shoot. Witnessing this split-second transformation, as well as their overall shift from teenybopper love team to a more sophisticated and mature pairing was quite interesting. This ‘growing up’ began with their love scene in Tayong Dalawa, and is now established by this very grown up photo shoot for Metro.

The shoot focused on a sexy theme, but it was more about mood than skin. “It’s about texture,” said Pam Quinones, the stylist for the shoot. “For example, lace and leather are sexy.  We did some strategic showing off – a bra strap here, that kind of thing. It’s not outright sexy, but more edgy. Most of the pegs that we looked at were European; a lot of Kate Moss and Johnny Depp in the 90s, that sort of thing.”

On styling Kim and Gerald, she shared, “there’s really no problem with dressing up Kim. She has a model kind of body. The challenge was to show more curves. That being said, we prepared really body fitting outfits, short dresses, revealing tops, stuff like that. For Gerald, he also has a perfect body so it was all about projecting a sexy attitude.” Mark Nicdao, the photographer, made sure that proper lighting was used and the atmosphere was captured. “I talked to Pam and found out that the look would be textured, so I went for the sunlit effect so all the details are going to be there.”

“We didn’t want it to seem too mature.” Pam explained. “We wanted it to be appropriate for their age. They’re young, sexy and fresh.” That pretty much sums up the direction that this much-adored love team is going towards, as they conclude a chapter of their careers with the end of Tayong Dalawa, and start a new one with their upcoming movie next year.

Kim admits being a bit nervous at showing so much skin during the shoot. “Nangangapa pa ako at first, pero ok naman. It wasn’t easy. Pinakita ko nay un legs at cleavage ko. First time to sa photo shoot!” She admits. Despite this, the photographer had much confidence in Kim during the shoot. “She knows how to project and she’s really used to this already.” Mark said. He has photographed her in other shoots, mostly for product endorsements. He comments that this shoot is quite different. “This is another step for her career, and we’re trying to project another image of her – a more grown-up image. She’s very model-esque, that’s why it’s easy to shoot her. She knows how to move and I don’t have to tell her what to do. I also think she’s very fashionable not just in shoots, but in normal life. She looks stylish and put together.” That’s quite true, as she arrived at the studio dressed casually, in jeans and a tunic-like top, yet looked very chic and composed.

Gerald is no stranger to photo shoots that involve a bit of shedding. “Medyo sanay na ako sa maraming skin. May konting hiya pa rin but overall, it’s ok. Masaya naman.” He commented. Mark has worked with him in the past as well. “I’m just going to show him what to do, but the expressions will be coming from him.” Mark said. “He’s a good actor. Whatever instructions I would say in previous shoots, he immediately delivers. He’s probably one of the best young actors in the country now.”

The Nice Boy

Gerald has a friendly and communicative face. His expression shifts from relaxed to thoughtful to serious in seconds. He speaks English fluently, with just a hint of an accent – a slurred vowel here, an emphasized syllable there – it’s indicative of those who have spent a few formative years in the US. But he also switches to a comfortable Taglish frequently. There’s an unassuming intelligence behind his amused eyes and laid back attitude. He’s the type of guy any mother would love for her daughter to date – a good looking, respectful Catholic boy. And it’s not just some showbiz front that he projects. In the midst of Typhoon Ondoy, Gerald was one of those who tried to help out his neighbors during the floods without seeking media coverage for his do-gooding, unlike some other hot (tempered) young actors.

He also isn’t a stranger to disasters and dangerous situations. “I’ve been through an earthquake and a volcano eruption when I was living with my mom in Gen San.” He reveals. “I was about 14. Syempre nakakagulat din yun. Things like that you can’t control. It happens.” On the recent typhoons and flooding, he goes, “With everything I saw, I’m now more aware of climate change. I’m trying to push for awareness of climate change because it’s a big factor regarding what’s going to happen to us in the future.”

We talk about his background, and the transition from Mindanao to Luzon, from province to big city. “Moving to a big city is very different. Gen San is a small city. Manila is so overpopulated. Nakakabigla, and may konting adjustment. People here are different, kase at 10 or 11 pm tulog na ang mga tao sa probinsya. Here, parang after 24 hours di pa rin natutulog.” Most young people who make that leap go wild, but Gerald seems to be pretty grounded. It’s probably because of where he grew up, and his experiences there. When asked how growing up in General Santos City made him different from boys his age who grew up in Metro Manila, he explains that, “Gen San is very exposed to terrorism and violence. One time I was at a mall and there was a bomb. Buti na lang they found the bomb and took it outside where it exploded. Pero naramdaman pa rin namin ng mom ko. After feeling that, after seeing that, you feel like doing something to fight against that. Even before that there were so many bombing incidents. Here in Manila you don’t get that much terrorism. Kawawa din yun mga nasa provinces because it’s also uncontrollable for them. It’s really hard.”

He reflected that, “the youth should be more cautious about the things they do. It’s good to inspire the youth to do better, and be more aware of what’s happening around us.” Hearing this come from someone who has braved floods, grown up with terrorism as a reality and is currently a Red Cross ambassador convinces me that Gerald can walk his talk.

The Chinita Girl

When Kim entered the studio, people greeted her in a courteous, efficient manner. She smiled, and sat still as they fixed her hair, put on her make-up and chose her clothes. When she says hello you wonder if she actually sees you. Her pretty face is distracted, thoughts preoccupied with things only extremely busy, constantly scrutinized 19 year old breadwinners know. Still, she’s polite and manages to laugh and smile a bit while being interviewed.

During the interview we talked about the recent storms that have hit the country. Kim showed empathy for those devastated by the floods. “Yun mawalan ng bahay, na-feel ko din yun eh. Pinalayas kami sa bahay namin dati, when I was in grade 4, due to financial problems.” Kim is stable and successful now, but her early life was not as charmed. Aside from being evicted from her house, her parents separated when she was young and Kim was not able to finish high school. “Dumating sa point na lola ko na yun nagaalaga at nagpapaaral sa amin.” She reveals. “But all those problems made me a stronger person. Ngayon independent ako, di na ako na umaasa sa lola ko. Napapaaral ko na yun mga kapatid ko. Sabi ko nga sa kanila na batang mommy na nila ako.” She smiles. Kim has four siblings, three of which are younger than her. The youngest is in Grade 4, and they all stay with her lola back in Cebu. “Ayaw kase magpaiwan ng lola ko so doon muna lahat sila. Ako lang yun nasa house.”

In Cebu, Kim was an average teenager who went to school from Monday to Friday, worked as a cashier in her aunt’s store on Saturdays and studied at home on Sundays. Now, half the country has seen her blossom from a cute, 16 year old to a trendy young lady whose face can be found on TV screens, print ads and movie theatres. “Naging life-changing para sa akin ang pagiging artista.” Kim admitted. “Nagkapera kami, nabibigay ko yun gusto ng family ko at naging kontento ako with life in showbiz.”

Her family visits her every now and then, but it must get lonely once in a while for Kim. When I ask questions she looks at me with eyes made too wide by eyeliner and false lashes. When she answers she tends to glance away at times, in shyness or hesitancy. Despite the remarkable metamorphosis into a cool, long-legged vixen for the photo shoot, Kim seems too thin and frail in real life. But it’s this air of tired vulnerability, this softness and uncertainty that makes her sexy. No wonder Gerald is sweet on her. By the end of our interview, I felt like giving Kim a pat on the head and stuffing her with donuts.

Showbiz love

There’s always the question of whether or not these two will get together in real life. The whole love team business blurs reality and fantasy, and there was some joking during the shoot. “Kim Anderson!” One of the staff shouted as they were shooting. There were some laughs, but they seemed used to such. “I’m very comfortable with her.” Gerald admitted. “The feelings are there. Pagkatapos ng shows and tapings namin, after every show we do, my feelings get stronger. After all, kasama ko sya everyday for the past 4 years.” Kim, on the other hand, gave the standard line: “Friends lang kami kaya ok lang.” She went on to explain, “naging routine na sa amin na pag may camera, ‘uy, love team tayo’, pag wala ‘uy, normal na tayo’. Nasanay na kami and naging close na kami sa isa’t-isa so hindi mahirap umarte sa TV.”

I went to the studio assuming I’d interview them both at the same time. Perhaps be able to observe the way they related to each other, read their body language, interpret subconscious gestures and the like. But I ended up talking to the “Kimerald” duo separately, which actually proved to be a refreshing experience after constantly seeing them together on TV and in photos. Whatever the state of their friendship and love team (on or off screen), it’s good to remember that Kim and Gerald are two separate people, both hard-working, determined and talented, and capable of more than just producing “kilig” moments at the drop of a hat. And as they leave behind their teenage years, their relationship will inevitably undergo a revolution of sorts as well.

Transformations and Reinvention

Speaking of teenage years, how did it feel like, knowing the whole world was watching them grow up:  braces coming off, womanly parts filling out, voice changing, facial hair appearing. These changes can be difficult for any teen, what more for Kim and Gerald who were 16 and 17 (respectively) when they went into the Pinoy Big Brother house? Both seem to take it in stride. “Ayos lang.” Gerald said. In a way, since they (the fans) see me growing up, mas nakaka-relate sila sa akin. Kilala nila ako. It’s normal. Kahit artista ka o hinde, magbabago ka physically habang tumatanda ka.” Kim recalled the first time she arrived in Manila, “di talaga ako marunong magsalita ng tagalog. Syempre bisaya ako! Sa PBB house medyo balu-baluktot pa yun mga sinasabi ko.” It’s been three years since their stay at the Big Brother house, and after that they worked on a number of movies and series together, the most recent of which was Tayong Dalawa.

Taking on any role, especially long roles such as in a TV show, can change a person. Kim said, “Yun mga ibang traits ng character, nai-imbibe mo na. Parang di mo na maalis sa sarili mo. For example, sa My Girl, outspoken at masiyahin yun character. Dun ko nalabas yun sarili ko so nadala ko yun traits nya. Now, lagi kong nalalabas yun sarili ko pag nasa harap ng camera. Sa Tayong Dalawa medyo emotional yun character so nagiging emotional na rin ako sa mga interviews, at pag may malungkot, nalulungkot na ako kaagad. Yun mga iba kong katrabaho like si Jake, na-imbibe nya rin yun character nya. Kase parang dati ang angas-angas nya eh, pero ngayon hindi na (laughs). Ganun yata talaga.”

Gerald added, “Marami kang makukuha sa role, especially since we were taping for almost a year. Dala-dala ko na yun eh. JR (his character) really loves his family, and can sacrifice himself for his loved ones. He would do anything for them. I played that guy for 10 months and until now it’s still with me at dahil dun, mas napamahal ako sa pamilya ko.” But what about if you had to play a character with a lot of negativity, say a villain or a troubled young man? Do you also absorb their traits? I asked. “Talagang nangyayari din yun minsan, di maiiwasan.” He admitted. “Look at Heath Ledger. After taping you try your best to stay with the people you love para maalala mo ulit kung sino ka talaga, kung ano yun mga qualities mo and hindi ka ma-corrupt. I think that would be the best way, for me. To be with family and friends.”

Gerald is the type who embraces a role whole-heartedly.“I like to re-invent myself per project. You have to be focused. Learn, learn, learn, absorb, absorb absorb.” He emphasized. “Especially from your co-actors, the director, and from people who teach you. Tanggapin mo. Kunin mo lahat yun. Then in the future, gamitin mo.” The same goes for Kim. “Mahal na mahal ko ang trabaho ko and sobrang dedicated ako.” She declared. Depending on the call time, her day usually starts at 7 am and often, she gets home the next day.

Kim is willing to take on difficult roles in the future, even ones where she would play someone disfigured or with a handicap – something completely different from her pretty, fresh-faced roles. “Challenge din naman yun sa akin, tsaka gusto ko yun iba-iba.” She’s even interested in playing quirky roles, such as a mermaid, or a group of triplets. “Wag lang yun masyadong daring,” she adds, careful to not take this ‘sexy’ transformation to the extreme. Kim is still a vanilla nice girl, despite the newly added cinnamon spice to her image.

The end – and the beginning

The conclusion of Tayong Dalawa, one of the most talked about and well-received teleserye in recent years, marks the end of another era in the careers of these young thespians, and has opened up numerous possibilities and directions for them. After all, the series boasted an exceptional cast and has been credited with increasing the PMA’s recruitment ranks by 300%. Kim, Gerald and Jake have been given plaques of appreciation by the AFP. With that kind of recognition and influence at such a young age, their stars keep getting brighter and stronger.

In Hollywood, stars are stripped down to pieces, the minutiae of their lives examined under a microscope of admiration and judgment. In Bollywood, showbiz personalities are treated like demi-gods and near worshipped, their lives always dramatic, colorful and larger than life. What about in the Philippines? Here, we sometimes go from one end to the other, but always the humanity of our stars isn’t forgotten. Heartthrobs like Gerald brave a state of calamity to check on their neighbors, and ingénues like Kim are teenage breadwinners. I suppose in this sense Kim and Gerald are more like planets than stars; two bodies in constant motion, rounded by their own gravity.

How to cook Gising Gising

Published on wikamag.com, 2012

Gising Gising (lit. “Wake up!”) is a simple but fiery dish that literally keeps you awake with a jolt of spiciness. Supposedly, this comes from Bicol, but some people I have met argue that it came from Pampanga. Personally, I think the argument that it is originally Bicolano makes more sense, due to its distinct similarity with the Bicol Express.

Just like the Express, Gising Gising uses coconut milk and pork. However, compared to its more popular cousin, this recipe is easier to cook, and the ingredients are fewer and relatively easier to find, making it a popular pulutan (drinking accompaniment), or a quick-fix dinner for working moms like me. Since getting married, I have been trying my hand at cooking at least once a week, and this is now one of my go-to dishes. If you can get yourself some fresh niyog (grated coconut meat) you can make your own coconut milk at home. Some supermarkets in the Philippines grate coconut meat on the spot for you.

You can make milk from scratch by buying some coconut and grating the meat yourself. Just pour a bit of hot water (or hot cow’s milk) over the niyog (just enough to make it damp), then squeeze it over a strainer, one handful at a time. When you’re done, take the used niyog and repeat the process. You now have gata, or fresh coconut milk. It is said to make the dish creamier, and the milk balances out the spice better than the canned variety (ask any traditional Filipino mom). But if this is not an option where you are, and you can’t readily find niyog, or if don’t have the time to prepare the milk, then canned coconut milk is fine (just don’t tell your mom). 

Ingredients:

  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 medium sized onion (diced)
  • 1/4 kilo ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons bagoong (shrimp paste)
  • 1/4 kilo sigarilyas (wing beans; trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch pcs)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 3 long green chillies (cut into 1/4-inch pcs)

Cooking Time: 10 – 15 minutes Serves: 2 – 3 people Directions:

  1. Sauté the garlic and onion for a few minutes or until onion gets a bit opaque.
  2. Add the ground pork and sauté until brown.
  3. Combine the shrimp paste and mix well.
  4. Add sigarilyas and sauté for a minute before pouring coconut milk into the pot.
  5. Simmer for about 5 minutes and stir occasionally.
  6. Add the green chillies and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the beans are slightly tender.
  7. Optional: Season with pepper and/or garnish with siling labuyo (chilli pepper).

Other variations of the recipe include ginger. If you can’t find wing beans, you can use string beans instead. You can choose to add the chillies before the coconut milk if you want more of a kick. The longer the chillies are cooked, the spicier the dish gets. Serve this with a steaming bowl of rice. Also, it goes well with a cold glass of beer.

Moments of Perfection

Published in Lucerne Luxe magazine, 2010

The important stories are worth telling and retelling, which is why one Swiss luxury watch making company, Baume & Mercier, continues to invent and reinvent timepieces as part of their overall story of creation, excellence and history. This is embodied by their motto, “Accept only perfection. Only manufacture watches of the highest quality.”

A historical beginning  

Everyone has a story to tell. Baume & Mercier’s saga began in the village of Les Bois, in the Swiss Jura Mountains, and spans from the 1830s until today in 2011, across countries and continents. From one generation to the next; from families to friendships.

The Baume family was involved in watch making for years, with brothers Louis Victor and Joseph Celestine Baume at the helm. Joseph made his way to England in 1844 to establish their business and the “Baume Brothers” were born. The venture prospered, and they were the first watch making brand distributed in distant New Zealand and Australia. Eventually, the Baume Brothers made a name for themselves in the British Empire and their watches could be found in all the British colonies, as well as the far East.

Eventually, William Baume, Louis’ grandson, inherited the family business. He met another watchmaker and jeweler, Paul Mercier, in 1912. Six years later Baume & Mercier was born, with its first office in Geneva. Their partnership proved to be successful and in 1921 they were awarded the Geneva Seal; the quality seal of the Geneva School of Horology.

William and Paul both took a step back in the late 1930s, and esteemed jeweler Constantin de Gorski took over management of Baume & Mercier. This resulted in products of Swiss precision with the aesthetic quality of fine jewelry. By 1940 the company became known for its precision chronographs, like the square model with double push-pieces, and tachymetric and telemetric scales.

World War II erupted and with it came numerous upheavals and changes, even in the watch making industry. Marc Beuchat was struggling to get Baume & Mercier back on its feet once the war was over, when he met André Juillerat. He was a member of the Swiss Watchmaking Federation and headed the Datum Watch factory. Together, they relaunched the brand successfully, venturing into the production of ladies’ jewelry watches with a model known as “La Marquise” which was then known as the post-war ladies’ watch.

As the 1950s came in, the company was able to regain ground with their original men’s pieces as well. They started manufacturing their first calendar watches (with date, day and month displays) and more elaborate complications. They focused on men’s watches and ladies’ jewelry watches, eventually establishing themselves as a manufacturer of sporty chronographs. In 1965 they produced one of the world’s thinnest calendar watches, with what would become their new logo – the Greek symbol phi, representing the company’s value of perfection. This is visible is every dial with the word ‘Genève’, to emphasize the brand’s Swiss lineage. In the 1970s this was revised to ‘Genève, 1830’ as a reminder of Baume & Mercier’s tradition and beginnings.

The phi symbol became so popular that it inspired the ‘symbol-watch’ model, which signaled the start of new range of modern lines and pieces. By the late 1960s Ernest Stolz was running the company and the use of quartz in watchmaking resulted in a revolution of technology and design in the 1970s.

The electronically powered Tronosonic model was introduced in 1971. It made use of diapason technology, which was a precursor of quartz. That year also saw the production of antique style pocket watches decorated with the works of Surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico and artist-engraver Giorgio Morandi, as a tribute to Willam Baume the watchmaker and Paul Mercier the jeweler, the men whose vision founded the brand. In 1973, the Riviera, was launched. It eventually became one of the company’s most successful watches.

The Riviera was one of the first steel-crafted sports luxury watches; it was also water-resistant and had an unusual 12 sided bezel. It was known for its acute precision and strength. To prove its durability, it was attached to the wheel of a BMW M1 before the start of 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s oldest sports car endurance race (known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency) that year. Not only did it withstand the pressure of fast acceleration, but it was unaffected by rainfall, extreme heat from overworked disk brakes and the centrifugal force of the wheels. When the watch was checked after the race it was still in perfect working order, without a second lost.

Other notable pieces from the 1970s includes the Galaxie and Mimosa models, which won prizes at the Baden-Baden international Golden Rose jewellery watchmaking competition, and the onyx-dial framed Stardust, with 138 diamonds set into a yellow gold case. In the 1980s the company stopped manufacturing mechanical watches temporarily. Fast forward to twenty years later, and the Cartier group acquired Baume & Mercier as sole owners of the company, breathing new life into the brand. In 2004 a new production building was opened in Les Brenets, Switzerland. The year after, the slogan “Baume & Mercier and Me” was revived, reminding people of how a Baume & Mercier watches is part of its owner’s personal story.

Today, Baume & Mercier is managed by Richemont and is present in 75 countries worldwide, distributed by over 200 retailers. It continues to be one of the great Swiss watch making houses and, just like every good story, is classic and timeless.

The future of the tale

Last year saw Baume & Mercier utilize new media in an effort to distinguish as the premiere brand and trendsetter in Swiss watchmaking. A Facebook page and Twitter account announced their presence on the internet, as did videos in Youtube and DailyMotion. A campaign was launched to entice watchmaking aficionados and fans on Facebook to share their own stories about their Baume & Mercier pieces.

This year Baume & Mercier began a new chapter in their story with the reincarnation of some historical lines. Baume & Mercier emphasizes capturing key moments with precise pieces representing both the past and the future. Each one is engraved with the distinctive phi symbol. Their watches showcase their lifestyle calling – one of serene and elegant living, familial ties and good friendships, with every piece being part of a story that is handed down from one family member to another.

Stylish women will appreciate the delicate Linea model, which encapsulates femininity. It is known for its diamond-set guilloche bezel with Arabic numerals engraved on it, and interchangeable bracelet strap. Originally launched in 1980, this re-imagined piece now comes with an enlarged dome crystal shape, the addition of dates and seconds and riveted indexes. It also uses different materials. The discerning woman can choose between a metal, satin or black calfskin single strap with steel or two-tone dials.

There’s also something for men with Capeland, which was inspired by a 1948 single-push chronograph that was, in turn, inspired by galet pocket watches from the early twentieth century. This piece can be described as both retro and sporty, with the classic 1948 model having cheve crystal and a domed sapphire crystal case back in gold or stainless steel. Upgrades include a two-toned dial, a tachymeter and telemeter scale and flyback chronograph function. Its polished and satined finishes is evocative of seaside living, with its smooth curves reminiscent of stones weathered by the sea. The calfskin strap can be matched with a variety of modern dial colors.

For those who value no-nonsense efficiency, the original Classima automatic piece that came out in 1965 was simple and economical, with a flat shape in white gold. It now comes in self winding mechanical and quartz movements, with Roman numerals on the face increasing its elegant profile. It also features dual time zone and a power reserve for the well-travelled man.

The 2011 highlight is the latest Hampton collection, named after the stylish luxury area in America’s east coast. The word evokes the sea, sand and sky, with discreetly luxurious homes by the dunes – couples strolling by the seaside and children playing by the surf.

The Hampton pieces have been described as the “quintessential couple’s watch”, and was inspired by the original1940 rectangular yellow gold watch design. Its lines are serious yet stylish, exuding confidence and comfort. The ladies’ version has a signature ‘jodhpur’ strap in satin and alligator. Aside from the diamond set into the crown, there are 80 diamonds on the piece and a case back with’ Sundeck décor’, allowing for personalization. The men’s watches have both self-winding and quartz movement versions. One can choose between steel or leather bracelets with an adjustable triple folding buckle. The two-tone hues are both masculine and elegant, and the pieces come in new sizes.

The new collections were exhibited at the recent Fashion Walk in Greenbelt 5 last October 7 – 19. “We are excited to present Baume & Mercier’s latest collection, which embodies our brand’s vision of conviviality and authenticity. I believe that the Philippine market will come to love these new line of watches because Filipinos are known for their refined taste and sophisticated style,” shares the Managing Director of Baume & Mercier’s Northeast Asia division, Christian Bartosch.

“Baume & Mercier is one of the most prestigious watch brands in the world,” states the Managing Director of Lucerne, Emerson Yao. Lucerne is the exclusive Philippine distributor of Baume & Mercier.

Baume & Mercier maintain the standard of perfection established more than a hundred years ago by the original Baum family, as seen with the new collections that are making their way across the world. Each timepiece tells a different story, and is perfect for keeping track of special events and moments that make up a lifetime.

Sports for the Indoors

Published August 2010 on wmn.ph (defunct website)

Rainy days + dark skies + muddy grounds = weather that makes you feel sluggish and a bit blue. But you can shake off those blues and still keep fit with some of these interesting indoor sports that can be enjoyed whatever the climate.

  1. Table Tennis

This sport doesn’t really need an introduction. The classic indoor sport, also known as ping pong, is something that everyone can enjoy, from your younger sister to your grandfather. It’s been called the most popular racket sport in the world, and there’s even an International Table Tennis Federation. It’s easy to learn: all you need is a ball, a partner and a table – you’re good to go!

Table tennis can be found almost anywhere, from the country clubs to the homes of relatives. But if you’re thinking about playing seriously, you might want to check out the Table Tennis Association of the Philippines (TATAP). See their website for more: http://www.tatapx.org/

  1. Futsal

Football fanatics can still enjoy rainy days with futsal, a modification of the original game. It’s fun, safe and cheap. It involves 2 teams made up of 5 players each, with one being the goalkeeper. This game is great for families as it can be played by men, women, adults and kids. Plus, it doesn’t take ages to score (unlike in real football/soccer).

There is no official place to play futsal in the Philippines, but the game can be played on different kinds of surfaces: basketball courts, warehouses, and your own living room (if it’s wide enough). Check the internet for official rules to the game, but feel free to modify it. Gather your family or friends, find a flat surface, and start playing!

  1. Ice Skating

In a tropical country like ours, ice skating is a treat. The feel of gliding on frozen water is something better experienced than described. Ice skating can be enjoyed with your family and/or a partner. But if you just want to spend some time alone cruising along the rink, that’s fine too.

Most SM Malls have ice skating rinks, but one to check out is the ice skating rink at MOA. Aside from offering open skating, they also have formal lessons and birthday packages available.

  1. Yoga

If you’re looking for something quiet and contemplative (yet still fitness-oriented) to do on a rainy afternoon, then yoga is your best bet. Yoga is not just a physical, but mental discipline. You can do it for increased flexibility and overall physical health, and to learn how to meditate.

There are many types of yoga, and almost every gym offers a variation of it. Find out about Bikram yoga here: http://www.wmn.ph/article/135/some-like-it-hot-all-about-bikram-yoga

  1. Badminton

A sport that can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors. It’s fairly accessible, and badminton offers a complete full-body workout. Plus, it doesn’t cost much to play, unlike its sister sport tennis.one variation is speed badminton, which is played without a net.

There are numerous badminton courts across the Philippines, from Bukidnon to Muntinlupa. Check the internet for the closest badminton court near you!

  1. Laser Tag

For those who’ve seen the TV Series ‘How I Met Your Mother’, you know what I’m talking about. Thank Barney Stinson for making this relic of the 70s cool again. Laser tag can be played in numerous ways, but the most common is for players to score points by ‘tagging’ a target (usually another player) with an infrared emitting ‘laser gun’. Players wear infrared-sensitive targets, such as a vest. When the target on the vest is shot, the player is out of the game. Laser tag is less painful and less messy compared to paintball, but just as fun.

Where to play:

Lazer Xtreme (Laser Extreme) Alabang 2nd Floor Cinema Lane, Alabang Town Center (ATC), Muntinlupa City Located Above NorthPark and Tempura Tel. (02) 856 64 67

Website: http://www.lazerxtreme.com.ph/

  1. Krav Maga

A hand to hand combat system that makes use of street fighting techniques, Krav Maga is not exactly a sport, but offers the best that sports can, such physical fitness and mental awareness. Plus, you can learn a set of self-defense skills used by one of the most hardcore military force in the world, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Perfect for women who often go home late, or on their own, especially on rainy nights.

Check out this article for more on where to find official Krav Maga classes and schedules: http://www.wmn.ph/article/705/dare-tokrav-maga

How do you explain the birds and the bees

Published December 2009 on wmn.ph (defunct website)

It’s one of those questions every parent dreads: How do I talk to my kids about sex? There aren’t any easy answers, but we can learn from other moms what approaches to take, and how to prepare for “The Talk”.

(* real names have been changed for privacy)

  1. Prepare your child early on

Jenny, 31, shares: “My daughter Grace is 3 and I haven’t had the sex talk with her yet, but I think you can’t just suddenly talk about sex with your kids when they reach what you think is the “proper” age. You have to be open about these things from the start, so that when the time comes, your child feels comfortable asking you about sex. When I was teaching my daughter how to talk, I would point to her body parts and name them: head, hand, nose – even her private parts! So for her, “vagina” isn’t a dirty word and she’s not embarrassed to use it.”

The “sex talk” shouldn’t be a surprise to you or your child. Instead, you should prepare for it by creating an atmosphere where your child knows they can ask you about anything, and gradually introduce some words or ideas relating to sex (like the names of their private parts) so that when you finally talk about it, s/he won’t find it embarrassing or weird to have the talk.

  1. Take the first step

Just because your child doesn’t ask questions about sex, it doesn’t mean that you’re off the hook. The “talk” can’t be ignored, or put off until your child is in high school (they probably know more about sex than you by that time!) There is no right age for when you can talk to a child about sex, as this depends on his/her mental development and curiosity. When you sense that your child is prepared, then you can have the talk.

Tin has a daughter, Abigail, who is now 15 years old. They first talked about sex when Abigail was 9, because Tin felt she was ready for it. Since then, Abigail has asked questions about other sex-related issues. “Aside from sex, you need to also talk about sex-related things, like masturbation and attraction to others. You have to help your child prepare for adolescence, and the sexual feelings that appear. It’s especially important that girls know about menstruation before it happens, to avoid shock and/or embarrassment.”

  1. Don’t be a TMI mom

Giving too much information (TMI) can be just as bad as giving no information at all. Make sure that the information you share is appropriate for your child’s age and mental development. For example, a child below 10 years old might not understand the act of sex itself, so it would be best to limit your description of sexual intercourse to a very basic one. You can elaborate on the details later on.

  1. Make sure sex isn’t just about “sex”

Emphasize that sex isn’t just about the act, but about relationships and choices. Lisa, 39, has a 10 year old son. “A cousin of mine was molested when she was young. One of the things that really broke my heart was that she didn’t even realize that she was being molested until she was a bit older, and by that time it was too late. The person was gone, and the damage was done. That’s because her parents were super conservative and they never talked about sex or anything related to it. Her experience has taught me and when my son turned 8 years old, I had the sex talk with him. I also told him that if someone touches his private parts, or someone makes him touch his or her private parts, to let Mom or Dad know because those parts are special, and not just anyone can touch them.”

When talking about sex, always put it in context. You can tell your child that it is between two people in a specific, loving relationship with each other – like husband and wife. In the future they can make their own decisions about sex and sexuality, but for now, make sure that no one can take advantage of them by letting them know that sex isn’t a trivial act.