Author: Em Alcantara

It all began with a brownie

Happy Valentine’s Day! I have no photos to share about my day today. The three of us were busy bees–at church, at home, with online choir rehearsals, ballet class, etc.

But it was a fun day, it was just busy. And I received the best gifts–the gift of music and service during the Mass, a surprise email from my little darling, and a bouquet of flowers from the man of the house. We had a hint he’s getting us flowers because he went missing after we finished online rehearsals! My mom and sister, and one of our co-volunteers gave chocolates, too.

How about me, you might ask. Of course, I got them something! Yesterday, I gave them tikoy and hopia (post-Chinese New Year treats) while today, I got them a box of brownies–the same first gift I received from my husband back when he first said he loved me.

It all began with a brownie. A box of six brownies was his first “gift” to me back when he first courted me. So, this particular store has a special place in my heart (and in my tummy!).

Not an ad. But yes, special place. With special yummy brownies, too.

He loved giving gifts. He made sure I get something during special occasions. He’s the same with Aria now, so he also gave Aria flowers to celebrate today.

Having him as my husband is the best gift. I really wouldn’t ask for more. I appreciate him more everyday, especially the past year facing this pandemic. My daughter and husband are the best quarantine buddies.

Happy Valentine’s Day again, everyone! Especially to my one true love and my little lady love. I am so blessed to witness God’s love through the two of you.

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And, that’s it for my short Valentine’s Day post. Keeping up with the blog with one post a month (at least!), but will try with all my might to blog as often as I can. Until the next!

~ Touringkitty

Catharsis: My 2020 roundup

Hello again, blogverse! It’s been a long while.

Holidays schmolidays are once again over, and we have to begin another year of work…all the way to the next holiday season.

2020 is definitely one for the books for humankind. And as I was not able to write yet a proper 2020 roundup on Facebook, I shall just do it here in my blog.

Pandemic. Quarantine. Face masks. Face shields. Ayuda (or the lack of it). Rapid or swab test. Isolation. Death. Not to mention typhoons, fire, crimes (in whatever manner). Those are just some of the words that permeated the most part of 2020. That clear cut vision the year suggests didn’t seem so, not for most of us, for sure. But perhaps looking at it from another perspective can make things crystal clear.

Stay-at-home. Work-from-home. Facetime, Messenger, Viber, Zoom, whathaveyou. Online classes. Online meetings. Online chikahan (and e-numan). Online concerts and virtual choirs. Online Masses and rosaries. Netflix and chill. Family. Bonding. Love.

It can also be…

Home cooked meals. Instant bakers and cooks. Home and balcony gardening. Dalgona coffee. Salamat, Shoppee! Salamat food delivery! And new businesses sprouting because of this pandemic, even my sister began her own late last year (support Rae’s Gourmet!)

But for me, music became my catharsis. I sang, taught, shared music, in so many ways last year.

Also, music was my catharsis as we grieved for the deaths in our family. My cousins did a musical tribute for our uncle. I prepared a musical tribute for my grandfather. All these were done online. It was quite a challenge for tech challenged me, but it was definitely my catharsis, my sadness translated into beautiful music. I was lucky that family and friends supported and contributed to this mini online concert.

20 days into 2021. Here’s hoping this will be a definitely better year than last year. We set our expectations too high for 2020, as it seemed so confidently a good year. But yeah, here’s hoping everything would go well for the world.

Check out my cathartic videos, I mean, online productions during the quarantine on my Youtube channel. More to come this year!

~ Touringkitty

Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol introduces new brand ambassadors

The Gutz Family (Sarah, Kai, Zion, and Richard) as brand ambassadors for Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol.

Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol continues its campaign to be Filipino families’ ally in germ protection in the new normal as they welcome newlyweds, Richard Gutierrez and Sarah Lahbati, together with their adorable kids Zion and Kai, as their brand ambassadors.

Adjusting to the New Normal with Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol

Richard and Sarah, who got married in a solemn ceremony earlier this year, celebrated their new life together in quarantine. While being stuck at home was an opportunity for them to spend more time together as a family—planting, painting and playing all sorts of games, they also needed to go through a lot of adjustments as a family. 

One adjustment that they had to do was to look for better ways to protect their family against germs, with the threat of the virus still continuing up until now. They found their newest ally in Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol, which promises a higher level of protection against germs and viruses. 

“We believe in innovative products. Not only does Defensil come from a company we trust, Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol is also recommended by experts,” said Sarah. 

“And since we use alcohol more frequently to sanitize, I also like how it not only kills germs and bacteria, but also has moisturizer to not dry our skin,” she added. 

One way to prevent the spread of germs is regular disinfection of hands and high touch surfaces using a rubbing alcohol. To provide a higher level of defense against germs in the new normal, the Philippine Society for Microbiology is recommending Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol.

Created by Beauty Elements Ventures Inc, Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol kills 99.9% of germs to give Richard and Sarah’s family the peace of mind that they are well-defended. It starts to kill germs on contact and upon constant use, provides up to 12-hour protection.

New Normal Holidays

Celebrating the holidays is surely going to be different for the Gutierrez family this year. For Richard and Sarah, social distancing is something that they’re keeping in mind as they celebrate the holiday season, along with making sure that everyone sanitizes and disinfects using Defensil. 

The family wishes to go on a local holiday trip with family bringing their new ally, Defensil. With this, Sarah shares three simple tips to fellow parents on how to keep their family safe from germs during the holiday season. 

First, social distancing is a must. Second, always wear a mask. It is important for parents to teach their kids the importance of wearing masks, which help to prevent the transmission of the virus. And, lastly, always disinfect with an alcohol that makes sure you and the family are well-defended— like Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol. 

WATCH THIS VIDEO to learn more about Defensil Isopropyl Alcohol:

CHECK YOUR LABEL!

Admittedly, I have been checking brand labels and nutrition facts on whatever new item I encounter. Especially now that we need more effective protection against germs and viruses. So, always check your label when buying, especially alcohol. Check the labels below for comparison.

To know more about Richard and Sarah’s newest ally, Defensil 70% Solution Isopropyl Alcohol, visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/defensil.philippines

#ForProtectionThatsReal #DefenIsopropylAlcohol #MommyBloggersPh

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*Defensil 70% Isopropyl Alcohol was tested against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli or E. coli and Candida albicans

Goodbye, damaged hair, Hello, stronger hair with newest Rice Oil Essence Trend

If it’s worth any consolation, 2020 has been such an inventive year for the beauty community. The beauty world has been constantly introducing big ingredient innovations we’ve never seen possible before. Just take a look at the micellar and collagen trends that were only thought to be beneficial for the skin but are now being sought after for hair. Who knows what’s next? And yet here we are again.

Who would have thought that the food we eat 3x a day would be the newest trend that’s about to take over the beauty shelves, especially the hair care section?

Enter, rice oil — the underrated hair beauty secret of ancient Japanese women, and now Filipinos are bound to experience its powerful benefits.

Here Comes Rice Oil Essence, The Solution to Luscious Damage-free Hair

The age-old secret to beautifully long hair comes from the 2000-year old Japanese tradition of using rice water to wash hair. For thousands of years, East Asians have taken advantage of this superfood’s high concentration of vitamin E and have been using it since to maintain their luscious long hair. The gold colored concentrate comes from the outer brown husk of grain. The abundance of vitamin E in rice oil can help reduce inflammation and reverse damage to the hair follicles. It can also act as a natural UV protectant, shielding strands from the harmful effects of too much sun exposure. It’s the perfect ingredient to maintain strong, long and shiny hair.

If you’ve been dealing with limp, brittle, dry, and damaged hair — a shampoo with rice oil essence might just be what your hair needs.

Pantene took the hair game up a notch by extracting and distilling rice oil essence extracted in Wakayama, home to the Aragi-jima Rice Terraces to create a more potent ingredient, blended with Pro-Vitamin formula.


So Long Damage, Hello Damage-free Strands with Pantene Long Hair Solutions!

The New Pantene Long Hair Solutions with Pro-Vitamin Formula & Japanese Rice Oil Essence can help you grow your hair long without worrying about damage. This new Pantene shampoo is rich in Tocotrienol—a super Vitamin E, which has 50X anti-damaging benefits versus tocopherol in other oils.

What does that mean? Pro-Vitamin B5 and Lipids fortify the inside, while Japanese Rice Oil Essence fortifies the outside. It ultimately repairs damaged hair and keeps it protected from external factors, allowing the hair to grow longer, stronger, and beautifully smoother.

Now you can say goodbye to hair damage, without worrying about growing it out with the New Pantene Long Hair Solutions with Pro-Vitamin Formula & Japanese Rice Oil Essence! After shampooing, follow it up with Pantene Total Damage Care Miracle Conditioner that helps prevent protein loss and protects hair from damage caused by frequent styling and chemical treatments so you can enjoy stronger, silky-smooth long hair!

Maintain beautifully long, and damage-free hair right at the comfort of your home when you checkout the Pantene Long Hair Solutions from Pantene’s official Lazada and Shopee stores.

Last two minutes…make that months!

Did we just blink and it was suddenly November already?

I have been long wanting to create an entry here, at least once a month (which I am kinda keeping up with, hooray!). But I would have wanted to write more, especially with the many many things–both good and bad–happening in my life.

So once more, it’s already November first! We would have gone to the cemeteries around these days to visit our beloved departed. Sadly, because of the pandemic, we can’t. So here we are, stuck in our homes, and settled with praying and lighting of candles.

What’s making things more complicated is the upcoming typhoon. Have you been preparing, too? Please do now and include prayers while preparing your mind, body, and soul for it.

Anyways, going back to the title of my blog. Last two months before the year ends. And if, you were given a chance to say something, perhaps encapsulate the first ten months in under two minutes, what would it be?

Hmmm let me see. Can’t think of any now, but probably in a vlog. Don’t forget to subscribe to my Youtube Channel!

I’ll see you there. Or through the other social media platforms like Facebook, Youtube, and Kumu. Follow @touringkitty on all social media.

~ Touringkitty

Touringkitty Travels: Baguio 2020

2020 is such a…weird (?) year.

We began the year on a not so good note, with the three of us going to separate ER visits from New Year’s Eve 2019 to the first week of 2020. I was sick the longest, for almost a month, but we pushed through with this trip to Baguio which was likewise rescheduled twice from last year.

Off we went to Baguio on the third week of January, right on Chinese New Year weekend and before the Panagbenga celebrations began. At that time, COVID-19 cases have reached the Philippines, and warnings of social distancing, wearing masks, and hand hygiene were slowly introduced. Some Baguio events that time were likewise cancelled already, as to avoid mass gatherings.

We had second thoughts of pushing through, but we still did, and made sure to avoid crowded places and make trips outside the hotel as quick as possible. So blessed we were, we saw Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage along the way! Most of the time we stayed at the hotel, since I was also sick and it was terribly cold that time. Hello, post-Christmas winter feels!

We stayed in one of the best hotels in Baguio, Azalea Hotel. They’ve got the best room and the best service! Our daughter got to sleep on her own bed. The room was so spacious, it had areas where my husband set up his laptop for sudden work, and my daughter for her homeschool. Yup, we still have to hustle while on a trip! We got a discounted rate from Lander’s, and we booked for two nights. Plus, they have Kuya J’s restaurant, so you can really stay in the hotel, and just eat in your room. They catered our buffet breakfast, too!

It was also the first time that my husband is driving for a long trip as this one. We are so blessed to have Tomy our car, who celebrated his first birthday during the trip!

Watch this video to see what Baguio had for us. Details after this clip. Don’t forget to subscribe to Aria’s YouTube Channel! bit.ly/ariadnespeaksYT

Sleep: Azalea Hotel Baguio

Savour: Kuya J Restaurant, Pizza Volante across Wright Park, Bows and Whiskers Cafe, Bencab Cafe

Sights: BenCab Museum and Ecopark, Strawberry Farm La Trinidad, Benguet, Pony ride at Wright Park, Baguio Botanical Garden, Pilak Silver Shop

Where to next?

~ Touringkitty

The story of the small e

Almost five months into quarantine. Still okay? I do hope and pray!

As we begin another homeschool year, and as I was doing some spring cleaning, I found an old notebook, from five years ago, which had an interesting poem I wrote for my daughter, who was at that time, HATED writing. Far faaaar away from what she LOVES doing now–writing essays, stories, and songs.

On our first year of formal homeschooling (meaning enrolled as Kinder under a provider), I kicked in homeschooling my daughter a month late, because I came from a Europe concert trip. Likewise, at that time, my daughter was just turning five, so writing did not come easy. In fact, we had accomplished writing very last minute–at the last quarter of that school year.

At that time, my daughter was having a hard time writing the small letter e, which is the last letter of her super long seven letter name. So, I had to think of ways to make her like writing it.

So, this story-poem came.

The story of the small e

Once there was a letter, a letter I always see,
It’s such a lovely letter,a nd it is called small e.
Small e is in bed, hen, and bee
It is also in pencil, and so is in sea.

Small e is easy to write, if you will just practice it
You start with a small c then put a line in the middle of it.
Or you can start with a sleeping line then finish with a c
That’s the trick of the small e, now, won’t you try it?

Feel free to share to anyone who has problems writing the small e.


~ Touringkitty

Beating the quarantine blues

Hello, blog! It’s been a while.

And the comeback entry is–about this nasty virus that has invaded the world. Imagine, something so tiny will literally stop our lives.

Yet we continue, we carry on. We make do with what we have. We fight off negative vibes. We pray, no matter how difficult it is to pray.

For the past two weeks, my daughter and I have not gotten out of our condo unit. Praise God we have a balcony view of Manila, the skies, some trees, lots of buildings. We still get a grasp of fresh air (which is oh so fresh, thanks to mother nature for being clean without cars and pollution, hooray!

So, what have we been doing, then?

Husband has to work at home, a day a week outside, and do errands. Aria focuses on homeschooling, as well as online art and ballet classes. While I do the cooking, chores, and some work from home. Plus countless musical projects while quarantined. Check out my Facebook Page post with my mommy choir, the Nawtingales!

Likewise, for the past two afternoons, I have been singing arias and kundimans by the balcony, just to keep the music playing. I don’t care whether someone will listen or perhaps throw tomatoes (on the 7th floor!), but I had to do it for my voice and for my sanity.

Unfortunately, I had to postpone my March 8th concert, which was the week prior the quarantine began, and cases started to come out of the news. But the real reason was I lost my voice when the year began, so the concert had to be postponed at first. I was sad but God had a purpose on that one.

So, to beat the blues, I made playlists on my Youtube account (go subscribe now!) wherein you can check out my videos.

Hope you all keep safe and healthy and hydrated, and yes, stay at home!

~ Touringkitty

The store that’s got it all is now online!

Everything now seems to be easily accessible. Paying bills, online shopping, food delivery, even medical results can be accessed online. You name it, the internet has it.

Not to be left behind, our favourite store that’s got it all now has its own online platform! Just the right timing, as recently, the most accessible branch just folded, which is like one short walk or a tricycle ride away from home.

Enter ShopSM, the newest online platform of our much loved The SM Store. Over the holidays, I got acquainted with this platform, and at the perfect timing: I was not able to grab Christmas presents for my husband and my daughter!

We had quite a busy schedule the whole of December, that we went last minute shopping for gifts for our families and friends. It was not a lot, but still took some of our time to think, shop, purchase, and pack those Christmas presents.

Unfortunately, we ended December and welcomed the New Year with Emergency Room trips and medicines. Both my husband and daughter fell ill, and I unfortunately got the bug few days after.

So, browsing the ShopSM store online became retail therapy for me, as I chose gifts for my husband and my mini-me.

What I liked about the ShopSM online? Here’s some reasons:

  1. Easy to access website. The interface is easy to understand, and clearly broken down into categories: Women, Men, Kids, Home, Beauty, Sale, and New.
  2. Quick processing of payment and item delivery. I was surprised to received the order on the first Monday of the year! I purchased the Friday before that, and surprised to have received the confirmation emails immediately, and the message from the courier on a Sunday.  Quick service there!
  3. Return process is a breeze. I followed the instructions on my account dashboard on the ShopSM website, printed the return request form, brought the item to the nearest SM store’s Customer Service, and the return was easily facilitated. The item I returned was a shirt supposedly for my husband, unfortunately, I got a Teens Size whilst I was ordering. After the return process, I was given a voucher, which I can use until February to purchase another item. I decided to wait for hubby to be available so we could shop for his shirt together.
Easy to navigate website. I am always in it!
For my daughter’s ballet class, she needed a new bottle since her previous one got broken.
This was the wrong order! I was excitedly looking at another item, which did not say Teens on it. Unfortunately, all We Bare Bears for Men are only for Male Teens.

Some things that can be improved:

  1. The site kept on hanging whenever I reach the payment and delivery options. I chatted with their online chat service, which advised me to clear my browser data and cache. Which I did, and to no avail. Ultimately, I opted for a COD and delivery, which has additional cost. Still better than going out and picking up the item which would cost additional fare also.
  2. The size guide for teens and males are just the same. Here is where I got the mistake of ordering a teen sized shirt, which is also medium sized. Better check the brands and the exact name of the product before adding to your online shopping cart.
  3. Less plastics and paper for delivery of the items. I noticed that there was just too much plastic to wrap the items. I understand this might be needed to secure the flask I purchased for my daughter in SM Kids. There were also lots of excess papers—copies of orders—inside the package, which ended up in the trash. Probably some other way to reduce these excess papers and plastics?

I do hope as well that they would add more choices soon! Shopping is truly a breeze when done in the comfort of your own home, and with ShopSM, it will be easier. There would definitely be a next time, especially that the nearest SM Store now is about 5 kilometers away, which I would only get to visit on weekends or when there are Novena Masses at church.

Have you done some online shopping lately? What items do you usually shop for online?

~ Touringkitty