Italian Goes Local

 

 

When I decided to move to the Philippines, I had eight Canadian friends visit me during my couple of years. That was eight different times I had to show off the Philippines. It was easy. I was an avid scuba diver then. So we went to different dive sites and islands. In my first visit back to the Philippines, I extended what was supposed to be a three month trip to eight months. I fell in love with the country. I travelled all over from Zamboanga, Davao, Cebu, Palawan, Boracay all the way up to Luzon. Though I haven’t seen Batanes yet, I felt I had seen more of the Philippines than an average Manila girl did.

I’ve been here long enough to consider myself a real local. So now when we get foreign visitors, sometimes my husband and I find ourselves at a loss for places to show them. We have been so jaded. Manila is not exactly the easiest city to love. So when I saw photos of my friend’s visiting-Italian-friend (Antonio) enjoying the things we’ve already forgotten, I got nostalgic about why I moved to Manila in the first place. It’s about the people and the many layers of things to do and see. It’s about local food and our culture of hanging out with food and drinks. It’s our very animated spirit. These are the things that make us endearing to visitors. We make up for whatever we lack in services and architecture.

Antonio was originally from Italy, but he’s been working in Bangkok for a few years. And according to him, he’s “been working but not quite living.” He says in the years he’s been in Bangkok, he’s barely experienced anything. So he decided to take off a few weeks to discover and eat his way through Asia — the sort of thing we did after university, except Antonio already has a job and he’s not your typical backpacker.

Antonio’s travels (which, coincidentally is the name of his social media accounts) focuses around Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta. I’m sharing with you some of the highlights of his Manila trip where he met new friends. These like-minded foodie people showed Antonio some of Manila’s best restaurants to taste and try real local food.

 

A jeepney ride

Every visitor must see and ride a Filipino jeepney. It is quite a cultural experience.

 

The colourful streets of Metro Manila.

The colourful streets of Metro Manila.

 

Like Antonio, I found it both amusing and disturbing to see people's laundry hanging out windows.

Laundry-drying, more fun in the Philippines.

 

In the Philippines, night food markets do really well. It's just a lot more comfortable when the sun is down.

Night food markets do really well here because of our tropical climate. It’s just a lot more comfortable when the sun is down.

 

Mercato, or any food bazaar or market, is alive with many choices. It is here where new food concepts are usually tested.

Mercato, or any food bazaar or market, is alive with many choices. It is here where new food concepts are usually tested.

 

The new Pinoy lechon - crispy pork belly roll at Mercato.

The new Pinoy lechon – crispy pork belly roll at Mercato.

 

Buko juice.

Buko juice.

 

This is a fascinating and truly Filipino activity - Arnis! Antonio tried arnis in Luneta.

This is a fascinating and truly Filipino activity – Arnis! Antonio tried arnis in Luneta.

 

Can't get any more Pinoy than chicken adobo. Here, Goto Monster creates their own dry version.

Can’t get any more Pinoy than chicken adobo. Here, Goto Monster creates their own dry version.

 

Antonio at Goto Monster

Antonio at Goto Monster

 

Antonio with his new friends in Manila at White Moon Bar, Manila Bay.

Antonio with his new friends in Manila at White Moon Bar, Manila Bay.

 

Our famous Manila Bay sunset.

I am a sunset snob because of our famous Manila Bay sunset.

 

The biggest bone I've ever seen in soup. The half-Ilonggo in me is salivating. I love Kansi.

The biggest bone I’ve ever seen in soup. The half-Ilonggo in me is salivating. I love Kansi.

 

Now I know where to go when I crave for Kansi.

Now I know where to go when I crave for Kansi.

 

It's always good to find a pocket of stillness in the chaotic city of Metro Manila.

It’s always good to find a pocket of stillness in the chaotic city of Metro Manila.

 

Follow Antonio Travels in Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Check out Bangkok, Manila and Jakarta through the eyes of Antonio. #italiangoeslocal

 

 

Trying to do it all

 

 

We just got back from a month-long vacation in our other home, Toronto. Travel is such a great opportunity to learn and be inspired. I’m so glad that our kids see it that way too. However it can also create so much imbalance in your real life, if you don’t take care of business.

Example, my kids and husband were on vacation mode, but I, on the other hand, still had to deal with writing deadlines and product concepts. Because my work is digital, I could be anywhere in the world and still publish. The key to enjoying your vacation, is to make sure to get all the work out of the way early so you don’t have this dark cloud looming over you. And that I did. Check out our recent visit to Toronto.

 

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Toronto’s skyline has changed so much.  It has been experiencing a condo/skyscraper boom! I can no longer see the landmarks I love like the ones by Mies van der Rohe, Royal York and the gold building.

 

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In Toronto’s Casa Loma.

 

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We maximised our park and playground time.

 

There are many things I try to look forward to after the end of a fantastic vacation. Instead of getting sad about missing family and the spontaneity of life during travels, I use this time to get myself excited about my work, my regular life, and my home. Though as a mother to three kids, I can’t exactly just focus on my work and myself. I have to organize my kids’ lives first – especially during the school year. It’s a crazy balancing act that works itself out somehow.

It gets overwhelming when I think of all the things I have to do in different segments of my life. It’s not like I can compartmentalize each segment. They all flow into each other. I have a home office that doubles as the kids’ study room. I have a kitchen that doubles as my blog office. And my closet has become some sort of supply room from all the samples sent to me. I manage my home, with the help of very good staff. But I’m still that person who has to think of menus, grocery lists, baon, doctors’ appointments, driver’s schedule while trying to meet deadlines, negotiating at meetings, and doing my job as a corporate emcee and host. I cook, I give my kids baths, and I make sure Patrick and I have lots of together time.

Here’s what the balancing act looks like —

 

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My work table at home.

 

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Prototypes of DAPHNE & National Book Store in my kitchen — because my kitchen doubles as an office. I love the light here.

 

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In my professional life, I emcee high-profile/corporate events, and I’m a TV presenter. I do not miss the days of producing and hosting a weekly show by myself. Now my time is more flexible. And I get to do top quality work of my choice. This was when I hosted a benefit for Typhoon Haiyan with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian.

 

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When I hosted the anniversary event of Etihad, with CEO James Hogan.

 

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When I hosted the grand launch gala of City of Dreams.

 

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Hair and make up time, also doubles as time to catch up on emails and some writing.

 

I often get asked at interviews, “How do you do it?” The truth is, I do not know. Everything just happens. I do not have a concrete system. I basically just make lists and try to tick off as much from that list as I can during the day. I spent a lot of my 30’s making do with very little sleep. That is something I am not very proud of. Whether you are a mom or not, please, do not scrimp on sleep. Your body needs to heal and recharge. Get enough sleep.

Here are a few tips on how I keep myself in top form in order to run my little enterprises, manage my home, take care of my family, and make sure I am healthy.

1. I avoid getting sick by keeping my immunity strong. The rainy season has set in, and the common cold lurks around the corner. No one wants to be set back by a cold, flu, or other infectious diseases. The most important habit I have (and have instilled on my kids) is to wash my hands with soap and water all the time. It is one of the best ways to stop the spread of diseases. And to top it up, I boost my immunity by taking multivitamins every day.

 

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Remember when I took that trip to New Zealand and brought some Conzace with me? It helped keep my immunity up in the cold winter weather.

 

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Multivitamins can help you fight off possible viruses and infections. I make sure to shield myself from catching a cold by taking multivitamins.

 

2. No matter how busy I am, I have committed to doing pilates at least twice a week. I do this in the morning before I start my day. My advice is for you to find the time that works best for you. My afternoons are unpredictable, so I prefer to get it out of the way in the mornings. Do not underestimate the power of a clear mind and strong body to uplift your spirit and productivity.

 

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Pilates at Options Studio.

 

3. I avoid processed food. We still have fast food whenever it’s totally unavoidable, but this happens very seldom. I prepare healthier snacks and lunch for my kids (will have courage to share soon), and I usually make a bit more for my husband and me. I also have maintained my commitment to green-juicing. I have a cold presser and I religiously juice – cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, carrot, ginger, green apple and whatever greens I find in my fridge and the grocery.

 

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Green juice gives me a jolt every morning. I take a glass daily, first thing in the morning. Then after twenty minutes, I have a regular breakfast. I don’t believe in skipping meals.

 

4. I do not work at night anymore. I used to write during those precious quiet times when everyone was asleep. I’d still have to wake up when the whole house woke up so I ended up being very sleep-deprived. Not a good thing. I stopped that. Now I sleep, sleep, sleep. Wake up early. Get things done. Working from bed is also very bad for your neck. More on that later.

 


No more working in bed.

 

5. Daily quiet time helps a lot. I start and end my day in prayer. Sometimes the busier I am, the more I need to unplug from the digital world, hide from the real world, and just sit still. I have a favourite chapel that I go to. I also make sure to connect with nature. There is a lack of public parks and open spaces in the city. We knew this decades ago. So my husband and I worked towards making sure we always have access to nature – beach, mountain, farm. That’s where I find stillness and calm.

 


I love sitting in chapels. We all have our way of praying. I find that being in a quiet space helps me find my centre and strengthen my faith.

 


City life can take a toll on us. I make sure we make time for fresh air in our little rural plot.

 


My happy place. This is home to us. We come here to get recharged so we can do what we do.

 

I’m curious to know how you keep it together. How do you balance your work, passions and family responsibilities? How do you keep yourselves healthy? Are you as conscious about immunity as I am?

 

 

Daphne Diaries Travel Stories

 

 

I don’t know if you have noticed, I’m slowly increasing my posts about travel. It’s not something I planned deliberately. It’s just happening on its own. I remember when I was still hosting F and Urban Zone, I refused a lot of offers to travel. I couldn’t bear leaving my kids even for a few days. But now that they’re a bit older, I have slowly allowed travel back into my work. I can’t do it too much, lest they start protesting and I start feeling guilty. We also try our best to make sure the kids get a grand travel adventure every year – whether to a local or foreign destination. And whenever we can, like every couple of years, Patrick and I try to travel JUNK (just us, no kids).

Last December 2014, I had the chance to film little travelogue snippets for Lifestyle Network. They flew me to Barcelona for a week. There are a couple of interstitials that ran on Lifestyle Network last April. On my part, I filmed my own video diary. The stories are now called DAPHNE Diaries. In case you missed it, here’s the one I made in Barcelona.  And from our “JUNK” trip to Bhutan, I edited some videos. You can view them in my Daphne.PH YouTube channel. There are more videos coming, promise.

I looked back at some of my recent travel photos and realized that I haven’t really shared much about my trips to Canada. Whenever I am there, I just want to savour the moments with my family. And there’s no time to blog too much. But there have been some amazing spots we went to in Canada. And I’m ready to write about them soon.

Here are some photos from our recent family trips and some from my work trips. You will notice a lot of fashion repeats – blue blazer, black leggings, puffer jackets, Burberry trench coat, chukka boots, sneakers. I’ll be traveling again in a few days, and I have packed the same exact things. I have no problem with repeating. Before all these fast fashion brands came in, I invested in good quality clothes. So I don’t really feel the pressure to keep changing them every season. Even if it means my instagram photos may look like I’m wearing the same things over and over.

When I’m traveling there are many things I do not want to busy myself with — my outfits for instance. This is why I travel with basics, neutrals, and most importantly, sensible shoes.  I also always prepare myself health-wise. Health insurance is a must. Even if my credit card company says I am covered etc, I still buy a separate supplementary health plan. My friend once had to pay $2,000 just because her kid has a stomach ache which thankfully turned out to be uneventful. But goodbye $2,000. I also make sure I boost my immunity by taking multivitamins with iron and zinc. The last thing you want is to catch a virus while you’re on a plane.

 

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Sainte Marie among the Hurons, in Midland, Ontario. Not exactly my favourite place when I was a teenager. But now that I am a mom, a trip to Toronto isn’t complete without going here, a couple of hours north of Toronto. My kids love it.

 

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It is a recreation of the 17th century settlement by the French Jesuit Mission in the land of the Huron Wendat people. This was Ontario’s first European Community. There were parts of the fenced community that included areas for the Native People. Here’s one of the teepees. And yes, my girls and I were running, hopping, skipping, and dancing.

 

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This was the time my whole family drove to Montebello, Quebec. Snow was still thick. Whenever I’m home I feel like a kid again because I get to sit in the back of the family car. And my mom and dad take care of me. Haha.

 

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The reception cottage at Kenauk, a nature reserve with 60 lakes and only 13 chalets. My family reserved the biggest chalet. It was beautiful — facing a frozen lake with no neighbours in sight. Kenauk is managed by Fairmont in Montebello, Quebec. So it was roughing it but with glamour. We stayed for three nights.

 

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That is the chalet we rented, behind the trees. Can you see it? The kids loved exploring the woods. I promise to blog separately about this trip.

 

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This is the frozen lake that faced our cottage. This was springtime in Quebec. I didn’t bother using fancy boots. I just wore rubber rain boots and used two layers of thermal socks. The snow was starting to melt.

 

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One of the many highlights was the sugar shack experience. We took a sleigh ride through a maple forest. This is how maple syrup starts… as sap from the maple tree.

 

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This is why we got the biggest chalet.  We were complete.

 

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Selfie in my second home with my favourite sculptor Henry Moore behind. My first real job was here, at Toronto City Hall. And there’s my tried and tested Burberry trench coat and Raybans.

 

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That same time when we were in Toronto, I flew down to New Orleans for a work trip. It was a trip that would take me to New Orleans, Chicago, and Wisconsin — from almost summer to late winter in the woods — I travelled light and just made sure I had layers and warm clothes. My favourite fall back is the blue blazer. It goes with anything.

 

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And I always make sure I have a scarf in my bag.

 

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In New Orleans, they showed us the warehouse that held all the mardi gras parade floats. A bit creepy, but fun. On work trips, even if an event calls for casualness and comfort, I try to look neat even though I spent no time thinking of my outfit. I do this by wearing sensible black leggings (not too tight, they are legging pants), clean sneakers – like these plimsoles from Cath Kidston, and striped shirts.

 

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Then we went to Chicago. I had some free time one morning and decided to take the river boat cruise across the city alone. No one in my group wanted to go, but I went because it highlighted Chicago’s skyscraper history. The downside of traveling alone is you end up with selfies like this.

 

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Here I asked a stranger to take my photo and ended up with the perfect “windy city” shot. Here is the trench coat again. It’s a light one with no heavy lining. But I find that with a thin feather down layer underneath, it keeps me real warm. Best fashion investment ever.

 

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This was back in 2005 when we only had one kid – Sophia. We left her in Toronto with my family. It was a wonderful second honeymoon. Even back then I wore comfy shoes for traveling. Those were my beloved Camper bowling-style shoes. My coat was from J. Crew. It was nice and classic. I recently sold that in my garage sale and I think I regret it.

 

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Winter in Shanghai back in 2012. Muji down jacket, black leggings and Muji boots. (I am mourning the loss of these boots. I am convinced my husband moved them to a part of the house where I will not find them til we are 75. I can’t find them. Sad because they are perfect for walking and they’re not too precious.)

 

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In milder weather, like we had on our last day in Barcelona, the best travel outfit is again… black leggings and a fitted blazer. This was from the Martin Margiela line in H&M a few years ago. Because someone will ask, those are my chukka boots which I bought in Wisconsin. They are so comfy.

 

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Wearing my Celine leather boots in Barcelona. Very comfortable because of its stacked heel and square toes. But I was too paranoid to scuff them. I bring them to wear on fancy nights out when I feel like wearing a skirt. But it’s not the kind of boots to go roughing in. Much to precious. And I doubt I’ll ever find beautiful boots like these because they are narrow enough to fit my skinny legs.

 

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Here’s what I wear when “roughing” it. This was in Bhutan last February. Need I say it again – black leggings, chukka boots, puffer jacket.

 

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And a coat from the most recent season of Uniqlo with their Jil Sander collaboration. Also in Bhutan.

 

I think you get the drift. I stick to the tried and tested classics. I go for comfort and ease. And I really prepare for trips. I’m actually now on my way to New Zealand. It’s my first time. The trip involves urban, rural and VIP meetings. You already know what I’ll be wearing. Haha. Black.

 

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For this trip, we are doing everything in style and comfort. I was treated by Conzace to a luxury car ride to the airport.

 

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As you can see, I keep everything monochromatic – black. So I don’t have to think about matching whatever.

 

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I also made sure I strengthened my immunity by drinking multivitamins with minerals like Conzace daily. I also packed enough for the trip. I will be outdoors a lot.

 

Can’t wait to tell you stories about New Zealand! Stay tuned.

 

 

Gingersnaps Pluggies

 

 

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I was going through some of the Gingersnaps photos I had in my library and found old ones from when Sophia was still a toddler. We have been wearing Gingersnaps so long, that walking into their stores feels like an extension of our home. The girls love their clothes up to now. Sophia is actually in the demographics of Just G already, but she still fits into the biggest size of Gingersnaps. Good thing she has no issues wearing the dresses. They are all so beautiful.

 

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When Lily was a few months old and Soph was around 3.

 

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The same red door, with Stella this time. That dress was from December 2014.

 

We love it every time Gingersnaps introduces a new product – the Mary Jane shoes, the strappy sandals, the handmade fashion accessories. This summer, we are crazy about Gingersnaps Pluggies. They are these different coloured rubber rubber bands that can be personalized by attaching the letter buttons on the perforated straps. There are different collections and themes such as Tropical Punch, Jewel, Sugar and Spice. My girls have been making their own statement bracelets – names, moods, wishes.

 

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Sophia’s Gingersnaps Pluggies.

 

For the month of May, Gingersnaps is having a little Instagram contest. So if you’re up to it, you and/or your kids may have find this real fun! Simply snap a picture of your Gingersnaps Pluggies and post it on your Instagram, tag @GingersnapsPH and use #Gingersnapslovespluggies. The best five photos will win P1,000 gift certificate.

 

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Terms & Conditions:

01  The Gingersnaps Pluggies Contest is open to all our instagram @gingersnapsph followers and residents of the Philippines only.
02  Each participant is allowed to submit one (1) entry.
03  Contest Period: May 1-31, 2015.
04  Five (5) winners will be selected by Gingersnaps Philippines management.
05  The winners will be announced on June 10, 2015.
06  Prizes are final and not convertible to cash.
07  Employees, officers, affiliates, member of the immediate families (up to third degree of consanguinity) of Il Coniglio Bianco Corp. and its group of companies are NOT eligible to join this contest.
08  This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram.

 

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Gingersnaps Pluggies Bands are P99.75 per piece. The Plug-ins are P129.75 per pack.

 

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Lily’s Pluggies says “Lily is awesome.” That’s been her mantra all summer long. Go Lily!

 

See you in Instagram!

 

 

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!