Trilogy Hike for Thirty Second Birthday

Jay (my ever so handsome husband) turned thirty two last February 27. To celebrate it, we decided to do something we both love – hiking! We had our first hike as a couple last January 2018 in Rodriguez, Rizal. We climbed Mount Haponan Banoi and Mount Pamitinan. These are the famed part of the Rodriguez Rizal Trilogy (Version 1). The third mountain is Mount Binicayan but we were not able to complete the trilogy as we were too tired already.

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Me and the hubby at the summit of Mount Pamitinan.

But the husband really wanted to do a trilogy hike. I wasn’t so sure if I can do it so I simply kept quiet, not making any promises to him.

Joining us in this hike are some of our closest friends at work – Hazel and Karen Grace. They were both first time hikers. And both extremely excited to experience the joy of mountain hiking.

Mount Parawagan, Lagyo and Susong Dalaga are located in Wawa, Rodriguez, Rizal and is the newly opened trail in the Pamitinan Landscape. These mountains form the Version 2 of  the Trilogy Hike (version 1 being Mount Pamitinan, Haponan Banoi and Binicayan).

Upon arrival in Wawa, we registered at the DENR Office and paid necessary fees. We registered for twin hike, targeting to finish Mount Parawagan and Lagyo.

Parking Fee – Php 30.00

Environmental Fee – Php 50.00/person

After registration, we proceeded to the Barangay Hall to sign at the monitoring form and meet our guide. We chose our guide from the previous hike, Kuya Noriel. I already texted him few days before the hike to make sure that he’s available. Getting a tour guide is mandatory, and I totally agree that you should get one. First, for safety reasons. Second and most important, for totally amazing photographs!

Before the start of the trek, we offered a short prayer then started the almost thirty minutes walk on a cemented road that would lead us to the Junction between Mount Parawagan and Mount Lagyo.

Upon arrival at the Junction, Jay asked Kuya Noriel if it’s possible that we can do a trilogy hike. Kuya Noriel responded that we could, given that Parawagan is a relatively easy climb and Susong Dalaga and Lagyo are just adjacent.

From the Junction, the upward trek to the summit of Mount Parawagan started. We were unable to take any photo, as we were enjoying the talks and chit chat while trekking up. Plus the beauty of the moon while dawn is breaking is way too beautiful that our cameras cannot bring justice to it.

An hour and a half later, we reached the summit of Parawagan and it was simply stunning. The sky was transitioning from darkness to the first light of dawn and the moon was still way up high.

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Couple shot at the summit of Mount Parawagan

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My two amazingly strong girlfriends

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The Amazing Four at the Summit of Mount Parawagan

After around fifteen minutes in basking at the wondrous scenery unfolding before our eyes and taking deep, relaxing breathes because of the uphill climb, we started our descent.

Even the descent view is relaxing and comforting. It truly eased the stress that we acquired the past few weeks.

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My husband took this photo while we were descending Mount Parawagan. Simply stunning.

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We had a quick snack of boiled egg, banana and “suman” at a sari sari store at the Junction before we started our ascent to Mount Lagyo. Contrary to Parawagan which is mostly steady uphill smooth land climb, Lagyo is peppered with plenty of rock formations and tall grass which makes it exhausting and challenging, especially for my girlfriends who were first time hikers. Good thing Kuya Noriel provided us with walking aides (wooden sticks, cheren!)

 

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Photographs above were taken in one of the rest areas in Lagyo. We had to take a break to give way to descending trekkers, and for photo opportunity of course! Some of the rocks in Lagyo are comparable to those in Pamitinan and Haponan Banoi. Sharp curves and hard corals.

After the pictorial session, we continue our ascend. After almost an hour, we reached the summit of Mount Lagyo and was welcomed by its majestic rock formation.

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Couple shot at the summit of Mount Lagyo. Because the couple who climbs together, gets pagod together.

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The Amazing Four on the second mountain we conquered in one day.

We started our descend and was getting excited for the last part of the trek. But the excitement was paired with exhaustion due to the extreme heat of the sun and our muscles shouting for relief from the torture we are giving it. And we were totally surprised by the challenged that the descent presented us.

 

But, we survived! 🙂 the second mountain, that is! After the rocky descent from Lagyo, we started traversing to Mount Susong Dalaga. And yes, it is aptly the named as the mountain looks like twin maiden peaks. But the traverse was challenging due to the scorching heat and the tall cogon grass. Plus, as we were unprepared to do a trilogy, we were starting to feel tired. As Karen Grace aptly blurted out, “Pagod na pagod na ako!”

But since there’s no other way to go but up, upwards we go.

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Up, up, up until we reach the top.

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Keep going..

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Just keep going!

After another thirty minutes of challenging ascent, we finally reached the top of Mount Susong Dalaga, and in effect, completing our first ever trilogy hike as a couple, accompanied by the most supporting friends!

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Remember that I love you all the time. And I wouldn’t mind climbing dozen more mountains with you.

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My first trilogy hike won’t be this fun if not for the people I journeyed it with.

If you thought the ordeal is over because the summit was already reached, hold your horses, because the descent was equally challenging and daunting. We have to descent with only tall cogon grass and our walking stick to aide us. Hah! Eaazzzzzyyyyy!

Upon reaching the flat lands, we decided to take the “habal habal” back to the Barangay Hall because our tiny feet cannot walk any farther.

Upon arrival at the Barangay Hall, we submitted our names to the Tour Guide Assocation representative for the preparation of certificate. While waiting for it, we decide to shower at one of the stalls that offer shower. It costs Php 25.00.

Afterwards, we claimed our certificate, expressed our thanks to Kuya Noriel and headed off to the city, to eat unlimited Samgyupsal!

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Proud trilogy hikers with our very able guide, Kuya Noriel.

Here is the summary of expenses for our Trilogy Hike:

Environmental Fee – Php 50.00 per person

Parking Fee – Php 30.00 per vehicle

Tour Guide Fee – Php 2400.00 (Php 800.00 per mountain)

Certificate – Php 40.00 per person

Shower Room Fee – Php 25.00 per person

Habal habal Fee – Php 150.00

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Four Years of Marriage (and what I’ve learned so far)

I will not be a hypocrite.

Many knew that our union was a fast one. We met on August 2013 and got married at September 2014. t was a fast affair. But not one that we regret. Yes, as most of you already knows, I was already pregnant with Cloud when we got married in September 2014. It is not something that I am proud of. But I do not hide nor cover that up either. It’s the truth. But the most important truth is this – we got married not because I got knocked up, but because we knew that we are ready and we wanted to do it. We did not got married because society dictates that we do so. We did not got married because our families wanted us. We got married because we are ready. And most importantly, we wanted to seek God’s guidance and provision as we took on another step in life – marriage and parenting.

In a few weeks, we will be celebrating our fourth year as a couple. The journey was not without its bumps and flaws. There had been fights – huge ones and petty ones. There were exchanges of words – some quite hurtful that we both took time out for healing. But most importantly, it has been a life changing and lesson filled four years.

Some of those lessons I have learned, I will share in this post.

  1. Make God the center of EVERYTHING. 

As cliche as it may seem, this is very, very true. We tried to do this marriage our way – and ended up hurting each other. Then we came to the Lord in complete surrender. Every plan, every decision, we seek God’s wisdom and guidance. We made Joshua 24:15 our family verse – “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

We ensure that we always pray as a family. And God’s plan is indeed always better than ours. He started using people in the form of colleagues, friends and family members to help answer our requests and petitions to Him. I started attending worship service again and included Cloud in the kid’s ministry. Slowly, God is transforming our marriage.

Most importantly, I surrendered to Him all my doubts, fears and negative thoughts towards my partner. I keep in my heart God’s reminder about what Godly love is. It is not selfish, it does not keep a record of wrongs and does not rejoice over evil. We both strive to learn how to address our issues without raising our voice or making a scene with our fights.

A marriage centered on following God’s example is a marriage bound to succeed. It is a marriage comprised of two sinful individual with a God who forgives all sins.

2. COMMUNICATION is vital.

On the first few months of our marriage, I was struggling. I found it hard to tell my husband what I really feel about certain things. Instead, I would just sulk and throw a tantrum. Very childish and immature. Very wrong for a woman of God.

And it’s true. Men are not mind readers. No one is. For us to be understood, we have to say what we want to say and mean it. Be direct and straight to the point. I have a husband who hates “paliko likong usapan”. He would rather have it straight out than trying to make him figure out what I want to say.

Also, talking and communicating are not synonymous. I’ve realized that I talk. Like a lot. But most of the time, I do not communicate with my husband. I was so busy talking and when I’m not talking, I’m not really listening to what he is saying but rather, my mind is again busy crafting responses for his argument. Very wrong.

Communication should be two way. Speak to understand. Listen to understand and not just to respond.

3. WINNING AN ARGUMENT is secondary. The primary is KEEPING THE LOVE.

In the recent months, I’ve realized that I don’t really have to win every argument. What’s the point of winning when you’ve hurt each other with words? What is more important is that I was understood. He may not agree with me but at the very least, he understood my point and where I am coming from.

4. And the most important thing, CHOOSE LOVE.

The decision to love my husband is a decision that I made daily. It’s true. Keeping the marriage vows of “through thick and thin” is easier said than done. There are days when it’s extra hard to do so. But it is this extra hard days when I lean closer to the Lord for that extra dose of love and guidance. Because it’s easy to say “I love you” when the finances are okay, the kid is healthy and bills are paid. But it gets tougher when the kid is sick and he’s on travel, or you’re unwell and he has to be away. Or those days when you needed love affirmation but he’s also busy and can’t just get it.

Love. Choose it. Make a conscious decision to keep that love alive in your heart. And when it seems that the glow has died out, remember your marriage vows.

 

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Realizations of a Twenty Nine(r)

  1. You will get sidetracked from your goals. But that doesn’t mean you stop pursuing it. Use the distraction to gather learning, experiences and perspective that you can apply as you move forward. And never, ever, stop moving forward.
  2. You will get your heart broken. How often, how hard, how intense depends mostly on how deeply and seriously you opened your heart. You may thought that it’s love. But unless he/she is willing to take it to the next level of commitment, it is not love.
  3. You have to love yourself. Cliche as it may sound, this is very important. The world is hard and society is tough. It will ram, batter and hit you. And if you don’t love yourself, no one else will.
  4. Happiness comes from inside. You cannot rely on other people to make you happy. Your happiness should be from your heart.
  5. Your priorities changes. Love happens, marriage happens. Your priority list will change but that doesn’t mean you have changed. You have just realized what’s more important.
  6. Your faith is the only constant thing. 

 

Coco Haven : Why It’s Heaven!

I have been searching for the right shampoo and body wash for Cloud for the past two years. We were afraid to try mainstream products because Cloud has the tendency to develop adverse reactions if certain products do not sit well with his skin. We sticked with Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser  and Soap during his first six months, and when Cetaphil launched its Cetaphil Baby Products, we gave it a try. Cetaphil works well with us, but it’s price is putting a considerable dent in our budget. More importantly, we are advocates of supporting locally-produced, organic products.

Thus, I am very thankful when I heard about Coco Haven. I found out about it from an online support group for mothers. Almost everyone is raving about the performance of the product, how it works and its affordability. However, since it is locally produced and the business was just starting, it is not yet available (during that time) at the supermarkets and groceries. The entrepreneur/business owner was gracious enough to host group buys for the mommies. 🙂

I first tried Coco Haven Subtle Touch Baby Hair & Body Wash. According to the packaging, the product is a gentle coconut shampoo which can protect the baby’s hair and scalp from harmful environmental damages and helps retain hair in healthy condition. A gentle foamer that smells baby’s hair soft, silky and shiny. Its ingredients are agua, lemongrass hydrosol, proteol oat, jojoba oil, No-Heat Virgin Coconut Oil, Essential Oils of Honey Dew & Melon, Tea Tree, Fragrance Oil of Talcum,Coconut Vinegar, Tocopheryl Acetate and Sodium Chlorice. Given this list, it is most definitely baby-safe and friendly!

Prior to using this product, Cloud’s hair is slow growing and due to his active nature, by afternoon, he smells like “paksiw”, too sweaty and not so baby smelling anymore. The scent was what I first noticed. With the previous products that we use, the fresh, clean scent would last only for a few hours. With Coca Haven, Cloud smells deliciously yummy and clean until late afternoon. His bath time is usually around 08:00 – 09:00 A.M. and he bathes again at 06:00 P.M.

He started using the hair shampoo & body wash around June of 2016 and now (August 2016) there is already noticeable growth in his hair. It is no longer thin but rather getting strong and thick. Even Cloud would touch his head and say “wow, hair!”. Our family member and friends had stopped teasing him “kalbo” and “notpa” because there is indeed, noticeable hair growth. Cloud also has this habit of raising his underarm and letting/forcing the elders at home smell it. Before, everyone would say “Yuck!Asim” but now, when they smell his underarms, they go “Hhhhmmm bango baby!”.

Coco Haven Subtle Touch is available in 150ml,250 ml and 500ml. The 150ml costs Php 100.00, 250 ml at Php 300.00 and 500ml at Php 600.00. You may order this at their Facebook page Coco Haven or visit the store 9 Months & Beyond at 22 Malingap Street, UP Teachers Village, Quezon City.

 

Darkness

I try my best to avoid confrontation. I am never good in it. Even if I know that I am right, anxiety and nervousness overpowers me. And it is never helpful. To avoid confrontation, I keep it all inside. Which is even worse, because aside from anxiety, I also felt depress.

Depression is a tricky thing. You try your hardest to avoid it, you build a wall around you to prevent it from creeping in and show that everything is fine. But one slip, one crack and all of these comes crumbling down.

I’ve lost my trust to people I love and care for. I feel unvalued, unnecessary and disregarded. I start questioning major decisions I made and I have plenty of what-ifs right now. I just want to go away from all these, perhaps death is an even better option.

Babywearing

Hi there! I’m a happy, excited and fulfilled working mom to a very healthy, happy and active baby boy born last December 13, 2014.

This blog is about one of my newest discovery in the journey of motherhood – Babywearing!

 

Babywearing is the practice of wearing or carrying a baby in a sling or in another form of carrier. This is a practice that has been around for centuries. Recently, babywearing is gaining popularity among modern/new generation parents. I, personally, is a staunch advocate of proper babywearing since I have firsthand experience of its benefits.

  1. During Cloud’s newborn stage, he loved being worn in our ring sling. Scientist says that being worn (or in a sling) gives baby the feeling of comfort and security that he experienced while still inside the womb. No wonder Cloud made a habit of falling asleep while in the sling. I can vividly recall the times that when he is cranky, all I have to do is put him in the sling, let him latch and within minutes, voila! My baby boy is fast asleep.
  2. As Cloud grows, babywearing became our constant companion. Our ever reliable Tula Soft Structured Carrier had been with us as we travel to different places in the country.During travels via plane, our baby carrier provided not only convenience but also comfort and security. Instead of adding a bulky stroller to our baggage, I just wear Cloud and we’re good. During take off and landing, I just make sure that he is safely tucked in and there’d be no fuss. No crying, no drama. Just a baby quietly enjoying his flights.
  3. Babywearing allows us to attend parties and soirees without worrying what we will do and where we will put Cloud when he falls asleep. We can even do hassle-free trips to the supermarket. We once went to the supermarket without putting Cloud in his carrier and while it seems funny now, I was over my head when it happened. He kept running down the aisle, picking up things not in our grocery list and removing what his Daddy and I already put inside the basket. That time, I badly regret the decision not to bring a carrier.
  4. It allows us our own bonding time. With babywearing, I can make every moment I spend with my child a special one. It allows me to easily kiss and cuddle him. When he gets cranky and “wild”, especially now that we are entering our “terrible two” stage, I just have to put him in our carrier and whisper soothing words and tell him that Jesus doesn’t like what he is doing, he starts to calm down.

Many parents are into babywearing, not because it is a bandwagon, “in” thing but because it is a normal thing to do. Children belongs right next to their parents. They deserve to be carried, kissed and hugged as often as it should be. A lot of scientific studies and researches has been conducted to show the benefits of babywearing.

Dr. William Sears, a renowned pediatrician, has pointed out the following scientific based benefits of babywearing:

  • In the wearing of newborns in particular, the mothers’ oxytocin levels are increased through the physical contact with the infant, leading to a more intimate maternal bond, easier breastfeeding and better care, thus lowering the incidence of postpartum depression and psychosomatic illness in the mother; similarly, the father carrying the baby has benefits for the paternal bond.
  • Infants who are carried are generally calmer because all of their primal/survival needs are met. The caregiver can be seen, heard, smelled, touched, tasted, provide feeding and the motion necessary for continuing neural development,gastrointestinal and respiratory health and to establish balance (inner ear development) and muscle tone is constant.
  • Parental rhythms (walking, heartbeat, etc.) can have balancing and soothing effects on infants.
  • Infants are “humanized” earlier by developing socially. Babies are closer to people and can study facial expressions, learn languages faster and be familiar with body language.
  • Independence is established earlier.
  • Attachment between child and caregiver is more secure.
  • Decreases risk of positional plagiocephaly (“flat head syndrome”) caused by extended time spent in a car seat and by sleeping on the back.

 

In The Natural Child Project by Laura Simeon, MA,MLIS,she discussed the following benefits of babywearing :

1. Wearing a baby is convenient.

When we carry a baby in a sling, we can walk around freely and not have to worry about negotiating steps, crowds or narrow aisles with a stroller. Plastic “baby buckets” and removable car seats are heavy and awkward for parents, babies often look uncomfortable, and they are kept at knee level. A sling can block out excess stimuli when breastfeeding a distractible baby, and it allows for discreet nursing in public places. A sling can also double as a changing pad, blanket, or cushion when away from home. I’ve found my sling especially handy when negotiating busy airports with a small child and several bags!

2. Wearing a baby promotes physical development.

When a baby rides in a sling attached to his mother, he is in tune with the rhythm of her breathing, the sound of her heartbeat, and the movements his mother makes – walking, bending, and reaching. This stimulation helps him to regulate his own physical responses, and exercises his vestibular system, which controls balance. The sling is in essence a “transitional womb” for the new baby, who has not yet learned to control his bodily functions and movements. Research has shown that premature babies who are touched and held gain weight faster and are healthier than babies who are not1. Mechanical swings and other holding devices do not provide these same benefits.

3. Babies worn in slings are happier.

Studies have shown that the more babies are held, the less they cry and fuss2. In indigenous cultures where baby-wearing is the norm, babies often cry for only a few minutes a day – in contrast to Western babies, who often cry for hours each day. Crying is exhausting for both the baby and his parents, and may cause long-term damage as the baby’s developing brain is continually flooded with stress hormones.3 Babies who do not need to spend their energy on crying are calmly observing and actively learning about their environment. Baby-wearing is especially useful for colicky babies, who are far happier being worn, but placid, content babies and children will also benefit greatly from the warmth and security of being held close.

4. Baby-wearing is healthy for you!

It can be challenging for new mothers to find time to exercise, but if you carry your baby around with you most of the day or go for a brisk walk with your baby in her sling, you will enjoy the dual benefits of walking and “weightlifting”. A long walk in the sling is also an excellent way to help a tired but over-stimulated child fall asleep.

5. Toddlers appreciate the security of the sling.

Slings are usually associated with infants, but they can be very useful for toddlers as well; most slings accommodate children up to 35 or 40 pounds. The world can be a scary place for toddlers, who feel more confident when they can retreat to the security of the sling when they need to do so. Toddlers often become over-stimulated, and a ride in the sling helps to soothe and comfort them before (or after!) a “melt-down” occurs. It can be very helpful in places like the zoo, aquarium, or museum, where a small child in a stroller would miss many of the exhibits.

6. Baby-wearing helps you and your baby to communicate with each other.

The more confidence we have in our parenting, the more we can relax and enjoy our children. A large part of feeling confident as a parent is the ability to read our baby’s cues successfully. When we hold our baby close in a sling, we become finely attuned to his gestures and facial expressions. Many baby-wearing parents report that they have never learned to distinguish their baby’s cries – because their babies are able to communicate effectively without crying! Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced. This cycle of positive interaction enhances the mutual attachment between parent and child, and makes life more enjoyable for everyone.

7. Slings are a bonding tool for fathers, grandparents, and other caregivers.

Slings are a useful tool for every adult in a baby’s life. It makes me smile when I see a new father going for a walk with his baby in a sling. The baby is becoming used to his voice, heartbeat, movements and facial expressions, and the two are forging a strong attachment of their own. Fathers don’t have the automatic head-start on bonding that comes with gestation, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make up for this once their baby is born. The same goes for babysitters, grandparents and all other caregivers. Cuddling up close in the sling is a wonderful way to get to know the baby in your life, and for the baby to get to know you!

8. Slings are a safe place for a child to be.

Instead of running loose in crowded or dangerous places, a child in a sling is held safe and secure right next to your body. Slings also provide emotional safety when needed, so that children can venture into the world and become independent at their own pace.

9. Slings are economical.

Slings cost far less than strollers, front-carriers or backpacks. Many mothers consider the sling to be one of their most useful and economical possessions. Inexpensive used slings can be found in consignment and thrift stores, and new ones can be bought for about $25 -$50 (U.S.) – not bad for an item many parents use daily for two years or more! A sling can also be sewn for the price of a length of cotton, some rings and batting; sling patterns are available.

10. Baby-wearing is fun.

Who doesn’t love to cuddle a precious little baby? And when your baby is older, having her in the sling makes conversations easier and allows you to observe her reactions to the wonders of the world around her. It’s also fun for baby, because when she is up at eye level, other adults notice and interact with her more. Your child will feel more a part of your life when she is in her sling, and you will find yourself becoming more and more enchanted with this special little person.

Overall, baby wearing is simply LOVE in another form. If you haven’t given it a try yet, you should. You should also join babywearing support groups and communities. It’s a lot of fun.

Fake NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream

I am currently hooked to lippies (matte, pigments, balms!). Please forgive this late bloomer. I only got interested in make up AFTER I got married. Before, I am content just being bare face, on the pretense of being au naturel. But lately, as part of my pursuit for self improvement, I got interested in lippies. Small steps towards self care. 🙂

My favorite is the NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream lippies. I love its Abu Dhabi and Antwerp shade and I wear them alternately at work. The previous week, I noticed that its tubes were almost empty. Since I do not have the luxury of time lately to go to the mall, I decided to order from an online store. So, I ordered three shades of the SMLC; Abu Dhabi, Antwerp and Ibiza.

Yesterday, I received two out of the three items, and to my dismay and disappointment, the products were FAKE!

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These were the lippies, and are obviously fake. Take note of the barcode and the sticker. These are not how authentic NYX SMLC looks like. And notice also that the tube looks like plastic and un-matte.

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This is how the authentic one looks like. The lippy number is bold and the identification code on the right side is lightly printed.

IMG_1044Upper lippy is the fake one. Lower one is the authentic one. Notice the difference in shade. The authentic one looks darker and the tube is slightly shorter.

Here are some guide on how to check if the SMLC you are buying is authentic, besides checking the packaging :

Authentic lippies have : shorter, semi matte plastic tube and shorter and wider doe foot applicator. Also, the cream should have a creamy texture and should smell yummy!. The smell is actually one of the reasons why I am hooked to SMLC. Also, authentic SMLC is kiss proof, so there should be no stains on your glasses and utensils.

Fake lippies have : longer, glassy tube and longer and narrower doe foot applicator. Also, it has no initial smell but later on there’s a tinge of vanilla like smell.

A fellow blogger had a more detailed review here : http://limpidasylum.weebly.com/reviews/nyx-soft-matte-lip-creams-fake-vs-authentic, though we have almost the same experience and observation.

I, however, strongly recommend that we stick to using authentic products, especially if it concerns our skin. While there is no immediate effect that I felt when I tried the fake lippy, I opted to buy an authentic one from SM North still. Mainly because, I feel unsafe using fake products.