Pastel-pretty Valentine Look + Poetry Reading

Got a special date this Valentines? Here’s an idea when you want to look chic but not too intimidating, pretty but also casually cool for whatever adventure he’s cooked up (a picnic, a poetry reading*, or meeting his family, ack!):


Start with a pastel-pretty jumpsuit by Florence Fling, and gold flats by Renegade Folk, both fab homegrown brands! Then, for a pop of color, throw in a whimsical printed scarf and a tanned leather sling bag both from Promod’s lovely Spring 2016 Collection. Just add on your favorite jewelry/accessories, and you’re good to go!

Now, for the perfect date idea: If you’re still looking for a fun event to attend (with your date, your best buds, or even gloriously single), come to National Book Store’s Love Calligraphy event at the Glorietta Activity Center this Saturday, February 13! It will be an all-day affair featuring live art murals, calligraphy demos by some of Manila’s most popular letterers and calligraphy artists, a book launch of June Digan’s A Year of Positivity Journal, and at 5 PM onwards, poetry reading by Kooky Tuason, Cecill Artates, Charms Tianzon, Marty Tengco, and Joee Mejias of Romancing Venus, and a performance by spoken word poet Juan Miguel Severo. And because I have incurable stage fright, a few poems from my poetry book The Heartbreak Diaries (have I mentioned that I recently published a book?) will be read by my brilliant artist/collaborator Celina de Guzman. Artist Alessa Lanot of Life After Breakfast will also be showing us how to turn #hugot lines from the book into beautiful Instagram-worthy calligraphy. See you there? :)

Love, Calligraphy event

Chaine des Rotisseurs Casablanca Dinner

Once again, the annual Diner Amical of the Chaine des Rotisseurs is almost upon us and I get the not too difficult job of tasting the food and wine to be served at the most important dinner of the year. This year, we will be returning to the Makati Shangri-La which has prepared a menu inspired by the Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman classic, Casablanca.

Chef Paul Lenz and his team researched menus from the period and it turns out Casablanca had a pretty cosmopolitan dining scene, although, of course, the French influence was strongest. We had an 8 course menu which we were told consisted of small plates but even if I skipped lunch to be sure I had an appetite for the tasting, I was barely able to finish all the food as the portions were larges than I expected.


Chaine des Rotisseurs Casablanca Menu

Chaine des Rotisseurs Casablanca Menu

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Shed those pounds the healthy way!

I caught up with my friend Janis over the holidays, and was amazed at her radical transformation. For years, I’ve seen her struggle with her weight, and now, she’s not only over 70 pounds lighter—she’s healthier and happier, too. Her turning point? Meeting nutritional coach Kay Sy. Janis says, “I had given up on losing weight. Kay made me realize that it’s not just about weight. It’s choosing to eat clean, it’s choosing health, it’s choosing to love yourself. That’s when the weight came off and I became so much happier!”

Plant-based Diet


Inspired by Janis’ story (I know I am!) and want to learn more about choosing clean? Kay is giving an introduction to a plant-based diet this Saturday from 3-5 PM at La Vista, Quezon City. To sign up, call or text 0999-8994015 or 0906-2389194.

Read more on Janis’ story here.

The International Wine and Food Society Manila Ladies Branch Wine Crawl

Don’t forget to sign-up for the 6th International Wine & Food Society Wine Crawl . You have till Feb 5 to avail of the early bird rate of Php 1,700. that includes access to select wines from 10 wine purveyors, food, 700 pesos chit money to start (you can buy more on day of event), a wine guide or tasting notes, a souvenir plus special discounts on per bottle buys. A fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Sign-up by email at

As you may know, I run The Wine Steward, Inc., a wine importation and distribution company. This will be our second time to join the Wine Crawl and I would like to invite our readers to join us there and taste our wines. We will be pouring wines from the Filipino owned and operated Corte Riva Vineyards and Eden Canyon Vineyards from California, Fat Bastard Sparkling Brut, and unusual sparkling Beaujolais, and the Laurus Cotes du Rhone Villages.

We hope to see you there!



New Year Resolutions

For many, a new year means a fresh start, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start anew.  I’ve come up with quite a few resolutions over the years, some of which I’ve stuck to, most of them abandoned a few weeks in.  If you have yet to come up with yours this year, then let me offer my daughter Sari’s list, with the wish that her beautiful words manage to touch your soul as deeply as they have mine.

“New Year Resolutions”

by Sari Labrador

1. Forgive yourself.

You’ve written pain on your skin

and run your fingers over it

one too many times.

Wash it off and watch it drain down the sink.

Paint love over the parts of yourself

that remind you of who you are.

Make them bright and covered in glitter

so you have a star to follow the next time you lose your way.

2. Rest well.

Realise that sleeping at night

does not equal to slacking or failing.

It only means you work harder by day

and you may go to bed knowing

you have done enough.

3. Love without doubt.

If you think twice, or step backward,

they are not worth the effort.

Pour your soul into someone

who is shaped to contain it.

But keep your dignity in your own heart

not out of distrust in your lover,

but out of love for yourself.

And if they leave you in the end,

learn to love over and over again.

4. Feed your creativity.

Don’t ever feel guilty

for doing what you love.

Your mind is more than a surplus

of memorised information;

You have always been an artist.

You are made for creation.

5. Try again.

Fill in the cracks in your foundation

and start over from scratch.

Use all the material you have

to make yourself feel like home again.

When the earthquake hits,

you will be ready.

Trust in yourself

and rebuild.

Sari, almost sixteen, and Magnus, almost twelve.

Sari, almost sixteen, and Magnus, almost twelve.

Sweet 2016!

Wishing you a delightfully sweet 2016! Thank you, dear readers and friends, for joining us on our happy adventures thus far.  We hope to share more good eats, fab finds, and great vibes with you this year! Much love from the Lab Rats :)

Pierrot Collection

(Incidentally, this adorable macaron gift box is from Ladurée’s limited edition Pierrot Collection, only available this holiday season until January 5, 2016 at 8 Rockwell, Makati.)


Thanks for the Memories, Prince Albert

By now almost everyone knows that after 46 years at the top of Ayala Avenue, the Intercontinental Hotel will just be a memory by January 1, 2016. The hotel will be demolished to make way for a mixed use development and transportation hub. Rumors of its demise were being floated about since a few years back but it seems a reprieve was always granted. Until this year when economic considerations finally signed its death warrant.

The hotel’s two outlets were perhaps its most famous public face. The Jeepney Bar for casual dining where, instead of booths, one could dine inside a jeepney, and then there was Prince Albert.

Prince Albert was the epitome of understated old world elegance. Wood paneled walls, antique prints, subdued lighting and large tables spaced far enough apart that privacy was ensured were hallmarks of this venerable establishment. The food was masculine, simple but very well executed. Table-side preparation added en element of showmanship. Caesar Salad, an excellent Steak Tartar, the carving of the prime rib, and torching the signature Crepes Samurai dessert were all spectacles to behold. But aside from these classics, Prince Albert also served as the proving ground of some of the country’s finest chefs. Among those who first caught the dining public’s attention here were Billy King of Le Souffle fame, Jessie Sincioco of Chef Jessie at Rockwell, Marc Aubry of Champetre and Cyrille Soenen of Brasserie Ciçou.

Being around so long, it was inevitable that many memories are associated with Prince Albert. Two of my friends proposed there. The very first business lunch I joined was there. Special celebrations and dates were done there. So I did a long farewell to the Prince over the last two weeks with two dinners.

Last December 9, Billy King returned to Prince Albert’s open kitchen to cook one last meal.

The dinner opened with what could be described as a seafood carpaccio of salmon and scallops.

Saumon et Coquilles St. Jacues Crues au Poivre Rose - Salmon and Scallop with Pink Peppercorn

Saumon et Coquilles St. Jacues Crues au Poivre Rose – Salmon and Scallop with Pink Peppercorn

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Happy (Skin) Holidays!

What does a beauty junkie want to see under her Christmas tree? Makeup, of course! Last minute shopping for your gal pals is a breeze with these pretty gift ideas from Happy Skin. I can’t stress enough how much I love this proudly Pinoy brand–they offer a growing range of wittily-named, high quality products perfect for Filipina skin, and best of all, they’re affordable, too! Happy shopping!


Happy Skin: one of thehappylab's all-time happy finds! Seen here: Shut Up & Kiss Me matte and moisturizing lippies "It Girl" and "Heartbreaker" from the Read My Lips collection; Get Cheeky With Me blush, Don't Get Mad Get Even hydrating liquid foundation, Eye Am Here To Stay 24-hour gel pencil eyeliner, and Shut Up & Kiss Me Power Pout (moisturizing lip lacquer)

Happy Skin: one of thehappylab’s all-time happy finds! Seen here: Shut Up & Kiss Me matte and moisturizing lippies “It Girl” and “Heartbreaker” from the Read My Lips collection; Get Cheeky With Me blush, Don’t Get Mad Get Even hydrating liquid foundation, Eye Am Here To Stay 24-hour gel pencil eyeliner, and Shut Up & Kiss Me Power Pout (moisturizing lip lacquer)


Happy Skin is available at major malls, Beauty Bar, or shop online at


A Basque Dinner at the Tasting Room

For the final dinner of the year, the Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Degustateurs (OMGD) had a modern Basque dinner at the Tasting Room in City of Dreams. Although a Rhone dinner was originally scheduled, a modern Basque dinner was decided upon after learning that Chef William Mahi who runs the kitchen there is himself Basque – although from the French side. He also has impeccable credentials as his previous posting was as chef of a 2 Michelin star restaurant in Athens. To pair with Chef Mahi’s creations, Edna Diaz of Bestworld Beverage Brands generously provided all the wines. The reds would be from the Rioja winery of Ramon Bilbao together with cava, champagne and an albariño.

Guests were treated to flutes of champagne Mumm Cordon Rouge NV as a welcome drink after which we were seated to start the dinner proper. The first course was a playful arrangement of various appetizers. My favorite was the curry apple crisp followed by the goat cheese cube.

Amuse-Bouche. Curry Apple crisp, Salmon Candy, Foie Gras Chocolate Ball, and Goat Cheese Cube.

Amuse-Bouche. Curry Apple crisp, Salmon Candy, Foie Gras Chocolate Ball, and Goat Cheese Cube.

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Champagne, Jamon, Txanton

It wasn’t exactly the best time to schedule an event. With Manila hosting the APRC summit, traffic disruption would be the norm for most of the week. Despite the inconvenience, I made sure to leave early enough to make it to Txanton, a new jamon and wine shop along Pasong Tamo Extension, where Hubert de Billy, great great grandson of Pol Roger would present his family’s champagne at a special lunch for a select few.

The trip to Txanton went smoothly until just about a kilometer from the shop. It was impossible to get through the knot of traffic at the Nichols intersection so after 40 minutes of waiting I decided to get down from the car and go on foot. Not pleasant in a formal barong under the noonday sun. Fortunately, a few minutes after I started walking, the traffic untangled and the car was able to get through and take me to the lunch just about 30 minutes late. It turns out several other guests were similarly affected and showed up even later than I did.

In any case, a most welcoming sight greeted me when I got to Txanton. To keep us occupied while waiting for the rest to show up, jamon was being sliced and flutes of Pol Roger were being passed around.

Pre-lunch snack

Pre-lunch snack

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