— Valerie Lim

My sweet ride as the boys go riding up to Santa Barbara on their Harleys.


Being in the chase car meant being cocooned in the comfort of air-conditioning and a never-ending supply of snacks.

  
But nothing beats the thrill and freedom you get from being on a bike. 

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There is only one way to see Los Angeles – from up top.

Griffth Observatory sits pretty on the top of the hill and gives you a bird’s eye view of the city of Angels. From that vantage point, you get a little up close and personal with the Hollywood sign too.

   
 

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BEING A CONFIDENT WOMAN

LiveMySunshineHPV

I like being healthy. Who doesn’t? To me, a woman’s confidence comes from being healthy. When I am in tip top health, I am capable and competent. I have never liked being sick. Being sick hinders me from doing the things I enjoy the most – traveling, exercising, meeting people and eating my favourite foods. All women should be able to be independent, energetic and able-bodied.

In fact, everyone, both men and women, have that right to that. Growing up, we’ve come to see certain people as the sunshine of our lives. They are the ones we care about and who matter the most, be they our mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, or even our childhood best friend.

You might not know this, but the first time I ever lost one of my best friends was at the age of 16 to an unfortunate accident. It was sad, traumatizing and shocking at the same time. Not only did it teach me to treasure my friends more, I also realized at a young age that no one should have their sunshine taken away from them.

In recent months, more than one of person in my extended circle has contracted cancer. Yes, people in their mid-30s and early 40s are being stricken with various forms of cancer. Cancer is now more prevalent in people under the age of 50 and can hit when you least expect it. Whenever the news breaks, remarks such as “Oh we never thought he would get cancer,” “She always looked so healthy!” or “No way. I cannot believe it,” are common.

As age catches up with me (I am 30 this year!) and my family members, I want to ensure that we are all healthy. So I would like to take the opportunity today to talk candidly about a women-specific cancer caused by the human papillomavirus, also known as HPV. Most recently, when I spoke with my doctor, he mentioned that cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers that affect women in their prime. In our 30s, this is the time when our careers are flourishing and I know friends who are the same age and who already have 2 young kids. Cervical cancer is on the list of Top 10 cancers. But unlike the other cancers, he also mentioned that cervical cancer IS PREVENTABLE!

Regular Pap smear screenings is one of the best ways to prevent HPV and its resulting related diseases. Not only did those wise words come from my doctor, my mom concurs too. Just earlier this year, the doctors found a fairly large growth in her uterus during a routine Pap smear. Within the next two months, we scheduled a surgery to get it removed. If it wasn’t for the test, we would have never found the lump and it would still be in her.

This is why I have decided to be involved in the upcoming #livemysunshinehpv campaign and speak up on HPV. Named for the people we see as the sunshine of our lives, the campaign aims to drive awareness of HPV and its prevention.

I am so glad that with the advancement of technology these days, it presents us the opportunity to save more lives. As a first line of defence against cervical cancer and other strains of HPV-related diseases, there are vaccinations that people can go for. But, I say you can never be too cautious. I am proud to say that I am vaccinated against HPV yet still go for regular Pap smear screenings with my mom.

Incidentally, if you’ve not gone for a Pap smear screening before, listen up! As part of Women’s Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Campaign organised by the Singapore Cancer Society, there are a total of 155 GPs now offering FREE Pap smear screenings from now until July 31. Channel News Asia (CNA) has also reported this on their website:

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/free-cancer-screening-for/1828456.html

It’s my intention to help drive awareness and initiate these important questions with our friends, family and doctors. Everyone needs to take charge of their own health, but it’s even more important for us to be healthy so that we can be there for those we care about whenever they need us.

WHAT IS HPV?

Human Papillovirus

I first heard of HPV and its closely related cancer – cervical cancer – a couple of years ago through reading. In the medical world, the HPV is the HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS.

Men, before you dismiss this post, the HPV, can affect both men AND women. Yes, it is true! true! It is estimated that 1 out of 2 sexually active women and men will have HPV infection at least once in their lifetime. There are many different sub-types of HPV (more than 100) – some types are high-risk (may cause cancer), while other types are low risk (non-cancer causing). About 30-40 of these sub-types can infect the genital area, and these can cause genital warts in both men and women, gynaecological cancers in women, and less commonly, anal or penile cancer in men. Other sub-types may infect the skin of the fingers, hands and face.

OUCH. None of these sound fun and neither does chemotherapy.

Before you start freaking out though, most HPV infections (90% cases) goes away on its own without any treatment. PHEW.

HOW IS HPV TRANSMITTED?

This common virus is transmitted from one person to the other via genital skin-on-skin sexual contact. Oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has the virus will spread the virus.

THIS SNEAKY VIRUS SOME TIMES DOES NOT SHOW SYMPTOMS.

HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms! Not to scare you, but when I asked the doctor what the presenting symptoms are, he said that most HPV infections occur without signs or symptoms. For instance, if you had the cold, your nose would be runny, and you may experience body aches. But when you get infected with the HPV, there may not be any outwardly presenting symptoms.

If the infection persists and doesn’t clear, that’s when you’ll run the risk of developing the genital cancers. And the worst part is that we can’t predict when our immune system is in good shape to help us clear these infections!

The scared emoji face is absolutely appropriate for this situation.

This is why it is so important to speak with your medical doctors, to be informed on the facts, and to seek out preventive measures.

HPV Campaign

But wait, you may be thinking, how is HPV related to cancer?

Remember the 100 plus sub-types of HPV strains? They persist in our bodies at any one time, and can cause infections. In about 90% of the infection cases, the virus clears by itself and the cells return to normal. In some cases, however, the infection can persist and cause the cells to grow in an abnormal way. Specifically, HPV strain 16 and 18 are aggressive and cause about 70% of cervical cancer cancers. They infect the cervix (the lower part of the womb) and cause the cells to change.

When this goes undetected by a Pap smear at an early stage, some of these abnormal cells may then develop into cervical cancer.

OKAY. SO YOU GOT MY ATTENTION.

HOW CAN I BEST PROTECT MYSELF THEN?

To clear my doubts about HPV and cervical cancer, I spoke with Dr Chris Chong from Gleneagles Hospital. If you have questions about your health, you should definitely speak with a certified doctor. During our conversation, I asked him if what I was doing to protect myself was adequate from cervical cancer, and he mentioned that I was already doing all the right things:

1) Regular Pap smear screenings: CHECK
Pap smears are also the gold standard to detect abnormal cell growth.

2) Early HPV vaccination: CHECK
If you have not been vaccinated yet, it is best to speak to your doctor to determine if you’re suitable to be vaccinated

3) STILL go for regular Pap smears even if you’ve got your HPV vaccination: CHECK

4) Use rubber protection or keep to one sexual partner

Currently in Singapore, two vaccines are approved for use by the Health Promotion Board (HPB). I have utmost faith in Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority as they do strict testing and regulation of all vaccines that can be administered to patients.
BUT WAIT…
You have to understand that even if you get the vaccine, IT IS NOT a 100% protection against cervical cancer. The vaccines lower your risk of infection from SOME types of HPV. But these vaccines do not protect against ALL cancer¬ causing HPV sub¬-types. The best would be to check with your doctor what the vaccine you are getting will do for you, just like how I checked with mine, and STILL go for regular Pap smears.

HPV Vaccination

WHY DO I HAVE TO GET VACCINATED THEN?

Cervical cancer is the 10th leading cause of cancer-related death in Singaporean females, with 1 woman diagnosed every 2 days.

Rather than let you or your loved ones be vulnerable to ANY type of HPV and its related diseases, prevention is the most certainly the best medicine.[CR1]

DID YOU KNOW?
In Singapore, the HPV vaccine can be administered to girls and guys as young as 9 years old.
And yes, GUYS too! Men in Singapore aged between 9 and 26 can now be vaccinated against HPV as protection against genital warts. (Reference: http://www.healthxchange.com.sg/News/Pages/Vaccine-against-HPV.aspx)

Men should also take care of their health by being vaccinated. This way they are less likely to spread HPV to their current and future partners.

WHY IS THE VACCINE RECOMMENDED AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE?

From the literature I read, they recommend vaccination starting from the age of 9.

According to Dr Chris Chong’s advice, the HPV vaccines should be given prior to exposure to those strains prevented by the vaccine, in order to harness their full potential. There is no reason to wait until a teen is having sex to offer HPV vaccination to them. Preteens should receive all three doses of the HPV vaccine series long before they begin any type of sexual activity and are exposed to HPV. Also HPV vaccine produces a higher immune response in preteens than it does in older teens and young women.
There are obviously many sources that have information about HPV but I pored through various credible and approved sites to distill these facts. You can read more about HPV from Health Promotion Board’s website , Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website , and World Health Organisation’s website .

I take my health very seriously. For example, I work out at least twice a week and take vitamins daily (Vitamin C, B3, B12, Calcium, Fish Oil, Evening Primrose Oil). So to me, the HPV vaccine was an easy way of protecting my health; just three doses, and I was set. Having been vaccinated years ago, I have not had to worry about another dose and had the privilege of being able to live carefree and happy. As such, I would like more teens to be aware of how they can protect themselves and live life to the fullest.

Bask in the sunshine of those closest to you and spread the word of prevention. I’ll have more updates to share on this topic and who the sunshine in my life is! #livemysunshinehpv

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People gawk in disbelief when I say that Henry and I haven’t actually been to Bali. Yes, we have been to Boracay countless times, but the island paradise that was only 2 hours away was considered foreign territory… Until recently.

Thanks to Elite Havens who manages Dea Villas (among many others),we got an invite to experience the 4-bedroom villa with some very good friends of ours.

It is hard to say no to paradise.

The villa came with its own pool and even though it was hard to leave our gorgeous premises, being n0obs, naturally we had to visit the obvious tourist spots: Potato Head, W Hotel and the original Ku De Ta.

Potato Head was absolutely picturesque. With the many white umbrellas set against a jewel-blue background, one would wish they could wake up to a view like this every morning.

And then there was the food. Not exactly what I was expecting because I was lemming for traditional Indonesian fare, but the tapas-styled food was full of flavour and equally visually appealing.

Seeing how the weather was brilliant that day, we then restaurant hopped to W Hotel to watch the sun set from W’s vantage point. 

W Bali is incredibly stylish.

Add to that, you too can look as stylish lounging in the day beds as the sun melts across the horizon.

But a man-accessory it probably the best thing you can have while strolling along the beach.

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Every June when Father’s Day rolls around, I scratch my head and wonder what else I can get my dad. He likes his tech gadgets (which man doesn’t?) and every time he gets his hands on a new gadget, he gets excited like a little child in a candy store.

I remember when he was the first in the household to get a pager. Haha. It makes my heart swell to see him fiddle with the switches, trying the different modes, plugging the item in and when he manages to “figure it out”, he smiles. 

Father's Day Oral B Gift 

So this year, to really get him to smile, I got him the Oral-B Power Brush. Not only is this electric toothbrush easy-to-use; all you need to do is plug in the charging stand to your wall socket and dock the brush. Once charged, the brush is ready to use! No need for manuals or difficult assembly. 

  
This is an appropriate gift for my practical Papa because I remember when I was little, he would be the one to guide me and show me how to brush my teeth. Then, in my teenaged years, he gifted me with a set of beautiful healthy teeth; he recommended that I get braces. I had awfully crooked teeth then. Fast forward 10 years, you cannot imagine how thankful I am for good teeth because it has changed my life. 

HEALTH IS WEALTH

Oral hygiene is sometimes over looked. Something as simple as a clean, healthy mouth cavity can actually impact how people react to you. 

Think about it, would you ever want to talk to someone who has BAD BREATH? Ohhhh dear no, I would never want the people closest to me to ever suffer from that.  

Aside from your regular dentist visit, daily brushing can prevent tooth decay and gum disease. So it is important to pick a brush that helps you protect your oral health. 

ORAL-B POWER BRUSH

Compared to regular electric toothbrushes, the Oral-B Power Brush has 5x better cleaning along the gum lines versus manual brushing. Using it, reminds me of being at the dentist! And just like your dentist will tell you, brushing isn’t limited to just your teeth. Cleaning your gums are equally, if not, more important than just cleaning the surface of your teeth. 

I used to neglect brushing my gums. Because of that, I suffered from sensitive gums and they would occasionally bleed. 

  

The gums are where bacteria reside, and with the Oral-B Power Brush, you can clean and massage your gums with up to 48,800 unique oscillating / rotating + pulsating movements. This is the special 3D action of the Oral-B Power Brush that helps to removes more bacteria and dirt per minute. You obviously would never be able to reach that speed yourself unless you were bionic man. Regular brushing regularly hovers around 600 oscillations per minute. The Power Brush is at least 6 times faster! But because it is the visual pressure sensor that helps reduces brushing force. My Dad never has to worry about brushing too hard and hurting his gums.  

  

My Papa also can choose from 3 brushing modes just like a dentist’s brush – daily clean, sensitive and polish. The Oral-B ProfessionalCare series brushes also provide a superior tooth-by-tooth clean through compact, round brush heads. The set I gave my Papa comes with 2 extra brush heads.

The gums are where bacteria reside, and with the Oral-B Power Brush, you can clean and massage your gums with up to 48,800 unique oscillating / rotating + pulsating movements. This is the special 3D action of the Oral-B Power Brush that helps to removes more bacteria and dirt per minute. You obviously would never be able to reach that speed yourself unless you were bionic man. Regular brushing regularly hovers around 600 oscillations per minute. The Power Brush is at least 6 times faster! But because it is the visual pressure sensor that helps reduces brushing force. My Dad never has to worry about brushing too hard and hurting his gums.  

My Papa also can choose from 3 brushing modes just like a dentist’s brush – daily clean, sensitive and polish. The Oral-B ProfessionalCare series brushes also provide a superior tooth-by-tooth clean through compact, round brush heads. The set I gave my Papa comes with 2 extra brush heads.

The first time my Papa used the tooth brush, he said he liked the Daily Clean mode because of the speed and the pressure of the brush. But the real reason why he likes the Power Brush so much, is the fact that the brush head moves on its own. He now doesn’t have to exert so much effort at brushing his teeth to get a good thorough cleanse. Haha! 

WIN YOURSELF THE ORAL-B POWER BRUSH

If you are still thinking about what to get for your Papa for Father’s Day, you can win for yourself the Oral-B Power Brush! 

This Father’s Day, power your dad’s smile and save up to 50% on selected models of Oral B Power Brush on Qoo10! Saving 50% off your shopping will certainly make almost anyone smile!

The other option is to simply join the Instagram #oralbsg contest. 

Here are the deets! 

* Contest runs 8 to 21 June 2015

* Three winners will be picked

And the steps to winning yourself an Oral-B Power Brush are:

1. Post a photo of your father in his best smile (with or without you in it) on Instagram

2. Tell us why you would like to win an Oral-B Power Brush for your dad!

3. Hashtag #oralbsg AND #powerofdadsg

And that’s it! The hardest part is probably convincing your Dad to take a photo. I know it took a while to convince my Dad because he is quite camera shy. But, he was a good sport. Just take a look at my picture on my Instagram account and see how we did it.
  
He taught me how to take care of my teeth when I was little, and now I want to do the same for him. 

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY, PA!

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The Manila fashion scene is no stranger to the #TRESemmeRunwayReady fashion show. The event returned again this year at the Sofitel Harbour Tent showcasing some of the latest fashion hair trends combined with the best fashion inspiration from Philippine’s top designers.

Tresemme Runway Rajo x Jing

This year, I had the pleasurable honour of walking for famed designer, Rajo Laurel, in the line up. Rajo’s collaboration was with celebrity hair stylist, Jing Monis, while millennial designer, Francis Libiran’s, whimsical ocean-inspired collection was matched by Lourd Ramos.

The many clean lines of Rajo’s couture collection were mirrored by Jing, who created a slick wet look for the models on stage. See if you can spot me in the picture above!

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