Staycation at the Sofitel



A couple of weeks ago we stayed at Hotel Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila. We didn’t go anywhere far or exciting this summer. Though the kids’ activities were action-packed, we couldn’t let this summer go by without a little treat so we went for a staycation instead of a trip. The universe conspired and we ended up at the Sofitel Prestige Suite for three days. It was wonderful.


View from the entrance to the room.


The living and dining areas.


Same area, reverse shot. Can you see my kids checking everything out? They do this type of inspection everytime we enter a hotel room.


View from one of our windows. I lost count of how many windows and balconies there were. Our room was really long.


I wear a lot of blue and white stripes. I was so pleased with our room.


So were the kids. They couldn’t believe how big it was. The two “littles” danced.


Lily checked out the amenities. The bathtub was big. The kids loved it.


I loved the toiletries. For three days we all smelled like Hermes.


Our bathroom had two back to back lavatories.


Lily claimed the rights to the “office.”


I loved the idea of having a little home office like this – adjacent to the master bedroom and facing a view of the bay.


Lily’s drawing. Check out the personalized stationery!


Of course we hit the pool right away.


I have fond memories about the Philippine Plaza pool. It was a landmark then. It’s still spectacular now. Lots of kid-friendly parts. But there were very deep parts too (I’m so not used to deep pools anymore). The slides were not for kids below 12. It’s pretty trecherous. Exciting for big kids.


Lily's way of relaxing
Lily loves doing this. Chillax.


She looks so grown up
Sophia loved the idea of being so close to the sea.


They were wishing there was a beach. (Soph’s multicoloured nail lacquer was badly in need of a re-do.)


Lily and Stella


Good thing there was a sandbox.


Stella took long naps. Here, she just woke up and took off her clothes.


Warning, this photo is guaranteed contagious. After her siesta. Yawn…


The hotel is so beautiful at night. We took long walks and even swam at night.


The kids played in the playground and stayed up way past their bedtime.


Beautiful architecture, inside and out.


Best view of fireworks from our room. There just happened to be an event at their tent.


Patrick and my favourite part was our access to Club Millesime, their executive lounge. Everything was free.


It had been newly renovated.




Great memories were made again.



Ronac Art Center

Last week, I finally got to visit Ronac Art Center in Ortigas.

Urban Zone was invited by Uratex. I interviewed the Bigboy Cheng.

We featured Uratex products on the second floor show room. This is their highest-end mattress. It has a layer of gel on top.

It was nice to see my favourite Daphne bedlinens being used at the Uratex showroom.

The third floor housed Bigboy’s playground. It reminded me of his own house, I visited 4 years ago.

This is the playground. It has a professional basketball court. Some PBA teams practice here. But it can be used for other purposes like concerts or parties.

The second floor has this really cool art gallery called Secret Fresh. Currently on display are the works of Nemo Aguila.

Check out Nemo’s work. Very talented and witty pop art.

Denmark Alejandro, my spiels director and segment producer. I love how they play with my camera without my knowledge. LOL.

Go Denmark Go.

Even at the stairwell.

At the Fresh shop on the ground floor.

More pop art toys.

Then we ran into Gerald Anderson and I had to say hi. It’s funny when TV people meet in person for the first time, it’s like we have this “thing” that we act like we’ve already known each other for a while. It’s a professional courtesy thing. (But deep inside I was like…)

Cute or what? He was very charming. He watches UZ.

This building pays homage to Uratex. The spiral staircase reminded me of Frank Gehry’s AGO. But Bigboy tells me it represents the spring of a mattress while the facade represents the foam. It was stunning and well done!

So Denmark went on with his photo shoot. LOL.

I’m not wearing a hat. It’s just a silk headband from Evita Peroni. I liked that it was a bit sculptural.

I love the way this K&Company dress fits. It also comes in light blue. I chose the grey one.

We were there from lunch to late afternoon. It was a bit too hot. But I loved the way the shadows created those lines on the wall. Best time to go to Ronac is after 6pm.

Floors are made of teak wood.

You’ll never run out of camera angles in this place.

Even the elevator was something else, fully lined with teak wood. I wish it was airconditioned though because it did really feel like a sauna. Haha.

This Volkswagen van will soon be a food cart/restaurant.

I tell stories in the end of the show – about what I’m wearing or stuff that I have. We used to do this in my old show, F. So far it’s getting good reviews. People are nosy. Haha. Anyway here I am, showing the daisy pendant I designed after my daughter Stella Margarita’s name. It’s made of spessartite and diamonds. My dress is from K&Company.

This was my last shoot. I love the prints by JP Cuison. I now own a Rizal Borg sculpture by him! Yay! Now, to own one of those prints… haha. So here I am talking about the outfit etc – dress from K&Company, cuff was a gift from Janina Dizon. Can you see my ring? I designed that. Will post a tighter shot soon. It’s a stunning mandarin garnet with tsavorites. My shoes? I got from a random store. Then I talked about my Kor Delta water bottle. I would not normally gush about water bottles, LOL. But this is really awesome. It should win a design award. The spout alone is so smooth, it makes drinking so comfortable. You can get them here.

RONAC Art Center Ortigas Ave., Greenhills
Secret Fresh on Facebook

Urban Zone: Resort-living, literally

Urban Zone has moved to Fridays. Same late timeslot as our original Sunday airing. Still in ABSCBN Channel 2. We aired this interesting house last Friday June 3, at almost 2am (technically Saturday morning) unfortunately. It was very late because of the season finale of a drama series. We won’t normally be on that late.

This is the house of a French couple who decided to make Manila their home. They have 12 kids. Instead of building a big house, they a placed a huge pool in the middle of their property and surrounded it with a few pavillions and cabins. It was almost like a resort.

French family in Manila with 12 kids
Interviewing the owner of the home.

French family in Manila with 12 kids
The gazebo with a base that’s actually a bar. There are “stools” underwater.

French family in Manila with 12 kids
View from the “lanai.” (Though the entire place is one big lanai).

French family in Manila with 12 kids
The living room.

French family in Manila with 12 kids
View from above the kids’ cabins.

French family in Manila with 12 kids
Bedroom of the 12 year old twins. One wanted an elephant safari theme while the other twin wanted giraffe safari in the adjacent bedroom.

French family in Manila with 12 kids
Outdoor shower.

French family in Manila with 12 kids
She wanted an outdoor shower 24/7. There is no other option except to bathe in the dramatic stone tub. The bathroom has no glass door or any partition. Even when it rains this bathroom is completely open.

French family in Manila with 12 kids
I. Love. Her. Kitchen. They own a furniture company called Costa Del Sul. She designed this kitchen and as you can see, it’s a real kitchen. Not just a “show kitchen.” (My microphone is on my back, by the way. I’m not that hunchbacked. Hee hee.)

French family in Manila with 12 kids
I love how personal their space is. Not over-designed. Filled with significant pieces from their past.

French family in Manila with 12 kids
The dining area.

French family in Manila with 12 kids
All over the house you see furniture from their brand Costa Del Sul. They use recycled wood. Coincidentally, I had bought my desk, kids’ beds and other shelves from them in 2008 and just found out when I met them at their home.

Thank you


Auction for Action closed yesterday at 4pm.

We raised    P 1,489,159

This surpassed everyone’s expectations two- and three-fold. But I honestly knew in my heart we would break P1M.

Thank you…

To all the artists and designers, my friends, who generously donated their work and their time. Not everyone was comfortable with the idea of an auction but they put themselves out there, in order to raise funds and awareness about UNICEF’s programs. 

To all of you who spread the word. Friends in media, fellow bloggers and all of you who retweeted our campaign.

To those of you who bid and showed support – not only to UNICEF’s programs for children, but also to the artists and designers – thank you for moving Philippine art and design.

To UNICEF for trusting me on this huge initiative. It was a first time for all of us. Thank you for supporting my wishes to do this.

Now, on to do real work.

Please join  to learn more about how you can help and be involved.

Again, a heartfelt Thank you!

A baby bird at home

Skip this if you don’t care about animals. It’s a long one. But it’s charming.

Yesterday morning, Sophia woke me up (very early) with this crazy story about a baby bird at the back of the house. She went on and on. Me, “What are you saying?” Sophia, “There’s a baby bird in a nest at the back of the house.” Me, “Are you serious? We don’t have a tree. Where is it?” Sophia, “The nest is inside a pot.” Surreal. I got up and went downstairs wearing sleepwear.

A baby bird was born in our backyard. Cute!!!
True enough, there’s the baby bird. In a cute nest. Inside a pot. At the back of the house.

We hung around for a bit. Lily thought it was cute but she didn’t swoon. She’s not really into animals like Sophia is. Stella was thrilled. She wanted to touch it. And when she got away from my grip, she poked the baby. I shrieked. Imagined a decapitated or squeezed baby bird. I scared the bird and the kids – I get queasy and panicky around baby animals. Then I quickly washed her hands with soap and water. (Cute as it was, the bird was a wild animal. Bird flu. I don’t know…)

The whole day Thursday, Sophia and I observed the baby bird from outside my 2nd floor window. We had a great view of the nest. From there we saw the mama bird fly in to give the baby a winged insect. While the baby was pecking at its prey, another bird species flew nearby. It was a maya bird… inching its way near the nest, threatening to grab the dead insect. Then the mama bird (a bit longer-tailed than the maya) swooped down towards her baby to protect it from the intruder. It was amazing. Very much like National Geographic, except we weren’t in the wild. We were in the laundry area of our house.

By afternoon, I went to work. Soph’s assignment was to watch the bird but not to take it or touch it. I also asked my mom to leave it alone. Mom likes to adopt and care for animals that come her way. She’s taken care of a wild Maya that fell from its nest when it didn’t have wings to fly. When I got back from work, Soph said that the bird was gone. She wasn’t upset. She said the mommy bird took it away. Mom and I looked at each other and silently thought that a cat or bigger bird got the baby bird. We knew it was too young to fly. But we didn’t tell Sophia about our worries. She would have been crushed.

The next morning (today), Soph does the same thing. Rambles on early in the morning. She said the baby bird was back. Whew, relief. Wow and our yaya was telling the truth. She had said that the mommy bird and daddy bird picked up the baby using their beaks and flew away. I thought that was preposterous. But I guess it was true.

A baby bird was born in our property
Soph took her lola to see the baby bird, now in another part of the laundry area…

A baby bird was born in our property
The baby bird was chillaxing on a twig of a little plant under our water tank.

A baby bird was born in our property
Sophia couldn’t keep her eyes off the bird (see the pot closest to the front of her head in photo)

A baby bird was born in our property
The mama bird watched from afar. Soph assumed it was a migratory bird and gave the baby a name. “Migra.” I suggested we call it “Tory” instead. She agreed.

A baby bird was born in our property
Any bird experts out there? What kind of bird is this? The male had a crown type thing. (EDIT: It’s a yellow-vented bulbul).

A baby bird was born in our property
I’m not sure if this is the mama bird. I’m now beginning to think its a different species.

A baby bird was born in our property
By late morning, the baby bird moved from the branch of the plant to the corner of the water tank base. “Tory” was backed up against the wall. She/he was practicing her flight there.

I captured a bit of it by my iPhone video camera. But I don’t know why it’s uploaded so small here. You’ll see “Tory” trying to flap her wings. Keep your eye on the corner of the wall. And you’ll see Mama Bird coming to coach her. It was all pretty amazing.

I told my UZ staff about it. Manny said, “Bakit lapitin kayo ng mga birds? Why are birds always laying eggs in your house?” He was referring to last month. A mourning dove laid eggs and hatched one in my parent’s porch in Canada. Sophia asked the same question. I don’t know. I just said, “maybe because we have a happy home? So always be nice to your sisters and don’t fight each other.”

I really don’t know the moral of the story. It was just so sweet to see the natural protective and nurturing insticts of the mama bird and the little one’s determination to fly.

EDIT: Tin, Thank you for editing my mistake with “specie”/”species”. I write very late at night. And I actually hesitated with “specie” but oh well, made a stupid mistake. Same with “conjestion” – that was just a total a typo. Thanks.