Giveaway: How Save My Bag can save your back

I used to suffer from a severe back problem about eight years ago. I swear, there were times I couldn’t get out of bed, sit up or walk without much difficulty.
I tried many things: I switched to a Tempur pillow and forced myself to sleep on my back instead of my front. I had a healing session with Fr. Suarez. And then I found out a lot of it had to do with the heavy bags I was carrying.

Cecile van Straten
Photo: Joseph Pascual

I used to carry my bags on my right shoulder until Dr. Vicki Belo told me my shoulders were uneven due to my curved spine?? I got scared so I started to carry my bag on my left shoulder. It took a while to get used to. Now my back rarely acts up.
I also started to buy smaller and lighter bags, or carry two bags—one for essentials, and another one for the other stuff I don’t need all the time—I can just leave that in the car, just in case.

So if you’re having a back problem, here’s one product that might help you.
Save My Bag is a line of handbags made of a water-resistant, ultra-lightweight material called polylycra (similar to neoprene but lighter). Made in Italy, it was created by Valentina Azzia who first made the bags as holiday gifts for friends and business contacts who loved them.

Save My Bag at Little White Box

Save My Bag eventually ended up in the hands of Oprah Winfrey and celebrity stylist Patricia Field, who started to sell them at her store. The bag gained popularity especially among women who take them to the beach and resorts, like the Hamptons.

Save My Bag at Little White Box

Valentina says the bags are for modern women “who pay a lot of attention to style. They buy the bags in multiples and there are different colors to choose from.” The bags are water-resistant and washable.

Save My Bag at Little White Box

Valentina was in the Philippines for the launch of Save My Bag at Little White Box, a space found in selected SM Stores, such as SM Makati, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia, SM North Edsa, SM BF, SM Southmall, SM Cebu, SM Bacolod, SM Iloilo, SM Davao and, SM Lanang.
The bags start at Php 6,250 and come in different styles and sizes.

Save My Bag at Little White Box

Here’s the fun part.
I’m giving away four bags from Save My Bag’s Icon collection, made of polylycra.
How to join:


1) You must have a Philippine address and an Instagram account.
2) Follow @chuvaness, @littlewhiteboxph and @smaccessories on Instagram.
3) Repost my Instagram photo of the giveaway and tell me why you want the bag.
4) Tag @littlewhiteboxph and @smaccessories and hashtag #chuvasavemybag.
5) Make sure your account isn’t locked so I can check your entry if you win.
6) Register for the electronic raffle HERE

Contest runs until September 15, 2015. I will choose the winners via and post the winners here and on Facebook.

To know more about Save My Bag, go to

Mistaken identity

When I was in Houston in 2008, everyone thought I was a nurse.
It was the dead of winter. I was there to take care of my cousin who was battling leukemia at MD Anderson.
Even though the end result wasn’t favorable, I’m still grateful I was able to spend the last days with my best cousin.
Under my winter jacket, I wore the old Margiela T-shirt.

Me in Houston

During my free time I would walk around the hospital so much, I started to know the place by heart. At the gift shop I even bought the scrubs, the MD Anderson shirt, the jacket, the ID, and the stethoscope. I thought of wearing the uniform just to amuse my cousin.
I wore my Birkenstock clogs to be comfy. At MD Anderson, majority of the nurses were Filipino, so people naturally assumed I was a nurse and would ask me for directions. And I gladly told them where to go since I knew where everything was.

In Singapore this week, some people thought I was Indonesian, which I find amusing. I have never been to Indonesia but the plan is to visit Jakarta in the near future.

Two World Cups ago, I joined my husband and his friends at the Dutch bar Heckle & Jeckle in the Burgos area. And while the Dutch boys enjoyed the drinks and action inside, I chose to step out with my friend to get some air. At some point, some foreigners thought she and I were Burgos girls (read: ladies of the night). Not sure what to think, but in fairness, the foreigner said we looked “expensive.”

More often I get mistaken for being younger than I am, which can sometimes be a hassle because I get scolded by people who are actually younger than me.
Recently, however, I had the most surprising case of mistaken identity.
I’ve been spending some time at Makati Med to seek treatment for our cook who has an early stage of breast cancer. While waiting for doctor to appear (we waited for 3.5 hours), I passed by Floating Island to buy my cook some fresh fruit juice and look what they thought I was:

I'm a doctora!

For the first time the waiter or cashier assumed I was a doctora! Can’t tell you how flattered I am! It made me think what if I were a doctora? What kind of doctor would I be? An OB-GYNE like Dra. Tere Henson or an oncologist? To help give life or save lives?
Then the thought scared me so much I decided to scratch the thought.

Lee Min Ho makes me want to visit Korea

When I was studying at Parsons New York during the ’90s, some of my best friends were Korean.
There were so many Koreans enrolled, we called it Parsons Seoul of Design.
The Koreans were cliquish but they were the best darn illustrators in class.
I had no idea that one day Korean fashion would take over my world—well some of it.
I have yet to visit Korea, and I wish I knew Seoul like I do Tokyo. One day soon I hope to visit—mostly for fashion purposes. And I also love the TV shows. I think Koreanovelas are the best tourism ads, that’s why it just makes sense to put Lee Min Ho in the official tourism TV commercial.
Now when are we doing our own TVC with Piolo Pascual?

Flavors of Spain at Pepper Lunch

Like paella? Who doesn’t love this Spanish rice dish served on a hot plate, topped with seafood, sliced egg, chicken, and a lemon wedge?
An order of paella usually takes 30 minutes at least, but at Pepper Lunch you can have it in a jiffy as it launches its Paella Festival with three takes on this Spanish favorite.

Pepper Lunch paella

Seafood Paella (Php 335) has plump mussels, fat shrimps, and juicy squid, while Chicken and Chorizo Paella (Php 315) has tender chicken chunks and slices of Spanish chorizo. Hearty eaters will love Supreme Paella (P355) with seafood, chicken and chorizo!
All dishes are served on Pepper Lunch’s patented hot plates, so if you’re craving for toasted rice at the bottom of the dish, come and get it.
Pepper Lunch Paella Festival is ongoing until October 31, 2015.

Ladurée opens at 8 Rockwell

Macaroon (not to be confused with macaron)
A macaroon is a small circular cake, typically made of ground almonds, coconut, nuts or even potato, with sugar, egg white, and sometimes flavourings, food colouring, glace cherries, jam and/or a chocolate coating.
Macaroons are often baked on edible rice paper placed on a baking tray.


Macaron (not to be confused with macaroon)
A macaron is a French sweet meringue-based confection made with egg white or aquafaba, icing sugar, granulated sugar, almond powder or ground almond, and food colouring.
A macaron is commonly filled with ganache, buttercream or jam filling sandwiched between two cookies. The name is derived from the Italian word macarone, maccarone or maccherone, the Italian meringue. (Source: Wikipedia)
Boite Cristal T 3 - 25 macarons HD
Sorry, I just had to put that out because I can’t stand it when people call macarons macaroons. It bugs me to death!! To me, macaroons are coconut thingies, while macarons are like fancy meringue that come in (mostly) pastel colors.
Among all the macaron brands, Ladurée seems to be most popular.
Réglette Napoléon Noire HD (1)
Founded in Paris in 1862 by Louis-Ernest Ladurée, the brand was acquired by Groupe Holder in 1993.
Now, with locations in 30 countries worldwide, more than 15,000 macarons are said to be sold everyday.

Ladurée in Paris

Earlier this afternoon, Ladurée Philippines invited friends and family to a private event at its first store at 8 Rockwell. Ladurée is franchised in the Philippines by H&F Retails Concepts Inc., which also owns/runs Homme et Femme, Univers, among other luxury brands in the country.
The store looks really beautiful and authentic.


When we arrived at half past three, there was a long line at the counter.
Each guest was given a little card to be filled out and used to claim two free macarons.
It was a great idea because everyone had a reason to enter the store and line up in a civilized manner. Of course most guests are likely to buy other items once they are in line.


At first I was scared to line up, but it went smoothly because there were so many people manning the counter


To give you an idea, one macaron costs Php 150. You can buy per piece, or you choose your favorites and put them in cute boxes (ranging from four to 55 macarons).

Boites Macarons permanentes

Macarons aside, here’s what else you’ll find in store: jams and spreads


Lovely scented candles


Room scents, adorable tote bags, and charms. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to photograph the other items due to the number of people inside the store.


Spotted at the private event were H&F’s Managing Director, Jappy Gonzalez, who was on hand to answer everyone’s questions

Jappy Gonzalez

Also, Ben of Ladurée was helping out


H&F/Univers’ Press Relations Officer, Mano Lotho

Mano Lotho

Preview Magazine’s Daryl Chang

Daryl Chang

Esquire Philippines’ Erwin Romulo

Erwin Romulo

SM Supermalls’ Steven Tan

Steven Tan

Miguel Ramos of National Book Store

Miguel Ramos

Rowell Santiago

Rowell Santiago

Belle King

Belle King

Yodel Pe and Patrice Diaz

Yodel and Patrice

And here’s what I got: two scented candles, milk chocolate bar, and two boxes of macarons for my friend Chinky and my Dad.


I just need to go back to look at the other things I missed, like the totes and charms, but I can wait till the line is over.
Ladurée opens to the public on August 29, 2015.

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