Saturday, June 20, 2015

“Turbo dad’s garage
Sun.Star Davao, June 20, 2015

As kids, some of us eagerly collected and traded stickers and stationeries. Others frolicked with their toy guns and prized marbles. For Architect Rafael “Raffy” Tayactac, Matchbox cars were his ultimate childhood passion.

“I remember I would save two pesos everyday from my baon to buy a toy car at the end of the week which cost ten pesos back in the day”, Raffy fondly reminisces. Then, using his mom’s shoeboxes, he would creatively transform them into a cool garage for his growing Matchbox collection.

In 2008, with a successful career as an architect, Raffy began to relive his hobby again. But, this time, he zoomed in on the real deal.

“My first car collection was a vintage Rover Mini Cooper which took me almost a year to restore. The restoration process gave me a different kind of high.  It was like putting back small pieces together until they were complete. And, that’s where my passion in collecting cars took off. It’s like playing with Lego but on a much bigger scale!”, enthuses Raffy.

Raffy divulges that being an architect helped him in restoring cars as it is also very similar to building houses, which he also absolutely loves.

“It takes six months to a year for me to restore a car.  It is always a challenge to me whenever I do it. I put my effort, patience and perseverance on my “babies”. And, at the end of a project, the feeling of fulfillment is priceless. It inspires and energizes me to do another one again. Before I knew it, my collection ballooned to a dozen cars already”, Raffy smiles.

When asked what he considers as among his favorite cars in his collection, Raffy cites his 1993 Porsche Carrera. “It is small yet with powerful air-cooled engine and of course, has excellent body curves”, he describes.

Being a doting dad to young sons Tofi and Ken, Raffy likewise wanted to share his passion with them. So, he decided to build a life-sized Lightning McQueen straight out of the Disney movie “Cars” much to the delight of his kids. This was followed by a miniature military jeep and recently, an impressive miniature village for their playroom at home. “And, my joy doubled because it now involves my family, most especially my kids”, says Raffy proudly.

A few years ago, Raffy became a member of Davao Classic and Sports Car Club which has other dads as co-members. “We share the same hobbies and talk all the time about cars. It’s nice meeting people with the same likes. With them, I learned how to be responsible on the road, and how to preserve and maintain cars. The club definitely expanded my horizons”, the University of Sto. Tomas graduate shares.

From Matchbox toys to real cars, this turbo dad is truly living his childhood dream. And, he wishes to pass on important values to his kids through his passion. “They should dream big and believe in themselves, and if they put their effort, patience and perseverance on their goals, nothing is impossible”, declares Raffy.

Happy Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads!

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Saturday, June 6, 2015

“Goodness you can smile about”
Sun.Star Davao, June 6, 2015

There is no doubt that smiling is the best way to spread good vibes. Studies show that a smile instantly boosts your mood, decreases stress, lowers blood pressure, and makes you look oh-so-pretty!

“A healthy set of pearly whites has become synonymous to confidence and beauty”, says Karina Requillo, Human Nature Davao’s branch manager.

“With all these benefits, it’s not surprising that Filipinos brush their teeth religiously. Unfortunately, most synthetic toothpastes in the market contain chemicals that may harm your health”, she continues.

“Human Nature, the country’s largest genuinely natural personal care brand, brings you goodness you can smile about in its all-new Human Nature Natural Toothpaste”, shares Karina.

According to Karina, there are 3 reasons why you should switch to Human Nature Natural Toothpaste:

1. Get a genuinely healthy smile and fresher breath.

Human Nature Natural Toothpaste is powered by GreenMineral Plus, a natural formula with zinc citrate, calcium carbonate, fluoride, sesame seed oil, spearmint oil and peppermint oil. GreenMineral Plus helps fight plaque, tartar, and cavities while keeping your breath fresh naturally.

2. A toothpaste that’s safe for your family.

Unlike most toothpaste in the market, Human Nature Natural Toothpaste is 100% free from harmful chemicals. It contains no triclosan, no SLS, and propylene glycol.

Brushing your teeth is a pleasant experience with Human Nature. While most natural toothpastes taste unpleasant, Human Nature Natural Toothpaste was painstakingly developed in the Human Nature Natural Care Labs to be both free of harmful chemicals and great-tasting.

“After almost 3 years in development and over 100 prototypes, Human Nature’s Natural Toothpaste is a great achievement for Filipino scientists in creating a world-beating product”, Karina declares proudly.

In addition, Human Nature Natural Toothpaste is safe for children. It is recommended that for children below 6 years old, only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste is needed for brushing, with adult supervision.

3. Kind on the planet.

Human Nature Natural Toothpaste takes care of planet Earth while keeping your smile bright. It is biodegradable and contains no plastic microbeads. Plastic microbeads are used in many personal care products as exfoliants and abrasives. Plastic microbeads are too small to be filtered out by wastewater treatment facilities, making them ocean and waterway pollutants.

Human Nature Natural Toothpaste is available at Human Natural branches, dealers, and via It is priced at only P149.75 (120g).

Human Nature Davao is at Plaza del Carmen, Loyola St., Bo. Obrero, Davao City.

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“Smile and the whole world smiles with you!”

Aside from their family, what are the top three things that can put the biggest smiles on these moms’ faces? Let’s find out!

Station Manager/Regional Production Head of Oomph Radio 97.1 and Viva Live
Communication Arts Professor at the University of Immaculate Conception
1.    Radio work! Production/doing voice overs
2.    Cooking
3.    Teaching

1.    Tea…refreshes me
2.    Exercise…it gives me energy
3.    Friends… they make me young

Actress/Commercial Model/Entrepreneur                       
1.    Hearing my sons get up and singing in the morning
2.    Dignity of work and helping others
3.    Losing weight
4.    My first cup of coffee (oooppsss…that’s four!)

Profession Head, Human Resources Department, Philsaga Mining Corp.
1997 Mutya ng Dabaw
1.    Hugs and kisses
2.    Great reads
3.    Silence and solitude

1.    Doing something nice for someone else or just helping those in need
2.    When someone says something simple but heartfelt like “I’m really happy to see you!”
3.    Hearing my favorite song

Housewife/Entrepreneur/Interior Design Enthusiast
1.    Good food
2.    Nice view
3.    Pretty dress

1.    Capturing a good photo
2.    When I recall something I forgot
3.    Remembering fond childhood memories

Customer Success, LinkedIn Singapore handling Southeast Asia (Singapore, Philippines and Thailand)
1.    Being with my family, esp. my kids
2.    Serving in church
3.    Being in Davao

Full-time housewife/Entrepreneur
1.    Super yummy food
2.    Killer shoes
3.    Saturday mornings wherein I can laze in bed till 8:00 a.m.

General Manager, Mamay Inn and Resort
2000 Mutya ng Dabaw
1.    Seeing the sunrise when I wake up
2.    Beauty of nature
3.    Cute little kittens and puppies

Saturday, May 23, 2015

“Mompowerment May at Abreeza”
Sun.Star Davao, May 23, 2015

Enterprising moms passionately showcased their family-friendly products at the recent MOMpreneur Fair held at the Abreeza Mall in celebration of Mother’s Day.

“Now on its second year, the MOMpreneur Fair continues to honor and celebrate moms who make a living on their own terms by bringing together a fantastic selection of merchandise by Davao’s mompreneurs with baby items, organic treats, food, desserts, bags, accessories, crafts, home décor, giveaways, novelty items as well as assorted services”, says Ms. Ruby Ochoa, Abreeza Mall’s marketing manager.

Gracing the fair was charming TV personality, book author and mom extraordinaire Amanda Griffin-Jacob who spoke about her life-changing experiences as a mother. She also had a book signing for her “Project Mom: Our Natural Approach to Motherhood”, a book which she co-wrote with fellow celebrity mom Bianca Araneta-Elizalde. Through “Project Mom”, Amanda and Bianca seek to guide mothers going through their pregnancy until their baby’s first birthday. 

Abreeza Mall likewise partnered with LATCH Davao, the dynamic local counterpart of the Manila-based non-profit organization LATCH (Lactation, Attachment, Training, Counseling, Help), to educate moms on nursing and caring for their babies.

For two days, “Mommy Talk” took over the Activity Center stage with informative lectures on babywearing, cloth diapering, and the truths and myths about breastfeeding by the LATCH Davao moms.

To further promote its breastfeeding advocacy, LATCH Davao teamed up with Abreeza Mall for the “Yes to Breastfeeding!” Photo Exhibit, which is on display until May 31 at the 2nd Floor Hallway. The exhibit aims “to inspire women to breastfeed by educating them on the health benefits of breast milk, and to share photos and stories of real breastfeeding moms”.
“These exciting events are all part of “Mompowerment May”, a month-long campaign by Abreeza Mall that aims to celebrate and empower all the moms who make great things happen for themselves and their families in a myriad of ways”, reveals Ms. Ochoa.

Another component activity of the campaign is the “Thank You, Mom Photo Exhibit”, a touching tribute to the mothers of eight Davao personalities which will run at the Ground Floor Hallway until May 31.

And in keeping with the “Mompowerment May” theme, this year’s “Style Origin”, Ayala Malls’ annual fashion event, featured one of Philippine showbiz’s admirable young moms, Andi Eigenmann, walking the runway with adorable daughter Ellie.
For inquiries and updates on Abreeza Mall’s “Mompowerment May” events, please visit the Main Concierge at the ground floor or call (082) 321-9332. Stay updated by liking and following @abreezatweets on Twitter and @iloveabreezamall on Instagram.

E-mail the author at Visit

Saturday, May 9, 2015



“A SEOULful Summer”
Sun.Star Davao, May 9, 2015

It has always been a running joke in the family that my husband Gary owed me another trip to South Korea.

You see, back in 2004, Gary and I went to the Land of Kimchi for almost a week, taking in the sights and indulging in the food. Eight months after our vacation, I opened the CD photo file of our trip but lo and behold, there was no trace of any of our snaps from Korea. Apparently, the files were overwritten accidentally by my dear hubby as the CD was a rewritable one. Save for four printed photos which we bought from our tour guide, these were the only memories left from that holiday.

And, so, during our trip last month to Korea, I vowed to be extra vigilant in securing our photos. Eleven years after and with much improved technology, thankfully, photo files could be shared and uploaded in real time via Google Drive, iCloud, Viber, Instagram and Facebook.

What is it with Korea that fascinates me so?

Maybe it’s because of the healthy and appetizing Korean food that I could not get tired of eating? Or is it the ubiquitous presence of Korean groceries, parlors, etc. all over the Philippines that is oh-so-familiar yet still captivating? I am not a hard core fan of Koreanovelas because of their time-consuming nature but, whenever Korea as a holiday destination is suggested, I would definitely say “yes” to the invitation in a heartbeat. Whether you are young or old, experiencing Korea is certainly fascinating to each member of the family.

Our first day in South Korea was spent in the quaint French-themed cultural village Petite France. Its claim to fame is being one of the shooting locations of the hit romantic Koreanovela, “My Love from Another Star”, which I incidentally watched in just four nights upon my return in the Philippines. (Can you imagine, the last series I watched was “Lovers in Paris”?). French-inspired houses lined up the village making one feel that you are transported to Europe with a miniature Eiffel Tower, galleries, outdoor theater, among others.

A short ferry ride brought us to our next stop --- the 400,000-square meter Nami Island of “Winter Sonata” fame. As spring was just beginning, the picturesque Ginkgo Tree Lane was devoid of its lush leaves. However, this also created a dramatic mood during our leisurely stroll. After our delightful chicken barbeque lunch, my husband and I rented a tandem bike where we cycled in unison, enjoying the breathtaking gardens and woods of Nami. Truly magical!

The following day, our tour guide, Choi, arranged for our visit at the Samsung Innovation Museum in Suwon showcasing three main exhibition halls named the Age of Inventors, Age of Industry Innovation, and Age of Creation. The kids were in awe seeing the old appliances and gadgets of yesteryears and went giddy over future inventions such as Samsung’s Smart Home.

In the afternoon, Everland Resort awakened the child in all of us as we explored the exciting themed areas like Global Fair, American Adventure, Magic Land, European Adventure and Zoo Topia. After trying the more kid-friendly rides for the sake of our little ones, I braved the T Express, a thrilling roller coaster with the steepest falling degree in the world, along with the other adventure seekers in the group.

A photo session galore awaited us all on our third day at the three-dimensional Trick Eye and Ice Museum in Hongdae. With the aid of optical illusions, visitors can act as the characters in the 3-D murals. Fancy being a part of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Starry Night’; defy gravity in outer space; or swim with the sharks? Then, drop by the Trick Eye Museum and get ready to do some wacky acting.

All that posing and smiling made our group hungry so we decided to have a quick coffee and snack break at the adorable Hello Kitty Café, within walking distance from the Trick Eye Museum. Every HK fan will surely be mesmerized with this two-storey café which highlights all things Kitty from the decors, food and drinks.

The remaining part of the day was spent learning about the traditional way of life of the ordinary people and aristocracy at the National Folk Museum; followed by a stroll around the compound of the historic Gyeongbok Palace. The palace was erected during the reign of King Taejo, founder of the Joseon Dynasty which lasted from 1392 to 1910.

Towards sunset, we went up to the 240-meter Seoul Tower considered as “Asia’s most beautiful tower”, where one can see a magnificent overview of the city from the observatory. Before leaving this famous landmark, we took photos at the Love Lock. This is where thousands of padlocks inscribed with the couples’ names were left by sweethearts at the fence symbolizing their promise of endless love.

On the final day of our tour, we learned how to make the staple Korean food which we have been eating since Day 1 --- the vitamin-enriched kimchi at the Kimchi School. According to our tour guide Choi, kimchi’s shelf life is 6 months and that the average Korean would have two refrigerators in their household; one to keep everyday essentials and another to store kimchi. Yes, Koreans love kimchi that much!

Hanbok wearing came next where my cousins and I had a blast donning the Korean traditional dresses and acting as the royal family of dynasties past. We blended perfectly well donning the costumes and could pass as true-blue Koreans with our chinky eyes!

Our guide, knowing the Filipinos’ penchant for shopping, brought us to Paju Premium Outlet for some good deals.

Since spring was in our midst, we dropped by Yeouido where the Cherry Blossom Tunnel is located. We caught a glimpse of the enchanting cherry blossoms as they started to bloom and indulged in some tasty street food as well.

Later in the night, we watched the Cookin’ Nanta, the longest running show in Korean history. It is a hilarious story about three cooks challenged to prepare a wedding banquet in only a short time. The task gets complicated when their bossy manager hires his incompetent nephew to join the kitchen crew. The must-see show effectively utilizes acrobatics, magic tricks, comedy, pantomime as well as audience participation. Through improvised instruments such as kitchen knives, cutting boards and even water canisters, the performers were able to expertly showcase the traditional Korean samul nori music.

After our tour with Choi ended, my cousins and I extended for a few more days to discover Seoul’s sights and culinary offerings on our own and at a more relaxed pace. We stayed at Sejong Hotel, conveniently situated near the Myeongdong subway station. Just a few steps away from the hotel were a plethora of shops, restaurants, cafes and even night market to satisfy our incessant food cravings.

In the next days, we visited the Coex Aquarium in Gangnam where 40,000 underwater creatures from over 650 species were on display; Itaewon district for some retail shopping with dinner/drinks; the hip Ssamzie-gil Complex in Insadong (Those into arts and crafts would totally love it there!); Lotte Department Store for some pasalubong shopping; Dongdaemun Design Plaza to view its various modern art exhibits; Namsangol Hanok Village to observe traditional Korean houses; and the trendy Garosugil, the so-called “Rodeo Drive” of Seoul, to witness how the fashionable set lives.

The very unique Cat Café in Myeongdong captured the hearts of our kids who absolutely adore animals. For just a minimal fee (inclusive of drinks), one can have snacks and beverages while interacting with the forty-five resident feline cuties of the café.  It was definitely a fitting and ‘purrfect’ way to cap our weeklong stay in Seoul.

Gamsahamnida, Korea, for our family’s priceless memories – and recaptured pictures!

E-mail the author at Visit