Urban Zone: Modern tropical house



Here’s a house we featured in Urban Zone last month. It was designed and built by father and son architects – Mike and Paul Pena. We’ve shown many of Mike Pena’s work in UZ and all of them have been striking and impeccably done (in Tagalog, pulido).

This house is pretty incredible. It looks like a bungalow from the front, but it actually has four storeys, since the property slopes down dramatically. And to those who will probably ask – I have not included a photo of the facade.


By the front door. Those horizontal slats beside Mike open into a deep wind chamber that allows ventillation in the lower part of the house.


At the foyer. Check out the double doors – it’s a door within a door, much like the ones in old churches.


The beautiful kitchen is completely open to the dining room and to the view of the entire property.


Since the stove is on the island counter, a special wooden casing for the range hood was created.


This is the view from the kitchen – a giant one-piece wooden table (from Indonesia, gosh the tree!) and the view of the surrounding area.


A wide shot of the foyer, kitchen and dining areas.


A modern sungkaan (a traditional Filipino game).


Paul explaining the idea of keeping the spaces open by having vast windows with “no corners.” Another one-piece enormous wooden coffee table.


The upper balcony  (there are several)


I really hate that our wireless lapel mics were broken that day. I had hold this obtrusive microphone. But anyway, this shows one wall of the master bedroom.


Wooden sliding doors with kamagong slats allow the continuous flow of air through the house.


View from the back of the house – showing the pool and the four floors.


Very interesting feature of the swimming pool, a trickling water feature surrounding the jacuzzi.


The infinity pool.


Peace and art at home



My daughters have just discovered Anne of Green Gables – the movie, not the book (yet). We have the books, but I wanted them to see the world of Anne Shirley. This I think is one of the best Canadian exports/legacies, such a lovely story of a strong-willed and imaginative girl. My girls already have a bit of Anne Shirley in them. We have wild imaginations, great dreams, theatrical scenes – from playing dress up to pretend theatre and role playing, dramatic meltdowns and quiet reading time in this house.


Megan Follows as Anne of Green Gables


The later movies of Anne of Green Gables shows Anne and Gilbert married but separated by World War 1. Now, though my girls are exposed to hundreds of GI Joes everyday, they haven’t really watched any war movies. I sort of slipped thinking it was harmless to see war scenes in Anne of Green Gables. There were no gory scenes but they showed families being separated and a few explosions. While watching, Soph had endless questions. “How does war start?”, “What can I do to stop war?”, “Is there still war today?”, “Why did daddy go to war?” Yes, my husband used to “go to war” but not to fight. He told stories – Afghanistan, Palestine, Mindanao.

We tried our best to explain war to her. That her lolo was born during World War 2. That daddy had the important job of telling war stories, in the hopes that it would bring out the truth and eventually stop war. Then I also told her that here in the Philippines, there are areas still under conflict and children still need protection. Then she asked, “What can a little girl do to stop war? Can I make artwork then you take a picture of it and put it in your website so many people can see that a child wants war to end?” I’m serious, she said all that. I have it on tape. Like I said, Anne Shirley.


This is Sophia’s art work. She said, “I’m very lucky to have a mom with a job like yours. You have a website. People can read our messages.” Anne Shirley…


And just to make her message clear, she wrote.


Meanwhile, Lily and Stella are about to celebrate their birthdays in two weeks. As usual, I am not prepared. I insist on having two separate little parties even though their birthdays are two days apart. Lily is turning 5 and Stella is turning 2. They like different things. They’re different people. So I think they should have their own special days. Stella likes dancing and music, and on the commercial side, she loves Toy Story. Lily is still in her pretty princess mode. She loves frills and prettiness. We are thinking of Fancy Nancy or if all else fails (like I really run out of time, Barbie). These are going to be little parties in their school, nothing big. But I still want it to be lovely. Sigh.


Lily really is turning 5 soon. I remember waiting for her to be born… in Flickr. Oh she has this thing about dressing herself everyday. She styles herself then comes to me to take her picture. Everyday. Then after she poses, she says, “Is that fashion, Mommy?”


This is Lily’s world. She’s all about playing with little toys. Playmobil is one of her favourites. We get them from Hobbes and Landes.


She makes little scenarios in her castle.


She even made a pretend “meadow.” We are running out of space, so we allow the kids to play in the formal living room.


The meadow and the castle.


It’s lovely to have these toys with old-world feel – complete with castles and long dresses. They loved Anne of Green Gables so I figured they’d love the movie Miss Potter. After all, The Tale of Peter Rabbit is one of our favourite reads. I had almost forgotten about the movie. They loved it.


This was a great find! Beatrix Potter’s journal. I found this at the bookstore a few years ago.


It’s filled with beautiful pages of what Beatrix Potter’s journal would look like.


It has the story of her life, her sketches and how she got her book published.


Lovely inserts that fold out and open up.


And samples of colour separation.


Beatrix Potter’s journal plus all the Peter Rabbit books we had, inspired Sophia to write a “book” when she was just 6 years old. National Bookstore sent them Moleskine diaries and each kid filled them with stories and drawings.


Sophia wrote “The Contin” of Petter Rabbit. Her imagination made her think of what would have happened to Peter the next day.


I treasure these and Lily’s drawings. Now Stella is following her Ate’s footsteps.


It’s easy actually. Instead of iPads and iPhones, we bring crayons and pencils to restaurants. That’s how it all started with Lily and Soph. And then of course when all else fails, we bring out the iPad.

Blog Giveaway: Kor Aura water bottles



Kor Delta 500


Remember my Kor Delta 500ml water bottle? I bring my own water everyday instead of buying bottled water and adding to the garbage problem. Whenever I’m stuck without my water “baon” but dying of thirst and have to end up buying a disposable bottle of water, I feel really guilty. So as much as possible, I bring my own water. I’ve been doing this for many years.


Robert Downey Jr as Ironman and David Beckham both with the Kor One.


I wasn’t really picky with my water bottle. I had used an insulated thermos and it served me well. But all that changed when I discovered Kor through samples sent by The Purple Tag. I became very appreciative of design and function. It started with the Kor One (P1,700) which David Beckham and Ironman both used. It was a very good looking bottle. And it had all those environmental message gimmicks in its bottle cap. The smooth spout was the one that got me sold.

Then the Kor Delta (P1,350) came out which was similar to Kor One, but had a slanted handle and a lock. It came in a smaller 500ml size. I loved it. This is what I use. It feels good to hold it and feels even more comfortable to drink from it. So smooth! This is the one in the photo above.

Now they came up with another version. One that’s more affordable, but equally beautiful in design and function.


KOR Aura

The new KOR Aura® Hydration Vessel is a simple and sleek reusable bottle that puts the spotlight on water. Aura features a tapered, obelisk profile and delivers incredible ergonomics with KOR’s patent-pending Perfect Spout™ and hallmark spoiler handle. Made from BPA-free Eastman Tritan™, the Aura marks the fourth salvo in KOR’s design-centric hydration line.
“We love a challenge,” says KOR Water CEO and Co-Founder, J. Eric Barnes. “While our KOR ONE and KOR Delta sought to deliver sophisticated features in a high-end vessel, we wanted to bring understated elegance to a mid-priced reusable bottle that didn’t look so utilitarian. The Aura has an illuminating personality with simple elegance.” — Source: Press Kit

The Aura stands to appeal to every age and gender. Its two-toned cap provides a comfortable carrying handle while serving to completely protect the bottle’s spout from outside germs and dirt – a feature found on every KOR vessel. — Source: Press Kit


KOR products are available at Alessi/Conlins Elements Greenbelt 5 and Trinoma, all Cutting Edge Stores, Tripologie Stores Eastwood and Alabang and soon in Rustan’s. Or online through The Purple Tag.


KOR is giving away 5 Kor Aura Hydration Vessels through Daphne.ph. Here’s how:

1. Like The Purple Tag on Facebook. Leave a message on their wall saying you want to win a Kor Aura. (Just so we know you’re there).

2. Leave a comment in this post below. Register with Disqus so I can reach you in case you win. If not, just leave your email address. (If you’re registered with Disqus, you don’t have to leave your email address). Just say you want to win a Kor Aura.

3. Leave a comment in the Daphne Facebook wall, saying the same thing – you want to win a Kor Aura.

4. Click on “Tweet” below and tag me @DaphneOP.

5. Please don’t do multiple entries. They won’t be counted. But feel free to retweet all you want.

6. Contest starts Monday, July 11, 2011 at 11am and ends on Wednesday July 13 at 6pm. Winners will be announced on Wednesday night after 9pm.

7. Winners will be selected by Random.org.

8. This is open to anyone with a Philippine address. I will send the Kor Aura to you by courier. (I wish Air 21 would sponsor this blog already.)

Good luck!

What Kate likes



Promise, I’m still here and I have not gone mad. I am just really enjoying the reception my blog is getting from my new sponsors. Since I moved to this new home, I allowed my site to receive sponsorships. Like the story of many bloggers, I’ve been devoting a lot of time to blogging. I take my own photos and tell my own stories. I’ve done it for years with very little sponsorships. Now that the new site allows ads, I’m in this phase of being wide-eyed mainly at the access to information given by advertisers. It is such a pleasant coincidence that my first advertisers are brands that the Duchess of Cambridge also likes (I’m always tempted to keep calling her Kate Middleton).


This shows the Duchess of Cambridge in Canada wearing the same Links of London Hope Egg earrings with white topaz that she wore in her official engagement photos. The clickable link will take you to the Links of London site where you can keep checking if it’s already in stock or still on waitlist. I put myself on the list — might as well end this obsession somehow. Photo by Heritage Canada Flickr.


The Duchess, wearing a cream dress by Joseph, a British company, and a Nathalie clutch from LK Bennett. I can’t find a clearer picture but she is wearing another Links of London earrings. Photo by Heritage Canada Flickr.


Sorry for the small photo, from InStyle.com, desperate for a clearer shot of the earrings.


This is the pair, the Duchess. Effervescence Bubble Stiletto Earrings from Links of London, with lavender iolites, priced nicely at $215. The link takes you to the site directly, but I can’t tell whether it’s sold out or not.


In case you miss the “Bubble Stiletto” pair, there is this other version that’s equally as cute and elegant. Effervescence Pearl Stiletto Earrings. This one is still in stock.


Remember this famous dress Kate wore when they met with the Obamas in Buckingham Palace? Let’s not even talk about how quickly it sold out in Reissonline.comus. So instead I had a look at the site and selected outfits that I think Kate might like (or at least I would). Photo: Getty Images via Huffington Post


I noticed she likes ruching and waist-cinching silhouettes. She would look great in this dress. I think anyone would. This is one of those dresses you wish you always had in your closet for any surprise occasion that calls for it. Reiss Lourdes WRAPPED ROUCHED FRONT DRESS with delicate lace detailing and overlay. Lourdes is a sleevless dress with gathered v-neck, ruching on the left ribs and back with definition at the waist. The dress fastens with a concealed zip a the back and is fully lined. Team with heels along with a simple clucth and Lourdes is your ticket to effortless eveningwear.


This is in keeping with the character of her ivory Reiss dress in her engagement photo – which had an assymetrical cut down the front. It also reflects the theme of her other dresses – ruching, criss-cross, low neck, capped sleeves. Reiss Livia TWIST FRONT DRESS Calf length dress with twist front detail. Livia fastens with a concealed zip at the back, has cap sleeves, asymmetric seam detail on the front and an asymmetric neckline with a luxurious ruched overlay that comes down through the front for a flattering finish. Wear this unique and elegant dress with killer heels and a clutch for the perfect up town look.


One word – pretty. Reiss Naomi FIT AND FLARE DRESS With intricate artful detailing on the top, this black Reiss dress is a stand out number. Naomi has a panelled waistband, full skirt and fastens with a concealed zip at the back. Complement this summer dress with some killer heels for a chic and pretty party combination. Front length from shoulder – 93.2cm

Ok, I’m not sure if Kate would actually wear this, she might disappear being that thin and all. But I would choose this, since I have a lot to hide in my figure (ie. 3 kids). I just love the colour and shape(lessness). Reiss Tamsin SILK ONE SHOULDER DRESS Tamsin’s one shoulder feature will make for a bold eveningwear statement this season. This silk Reiss dress is knee length, has pleated overlay detail on the one shoulder strap, seams on the back and fastens with a concealed zip at the side.

I love this black jersey dress. It’s so elegant and timeless. I want. I want. Reiss Austin SLEEVED DRESS WITH FLARED SKIRT

After seasons of wearing monster-shoes and platforms, it is so refreshing to go back to basic pumps like this. This pair again has that stunning royal colour. It’ll definitely level-up even the most simple outfit. Reiss Theo HIGH COURT SHOE Theo is a leg lengthening shoe choice. These Reiss court shoes can be slipped on easily to create a vivid, eye catching colour accent to any ensemble. The perfect choice for Spring. Heel height 4 inches.





Modern asian home




This is the house we showed in Urban Zone last Friday July 8, 2011. The architect, Alex Co, has shown a lot of his work in our show and he actually has gotten a lot of projects from the exposure. We’ve had viewers from Europe and North America who’ve commissioned Alex to design their homes back in the Philippines. He has developed an expertise in modern tropical/asian homes but he can actually do a wide range of styles.

Here is one of the newest homes he’s built – for a couple with three grown children. The property is around 600 sqm, with a gentle slope down. The main floor houses the living, dining, kitchen and prayer room. As well as the master bedroom – which shows great foresight on the owner’s part. Aging is a part of life that we cannot escape. They want accessibility and comfort later on. The top floor are the children’s bedrooms and library. The lower ground opens up into the garden. (Pardon the photos, I had my Leica D Lux 3 and it was on a wrong setting, so Denmark my segment producer couldn’t get the clarity he wanted. Otherwise, it’s a really excellent camera).


A stone wall divides the living room from the dining area.


An unusual set up. Most homes devote their high cathedral ceiling to the living room. But this family chose to give all the openness to the dining area.


Lamps over the dining area.


Chairs and table by Agi Pagkatipunan.


The dining and kitchen areas share one space. Great concept.


I love that the kitchen is surrounded by lots of windows and greenery.


This is actually just their “show” kitchen. Very little work goes on here on a daily basis. Behind that fridge…


… is their “dirty” kitchen, or what architects and designers now call “working” kitchen.


I was in a bit of a rush when I thought of taking a photo of the working kitchen. So I didn’t get to move our tripod. And I obviously was very careless in snapping this photo. But I just wanted to show you that their secondary kitchen is pretty cool too, in my books.


Characteristics of a tropical home include outdoor living and a lanai. Here is the first lanai on the upper ground floor adjacent to the dining area and kitchen. It’s also accessible from the master bedroom.


Below the upper lanai or balcony is the garden.


Instead of a swimming pool, the owners opted for an 8-seater jacuzzi.


Every part of the house tries to maximize natural light and views.


The upper floor which looks down into the dining area and garden.


I hope you are enjoying Urban Zone on Friday nights, albeit very very late, on ABSCBN. UZ schedules on The Filipino Channel vary per region.



Cath Kidston Home Decor