The Suit of Champions

 

Soccer moms, baseball moms, basketball moms – these are how mothers who chaperone their sons to practices and games of their  chosen sports are called.  Then there’s us – the swim moms.  I must say that we are a different breed.   Being a swim mom requires a tremendous amount of patience and an endless supply of sunblock.  Unlike other sports where  games are scheduled, swimming competitions last for hours on end.  Waiting for your kid’s particular heat under the blazing heat (pun intended) is really something one needs to get used to.  Aside from the time, the scorching sun (indoor competitions are few) and supporting your child’s passion for his sport, there’s the expenses.  My 12 year old son has been swimming half his life and my now 5 year old girl has just taken up the sport.  Unfortunately, their schools don’t have pools and I had to make them join a team in an exclusive club so they can train regularly with accredited swim coaches.  Aside from that, attention must be given to the gear required for training. Goggles, kickboard, poolbuoy, fins, bands etc.  Of utmost consideration , however, is the kind of swimsuit that they have to wear to minimize the “drag”.  Frictional drag results from the constant rubbing against the water molecules by the swimmer’s body which slows forward motion.  As the swimmer moves faster through the water, the drag starts to build.  A fraction of a second matters in competitions so serious swimmers have to invest in the right kind of swimsuit.

Turbo Swimwear is the choice of our local champion swimmers Ariana Canaya and Courtney Gray.

Local champion swimmers Ariana Canaya and Courtney Gray in neon swimwear from Turbo.

 

Over the years, I’ve bought different brands of swimwear for my kids but one stands out in particular in terms of overall quality.  “Turbo is synonymous to supersonic energy and speed – much like a high powered –engine.  We use the best fabric in the market (100% PBT polyester).  Some athletes have even christened our suits as the toughest there is! Stretch  it, pull it, wear it daily for a year or even store it for a long time and you can see that it keeps its perfect form. No wrinkling, drying out or discoloring whatsoever. More importantly, it significantly lessens the drag,” says champion swimmer, national water polo player and CEO of Turbo Phils Dale Evangelista.  “Turbo originated from Spain focused mainly on customized swimwear catered to  both professional and recreational swimming and water polo players and enthusiasts.  After its success in Europe, it has its expanded its business globally and now offers all kinds of swim training materials and accessories for the youth and adult segments.   The brand is also  known for fashion forward swimming apparel and can customize designs for a whole team or club. Turbo can even produce just 1 swimsuit so you can feel unique and special!”

Red, white and blue! Swimsuits, caps and backpacks are available too!

Red, white and blue! Swimsuits, caps and backpacks are available too!

 

To add to its credentials, Turbo is worn by the national water polo teams of Spain, USA, Russia, Croatia Montenegro and the Philippines.  Ambassadors of the brand include two of the  most promising swim sirens and bemedalled pool darlings of our country – Courtney Melissa Tan Gray and Ariana  Mikaela Canaya. Both Filipinas boast of a long list of achievements and have garnered awards in the swimming arena locally and internationally.

Starting early in the sport. Pool Princess Courtney Gray with my daughter.

Starting early in the sport. Pool Princess Courtney Gray with my daughter.

 

As a longtime swim mom, I like Turbo for its durability.  I find that I don’t need to buy swimsuits as often as I used to. The brand is priced reasonably and because of its excellent performance, has proven to be good value for money.  It’s definitely a prize find for a practical mom like me!

Colorful sling bags, water polo cap and baseball cap

Colorful sling bags, water polo cap and baseball cap

 

Turbo is sold exclusively online at Turbo PH (Facebook and IG) or you can email turbo.philippines@gmail.com .

Follow me on Twitter, IG and Facebook.

With a pocketful of glitter,

tbqp signature - white background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom vs Justice

 My 12 year old boy M is the biggest fan of Ironman. Behind the ironsuit is Tony Stark ,the ultrasmart megabillionaire  scion of his equally brilliant inventor father, Stark Industries founder Howard Stark.  M has always been fascinated with Tony’s intelligence,  witty one-liners and I-don’t-care-what-the world-thinks-of-me attitude.  He has a whole collection of Ironman toys and memorabilia, dressed up like his favorite superhero during his 7th birthday and even virtually suited up as the metalled Avenger via a hologram powered attraction when we visited California Adventure in Los Angeles a few years back.

Both ladies and men's apparel are available. Choose your side!

Both Civil War ladies and men’s apparel are available. Choose your side!

 

So M was over the moon when the first trailer of  Captain America Civil War was shown.  At a special screening last Monday  which the two of us attended in Megamall, M was so excited he chowed down his bucket of popcorn even before the movie started.  The latest Avengers installment  is based on crossover plots from previously released Marvel movies.  It begins when a grief stricken mother pays Tony Stark (played oh-so-perfectly by Robert Downey Jr.) a visit after he gives a talk to MIT students.  She has lost a son due to the superheroes’ past mission in fictional Sokovia.  This incident is followed by a bombing attack  which resulted to heavy human collateral damage in Lagos, Nigeria which immediately prompts Downey’s character to support government oversight.   Ironman’s action is seen as a kowtowing surrender to the will of politicians by Captain America (played by the superbuff Chris Evans).  The proposed Superhero Regulatory Act  creates a deep divide  in the Avengers alliance.   Captain America  believes in remaining free to protect the people sans political interference while Ironman sees regulation as  a justifiable and effective means to spare innocent lives.  The other team members must now choose a side.

Cool Captain America gear from F&H

Cool Captain America gear from F&H

 

The good news is that local  clothing brand Folded & Hung (F&H) has an ongoing partnership with Disney.  The Marvel franchise is now under the Disney brand.  With the third of the Avengers movie now out in theatres, F&H has launched a variety of  cool Team Captain America and Team IronMan apparel for both the men and ladies.   Rivalry, which echoes the plot of the movie, is the theme of the collection.  Cotton shirts as well as  long and boxy fit tees with prints of  “Truth vs Justice”,  the mask of Ironman and the shield of Captain America are now in the stores.  An assortment of backpacks, duffle bags and sling ons are also available.  Each Team Captain America piece has a counter Team Ironman item.  Now it’s up to you to choose your team!

TeamCap or Team Stark ?

TeamCap or Team Stark ?

 

As for my family, the husband has secured four tickets for tonight.  My son and I certainly don’t mind watching the movie for a second time.  (I will watch anything with Robert Downwy Jr. in it!)  We promised not to let out any spoilers since my little daughter and her Dad have not seen the show.  This time around, however, we will be dressed up for the occasion.  Wearing our  chosen shirts from F&H, it will now be known to all that the  Fermins are stalwart fans of Team Ironman!

We've chosen our side. Have you?

We’ve chosen our side. Have you?

JOIN the BQP CONTEST NOW! Get the chance to win P500 Gift Certificates from Folded & Hung! SHARE on FB, TAG, and ANSWER this simple question here on the blog.

1. Whose side are you on? TeamCAP or Team STARK? WHY?

 

 

Follow me on Twitter, IG and Facebook.   Visit http://thebusyqueenp.com/ for more interesting reads!

With a pocketful of glitter,

tbqp signature - white background

 

 

 

Les Miserables – A Celebration of the Human Spirit

Born in 1985 from the genius collaboration  of  visionary producer Cameron Mackintosh, composer Claude- Michel Schönberg and lyricist Alain Boublil,  the opus Les Miserables is presently hailed as the longest running musical in the world.   Inspired by Victor Hugo’s 1861 classic  novel, the show which according to Mackintosh first opened to lukewarm review, is the most performed musical – both professionally and in the amateur stage.   Seen  by over 70 million people, it continues to play in packed theatres attracting new audiences and bringing back fans who want to see it again.

Don't fail to watch Les Miserables on its Manila run!

Don’t fail to watch Les Miserables on its Manila run!

 

Why has this production survived and thrived for as long as it has?  Why does it continue to enthrall, excite and inspire?  As Filipinos, we feel an affinity for Les Mis because it has featured many of our own talented thespians.  Lea Salonga played both Fantine and Eponine on Broadway and London’s West End.  Joanna Ampil followed in her footsteps with equal success.  In its latest run, another Filipina gives life to embattled single mother Fantine.  Rachelle Ann Go sang “I Dreamed A Dream” wonderfully at the premiere show last Saturday to the delight of the homecrowd.  I must admit, though, that it was Anne Hathaway (as Fantine in the movie adaptation) who I kept on visualizing in my head.  Perhaps I was expecting a rawness and desperation to the performance that Anne was able to deliver so poignantly.

Standout performances for the night included Earl Carpenter as the main antagonist Javert. –a dutybound police inspector  bent on capturing Jean Valjean who broke parole many years ago.   His death scene was both moving and visually arresting.   Carpenter definitely did a much better job than the constipated version of  Cameron Crowe in the movie.  Yes,  Simon Gleeson gave an impactful performance but it was Hugh Jackman’s  heartwrenching portrayal that I will always remember.  Kerrie Ann Greenland ( as Eponine) was another revelation.  She sang “On My Own” so effortlessly.    Greenland’s restraint made her portrayal even  more palpable.   The Master of the House (innkeeper ) literally had everyone in stitches.  What a perfect fit Cameron Blakely was for the criminal-minded and scheming innkeeper Monsiieur Thernadier.   His distinct  raspy voice and antics made for severable enjoyable moments in the show.

The cast with Cameron Mackintosh and

The cast with Cameron Mackintosh and Claude-Michel Schonberg.

 

At curtain call, the cast was met with a standing ovation and thunderous applause.  Mackintosh and Schonberg joined the actors and gave short speeches.  The lyricist ended his message by saying  “Salamat Filipinas!”

No matter that The Theatre posed limitations to the set design by Matt Kinley  and had to be scaled down (the projected images of Victor Hugo’s sombre works of art as backgrounds were phenomenal) or that the audio could be be much better (“Do you hear the people sing?”  is a question that I wanted to ask the people seated at the back.) or that Chris Durling as Enjorlas sashayed instead of marched to “One Day More” – the Manila run of Les Miserables should not be missed.

To answer the questions I earlier posed as to why the show continues to exist, I daresay it is  because of one simple truth.  As long as people dare to dream, to hope and to love inspite of life’s seeming harshness and cruelty, the show will remain to be relevant.   Les Miserables is a celebration of the human spirit – an absolute spectacle ,indeed!

with Smart Infinity Executives and legendary Broadway producer Cameron  Mackintosh

with Smart Infinity Executives and legendary Broadway producer Cameron Mackintosh

 

Follow me on Twitter, IG and Facebook.   Visit http://thebusyqueenp.com/ for more interesting reads!

 

Her Madjesty, Madonna

 

I remember several years ago when everybody who had anything to say gave their two cents worth about Lady Gaga’s impending concert.  The religious, the hateful and the fans took to social media to get their messages across. I watched that show and was impressed at how immensely talented she was.   I even brought my son with me.  There were some racy and suggestive  numbers which prompted me to send my son back to  the lounge at the private box where we watched.  Last week,  the furor was again repeated with the arrival of no less than the Queen of Pop, Madonna.  Manila was chosen as one of  The Rebel Heart Tour’s 80 stops around the world.  It kicked off September last year in Montreal.

Pinoys waited three decades to watch pop icon Madonna perform.

Pinoys waited three decades to watch pop icon Madonna perform.

 

Undoubtedly the most awaited concert  (Tickets were sold out since last year),  the fans could not contain their excitement as they entered the venue.   From her last concert in Macau,  three Boeing 747 planes carried lights,  sound equipment and props to our city.  The stage is really the  first thing to catch your attention.  An elongated cross with a heart attached to the tip and a rectangle stage with protruding balls at the end,  it was an early forboding  of what the show would be.    That show would start almost three hours late – at 11:42 to be exact.

When Madonna finally came out from a cage suspended in the air, the whole  Mall of Asia Arena exploded in shouts and cheers.   Madge mostly sang songs from her newest album.  I so loved when she did Rebel Heart.  “Why can’t you be like the other girls? I said oh no, that’s not me. And I don’t think that it’ll ever be.”   Flashes of  the music icon rendered pop art style flashed on the giant  screens showing her evolution through the years.  It was a visual feast as well as well as a hefty serving of lyrics to awaken the soul.  “So I took the road less travelled by. And I barely made it out alive.  Through the darkness somehow I survived. Tough love I knew it from the start  deep down in my rebel heart.”

Remember this look way back in the 80's? She will always be our favorite rebel.

Remember this look way back in the 80’s? She will always be our favorite rebel.

 

Of course, she had to sing her old songs from the 80’s!  The people asked for  “Crazy for You” but  she denied that request and sang other favorites instead. Reworked to sound more appealing to millenials, I wished she sang the songs in their original versions.  Still Madonna’s performance of “Burning Up”  while playing the electric guitar,  literally set the stage on fire.  Audience were treated to  La Isla Bonita,  Just Like A Prayer, True Blue, Material Girl and Music.

She sang old tunes like La Isla Bonita.

She sang old tunes like La Isla Bonita.

 

The costumes were fabulous! Japanese warrior , Spanish Senorita, Sparkle-clad 20’s girl and Rocker Goddess—all showed her well-taut physique.  How in the world could this woman be pushing 60?!   She had plenty of Asian dancers, aerialists who wowed the crowd from twenty foot poles and a moving stage that kept everybody at the edge of their seats.  The audience lapped up the profanity and applauded all the perfectly choreographed numbers. She ended the first night singing  “Holiday” while straddling a dancer as he carried her on his shoulders.  And yes, she draped the Philippine flag around her body and waved it to the adoring fans.

Madonna with the Philippine flag

Madonna with the Philippine flag

Holiday! Celebrate!

Holiday! Celebrate!

 

 

The politics and religion I will leave to others to write about.  Was it a show for kids? No it was not .  “ Vogue” had the 12 disciples, Mother  Mary and Jesus both on screen and on stage “posing”.    Some will say that Madonna is  nothing short of crass —  irreverent and unapologetic.   No one , however ,can deny that she is one of the most gifted women performers of our time .   The concert was a brilliant two hour   spectacle — nothing more , nothing less.   Hail to her Madjesty, Madonna!

Love MADGE!

Love MADGE!

 

With a pocketful of glitter,

tbqp signature - white background

 

 

 

Royals – A Blended Valentine Concert

 

Concerts have always been part and parcel of the whole Valentine celebration.  Pinoys are ,by nature, sentimental and undoubtedly love to sing.  So it’s not  a surprise that all kinds of people – couples,  friends, families , even the singles, end up spending the night listening to their favorite artists belt out  love ditties.

At the Mall of Asia Arena,  “Royals”  gathered  two powerful pairs of singers as headliners.  The  blended pairings brought  icons Martin Nievera and Regine Velasquez  who shared the stage with the younger breed of performers, rumored-couple Erik Santos and Angeline Quinto.  The quartet gave powerful performances one after another.  They opened the show with songs from  Queen (“Somebody to Love” and “Let Me Go)  and ended the first set with “Shut Up and Dance”.  The second set saw the girls bringing Adele songs “Hello” and “Sorry” to new heights.

Martin, Regine, Angeline and Eric in the Royals' Valentine concert

Martin, Regine, Angeline and Eric in the Royals’ Valentine concert

 

The spiels were funny too. At one point,  Regine motioned to the bleachers and said, “Akala ko ba mayayaman ang audience ko, bakit jan kayo bumili ng ticket???”  Martin Nievera chided Erik Santos for stealing “his song” (referring to This is The Moment) prompting the latter to retort “Bakit? Ikaw kumanta ng original?” “Hindi.”  “Eh bakit mo inaangkin?”  These and many more exchanges drew laughter from the crowd.

There were emotional moments too.  After Angeline and Regine did a series of Whitney Houston songs (which made the hair on my arms stand), the younger singer hugged the latter for a good two minutes.   In tears, Angeline said that she could not believe that  she was performing with her idol.   Regine complimented her by saying “Pwede na ko mag-retire.  You are so good!”

Angeline cries at the concert

Angeline cries at the concert

 

Highlights of the night included songs of Basil Valdez sang by the men and Nat King Cole/Natalie Cole  sang by Martin and Angeline.  The four also rendered a medley from Eraserheads (“Huling El Bimbo”, “Pare Ko and “Magasin”).

A night of love songs

Ogie Alcasid joined in the fun.

 

Regine sang "Usahay".

Regine sang “Usahay”.

The singers also delighted the crowd by dong songs from the 80’s.  At one point Vice Ganda and Ogie Olcasid joined them on stage.  What an enjoyable concert!  Was not aware that three hours had passed by.  I must say though that Angeline Quinto made a fan out of me.

The crowd enjoyed the Eraserheads medley

The crowd enjoyed the Eraserheads medley

 

Up next — MADONNA!!!

With a pocketful of glitter,

tbqp signature - white background

 

 

Love through Rose-colored Glasses

 

One of my favorite romantic movies is “Moulin Rouge.”  Satine ,a beautiful Parisian geisha of the underworld  (played wonderfully by Nicole Kidman), is the object of desire of many  Machiavellian club patrons.  Christian (Ewan McGregor) a penniless writer falls heavily for the notorious star.   She will do anything to be a “real”actress He will do anything to mount a show (Spectacular! Spectaclar!)  about “truth, beauty, freedom and love.”   Together they get embroiled in the complexities of fantasy, reality, doubt, secrets, sacrifice, duplicity, forgiveness and ultimately –love.

The best love stories don't necessarily have happy endings.

The best love stories don’t necessarily have happy endings.

As young girls, we were introduced to the notion of true love via fairy tales starring various cartoon princesses  conveniently served by Disney.   Wide eyed and  with bated breath we watched Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.  So that’s how a girl meets a prince ! One must be a damsel in distress and  with  hundred percent certainty she will be rescued by dashing royalty!  Choose your poison.   Die and miraculously be saved by a passing prince’s kiss.  Leave a glass slipper behind  and make sure you are the only girl in the entire kingdom that can fit it it.  Risk a hundred years’ slumber in the hopes of being rescued, yet again ,  by true love’s kiss.  The problem with this is that the lead character lives happily ever after with a STRANGER… or does she?  Well no one dares spoil a happy Disney ending.

The mold did change a bit in the coming years.  Hans Christian Andersen’s scaled heroine was forever immortalized as Ariel.   Defiance and curiosity led her to sell her voice in exchange for legs  to the scheming  sea witch Ursula.  The bargain?  Mute girl-fish must make Prince Eric fall in love with her in three days or else lose her melodic chops forever.   The Little Mermaid’s efforts did pay off when she eventually got her voice back, married the prince and kept her legs.   But should a girl (in this case a non-human at that) really go through such lengths just because of a handsome face?

Belle proves that  a girl who is smart with a heart can see beyond a beast.

Belle proves that a girl who is smart with a heart can see beyond a beast.

 

Personally, I think the non-princesses/ lead commoners , save for Princess Merida of Brave fame and Pocahontas, had a better grip of the notion of love.   They make good models too for our young daughters. Culled from the Brothers Grimm Beauty, and the Beast, Belle is a small town girl with big ideas.  “A beauty but a funny girl that Belle!’… goes the song.  She is considered strange and peculiar for having her nose always stuck in a book.  Local hunk Gaston assumes she would  marry him even without asking.   Belle shows independence, bravery, selflessness and sees behind the  looks (for who can ever love a beast?) of her captor.  Finally, here’s a  girl who actually develops a relationship with the protagonist-turned-love interest.  Even then she shows that familial love is stronger than her budding romance.  Mulan is also a Disney heroine to exhibit similar traits prompting the Emperor of China to tell General Shang  “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most beautiful of all. You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty.”

R meets Princess Anna who is an exemplary model for sibling love but has much to learn about love.

R meets Princess Anna who is an exemplary model for sibling love but has much to learn about love.

 

 

The Trump

“I can’t wait to fall in love!” I was shocked to hear my 4 year old daughter R say this after watching Snow White the musical last year.  I felt guilty for letting her fall prey to the spell of the Disney Princesses.  There are, after all, many other love stories that could leave a better impression on her.  Over a course of time, I told her about the bible story of Naomi and Ruth, let her watch “Meet the Robinsons” and allowed a daily serving of Sofia the First.

My daughter and I

My daughter and I

 

Love comes in many facets and forms.  My love for my daughter prompts me to equip her for the many challenges and realities of this world.  A level headed girl always trumps an over idealistic one.  As parents, we should not underestimate the capacity of children to understand.  Therefore , it is a must to provide filters. Let’s  show them that queens no more about love than any princess can teach.   I look forward to the day when I can share one Sunday evening with my  future very grown up daughter as we  watch “Moulin Rouge”.   For now, it’s enough that I shower her with hugs and kisses for no one can ever love her the way Mommy does.

With a pocketful of glitter,

tbqp signature - white background

 

 

Luck and Love at the Grande Dame

 

Happy February!  This month is extra special this year as it contains two big celebrations – Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day.  Both are red letter days for everyone.  Families, friends , couples, both the young and old are now beginning to make plans on how to best spend these memorable dates.

 

Celebrate the Year of the Fire Monkey

Do you believe in predictions?  Well, there’s no harm in knowing what the year forbodes.  Based on the Chinese Calendar, 2016 will turn out to be a lucky year for those born under the Monkey sign –especially those whose births fall under the element of fire.

On February 7, the eve of the New Year,  chinese lanterns and red flowers will adorn the halls of the Grande Dame.  Guests are invited to take part in the revelry of the Draogn’s Eye Dotting Ceremony complete with a special lion and dragon dance.  In addition, world-renowned feng shui expert Master Joseph Kam Shing together with his son  Master Vittorio Chau will share their fortune predictions.

Know your fortune as told by Master Joseph Chau

Know your fortune as told by Master Joseph Chau

 

Of course,  this event would not be complete without the traditional “Niangao” or tikoy.  This traditional treat is made from glutinous rice flour which symbolizes longevity, progress and a better life.  Beautifully packaged in oriental gift boxes, these famous and well loved delicacies are available for purchase at the Hotel’s prosperity booth at the Grand Lobby.  Head on to the Mabuhay Palace for mouth-watering dishes with their special Chinese spread.   Families of  four and couples can choose from set menus for only PhP2,288.00  Net.

 

Big Love

 There’s no need to fuss over Valentine’s Day preparations.  Manila Hotel has everything covered and prepared just for its special guests.  Honeymoon Suites. Romantic dinner for two. Flowers. Chocolates and fine wine. Signature Massages at the Spa. Even  Valentango ( a romantic spectacle of  live tango music  and dance performances by professional tango dancers).   These are but a few of their  delightful surprises.  “Make your loved one fall in love with you again on this special day.  Celebrate love and happiness over a lavish Cantonese Dinner prepared by Executive Chef Sun Bing  at the Mabuhay Palace,  enjoy the 8 stations-buffet at Café Ilang-ilang or  share a special  6-course dinner by  Executive Chef Kinrad Walter under crystal palms at the Champagne  Room,” says Dr. Enrique Y. Yap Jr., the hotel’s Executive Vice President .

A romantic dinner for two while watching Valentango is something you shouldn't miss!

A romantic dinner for two while watching Valentango is something you shouldn’t miss!

 

Sweet treats at the Valentine's booth.

Sweet treats at the Valentine’s booth.

 

So whether you are looking to spend these events with your families and friends or escape to an urban sanctuary  with just your special someone,  make your choice the Manila Hotel.

Happy Hearts' Day!

Happy Hearts’ Day!

 

For room reservations and room promotions , please call 527-0011 local 1175 to 1178.

 

Follow me on Twitter, IG and Facebook.   Visit http://thebusyqueenp.com/ for more interesting reads!

 

 

Party Feast

My family has a mild case of holiday hangover since we missed out on the celebrations here.  The obvious cure? A New Year gettogether , of course!  So not having quite shaken the jet lag and waking up in the wee hours of the morning for days, I decided to use my temporary insomnia to plan the menu for the party.  Fried chicken, spaghetti and tuna lumpia rolls are mandatory choices for the kids.  For the adults, I decided to cook prawns in coconut milk and crab fat,  Korean beef stew with quail eggs,  turbo-broiled lechon kawali and grilled liempo.  Since I wanted to make  everything myself , I chose old time dessert favorites leche flan and cashew brownies for dessert.

I love to cook! Take the time to plan your menu, shop for fresh ingredients and cook what you can ahead of time.

I love to cook! Take the time to plan your menu, shop for fresh ingredients and cook what you can ahead of time.

 

A day after the celebration, I posted my culinary creations on Facebook.  My 9-picture collage was an instant hit and people asked me to share my recipes.  Here’s  a recipe for an all-yolk leche flan one that looks difficult to make but is actually very easy to do.

 

The Perfect Flan

 

Ingredients:

14 egg yolks

1 can of condensed milk

1000ml of fresh milk

1 teaspoon of  vanilla extract

white  sugar

 

  1. Don’t break the yolk!s  Gently tap the egg shell in the middle until the crack is halfway across.  Open the shell and gently catch the yolk in one hand letting the egg white fall in a separate container.
  2. Beat the eggs with a mixer. Add the vanilla extract and condensed milk.
  3. In a pan, heat the fresh milk over medium heat. Once the milk simmers, turn off the fire and let cool.
  4. Add the fresh milk to the mixture.
  5. Pour 2 to 3 teaspoonfuls of white sugar in each llanera or flan mold.  With a pair of  tongs, hold the mold over low heat until the sugar caramelizes. Be careful not to burn the sugar as this will cause a bitter taste.
  6. Get a cheesecloth or “lampin” and ask your helper to tightly  place this on top of the molds.  Use a ladle to scoop the liquid mixture and let the cheesecloth work as a sieve.  Doing this will ensure that your flan will not have bubbles.
  7. Pre heat the oven to 350 fahrenheit .   Pour water  halfway through  a rectangular pyrex dish before putting two flan molds inside.  This is a water bath (bain marie) which will keep the mixture from curdling and forming crusts on the side.   Bake for about 30 minutes.
  8. Store in the ref for at least four  hours for the flan to set.  Use  a knife to loosen the edges of the flan.  Put a serving dish on top of the mold and quickly turn over.  Recipe is good for 4 medium sized flan molds.

 

Practice makes perfect! Using all egg yolks makes the flan that much richer in taste!

Practice makes perfect! Using all egg yolks makes the flan that much richer in taste!

 

Sieve, Bake and Serve!

Sieve, Bake and Serve!

The key to a successful party is preparation.  I did my grocery shopping in three supermarkets to get the best ingredients.  A day before the reunion, I cooked the beef stew which takes hours to make, boiled the slabs of pork ribs and half cooked them in the turbo oven and baked the brownies too.  On the day itself , my children entered the kitchen and both said “Everything smells good!”  I  served a seven course lunch,  triple “meryenda” because the guests came in and out of the pool looking for different things to munch on and a light dinner.  When the relatives had left, I got a big hug from the husband.  “Thank you for the wonderful meals,” he said.  “You’re the best!”

 

tbqp signature - white background

 

 

Best Self Forward

 

Touchdown! It’s just been a few hours since my return. An almost three week vacation to the US was exactly what my family and I needed to cap 2015.  Time spent with family and friends away from the worries and cares of Manila has recharged, rebooted and refreshed our spirits!  We loved our time in Los Angeles and Vegas but at the end of our vacation we all looked forward to coming home.

The Fambam at Americana

Wishing you all a fountain of blessings in 2016!

 

On the plane ride I scribbled a few things I should do this year.  It could be helpful to you too in facing the  year ahead.  I prefer to call it my “must-do” list instead of resolutions.  Of course, at any given time, we are free to choose start over. The new year, however,   gives us that extra push to make amends, try new things and get ourselves out of the doldrums.

A Fresh Start

1. Move It!

I have the shoes, the club membership and even a pool at my own backyard.  So why am I still overweight?  Hopefully, by the end of 365 days I would have shed ten pounds, lessened my visits to the doctor and used my shoes, club facilities and overcome my fear of water so I can use the pool even without the kids around.  Even just walking after dinner around the village would be good.  Dancing and kickboxing which used to be my passions  are also on my list.  I’m sure you can find a workout that fits you too.

This pair called me halfway across the Nike Store in Sta. Monica Place.

This pair called me halfway across the Nike Store in Sta. Monica Place.

 

2. Think before you gobble.

Momentary gustatory satisfaction from eating all the deliciously sinful foods  (think lechon, cakes, ice cream and chocolate) will cost you in the end.  Give up the bad for the good. They say it takes two weeks  for one to be accustomed to a new taste.  Lessen the salt in your meals, steam instead of fry,  trade white rice for brown.   Have portions of fruits and vegetables daily.  Let your taste buds adjust to a healthier daily menu.

 

3. Shopaholics must exercise restraint.

Those stilettos sure look nice but should you buy it when you already have a dozen others in your  shelves?   January is sale season!  Look but keep on walking.  Shed some pounds and buy it in June in a smaller size when you’ve already lost five pounds.   Save for bigger and better things other than shoes, bags and clothes.  It may be hard to at first but rehab from any addiction is never easy.  Sigh.

4.  Try something new.

I love the dark side of the color wheel.  Blue, black, grey are my staples.  I don’t own anything pink.  Well, that was until I fell in love with a pair of hot pink sneakers.  Now, there’s a corner in my closet reserved for my new guilty pleasures.  More of my fab pink finds in my upcoming articles!

 

5.  Put on your best self.

Media mogul and icon Oprah Winfrey in her latest ad for Weight Watchers  said ,”I don’t have a pair of jeans I’d like to get into—I’ve been down that road honeychild.  I don’t have a dress or a big red carpet thing to do.  I’m really just looking at 2016 as the year of my best body. “  Prior to this, on her first commercial for the weight loss program company, she sends another  message, “Nothing you’ve ever been trough is wasted.  So every time I tried and failed, and tried  again , and tried again has brought me to this powerful moment to say ‘If not now, when?’  Are you ready? Let’s do this together. “   OMG,  what a hallelujiah moment! So all together now —Yes, we are ready, Oprah!

With 2 beauty queens

Let’s take the lead from from the newly crowned Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach. Be confidently beautiful with a heart. The Busy Queen flanked by Pia and 2014 Miss Universe MJ Lastimosa.

 

Thank you God for this fresh start.  May all of us be kinder, wiser, and grateful.  Happy 2016 everybody!

tbqp signature - white background

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow me on Twitter, IG and Facebook.   Visit http://thebusyqueenp.com/ for more interesting reads!

 

 

Come Visit the Colonial Christmas Village

A different kind of Christmas awaits those who visit Manila Hotel this December.   Travel backwards to an era  where people receive posts and gifts through mail and cooking and baking hearty meals are as much a part of everyday life as well as holiday tradition.  Can you imagine a time and where books and storytelling kept kids entertained for hours?  These scenes are brought to life in a modern and updated Colonial Christmas Village at the Grande Dame.

 

Walk this way! There's something special for everybody at the Colonial Christmas Village.

Walk this way! There’s something special for everybody at the Colonial Christmas Village.

For the Kids and the Kids-at-heart

Get you cameras ready as every single nook and cranny  of the village is Instagram worthy!  Through  a partmership with Hamley’s London Limited (the oldest toy shop in the world) , Adarna  House ( a publishing company known for its story telling sessions) and Epson (which provided the decorative wallpapers that made the display come to life),  Manila Hotel offers a magical holiday experience for the entire family.

Streetlamps light your way as you stroll down Parsons Street.  Make your first stop at the Mayor’s office to get your passes.  Christmas  village golden tickets cost P1,500  and entitles you to visit all the shops, get a free stuffed bear and a movie ticket.  Companion tickets , on the other hand are at P800.    Don’t forget to exchange your money with the Christmas village paper currency so you can do all the shopping you want.

The Town Mayor

Manila Hotel’s General Manager Gerhard Doll is dressed up as the Town Mayor.

 

The children will love Willy’s Emporium where they can get dolls,  trains and other unique items from the UK based toy store.  Not to be missed is  the Patisserie Bakeshop and Tea Hall.   White tables decked with festive decors and white wooden chairs provide the children an authentic colonial dining experience.   Servers who are appropriately dressed to fit the colonial theme will help the little guests fill up their tin canisters with all kind of treats like cookies, bars and delicious french macarons. YUM!  You can also enjoy a kiddie meal prepared by the hotel’s esteemed chefs.  Meanwhile,  Santa could just be the the storyteller of the day at  Page, Turner and Company.  Storytelling activities are held every Saturday and Sunday of December.

Dainty furnishings and Delicious deights await visitors at the Bakery.

Dainty furnishings and Delicious deights await visitors at the Bakery.  Guests get to fill up their own tin can with sweets and treats!

 

Santa serves up the treats!

Santa serves up the treats!

To cap your modern-day colonial experience, relax , unwind and watch Christmas movies at the Grand View Cinema with your own popcorn bucket, cotton candy swirl and ice cream bar.  How’s that for major fun?

Movie time!

Movie time!

 

Holiday Packages

The Christmas village is open until January2, 2016 from 1pm to 9pm.  Stay in one of the Suites and enjoy the hotel’s Christmas Village Room Package for only P13,845.00 NET.  Get one bear, one regular Christmas village ticket, a complimentary bibingka at the Lobby Lounge for two and a 20% discount at The Manila Hotel Spa.  For inquiries and reservations please call 527-0011 local 1175 to 1179.

Holiday toys from Hamley's.

Holiday toys from Hamley’s.

 

Follow me on Twitter, IG and Facebook.   Visit http://thebusyqueenp.com/ for more interesting reads!

tbqp signature - white background