Esquire UK features Filipino food



I very rarely write about food. It’s not my favourite topic. Don’t get me wrong. I love to eat. I eat everything except innards and exotic stuff. I enjoy expensive meals and good wine. But I just don’t like writing about it for the simple reason that I don’t have enough words in me to describe food. This coming from someone who hosted a TV show that was 1/3 about food. I used to dread doing food reviews for F. So whenever I get invited to restaurants now, 95% of the time I decline. I am not a food blogger.

So when Charisse Chuidian and Erika Aquino of the Mandarin Oriental Manila emailed me scans of the August 2011 of Esquire UK, with a heading that included “Filipino food” I shelved it for a few days. I told Erika I’d read it after the hullaballoo about Lily’s birthday had passed. I read it last night, and whoa! I was floored. Amazing article about Filipino food written by Tom Parker-Bowles, who happens to be the son of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

I sent it to my brother, a major foodie, and this is what he sent back, ” ‘I swallow it down and bite into the egg. It’s beautiful, regally rich and pungent. A soft-boiled egg in a mink cape, packing a gold-plated AK-47.’ — Food porn… Even Tony Bourdain did not describe balut this way!”

Everyone must read this. Click on the photo, then click again for a readable size.










I love how Tom described Gaita Fores as “small and sexy.” How wonderful! And Imelda as “part Dame Edna, part Liz Taylor with a hint of Cleopatra and your granny too.” So true. I have shared a few meals with her. This is such a great article, I will stop writing about it because… I don’t have enough words. Everything he wrote was so true. From the gut.



Source: Mandarin Oriental Manila with permission from the author. And Esquire UK.

All pages are readable, just click on the photo scan and click again.



Our Fancy Lily



It was Lily’s birthday today. But by the time I post this, it’ll be the next day. It has been a hectic week. I’m hosting three birthday parties – two easy ones at school for each of the girls (Lily today and Stella on Monday), and one joint party at home this weekend. Both completely homemade. I’ll be sharing photos from those in a few days.

I can’t believe Lily is 5 years old now. She was the best toddler ever. The easiest and funniest. A real character. Not just how she looks but how she behaves. Everyday we have a Lily Show. And every week she gains “fans”. Lily is, objectively speaking, a real cutie. If you don’t know her yet, here are some of my past entries about Lily.

Dear Lily, I hope the Lily shows never stop. Continue to see life with glitters and pompoms. Wear sequins everyday if you want. Draw and paint to your heart’s desires. And dance like no one is watching. Hop and skip even if everyone is just walking slow. And don’t stop making up new songs with lyrics that just come to your mind instantly. You were “fancy” even before you met Fancy Nancy through books. A fancy girl who’s unstoppable and smart. Our little Lily Paloma, growing up so fast. Always be this little Fancy Lily (you will need it when you face the real world). Mommy loves you very much.


Two years old, believing she’s a fairy


Three years old, self-styled fashion


Four years old, playing dress up at home.


I’m living up to my promise of doing collage layouts at least once a week. I couldn’t think of any inspiration this week except my daughters. So this week is about Lily’s choices.


1. The place where we get our fancy but practical clothes, Gingersnaps.

2. Now that she’s mastering the art of eating well by herself (yes we are guilty of spoon-feeding our children), this pretty Provence Rose printed spoon set from Cath Kidston would be perfect for her.

3. Lily and her sisters love Fancy Nancy. We’ve had the books for years. But for some reason, they just appreciated her now. Fancy Nancy is a great character. And the kids learn a lot from the books.

4. These are the most perfect toddler shoes. Bical is a Brazillian brand sold by Coco and Jam at Rustan’s and Hobbes and Landes. Both Lily and Stella love the soft rubber soles of these shoes.

5. Lily has sensitive skin, she develops rashes and gets exzema sometimes. We tried Mustela and so far their skincare range is working out well. And the good news is that it is paraben free. Happy that Mustela is now locally available through Rustan’s and at their own booth in Trinoma and Robinson’s Ermita.

6. I’ve said this before, the girls love tiny toys. I didn’t think anything could get smaller than Polly Pocket but then the Puppy in my Pocket range came out. And now this, Piny Pon. We got this set for Lily’s birthday. The main parts aren’t as small as Poly Pocket but it has the tiniest accessories that I’m sure will end up lost by tomorrow. She is crazy about Piny Pon.

7. And this is something I wish to get for her, Ulisses the Unicorn Miniature from Links of London. They have a great line of miniature animals in sterling silver. Now this tiny thing should never get lost.




“Bladeless” LASIK at American Eye Center




American Eye Center in Greenbelt 5


Last Wednesday I attend the American Eye Center’s unveiling of the most advanced laser technology — the Wavelight Refractive Suite or all-Laser or bladeless LASIK surgery. I had done LASIK surgery in 2005 and I’ve written and spoken about this many times. I admit, it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done, but it was also one of the best decisions I’ve made. It completely changed my life. Having bad vision for decades was a major disability for me and it became a hindrance. I remember taking crazy risks like scuba diving with contacts on, only to have my contacts fly out of my eye while riding the boat, leaving me half blind while diving. Grr! And all these crazy lightweight titanium glare-free glasses that weren’t actually glare-free on TV (those made me look too serious anyway). And my baby Sophia grabbing and breaking three eyeglasses. It marked the end of needing specs just to function. Best thing I’ve ever done.


Sharing my experience about LASIK with RJ Ledesma. I wonder if he’s going to get LASIK done. (I wish there was a similar procedure that could LASIK my arms. But I’m an all-natural kind of girl, except with this eye surgery which was necessary.)


American Eye Center had invited me to participate in the press conference by sharing my own experience with LASIK. The media, and I’m sure many of you readers, wanted to know if it hurt. It was completely painless. The worst thing about it was my fear. But the procedure was fast and painless – and I was completely awake. I got perfect vision immediately – after about a 3 hour nap at home. And my vision is still perfect — no, more than perfect — up to now.

The new machine is also LASIK except that it uses an all-laser technology. The one I had still used a blade. But like I said, it was also completely painless and fast. Let me quote from their press kit because it’s highly technical…


The all Laser or bladeless LASIK surgery via the WaveLight Refractive Suite.


The first of its kind in the Philippines, this new equipment is very much in demand in all premier eye centers around the world. Its acquisition by American Eye Center reinforces the latter’s commitment to be at par with global standards of quality and excellence in ophthalmic laser treatment.

The WaveLight Refractive Suite is known as the world’s fastest refractive platform .  It combines two of the most advanced lasers currently available for performing LASIK surgery—the  WaveLight EX500, a 500 Hz repetition excimer laser; and the WaveLight FS200, a 200 kHz Femtosecond laser.

The FS200 femtosecond laser is impressive because of its speed and ability to make the flap that is needed for LASIK surgery.  There is no need for blades.  The surgeon is given the freedom of choice with regard to diameter, shape, thickness, depth, angle and location of the flap according to the individual needs of the patient. Integrating seamlessly with the FS200 is the EX500, the fastest excimer laser in the market operating at 1.4 seconds per diopter of treatment.  It can perform a wide range of customized treatments.

Source: American Eye Center


Dr Alnette Tan, during actual surgery


American Eye doctors with host RJ Ledesma and Magic 89.9 TM DJ Jessica Mendoza, who actually underwent the new all-laser LASIK during the presscon! We all watched live as it happened. And she went on stage minutes after surgery.


Here I am with Dr. Tan and Dr. Cabrera. It was Dr. Tan who performed my surgery in 2005.


The doctors of American Eye Center.


As mentioned in Twitter, American Eye Center is giving away ONE FREE LASIK SURGERY to one of my readers. This giveaway is completely transferrable. So you can give the gift of seeing to someone you care about. I honestly am bogged down with birthday party issues and details, so I haven’t figured out how to do this contest. Should we do it completely at random? Or should you share your stories and leave it up to me to choose. I have no idea. Let me put my kids to bed first and I’ll be back with the contest details.

In the meantime, let me know your thoughts.


EDIT: August 1, 2011 6:51 PM. Contest is now closed. All comments posted after this time won’t be counted. Thank you.


Janina Dizon’s 4th Anniversary



Last week, I attended an afternoon event at the Peninsula for the anniversary of Janina Dizon and Jul B. Dizon. This has become an annual event where Manila’s fashionable and jewellery-buying women flock to. For me, it was a chance to see friends while being surrounded by gems and gold. And an excuse to get all dolled up.


Ria Bolivar modeled Janina.


And here’s some bling for men.


After the show, shopping frenzy.


Jewels from Jul B. Dizon and Janina.


Here’s Jenny. Congratulations!


And me. I had a fashion crisis that afternoon. Good thing I remembered this Dolce & Gabbana dress in my closet. I haven’t worn it out, except on two photoshoots. I wore it with my rock crystals (I designed). And as usual, nude pumps. I did my makeup in the car. And put an Evita Peroni bejeweled clamp on my hair for a half-up look to pretend I was neat.



Sophia’s 7th birthday



I’m totally in party mode. Yesterday, I had so much work – a couple of functions and a long UZ shoot – and all I can think about was Fancy Nancy. Every morning, Lily runs to our room and says, “Mom how many more sleeps ’til my birthday?” I’m not going overboard. It’ll be a low key party at home.

Like I said in the previous post, I will write about Sophia’s birthday party last year. This was a last minute decision. We were thinking of not doing a big 7th birthday party for many reasons. Patrick and I didn’t want to fall into these milestone birthday things when we grew up not having such. I celebrated every birthday with my family but we didn’t do them as events. And we also had major travel plans last year. We spent almost 8 weeks in Canada with the kids. But a week and a half before Soph’s birthday, I crammed. Hired Funstuf party planner. And did a “pool” party. Except we didn’t let the kids swim. I was too scared of the liabilty. So we tweaked it and did a sort of nautical theme.


I bought blank Thank You cards just because I loved the pattern. Then I found these 3D stickers that were meant to be for scrapbook projects (which I don’t do). Stuck the cute stickers on top of the “Thank You” sign and handwrote the invite inside the fold.


The planner, Jinggay Sancianco, did very well. I asked her to work with a nautical theme but not just stripes (though that would have been lovely). Sophia wanted a cruise ship party. I said, think of the Suite Life of Zach and Cody or The Love Boat but for a girl.


Yummy cake.


Red white and blue, stripes and polka dots.


We had lifesavers made form styrofoam and lots of red white and blue. When all else fails, bring out these cute fuzz balls that light up.


Because we had it in our club, the food was no problem. Perfect poolside merienda like mini pizzas.


And the yummiest chicken lollipops.


Soph didn’t want a clown or magic show. So instead we had a scientist come in to do some fun experiements.


The kids loved it.


Sophia’s friends enjoyed the experiments.


Sophia was so happy with how her party turned out. She still talks about it now.


We only had about 15 kids. So there were more than enough prizes to go around.


I made the lootbag. The kids helped me stick those foam stickers. I did the “calligraphy.”


I had no idea what lootbag to give so I just scoured department stores and found this folding magazine rack in the Landmark for less than 100. I filled them with towels, fluorescent stars, chips and cookies.


I’m so glad we decided to give her a special 7th birthday party.


In the end I figured out why 7 was a milestone. It marked the end of her baby/toddler/little girl years and began her entry into tweendom. Maybe not quite a tween yet, really. Just a little cool chick or big Ate. Whatever. In my eyes, Sophia will always be my little baby girl.