Happy 2017!

Here comes the new year and most of us are feasting with food, fireworks, and fascinating resolutions. What do you aim to achieve this 2017? What do you wish to change or improve? How are you going to make it work? How will it be tagged at the end of another year, success or failure?

So many things we wanted to do yet so many uncertainties too. The first day of new year seems to invite that moment of contemplation about life. That “what to do next” thought balloon as I stared the view of BGC from our 18th floor hotel room (staying here so my son can  avoid inhaling the smog of the evening’s traditional firecrackers’ funfare around the Metro).

New Year Contemplation while at Ascot BGC

Have I done the right thing or should it be another way? If the latter, then what’s the other way? To pursue what has been started and just enhance the process or completely begin anew? How do I see my life to happen? I really don’t know exactly but one thing I really hope to push is to maintain such optimism despite the looming negativity around. I aspire to learn more and be inspired by good people. If I am at the right track may perhaps be an eternal question but maybe that exactly makes life interesting.

2016 was not a year-round perfection but it was full of blessings that our family is always thankful about. Battles and challenges are surely part of the route and so are triumphs and wins with many in-between mundane days. We can always try to add spark even in our simplest way than troll nonsense negativity. Find our path while living the moment of the new year. Let’s make it the best!

May we all have a happy and productive 2017!

Dining at Katsuya, Hollywood

Our family was able to relive the blog about seven tips for parents traveling with younger kids as we visited the US about a month ago. It was a spectacular time for us. A lot of theme park adventures (Legoland, Disney Land, Universal Studios) and long drive escapades (from Orange County to Laughlin to Grand Canyon reaching Las Vegas back to Los Angeles) but the highlight of every stopover is food!

Serving size there is so overwhelmingly huge drooling on Popeye’s fried chicken, Panda Express’ lemon chicken, Shake Shack’s hamburger, Joe Shack’s crabs, Ihops’ pancakes, Kona’s grilled steak and a lot more I can only fancy now.

On top of all the meals we’ve had, one completely stood out. If you are a Japanese cuisine lover and is going to the United States any time soon, you must include Katsuya by Starck on your itinerary.

Katsuya Hollywood

Katsuya Hollywood

They have many branches around the City (Hollywood ▪ Brentwood ▪ Glendale ▪ L.A. Live ▪ Las Vegas ▪ South Beach) plus Middle East (Kuwait and Dubai). And perhaps we’ve been into the hottest spot, Hollywood!

Sushi Tray at Katsuya Hollywood

Devouring the sushi (at once! So good that we failed to capture in photo the beautiful whole, untouch shot!)

Our tray of sushi was masterfully crafted by the only lady Sushi Chef at the Resto, KitKat Austria. I so love watching her prepare in precise rhythm and with so much passion.

Sushi Chef Kitktat Austria of Katsuya Hollywood

Sushi Chef KitKat Austria in Action!

Everything is outstandingly delicious but my #1 pick is the Baked Crab Hand Rolls! Imagine a baked snow crab lightly kissed with Chef’s signature sauce, wrapped with rice in soy paper. I can eat it all day and crave for more. As part of your starters, don’t forget to add the Crispy Brussels Sprouts with balsamic soy and toasted almonds!

Katsuya Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts

Katsuya’s Japanese kanji symbol “Katsu” means “victory” or “to win” and it’s fitting considering the loyal following of Hollywood A-listers and Zagat critics the restaurant has won over with its inventive combination of Japanese and Californian cuisine. Exuberant servers welcome you “irashaimase” as you walk in and bid you “arigato gozaimas” as you leave and in between, original creations like the Crispy Rice, Spicy Tuna, Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeño, Miso-Marinated Black Cod and award-winning cocktails like the Burning Mandarin delight your palate.

Featuring the dynamic pairing of Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi and design impresario Philippe Starck, Katsuya by Starck is truly a feast for the senses. With superb talent and exacting precision, it is truly changing the face of Japanese cuisine.

Bandwagon of Reasons

I was about to draft an article about Southie café stores but could not finish it up as I would prefer. There are other ideas on my mind and I have been contemplating about this for a while.

Bandwagon of Reasons - WriteNowNa

Not that I am going to be preachy but I’m sure you’ll agree that this is what’s usually happening now, there are specific practices that we have to cut somehow. (Auliq Ice has an interesting profile as a Writer, Singer, Songwriter, Arranger, Author, Internet Entrepreneur and Investor.)

Simply put, perhaps consider this: let’s try not to join the recurring bandwagon of reasons?

  • When there is no time to keep in touch with friends or we simply don’t want to be in touch with anyone, “I am busy”.
  • When a deadline is not met or a promised agreement is not done, “I overlooked from the pile of messages”.
  • When coming to a meeting becomes a perpetual tardiness, “trap in a heavy traffic”.
  • When discord arises, emotions can’t be controlled, and extreme foul words get in the way, “…but the highest person in position can defy decent language, why can’t I?”.
  • When we have a problem with someone, instead of talking to them directly, we rant on our Facebook post with the thought balloon, “hope he reads this *#$&#*$@!”.

What’s trending or what appears to be the most accepted social behavior nowadays may not reflect our own values—it may affirm or sway our beliefs depending on how strong we hold it. Are we going to just simply follow because it is done by most people? Or has it become the most convenient reason that is automatically accepted without blink, so use it? Maybe we can try to say no and get the habit of not using unnecessary excuses at all. Get real and take a tight grip of that goodness in us.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Is it a Good Read?

(There is no spoiler here)

Harry Potter novel series reminds me of younger years—closing the door, secluding myself for a day, diving into the story while completely detached to everything and enchanted on my own corner. I had never been deeply engaged with other books since the end of Deathly Hallows which was released back in 2007.

My fascination continues, even introducing the world of wizarding world to my son.

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The public distribution of the Cursed Child last July 31, 2016 seems to bring back the excitement  a bit. “A bit” only because I have already put an end to the Harry Potter adventure along Book 7. Hearing that there would be a stage play of Harry Potter 19 years later of his life did not make me frantic. At first, it was announced that there would be no printed version but apparently, they have it now.

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Hubby understanding my Potter passion surprised me with a copy simultaneous to the international selling.

It is in a script format so JK Rowling’s detailed description of what’s really going on is not happening here. Important to note also that she has not entirely written the story as she worked in collaboration with other playwright Jack Thorne.

Finishing the script would only require a couple of hours of devoted reading; the flow is still intriguing but not as compelling as the original novels nailed it. So, lessen the expectations.

The plot lacks the depth, the twist is utterly forced to occur, and the ending has none of that lingering effect we got used to. There are still bits of exciting and interesting portions though (as  strong friendship of unlikely characters tend to bloom).

Is it worth the read? Yes. It won’t hurt to know what happened to Harry Potter and his gang whether we agree with it or not as Potterheads surely have their own conclusions post Voldemort. And who knows, the West End stage might reach the Philippines? Then that would have been another experience worth anticipating for a fan of many years.

7 Tips for Parents Traveling with Younger Kids

Hubby and I personally find it gratifying to travel with our son; we always make sure to bring him on our trips. Traveling opens his mind to various cultures and enhances how he deals with different kinds of people. While it is totally fulfilling to see the world with our children, there are also a lot of challenges too. We have listed some ideas that you can consider on your next trip to lessen the drawbacks.

1.Always bring a medicine kit – Aside from his daily vitamins, try to bring a small bottle of Paracetamol or Ibuprofen,  bring anti-histamine in case of allergy attack, and even small undissolved antibiotics for that “just in case” scenario. Yes, you would be able to find a similar medicine in other countries but when a fever strikes, it is definitely handy to have it available ASAP without stressing out where to find a pharmacy.

Last week we were fortunate to get a free trip to Taiwan together with relatives, thanks to my Father-in-Law! But my son caught a fever on the eve of the departure due to tonsillitis. He was quarantined at the arrival and we were told to go the hospital in Taipei to get a certificate that his fever is not because of dengue or other easy to spread ailment. We immediately went to the Emergency Room, got the certification, and were given tons of medicines. We have consulted our Pedia via Viber and she refused to use most of  the prescriptions. She told us to stick with what she is giving him. Good thing we have brought the “usual” drug as he became fever-free over night.

2. Expect detours – Sure we have already scheduled spending a whole day in Hong Kong’s Lantau Island but then there was a heavy downpour and a 3-hour queuing line to get our turn at the cable car. So, No. What’s next? Make sure to orchestrate an advance plan B. (To my delight, we just decided to explore the nearby Citygate Outlets).

3. Charge his gadgets – Ipad had served as well especially while waiting at the airport and on the plane during his early trips. Now, we are starting put a distance with his use of gadgets as we introduce him to read books or appreciate the idea of simply observing around.

4. You cannot really shop your heart out UNLESS you take turns – One to stay with the kid at the hotel room or nearby play area while the other sneak for a quick shopping.

5. Bring his favorite snacks – My son loves the fried chicken of McDonald’s and got sad when he learned that there was no McDo Fried Chicken in the US. So while we were convincing him that Popeye’s Chicken is a good alternative, we let him munch his local snacks and slowly encourage him to try a new brand.

6. Let go of your whims – While at Osaka, we had sudden plan to go to Nagoya  because Hubby wanted to visit the Toyota Museum. We haven’t been there and not familiar with the place so we hoped to rely on impulse—it would have been a real adventure if it just me and him but we got a kid now; doing research is important to make sure we won’t tire our son with long walks or unfed tummy for hours.

7. Again, conduct a research – It does not need to be an intensive study but just get acquainted with where you are going. Take a glimpse of what the weather will be like, the best way to commute with kids, identify kid-friendly landmarks, and be familiar with nearby places around the hotel.

We are continuously learning and exploring! Every travel leads to gaining knowledge and creating beautiful memories as a family! Where are you going next?

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Moving from Small to Big School (Preschool to Grade 1)

Last week, I was invited by the school of my son to talk in front of the new set of parents on how to ease the transition from small to big school. Not that our family has mastered it but moving to grade one is a milestone and should be made memorable for our kids. Here are six quick tips:

  • Help him prepare emotionally.

Weeks before the start of class, enthusiastically talk to your child about his big new school.  Excite him about the fun of having long walks at the corridor, chances of meeting  new people, seeing a huge field every day, and learning with a lot of other kids (from 12 to about 40 students per classroom)!

  • Listen more.

Expect to hear new characters and events from his stories—nice (and naughty) classmates, reason of unfinished snacks, race mates from the classroom to the drop-off gate. His tone of narration would signal if he is coping well or not; do not resist to keep in touch with the adviser if there are persistent stressful signs.

  • Initiate his independence.

Most small schools would allow parents to be inside the classroom and would let them take a peek of their child while studying even if this means weeks or months of “guarding and staring” at the doorstep. Well, this is a huge no-no in the big school; we can’t even drop by to check if our child is okay during recess! Believe that he can do it with the  support of his teachers.

“Hard to let go” – Picture taken back in 2013 during the first day of pre-school

  • Learn to trust.

Give him the assurance that his teachers are going to be like his Daddy and Mama while in school. But really, the most terrifying part comes from the fact that we will leave our child from people we don’t know (yet) and they will be in charge of our kids daily! Try to soothe your worries and have a peace of mind that our children would be in caring hands.

  • Enjoy the process.

There will be days that it feels like a roller coaster ride—from resisting to follow his new routine to giving brilliant reasons not to study. But just keep it going and have fun with the moment; he won’t be grade one forever.

  • Know that he can.

Because you made him ready for this. There are a lot of options to do home school or perhaps continue with his small school curriculum but here you are, taking the step and preparing for that special day.

  • And last, don’t forget to take his picture on the first day of school!
Ready?

Ready?

Get a Closer Look of Taal with the Bonbon Festival

Summer is nearly ending! How is it going? I’ve been tied with work the past weeks and we have not really been into  #SummerAdventure2016 (the hashtag I’ve been frequently seeing  on my social feed).  So if you are planning to explore a get-away somewhere in the South, check out BonBon Festival.

BonBon-Festival-WriteNowNa-blog1Now on its second year, Bonbon Festival is back to celebrate Arts, Environment and Community in a one of a kind one-day event which will be participated by young professionals, students, different artists in Batangas Province, and invited guests from other places.

Bonbon Festival is the first eco-green festival in the province which aims to support and sustain the environment by using arts and culture as one of the tools for preservation and development.

Where is the Festival?

Sitio Tagbakin, Brgy. Halang Lipa City, Batangas

When?

May 21, 2016 (Sunday) from 6am onwards

What to expect?

  • Gala at Pasyal sa Lawa/ Knowledge Tour

Know the story of the lake region and eruption history of Taal Volcano via boat ride from Sitio Tagbakin, Lipa City to San Nicolas to Volcano Island and back. Enjoy the horse ride and trek with local tour guide and the rest of the team.

  • Mananghalian/Lunch

Savor a sumptuous lunch of Batangas fusion cuisine and local refreshments.

  • Huntahan sa Lawa/ Talkback

Join a series of meaningful talkback and discussions about Art and Environment with interactive community workshops that culminates the afternoon activities.

  • Hapunan/Dinner by the Lake, Art Installations and Performance Art

Experience Batangas Art and Culture through performances. Listen to the old time Kundiman music plus musical performances dedicated to Taal led by independent Batangueno musicians including LAC Music Department. Cocktails are available with a party capping the night with all-out-fun and dancing.

There are two available packages to consider.

BonBon-Festival-PackageA-WriteNowNa-blog

BonBon-Festival-Package-WriteNowNa-blog

Feel like joining now? This is a productive activity and it’s not too late to have our own version of that hot #Summer Adventure2016!

For inquiries and ticket purchase you may contact:

Mr. Carlo Aguila at 043-740-7112 or 09178779144

Blazing the Road with Chevy Trailblazer

Our family was once again given a chance to drive a Chevrolet car. My Husband, JK Austria, being a car-authority-enthusiast himself, was tasked to review Chevrolet Trailblazer 2.8 6AT LTX.

I personally enjoyed the ride and could not find a better way to write the experience so I am sharing hubby’s actual post via his Facebook wall as he is well-articulated with the industry jargons.

writenowna-Chevrolet Trailblazer -reviewI drove a Chevrolet Trailblazer LTX last week, and what a joy driving it. The SUV is powered by a 2.8 litre engine, 4 cylinder, 16 Valve DOHC Duramax engine with a maximum torque of 500 (Nm @ 2,000rpm), yes, the most powerful in its class.

 

The transmission is so responsive, thanks to the 6 speed Automatic transmission with active select. I love the idea that when I tried to overtake, it gave such adrenaline with so much ease!

Trailblazer’s 4×2 diesel SUV is a WOW. It was a surprised how the engine, working hand in hand with the transmission, delivers the power that a driver needs (thanks to the VGT with intercooler). You can traverse from city to the highway with no worries at all. The vehicle is also equipped with HD Dashcam 1080i resolution with tire pressure monitor. Trailblazer can be as stealth as a sniper but as fast as Clint Barter’s arrow at the same time.

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So here is what my fambam says about the Trailblazer.

The Chevrolet Trailblazer gives a car-like comfort that my wife loves. You gotta give credit to the Independent Short Long Arms and 5-link with coil springs front and rear suspensions. She appreciates the Android Infotainment System with Mobile Connect—smartphone inter-connectivity with iOS or Android (yes, we are a geeky family too). Just few press of a button, what you see on the smart mobile phones are on the radio screen. From reading your messages while on stop (safety first guys), and answering your calls hands-free.

writenowna-Chevrolet Trailblazer -review3My 6 year old son who is in charge of entertainment inside the car enjoys the sound system! He also likes the big windows—he can clearly see the outside clutter-free while seated at the back with his booster seats. The center arm rest is also a plus for him because he finds it really easy to get drinks.

In our opinion, this Chevrolet Trailblazer LTX 4×2 fits perfectly given our road condition. It is high to tackle flooded roads, yet comfortable to ride for long haul trips. It is the most spacious third row seat if you ask me.

The only disadvantage for me with this SUV is–I do not own one.

WARNING: DO NOT FLOOR THE FUEL PEDAL. THAT IS WHERE THE FUN STARTS.

Variants and Prices:

  • Trailblazer LTZ SE 4×4 – Php1,788,888
  • Trailblazer LTZ 4X4 – Php1,748,888
  • Trailblazer LTX 4×2 – Php1,588,888
  • Trailblazer LT 4×2 – Php1,488,888
  • Trailblazer L 4×2 – Php1,398,888
  • Trailblazer LTX 2.5 4×2 6MT – Php1,378,888
  • Trailblazer LT 2.5 4×2 6MT – Php1,298,88

Original Post and Photos c/o JK Austria.

The Art of Making Online Enemies and the Philippine Presidential Election

Now that election fever has reached its highest peak in the Philippines with just  23 days before casting our vote, many netizens are voicing their bet  and using their own connection to campaign for their respective candidates. This is a good practice of freedom but it seems a lot of people have gone beyond the boundaries of free speech.

I’ve been opened about my preferred candidate via social media and I stand firm after doing series of my own version of “fact-checking”.  Despite the negative issues and bad publicity, I now understand what happened in Yolanda, MRT, Zamboanga siege, and all the chunks of blame being thrown at him. For me, he is the most capable man for the job and Mar Roxas got my full support. (Okay at this point, some people from the other camp might be saying bad words or cursing me already but STOP! Read some more if you may; I’m not creating a war here and that is so unnecessary).

I can tell you why I will vote for Mar and may encourage you to reconsider BUT I see no reason why opposing sides don’t even listen and are mad as hell at once. If you prefer to stick with your candidate, I truly respect that. I’m sure you have your valid points (but please, I deserve to be respected too regardless of how contrary your belief is to mine).

Sharing our thoughts and properly pushing our chosen candidates are okay; heated arguments may be unavoidable but such conversations should still be kept with courtesy, yes? As they say, we are all entitled to our opinion.  Even in school, we are taught to take pride in owning our voice but to make sure that we are not stepping on the rights of others.

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It is such a pain to read baseless, rude comments on the newsfeed (when in fact the word “rude” is an understatement). Why many are fighting to the core? Why making social media enemies come so natural nowadays by simply belonging to a different side? I have my candidate and you got yours but we all have to agree over a common denominator—we are all Filipinos. There should be a decent acceptance of our respective political views and a confidence to share our thoughts without the worry of being irrationally and viciously treated within the digital sphere (and perhaps beyond online).

I trust that we should be reminded of the following basic behavior:

  • It is not respectful to write bad, insulting, nonsense feedback and degrade the person with a different perspective.
  • When we put ourselves in the world of social media, we should be responsible with what we are writing; disseminating hate and lies must not be a part of the agenda.
  • Google has given us the power of knowledge and perhaps we can use this to validate and conduct our own research to uncover realities. No one is perfect yet no one should be put in the highest position with proven scores of deceit.
  • Use reliable resources to confirm the statement of the Presidentiables. It is so easy to make promises but what’s the concrete plan? How to implement the platform? They are not supposed to merely point-finger, create a scapegoat, play around the bush, make myriads of bad words, or hit random comedic punch lines.

no-to-cyber-bullying-writenowna-blogSo you think your candidate is the right one to lead our country? Okay, I assume that you have done your part learning the truth and is not a blind follower. Giving your full loyalty to a person running in the government does not give you the right to demean others.  Have your “facts” ready when you start rebutting and please, it is futile to have barbaric comments without solid proof while having a one-sided view.

So much hate and division due to politics and again I ask, why? Is it even relevant? We are not even politicians to begin with. We are citizens practicing our right of free speech so why has this become the gateway of making digital enemies?

We should all be united and aim for a better Philippines—this election is an opportunity to achieve that and not about bashing others, planting hatred, uttering curses, cyber bullying and giving endless threats.

The result of the 2016 Election dictates our future and should not be the ground for causeless digital battlefield. Let us begin and continue by respecting our political differences and gear for a peaceful, progressive tomorrow.

Ready for Summer Shopping?

It is an extremely busy week and I look forward to the weekend. What’s your plan? I’ve been reading a lot of Facebook posts about people already planning for the beach and parents starting to scout for summer activities of their kids. Sounds exciting but really, I can’t go that far yet and I am crawling for something to anticipate this particular weekend!

I was hoping to watch Zoolander 2 only to find out that the showing is scheduled on February 24 while Kung Fu Panda 3 is set on March 9 in the Philippines (source: Ayala’s SureSeats), so cinema escape will be due next week.

Then Alas! I got an invitation from a friend to meet up while she is at her bazaar! Now I’m excited for a chat with a girlfriend and to drop by at the 3-day SuperSale this February 19-21 at the World Trade Center Tent, Pasay City from 11am to 9pm. It is the longest running Philippine fashion bazaar series since 2009 and the organizer promises to offer the trendiest items in prep for summer; housing over 100 prominent brands with up to 90% discount. Entrance ticket at Php100.

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Some of the Participating Brands:
– Wear Vintage
– Beyond the Beach
– Tutum
– One Earth Organics
– Spark Cosmeceuticals

Brewfest MNL will also be there, a beer garden that is a sure feast for everyone, with live entertainment, artisan food stalls, and local craft brews.
Make sure to visit the booth of Empress Gorgeous Boutique for the shop’s unbeatable low prices you surely can’t get elsewhere. It offers authentic branded finds at throw-away prices exclusive for this event only. Take a pick of your next Aldo, Kenneth Cole, XoXo, Guess, DKNY, Ann Klein, Nine West, and/or Michael Korrs’ bags, shoes, wallets, and watches.

Girly-chit-chat and shopping… something to really get me through this week’s above-the-head work  load. Can’t wait for the weekend and I mean it!

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Enjoy the drop-down sale at Empress Gorgeous Boutique!