I love my Mares fins!

I won the Mares Summer Selfie contest for July! While it’s not my first time to win an online contest (I’ve won a few of them by blogging), this was my first time to win one via Facebook Likes. Winning this contest was particularly fantastic because the prize was a pair of Mares fins of my choice <3

mares fins


And this is the photo that won me the contest:

mares selfie_small

I don’t look particularly nice in this photo – in fact, I look pretty ridiculous with my chipmunk cheeks – but hey, I was willing to sacrifice a bit of my dignity for the chance to win a new pair of fins 😛 After consulting with friends and gear reviews, I settled on the Mares Avanti Quattro+ in white. They go very nicely with my blue Avanti Tre fins 😀

05 diving5

So how do they handle? I got to test them out during my most recent fieldwork in Tawi-tawi. Power-wise, the Avanti Quattro+ give a good kick. I used them while going against strong currents and managed to cover over 100 meters in relatively good time while carrying a huge tetrapod. Extra force was needed but the fins got the job done so I’m counting it as a win.

03 diving3



Maneuverability is also pretty good. I had no problems with the tight turns I needed to make while doing fish visual census. For aesthetics, the fins come in black, white, blue, green, and red. I got the white ones because 1) they look so clean and pretty, and 2) they’re easy to spot underwater. Mares says that the red fins stay red even at depth so you can get that too.

Thanks again to Mares for holding the contest! (Underwater photos were taken by Denmark Recamara)

The O’Neill Superkini – the island girl’s best friend

I stumbled upon the O’Neill Superkini when I was browsing through the main R.O.X. branch in Bonifacio High Street. I knew I wanted a new swimsuit – just “wanted” because my trusty Speedo suit was still in excellent shape and didn’t need replacing – but didn’t have anything in particular in mind. There I was, walking among the racks of suits and idly pulling out the ones that caught my eye when I spotted a small sign in the O’Neill section that just said “Introducing the Superkini”. Okay, catchy name that one. Checked out the information tag. Non-slip Nanofront fabric that develops 200% more grip between your skin and the suit when wet compared to ordinary Lycra? Sold! Well, not quite that fast. I Googled and looked it up (never heard of it before!) and boom! I wanted the Superkini. I wanted it so much that I ended up getting two of them – black and striped one from the O’Neill online shop (it was on sale and my balikbayan aunt and uncle brought it home for me) and the teal one from R.O.X.

superkini flat

The verdict after more than a year of swimming, snorkeling, diving, and surfing? The O’Neill Superkini is officially the Islander Girl’s best friend.

Loving my Superkini!

Okay, so I only had my first-ever surfing lessons last weekend in La Union (which deserves its own blog post!) but I did swim and snorkel regularly in El Nido and El Nido’s waves can get a bit rough at times. I’ve also been the unfortunate victim of a bikini top that slid up when I jumped in the water. I tested the Superkini by doing what their models did – I jumped in and the suit stayed put! Huzzah! I’ve also tested it by swimming straight into incoming waves and feeling them crash over me. The Superkini felt so comfortable and so lightweight – like a second skin even – that during its first field test, my frantic brain insisted that I peek every five minutes to check if the suit was still there. Ironic that a suit that was designed to give me piece of mind made me even more anxious because it worked too well 😛 Luckily, my brain quieted down after the first few field tests as the suit proved itself. I also wore it when I went surfing but can’t say how it fared because I covered it with a rash guard to protect against myself against scratches.

superkini hanging to dry
Hanging out to dry

The only downside I can think of is the price. It’s definitely more expensive compared to other bikinis, as it’s easily about twice what a non-branded bikini would cost. I had no guilty feelings about the black suit because I got it during the O’Neill clearance sale. In comparison, I turned away when the ROX cashier swiped my credit card to pay for the teal suit. I kept telling myself that these will be my bikinis for at least the next three years. Based on the minimal wear and tear even after sitting on a banca, there’s a good chance that this will be true.

The verdict? The O’Neill Superkini is my favorite bikini and it’s absolutely worth the price I paid for it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever be able to switch to a different one. Incidentally, the black design is part of the 2012 collection (hence why it was on sale) so I’m not sure if it’s still available. Call me picky, but I didn’t like the 2013 prints. The 2014 print is a nice combination of purple and pink and looks cute.

Review: the OverBoard waterproof carbon messenger bag

It’s funny: after six years on the island, it only occurred to me a few months ago that I needed a waterproof laptop bag. Sure, I already had a dry tube bag for my wallet, phone, and other small stuff, but I lugged my precious laptop around in a regular nylon messenger bag. When it rained or the waves got rough, I either put a towel over the bag or stored it inside our huge dry bags meant for luggage. I finally got my precious waterproof laptop bag last September and promptly loved it. Meet the OverBoard Waterproof Carbon Messenger Bag!

 01 overboard messenger bag exterior

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Flopeds – the most comfortable flip-flops ever!

Flopeds - the most comfortable flip-flops ever!

I love wearing flip-flops. They’re comfortable, easy to take on and off, and come in all sorts of colors. However, I find most flip-flops uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time because 1) the rubber is too hard so there’s almost zero cushioning, and 2) my feet have low arches so wearing something with zero arch support like flip-flops causes serious pain when worn for extended periods like when I’m commuting or working in the lab. I’ve considered using FitFlops but let’s face it – they’re freaking expensive at around PhP 5,000 and look tacky. The savior of my feet came in the form of Flopeds – the anti-flat flip-flop!

From their website:

What’s so special about FLOPEDS ?

Most foot conditions are caused by improper or badly fitting footwear.Wearing good supportive footwear, is a great way to look after our feet and using a sandal or flip flop when we are out of our shoes, that provides the right support and control is equally important.

FLOPEDS, are designed to keep your feet supported and aligned. They also have build in supports around the arch and forefoot area, that follow the natural contours of the foot. These make them an extremely comfortable flip flop to wear for extended use.

The attractive range of  colors makes this flip flop the choice of all ages and genders, and they can be worn around the house, or outdoors, by the pool or on the beach.

I’ve been wearing my Flopeds for several months now and I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. Yes, that had to be in all-caps. The solid foam arch support is a dream come true for me -they provide just the right amount of support and the foam is solid yet yielding so there’s no pressure while walking. I’ve worn them from Paranaque to Quezon City and back and experienced almost no pain (only when people on the MRT stepped on my feet). I got them in black so they go with almost everything.

The only drawbacks would be availability and price. My cousin got them for me in Dubai (she’s actually the one who recommended them to me and she herself owns several pairs) as they aren’t available locally and cost AED 145 (~PhP 1,700). Definitely less expensive than FitFlops but more than what basic Havaianas flip-flops would cost. I used to favor Havaianas despite the PhP 800 price tag because they’re more comfortable to wear compared to other brands because of the softer rubber they use. But now that I’ve worn Flopeds, there’s no going back 😛 I asked my cousin to get me another pair in dark brown to match my work uniform. Technically we’re supposed to wear dark brown Beachwalk flip-flops to work so that we all match but they’re hard and uncomfortable 🙁 I’m hoping they let me continue wearing Flopeds because of my foot problems. No foot pain = happier employee 😀