Saturday, November 26, 2016

“Chimes redefines luxe retail”
Sun.Star Davao, Nov. 26, 2016

           There is a fitness app on my mobile phone that tracks the minutes I have been active in a day. The funny thing is that the only time I reach my goal is when I step inside the mall!

           Maybe because when scouring the mall for the best finds, I rarely find everything in close proximity. I have to cross from points A to D to do my grocery, shop for clothes, drop by the bookstore, find a unique gift, etc. That’s why when I want to shop hassle-free in a flash, a visit to Chimes Boutiques with its well-curated array of brands is such a time saver for a busy mom like me. 

             The unrivaled ‘Shopping Mecca of Mindanao’ located along Governor Sales Street, recently re-opened its doors to unveil their newly renovated 37,000 square foot flagship store, in collaboration with the retail design specialist, Moss Manila. 

            Cindy Yap, the CEO of Chimes Boutiques and the senior vice president of the Felcris Group of Companies, intimates that after twelve years, the upscale specialty store’s repositioning and renovation were inevitable.

 “Everything changes, we change. Change is a constant element in everyone’s life. The moment came for us, as well, to create a new selling strategy that would meet the wishes of our clients, passionate travelers always looking for something new”, Cindy divulges.

And, what an impressive transformation it was!

“The shop unfolds within a magnificent three-storey building with a very spacious and open ground floor. Welcoming the guests are huge chandeliers that’s fitted for a king’s palace. The floor, on the other hand, is divided by a soft white marble “pathway”, which contrasts with the grey concrete floor tiles around the perimeter. It's about redefining luxury with a new palette of materials”, describes Cindy.

Witnessing the glorious revamp and launch were renowned style icons from Manila, Cebu and Davao. The esteemed VIPs included the animated and flamboyant Tessa Prieto-Valdez, who acted as the affair’s engaging emcee, ‘It Girl’ Isabelle Daza, influential fashion blogger Kryz Uy (my personal fave!), and makeup guru Lourd Ramos, among many others.   

I must admit, I am no style maven. Thankfully though, my fashion-forward dear friend Dr. Jennifer Lim, gave me an on-the-spot rundown of the featured top designers such as Maureen Disini, Charina Sarte, Patty Ang, Vania Romoff and Jeffrey Rogador while we enjoyed the fashion show creatively directed by Manila’s Ferdie Salvador.

                Their trendy ready-to-wear collection, together with Katre’s high quality leather goods and Joyce Oreña’s handmade and multi-use jewelry and accessories, were among the welcome additions to Chimes’ premium choice brands spanning beauty, accessories, ladies ready-to-wear, menswear, home and children.


Chimes’ loyal and discerning clientele would surely be delighted to see these new brands alongside existing must-haves like Happy Skin, VMV Hypoallergenics, Aranaz, House of Laurel, Plains and Prints, Bayo, Renegade Folk, and Sunnies Studios displayed on freestanding fine gold brass hanging rail installations.

“The exquisite edit of over 100 of the most desirable brands is complemented by exceptional services throughout the store, including beauty rooms offering the very latest in beauty enhancing and relaxing treatments plus highly-trained staff who will be on hand to offer expert advice on seasonal trends and styling tips across fashion and beauty”, shares the amiable Cindy.

            True to its origins, Chimes Boutiques is the place to go for the fashion conscious, the discriminate shopper and anyone who fancies seeing the world without leaving the comforts of home and family”, enthuses Cindy.

Special thanks to Kenneth Hao for the launch’s photos.

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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Human Nature bags int'l. Sustainable Beauty Award

“Human Nature bags int’l. Sustainable Beauty Award”
Sun.Star Davao, Nov. 12, 2016

             Human Nature recently created history by becoming the 1st Asian brand to win in the prestigious Sustainable Beauty Awards.

          Founded in 2008 by Dylan Wilk, Anna Meloto-Wilk and Camille Meloto, Human Nature is the Philippines’ largest brand of genuinely natural, affordable personal care, cosmetics and home care products. Its wide range of products are 100% made in the Philippines and 100% free from harmful chemicals. Gandang Kalikasan, Inc., the social enterprise behind this brand, is driven by the core philosophies of being Pro-Philippines, Pro-Poor, and Pro-Environment. 

                 “We didn’t realize that our small company, which is just 8 years old, would come this far. We just wanted to do something good, something right, and this award is an affirmation of what we are doing”,  shared Human Nature Marketing Head Wowie Meloto-Gonzalez during the awards reception held in Paris.

        The Sustainable Beauty Awards was organized by Organic Motor, a globally-recognized specialist research and consulting company for organic products and related industries. The notable competition attracts hundreds of entries yearly.
             “Launched in 2013, the Sustainable Beauty Awards echoes how green issues have gained prominence in the personal care and cosmetics industry. Categories include Sustainability Leadership, Sustainable Ingredient, Green Formulations, Sustainable Packaging and Sustainability Pioneer Award”, explained Meloto-Gonzalez. 

           Human Nature impressively bagged the Sustainability Pioneer Award for its awe-inspiring social entrepreneurship work in Asia.

Social entrepreneurship at work

       According to the National Statistical Coordination Board, “the Philippines is rich in agricultural products, yet many of its farmers are poor and mostly grow rice, with an average daily wage of PhP 156.80”.

Human Nature endeavors to change this by creating demand for high value essential oils and other raw materials. They also aim to invest in skills training, sustainable technology, infrastructure, and values formation to improve the farmers' output and quality of life.

“Through their partnerships with Gawad Kalinga and other organizations who share the same vision, they aim to develop globally-certified organic farms in the countryside that can produce excellent raw materials for Human Nature products, as well as community-based enterprises that will multiply the income of poor communities”.  

In addition, “Human Nature employs Gawad Kalinga residents from nearby communities in Quezon City and Laguna and provides fair living wages, around 70% more than the minimum wage required by law. They also make sure to provide their warehouse staff, merchandisers, and manufacturing plant personnel with regularized employment with full benefits”. 

Truly world class

       The relatively young Philippine brand bested industry leaders such as Eminence Organic Skin Care and Givaudan, a 250-year old French company producing scents and flavors. On the other hand, Weleda, a German company that has been producing natural products since 1921, was a runner-up for the category. Past recipients of the Sustainability Pioneer Award include Cruelty Free International and L’Oreal USA-Garnier.

                 “Today, we can truly say that made in the Philippines is equal to; or maybe even better than made in Germany and made in France”, Anna Meloto-Wilk, president and co-founder of Human Nature enthused.

                “The Sustainable Beauty Award is a testament to the creativity, ingenuity and hard work of the Filipino people. Our little country in the Far East, despite the problems that we continue to grapple within our society today, is paving the way to the future for kinder, more sustainable businesses especially in our industry”, she added.
Human Nature hopes that soon “there will be hundreds of community organic farms and world-class social enterprises in the Philippines providing livelihood for thousands of our countrymen”. As the proudly Philippine-made brand creates the market for their products, it believes “it can help many Filipinos rise out of poverty and into a first-world quality of life”.

Special thanks to Organic Motor and Human Heart Nature Facebook page for the photos.

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

Mom-About-Town turns 10

 “Mom-About-Town turns 10”
Sun.Star Davao, October 29, 2016

In 2006, I gave birth to “two babies”. One was biological and the other, a creative outlet.

I was then a volunteer in the communications team of Gawad Kalinga and writing press releases to newspapers for this noble cause when, one day, an e-mail by our super Sun.Star Davao editor-in-chief Stella Estremera suddenly appeared in my inbox. She asked me if I was interested to be a columnist for the venerable paper. Who could refuse such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? In a heartbeat, I replied with an enthusiastic “yes!”. 

           Parenting was the topic closest to my heart so I proposed that I would focus on this.

With determination, I juggled working full-time at the family business, being a hands-on PTA mom, writing for this paper, among other responsibilities.  It has not been an easy task but looking back, it was well worth it!

Ten years after, I thank the Lord for the inspiring people I have met along the way. I am truly indebted that, through this column, their stories touched other’s lives...and mine, as well.

Among the articles that made a significant impact on me, and perhaps the readers as well, were the various parenting seminars featured (I had the privilege of helping organize most of them through my involvement with the Davao Christian High School Parents-Teachers Fellowship). 

           Some of them included “Motherhood….just like a pro” (Nov. 22, 2008); 

“Helping Our Children Do Well in School” (Nov. 13, 2010); 

“Are You a Tiger or an Ostrich Parent?” (June 4, 2012); 

“Practical Parenting” (Feb. 23, 2013); 

 and the recent “Train Up Your Child” (Oct. 10, 2016) by esteemed parenting experts. The invaluable lessons gained from these enabled me to become an effective hands-on and less anxious parent.

 “Our Home, Our School” (Dec. 9, 2006) was about breastfeeding advocate Alex Morris-Hao and her homeschooling advocacy. Back then, she was one of the few brave Davao moms who homeschooled her brood of three, namely: Amber (age 9), Ashley (age 6) and Allegra (age 2). A few years after, the Haos were blessed with their only boy, Nicholas.

How did homeschooling mold the Hao kids after ten years? All of them turned out to be well-rounded eager learners. Amber (now 19) got into the Ateneo de Manila University taking up literature and has found her passion in theater; Ashley (16) is a talented violinist who has staged her own solo violin recital; Allegra (12) is an avid swimmer; and Nicholas (8), a soccer enthusiast.


          In “Organic Beauty for Less” (March 14, 2009), Human Nature, was then a new line of 100% organic, 100% Philippine-grown and 100% chemical-free personal care products for the whole family at very affordable prices. 

I met Anna Meloto-Wilk and her husband Dylan, when they came to Davao to establish their Mindanao branch made possible by Green Kreations, Inc. Through Anna and her sister Camille’s partnership with Gawad Kalinga, they then envisioned the GK villages to eventually become capable of producing their ingredients to the highest standards for the Human Nature line.

 Flash forward to 2016. From two kids, the Wilks are now proud parents of five, with another blessing coming soon. And, Human Nature has become a global premium brand, sourcing ingredients from world-class community organic farms in the Philippines; and providing decent livelihood to thousands of our poorest people.

And, how could I not mention the insanely imaginative themed kiddie parties, debuts and weddings staged by our very own Davao event stylists and suppliers and even Manila-based party professionals? Whether grand or simple celebrations, my column regularly highlighted the brilliant talents of this growing industry and I am looking forward to witnessing more spectacular “productions” in the future.

Readers have been sending me e-mails on how they enjoyed our family adventures in my column. I hope to continue sharing my travel tips on the memorable destinations we have visited. May they serve as an additional guide to your family’s own sojourns as well.

After a decade writing, you may have noticed that my column icon has been finally replaced. I may still be sporting the same hairstyle (teehee!), but trust me, my ten-year “Mom-About-Town” journey has changed me for the better in innumerable and intangible ways.

             My youngest daughter recently asked me if I always knew what I wanted to be when I was growing up. Honestly, I had no specific wish lists that I could think of. But, God would often open doors even without me asking. Wherever He wanted me to be at that stage of my life, I welcomed it with a grateful heart and promised to do my best for His glory.

For their continuous love and support through the years, I sincerely thank my Huang and Teves families, Sun.Star Davao family, dearest friends, loyal readers, and interviewees. 

Happy 10th year anniversary to us! Cheers!

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