Samsung K-Zoom: Best camera phone ever?

Meet my three Samsungs. They may look like the same to you but they’re not.

Samsung collection

L-R: they are the Samsung Galaxy K/S5 Zoom camera phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, and the Samsung Galaxy Camera EK-GC100.

Samsung collection

At left is my latest Samsung. Yesterday I ditched my beloved Blackberry for this K-Zoom camera phone.
Believe me it is hard to say goodbye. Even though the Blackberry Bold 9900 is best for texting because of its raised QWERTY keyboard, I got tired of it hanging every other day. I got tired of making a battery pull when it happened. I hate that it doesn’t communicate well with my MacBook Pro.

So I’m trying to get used to texting with the Samsung phones. I’m quite used to the features of the Note 3 and I super love it, most especially the Kindle app where I read books. Kindle is something I wish I had while growing up. I used to read with a flashlight under the blanket when everyone was asleep and I couldn’t. (I still have insomnia by the way.)
Samsung Note 3 is just life-changing. Period.

And just when you thought a camera phone couldn’t take better pictures, here comes the Samsung S5 K-Zoom.

Samsung Galaxy K / S5 Zoom

Compared to the older Samsung Galaxy Camera, this looks more like a phone, so those who are embarrassed to hold a camera to the ear while taking a call, need no longer worry.
It boasts of a 20.7-megapixel camera—the highest resolution for any camera phone available today.
Here are sample photos from today’s lunch at Donosti:


So you see, Alexei Villaraza, I haven’t been eating meat :)


Compare with yesterday’s fish photo at Myron’s Place taken with a Canon S-200

Myron's fish

Not too shabby.
If you’re a blogger like me, it’s very convenient to download the Dropbox app on your phone and computer.
All your photos automatically get uploaded to Dropbox, so when you’re ready to blog, no need to connect your memory card or phone. All photos are available from your computer’s Dropbox.

Oh, and I dropped the K-zoom twice—first at Donosti, and second, when I fell while running up the stairs in the office. Phone is very sturdy!
So far so good, and I haven’t put my SIM back into the Blackberry yet. Let’s give this a week.
I’m hoping the Blackberry breakup will be permanent—unless BB comes up with a new QWERTY touchscreen phone—or Samsung does!! (fingers crossed)

Saving the best for last: Ippudo opens in Manila this September

Let’s be honest here: I don’t eat ramen. I don’t get the whole ramen bandwagon in Manila, but as a friend of Chiyo Tagami and Penny Ong, I am excited that Ippudo—which they claim is the best ramen ever—is opening at SM Fashion Hall this September.
Founded in 1985 by Japan’s “ramen king”, Shigemi Kawahara, Ippudo has a number of restaurants in Japan, as well as in New York, Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong, Taipei, Sydney, and Kuala Lumpur.

The original Ippudo in Fukuoka (Photo: joone!/Flickr)

Its menu includes Kawahara’s reinvention of the Hakata-style tonkotsu (not a typo) broth, which is a pork-based ramen with a delicate and creamy flavor. Called Shiromaru Motoaji, it has ultra-thin noodles, pork loin, bean sprouts, kikurage and spring onions.


Another off-take to this classic is the Akamaru Shinaji which has a specially blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil mixed into the dish.


For those who love spicy, the Karaka-men—a spin on the crowd-favorite Tantanmen—is a combination of flaming miso, cashew nut and ground pork toppings.


All ramen bowls are served with the basic elements, plus the option of adding tamago (soft-boiled egg), chashu (pork belly), and/or nori (seaweed).
Other offerings include Hakata-style gyoza, karaage, and Ippudo New York’s bestselling pork and chicken buns.

Pork Bun
Chicken Bun

To complement the Filipino palate, Ippudo will also serve rice dishes such as the garlic teppan chashu rice and the Hakata meshi.

Tonkotsu Garlic Rice
Hakata Meshi

Ippudo is brought to Manila by the Standard Hospitality Group under the leadership of Mr. John Concepcion, CEO of Unilever RFM ice cream company. Concepcion is responsible for starting the katsu craze in Manila, when he first opened Yabu in 2011.
If you love ramen, don’t miss the opening of Ippudo at the 3rd level, SM Fashion Hall this September.
To know more, like them on Facebook.

Rimowa: the perfect present

This is how my boys and I travel: four Rimowa trunks at Narita.

How we travel

After buying my first Rimowa trunk, I never wanted another kind of luggage.
This is how my husband travels: Rimowa trunk, carryon, and briefcase.

Jeroen's luggage

This is how the new Rimowa trunk packs inside. On the lid is a zippered mesh divider, and at the bottom is an adjustable divider that secures all your stuff—even if it’s not full.

Jeroen's luggage

My husband likes to match.

Jeroen's luggage

So one of our favourite couples is getting married this August. Since they already have a house full of stuff and they travel back and forth between Manila and Sydney, they didn’t make a gift registry or wish list.
I decided to give them one of my favourite things: a Rimowa trunk!
Yesterday I stopped by the Rimowa store at Power Plant mall, Rockwell

Rimowa at Rockwell

This branch seems to have more items than all the other Rimowa shops I’ve been to—at Greenbelt 5, Adora, Shangri-La Plaza, and Resorts World.

Rimowa at Rockwell

It has the Salsa collection in so many shapes and shades—they have matte black

Rimowa at Rockwell


Rimowa at Rockwell

and white!! The Salsa collection is most popular because of its light weight.

Rimowa at Rockwell

Knowing this couple has minimalist, good taste, I chose the matte grey trunk.

Rimowa at Rockwell

Also on display at each Rimowa store are original pieces of luggage showing wear and tear through years of use and abuse.
This aluminum trunk from 1975—with all its dents and stickers—reflect the journeys of its owner.

Rimowa at Rockwell

Aluminum Rimowas are pricier and heavier than the Salsa, but you can see how sturdy they are.

Rimowa at Adora, GB5

Personally I like my Rimowas clean, with no stickers. When I find mine looking dirty, I use Goo Gone and a soft rag to remove the sticker residue. Goo Gone is available at True Value.
I’ve had a couple of minor mishaps—such as a zipper coming off, but I got it fixed quickly at Rimowa Shangri-La.
I’ve had a small crack due to my overpacking—but I can still use it.
Good thing I can purchase a Rimowa at 0% interest over a few months using my Citibank card.
They may cost a lot, but what I’m paying for is good design plus the convenience of four spinner wheels, which makes all the difference.
Plus the fact that it makes me not look for any other luggage makes the price I paid for it, worth it.

Winners: Watsons Bath to Basics Giveaway

After more than 1,200 entries to this giveaway, I’m pleased to announce five winners chosen via

Watsons spa party giveaway

They are:
Cheryl Castillo of Quezon City
Jacqueline Macalalad of Taguig
Arlene Blanco of Sta. Cruz, Manila
Mariz Gabriel of Rodriguez, Rizal
Luzviminda Reyes of Caloocan City

Each winner will reductive a train case filled with random items from Watsons’ Bath to Basic range.

Watsons spa party giveaway

Winners, please check your email from me.
Thank you for joining and watch for my next giveaway very soon!!

UPDATED: Philippine tycoon takes on ALS ice bucket challenge

Prior to this ice bucket challenge going around the Internet, I have to admit I wasn’t really aware of ALS or Amyothropic Lateral Sclerosis.
Also known as Lou Gehrig‘s disease—named after the legendary baseball player who was diagnosed back in 1939—ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, leading to death.
Other known ALS sufferers were Morrie Schwartz, who was the subject of the book Tuesdays With Morrie, and physicist Stephen Hawking, who is living at 72.

L-R: Lou Gehrig, Stephen Hawking, Tuesdays with Morrie book cover, Morrie Schwartz

“Local versions of the #ALSicebucketchallenge have been popping up on my feed,” lamented my friend Grace. “Is there a Philippine-based Lou Gehrig’s disease foundation? Because I think it becomes a useless exercise if one just douses themselves with ice water and does not actually donate to a local ALS foundation.”

One Filipino who heeded the worldwide call to raise funds in the fight against ALS is Megaworld chair Dr. Andrew L. Tan, who took part in the Ice Bucket Challenge as well as making a substantial donation in US dollars. Dr. Tan’s participation was proactive and voluntary on his part.

Following the tradition of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Dr. Tan nominated three personalities from the business sector to do the same: Dr. Steven DeKrey, president of Asian Insititute of Management; Manolito Tayag, country head of Accenture Philippines; and Kenneth Yang, president of Golden Arches Development Corporation (McDonald’s Philippines).
Dr. Tan is the chairman and CEO of Megaworld, one of the Philippines’ largest real estate developers and the country’s leader in business process outsourcing (BPO) office developments.

UPDATE: McDonald’s Philippines President and CEO Kenneth Yang has accepted Megaworld chair Andrew Tan’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Aside from donating to ALS and Ronald McDonald House Charities, Kenneth also enlisted the help of a special someone to pour ice water over him.

Also, AIM President Dr. Steve DeKrey accepts the challenge

Accenture CMD Lito Tayag recently accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

To know more about ALS, go to

Pauline Egge: Meet the blogger behind Petite Passport

If I were a blogging professor, Petite Passport would get an A.
For me it’s one of the best blogs out there. Visually, her photos make me cry.
Pauline has an eye for the coolest places and would rather choose a restaurant for its interiors before the food.

Mr. Frank, Madrid
Mr. Frank, Madrid

The Barn Roastery, Berlin
The Barn Roastery, Berlin

“I just love, love, love hotspots,” Pauline writes. “Not the ones you will find in every guidebook, but the more special ones. Shame on me, but I don’t go to a restaurant because the food is superb (well that’s a nice extra) but because of the interior. I like to sit on a Jake chair by Koskela or eat under a Tom Dixon lightbulb.”

Meet Pauline Egge, 32, author of

Pauline Egge
Pauline Egge photographed by Anne Timmer

While studying Journalism, Pauline dreamed of becoming Editor-in-Chief of ELLE magazine.
“When I interned there I found out I liked writing about restaurants, shops and hotels more than fashion,” she said. “After that I wrote for several Dutch magazines—and still do—about this subject. The more people I can make happy with my [recommendations], the better!”

Story Signalfabriken, Stockholm
Story Signalfabriken, Stockholm

“Looking back at my youth, I was into traveling and searching for cool addresses for a long time. When I was 11, my father and I went to London to visit interesting places I had found in the magazines back in the day. When I was 20, I went to Australia, New-Zealand, and Indonesia for six months, which was a trip of a lifetime and planted an irresistible lust for travelling and discovering beautiful places in me.”

Hotel Dwars, Amsterdam
Hotel Dwars, Amsterdam

The Plantshop, Antwerp
The Plantshop, Antwerp

“I started my blog because people knew I was the one with the great new addresses and I always had to write long e-mails with all the recommendations on Paris, London, New York etc. So I thought: let’s build a free WordPress site and put all my recommendations on it. So, if people search for Paris, then all the recommendations are there. I thought I would run out of addresses in six months, but here we are, more than four years ahead, and I’m still not running out of cool places to go.”

Hotel Droog, Amsterdam
Hotel Droog, Amsterdam

Nino Viejo, the brand new restaurant of Albert Adria and Paco Mendez (former El Bulli) in Barcelona
Niño Viejo, the brand new restaurant of Albert Adria and Paco Mendez (former El Bulli) in Barcelona

Pauline Egge’s Top 5 hotspots right now:

1. Merci, Paris
I was one of three people who were able to sleep one night in this beautiful concept store in Paris. It was a collaboration with Dutch design brand Droog Design.


2. Hotel ICON, Hong Kong
One of my favorite hotels around the world. I stayed in the Vivienne Tam suite, which has an incredible view over the city.


3. The Jane, Antwerp
The new restaurant of Dutch chef Sergio Herman in a stunning environment: an old chapel. Definitely worth visiting —but make sure to make a reservation.


4. Gallito, Barcelona
I always go to Gallito when I’m in Barcelona. It’s the perfect beach club.


5. Stout & Co in Amsterdam
Sleeping in your own apartment in an old brewery—beautiful design, even better atmosphere.

Stoutco, Amserdam

—With Gian Cruz
Photos courtesy of Pauline Egge

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