Discovering the Yogi in me

It was a beautiful, sunny day at one of Bicol’s white sand beaches. The sun burned my skin while the sea glistened, inviting me to take a dip. But instead of jumping into the water, I stood like a warrior, my arms outstretched and my feet digging into the sand. I tried to stay still, refusing to wipe the sweat that was dripping from my forehead.

yoga warrior pose

That’s me at the right side with the polka-dotted shorts. My friend Char at the center is #BackGoals!

The year was 2011 and my friend Martin was a newly certified yoga teacher. He decided to use our prayer group as guinea pigs to practice teaching. Once a week, we would gather at my house and do our sessions in the lanai. And when we went on a trip to Bicol, he decided it would be fun to do yoga at the beach!

yoga at the beach

It’s been seven years since I started practicing yoga. Though I’ve been doing it on and off over the years, it never ceases to amaze me how this practice helps me become strong and centered.

As I mentioned in previous blog posts, 2017 was a tumultuous year composed of huge changes and a major surgery that left me feeling weak and lethargic. I felt like I was back in square one, especially when it came to my career and my health.

I wanted 2018 to be a Brave New Year, and to achieve that, I committed to starting a regular yoga practice by joining Adriene’s free 30-Day Yoga Challenge on YouTube. Though it took me a little over 30 days to complete the challenge, doing it helped me develop a regular workout routine and gave me the confidence boost I needed. After 30 days of showing up on the mat, I realized that little by little I had gotten stronger and I could literally stretch myself farther than I ever thought possible.

yoga triangle pose

Doing the triangle pose has always been a struggle for me. I could never reach the ground without bending my knee. But after 30 days, I was able to touch the floor on this pose for the first time ever!

I also joined Urban Ashram’s Beginners Yoga Course, which was a wonderful way to learn more about yoga and ignite my passion for the practice. But more than learning about the basic poses and the physical benefits of yoga, the course reminded me that there is strength within—that I have the power to transform myself, one step at a time. (I wrote about my learnings from the two-day workshop at the Urban Yogi blog so do check it out!) For those who want to jumpstart or refresh their practice, I highly recommend this workshop. They have one coming up this weekend (Feb 24-25) and a few more in March. Check out the schedules at Urban Ashram’s website.

yoga basics urban ashram

Though I still have a long way to go when it comes to my health and career goals, I know that with patience and hard work, it can be done. Just as we mindfully go through each step in a sun salutation, the road to progress cannot be rushed. We just have to breathe in, breathe out, and enjoy every stage of the journey.


Chef Jessie Recalls Her Encounters With Pope Francis

Around this time three years ago, from January 15 to 19, 2015, Pope Francis visited the Philippines. It was a wonderful affair with Filipinos from all over the country flocking to the streets just to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father. Unfortunately, I didn’t see him in person, but I was glued to my television screen that whole week, drinking in every word he said. I loved his speech for the youth at the University of Sto. Tomas and was particularly struck by this quote: “Allow yourselves to be surprised by the love of God. That will guarantee a good life.”

A few months ago, I had the privilege of meeting a woman who got up close and personal with Pope Francis. Chef Jessie Sincioco prepared all the Holy Father’s meals during his time in Manila. I interviewed her for My Pope Philippines’ November issue and was so inspired by her enthusiasm and love for the Pope. (She even visited him in Rome to personally deliver his favorite fruit: Philippine mangoes!)


Photographer Victor Guerrero captures the ever-smiling chef on camera

Chef Jessie wasn’t just inspired by the Pope—she was also moved to action. Since a lot of people had been asking about the meals she prepared, she decided to offer all the Pope’s menus at her restaurant, Chef Jessie Rockwell Club. During the shoot, we were able to try some of the dishes and they were mouth-watering. Not only did she use premium ingredients, she also prepared them with love. She personally served the food to me and photographer Vic and this really touched me. I felt so special because I was being served by the woman who served the Pope!


Beef consommé with herbed dumplings, roast U.S. black angus beef au jus served with baked potato and steamed broccoli florets, and Chilean sea bass in tomato artichoke heart sauce served with grilled vegetables and wild rice risotto—these were just some of the Holy Father’s favorite meals during his Manila visit.


When Chef Jessie served Pope Francis the flambéed mango with mantecado ice cream for dessert, she said “simot na simot” and he was even scraping the glass. It was that good.

If you’d like to try this sumptuous meal, the Holy Father’s menus will be served in Chef Jessie Rockwell Club (G/F Amorsolo Square, Amorsolo Drive, Rockwell Center, Makati) from January 15 to February 15, 2018. Not only will your bellies be happy, your heart will be full too because 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Tulay Ng Kabataan, a foundation for street children that Pope Francis visited.

And as if this whole experience wasn’t a big enough blessing, the My Pope team informed me that Il Mio Papa, their Italian counterpart, picked up my story and ran it in one of their issues. How cool is that? I have an article published in an Italian magazine! Woohoo!


It was such an honor to meet Chef Jessie and hear all about her experiences with the Pope. Thank you, My Pope Philippines! Check out the article published in the November 2017 issue.

14-17. Everyday Heroes p1

14-17. Everyday Heroes p2And for more inspiring stories to lift your hearts and spirits, grab a copy of My Pope Philippines in book stores and magazine stands nationwide.My Pope Jan 2018


A Brave New Year

I can still remember the time I sat at the airport in 2004 with eight virtual strangers, waiting for our flight to Singapore. I had just graduated from college and was about to participate in an ASEAN exchange program for five months. I was excited, sure, but mostly I was terrified. It was the first time I was traveling without my family, the first time I would live away from home. I was tempted to turn back, but despite the fear, I left anyway. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life—and those strangers turned into some of my best friends.

When I joined AMCI Mountaineering Club in 2005, I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn’t know I had to run every training day, climb the toughest mountains, and push myself to the limits. I was afraid I wouldn’t survive. But after all the hard work, I made it! And I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. Plus, that’s where I met the love of my life. 😉

I’ve always been a fearful person, but when I was younger, I managed to push through those fears and take big leaps of faith. But as I grew older, it became harder and harder to take risks. Somewhere along the way, I got stuck. I got lazy. I got too comfortable. The fears grew so big that they blocked my path. They said, “Just stay where you are. Stay where it’s safe. There’s no need to move forward.”

Last December, I celebrated my 35th birthday. It was fun being with family and friends and eating to my heart’s content. But deep inside, I had this gnawing feeling. I felt anxious about the future. What was I going to do with the rest of my life? If I died tomorrow, could I honestly say that I lived life to the fullest? That I reached my full potential?

So when 2018 rolled around, I knew I had to do something about it. I couldn’t just sit around and let my fears get the best of me. I had to BE BRAVE.

I know it’s going to be challenging. I could just as easily slip into old habits. That’s why I’m committing to a few things to help me stay focused.

1. Write in my journal once a week.

I love journaling because it helps me make sense of the things going on around me. This year, I got two unique journals.


The Best Year Ever kit is a tool to help you review the past year, set new goals, and set your intention for 2018. Made by my good friend Micah Sulit, together with life coach Aurora Suarez, the kit is also filled with surprises you can open when you hit your milestones. (Spoiler alert: The inspirational stickers are a part of it!) Available at

Also crafted by Aurora, the Sunday Night Journal is a weekly “self-care ritual.” It contains insightful questions to help you reflect on the past week, and start the coming week with gratitude and positivity. I’m hoping to make this a weekly habit! Available at

2. Join The Purposeful Creative’s Braver Goals Bootcamp.

When pursuing a goal, it always helps to have a mentor and a supportive community cheering you on. I joined Arriane Serafico’s Purpose Driven Branding class last year, and it was so useful in terms of helping me define my personal brand. Since I joined the VIP community, I was also able to meet wonderful new friends who took the class with me. This year, I decided to invest in her Braver Goals class—it’s just perfect since my intention for the year is to be brave! Care to be brave with me? It’s not yet too late to join! Just log on to

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3. Stay healthy, stay TRUE.

Last year, I had a host of health problems so one of my main goals this year is to lose weight and lead a healthier lifestyle. To ease myself into it, I’m doing Adriene’s 30-Day Yoga Challenge on YouTube. I love how her theme is to be TRUE—as she says on her site, the challenge is designed to “trim, tone, and circle you back to YOU.” And really, what could be braver than staying true to yourself?

4. Pray daily.

One of my favorite bible passages of all time is Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus Walks on Water. Whenever I feel anxious or afraid, I always take comfort in the words of Jesus: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” If you need a guide to prayer, I’ve found the Sacred Space app to be very helpful. Or if you simply want to meditate, Insight Timer has plenty of guided meditations on different topics. My favorite is the one entitled “Transforming Fear” by Sarah Blondin. You can also listen to it here.

Have you set your intention for the New Year? If you have other tips on how to face your fears, I’d love to hear them. Cheers to a #Braver2018!


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!


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 for upcoming retreats in Baler and El Nido.


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 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.

10 Steps to Becoming a Successful Freelancer

During my years as a full-time magazine editor, I would give out assignments to freelance writers, photographers, makeup artists, stylists, and illustrators. All these people would come together to help us editors produce the beautiful pages in our magazines and books.

When my magazine closed, I decided to give freelancing a try. After all, if our contributors could do it, I probably could too, right? But now that I’m a freelancer myself, I realized that it’s not as easy as it looks! Now that I no longer have a day job, now that my routine of going to the office every day is gone, there are moments when I get a panic attack and think: Where will I get my next paycheck? What if nobody assigns me anything anymore? What am I going to do with my life?!

Last Saturday, I attended the The Freelancer Fair 2017 at the Bayanihan Center and it helped address some questions I have about freelancing. It was a lively gathering with a variety of booths as well as a series of talks meant to empower the attendees.

freelancer fair 2017 horizontal

If you’re thinking about becoming a freelancer, or just earning some money on the side, here are a few things I learned from the speakers at the event.

1. Find your purpose. Before diving into your work or marketing your services, figure out your “why.” As author Simon Sinek said in his book Start with Why, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.”

2. Know your strengths. What are you good at? What do people usually go to you for? What kind of services can you offer? And don’t just look at your day job or the course you took up in college. Think about your hobbies and passions too. Obsessed with running and healthy eating? Perhaps you can be a fitness coach! Have a knack for sales? Perhaps you can be a real estate agent. There is a common misconception that freelancers are only classified as online workers. But the truth is, a freelancer can be anyone from a virtual assistant or online shopper to a financial advisor or life coach. So no matter what your skills, you can find a way to make freelancing work for you.

3. Think of yourself as a business. As a freelancer, you are your own boss. That doesn’t mean you get to slack off. As a business owner, you need to be strategic about your business decisions and do a lot of hard work to make your business succeed.

4. Start collaborating (not competing). With so many freelancers out there (about 1.5 million in the online world according to the event organizers), it’s definitely tough. It’s easy to start thinking of everyone else as competition. But if you collaborate with fellow freelancers, then your community will grow, you can come up with a better product or service, and you might even learn something new.

5. Invest in yourself. If you’re not confident in your skills, invest in courses and tools to learn more about the job you want to do. Make time to study—no excuses.


Photo by Corinne Kutz from

6. Have a positive attitude. I couldn’t agree more with this piece of advice! There will be so many stumbling blocks along the way. But as long as you train your mind to be positive and do the work, everything else will follow. Believe in the power of the Universe!

7. Value your relationships. As the theme of the workshop goes, you need to cultivate relationships. Who do you want to serve? Find out where those people are and reach out to them. Take care of your clients, suppliers, and everyone else you’re working with. Most of all, always be kind.

8. Strive for excellence. Don’t settle for work that is “pwede na.” Do everything to the best of your ability.

9. Communicate your thoughts and ideas well. One of the most interesting questions during the creative freelancing panel was about how to deal with difficult clients. According to one panelist, you need to learn to challenge the client (in a nice way). Ask questions and work together; don’t just take orders.

10. Commit to wow your clients every time. I got this from inspirational speaker Francis Miranda, whose talk I enjoyed most. He says we should strive to be extraordinary (going beyond what everyone else does), progressive (always improving), and consistent (delivering consistently good quality work). After all, “the best marketing is a good experience that your client can’t stop raving about. Good experiences get clients. Wow experiences get loyalists.”

There are so many more tips and insights, but I think I’ll have to limit this post to 10 tips for now. I hope I can keep these in mind as I navigate the freelancing world—and I hope they are helpful to you as well. If there are other tips you’d like to share, please do post them in the comments. 🙂

On Heat Levels and Live Readings

As a writer, there are so many authors I admire and aspire to be like. Jane Austen and L.M. Montgomery for the classics. J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, and J.K. Rowling for epic fantasies. Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, and Jennifer E. Smith for YA. Elizabeth Gilbert and Gretchen Rubin for self-help and inspiration. And so many more!

When we talk about authors, it’s usually the foreign ones who get more credit, but there are so many Filipino authors who also write great stories. I attended The Philippine Readers and Writers Festival last weekend and it was truly a celebration of local talent.


The panel I attended was “Clever Hands: How to Write Steamy Scenes in New Adult Lit.” Featuring local authors Brigitte Bautista, Six de los Reyes, Clare Elizabeth Marquez, C.P. Santi, Ines Bautista-Yao, and Mina V. Esguerra, the discussion was definitely eye-opening. To summarize, there are several heat levels in romance, ranging from zero (clean), one (sweet), two (sensual), three (sexy and sizzling), and four (erotic romance). These heat levels can help clarify who your readers might be, and they will affect your characters, plot, and word choices. (I’ve read books across all heat levels, but in terms of my fiction, I think I’ll stick to level one… for now. Haha!)

The authors gave great writing tips, but the highlight of the session was definitely the live readings, done by actors Gio Gahol, Rachel Coates, and Fred Lo. It was thrilling to see the written word come alive before my eyes. Check out these videos to see what I mean. (Thank you to April of The Reading Belles for uploading.)

All That Glitters by Ines Bautista-Yao, a sweet romance about college kids Carlos and Billie. I’ve read this and highly recommend it!

Bucket List to Love by C.P. Santi. I love that it’s set in Japan—and after hearing this excerpt, I just had to get a copy.

I wish I could have attended more talks (and bought more books), but sitting in on this panel was definitely worth it. It inspired me to keep reading, writing, improving—and having fun along the way!


Travel Journaling Tips from Abbey Sy and Christine Herrin

When I turned twelve years old, my parents gave me a beautiful, hardbound journal for my birthday. It was a light shade of pink with dainty, watercolored illustrations of flowers, a cafe, a plate of food, and a bottle of wine on the cover. It also came with a matching box that had a lock and key. Since then, I began writing pages and pages of words about my life.

In high school, I started scrapbooking. I became obsessed with lettering and calligraphy (back when it wasn’t all the rage yet and all I had to guide me was an old textbook from art class). I started sorting through my photos and old magazines, and cutting and pasting them onto this huge scrapbook. Every time we went to a movie or a trip, I would save all the ticket stubs, the maps, the souvenirs. My friends entrusted me as the memory keeper—the person who had a record of all the photos from all the memorable events in our young lives. By the time I graduated from college, I had more than a dozen thick scrapbooks and albums.

But as the world moved into the digital age, these hobbies fell by the wayside. It became too tedious to print and sort through hundreds of photos on my digicam. Once I started working, I became too busy to sit down and work on a scrapbook. Whereas before, I would write on my journal almost daily, now my handwritten entries are few and far between.

When artist Abbey Sy came out with her book, The ABCs of Hand Lettering, and later, The ABCs of Journaling, I was transported back to my high school days. I immediately got a copy of both books because they reminded me of a simpler time—a time when I was able to diligently record and reflect on my experiences. To me, journaling and scrapbooking weren’t just about preserving memories, they were also about helping me figure out who I was and my place in the world.

abbey and angel

Fangirl moment: I’m such a huge fan of Abbey’s work!

Last Saturday, August 19, I attended a travel journaling workshop at Common Folk Coffee Bar with Abbey and Christine Herrin, another talented artist who also happens to be my former officemate. It was such a fun gathering with fellow creatives and journaling enthusiasts, and it inspired me to start scrapbooking again, especially since I have two big trips coming up!

classmates journaling workshop

With Abbey, Christine, and my fellow travelers at Common Folk Coffee Bar. (Photo courtesy of Abbey Sy)

If you’d like to go back to journaling and scrapbooking (like me) or if this is a hobby you want to start, here are a few of Abbey and Christine’s travel journaling tips:


1. Do your research. Find inspiration online. Look for places that are not only Instagram-worthy, but that you and your travel buddies will also find interesting.

2. Decide on what journal you will use. It can be any old notebook you have lying around, but of course, I would recommend journals from either Abbey or Christine!

enjoy the journey journal by abbey sy

Enjoy the Journey travel journal, P350, available at (Photo courtesy of Abbey Sy)


3. Remember that there are many ways to journal. For instance, Christine collects ephemera (memorabilia and souvenirs) and sticks them on her journal along with her photos. Abbey does this as well, but she also draws and paints interesting places on her journey. So there is really no right or wrong way to do it. The important thing is to find what works for you.

4. When laying out the pages in your journal, draw or stick the ephemera first before you start writing. You can also use stickers, stamps, and washi tape to decorate it.


Stamp sets by Christine Herrin, P850 each, available at She also has a collab stamp sheet with Abbey! (Photo courtesy of Abbey Sy)

5. Do your journaling before breakfast or after dinner to free up headspace. It’s a nice way to remember and appreciate what happened the previous day, while also getting ready to face the day ahead. But don’t spend too much time documenting. Enjoy the place!

6. If you don’t have time to journal during the trip, just use ziplocks to store your ephemera and then work on your journal when you get home. You can also do random stuff like take a screenshot of the weather for the day. I love Christine’s Everyday Explorers journal because it’s filled with a list of prompts that can help you document your trip in a unique and interesting way. It also comes with a box where you can store your souvenirs.

everyday explorers by christine herrin

Everyday Explorers journal kit, available at (Photo courtesy of Abbey Sy)


7. If you’re fixing your journal after the trip, decide whether you will arrange everything chronologically, by place, or by theme.

8. Collect and select. You don’t have to put ALL the details of your trip. Choose the best photos and ephemera, and just write the things you want to remember the most.

9. Set aside time to do it soon after your trip—otherwise, you’ll never get around to finishing it!

10. “Don’t be too precious.” As Christine said, don’t be afraid to write on that blank page, to mess it up, and to stick things on it. It’s your journal after all.

journaling loot

My travel journaling loot. I’m so excited and I can’t wait to get started!

10 Tips for a Great Interview

One of the things I love most about being a writer is meeting people from all walks of life. Whether it’s a public school teacher from a far-flung province, a running coach who guides underprivileged young athletes, or a big celebrity with multiple endorsements, each person has a unique and interesting story to tell. While I often feel inspired after each interview, there is also a huge pressure to write about the subject in a way that does justice to his or her story—and to write an article that people will want to read all the way to the end.

The key to writing a great story about a person starts with the interview. Below are a few tips I’ve learned on how to have a meaningful conversation with your interviewee. (Disclaimer: I am not a hard news reporter, so these tips will mostly apply to feature articles.)

1. Research on your subject. Before you meet the person you are interviewing, do your research. Read up on articles that have been written about her before. After all, you don’t want to write an article with information that already exists online. You need to find a different way to write about this person.

2. Prepare your questions in advance. Once you’ve learned more about your subject, prepare your list of questions according to the topic of the article you’re writing. If your focus is on a celebrity’s new movie, for instance, it probably won’t help to bring up an old showbiz issue that has already been resolved.

3. Be friendly and curious, without being intrusive. Respect your subject’s boundaries. If she clearly states that she doesn’t want to talk about a certain topic, don’t push the issue. I’ve learned that once your subject becomes uncomfortable, the more she won’t answer your questions!

4. Genuinely listen. Don’t interrupt the subject while she is talking. If she diverts from the topic, wait for a break in her train of thought before gently steering her back to your preferred topic.

5. Ask interesting, open-ended questions. If your questions are just answerable by “yes” or “no,” you won’t get the meat you need for your article. It also helps to ask unique questions that will allow your interviewee to give more substantial answers, instead of the usual spiel she gives other interviewers. (I love watching Vogue’s 73 Questions series. Some of their questions are pretty good and can be used for a standard interview.)

6. Ask follow up questions. If something isn’t clear, don’t be afraid to ask more questions. You don’t have to strictly follow your list. Sometimes the best stories come out of topics you weren’t even planning to talk about.

7. Be professional. I once went to a press conference for a popular boy band. During the Q&A portion, a lady from the press went to the mic and started gushing about the band for the next five minutes. This is probably fine at a fan meet-and-greet, but definitely not at a press con! If you’re interviewing someone you are a huge fan of, it’s okay to show your appreciation, but don’t waste his or her time with endless gushing.

8. Never make the interview about you. Many times, you’ll find yourself relating to your interviewee. Perhaps you had a similar experience to what she was talking about or you have similar views about a certain topic. Don’t hog the spotlight by talking about yourself!

9. Be open. Different people have different views. You are not there to debate with your subject. You are there to learn more about her story.

10. Enjoy the conversation. The best interviews are those where you feel like you’re just talking to a friend over coffee. So just relax and have fun!


Throwback to 2010 when I got the chance to interview Daniel Radcliffe over the phone. As a total Potterhead, it was a dream come true! It only lasted about five minutes (and my voice got very high after he said, “Hello, Angel!”) but I think I managed to keep my composure and write a good story, which was published in Candy magazine.