Charity does not have any brand but meaning.

(May 30,2016) DUBAI- Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are most often perceived as “brand-conscious” in fashion and beauty.  But in general, OFW would say, they run for quality and affordability, as one could read in a newspaper column that features the “branded” Pinoy (short for Filipino).However,they also know that  fancy things are just perks of life and there are more valuable than those commodities.

In commemoration of  the 118th Philippine Independence Day, this group of men and women fashion savvies and models will conduct their second season of their outreach program for distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) headed by freelance journalist /contributing writer and charity advocate, Ed Ibanez who penned the Branded Pinoy column.

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This will be held on June 10,2016 from 8:00 a.m onwards at the POLO-OWWA hall in Al Qusais, Dubai.

The team will provide four airfare tickets to the OFWs in coordination with the POLO-OWWA. Gift packs consisting of personal items will also be distributed and free of charge cargo through the generosity of Luzan Express Cargo , Infinity Beauty Lounge and Spa-Rigga,  their charity project sponsors.

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Ibanez, himself, an awarded model, acting / commercial personality and a media practitioner in the UAE since 2011, formed the Branded Pinoy group of OFW models from his regular column in Kabayan Weekly tabloid.

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He has been involved in charitable activities during his elementary days in Bacong,Anda, Bohol and continuing his commitment on reaching out to the needy up to this day. His objective in helping out the distressed workers in the country is “to promote unity among OFWs in the UAE and good characteristics of Filipinos.”


Strange, but true, you might not believe it.

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The wallpaper of my cell phone for several months now. (Photo source: Facebook)

(May 29,2016) – DUBAI- I was so eager to reach home and get hold of my laptop to start writing about my extraordinary experience this morning.

Have you ever encountered the spirit of a dead person, or at least seen signs of his or her presence when he /she had just passed away a month ago? I did. Today.

I knew about her and her physical conditions when I attended a program for the distressed Overseas Filipino Workers at the POLO-OWWA (Dubai) in October last year. A member of a Christian organization supporting cancer patients asked me a favor to feature this lady’s story in a weekly newspaper for the Filipino community.

She had a breast cancer that metastasized to her bones and in need of financial assistance. She had been battling the disease since 2013. Her name is Emilie Padua Ramos, 47 years old,  a single parent with two sons.


My first visit and interview with Emilie in February 2016, during her chemotherapy at the Dubai Hospital (Photo by Lapis Mia)

We were strangers to each other. For four months, I only communicate with her through phone and Whatsapp until I finally met her in February during her chemotherapy session. I failed in my attempt to publish her story in some newspaper. I approached several publications but nothing happened, so i just dedicated a Facebook for her and other “kabayan” (fellow Filipino) cancer patients as I found out that in one hospital alone, there were 6 Filipinas undergoing chemotherapy at that same day. That sparked my cancer awareness campaign- to call the attention of the 800,000-strong Filipino community that there are people suffering from cancer and in need of support from their fellowmen. I must say, in need of that sense of belongingness too, being in a foreign country.

But she passed away last month due to complications. Her lungs and kidney weakened. I was there during her last few days, having spent a night watching over her and during her last few hours on earth.

Today, 34 days after her passing, I busy with my own personal dilemma. I was praying over a major decision I need to make and I was asking for Divine Intervention. I have work-related issues to settle when my phone rang and I answered it. A lady was following up my attendance in one event.

IMG-20160416-WA0000This photograph instantly appeared on the screen of my phone.  (Photo by Lapis Mia)

My phone which bears an inspirational artwork SUDDENLY  changed into a picture as I put the call down. Emilie appeared on my phone screen. A photograph of her while lying on a hospital bed with her family and friends including the lady who introduced her to me popped up. She was right there facing me.

When I shared this incident with a friend, she commented that maybe I pressed something on my phone that made the picture appear. Yes, it may be the case, however, out of the hundreds of photos on my library, why this one?

I believe she was with me  during my ordeal. She was my guardian angel; heaven sent to guide me along the way.

Thank you for being with me.


Our only picture TWOGETHER.  She was weak but attentive to us when we visited her and still managed to smile at our jokes. I was trying to catch that smile. A week later, she passed away.


Emilie Ramos Padua is not only a beautiful lady as can be seen on this photograph but also creative,artistic, hardworking entrepreneurial, neat, classy, yet, above all descriptions that were given to her by her fellow OFWs who knew her for 13 year-long stay  in the United Arab Emirates, what I personally know about her is that she is a STRONG WOMAN and a LOVING MOTHER who fought for her life until life itself surrendered.


Emilie’s 40th Day after death will be on June 3, 2016. 

The 40th Day concludes the 40- day memorial period  and is observed by the Filipino families though it originated from traditions of Orthodox Slavs.

It is believed that the soul of the departed remains wandering on Earth during the 40 day period, coming back home, visiting places the departed has lived in as well as his fresh grave. The soul also completes the journey through the Aerial toll house finally leaving this world. The rituals during the period aim to let the soul go in order to keep it from returning and bothering the living. (source: Wikipedia) ####

Advocating holistic approach for well-being.


(May 24, 2016) DUBAI- At first, Mabie Amirah Bangsoy Alonzo and Virgilio Lichauco simply enjoyed volunteering for  promoting cancer awareness and supporting fellow Overseas Filipinos Workers (OFW)  in Dubai, United Arab Emirates ,who are undergoing cancer treatment through a Facebook page. But now, they are holistic therapy practitioners.

They started barely three months ago and has shown passion and dedication in community services ranging from massage for a cause, Zumba for a cause, rummage sale for a cause, coin for a cause, and who would have thought of a “selfie for a cause?”All these done with no qualms for the sake of a cancer patient. Time, money and effort did not matter at all.

Primarily, the main focus of their crusade was to help  raise money for chemotherapy  until they chanced upon a different kind of volunteering project, the Reaching Out With Reiki Middle East  (ROWR ME) – an organization that provides free Reiki treatment to cancer patients in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates during spring and winter.

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They have no clear understanding of what this project was all about but they were willing to do anything for cancer patients. However, Alonzo already had an inkling about Reiki. The first time she heard this alien word, her curiosity persisted. ” When I heard a lady named Marissa shared to Ate Mia  (that’s me, the owner of this blog, who happens to be a Reiki level 1 and 2 practitioner), her experiences from the distant Reiki extended to her by one of her officemates, an Indian guy, I could not get over it,” she said.

four of us

Alonzo personally requested for a Reiki session. Lichauco, on the other hand, was always teased by Alonzo to undergo Reiki, as this guy, one of our dearest friends and classmate in Photojournalism class seems to be always in a hurry, stressed, hyperactive, inattentive, in short, restless.

Cutting the story short, they assisted during the Reiki with cancer patients and survivors. Alonzo  was very excited and Lichauco was in his usual mode, playful.

class group(Photo by Lapis Mia)

Kasey Conrad, organizer of ROWR ME and a Reiki Master was set to conduct Reiki attunement to those interested to practice “universal energy” approach for  him/herself or to others the following month. Alonzo had put her heart into it while Lichauco, still clueless but was  willing to join as well.

On May 20, 2016, after two attunement sessions with Conrad, an American Reiki Master with 20 years of experience, Alonzo and Lichauco were among the six   Reiki Level 1 certified to practice Reiki, (including me, who had the chance to be attuned again after my first in 2005.)

class cert(Photo by Lapis Mia)

Three Filipinos (two ladies and a gentleman, two Indian ladies and one Arab lady  taught by Reiki master Conrad are the latest addition to holistic therapy practitioners promoting emotional, mental, physical and spiritual balance for a healthy being.

With the knowledge of Reiki,  the three OFWs are glad to further extend support to all people battling cancer and also to their distressed fellowmen who are experiencing work-related trauma, family concerns, and personal issues, under stress and other dilemmas.




Reminiscing my Reiki awareness


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(May 18, 2016) DUBAI- The accumulated problems, worries, anxieties, fears, anger, unemployment, loneliness, isolation, destitution, deprivation, deprivation, desperation, -name all the negative description in the world and it fitted me during that time. But that lead me to my deep and personal awareness. That was the time Reiki and I met.

Eleven years ago. I became an  Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW). It was my first time to work abroad and got separated from my family and friends. The job offer came as a surprise to me; unimagined and unexpected .The thrill of  a first airplane ride, the island style of living in one of the countries in the Pacific, and  earning dollars  all made me excited. My marriage was chaotic and totally damaged. I have three children and at a loss.

But just like in the case of most OFWs, the beginners’ luck was elusive. The most common dilemma that workers face is being overworked and underpaid, breach of contract,sexual harassment, and racial discrimination.

To sum it up, my career, love life, family bond , personal well-being, financial status, and spirituality were all at the lowest level.  I remember meeting up the parish priest because of fear that my hatred would eat me up and rot my soul. The conversation with the priest was comforting .Yet, in me, I knew that something was still lacking.

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I have heard of Reiki some few months back then. I got hold of a book being printed in the company where I worked and saw advertisements in the newspaper.  Verily, on the time that my hands laid on the book, I felt the calling and the connection.

And just in time, a Reiki class was on the way. I spoke with the Reiki Master, a young, American guy, Peace Corps volunteer, and  botanist.

What is Reiki and why did I get attracted to it? All I knew and  understood from what I read was energy-healing by unblocking all the negativities and that was I desperately needed the most. “I must have it now,” I told myself. And so I looked forward to that day.

I hardly remember now how many of us took the class. By the way, it is called “attunement” or initiation to healing energy and only Reiki masters can conduct the process of spiritual reconnection.


Taken during a complimentary Reiki session for multiple sclerosis /cancer patients and survivors in Dubai on April 2016.          (Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

What did I learn from this? -That we live in this energy-filled Universe and  so is our body; that a clash between negative and positive energies causes our mind , body, and soul to degenerate, decays and  decompose. Mental, emotional and spiritual breakdown leads to the manifestation of physical illnesses.

As these negative blocks and baggage raise its level, we become sick, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, physically and even financially.

Those were the basis of my fears. I was scared that eventually, because of hating my situation and some people around me, I would end up a loser.


What did I experience during Reiki? At first, it was getting to know each other among participants from different cultural background. Then sharing of some deep-seated reasons why we were there.

I can hardly recall now, in sequence, the attunement but I can still remember clearly my personal experience. As I closed my eyes to meditate while seating on a chair, I  found myself staring at a beautiful waterfall, saw a masculine figure standing in the middle with whom I felt a strong emotional attachment though his face is unrecognizable, hearing birds chirping, and looking with amazement at the beauty of trees and flowers. I felt cold air surrounded my legs and swirled upwards while I was sitting up straight.

During the second part of the session in the afternoon, not sure if it was attunement or a healing session for us, but it was during that part when something dramatic happened to me. Far from the ordinary happenings in the morning, I was stretched out on the mat, unconscious of what was happening around but I know it was very calm. Then I started to sweat profusely. Bean-sized sweats came out of my face and arms and my stomach ached terribly. I wanted to vomit but nothing comes out of my mouth. I believe it was not something or anything but an inclination that it was the rage inside me fighting with itself, trying to stay inside me but defeated by the force extracting out its roots.

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Bean-sized sweats came out of my face and arms and my stomach ached terribly. I wanted to vomit but nothing comes out of my mouth. I believe it was not something or anything but an inclination that it was the rage inside me fighting with itself, trying to stay inside me but defeated by the force extracting out its roots.

In a few minutes, I was back in my senses, tranquil and light-hearted. My Reiki master told me that this was a new experience for him too. He shared to us that each and every Reiki experience is unique to each individual


With co-Reiki practitioner.        (Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

This I have proven in my Reiki sessions to my family, friends, colleagues and even strangers. Hearing their experiences amaze me all the time and a wonderful learning too. However, one should not expect any dramatic reaction. This is  not the essence of Reiki but the attainment of our highest good , (something that we all pray or wish for –what is best for us. His will be done.). And remember that, Reiki practitioners do not claim to be healers, but channels of healing. The healer is the owner of the body himself/herself.


A whole-body Reiki session has two parts, the  front and the back application.  (Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

How did Reiki attunement affect me?  There was no dramatic result days or months after my attunement but I experienced that the universe supported me and my heart’s desires. The things I prayed and hoped for happened accordingly. Divine intervention, if you believe in it, intervened on time.


Photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

We are always under stress 24/7, from waking up to sleeping and waking up again. We are always looking for ways to reduce stress by taking a break. We shop, dine, dance, party, gamble, drink- do anything that will make us relax a bit. And we keep on searching.

At some point, I shelved Reiki. but knowing the impact it created in my life during the lowest point, Reiki is a part of me. It covers no religion at all. It is a universal life energy that we all possess. Anyone can channel Reiki with the proper attunement.


Me (left) as a volunteer with Kasey Conrad, organMe (left) as a volunteer with Kasey Conrad, organizer of Reaching Out With Reiki Middle East,  (right) receiving support.

Reiki is a natural energy approach to healing and complementary to medicine. It is Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing developed in 1922.

Though many are still skeptical, giving it a try is a win-win situation; always for your highest good.

Peace, Light, Love Healing!





Add color to your life by making it up.

Getting one of Beauty World Middle East 2016 freebies.


(May 18, 2016) DUBAI- Some women like me are not fond of make-up. I find it very tedious and eats up time for those who are always in a rush.  But I do believe that a dab of powder on your face, a little color on your lips and cheeks plus a lining on your eyes makes a woman glow.

Yes,  I mean GLOW, that personal shine exuding confidence being neat and extra-ordinary pretty.  Cosmetics or make-up is not meant to hide the flaws of the skin but to highlight the best in one’s facial features. I still commit to simplicity in the application of cosmetics.


I remember my mom telling me not to use cosmetics at a young age because it will cause irritation on the skin and will lead to premature aging.  And so I apply make-up on special occasions only, but in my wish-list, how I wanted to be a make-up artist too.


I got the chance to visit BeautyWorld  Middle East this year at the Dubai International Exhibition Center two days ago, and a few hours was not enough to see everything that was in there.

The exhibition data boosts of 22 country pavilions (Brazil, China, Egypt ,France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Italy, Korea, Morocco, Pakistan, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Tunisia, United Kingdom, United States, Bulgaria, Poland, with first-time exhibitors from Ukraine, Malta and Nigeria, with more than 1,500 exhibitors.

IMG_5286While roaming around with no idea on where to really go and what to really look for in terms of priorities,  I got wide-eyed at the sight of this make-up mirror with light bulbs. Those round light bulbs that remind me of beauty pageants and  fashion shows; that signifies stardom.


Without hesitation, I volunteered as a model for make-up demonstration. I wanted to have that Mideastern kind-of-look , or the Arabic make-up, the way the  Arab ladies do it. I have small, chinky eyes, so I want a bit of transformation of them into wide, deep-set eyes and see if these will fit me.


A palette of Note Mineral colors is so pleasing to look at. From foundation make-up to blushers, eye shadows and lipsticks, they are really an eye-candy; a rainbow connection to girls.

IMG_5292Amal, the make-up artist applied on me the everyday natural, fresh and youthful look. Note Cosmetics gives a natural color appearance to one’s looks. It prevents moisture loss and skin dryness with its Argan Oil content that moisturizes and protects skin from premature ageing.13237688_1753273181572973_7681060683352721476_n Altona Cosmetics Technology  (ACT) Group, with headquarters in Germany, is an important leading force in cosmetics market with its production facilities located in 3 different countries worldwide, with more than 2.600 employees and hundreds of selling points. Being one of the sub-companies of ACT Group, Stern Tek Cosmetics created the NOTE brand adding a production facility in Turkey  while most their other facilities are located in Canada and Persia.










Glittery” Godzilla”shines at Automechanika Dubai 2016

Gold-plated, customized Nissan R35 GT-R  showcased by Kuhl Racing


DUBAI- “Godzilla,”  a dazzling gold-plated car worth $1 million was the main attraction during the second day of Automechanika Dubai 2016, at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre on May 8-10.

The gold-plated customized Nissan R35 GT-R was displayed  Kuhl Racing, customizers of sports cars with the craftsmanship of master engraver Takahiko Izawa.

The technology used for the paint by  Izawa’s custom paint works is Takumi Technology. The car’s paint job is a combination of premium design and a unique convergence of craftsmanship and innovation that results in a one-of-a-kind matte aesthetic with a subtle textured finish, imbued with notable durability and cleaning attributes.


The special gold paint sheen covers a 3.8 litre V6 twin turbo 545 hp engine, souped up with additional horsepower and additional torque. The car features enhanced aerodynamic features, a reinforced body and precision handling.


The car’s engine is backed by an advanced paddle-shifted sequential 6-speed dual clutch transmission, which can be driver selected to shift at race car-like speeds. The sequential-shifting transaxle features separate wet clutches for the odd (1,3,5) and even (2,4,6) gears and pre-selects the next highest and next lowest gear for quick shifts. High-performance differential oil, used in GT-R motorsports competition, is standard.

This year,  the Nissan GT-R defends its position as one of the most striking supercars in the market today – with the addition of new 20-spoke wheels.


The Automekanika Show covered 15 halls at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.with six core product groups of Parts & Components; Electronics & Systems; Repair & Maintenance; Tyres & Batteries; Accessories & Tuning; and Service Station & Car Wash.

This year’s edition of Automechanika Dubai had 90 percent foreign participants in its 14-year history; highlighted by 25 Country Pavilions, including debut pavilions from Japan, Peru, the Netherlands, and Iran.

Pavilions from Germany and Italy, with 103 and 78 exhibitors respectively dominated the exhibition, with USA (58 exhibitors) Brazil (25 exhibitors), Korea (88 exhibitors), Turkey (75 exhibitors), South Africa (16 exhibitors) and Japan (11 exhibitors) in tow.

More than 1,000 exhibitors in the truck and commercial vehicle segment, from truck parts, systems, and electronics, to workshop equipment, repair and care were featured in the Truck Competence Initiative 2016.

Regional delegates gathered to hear the packed line-up of experts and thought leaders sharing knowledge of the most important aspects of the regional spare parts and maintenance market the Automechanika Academy.



Reiki reaches out to cancer patients


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Reiki practitioners and volunteers who participated in Dubai poses for a souvenir photo. (by Louie Fungo.)

(May 09, 2016) DUBAI -“Compassionately created to help cancer patients cope,” is how the organization, Reaching Out With Reiki Middle East (ROWR ME) is  best described. Such is also their guiding principle in conducting their annual spring and winter activities.

Me (left), a volunteering Reiki practitioner with Kasey Conrad (right) receiving support. (photo by Virgilio Lichauco)

ROWR ME ,supported by Change Works HRC, Abu Dhabi,  is established to provide 2 days of complimentary healing approach to cancer survivors and multiple sclerosis (MS) patients of all ages and at any stage of cancer/MS. It is a 2-day, 4 -session weekend event, free of charge.

Reiki session ongoing. (Photo by Louie Fungo)

“We’ve put together a core group of professional and dedicated Reiki practitioners, with passion and the motivation to make a positive difference to organize and coordinate the project, ” according to Kasey Conrad, the event organizer.

A post-Reiki session conversation  with the participants usually ends in a light and fun mood . (Photo by Louie Fungo)

Reaching Out With Reiki Middle East volunteer project is an adaptation of  a program designed for cancer patients in New Mexico, United States of America since 1996. More than 120 individuals in the United Arab Emirates. have joined their first events in October 2015.

The group of Filipino volunteers (cancer warriors of Kabayan Cancer Patients) join the Reaching Out with Reiki Middle East as volunteers too. (photo by Virgilio Lichauco

“We are looking forward to maximizing our impact on the community through this project, and building lasting relationships with support organizations, Brest Friends Dubai, Bosom Buddies Abu Dhabi, Dr Diab NMC, Dr. Tank Doctors Clinic, Dr Dehab Al Twaam hospital and individuals who are joining us on our journey.”

Reiki practitioners and participants seal their appreciation with hugs and well-wishes. (Photo by Louie Fungo)

In a standard procedure, Reiki energy flows from the practitioners’ hands into the client. The recipient is usually laying on a massage table but it can also be done  while the client is seated or even standing. The client remains fully clothed. The practitioner places her/his hands on or near the recipient’s body in a series of hand positions. These include positions around the head and shoulders, the stomach, and feet. Other, more specific positions may be used based on the needs. Each position is held for three to ten minutes depending on how much Reiki the recipient needs at each position. The session usually lasts between 45 and 90 minutes. (

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Reaching Out with Reiki MIddle East gives back to the community by providing free Reiki sessions during spring and winter. (Photo by Louie Fungo)