Watsons Switch and Save

 

 

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Christian Bautista is Watson’s newest endorser.

 

Watsons invited me to shop at their Mall of Asia store to experience the benefits of Switch and Save. I’m all for smart shopping especially because I have a huge household. We go through so many consumer goods to address the needs of my kids, our hygiene, my kitchen, our staff. So whenever possible, I try my best to find ways of savings. Usually this means buying in bulk in order to save in the long run.

Watsons has personal care items, beauty essentials, and even medicines. It is Asia’s leading personal care store, offering a wider variety of products under its own label, giving smart shoppers the choice to save as much as 80% without compromising on quality.

The newest celebrity endorser to support Watsons is singer Christian Bautista. “I’ve always enjoyed shopping at Watsons because it’s very convenient, their store layout is very organized so its easy to find whatever you are looking for and of course they always have those great deals on the products I often buy,” Christian shared. “As a singer, I really have to be extra careful of my oral hygiene so I always have a ready charcoal toothbrush, mouthwash, breath strips and even dental floss in my bag.”

 

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Christian’s Watsons essentials include 01 Triple Blade Disposable Razors,  02 Breath Strips,  03 Tartar Control Mouthwash,  04 Charcoal Toothbrush.

 

With Ms. Viki Encarnacion, Watsons Marketing Director
With Ms. Viki Encarnacion, Watsons Marketing Director

 

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Here’s are some beauty items that  I bought during my visit.  01 Watsons Foot Ease Soothing leg gel, cooling leg spray, gel cushions, save up to 77%,  02 Watsons 3 in 1 Hair set, save 71% compared to a branded item,  03 Watsons Firming & Moisturising Facial Mask,  04 Watsons Dental Floss, save 76% compared to a branded version,  05 Watsons Milk & Salt Scrub, save 57%,  06 Watsons Cream Hand Soap.

 

Just like Christian Bautista, you too can maximize your purchasing power allowing you to spend more on the things you really want in life. It’s definitely a lot easier to enjoy what life has to offer when you choose to Switch and Save the Watsons way.

Watsons Label believes that with more value from hard-earned money spent on quality affordable products, every Filipino gets more savings to enjoy the other important things in life with their loved ones.

Drop by any Watsons stores and enjoy more savings with the “Shop to Save” promo. Get a free P300 coupon with a minimum single-receipt purchase of P1500 from the participating Watsons Label products and exclusive participating brands. Promo will run until May 20, 2015!

 

 

Gaudi’s Barcelona

 

 

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Have you been seeing DAPHNE Diaries on the Lifestyle Network? It is a set of short segments on my Barcelona trip airing randomly across the channel. I will post them on my YouTube channel soon.

In the meantime, I made my own DAPHNE Diaries. By “my own” I mean, I photographed and shot everything, wrote, voiced over, presented, edited on iMovie and posted on You Tube. For the two on-cam spiels (in La Sagrada Familia and Sant Felip Neri, I got some help from my official DOP, Carlo Lina). So for my YouTube channel, I’m back to being a one-woman show. Haha. Just like how I started on TV with “Video Postcards”. Big hug to those who remember that.

I hope you like this. I’m working on more. So please may I ask you a favour. Please show me some love by “liking” and subscribing to it in YouTube as well as sharing and reposting the video. It’s a labour of love.

 

 

 

Bettina Osmeña’s Gourmet Corner

 

 

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As someone who recently just learned to love cooking, I am constantly on the lookout for realistic and yummy recipes (hello, You Tube). I have a few generous friends who love sharing tips and techniques. My parents also stayed with us for the past three months, so I learned how to cook meat in a tender and juicy way from them. Finally!

You wonder why it took me four decades to learn how to cook. I just never had an interest in it. As a child I was told to stay away from the kitchen because it was dangerous. Growing up in Toronto, my chore was washing the dishes and sorting laundry. My brother was the one who loved cooking, so I willingly gave way to him. As an adult, I found it easier to buy good meals or hire a helper who can cook. Last year, however, I found myself without any help. So instead of panicking I started to cook – three meals at a time. The results were more than edible. It got rave reviews from my husband and children. So that’s how I got started. It also helped that I already had my dream kitchen.

Some people are just born a natural at cooking. Bettina Lopez Osmeña is one of them. “I learned to cook when I was around 15,” says Bettina. “I used to attend the cooking classes of Sylvia Reynoso. Her sister Lorrie who is a Cordon Bleu graduate elevated my cooking and taste level. She has become one of my very good friends today after 40 years of friendship. She is a cooking instructor in a top culinary school in NYC.”

Before I met Bettina personally last year, I knew of her, not just as the wife of Senator Serge Osmeña, but as the woman who shared an amazing recipe for Iberian Chicken in Rica de Jesus’ blog. Recently, Bettina started a home-based business meant for busy people who appreciate good food, yet don’t have time to cook. She began selling her home-cooked meals in frozen packages at the Dasmariñas Village Bazaar. It did so well, it is now a regular thing. The next Dasmarinas Village Bazaar is this Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18 from 10 am to 6 pm. And for times when there is no bazaar, you can simply call +63 998 569 6849 and order Bettina’s food. Check out Gourmet Corner in Facebook.

 

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Bettina Osmeña in her garden.

 

Bettina saw a need in the market. She says a lot of people are living alone in condos — they love to eat good food but it’s not like they have time to make beef stew for four hours. Bettina is a believer in the “slow food” process. She takes no short cuts. I asked her if this was for taste or health reasons, “I cook slow food because it tastes better. Health consciousness just followed. For example, the base of my sauce is real beef broth that has been slow simmered for several hours. No Knorr cubes for me and it makes a difference in both taste and health.”

Then there is the issue of staffing the home. A lot of young families I know (including ours) are having a hard time finding a cook who would stay on. I’ve given up on finding an experienced cook and taken matters into my own hands, as it should have been in the first place. However, I cannot cook all three meals every single day. I work. For busy mothers like me, Bettina’s product is the perfect solution. “There are a lot of restaurants and outlets that sell ready-cooked Filipino meals. There are diet food delivery systems. But very few do good quality, slow-cooked continental food,” says Bettina. Soon she will also offer vegetarian dishes.

 

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I asked Bettina if I could feature her in this blog and she invited me to her home to see how she does things. She has got everything down to an art and science.

 

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Her household staff does the marketing, using only the freshest and best produce.

 

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At the time of my visit, there were four helpers who did all the food preparation. I asked Bettina if having Gourmet Corner changed the logistics and schedule of her staff. Of course it did. And it also increased their pay. So everybody is happy.

 

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After hours of careful cooking and preparation, the meal is properly portioned (by weight) into these freezable packs. Bettina says you can store the cooked meal in your freezer for up to three months. She doesn’t recommend the use of microwave ovens for reheating. You can simply defrost the meal in your refrigerator a day or two before you intend to eat it, then heat it in a stove top… the old-fashioned way.

 

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Bettina’s staff demonstrated how they make spaghetti sauce using canned cherry tomatoes from Italy. Bettina supervises all the cooking, and does the seasoning herself. The staff carefully follow the recipes she has written in a plastic clear book. There is a digital weighing scale to measure every bit of ingredient. Like I said, she’s got it down to a science.

 

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For Gourmet Corner, Bettina only uses top-quality ingredients like these canned cherry tomatoes from Italy, exclusively imported by her company, Euro Fine Foods Specialist.

 

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She does not compromise on the ingredients. Everything is top quality. The cans bear the seals of Italian and European organizations that certify the tomatoes come from organic farms and are of the finest quality.  The only reason it doesn’t have the “certified organic” seal is because these are not even sold in the U.S. yet.

 

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After sautéing, the tomato sauce sits in low fire in her oven for many hours.

 

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Bettina’s Beef Ragu, popularly known as bolognese, is incredible. Look at all the ingredients! She says this is the “old-fashioned and expensive way.”

 

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With this ragu sauce, you won’t see any ground beef. All her meats start out as real chunks, cut up into small strips and cubes. And because they are slow cooked for hours –four to five hours– the beef ends up naturally falling apart into smaller pieces.

 

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Yes, that is bacon!

 

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For her ragu, she uses Pomodoro San Marzano tomatoes, from the same Italian farm where the cherry tomatoes are from.

 

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No beef buillons for Bettina. In addition to real beef stock, she uses an all-natural stock from jamon serrano! This Aneto broth and the above-mentioned cans of tomatoes are exclusively distributed by her company, Euro Fine Foods Specialist.

 

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I caught the first half hour of the ragu cooking. Here are the vegetables and bacon, sautéed together.

 

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The meat is then added. When the sauce is put in, the cooking process lasts for another four hours.

 

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Bettina personally adds the salt and pepper in every dish. This way, quality always stays the same and meets her standards.

 

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As a result of frequent trips to Europe, in 2011 Bettina and a friend set up a full-time importing business, Euro Fine Food Specialist.

 

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The first product they imported was Marchesi de Frescobaldi Laudemio Olive Oil, one of the finest olive oils in the market. Then they brought in pasta sauces, canned tomatoes, truffle oils, butter and such. Check out their Facebook page in links I posted above.

 

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They also have these amazing fresh juices from Italy, all from organic farms. These items will be available at the Dasmarinas Village Bazaar this April 17-18.

 

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Here’s what the frozen meals from Gourmet Corner look like. The meals can stay in your freezer for up to three months, as long as it’s totally frozen. A day before using, you may bring the container up to the fridge to thaw.

 

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Love the handwritten labels.

 

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Gourmet Corner dishes are priced at an average of P350 per frozen pack, which serves two (to three) people.

 

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They also sell them in larger batches, good enough for parties. You must order this in advance.

 

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I served Gourmet Corner’s Ragu to my family and they absolutely loved it. Bettina calls it “grown-up bolognese”. She wasn’t sure my kids would love it. But they all did. Looks like we will be regulars. We also had Korean Beef Stew. It was so good, I forgot to take photos of it.

 

 

For complete menu and schedule of pop-up sales, check out Gourmet Corner in Facebook. To order call +63 998 569 6849.

 

 

Barcelona churches

 

 

Barc Faith Tile

 

My trip to Barcelona was one of my lovely surprises in 2014. I had a big year of travelling for work – Bali, Taiwan, Silicon Valley – and didn’t really expect more. But in December, DAPHNE Diaries in Barcelona happened. This was the initiative of Lifestyle Network, supported by Samsung Digital Home Appliances, which I had been a long-time brand ambassador for. It is my first collaboration with a TV network as a blogger (I have been a presenter and producer before).

The days leading up to our trip, Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) was brewing near the Philippines. Reports said it would be another deadly storm. I was scared. I didn’t want to leave my family knowing that the storm could potentially directly hit Metro Manila. But I couldn’t bail out of the trip. A lot of prayers were said before, during and after. I believe a miracle happened. Typhoon Hagupit got weaker as it hit land.

I share this little anecdote because I really believe in the power of prayers. Ok the typhoon weakening may not have been due to divine intervention, but I have been blessed with a few real miracles already. I also think that everything happens for a reason. While I was full of anxiety as our plane took off before the storm hit, I was a picture of calmness on our first full day in Barcelona. The travel agent “coincidentally” planned our Montserrat visit on December 8th, the Feast of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, not knowing that I have a special devotion to the Virgin Mary.

My DAPHNE Diaries will give small portraits of the city of Barcelona – food, museums, urban life. I didn’t actually mean to do a whole story on churches in my blog. But as I was reviewing my photos, I found I had more than enough to piece this blog entry together. Don’t worry, I don’t get preachy. This is an architecture and design story… with a little history.

 

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The morning of December 8th, 2014, our car brought us to Montserrat. You can take the train or cable car to go up the mountain. Our car brought us right up to the monastery.

 

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Montserrat actually means “saw (serrated, like the common handsaw) mountain” in Catalan. Source.

 

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The mountain tops look so surreal with its many peaks, some look like silos.

 

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The monastery began in 1025 as the Hermitage of Santa Maria, the Mother of Christ. It became a very well known shrine in the Christian world. In the early 1800’s, most of the monastery was destroyed during the Napoleonic wars. The church and monastery we see now is a result of rebuilding.

 

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The short walk to Santa Maria de Montserrat. This is a good tip. Try getting there no later than 9am. Trust me, the crowds get thick.

 

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The scallop shell is the symbol of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela (The Way of Saint James). Montserrat is part of the pilgrims’ route to Santiago de Compostela.

 

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There are some restaurants, a hotel and a museum in Montserrat. But we only went there for the Benedictine abbey of Santa Maria de Montserrat itself and went back to explore the city.

 

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The medallion in the centre of the atrium has an inscription around that reads, “Only those baptized and born in the water like fish can understand the meaning of the fish of the Eucharist.” I had to wait 10 minutes for a group of tourists to get off the circle before I could get my chance. This exact spot is believed to be very powerful.

 

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The basilica has a neo-Plateresque design (a mixture of Gothic and Renaissance) and was rebuilt in 1900. During the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, the French destroyed most of the abbey.

 

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We went along the right aisle past the altar to see the statue of the Virgin called “La Moreneta.”

 

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There is a giant clam converted into a holy water font — a gift of the the Filipino people to the abbey. (La Sagrada Familia also has one.)

 

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The La Moreneta or the Black Madonna is a 12th or 13th century Romanesque statue housed in this alcove behind the main altar. It usually is filled with pilgrims and tourists. The normal wait is over one hour. Our guide, Fabio Bugna, anticipated the crowd, that being December 8th, Feast of the Immaculate Conception and a national holiday in Spain. We arrived at the abbey around 9am. As you can see, we had the alcove all to ourselves.

 

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There were no crowds. It was calm, solemn, and peaceful. I was so moved by the experience.

 

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And there she is. The Black Madonna. The statue is made of carved wood from the 12th century Romanesque period. It appears black because the varnish on the statue has oxidized from the effect of candle and lamp smoke. The Virgin has a ball in her hand, which sticks out of the glass compartment. I held it as long as I could until I shed a tear. I had enough time to say the Hail Mary.

 

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After my close encounter with the Black Madonna, I turned to the small oval chapel below the altar. It had a full view of the Black Madonna from behind.

 

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Again, the room was practically empty. Here, I was able to pray longer.

 

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And I lit candles for my friends and family.

 

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That morning in Montserrat was really magical. After my prayers at the altar, we even heard the Montserrat Boys Choir sing. They usually sing in the afternoons. But that morning of December 8th, they had a special performance. Nothing in life is a coincidence. I was meant to be there.

 

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Another church in the old town of Barcelona, Santa Maria del Mar.

 

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Santa Maria del Mar’s interior shows incredible Catalan Gothic architecture.

 

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The vaulted ceiling of Santa Maria del Mar.

 

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Santa Maria del Mar, 14th century.

 

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Santa Maria del Mar is beautiful despite and because of its austerity.

 

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Whether you are religious or not, Santa Maria del Mar is worth a visit even just for its architectural merit. It is a pure example of Catalan Gothic.

 

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I was so taken by this beautiful image of the Virgin Mary at Santa Maria del Mar.

 

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Santa Maria Del Mar is dedicated to the patron saint of sailors.

 

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Of course, no visit to Barcelona is complete without seeing La Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s 133 year-old work-in-progress masterpiece. It has always been an expiatory church, which means that since its beginning in 1882, the church has been built purely from donations. I will save an entire post and video blog on La Sagrada Familia.

 

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Not many people highlight the chapel at the crypt of La Sagrada Familia. It was built by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar in 1882. By the end of 1883, Antoni Gaudi was commissioned to take over the project, where he worked on his modernist masterpiece for over forty years.

 

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One can have a glimpse of the neo-Gothic chapel underneath the apse.

 

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A view of the apse above can be seen from the crypt’s highest arches.

 

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In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI dedicated the yet-unfinished La Sagrada Familia as a minor basilica, a place of worship.

 

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Antoni Gaudi is buried in the crypt of La Sagrada Familia.

 

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Our walks in Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) led us to many sacred sites. I couldn’t stop being in awe. (My chukka boots have been getting a lot of FB and IG love. It is a two year old Cole Haan.)

 

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The church of San Felip Neri is in a quaint square with a fountain and some buildings dating back to the Renaissance time. Its facade shows shrapnel from a bomb thrown by Franco’s forces during the Civil War, killing 42 people, mostly kids.

 

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A definite must-see is the Barcelona Cathedral, or the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Santa Eulalia, established in the 15th century. Couldn’t help but pose for a touristy shot in front of the Gothic facade.

 

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The cathedral’s cloister houses 13 geese at the Well of the Geese. This represents the age of Santa Eulalia when she was killed by the Romans.

 

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So much beauty in this 14th century cloister courtyard.

 

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The cloister of Barcelona Cathedral.

 

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While the cloister courtyard is charming, the interior of Santa Eulalia is majestic.

 

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The entrance to the crypt is right in front of the altar, at the centre of the church.

 

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Here at the crypt, you will see the tomb of Santa Eulalia of Barcelona, a young girl who died as a martyr during the Roman period when she refused to dismiss Jesus as the Son of God.

 

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Back up, I explored the different chapels surrounding the nave.

 

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There are 28 chapels flanking the nave of Santa Eulalia, all illuminated by beautiful stained-glass windows.

 

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As we walked around the Gothic Quarter, I found these little charming places of worship, such as the small cappella in Placeta d’En Marcús.

 

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Little chapel at Placeta d’En Marcús had a Romanesque figure of Our Lady in an outdoor niche.

 

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We chanced upon La Basílica dels Sants Màrtirs, though the caretaker was closing up.

 

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This pretty image of Our Lady at La Basílica dels Sants Màrtirs caught my attention. I just love the pop of her blue veil against all that gold. So pretty.

 

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One doesn’t have to be particularly religious to appreciate these churches.

 

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We were lucky that during the time of our visit, there was a 2-week Christmas market outside the Barcelona Cathedral and La Sagrada Famlia. I had lost sleep over these miniature hand sculpted terracotta Nativity figurines I saw at the market, so we went back another night.

 

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The little terracotta figurines wasn’t all about the Holy Family and Three Kings. The local artisans sculpted Catalan villagers and village scenes.

 

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I bought a miniature stable and nativity scene. The clay pottery was made by this woman. I asked her to give me her name and she wrote it on the brown bag packaging. But sadly, we were careless when we unpacked and I lost her name.

 

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There is our miniature Catalan nativity scene. I also bought a smaller matchbox nativity.

 

For my blog on Barcelona food and restaurants, click here.

 

 

Options Studio Timog

 

 

This is great news for those living in Quezon City. Options Studio opened its fifth branch just across GMA-7 studios along Timog. I hosted the official launch and blessing of the studios last week and saw the prettiest pilates studio ever. The decor felt very glamorous in a contemporized neo-Baroque way. It has generous windows and mirrors giving a view of “downtown” Quezon City. I also spotted some major TV stars from GMA-7 enrolled for pilates in this specific location.

For more information on the five Options Studio branches in Metro Manila, visit www.options-studio.ph

 

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The private room.

 

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Cardiolates class.

 

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It was wonderful to see former colleagues from my broadcasting years. GMA’s COO and Chief Financial Officer Felipe Yalong, whom I first met when we were both in ABS-CBN. GMA SAVP for Alternative Productions Gigi Santiago-Lara, who was behind the creation of my old show Proudly Filipina, GMA VP for Entertainment TV Marivin T. Arayata, Mrs. Fel Yalong, GMA SVP for Entertainment Lilibeth Rasonable and GMA Executive Reggie Magno.

 

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With founder of Options Studio and pilates master Ole Eugenio, pilates enthusiast Irene Marcos-Araneta, and Options Studio Timog Managing Director Krish Yalong. I was wearing a new pilates outfit and cover up from Mulawear which is sold at Options Timog.

 

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Me and Krish in their custom-made porter’s chair.

 

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President of GMA-7 Gilberto Duavit Jr.  and TAPE Inc.’s Tony Tuviera

 

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The very talented actress Jennylin Mercado, who was about to have her private pilates session, in photo with Jod Penson and Krish Yalong.

 

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The new generation of TV stars Janine Gutierrez, Kylie Padilla, Julie Ann San Jose.

 

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Gigi Lara with actor Alden Richards

 

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Mrs. Yalong with Camille Prats, who is looking so good with her short hair.

 

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Macy Espiritu Tan, Cara Martinez, Andrei Coronado, Karol Usis, Krish Yalong

 

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And there’s me, demonstrating some poses on the reformer. I don’t remember how many reformers they had, but I count eight in this photo. Options Timog is the biggest studio among the five Options branches.

 

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Pilates instructor Alain Buenaventura, guiding me through the Stability Chair.

 

For more information on prices, classes and schedules, contact:

Options Studio Timog
6th Floor, GEMPC Bldg, 132 Timog Ave, Diliman, Quezon City
Tel No.: 0917-771-6549

OptionsStudio – Makati
#103 G/F Nobel Plaza 110 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati
Tel No.: 553 – 3314 / 585 – 1404
Email: ph@options-studio.com

OptionsStudio – Fort
2201 NAC Tower
32nd St. Corner 9th Avenue, BGC,
Taguig City
Tel No.:(632) 403 – 7154

OptionsStudio – Podium
Podium Mall, Level 4, Ortigas Center, 12 ADB Ave., Pasig City
Tel No.: (632) 695 – 3263

OptionsStudio – Greenhills
3rd Flr, 101 Connecticut corner Missouri Streets, Greenhills, San Juan del Monte
Tel No.: (632) 623 – 8449

 

Read about my pilates journey here and here.