The Souq Organics – Raffle



It’s no secret that I’m a fan of argan oil. But not all “argan oil” labels and brands are created equal. Argan oil has become the it ingredient for most beauty and hair products now. Most are mixed with other active ingredients. The one that Souq Organics sells is 100% pure organic Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil from Morocco — the argan oil I blogged about. There are other brands that make 100% Moroccan Argan Oil like Josie Maran, John Masters and many more from Morocco. Just know that pure argan oil is unscented, gold-coloured, not cheap but it’s good for your skin, nails and hair. I also use other argan oil-based products in shampoos, lotions and creams – mixed with other additives. It is important to know what you’re buying – if its pure, organic or mixed.


Souq Organics
The Souq Organics set up its first boutique at the Ground Floor, Bellitudo Lifestyle Strip, 79 Katipunan Ext., White Plains, Quezon City.


Souq Organics
It feels and smells so peaceful in here – fresh, clean and minty.


Souq Organics
In addition to the Souq Organics Moroccan Argan Oil, the shop carries other premier organic brands like Pangea Organics from the US, Fushi from the UK, Mukti Botanicals from Australia, and Huiles & Baumes from France.


I have to explain that I am not a vegan nor am I totally into organic products & food. I’m not even vegetarian. I eat anything and everything except innards. But I do try to live a healthy life. I don’t smoke and I don’t party hard. I excercise occasionally (but I plan to improve this aspect of my life). I use various beauty products – from Chanel, Estee Lauder to Olay. Purists will frown that some of the products I use may have parabens and chemicals. But I am at a stage where I like trying everything. And the more I read and test organic products, I’m appreciating the fact that we have healthier options now. Unfortunately a lot of these pure organic products don’t come cheap. From my experience though, when a product is something like a pure oil, you only need to use a little bit. So you get value for money. And all the other environmental benefits – eco-friendly, safer for the planet etc. When you factor in carbon footprint as well, then you should actually try to stick to local products – perhaps try virgin coconut oil as well.


The Souq Organics sent me some products – Mukti Refreshing Hydrating Mist Toner P1650, Fushi Really Good Hair Oil P2300, Argan Oil 30ml P1500 and Argan Oil Soap P350. I did a hot oil treatment on myself at home (minus the heat or hot towel) using the Fushi bottle. It felt so thick and rich. It had everything organic from argan oil, sesame seed oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, sweet almond oil. I used a very small amount and my hair came out so thick and bouncy after the wash. The oils are scented with jasmine so our whole bedroom smelled like an Indian spa which freaked out my husband. But after the rinse, the smell was less floral. I’m convinced it works. And now I want to try their “Really Good Cellulite Oil”, haha.



Here’s some good news for you, my readers. The Souq Organics is sponsoring a nice raffle for Daphne readers. There will be 3 winners. It’s open to anyone with a local Philippine address. So if you live abroad, you can still join, just give me a relative’s address here in  the R.P. (I don’t like using P.I.). Just follow all the instructions in Rafflecopter. You may join once a day to increase your chances of winning, just enter through rafflecopter. Contest is open now, Sunday March 25 up to the evening of Wednesday March 28. Winners will be notified by email and will be announced here.

The prizes are:

One winner –  Fushi Really Good Hair Oil 100ml, P2300
Two winners – 100% Moroccan Argan Oil and Soap, P1850 each

Good luck!!



a Rafflecopter giveaway



The Souq Organics
Ground Floor, Bellitudo Lifestyle Strip
79 Katipunan Ext.
White Plains, Quezon City.
Tel 421-5745 / 0917-5576955



Plants, peace, summer at home



It’s officially summer for our kids. School’s been out a week. I haven’t committed them to any particular summer camp activities yet. I’m still sifting through the many options. Sophia wants singing, guitar, theatre and maybe art. Lily wants ballet, art and swimming. Stella is 2 and a half and I’m still trying to find her an activity that will maximize the use of her energy. We have the usual one-stop-shop in our club. But I’m also considering other locations.

Meanwhile, here are scenes from our home. There are lots of art activities as always – all year round. The best way to keep my girls busy is to get them paper and art supplies. This makes them happiest. That and a trip to the park. Life is still simple, thank God.


Last weekend, the kids visited the Daphne booth at WorldBex. The area I was in had some nurseries and plant stores. Sophia fell in love with the strangeness of cacti. This is her new cactus “garden”. Lily got a few leafy plants as well.


They are pretty, especially when in bloom.


None of us have a green thumb. But the kids show a lot of interest in plants. I hope my mom’s green thumb is genetic. Though it skipped me, I hope my girls get it so they can keep these cactus plants alive.


We made some Shrinky Dinks the other day. Remember those? They still make them. Here’s Lily and her “boof” at home. She designed a Lily booth.


A visiting neighbour Carol Magtibay Rodriguez came bearing gifts for my kids. Thank you Carol. Stella hasn’t taken off her fairy costume in days. Oh those boots, one of the few things we bought in Shanghai. They’re from the Gap.


Sophia and Stella. Soph was doing art work. Stella was on the iPhone. Stella is the rule-breaker. The other two girls were all about the earth, arts and crafts, and simple pleasures; Stella found a way to break us and take over our iPhones and iPads. Are all babies like that? Sigh. (And yes, Soph has a purple nail. We were testing out the colour. The start of summer marks her liberty. She now has purple and pink alternating with glitters on her nails. I’m okay with that.)


Sophia’s artwork. I gave them the left over posters from WorldBex. They used the backside. Her drawings are so influenced by Anime now (which makes me ever so vigilant, but whatever). I’m glad though that her main message is still about her love of the earth. They amaze me!


“Less than a mile, then bike in style”. She also has “Plant more trees, or we’re doomed!” Haha, so much for subtlety.


Lily’s poster for their “Peace Club”. It includes loving the earth. Look at that earth with a gazillion little people holding hands around.


What are your plans for the summer (if you’re in the Philippines)? It’s springtime everywhere else. I heard Toronto and the eastern side of North America are experiencing the weirdest hot spell. How are you spending your early summer/spring?


Tourism Shanghai



Thank you for your feedback about my Shanghai stories. I hope you’re not sick of them yet. I’m sure you’re sick of my chunky jacket. Told you from the start, I wore this for 4 days! I brought some other more fashiony jackets, but I didn’t want to risk getting cold.

It’s interesting that some of you have said you’ve been to Shanghai but didn’t see it the way I did. I really don’t know what to say about that except that each of us has her own way of experiencing things. We chose Shanghai because we wanted an urban experience. I wanted to learn about another city. I studied urban planning in university and this probably the reason why I see things the way I do. We actually spent an afternoon at the Shanghai Urban Plannning Museum – where I made sense of it all. Obviously I’ll be posting about that too later. Yes I’m a nerd.

I’m glad we didn’t do anything too touristy. That would have killed our mojo. We have become so jaded because of how we’ve experienced some tours (like in Bali, our guide was obviously on commission) that my husband and I prefer to go to a city and explore it ourselves. Our travel agent Claudette Vitug of CV Travel gave us a complimentary private tour package if we wanted it. So we spent half a day going to must-sees. It was pleasant and our tour guide wasn’t pushy. We just did a quick round of the Oriental Pearl Tower (we didn’t go up), skipped The Bund because it was the location of our hotel, went to a silk making factory where they sold us silk duvets and we bought (because it looked interesting), and did a quick walk through YuYuan Gardens. The rest of the time, we explored the city on foot and by taxi.


This is Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s very busy pedestrian shopping street. All the major chain stores are here – Uniqlo, GAP, Apple. We weren’t really here to shop so we just walked through. Luxury brands are taxed at a high rate in Shanghai, so take note of that. The only place I bought stuff were at Uniqlo, which will soon open in Manila anyway.


It’s worth a walk through at least once to watch the many people and see how old colonial buildings are being used as shops.


There was a building with a giant aquarium filled with sharks and beautiful turtles.


Have I told you that turtles are my favourite sea creatures? (Gosh, I hope this tank wasn’t a promo for a restaurant.)


Nanjing Road is to Shanghai what Champs-Elysees is to Paris.


Part of our halfday tour was a quick walk through YuYuan Gardens. Hello globalization, Starbucks. There are hundreds of shopping stalls here. I had to buy a compact flash drive for my camera. My tour guide said, “Are you Filipino? Because you do not shop like you’re from the Philippines. You have to haggle. At least half price.” I hate haggling.


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Shanghai, skyscraper city



All my friends who lived or still live in Shanghai highly recommended we skip going up the Oriental Pearl Tower. Too touristy – they knew we’d hate it. Add to that the river cruise, unless you enjoy crowds. So we skipped both and instead we went up a few skyscrapers in Pudong and had drinks at hotel bars.


That’s Pudong on the other side of the river across from the Bund. Development only started in Pudong in 1995. Before that, everything was pretty much in the Shanghai (Bund) side. This is me in our hotel room at the Waldorf, which was as much about the river view as it was about the luxurious service. Being a lover of architecture, I had to see these landmark buildings.


Our first stop was Flair, suggested by Lylah who’s been living in Shanghai for over a decade. Flair is the rooftop bar of the Ritz Carlton.


Click “More…” to see more skyscraper stories.



Gentrified Shanghai – Tianzifang



Taxi cabs are really cheap in Shanghai. Language is an issue if you don’t speak Chinese. So it’s best to ask your hotel to write your destinations/itinerary in Chinese characters. But I loved that the cabs were so cheap, we were able wander around without a real plan.

Every single person who knew we were going to Shanghai said that we should go to Xintiandi. And I agree, it’s not to be missed. It’s a very posh shopping, eating and entertainment district – which I didn’t really care much for because everything felt too international. At one point I felt like I was in Hazelton Lanes in Toronto. Xintiandi deserves it’s own post though (later), because it’s a great example of a gentrified redevelopment of what used to be traditional row houses/shikumen. It was beautiful and perfect. But on our first day, I was looking for charm and more local colour. So we went to Tianzifang.




Beautiful sycamore trees at Xintiandi. Why can’t we have tree lined streets?


My friend Lylah Juinio has been living in China as an expat for over 10 years. She was responsible for awakening my interest in Shanghai. On her list of recommendations was Tianzifang, knowing that I like artsy fartsy stuff. Here’s my impression of Tianzifang – the gateway entry and narrow streets reminded me of the Cashbahs in Morocco (from what I remembered when I was 16); the many hipster creative entrepreneurs had a very Williamsburg, Brooklyn vibe; the handcrafts looked like a fun 3D Etsy site; and the quaint small international restaurants at one point felt very Boracay D’Mall. It’s like Malugay’s The Collective if more hipster artists moved in. And I mean all that in a good way. It was a total contrast from the perfectly manicured Xintiandi. Though both redevelopments were planned by the government (nothing here is accidental, everything is perfectly planned), Tianzifang felt a bit more organic.


One of the many entrance gates into Tianzifang, along Taikang Road.


Taikang Road had buildings that looked like this.


Very interesting use of wire mesh/screen.


We wandered around Tianzifang’s narrow streets until night time.


Patrick went shopping in this quaint antique shop that specialized in eyewear.



Click “More…” to see my gazillion Tianzifang photos.