Monday, July 20, 2015

MUSIC MONDAY: Daysha Edewi - What If I Knew I Was Beautiful…

"You say I don't know I'm beautiful
But what if I did?
What if I looked in the mirror and actually liked what I saw?
Make-up or no make-up, flaws and all
What if I woke up really feeling myself
And could pose a selfie on Instagram without any self-doubt
No questions, contemplations or hesitations
Because the only person's confirmation I would need... is my own"

Beautiful words for YOU, beautiful woman! :) 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

15 Local Kikay Brands To Support

This 2015, I encourage you to to look for local brands to support and pass on your raves to family, friends and online followers. Allow me to contextualize this friendly reminder: Buying from local businesses makes you assist work-from-home nanays put food on the table, tatays pay mortgage or kuyas pag college tuition instead of helping bossings or country managers purchase his third home away from home. Besides, gone were the days when our own products hardly look enticingly world-class and only foreign consumers can enjoy our finest exports. Let me give you 15 reasons to believe in tatak Pilipino.

1.) Human Heart Nature
If you've been following this blog, you'll notice that I mention this brand a lot and you've probably read my disclosure that I'm a dealer myself. See, true to their core values as pro-Philippines, pro-poor and pro-environment, Human Heart Nature has been producing all-natural personal care products using locally-sourced and ethically-acquired materials and employing Gawad Kalinga residents and farmers since 2008. 

As a testament to the safety and effectiveness of their products, particularly their best-selling items like sunflower beauty oil (read: 23-in-1 miracle worker for pimples, stretch marks, dull hair, sun burn, eye bags, insect bites, dark lips and more!), hair care and facial wash and toners, their following continue to rise after every product release. In the recent years, they introduced their mineral make-up line comprised of the popular pressed powder, mineral blush and tinted lip balms. And they refused to rest on their laurels; PR Manager Tish Martinez-Castillo says they release spanking new products every 8 weeks and they offer improved formulations for existing products depending on clients' feedback and requests. 

Nurse/dealer Edzel Love Suobiron, for instance, loves the latest batch of Mineral ColorCreme lipsticks the most for its creamy feel on her lips and for being the perfect match for her dusky skin tone. And speaking of, Human Heart Nature does NOT intend to come up with whitening products because they believe in the awesomeness of the kayumanggi skin. Awesome, right?

Some of Human Heart Nature's best-selling items. Photos lifted from the website.

Edilee Omoyon was just making natural soaps and moisturizers for her son who's long battling with skin asthma. Little did she know that her intensive research would lead to creation of soaps as requested by family, friends and eventually clients, thus giving birth to Milea. This journey made her build more products for All Organics (bath and baby), Milea Baby (baby products), Milea Mineral Make-Up (chemical-free cosmetics) and Coco Bee (bee products). You guessed it right. Her solution for skin asthma, particularly the goat's milk honey oatmeal soap, and lemongrass facial toner (works as make-up remover, too) are the most in-demand items. In their cosmetic line, clients are raving about bee propolis concealer stick, metallic powder eye shadow (available in 14 shades), powder blusher (available in 5 colors) and sassy lip creme (available in 10 shades).

When asked what makes Milea different from other organic brands, Edilee says they do not mass produce to ensure customers will get to use fresh cosmetics. They also grow their own raw materials in Milea Bee Farm in San Jose, Batangas. In fact, Edilee allows "beesita sa bukid" for interested parties. 

Milea's most-requested products. Photos lifted from the official website.

It takes gifted eye to see fashion in scraps of cloth, yes? But don't be quick to conclude; Rags2Riches founder Reese Fernandez has a bigger fashion statement: she asks YOU to wear your compassion.

I recall being moved during her turn to speak about her enterprise during this social marketing bootcamp. Upon realizing how middlemen exploited the rug-weavers in Payatas (controlled access to the market hence so little profit), the team opted to empower these artisans and train them to make creative fashion pieces and, eventually, home decors, using upcycled scraps, organic and indigenous materials. They even teamed up with big names like Rajo Laurel, Oliver Tolentino, Amina Aranaz-Alunan and Olivia d’Aboville to give their handwoven handbags, wallets, purses, wristlets and others an appealing touch.

Today, R2R continues to expand and lift talented Filipino artisans from poverty. After all, her company’s philosophy is firmly rooted on People (quality of life + quality of dreams), Planet (shared home and shared future), Profit (surplus for sustainability) and Positive Influence (belief in the power of generosity).

Some of R2R's awesome designs. Photos from their fanpage.

4.) Jacinto & Lirio
Did you know that production of leather necessitates slaughter of billion animals every year? These industries also use dangerous chemicals like mineral salts, formaldehyde and coal-tar derivatives, among others. Read about it here. Good thing Filipino innovators discovered that the stalk of water hyacinth or water lilies can be turned into a leather-like material!

Jacinto & Lirio founder, Noreen Bautista, collaborated with Cora Jacob (or Cora Jacobs as she is known globally), the renowned Filipino eco-chic bag designer and regarded as the pioneer of Philippine handbag design, for their first collection of plant leather bags. And the rest, as they say, is history. Aside from handbags, they now have made journals, iPad cases, planners and laptop wraps. And it's exciting to know what new items they'll come up with next!

Some of Jacinto & Lirio's bag and planner designs. Photos lifted from their official website.

5.) Ever Bilena
Ever wondered what's in sexy star Ellen Adarna's kikay kit and what particular cosmetic the award-winning actress Eugene Domingo hoards? It's Ever Bilena's lip and cheek tint! In her KrisTV guesting, Ellen swears by how it gives her a long-lasting natural-looking blush. Such a good steal for P135!

Ellen Adarna raves about her kikay must-have from Ever Bilena. Screenshots from YouTube. 

For make-up artist Danielle Leonardo, she appreciates the creamy texture of their black and brown eyeliners as it is truly easy for her to blend it with eye shadows. Also, she lauds their matte lipsticks, particularly the Pink Flame and Skin shades.

In a nutshell, most blog reviews spell satisfaction in how this household name can keep up with international brands and provide high-end quality for affordable price tag.

6.) FS Cosmetics, formerly known as F21 Cosmetics
Make-up artist Fanny Serrano's own cosmetic line had been getting the much-coveted nods from beauty awards since 2004. Their eyelash curler, for instance, is something beauty blogger Jolly considers a "nice dupe of Shu Uemura" happens to be a Cosmo Beauty Award winner in 2006 and 2009. Make-up artist Danielle Leonardo raves about the two-way cake for being good-to-go upon application and being as effective as M.A.C.'s studio fix powder. Both Jolly and Danielle adore their pigmented eye shadows; it's easy to blend, long-lasting, budget-friendly, plus it offers wide array of color options that complements the Pinay skin.

Fanny Serrano Cosmetics' award-winning products: concealers, eyelash curler and blush-on.

7.) Happy Skin Cosmetics
Everybody loves Happy Skin! Celebrities, beauty experts and bloggers here and abroad are raving about their high-quality products. Their fun, witty product names such as Don't Get Mad Get Even, Eye Need A Miracle, Eye Love View, Feeling Sculptacular, Shut Up And Kiss Me, along with their eye-catching packaging, delight make-up junkies. What's more, the products are true to their promises. The lippies are moisturizing, pigmented and long-lasting. Founders Jacqe Yuegtian-Gutierrez and Rissa Mananquil-Trillo truly know how to make Pinay skin happy.

Clever product names! Photos lifted from their website.

8.) Shoe Cycle
Do you know that burning rubber tires produces toxic pollutants that affect the air we breathe in? According to Green Living, there are approximately 2.1 million waste tires in Luzon alone every year. Such an alarming figure, right? Thanks to Shoe Cycle, those discarded tires get converted into comfortable and impressive footwear. Oxfords, boat shoes, espadrilles, sandals, name it - they've got it! Also, each "scraptire" is carefully handled by Marikina shoemakers, so you can count on its durability.

Check out Shoe Cycle's cool designs. Photos grabbed from their fanpage. 

9. Ono All-Natural Skin Care Products
It all started when Cebu-based May Pono found existing organic brands to be too expensive, prompting her to create her own soaps for personal use. All of a sudden, her Facebook posts started getting inquiries from interested buyers. Her soaps became an instant hit!

Raw vegan chef Lakapati Basa says, "Their products work well for me. The soaps are gentle and they are not ridden with chemicals plus the price is right." Imagine paying only P25 for soaps, P50 for deo cream, P50 for body butter and P50 for sunscreen lotion - all handmade, unscented and all-natural! They also have a wide variety of options to choose from - carrot-olive, olive cleanse, moringa lemongrass, milk, oat and rice, coffee and cream, papaya whitening, papaya-turmeric, olive-turmeric, olive tea tree, mangosteen, neem-lemongrass, aloe vera soaps and more!

Ono All-Natural Skin Care Products. Photos from their fanpage. 

10.) Belle & Cat Nail and Wax Studio
There are so many reasons to love this place! Friendly staff, cozy place plus a wide array of services to offer: nail care, facials, waxing, massage, hair and make-up, spa party packages and equally long list of nail polishes and nail art designs to choose from.

But, wait, there's more! Have you ever been in a situation that calls for emergency mani+pedi with polish then you suddenly realize you're wearing closed shoes? Well, Belle & Cat happens to be ready for that que horror moment. They actually sell flip flops! And they have consigned items from proudly-Pinoy brands such as Human Heart Nature, Simoy ng Haraya (try their 4-in-1 nail care fix!), Snoe Beauty and Leyende (they'll be re-launching their products soon!)

Plus, if you're quite reluctant to have your Brazilian wax or full body massage done after a long, stressful day at work, their neat comfort room can help you relax and condition your mind for the rewarding experience that lies ahead. In case you didn't know you'll end up getting waxed that day, fret not. They have ready all-natural products for you.

Belle & Cat's cozy spot. Photos from their website.

Currently, they have temporarily ceased operations in their Esteban corner Dela Rosa Sts, Legaspi Village, Makati branch. They will soon unveil their new location, so stay tuned for their announcements.

11.) Manos Nail Lounge
Here's another great place to get pampered and enjoy peace and quiet. They offer mani+pedi, spa treatments, paraffin, massage and waxing services. You'll be delighted to know that they have mani+pedi services for men and divas-in-the-making (13-year-olds and below), too!

Sure, most nail salons provide refreshments for their patrons. But it's heartwarming to see that they purposely choose to offer only locally-grown coffee and tea, including the all-Filipino iced tea Bayani Brew. What's more, if you're not fashion or showbiz magazines, Manos has a handful of fictional reads to choose from. And if you're a 90's kid like me, you're in for a pleasant treat!

Everyday is throwback day in Manos!

12. Chubbly
Here's another brand that plus size fashionistas should know. As Aries de Guzman of Erzullie put it, "Chubbly rocks because Chami Viray, the designer behind it, is a passionate, explorative and highly imaginative person. It reflects on every piece that she makes." Since its launch in 2012, Chubbly had been producing both classic and edgy RTW clothes and accessories for plus size Pinays.

Recently, Chami collaborated with proudly-Filipino makers of artisan shoes, Risque Designs, for this year's collection. While Risque is known for its signature use of embroidery, wood-carving and hand-weaving and local fabrics, Chubbly x Risque designs are rather subdued, but equally eye-catching and chic!

 Here's a little throwback of Chubbly's earlier clothing designs. Photos obtained from their fanpage. 

Chubbly x Risque designs. Photo from Chami Viray.

13. Snoe Beauty
Snoe Beauty, the new breed of all-natural yet inexpensive make-up, started capturing the beauty market since its establishment in 2010. The wordplay in product name such as Stink Positive!, Eau La La, Awesome Poresome, reminds us of the typical Pinoy humor. According to make-up artist/blogger Maita Atienza-Diaz, their make-up is a good dupe for M.A.C.. In her review here, she noted how their powder blended well with her skin an how it suits all skin tones. And if you're the kind of consumer who checks the label, you'd be happy to know that Snoe Beauty takes pride in their chemical-free ingredients. They even dedicated a space in their website called snoepedia to give you an informed choice before you make that purchase. With their clever and well-designed packaging plus high-quality product line, it is no surprise that Snoe already embarked to conquer the world's attention.

Some of Snoe's beauty products. Photos lifted fro their website.

14. Ganchillyou
What comes to mind when you hear the word "crochet"? How about "crochet fashion accessories"? You should check out Bella Joy Bardollas's designs for Ganchillyou and see for yourself that, yes, it is possible! You have to hand it to this yarn whisperer on how she can whip up colorful, bohemian conversation pieces.

Some of Gancillyou's eye-catching designs. Photos lifted from their Instagram account

15. Apartment 8
Ever wondered where your favorite stars and bloggers get their fun and flirty wardrobe? The good news is, you can get hold of Apartment 8's sexy and highly-popular cut-outs, head-turning prints and other celebrated designs as easy as heart-ing a friend's Instagram post. If you prefer to make your own fashion ideas materialize, you may contact them to do so. And they also welcome visits in their shop in South Triangle, Quezon City and stores in Greenhills Shopping Center and The Ramp outlets.

There you go, 15 brands that we can be truly proud of. But, hey, the list of high-quality locally-made products doesn't end here. There's a LOT of proudly Pinoy-made products waiting to be discovered so always be on the lookout for the next kikay find or fashion-forward outfit and share your satisfactory statements about those items with matching #SupportLocalEconomy and/or #PinoyPride on your social media accounts. After all, our country's biggest contribution to the world would have to be our unparalleled artistry, enthutsiasm to serve, passion for pretty things and consistent online presence. Wait, that's four gifts to the world already! Well, that's how well we Pinoys rock!

NOTE: This article appeared on The Philippine Online Chronicles. Click, click!