Count Your Blessings 2013

          No matter what trials and battles we all face and overcome each year, fact is, there is always more reason to be thankful for in this life than to hate it. It’s always interesting looking back at what has transpired throughout the year since our last New Year, to see if we did take to heart and accomplish our resolutions.

2013 has particularly been interesting and life-changing with a couple of extraordinary events that have happened, not to mention, the simultaneous calamities that swept through the Philippines. I believe this year has made a lot of people truly reassess life in all its essence and a lot of lessons – on faith, hope and love - are learned and reinforced.

            What matters most for me at the end of the year is personal growth in all aspects – mental, emotional and spiritual (let’s just skip physical because I don’t wanna grow, well, sideways. Hehe.). I seek most of all to learn and experience new things that can make me a wiser and stronger person; a woman of substance.

         Here’s a rundown of the greatest blessings I’ve received this year from my loving Father, just as I’ve been doing since 2011:


            I have a confession to make: I am not very good in front of cameras especially when it’s for “professional purposes” such as a TV show or photo shoots. I don’t turn down opportunities like these though because one can never overcome fear if one does not face it. So, I just do regardless of my awkwardness. Haha.

Well, I was asked to be a model/ambassador for a friend’s Sinulog shirt business called The Sinulog Shirt Project and here’s a photo to prove what an awkward subject I can be. :p

Photography by: Ean Dacay
MUA: Jennifer Elaine Sarmiento

I did enjoy the shoot because of the confetti and company. I hope I get more opportunities like these, hopefully in 2014 if I stay in shape. Hehe. Thank you, Cara, for thinking me worthy for this project!  

            In November of 2012, I was asked to join a shoot as a judge/reviewer for one of the episodes of Pop Talk on GMA News. I mentioned this in my CYB (Count Your Blessings) 2012 post. And finally, it was aired on January 8. Unfortunately, the complete episode is not available on Youtube. Here’s a short clip of one of the resto's we visited though:

            A collab project called When Food and Fahion Meet, which is a blog series that my dear fashion blogger friend Issa Perez of issaplease.com and I had been planning last year was finally launched during this month, too. We were so excited for this although it didn’t last long because of time and resource constraints. We enjoyed this project nonetheless, shortlived as it was. What mattered most to us was keeping our friendship.


            The other part of our collab project was a video blog (vlog) series called The Cooking Fashionistas. Unfortunately, this was even more difficult to keep up with. We were only able to make two episodes but I would just like to extend my deepest gratitude to Ejay Williams, Rachel Arandilla, the FMJ Co. guys - Mark, Jan and Franky – and Issa Balce for the awesome job on the filming and video editing. This project wouldn’t have been made possible without you guys. Thanks a million! Thank you too, love, for putting up with how busy and inconsistent I was throughout this project. I’m really sorry for disappointing you. I love you!

Video by: Ejay Williams
Video by: FMJ Co


            After supplying a café for more or less 3 months where I was doing more work than earning profit, I finally started my own business that is still growing to this day – Team Brownie. Credits to Luis Quibranza III for being my co-conceptualist and business consultant. Big thanks to Rachel Arandilla too for helping me with my collaterals design by introducing me to Sheila Ortiz, my current graphic designer. Thanks a lot too, Sheila, for all the cool designs you've made for my collaterals!

            One significant event made a huge impact in my life during this month. My awesome and hottest cousin (really, he is) from Singapore, Eddy Goh, randomly sent me a Macbook Air because he supports my blog and believes in me. I am so touched and was overwhelmed for months when I received this package. He said he felt compelled to give me the laptop especially when he saw that I make my blog drafts manually. I couldn’t believe it. I seriously felt like I just won the lottery! Thank you so much, bro! I know I can never thank you enough. I hope I can return the favor someday. :')

            I had the privilege of being featured on local TV again on GMA’s Buena Mano for my brownie cup business. I don’t have a link for you to watch it but here are photos of me on set with the host, Yuri.


            If you follow me on Instagram (@babeforfood), you’ll find that one of my descriptions about myself is a “ballerina at heart”. That’s because ballet will always have a special place in my heart, having studied it for roughly ten years. I still have a pair of pointe shoes which I wish to use again someday.

My mentor, Tita Johanna Mangubat opened her own school with the prima ballerina of my former school, called CCD (Cebu Centre for Dance) located at Queens Road, across KFC near Redemporist Church. My sister had enrolled for the summer but I didn’t have to be jealous. Tita Johanna was so generous to offer me to attend her adult ballet class for free the whole month and she even gave me her old pair of ballet shoes. It felt so good to be back on the dance floor but this school year’s schedule does not allow me the time to continue. Oh well. I still hope to be back someday. I was also given complimentary tickets to their recital.

Thank you so much, Tita! Know that I will always hold ballet close to my heart. Congrats on the success of the school and may God continue to bless you and guide you in your passion. 

        My friendship with Mustachio, one of my favorite bloggers, has significantly blossomed this year. We have been meeting each other more often lately in food tastings. He happened to feature me on his blog, too! I don't have a memory as good as you but thanks a lot for everything, Mustachio! And for the very creative Christmas gift! Looking forward to more dining adventures with you this 2014! :D 

            For this month, I was also delighted to be invited to my culinary Alma Mater, ICAAC, for one of their graduation dinners. It was one of the best meals I’ve had that year. Thank you for giving me the honor of joining you, Chef Jeremy and Ms. Tim!


            Marco Polo Plaza Cebu has still been regularly inviting me to their Culinary Journeys at the Café Marco and this month was particularly special because they encouraged the media guests to dress up for the event’s theme – Cuisine of theCentury. They were raffling off an overnight stay for two at the hotel for the best-dressed guest so I took my chance since it was my first time to be invited to a “dress-up event”. Hehe. And to my surprise, I won! Yay! Thank you, Marco Polo and Ms. Yumny Mariot! :D


            I dream for this blog to be a travel blog as well and it somewhat came sooner than I thought. I was invited by Bluewater Resorts for an overnight stay to meet Chef Sau del Rosario at their newest branch in Panglao, Bohol. This was scheduled on the end of the month so it was like an early birthday gift and celebration for me (my birthday is on August 2). I was so excited because I’ve always wanted to meet and be inspired by our local celebrity chefs, but more because I was leaving town alone! This was definitely a dream come true. Thank you so much, Mr. Eric Monsanto and Bluewater Resorts! It was one of the most memorable highlights of my 2013!


            I got a consignment deal with The Chillage for my little business, Team Brownie. Yay! Thank you Chillage, Bea Borja and Eden Villarba! And thank you to everyone who bought a brownie cake there! Chillage has an exclusive flavor from Team Brownie called the Sexy Cherry – dark chocolate, rum and maraschino cherries. Try it sometime! :)

[photo from The Chillage Facebook page]


            Sir Joel Locaylocay, a Chemistry professor from my school who is now a budding professional photographer, asked me to be a subject for his portfolio shots again. This time, it was for a series he was doing called Back to Black.
Thank your for another fun experience, Sir! Keep up the great job! I’m so proud of you. Thanks as well to his wife, Ms. Susan and his colleague Ms. Queenie Maquilang. :)

   Check out more of his work on his Facebook page and on his website jrlocaylocayphoto.wordpress.com.

            This month was a special one for me as well because it was my first time to visit Moevenpick Hotel and go on a romantic dinner date with wine and great food. It was love at first sight for this hotel and me. I was amazed to find such a beautiful concept in my own hometown! This was where I had my first churrasco meal as well! Yum! One of my most unforgettable meals ever! Thank You Moevenpick and Luis. <3


            It turned out that I would return to Moevenpick a month later for a post-earthquake review of the hotel. I invited a few of my blogger friends (Joven Morales and Kristine Roa of thestylecebu.com, Marco Paulo Diala of lamikaayo.com, the Buenaviaje brothers of iluvcebu.com and Mustachio) to join me, with my good friend Jamaica as my roomie, and I had the best hotel slumber. I could get used to this. Hehehe. Thank you so much for the generosity, Ms. Laurie and Moevenpick! It’s now one of my favorite resorts in Cebu!

Breakfast at Sails with Raf, Jamaica, Ms. Monica, Doyzkie and his niece and nephew, Joven and Kristine


            I was honored to be back at R.I.G.H.T Day Care to do a food safety workshop. R.I.G.H.T is an educational institution that accepts both typical children and children who require special developmental supports. Activities and schedules are individually designed and matched to you and your child's specific demands and situations. Enrollment is open the whole year round. This was the second time I facilitated a workshop for this humble and passionate day care. The first time was a cooking demo. I’m so grateful for the trust you have in me that I have something worth contributing to your resource development. Thank you for the opportunity, RIGHT! :)

            Having met Richie of The Pickiest Eater, one of the country’s top food bloggers, online last year and staying constantly in touch with him, I finally had the chance to meet him along with the rest of his top food blogger friends – Jane Chua of Between Bites, Eugene Constantino of Hefty Foodie, the Spanky Enriquez of juice.ph, Richard Co of Tales from the Tummy and Matet Reyes of Travelogues by Matet Garcia-Reyes – when they came to Cebu as an invite from Moevenpick Hotel. Somehow, when we met, it was as if we’d already known each other for a long time. He is just as warm, friendly and entertaining as he sounds on his blog, truly one of the most genuine people I know. Thank you so much for going out of your way to make our meeting happen, Richie! And for introducing me to KTG (Kain Tulog Gang) and always being there to support me and encourage me with the blog. You’re the best!

KTG and Ms. Laurie Reyes of Moevenpick Hotel at Ralfe Gourmet
Babe for Food and Issa Please with KTG at Larsian

            Remember the overnight stay I won from Marco Polo last June? I gave it to my parents as an advance wedding anniversary gift but they didn’t want to use it. So, I treated my best friend Chin2x and my baby sister instead. We definitely had a blast.


            As the year was ending, I found that blessings were raining down simultaneously. A lot of memorable things happened during this month. I guess God wanted my 2013 to end with gratefulness and happiness.

            Early that month, Ethan Adeland of feedingethan.com, a top Canadian food and travel blogger, emailed me and Marco Diala of lamikaayo.com for us to meet up with him and take him to the best native restaurants we could think of. We took Ethan to Matia’s BBQ by jeepney for a full experience and got some Tatang’s lechon belly next door. He looked like he really enjoyed this. We all did, actually. It was my first time to meet and dine with a foreign blogger and I’m glad Marco was there with us, too. I have yet to write about this fun experience so watch for it here on the blog. 

(from left) Marco Paulo Diala of lamikaayo.com, Ethan Adeland of feedethan.com, Luis Quibranza III of Sunstar Cebu and Babe for Food

            Get to know more about Ethan and his Cebu experience at feedingethan.com.

            For the third year in a row, I was nominated again and was a finalist for Best Cebu Blog Awards. Thank you, Khonie, for nominating me, and Luis for being my biggest supporter. Thank you as well, dear readers, for making me one of the most visited food blogs in Cebu.
            I’m also grateful for the little milestone my blog has reached this year, gaining 700 likes on my Facebook page and over 285,000 views on my blog since 2011. I really appreciate all those who followed my social media pages and visit my blog! Thank you thank you thank you!

            ZeroThreeTwo invited me to be one of the participating merchants for their first Christmas bazaar called Mercado Central at Baseline on December 13-15. It was a milestone for Team Brownie, having sold out a total of more than 250 cups in three days! Congratulations on the success of the event and thank you so much, Carlo and Carla of ZeroThreeTwo! Thank you Luis for substituting me when I had to go to class, Uncle Ramon for the financial support and to everyone who dropped by my booth and enjoyed a brownie cake!

              Oh, and since Team Brownie was doing pretty well, I bought my first expensive gift for myself, a laptop casing and customised decals from CocoxToffee and Paperplanes Manila. Yay! Thanks for the tip, Kristine Roa of thestylecebu.com

            I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to go to Manila because I wanted to check out the restaurants I’ve been reading about and drooling over from the Manila food blogs that I follow and meet up with Chef Gene and Gino Gonzalez and some Manila food bloggers. It’s been five years since my last visit to Manila so it’s about time I updated myself, right?

To my surprise, Mom had scheduled a trip with my siblings and I to Manila to visit our relatives. I would’ve been more excited if she gave me a heads up earlier but it was all good anyway because I informed Chef Gene and Chef Gino as soon as I knew. This was finally my chance and the chance I got indeed! Thank you, Mommy, for bringing me along on this trip! And thank you Richie and Chef Gene for making time for me and accommodating me generously. I wouldn’t have wanted my 2013 to end any other way.

I felt like a caveman in Manila but left with a fat heart and belly full of happy memories. Of course, I will be chronicling this trip because a lot of awesome things happened such as my second time to meet Richie and more of the KTG, lunch and dinner at Café Ysabel with Chef Gene Gonzalez, the craziest ride of my life - my first roller coaster ride, and of course, being with my relatives for a couple of days. So, you’ll be finding my stories about this trip on the blog this year, too!

Babe for Food with KTG, Manila's top food bloggers! :D
from left: Between Bites, Franny Wanny, Babe for Food and Yedylicious!
with Mom and Baby Joanna at Enchanted Kingdom!
with Chef Gene Gonzalez and his friends 

Wow! It’s overwhelming looking back at all these blessings. I have cried a lot this year, been very angry and frustrated, and disappointed with my failures but this year-end run through reminded me that God was there the whole time and meant for everything to happen for my good.

            I have all my deepest gratitude to God, my loving Father, who has always been gracious and merciful and never left me even when I chose other things or people a lot of times instead of putting Him first. I thank Him for getting me through one of my toughest years, for all the lessons I learned, for all the people He brought into my life.

            My New Year’s message for anyone who comes across this blog is, leave all regrets and resentment behind, give whatever you can to those who need it, grab every opportunity with courage and wisdom, never lose hope in achieving your goals and dreams and thank God for this life because it is full of His love. Embrace everything life throws at you because after all, should we only receive blessings from God and not punishment or rebuke? Just look around you, He shows His love even in the most subtlest ways, from the sun shining through your room, the calm sea glimmering under the radiant sun and even all our basic needs provided abundantly. We always receive more than we deserve if you really think about it.

I would also like to thank all my dear readers and friends from the bottom of my heart for visiting and reading this blog even if I haven’t been posting much this year. I appreciate every comment and feedback you leave on my posts and I hope this blog continues to be of some help to you. Thank you friends, especially Mustachio and Richie of The Pickiest Eater, and my dear cousin Eddy for all the encouragement that prevented me from giving up on this. See you in 2014!

If you wanna see how my previous years went by:

Happy New Year and God bless you all!

"To know Cebu, eat Cebu!"

peace and much love,

Babe for Food
- your BFF in Cebu dining! :)


  1. You dont have to thank me, Jus! This is aaaaall YOU! Just keep doing what you're doing :)

    No doubt, your 2013 was awesome.. im sure 2014 is gonna top that!!

    Happy New Year!

    1. Thanks, Richie. Oops! :)) Hope to see you again this year! :D

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  3. You had an awesome 2013 despite how busy you have been at school. I thank you for sharing your thoughts to us as this post is empowering. Have a great year ahead. :)

    1. Thank you, Miss! I'm touched that you pointed out how busy I am with school. Have a great year ahead, too! Hope to see you around! :)

  4. My mustache is crying, I'm touched :) It's been a year full of blessings for you, Justinne, and you deserve it.You meeting Manila's food bloggers is icing on your 2013 cake ;-) Have a delicious 2014, BFF!

  5. You deserve all of that and more Justinne! Here's to food, memories and wishing a flat tummy on the days moving forward! :)

  6. awesome post Justinne, I'm happy to be part of your year. Cheers to Cebu Foodies! ^_^

  7. Happy New Year! :) Sayang I wasn't able to meet you, lagi akong late magsabi. Hahaha. Cheers to another good year ahead!

    PS: Ang cute naman nung Chef Jeremy. Hahahaha. =)))

  8. Pretty excited to visit Cebu for the Sinulog Festival this year! Got tickets already. It would be my second time. :) I just hope for a better weather. I've heard there will be storm coming. :( If the weather will allow us, can't wait to go around for a food trip.

    1. Good for you! Weather looks better so I don't think we have to worry much. Hope you have fun here in Cebu! It's gonna be a crazy one! :D

  9. Hi, I am inspired reading this post. IVery been blogging for quite sometime now but I am not that religiously enough to update my posts since I also have valid reasons which need more attention and prioritization. However, it's really nice and motivating to have friends who constantly inspire us to do more that what we can and not to put to waste to everything we have started. My blog is actually more on fashion and style but I also love doing restaurants and food reviews, I'm a foodie too. I'm really feel grateful to be able to reach your blog. Hope to see you around. If you happen to feel like collaborating about fashion again, it would be awesome to do it with you. More power!