New, convenient ways to donate to Jollibee’s “Maaga Ang Pasko” program
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I always encourage my kids to share their blessings with others. Sometimes it’s hard for them to part with their things, but as the holidays approach, I’m going to ask them to sort through their toys and books to see what we can donate to Jollibee’s Maaga ang Pasko. (Have a feeling books will be easier to give away).

Jollibee’s Maaga ang Pasko is the country’s biggest and longest-running annual toy and book donation drive.
More than 5,000 kids benefited from last year’s program with over 600,000 toys and children’s books that were collected from Maaga ang Pasko donation boxes in Jollibee stores nationwide, as well as corporate donors, partners and online channels.

On its 22nd year, Maaga ang Pasko welcomes actress Jodi Sta. Maria and her son Thirdy as campaign ambassadors.

Jodi Sta. Maria for Jollibee

“Seeing your kid grow up to be a loving, kind and generous person is the most fulfilling thing for a parent. That’s why I wanted Thirdy to learn sharing early, and he started that right here at Jollibee,” said Jodi.
Jodi and Thirdy are inviting families to place their pre-loved gifts, toys, and children’s books inside Maaga ang Pasko boxes at Jollibee stores nationwide, or send their donations online through campaign partners Lazada and Blink and via

Donate using Grab
For busy people, I’m happy to share that donations can now be sent through Grab Express.
For a minimum of five donated items, delivery is free! (Note: Coverage is for Metro Manila only.)
Just follow these easy steps:
1) Download the Grab app on your phone.
2) Open the Grab App and click on the GrabExpress icon.
3) Input your pick-up point and any Jollibee store near you as the drop-off point.
4) Input your contact details
5) Enter promo code “Jollypasko” and book.

Donate through Lazada
You can also shop at Lazada for quality toys you can donate to Jollibee Maaga ang Pasko. Go to and choose among Lazada’s various offerings.
Lazada will deliver gifts to your chosen address, which you can bring to any Jollibee store.

Donate through Blink
With Blink, you can donate NEW books to Maaga angPasko and bring joy to more kids this Christmas.
Here’s how:
1) Go to
2) Click on the bundle of your choice and pay for your chosen items.
3) Wait for the thank you message sent by Blink, confirming your purchase.
4) Blink will deliver straight to Jollibee’s Maaga ang Pasko donations warehouse.

Donate through Avida
Those living in or near Avida communities can bring their toy and book donations to any of the following and drop them in Maaga ang Pasko boxes there:

South Luzon
Ridgeview Estates NUVALI
Avida Parkway Settings NUVALI
Avida Village Cerise NUVALI
Avida Residences Dasmariñas
Avida Settings Cavite

Metro Manila
Avida Towers BGC 9th Ave
Avida Towers San Lorenzo
Avida Towers Alabang

Avida Towers Cebu
Avida Village Iloilo
Avida Village North

Or donate the old fashioned way
Just bring your donations to any Jollibee branch nationwide so you can add to the 3.1 million gifts unwrapped and embraced by new owners since the program was launched in 1994.
To know more, go to

H&M opening soon in Bonifacio and Iloilo!
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H&M Hennes & Mauritz, Inc. will open its 19th and 20th stores in the Philippines this November.
The first store in Iloilo will open at SM City on November 17, followed by Uptown Place Mall in Bonifacio Global City on November 18.

“2016 has been an amazing year so far,” said Fredrik Famm, Country Manager for South East Asia. “Our stores in Cagayan de Oro and Davao have been welcomed with so much enthusiasm, and we are eager to reach out to more shoppers outside of the capital with our latest venture into SM City, Iloilo. Alongside this expansion, we also continue to increase our presence as we open our first store in BGC, in the exciting Uptown Place Mall.”

H&M Uptown Bonifacio

Iloilo’s first H&M store will be 1,800 square meters and carry fashion for Ladies, Men, Kids, Divided, and H&M Sport. Within all of these you’ll find an array of Conscious and sustainably produced products. You can also donate used clothes to get a discount voucher to be used for your next purchase, courtesy of H&M’s Garment Collecting program.

Standing at 2,100 square meters, H&M Uptown Place Mall will have the same offering and product assortment.

H&M Uptown Place

Both stores will open with great offers. Gift cards of varying amounts from Php 300-Php 2,000 will be handed out to the first 200 in line, with a special prize of Php 5,000 for the first in line.
The next 300 will receive special H&M umbrellas and tote bags.
A special treat also awaits stylish shoppers, as five of the most fashionable people in line before opening will be selected and given Php 2,000 gift cards each.

H&M SM City Iloilo will open on November 17 and H&M Uptown Place Mall will open on November 18, 2016 from 11 AM to 10 PM. Regular hours from 10 AM-10 PM will resume the following day.

Shaburi all-you-can-eat wagyu shabu-shabu opens at Uptown BGC
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The word “healthy” may not be something you connect with delicious and filling when it comes to food but that is what our newest food concept is all about.
Shaburi is a new concept created by Dining Innovation, whose goal is to bring Japanese food culture to the world.

Shaburi Uptown BGC

It’s no secret that I love anything Japanese, and fun dining is what we love to do as a family.
We love hands-on cooking at home, such as grilling on the table using a yakiniku grill or hotpot. Even the children like to get involved. That’s what led us to open Pepper Lunch in 2008.
Nearly 40 Pepper Lunch stores later, we felt it was time to introduce a new franchise to the Philippines.
Luckily, Shaburi was offered to us by Dining Innovation during a leisure trip to Singapore.

Kamada-san and Jeroen
Mr. Eiji Kamada of Dining Innovation with Jeroen in Singapore

There are many things that make Shaburi unique. One, it is an all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu restaurant. You may choose from four kinds of meat—Regular Shabu (includes tasty Beef and Tender Pork), Special Shabu, Shaburi Wagyu (black label), Special Wagyu (gold label), or all of the above—which you cook in your own personal soup pot, instead of double dipping and having to share with a bunch of people.

Shaburi Uptown BGC

There are five kinds of broth: including Original Konbu (which is my favorite), Sukiyaki, Soy Milk Miso, Chicken Collagen Paitan (good for the skin!) and Hot Miso (which is spicy).
There are three sauces: Ponzu (traditional Japanese sauce), Special Goma Tare (roasted sesame and soy milk) and Sweet Sauce (green apple, onions, garlic and white sesame).
I’m a simple eater, so my choices look like this:


A buffet table offers fresh vegetables, dipping sauces, condiments, drinks and desserts. Not a bad deal, considering prices range from Php 499 to Php 1599 depending on the meat level you choose.
Side dishes include steamed rice, fried rice and the crowd favorite, wagyu rice, as well as chicken wings and karaage, fries, creamy carbonara, corn fritters, and sushi rolls.
Don’t forget to try our gyudon on steamed rice. It is the most addicting gyudon in town—my friend Gerome calls it “crack.”

Shaburi Uptown BGC

“In other Asian countries, people are of different religions. Some do not eat pork. So the personal pots make sense,” said Eiji Kamada, Chief Executive Officer and Director at Dining Innovation.

Shaburi Uptown BGC

The individual soup pots are perfect for families that have picky eaters. Some people only eat meat and don’t want vegetables floating in their soup. But many of those who come to Shaburi do so because they love vegetables, which include lettuce, cabbage, leeks, four kinds of mushrooms, spinach and young corn. The freshness of the vegetables is maintained by a mist machine imported from Japan.

Shaburi Uptown BGC

There are Chinese add-ons such as a variety of seafood balls, squid rings, white fish, tofu, and noodles.
The soups were created by Japanese chefs and are imported from a Japanese commissary (so there’s a minimal charge for extra soup).

“When we came here two years ago, we noticed there were only two kinds of shabu-shabu restaurants—the very expensive ones or the low-end. Shaburi is somewhere in the middle. Ramen, sushi and tonkatsu are already very popular here. We wanted to offer something different,” said Shinichiro Matsufuji, Chief Operating Officer at Dining Innovation.

Shinichiro Matsufuji and Eiji Kamada
Mr. Shinichiro Matsufuji and Eiji Kamada food tasting at Shaburi at The Fort

The meat at Shaburi Philippines is of the same grade and quality you will get anywhere in the world where there is a Shaburi restaurant, The meat, side dishes, sauces and basically anything in the restaurant are of the same grade/cut/specifications.

“We are targeting a wide range of customers from diet-conscious ladies to families who want a quality dining experience. We want customers to enjoy meat the healthy way,” said Jeroen van Straten of Shaburi Philippines.
Shaburi Philippines is committed to opening 10 restaurants in five years. We’ve been successful with Pepper Lunch so we look forward to this challenge.

Shaburi Uptown BGC

Shaburi Uptown BGC

Our interiors were proudly designed by a Japanese firm. The restaurant is 260 sqm, with a seating capacity of 96 guests.
There are two semi-private rooms for big groups so if you’re having a big get-together or a birthday blowout for friends, Shaburi can accommodate your requirements.
By the way, Shaburi also serves beer (Asahi and San Miguel Light).

Shaburi guests

Shaburi is at 4th floor (Veranda), Uptown Mall, Bonifacio High Street Central.
Open daily from 10 AM to 10 PM.
Best to reserve (especially on weekends) by calling 805-2932 • 978-2481 • 0917-708-3930.
Follow @shaburiph on Instagram.

PS. The best way to go up is use the outside escalator. It will take you straight up to the 4th level veranda where Shaburi, right next to Buffalo Wings 🙂

Shaburi guests

Feeling nostalgic in Hong Kong
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I used to go to Hong Kong at least three times a year, I even had a Hong Kong frequent visitor card. Sadly, that card has expired.
Ever since I got my multiple-entry Japan visa, I just stopped going to Hong Kong regularly. As my cousin would say, Japan is the new Hong Kong.
I had not been to Hong Kong for more than a year. I had to go this year because of a medical checkup required by my dad’s bank. The trip was sponsored and timely because I’ve been feeling lonely ever since my son left for China to study for six weeks. I figured, five days in Hong Kong will help pass the time till my son is back.
I decided to stay at Gateway Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui because two years ago my friend Penny recommended it. She said the bathrooms were Penny-approved and most likely chuva-approved. She was right. I absolutely loved the bathroom!! This was on the Club Floor by the way, Room 1421.


My friend Rem and I had shared a room with two beds. This was my bed. Interiors very mainstream but I can’t complain because the aircon is cold and the bathroom is great!!

Gateway Hotel

Gateway is a great place to stay if you have only a few days because the hotel is connected to the mall. Take the elevator to the 2nd floor and you’re right smack inside Harbour City Mall with a bridgeway to Silvercord Mall.
This is where my grandparents used to stay when they were alive and where we’ve been shopping since I was a kid, with its low ceiling and constantly changing brands/shops.

Harbour City

I feel very sentimental about this place, particularly Tsim Sha Tsui. Many years ago, this was the happy place of our parents and grandparents—the love of which their generation has passed on to my generation.
Hong Kong is a mere 90 minutes by plane from Manila. Even for someone who hates flying, this isn’t bad at all. We had the smoothest Cathay Pacific flight, by the way.
I wasn’t close to my maternal grandfather, but I can feel his spirit around. I know he loved this place.

Canton Road

For some reason, I think of my Lola Paying when I ride the ferry because she also loved Hong Kong. I wonder if she liked the ferry too.

Hong Kong ferry
Hong Kong ferry

I didn’t get to shop that much, but that’s OK. I still have clothes with tags from my Tokyo trip last September. I did buy that small Globetrotter from Lane Crawford I’ve been eyeing for years. I can finally afford it.


A trip to Hong Kong is never complete without a meal at La Vache!, which serves the best steak and fries in Hong Kong


and the best “unsweet” chocolate cake!


The neighborhood

Elgin Street

It’s always good to see friends in Hong Kong, like James Acuña and Alexandra Seno who we met at Second Draft.

2nd Draft

Really liked the fried chicken and grilled squid!

2nd Draft
IMG_20161110_192817James and Alex

Couldn’t help but notice Jack the bartender/barista who is half-man, half-Schnauzer

Jack at 2nd Draft

As for my checkup, it went really well. I came home with a clean bill of health. I had a great relaxing trip, and I love Hong Kong all over again.

Cecile van Straten