Saturday, January 30, 2016

“The mystic of MysterEscape”
Sun.Star Davao, Jan. 30, 2016

Growing up reading Bobsey Twins, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and even my dad’s Perry Mason books, I always loved the suspense and mystic of solving a mystery.

So, when my kids and their friends wanted to try MysterEscape for the second time, I wanted to tag along for curiosity’s sake (yeah, right!). At first, I just wanted to quietly “observe” and let the young ones do the mystery-solving, trying to unlock every roomful of challenge. But, ten minutes after, my mommy friend Bobsey and I could not resist and joined in the action too, discovering some clues here and there.

After much intense deciphering and unlocking of codes, we finally broke free from our assigned escape room at exactly 60 minutes. What a thrilling achievement it was for Team Sibs!

Curious about MysterEscape? Let’s snoop around and get to know the brilliant and imaginative minds behind Mindanao’s first ever escape room!

*Who are the people behind MysterEscape?

There are seven people behind MysterEscape: Leilah Alpad (Lei), Ma. Cecilia Zamudio (Ces), Emily Quinton, May Ragudo, Precious Aurea Pojas, Pia Charis Pojas (Pia), and Philip John Pojas.

The barkada originally consisted of the classmates who studied and graduated together from the University of the Philippines in Diliman.  Lei, Ces, Emily, and Precious graduated from the UP College of Business Administration with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and Accountancy. All of them are Certified Public Accountants (CPA). Precious is a CPA-lawyer. They were later joined by May who is also a CPA and by Pia who is the younger sister of Precious. Philip is the younger brother of Precious and is also a lawyer. He is in the private practice here in Davao City. Except for Pia and Philip, all are based in Manila.

*Why did you decide to open MysterEscape in Davao?

We chose to open MysterEscape in Davao City for three reasons. First, Davao City is the biggest and most populous city in Mindanao. Second, there were no escape rooms in Davao City despite the fact that it is a major city and that several escape rooms have already opened in Metro Manila and in Cebu City. We wanted to be the first to introduce it in Davao City and Mindanao. And third, three members of the barkada (There are six of us) were from Davao City. We felt that Davao City is the most ideal place to open MysterEscape. It is a major city and Dabawenyos are very much sophisticated and fun-loving that they would enjoy the cerebral delights offered by MysterEscape.

*What is an escape room game?

Escape room games are live adventure games wherein people are locked in a room and they have to observe and use the elements of the environment to decipher puzzles, find clues and hidden objects, and escape the room within a set time limit.

Our escape rooms are practically for everybody – it is ideal as a bonding experience for friends or family and is an excellent mode of teambuilding for co-workers or employees. And, the rule of the game is simple: Solve the mystery and escape the room within an hour.

*How is MysterEscape different from the other escape rooms in the country?

MysterEscape is similar to other escape rooms located in Manila in that we all share the escape room concept. But, there ends our similarity.

In other aspects, MysterEscape is totally different. We have unique storylines and puzzles. And, most of all, we are proud to say that MysterEscape delivers quality escape room experience at affordable rates. The average rate offered by other escape rooms is around P400 to P600 per player regardless of the number of players in a room. In MysterEscape, the rate per player changes depending on the number of players. The more players in a room, the cheaper the rate each player needs to pay. For instance, if a group of six persons would play at one of our rooms on a Friday or the weekend, each player need only pay P230. On a weekday, it would only be P180 per player.
*Can you explain the concept of each room?

MysterEscape currently has three escape rooms: (1) Secret Agents or Spies on a Mission; (2) Murder at Apartment 999; and (3) Lucila’s Curse.

In Secret Agents or Spies on a Mission, players become secret agents or covert operatives who must infiltrate the den of the most dangerous criminal this world has ever known. They must in one hour locate and steal the secret formula for creating a zombie army that will lead to the zombie apocalypse.

In Murder at Apartment 999, players get to be like Sherlock Holmes as they try to solve the mystery behind the death of a famous model/endorser. They only have one hour to investigate and identify the killer before he or she forever escapes the clutches of the police.

And, lastly in Lucila’s Curse, players find themselves trapped in a haunted house cursed by Lucila’s tormented soul. They have one hour to escape or risk being trapped forever with Lucila.

*What are the mechanics/rules when you enter a MysterEscape room?

Before they can enter the room, players are made to register and sign a waiver form wherein they agree not to disclose game details such as clues, puzzles, and, most especially, the solution to the puzzles.

MysterEscape rooms can be played by a maximum of six persons for a time limit of 60 minutes. There will be an assigned game master who will be in the room along with the players to monitor the game and to assist the players depending on the level of difficulty of the escape room game.

Inside the room, they can touch, hold and examine anything except those with orange tape on them. Those with orange tape means they are fragile and need not be touched or handled.

*What are the levels of difficulty?

Each escape room has three levels of difficulty: Houdini, Difficult, and Easy.

In the Houdini level, players will have no chance to request for clues or assistance from the game master. They get a shot in our Hall of Fame in the event that they are able to escape the room within one hour. All teams start at the Houdini level.

But once the teams are stumped or are unable to move forward in the escape room, they can choose to downgrade to the Difficult level wherein they get two chances to request for clues or assistance.

They can further downgrade to the Easy level which entitles them to three additional clues or assistance from the game master.

However, if you downgrade from the Houdini level, the team will no longer qualify for the Hall of Fame, even if it was able to get out of the room within the allotted time.

*What room do you highly recommend for families to try?

All our rooms are great for families. It just depends on the inclinations and preferences of each family.

Where there are children as young as 8 or 9 years old, we recommend Spies on a Mission and Murder at Apartment 999. Both rooms are child-friendly. But, some families love the scare factor, in which case, Lucila’s Curse would be ideal for them. Most of the families that tried Lucila’s Curse are those whose children are already in the high-school level or are already young adults.

*What are your future plans for MysterEscape?

We plan to change room themes by April 22, our 6th monthsary, and we hope to further expand within Davao City and in other cities in Mindanao. We also plan to give promos and rewards to our loyal customers. So, always check out our website and FB page for the latest updates of MysterEscape.

MysterEscape is open on Tuesday until Sunday from 1 pm to 10 pm. It is located at the Mezzanine floor, Adelfa Bldg., Lanang, Davao City, right across the Davao City Water District.

You may try to book online through their website,, or email them at They may also be reached through their FB page (MysterEscape), cellphone no. 0929 381 6611, and landline no. 2244179.

E-mail the author at Visit

Saturday, January 16, 2016


“Twinkle, twinkle little toes”
Sun.Star Davao, Jan. 16, 2016

Among the greatest blessings of having this column is meeting my dear readers and eventually becoming friends with them.

Singapore-based Aileen “T-One” Brigole-Abadilla is one such blessing. We met each other during Mom-About-Town’s 1st year anniversary contest and since then, we have kept in touch through social media.

What I admire most about T-One and her husband Christian is that although they are working overseas due to their bustling careers as LinkedIn Customer Success Manager-Southeast Asia and Oracle Senior Business Development Consultant, respectively, they still try to be hands-on parents to their two children who are in Davao.

T-One who delights in conceptualizing children’s parties; design and event styling; and music recently got her creative hands busy again with planning for her eldest daughter Jamie Ailianne’s Twinkle Toes’ 8th birthday party at Grand Men Seng Hotel.

“Jamie is such a good and natural dancer. She effortlessly dances with grace and precision, and is always placed in the front and center during each dance presentation in school. Though she’s not a ballerina, she dreams of becoming one”, reveals T-One.

Admitting to be “paranoid” when it comes to preparing for her kids’ special events, it took T-One several months to do Jamie’s DIY ballerina-themed bash.

“Pink, light pink, gold and navy blue were the predominant colors of the dainty affair. The colors were soft but with a contrast to it”, describes T-One.

“I also incorporated stars into the party, by putting gold foil star cut-outs on the cotton scattered in the middle of the table covered in navy blue satin tablecloth. This is to create an illusion of stars and clouds against a night sky. After all, whenever we hear the word “twinkle”, we usually relate it to the “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” children’s song, thus the star decors”, details the imaginative mom.

The dessert table marvelously showcased ballerina cookies shaped as ballerina slippers, tutu dresses, among others. T-One also used gold-dipped feathers as accessories to blueberry cheesecake shots. In addition, a lighted star was placed among the sweet offerings which highlighted the “twinkle” theme even further.

"Our party favors for children were Twinkle Toes party bags which we made ourselves. They were decorated with 3D cut-out ballerina paper dolls with tulle skirts, sealed with a Jamie or Ailianne sticker or a golden glitter peg. We also had personalized pink and navy blue hat boxes for all mommies to take home,”, says T-One.

During dinner, guests were enthralled with James Infiesto’s magic show which was followed by the family serenading the audience.

Like all her kids’ other parties, T-One shares that what makes the event doubly memorable is that she conceptualized and designed it herself and made into a reality with her in-house “production team” composed of her beloved family and nannies for the decors; nephews, nieces and cousins for the band and photography; and her doting mom, Mumsy Eyah, for the touching AVP.

     For the finale number, T-One lovingly performed the Disney song, “Go the Distance”, for Jamie. “I wanted to encourage her to follow her dreams”, enthuses T-One.
    “As I’ve shared with friends, Jamie is an extra special child, she has Turner Syndrome, which is a genetic disorder which means she lacks the second female X Chromosome. We feel extremely blessed to have her in our lives as she proves that she could go beyond herself and her condition. Despite the fact that many TS butterflies (as they’re sweetly referred to) suffer from learning disabilities, Jamie, with the help of her supportive teachers from Center for Brighter Beginnings and Davao Christian High School, has continually excelled in class, and is always considered one of the most confident, sweet and friendly kids”, T-One shares proudly.
      And, there is no doubt with caring parents like Christian and T-One, Jamie will unceasingly reach her highest potentials. Just you wait and see!

     Like “Pretty Little Party Davao” on Facebook and follow prettylittlepartydvo on Instagram for more photos of Jamie’s Twinkle Toes birthday bash.

     E-mail the author at Visit

Monday, January 4, 2016


“Las Noventas: The 2015 SMAD Grand Alumni Homecoming”
Sun.Star Davao, Jan. 4, 2016

T’was a spectacular night of high-rolling fun and nostalgia as we brought back the good, old high school days at the 2015 Stella Maris Academy of Davao Grand Alumni Homecoming --- Las Vegas style!

It’s been a week since the homecoming at the school’s SkyGym but my fellow silver jubilarians from SMAD Batch 1990 and I are still over the moon after ”Las Noventas” turned out to be a roaring success!

Planning the hosting of the homecoming began five years ago through the initiative of our batch president Lafayette Lim but we seriously started the ball rolling roughly six months ago. Yes, we are crammers!

But, God is good. He blessed us with the greatest team. We may be few in the working committee but everyone did their jobs wholeheartedly. When we graduated, we were only 89 in our batch and more than 30% of us are now based overseas. However, time and distance did not put a strain in our relationships. Everyone did their part in ensuring our homecoming’s success through their time, financial support and encouragement.

And, what a blessing that months before the homecoming, we came to know Arnold Alvarez and his incredible Siningtala Dance Company. They gave us the Las Vegas-themed homecoming we will forever remember complete with show girls, stilt walkers, unicyclists, cabaret dancers and singing drag divas. For the finale number, we also made history by rearranging the school hymn into a Las Vegas/Broadway beat which was wonderfully performed by SMAD Batch 2015’s Chloe Palar, the 2015 Ateneo StarSearch champion.

After the grand production number, the audience was enthralled once more with the mind-blowing performance of Davao’s very own human beatbox, Neill Llanes, Talentadong Pinoy grand champion and Asia’s Got Talent finalist.

That night, we likewise paid tribute to our former sisters, teachers, administration and maintenance staff who graced us with their presence. We are who we are today because of their guidance, patience and love.

Exciting surprise give-aways kept the alumni and guests glued to their seats until the end of the program. The prizes included a round-trip ticket for two, Manila-Hong Kong-Manila, via Cathay Pacific; Samsung 40” LED TV Full HD; Samsung 24” LED TV; Samsung Tab 3V; De Luxe Room Accommodation at Seda Hotel; VMV Hypoallergenics beauty packs; Panasonic washing machine, and many more!

Rewards were also bequeathed to the batches with the most number of attendees and best photo entries on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag: #SMADhomecoming2015.

The 2015 SMAD Grand Alumni Homecoming was made possible by NCCC, Phoenix Petroleum, VMV Hypoallergenics, HR Team Ware, Davies Paints, Marina Tuna, Kuilan’s Food Haus, Malagos Garden Resort, TriConstruction Ventures, Corp., Lamb of God, Boysen Paints, Ford Davao, Unilever Phils., P & G Dist., Colgate Palmolive, Tanduay, Hermintan, Coca-Cola Femsa Phil., Inc., URC-CFC, Century Pacific Food, Inc., and Puyod Farms.

On behalf of SMAD Batch 1990, we wish to thank everyone who made our dream homecoming a reality. A special shoutout to SMAD directress Patricia Aragon, F.I.; SMAD Batch ‘89’s Dr. Jett Lu; Stella Maris Academy of Davao Alumni Foundation, Inc. headed by president Lynnette Lasala; Ms. Annabel Palarca; presentors and sponsors; as well as fellow alumni, guests, SMAD teachers/staff, and friends who contributed to the homecoming’s overwhelming success!

To God be the glory!

E-mail the author at Visit

Sunday, December 27, 2015



The Stella Maris Academy of Davao Batch 1990 would like to share the love this CHRISTMAS season!

Join us at the 2015 SMAD GRAND ALUMNI HOMECOMING and get the chance to win a round-trip ticket for two, Manila-Hong Kong-Manila, via Cathay Pacific; Samsung 40” LED TV Full HD; Samsung 24” LED TV; Samsung Tab 3V; De Luxe Room Accommodation at Seda Hotel; VMV Hypoallergenics beauty packs; Panasonic washing machine, and many more!

We are also giving rewards for the batches with most number of attendees (based on paid tickets). 1st prize – Php15,000.00; 2nd prize- Php 10,000.00 and 3rd prize – Php 5,000.00.

See you on December 28, 6pm at the SMAD SkyGym! Ticket price is Php 250.00 inclusive of buffet dinner, exciting raffle prizes and a fabulous Las Vegas-themed show. For ticket inquiries, please text or call (0928)7207711.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

“Skin talk with Skin Doctors”
Sun.Star Davao, Dec. 19, 2015
In 1998, a group of four board-certified dermatologists decided to band together with the goal of giving Dabawenyos access to the newest technology being offered then, which was lasers.
Flash forward to 2015, Skin Doctors Dermatology and Laser Center is now operating clinics at the original branch at Gaisano Mall of Davao and at Quinque by Skin Doctors at SM Lanang Premier.
Let’s meet the dynamic lady dermatologists behind Skin Doctors. All of them are either Diplomates or Fellows of the Philippine Dermatological Society.
Dr. Ma. Pacita S. Belisario is a graduate of the UP College of Medicine. She took her residency training at the University of the Philippines-Phil. General Hospital (UP-PGH) and is a past training officer and incoming chair of the Department of Dermatology of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC).
On the other hand, Dr. Ma. Assumpta Cecilia R. Serrano is a graduate of the UP College of Medicine and completed her residency training at the UP-PGH.
 A former board examiner of the Philippine Dermatological Society, she is the incumbent president of the Phil. Dermatological Society-Southern Philippines Chapter.
Meanwhile, Dr. Lalaine Rabe-Visitacion is a graduate of the University of Sto. Tomas (UST) College of Medicine. She took her residency training and was chief resident at the UST Department of Dermatology as well as training officer and present chair of the Department of Dermatology at SPMC.
Joining Skin Doctors in 2001, Dr. Karen Lee P. Alabado is a graduate of the UP College of Medicine Integrated Arts for Medicine (Intarmed) 7-year medical program. She underwent dermatology residency training at the UP-PGH and is past chair and outgoing training officer of the Department of Dermatology of SPMC.
In 2013, UP College of Medicine graduate, Dr. Christine Calolot, joined the group as well. She finished her residency training and was chief resident at the Department of Dermatology at the SPMC.
And, finally, the youngest in the group who recently became part of the group is Dr. Jennifer Aileen Ang-Tangtatco. A graduate of the UST College of Medicine, she took her residency training and was a chief resident at the Department of Dermatology at SPMC. Dr. Tangtatco will undergo further training in Pediatric Dermatology in Canada.
*How do you manage your time between your respective clinics and Skin Doctors?
It’s all about time management. Clinic schedules in private clinics are done in such a way to accommodate the schedule of the doctor in the mall. There’s also a lot of sacrifice of weekends with the family.
*Nowadays, kids seem to have a lot of skin problems such as dry and sensitive skin, allergies and the like. Why do you think this is rampant? How can we prevent it?
Allergies may be genetic (in-born) in nature and thus, hard to prevent. A number of skin allergies though are caused by chemicals found in fragrances, or certain preservatives of some soaps, shampoos and lotions. Using a baby-friendly, mild, unscented product will help prevent allergies if a child has sensitive skin. Using a lotion properly (more than twice a day) will also help.
*Moms these days are quite busy. Some of them do not have the luxury of time for treatments. What do you think should be a mom’s daily regimen to keep fine lines and age spots at bay?
Sun protection factor (SPF). Sun protection is the key word since the ultraviolet rays of the sun cause wrinkles and age spots. This should always be a part of a mom’s daily regimen especially since we live in the tropics.
*For teens undergoing puberty, how soon can they start visiting a dermatologist for their acne concerns?
As soon as they see anything on their skin that concerns them.
What are the latest treatments and services offered at Skin Doctors?
E-matrix is a sublative fractional radiofrequency device which offers scar treatment and is able to tighten skin as well. It has minimal down time with lasting effects for tightening and a permanent effect on scar improvement.
Fractional CO2 laser treatment is offered to minimize pores, smoothen skin and get rid of acne scars permanently.
Ultrapeel uses platinum instead of industrial diamonds for removing the upper layer of your skin and leaves you with a fresh, lighter, new layer of skin.
In addition, a wide array of discounts and freebies await patients who will avail of our latest offering, the Skin Doctors Coupon Club.
Skin Doctors Dermatology and Laser Center is at the 4th level of the Gaisano Mall of Davao, J.P. Laurel Ave., Davao City with tel. no. 2274525 and mobile number 09228628769. Quinque by Skin Doctors can be found at the basement of SM Lanang Premier with telephone number 2858695 and mobile 09228628768.
E-mail the author at Visit

Saturday, December 5, 2015

“Bucket list: Bacolod”
Sun.Star Davao, Dec. 5, 2015

Authentic Ilonggo specialties and unlimited sweets…aahhh…it has always been part of my bucket list to set foot in the sugary soils of Bacolod to indulge in these.

This food trip dream finally came true recently when my family and I had a few days off during the school break.

Upon landing at the New Bacolod Silay Airport, we were met by an energetic group of MassKara dancers who warmly welcomed convention delegates on the same flight. We were elated to take a pose with these colorful MassKara icons even if it was past the staging of the famed festival.

Since the airport was on the way to the heritage sites, our efficient driver, Mang Atoy, suggested that we proceed to our first stop, Balay Negrense, in Silay City.

Silay is the second city in the Philippines to be recognized as a “Museum City”, after Vigan in Ilocos Sur. It has more than thirty heritage houses acknowledged as historical landmarks.

The Balay Negrense is the first museum to be established in the province of Negros Occidental. It was originally the ancestral house of Victor F. Gaston, the son of a prominent French sugarcane plantation owner. Our friendly guide toured us around the different parts of the house which showcased the grand lifestyle of a late 19th-century elite family in Negros.

Next on our heritage tour was the Bernardino-Jalandoni Museum or more popularly known as the “Pink House”; pink being the unconventional color of the structure’s facade.

Here, the engaging tales of our amiable guide made the stories of these wealthy Negrenses alive for my inquisitive kids. The kitchen area with its prinsa de paa and prinsa de mano for pressing clothes; and ice chest which used to contain ice imported all the way from Europe as electricity then was wanting, captivated my daughters.

The amusing anecdote about how one would know if he or she was a welcome guest at the house elicited chuckles from my curious brood. The guide explained that the answer lay in the chocolate drink being offered. If you were served “tsokolate ah”, a watered and thin chocolate drink then you were an “unwanted” visitor for “tsokolate eh”, a thick and rich cocoa concoction, was reserved exclusively for special guests.

After our back-to-back heritage house tour, we dropped by El Ideal Bakery, a Silay institution which began in the 1920s, to have a quick snack of steaming batchoy and puto cheese.

On the way to Victorias Milling Company in Victorias City to see the Church of the Angry Christ, we were amazed by the endless fields of sugarcanes. Even under the intense heat of the sun, sacadas or sugarcane workers, continued to harvest sugarcanes much to the delight and awe of my grade school daughter who just studied the regions in the Visayas for her Social Studies class.  Personally, I was proud to be able to show to her a glimpse of real-life hardworking sacadas from her lesson.

Back in Silay, we were just in time for the Manuel Hofileña Ancestral Museum to open its doors to the public for the afternoon visitors as the master of the house, a direct descendant of the distinguished ilustrado, Mr. Ramon Hofileña, awakened from his siesta. The museum is the very first inhabited house in Silay to be declared a national historical landmark.

We learned that that Mr. Hofileña, who is in his 80s, still personally acts as the house tour guide.  However, during our visit, Mr. Hofileña was tired from his morning activities and turned the task to his staff who was equally fascinating narrating to us in detail the family’s heirloom pieces and remarkable art collection while divulging some interesting trivia on the side.

In Talisay City, we visited The Ruins, the city’s most picturesque landmark. It was once a majestic mansion owned by Don Mariano Lacson and built in honor of his first wife, Maria Braga. Unfortunately, the mansion was burned during World War 2 by guerilla fighters to prevent it from being used as a Japanese headquarters. However, thanks to its oversized steel bars and premium concrete material, the foundation remains standing to this day, becoming a romantic venue for weddings and other memorable occasions.

Still on our first day and pleasantly surprised at how much we covered by 4:30 p.m., we checked in at Avenue Suites along Lacson Street.  After a bit of rest, we headed to 18th St. Palapala for our sumptuous seafood dinner, followed by a sweet splurge at Calea Pastries and Coffee, a venue which we did a double take as will be explained.

The following day, we headed off to Iloilo via a one-hour Supercat ferry ride where we visited Museo Iloilo, Jaro Cathedral, Molo Cathedral, Iloilo River Esplanade, among others. Lunch at Tatoy’s Manokan and Seafoods with its divine baked oysters was one of our best meals during the Negros trip. Before sunset, we went back to the ferry terminal toting De Ocampo’s barquillos and pinasugbo as well as butterscotch bars from Biscocho Haus.

Returning to Bacolod in time for dinner, we had a splendid meal at Bob’s, a well-loved family resto celebrating its 50th year anniversary. My eldest daughter and I capped the night savoring Felicia’s heavenly macarons and moist chocolate cake.

Our third day consisted of visits to the Negros Museum and the Negros Showroom coupled with more eating at Aboy’s Restaurant and Chicken House as well as pasalubong shopping for our loved ones. Highly recommended by Bacolod-based friend Tina Lim-Flores to be brought home were mouthwatering treats such as Virgie’s piaya and caramel and mango tarts; Quan’s napoleones; and Pendy’s half moon.

As the day was about to end, I treated my girls to a relaxing massage at Bacolod Spa, conveniently located at our hotel. Afterwards, my high school daughter hanged out with her Bacolod friends at Calea. I, too, couldn’t resist but have a Calea part deux moment with my hubby. We did not dare say goodbye to Bacolod without another bite of their melt-in-your mouth white chocolate cheesecake with raspberry sauce!

This was my kind of vacation---easy-breezy and with plenty of time to spare for eating and exploring. Oh, Bacolod, my family and I shall be back and hopefully, it will be real soon!

City of Smiles….check!

E-mail the author at Visit