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Repost: What It’s Like Being BFFs with Jasmine Curtis?

People may put Jasmine Curtis on a pedestal but I’ve always seen her in a distinct light. We’ve known each other since grade school and it’s made all the difference. We were bus mates but our five-year age gap never really allowed us any opportunity to talk in school. My memory of an eight-year-old Jasmine was a timid girl who was always in the corner of the bus, quiet and anxious with all the upperclassmen.


She left for Australia to continue her studies and would come back to the Philippines for vacation. I can’t exactly remember how we started to reconnect, but we saw each other somewhere and we just started talking again. That was in 2011 and we’ve been inseparable ever since. We’re the clingy type of friends, so we don’t get sick of each other even though we’re together almost every day.


When people ask me if I get annoyed when we’re in the mall and people stare at her or ask for pictures, my answer is always no. I’ve seen her grow as a person and as an artist so it delights me to see that she’s being recognized for her craft. As for getting special treatment because of her celebrity status, I have to admit that’s what I like best about her: She never uses the celebrity card to get things. If we have to wait in line to be seated at a restaurant, we wait. On some occasions, establishments tell us we can cut the line but Jasmine always gracefully declines and respects the other people who’ve lined up ahead of us.

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My friends who’ve met her are always surprised at how humble she is. I guess living in Australia has shaped her to be this way. Back in Oz, she would clean the dishes, ride the train, do laundry with her mom; in short, she had a typical teenage life. Although careful with the reputation she has to protect, she still carries with her a free-spirited vibe and the independence she gained from living abroad.


Our friendship is as normal as any other friendship. We’re just two girls who love going to each others’ houses unannounced so we can pig out or watch movies together, who will clear their schedules whenever one needs a shoulder to cry on, give long sermons whenever one of us makes a mistake, and laugh at each others’ silliness. It’s a no filter kind of friendship, just how best friends should be.

Photos from @tracyayson and @jascurtissmith on Instagram.

Repost from http://www.stylebible.ph/culture/what-it-s-like-being-bffs-with-jasmine-curtis-a1102-20160210

Deal of the Day: Fly to Bangkok, Manila, or Singapore for Under $250

VanderWolf Images / Shutterstock.com

Japanese carrier ANA is offering great deals from the U.S. and Canada.

Thanks to some mistake fares from Japanese airline ANA, you can score a multi-city Asian vacation this spring for rates as low as $245. The trick to finding one of these fares is to use the travel search site Momondo and select different destination and departure cities in order to make it work. You will most likely need to either drive one leg or buy another ticket to complete the trip, but the deals are good enough that even with an additional segment you’ll still be saving money.

Here’s one example: A flight from Los Angeles to Bangkok, with a return from Manila to Vancouver, costs $245. That does mean you’ll need to figure out how you want to get from Bangkok to Manila and from Vancouver to L.A., but if you can be flexible and like the idea of hitting multiple destinations on a single trip, this is a great deal. That said, you may need to do a bit of digging to find the best routes for you.


In addition to Bangkok and Manila, the other Asian city with ANA deals is Singapore. According to blogger Scott Keyes of How to Fly For Free, you must leave from one of seven U.S. airports (Chicago-O’Hare, Houston Hobby, Los Angeles-LAX, New York-JFK, Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, or Washington-Dulles), but you can return via Vancouver or Toronto, with dates in April and May. Happy hunting!

Credits: Conde Nast Traveler (http://www.cntraveler.com/)

Year of the Fire Monkey: What’s in store for your Chinese zodiac sign


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — We are two months into 2016, but those who follow Chinese astrology will still have time to plot their direction and decisions for 2016, as the Chinese community — and even the rest of the world — usher in the Year of the Fire Monkey on February 8 (Monday).

Metaphysics practitioner and consultant Dato Joey Yap talked to CNN Philippines’ Headline News anchor Amelyn Veloso to share his predictions for the 12 Chinese astrology signs.

He sees the year of Fire Monkey to be open to rapid and unpredictable change. Yap had one word to describe the year: volatile.

He added it will generally usher in a lot of opportunities for those interested in trading as there will be volatility in the trading market. He, however, said that those looking to make quick profits based on properties should be more cautious as 2016 is not the year for it.

Those looking to continue their education or learn a new skill should also take advantage of 2016 as he said that the “academic star” is at its height this year.

“This is one of those years that is better for education, because looking at the full chart for the year, the academic star is very strong. So if you can pick up a new skill, this is one of the best years for it,” he said.

Four signs to benefit the most

Out of the 12 Chinese zodiac signs, those born in the years of Rat, Tiger, Rabbit, and Snake will prosper the most during the Year of Fire Monkey.

He detailed how the respective signs will benefit in 2016:

  • Year of the Rat (those born in 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008)

Yap said this year will open a lot of new opportunities and responsibilities in the career of those born in the Year of the Rat.

  • Year of the Tiger (those born in 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010)

It may seem that 2016 will not be the year for Tigers as it clashes with the Monkey, but he said that there will be tons of opportunities to make money abroad and bring money back home.

Yap added that it will be a great year for those born in the Year of the Tiger for businesses, such as online businesses and startups.

  • Year of the Rabbit (those born in 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011)

The Wealth Star is with those born in the Year of the Rabbit, said Yap, which means money matters will not really be an issue this year.

Aside from the Wealth Star, the Emperor Star will also be on their side. “You can execute most of your ideas and dreams,” Yap said.

  • Year of the Snake (those born in 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013)

Good fortune and prosperity awaits those born in the Year of the Snake, as the Fortune Virtue Star — one of the four noble annual stars — is active.

“People born in the Year of the Snake will be pretty happy this year. They will meet a lot of new friends, new network,” Yap said.

The eight other signs

  • Year of the Ox (1913, 1926, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009)

“If you are trying to get married or look for a partner, this is a good year,” Yap said.

  • Year of the Dragon (1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012)

The metaphysics consultant said 2016 is the year for the Dragons for scholarly pursuits.

“If you’re studying or taking up a new skill, it’s a good year.”

  • Year of the Horse (1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014)

It will be an average year for those born in the year of the Horse, as long as they don’t make any drastic decisions in their career this year.

Yap also said they will have a steady flow of income.

  • Year of the Sheep (1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015)

If the Sheeps had relationship issues in 2015, 2016 will prove to be better to them, said Yap.

He added that if those born in the Year of the Sheep broke up with a relationship partner in 2016, they will find their soulmates this 2016.

  • Year of the Monkey (1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016)

Yap said that this is the year of those born in the Year of the Monkey.

“This is your year. Everywhere you go, people will take notice of what you do.”

  • Year of the Rooster (1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005)

Those born in the Year of the Rooster should continue to help others, even though it may sometimes seem that they are being taken advantage of, as they will be rewarded for their good deeds in 2017.

“A lot of people will come to them for help, asking for favors, to, but don’t hesitate to contribute because the pay back will be in 2017,” he said.

  • Year of the Dog (1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006)

The year of the Fire Monkey may not be on the side of those born in the year of the Dog.

Yap said Dogs do not have any positive stars on their side, thus their future and progress will depend on their own efforts and hardwork.

  • Year of the Pig (1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007)

Three positive stars will help those born in the year of the Pig to have a great year. The three stars involve relationships and networking. It may not be directly related to money, but there is a lot of building the network or for new businesses.


Predictions are only options

Yap mentioned that what he shared for each Chinese zodiac sign are only general predictions, adding that the exact year, month, date, and hour of birth should also be considered to have a more accurate guide.

He described astrology as a study of how elements and circumstances can affect people, explaining that it can guide them in making better decisions.

“When we understand what’s in store for us, we then know what our options are. Based on the options, decisions can be made,” he said.

Credits: CNN Philippines (http://cnnphilippines.com/)

Duterte offers legal aid to victims of ‘tanim bala’


Davao City (CNN Philippines) — Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is offering his services to all overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who could fall prey to the so-called “tanim bala” scheme at airports on their return to the Philippines.

He made the offer after several photos came out in social media showing the luggage of travelers bearing stickers stating that it did not contain bullets or any illegal items.

Some of the stickers say to contact Duterte in case of any emergency.

In a text message, Duterte said he would welcome any OFW who would seek his legal service which he is offering for free.

At the same time, Duterte called on President Benigno Aquino III to replace all personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

The call came after the mayor made public his suspicion that a syndicate operating at the airport is behind the incidences of “tanim bala.”

In his weekly television program Gikan sa Masa, Para sa Masa on Sunday (November 1), Duterte said the growing number of incidents of ammunition found inside the luggage of passengers had become too impossible to believe.

Duterte warned all airport personnel to stop planting bullets inside passengers’ bags.

Credits: CNN Philippines (http://cnnphilippines.com)

5 Places I Have To Visit In 2016 | Matt Gibson

Photo: Matt Gibson

A lot of my travel blogger friends are always on the move. They count the number of new countries they visit each year and many seem to have the goal of visiting every country in the world.

I don’t.

Not that there’s anything wrong with traveling like crazy. But, working on the road gets quite hectic. Time spent on flights and buses adds up, and the constant search for fast WIFI also eats up time and makes you unreliable to work with.

Having started a new business last year, I appreciate having regular Internet and regular hours to be productive. And, as I get older (I turned 37 last year) I appreciate more and more time spent at home cooking for myself, exercising regularly, swimming, running, surfing, and riding my bike.

Choosing to spend more time at home is a quality of life decision. (It doesn’t hurt that I’ve found a nice little beach in a quiet corner of Thailand so settle on.)

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to travel any more. It does mean that I’m more careful about the destinations I choose to visit and how I spend my time there. I only visit (or revisit) countries I feel strongly attracted to and — when I do visit — I spend more time and focus on activities I really want to try.

If you’re even a little familiar with me, you know I love adventure. So, I usually seek out mountains (or volcanoes) and oceans, which are both well represented on this list.

These are the five destinations I want to visit this year more than any others, and the reasons why.


Photo: Rabi/Pixbay

Last year I visited Bhutan for the first time, which has strong ties to Nepal. The trip definitely reinforced my desire to visit “The Roof of the World” and explore the Himalayas and the country’s strong Buddhist heritage.

I’ve always wanted to visit Nepal. But there’s a more important reason why I want to visit this year.

In April of 2015, an earthquake rocked Kathmandu, destroying many of the city’s iconic sites, including the 183-year-old Dharahara Tower and the city’s oldest palace in Durbar Square. Following the earthquake, many countries put out travel advisories about travel to Nepal, which made it effectively impossible for anyone in those countries to buy insurance for travel in Nepal. As a result, income from tourism plummeted at a time when the country needed it most.

Last year — although I didn’t visit — I partnered with Nepal Now to help send bloggers to Nepal and get out the message that Nepal is safe and open for business.

This year, I want to visit Kathmandu and then head out trekking on either the Annapurna Circuit or to Everest Base Camp.


Photo: Guide to Iceland

Iceland has created a lot of talk in the travel world over the past few years. The dramatic Game-of-Thrones landscapes and geographic oddities have made the country popular with travelers around the world. But unique outdoor adventures are what have really peaked my interest.

Scuba diving between two tectonic plates in the Silfra Fissure is the underwater equivalent of Jasper’s Maligne Canyon Icewalk, which blew my mind last year, so I really want to try that.

In the age of global warming and glacial retreat, glacier hiking in Iceland — especially to places like the iconic Vatnajökull Glacier — is high on my list of things to document for my grandchildren.

As a Canadian, I’ve seen the Northern Lights a few times. But, like spotting a bear in the woods or a dolphin in the ocean, watching the dance of the Aurora Borealis is something I’ll never tire of.


Photo: werner22brigitte/Pixbay

Indonesia is basically beaches and volcanoes. Over the past 5 years, I’ve developed a passion for surfing and Indonesia’s 17,000+ islands have some of the best and least-crowded breaks in the world — which is perfect for me because I’m not all that great of a surfer, so I prefer less-crowded spots.

I’m also eager to explore Indonesia above sea level — way above sea level. Indonesia has 127 volcanoes that make for epic trekking. Many of them (like Java’s Mount Bromo) are highly active, but are also said to be some of the top sunrise-viewing spots in the world. So, I’ll definitely be breaking out my trekking gear, strapping on a good pair of boots, and doing some volcano climbing.


Photo: Miguel Navaza/Flickr

This year’s visit to the Philippines won’t be my first or my last, but I can’t wait to get back to the lime green rice terraces, remote beaches, and mind-bending culture that made me fall in love with the Philippines so long ago. The Philippines is a country I’ll never tire of visiting.

This year, I’m ready to surf the world-famous Cloud 9 peak on Siargao Island, an island known as the country’s surfing capital. I also want to dive among the technicolor reefs below around Palawan. Palawan is known for its postcard-like scenery above water and some of the best wreck diving below.

And, if I have a chance, I’d love to get back Leyte, where you can be boated out to remote, empty bay to swim with the whale sharks.


Photo: Matt Gibson

This one may be last on this list, but it’s definitely a top priority. Over the past few years, I lived with a family who lost a daughter to cancer, saw my own father pass away, and have gained one niece and one nephew.

As much as I love travel and living abroad, for me no trip is more important than the trip home.

I’m not just me being sentimental about my family. I think, in general, people need a fixture of stability and permanence in their lives. A lot of travel bloggers I know have started to feel unsettled and disconnected after spending long periods of time on the road. Many of those who have been in this line of work as long as I, also treasure time at home.

Also, after living abroad, I’ve developed a new curiosity about the area where I grew up. On my last few trips home, I’ve climbed mountains I’d never climbed before and explored nearby Jasper and Calgary, discovering amazing things I never knew existed just outside my front door. There’s treasure everywhere.

There are a lot of travel bloggers running around out there selling a dream of perpetual travel when, the truth is, there really is no place like home.

— Matt Gibson

Credits: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/

Mini Philippines opens refreshed Global City Showroom

Text: / Photos: Brent Co, Mini PH | posted February 01, 2016 13:31
Text: / Photos: Brent Co, Mini PH | posted February 01, 2016 13:31

Mini Philippines celebrates 6 years in the Philippines as it gives its flagship dealership in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) a major refresh in keeping with the brand’s global standards.

Mini Philippines boss Willy Tee Ten said that the 410-sqm showroom on 5th Avenue and 26th Street will “project a true Mini journey from the moment the client is welcomed inside.”

The brand said that the refurbished showroom complies with Mini’s quest to better accommodate, entertain and capture clients. The refreshed showroom now also reflects the Mini’s values of sportiness and elegance – in addition to fun.


Mini’s BGC showroom is equipped with three large flat planel screens – called Mini Digital Communication Frames – which allow sales executives to better explain the company’s products. Moreover, sales people also have Mini content on digital devices such as tablets.

Another addition is the MINI Hub, a relaxing lounge featuring a long table, high chairs, sofa and digital screens.

The brand added that all furniture and pieces in the renovated showroom are ordered through Mini UK in keeping with global standards.


Credits: Auto Industriya (http://www.autoindustriya.com/)

Asian countries urge sick travelers to report Zika symptoms | AP, Manila Bulletin

brazil-zika-birth-defects_b887e1f6-b446-11e5-9860-1d91036943d1The Zika virus is spreading rapidly in Latin America, and Asian governments have issued advisories in a bid to contain the spread of the disease, which could be linked to birth defects and can cause temporary paralysis. So far, no Zika case has been confirmed anywhere in Asia.

A look at some of the measures announced:

South Korea 

South Korean officials have advised pregnant women against traveling to Central and South America and required doctors to immediately report suspected cases.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Friday also included the Zika virus among the group of infectious diseases recognized and monitored as potential health threats. Doctors can now face fines of up to 2 million won ($1,654) for failing to report patients infected by the mosquito-borne disease or showing symptoms of infection.

The Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also been sending text messages to people traveling in the Zika regions to inform them of the disease and preventive measures. An official from the center said it has no plans yet to strengthen temperature checks at airports as that would only stoke unnecessary fear.



Health authorities have asked travelers from South and Central America who display symptoms such as fever and rashes to immediately report to health centers.

Deputy Health Director Dr. Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said the move was imperative as it was not practical to conduct public health screenings at national gateways.

“The virus is difficult to detect and there is no quick point-of-care test which can be used,” he said.



Japan’s Foreign Ministry has issued a safety advisory urging women to try to avoid traveling to Brazil and other affected countries during pregnancy, and advised all travelers to the area to use caution. It suggested wearing long sleeves and pants, using mosquito sprays and avoid leaving out buckets, empty gardening pots and other containers that can catch water, and report to medical institutions in case of developing suspected symptoms.

The health authorities asked medical facilities to advise pregnant women not to visit the Zika areas, conduct test on suspected patients returning from the areas and send samples to the national lab.



The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is advising pregnant women to avoid travel in areas where Zika is active.

The federal government is also asking Australian doctors to look out for signs of Zika infection in travelers returning from affected areas. A spokeswoman said Australian laboratories could diagnose the virus if required.



Health Minister Shri J. P. Naddahas has stressed the control of the spread of Aedes mosquitoes that transmit dengue and the Zika virus and breed in clean water.

“Community awareness plays an instrumental role in this regard. There is a need for greater awareness amongst community,” he said.

India is also stepping up surveillance and has set up a technical group to monitor the situation.



Health officials are advising pregnant women and those planning pregnancy to adopt necessary anti-mosquito precautions, and consider deferring trips to areas with Zika virus transmissions.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man also said that because only up to one quarter of the infected persons might develop relatively mild illness, “the attention was therefore not too big.”

Aedes mosquitoes are currently not found in Hong Kong, the Health Department said, but the secretary said that other species of mosquito present in the territory are also considered as possible carriers of the disease.



The Vietnamese health authority has warned people coming from countries with the Zika virus to monitor their health for 14 days and if they develop fever to report to medical facilities.

The health authority also warned people to empty water containers and use mosquito nets to prevent the possible spread of the virus.


Associated Press writers Eileen Ng in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo; Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia; Ashok Sharma in New Delhi; Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong and Tran V. Minh in Hanoi, Vietnam, contributed to this report.

Philippines: Passenger has entire plane to himself on Philippine Airlines flight

Philippine Airlines
A Philippines Airlines’ passenger had only empty seats on a domestic flight from Manila to Boracay. (Getty Images)

A Philippine Airlines‘ passenger had his own ‘private jet’ experience, when he found himself surrounded by empty seats on a domestic flight from Manila to Boracay. The only other people on board were the two flight crew members and two pilots .

Alex Simon, 28, an Austrian travel blogger, said he first realized he would be getting a taste of the high life when he was told the flight will leave in 30 minutes instead of the planned two hours, because he was the only passenger. “I was little bit surprised and I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was dreaming. Later, while boarding, I just realized  that it’s gonna be a special flight because this time I didn’t even need to line up,” said Simon.

Upon boarding the plane, Simon said he asked the flight attendant if he can take a window seat. In reply, the flight attendant told him, “You can sit anywhere, because you’re the only passenger.”

Speaking of his experience, Simon said, reported MSN, “It was an unforgettable feeling to take a flight to one of the most beautiful islands of the world, but to be alone and to feel like a superstar made it more special. I just had luck, I think, that no one else was interested on this day to fly to paradise.”

Simon who lives in Ischgl, Austria, filmed himself amongst the empty rows in air. Before the flight took off, Simon chatted with the pilots inside the cockpit and spent the rest of the time chatting with the flight attendants. Simon was heading to Boracay, a small island located 315 km south of Manila with award-winning white sand beaches.

In 2015, British passenger, Nigel Short, found himself travelling solo on board an Air Zimbabwe flight from Johannesburg to Victoria Falls. The Boeing 737 flight typically has a capacity of over 100 passengers. “I was served by two ladies and all of the announcements were directed to me. They would say things like, ‘Mr. Short, we’re beginning our descent’ … I fly a lot and have been to well over 100 countries. And once in a while you’re on a flight with not many passengers. But, there’s a difference when you’re the only passenger,” Short told Today.com.

Credits: Maria Khan, International Business Times

Kia PH introduces more affordable Grand Carnival | Dinzo Tabamo


Kia Grand Carnival

If you’ve been drawn to the stlyish Kia Grand Carnival, but have been a little put off by its P2.3-million asking price (we can’t blame you for looking at the similarly priced Honda Odyssey instead), you’ll be glad to know that Kia Philippines is bringing in a more inexpensive version.

The new variant of the Grand Carnival will be priced at P1,575,000, and here’s the other good news: It will have 11 seats. At this point, one might expect a pared-down feature set, but Kia has still included competitive features that will make riding this minivan a treat.

The driver can enjoy a 3.5-inch OLED display, tilting-and-telescoping steering wheel, and what Kia calls a cutting-edge multimedia system. Passengers should appreciate the Euro-inspired cabin with flexible seating and cargo options. The second and third rows can be rearranged easily, allowing for versatile combinations of people and gear.

Parents will like the stainless technology cloth. This supposedly makes spilled liquids bead up and be quickly wiped away. Harder stains can be removed with soap and water.

Powering the Grand Carnival is the same muscular 2.2-liter turbodiesel. This is good for 194hp and 436Nm. You can feel the power for yourself by booking a test drive at a Kia dealership.

We’re personally curious about this new variant. A handsome 11-seater minivan for the price of a Honda CR-V sounds like a tempting proposition. This is one model we’ll put on our to-test-drive list.

Kia Grand Carnival

Credits: Dinzo Tabamo, Top Gear Philippines

Philippines is a Budget Travel Destination for 2016, Forbes Says | Choose Philippines

A business magazine already said it!

American business magazine, Forbes, included Metro Manila in the list article “The Ten Best Budget Travel Destinations for 2016.” In the piece written by Alexandra Talty, founding EIC of StepFeed in the Middle East and contributor at Forbes, last December 2015, she noted that the Philippines “has long been overlooked as a south-east Asia travel destination, but it’s now starting to attract the attention it deserves.

(Photo from Paulo Alcazaren; January 10, 2016)
(Photo from Travel Insider Rehj Payunan Medina)

The Philippines ranked no. 4 in the list. She zeroes in on Manila, despite the pollution and congestion, as a capital city that’s just waiting to be discovered and explored. It is the home of Intramuros, also called the “Walled City,” which was  fortified with defensive walls during the Spanish colonial period to protect the seat of government from foreign invasion. At present, the old buildings, walls, and ruins are maintained as parks and heritage sites that serve as tourist destinations.

The contributor also cited Laguna, a province near Metro Manila, as a perfect place for adventurers and nature-lovers. It has the famous seven lakes of San Pablo, hot water spring of Los Baños, and loads of water sports at Caliraya.

Hulugan Falls, Laguna (Photo from Travel Insider Tobiel St. John)

Other places on Alexandra’s list are George Town in Malaysia, Xi’an in China, Barcelona in Spain, Thrace Region in Turkey, Morocco, Hungary, Croatia, and Puerto Rico.

What are you waiting for? Pool together your money and book the cheapest flights to the Philippines’ many awesome destinations!

Credits: Alexandra TaltyChoose Philippines