Calamansi Essential Oil

The calamansi plant in the Philippines is as ubiquitous as it is common. It is often used to season dishes, preserve food, remove stains in clothing, deodorize and whiten the skin, and of course, make into juice. A prevalent ingredient found in most local commercial products, it is definitive and preferred in daily cleansing supplies.

Ironically, what is not as common and certainly not ubiquitous is the Calamansi (Citrofortunella microcarpa) Essential Oil.

Although I’ve been dabbling in essential oils from some time back, it’s only more recently that I’ve been taking it more seriously. I thought a good place to start would be selecting oils locally produced before moving onto more complex or unfamiliar imported essential oils. So far, Casa de Lorenzo is the only supplier I’ve found producing the essential oil.

Clearly I won’t be able to provide comparisons to other brands, but I can say it smells rather sweet and mild straight from the bottle. I’ve placed a few drops in my vaporizer where it similarly emitted a fresh, citrus fragrance with a touch of floral notes. I don’t know why I was expecting something more pungent (probably from exposure to its artificial counterpart), but it smells a lot milder than lemongrass or citronella. I’ve also added it to a blend of essential oils and it seems to be a wonderful addition if you’re into making colognes or perfume.

Calamansi Essential Oil

I’m still in the process of testing for various purposes but here are some of the benefits:

  • Skin – lightening, acne, deodorizing, firming, anti-aging
  • Cleanser – very good in neutralizing odors
  • Alleviates depression and anxiety

Orange Pomanders for Humid Climates

Some of you may have been poring over beautiful hardbound arts and crafts books since children, or surfing Pinterest and other blogs for a myriad of projects. I, myself, hand-picked “how to make” Orange Pomanders with cloves and other spices.

If you live in the Philippines, let me save you the trouble now. It will be nearly impossible to make it based on the procedures using international websites. In a country where humidity ranges from 40-65%, your citrusy project will simply end up a round blob of mold.  In my experience, placing it on racks at the lowest setting of your oven for at least 12 hours will still not do it any favors.

But before you chuck that saved tab, there are a few adjustments you can do to make it work for the climate.

Orange Pomander


There are 2 ways you can make it, which will yield different variants of the pomander:

Via Turbo Broiler

Choosing this option makes the orange skin crisp and dark, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

After about 6 hours on the lowest setting they should look like this:

You may opt to broil longer if you use bigger oranges or if they’re still quite juicy and plump. A dried orange will be smaller and much lighter than a fresh one.

Toasting your pomanders won’t give off the same scent as those “hung-to-dry” so I add a little bit of powdered spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. You may also add a drop or so of essential oil.

When completely dried, you can now wrap in light cloth to place in your closets and drawers or you can add it to your potpourri bowls, or just hang them around the house.

You can add them to your Christmas trees and wreaths during the holidays, but I think they would make lovely gifts anytime of the year.

Via Hang-to-Dry

After poking your cloves in, you can immediately wrap it in some light fabric such as organza. Tie a string only where you draw your fabric to a close to avoid having further materials pressing against the orange. Hang wherever you’d like for it to dry. Check your pomander from time to time to see if any mold develops and discard when you see that it does.


If you’re lucky and it doesn’t mold, this procedure can take months before it actually dries out.

If anyone has other tips, I would love to hear it!

Yogi and Teacher

Meet Dennis; a yogi. I met him many years ago in Amezcua, a defunct wellness centre along White Plains. I had originally just planned on seeing the resident doctor, who was also an acupuncturist, but he strongly suggested I enroll in yoga classes held at the centre for a more holistic therapy. While I resentfully dragged my feet to sign up,  I discovered, to my horror, a required thrice a week attendance. After throwing a little bit of a fit on such an unjust demand, the Spa Manager allowed me to practice twice a week to start, then eventually move towards their program, to which I agreed. Dennis would be my teacher.


*Photo credit: Dennis Dineshvara Daguman

Over the years, I’ve managed to take some classes in other studios with different teachers. Although good, they were not yogies and I would end up comparing it to the kind of yoga I had previously practiced. I would never stay long in the newer studios. It has something to do with the benefits I get from his classes, which I believe has a direct relation to him being not only a teacher, but particularly a yogi. The exchange and movement of energy in his classes might seem relatively slower but is ultimately more vibrant and enduring.

We continue to practice and meditate to this day.

Let’s take a closer look and see for yourself.

How and when did you get started with yoga?

When I was 9 years old, there was a yoga demonstration and interview with a yogi monk with Eddie Ilarde on TV. I got interested and asked my mother for permission to study yoga and of course, she thought I was crazy. It was my desire and dream which I held onto till I personally met the same yogi monk I saw on TV on September 1, 1976. That was the day I was initiated to Tantra yoga practice by Acharya Adveshananda Avadutha. He was a disciple of the great Tantric guru, Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, whom I personally met and had a very private conversation on December 26, 1986.

Who were your mentors?

Shrii Shrii Anandamurti, Adveshananda, Shiveshananda, and my inner self.

How long did you stay to learn in India?

13 months.

What is Hatha yoga and why do you recommend it?

It is comprised of physical gestures and postures to balance the endocrine system, energize the chakras, and nourish internal organs.

What does it mean to be a yogi vis-à-vis a yoga teacher?

A yogi is a practitioner of a process called Tantra to attain yoga (oneness with the universal mind). A yoga teacher is a yogi who enlightens other beings to trek the path of Tantra. “Asanas” teachers are those who educate people in the proper execution of physical gestures and postures for fitness and wellness.

What would you say are the qualities of a good yoga teacher?

Be an authentic yogi. You can never give something that which you do not have.

Why are yogis vegetarian?

Because yogis are progressive thinkers. An animal based diet is not progressive; it’s destructive 🙂 (sic).

Does everyone need to meditate? If so, why?

Human is from the Greek root HU, meaning predominant, and Sanskrit root MAN, meaning mind. So humans are beings who think. Meditation is concentrated thinking. Does everyone need to meditate? It depends on the level of consciousness of the individual. If the person has the burning desire to evolve then meditation is the best mental activity for optimum evolution. It will unleash the unlimited potentials of the person.

What is your Sanskrit name and who gave that to you?

Dinesh’vara’ means the Lord of the Light, given by Acharya Adveshananda Avadutha.

What else do you teach?

In general I teach people how to make LIFE (sic), not just a living. Other disciplines I teach are Tai chi, swimming, guitar, healthy food preparation, mind synergy, and Tantra philosophy.

Any words you’d like to share to those who want to practice yoga or raise their consciousness but may be afraid?

If you feel you’re a butterfly then get out of the cocoon, spread your wings and fly. Irony is a crime to you inner self.

*Yogi Dennis can be contacted through mobile: 0919.579.4868/ 0906.601.2198

Smoker’s Lounge

G and I both smoke. We don’t encourage it, but we do it. We drink too, by the way.


But times have indeed changed when I would sit through long Pan-Am flights where I would play with ashtrays on the armrest with traces of ash dust. Or window shopping around Shangri-la Mall, cigarette smoke reflecting on the glass panes. And before you start thinking, “Mad Men,” it was much more a practice in “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.”

As a result, we are always on the lookout for bars and restaurants in the Metro which accommodate an old style of recreation and socialization.

Below is a list of airconditioned establishments with provisions for smokers

Caruso Ristorante Italiano

This time-cherished restaurant has a separate smoking room without feeling excluded from the rest of the dining area.

210 Nicanor Garcia Street, Makati City/ (02) 895.2451

Cav Wine Shop

Having recently gone through a renovation, the smoking area is now much smaller so you might want to make reservation or go early if you’ll need a few tables.

Ground Floor “The Spa Bldg.” Lot 5, Quadrant 8, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City/ (02) 856.1798/ (0922) 816.7127


The Butcher Shop & Pub

Here you’ll find the smoking area on the 2nd floor where they keep the windows open for ventilation aside from the aircondition.

Ground Floor, Wumaco Bldg., Lane P, Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City/ (02) 831.3543/ (0915) 827.1913

Bar M

This joint is class all the way. Their impressive selection of whiskeys are meant to be paired with cigars. And although the smoking area is just a few feet away from the non-smoking portion of the room, the highly efficient exhaust and airconditioning systems will hardly leave anyone noticing the divide.

SB Cards Bldg., Mezzanine Level, 114  Valero St., Salcedo Village, Makati City/ (02) 810.3565/ (0918) 810.3565


You’ll find most of their restaurants with a smoking area, but with some larger than others so call for a reservation, especially on weekends. Check their Facebook account for a complete listing of branches in the Ortigas and Makati areas.


It’s not just for the burgers. Their branches In Greenhills and Tomas Morato have large smoking areas, except on Sundays. Visit their website for a complete listing.

Other Options

Little Tokyo restaurants have smoking areas inside the establishments with the exception of Seryna.

Chino Roces Avenue, Pasong Tamo cor. Amorsolo, Legazpi Village, Makati City

Alternatively Local

It’s great browsing the net for hours for interesting international posts on products, formulas, recipes, and procedures, of just about anything. Now, if I could only find that “Orris Root” in my supposed neighbourhood craft store.

Going local however, is a minefield of headaches. The search is bloody, tantamount to trade secrets. Websites are hardly updated, e-mails unanswered, listed phone numbers disconnected, and finally, the pièce de résistance – the unavailability of stock. So before you start smashing your laptop or tearing out that hand-carried book of instructions, I’ve put together a basic list of alternative staples for your Pantry or Medicine Cabinet and where to get them.

This is by no means a comprehensive list; it’s a shortlisted one. I’ll put in some more detailed reviews as we go along.


Raw Local Honey

  • Palengke (Wet Market) – especially in the provinces.
  • Bee Blessing – available in QC Circle in the Horticulture area. Contact Info:
  • Mutya’s Raw Honey – +63929.846.2675

Online Purchase

I get these items from Cocowonder and contact them mainly via e-mail. It can be challenging as they can change personnel e-mail addresses without updating it on their website. You can however give them a call or visit their office and warehouse in Makati.

  • Coconut Flour
  • Coconut Cider

Major Supermarkets

  • Coconut Sugar – you can find larger sizes in Unimart
  • Chamomile Tea
  • Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) – I order mine online mostly from Milea Bath and Body Wellness
  • Grass-fed Beef – I get mine from Rustan’s Supermarket but it you can source it locally. Landmark Trinoma carries The Farm fresh produce, and you can also check Down To Earth in Makati.

Healthy Options

  • Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar – also occasionally available in SM Hypermart and Rustan’s Supermarket
  • Bragg’s Amino Soy Sauce – also occasionally available in SM Hypermart and Rustan’s Supermarket