Taj Mahal, iconic



I was working on the last few posts about India and realized that my Taj Mahal post won’t be complete without these iconic images.


Jackie Kennedy visited India in 1962, while she was First Lady. These photos are from the archives of Life magazine. Photo credit: Art Rickerby/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Mar 01, 1962


Mrs Kennedy went to the Taj Mahal twice – in the morning as seen in the photo and in the evening, by moonlight. Photo credit: Art Rickerby/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Mar 01, 1962


Photo credit: Art Rickerby/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Mar 01, 1962


This is the famous photo of Princess Diana when she visited the Taj Mahal in 1992. She was on an official state visit to India with Prince Charles but she went to see the Taj Mahal, one of the greatest monuments of love, by herself. It was around this time when their marriage was about to collapse. This photo was used to represent her solitude during her failing marriage.


Fast forward to 2011, my friends and I were determined to have an “iconic” photograph at the Taj Mahal too. We went at the crack of dawn and made it to the site before 7am. They say the Taj looks its best at the crack of dawn or dusk, not at high noon. Besides it would be too hot. Early morning has less people. But obviously, everyone else had the same idea. It was hard to get the perfect shot.


We spent so much time taking photos at the exterior that Ingrid and I were left with only 10 minutes to go through the actual tomb inside. We didn’t get to check out the mosques on either sides of the great tomb. Some of our travel group friends didn’t actually go up or inside the Taj. But I was determined to touch it. I had anticipated this moment for a very long time. And it didn’t disappoint. The energy and mood at the Taj was so powerful.

Here are my favourite photos taken by very generous and patient friends.


This is the money shot! I couldn’t believe we had an unobstructed view and perfectly centred position in the charbagh or Mughal gardens. I had given up on the Princess Diana bench. It was like People Power or potential World War 3 just getting my turn. So while inching our way through the long passage towards the Taj, I saw this opening and a line of about 3 people waiting patiently for their turn. I waited. I asked Stevie Villacin to shoot me using my camera. Then Ingrid told me that my K&Company dress’ colours resembled Princess Diana’s. Totally by fluke.


Thank you Ingrid. Looking at this brings me back to the beautiful light and perfect setting of the Taj.


Oh and I chose to wear my Jackie O sunglasses. These are the same ones she wore in 1978. Nina Ricci reissued it in March 2009, but I got mine two months before release. I met the rep of the eyewear company while he was doing the rounds in Asia. I was hosting the launch of another luxury eyewear brand, he had it in his kit and I told them that  I wanted it. Even before I knew it was “the” Jackie O sunnies. I know someone will ask where they can buy these same glasses, the answer is I do not know. This was back in 2009.  Here you can see Jackie O wearing the same frames.


Here was an attempt at a bench photo. A little far though.


The beauty and perfection of the Taj Mahal took my breath away.


Click, click to see more Taj Mahal photos, plus I’m sharing some tips for those planning a trip to India…


Click here!

UNICEF in Maguindanao



I was in Maguindanao last week. I’m still working on my story. Just wanted to share with you my video diary from Day 1, which is on the UNICEF website.

Please read more about severe acute malnutrition here.

And see how you can help.


Please re-post and retweet. The children need all the help they can get. Only P600 a month… you can help save the lives of 3 babies suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Thank you Glam-o-mamas and Amanda Griffin-Jacob for sharing the story.



Celestina & Co



Gifts for my girls from Celestina & Co


A couple of months ago I got an email from Ethel Cuerpo-Bernales wanting to introduce me to her products for kids – hair accessories. I can’t even begin to tell you how many emails and requests I get through this blog but I do try to reply to everyone (I hope). I gave her my usual answer. “Thank you, please leave press kit in Accessory Lab or K & Company Rockwell (owned by my friends).”

After a few weeks and months passed, Ethel emailed me and left some presents for my daughters –

It took me awhile to send the press kit because I honestly didn’t have one before you asked me. I hope I was able to make something cohesive and substantial. Thanks for the challenge because I wouldn’t realize how important having a press kit is no matter how small my business.

Ethel, thank you for the lovely hair accessories. The girls love them. Your pieces are beautiful and very well made. I hope I didn’t stress you out with the press kit. Glad you are now armed with the tools to take on the world, mompreneur!

Here are the grosgrain ribbon clips and headbands Celestina & Co sent to Sophia, Lily and Stella. Click more at the bottom to see some of the photos from their press kit.








The littlest one was happy with her pretty headband.


Click here to see more cute hair accessories

Fatehpur Sikri, India



On the way to Fatehpur Sikri.


Fatehpur Sikri is somewhere between Jaipur and Agra. At least it seemed that way from our road trip. But it’s actually just in the outskirts of Agra. The day we went fell on the much talked-about Brother Sister Festival. We heard it from every Indian we met. This was the day brothers and sisters gave each other a colourful bracelet to celebrate their love and friendship. It also extended among cousins and friends who were almost like one’s sibling. I thought it was the sweetest thing. It made me miss my brother and two sisters.


Fatehpur Sikri is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cars and buses are not allowed near the fort. We left our bus a few hundred metres away, then boarded a battery operated trolley.


Beautiful message. I wish we had this mindset in the Philippines.


Fatehpur Sikri was the capital of the Mughal empire for 14 years. It was built by Emperor Akbar in 1571. “An example of a Mughal walled city with defined private and public areas and imposing gateways, its architecture, a blend of Hindu and Islamic styles, reflects Akbar’s secular vision as well as his style of governance.” – Source: DK Eyewitness Travel


The entire fort was made of red sandstone, quarried from the same ridge where the buildings stand. Red sandstone defined Akbar’s style. That day was the hottest of all the days we were in India. I took out my little foldable umbrella and was happy that I had my big fan. Unfortunately I had packed my DSLR in my luggage. So all I had was my compact Ricoh GRD 3. But being the great compact camera that it is, the Ricoh served me well.


I kept taking crazy self-portraits. Every corner of Fatehpur Sikri was stunning. I loved all the columns and carved stones. Oh I’m wearing a yarn-ball necklace I got in Jaipur for around P400 only. Didn’t realize it picked up the red outline of my sunglasses (from Evita Peroni).


I had to put this picture in. I got silly and started using the self-timer of my Ricoh. This was the time, Ingrid and my other travel friends caught me. They were like, “Daphne? What are you doing?” So I burst into laughter.


Ingrid took pity on me and started shooting my photos using her camera. This is definitely a favourite.


And this one too. So lucky to have a friend like the baghag who takes awesome photos.


I was in awe of this “single detached” house called Birbal’s house. It belonged to Akbar’s senior queens. It was intricately carved and suprisingly very much intact. The layout and style remains relevant to this day.


About Birbal’s House.

Intricate carving on the walls of Birbal’s House. Made of red sandstone.


Another useless photo just to show that I was there. Haha.


Guards at one of the corner pavilions.


The back side of Birbal’s house.


And more fantastic intricate carving.


That’s Ingrid taking our photo while we were on the second floor of Akbar’s private sleeping quarters. Ingrid stands on the Pachisi Court where Akbar’s queens used to lounge around in during the cool evenings.


The Panch Mahal. And my glamorous folding umbrella and red fan.


The Panch Mahal. I found this structure to be very sophisticated. It was five storeys high!


Cute Indian teenagers! This is the Pachisi Court and behind them is Diwan-i-Khas, one of the most stunning buildings I saw in India.


Inside the Diwan-i-Khas. Books say it was a debating chamber or royal treasury but the real function of this unique building remains unknown.  Stunning! It has one central column supporting four walkways.


“The central platform attached to the pillar was the seat of the emperor while the diagonal galleries are believed to be the seat of ministers and nobles that were entertained here. However, since the galleries were too narrow to accommodate all ministers of the court at once, some people think that this building was actually the storehouse for the gems and jewels of the royalty and emperor used to come here only to inspect his jewels.” Source: Agraindia


Diwan-i-Khas (I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it).


And another awesome photo by Ingrid.



Cath Kidston and traveling



I’ve barely unpacked from my India trip last week and had to pack for a three day trip with UNICEF.  Packing and unpacking is my least favourite activity. I’m never a light packer. And in India I tried to hoard fabric and stuff. So our bedroom looks like a stockroom right now. I’ve committed to cleaning up everything today. I’m looking back at what items I brought to India. A few of you asked about my wardrobe… Note that I am not the most practical packer.


Some of the things I brought with me to India…


I knew I would wear K & Company‘s new collection as soon as we did the photoshoot. Lovely colour-blocking in 100% cotton. When in India, wear natural fibre. Avoid blends and polyester etc. Too hot. I’m most comfortable in dresses, so it’s not a problem for me to travel in dresses. Plus we had a vehicle at all times. The only walking we did was in actual sites. And even if I had to walk all day I could still do it in cotton dresses. Footwear is a different consideration.

I brought a big fan from Beabi. I love these things. So light and so big. You get the biggest wind. Been using these fans for the longest time. You can use them as a sun shade too. But because the heat in India was unbearable that day we went to Fatehpur Sikri, I used an umbrella/parasol instead.

Before leaving, everyone warned me to bring socks for the Taj Mahal. I brought these BioFresh socks with anti-slip rubber dots in the bottom. It comes in a pack of three. Inexpensive. So I figured, I’d just throw them out after the Taj. They are available at the Biofresh online shop.

All books will tell you that you can’t wear shoes to the Taj as it’s a sacred site. Some travellers also warned me that it would be risky to leave the shoes in the shoe area of the Taj because sometimes it gets stolen 🙁 So I came prepared. I brought these foldable ballet flats (they come with a bag) I got from the Gap, thinking I’d just pack away my shoes and keep them in my purse.

As it turns out our tour guide got us disposable shoe covers. So we didn’t have to give up our shoes or wear socks. I got to keep my high platform wedges on. Yup, I wore crazy shoes at the Taj… thinking of my visuals before comfort. More on that in my next story.


For my next trip, I used my new Cath Kidston overnight bag. The same exact one used by the Duchess of Cambridge.


I had to bring a lot of my gadgets – laptop, ipad, DSLR, compact camera, chargers and more. I also brought my own coffee and French press because I didn’t know what to expect there. And I need coffee to function well. Instant coffee isn’t real coffee, haha.

I was pleased to use my new Cath Kidston bag. It was a gift from the cool people of Cath Kidston in the UK!! And it’s the same bag that the Duchess of Cambridge used on her trip to Canada! Same shape and design, in a new colour called Spot Slate. They had just launched it in their new Autumn Winter 2011 catalog, and they said I was one of the first ones to have it. Cath Kidston’s Spot Overnight Bag retails for $110 and is available to us here in the Philippines by clicking that link.


The Cath Kidston overnight bag of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, as seen in her trip to Canada.


My Cath Kidston overnight bag as seen in NAIA Terminal 2. Ha!


I love it! Thank you Cath Kidston! It’s so roomy, perfect for weekend trips or sports. I will use it as my UZ bag as when I do shoots, I bring a gazillion pairs of shoes. The oil cloth is easy to clean. Now I want the Spot Wheeled Holdall to go with this. My Samsonite wheelie broke on me in India. Ugh.