Monday Musings: Sum of Our Lives


10 Filipino Green Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season


Christmas is coming fast! Most of you are probably scrambling for gifts to give. While it is convenient to buy those usual gifts like money, clothes or tech products, you should fall into the trap. I have rounded up options for a more sustainable gift- giving.

Here are 10 gift items that are proudly Filipino made and environment friendly.

1. All Natural Bath and Body Products by Aromacology Sensi


Nature based, organic skin care products is 98% botanical based. The company uses state of the art manufacturing facilities, and with the approval of the Bureau of Food and Drugs, Aromacology Sensi’s products are carefully crafted from all naturally-based raw materials like herbs, flowers, and fruits extracts; a true perfect blend of nature and science. They offer a wide-array of skincare products which are designed to fit Asians’ sensitive skin.

2. Aquaponic Set-up by Cebu Aquaponics


If your loved one loves to eat healthy then this would be a good gift. For a set-up of around P4,000, you can assure that he/she gets many greens fresh from their own backyard for the incoming year.

3. Potted Herbs by Cebu Herbs


I am a big fan of basil but there are times when it is impossible to find fresh ones at the supermarket. This is a perfect choice for those friends who are into cooking. Although, there are many dried herbs available in supermarkets, fresh is always best. The company offers a wide variety of herbs from basil to lavender and they even sell lettuce and strawberries!

4. Jemel Kent’s Mushroom Kit


Similar to the potted herbs, mushroom is a popular ingredient for many dishes. Also, if you have a vegetarian friend, these oyster mushrooms are good alternatives (think mushroom burgers). This kit is easy to grow, all you need is to cut-out the box and moisten the kit daily.

5. Unrooted Grape Canes from Gapuz Grape Farms


Grapes in a tropical country? Yes! While most people do not think about this but grapes actually can grow in the Philippines. Take it from Gapuz Grape Farms, their family has been growing, harvesting & nurturing high-quality grapes now for 30 years! Their grapes have a California pedigree and locally grown with a pinoy twist of planting method.

6. Handmade Stuffed Toys by Conservation Sewmates


Looking for adorable plushies to give to kids or to those who are young at heart?

“Conservation Sew Mates” was inspired by, and established with the aim to support wildlife conservation efforts. As a livelihood supplement project, Sew Mates workshops were organized to teach fishermen community to make and sell the toys to tourists.

Your purchase is helping the sustainable development of responsible ecotourism in the Philippines. All proceeds will be donated to support Physalus (a non-profit conservation group)’s whale shark research project in the Philippines.

7. Craft Kits by Craft2Go


If you are running out of creativity on what to give an artistic person then Craft2Go craft kits is a sure hit. They offer unique, one-of-a-kind, creative craft kits for children and adults which are locally produced.

8. Bags by Siklo Pilipinas


Backpacking around for more than a decade, avid back packer couple and artist-designer Lyndon Ecuacion and Clarice de Villa found alternative solutions in inner tube and tire rubber as a suitable material to protect gears in the adventure travel lifestyle. It is sustainable so long as humanity use wheels.

Since there is no known disintegration rates for tire rubber to decay, upcycling this material implies durability that can outlive our generation. It then evolved and blossomed into an advocacy geared towards socio-economic solutions while inspiring green initiative for our only planet and its entire inhabitant. Hence, Siklo Pilipinas was founded.

9. Bamboo Zen Speakers


It is difficult to miss out on karaoke when in the Philippines. Without a doubt, music plays a big role in our country. You hear music everywhere, but who would have thought that a common grass like the bamboo can be used for getting the music out.

The ‘Zen Speaker’ is an innovative bamboo dock for your Smartphone; it also amplifies the music from your Smartphone. Make it more personal by costumizing the design with their favourite colour and name.

10. Bicycle by Bambike


Cycling is getting more and more popular in the Philippines and why wouldn’t it be? It is a great cardio workout and is good for managing carbon footprints.

Bambike is a socio-ecological enterprise based in the Philippines that hand-makes bamboo bicycles with fair-trade labor and sustainable building practices. Their bamboo bike builders (aka Bambuilders) come from Gawad Kalinga, a Philippine based community development organization for the poor, working to bring an end to poverty. They have programs that include scholarships, sponsoring a preschool teacher, and a weekly feeding program for children, as well as a bamboo nursery for reforestation. Bambike is a company that is interested in helping out people and the planet, dedicated to social and environmental stewardship. Their goal is to do better business and to make the greenest bikes on the planet. Bambike Revolution Cycles: People-Planet-Progress.

No matter what budget and preference, there is always a more sustainable gift option for you. Be a more environmentally aware shopper and support Filipino products!

Monday Musings: Things Fall Into Place

Everyday our lives marred by these internal conflicts between planning lives out and just taking it as it are. We are lead to believe that it is all black and white. However, life reminds us of those grey areas.

What if I took my academics seriously? What if I planned which degree to take for university? What if I stayed longer in my previous job? All of these questions linger in me as I start falling into the trap of comparison. Would I be as rich as he would? Would I have a good stable career like hers? Would I be in a happy married life like theirs?


Days before my 28th birthday, I took a trip with a friend who had an extremely positive perspective on life. He had an annoying belief that everything turns out for the good. Before I met him, I thought I was already one people who swear by the “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle but I guess I have not noticed that living in Manila for years have turned me into a cynic. There are times when I bothered by thoughts of what ifs and I know I am not alone in this. Anyways, we randomly thought of visiting Lake Danao in my hometown (I initially wanted to spend my birthday in Sagada but due to the sudden changes earlier this year, I had to give up the idea).

Here is someone else’s photo of Lake Danao since I lost all my photos when I lost my mobile.

At the start of the trip, I already felt that things were not going well. He failed to get an earlier trip because of the outdated website so I had to wait for almost 3 hours. The weather did not agree with me too and decided to make that day rainy. Therefore, we went to the jeepney terminal to catch a ride to the lake, turns out it was the last one and the only seats were on top of the jeepney. Eager to not waste the day, we tried out top loading (As a daredevil, I enjoyed the road except for the part where it was freezing cold and wet.) We arrived quite late and found out there were no transportation to go back to the main city after 5p.m. Luckily, while on top of the jeepney, a young man started talking to me. He turned out to be one of the locals whose relatives are managing the tourism office. I told him about our random trip and he politely offered to let us stay in the tourism office. The darkness of the place did not scare me. In fact, I was amused to see a sprinkle of fireflies flying around a big tree, made me feel like I was standing in front of a giant Christmas tree. We stayed in the tourism office for a while the young man went looking for his cousin. Turned out that his cousin was not around so we started worrying on where we could possibly stay. It would have been okay to stay near the lake if not for the rain. The young man was concerned about us, he told us there was a place where we could pay to sleep but it cost P500 (for him it was too much, for us it was reasonable). He took us to his house, his two younger brothers, mother and father greeted us. They were embarrassed to have us because their house was still under construction. His mother cooked dinner and welcomed us. They went far in accommodating us by giving us one of their two rooms. The children slept in the living room. Despite our offer to sleep in the living room, they insisted we sleep in the other room. The next day, we woke up to an amazing day; his mom cooked breakfast and went with us to the lake. We borrowed a small Bangka and tried our skill in fishing (I did not catch any while the kids caught several). It turned out to be a great day; we had troubles finding transportation back to the city again but a neighbor offered to take us to the main road. It was a scenic motorbike ride (habal-habal way). The sun shone across the fields and the cool breeze blew through my hair. By the time, we reached the main road, most of the students and workers were trying to catch a ride back to Ormoc. We ended up walking for hours, until a person driving a truck let us hitch a ride. In no time, we arrived in the main city but I realised that I have lost my mobile phone and that we missed the last trip to Tacloban. I tried searching for my mobile but did not find it along the road where we were walking. My friend ended up paying for the unplanned stay just because I did not foresee extra costs. At the end of the trip, I started thinking about the incidents. Would the trip be better had I planned well?


Everyday our lives marred by these internal conflicts between planning lives out and just taking it as it are. We are lead to believe that it is all black and white. However, life reminds us of those grey areas. The trip to the lake reminded me to worry less. Despite the troubles and problems we were faced during the trip, we met incredible people and got what we intended. It was not a smooth journey but it ended well.


Some call it luck, some call it fate, and others call it destiny. Whatever it is, life is never shown on a full frame. A never-ending series keeps you on the edge of your seat. It does not offer you the benefit of seeing an alternate ending. You are given options with no rewinds or edits. Life’s unpredictable nature should comfort us more than scare us. I know most of us have a bit of obsessive-compulsive nature to control everything but we cannot. Life is bigger than we are and we can never tame it according to our wishes. It however, reminds us daily that things fall into places. So take a seat, get comfortable and enjoy it as it unfolds in front of you.

There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…
― John Lennon