Mothers Who Brunch goes Asian

My friend Sab and I have lovingly put together a series of events for Viking Range Philippines. We only have three more events left before the end of the year, and planning each themed event is just as exciting as the one before. You see, Sab and I really love putting these events together so that we can share the joy of cooking and entertaining with some of our fellow mommas. We hope to inspire other mommas to get cooking in the kitchen because despite what many people think, it’s not that hard at all.IMG_9135 copy

Mothers Who Brunch Goes Asian is actually an idea that came out of the fact that I have always found Asian flavors in my cooking a bit daunting. My comfort food is mostly American Italian and to have to throw something together with Asian flair used to be quite intimidating to me.

That is, until THE Nina Daza asked me to put together some recipes for Appetite Magazine. I think with anything that is a bit of a challenge, it’s the getting started that can sometimes hold us up. The challenge (at least for me) lies in getting over that initial hump or perception of something being difficult (even if only in my mind), because truth is, once I get started in the kitchen, I just have to look for my taste testers to inspire me to move on and improve. 

This was one of the recipes that Gia and put together for the Appetite June issue.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps. This was one of the recipes that Gia and put together for the Appetite June issue.

Nina asked me to put together Asian inspired recipes for the June issue and while I was a bit nervous about it, all I had to do was bring along my best girl to the Viking Kitchen to find my way. Together we came up with some recipes that she not only loved, but has asked me to make again and again.   

What was even more exciting about this day was the fact that Gia was featured in Buzzfeed for coming with me to work!

Check out the post here.

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On the other hand, Asian flavors are very comfortable for Sab. She can handle an Asian menu with ease and still look pretty when everything is served. And once Sab and I got started in the kitchen…truth is, we are able to pull most everything off with ease. Back home, I would have my friends that I would cook with in the kitchen. We would flow…we would drink wine…we would have fun. It took me a while to find those kinds of friends here, but through my cookfests with yoga friends, and now having fun in the kitchen with Sabrina, I think I may have found some ladies who are just as happy being in the kitchen, as I am.

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Photo Credit Sabrina Go

Sab and I enjoy putting these events together, conceptualizing, making mood boards and searching for pegs which exemplify the look and feel of what we want our guests and friends to experience when they come and have brunch with us. We prepare as much as we can before hand so that we can relax and enjoy our friends during the event, while still showcasing the cooking capability of the Viking appliances.

Photo Credit Sabrina Go

It was so easy to prepare and grill this Cedar Plank Salmon. From easy Marinade to easy Grilling. Click here for the recipe. Photo Credit Sabrina Go

We love collaborating with professionals like Steph and Lady of Boqueria Lifestyle Market because while we have the pegs and the ideas in our heads, they can set the atmosphere and the table in a way that is fresh, exciting, and of course Instagram worthy for our guests. Collaborating with Boqueria Lifestyle Market makes it easier for us to focus on the menu, the food we want to serve, and a fun activity for the moms to enjoy.

Head Shots

The ladies who braved the typhoon like weather to join us in the kitchen L-R T-B: Maggie, Jackie, Tin, Sab, Me, Em, Lady, Steph, Nicole, Helene, Kate, Nicole, Patty, and Vangie

Preparing everything in advance when you  have guests (or in this case a cooking event that brings Moms together for some me time) is easy when you have the right tools. We enjoy the use of the tools in the kitchen to cook, and I also enjoy the time we spend in the kitchen before hand to bring everything together. 

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We just took the cover off the stockpot for the photo. But you can see how easily the Viking side by side refrigerator freezer can fit most anything.

Brining the pork belly  was easy to do, because the huge stockpot that Sab had the meat in, easily fit in the Viking side by side refrigerator. Marinating the fish and the chicken in our Lee Kum Kee marinades was equally as easy to do in the GLAD zipper bags and using the Press & Seal food wrap. Preparing these dishes ahead of time, makes the actual cooking process on the following day for Mothers Who Brunch Goes Asian seamless.

Photo Credit Sabrina Go

Photo Credit Sabrina Go

Even the smaller sized GLAD plastic wrap is perfect for our bowls where we prepped the fresh ingredients for the spring rolls. Seriously, storing everything in the fridge is really gross when your flavors mix with the others. Like-you don’t want your mini leche flan brownies that are sponsored by Pastry Armoire tasting like salmon marinating in my oyster sauce marinade!

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Marinating my salmon with my Lee Kum Kee Marinade was super easy. You can marinate this dish as early as 24 hours ahead or as little as 30 minutes. Of course the longer you can marinate, the more flavorful the salmon will be.

When it came time to set up everything on the day of our event, all we had to do was let our meats and fish rest from being in the refrigerator, grill or bake, and then serve!

Check out how lovely this gathering of women was last month.

Part of what Sabrina and I  enjoy about getting together with the women who attend Mothers Who Brunch is being able to share a little something with them of ourselves. Besides being in the kitchen, both Sab and I enjoy making a house a home for our families and that includes more than just putting deliciously health prepared meals on the table.

For this event we were able to bring someone in to teach us Ikebana. 

Add to the Ikebana lesson these beautiful vases sponsored by L'indochine, and it truly was a treat for our Mommas to learn something new and take home something pretty.

Add to the Ikebana lesson these beautiful vases sponsored by L’indochine, and it truly was a treat for our Mommas to learn something new and take home something pretty.

After our Ikebana lesson, we asked Chef Arnold to share his Gourmet Tinapa Rice recipe and demonstrate just how easy it is to throw together this quick and filling meal.


Chef Arnold and Sab are preparing for his demo, while I am wanting to sneak just one of the Matcha Blondies from Pastry Armoire.

One of the other facets to Mothers Who Brunch is our desire to share with the moms, not just kitchen tips, easy recipes, and fun new things to learn, but also tried and true products that are good for us, good for me time, and if we can bring in LOCAL businesses and factor that into the mix then we are even happier.

Besides sharing his easy to make Gourmet Tinapa Rice, Chef Arnold also shared that to bring out a smoky flavor in your citrus you can grill your lemon wedges before garnishing your Tinapa Rice.

Besides sharing his easy to make Gourmet Tinapa Rice, Chef Arnold also shared that to bring out a smoky flavor in your citrus you can grill your lemon wedges before garnishing your Tinapa Rice.

It’s always a pleasure to get in the VIKING kitchen. As I’m writing this post, I’m imagining what my kitchen will be like when we start to build our new home. I get excited knowing that everything will be that much easier when I prepare a meal for my family…

But what I love even more, is sharing the ease with which all mommas can prepare meals for the families. It doesn’t have to be difficult, and no, everything doesn’t have to be home made. In fact when we use products like Lee Kum Kee, Deep Dips, and Glad, we make our lives easier in the kitchen. And as a momma…easy is good. EASY IS REAL GOOD.

Thank you to all of our generous sponsors who supported our desire to share with our mommas the very same products we love and enjoy using, ourselves. From the make up and skincare products, to the products that make our homes prettier and our lives easier in the kitchen. We are truly grateful. 

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Most of all thank you to Viking for encouraging Mommas to venture into the kitchen and explore new ways to prepare meals for our families.

Thanks also to Jay Santos for capturing the essence of what Mothers Who Brunch is all about, not just with your photos but with this BTS video. 


Tea and Treasures at Makati Shangrila

There are quite a few hotels in the metro that I really enjoy visiting. 

Makati Shangrila is one of them.

This lobby lounge holds a special place in my heart because it's where Nino and I got our start all those years ago...

This lobby lounge holds a special place in my heart because it’s where Nino and I got our start all those years ago…

Not only does it have a very special place in the history of us…it’s centrally located making it easy for a staycation, Sunday brunch with the family, or afternoon tea with the girls.

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Each drawer pulls out for you to find a different tea sandwich, creamy dessert in a cup, or fruity treat.

Recently, I was invited to experience Tea and Treasures in the hotel lobby with my friend Jackie Go.  Jackie was able to bring her daughter, but unfortunately, my best girl had volleyball practice so I ventured into the city by myself.

Fresh and Fruity. Light and Creamy.

Fresh and Fruity. Light and Creamy. Perfect.

Gia and I have always loved afternoon tea. Quite a few of her birthdays were spent with her friends having afternoon tea. In fact, her very first birthday that we celebrated here in 2007 was a tea party at Sonja’s Cupcakes. I remember working closely with Sonja because it was the first party she had in her Serendra branch.

Nothing says an afternoon with the girls more than tea and treasures...

Nothing says an afternoon with the girls more than tea and treasures…

A few years after that we had an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party in our home, for her 11th birthday as well. Afternoon tea, scones, savories, sweet treats, petite fours, and chocolate surprises were just a few of the things that she requested in serving her friends. I worked with my florist Aga and learned how to create a tablescape set for a queen that both she and her friends would enjoy because you only turn 11 once.

Afternoon tea is something Gia and I both enjoy. We enjoy it even more when we can partake of it together!

This was Gia’s 11th Birthday invitation. As you can see, afternoon tea is something Gia and I both enjoy. We enjoy it even more when we can partake of it together!

This is why I’m so excited to tell you all about Tea & Treasures at Makati Shangrila. I know that in the coming weeks, Gia and I will plan an afternoon with her friends so we can sit in the Makati Shangrila lobby, take advantage of the live music being played and indulge in sweet treats and savories made for her and her friends.

You have the choice of 4 colors for your Treasure Box. Available colors are green, gold, purple and pink. Of course I chose purple :-) It's my all time favorite color.

You have the choice of 4 colors for your Treasure Box. Available colors are green, gold, purple and pink. Of course I chose purple :-) It’s my all time favorite color.

There are so many different savories and sweets that you can enjoy when you order The Makati Shangri-La Jewelry Box.

Each box comes with: 

Potted Shrimp with Melba Toast

Potted shrimps are traditional dish consists of brown shrimp in lemon nutmeg-flavored butter, which has set in a small glass

Smoked salmon with sweet mustard dill sauce

Cured air-dried Beef Emmenthal Cheese and Hami melon on bread

Inverted English Cucumber, cream cheese, watercress, whitebread

Corn-fed chicken, lemon thyme, walnute on malt bread in chives wrap

Smoked duck breast poached pear and ricotta and rye bread

Homemade Hazelnut Scones

Fashion Cookies and assorted chocolate shoes

Milk chocolate and hazelnut mousse

Honey and nuts tart with fresh cream

Assorted Almond macaroons

Exotic Baba au Rhum

Each treasure box comes with your choice of 4 different teas or coffee


While we were enjoying our tea, I was going back and forth between sweet and savory tea sandwiches. I always like the different flavors and textures to change things up.

Afternoon tea with the ladies, and mango shake for our dear Gabby.

Afternoon tea with the ladies, and a mango shake for our dear Gabby, makes for one happy momma despite the moving process that was going on at home!

My favorites for the savories? The Potted Shrimp with Melba Toast and the Cucumber Tea Sandwiches.

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For the Sweets? Of course, I love the Macaroons, the chocolate, and the pralines…

I also enjoyed the hazelnut scones. It’s not often that I can indulge in clotted cream and jam to smother on each and every bite!

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These are the shoes and bags I don’t feel the least bit guilty about indulging in!

But I think what I loved even more was the pleasant conversation between Patti, Aencille, Jackie and Gabby and I, while we were enjoying the afternoon in The Lobby Lounge. I’m not sure if it was the music provided by the 14 piece orchestra, the company, or the fact that I took this afternoon as a break from moving houses. I’m still not completely settled in our new home, so this was a nice break for me to catch up with the ladies.

I promise, we didn't eat EVERYTHING. We shared with Patti and Aencille, and we were even able to take some treats home!

I promise, we didn’t eat EVERYTHING. We shared with Patti and Aencille, and we were even able to take some treats home!

If you would like to visit The Lobby Lounge and partake of the Tea and Treasures Jewelry box, you can visit any time. Ultimately, you would want to visit in the afternoon but if it would be something you wanted to enjoy at an earlier time…you could.

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I LOVED the hazelnut scones. You can see them smack dab in the center of this photo. Now, I feel like I want to bake some scones soon….

At only Php1, 850 this is a treat worth slowing down for. Perfect for an afternoon with the girls…or an afternoon with your momma, sisters, or even your daughter, you would have more than a hearty afternoon snack. The treats inside could easily satisfy 4 ladies with the desire to partake of snacks that are just as pretty as they are tasty.

Tea & Treasures - Digital Poster

To make a reservation you can call (02) 814-2580 or you can email

Oh P.S. If you also like dimsum you can check out their new offer of DIM SUM PLUS at Shang Palace. Click here to find out more information on how you can take advantage of a seasonal special from one of our favorite places for Sunday brunch.




Top 5 Finds from #ExpoMomGoesSouth

I’ve been frequenting Mommy Mundo Bazaars ever since Diego was a toddler. Back then, I was teaching yoga and building my classes. Janice would ask me to come and share what yoga for kids was all about. I wasn’t totally comfortable with being on stage or giving power point presentations about the benefits of yoga for children. Instead, I asked Janice if I could just do a short demo class with some of my students (and my kids) onstage to show the parents what yoga for kids was all about rather than talk about what yoga for kids was all about.

Luckily, she agreed. 

I’m not building my classes anymore for yoga, however, I still know that if I’m looking for something for Gellibean, I don’t have to look to far, if I know a Mommy Mundo event is coming up. 

Expo Mom doesn’t always come south, so when they do, I make it a point to visit not just to look for my tried and true brands but also for new interesting finds and mompreneurs.

Check out my top 5 picks for this past Expo Mom goes South in Crimson Hotel last month.

Bug and Kelly even had super cute onesies. Too bad they didn't go up to a bigger size, for Gellibean. I surely would have snagged the ARCHERS onesie!

Bug and Kelly even had super cute onesies. Too bad they didn’t go up to a bigger size, for Gellibean. I surely would have snagged the ARCHERS onesie!

1. Bug and Kelly pajamas. Selections here were limited in Gellibean’s size so I just picked up two different sets at Php300 each. She needs to sleep in long pants and short sleeves. She is always out of the covers and she overheats like her Dad. Sometimes, I think Aventajado is actually synonymous with ESKIMO. I don’t know how my whole family sleeps without covers when the aircon is turned up so high.

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2. Olaf. C’mon. Gelli is still singing “Let it Go,” with feelings pa…I had to say yes to Olaf, even if I have a strict NO MORE STUFFED TOYS rule…he’s just so cute! 


“SHHH. Mommy, Gelli sleep. Olaf sleep.” #expomomgoessouth #olaf #antspocket

A photo posted by Michelle Aventajado (@mommanmanila) on

3. Matching Felt Game by Ant’s Pocket. These were a steal at Php150 for each set. If she had more, I would have bought them all.

4. Felt Shape Sorter. At only Php450 for the set, this is a great way for Gelli to work on learning her shapes. She still has trouble identifying the diamond shape. I love that Janice is teaching her lil’ how to run her own business.

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Each Dwell Studio washable coloring placemat comes with washable markers. Of course, I chose the New York themed mat for my princess. Nuture Nook has a bunch of great finds like this, and I love them for it!

5. Dwell studio coloring placemat. Honestly, I can’t remember how much this was but, I picked it up from Nurture Nook and it was totally worth it. We can bring it to the restaurants and lay it on the table for Gelli to draw color, roll up, unroll and just look at the drawings. She loves it. There is a downside to this one tho…she thinks she can draw on any table even if the mat isn’t there!!! OH NO!!!

You can always check out when the next EXPO MOM or EXPO KID is by visiting:  (Click on Events or Calendar)

Chevy Trailblazer

Recently, some of my mom blogger friends and I were invited to test drive a few of Chevy vehicles. The idea is that we would all test the cars in our daily lives, or take them on road trips to give an honest opinion of what we thought and how the cars drive.

How many mom bloggers can you fit in a Chevy Trailblazer?

How many mom bloggers can you fit in a Chevy Trailblazer? L-R DidiTin, Pam, Cai, Conci, Tina, Kaye and Moi :-)

We were given the choice of two cars and because we have a bigger family, I thought it would be best for us to test drive the Chevy Trailblazer. It would fit us comfortably while Nino drives, and we would still have space for a yaya to come along. This is important for me, because Gelli is at that stage where she likes to explore more and having an extra set of hands around is a huge help. 

Seven seats works just fine for this family of six.

Seven seats works just fine for this family of six.

I also wanted to offer something a little different to everyone by writing this post with the help of Nino. Much like how we wrote a post together for our 17th anniversary, I thought writing it in the “He Said, She Said” format would be easy for everyone to relate to. Guys and girls both look for different features when we are making a big purchase and that’s where much of the compromise and the trade offs come into play.

In fact, I think I should have it as a monthly post…maybe Nino and I can take the time to review something from each of our perspectives and share it with all of you. I don’t imagine it being something big like a car purchase, but I feel like it can evolve into something bigger…

He drives most of the time. TRUTH: He makes me nervous when I drive...I'd rather not drive when he's in the car.

He drives most of the time.
TRUTH: He makes me nervous when I drive…SO…I’d rather not drive when he’s in the car.


He Said:

I come from a family who enjoys automobiles. My lolo on my mom’s side enjoyed his huge 60’s American cars from Lincoln’s to Cadillac’s. He was very finicky with keeping his cars running well and always looking perfect. My dad was a racecar driver. He had a very illustrious and hugely successful rallying carrer back in the mid 80’s. So like I said, I am a car guy. 

I’ve always preferred driving SUVs. One of my first cars was an iconic British SUV when I was still living in NY. Having the flexibility, dependability and rugedness of an SUV was always a combination that I thought was incomparable. 

Getting a chance to write about Chevy’s contender in this very highly contested segment of the auto market was something i looked forward to. Living in NY for 18 years made me familiar with the Trailblazer. I knew it was a versatile 7-seater SUV with plenty of space and useable power. 

Seeing the gleaming black Trailblazer for the first time put a smile on my face, coz i knew that I was going to have fun. And I did. 

Here are my impressions of the all-new Chevy Trailblazer:

1. The Trail Blazer has excellent power delivery.

Power comes from a turbocharged diesel 4 cylinder. It has so much torque from so early on the powerband that if you’re not careful, you will be replacing your rear tires a lot. That’s a “wink,wink” for the guys out there.

2. Fuel consumption metering aids in economical driving.

Some modern tech in effect here. Easily readable guide in helping the driver feather the throttle to get maximum kilometers per liter.

3. It has good ground clearance.

In case you wanna go off roading or trying to go up and down parking levels in poorly designed condo and mall ramps, you’re not going to scrape the bottom of this rig.

4. Seven seat capacity is important for our family of six.

Gelli comes with a lot of stuff, including her yaya. Ample rear storage is necessary when traveling with a toddler. Strollers and bags and the kitchen sink is usually in tow.

We put Xandro to work as soon as he arrived from NY! Off to S&R to take advantage of some of their sale items!

We put Xandro to work as soon as he arrived from NY! Off to S&R to take advantage of some of their sale items!

5. Easy to read air temp and pressure gauges for the tires.

More modern tech in effect. Knowing your tires’ individual pressures takes the guesswork out. 

One thing my dad always taught me before taking a long road trip was to take the tire pressure of all the tires before hitting the road. This car does it for me...and displays it on the rear view mirror!

She Said: One thing my dad always taught me before taking a long road trip was to take the tire pressure of all the tires before hitting the road. This car does it for me…and displays it on the rear view mirror!

6. Easy to use back up monitor with a screen.

And more modern tech.

7. Hands free smart phone compatibly with a touch screen media center is updated and convenient.

This thing is full of modern tech guys.

8. The Trailblazer has tight predictable handling that encourages driving confidence.

Did I forget to mention that I like to drive? Nothing beats confidence in your rig if you’re driving your loved ones.

9. Excellent braking enables more control and better driving capability.

Confidence, confidence, and some more confidence.

10. Well laid out driver controls and switches.

Everything at your fingertips. Ergonomics is a key feature of this rig.


 She Said:

1. It has room for seven. 

This is a great option for us when we aren’t using a driver. Nino enjoys driving, so seating for seven is perfect for this family of six plus a yaya.

I like the way it rides nice and high.

I like the way it rides nice and high.

2. It’s an SUV. 

I have always felt a little safer in what I call a “truck.” What I really mean is that it feels like a truck because I’m higher up, I can see things very easily, and it’s a substantial car on the road, so you won’t get pushed around. Confession: Sometimes these trucks and buses can bully you on the road if you are smaller car.

3. It’s super easy to drive. 

I learned how to drive stick. Driving a car that had a manual transmission was a non negotiable for my dad when he taught all of his daughters how to drive. He said “If you can drive a stick shift, you can get yourself out of any situation anywhere.” 

And even though it’s considered an SUV, it was still quite easy to to maneuver. The steering was tight, and in fact, it felt a little sporty. The suspension wasn’t bouncy like a truck…rather it was sporty and comfortable.

4. It was a diesel 4X2.

I never quite understood why my husband opted for a diesel engine when I thought gas was always better, but living her in Manila has me thinking that Diesel is now the best choice for us. Especially now, with the decline in diesel prices!

It doesn't get easier to park than this! There is even an indication as to how far my bumper is from my gate!

It doesn’t get easier to park than this! There is even an indication as to how far my bumper is from my gate!

5. It’s easy to park.

Y’all have seen these options where they have a camera in the back of the car somewhere so it’s easier for you to park? Well, this SUV has a viewing screeen in the rear view mirror for that camera. EASY PEASY. I’m sure it would take a little while to get used to, but knowing it’s there is important.

My stroller will fit easily back here.

My stroller will fit easily back here.

6. There is cargo space.

We weren’t able to take the car for an overnight road trip. (Oh, how I wish we could have done that.) But we did drive it around to run some errands and that is just as important. If I’m the one driving the car, it means that I’m going to the grocery store, the bake supply shop, and school So going to S&R, and picking up some groceries with the Trailblazer gets a thumbs up from me because I can easily load and unload when doing the grocery shopping.

P.S. I won’t tell you how I forgot some of my groceries in the back of the truck when I returned it after the long weekend, because that would mean that I am completely absent minded and have far too much on my plate!

7. It’s easy to get in and out of

The side boards on the truck make it easy to get in and out of…especially for the kids.

Remember, when we purchase cars now, (as opposed to when we were much younger and only two people in our family) we have lots of other features that we need for it to be a safe and fun ride for our whole family. 

Coffee? Tea? Or Silver?

The Trailblazer comes in in Black Sapphire and Switchblade Silver. 

Entry level price for the Chevy Trailblazer is around P1.3M. The Covenant Car Company is the exclusive importer and distributor of Chevrolet cars and parts here in the Philippines and they are running a special offer right now for you to drive your own rig off the lot at super low prices. 

To find a dealership near your place check out:

Thank you Chevy Philippines for allowing Nino and I to drive the Trailblazer for the weekend with our family and for sponsoring this post. 

Karen Gaffney

Have you heard of Karen Gaffney?

I hadn’t heard of her.

Until just last Sunday.

  • She is just a little younger than me.
  • She has a degree as a teacher’s aide. 
  • She’s a long distance swimmer. 
  • Actually, she’s a really amazing long distance swimmer. 
  • She swam The English Channel in a relay team.
  • She swam the San Francisco Bay more than 16 times.
  • She swam across Lake Tahoe. (DUDE. That’s 9 miles across.)
  • She swam the Boston Harbor.
  • She is a triathlete.
  • She received an honorary doctorate degree in Humane Letters from the University of Portland.
  • She heads her own philanthropic organization named after herself dedicated to championing the journey to full inclusion for people with Down syndrome and other disabilities.

Oh…and she has an extra chromosome. 

I started last Sunday feeling refreshed and relaxed. Some days, aren’t always like that. Sometimes, I wake up still tired. Sometimes, I get up roaring to go with a list of things to do and my feet hit the ground running.

But last Sunday, was a little slower…maybe you can even call it a “Slow down Sunday.” It was the kind of Sunday where the kids slept in, and Nino and I woke up and started surfing Facebook and our other social media accounts while still huddled under the covers with the curtains drawn. It was a nice, slow, cool morning.

For many of you who visit the blog, you know I am a self proclaimed cry baby. I cry when I see or hear of things that make me pause, things that fill me with gratitude, and things that provide hope.

Listening to Karen Gaffney and her TedxPortland talk caused me to cry for all of the reasons I listed above.

Have you seen it? 

While I was watching her video, I was taking mental notes, of quotes, of things to consider, and thoughts I wanted to share with Nino after I finished watching her talk in its entirety. I love Tedx for exactly that reason…everything I end up watching always causes me to pause, evaluate, rethink, and most of the times discuss…and there is always a dialogue that follows the sharing of the insights that I value so much!

Ok, so here are my thoughts after watching Karen.

We have this new prenatal testing that is available here in the Philippines. This prenatal testing can be seen as controversial because, like Karen said, in other countries where termination is legal, pregnancies are being terminated if a prenatal Down Syndrome diagnosis is given. 

Obviously, this is not an issue here in the Philippines. Termination is illegal. However, when I was talking to my friend Mel from Hi Precision Diagnostics, I shared some concerns with her. I told her how controversial the Panorama Test can be in other countries because of the rise in termination. Since that is not our concern here, I expressed another concern. 

If I was to have another child, I am grateful that The Panorama Test is available here. I would have the test. I would like to be prepared. That is my right as a mother and as a patient. For me, being armed with information allows me to prepare and set the stage for each part of my parenting journey. I do recognize that nothing can prepare you for a diagnosis of any kind…it’s what comes after the diagnosis that is given which is important. In my case, with Gellibean, I knew it when she was born. After I had recovered from her birth, I began canvassing the internet, blogs, social media, and every medical website I could to develop an understanding of what Down Syndrome was, and what it would mean for our family. I called my sister in California and asked her to buy every book that I put on my wish list in my Amazon account, and she came to Manila with a suitcase full of books only a month after my daughter was born.

In her Tedx Talk, Karen explains how her 5th grade teacher knew Down Syndrome from a completely different perspective. I have heard from other mommas of kids with DS how the diagnosis of their children shaped their process and began their journey. I am glad that I do not have a horror story when it comes to this part of my story.

The doctor who delivered my diagnosis did NOT use any inappropriate language and did not provide a grim medical outlook for my baby. She gave me the facts, and let me and my husband go through the emotions we were feeling. She left the room and came back when I was able to digest what she needed to tell me was the next step in my daughter’s care.

IT IS VITAL that the doctors who are giving the news to parents of a diagnosis do NOT give outdated information or grim statistics. In fact, I think it’s even more important to give contact information of parents who KNOW and UNDERSTAND that “completely different perspective” that Karen talks about.

Karen shares how it’s the grass roots organizations which offer comfort, information, and assistance and change to new parents and children, in much of the same way that DSAPI offered a clear direction for Nino and myself to take when we attended the Early Intervention Seminar when Gelli was just 3 months old.

THAT COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE” is why I write. It’s why I share my life with Gellibean so openly. It’s what needs to be out there…here in Manila…here in The Philippines, where I know we are still decades behind the acceptance and education of kids with Down Syndrome, their parents, their care givers, and their teachers, than our counterparts in The United States. 

My take away…it’s the perspective. It’s the stories that I want to share with all of you. It’s not all roses, and it’s definitely not easy peasy. But, there are moments that are joyous, enlightening, beautiful beyond anything I could have imagined…and it’s because of Gelli’s extra chromosome that I have been blessed to know and experience these moments.


I guess that’s why I feel so passionately about these other projects that I’m involved in. The truth is, we still have doctors using outdated information. We still have people with negative perceptions, stereotypical views, and people who use inappropriate language. We can change that…every day just a little bit more with the organizations and the movements that we all take part in in our own home towns.

If you would like to know more about the “End the R Word” campaign that both Karen and I hold near and dear to our hearts, check out this post I wrote from last year in response to a certain personality using the “R word” on twitter. You can also click here and take the pledge online. 

Another project that I’m so excited for, has to do with my cyber friend Jamie Freeman. She blogs over at She has this vision…and it coincides with that different perspective that we (as parents of children with Down Syndrome) have and how a diagnosis is delivered. You see, Jamie’s doctor was amaze-balls when she delivered the news of her baby boy’s diagnosis. Jamie wrote about it here, and realized that there were so many other mommas out there who might not have had the same beautiful experience that she was gifted. 

So she started this project The Down Syndrome Diary to pay it forward. The concept is this:

“The Down Syndrome Diary is a physical journal being sent from person to person around the world who loves someone, or is someone, with Down syndrome.”

And this diary has been circling the word…being filled with handwritten stories all about LOVE.

Different from the stories that outdated doctors might deliver…and different from the scary medical websites that a new parent might be reading, and yet still different from those horror stories that you might read about or have heard about from friends, which break your heart.

These stories are good. They are love. They help anyone who is reading them realize one thing…that so much changes when you change your perspective.

If you would like to know how to become involved with The Down Syndrome Diary:  Philippines, check out our Facebook page and drop me a message. You too, can share your story to help change someone else’s perspective…

Thanks Karen. Thank you for sharing part of yourself. Your TedxPortland talk not only gave me plenty of things to be thankful for…it has given me a little bit of hope that maybe Gelli might be a good swimmer too?


Neil’s Kitchen

When Neil’s Kitchen first opened, Nino and I would be there almost 2-3 times a week. We wanted to try everything on the menu, and we did. We told all our friends about it, invited some of them to have lunch with us often, and because of our love of the place, Michelle and Neil even sponsored one of our Crafternoons with Anina Rubio.

I have been meaning to write this post for what feels like a year. I have been wanting to share this gem that is in my hood, because I’m just so glad it’s here in the south.


Boneless Chicken BBQ with Java Rice Php 395 @neilskitchen @napasabak @ninoavent A photo posted by Michelle Aventajado (@mommanmanila) on

From my time that I have spent with Michelle in their restaurant, I have learned that Neil is a self taught Chef. His inspiration in the kitchen comes from the love of his wife and his kids. Everyone I know, would agree that when you prepare a dish for someone you love, it’s even better with the secret ingredient of LOVE.

Michelle shared one time, how the rich and flavorful Pad Thai that is on the menu comes from a trip that she and her husband took together to Bangkok.  Michelle really enjoyed this street food version of her favorite noodle dish from one of their recent trips, and Neil did not stop until he was able to replicate the flavors that brought Michelle back to the street where they enjoyed this tart, tangy, sweet, salty treat.

I guess that’s another reason why I love Neil’s so much.

Neil takes charge of the kitchen and churns out innovative new takes on Filipino classics, while his partner in life works the dining room and manages the overflowing guests who come in with at least 4-5 friends in tow. 


“Did you see the size of that chicken?” Php 395 @napasabak @neilskitchen @ninoavent

A photo posted by Michelle Aventajado (@mommanmanila) on

Confession: I don’t normally seek out Filipino restaurants. I enjoy many Filipino dishes, but if you ask me to choose what I will eat out, it will usually be Italian, Japanese, or even Chinese food, before I will choose Pinoy.  That is, until Neil’s came along and opened up in Westgate.

Another Confession: I haven’t been to Neil’s in a while, and when Nino and I went recently because I saw some new dishes posted on Instagram, we couldn’t get a table for our late lunch! Our once cozy joint where we would sit and chat in our favorite booth near the window was so full, that the staff had to open up the private room to accommodate the influx of diners!

SO-If you didn’t know already know about Neil’s, I suggest you check it out. 

You can visit Neil’s in Westgate in Alabang.




Sweet Dreams with Elica

My kids and I all have sensitive skin.

I think it comes from my mother’s side of the family. While I get my amazing dance skills from mom’s side of the family, I think I also have to thank some twice removed uncle for having terrible snake skin way back when. This is where the ultra sensitive skin irritations that my kids and I battle, come from.

FACT:  Your skin is your largest organ. It covers your whole body. It keeps all the good stuff we need in, and all the bad stuff we don’t want out. It is your first line of defense against the elements of this harsh cruel world.

So, that means we need to take care of our skin, right?

Gellibean’s skin is even more delicate and sensitive than my other kids. She suffers from skin irritations more often than her brothers and her sister, and because she’s a “picker and a scratcher,”  it can elevate into something really serious, really quickly. 

Take for instance this rash that the teacher had to send me a photo of:


Ok…the thing I love about this photo is that the teacher sent it to me first thing last Monday morning when I sent Gelli back to school. The teachers over at TLA really pay attention to everything and when she saw that Gelli’s neck was noticeably red, irritated and even raised, she contacted me right away. 

I had seen the rash on Friday, and I had to check if her nanny was using any new products, and sure enough, there was a new product worked into her bath routine. We figured out what was the culprit of her irritation. I had told her nanny to stop using the product, but the rash remained.

The first thing I do in this situation is remove the irritant, or the allergen. The next thing I would do would be to try and let the irritation go away on its own and just put some all natural healing cream to alleviate the itch. But when that doesn’t work, and the itching is something that even baby girl is complaining about, I reach for something stronger.

And it just so happens that a couple of days later I was invited to learn more about Elica.

Its so nice when I get to see lovely people at the events I get invited to...

Gell Victor takes health and wellness seriously. Seeing her

I was happy to know that some of my friends would also be at the launch with me, because they are tried and true Elica users.

Events like this are always more fun when I get to go with The SoMoms.

Events like this are always more fun when I get to go with The SoMoms. L-R Neva, Conci, me, Pam, and Tina

While we were waiting for the event to start, we enjoyed a yummy brunch by Alta in Ascott BGC. I was surprised to learn from Pam that this is one of Gaita Fores’ restaurants. No wonder I loved the truffle pasta!!! 

Ok. So I had to have a lil bit of everything...

Ok. So I had to have a lil bit of everything…

And after our brunch we learned a little bit about Eczema from Dr. Lyra Yamat .

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Gelli and Dr. Lyra Yamat explain what Eczema is and how Elica can be used as the first line of defense in treating this skin problem.

Eczema is characterized by:

  • itchy red patches
  • thick red skin
  • rash like appearance 

Eczema can be triggered by:

  • Irritants like soaps, shampoos, and chemicals
  • Allergens like dustmites, pets, pollen, and mold
  • Changes in temperature like cold or sweaty weather 
  • Pollution
  • certain foods
  • Stress


So Cheska shared how Scarlett suffers from Eczema and how, since they co-sleep everyone is affected. Much like the situation that we have here at home, when one kid is awake or having a hard time sleeping it will just follow suit that everyone will end up having a hard time sleeping as well.

Co-sleeping is definitely a choice. It is not for everyone. But for those of us who enjoy co-sleeping skin irritations like Eczema can be a huge problem.


No more problems sleeping for Scarlett when her Eczema is triggered. Elica solved that problem for her Momma stat! (Photo Credit: Elica)

Cheska also shared that just like Gelli, when Scarlett gets bit by a mosquito it grows into something huge and painful…it’s almost like these little ones are allergic to mosquito bites too!

This was when I had the revelation from Cheska’s sharing that Elica can even help with the itchiness of the mosquito bites!!! (I never knew this.)

Confession: Even if I’m familiar with Elica for my own eczema and atopic dermatitis, I have always tried to heal Gelli with all natural organic methods as much as possible. I have done this because I never thought that steroid creams were safe for her, until now.

From this event I learned that this topical steroid is so safe, that I can even use it on Gelli when she has irritations. That puts my mind at ease, because y’all know how special this little girl is…

So for me, it’s important to KNOW that:

  • Elica is safe for kids. (That means it’s safe for you, too.)
  • Elica is available over the counter. (That means is easy to find.)
  • Elica only needs to be applied once a day. (Unlike others which need to be applied twice a day.)
  • AND…You see improved results within that ONE day of application. 

Dr. Lyra Yamat, Medical Marketing Manager, Angelo Palma, Brand Manager, Jinni Fernando, Cheska and Scarlett, Head of Marketing, Clarice Ferrera, and Category Manager, Nutritionals, Elma Magbuhos.

There are some things to watch out for though. We were all advised that even if Elica is over the counter and so easy to use, it’s important to always consult your doctor. If you are pregnant or symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, you MOST definitely should see a doctor, because it could be something serious.

If you are pregnant or nursing then you should also consult your doctor before using any kind of topical cream as well. (But I’m sure you knew that too. Shucks, I didn’t even drink coffee when I was pregnant.)


Elica is available over the counter and is just a little more than Php400 a tube. (Photo Credit: Elica)

This is a sponsored post. I am happy to share my honest opinions and experiences about Elica. Photos are mine unless otherwise indicated.

New Designs from Otterbox

People who know me, know that I’m a bit clumsy. However, because of that clumsiness-I am much more aware than I was previously about the cost of replacing phones and iTouch screens and buttons and cases than I was before.

In fact, Gelli is now in the habit of throwing her iPad when she is done using it, and I even caught her once STANDING on her iPad. Yes, you read that correctly. Of course, I scolded her, and hid it from her for a very long time. But as you know the thing with toddlers, is that when it’s out of sight it’s out of mind, so it really wasn’t like it was a punishment when I hid it from her because she totally forgot about it.

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Truthfully, I have known about Otterbox for many years. As an American company that got its start in 1998 in Colorado, it has maintained its position in the market as being one of the global leaders for protecting all kinds of gadgets. In fact, one might say that it is an institution in cell phone and gadget protection. With Certified Drop Protection and NEW sleek designs, Otterbox continues to evolve and change with the times, giving Mommas like me, more choices that are LESS bulky, more stylish, and of course very practical when we have little hands holding our cellphones’ lives in their tiny little hands.


Simply put, it means that all of the products have been put through the ringer, dropped, and beat up to guarantee that their Otterbox cases will truly protect your cell phone.

Otterbox is truly known as the case for those on the go. Otterbox cases are made for people who live “the outdoors” life, and for those people who are just plain clumsy, like me. Otterbox still provides the sense of safety and security as well as style, with their introduction of brand new designs. 

Otterbox is the anchor brand of TenkieBox. This is a company that specializes in all things outdoorsman and rugged not just in gadgets, but also in backpacks, storage, and evening diving equipment for those who might want to invest in it.


This contraption would allow me to dive with my iPhone 6 plus if I wanted to…

Just last week, I was able to visit TenkieBox with a few blogger friends where they gave us a sneak peek of the new products that are making their way to the stores and kiosks everywhere in the Philippines.

MySymmetry Seris

My Symmetry is the first line in the new LIFESTYLE products that Otterbox is debuting this year.  Being the entry level case for Otterbox it retails at just Php1250 and offers the user the option to customize their cases with cut outs, downloadable templates, and ready made Filipino templates from a special collaboration with Team Manila. These cases are perfect for my teenage kids because it gives them the opportunity to express themselves, while still protecting their phone AND my investment.

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The My Symmetry allows you to personalize your phone in a way that you couldn’t before. The design is young, fresh, and fun.


Otterbox has collaborated with Team Manila to come up with designs that would make any Filipino proud. I love design where

Otterbox has collaborated with Team Manila to come up with designs that would make any Filipino proud. I love design where it tells you how to say hello in all the different dialects.

You can even design your own insert by following the steps in this link:

Jeth Torres and Charyn Lim are the graphic designers behind the new hip My Symmetry designs from TEAM MANILA.

Jeth Torres and Charyn Lim are the graphic designers behind the new hip My Symmetry designs from TEAM MANILA.

Symmetry Leather Series

Because this line is made of genuine leather, it’s an option for me that is a little less playful but still just as slim and protective for my Iphone 6 plus.


Symmetry Folio Series

The Symmetry Folio Series is an all in one fold over protective case that offers a momma like me a more mature option in an Ipad and Ipad mini case. Actually, come to think of it, I think the kids would benefit from having a case like this for their iPads because for them, their iPads are not just a gadget they play games on, it’s their main tool in school which houses their books, notes, and even handouts which are distributed online through our school website. 


Photo Credit: Otterbox

My kids have all gone digital in school already, and while that may be a new and scary frontier for all of us, it’s even scarier when I think about how rough they are with their things. 

Put it to you this way…Protecting our digital gear is a MUST with the kids. (and insurance on the gadgets as well!)

What do I like about this all in one stand and case? It’s simple, not heavy, still provides that Certified DROP PROTECTION (like all of other lines) and fits nicely in my purse.

The Strada Series

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I like that this one has spot for your cards.

I imagine this series for the more corporate user. The Strada series has more of a timeless design and is also made of genuine leather. It has a convenient pocket on the inside flap for your driver’s license, credit card, or even hotel room key, if you are traveling on business and want to go down to the lobby for a coffee. The fold over screen protector provides an added layer of confidence that your cellphone is safe.

Even Brand Ambassador Karrots (aka Tita K) knows that OTTERBOX is the best choice for her and her boys...for ALL their gadgets!

Even Brand Ambassador Karrots (aka Tita K) knows that OTTERBOX is the best choice for her and her boys…for ALL their gadgets!

But-here is the special treat that is in store for all of you when you go and purchase anything from these lines.



For a LIMITED time only, if you purchase anything from the SYMMETRY lines you will receive a Limited Edition Otterbox Leather Card Case.

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Likewise, if you purchase either of the cases from the Strada Series, you will receive a FREE Limited Edition Clip On Lens Set.

This is for the first 200 cases that are bought Nationwide, so if you are planning on investing…GO. Do IT. Now. 



Twitter: @tenkiebox

Instagram: @tenkiebox

Top Mom Picks Guidebook

Calling all NEW Mommas, New to Manila Mommas, Older Mommas, Frugal Mommas, and Looking to save time Mommas…

This post is for you.

I have often visited the Mommy Mundo Expo Mom and Expo Kid (and before Expo Dad) bazaars that my friend Janice has put together. I have always found them to be helpful and inspiring when trying to be a better momma. 

Years after Janice has put together her first Expo Mom, I have found that many mommas all have the same idea. We want to share. We want to pass on the savings, pay it forward, and be kind. There a lots of other mommas out there who also bring vendors, suppliers, and great finds under one roof to help their fellow mommas, and I can so appreciate this! I love the fact that Mommas want to help other Mommas!

Awhile back, Janice put some mommas together to see what it was they would recommend to other mommas (be them new to this job or not). 

Thus came the birth of Top Mom Picks Guidebook.


Influential mindful mommas came together to let readers know the products they love!

You can pick up the Guidebook at the Mommy Mundo Online Store, Fully Booked, Babyland branches, Mamaway Store, Nurture Nook, Mombabyfabric, Urban Essentials, My Baby Dragon, Belly Armor Philippines, and Babylab Enterprises.


Discovery Suites Staycation

It’s really a treat when we can arrange for a staycation for the whole family.

It’s made even more special when it’s because of a certain “holiday” that allows me to take the day off. 

As every other Momma knows who has children, we do not get days off. We do not get to call out sick when we are having a bad day, or even when we are running a temperature of 102. 

Thanks Babe. You made this Momma very happy. This is my 15th Mother's Day. It just keeps getting better every year!

Thanks Babe. You made this Momma very happy. This is my 15th Mother’s Day. It just keeps getting better every year!

This is why when we have a staycation planned for Mother’s Day weekend, it’s truly a big break for this Momma. I know that I won’t have to worry too much about anything. I can enjoy the time spent with my family, and my better half. I won’t worry about the mess that Gelli makes, because if we are in a hotel, it’s just the toys that she can fit in her little suitcase that she will bring out, and because it’s a hotel, there is minimal damage she can do.


Not only do I NOT have to cook dinner...but I can enjoy steak from 22 Prime like this!

Not only do I NOT have to cook dinner…but I can enjoy steak from 22 Prime like this!

I won’t worry about cooking up something good for dinner because we can just go upstairs and take advantage of one of the better steak places in Manila which is located on the 22nd floor of Discovery Suites.

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I won’t worry about entertaining the kids for this particular staycation because I know that when I stay in a Discovery property, they have everything figured out for Moms and Dads like me and Nino who like to keep the kids entertained without too much fuss.

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AND…I won’t worry about fixing breakfast in the morning because usually there is a healthy breakfast buffet that we can take advantage of.

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I like watching my kids attack the breakfast buffet. You really can see the differences in the personalities and their preferences even by the food they indulge in.

Mother’s Day weekend this year was much the opposite of Father’s Day weekend for our family. I had so many activities and places that I wanted to be, so we were jam packed with lots of things to do.  This was in stark contrast to the weekend that Nino requested. He wanted to make sure that he had time to rest, to stay home, to enjoy the kids, and cook up some goodness in our own kitchen.

Notice: The pillows say Michelle and Nino. (not Michelle, Nino, Diego, and Gelli.)

Notice: The pillows say Michelle and Nino. (not Michelle, Nino, Diego, and Gelli.)

Both of these weekends are equally nice. In fact, I really did enjoy being home and creating a menu fit for my king for his big day. But I also enjoy going out, and taking advantage of the full hotel experience, like sleeping in. (OMG. I really slept in!)

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Truth be told, I didn’t even get to do all of the things I wanted to do on Mother’s Day weekend. I had a ton more places I wanted to visit and see, but I had to listen to baby girl…because when she starts doing the back stroke on the floor in the middle of the mall, I would say it’s time to call it a day.

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And so instead of going to all those other places that I wanted to check out, we checked IN to Discovery Suites.

The lines were really long for checking in, so we were ushered right to our three bedroom suite like rockstars. I always appreciate the stellar treatment of the Discovery Group…it’s like they saw the toddler tornado coming in and they knew she would be swimming on the floor soon, so to eliminate any unnecessary stress we completed the check in process upstairs in the comfort of our living room in the suite.

This is a huge help when you are trying to keep a toddler at bay, a 9 year old from complaining, and a 13 year old in check. I’m not sure why my 9 year old always complains…I think he just doesn’t know how great he has it?

Can I just tell you as soon as we got to the room how much the kids were running around? They were so excited to have such a big place to play in.  The surprise three bedroom suite had a kitchen and dining area where could cook and enjoy our own meals if were so inclined. The boys had the same set up as they do at home with two twin beds sharing, and Ate and Gellibean had a queen sized bedroom which was connected to their brothers’ room by way of a shared bathroom. 

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Shortly after we settled into the suite, we were greeted by the pillow concierge. Here is Diego choosing his preferred pillow.

Truth: We normally co-sleep. So everyone having their own room to sleep in, was already a treat for this co-sleeping momma.

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I love how they explain which pillow would best fit your needs.

After we were all checked in and relaxed, I called Nino to find out how Gia’s game was going. Because we all had to be in different places at the same time, I knew the next time we would see each other would be for a special dinner at 22 Prime. 

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I think Diego found a pillow that fit him perfectly because he ended up taking a short cat nap.

What I didn’t know, was that my friend Jane was able to coax the kids (and Nino) into putting something together really special for me when she took them off my hands after we checked in. I knew they were up to something when they went off for a few hours, but to be honest I was enjoying the time by myself with Gellibean. I watched her play. I sat on the sofa with my feet up, and I disconnected from social media.

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It’s not often that I do that. I feel like once I started blogging and becoming more active on social media that I have to consciously make the effort to disconnect. I have to remind myself to put the phone down and pay attention to what’s going on around me. To live in the moment and just be still. Having my smart phone with me all the time is such a temptation, but since I was bushed…and I knew Gelli was bushed…I just sat and watched her play. I did pick my phone up to snap some photos though :-)

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Traditionally, Discovery Suites is more of the business traveler’s hotel. Because it is located right in the heart of Ortigas Center, it’s easy to see why many would choose this hotel as their home for an extended stay while in Manila for business. What I realized while we were staying there, is that this property is just as family friendly as all of the other Discovery Leisure Group properties that we are familiar with and have stayed in before.

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We have always loved Discovery Shores in Boracay and we have stayed there more than a handful of times. I love the warm welcome when I arrive. It’s as if everyone, is really happy to greet us on arrival and of course that same treatment remains through out the course of our stay. I was equally pleased to see that it’s the same here in Discovery Suites as well. 

Of the three properties that we have visited as a family, Discovery Suites is of course much closer to us than all the others. While Misibis Bay offers outdoor activities and a beautiful view of Mount Mayon, and Disovery Shores offers the white sand beaches of Boracay, Discovery Suites offers us a location completely central to city living. You can explore the city and the local establishments that are just a stone’s throw from the hotel or choose to stay in and enjoy the luxurious accommodations that all the Discovery properties are known for.

We were not only welcomed like a family  who was coming home, we also enjoyed our stay because it was filled with moments we (most especially me) would not soon forget. From the relaxing afternoon spent laying on the sofa in our suite,  the elegant dinner in 22 Prime, the pillowy soft bed with black out curtains to allow for a restful night’s sleep, and the hand written notes from my kids reminding me all of the good that comes from my motherhood, we truly had a great weekend bonding with the kids under the Discovery roof.

Discovery Suites 

25 ADB Aveunue

Ortigas Center, Pasig City 


22 Prime