Why I switched to organic skin care products and never looked back

(This is an article from my lifestyle column at SunStar Davao)

They say that beauty only goes skin-deep, but with beauty products, that isn’t always the case. Whatever we put on our skin is actually absorbed by our body, which means that long term use of chemical-based products are actually harmful to our health.

Is good skin and hair really worth the adverse health effects? The answer is, of course, no.

But a better question would be, are there products that you can use to maintain your skin and hair without the harmful chemicals?

I used to be doubtful because some “organic” products sold in the market still have a lot of chemicals in the ingredients and are very expensive. Luckily, a colleague of mine introduced me to Human Heart Nature (HHN). I switched my usual products to HHN and my skin has not looked any better, I had less breakouts, and my hair is healthier. Since then, I’ve been hooked.

So, why should you make the switch?

It is said that our body absorbs 40 to 60 percent of the things that we put on our skin, depending on our skin’s absorption rate. With the help of a little research, I’ve rounded up the ingredients list in products that I’ve been avoiding ever since.

These are paraben, sulfate – sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) – formaldehyde, phthalates, propylene glycol, as well as fragrance and synthetic colors, among others.

I was surprised to find out that even products for feminine care and baby skin contain some of these harmful chemicals that with long term use, has been linked to health problems like cancer and skin diseases. Yikes!

Anyway, here are three things that you should know (and love) about HHN: First, it is a Filipino brand that sells organic products made of natural ingredients. Their products range from skin and hair care, cosmetics, oils and balms, home care, oral health care, and everything else down to skin care for babies.

Second, all their products are effective, safe, and affordable. Those with sensitive skin should definitely give it a try.

My personal favorites are the natural feminine wash in cooling chamomile (a must try), natural strengthening shampoo in soothing aloe (prevents hairfall), natural conditioner in lush vanilla, nourishing facial wash, natural body butter in vanilla peach (for dry skin), and the tinted lip balm in the shade flame tree (the  best). Their makeup is good quality too.

Third, HHN has an advocacy. It’s a brand that claims to be “Pro-Philippines, Pro-Poor, and Pro-Environment.” Their ingredients are sourced from local farmers and all their products are vegan and cruelty-free. They also don’t sell any whitening products to encourage Filipinas to love their natural skin colour.

I’m a Morena, you see, and I only learned to recognize my beauty when I learned to love my own skin, which has been a long journey. But that’s another story. Maybe I’ll share it with you guys soon.

Overall, it’s a relief to know that a single brand can provide us with all that we need to care for our body and even our home.

I could go on and on and rave about all their products that I’ve tried, but that would take too long, so you have to try and see for yourself. Good news is they also sell some of their products in travel size bottles that usually cost around 50 pesos only.

Not everything that I use on my body are organic, but switching most of my beauty and skin care products to organic was one of the best decisions I’ve made. This isn’t just a kikay moment, but I honestly know that not only am I investing in my beauty, I’m investing in my health as well, which ultimately is the bigger investment.

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The Natural Strengthening Shampoo in Soothing Aloe is my hair saver. I used to have a severe case of hair fall, but not anymore.
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Living in a farm means living with all kinds of bugs and mosquitoes. I don’t get any insect bites since I started using this 100% Natural Bug Shield. Just a little pump goes a long way.
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As an office lady, staying in an air-conditioned room 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, has dried out my skin. This 100% Natural Body Butter is my skin saver. It smells really good too!
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Choosing only the safest products for my skin has made me confident enough to leave the house with zero face makeup on. Just a swipe of my HHN tinted lip balm and lip tint is all I need.
Why I switched to organic skin care products and never looked back
Soft copy of the lay-outed article on my column. You can read the full story at SunStar Davao’s website here: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/lifestyle/2018/02/27/mejos-why-i-switched-organic-skin-care-products-and-never-looked-back

 

 

 

 

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Freelance: Scriptwriting for Department of Agriculture Region XI Programs

I have to admit–prior to working on projects with local government units in Davao, my perspective of any kind of government was very far from what it really is. I’m really thankful to have gotten to work with government units in the past, for the experience was an eye opener for my youthful idealism.

The first government unit I worked with was the Department of Trade and Industry, where I contributed to their Asenso Ka! magazine. The Department of Agriculture is the second.

I spent most of October and November 2016 working with the Department of Agriculture. I was scriptwriting for a video production that Visual Insights Multimedia (VIMP) won the bidding for the Department of Agriculture.

I met the studio’s owner, Sir Kenny O’Bajo, maybe around February 2016. My singer-actress friend Jizella Dea Formilleza brought me with her as she auditioned a piece for a video commercial that VIMP was making for Davao Light.  We talked about some stuff and he seemed interested when I mentioned that I’m a writer. He gave me his email and asked to see some of my previous works.

Fresh out of college at April, Sir Kenny contacted me and offered two jobs: this project, and if maybe I’d like to be trained in VIMP. I took the project, but decided to go corporate. Here’s a recap of my first job experience. 🙂

Although I’ve sort of freelanced when I was still in college, I still consider this as my first, partly  because it’s the first time that I was able to dedicate all my time to without worrying about school.

Christmas and new year is getting closer as I write, so I know for sure that this project was one of the best, most memorable and enjoyable experiences that I had this 2016. Or maybe I should get out more often? 😀

Anyway, this project is a series of success and tech/instructional videos featuring  Department of Agriculture XI programs.

I wasn’t able to take photos in all our shoots, but I definitely had fun in all of them! I love traveling. Seeing Mindanao’s rural spots is amazing.

This was during our first meeting, a story conference.

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Grabbed from Sir Kenny’s Instagram Account

This was mostly planning, though. The storyline for the topics were simple enough to understand and execute.

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The Production Team. Chico Pace (Videographer), Eloisa Aninon (Coordinator), Kent Marcos & Corinth Mabalot (PA). 

Gulayan sa Paaralan Program
Bala, Magsaysay

Never underestimate the power of small-scale agriculture. In a move to curb the growing malnutrition rate in the country, the Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the Department of Education, implemented the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program in all public schools nationwide. This program seeks to support vegetable gardens in schools, the produce of which will be used to feed the school children.

*The Department of Agriculture wanted to feature the schools with best gulayan sa paaralan program in Mindanao.

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Path to the vegetable patch. Tanglad (lemongrass) and marigold are planted everywhere to stave off the mosquitoes. During dengue season where cases in Davao would rise to more than 4,000, in Bala, there was none. 
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A dedicated educator. I had to have a photo with her after the interview. A teacher’s heart is so admirable! 
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They were the kindest, sweetest group of kids I’d seen in a long time. They’d line up to hold your hand and press it against their foreheads. In the Philippines, it’s a sign of respect for elders. This is usually given to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and godparents.

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Bala, Magsaysay Elementary School is one of the most charming places I’ve been to. The school teachers had gotten the whole community to pitch help in cultivating the mini farm that the school had because of its wide area. Everything they grew was organic. They basically had everything–even a fish pond!

Some of the produce are sold, and the money is meant to buy school materials. Most of the produce, however, are used to feed children for a twice-daily feeding program. Because Bala is situated in a very rural community, there are students who, the teachers told me, would go to school in the mornings and go home at 12 noon because they didn’t have any food to eat.

There were zero absences and tardiness after they implemented the feeding program, they added.

Gulayan sa Paaralan Program
Compostela Valley

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Very shy interviewee

 

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All About Bananas: Fusarium Wilt Control Measures
Compostela Valley

In 2012, following the surge of Typhoon Pablo, a deadly plant disease called Fusarium Wilt, also known as Panama disease, spread across banana plantations in Mindanao–causing many to shut down operations.

Research and funds were released to mitigate the disease. Already, the disease has caused severe, almost irreparable damage on banana growers and banana imports.

Some growers opted to shift crops to cacao, and others decided to avail of the new variety of bananas called GCTCV218 and 219. GCTCV stands for Giant Cavendish Tissue Culture Variant, which is immune to the panama disease.

Although growers are vocal about their preference of the old variety compared to the new one, they are also greatly appreciative of the GCTCV218 and 219. Otherwise, the losses would have compelled them to throw in the towel and walk away from banana growing.

Philippines is one of the top growers of banana in Asia.

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An emotional interview.
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We followed the harvesting and packaging process at a processing facility. 

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Rehoboth Cacao Farmers Association
Davao del Norte

We interviewed a small association, the Rehoboth Cacao Farmers Association, who had found hope in the cacao that they grew.

Formerly a religious group, it is now an association of dedicated cacao growers. Rehoboth translates to “Well of Blessings.”

Cacao is one of the most in demand crops now, as it is the source of coffee and chocolate. The demands of chocolate and cacao are met with a threatening low supply. Philippines is eyed to be one of the top cacao growers in Asia.

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Drying Process

 

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Mixing dark chocolate

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Cacao Rehabilitation
Malita, Davao Occidental

This is a tech process. The Department of Agriculture has a team of researchers and pathologists who reach out to farmers to give trainings on proper production processes, and etc. The cacao tree, although it can grow for more than ten years, has to undergo rehabilitation in order for it to continue producing good yield.

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Challenging shoot! Chico (videographer) had to dodge a few falling branches. Sir Kenny was there to direct though.
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Deconstructing the set.

Dynamic Vegetable Growers Association (DVEGA)
Davao del Norte

The Dynamic Vegetable Growers Association is a group of farmers who have united in order to support each other in producing more yield and working with a more organized system of production and harvest.

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Farmer showing how to spot a good eggplant.
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Ants on a sloping hill
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After climbing a steep mountainside.

Rubber Tapping
Marilog District, Davao City

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Army, ready to shoot.

Subangon Dumang Makers
A story of Filipino resilience

In 2012, Cateel, Davao Oriental was hit the hardest by the Typhoon Pablo. The typhoon destroyed their homes and their crops, their only source of living. For weeks and months after, people described Cateel’s hills as na kalbo, a local term for bald, because the trees and lush greens that adorned the hills were all washed away by the strong storm surge.

But people were quick to find a new means of earning money. Chili grew faster than most crops, so they opted to shift. The Department of Agriculture provided financial and production support.

We interviewed the Subangon Dumang Makers, the top chili processing facility in the town.

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Dried Chili – Just a few moments away from being grinded into powder!
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Laying on a solar dryer
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Locals have termed hot chili into “Hot Pablo” as a memento of resilience. 

BEMWA Farms
Agritourism

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Picnic kind of interview set up. Beautiful! Photo taken by Chico, our videographer. He left the camera rolling on its own for a few moments.
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Coco captured me at my best. This will always be one of my favorite production shoots, mainly because of the climate and the scenery. I love BEMWA’s story too!

BEMWA farm is not a farm that operates on money, it operates on love and equality. I had a great discussion with one of the owners, Mr. Marlo. He sells his vegetables at a very cheap price in order to bring healthy living to middle and lower class households. For him, healthy ain’t just for the wealthy 😄

He also helps his farmers. His farmers, about 60% of which are lumads, or natives, all receive free board and food at the farm. I talked with one of the farmers too, she said that they (owners) also extend financial assistance when they need it.

For Mr. Marlo, he views BEMWA and agriculture as a platform to bring change. One of his advocacies is to educate Filipino farmers about sustainable farming.

BEMWA is a vegetable farm located at Marilog, Calinan District. They sell mainly lettuces. The climate and strawberry picking gained BEMWA popularity. This introduced the concept of #agritourism to the owners since BEMWA is now a tourist attraction.

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With Mr. Marlo Yap, one of the owners. He is the M in the BEMWA. 😀 Businessman, philanthropist, farmer with a heart. 

I tried to wrap all things up here in one blog post because I can’t disclose much details as of now (the project is ongoing).But my love for stories has never died.

Until the next post! 🙂

Jumpstart: My First Job Experience

Now that my time as Advertising & Promotions Staff at Victoria Department Store has ended, I feel obliged to write about my experience.

I wanted to work at Victoria Department Store as Advertising & Promotions Staff because the chance to be part of growth and change in a low profile company was a challenge that was too tempting to resist (not that I tried to, mind you).

Our team was able to bring some firsts to the company. We guested twice on local TV for back to school sale and father’s day, as well as landed on local newspapers for some feature articles about Victoria’s home furnishing and houseware items. Small things, maybe, but significant anyhow.

I had a good time at Victoria. There I met people with brave and amazing stories. I was acquainted with corporate discipline, hard work, and pakikibagay. Being the first team of Ateneans, we stuck out like sore thumbs.

But we were never the ones who’d back out of pressure. If anything, it fueled our thirst.

Below are some of the events that I partook in. 🙂

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Live guesting at Maayong Buntag Mindanao for Back to School Sale and Love for the Children Back to School Charity Drive.

These are the newspaper clip outs from the articles that we’ve had written. I saw to these personally since I am well acquainted with the writers that we tapped.

 

These are the events that I’ve helped handle during my stay as Advertising & Promotions Staff. For a first job, I believe I’ve handled the challenges well and thrown in some good ideas also.

One challenge was the budget. We learned to be creative and resourceful with everything, mindful even to the kind of paper that we printed on and the number of pages. Noting that, events were also limited.

Another challenge was technology. I was assigned as social media manager, and although the lack of our own internet connection has not hampered my daily updates, it has also put limitations on what I (believed) I could do.

Other challenges are those that you either hear about or experience it yourself, such as dealing with different people with different personalities. All the rest, I’ll leave you to stew on that or find out for yourself 😉

Being a team of three was challenging at times, and I was challenged further when my two teammates resigned, leaving me with supervisory responsibilities for a whole department at just 3 months in the job.

The challenge excited me a lot. Not many are given the chance to lead at just 3 months in the job, but I was.

Eventually, I had to leave, but  I learned a lot in my stay at Victoria. I will always remain appreciative of many people and the experience as a whole.

Having learned the foundations at work, I know that I am ready for bigger things to come. My friends and professors have advised that maybe journalism is the right career path for me, and I’m contemplating a lot about it.

I have a thirst for learning. I want to learn the corporate, PR, advertising, teaching, and leadership.

I have just finished a phase, and I know that I have only just begun. 🙂

In photos: Social media advertising

Working as advertising & promotions staff at Victoria Department Store, I managed social media accounts as well as went behind the lens and took over the photography.

Beginnings and Endings

I walked through the gates of my alma mater, Ateneo de Davao University earlier. Walking past the gazebos, I looked up at the trees and was struck with a startling realization that Ateneo has never felt more like home to me than it does now.

Maybe I will grow to love the building that I will now work in 8 hours a day. Maybe the time will come that I will call it “home” also. But I doubt it.

I have no regrets in my life’s decisions. In time I grew to appreciate the wisdom behind every brick that life throws at me. Because no matter how hard you try to plan and control your life, you can’t. There are things that are beyond your control. And these things are crazy and devastating and amazing and heartbreaking and beautiful… anything goes.

And as I was walking down the familiar path on the way to the Atenews office, I thought a lot about how much I miss feeling the breeze from the trees caress my cheek, or hear the birds sing. I miss the steady hum of activity that you can hear in school.

I will miss the cafeteria and its aircons that are on full blast. I will miss the shakes at Juice Ko Day. I will even miss telling the tindera that I will not buy the viva water because it tastes bad. 😀

I will miss the library and its endless array of books that you can get lost in. I will miss scouting the buildings, looking for the water fountain that had the coldest water. The ones at Wieman were always the best. 😉

I will miss seeing the familiar and comfortable, yet also imposing image of our building when I get down from the jeep. I will miss the clean, fresh air inside. Ateneo was always a welcome respite from the heat and pollution outside.

I will miss the freedom to learn whatever you wanted to learn. The world is literally at the palm of your hands when you are in Ateneo. You only have to choose.

It was in Ateneo’s walls where I had discovered myself and discovered what I had wanted to do with life. It was there where I had met the worst and best people. It was there that I realized that everyone can be nice, but not everyone can be your friends.

It was there that I realized that I am not, after all, as stupid and shallow as what my siblings used to make me feel. I am quite the contrary, in fact.  It took the opinion of other people to change the way I thought about myself.

It was there where I had my heart broken too many times by too many people and yet I never failed to look forward to life.

My experiences are far from conventional. It is something that you might never experience. And it is something that is so rare and fragile and sacred.

There is a kind of beauty in pain. There is grace in handling shame and embarrassment. There is a kind of beauty in you, one so deep that one cannot see on first sight, and something that you cannot see unless you have your heart, your soul, and your whole being broken.

Many will give up on a bird who is trying to fly with broken wings.

But look at where I am now.

Just remember, when you get your heart broken or your soul wounded, fly with a broken wing. Only when you are burned and blinded by the sun will you see your true capacity to heal.

Only then will you be new again. 🙂