Washable Nail Polish





A couple of months ago (yes, months), we received the most wonderful present from a very thoughtful reader, Cheryl Sy. I don’t know her personally but she sent me a private message, either in Facebook or Instagram, I can’t remember now. She asked if she could send my daughters some non-toxic nail polish. I politely declined because my girls are, like me, not into nail polish. So we left it at that.

Cheryl didn’t stop there. She ordered a gift from her crafting friend in Oregon, and promised to send these personalized goodies to my kids. Weeks and probably months later, she contacted me saying the package went to Tel Aviv by mistake and that she was working on getting them to Manila. Cute.

Anyway the package finally got to us. It really brightened up my day. It was the most well-thought of presents. Cheryl also wrote lovely notes for me and my daughters. I just can’t tell you enough how we appreciate this gesture, Cheryl. Thank you!! Stella drew a thank you note. And the girls also recorded a thank you video. I have yet to send them to Cheryl. In the meantime, here is her amazing product…


The three bottles carry the names of my daughters — Rose, Daisy, Lily. (Margarita means daisy.)


Personalized charm bracelets for each girl, with miniature Snails bottles and their flowers! Look at them… so adorable, the lily, the rose, and the daisy.


Each of the bracelets has a little “Strawbunny” charm. Not many know that my daughters have a Facebook page called The Strawbunny where they show some of their art work and creations. The Strawbunny character was designed by Lily.




Snails is a non-toxic and completely water-soluble nail polish meant for children… but also good for adults. According to Cheryl she found this brand while searching for non-toxic nail polish for her own daughter. She would use toxic-free polish but would end up using nail polish remover with harsh chemicals. It also took forever to remove and sometimes damaged her daughter’s nails. With Snails (safe nails), the polish comes off with just water and soap! Perfect for little digits playing fancy dress-up. If you want the colour to last longer, you can use the Snails Top Coat and your polish can stay on for up to two days. It then can be removed by water!


Just above the barcode, the Lily. You will also see that the formula is free of harmful chemicals like Dibutyl Phthalate, Toluene, Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, and Parabens.


Stella agreed to have her cute little nails coloured with polish. I promised her that it would come off easily.


The bunny with orange Snails.


I tried it myself. Two coats of pink. I didn’t seal it with the top coat because I wanted to check if it was really water soluble.


And so I tried washing it off.


Just a little soap and some gentle rubbing, the colour came off.


And there you have it… washable nail polish!


You can find Snails at Bright Brands in Facebook and Instagram.



100 Years of American Express in the Philippines



Concert program 1


Last October 8, I had the honour of attending a special gathering in celebration of the 100th year of American Express in the Philippines, at the Forbes Ballroom of Conrad Manila. It was a very elegant dinner that culminated with a musical concert treat complete with the country’s top performers and a stunning big band. The event was attended by a select group of American Express Cardmembers.


Bathroom selfie at the Conrad Hotel before getting to the American Express 100 Years celebration, with BDO. Dress from @k_and_company, hair and makeup by me, complete with lashes again.
I flew solo and I felt silly posing in public by myself. So what’s a girl to do? A selfie in the Conrad’s grand bathroom, with game face on.


Table setting 2
I loved the understated elegance of the table setting.


US beef tenderloin with roasted carrots and mizuna mash


The AMP Band by Mel Villena


Toast with Executives
(L-R) Sharon P Chew, Vice President of Regional Product, Marketing & Business Development, Asia, American Express; Sanjiv Malhotra, Vice President and General Manager, Partner Card Services, Asia, American Express; Y C Koh, President, Asia, American Express International, Inc., Teresita Sy-Coson, Chairperson of BDO Unibank, Inc., Rolando C. Tanchanco, Executive Vice President of BDO Unibank, Inc. and Consumer Lending Group Head, Ma. Nannette R. Regala, Senior Vice President of BDO Unibank, Inc. and Consumer Lending Group Marketing Head


Y C Koh, President, Asia, American Express International, Inc., in his address said, “I’m proud to join our long-term partner BDO and our Cardmembers to celebrate American Express’ 100th year in the Philippines tonight. I want to give special thanks to our partners and our customers for their trust and support over the past century. American Express’ aim is to be the world’s most respected service brand, and we look forward to working with BDO to deliver a world-class experience to our customers as we enter our second century.”


RCT & Y C Koh
Y C Koh with Rolando C. Tanchanco


100 Years of American Express Heritage Panels
The centennial celebration gave us a chance to look back at milestones from the opening of the first American Express Asia office in 1916, to the strategic partnership forged with BDO in 2007.


AMEX-Platinum-Card (IDC)


American Express was the first in the world to introduce a Platinum Card. It made its debut in 1984 as an elite product. The Platinum Card® was offered to existing high spending customers by invitation only. It was labeled the “ultimate plastic” by one newspaper because of its exclusive and valuable benefits. In 1999, the Platinum Card was introduced in the Philippines. Today it continues to evolve with the changing premium marketplace, making it one of the most desired Cards in the market.

And during the 100 Years of American Express Gala, another highlight was the unveiling of the revitalized Platinum Card.

Designed for the affluent, seasoned travelers and their families, the iconic Platinum Card offers better travel experiences and a world of rewards and benefits for its Cardmembers. Platinum Cardmembers can now enjoy enhanced benefits such as:

  • Complimentary business class companion tickets when they fly with Philippine Airlines.
  • Privileged access to more than 900 lounges across more than 120 countries at Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club and American Express Lounges.
  • Automatic enrollment into elite membership status of prestigious hotel loyalty programs such as Shangri-La Golden Circle, Hilton HHonors and Club Carlson. Exclusive hotel privileges with the uniquely created Fine Hotels & Resorts program. Cardmembers will also enjoy exclusive complimentary benefits such as room upgrade upon arrival, daily breakfast for two, in-room Wi-Fi, early check-in, late check-out and a special amenity at each property.
  • A US$200 travel voucher welcome gift for use on your next getaway to purchase air ticket, book a stay, or upgrade your tour package.
  • Complimentary Meet and Assist Services for departure and arrival at NAIA Terminals 1 & 3 and at Davao and Clark International Airports.

BDO, the exclusive card-issuing and merchant-acquiring bank partner of American Express in the country, will continue to launch special promotional offers for Cardmembers throughout the celebration of American Express’ centennial year.


My personal highlight was my encounter with the Chairperson of BDO Unibank, Inc. Teresita Sy-Coson



After the formalities and dinner, we were entertained by an impressive musical concert by Cris Villonco, Bituin Escalante, Charito, Mon David, the AMP band by Mel Villena, Yuki Arimasa, Kengo Nakamura and Juasa Kanoh with a medley of musical performances spanning different decades.

The theme was “Pop Meets Big Band Jazz”, the performers went through musical periods like the 1920’s to 1930’s where music expressed a new freedom and a very sexy rebellion by the likes of Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. In the 1940’s to 1950’s big band jazz became the pulsing sound of the mainstream with the talents becoming superstars of the era like Cole Porter, Glenn Miller, Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra and Miles Davis. The 1960’s to 1970’s was all about the youth quake and freedom in fashion and lifestyles. Jazz may have taken a back seat but still shone through Motown, Aretha Franklin, Elvis Presley, Sarah Vaughan. The 1980s to 1990s pop songs reflected cool, calm, collected jazz songs from Lou Rawls, Wynton Marsalis and Michael Jackson. The special show ended with the present era of songs by Diana Krall, Norah Jones, Cassandra Wilson, and Pharell Williams.


Concert Artists 2
Charito, Mon David, Cris Villonco, and Bituin Escalante.


Mon David
Mon David


Cris Villonco
Cris Villonco


Yuki Arimasa
Yuki Arimasa






Quezon Province’s First 1000 Days program



FIRST 1000


In celebration of Breastfeeding Month last August, I visited Quezon Province, the first local government unit in the Philippines to develop and implement their own First 1,000 Days program for mothers and their babies. It was a special trip, not only because of this beautiful program for maternal and infant health, but because Quezon is also my dad’s home province. It felt like home to me.


I will never get tired of views like this – endless rice paddies.


Quezon to me is coconut country. These were the scenes I grew up with when we used to go on vacation there.


At the municipality of San Antonio, we met new mothers who were breastfeeding their babies. They were participants of the province’s First 1000 Days program from the moment they knew they were pregnant. ©UNICEF Philippines/2016/CGagalac


The First 100 Days program of UNICEF works with the notion that the right health and nutrition in the first 1,000 days builds the foundation for a child’s ability to grow, learn, and earn in the future. The first thousand days starts from conception, 9 months of a healthy pregnancy, the first six months of infancy with exclusive breastfeeding, and 6 months to 2 years old of healthy food complementing breast milk.

Children who get the right health and nutrition in their first 1000 days are:

  • 10 times more likely to overcome life-threatening diseases
  • more likely to complete 4.6 more grades of school
  • go on to earn up to 50% more in wages as adults
  • more likely to have healthier families as adults


Along with UNICEF Deputy Representative Julia Rees, I learned about how the local government of Quezon has fully taken on the First 1,000 Days program to help babies get a better start in life. ©UNICEF Philippines/2016/CGagalac


New mothers breastfeeding their babies in Quezon Province. ©UNICEF Philippines/2016/C Gagalac


Mothers read the “Mama Book”, a guide and logbook for mothers benefiting from Quezon Province’s First 1,000 Days program. Quezon is the first local government unit in the Philippines to develop and implement their own First 1,000 Days program for mothers and their babies. They also developed a program to encourage home gardens, to promote good nutrition. ©UNICEF Philippines/2016/CGagalac


We visited this expectant couple in their home. They were participants of the First 1000 Days program. ©UNICEF Philippines/2016/CGagalac


In order to qualify to be in the province’s Q1K program, they had to have a vegetable garden at home. With the help of the Quezon Province Department of Agriculture, they were able to successfully grow fruits and vegetables in their own yard. This encourages the family to eat real whole foods rather than processed food. I was very impressed by this. It is a lifestyle that I personally want to have at home. ©UNICEF Philippines/2016/CGagalac


UNICEF Philippines’ Julia Rees marveling over the patola harvest. ©UNICEF Philippines/ 2016/CGagalac


The Q1K Mama Book has guidelines on how to have a healthy pregnancy, including recipes for nutritious whole foods that they can grow in their garden. It also emphasises the importance of exclusively breastfeeding the baby once she is born up to 6 months. From the sixth month onwards, mothers are encouraged to continue breastfeeding the baby and feeding them nutritious food, as opposed to processed cereals and packaged food.


We also met a tricycle driver who actively supported Q1K by driving expectant mothers to the municipal health centre to get their regular health check ups. He has driven about six mothers to the health centre just in time for delivery. As an incentive, the provincial and local governments reward tricycle drivers with free rice whenever they drive a pregnant mom to the clinics. Here we see how different players in the community come together to support pregnant moms.  ©UNICEF Philippines/2016/CGagala


One of my favourite parts of every field visit is seeing and holding cute babies. Here, UNICEF Philippines’ Michelle Borromeo carries an adorable breastfed baby while another baby tries to get my attention. I was able to give her my undivided attention a few seconds after this snap.  ©UNICEF Philippines/2016/CGagalac


Grateful to the Province of Quezon and UNICEF Philippines for bringing me to Quezon to see a very inspiring and impressive program. I hope the rest of the country can come up with similar programs like Q1K. ©UNICEF Philippines/2016/CGagalac


A week after our field visit to Quezon, the Governor David Suarez and his wife Rep Anna Suarez hosted a meeting with the UNICEF Nutrition team in Manila.


If you want to learn more about the First 1000 Days and how you can help in your own community, please click here.