Our Relaxing Experience at Balay Hilom Spa

One of the activities that I love is getting a massage.  

Once a month I schedule a massage from my favorite massage therapist.  Massage is a way for me to relieve stress.  After getting a massage, I get a good sleep and my stiff muscles loosen up.  Massage is one thing that makes me happy, hihi.

I had an invite to try the services of Balay Hilom Spa in Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.  Balay (Ilonggo word for house) Hilom (means heal) specializes in giving traditional Filipino massage to their clients.  It is truly a house of healing because after your session with them, you will feel relieved from sore muscles and everyday stress.  The ambience is sooooo inviting; it looks like a nipa hut and you can smell peppermint all over the place.  You can also hear the sound of a kulintang (traditional musical instrument from Mindanao) playing at the background to match with the overall theme of the place.  Balay Hilom Spa is a bit dark to relax your eyes from glaring lights.

Balay Hilom Spa from the outside

At first, they will welcome you with their house blend tea.  I bet it is a combination of local herbs because it tastes really good.  Ms. Ana, the receptionist, said that their house blend tea is one of the reasons why people go back at Balay Hilom.  We were also given slippers to use while we are having our treatment.  

The reception area

Hallway on the left going to the therapy rooms

Hallway on the right going to the therapy rooms

Waiting area for the clients

This miniature instrument is being struck by the receptionist to call the therapists

Tip jar, the left is for female therapist and the right is for male therapist

Some chairs that can you see at the entrance on your left

Display rack of woodworks by Filipino artists

The slippers they provide to the clients

After drinking the complimentary tea, our feet were soaked in warm water for few minutes.  Then, we were led to our massage room.

Balay Hilom's house blend tea

Our feet were soaked in warm water before we started our massage therapy

The massage room has curtain partitions, they can open it if you are in a group.

Inside the therapy room

We had their signature Hilot Balay Hilom.  

Kib felt a bit ticklish at first, but after a few minutes he fell asleep.  After the session he said that he felt relaxed although his back was a bit sore from the pressure applied to his stiff muscles.  I told him that it is normal and it will be gone after a day or two.  

Hilot Balay Hilom is different from the usual massage that I get.  The massage started from the back going down to the legs.  The technique is more of hagod (gentle massage strokes) with minimal application of pressure on certain parts of the body.  This technique is really relaxing because the massage is more on healing the whole body and not just to soften stiff muscles.  The hot towel that they also provided after the massage has a relaxing smell too!  We were given another cup of their signature house blend tea before we go home.

Indeed the whole experience was worth every penny!  I rarely go to a spa because I feel that the money that I paid is mostly for the amenities and not the experience itself.  In Balay Hilom Spa, apart from experiencing their traditional massages, they also use all-natural ingredients on all their treatment and these ingredients are truly Filipino.

Have a spa date with your loved one at Balay Hilom Spa!

Balay Hilom Spa is at FBR Arcade, Katipunan Avenue (C-5), Loyola Heights, Quezon City (across Ateneo de Manila University).  You may visit their Facebook page for the rates and packages they offer.  While they accept walk-ins, it is better to schedule an appointment with them especially during weekends.  Balay Hilom Spa is open Monday-Sunday from 2:00pm-11:00pm.

Kib's Latest CognitiveMAP Assessment Results at BrainFit

Since Kib is homeschooled, I do not have means to assess if he is at par with kids his age and if his social skills are improving.  I am very much thankful at BrainFit because it gives me an idea on what areas I need to improve on to Kib.

Kib had his first CognitiveMAP assessment three years ago (please see post here).  I got an email from BraintFit again if I wanted Kib to have assessed again.  I said yes and scheduled an appointment with them last March 6, 2018.  The CognitiveMAP assessment lasted for almost two hours.

Curious about CognitiveMAP assessment?

CognitiveMAP is a proprietary process that BrainFit Studios worldwide use to measure the brain fitness level of the child prior to brain fitness enhancement.  Aside from allowing the BrainFit teachers to precisely identify areas for improvement, this analysis of cognitive skills also enables the teachers to help the child achieve success and peak performance.

Each child has a unique cognitive profile.  The uniqueness of the child's brain profile ascertains that the child is receiving the most optimal cognitive improvement programme to result in the best possible improvement.

Ideally, a new CognitiveMAP assessment should be done at every milestone of improvement as recommended by the child's brain fitness trainer at BrainFit.

Part of the CognitiveMAP assessment is that a parent should also answer a questionnaire to determine if the parent's expectations are aligned with the CognitiveMAP results.  It includes a list of skills and which skill a parent thinks his/her child needs to improve on.  

Here are the list of skills:

  • Attention/Focus
  • Over-activity/Impulsiveness
  • Gross motor skills/Balance
  • Fine motor skills/Handwriting
  • Listening/Following Instructions
  • Reading/Comprehension
  • Speech/Language Skills
  • Learning Speed/Ability
  • Academic Performance
  • Memory
  • Confidence/Motivation
  • Emotional regulation/Social skills

The results of Kib's CognitiveMAP assessment reflected his strengths, average skills, and weaknesses.  

Strengths (areas of the assessment which showed Excellent and High Average scores):

  • Fluid intelligence or Non-verbal IQ (essential for integrating information, grasping patterns, understanding relationships, applying logic/reasoning and problem-solving)
  • Visual memory (essential foundation for visual-based learning, spelling, visualization and attention/focus)
  • Visual spatial-relations (essential foundation for learning alphabets and numbers, grasping geometrical and Math concepts, and organization of space)
  • Eye control accuracy (essential foundation for accurate reading, eye scanning and attention/focus)
  • Working memory (essential ability not to only remember a sequence of verbal information, but also to manipulate the information, critical for Math performance and multi-step sequential problem-solving)

Average skills (Average scores):

  • Handwriting speed (reflection of sensory-motor processing speed and fluency)
  • Sensory-Motor: Balance (essential foundation for body posture, mental efficiency and attention/focus)
  • Fine motor regulation (essential ability to control finger fidgets and motor restlessness, allowing one to stay attentive and focused)
  • Visual reaction time (essential ability to process and respond to auditory information rapidly, critical for efficient learning and quick thinking)
  • Visual impulse control (essential ability to not overreact to visual information, critical for accurate processing of visual information, examination performance and social skills)
  • Overall attention ability (essential ability to focus, concentrate and not daydream, critical for learning and school performance)
  • Auditory attention (essential ability to focus on verbal information, critical for absorbing of verbal instruction)
  • Visual attention (essential ability to focus on visual information, critical for accurate visual processing)
  • Visual discrimination (essential foundation for reading, Math learning, handwriting, accurate work and attention/focus)
  • Visual form constancy (essential foundation for learning the alphabet, numbers, shapes, sizes, orientations and other spatial concepts in Math)
  • Eye control relative speed (essential foundation for reading and eye scanning speed)
  • Social skills (essential ability to behave and interact positively in social situations, critical for positive emotional functioning)
  • Crystalized intelligence or Verbal IQ (essential for acquisition of word knowledge and general information, understanding of verbal concepts and reasoning ability)
  • Number fluency (essential ability to rapidly process information and important foundation for reading, comprehension and recall of Math facts)
  • Number memory (essential ability to remember a simple sequence of numerical verbal information, critical for recall, attention/focus and Math learning)
  • Word memory (essential ability to remember a simple sequence of non-related non-verbal information, critical for recall, memorization of facts and attention/focus)
  • Sentence memory (essential ability to remember sentences, critical for the ability to follow directions, effortless comprehension and fluent writing)

Weaknesses (Poor and low average scores):

  • Overall impulse control (essential ability to give careful thought before acting, critical for examination performance and social skills)
  • Auditory impulse control (essential ability to not overreact to verbal information, critical for accurate processing of verbal information, examination performance and social skills)

I reviewed Kib's previous CognitiveMAP assessment and I would say that he improved especially in his motor skills.  BrainFit recommends that he should be more involved in doing physical activities to further develop his motor coordination.  He also still needs to work on his impulsivity.

I highly recommend that you let your child undergo CognitiveMAP assessment at BrainFit.  It will help you understand on what areas of your child's development you need to put more focus on.  The teachers at BrainFit are also highly skilled so you can entrust your child to them.

To know more about BrainFit, you may visit their website at www.brainfitstudio.com.  You may check their Facebook page for updates.  You can also email them at brainfitph@gmail.com or call 668-2719, 725-8500, or 0917-5991992 for appointment and other inquiries.

Get Rid of Melasma (Pekas) with Pynocare

We all want to have a blemish-free skin.  Honestly, I also do not have good skin.  I have lots of acne marks and have big pores on my face.  I have undergone series of derma treatments in the past to get rid of acne and acne marks and to be honest, my pocket also suffered due to high cost of treatments, added to the painful procedure that I have to undergo every time I go to the skin care center.  In addition to that, I am always in the hunt for the best skin care products because I am afraid that a particular skin product will damage my sensitive skin.  Skin care is a very important part of my life because I always want to look fresh and pretty (naks!).

One of the skin problems that people suffer is melasma (pekas).  Melasma is a skin condition where there are dark spots which are skin-deep.  It looks like dark patches on your skin and most commonly found on most protruded parts of the face (forehead, cheeks, nose bridge, etc.) and body.  It is commonly caused by sun exposure as UV rays trigger overproduction of melanin levels in the skin.  In addition, melasma can also be caused by hormonal imbalance (during pregnancy, ageing), indoor UV rays (from lights, electronic devices, etc.), and harsh cosmetics (like astringents, creams, facial wash, etc.).

Melasma can be easily hidden by putting make-up everyday, but once you remove the make-up, the problem is still there.

Good thing there's Pynocare, the first-ever safe and effective anti-melasma capsule for skin pigmentation.  It is 100% natural and consists only of ingredients which have long been proven effective.  It has MSCC (Melasma Skin Clear Complexion) which is a patented combination of powerful antioxidants such as Procyanidin and Vitamins A, C, and E that can lighten dark spots.  This combination of antioxidants also target the free radicals which causes overproduction of melanin.

Pynocare promises of visible results after eight weeks of taking 1 capsule two times a day after meals.  After two months, the individual must take 1 capsule a day as maintenance.  

For some, seeing results after two months may seem forever, but bear in mind that Pynocare contains natural ingredients, and natural ingredients provide better and lasting results over synthetic ones, so be patient in seeing the results you desire.

Pynocare is dermatologically-tested, so there's no need to worry about the adverse effects that you will have once you have start taking it.  

Leave the dark behind.  Counteract dark spots from deep within with Pynocare!

One box of Pynocare contains 20 capsules.  You can buy Pynocare over-the-counter at Mercury Drug, Rose Pharmacy, South Star Drug, St. Joseph Pharmacy, and other leading drugstores nationwide at Php1355 per box or 67.75 per capsule.  Pynocare is not recommended for people under 18 years of age, is pregnant, and is breastfeeding.  Best to consult your doctor first before taking Pynocare.

Are You Ready for Your Retirement?

Now that I'm in my 40s, I am starting to prepare for my retirement.  Some may say it's a bit late for me to think about it, and some would think that I am overreacting to prepare for my old age.  But for me I believe it's just the right time for me to do so because I was already able to save some money and manage my expenses very well even if I have an unstable income being self-employed.  The Lord has indeed blessed me with so much that He is now challenging me to step it up to further grow the blessings He has given to me and my son.

You will just wake up one day and reality will start to sink in that you're about to retire and won't have an income to expect monthly.  I remembered this TV commercial before that a company threw a party to the retiree but the retiree seems not to be happy about it, probably because he/she doesn't have enough savings to cover his/her remaining years.  

One of the fears a retiree has is that if he/she has enough savings to use until he/she dies and if he/she has enough funds to cover for medical treatment.  

This is where financial literacy comes in.

There are a lots of articles available online and offline for us to read on how we can manage our finances efficiently.  Aside from that, there are also seminars and workshops that we can attend to know more about financial management and to have a hands-on experience on doing calculations in our finances.  It may sound intimidating at first, but once you have learned the basics, you will start to be more conscious about the decisions that you will make in terms of budgeting, investing, and spending.  

So the question is: How do I prepare for my retirement?

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels


First and foremost, one must have a goal.  Goals should be specific, time bound, and realistic.  For example, you want to have your own house in ten years' time, so you will make sure that within that period, you will have your own house.  You will do all the necessary actions to save money and to hunt for the best deals available so that you can have a house of your own.  You must be committed to the plan that you have made so that you will be able to achieve your goal.

Second, save.  It is a common practice that we only save what is left after we have deducted all our expenses.  The right way of saving is allotting a specific amount monthly which is not being affected by your expenses.  You 'force' yourself to save.  It may a bit difficult at first, but once you get the habit of saving, you will no longer see yourself 'forcing' to save money for the future.

Third, have an emergency fund.  Emergency fund is different from your savings as this is the fund that you will utilize when something unexpected happens (e.g. hospitalization, car repairs, death, etc.).  You must also commit that you will only touch your emergency fund when your main income has depleted.  It must not be used to purchase a new gadget or a new appliance.  Be sure to determine what is emergency in nature and not.

Fourth, get an insurance.  I was offered an insurance in my 20s but I was not that committed to pay for it and I am not that knowledgeable about insurances.  As a result, it lapsed after four years.  I wasn't informed about the consequences of non-payment, and the insurance agent who offered me the insurance didn't guide me very well.  It may seem to be a bit late to get an insurance at my present age, but then nothing is too late when you start preparing.  The only consequence is that the premiums are higher compared when I was younger.  

Fifth, make more money.  It means work harder, grow your money by investing or putting up a business.  Investment may come in different forms, which I will discuss later.  Of course, how can you prepare for retirement if you will only be contented with whatever you are earning right now?

Sixth, seek advice from financial experts.  Financial experts are there to answer all questions that you may have in managing your finance.  They will analyze your risk profile and will suggest the best investment plan for you.  Financial experts are not just to earn money from you, but to really help you grow your money.  Choosing the right financial expert to help you will also make you feel secure about your money.  Have a discernment to choose one based on their knowledge, work ethics, customer service, availability, and honesty.  Choosing the right financial expert to work with you is based on trust, so make sure that you are comfortable to discuss money matters with that individual.  It can be just someone you have met at an event, a colleague, or a friend.  However, it doesn't always follow suit that the financial expert that you will consult on should be a close friend.  Sometimes, too much familiarization makes the business transaction go haywire.  

Lastly, stay on your course.  Stick to your plan on saving and investing.  Don't worry, you're on the right track.


There are lots of information out there available for you to read on how you can save.  There are also lots of investment plans available out there too, but bear in mind that the type of investment that you will get into must match your risk profile and the amount that you are willing to invest.  Some investment packages require higher amount but it has also higher yields and there are some investment packages that are friendly to the pocket but only offers average to low yields.  In addition, when you invest, it also depends on how long you intend to save (long-term or short-term).

Let me discuss the available ways for you to save and invest:

  • Savings/Time Deposit/Emergency Fund--these are for your short-term investment plans and for easy withdrawal in times of need.

  • Investment--for your long term needs.  Put an amount on this type of investment that you will 'forget' for a long time and just check from time to time if it grows or not.  The money you saved in investment is intended for your future needs like travel and retirement.  There are different types of investment (money market, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc.) and the rates fluctuate every now and then so choose the right kind of investment based on your risk profile (high, moderate, low).  Ask a financial expert to determine your risk profile.

  • Insurance--this will serve as a legacy to our loved ones.  While some may feel uneasy talking about death, but we will all go there.  This will serve as a seed money for our loved ones in starting all over again.  There are other kinds of insurances which caters to your other needs (e.g. medical, travel, car, etc.).

  • VUL (Variable Universal Life)--or in other words, an insurance with investment component.  It gives you the best of both worlds, balances your financial goals and needs.  The insured reaps the living benefits (gains) and the beneficiaries and death benefits.

We can easily reap the fruits of our savings and investment during our lifetime so we must be wise enough where to put our money.  Just like the saying goes, "Don't put all your eggs in one basket."


Now that we have determined the different types of savings and investment, the next question that you have in mind is: Where do I put my money?

We have heard of a lot of investment scams on the news and people nowadays are now more careful on where they will put their hard-earned money.  There are a lot of factors to consider in choosing the right financial institution for you and will help you grow your money.

Generally speaking,  almost all financial institutions offer the same products and services, they just have different terminologies for each kind.  One thing that we have to check is if it is regulated by the right government agency (Insurance Commission for VUL and other insurance products, SEC for investments, and BSP for banks).

Apart from that, one must also look for the following criteria:

1.  Longevity of the company (how long the company has been running in the business)
2.  Track record of the company (the positioning of the company in the industry)
3.  Accessibility/Reliability (if it is easy to do transactions with the company during pre-sale and after-sale)
4.  Trustworthiness (how confident are you in the company that the company will take care of your money)
5.  Quality Service (timeliness of the delivery of requests, regular updates, and technological advancement of the company)

You can put your money either in the bank (the most basic financial institution for saving money), investment company or insurance company.  


Any time is the best time to save!  There's no such thing as wasted time when you start investing.  As long as you have enough money and you're strongly confident in your current financial state, then start growing your money.  We don't know what the future holds for us, so we must be prepared for those uncertainties.

Of course, we must always pray to God for wisdom.  Our money is His money so we must consult Him on how He wants to grow what He entrusted to us.  We must not also be foolish in investing.  A lot promises that your money will grow in a short period of time; we must take it as a red flag if our money will grow at an immense rate.  The growth of our money should always be aligned with the current market rate.  

I won't be recommending companies or financial institutions where you can put your money in my blog.  I blogged about this to give you an overview on how you can save for your future, but should you want to discuss your future financial plans, I can recommend  a financial planner for you, just send me a message thru my Facebook page or via email.

May God always grant you the wisdom and discernment in all of the decisions that you will make, particularly in finances.  

Kiddie Cuisine: A Cooking Show By The Kids and For The Kids

If you're a friend of mine on Facebook and if you follow our Facebook and Instagram accounts, for sure you saw that I am shamelessly promoting my son's TV show, Kiddie Cuisine.  

Kiddie Cuisine is a cooking show designed for kids.  Kiddie Cuisine is NOT a cooking competition.  When I tell my friends that Kib is in a cooking show, they immediately think that the show is like the reality show Masterchef.  According to Sheila de Asis, Executive Producer of the show, Kiddie Cuisine aims to teach kids how to cook and to have fun at the same time.  "We allow them to commit mistakes because it really happens in real life, and that's part of the learning process.  When someone breaks an egg or spills something, we just laugh together and use that as a springboard to teach them how it should be properly done.  That way they learn faster and have fun at the same time," Sheila said.  

If you have watched the previous episodes, you saw that the kiddie chefs had their booboo moments caught on camera.  The kiddie chefs were allowed to be kids during the whole process of taping each episode, it showed their playfulness and curiosity on the dishes they prepared.

The cast of Kiddie Cuisine on its closing scene together with Ms. Rachel Peters (episode 3)

Kiddie Cuisine is led by Chef Dino Ferrari.  Chef Dino was the winner of Asian Food Channel's Next Celebrity Chef in 2011.  He has more than nine years of experience in cooking and owns Paris Delice, a cafe in Makati City.  Chef Dino is the good choice for this show because of his bubbly personality.  He is not just a great mentor but he also genuinely loves kids and is naturally funny.

Chef Dino goofing around with the kids during the photoshoot

Chef Dino making funny faces on this selfie with Kib

What is Kiddie Cuisine without kiddie chefs in the show, right?!

Five kiddie chefs were chosen to co-host together with Chef Dino in the show.  According to Sheila, the kids were chosen based on their attitude during the audition and not because of their cooking skills.  During the audition, the kids were asked to slice an onion.  The onion test determined the kids' composure on camera if they can still smile and talk after slicing an onion.

Parents are not allowed to watch during the auditions

Know the kiddie chefs!

Kiddie Chef Jadan is 11 years old who loves food and travelling.  He is homeschooled ever since and has been in several print and digital campaigns (SSS, Globe Telecom, Ligo Sardines, SM, PAGCOR, Mucosolvan, etc.).  He also loves to cook and to read.

Kiddie Chef Riley is 9 years old and has a Youtube channel where you can see him reviewing toys for girls and boys.  He loves Pokemon, Gachapon, Nerf, among others.  You might wonder he looks familiar; you have seen him in the ads of San Remo pasta, Quicklean, GreenBlooded, GetBlued, Worship Generation, and S&R.    

Kiddie Chef Amiley, 9 years old, is a great fan of My Little Pony, particularly Rainbow Dash.  She may be the smallest among the five kiddie chefs but she will impress you with her charm and wit.  She likes singing and dancing, and after she joined Kiddie Cuisine, she became more interested in cooking.

Kiddie Chef Audrey is 6 years old and the youngest among the five kiddie chefs.   She is homeschooled since birth.  She is a social butterfly bursting with energy whenever she meets new friends.  She loves fashion, art, dancing, and gymnastics.  

Kiddie Chef Alyzza, 9 years old, is an aspiring actress.  You can see her doing small roles in some of the shows at GMA and ABS-CBN.

Reviewing the script before the taping starts

Groupfie with Chef Dino's son, Inigo

You may wonder how the dishes were chosen on each episode.  Sheila said that the recipes were consulted with Chef Dino and Chef Ruben Ignacio (yes, the Singing Chef, he works at the background of Kiddie Cuisine as the head of kitchen team).  The recipes should be: 1) easy to prepare; 2) ingredients are accessible; and 3) it has to be nutritious (well at least, most of them are).

Here are some of the dishes that they have prepared in the show:

Kiddie Cuisine aired its pilot episode last June 18th at Colours.  There are nine more episodes to look forward to so I do hope that you will find time to watch till the last episode.  Expect more great recipes that they can do at home, more fun and booboos from the kiddie chefs, and more interesting food critics.

The whole cast and crew of Kiddie Cuisine

So, mommies and daddies and kiddies, make TV time a bonding time by watching Kiddie Cuisine!

Colours is available on Cignal, Cablelink TV and other local cable companies all over Philippines.  Kiddie Cuisine airs every Sunday at 10am with rerun at 3:30pm and 10:30pm.  You can also watch the rerun within the week (Monday--5:00am and 3:00pm, Tuesday--4:00am and 6:00pm, Wednesday--6:30am, Thursday--12:30am, 12:30pm and 5:30pm, Friday--4:00am and 5:30pm, Saturday--5:00pm and 11:30pm)

Psychiatry: Its Importance in Maintaining our Mental Health

Whenever we hear the word 'psychiatry', we always associate it with people with mental illness.  We also associate psychiatry with expensive medical treatment and of less importance in our overall health maintenance.  Psychiatry is a medical field that is not popular and only few doctors specialize in.  With the increasing number of suicide cases and people experiencing clinical depression, people are now starting to be aware on the importance of psychiatry and how it can help us deal with our mental and emotional problems.

There are 700 psychiatrists and about 1,000 psychiatric nurses in the Philippines.  This number of mental health practitioners is not enough to cater to all Filipinos who are needing treatment for their mental illness.  Apart from that, Philippines also lack facilities and institutions which will cater to people with mental illness.  Sadly, there is a stigma that only people with severe mental disorders should be the one to seek medical treatment.  We do not see the importance of prevention on the early stages of mental illness.  

The number of people needing medical attention due to mental illness is increasing.  Sadly, mental illness treatment is very costly and a lot of families cannot afford such treatment.  Normally, a consultation with a psychiatrist costs Php2,000-3,000 per session apart from the medicines a mentally ill patient has to take.  With this, families just resort into locking their mentally-ill family member in their own homes.  In addition to that, the family is ashamed to be ridiculed by the people around them for having a mentally-ill member that is why they resort to such harsh and inhumane supervision.  

With the recent passing of Mental Health Law in the Philippines, people are given hope for receiving better services in treating mental illnesses and better understanding of those people who are needing medical help.  You may check the provisions of the law HERE.  

I feel hopeful that with the passing of Mental Health Law, Filipinos will now be more open to medical treatments for mental illness and to be more sensitive to the signs that a certain individual needs professional help.  The Mental Health Law will somehow encourage general medical practitioners to specialize in psychiatry to help our fellow citizens in improving their mental health.

Should seeing a psychiatrist is a challenge for you, you may opt to have an appointment with an online psychiatrist instead.  You may check HERE to learn more about consulting with an online psychiatrist.

It is very important for us to be always in touch with reality and for us to be able to handle life's challenges without breaking down.  

Should you need someone to listen to, I'm here to listen.  Do not hesitate to send me an email or drop a message on my Facebook page to pour out your concerns.  God bless!