Brown out lifestyle guide



The kids packed their “emergency bags” as soon as the power went out.


Last Tuesday when the power went out at 10 in the morning, Sophia and Lily packed their emergency bags. When I checked what was inside, they had mostly toys, books and lots of Dewberry cookies. No towel, no underwear, no flashlight (not even her new Moleskine reading lamp), no water or real food. So we made a new check list – a whistle, light source, a towel that can double as a blankie, one change of clothes including underwear, water and canned goods. “But I don’t eat canned goods,” Lily said. “You will in an emergency,” is what I said.

My friend Carlo Tadiar, editor in chief of Metro Home magazine, tweeted yesterday, “We really must come up with a brownout lifestyle guide.” We both lost power and were going nuts. So we began this exchange of experiences and advice. He said,”Well, to begin with, it’s essential to have hurricane lamps. That whole candles flickering in the wind business is just nasty.” And to that I replied, “we have no hurricane lamps. We used a lampara, of the antique kind.” Lamparas are oil lamps. Then he says “DaphneOP uses lamparas. Chic!” Anything with live fire scares me though, so we never kept those unattended. For our campout room (we all slept together) we switched to the rechargeable emergency light, but I used the warm bulb and not the white fluorescent side.

While worrying about spending the night with no power (should we evacuate or what), I had to keep all 3 girls entertained. As most parents of young children will tell you, it isn’t always easy. So I resorted to things my parents did with us during storms.

Here’s my lifestyle guide to brown outs –


1. Have your alternative light source ready. Our lamparas always have a bit of oil in it. And our battery operated lamps (luckily) were fully recharged. But this is the best gadget we have. LED flash lights that are powered by friction. Just wind it up and it lights. No need for batteries. My dad gave us a few of these from Toronto.


2. Allow air to circulate through your home. Open windows on opposite sides to allow a healthy flow of air – cross-ventillation. But if there’s deadly howling wind, then use your judgement. Key is to allow air to flow. Opening just one window won’t cut it.


3. Do not open your freezer EVER. As soon as power died, I ran to the freezer and took out some chicken & pork. Then instructed everyone to NOT open the fridge and freezer. The chicken was made into Tinola. And the pork was allowed to thaw til dinner and turned into adobo. The freezer stayed shut for 24 hours. I was very strict about that. Everything remained frozen stiff. Nothing went bad. (This is not my kitchen. But it could very well be… sigh. Hello peg! Sorry, I don’t know where I got this photo from. Could be Dwell or Elle Decor).


4. Bring out life jackets or other any other flotation device from the summer. These are for children. We have one for each kid. Just have them within reach.


5. The easiest activity – drawing. Let the kids do art projects. This should last a good 30 minutes, if you’re lucky.


6. Go back to basic games. We assembled this really cute “world peace” jigsaw puzzle on the floor. This took close to 3 hours. It had 500 pieces.


7. Bring out the board games for the kids. Resist letting play with your iPad as you’ll need that for your own sanity. We also played Monopoly, Snakes & Ladders and Operation. But this puzzle was most unforgettable to them. Our backs hurt after working in the floor. Then we played “massage” on each other’s back. At night, we played shadow puppets using our toes. I’m sure they’ll remember that.


8. Reading is always good. Do this with your kids even when you have power on, of course.


9. Bring out the toys. Just keep the kids as busy as possible. I tried to avoid the tiny toys but…


10. Why do they make toys so small these days? Apparently even Barbie didn’t like playing in the dark. She and Lily hung out by the back window for some natural light and ventillation.


11. If you know a storm is coming, charge all your electronics right away. By the time the power went out, all my gadgets were fully charged. I used my iPhone 4 with 3G. When the battery of the iPhone drained, I charged it on my laptop which I didn’t plan on using anyway. When the phone had 20% battery left, I stopped using it and switched to the iPad and that’s where I was tweeting from all night. The iPad stayed on forever. Have a battery adaptor for your car ready just in case. But don’t run your car in an enclosed garage, ever!


12. Never underestimate these rechargeable fans. We got this in True Value during the last brown out in 2010 and didn’t get to use it ’til now. It remained charged for over a year. Mind you I only turned it on once the kids were in bed. And we kept it on the lowest speed – just for a constant air flow. I don’t know the brand.


13. The rest of the time, I kept fanning like mad. Nothing beats the Beabi fan. At P350, it is matronic especially in size, but boy does it fan! One sway and so much power!


14. If all else fails, pack up and leave. I must admit, this had always been my first instinct – to go to a hotel or my cousin’s house. Thanks to the goodwill from my work, we’ve done Hyatt, Marriott and Alabang hotels during past brownouts . This time I didn’t have it in me to think of leaving. The roads were unsafe. And I kept thinking of all the people that had to be evacuated from Sofitel & other Manila Bay hotels and moved to other hotels. Sofitel, sigh…  On the 24th hour, we went to our club to recharge our batteries and ourselves.


Other must-haves and must-dos:

15. Always have cash. I’ve been caught in the situation with only P200 cash. And all the ATMs were dead (last July 2010 storm). I had to go as far as Baclaran to find a working ATM.

16. Spend the day rearranging your living room. Move furniture around. Redecorate. (Most of my single non-parent friends did this. I would do this… but I had three kids who were pulling me in every direction.)

17. Make sure your car/cars have gas. My dad, being the military guy always reminds us of this – together with canned goods, crackers, bottled water.

18. Clean your gutters/eaves regularly. Also the canals in front of your house. Stop the use of plastic bags.

19. Make sure you have stored water. I don’t know the logic, but there have been many times when they’ve cut off our water supply even during storms.

20. Be very careful about candles. Personally I’m terrified of them. I do have beautiful scented ones. But I only light them while I’m writing… and blow them out right away. I just hate the idea of possibly leaving a candle on.



21. I have to include this. My husband read my post and said, “You didn’t include my iPod shuffle? We used it to monitor the news.” Ok, so a transistor radio is a must. One of our lamps has a transistor radio but I kept it off in fear of losing battery for light. So I monitored the news via Twitter. By habit, I listen to DZMM (AM radio) for news everyday in the car. But there is 92.3 FM that’s the only all-news radio station on the FM band. This makes it accessible by cellphone and gadgets like the iPod shuffle. The hubby works for TV5 and 92.3FM is their baby. We had this hooked on a small “hamburger” speaker (but it’s so beat up, Patrick won’t allow me to post a photo of it.)


Please feel free to add your tips…


The new normal



I hope you and your families are safe and dry by now. That was a real nasty storm we had there. So much destruction and so many deaths. And it wasn’t even as strong as Milenyo 2006 or as wet as Ondoy 2009. This may be our new normal for September.

If you were with me on Twitter the night of typhoon Pedring, you’d know about my ordeal. We had no electricity for 28.5 hours. I was using Twitter to contact Meralco. When that wasn’t working, I whined in Facebook amongst my personal friends. Thanks to social media, I felt very connected. We were all trying to cope.

Please allow me to put things into perspective. Our house wasn’t affected by floods during Ondoy. Just the same, Pedring didn’t do any damage to us. We simply lost our electricity at 10am. We got it back at 2:30pm the next day. I know many people who got affected -my friends who lived near Manila Bay and worked at Sofitel. I got in touch with them right away.

I only started tweeting Meralco after they issued a statement saying they’d prioritize resumption of power in hospital service areas and those unaffected by floods (accessible). I figured we fell in that no-flood category. So I waited… for 28.5 hours. I had reported our situation to Meralco from the 4th hour and it went on and on and on. I didn’t sleep a wink. I watched the kids and fanned them all night.

On the 24th hour, I got through to a person in Meralco. By then 98% of power had been restored in the city. Ours was still out. Turns out our circuit wasn’t even listed as ones that went out during the storm. That’s why they didn’t come! A huge tree got in the way of one post, so only our street’s power went out. And despite the repeated reports from our street, it never got through to Meralco til after all the storm-related busted circuits were restored. So ya, that was pretty useless stress.

There is a reason I’m paranoid about brown outs and storms…


In 2006, I had to drive through the eye of the storm Milenyo. Trees were falling. Electric posts and lamp posts were swaying and crashing. Debris was flying everywhere. I was alone in my small car. I was driving myself. Terrified. But I still took pictures… by instinct.


Milenyo, 2006. I was shooting UZ that morning. We knew there was a storm coming but the show had to go on. The city was caught unprepared. We all underestimated the strength of the storm. We thought the storm would hit in the afternoon but it changed course and got to Manila the time I was out on the road at 11am. I can’t believe I survived this drive home all by myself. There were billboards and wires flailing all over the place. I really feared for my life.


Milenyo 2006. That night we used our old lamparas (oil lamps) as light. The wind was still and it was humid. Lily was just 2 months old then. No Stella yet. We had no power for 3 days. We moved to my cousin’s house to escape. But that one night in our house with no power, my baby got a cough and a cold.


Because of the storm and brown out, Lily got very sick. She developed pneumonia. At 2 months old. It was the scariest time of our life.


And that’s my perspective.

Every time I hear stories from families who lost so much from Ondoy, my heart breaks. I cannot fathom the pain, fear and resilience. I’ve seen homes with water marks to remind them how deep the flood was. I’ve met many children and infants affected by disaster. I’ve gone to relocation areas – the work continues and it never seems to end.

To my friend who felt so free to lecture me about perspective, I hope you get the message. While you struggled to save your luxury cars from water damage and worried about wifi, espresso and battery charging, I struggled to protect my three young children from possible illness due to these forces. Let’s not compare. Let’s not judge. It’s not about who had it worse or who had it “so light.”

God bless us all in this “new normal.”

My next post – a lifestyle survival guide to brown outs.


P.S. Thank you for the apology. It’s all forgotten.







My husband is a “minimalist” with everything except bicycles. How a man can have more than 5 bicycles is beyond my comprehension. But… whatever makes him happy. His other things remain sparse, or rather, well edited. He appreciates design “stuff” but he doesn’t like acquiring too much of it. He hates clutter. So I was so surprised when he asked me about my Moleskine tote. He said he was interested in the envelope-type portfolio. I jumped on the opportunity and we went shopping at National Book Store!


This is the Moleskine 13″ laptop case. Patrick plans to use it to carry his iPad and stacks of paper to and from the office.


I love how it’s just an envelope. He isn’t the bag-carrying type of person. He basically just needs to keep his office things in order – to and from the car.


And just like all Moleskine products, this has a “Return to” address label. And it’s upside down. So when you look at it from above, it’s actually the right side up.


Then it was my turn. I bought myself another box of Crane’s stationery with my monogram on it. Lovely 100% cotton, letterpress. I can’t ever have enough beautiful paper in my stash. I love handwritten notes.


A few days ago, I got Kelly Wearstler’s Hue as a gift. The universe heard my tweet, or was it a facebook comment, “She can do no wrong in my books.” It’s true. If I could be her disciple, I would. My secretary desk is very un-Kelly though. Being all beat up and all. That’s just “me” and my design statement. Or rather, just making good use of what we have. I also got Christiane Lemieux’s Undecorate and The Happy Home Project. Nice.


Kelly Wearstler on Daphne Linens. Can I toot my own horn? I love my sheets. Tee hee. I like them crisp and then wrinkled-crisp. 100% long staple cotton, 380 threadcount. These are still in SM Homeworld and Our Home.


A few days ago, a friend had a little dilemma. And I actually told her, “Just think, what would Kelly do?” So ya, she’s been our peg.


The shopping spree continued. Sophia did well during her first term this school year. She still has a lot of unread books in her stash so I didn’t get her a new book. Instead, I got her this cool book light to make sure she doesn’t read in the dark. Can’t go wrong with this, it’s got LED lights and it’s USB rechargeable!


Beautiful design from Moleskine. I think it’ll be mine one day…


I especially love the USB rechargeable aspect. I forgot how much it was. You can check National Book Store facebook page.




Our Kids



I thought of sharing these photos in light of what’s happening in news lately. So much hate, cyber crimes, cyber bullying and actual bullying in schools. Should we discuss this? I’ve been really disturbed by what’s happening all over – the young guys in Pampanga, the 11-year old boy in Toronto and the 14 year old gay boy in the US.

As parents of young children, we’re constantly holding their hands trying to raise them in an environment filled with love and understanding. Then after preschool, they’re faced with mean kids, bullies, scary people. What do you do?

There’s no step by step manual for parenting. I’m not a fan of reading parent guide books. Luckily I’m surrounded by friends who happen to be professionals in psychology and family counselling. I try to work with the wisdom they impart regarding parenting. And I also base a lot of my parenting skills on the way my parents raised me. I don’t really have a formula. I try my best to be present and active in their lives – together as a family and one-on-one with each kid. We balance being doting parents and imposing discipline in a positive way. Only time will tell if we’re doing the right thing.


Sophia’s “novel”


My 8 year old started writing her “novel.” She told me that they would be quizzed in computer classes this week. Unlike most urban private-schoolled 8-year olds in Metro Manila, she does not have a Facebook account. I refuse to let her into this crazy world of the internet just yet. Facebook rules say – no kids below 13 should join. There’s a reason for that. So no Facebook. For keeping in touch with our family overseas, we have the iPhone Facetime. For games, they borrow our iPads. For talking to friends, we try to arrange parent-supervised play dates.

But she wanted to practise her typing skills. So I taught her how to use Microsoft Word instead. Hence, the novel. Chapter 1 and 2 deals with war, moving from Japan to Canada, bullies, money for college and going back to Canada. I posted this in Instagram and I got interesting feedback, like “war?”, “complex topics for an 8year old?”, “wow!” It got me thinking. Yes, she is a bit deep. Deeper than I was at that age. She’s a voracious reader! I met with the school teachers over the weekend. She’s doing very well academically and she finally has a school best friend. I almost cried when the teacher told me she’s very intelligent and that they were very proud of her. We don’t even give that much emphasis on academics right now. Absolutely no pressure. Same way our parents did with us.

She has depth, yes. We do not let them watch noontime shows, ASAP or telenovelas. But she’s been to rock concerts and to TV stations and the set of Willie’s show (off hours). We turn off the TV if there’s sensational news like a horrible car crash or riots. But despite those precautions, she’s still very aware of the general issues of the world – the tsunami, earthquakes. She made up a club called Peace Club. She learned about World War 1 and 2 because of Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. She learned about fatal diseases because of Beatrix Potter and the recent AH1N1 and Dengue scares. She knows about poverty and malnourishment because of my UNICEF work. So really, we can only shelter them that much. They eventually have to know about the world. In the case of my 8 year old, she just seems more interested in current events than most kids her age.

So now I’m thinking, should she really be this deep? She has her diversions; she watches pre-approved and age-appropriate movies, she plays with Barbies, reads Total Girl magazine every month, she plays in the park, practices ice skating and she has her BFF’s (one unfortunately moved to Oman, perhaps the inspiration of her novel). And lately she started playing Moshi Monsters online – only while I’m around though. Those networking games are so scary as well. I told her to never give her name, address and school’s name to her “friends.” Naturally she asked why a hundred times. So I had to tell her that there could be bad people pretending to be kids – with the intentions of being “children grabbers.”

It’s so scary to be a parent now…


While we live in this crazy cyber world, I always make it a point that the kids play outdoors. They get their park time. One afternoon, I had to force the 5-year old to go for a walk. She didn’t want to get sweaty. Uh oh. The cutest thing about their outdoor play is their “pasalubong” for me. Lily never fails to bring me a flower everytime. Sophia has outgrown this ritual.


Lily’s been doing this flower thing for years. I treasure these moments.


This was Lily’s present before I went to India.


And when I got back from my Maguindanao mission with UNICEF, Lily presented me with this.


Last Thursday Lily, 5 and Stella, 2 gave me Kalachuchi flowers from our garden.


On Friday, it was Santan again – from Lily and Stella.


Then Saturday afternoon, we had Kalachuchis again from Stella.


Lily’s been teaching Stella about this afternoon ritual.


And for a change, she gave me weeds. Or as my mother calls them, “wild flowers.”


I wish our kids’ lives could always be as lovely and friendly as it is in preschool. With drawings and hand-picked wild flowers. I want to protect them from mean people. But I want them to learn to stand up and fight for themselves.

I want to rid this world of bullies. Every child deserves an environment with no violence – from adults and fellow children. I talked to my sister about this. Hanni’s son, a 4 year old, had an anti-bullying day in his Toronto preschool. I asked her to share what they learned. Maybe parents and teachers here should start talking about this. I’ve been hearing too many bullying stories lately. I wish we could do something about it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts…


Blog giveaway: Girl Two Doors Down



From The Flatshop, the store that brought us Tkees a couple of months ago, here’s another giveaway for DAPHNE readers. It’s for a brand called Girl Two Doors Down. They’re basically rubber flip flops… with a twist. They’re embellished with crystal encrusted pendants and witty slogans.

When you slip on a pair of embellished Girl Two Doors Down flip flops, you’re not only putting on a stylish pair of summer shoes, you’re stepping into a state of mind. This edgy collection is dedicated to all the ladies who may not be the girl next door-even but the sexier… girl two doors down. Girl Two Doors Down flip flops feature witty slogans like, “If you have to ask you cannot afford me” and “I believe in a total body workout. Currently my finger benches 3 carats.” Once your toes are adorned with these lavishly decorated sandals, you’re confidence emerges-just as boldly as the statement you’re standing on. — Source: website

GTDD has been seen on celebs like Halle Berry, Eva Longoria, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Richie, Marsha Cross, Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears, Christina Applegate, Cameron Diaz, Katherine Heigl and Rachel Bilson.


It’s Halle Berry’s staple summer footwear – the GTDD cross medallion.


She wears GTDD on her days off… but apparently at this red carpet event too.


Michelle Trachtenberg and Emmy Rossum.


Detail of Emmy and Michelle’s GTDD flip flops.


The Flat Shop sent me Halle Berry’s favourite style – the grey cross medallion. They’re basically rubber flip flops lined with a neoprene line material that makes the surface extra soft. I use this in between shoots and when I’m off to get my nails done at the salon. I like the extra “dress up” bling.


The Flat Shop carries the entire range of Girl Two Doors Down – a variety of colours and bling styles. This is the “brooch” in platform style. The base says “If you believe it’s excessive, you don’t deserve it.” All GTDD come in either flats P1,990 and platforms P2,090.


I got this style as well because I love the fleur de lis emblem, a stylized Lily.


The Flatshop at the Ground Floor, Connecticut Arcade, Greenhills Shopping Center

And just like before, The Flat Shop is sponsoring another giveaway for my readers. They’re raffling off Halle Berry’s personal favourite Girl Two Doors Down… the Cross Pendant. Yay!


You can win this pair of Girl Two Doors Down Cross Pendant by simply joining this giveaway promo.


1. Like my page on Facebook here. Leave this message on my Facebook wall, “I want to win a pair of Girl Two Doors Down.”

2. Follow me on Twitter, DaphneOP. Tweet this “Follow @DaphneOP for a chance to win Girl Two Doors Down. Pls RT.”

3. Leave a comment in this entry, “I want to win a pair of Girl Two Doors Down.” If you haven’t registered with Disqus yet, please leave a way I can contact you in case you win.

4. Winner will be chosen randomly by computer lottery on Monday, September 26 5:00pm. Announced on Monday night or Tuesday morning.

5. One entry per person. Anonymous entries won’t count.

6. Winner will have to show proof that he/she posted the comments in #1 Facebook and #2 Twitter by providing link or screen shot.

Good luck!




Contest is now closed.

Winner is Camille Quiambao