Travel: Rampaging in BEIJING (The Hecticity Tour 2010)

***Title and post courtesy of Eric Cabahug.


The Beijingians, aka Performance Artists from Manila, at the 798 Art District. Photo by Jun.


The Beijingians From Manila, composed of Succulent Vicky, Brilliant Eric, Bubbly Cris, Shrewd Uly, and Lovestruck Perry, has concluded their highly successful “Rampaging in Beijing: The Hecticity Tour 2010”. The supergroup, also known as the Fab Five (F5), touched down at the Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) a little past midnight on Sunday, October 24th, to a very cold and wet welcome. They were promptly taken by limousine to the cozy Zhongan Hotel, conveniently located at the back of the grand Beijing Railway Station, their base for the whirlwind 3-day sojourn in the historic city.

DAY ONE officially started at 7 o’clock in the morning. It was a rainy, hazy, and overall very gloomy start and the group briefly considered making big changes to their itinerary. They stuck to the plan. And after a 2-hour trip by bus and private van they were scaling the heights (via open cable car), and braving the -2 degree cold, at the Mutianyu Great Wall. After a quick lunch of hot and tasty dimsum and hotter and tastier noodles at a nearby town, the group then made their way to the 798 Art District where they spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the various galleries and art installations — and becoming performance artists themselves. Last stop for Day One was the Olympic Park. Dinner of fried chicken, rice and fruits was served at the home of a newfound friend in the outskirts of the city. The F5 were back at their hotel around midnight.


The Beijingians at the famous Great Wall of China. Photo by Jun.


DAY TWO The sun finally came out on the second day of The Hecticity Tour. Thank goodness! Otherwise, it would’ve been a very wet (and presumably inconvenient) trip to Fragrant HIlls and the Summer Palace. Fragrant HIlls is a huge tree-covered nature park about 2 hours away from the city by subway and bus. It offers several trails for trekking, a number of natural and man-made lagoons perfect for picture-taking, a couple of hilltop temples, and lots of places for rest. Aside from Vicky’s unfragarant pitstop in one of the toilets, the group had a pleasant time at the park. The F5 arrived at the Summer Palace around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. That gave them only under two hours to explore the 2.9 square kilometer UNESCO World Heritage Site described as “a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design”. So the group decided to for the best thing to do in the park — climb its highest peak. They weren’t disappointed with the spectacular view. The subway took the Beijingians back to the city for dinner. Tired and feeling sick from the biting cold, Vicky and Uly decided to retire early and headed back to the hotel. Perry went back to the hotel too — a different hotel with a different company (wink-wink). Eric and Cris decided to explore another side of the city for late-night picture-taking. They capped the night with cake and coffee before finally calling it a day.



By the lake at Fragrant Hills. Photo taken by some random stranger.


DAY THREE Final day. F5 has had two full and tiring days of swinging from one end of Beijing to the other. Were they about to slow down and take it easy? Heck to the no. It was forbidden. This was, after all, “Rampaging in Beijing: The Hecticity Tour”. And so the group made an early check out at the hotel (but deposited their bags for safekeeping) so that they could continue their unimpeded rampage through Beijing. Today was the day they went to the grand Forbidden City. Arriving at the gate, the group quickly discovered that the ancient city wasn’t so forbidden after all. But it didn’t matter. Like the Chinese soldiers of old, the group marched on from one massive gate to the next, one palace to the next, one imperial room to the next, and one garden to the next. But the Beijingians didn’t realize just how massive Forbidden City was until they climbed the viewdeck temple at the adjacent Jingsham Park. And everybody’s jaws dropped. The group then made their way by tram to the Wangfujing Street, a famous shopping district, for lunch of the famous Peking Duck courtesy of another newfround friend (read: Perry’s other hotel). And then it was off to the charming Houhai Park for pasalubong shopping. F5 officially left Beijing at 1 o’clock in the morning of Wednesday, October 27th. Very tired and very cold. But very happy. And a little sad that “Rampaging in Beijing: The Hecticity Tour 2010” had come to its end.

Here are some more photos of our ultra hectic tour of Beijing. Enjoy!

Travel: Goin’ Balinese


Sunset view at Kuta Beach


What else can I say about Bali that hasn’t already been said over and over again by people who have visited the island and found themselves lost and completely enamored by it? We flew in from Singapore in themorning and what greeted us was nothing at all like I expected. Yes I’ve read Eat Pray Love; wikipedia’d and Lonely Planet-ed Bali like crazy; and have likewise spoken to people who have been there so you would think I’m already sorta in the know and there’s very little that could surprise or excite me about the trip.

Until our driver Yus (a very affable fellow, that Yus) took us on a quick city tour and I found myself unable to contain my awe as I stared open-mouthed (the look I had on was quite embarrassing actually and I’m glad it didn’t show in any of the photos!) at the temples and resorts we passed by…

From the airport, Yus first took us to a beachside restaurant called Blue Marlin. The restaurant offered a nice view of the beach (name escapes me at the moment) and the huge waves which scared me a little but the surfers obviously loved – but that was all. Food was overpriced and the steamed crab that we ordered didn’t have much meat. An anorexic crab was what I called it after seeing that it barely had anything in it to satisfy our gnawing hunger. Good thing there was vegetables and the soup was at least good. Oh, and just before food was served, an all-male singing group with guitars and a violin, went over to our table and serenaded us with Robbie Williams’ Angels and James Blunt’s You’re Beautiful which I’m hoping they chose because I am both and not because of the tip we gave them. Oh maybe they did choose the songs appropriately because the tip came much much later. Good job, Blue Marlin singers!


Ripcurl Surfing Competition at Padang Padang


Though still a bit famished after our disappointing lunch, we decided to move on with the rest of the tour so we can make it in time for our, ehem, romantic dinner at the villa. Yus drove us to Padang-Padang resort where there’s a Ripcurl surfing competition happening. We only stopped for a few minutes on the bridge where we have a good view of the surfers and onlookers but didn’t really go down to where the real action is. Instead, we took a few photos and admired the view from the top.

From Padang-Padang, we drove up to Uluwatu to check out the temple. For an entrance fee of Rs 3,000 per person, you get an amazing view of the ocean (not sure if it’s the Indian ocean or something else altogether) from the cliff where the temple is actually perched on. Those of us who were wearing short dresses and shorts were asked to wear some very colorful cloth, sarong-style, as a show of respect to the place and the spirits that dwell there.

Now I gotta tell you about the monkeys. They’re all over Uluwatu temple! You’ll see them on tree branches, on the ground, on top of the temple walls – eating, ALWAYS eating! Which I found extremely cute and their carefree ways one might say are enviable – until one of them snatched my shades from my head and ran off with it! For a moment there, those monkeys didn’t seem very cute anymore. Can’t blame them entirely because Yus warned us rather sternly to keep our shades out of sight because the monkeys just love to snatch them and I, of course, didn’t listen. Good news is, I was able to get it back. Rather, one of the locals retrieved it for me for Rs20,000. Which got us into thinking that maybe, just maybe, those little furry fellas are in fact in cahoots with the shades and what-not-retrieving locals and they each get a banana or peanuts for a certain amount of tip. Lol. But those monkeys were really cute and the view from the Uluwatu temple is certainly one for the books – or postcard, at least.

After seeing what must have been a hundred or more monkeys, it was time to go to Heliconia Villa – our very fancy home for the next three days. But not before passing by Kuta beach first…for the sunset view.

Now as you know, I am huge fan of Boracay and its sandy white beaches and Kuta beach is definitely nowhere near Boracay in the powdery sand department. But I still found Kuta to my liking – especially with the hot surfer dudes and chicks on the prowl. And the whole Kuta stretch, I grudgingly admit, is by far more structured and organized than the chaos that has now become of my paradise island Boracay. And the sunset, ohmygaaaad, the sunset! It’s everything that I could ever want in a sunset.  Too bad we didn’t have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine to make the experience more enjoyable.

From Kuta, we finally made our way to Seminyak district where Heliconia Villa is located and what greeted us when we walked into the villa was like a dream – a dream that smelled of flowers and incense and with rose petals strewn all over the place…from the pathway, to the private pool, to the outdoor bar and kitchen and living area, all the way to the bedroom and the bathroom which had an ivory white bathtub in the middle filled with warm water and, what do you know…more red rose petals!

What followed after that was a flurry of pre-wedding, actual wedding and post-wedding activities. Not mine, of course, but the reason why we wound up in Bali in the first place was to attend B’s friends’ wedding. It was my first time to attend a French wedding and it didn’t at all seem any different from the few weddings I’ve attended – except that the officiating priest in Uluwatu, though Catholic, did not go through the elaborate catholic mass ceremony and instead officiated only the exchange of vows and the putting on of the wedding bands. The wedding place itself was like a little slice of heaven perched on the side of the cliff with the great view of the Indian Ocean below. It was so romantic that it’s quite easy to comprehend how and why couples can fall in love all over again just by being there.

After the wedding, the guests were requested to be at the wedding dinner at Villa Mathis which is a good ride from our villa. Food looked amazing but only B had a taste of it as I was still quite full from the late lunch we had. I helped myself to a glass of red wine though which warmed me up a little bit. We were talking to this French couple and their lady friend but I would only be able to pick up a word or two and the rest, well, B would translate for me. They didn’t speak English much you see and my French, of course, is practically non-existent!  But it was fun and the two French ladies, though in their late 30s or early 40s look extremely good and sexy that I couldn’t help but wonder if nature would be just as gentle with me when I get to their age. Fingers crossed.

The following day was our last day and the only time we would ever get to spend alone and away from the milling crowd. We woke up early, had our breakfast, and headed down to the beach. I was already starting to develop painful heat rash all over my body but I was determined to lie on the beach nonetheless. The sun was beating down on the Seminyak beach so hard I was nearly roasted by the time we decided to pack our beach stuff and make our way back to the villa to grab a quick lunch and surrender to the expert hands of the Balinese masseuse for a 2-hour massage and body scrub.

It was one kind pampering I will never forget! The massage was very relaxing and the body scrub, although at times very painful because by this time my skin was already inflamed with heat rash, felt just as heavenly.

Finally, it was time to leave Bali and at that point, I was torn between wanting to stay for a little bit more and going back to my home country which I have missed so much while I was away.  Our Bali trip was beautiful but somehow it felt like a lot of things were missing to complete the experience only because I didn’t get to soak in the island in my own terms. I didn’t get to eat local food; didn’t get to scour the shops and galleries which I would have wanted to do; didn’t get to run around the island as much as I had hoped. Come to think of it, I still have a laundry list of things I want to do next time I’m in Bali. I’m thinking maybe traveling to the island solo would give me an entirely different perspective of Bali and everything it represents. I am definitely going back.

The House of Vanita Dares You To Ditch The Granny Undies!

When it comes to seduction, one cannot simply rely on looks alone. You may be in the running for the world’s prettiest face but if you are often caught wearing the wrong sorts of clothes and shoes and your personality is inversely proportional with your beauty, chances are, you will end up playing sub-roles to someone who may not be as superior in the looks department but knows exactly how to play up her assets – and win stacks of chips for it without even trying.

I know a thing or two about seduction. I may have deliberately used it one time too many to get what I want and yes it has often worked to my advantage. Emphasis on ‘I may have‘. Of course, we’re not talking only about sex here. That seduction can be done only by shedding your clothes is a very common misnomer. Seduction of the mind is just as potent – if not MORE – as seduction of the body. I’m quite modest so I won’t tell you that I have been told countless times that my mind is as sexy as my curves. No, I most certainly won’t tell you that I’m always told such.


Wearing a Vanita corset in lavender shade.


But let’s talk about seduction of the body. If I can give you only one piece of advice on seduction, it would be this – lingerie. It’s the simplest and most effective tool to get your partner’s temperature rise to a boiling point. But don’t think that it’s just for the guy’s visual satisfaction. It’s for us women as well. Wearing the right lingerie makes me look and feel sexy. The world obviously does not need to know I’m wearing corset, thongs, and garters underneath my corporate suit but the fact that I have them on and my skin responds beautifully to the silky feel of the fabric gives me some sort of inner power, which in turn, gives me that mysterious glow that men find irresistible.

There are many types of lingerie to choose from. You can go from mild to sweet and even all the way to the bold and risqué.  Now if you remember last month, I took part in the unprecedented bloggers’ lingerie fashion show for The House of Vanita which generated quite an attention in the social media circle. Now I hate to make you squirm in envy but part of our talent fee was X amount of free lingerie from Vanita and that alone is more than enough gratis for an hour of strutting around insexy intimate apparel.

Now here’s good news for us fine, fierce Filipinas: The House of Vanita is giving you the opportunity to be part of the House of Vanita Club which entails a whole range of perks to make sure you keep fabulously sexy!

How does it work? It’s very simple. If you are interested in purchasing a set of Vanita lingerie, click on this link here to become a Friend of Vanita and get the following benefits:

  • A 50% discount on all succeeding swimsuit or lingerie* purchases after the initial  purchase at registration. The 50% discount shall apply to all subsequent purchases made until November 30, 2010.
  • A 20% discount on all succeeding swimsuit or lingerie purchases made after  November 30, 2010 until June 30, 2011.
  • A 70% discount on all Limited Collection purchases made until November 15, 2010, or  until supply lasts.
  • Special invites to exclusive shows and events from the House of Vanita.
  • Free Boudoir Shoot of a group of at least four Friends of Vanita, subject to scheduling.
  • Free use of Vanita Lounge wifi

*The Arianne, Gioia-A, Luna Bustier, Lilla, Abree and Sylvana styles are not included in this campaign.

Simple, isn’t it? Now don’t keep the sexy secret all to yourself! Spread the word and get your friends to sign up for the House of Vanita Club and join me in my revolution to make this world a very sexy place to live in!

Favorite Item no. 1: BADGER Headache Soother

Lately I’ve been experiencing dizzy spells for no reason. Like last weekend in Banaue when we were going down this long flight of stairs, I had to stop several times and grip the hand rail tightly to keep myself from pitching forward and falling as my head kept going on a mad spin.

However, I haven’t had myself checked yet, as I really don’t think it’s anything serious. It could be attributed to a lot of things – stress from work, lack of sleep, lack of food and water in the system. Those things happen to me a lot because of the nature of my work, compounded with my hyperactive fitness lifestyle. But come to think of it, I haven’t been using my health card lately. I better set an appointment for various tests covered by our HMO – while it’s still free.

So anyway, I’ve been looking for the perfect headache-buster for the infrequent attacks and Noel, bless his heart, would usually pass his Katinko or Tiger Balm for me to apply on my temple, forehead, neck, etc. But he’s not with me all the time so I usually just suffer in silence when he’s not around to share his ache balm. I hate, hate, hate taking painkillers as I flatly refuse to get desensitized to its effect. Let’s just say I’m reserving them for the bigger pains.

This afternoon, just after I went to my Dentist for a dental emergency – I popped a bracket and swallowed the tiny metal thingy of my braces – I passed by Rustans and found this gem of a headache soother called BADGER.

Badger Headache Soother is an organic blend of virgin olive oil, beewax, peppermint, and lavender. This blend is cocktailed into a balm that you can rub onto your neck, temples, and pulse points.  The balm is cooling due to the peppermint which also happens to be the dominant note so as you breath in you’ll get a cool, fresh burst of peppermint. The lavender in the blend breaks the peppermint down a fair bit and gives off the scent of a cooling, herbal blend which relaxes and soothes headaches in a flash.

On my ride back to the office, I began rubbing the balm on my temple and neck with my eyes closed and I experienced almost instant relief from my headache! It’s like magic! With my new discovery, I have one more compelling reason to stay away from Aspirin for mild headaches.  Badger Headache Soother Balm performs just as good, if not better, and is a whole lot healthier because it is organic.


BADGER is so cool and soothing I keep rubbing it on my temple and neck while toiling away in front of my laptop.


If you experience stress headaches, eye strain headaches, or just a regular old headache here and there, I highly recommend trying out a tin of Badger Balm Headache Soother to relieve and refresh you! For a price of Php 395, you can’t get a better deal than Badger.

Vicky loves Badger, yes she does!

Travel: Boracay, Our Island Paradise

Photo taken by Eric Cabahug.

Reposted from here.

2009 was the year when my life – what with all the drama, the joys and the many wondrous discoveries – has evolved into an uncanny moment of clarity and vision. I’ve turned a ripe age of 30 and with it came the steely resolve to shed immaturity and recklessness, in favor of more becoming traits. Of course, these beautiful experiences, these realizations, would not have come into fruition, if it weren’t for all of you beautiful people who have touched my life by way of friendship or reproach.  Either way, I am thankful I have all of you in my life and know that you are welcome to stay for as long as you want. That I wish for a better 2010 for all of us goes without saying. So, how about we make a conscious effort to actually make 2010 a rockin’ year? Let this year be the year when we crawl out of the boulder we’ve been hiding under for many years. Halika na at magpaganda at magpa-sexy tayong lahat dahil balita ko sa 2010 ay lilipulin at parurusahan ang mga hindi kagandahan (isama na rin natin ang mga nagmamaganda lang). hahaha. Happy new year beautiful people! Spread the love and stop obsessing about affection ROIs. Ika nga sa kolokyal na pananalita, keri lang yan, friend!

Say it with me in the true tiger fashion — grrrrr!


So, you know I was in the paradise island of Boracay for New Year’s. Left Manila on the 30th, after a very nice send-off might I add, and stayed in Fairways and Bluewater courtesy of our darling friends (thank you sooo much!) until the 2nd of January. Unlike last year, when the sky all but turned sunny for four days and my friends and I all came down with fever, this particular beach adventure was perfection! Well, nearly-perfect at least for me, because there was someone missing in the picture. All in all, I had a great time in Boracay. Got myself a nice golden tan (nevermind that I also got heat rashes in the process, hahaha), was able to run up and down the hilly slopes of Fairways, learned some basic yoga moves from Clyde (you gotta teach me that headstand thingy!), and best of all, got to show off the body I’ve worked hard for for a month at least. Hello naman daw sa abs na slight lumalabas na.


I know only of a few people who can make this claim with such bravado and I’m one of them – I love my job. I don’t get paid ridiculously high amount of money but I get to travel to exotic places many people only see in world maps or read about on Blue Planet. Each country I visit offers something different and memorable that I feel it’s unfair to favor one over the other. And as much as I want to remain non-discriminatory, I cannot help but make an exception as some countries undeniably stand out. And among those that I have visited,  Turkey sure takes the cake.

Last March, I was sent to Istanbul on a three-day work assignment. Though my short-lived stay left me with so little a time spent on sightseeing, I feel I have seen, breathed-in, and tasted enough of its natural environs and uniquely beautiful topography to consider Istanbul as an earthly heaven.



With its unique position as a crossing between Asia and Europe, Istanbul is regarded as one of the most important cities in the world and a junction of trade because of the Bosphorus Strait. Four years ago, when I first traveled to Turkey, but in Ankara, I did not have as many beautiful recollections as I now have of Istanbul except for a fire drill that was staged at the Hilton Ankara in the dead of the night which saw some of us rushing out of the room in bathrobe and  very little else.

I took the 4:50PM flight from Manila to Kuala Lumpur where I will have a layover of nearly five hours before catching the next flight to Istanbul. I had my copy of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment with me so the long wait did not at all seem unbearable – especially after i got a call all the way from Bahrain telling me that my Fernando Alonso Ferrari shirt and an autographed F1 Bahrain GP plate number are on their way to my office address!

Day One. Temperature was at 6 degrees when we landed in Ataturk International Airport at six in the morning and  in just a few minutes after touchdown, my teeth were chattering and my fingers and toes were turning blue. Yet again, i have underestimated the cold temperature thinking that my sheer maxi dress and open-toed gladiator sandals would provide ample insulation from the biting cold. To make matters worse, my colleague and I couldn’t find each other as I happened to be standing on a different platform from where he initially directed me to. Finally, I saw Kourosh waving at me from the other side of the building and running toward me to help me with my bags. I was so grateful for the warm temperature inside the cab because I was literally close to catching hypothermia. Seriously. I am so used to tropical weather that anything below 19 degrees is already life-threatening for me. A few minutes later, we were in front of SURMELI Hotel, where we will be staying for the next 5 days.

My first day in Istanbul was uneventful, at least on the tourism front, as I was busy attending meetings one after the other. I did, however, get my first taste of this delicious hot beverage called salep. A typical Turkish drink, salep is a mixture of a special powder called salep and milk. The powder of salep is made with a mixture of different spices, and its flavor is unique.Before serving they spread cinnamon over it making the drink more attractive. salep is hot creamy drink, drank in coffee shops and tea gardens in winter all around Turkey. Usually it is drank alone but it also goes well with pies.

Day Two. If New York has Chinatown and Little Italy, then Istanbul has “French Street” or Cezayir Sokak, a completely renovated street lined with tented buildings, street musicians, cafés, bars and art centers.

Cezayir Sokak has a covered area of 9,000 square meters and a capacity of 3000 people together with the open-air areas. The heaters on the streets allow the open areas to be used even on cold days.

The French Area

The French Street

When we were at Chez Vous, one of those quaint little cafés along Cezayir Sokak, power went out for half an hour but it did not lessen the pulsating vibe of the place. Candles were lit, giving the street a more dramatic look, and animated conversations among customers went on as usual.

Chez Vous-Istanbul-VickyRas-VSCOcam

When the lights came back on, my friend Kourosh and I walked back to Taksim Square where he took me to this quaint Turkish Pub for some Turkish music and light beer. As you know, I have long since turned my back on the bottle of bitter and those nasty cigarettes, but on that night, I thought, why not? I had one bottle of their local beer Efes and thought it was fine. It helped warm me up a little bit but I didn’t ask for another bottle anymore as I still am determined to stay alcohol and nicotine-free for the rest of my life.

Taksim Square-Istanbul-VickyRas-VSCOcam

The singing duo who performed that night had a pretty good repertoire. They sang a mix of English, Turkish and Iranian songs. The English songs I know, of course, but even when I don’t understand a single word of the Turkish and Iranian songs, I was nonetheless touched by the beautiful rhythm and melody.

Day Three. No matter how often we’re told that all good things must – and they always do – come to an end, doesn’t make it any less painful when you are actually confronted with the finite. That’s how it felt like for me when I had to pack my bags and make my way back to the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul to catch my 3PM flight, first to Kuala Lumpur and then back to Manila.

Once we were done with work, we tired to do as much sightseeing as we can possibly fit into my final 12 hours in Istanbul. Like an overzealous tourist, I had my camera with me the whole time and stopping every few meters to snap photos of just about anything. Here are some of the places I have seen and instantly favorited. The photographs may not be much to look at, but I hope you guys will like the places captured in the photos as much as I have.

  • Taksim Square. Taksim Square, considered as the heart of Modern Istanbul, is a major shopping, tourist and leisure district famed for its restaurants, shops and hotels. We first visited Taksim Square the previous night and it was extraordinary. But Taksim during the day is just as enchanting, all the more because you can see the people’s gorgeous faces in broad daylight.
  • The Grand Bazaar. This huge bazaar was built in the 15th century right in the heart of Istanbul’s historical centre. Its streets lie beneath high domes and this is where you can find thousands of authentic items from jewelery, fabric, mirrors, fur caps, high quality ceramics, leather goods and various forms of handicrafts.

The Grand Bazaar-Istanbul-VickyRas-VSCOcam

  • Dolmabahce Palace. Dolmabahce was the Ottoman imperial palace during the 19th century. This is also where Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the most-loved founder of the Republic of Turkey, resided during his last days until his death in 1938. Dolmabahce Palace is one of the most imposing and beautiful architectural pieces located along the Bosphorus.

Dolmabahce Palace-Istanbul-VickyRas-VSCOcam

Fast facts about Dolmabahce:

  • The Palace boasts of a collection of clocks fashioned in the 18th and 19th century including French clocks gilded in gold, elegant British clocks and also those made by Turkish craftsmen.
  • The Dolmabahce Palace has influences of French Baroque, German Rococo, English Neo-classical, and Italian Renaissance styles. It has three floors and a symmetrical plan.
  • It has 285 rooms and 43 halls.
  • The 36-meter high ceilings of the ballroom make it the highest palace ballroom in the world.
  • The biggest crystal chandelier in the palace is made of pure English crystals and weighs an astounding 4.5 tons and illuminated with 750 lights.

Fitness: Be On Top Of Your Game, Gear Up!

All across the sporting world, training sessions are at a fever pitch: NBA superstars are gearing up for the 2010 season, elite runners are preparing for the New York City marathon, UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar is hitting the bags for a championship match, and our very own Manny Pacquiao is hard at work for his next big fight.

These super athletes have become today’s archetypes of total fitness, inspiring sports and fitness buffs to pursue training and exercise regimens to raise their own level of game. And the more demanding training goals are, the more important it is to have the right training equipment.

Sporting goods expert Chris Sports is well aware of these needs, as it delivers top-flight fitness tools for both beginners and seasoned athletes, from the most basic to the most cutting-edge sports and fitness gear. Whatever your sport, whatever your fitness thrills, Chris Sports has a wide array of top equipment at hand:

Hi-tech home fitness

Whether you’re a serious athlete or just looking to shed a few pounds, cardiovascular exercise is a must—it leads to better fitness and endurance, and is a great way to burn calories. Treadmills and ellipticals have long been the preferred cardio tool for many, as they allow users to exercise in the comfort of their homes. For those looking for the best home fitness equipment in the market today, Chris Sports offers the renowned NordicTrack treadmills and Pro-Form ellipticals.

Nordictrack X5i

The NordicTrack X5 Incline trainer features a heavy-duty (300 lbs. capacity) frame that houses modern training features such as 0-40% 1-Touch Incline and 0 to -3% 1-Touch Decline for varying workouts, a patented CardioGrip heart monitor, a Scrolling CrossTrainer Display, and even a special music port for your iPod. The X5’s excellent programmable workouts and its fully dynamic incline allow the user to burn five times more calories, even by walking. Previously priced at P129,000, the X5 now retails for only P105,995, with deferred payments for 12 months at 0% interest.

The Pro-Form ZE3 features a large LCD display, varying digital resistance training, four preset workouts and eight weight loss workouts, an EKG Grip Pulse, 250 lbs user capacity, and iPod compatible audio with built-in speakers. The ZE3 retails for P19,995, with 12 month payments at 0% interest.

“Through the NordicTrack X5 and the Pro-Form ZE3, Chris Sports provides the very best in modern home fitness for people ranging from serious enthusiasts to beginners,” remarked Gilbert Tang, Managing Director of Chris Sports. “Cardio training is an absolute must in any fitness regimen. And the user-friendly and customizable settings of these machines are perfect for people who want to lose weight, or have been advised by their doctors to have a healthier, more active lifestyle, as part of their fitness goals.”

Hard-hitting gear for boxing, taekwondo, MMA

If punches and kicks are your thing, Chris Sports offers high quality hand wraps, MMA and boxing gloves, mouthpieces and shin guards, and punching/kicking bags in various sizes and price points. Among the must-have gears are the Taekwondo brand Kix, and boxing and MMA brand BULLS, which is also the official equipment brand of the URCC (Universal Reality Combat Challenge).

Serving an ace with the best brands

Among Chris Sports’ most frequent patrons are tennis and badminton enthusiasts, as the store offers top rackets, balls, shuttlecocks and accessories from leading brands Babolat, Dunlop, Head, Prince, Slazenger, Wilson, and Yonex.  The store’s tennis and badminton offerings go beyond high quality products, as Chris Sports also offers Stringway and Babolat precision stringing services for players.

Exploring the outdoors with Deuter and Tribu

The very nature of outdoor sports such as hiking and biking requires only the best equipment to ensure maximum safety and performance. For adventure seekers, Chris Sports can enjoy superior outdoor gear from Deuter, including durable and lightweight backpacks for hiking, travelling and biking, heavy duty trekking accessories, and outdoor sleeping bags. For a comfy and enjoyable hike, Chris Sports recommends the high quality, non-slip outdoor sandals of Tribu, a popular brand among adventure lovers.

Going for a swim with Mares and Zoggs

Whether it’s for recreation or for competition, swimming and snorkeling enthusiasts will up their game with hi-level equipment from Zoggs and Mares. Zoggs offers innovative goggles, swimwear, swim caps, as well as various training aids such as fins, paddles and kickboards. Mares is the brand of choice for snorkeling buffs, with its exciting line of masks, snorkels, diving wear, and accessories.

Diverse range of sports

Chris Sports’ impressive line of sports gear spans a wide range of disciplines and recreational activities, ensuring that no athlete or sports buff would be left out in their equipment needs. Included in Chris Sports’ collection are quality products for darts, extreme sports, billiards, squash, fishing, table tennis, aerobics, weight training, sports nutrition, and the Team 8 performance apparel for running, cycling and triathlon.

Travel: My Picture-perfect Pagbilao Adventure

Reposted from here.

When you think of a coal-fired power plant, few ideas immediately come to mind – thick black smoke, sulphur and  ash emission, burning coal, all of which are deemed detrimental to the environment. That’s what I thought, at first, until  my friend Noel and I, along with other  invited colleagues from the media had a chance to spend one weekend in Pagbilao Power Station at Isla Grande in Quezon, owned and operated by TeaM Energy Philippines

Combine a beautiful coastline ideal for leisure swimming and snorkeling , a bird sanctuary which hosts the yearly migration of some threatened bird species, a mangrove forest recognized as the world’s second most bio-diverse next only to Ghana, local organic vegetable produce within the power plant, a laid-back unhurried pace of a rural community yet boasting of a dynamic dining culture , and you have a tough act to beat.

  • Bird watching. I was up before sunrise in anticipation of our first activity, bird watching. We were told that the biggest number of ducks sighted in the bird sanctuary located right inside the power plant was 1,700, ninety percent of which were the famous Philippine ducks. Armed with a pair of binoculars, my moleskine mini-notepad, and uncontainable curiosity, I joined my newfound friends and we quietly made our way to the birdwatching area. Soon enough, we were rewarded by the charming sight of Chinese egrets and Philippine ducks flying around before gracefully landing on the calm waters. A few of them we found perched on rocks protruding from the water surface, standing high and mighty on their webbed feet, inviting us to marvel some more at their extraordinary beauty. It was my first time to do birdwatching and I could not have asked for a better companion than one of our hosts,  Ricky, who is a member of the biggest birdwatchers group in the country. He had with him a copy of the bird book which I would constantly refer to each time he would name a specie that sounded all too-strange to my ears.
  • Mangrove trekking. Mangroves are said to live life on the edge. These botanical amphibians have one one foot on land and one in the sea, occupying  a zone of desiccating heat, choking mud, and salt levels that would kill an ordinary plant within hours. Yet  they are among the most productive and biologically complex ecosystems on Earth. And I consider myself very lucky indeed to have been given a chance to visit the Pagbilao Mangrove Experimental Forest which covers 150 hectares. It was an extremely humid day and I could feel beads of sweat running down my neck and exposed back, but the lush green canopy of the mangrove shielded us from getting roasted some more as we ambled along the 800-meter boardwalk constructed right in the middle of the thick forest. At the end of which, stands a wooden construction where you could go three floors up and have a 360-degree view of the thick foliage of mangroves. From up there you could see birds roosting in the canopy and some shellfish clinging to the tree roots. I kept asking about snakes and crocodiles which are known to lurk around mangrove forests to hunt for food but we didn’t see any. Although they told me that snakes are pretty common in the area but so far, there have not been any crocodile sightings reported. Not that I particularly relish some face-to-face time with them because truth be told, reptiles terrify the bejesus out of me.
  • Snorkeling. I have the greatest fear of the open water  which explains why I never learned how to swim. So when I was told that we will go snorkeling after our scrumptious lunch at Bayview, I got a bit worried for two reasons: (1)  possible drowning within a few seconds of jumping into the blue water because of my non-existent swimming skills, and (2) looking like a pot-bellied she-male in my swimsuit because of the amount of carb-rich food I consumed just minutes before.  Everyone was quick to reassure me that I will not come to any harm because I will be wearing a life vest (You know of any other 30 year-old woman who goes snorkeling in a vest? I rest my case. Embarrassing, am I not?) and the rest will be swimming close by just in case something goes wrong.  Like a little girl let loose in Barbie-land, I hurriedly changed into my swimsuit, lathered a thick layer of sunscreen on my body, put on my life vest and snorkeling mask, and uttered a silent prayer for safety just before I dove into the deep water of Lukang beach.  Another one of our hosts from TeaM Energy,  Greggy, provided tips on proper breathing through the snorkel, which enabled me to enjoy the many colourful sights underwater.  It was just like watching marine life blossom inside a gigantic aquarium – except this time, I was part of the action! I swam around for a few minutes admiring the school of fish passing by the coral reef but at the same time getting equally-frustrated that I couldn’t get any closer because I was just floating on the surface, when I realized that I have ventured a bit far out from where our yacht was anchored and I panicked a little! I was, however, determined to enjoy a few more summers lounging by the beach and sipping a glass  of frozen margarita at sundown, so I swam steadily until I reached the yacht and clambered up the ladder to safety.
  • Lukang Beach. We then transferred to a smaller boat which ferried us to the shores of the isolated Lukang beach where I got to flail my arms and legs around in an extremely awkward attempt to swim. I swear I will learn how to swim properly this year – and then I can train to become a full-fledged trialthlete! But never mind, at least I was able to indulge the sunworshipper in me and do a bit of sunbathing to enhance my bronzed skintone some more. Just when we thought the adventure was nearly over, something quite interesting happened.  Ricky had a minor jellyfish incident and one of our friends had to do something drastic but very much scientifically-endorsed, to ease the swelling and pain. I won’t tell you exactly what it is but you are most welcome to make a guess. Or you can buy me dinner at a nice restaurant and we can go over the details there.
  • Sunset view. It was nearly sunset and our boat didn’t arrive on schedule so we had to do a little trail walking from Lukang to the verdant clearing from where we can see the magnificent view of the power plant covered in bright shimmering lights at night-time. I enjoyed the trail walk immensely and at one point, was leading the pack when Greggy said I shouldn’t be walking way ahead of everyone in an unfamilar trail, so he went in front of me instead.

Heading back to Bayview after our full day of outdoor adventure, I felt my heart sink a little. I experienced my many firsts – bird watching, snorkeling, power plant tour, which busted all the myths I previously thought to be facts insofar as power stations are concerned – that weekend and it broke my heart that it had to end so soon.  But the big bad world summoned me back to the urban jungle where I have a real job waiting for me  – the same one that would take me to Istanbul, Turkey a few days after for a totally different kind of work adventure.  Life is indeed beautiful!

ALL beautiful photos taken by Noel Abelardo.

Men’s Health: Bedroom Confidential August 2010

Q:  My girlfriend doesn’t like me doing oral sex on her. Is this fine? Should I pursue it? And what process should I follow to make her comfortable with it?

A:  Two things: Your GF may have issues with her genitalia (the look, the smell, what-not) so you must reassure her that she is beautiful and her beauty extends all the way down to her nether parts. Second, chances are, you may not be doing it right. Think of it as a gentle breeze at the beginning and work up a little bit of pressure to get her on the brink of madness, instead of jackhammering her with your tongue at the onset and all throughout. Imagine giving her a good Frenchie between the legs, that’s how cunnilingus must be performed. Sloppy lapping is a big no-no. Take time to appreciate every little part of her down south by licking around, above, or below the clit, applying some gentle pressure and pushing with your tongue rather than lapping in weak, flaccid strokes. However, don’t feel that you have to completely depend on tongue power. If you find yourself getting tired, needing a bit of break, or maybe you want to visually appreciate the part you’re licking, pulling away for a bit and suing your finger(s) is perfectly okay. Lastly, be there with her. Keep a keen eye on your girlfriend’s reactions to your oral maneuvering. By this time, you should already know when she’s enjoying it – or not.

Album Launch: SamMustSwim

Who is SamMustSwim?

SamMustSwim (SMS) is composed of five guys brought together by love of music. They also believe that talent given by God should be shared. This album contains 10 original compositions written over a 20-year period. SMS music is a confluence of blues, pop, rock, new wave, mixed with life stories. Time is their most precious commodity as majority of the band members work full time in IT and New Media firms. Thus, an SMS live gig is a rare musical experience. Soak in their music.

Get to know the Members:

  • Erwin Oliva grew up in Baguio and has strong blues and hard rock influences. He picked up the guitar when he was in high school but it was in College when he got a chance to jam with bands in Baguio. He also had short stints with Manila-based bands. He is now the country editor of Yahoo!.
  • Mark Goze is a budding professional photographer. Having started performing at the tender age of 15, Mark has quite an eclectic mix of musical influences, and been a vocalist, drummer, bassist and guitarist with several bands at different points in his career.
  • Ryan Manalastas was the drummer of Head On Collision, which played regularly in the legendary Club Dredd in the late eighties up to the early nineties. They launched an album named River of Penitence in 1999. Ryan learned to play the drums while studying in Don Bosco.
  • John Rosado III started playing in a band in high school in Don Bosco. He continued to play music in College in UP Diliman. He was mentioned in the first Eraserheads album as the E-heads practiced regularly in a music studio he set up along with friends at the UP Alumni Center in the late 80s.
  • Sam Jacoba rediscovered his passion for song writing in 2008. Sam and John were bandmates at the University of the Philippine in Diliman called NEXVS, which regularly played in Campus gigs, and won one of the first Battle of the Bands in the University. Sam also had music stints with SAMASKOM buddies Wency Cornejo (After Image) and Eric Go (EGO) in a band called “Sisig” during his stay in UP. He also jammed with Erwin during his Cyberpress days, and with Ryan when he was still with Microsoft.

Of the five band members, I have known Sam and Erwin since the year 2000 when I started my PR stint as a junior PR Counselor for Microsoft Philippines. I was barely 20 years old at that time and for me to have been thrown right smack in the middle of testosterone-ruled Cyberpress fiefdom became some sort of an awakening for me. It was right then, I believe, when the seeds of my being ‘one of the boys‘ have been firmly planted.

It has been a decade since the bond of friendship was formed and though we hardly see each other, I’m happy we didn’t turn into strangers. And after many years of hardly any contact except on FB or the sporadic sms, we’ll have a chance to hang out again – at their album launch no less!

This I must say, I am one very lucky lady to have been surrounded by talented, creative people who rock the world with pulsating vibrations.

Let’s rock and roll, baby!