By Julia Nebrija

Weave through traffic on my bike. Climb up a pedestrian overpass. Line up for the train. Book an Über. Cruise down the Pasig River on the ferry. Each day is different as I move around the city, but some things are always the same — it’s sunny, it’s polluted, it’s dirty. That’s where VMV comes to the rescue.

Like many advocates, I wear a lot of hats. I consult for international organizations, I am building two NGOs, and I participate in talks, workshops and events all over Metro Manila — all with the aim of trying to make the city a place people love to live.

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I wish that every step of my day was taken by foot or by bicycle. To me, walking and biking is about more than exercise (I no longer need a gym!) and the environment (cars are nasty gas guzzling, polluting machines). It is about the experience. When I walk or bike, I get to know the city, really know it. I stop for a fresh buko (coconut water) on the corner. I pop into a tailor shop to check out fabric and talk to the owner. I look up and admire a huge mango tree in the middle of the city. Boxed in a car, I don’t feel the city.

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Because of my affinity for walking and biking, Armada Sport sunscreen is second only to toothpaste when it comes to my daily upkeep. It not only protects me from harmful sun rays, but creates a layer between my skin and the air pollution that spews from the exhaust pipes of the some 2.5 million vehicles on our roads in Metro Manila. The fumes cloud our lungs and our pores. I carry tea tree oil wipes to brush off the grime after a ride and a travel-sized tube of Armada to re-enforce throughout the day. I apply my makeup (Ooh-La-Lash! Mascara for an instant fix) once I’ve arrived and cooled down. My Illuminants Powder Foundation even has SPF 25 for extra protection.

I know to cover my face, neck, arms, legs, but talking with my dermatologist at the VMV Skin Research Centre + Clinics, I discovered that I was forgetting to take care of my lips and my hands. Now I use the Armada Moisturizing Protective Lip Balm (SPF 60+) and I also apply my sunscreen like a hand cream.

After a long day out and about, I need a serious shower. Back in the US, I wasn’t accustomed to shampooing my hair everyday. It’s not advisable to constantly strip our locks and especially during the colder months, I could give my hair a break from daily washes. But here in Manila, I have to rinse the city away everyday, sometimes more than once. I found conventional shampoos and soaps were drying out my hair and skin so I switched to VMV’s Essence Skin-Saving line of shampoo, conditioner, soap, and hand + body smoother. My hair feels clean and airy no matter how many times a week I wash it and my skin is super soft and happy; no more heat rashes.

Finally, I get monthly facials at the VMV Skin Research Centre + Clinics to deep clean and make sure I don’t accumulate unwanted build up. The result? I look like I never stepped outside (see photo for confirmation).

I wish we designed the city better so that everyone could move safely and efficiently as we go about our days. I wish our commutes were a source of joy, excitement, and discovery rather than stress. I’ll keep doing my part, bit by bit, to make sure that those wishes become a reality.

Last week, I spent the day on one of Manila’s most dangerous roadways, counting bicycles for research, armed head to toe with Armada, thankful for the shower I had to look forward to after a hard day’s work.

Learn more about Julia and her passion for biking in the city here, and chat with her about biking, sustainability, loving your city, and how to keep fresh on the road on social! 

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