Ambassador Kim Announces Php730M Relief, Recovery Assistance for Marawi

Thursday, September 14, 2017
The photo shows not even 5 percent of the destruction that is mainly caused by the aerial bombing of the Philippine military on residential and commercial buildings in Marawi. Photo credits to Raffy Tima.

The U.S. government, through the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines’ United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has committed approximately Php730 million ($14.3 million) in emergency relief and recovery assistance for communities affected by the ongoing conflict in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur and its surrounding areas.  U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim made the announcement today during a media engagement at the U.S. Embassy.

“The United States is deeply committed to this relationship and remains ready to support our friend and ally as we face the challenges and opportunities,” Ambassador Kim said.  “We all look forward to the end of the crisis, and the end of the fighting and suffering.  We have been and will continue to support the Philippine government’s efforts to deal with the crisis.”

The U.S. government will coordinate with the Philippine government and humanitarian organizations on the ground to deliver critical relief supplies such as safe drinking water, hygiene kits, kitchen sets, and shelter materials that will improve conditions in evacuation centers and other alternative housing.  USAID will also provide 18 facilities in Marawi with critical supplies and services to address tuberculosis and maternal, newborn and child health needs.

In addition to this, USAID will help bolster the early recovery of Marawi by restoring basic public services such as health care, water, and electricity.  It will support Marawi’s longer-term stabilization and rehabilitation by jump-starting livelihoods, promoting community dialogue, rebuilding resilient health systems, and offering skills training and psychosocial counseling for youth.

Last July, the U.S. government provided access to potable water by distributing 12,000 water containers and nearly 100,000 chlorine tablets to 12,000 families staying in evacuation sites in Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, and Iligan City.

The U.S. government has likewise committed to supply 6,500 tablet arm chairs, which will be distributed to schools in Mindanao where displaced Marawi students are currently enrolled.

USAID supports peace and community development in Mindanao through 25 ongoing projects that improve local governance, strengthen the government’s capacity to deliver services, especially in health and education, and promote civic engagement.

We Are Marawi Giveaway

Friday, September 08, 2017

We are Marawi Giveaway

Here's an exciting giveaway for you guys! We are Marawi is giving away limited edition shirts and bags to 15 lucky winners. Here's how you can join the hiveaway:
Pls follow all the rules to make sure your entry is counted.

Like/Follow We are Marawi
Make sure you like otheir FB page We Are Marawi and follow us on IG @wearemarawi
Snap and Share
Repost this photo & be sure to tag us & use the hashtag #WeAreMarawiGiveaway. In your caption, share what you miss most about Marawi OR how we can rise together from this ordeal. (Make sure your FB post/IG account is set to public)
15 lucky people will win our limited edition shirts & bags. Winners will be announced on Sept. 30, 2017.

Good luck! 

As a sample, here's my entry:

We are Marawi Giveaway entry

But what is this We are Marawi? A quick scroll down their Facebook page says the following about them:

"We Are Marawi is a non-profit organization that was born out of the necessity to address the needs of the Meranaos who had to forcefully evacuate Marawi City due to the siege orchestrated by the Maute terrorist group. Its initial aim was to gather funds through the selling of tee shirts and to use all the proceeds from the sales for the purchase of relief goods for the internally displaced persons (IDPs) of Marawi. To date, the Organization has been able to distribute relief goods to 250 internally displaced families housed in different evacuation centers in Iligan and some home-based IDPs as well. Since the siege occurred during the holy month of Ramadhan, the organization also sponsored an Iftaar--breaking of fast—for 300 persons with an equal number of dinner packs.

Relief operation conducted by the We are Marawi team from the funds raised by selling We are Marawi t-shirts. (Photo from @wearemarawi Instagram)

But more than the efforts being made to cater to the basic needs of Marawi IDPs right now, the organization envisions to do more by abetting in the process of rebuilding Marawi City by engaging in more concrete endeavors. Plans for educational and livelihood projects are part of what we want to do as an organization to help the people of Marawi rise again from this tumultuous trial.

Aiza Seguerra holding We are Marawi t-shirt
The fund-raising effort is supported by common people and celebrities alike. (Photo from @wearemarawi Instagram)

The organization is comprised of young, educated Meranaos who excel in their own professions and are bound together with the sincerity to serve their people in this urgent time of need."

As an IDP myself, I am thankful to see young Meranao blood working hard to give humanitarian aid to the displaced families who are forced to live in cramped evacuation centers and homes of relatives in nearby cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. I am not directly involved in We are Marawi but I know personally some of the members of the team who are among my closest friends. I have seen their photos of their pop-up booths in many locations all over the country. They have been doing this since the early days of the siege--raising funds and then giving relief goods to those who badly need them. I have a high level of trust that they will follow through their plans. I appeal to everyone who reads this blog to buy merchandise from We Are Marawi. Buy their shirts. Visit their Facebook page and Instagram for more info. And join in the giveaway too!

The Instant Turban

Thursday, September 07, 2017
Ayeesha Dicali wearing Sabreenph Instant Turban

I have made turban as one of my "trademark" looks. I started wearing it since I started living in Iligan CIty where the high temperature and humidity makes wearing breathable clothes a must. The usual wrap-around-the-head-and-neck is too uncomfortable for me because I am a heavy face sweater, my face is the first to sweat up when it gets warmer. Turban is my solution--it is fuss-free and lets me live an active lifestyle w/o worrying about my hijab getting messed up by my sweaty face.

It has been quite some time since I posted an OOT post, thus, this one. Initially, I separated my fashion and beauty posts in a section dedicated to them but now I decided to incorporate them again in the main blog because why not? I will always be a girly girl who talks about serious stuff.

This particular outfit is a good representative of my daily look. When I don't want to think about what to wear, I gravitate to wearing a loose top, mom jeans, a big bag, my gold accessories, and a turban to match. Sabreenph gifted me this instant turban that I loved right away because of how convenient it is to wear. I just have to wear it on my head like a bonnet. When I tie my rectangular hijabs into a turban, sometimes it takes a long time for me to get it right. This instant turban is already ruched shaped. It comes in a stretchy fabric to fit many sizes. Sometimes I wear a big volumizer under my inner hijab and sometimes a small one. Either way, my instant turban looks nice in both.

Turban: @sabreenph
Top: Forme
Jeans: Forme
Bag: Victoria's Secret

My Top 5 Favorite Movies

Saturday, September 02, 2017
Movies Popcorn

One of my readers specifically asked for movie recommendations. I totally forgot about it but I hope this makes up for it. I included in this list only those that shook me to the core and those that I absolutely would watch over and over again.

So here are my top 5 favorite movies:

1. Qiyamah

Qiyamah Moro movie poster
Director: Gutierrez Mangansakan II
Writer: Gutierrez Mangansakan II (scriptwriter)
Stars: Bein Ali Unayan, Mayka B. Lintongan, Dax Alejandro 

This movie is the most memorable movie I have watched. It made me feel things that I have not felt before. The fear I felt when I watched this has got me ugly-crying.

I remember clearly that time I watched Qiyamah. That time, there was a cinematheque in Marawi City funded by Film Development Council of the Philippines. I was friends with the Cinematheque management and they were kind enough to let me view the movie with my best friend Jo.

Imagine the two of us in the dark movie house, watching a movie that told a story of the end of the world in black and white, what it would look like in a rural area in Mindanao. It was a spiritual experience. The two of us cried our hearts out.

2. The Prestige

The Prestige 2006 movie Hugh Jackman
The Prestige is a total mind f*ck movie. It is about two magicians that have a personal grudge against each other, trying to outsmart each other. After a tragic accident, they engage in a battle to create the ultimate illusion whilst sacrificing everything they have to outwit the other. The twists and turns of this movie kept me on edge. It was so stressful to watch. But man, was it so good! I was never able to guess what's coming yet every clue was there, out in the open, all along.

I won't spoil any more about the plot, I say, just watch it in HD preferably,  take note of the details, and see if you can dodge the curveball. I guarantee you won't be able to predict the ending.

The Prestige movie poster
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writers: Jonathan Nolan (screenplay), Christopher Nolan (screenplay)
Stars: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson

3. Bajirao Mastani

Bajirao Mastani 2015 movie Deepika Padukone
I am a fan of Bollywood movies especially those that showcase the grandeur of the culture of the diverse people of India. A lot of the Bollywood movies I've seen are a little corny if you know what I mean. There is no subtlety when it comes to Bollywood, that's my impression. 

Bajirao Mastani is my absolute favorite Bollywood movie because of how aesthetically pleasing it is. The set, the costume, are all done to perfection. Unlike other Bollywood movies that explode in a riot of saturated colors, Bajirao Mastani is tamed and muted. 

Bajirao Mastani is about the romance between the Maratha general, Baji Rao I, who is already married, and Mastani, princess of Bundelkhand.

Another reason why I love this movie is that of two shallow reasons: I am in love with Deepika's face and I regularly listen to the song numbers in this movie. In my opinion, the song and dance numbers here are one of the best out there. 
Bajirao Mastani poster
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Writers: Nagnath S. Inamdar (novel), Sanjay Leela Bhansali 
Stars: Ranveer Singh, Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone

Curse of the Golden Flower

Curse of Golden Flowere movie
During China's Tang dynasty, the Emperor has taken the princess of a neighboring province as wife. She has borne him two sons and raised his eldest. His wife has an affair with his eldest son while she plots with her biological son to overthrow the Emperor. 

I love this movie on so many levels. The plot is layered. The grandiosity of the sets and the rich colors play off the tension in the strained familial ties. I love how despite the lavishness of the palace, it made me feel like it is oppressive and stuffy like it's choking me. 
Curse of Golden Flower movie poster
Director: Yimou Zhang
Writers: Zhi-Hong Bian, Yu Cao (play) 
Stars: Yun-Fat Chow, Li Gong, Jay Chou 

5. Elizabeth The Gold Age

Elizabeth The Golden Age movie scene

Cate Blanchett may have been Queen Elizabeth herself resurrected as she did justice the character of one of the world's greatest leaders--Queen Elizabeth I of. The feminist in me screams yes girl to this movie.  

The Golden Age is a sequel to an earlier movie starred by the same actress. This installment focuses on the war between Spain and England when Spain denuded its forests to build a great Armada. It is also about how the queen endures multiple crises late in her reign including court intrigues, an assassination plot, and romantic disappointments.

I got a high from watching a woman take charge and win a war--especially a single woman who doesn't need a man. Before girl power was a thing, Elizabeth was 'it'.
Elizabeth Golden Age movie poster
Director: Shekhar Kapur
Writers: William Nicholson, Michael Hirst
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush

Comment down below if you've watched these films and if you have movie recommendations for me. :)

Iligan Food Scene Will Surprise You

Thursday, August 03, 2017

I may have mentioned this already that I have been living in Iligan for a year already and I must say, I am loving it here. Prior to Marawi siege, my brothers and I have been leasing a small apartment. However, I rarely have time to go see the food scene in Iligan myself. Last month, Renee of Random Bibliophile and I decided to go out regularly to check out what's cooking in Iligan. We were lucky to have been with the Iligan Bloggers Society for they had an event last July 29-30, named #EatIligan 2.0, where we visited homegrown restaurants in Iligan City. And I must say, I was surprised by what I found out.

Here's a quick glance of that fun-filled weekend:

1. If you're craving for sweets, here are samples of what Iligan can offer:

Unicorn Frappella
Have you ever seen a frappe as unicorn-ly pretty as this? Get one at Frappella Crib.

Chocolate Truffles Schokolade
Personalized chocolate truffles at Schokolade.

2. The pater at Pater Al-Kuwait made me nostalgic for Marawi. 

Pater Meranao
(Pater is a native Meranao food that made of chicken or beef plus rice wrapped in banana leaf.) 

3. Before I show more food, a summary of a blogger's life first:

Iligan Bloggers Society
Frappella Crib has this cute sign ready for us when we arrived.
Ayeesha Dicali with Iligan Bloggers
Bloggers don't eat until they had enough shots of the food, even if they're hungry, even if the food looks enticing because priorities, that's whyy.
Iligan Toursim Bus
Riding the Iligan Tourism bus made me feel so gara. Lol.

4. Bentos come in many combos at Ramen-yah! They're so good I feel like I can easily finish two in one sitting.

Japanese food
Feast for the eye and palate.

Ramen-yah Robinsons Iligan
The ambiance in Ramen-yah, 3rd Floor Robinson's Iligan Branch makes you forget you are eating in a mall food court.

5. Iligan has unique versions of our comfort foods:

Pesto Iligan City
Freshly made Pesto at Pinch.

Triple Trouble burger at House of Fries
Triple Trouble, a burger with three beef patties for the big eater at House of Fries.
Pizza and Footlong at Pop Snack
 Pan de Pizza and Chili JalapeƱo Footlong at Pop Snack.

  6. If you are a vegan, a fitness enthusiast, a weight-watcher, or wanting to lose a few pounds, Adventist Medical Center Iligan Nutrition and Dietetics Services has everything you need.

Tofu rolls
Dieting doesn't mean eating bland food. Vegan can actually mean delicious. 

 7. Iligan has many cafes. My latest find is Pinch that serves Malaysian Tea and Vietnamese Coffee.

Coffee selection at Pinch Iligan
Teh Tarik, a hot milk tea is a comforting drink. Not too sweet, its froth is sprinkled with a pinch of cinnamon.

 8. Moreover, many restaurants in Iligan have interiors that are Instagram worthy, we couldn't get enough of taking photos of every corner.

Pinch Iligan Shabby Chic

Pop Snack Western Style

Iligan has become my second home. With every new discovery, I fall in love with it. The people are warm and friendly, the proprietors are culturally sensitive. Many know the meaning of halal and explained to me how they keep their food halal for their Muslim patrons. 

In the next few weeks, I will be posting about the places that I have visited through #EatIligan 2.0 and will talk about them in more detail so you will know what they offer and how to get there. Watch out for it. 

An Open Letter to Our Representatives

Saturday, July 22, 2017
men praying in a mosque in Marawi

I won't bother writing a long post. Just these 10 points that are easy to understand.

1. If you have no intellect to speak of, please resign. Legislation is not for idiots and retards.

2. If you have no guts to speak in public, please go home and plant camote. The House of
Representatives is not for the mute.

3. If you do not listen to the cries of the masses, please, the door is wide open. Being a congressman is not for the deaf.

4. If you do not go around and see for yourself the real situation on the ground, please take a vacation leave forever. The Lower House is not for the blind.

5. If have no empathy, please leave the House. You have to know what it is to be in our shoes to be able to represent us.

6. If you have no conscience, go to hell. Thousands of lives are at stake in your simple yes or no. (You need not go now, but surely you'll end up there eventually.)

7. If you're there for the money, there are other illegal ways to earn money, please help yourself with your haram earnings, just don't rob the people.

8. If you think that bombing is okay, please direct the bombers to your own house. You may be able to rebuild it, while most of us cannot afford to replace a tenth of what we've lost.

9. If you do not think much of the lives of those who are still in the custody of the terrorists, feel free trade places with them.

10. If you think well eventually forget this betrayal, you're wrong. We will take it to the grave.

10 Things I am Grateful For

Saturday, July 15, 2017
Ayeesha Dicali

Seeing our home in Marawi in a pixelated photo that looks half-destroyed, half-intact has me spiraling down a dangerous pit of anger and an overall gloomy perspective in life. Despite my newfound affinity for the color pink, life lately has not been seeming rosy to me.

So here I am forcing myself to remember all the things that I am grateful for.


My brother's daughter, Marzia, has been being my greatest joy these days. Whenever I feel stressed, I only need to look at her sweet face and I feel so much better. The truth is, on the day she was born, the first time I saw her in the nursery room, I cried. Being single at my age, it's not hard to imagine a future of singlehood until I grow old. I see my dream of becoming a mom slowly drifting away as the years pile on me, as my beauty fades with time. And so when I saw her, I no longer feel fearful, because I now have someone to love and someone I can play mom to. It's the greatest feeling.


Other than Baby Zia, our family has been blessed with another member. I have a new sister-in-law, Daniah. She has been a friend to me for so many years, I lost count. I will never forget that even before she was a part of our family, she was there for me in my darkest hour two years ago. I will never forget how we both cried over my personal tragedy as we behold the city lights of Makati. I am glad that my brothers know how to pick spouses. I have the kindest and loveliest sisters-in-law: Asmah, Daniah, and Bea. The family is becoming bigger; and truly, the more, the merrier.


A year ago, we have rented an apartment in Iligan City, just me and my brother. A few months ago, we planned to let it go. But we haven't because when the war broke out in Marawi, this is where our whole family has run to, along with some relatives and neighbors who had no immediate place to go to. Indeed, Allah has plans. And I believe that it is not a coincidence that we have gotten this place and haven't let it go even if we wanted to.


I have never mentioned this, but I will forever be thankful to the family who gave my family a ride out of Marawi. We don't know them but they helped my family. I believe they are from the Pacasum clan. My mom also told us about a man who gave them food when they were stuck in Saguiaran. Also the Sulog family in Balo-I. The boiled kamote that they give to the fleeing evacuees is the first hot food that my family has eaten since they left Marawi. Moreover, the relief packages from the DSWD are appreciated. My ma-pride self initially cannot stomach the thought of receiving relief goods. But in these desperate times, we humble ourselves and be grateful for what is provided for us without us asking. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.


On the fourth day of the siege, when the military has started dropping bombs and our neighborhood was one of the first to be hit, I cannot contact my mom. All the batteries at home were drained. I have gotten the number of our neighbor who is also a relative, she is my aunt, and I asked her that if they have the opportunity to get out of Marawi, can she take with her my mother, brother, and my to grandmothers. I will forever remember what she said,

"Di ako nga dun ptawagi ka kataya a mliyo kami dun ka pangaolog dun so mga bomba. (Do not call me anymore, we are fleeing right now, they are already bombing us.)"

You can just imagine the crippling fear that gripped me upon hearing that. When my family has gotten out of the conflict zone, with her were our two elderly neighbors, who are also distantly related to us. Mom said that they refused to flee without tagging along with my family. Our neighbors know that my grandmothers were old and frail so they never left them. Times like this show the real colors of people. Some turn out to be heroes, while some will let you die even if they have all the means to save you.


One call from a friend is enough to shoo away the anxiety. I am so lucky that I have the best people that I can count on even when the sky rains bombs. One of them is studying for the bar exam to fight the bigger battles for us, In Shaa Allah. One is helping to raise funds for the WeAreMarawi drive. Two are overseas, always comforting us even if they are away. One is a fellow IDP who have been resilient in these trying times. One is a nurse who has shown extraordinary service in IPHO. One is an OB-GYNE who has been the barkada's resident tanungan ng mga sakit. Two are also doctors, they too served as volunteers in Marawi.  One is a law student who has kept me happy since the day we met two years ago, who has flown to Marawi to volunteer. And who else greets me advance happy birthday on midnight of July 1 when my birthday is actually on the fourth week of July? You are special!


In my life, I have been so many things. I have been a production assistant, a peace advocate, a teacher, a journalist, a blogger, etc. And this time, I have set my eyes on another goal. Alhamdulillah for I have made the first step to a thousand miles run. My younger self would say, "Wait for my name on the boards in three years, I will be on top." But the older me says "In shaa Allah."


I have loved and hated Marawi for all my life. After living in Iligan for quite some time and experiencing the comforts of having fast internet, reliable power source, and good traffic management, my heart has distanced itself from Marawi 30 kilometers more. But the heart has attachments to home that don't break. My heart has been longing for Marawi lately. She has suffered enough. I'd like to come home to her and sweep her dusty streets.


I have almost lost my faith and sanity throughout this ordeal. I could have died when I carelessly joined a military clearing operation. But I haven't. Faced with the prospect of losing all our material possessions in Marawi, I am staying afloat. No, I won't sink into the ocean of hopelessness.  I am not weighed down anymore by attachments to any material thing. I learned that I can survive with so little, that I can be happy with a handful of pennies. We may have lost so much but the maturity gained is priceless.


I am reaching another milestone in my life. I thank Allah for every day that he gives me. Life is precious, I have lived long enough to taste its bitterness and its sweetness to find how palatable life is. Every year when I celebrate my birthday, I look back to my life; and this year, I have added another chapter, one that is about being a survivor of an armed conflict and experiencing martial law. I am grateful for a life that is colored with struggles and triumphs. 

BeautyMNL Review: All Your Beauty Needs Covered

Friday, July 14, 2017

BeautyMNL experience

There are many up and coming online beauty stores that are sprouting like mushrooms on the internet. Some sell their stuff on Instagram, some on Facebook, and some have their own website. But which one is best?

I am glad that BeautyMNL collaborated with me on this post to give their online store an honest review on what it's like to shop with them.

This made me happy because I am beauty junkie to the bones. I watch beauty gurus on Youtube, I wear makeup whenever I'm out of the house, and I am one who is still a twenty-something who aspires to remain to look twenty-one-ish for as long as I can.
BeautyMNL review

The first thing I notice when visiting websites is the aesthetic and organization of the links. BeautyMNL has a clean, modern chic website where you won't be confused and be overwhelmed because all the products are sorted well. Immediately, you can see on the top of the page the categories like if you're looking for a specific product, be it makeup or skincare. It made me happy because BeautyMNL is the only beauty e-store that has dedicated sections for local and organic brands.

Next to the categories is a slider that features their latest articles in their in-house magazine--Bloom--and their promos and discounts.

Below that still is a section where you can find links to their whooping over 300 brands. A quick run through those 300 brands will tell you that BeautyMNL carries high-end brands, drugstore brands, Korean makeup and skincare, local brands, and homemade organic brands. No Philippine e-store carries that much wide range of products to suit your needs and budget.

BeautyMNL review
Another feature of the site is that is a community of Pinays who help each other out. When you sign up for BeautyMNL, you get asked for your skin type, skin tone, facial features, and age because later on, if you review their products, other customers will get an idea of the product performance.

I found this useful when I placed an order for Holika Holika Holy Berry Tint in Orange Berry and one of the reviews said that it suited her and she has a medium skin tone like mine. I was convinced and when I got the tint, I liked it too.
BeautyMNL review
I placed my order on July 5 and I got my package on July 10. I live in Iligan City so that is expected that couriers take that long to ship. When I opened the package, the products are wrapped individually in bubble wrap. I got V&M Bikini Bomb skin lightening salve, Holika Holika Holy Berry Tint in Orange Berry, and The Beauty Bakery Clarifying Witch Hazel Facial Mist. 

I did not post right away about the products and the service of BeautyMNL because I want to try the products first. One of my biggest concern when shopping online especially for products that I put on my skin is whether the products are original and not fakes.

I am glad to say that all the products I got are legit. I tested them out and here are my first impressions:
VM Bikini Bomb Whitening Salve
The V&M Bikini Bomb skin lightening salve, as its name suggests, has a waxy consistency as most salves do. It has a mild scent that is in between floral and herbal. It leaves the skin feeling smooth and moisturized. This product has many good reviews. Some swear by its efficacy. I have used it for only two days so I am yet to see it's whitening action. 
With Hazel Facial Mist
I never knew I need a mist until I had this Clarifying Witch Hazel Facial Mist by The Beauty Bakery. I love using it before I put on moisturizer and in the middle of the day when humidity and Iligan's soaring temperature threatens to make my face a mess. The glass bottle and spray nozzle are high quality because this mist sprays tiny mist, unlike regular plastic sprays. The tiny droplets will ensure that the face is uniformly moistened and the makeup won't be messed up. 
Holika Holika Lip Tint

Lastly, I tried this Holika Holika Holy Berry Tint in Orange Berry. It is sheer and light on the lips. I am not a tint kind of girl but a lipstick hoarding one so this is a fresh addition to my lip products. I will use this on my downtime when I don't feel like putting on makeup but I don't wanna look like losyang either.

Overall, I am happy with my BeautyMNL experience. The only one thing that I am not-so-happy-about is that some items I wanted so bad are out-of-stock. There is a waiting list, but who has time for that? Also, a COD option for payment would be helpful for others. Although I personally use Paypal. I will definitely shop again there as I am eyeing their organic bath products.

Rating: 5/5

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