Purveyors of the Uniq | Seek The Uniq

Purveyors of the Uniq

May 18, 2019

STU Picks: Beach Beauty Essentials

Our beach beauty essentials will get you befriending Mr. Sun all year long

Sporadic rain showers and fluctuating temperature may signal the tail end of summer, but we still have a fair stretch of sun and sand left in our calendars. This also means cramming the last tanning sessions while making sure to care for your skin (and hair).

Since we are huge advocates of responsible tanning, we've rounded up some of the must-have beauty items for having some fun in the sun.

Protect your face from premature aging with some of our tried-and-tested must-haves

Let's start the conversation with an age-old debate: which came first, the moisturizer or the sunscreen? While the beauty world has agonized over this question time and time again, there has been no clear cut answer to this day. Some dermatologists claim that applying moisturizer first will affect the sunscreen's absorption into the skin. Other beauty professionals claim that moisturizer applied on top of sunscreen can tamper with chemical properties, rendering the SPF useless.

Whichever way proves to be most effective, our rule of thumb is to give each one enough time to sink into the skin. Our moisturizing picks for the face are Purple Tree's Miracle Balms and GVC's Glowing & Goodness Brightening SPF Day Cream. On the sunscreen front, Provamed Sun Aqua Serum Sunblock and Sun Bum Zinc Oxide Clear Formula both promise SPF 50 protection.

Don't forget to pop on a pair of Knockaround sunnies while you're at it.

Our roster of body gels and lotions will turn you into a safe tanning advocate

We all know that a gorgeous tan does not come without a cost - direct exposure to UV rays can lead to premature skin aging, sunburn, solar keratosis, pigmentation, and even skin cancer. Luckily, technological advances have paved the way for safer tanning sessions with better products coming out in the market.

While skin damage cannot be completely eradicated, it can slow down by doing pre and post-tanning routines religiously. Our sunscreen picks for the body include Sun Bum Sunscreen Spray SPF 30 and Zenutrients Papaya SPF 50 Sunscreen. Once your sunscreen is all set, spend less time under the sun by using the cult favorite tan accelerator Amazing Maui Babe Browning Lotion, finishing it up with their After Tan Healer. Exfoliate with Phina's Little Factory Scrub and moisturize with Skin Revolution's Aloe 99% Soothing Gel.

We must not forget that tresses need some love, too

Our crowning glory needs just as much attention especially after prolonged exposure to the sun and salty winds. We recommend Philippine-sought BeachBorn Classy Not Brassy Shampoo and Conditioner. Smooth out stubborn tangles with a Tangle Angel Brush.

If you're stuck in the city and craving those beachy waves, the BeachBorn Hair Sea Salt Spray might just be your new best friend.

Most neglected item on beach trips: deletactable scents in a bottle

Nature may have its own set of natural scents but one can't be too prepared. Make sure you have your favorite perfume like W.Dressroom with you at all times, even while at the beach. The Cadentia Eucalyptus Citronne Cologne doubles up as an anti-mosquito concoction too.

Dry bags are stylish and absolutely functional

Of course, bringing a ton of goodies to the beach won't be as fun without a cute beach bag. The MyTagAlongs Dry Bag is sure to keep all your stuff neatly packed and beach-safe. Comes in two cute designs, too.

That's our roundup of beach beauty essentials. Now go out there and enjoy safe tanning under the summer sun!

May 12, 2019

Moms We Love: Aliza Apostol

Aliza Apostol poses with her two princesses, Luccia and Rocio

Aliza Apostol is a mother who is not afraid to be raw. As we chanced upon her younger daughter Rocio in a playful mood, Aliza tried to pacify the situation by giving us a glimpse of how she disciplines her children. Her tone was firm - as how a mother should discipline a child - but she did not hold back on lavishing her youngest with compliments when necessary.

Her older daughter, Luccia, had already benefited from her mother’s guidance. Luccia struck us as calm and obedient, a little wary of strangers but well-mannered enough to entertain questions.

Ultimately, Aliza shared that she enjoys seeing her girls slowly come into their own as individuals. Get know the trio more – fill-in-the-blanks style.

1. The greatest lesson my daughters have taught me is...

The mom-of-two shows off her penchant for bold colors and prints in the Pabna skirt and Banha crop top

Coordinating almost-fluorescent pieces make this family picture a treat for the eyes

2. I think it's adorable when they... 

Aliza shares that the best part of being a mom is seeing her daughters grow up into independent ladies

3. I hope that when my daughters grow up, they...

Confident in her own skin: Aliza looks beautiful in the Tipitapa kimono top and wide-legged jeans

4. The best part about being their mom is...

May 11, 2019

Moms We Love: Vanessa Mayuga-Santos

Vanessa Mayuga-Santos dotes on her little star, Stella

As STU’s very own beauty and movement momma, Vanessa Mayuga-Santos has a reputation of going the extra mile while still enjoying her work. This lovable trait of hers is mirrored in the upbringing of her daughter and mini-me, Stella.

A quick exchange with Stella tells us that she is wise beyond her years. But when it comes to sharing her treats, the 9-year-old in her dominates. Vanessa shares that this is one of her favorite things about her daughter: that she can stand her own ground and be a responsible ate to her younger brother Cisco, but still be mommy’s little baby girl in her more vulnerable moments.

Vanessa shared four precious truths (and some pretty adorable photos) about her daughter, Stella.

1. The surprising thing about my daughter is...

More than being a mom, a sisterhood is in order between a mother and daughter

Fun fact: Vanessa is STU's very own beauty and movement momma

2. If I were to spend a mother-daughter weekend with her, I would...

Stella handpicked this gray dress with embroidered banana leaves for Vanessa

Like momma, like daughter: Stella shows off her penchant for pretty things

3. I love it when she...

Bananas over banana leaves: Stella picked out a second outfit from our plantation story

4. The best part of being her mom is...

May 08, 2019

Moms We Love: Natasha Holstine-Rao

Harper (6) and Sahara (8) evidently get their enthusiasm and charm from their mom, Natasha

Firm but playful – this is probably how we would describe Natasha Holstine-Rao as a mother. As someone who seems to have mastered different parenting personas, Natasha seamlessly shifts from being her kids’ BFF to strict parent mode. This tempered parenting mix is evidently bearing its fruits: her two daughters Sahara (8) and Harper (6) are growing up to be strong women (but not without their own quirks and flavors of humor).

We shot Natasha a quick round of fill-in-the-blanks to glimpse into her adorable relationship with daughters Sahara and Harper.

Ever since my daughters were born, they...


Natasha likes her outfits like she likes her home life: colorful

If I could say one thing to their grown-up selves, it would be...


Keeping up with the little ones: Natasha reveals she works out regularly with her little bundles of energy

They never fail to surprise me when they...

 The three ladies go matchy-matchy in blue outfits

The best part about being their mom is...

April 25, 2019

Habitación: Meraki Brings Our Safari Dreams to Life

Meraki leaves no stones untouched and no corners unstyled

"Meraki. [may-rah-kee]:

The soul, creativity, or love put into something; the essence of yourself that is put into your work.”

The start of 2019 concluded a successful run of Seek the Uniq's own guide shop Habitación. We're not quite sure what it is - perhaps we fell in love with meeting Seekers face-to-face, or perhaps it was really just the beauty of the space itself - but we couldn't stay away for too long. Habitación officially came back, this time bringing with it the beautiful message of Meraki.

A beautiful ivory bathtub greets seekers from the beauty section

Follow the greens and you won't miss the lush guide shop

Styled meticulously (and brimming with love at that), this space is in honor of Seek the Uniq's boss chief Mikka Padua who is the epitomé of Meraki - she wears her heart on her sleeve, and by that we mean a literal sleeve. Her unrivaled attention to detail stems from her pouring out of her soul, creativity, and love into her work.

Lovingly sought artifact replicas line the corners of the space

Our decorative pieces are sought from skilled artisans

Taking from Habitación's love for all things greenery, Meraki follows suit with a collection of indoor plants that would impress the most enthusiastic of the enthusiasts. 

This time, however, we decide to crank up the warm hues a few notches. An awe-striking wash of clay colors greets the Seeker upon stepping into Meraki. Wooden details, dried foliage, and stone accessories enhance the intended atmosphere for the space.

Warm tones bring the outdoors in

A giant painting and wooden details make our home pieces blend right in

As always, Seekers are more than welcome to browse or even just to hang out and meet the team. Lounge on our stylish chairs with a delicious cup of coffee from Curious Coffee. You can find them behind the gorgeous peach counter near the entrance. (Tip: their brownies are to die for.)

Various warm-toned prints bring the space to life

Great coffee can be found behind this beautiful matte peach counter

We're huge fans of OOTD's so if you feel like taking a photo at the space for the 'Gram, you can even ask our team to help you out. Don't forget to use the hashtag #seektheuniqmeraki so we can check out your Pinterest-worthy shots!

Invite your friends and enjoy an afternoon (or two) on our lounge setup

Meraki will only be around until the end of April so do drop by and give us a hello. We'd love to meet you!

Find us at the ground floor of Power Plant Mall's new wing. You can't miss us!


March 20, 2019

At Home with Triccie Wirman

Triccie opens up about her beautiful Tali beach home through her love for stories

Driving up from the congested streets and fast-paced lifestyle of Metro Manila, Casa Sofia was nothing short of a relief. Fresh air, gorgeous interiors, lots of open space, and a breathtaking view of the sea welcomed these weary travelers. For the tired city soul, Casa Sofia was the perfect remedy.

What was more overwhelming than the ocean views and interiors of Casa Sofia was the hospitality of Triccie Wirman, who brought to life the vision of the home alongside her husband Olli. Clearly no stranger to hosting guests, Triccie insisted on giving each of our team members the best spots in the house to rest in after the drive. Her darling of a daughter Sofia, whom the casa was named after, rushed into the kitchen and emerged with glasses of freshly-squeezed juice. “I like to teach them while they’re young,” Triccie shared with a proud smile.

Casa Sofia is a beach home where the Wirman family can enjoy nature and great open spaces

Triccie started opening up about her travels and her love for interesting design pieces. It became clearer to us where Triccie drew her inspiration: stories. The designer was a natural born storyteller. As she told us about her upcoming shop, which would even showcase Philippine artwork, she suddenly excused herself as her children demanded beach time. Our second realization about her: she valued family over everything else. And so we spent the day basking in the warmth of the sun and newly found friendships.

Later on, we got Triccie to tell us more stories about Casa Sofia and her journey as a designer.

Triccie is a fan of all things eclectic which is evident in her homey dining area

Wooden lounge chairs and a giant chess set complete the experience of peering out over the sea

1. Describe your vision for your Tali home.

Casa Sofia was really meant to be a place where we can enjoy what we love most: family time and nature. We envisioned a place that we can call home every time we are in the Philippines. The Philippines, in general, is beautiful and rich in natural resources. If only we can utilize this God-given gift and choose to live surrounded by nature - moving to provinces or seaside areas instead of flocking to big cities - then the vision we have for Tali as a haven for fresher air, healthier food, greener surroundings where children can run freely may also become a reality for many.  

2. How do you integrate your love for locally embroidered and woven pieces into your lovely beachside home?

It actually didn’t take much effort to integrate hand woven pieces into this home. Since my family is privileged to live in places where people love to make things by hand (specifically in Southern Spain and Finland), and because of my longtime passion for everything embroidered, colorful and asymmetric, it came naturally for me to implement this in Casa Sofia.

You know that saying, “home is where the heart is”? This has never been truer in my case. When I put my heart into certain things, it just comes naturally to bring it with me wherever I go.

Triccie's personal style and taste are as colorful as her Moroccan room

3. Which room do you spend the most time in? Which room do you spend the least time in?

I would say the living room, dining room, and the kitchen. These rooms are where friends and family gather together to talk, play, and to just have peace. They are also places where we eat - something which we really love to do. Cooking is a big part of our life hence the big kitchen in Tali. My 8-year-old daughter Sofia, whom the house is named after, cooks and bakes for us weekly in Spain so she feels right at home in Tali. 

The room we use the least would be the one outside the house since it is reserved for guests.  I keep the room untouched to maintain cleanliness and orderliness for the next occupant.

The interior architect loves to collect vintage pieces from her travels

4. If you could change something in your home, what would it be and why?

As a beach house, I would prefer it to be a bit more on the raw side: a typical beachside home would be with a personal touch. But since this is our main home in the Philippines, we had to keep it sturdy enough to survive extreme natural conditions like typhoons, earthquakes, etc.

If it were up to me and my husband, our ideal tropical vacation home would be a nipa hut style house where everything comes from raw nature - from local produce down to using a pump to draw water from natural wells. Solar panels would serve as the main providers of electricity and water heating. Pots and pans set on firewood are used to cook our food. In general, a more eco-friendly home.

Casa Sofia hinted at the Wirman family's love for raw and sustainable design

Golden hour: the house allows ample natural light in for beautiful beachside afternoons

5. During your travels, what are the things you keep in mind when hunting for home pieces?

My husband Olli thinks I have an old soul, which is probably why I love antiques. The more history, the better.

I actually also love anything eclectic: mixing the old with the new. In Tali, for instance, the dining table is a 100-year-old cooking table (passed on to me by my dad from his grandmother) that is a bit too high for the dining chairs as it was used in the past as a place to prepare food not to dine on. The altar was salvaged from an old church in Bohol, the main lamp in the living room is made from twigs picked up from the beaches around Batangas - some examples of simple details that make each piece special.

Every year I join antique fairs in Scandinavia and Central Europe to look for things that have a story behind it - that story is what I keep in mind when on the hunt.

6. What is the best bargain you’ve ever gotten when hunting for home pieces?

The best bargain was a kilim rug I picked up for free at a home demolition site in Madrid, Spain. My profession takes me to reform sites around Europe once in a while and while searching for antique tile stores in Madrid, I came upon an old building that was once a small palace. Sitting in a dumpster was a perfectly preserved Persian kilim rug together with an 18th-century antique table. I asked to take it and the foreman, who had no clue of its value, happily agreed. To find such treasures in the trash was more than a bargain - it was a miracle. 

Creativity has no bounds: Triccie had a lamp made out of pieces of wood she picked up in Batangas

A clay-colored shelf with trinkets draw attention from across the common room

7. Who are the people/artists who influence your style?

There is no one person or designer that I really follow. Practicing interchangeably in Spain, Italy, and Finland, I am constantly exposed to the diverse and rich culture implemented by the people in their daily way of life. That is what inspires me. I believe that there is a designer in every one of us and that one's environment and experience are key influencing factors in the development of taste and style. 

8. If you could visit any home in the world, whose would it be?

My husband's ancestral home named Ratula in Finland. When his grandparents were still in their 50's, they embarked on this project to lovingly restore a 17th-century lakeside manor. It was once a summer home to one of the aristocratic families that followed the Czar and Czarina of Russia, Nicholas and Alexandra, during their summers in Finland. The place is full of history so I imagine the interior alone would be mindblowing to any art collector, designer or home lover.

I was also told that my husband's grandmother Tuulikki, who was an avid interior designer herself, continued to beautify the place with her unique style and love of antiquities through the years. She even restored original frescoes herself.  The place has so much in common with my personal passions and interests that I know I am destined to see it someday.

Triccie enjoys finding quirky things and mixing old with the new

The Wirmans designed their home specifically for their lovely family to enjoy

9. What are the things you consider when designing a home for your two kids and husband?

Safety and comfort above all.

10. What makes a house a home?

Family, love, and togetherness. No design or material object can ever replace the spiritual bond and happiness a loving family brings to make a house a home.

March 07, 2019

Movement Muse: Mariana Bantug

Mariana Bantug opens up about her yoga journey as well as her love for beauty and wellness

A petite lady with one of the most charming faces we’ve ever seen, yoga instructor Mariana Bantug embodied the saying "beauty need not be loud" by arriving with no fuss or fanfare. Mariana popped into the studio quietly - which was how we imagined yogis typically moved - but it wasn’t long before we discovered that she was quite the chatterbox. Before we knew it, she had us firing one question after another - all of which she gladly answered.

Her demeanor and movement rival that of the most dignified ballerinas so we were surprised to know that calmer yoga classes gave her a bad case of unrest. “I feel like I have to move more in the middle of the class,” she reveals with a small laugh.

Mid-conversation, a woman emerged from a class and expressed her curiosity at our equipment. “We’re doing a feature shoot – that explains why I’m wearing makeup,” Mariana answered her female friend. Peering closely at her face, Mariana clearly had another talent tucked into her yoga waistband: achieving the no-makeup makeup look.

This would, however, come as no surprise. Mariana is not just a guru on the mat but on beauty essentials as well. She may not advocate wearing makeup while working out but she is a self-confessed makeup junkie.

We sat down Mariana for a conversation on all things yoga, wellness, and beauty.

Not all who wander are lost: breathable muscle tees are great cover-ups for yoga

How did you get started with yoga?

I was very active as a child and I played a few different sports well into high school. After college, I was looking for a way to stay fit and improve my flexibility (I was strong but could barely touch my toes with legs straight!), so I tried a few hot yoga classes at a Bikram Yoga studio. I was hooked on that for two years before shifting to a Vinyasa practice, which proved to be highly sustainable and fulfilling for me personally.

What style of yoga do you enjoy teaching the most?

Vinyasa 1 and Power yoga.

What has helped you improve your teaching since you first started?

My students — all of them, from the most advanced to total beginners. Every class I teach is an opportunity to learn from them.

Mariana wears the Atsui x STU Iro on the mat

What do you feel is the most important skill a yoga instructor should possess?

Their own practice. Not in the sense that you need to be able to execute fancy or advanced postures, but in the sense that a regular personal practice always influences how you teach. It’s a way of making time for yourself — of filling your cup before you can fill others’.

On a teaching day, what are the things that we can find in your bag? 

Water, a couple of towels, Yoga Love, extra clothes, and a jacket to throw on after class.

What do you consider when picking out activewear for practicing yoga?

Fabric quality and garment cuts. I don’t mind paying more for fabrics that will maintain their quality even after lots of washes, and since I’m on the flat-chested side, I only need light support from my bra tops. I also tend to prefer black or printed activewear, so that sweat marks are less likely to show (I sweat a lot!).

Inject a little fun into your yoga wear with lace-up pieces

What is your beauty routine like on a daily basis? 

I wash my face with a mild cleanser in the morning, evening, and after yoga. I always, always wear sunscreen even if I’m mostly going to be indoors. I use moisturizer only as needed, and the same goes for toner. I feel things out a lot when it comes to my skin. 

Makeup-wise, I feel strongly about NOT wearing any makeup while engaging in any sort of exercise, so you’ll see me bare-faced during practice and while teaching. Gotta let that skin breathe! When I’m not doing yoga, I enjoy wearing makeup — especially mascara. It makes all the difference.

Pinstripes or tropical print?

Tropical print!

How do you handle stress and pressure? Do you use any beauty and wellness products to help you get back on track?

I try to take a pause and close my eyes so I can focus on my breath. Candles are big mood-setters for me — scent in general, come to think of it — so if I can, I’ll light a candle or put on my diffuser and that helps me maintain a more stable state of mind.

What is your daily diet like?

Breakfast is usually oatmeal (steel cut — none of that instant stuff!) and almond butter. For lunch, I try to have something filling, like lentils and beans with veggies on the side. And for dinner, I like having rice meals.

Headbands that match our workout top? Why not.

Mariana's secret to stress relief: closing her eyes and focusing on her breathing

What do you do on your non-practicing days? 

A lot of errands, chores, and general housekeeping. The errands are an opportunity to practice staying calm even in stressful situations, while the housekeeping activities have a meditative quality in themselves, so my yoga doesn’t just exist on the mat — it’s in my everyday life, too.

What can you say to someone who is intimidated to practice yoga?

Yoga is for everyone. I fully and truly believe that. That said, there are many ways to get into yoga. If it makes you feel more comfortable to practice at home while watching a YouTube video to start, go for it. If bringing a friend to a group class helps, that’s a great idea too. If reading or studying yoga philosophy is more of your jam, then explore that freely. Ultimately your yoga is what you make of it, and the only way to figure out what that looks like is to openly explore yoga’s different facets. If you’re already interested, that’s a start and there is nothing to fear in the journey to yourself. 


Follow Mariana on Instagram at @marianabantug. You may also catch her classes at Beyond Yoga Rockwell.

*Shot on location at Beyond Yoga Rockwell


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