Fine Living 5 MIN READ

Is your standard of living commensurate with your standard of giving?

Should you give more? Give less? Or should you give at all? As we welcome the new year and think of meaningful things to do, Peter Singer, a philosopher, offers some suggestions, along with arguments to give more.

December 29, 2022By Anthony O. Alcantara

Imagine a small child, a boy, trying to cross a street. He’s oblivious of the oncoming 18-wheeler truck, whose driver was distracted by a message on his mobile phone and didn’t see the child.

You are just a few feet away from the child and could grab him by his shirt to save him. Would you save the child?

You probably would. No sweat. Doing so would take only a few seconds. You wouldn’t ruin your outfit or derail your busy schedule. Besides, saving the child when you have the power to do so, even if you’re not related to him, feels right.

A similar situation was presented by Peter Singer, a philosopher and the founder of effective altruism, in his book The Life You Can Save, which was published in 2010.

He argues that there seems to be a disconnect when we think of it this way: Consider the cost of your favorite drink at a coffee shop. The cost of that drink could save a child living in dire poverty somewhere in Africa or in some impoverished area in the Philippines. If you just donate that amount.

And yet, few of us do it. Those who give think of giving as something they do when they have enough. Some think we’re giving too much.

Basic argument

Here is Singer’s basic argument, verbatim:

First premise: Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care are bad.

Second premise: If it is in your power to prevent something bad from happening, without sacrificing anything nearly as important, it is wrong not to do so.

Third premise: By donating to aid agencies, you can prevent suffering and death from lack of food, shelter, and medical care, without sacrificing anything nearly as important.

Conclusion: Therefore, if you do not donate to aid agencies, you are doing something wrong.

Of course, we can think of objections to such a conclusion. Then again, ancient values, as pointed by Singer, have endured through millennia. For Christians, giving “is not a matter of charity, but of our duty and their rights.”

“The Hebrew word for ‘charity,’ tzedakah, simply means ‘justice’ and, as this suggests, for Jews, giving to the poor is no optional extra but an essential part of living a just life,” said Singer.

Muslims are required to give zakat in proportion to their assets.There is also sadaqa, which is optional and includes both money and labor.


Some objections are worth mentioning here.

Some say there is no black and white and that people are entitled to their own beliefs about giving.

For Singer, that is “moral relativism, a position that many find attractive only until they are faced with someone who is doing something really, really wrong.”

“We can and do try to stop people who are cruel to animals, just as we stop rapists, racists, and terrorists. I’m not saying that failing to give is like committing these acts of violence, but if we reject moral relativism in some situations, then we should reject it everywhere,” he said.

To paraphrase another argument: We may be responsible for the evils that we directly inflict on others, but there is no plausible argument that we owe something to those to whom we have done nothing wrong.

“At first glance, it seems perfectly reasonable. Yet there is a callous side to a philosophy that denies that we have any responsibilities to those who, through no fault of their own, are in need,” said Singer.

If we think this way, then probably we should abolish all those programs to help the poor, the jobless, and the oppressed since, after all, we have done them no harm.

The argument also doesn’t hold up if we consider climate change and the countries who caused much of the global warming. When we use products or benefit from schemes that benefit us despite the unethical practices behind them, we cause injustice unknowingly.

Here’s another one: Giving makes the world a better place, but “it is like a little kid buying a pack of candy, keeping one piece, and giving the rest away. It just doesn’t happen.”

That’s precisely the behavior that we want to change. What we do or how we behave is different from what we ought to do.

Strengthening the case for generosity

A 2021 report by Oxfam, a group of 21 charitable organizations, found that the 10 richest men in the world have more than the combined wealth of the bottom 3.1 billion people. Their wealth doubled during the pandemic.

Credit Suisse, in its Global Wealth Report 2021, said that the richest adult population, comprising 1.1%,owns 45.8% of the world’s total wealth, an increase of 4.8% from 2013. As for the bottom half, they own only 1.3% of the total wealth, a decrease of 1.7%.Talk about the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

The World Bank, in a report titled “Overcoming Poverty and Inequality in the Philippines: Past, Present, and Prospects for the Future”, released in November 2022, said that while poverty fell from 49.2 percent in 1985 to 16.7 percent in 2018, inequality is still high. Approximately 17 percent of national income belongs to just 1 percent of earners, and 14 percent of income is shared by the bottom 50 percent.

What you can do

If you feel compelled to give, here are some steps you can take based on Singer’s suggestions:

  1. Check out to find out more about effective altruism and which organizations have the most impact on the poor. You can also buy his book.
  2. Get a list of charitable organizations in the Philippines, do your research, and find an organization to support.
  3. Get your income tax return or an accounting of your assets and decide how much to give—whether it’s 1%, 5%, or 10% or more of your income or assets—and set how often you would like to give.
  4. Tell your friends about what you’re doing and try to convince them to give more, too.

What’s in it for you?

For a start, giving will make you happy or happier. A survey from the Social Community Benchmark Survey in the US revealed that those who gave to charity were 43 percent more likely to be “very happy” compared to those who were tightfisted.

Another study, the University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics, showed that those who give are 68 percent less likely to feel “hopeless” and also 34 percent less likely to be “so sad that nothing could cheer them up.”

Making money may make you happy. Giving more, however, may make you even happier, without necessarily making you feel poor.

Besides, you wouldn’t want that truck to run over the child, would you?

ANTHONY O. ALCANTARA is the editor-in-chief of Wealth Insights. He has over 20 years of experience in corporate communications and has a master’s degree in technology management from the University of the Philippines. When not at work, he goes out on epic adventures with his family, practices Aikido, and sings in a church choir.

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Fine Living 2 MIN READ

Eye-catching pieces: The seductiveness of investing in jewelry

The enduring allure of jewelry goes beyond symbols of wealth and status. It could embody something priceless that you can pass on to your heirs.

December 9, 2022By Chelsey Keith P. Ignacio (BusinessWorld)

Dressing up, for some, may seem inadequate without matching pieces of jewelry. But beyond adding sparkle and completing one’s style, jewelry may have a manifold significance for every wearer. It has been that way for thousands of years.

Jewelry is one of the earliest art forms, with the oldest piece discovered dating back between 142,000 and 150,000 years ago. It was 33 beads made from sea snail shells, each measuring around half an inch long. Unearthed by archaeologists between 2014 and 2018 from a cave in western Morocco, these beads were believed to be part of how people expressed their identity through their clothing a long time ago.

Some of the other pieces of jewelry in prehistoric times were made from stones and bones. When social disparities became more apparent among people in the Neolithic period, jewelry also became a means to distinguish individuals and reflect their status.

Jewelry, throughout millennia, continue to hold value to the wearer. (Source: Pixabay)

Value of jewelry

Today, jewelry is cherished for various reasons. For one, people hold wedding rings dear to them as symbols of commitment and devotion. Engagement rings became more valuable and popular as well in the past decades, thanks to iconic engagement rings such as the Van Cleef & Arpels 2.88-carat diamond and 2.84-carat emerald ring of Jacqueline Kennedy, as well as Princess Diana’s 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire ring from Garrard.

Some people also value lucky charm bracelets, which they believe can bring good fortune, wealth, or love into their lives.

Jewelry also remains to be valued because of its link to wealth. And this is not only because they can manifest the status or power the owner holds. They could be worth millions and may contribute to one’s assets.

They can be eye-catching investments, but, like other asset classes, the value of jewelry may not significantly increase through the years. Looking closely at the qualities or factors that could affect the value of jewelry could be helpful, especially if one wishes to treat such pieces as investments.

Wedding rings have become a symbol of commitment and devotion. (Source: Pixabay)

Checklist before you buy

Russell Fogarty, former head of Christie’s jewelry department in New York and partner of Kazanjian & Fogarty, has a checklist that could help assess the investment worthiness of a piece of jewelry — vintage, high quality, in good condition, beautiful, and containing the manufacturer’s signature.

“If you check all those boxes, whatever you’ve purchased is going to increase in value over time,” Mr. Fogarty told Bloomberg.

Josef Sagemuller, a jewelry specialist at Salcedo Auctions, also noted the value of researching the jewelry that you wish to procure and invest in.

“Jewelry hardly ever depreciates in value, but you have to be aware of what it is you are buying, and do your research,” he said in a BusinessWorld report.

“When you choose to invest in quality stones and pieces, you will be able to hedge your savings and money from inflation, hyperinflation, and economic crises,” he added.

Wearing jewelry can be an explicit way to signify wealth, status, and power. (Source: Pexels)

Choose the rare ones

Known jewelers such as Cartier, Bulgari, and Tiffany may seem like good investments, said Sagemuller, as they usually hold on to their value as time passes. However, there is another factor to consider for widely-made jewelry pieces.

“The more common pieces that are mass produced will not appreciate as much as their haute joaillerie or high-end jewelry counterparts,” he said. “Always buy stones of high quality in as big a size as you can afford.”

As you look for jewelry to consider as an investment, experts also remind you to have patience, for it may take time for the value of some pieces of jewelry to appreciate. It is not easy to foresee whether a piece of jewelry could maintain or surpass its value.

Ask experts

You may check in with professional experts, and reach out to auction house specialists or collectors, who could share reliable insights into purchasing and investing in jewelry.

But while there are myriad considerations when looking at jewelry as a valuable asset, several experts agree that you should, of course, invest in jewelry pieces that you would love.

Beyond its monetary value, jewelry could signify something that is priceless to you. These precious pieces will stay with you for a long time and then eventually be passed on to your heirs to be cherished by them as well.

Now that’s a worthy investment you could make, too.

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Fine Living 3 MIN READ

Helping employees become resilient

As we celebrate World Mental Health Day, let’s re-examine how we, as leaders, are helping those who look up to us to have the inner strength and confidence to fight their daily battles.

October 10, 2022By Judy Capili

As we come out of the global pandemic and economies start opening up, ensuring the mental health of employees remains a challenge for companies.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, we cannot shield employees from the stresses of life and work. There will always be demanding customers. Tasks and projects will unsurprisingly pile up. Technology will not always be reliable. Alas, things, without doubt, can and will go wrong from time to time.

In the face of setbacks and difficulties, how can organizations help employees build inner strength and resilience? As important, as leaders, how can we ourselves bounce back from adversity instead of burning out and breaking down?

Psychologist and author Dr. Rick Hanson says that the key to resilience is to develop the ability to turn passing experiences into lasting inner resources and to hard-wire these into our brains. Drawing from the concept of neuroplasticity, one can change the brain, as if it were a muscle, and lead it toward calm, grit, and courage, which are hallmarks of resilience.

As human beings, our evolutionary brains are programmed to seek out three basic needs: safety, resources, and connection. According to Dr. Hanson, if we can develop the inner strength that matches these three needs, we can become more resilient. Here are some ways you and your employees can cultivate inner mental resources for resilience.


  • Train leaders to establish a psychologically safe work environment where team members can speak their minds and treat each other with respect and dignity.
  • When faced with threats, help teams find emotional balance and calm by avoiding blaming, panic, and harshness.
  • Install an ethics hotline to protect employees and allow them to stand up to wrongdoing.


  • Provide information and learning opportunities on mental health and resilience.
  • Ensure that employees have the tools and equipment they need. Having the right resources can give them the confidence and courage to solve problems and navigate gnarly situations.
  • Communicate benefits often so employees can appreciate and feel good about what they enjoy as part of the team.


  • Explore team enhancement and social responsibility programs where employees can connect with each other and the community at large.
  • Establish a peer-to-peer coaching initiative to support employees with a lifeline when they are in distress.
  • Celebrate team successes with simple and meaningful get-togethers and events.

When employees feel safe, resourced, and connected, they can develop their inner strength and become more resilient when times get tough.

They say that wise parents do not prepare the path for the child, but prepare the child for the path. Similarly, our role as leaders is not to perpetually protect our people from hard times but to ensure that they have the confidence and capacity to fight their own personal battles.

JUDY CAPILI is the HR Business Partner Lead for Financial Markets and Institutional Banking. She is a Certified Mindfulness Teacher (CMT-P) accredited by the International Mindfulness Teachers Association (IMTA), having completed her teacher training from the Engaged Mindfulness Institute (EMI). She leads Metrobank’s weekly Mindful Moments, a 30-minute drop-in meditation and reflection session for employees who need to de-stress over their lunch period.

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Fine Living 5 MIN READ

Luxury electric cars for the sophisticated and environment-conscious

With the introduction of new models of luxury electric vehicles in recent years and the growing commitment of car companies to be “green”, we may be entering an inflection point for mass adoption of EVs by the rich.

October 6, 2022By Bjorn Biel M. Beltran (BusinessWorld)

(Editor’s Note: We have recently partnered with BusinessWorld to craft stories about enjoying the finer things in life—from cars to dining and travel, jewelry, and all things that make for “good living”. We hope you enjoy this first installment.)

Does it make sense to own a luxury electric vehicle right now?

It would seem so, now that Republic Act No. 11697, or the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA), has finally become law. It will make it easier for Filipinos to shift to electric vehicles.

How? By creating a roadmap that will hasten the development and installation of charging stations, require parking slots for electric vehicles (EVs), set manufacturing standards for EVs and their components, and afford other perks that will promote the adoption of EVs.

These include exemption from excise taxes and the number coding scheme. What’s there not to like?

But there’s more to owning an electric vehicle. It can be a luxurious and sensual experience, not to mention that you’ll help save the environment, too.

Here are some of the best luxury EVs you can find – and drive – in the Philippines right now.


BusinessWorld Velocity

The BMW iX is touted as the carmaker’s “technology flagship” model, an all-electric Sports Activity Vehicle. Equipped with the proprietary BMW eDrive technology and its electric all-wheel drive, the iX is every bit the equal of its conventionally fueled counterparts with its exceptional range and impressive acceleration.

With an austere design language that aims for a modern and expressive appearance, the BMW iX is the brand’s take on the face of electric-powered mobility. In the company’s own words, the iX was designed to be “expressive, but not overloaded. Intelligent but not complicated. In short: a design that at first glance symbolizes a new form of driving pleasure”.

In terms of performance, the fifth generation BMW eDrive technology—including the high-voltage storage system, power electronics, and charging technology, alongside two powerful electric motors—not only delivers efficiency, but elevates the BMW iX’s power to that of a sports car: over 500 hp and noiseless acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in under five seconds.

Porsche Taycan GTS

Porsche’s all-electric Taycan line embodies the brand’s soul of performance. The GTS model, in particular, boasts 440kW (598PS) of overboost power with Launch Control, a GTS-specific drivetrain tuned for increased agility.

The GTS also sports the Taycan line’s Performance Battery Plus, providing it with a WLTP range of up to 512 kilometers, while the 800-volt architecture produces charge power of up to 270kW, reducing the burden of recharging and allowing you to cover long distances effortlessly.

All of this is wrapped up in the distinct and dynamic flyline. The athletic look of the GTS is enhanced by the standard SportDesign upper valance and the side skirts with inlays in black with the GTS logo. For the truly discerning drivers, there is an optional carbon SportDesign package that further accentuates the best form with carbon inlays for the lower valance and side skirts, as well as a GTS-specific rear diffuser in black with carbon side fins.

The unique GTS interior completes the experience, with the finely crafted, extensive coverage of Race-Tex, a circuit-proven microfiber material combined with high quality, smooth-finish leather in black.

Audi e-tron GT quattro

The Audi e-tron is the carmaker’s attempt to translate its fundamental design philosophy to the electric age. The innovation in drive technology is apparent in the style-defining characteristics such as the distinctive sill area, the specific daytime running light signature, and the absence of exhaust pipes.

Aerodynamically optimized from the intelligent air inlets at the front to the vented wheel arches and the striking rear diffuser, the Audi e-tron GT quattro is a car that leaves an impression. Meanwhile, the 800-volt lithium-ion battery integrated into the flat underbody offers extremely high performance, improving on the e-tron’s range of up to 405 km and 300 kW of power.

In this way, Audi’s e-tron GT quattro model promises progressive luxury and pure sportiness. With the proportions of a gran turismo – flat and wide with a long wheelbase – and the sculptural design of the body, it aims to deliver both power and performance.

Jaguar I-PACE

The winner of World Car of the Year, World Car Design of the Year, and World Green Car at the World Car Awards, the Jaguar I-PACE is one of the most desirable EVs on the market. The I-PACE epitomizes the Jaguar DNA for the EV industry, combining elegance, aerodynamics, contemporary FIA Formula E Racing technology and contemporary British design to create a car unlike any other.

Jaguar’s I-PACE aims to be a reimagining of the brand’s classic balance of sports car focus and luxury craftsmanship. The dramatic, cab-forward profile, short overhangs and taut, muscular haunches give it a sense of gravitas, while the spacious cabin, with its handcrafted touches and technological innovations, gives it that touch of sophistication.

The Jaguar I-PACE boasts of a Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) range of up to 470 km, an acceleration of zero to 100 km/h in 4.8 secs (0-60mph in 4.5 secs), and a state-of-the-art 90kWh lithium-ion battery.

Lexus RZ /  LS 500h Premier

Lexus made waves with the announcement of their commitment to push towards the complete electrification of their vehicles moving forward. This commitment was backed by the announcement of the Lexus RZ, the brand’s first foray into a pure battery electric platform.

For Lexus fans who can’t wait for it to arrive in the Philippines, the Lexus LS flagship sedan, IS sport sedan, RX SUV, and NX crossover all feature hybrid technologies that reduce vehicle emissions while providing the enhanced mobility and refined luxury that the brand is known for.

The LS 500h Premier, for instance, pairs a V6 3.5-liter direct injection engine with two powerful self-charging electric motors to deliver 354 horsepower with maximum fuel efficiency. It has Lexus’s signature Hybrid Drive — a seamless, optimal combination of electric power and fuel that makes for an environmentally-friendly, fuel-efficient drive designed for convenience and comfort.

The hybrid system has been carefully engineered to monitor driving conditions to intelligently coordinate both electric and fuel power sources when required, whether accelerating, in traffic, or cruising along roads. Furthermore, as the car travels, any excess energy is routed to the battery for charging.

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Fine Living 3 MIN READ

Style Guide for Men: Bringing the runway to the boardroom

Men may find it hard to introduce something novel yet sophisticated into their wardrobe. Why not take inspiration from the latest fashion trends on the runway this time?

July 21, 2022By Kristabel Penafuerte

Men’s fashion in the boardroom has evolved over the years. Back then, the suited corporate titans in leather oxfords were the staple figures. Today, you have the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world in a hoodie and a black shirt with the same decision-making power.

Let’s face it, we’re in 2022 and fashion trends can be worn by whomever loves what.

But if you wear uninspired clothes, you may not get the attention or earn the reputation you need to move up to the C-suite.

Since you are entering the board room, which is the most powerful room in the office, it wouldn’t hurt to do some power dressing in style. This shows you know how to play by the rules and you can bend them as well, if you will.

Now, let’s spice things up. We’ve handpicked a few looks from the 2022 runway for you so you can stride in style in that board room.

Runway trend #1: The sartorial look with the double-breasted jacket

trend 1

This ‘70s fashion trend has been doing the rounds for quite some time, but in 2022, we’re seeing more double-breasted jackets hit the runway.

The double-breasted jacket carries an air of formality and will give you good posture as it pins your shoulders back with its wrap-around style.

Try recreating the runway look by pairing it with your collared long sleeves or collared polo, trousers, and black loafers.

Some of the well-known fashion houses, such as Versace, Hermes, Dior, and Louis Vuitton, have them in their Autumn Winter 2022 collection.

Runway trend #2: Standout with red

trend 2

Adding a pop of color to your outfit wouldn’t hurt. Red surprisingly matches everything and can replace your neutral colors for a change.

If you have a red coat, you can mix and match it with some go-to wardrobe staples such as your long-sleeved or polo shirt, navy trousers, and a pair of loafers. Finish off your look with a pair of Clubmaster sunglasses and a leather belt if need be.

Red pieces were seen in Off-White, Givenchy, Prada, and Hermes.

Runway trend #3: The all-black look

trend 3

The all-black look is always in. It never goes out of the fashion calendar and out of all the runway trends. This would be the easiest one to pull off, as it could work from day to night.

Try putting together your black polo shirt, leather belt, jeans, and low-cut boots, as if you’ve just stepped off the runway.

The all-black trend can be seen in Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, and Off-White.

Runway trend #4: The statement piece with leather

trend 4

For a light day at work, put together an outfit that will make you look effortlessly cool. A dark leather jacket can be your statement piece.

Pair it with a trusty polo shirt, khaki pants, a leather belt, and white sneakers for a preppy-meets-edgy look.

Leather pieces were seen in Dolce & Gabbana, Dunhill, Fendi, and Hermes.

Now, let’s see you sport these runway trends with confidence when you enter the boardroom and make heads turn.

KRISTABEL PENAFUERTE is a Corporate Affairs Officer at Metrobank, in charge of the Bank’s internal communications and engagement for products and channels. Prior to her role in corporate affairs, she was into fashion marketing and was a freelance fashion stylist. She is also into film photography and is an advocate for local fashion designers.

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Fine Living 4 MIN READ

Discovering renewed creativity in retirement

Sometimes the artist in us comes out when we’re not preoccupied with all the things we used to do. We can take inspiration from Virginia Chua Uy, who, shortly after retiring, found time for a new passion.

July 8, 2022By Jojo Mariano

What would you do when the rat race is won? Would you slowly walk out and be free?

Long after running the family business, or climbing the corporate ladder, what happens when retirement is at hand? Does one shift to the right-brain passions like art and music to put the creative juices to good use?

Vincent Van Gogh was somehow late into the game. He was more of an art dealer than an artist growing up, and got serious and picked up brushes only at the age of 28. Meanwhile, songwriter and two-time Grammy winner Bill Withers served in the US Navy before shifting to music at age 30. He didn’t release an album until he was 34.

“Butterfly on my mind.” Drawn by Ms. Virginia Uy at the lowest point in her life.


Van Gogh and Withers are of different genres and eras, but the imprint they left with “Starry Night” and “Lovely Day” made them and their works cultural icons to this day.

Indeed, anyone can learn new things and find an outlet to release or rekindle creativity even at the age of retirement.

Ms. Virginia Uy works on her first landscape.

This is how restaurateur cum painter Virginia Chua Uy, a Private Wealth client of Metrobank, makes use of her time these days. As a retired Human Resource head and interior decorator for Rosita’s, Inc. and Rosita’s Food, Inc., the humble and amiable owner of one of Cebu’s popular food chains finds herself immersed in a newfound love for painting.

Her employees describe her as a disciplinarian at work, but friendly and artistically expressive when it comes to her creative pursuits. We hunkered down with Ms. Uy to talk about her passion:

Each design is unique.


How did you get hooked into painting? Was this your passion growing up, or is this something new and exciting for you? What inspired you to take it up or rekindle your interest?  

It started when we closed our restaurant business. I visited a friend who was painting. I wanted to do something I would enjoy outside dance. It was the first time I held a paint brush. I got interested and took up an eight-week course. I painted a beach scene on acrylic.

I kept going at it, painting various subjects and scenes. It got to a point that my teacher Cesar Castillo invited me to hold an exhibit, but I declined because of COVID.

Was I a natural? Was talent in my genes? I probably took it from my dad. He was into charcoal drawings, but also painted Chinese calligraphy using the Mopit brush.

My sister can also draw, and she makes dresses for her paper dolls.

Ms. Uy says the coco beads, leaves, plastic beads, metals, and straw that she uses in her artworks depict the multi-faceted nature of women.


What basic tools, skills and techniques got you started, and how have you progressed since then?

I started with acrylic on canvas. The Beach. I had finished at least 30 art works thus far and sold some already.

But I stopped temporarily when my husband passed away during the pandemic. I resumed shortly and started using butterflies as subjects.

But I have moved to other media as well. I painted on bags and sold many of those here in Cebu and in Manila. With the COVID outbreak, I now paint on face masks.

For those who want to take up their own creative pursuits, what advise can you give them?

We must learn every single day. Each day is a day for learning. We should not be afraid to learn. We learn from mistakes. We need to get back up. Life goes on.

I now paint with my niece. I like to teach her. I want to encourage kids.

I read the Bible and use God’s word for inspiration. My favorite chapter is Isaiah 54. It gives me strength.

Ms. Uy has become a prolific artist whose works that portray “freedom, release, peace”.


Finding renewed creativity in retirement is possible. Passion and inspiration are the key ingredients. This mother is no Monet, but her brush strokes are deliberate as she paints subjects that depict freedom and release: dancers, mermaids, sea creatures, fauna, and flora.

It is as if her hand at running the food business got better at a craft that is more inspiring, and the ability to release her newfound creativity fulfills her more than the occasional coin that her art brings to her brimming coffers.

Ms. Uy says she intends to paint more when she gets into the right mood. She intends to explore other media to inspire her audiences, as well as the Almighty who blessed her with her talents.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, as she finishes her next piece, singing:

“Just one look at you, and the world is alright with me.”

JOJO MARIANO is the head of Metrobank’s Private Wealth Division’s Support Department. He joined the Bank as a researcher immediately after graduation. He moved on to Planning and Oversight under the Strategic Planning Division, where he helped map the Bank’s strategic plan under four bank presidents. When not at work, Jojo likes to draw and write as an outlet, and is also into running, riding bicycles, and diving.

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Fine Living 3 MIN READ

How leaders can supercharge their minds

Some of the most accomplished and wealthy individuals in the world meditate. They find something in it that helps them perform at their peak. Should you include it in your daily routine?

June 27, 2022By Judy Capili

What do Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Huffington Post CEO Ariana Huffington, and NBA championship coach Phil Jackson have in common? Add to the list Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio, and Linkedin CEO Jeff Weiner. Aside from being wildly successful in their respective fields, all these leaders practice meditation.

The science about the benefits of meditation is clear and irrefutable. These benefits can be explained by neuroplasticity, which is the brain’s ability to change in response to experiences. Neurons and neural pathways can rearrange and reorganize themselves during learning, growth or even adapt to an injury. Studies show that meditation thickens the brain’s pre-frontal cortex, which is the executive part of the brain in charge of decision making, analytical thinking, and other higher order functions.

Meditation trains the mind to be in the present moment and see reality clearly as it is. It teaches the mind to respond, rather than react, to what happens around us. So instead of being tossed around by life, chasing pleasures, and escaping pain, we cultivate clear comprehension to live more meaningful lives. For business leaders, it helps us to live life with intentionality of purpose.

“For me, it has nothing to do with faith or mysticism. It’s about taking a few minutes out of my day, learning how to pay attention to the thoughts in my head, and getting a little bit of distance from them,” writes Bill Gates.

How can you start your own meditation practice?

  1. Decide on a place and time to meditate.  Choose a quiet spot in your home or office where you will not be disturbed for a few minutes. There are no special materials or equipment needed. You don’t need to light an incense or ring any bells. Your meditation time can be in the morning as soon as you wake up or at night before you go to bed.
  2. Start with five minutes of meditation and build your practice.  You can start with five minutes of meditation if that’s all the time you have. It’s not so much the duration as it is the regularity of practice. Build it up to 10 minutes and eventually, longer.
  3. Sit down and focus on your breath. There are different anchors for meditation (like body sensations, sounds) as well as postures (such as standing, walking, lying down). For starters, you may consider beginning with sitting and focusing on the breath. Sit with your spine straight but not rigid. You can either close your eyes or keep them open with a soft gaze. Relax the body and begin your practice. Dr. Tamara Russell, in her book #WhatisMindfulness suggests the following steps:

    a. Set your intention to attend to the sensations of the breath.

    b. As best you can, maintain the focus of your attention on breathing, observing the air moving in and out of the body. This may be through the rise and fall of the belly or the chest, or the air going through the nostrils.

    c. If your mind wanders (which it will, usually just after a few seconds), note the distraction.

    d. Re-focus the attention on the breath. It’s ok to begin again and again.

  4. Try to incorporate mindfulness in your daily life. Try to do some tasks in a mindful way. For example, when you eat, just eat (not watching TV or using your phone). Start your next meeting with five mindful breaths to allow you to “arrive” in the meeting. Avoid multi-tasking.

Meditation is a practice to discipline the mind to observe what is happening as it is happening with curiosity and friendliness. Science has proven its efficacy in cultivating awareness, clarity, focus, kindness and so much more to make one a more effective leader. Successful CEOs swear by its value in their daily lives. Isn’t it about time that you try it?

JUDY CAPILI is the HR Business Partner Lead for Financial Markets and Institutional Banking. She is a Certified Mindfulness Teacher (CMT-P) accredited by the International Mindfulness Teachers Association (IMTA), having completed her teacher training from Engaged Mindfulness Institute (EMI). She leads Metrobank’s weekly Mindful Moments, a 30-minute drop-in meditation and reflection session for employees who need to de-stress over their lunch period.

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Fine Living 3 MIN READ

Mindfulness for leaders

You may think it’s just a fleeting fad. Mindfulness, however, has been scientifically proven to be beneficial for most people.

May 20, 2022By Judy Capili

As professionals and business owners, we all lead busy lives. The day starts with an alarm to signal the beginning of the frenzy and chaos, a day filled with meetings to preside over, projects to manage, and decisions to make. No wonder we’re stressed and burned out.

Do you know that mindfulness can help you manage the stresses of a hectic lifestyle? Numerous studies have shown that mindfulness can promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being and health.

What is mindfulness? It is our ability to be aware of the present and pay attention to what is happening without judgment. Mindfulness can be developed through meditation, a mental training to embrace our moment-to-moment experience in a relaxed and gentle way.

The awareness and compassion we cultivate help us see things clearly just as they are, and respond more skillfully to situations. As Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl says: “Between the stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.”

Benefits of Mindfulness

We become calmer and less stressed. Mindfulness can support us to respond, rather than react, to challenges and crises with calmness and composure. It gives us a chance to pause and take a step back before our next move.

We gain clarity and focus. When the mind is calm through mindfulness meditation, the lens through which we see the world becomes clearer. Instead of acting purely on impulse, we can recognize things as they really are and experience life in all its fullness and truest nature.

We can be kinder and better leaders. Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can help us become kinder and more compassionate. When we sit still, we create space to honor what we have in common with other human beings. We can become more effective leaders for our team members.

How can we be more mindful? 

  1. Observe purposeful pauses throughout the day. Enjoy small pauses in between meetings in order to breathe, focus, and gather your attention. Mindfully “arrive” in the meeting, decide on your purpose, and lead meetings in a more productive way.
  2. Practice mindful movements. Mindful movement helps us get in touch with our body, release tension, mobilize stagnant energy and even lift our mood. Try to do some mindful movements throughout your day. Do some shoulder and neck rolls every hour. Shift in your seat often. Maybe you can stand or even walk around in between meetings.
  1. Try to focus on one thing at a time. New studies reveal that multitasking reduces our performance because our brains can only focus on one thing at a time. Renowned Zen Master Sunryu Suzuki, in his book Beginner’s Mind, introduced the Japanese secret to productivity called Ichigyo-Zammai which means “full concentration on a single act.” Suzuki Roshi wrote: “When you bow, you should just bow; when you sit, you should just sit; when you eat, you should just eat.”
  2. Don’t forget self-care. We cannot pour from an empty cup, as they say. When we’re tired and tapped out, we can become negative, resentful, and unproductive. Take time to recharge and recover. Allow yourself to rest during weekends. Spend time with your family. Enjoy a hobby unrelated to your work. Read. Write. Meditate. Pray. Sleep.
  3. Consider starting a meditation practice. Decide on a place and time to meditate. It can be in the morning as soon as you wake up or at night before you go to bed. You can start with five minutes of meditation. Sit down, relax your body, and focus on your breath.

Mindfulness meditation is not a panacea or a cure-all. It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution for all mental and psychological problems. It can, however, be a tool to reduce stress and regulate awareness, so we can be more focused, effective, and compassionate human beings.

JUDY CAPILI is the HR Business Partner Lead for Financial Markets and Institutional Banking. She is a Certified Mindfulness Teacher (CMT-P) accredited by the International Mindfulness Teachers Association (IMTA), having completed her teacher training from Engaged Mindfulness Institute (EMI).  She leads Metrobank’s weekly Mindful Moments, a 30-minute drop-in meditation and reflection session for employees who need to de-stress over their lunch period.

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Fine Living 3 MIN READ

How to dress like a lady boss

Make a good impression and perhaps advance your career with what you wear

May 13, 2022By Kristabel Peñafuerte

Growing up, I enjoy seeing my mom meticulously putting together her office attire. She just loves planning her day-to-day outfits and picking which lipstick matches her look.

I guess it started my love for power dressing. A power suit exudes elegance and confidence without trying hard. You can even play around with colors depending on your personality. There are also some different silhouettes or types of fittings that you can choose from to elevate your corporate dressing game.

After all, dressing up plays a role in establishing one’s credibility and professional image. If you’re unsure of what to wear, worry no more. We’re here to guide you so you can work in style.

Look 1:

It may be cliché, but classic styles never go out of style. Go for a classic tailored suit, a pair of trusty nude pumps, and a pair of stud earrings.

While a neutral-colored tailored suit goes well with every body type, you may want to play around with fabrics. Cashmere, linen, and cotton are some of the popular fabric choices.

Finish off your neutral outfit with a statement piece – a pop of plum structured bag.

When purchasing a work bag, get a bag that best fits your lifestyle. If you’re a light packer, a medium-sized tote bag is enough to carry around all your daily essentials.

Look 2:

A white linen button down shirt and pencil cut skirt will always be a practical go-to workwear combo. But why not try to spice things up a little? Match your silk shirt with a high waist linen pencil cut skirt to elongate your frame.

If you want to loosen up your skirt by mid-day, you may freely adjust your belted pencil cut skirt. Complete your look with a pair of white block pumps to make your legs look longer without sacrificing comfort.

Look #3:

Whenever people ask me if I should pick comfort or style, I always tell them, “Why not pick both?” Balance style and comfort by trying this vintage-meets-modern look.

This will give you extra oomph to your daily workwear. Besides, a powerful lady boss wardrobe will never be complete without a classic tailored suit.

Update your look by adding a dainty ruffled top, which is making a fashion comeback this year. Aside from looking stylish, a slightly loose ruffled top can also help you hide some belly fat, as it can draw attention away from your tummy.

Top it off with red pumps and a tote bag to take your neutral suit to the next level.

Look 4:

Bright orange made its way over the spring runways. Take advantage of the orange is the new black trend by adding a statement puzzle bag paired with an orange blazer and printed trousers.

Orange may look intimidating for those who are starting to experiment with colors for the first time, but note that this vibrant hue often goes well with different types of skin tone.

To complement your bold ensemble, try to finish off your look with a pair of white kitten heels and button down in the shade of dusty pink.

Look 5:

If you have a lot of errands for the day and still want to be fashionable, a pair of buckled suede loafers can save the day.

Elevate your workwear style by playing around with different textures. Put on a leather skirt which is a versatile statement piece that you can wear from day to night. Pair it with a textured ruffled blouse for an elegant and polished look.

Three seconds

Building your workwear closet can help you play around with your looks to fit your personality. Take inspiration from my suggestions above to express yourself.

As my fashion professor would always say, it only takes three seconds for people to make an impression of you. Leave a good one by how you dress up.

KRISTABEL PENAFUERTE is a Corporate Affairs Officer of Metrobank. Prior to her role in corporate communications, she was into fashion marketing and styling.

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Fine Living 6 MIN READ

Reach the Beach

With the limitations of these uncertain times, how can you experience the island vacation you want? The answer is simpler than you think.

December 22, 2021By Jojo Mariano

I was listening to the Fixx’s “One Thing Leads to Another” (yes, I am old) and the album’s title hit me:  “Reach the Beach.”  Damn. I haven’t had mountain air or salt water in nearly two years!

Twenty months since the pandemic-induced travel ban was imposed, many also find themselves itching to pack their bags and head out to their favorite getaways. For those accustomed to taking their Peking duck lunch meetings in Hong Kong, or skipping to Como to test their newly-serviced boats, the itch to ditch the briefcase, work from home arrangements notwithstanding, has been throbbing more than ever. Unfortunately, the type of vaccine administered continues to dictate which international destination is accessible at this point. So while many foreign tourist capitals have opened up, local travelers remain strapped due to selective and vaccine-related bans on outbound Filipinos.

The good news is, you don’t have to go far to get your feet wet. For the more adventurous tourists who can shed their creature of comfort persona, there are a lot of places off the beaten path that are worth your wait. Whether you’re into photography, diving, surfing, trekking or just beach combing, we’ve culled a shortlist1 that goes beyond Balesin, Bohol and Busuanga; and we’re not even talking about Boracay. These top five under-the-radar gems, arranged from North to South, should help ease your wanderlust.

1. Kaparkan Falls. The local version of Vietnam’s Pongour waterfall, getting there isn’t a stroll. The falls sit in the town of Caganayan, Tineg up north in Abra, which is about an hour’s flight (or a 10 hour drive) from Manila. You may need to trade your Tumis for trek poles to get there, but it’s all worth it. Get those muscles moving; the reward is priceless.

2. The Caramoan Islands. Popularized by the Amazing Race, this cluster of islands is known for powdery beaches, rich marine life and raw rock formations. They sit on the edge of Camarines Sur in the Bicol Region. Visitors take an hour’s flight from Manila to Legazpi, followed by a two-hour drive to Sabang Port and another two-hour speed boat ride. Getting there may be an ordeal, but the trade-off is a tranquil, clean, unpopulated patch of paradise.

3. Apo Island. Divers, snorkelers, marine biologists and underwater videographers swear by its waters’ biodiversity. If you’re into swimming with sharks and turtles, giant corals and countless species of fish, drive for an hour from Dumaguete to the sleepy town of Malapatay, and then hop into a banca until you reach the island. It’s a spartan’s haven, given humble accommodations, rationed electricity, and food supplies that are dictated by sea currents. It’s a turn from the pampered dive spots up north, and it may be worthwhile experience.

4. Sohoton Natural Bridge Park. Sitting in Samar Island in the Eastern Visayas, this is your alternative to the more popular Saint Paul subterranean river national park. A boat ride along the Sohoton river takes you across lush greenery and limestone structures. There is Panhulugan Cave that houses weather-made sculptures that resemble Bohol’s Chocolate Hills and Banawa’s rice terraces. Further down the river, the canoe glides towards the Natural Bridge. Visitors then slide through the rock wall and into a water hole for a refreshing dip. The park is accessible by habal-habal from the village of Basey, after taking a bus or jeepney ride from the city.

5. Siquijor. Aswangs aside, the much maligned image of an otherwise pristine patch of sand and sun sits between Bohol and Cebu and is relatively accessible. Two local ferries depart from Cebu’s Santander port, while one ship kicks off from Bohol’s Tagbilaran port. On top of beautiful beaches, the island hosts several waterfalls, old churches and convents. Visitors usually hop on mopeds and take their time exploring its hidden nooks and crannies.


Why go local?

For one, Ibiza, Machu Picchu, Morocco can wait. The creperies along Champs Elysees won’t close anytime soon, and the Paris-Roubaix race will return. And of course, there are the 2024 Olympics. All akin to a jet-setter’s normal travel tastes.

More importantly, the pandemic and consequent ban on foreign travel unintendedly shifted the spotlight to sustainable domestic eco-tourism. Visiting any of these spots not only supports livelihood activities for our communities, but opens our eyes to the natural beauty of the homeland.

This is not glamping. It’s a paradigm shift from moonlit, ocean-view balconies, canapes and wine.

It’s a call to re-experience that downing a cold one on an isolated, sandy beach as the sun sets could be just as calming.

Have you switched those Salvatorres for Scarpas yet?

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