Thursday, December 15, 2016

Canaan Hills Farms and Honey Garden

A visit to the Canaan Hills Farms and Honey Garden in Biliran province was the culminating activity in our Region 8 organic farm tour. Canaan Hill Farm and Honey Garden is  one of the learning sites of Agricultural Training Institute(ATI) in Region 8 Eastern Visayas and an accredited agri-tourism site by the Department of Tourism.

It was an awesome sight as we  passed the Biliran Bridge that connects Leyte and Biliran Island. The  Biliran island used to be part of Leyte that eventually became a separate province in 1992.

The Canaan Hills Farms and Honey Garden is  about  2-hour drive from Tacloban City and 30 minutes travel from Naval town, Biliran province's capital.

The 7-hectare farm land had its name taken from the Bible's "promised land" and is being managed by Eduardo and Priscilla Espinazo. and their nine children, the majority of which  left their jobs to concentrate on farming and develop Canaan Hills Farms and Honey Garden as a major tourist destination when it opened in 2013.

The Espinazo family exerts effort and time on the farm to encourage people to develop passion in organic farming.  Even without a formal background in farming, they were able to build the farm little by little with a little help from ATI.

Today,   more than 30 varieties of fruit-bearing trees like banana, coconut, mango, rambutan,  jackfruit can be seen in the farm, along with vegetables.  Canaan Hill Farms produces peanut butter, calamansi drink concentrates, turmeric powder, ginger tea drinks that comes in Camote, Lemon Honey and Four Seasons flavors,  They also sell fresh produce and organic eggs.

The  farm practices  organic and  natural farming technology. They process sheep manure and sheep urine in vermiculture, use this as fertilizers to nourish the soil they till. They teach marcotting at the farm--vegetative reproduction process to induces rooting in a tree branch's part.

They also apply contour farming to conserve rainwater and to reduce soil losses erosion.  While hill farming is an extensive farming in upland areas, Canaan Hill Farms is breath taking. It is  well-maintained farm with lots of open spaces and instagram-worthy nooks to spen quiet time.

Ornamental plants adorn the farm landscape, making it the most beautiful organic farm among the ones I've have been to.  There are lot of  eye-catching places inside that make the place look like an uphill oasis or resort.

There are pavillions and huts inside farm stations that serves as  dining and entertaining areas. There are several nooks in the farm wherein you can immerse yourself in a book or a nap. Kids would love the open spaces and lounge areas around it.

There are patios and porches around that provides a welcoming feel. A skirt of flowers decorate the front yard patios.   You can sit back and  enjoy a cold glass of juice on a summer day.  

Canaan is a quiet place where you can live in the moment, de-stress and relax in the evening.

ATI RTC 8 actively supports the accreditation of learning sites in the region. These sites provide on-site-practical agriculture-learning to farmers.

Do visit Canaan Hills Farms and Honey Garden and get a good view of the Caibiran Bay from atop.  It is nice place to spend time seeing the amazing sunsets, different colors of the sky and revel in joy staring at the amazing blue bay from the hill.

Canaan Hills Farms and Honey Garden
Caibiran, Biliran, Leyte
Open from 9AM to 5PM  Monday through Saturday

Bling in the Holidays with Groupon

Christmas is almost knocking with less than 10 days to go, and I'm having a difficult time creating my perfect Christmas wish list for my only child.  She loves dressing up but how do you dress up a 12-year old girl who dying to be an adult so fast?

As a child, she had worn practical white dresses, which could easily be pulled up to change diapers. When she was a bit older, I had her dressed up in delicate and dainty pink dresses often matched with glittery shoes or sandals.

Now, she has her own style. She has a penchant for girly and cute pastel  outfits.  Flower prints and bright-colored dresses do look good on her.

I want to give her semi-fitted styles that softly follow her curves and give her  flattering silhouettes. Anything either too loose or too fitted is always out of the question! What I have in mind is something like a  wrap dress, belted shirt dresses and full skirts that show off her waistline.  I prefer outfits that  makes her look feminine, but not babyish.

At Dress Barn ,  I found a  great range of fashionable  junior girls dresses that fits her style. There are plenty of options to try out fun looks!

There are trendy clothes  to make girls look fresh and confident even for those casual days when you want to be comfortable.  Whether one want to get dolled up in a dress and heels,  casual with jeans  a fitted t-shirt, Dress Barn has it all!

And how wonderful it is that I came across  Claire's, where all my favorite accessories to complete my daughter's look come easily at hand!  Claire's has all  the accessories and goodies to go with your kids attire from styling her hair, jewelry,  scarf. up to makeup products to try out different looks. Take a look now!

The holiday season for hot chocolate, and adorable winter accessories is also the best time for giving and receiving gifts!  Be the first to find beautiful things with a little help from GROUPON. Whether you are shopping for yourself, friends or family,  GROUPON can always exceed your expectations for perfect gifts within your budget.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The second edition of The Music Run™ by Philam Vitality was a huge success

An energetic blend of music filled the atmosphere at McKinley West as over 10,000 participants, a.k.a. Music Runners™ ran, danced and partied at the second edition of The Music Run™ by Philam Vitality. The event, hailed in other countries as the Ultimate 5k Running and Music Festival, returned to Manila bigger and bolder following a smash-hit debut at the Philippine Arena last year.

A phenomenal and futuristic run, The Music Run™ is an award-winning event that offers a unique total music immersion experience and has been making waves all over the world, including multiple sold-out events in Asia this year, and new tour dates announced in India, Europe and South Africa for next year.

The Music Run™ by Philam Vitality started on a high note at the Music Village with a pre-party featuring local alternative soul band Sud, who rocked the crowd with upbeat renditions of their hits ‘How We Play’ and ‘Sila’. Pre-race energy levels were further pumped up with a mass warm up by Gold’s Gym, the much-loved music and dance infused workout.

Music Runners™ ran, danced and partied across a 5km route comprising of five 1km Music Zones – Rock, Pop, Old School, Hip Hop and Dance. Lined with over 120 concert-quality speakers pumping 150,000 watts of music the entire way, The Music Run™ by Philam Vitality is the world’s loudest 5k fun run. The soundtrack for run was voted for by the participants through a bespoke online music app developed in partnership with Spotify®.

In each of the Music Zones, Music Runners™ were treated to special interactive activities: From cool, cold pyrotechnics in the Philam Asset Management Inc Rock Zone; a tunnel with hanging balls at the BPI-Philam Pop Zone; a stage featuring AirAsia crew lip syncing to the top-voted songs with an electric “Superbowl” performance in the AirAsia Old School Zone with a chance to win exclusive flights and prizes; photo opportunities with graffiti artists, dancers and photo walls in the Hip Hop Zone; to a mobile disco tunnel with glowing lights in the Philam Vitality Dance Zone.

Presenting Sponsor Philam Life, who recently launched the Philam Vitality Active App, hosted a series of engaging running, swimming, and cycling challenges at their booth. A few lucky Music Runners™ who downloaded the app also walked away with cool prizes such as fitness devices and gym memberships.

“Through The Music Run™, Philam Life offers Filipinos a chance to stay fit while having fun. Last year was a really big success and we were inspired to bring it closer to more runners this year,” said Philam Vitality Deputy Head Kats Cajucom. “This was made possible with the Philam Vitality program, a first of its kind, full-scale wellness program where members get rewarded for making healthy choices. Through Philam Vitality, we are taking active steps to positively transform the lives of Filipinos by helping them to live longer, healthier and better lives,” she added.

Music Runners™ were also treated to endless music and fitness-inspired entertainment in the Music Village courtesy of event sponsors. Petron hosted five fun and challenging activity stations, which included a 10ft high rock-climbing station, a nine feet high ‘Bungee Fun’ jump, a VJ Booth, a ‘Blaze 100’ Velcro jump wall’ and also PS4 Dance games for participants for all Music Runners™ to enjoy. At the Alcatel booth’s basketball challenge station, an Alcatel Pixi First phone was given away to the best scorer every hour. Alcatel Shine Lite smartphones featuring remarkable camera qualities were also won by Music Runners™ who dressed up in the theme “Dare to Shine,” as well as a Music Runner™ who struck the Best Pose at their photo booth.

Other sponsors such as Oakley and Saucony also showcased their latest products at their respective booths and provided Music Runners™ a chance to win exclusive prizes.

To cap off the event was the ultimate music festival that kept the energy high with dancers, laser lights, chill out zones, and fireworks. Australian radio house DJ Sam Withers, who was a big hit in last year’s after-run concert, wowed audiences once more with a stunning performance.

“The Music Run™ is not just another fun run. It aims to bring our running experiences to new heights of excitement. The Music Run™ first made waves in Asia and now it is sending waves of good vibes in cities around the globe,” said Martin Capstick, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Exceed Sports and Entertainment, event promoter of The Music Run™ in multiple cities in Asia. “We are really glad to experience the Filipino energy once again. We hope that even after this run, more Filipinos would become inspired to take up healthier ways to have fun,” he added.

The Music Run™ Manila is presented by Philam Vitality, and sponsored by BPI-Philam, Philam Asset Management Inc., AirAsia, Oakley, Alcatel, Petron, Saucony, McKinley West, Mellow Radio, Manila Water and

About The Music Run™

Launched in 2014, The Music Run™ is the ultimate 5k running and music festival. For music lovers, casual runners and fun seekers, The Music Run™ is more like a party than a run - it is the only 5km fun run that puts music at the heart. The Music Run™ empowers participants to control the soundtrack of the run by voting for their favourite songs in the build up to the Event. The songs with the most votes via a bespoke ‘Music Voting App’  made up the official run playlist.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Art of Grace and Balance

Driven by a cause greater than her own, fuelled by a passion put to good use, and ignited by an imagination that unleashed her potential, Sigrid Grace Acuin stands now at the helm of a career as a Financial Advisor, spanning 3 decades. It was a career that was carved at a young age. Such an early exposure worked to her advantage and eventually she learned the ropes of the insurance industry by the guidance and help of her mentors. It was no walk in the park despite the advantage because the road ahead was not fully mapped as she would learn. Her passion to the career and determination to provide the best for her children kept her steadfast.

Philam Life Unit Manager Grace Acuin was cited as 3rd time Top of the Table awardee in the 2016 Annual Awards and Top 1 Certified Investment Solicitor of Philam Asset Management Inc. (PAMI)
The gains began to pay off when she made it to the qualifying round of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) in 2004 but it was in 2011, when she came back to the Espiritu Agency that Grace went full blast, desiring to give her best in gratitude to her managers Nancy and Henry Espiritu. They backed her up and became her steadfast supporters in her quest for excellence. More than anyone else, it was the late AM Nancy Espiritu who prodded her to go for the Top of the Table (TOT). Nancy gave her that extra push that motivated Grace to reach her first TOT in 2013.

There was no stopping Grace and despite challenges and obstacles pertinent to the business, she stood her ground unfazed. It became more of a challenge as she was raising 5 children on her own and wanted only the best for them. Once again, fortune smiled upon her brave heart and she made it to the TOT in 2014 in just seven months.

How did she do it? First, she admits in all candor, she was drawn to wanting to make her manager happy. Oh what a beautìful feeling it was to see that smile light up her face! She recalled how excited she was whenever she would hand out a check to Nancy or call saying she had closed the sale. It would have been wonderful if Nancy were around to witness her 3rd TOT this year. During the 2016 Philam Life Annual Awards, Sigrid Grace Acuin was awarded her 3rd Top of the Table qualification, International Premier Icon Award and Top 1 Certified Financial Solicitor for the second year in Philam Asset Management Inc.

With definitive success in the palm of her hands, Grace shares some of the most important lessons she has learned along the way. Plan and Prepare. Be pro-active. She updated her list and went out of her comfort zone by going for VIP clients. She delegates. She competes with no one but herself. Giving her best to do better every year. If she doesn't get the results she wants, she would step back and evaluate then make the next move. Making each day count by saving lives one day at a time.

Today, she reaps the rewards of her success; for the past 5 years, she's been traveling via business class to Asia, US & Europe all expenses paid by Philam Life. She is now wearing the hat (again) of a Unit Manager with the aim of developing financial advisors to become members of the MDRT.

Sigrid Grace Acuin is an icon made defining her own landscape in the edifice of the insurance industry and contributing her share in a prestigious legacy that is Philam Life.

About Philam Life

The Philippine American Life and General Insurance (Philam Life) Company is the country’s premier life insurance company. Established on 21 June 1947, Philam Life has earned the trust of customers for its financial strength, strong brand name, and ability to deliver on its promises.

Philam Life understands the real life needs of its customers and provides the right plans and the right solutions including life protection, health insurance, savings, education, retirement, investment, group and credit life insurance. It also offers bancassurance and fund management products and services through its subsidiaries – BPI Philam Life Assurance Company (BPI-Philam) and Philam Asset Management Inc. (PAMI).

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Maya Kitchen holds Baking Class at the B Hotel Alabang

The Maya Kitchen once again inspired young cooking enthusiasts from the Bellevue Kids Club by throwing a Baking Class at  B Hotel  last Sunday.

My daughter often see me prepare food in the kitchen,  And let  her "help" as to encourage her love of learning.  I notice that she likes to learn making her own omelettes and pancakes.  I let her help with her  own mixing bowl.  She is happy with cracking eggs, pouring and stirring, She has the irresistible urge to participate in everything,  At times,  she insists on doing the whole thing herself,   I feel that my kid is ready to cook and bake on her own.

It was timely that she had a chance to attend The Maya Kitchen Baking Class,  Akong with kids aged 4 – 12, she had a grand time making her own Vanilla Cupcakes and Ginger Bread Cookies.  Cooking with kids is a fun  experience, and baking is  the easiest ways to do so.   It is  something that gets better with time.

I felt proud as I watch Danica read recipes, concentrate,  and measure ingredients,  She and her groupmate, Juan, were focused on the tasks.  I am deeply convinced that this activity

Something with this baking–learning activity excites them. Well, who doesn’t find Vanilla Cupcakes and Ginger Bread Cookies exciting?   I am sure that all little hands will love making these goodies in the kitchen!

The baking and decorating  kept even the most energetic children busy over the whole activity. It was amazing that the smallest of hands can be surprisingly good in the kitchen!  It can get messy and chaotic at times, but  the experience creating these goodies together will surely last a lifetime!

The idea of baking and cooking without my assistance connects with my daughter's yearning  for more freedom and responsibility.  I am happy that she was given  this chance to spread her wings!

Special thanks to Joy of OccasionsOfJoy for extending an invitation.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Spend Christmas at Club Balai Isabel

In a recent trip early this December 3, 2016, we were given a lowdown on what Club Balai Isabel have in store for guests this coming Christmas and it includes their newest completed project--Lake Forest Mansion.

Inside the property is a private street lined with stately mansions.  Newly-built at the left far-end of the estate, the Lake Forest Mansions adds a new dimension of luxury to one's holiday getaways! The Lake Forest Mansions is a welcome addition to the prestigious facilities of  Club Balai Isabel.  It gives celebrities and high-profile guests more options to enjoy the holiday season.

The master bedroom suite is located on the ground floor and there are  other family bedroom on the second floor.  Its  well-appointed suites has its fine points complete with spacious living room kitchen facilities,  personal swimming pool, patio and more.  The home has a stately presence from the formal entrance hall,  through the huge wooden staircase, and on to the master suite.

There are currently 2 finished classic-styled  mansions ready for occupancy but we were told that more mansion will rise in this area, where a separate restaurant would soon be set up to cater to guests.  A separate entrance gate would soon be build to make Lake Forest Mansion units  more private.

My daughter and I had our summer getaway at Club Balai (read about it here) and had since been back a couple of times with family and friends.

For our latest stay, we were given Room 301 at Laurel Building which is  near the restaurant and the main swimming pool.

The said hotel suite has two master bedrooms with a comfort room plus an attic accomodation for additional 10 heads.  There were two sofa beds situated between the kitchen and dining area. Another two extra sofa beds are at the loft plus another comfort room.

The getaway was a timely break from the busy December up ahead. We availed of their in-room Swedish massage services and partake of their buffet food offerings at the Terraza Cafe where a scenic landscape of the Taal Lake and volcano awaited.

Get a taste of Club Balai Isabel's  Yuletide celebration offerings at the Terraza CafĂ© beginning December 16 up to New Year’s Eve and make the moment last forever!

Watch the special fireworks display on site when the clock strikes midnight! Their Romantic Dinner includes a full course meal from appetizer, soup, steak, dessert served with the finest wine selections.

The holiday season is a great time to spend with family and reflect on the year that was.  And Club Balai Isabel ensures that it exceeds your expectation and that you get the best of your holiday.

For more information, visit

Club Balai Isabel
Banga, Talisay, Batangas
Mobile (+63) 906-5185494
Phone (02) 584-4068

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