I Am Kim Bibimbap

First, the bad news. Chef Him Uy de Baron has just closed his Nomama restaurant at Capitol Commons. He said he wants to restart it with a fresh concept and rumor has it that he’s looking to reopen some place in Makati. It’s no secret that the Happy Lab crew have been fans of Nomama since it opened in QC and we will certainly miss it. We are looking forward to its reopening, hopefully not too far in the future.

In the meantime, Chef Him still has a presence at Capitol Commons with the opening of his I Am Kim bibimbap restaurant at the basement of the Estancia Mall. It’s all bibimbap in heated stone bowls with a few appetizers thrown in. Although they have a wide selection of ready-made combinations available, diners can also customize their own bibimbap by choosing ingredients themselves. One medium bibimbap makes a good meal for one but you can also order the large size which is good for two. Prices are very friendly with some combinations costing less that P 300.00 while a large order costs around P 400.00.


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Mecha Uma Revisit

It’s not easy to book a table at Mecha Uma (Japanese slang for Absurdly Delicious), one of Manila’s hottest dining spots. I had a bit of a struggle trying to reach someone to take a reservation at the restaurant as I mostly got an automated response. When you finally talk to someone, usually tables are booked way in advance, so you’d better have a couple of alternate dates available. You also choose which seating to take: 6:30 to 8:30 or 8:30 to 10:30. Finally, you are informed that your reservation can only be confirmed after you have made a 50% down payment by depositing the funds in the restaurant’s account. They send you a text with the account details and you have to fax the deposit slip once done. You then get a confirmation of your reservation with all sorts of caveats about how there is no substitution of food, no change in the number of persons who reserved, you can’t be more than 15 minutes late etc. It’s a rather tedious system but suffer it. The rewards are worth it.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

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Indie Fashion Pop-up at SOMA Stores

Have you been to SOMA Stores yet? We love how this hip pop-up gathers cult favorite indie brands and fresh local talent in a chill, industrial space.

This is the last weekend for the current collections and brands (they’re closing down the space on March 15 and will unveil the new collections and some new brands by mid-April), so be sure to drop by SOMA today or tomorrow. Here’s a sneak peek at the sartorial goodies in store for you (bonus: some stores are offering major markdowns, too!):


SOMA Stores

Your future favorite wardrobe staples at Basic Movement

BM dress

The ever essential LBD by Basic Movement


Bill Cunningham

Wearable wit at Randolph

Crushing on this Bill Cunningham tee

Crushing on Randolph’s Bill Cunningham tee


SOMA Stores

Everyday neutrals at Euniform


tropical prints

Punchy clutches and fashion pieces in tropical-themed hand-drawn prints at Neon Island


Polly wants a cracker! And I want Polly! (Mint pullover by Neon Island)



Contemporary cool at Purveyr



Unique display system: rummage through these boxes to check out Garapata’s merch!


Box 1: Gara tote bags
Box 2: Garapatees
Box 3: Stickers!


Soma Stores


Furry fabrics, funky prints, rainbow sparkles, and a Jap pop vibe? Must be Salad Day!


Soma Stores

Sharks and streetwear at Proudrace

Sharks and streetwear at Proudrace


Drawstring pants

Breezy linens and burlap bags for your summer adventures at Slaves of Liberty

Slaves of Liberty 2


polka dot

Want: these polka-dot bucket hats at Creative Elite Operation



Preppy essentials: Vintage inspired-menswear at Newspaper Boy Clothing


Have fun exploring SOMA Stores for more fab finds! Make a unique style statement, and support local talent, too!

Located at G/F Green Sun Building, 2285 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati. Open Tuesday to Saturday, 1-9 PM or follow @somastores on Instagram for updates.

Flow Easy

Two years ago, I took a special yoga class called the Tao of Woman. I had gotten a flyer at one of the yoga lectures on yoga and wellness I attended at Global Mala and was intrigued. The class would delve deeper into how we could integrate both yin and yang yoga with women’s health.

It’s been a while since I took that class, but what I remember from it has helped shape my yoga practice (on and off the mat) ever since. Four of us attended that intimate session, and over cups of tea we shared our insights on what the word WOMAN brought up for each of us. And as Dona led us through our asana practice, we began to explore these ideas in our bodies, minds, and experiences.

Staying strong and supple helps life flow more easily. Photo courtesy of Women's Health Philippines. Shot by Dairy Darilag.

Staying strong and supple helps life flow more easily.
Photo courtesy of Women’s Health Philippines. Shot by Dairy Darilag.

“Doubt appears when we stray from the present. Often, we lose awareness just thinking of how we can become more aware. Ananda, or bliss, is in us always. We need to stay present to know it exists.” This was one of the takeaways I had scribbled down in my notebook right after the Tao of Woman class, just so I was sure I wouldn’t ever forget.

For women and men, I feel that staying in the present is so important in all aspects of life. It helps us figure out what our bodies are telling us so we can stay in good health. It helps us situate ourselves in relation to others. It helps us clear the muddy waters that can make our lives seem confusing. Being in the present and knowing yourself better is a wonderful gift you can give to yourself and to family.

women's health circle CDO

Women’s Health Circle in CDO.

Dona has guided me through my learning ever since that very first lecture and through the months I’ve gotten to know her, I’ve been able to explore and expand my own ideas about my own health. When I found out that she would be holding this same class this year, I was happy to know that others would have the same opportunity to learn these important lessons, the same way I did two years ago. (I’m still learning now!)

Dona is holding the Tao of Woman on March 28th in celebration of Women’s Month. In conjuction with Yoga+, she’s also delivering a FREE TALK on Women’s Health. I asked her a couple of questions about her own experiences and the talk she’s delivering, for anyone who’s interested in living well.

The Happy Lab: What sparked the idea behind this event? 

Dona: The Women’s health workshops that I have been running have really been inspired by my personal experience in finding solutions for my period-related problems. in 2012, I started practicing Yoga with the intention of alleviating symptoms which my mentor Victor Chng said are not natural to women.  True enough, after three months of practicing sequences which I designed with this in mind, my symptoms went away.  This prompted me to deepen my studies in Women’s Health and eventually share it with people.

The women who attended my workshops started feeling the relief as well with regular practice.  I’ve been giving women’s health workshops and women-centered sequences since then.  It used to be just a 3 hour workshop.  Now, I’m even giving a Women’s Health Weekend in Bangkok in April and in Manila in September!  I’ve given women’s health workshops in Singapore, Malaysia, and soon in Brunei.

This is my third year to give a women-related event during Women’s Month.  It’s my own little contribution. This year, I’ve decided to give a FREE talk and facilitate an Interactive Discussion on women’s health and how taking care of our health is a also taking care of the health of the community.  I feel that opening the discussion up for free will encourage more women to participate in their own wellbeing and see how this leads to healthier communities as well.

This will be followed by a women-centered yin and yang practice.

Women's Health practice in Bangkok.

Women’s Health practice in Bangkok.

The Happy Lab: What’s one of the most surprising statistics you’ve come across with regard to women’s health?

Dona: Here’s one from the WHO report on women.

86% of adolescent girls are not getting the required physical activity. there are studies that show that girls with physical activities are less likely to engage in drugs, alcohol, and behaviors that lead to teenage pregnancy and STD’s.

This is so important because these adolescent girls are the future mothers of our children. We need to see the connections and implications, the impact that we have as women to the bigger community, to the world, and the next generations.  

The Happy Lab: How can men be more supportive of the health of the women in their lives / families? How can they benefit from attending the talk?

Dona: BOTH men and women have to begin to honor the cycles of women. We follow a different rhythm. Our pace is different. For example, during our blood phase, we natural have a slight dip in energy. We have to honor this and make time to build in more rest.  We also have the tendency to be more reflective during this time. Men have to understand this and not brand it as moodiness (unless it’s extreme which signals an imbalance already). And there will be times during the month (our ovulation) when we are fully expressive and sensual.

Men AND women also have to be more aware of the biases we against women.  Truth is, women sometimes perpetuate these biases!

The Happy Lab: How has becoming more in touch with women’s health affected your life / your relationships with the women in your life personally?

Dona: I’d like to think that I have become more compassionate and honest. I have also become more aware of how symptoms are multigenerational and that by being aware and expressing these and allowing women to talk about, healing can begin. I’ve also become more interested in the stories of the women in my life. I listen more, with a genuine curiosity.


For more information, email info@yogaplus.ph

For more information, email info@yogaplus.ph


Dona Tumacder-Esteban, a certified Holistic Health and Nutrition coach, has been teaching women to Mind their Flow and to be proactive about their menstrual health.  ”Our period says a lot about us and I help people decode the information so that they can make appropriate lifestyle changes,” she says.

Dona delivers "Finding your flow is essential to your well-being" care of Homegrown.

Dona delivers “Finding your flow is essential to your well-being” care of Homegrown. Click here to watch her talk.

Follow Dona on Instagram @mindbodydona  and www.donaesteban.com.    

Art Pop-Up at UVLA

What are you doing today? Check out the Local Loca Art Pop-Up Bazaar at UVLA, Cubao X!

UVLA (short for Unique Vintage and Lost Art) is one of my favorite haunts for hoarding vintage toys and trinkets. But what makes this nostalgic shop extra special, is that it also features art and handcrafted pieces by indie artists.


UVLA (AKA: Unique Vintage and Lost Art)


Nostalgia alley!


Every so often, UVLA’s “Local Loca” artist community holds wonderful pop-up bazaars and workshops where the artists and enthusiasts alike can converge, mingle, showcase their art, and shop away, of course!

Don’t miss UVLA’s first art bazaar for the year, happening today, March 7 from 3-9 PM. Entitled “Alsa Balutan,” it’s all about “local travels, urban wanders, nomadic lifestyle, astral travels, space travels or even just the art of packing.” Find illustrations, stickers, art tees, statement totes, travel bags, Polaroid starter kits, vinyl records, baked goods, and so much more! The artist/vendor line-up includes: Cloned Boogie, Diklap, Makaluma, Denver Garza x Forever Ugly, Kwan, Speculiars, Polarities, Jes Baker, No. 24, Vinyl Dump, Vachuca, Sound Thrift, and Exonoma.

Going loco over local! Local Loca presents…Alsa Balutan! (Poster from UVLA Store's Facebook page)

Going loco over local! Local Loca presents…Alsa Balutan! (Poster by Fabo, from UVLA Store’s Facebook page)


Meanwhile, here’s a peek at the Local Loca bazaar last December:


Illustrations! Wall art! Stickers! Curiosities!

Atom Araullo

Cheeky totes by Forever Ugly


Love the whimsical illustrations on these Vachuca paper vinyl wallets

Paper sculptures and clay critters by Diklap

Paper sculptures, mini comics, and clay critters by Diklap

11-year-old artist Diklap signing his cat and unimonster illustrations (my favorite purchases of the day!)

11-year-old artist Diklap signing his cat and unimonster illustrations (my favorite purchases of the day!)

Fabo of No. 24 (a family of 4 artists!). P.S. Fabo is also responsible for the cool Alsa Balutan poster!

Fabo of No. 24 (a family of 4 artists!). P.S. Fabo is also responsible for the cool Alsa Balutan poster!

UVLA's Eva Yu (right) is soft-spoken, but so passionate about promoting local art. Part of UVLA's charm is  simply chatting away with its owners!

Part of UVLA’s charm is simply chatting away with kindred spirits. Here with UVLA’s adorable Eva Yu (right), who is soft-spoken, but so passionate about promoting local art!


UVLA is located at Shop #64A Cubao Expo, General Romulo St., Araneta Center, Cubao, QC. For updates, follow @uvlastore and @local_loca on Instagram for updates.



Curry House CoCo Ichibanya

Ever since we spotted the Curry House CoCo Ichibanya tarpaulin at the Estancia Mall at Capitol Commons in Pasig, the anticipation of its opening has been killing not only our family, but apparently, a lot of other people as well. I always believed that after the katsu and ramen frenzies, Japanese curry would follow.

After months of waiting, Pixie and Mikey can't believe CoCo Curry is finally open!

After months of waiting, Pixie and Mikey can’t believe CoCo Curry is finally open!

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Heart On My Sleeve


Cathy S. Babao

The gift of love: “Heart On My Sleeve” by Cathy S. Babao. The lovely cover design is a photo of a hand-stitched work of art by Maya Calica Collins


Last February 14, instead of the usual chocolates or flowers. Toto and I sent our moms each a copy of “Heart on My Sleeve,” written by our ever-inspiring friend Cathy Sanchez Babao. I suppose a book about a woman’s “countdown to 50” sounds like an odd choice for a Valentine present, but believe me when I say that this collection of essays is like giving our moms lots and lots of hugs.

Through her personal journey to a meaningful golden milestone (the significance of which is revealed in the book), Cathy touches on universal subjects that resonate with us all, regardless of age—love, joy, disappointment, despair, serendipity, family, friendship, and most eloquently, grief, hope, and unshakable faith. One of my favorite nuggets so far (from the essay “The Good From The Grief”): “Not a day passes when I do not think of my loved ones who have gone on. I often still wonder how my life would have turned out if they were still with me. However, over the last few years, I have discovered that their passing led me to encounter the Divine more closely through the people I have met and the places I have been.”

I’m posting it here as my current happy place, because it’s recently become a much-anticipated bedtime ritual—reading an essay a night is like having an engaging and incredibly comforting conversation with a dear friend (which holds true whether you personally know Cathy or not), a magically soothing way to wind down at the end of the day. You know how sometimes, you catch a movie on TV, and there will be something that strikes a chord in you and you think to yourself, I was meant to watch this particular movie at this exact moment in my life? Cathy’s essays have that effect—at least, for me. Written with wisdom, compassion, humor, and unflinching honesty, each short piece delivers just what I need—a giggle, an enlightening “aha” moment, a wonderful affirmation of faith. Sometimes, even just a simple reminder to be kind to myself. In the essay entitled “Five Things That Steal Your Joy,” Cathy writes: “Living with a relentless inner critic is a chronic stressor. To diminish the power it has over you, you need to learn to identify it so that you can silence it. In essence, we need to learn to speak to ourselves with greater kindness, as we would to other people.”

For orders and inquiries, email homs1016@gmail.com

Wonder Skincare by Phina’s Little Factory

face serum

Chemical-free, eco-friendly skin-saving remedies from Phina’s Little Factory


I first discovered the cult favorite all-natural home-based brand Phina’s Little Factory last year when I was on the hunt for a non-drying, skin-balancing toner to calm my sensitive, pimple-prone skin (yes, it’s never fully recovered from my acne plague in high school). Toners usually dry out my skin, causing it to go on self-preservation mode and produce more sebum (and then we’re back to square one), but Phina’s Little Factory’s Rose Balancing Toner (P800) is incredibly refreshing yet gentle on my skin. Infused with Vitamins A&C and anti-oxidants, this natural astringent doesn’t just close pores, but has hydrating and anti-inflammatory qualities to help achieve radiant skin. I love that it comes in a spray bottle, so I just spritz it directly on my face and pat it onto my skin in the morning and evening, and sometimes in the middle of the day for an instant pick-me-up.

When the cooler months hit though, my skin was desperate for a little more TLC. I usually don’t do moisturizers because they pretty much make me break out, so I was at my wits’ end. And then a friend convinced me to try the rest of Phina’s Little Factory’s wonder products (duh, what took me so long?). So I finally started using Phina’s star products, the Conditioning and Healing serums. The Conditioning All-Around Serum (P1250/35 ml) is infused with a magic mix of argan and frankincense oil and is used during the daytime to tone, lift skin, treat acne, and fade scars. The Healing Face Serum (P1250/35 ml) is used at bedtime to soothe redness, moisturize, and ward off wrinkles. Phina Gono, the whiz behind the brand, tips, “Massage 10 drops of the Healing Serum on your face at night before going to sleep, and 5 -10 drops of the Conditioning Serum during the day, before applying makeup. And please use a good sunscreen during the day!” These serums are amazingly on-trend, as beauty buffs have been raving about the wonders of oil as moisturizers. True enough, my skin is happily softer and more supple, with no more rough and scaly patches. I still get a bit red though when applying each product, but this is a vast improvement from the usual angry rash or zit attack from other moisturizers (why oh why can’t I have normal skin?).

Fans also rave about Phina’s Little Factory’s Breakfast Scrub (P800/300 ml)—a delectable combination of oats, honey, brown sugar, and olive oil that is great for sloughing off dead skin cells from your face and lips, down to the soles of your feet for rejuvenated, glowing skin. Just make sure you don’t lick it!


glycerin soap

Each purchase is accompanied by a note that reads: “Buying handmade is getting quality with creativity, with thought and love.”


Phina is especially proud of her handmade, handblended, and handcut 100% pure vegetable glycerin soap. “All my glycerin soaps are ideal to use on face and body. I recommend washing the face with glycerin soap because it is a humectant—draws moisture to the skin—and doesn’t leave residue on the skin.” Some of the heavenly variants include: Mint (calms itchy and problematic skin—and soothes nerves with its refreshing scent, too), Cure (a citrus-scented natural pimple soap from the healing series), Dream (an all-natural, skin-brightening soap), Black Propaganda (made with activated charcoal, this deodorizing soap is great for unclogging pores, best used after working out—love the sweet and spicy scent!), and Salted Caramel (a yummy cleansing, exfoliating, and detoxifying bar with actual unprocessed sea salt for glowing skin). The classic bars are priced at P250 each, while the healing series goes for P350 each.

For inquiries and orders, send a PM on Phina’s Little Factory’s Facebook page or visit www.phinaslittlefactory.com. Also available on Seek The Uniq.




Buy 1 Take 1 Valentine Sale at Renegade Folk

Renegade Folk

Oh ladies…find your sole mate at Renegade Folk! This indie local brand offers a lovely range of chic, carefully handcrafted sandals that deliver a year-round summer vibe. As a special Valentine treat, buy any pair at Renegade Folk’s White Plains boutique and get another pair absolutely free!


Renegade Folk

“We push for people to stay true to their own individuality and talents, thus Renegade Folk and our mantra ‘own your step,’” says Regina Sambalido, co-founder of Renegade Folk


Renegade Folk

Shop your heart out!


Happening now till tomorrow (February 14-15, 11 AM-8 PM) at 3/F Linear Building, White Plains, Quezon City (across Pan de Amerikana). Promo is valid for purchases at the White Plains store only. For more information, contact mobile (+63927) 741-0056 or visit www.renegadefolk.com.

You’re welcome.

Hearts and Flowers


Glass heart ring by Pylones


How cute is this quirky glass heart ring from Pylones? It’s the most adorable accomplice if you’re planning to declare your love this Valentine’s Day! While you’re at it, pick up a lovely bouquet of flowers or box of chocolates for the object of your affection—or yourself, why not?


Valentines isn’t just for lovers–show your appreciation for the special people in your life by surprising them with flowers!


All available at the Valentine pop-up at the Power Plant Mall lobby (near Marks & Spencer) this week until Sunday, February 15.


Heart rings

PS. Take a selfie in front of the Pylones booth (don’t forget #pylonesparis) and get a chance to win a heart ring! Check out @pylonesph on Instagram for more details.