Tried & Tested: Big Day Slim Team home spa
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So my new(ish) car is coded on Wednesdays. It took me a while to remember that, and I still forget sometimes and have to grab an Uber.
Oh, and the Universe usually gives me what I want.

Two months ago, I decided to go on a diet. The goal was to drop 20 lbs. Many people have been asking me how I did it, but I do not want recommend because of the suffering.
Basically it’s a combination of starvation, cycling, a fat burner, and that’s not all.
It’s hell, but I’ve lost 14 lbs.
Six lbs to go.

Speaking of being coded on Wednesdays and slimming down, it was really a wish granted when Maxinne Ignacio of Big Day Slim Team asked me if I would like to try their home spa again.
It was like Universe giving me a gift.

Big Day Slim Team

Big Day Slim Team is on my list for noninvasive slimming treatments. They’re a home-service team that can do a spa set up in your home. They come complete with a spa bed, candles and other props to make it a complete experience.
Maxxine Ignacio, who owns Big Day Slim Team, purchased her machines from Korea.
“We use multiple paddle sizes, pulse frequencies and techniques to cater to specific problem areas such as the face and neck, arms, middle section and thighs, while considering your unique body type, lifestyle and Big Day deadline,” said Maxxine.

Maxinne Ignacio
Maxinne Ignacio

Maxxine, a former beauty writer for a glossy magazine, started the business in 2014 after she realized how traffic and stress could ruin the otherwise relaxing spa experience for people. She flies to Korea regularly to scout new treatments for Big Day Slim Team.

The company’s name—Big Day Slim Team—means their services are perfect for specific goals.
For example, you could be down to your last extra five or 6 lbs. or you could be struggling to make sure that bridesmaid’s dress will fit you properly for your sister’s wedding. You could also be a bride who’s stress-eating because the wedding is three weeks away.

What I’ve been doing is Lipocavitation, which removes fat in problem areas, tightens and tones skin, too. It doesn’t include surgery and/or injections.
Prices for Lipocavitation at Big Day Slim Team also start at Php800 for 20 minutes (face and neck).
After this, we do Radiofrequency (RF) treatments to tighten skin. RF can be done for the face, neck, arms, thighs and abdomen. Prices start at Php800 for a 20-minute face and neck treatment.

Big Day Slim Team

For unwanted hair, Big Day Slim Team also offers IPL hair removal for legs and underarms.
While Big Day Slim Team’s specialty is weight loss treatments, they also offer massages, facials, mani-pedis, hand and/ or foot spa treaments and waxes.

Packages are personalized for clients. There are special packages too for brides and debutantes.
Big Day Slim Team can also be booked for “sparties”, bridal showers or as a gift for your special friends and family.
You can get discounts for packages and more than one area treated in one day.

Big Day Slim Team

Big Day Slim Team accepts appointments from 9 AM to 9 PM from Tuesday to Sunday (daily, except Monday). Please book 1-2 days before your scheduled session.
Call or text (0939) 831 3822

So yes, I’ve been looking forward to my Wednesdays at home.
To know more, go to
Follow them on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram @bigdayslimteam.

Ogetsu Hime opens at SM Fashion Hall
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Ever since Kimpura Greenhills closed its doors last June, we’ve felt the loss in our family.
Tsukiji on Pasay Road is our favorite, but it’s all the way in Makati.
Lucky for us Pasig dwellers, there’s a new Japanese restaurant at SM Megamall.
I was invited for a food tasting with the owner VJ Villavicencio on a Saturday. On Sunday, I was back with my kids and they loved it.


The 300 square-meter restaurant is on the 3rd floor—at the restaurant row of SM Fashion Hall. It seats 130 people. It has three function rooms and teppanyaki tables, where the chefs put on a show for diners.


The teppanyaki chefs trained for nearly a year to be able to properly do a show AND serve good food. To maintain the authenticity of the food, Ogetsu Hime has two Japanse chefs: Chef Iwabuchi and Chef Takada Isao. VJ told us that the combined work experience of all the chefs and cooking staff in the restaurant would probably reach 100 years.

Sushi Chef Takada Isao (middle) with staff

The seafood is flown in three times a week from Japan. Ogetsu Hime probably has a comprehensive sushi bar that includes Chutoro (fatty tuna), Otoro (blue fun tuna belly), Amaebi (Hokkaido sweet shrimp),Hotategei (Hokkaido giant scallops), Engawa (Japanese halibut), Hamachi (Japanese yellowtail) and Anago (Japanese saltwater eel).



My personal favorite is hamachi, which I only used to eat at Tsukiji. Ogetsu’s hamachi—though thinly sliced—is not bad at all, and it comes with a side dish of chopped hamachi in dressing. Love this!


But Ogetsu Hime’s pride is the Matsusaka beef, touted as the most expensive beef. Matsusaka beef has the highest rating from the Japanese Meat Grading Association, with a higher rating than Kobe and Wagyu.

VJ explained that it took him a year to bring the best Matsusaka beef to Manila. Apparently, only female cows can be used for Matsusaka beef.

Since I’ve been on a diet, I really enjoyed the Matsusaka Seiro, or steamed beef on a bed of vegetables.


It looks plain, but I really love this diet food.


I don’t have a picture of it, but my kids really loved the Matsusaka Ishiyaki cooked on hot stone. That’s one order per boy, plus a side of ebi tempura and lots of steamed rice.


Of course my son Markus needs two bowls of mixed fried rice.


Aside from steamed and cooked on hot stone, they also serve Matsusaka Sushi

ogetsu hime matsusaka sushi

Matsusaka Tataki

ogetsu hime matsusaka tataki

and Matsusaka Teppanyaki

ogetsu hime matsusaka teppanyaki

The cuisine at Ogetsu Hime highlights the freshness of the ingredients instead of smothering them with a lot of sauces. As a picky eater, I like that.

Ogetsu Hime offers a Gold Card to its customers, which entitles the bearer to 50% discount on selected premium food items and other “Best of Japan” offerings. The Gold Card is available for use at SM Aura (the first branch) and SM Megamall.

For reservations and inquiries, call
Ogetsu Hime Megamall at (02) 470-8241, (02) 637-7510, and (0917) 576-2377
or SM Aura at (02) 519-9840, (0917)-809-6585

The Megamall branch is open from 11am to 3pm and 5pm to 10pm from Monday to Friday and the whole day on Saturday and Sunday.

To know more, follow them on Facebook and Instagram @ogetsuhime

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar now part of Historic Hotels Worldwide
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Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bagac, Bataan is now part of Historic Hotels Worldwide, the official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, an organization that helps promote heritage and cultural travel to prestigious historic treasures.

IMG_5584 (2)

Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar was also nominated as one of the Best Historic Hotels Worldwide hotels in Asia & the Pacific alongside Alsisar Haveli in India, Sofitel Legend Metropole in Vietnam, Laxmi Niwas Palace in India, Hotel New Grand in Japan and The Fullerton Hotel in Singapore.

Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar
Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar

Historic Hotels Worldwide, an official program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation (in the United States), represents the finest global collection of historic hotels and other historic lodging spanning more than 10 centuries in more than 30 countries.

“We are delighted to induct Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, a heritage community resort built in 2000 to Historic Hotels Worldwide.” said Lawrence Horwitz, Executive Director of Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide. “We welcome Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, Mr. Jerry Acuzar and leadership team into Historic Hotels Worldwide.”

Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar
Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar

To be nominated and selected to be featured on the Historic Hotel Worldwide site, lodging properties must be at least 75 years old; utilize historic accommodations; serve as the former home or be located on the grounds of the former home of famous persons or significant location for an event in history; be located in or within walking distance to a historic district, historically significant landmark, place of historic event, or a historic city center; be recognized by a local preservation organization or national trust; and display historic memorabilia, artwork, photography, and other examples of its historic significance.

bizantina room001-1

“We are more than honored to be the first resort in the Philippines inducted into this prestigious organization through our efforts of bringing the best of Filipino heritage and culture to the world. We are also very delighted to be nominated as one of the Best Historic Hotels Worldwide hotels in Asia & the Pacific. In line with this, we will continue to showcase local craftsmanship and the warmth of hospitality that Filipinos are known for,” said Erwin Dona, Director of Brand Marketing for Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar.


Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar, which opened its doors to the public, is a development that’s rich in history and architectural integrity. Since 2000, the 400-hectare land has been undergoing development. At present, 26 hectares have been developed and are being used as space for the resort’s growing heritage community.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar has architectural pieces from 18th century Philippines. The casas or houses are the centerpieces of this Bataan resort.

hotel de oriente

The resort takes pride in its collection of houses from the Spanish colonial era. With this collection of casas and accesorias, the resort aims to revive Filipino heritage, culture, and tradition in this modern age.
Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar is part of the Conde Nast Johansens Luxury Global Collection and is a project of the New San Jose Builders, Inc. in consultancy with Asian Grand Legacy.

Las Casas Filipinas de Azucar is in Brgy. Ibaba, Bagac, 2107 Bataan
Tel (02) 332 5338

To know more, click HERE.

Philippines’ Mark Gonzalez joins 2017 Business of Fashion #BoF500
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If has the Forbes 400, the Business of Fashion has the BoF 500—a prestigious roster of the most influential people shaping the global fashion industry today.
Based on months of research, data analysis, and nominations from current members, the list is refreshed yearly with the names of retail moguls and creative personalities around the globe.

This year, one Filipino—Mark “Jappy” Gonzalez—joins the BoF 500 roster as the Managing Director and co-founder of H&F Retail Concepts, Inc.
Since 1995, when Jappy opened the first homme et femme boutique at the Shangri-La Plaza, his stores and brands have developed a cult following of hard-to-please shoppers that look forward to brands only previously found abroad.

Mark Gonzalez
Photo: Patrick Diokno

H&F Retail Concepts, Inc. is an independently owned retail entity that encompasses multi-brand shops such as UNIVERS and Hoodwink, alongside 16 franchised boutiques such as Balenciaga, Fred Perry, COMME des GARÇONS, and Ladurée.

Jappy is responsible for the conceptual impetus and overall merchandising of the company, with 32 years of experience in the luxury retail industry.
Here’s what some of his friends and best customers say about him.



To see the complete roster of the 2017 BOF 500, click HERE.

First look: Happy Skin’s 23-piece collaboration with Sanrio
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Growing up in the ’80s, all girls were obsessed with Sanrio.
I remember having an “arms race” with my classmate Anna Zosa over Hello Kitty items—from matching pencil cases to aprons.
I don’t know about Anna, but I still haven’t outgrown these cute things.

Now Sanrio fans who are all grown up will be pleased to know Happy Skin is launching a 23-piece makeup collection featuring Hello Kitty, Little Twinstars and My Melody.
I recently met up with Happy Skin co-founder Rissa Mananquil-Trillo who showed me the entire collection over drinks at the Peninsula.

“It was an honor to meet Mrs. Yuki Tsuji last March at the Sanrio Licensing presentation,” said Rissa. “She’s the wife of the late Mr. Hunihiko Tsuji who had the vision to take Sanrio outside Japan. There’s so much love for Sanrio characters around the world because of him,” she said.

The collection includes products for face, skin and nails.
“We studied the personalities of Hello Kitty, My Melody, and Little Twin Stars in great detail, so what you will see from the products’ packaging to the shade of the makeup to even the names of the shades communicate who they truly are,” said Happy Skin co-founder Jacqe Yuengtian Gutierrez.

The collection includes two blushes with a handy mini-brush (Php 899)

Happy Skin x Sanrio
Happy Skin x Sanrio

Two sponges (both Php 499, including two small twin ones)

Happy Skin x Sanrio
Happy Skin x Sanrio
Happy Skin x Sanrio

Make A Clean Sweep Micellar Makeup Wipes (at Php 249—a first for Happy Skin)

Happy Skin x Sanrio

Blotting sheets (Php 175)

Happy Skin x Sanrio

I’m a minimalist, so I really liked the nude nail polish.
The Sanrio Characters Express Gel Polish (Php 299) comes in five shades: Red Apple, Purr-fect, Peaches & Cream, Curious Kiki and Lala Love.
You can buy individually or in a boxed set of five at Php 1,299—perfect for gift-giving.

Happy Skin x Sanrio nail polish

Of course, a Happy Skin collection wouldn’t be complete without the brand’s famous lip products:
Shut Up & Kiss Me Moisturizing Lippies (Php 599)
Moisturizing Matte Lippies (Php 699)

Happy Skin x Sanrio

and Shut Up & Kiss Me Moisturizing Matte Lippies (Php 699).

Happy Skin x Sanrio

There are seven new shades:

Hello, Hello Kitty
Sanrio Lip Swatches_Hello Hello Kitty

Best of Friends
Sanrio Lip Swatches_Best of Friends

Kitty Cat
Sanrio Lip Swatches_Kitty Cat

Flower Power
Sanrio Lip Swatches_Flower Powerj

Berry Good
Sanrio Lip Swatches_Berry Good

Twinkle Twinkle
Sanrio Lip Swatches_Twinkle Twinkle

and Star Wand—all in character packaging.
Sanrio Lip Swatches_Star Wand

There are also lipstick sets—perfect for the holiday season, and packed in reusable cute Sanrio boxes. (Php 1299)

Happy Skin x Sanrio
Happy Skin x Sanrio
Happy Skin x Sanrio

Get them first as the Happy Skin x Sanrio Characters collection becomes available for pre-selling from this September 11 to 13 at and
To know more, follow Happy Skin on Instagram @happyskin_ph and Facebook.