October Stories of Positivity

A few months ago, when I was trying to figure out my personal brand, I realized that I wanted to be a writer who could uplift, inspire, and educate others through her stories. The world is already filled with devastating news and negative energy, so I wanted to share a little bit of positivity in my tiny corner of the Internet.

When my friend Tata Mapa, editor-in-chief of My Pope Philippines, asked me to work on some stories for the magazine, I was thrilled! After all, what could be more positive and uplifting than a magazine about our beloved Pope Francis. This new title promises to be your monthly source of inspiration. Do check out the premier issue, which I helped copy edit. It’s available in book stores and magazine stands for only P85.

My Pope October 2017 cover

Here’s another story I wrote that’s out this month: “Seven Hours in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter” in Cosmopolitan Philippines’ October 2017 issue. In this article, I give practical tips on how to maximize your stay in the WWOHP in Osaka, Japan.

Harry Potter Cosmo low res.jpg

One of the reasons I love the Harry Potter series is because it allows its readers—both young and old—to believe in magic. It’s not just a fun, feel-good story; it’s about the power of love, the value of friendship, and the belief that we can defeat evil.

Explore Hogwarts and the village of Hogsmeade at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Osaka, Japan.

So again, do grab a copy of Cosmopolitan’s October issue to read the whole story!

Cosmo October 2017 cover.png

Refresh Your Health in 5 Easy Ways

When I was working as a full-time managing editor, I found it extremely difficult to live a healthy lifestyle. I would spend long hours at the office just sitting at my desk, writing and editing articles. I used to run a lot (I even ran a marathon once), but as my workload got heavier, I found myself working out less and eating more. I have to admit, it was really hard for me to resist sweets, so whenever a bag of goodies would arrive at the office, I always had to have my share. Our food editor was also an excellent cook so whenever she would prepare dishes for an upcoming issue, the team would always get delicious, free meals!

Perhaps it was this combination of stress and unhealthy eating habits—not to mention the fact that I’m now in my thirties—that led me to gain weight and have a host of health problems over the years. Last year, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, and just last July, I had some myomas removed via a laparoscopic surgery. This was part of the reason why I decided to take a break from full-time work. I needed to take care of my health so I could continue doing what I loved and taking care of the people I loved.

Last month, I was lucky enough to be invited to an event that was perfectly aligned with my goal of having a healthier lifestyle. Entitled “Refresh Your Health,” the event taught me a few things I could do to live a more well-balanced life.

1. Develop a regular yoga practice. The event started out with a 30-minute yoga session led by GoWell ambassador, Bubbles Paraiso. I’ve always believed that yoga is a great way to strengthen the body and calm the mind. Now that I’m cleared to start working out again, I hope to develop a more regular yoga practice. (For days when I can’t go to a yoga studio, I practice yoga at home by following this YouTube channel.)

Of course, it’s even better when you have a community to support you. If you’re looking for resources on holistic wellness and people to help you fulfill your workout goals, check out GoWell. (The Bull Runner Jaymie Pizarro, one of my ultimate running idols, is a GoWell ambassador too!)

Fairmont Fitness Center

The yoga class was held at Fairmont Makati’s clean and spacious fitness center.

2. Choose the right beauty products—or better yet, make your own! It’s no secret that many products in the market today are filled with toxic chemicals. If you’ll be applying something to your skin every day, you better make sure it’s safe. One way to do that is to make your own beauty products—that way, you know exactly what you’re putting in your body. I thought it would be hard, but turns out, it’s super easy! I even managed to make my own body polish using Himalayan salt and coconut oil, as well as a refreshing Lavender Peppermint Mist.

body polish and mist recipe

3. Apply acupressure on your face. Did you know that applying pressure on different points of your face can produce a variety of interesting results? For instance, pressing on point 1 (see image below) can calm the mind and relieve stiff neck and headaches. A representative from Kerstin Florian, a line of award-winning beauty products featuring natural, plant- and marine-based, active ingredients, taught us how to do this 16-point acupressure facial exercise. Now this is one workout I can easily do every day!

acupressure

4. Have a massage. There’s nothing like a relaxing massage to release the tension from one’s day. The Willow Stream Spa at Fairmont Makati focuses on energy renewal. I’m glad I got to try their massage—from the peaceful ambiance and the soothing music to their well-trained staff, it was definitely one of the most relaxing massages I’ve ever had. Visit their website to see their other offerings.

Willow Stream Spa Treatment Room

5. Go on a wellness retreat. I cannot express enough how wonderful it feels—and how absolutely necessary it is for one’s sanity—to take a few days off to nourish oneself. And I don’t mean a hectic vacation with a packed itinerary, where you come back feeling even more tired! What I mean is a retreat where you can take a few days off to spend some quiet moments in reflection. With an emphasis on health and wellness through fitness, movement, travel, and healthy eating, Flow Retreats are the perfect way to  nourish your body, mind, and soul. Check out FlowRetreats.com for upcoming retreats in Baler and El Nido.

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If you don’t want to go too far from the city, check out Flow Retreats’ fun, halloween-themed event this weekend.

Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

When I first read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child back in 2016, I liked the story but I felt it was lacking somehow. After all, it was written as a screenplay and didn’t have the same compelling storytelling and vivid descriptions as the first seven books. But when I finally got to watch the play at the Palace Theatre in London last month, I thought, “Now, that’s how this story is supposed to be experienced!”

cursed child book

Below are five things I loved most about the play, along with some tips you might find helpful if you plan to watch it anytime soon. Don’t worry, I won’t be posting any spoilers because J.K. Rowling specifically requested that we #KeepTheSecrets!

harry potter play

1. The bromance between Albus and Scorpius. Theirs was a forbidden bromance, as their fathers (Harry and Draco) were arch enemies. But these two just couldn’t help but become best friends. Kudos to Samuel Blenkin, the actor who played Scorpius. He was hilarious!

2. The incredibly talented cast and crew. Aside from the two lead actors, I also loved seeing the cast play Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Draco as their older selves. As playwright Jack Thorne said in the play’s souvenir program, this play had “a sensational cast and a crew that can make the ordinary extraordinary.” My dream is that one day I’ll get to watch Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and Tom Felton reprise their roles in this play as the adult versions of their characters in the HP movies.

Check out this behind the scenes shoot of this year’s cast:

3. The magic and special effects. People disappearing and reappearing, spells being cast, and dementors flying across the theatre—it was a play and a magic show rolled into one! It completely blew me away, and was unlike anything I’d ever seen in any other play before.

Spot the Dark Mark at the theatre in the photo below:

dark mark

4. Ron and Hermione. I have to admit, I was never a fan of this pairing. I always thought Harry and Hermione should have ended up together—especially since Dan Radcliffe and Emma Watson had such great chemistry in the movies. But the play showed me that Ron and Hermione are actually a good match—Ron’s playful, affectionate personality balances out Hermione’s serious, bookish demeanor. (I’ve always identified with Hermione, and now that I think about it, my husband is actually a lot like Ron!) Anyway, the actors in the play made me believe that Ron and Hermione were meant to be together.

5. Five hours of Harry Potter goodness. When we first bought tickets, I was baffled as to why we had to buy a set of two tickets for two days. Then I learned that the play is actually in two parts, and each part is about two and a half hours long. (The set we got was for two consecutive days but there are also days when you have Part One in the afternoon and Part Two in the evening.) Part One felt a bit slower, since we were just getting acquainted with the characters, but as soon as the curtains opened to reveal the intricately designed set at the Palace Theatre, I was transported into the Wizarding World. Part Two was definitely more exciting, but for a play that lasted almost five hours in total, I did not feel bored at all. I think Potterheads will agree that more Harry Potter is always a good thing!

harry potter cursed child

Tip: It’s not too late to buy tickets! Even if the play is fully booked, just keep trying because there are people who cancel at the last minute. We actually got three tickets just a month before we left for the U.K. (Though one of the seats was not located beside the other two.) Book your tickets at HarryPotterthePlay.com. The play will also be showing in Broadway by Spring 2018!

P.S. If you have some time between watching the two parts, be sure to check out the House of Minalima, which showcases many of the graphics that designers Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima created for the Harry Potter movies. It’s just walking distance from the Palace Theatre and is definitely worth a visit.