Dinner with Nicholas Sparks



“How would you like to join us for dinner with Nicholas Sparks?” This was the text Miguel Ramos of National Book Store sent me a month ago. Hmmm. I had never read any of his books. And I’m not really into sappy movies. “Ofcourse! How can I say no to that? Best-selling author! I love meeting successful people. Game!”

A few days later, National Book Store sends me The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and the newest one in hardbound Best of Me. I felt like I was in high school again and I needed to do a book report. Every few days Miguel would text, “How do you like the books? Do you need a box of tissues yet?” Truth is, I only got as far as half of Best of Me. I felt too guilty reading a love story while my website is going bonkers and my new projects are hanging. My state of mind is so unrelaxed and cluttered, I couldn’t allow myself to get lost in Sparks’ new novel that debuted #1 in the New York Times best seller list. Sounds like I need a vacation.


Dinner with Nicholas Sparks & National Book Store family. Nice to meet you @SparksNicholas
Me and Nicholas Sparks at Sugi Greenbelt.


Frequently-asked questions from those who knew I had dinner with him – was he as cheesy/romantic as his male characters in the book? I wouldn’t know what he’s like with his wife. But from what I saw, he was as normal as any famous/successful person I’d met. We didn’t discuss anything specific about his creative process so I didn’t see his eyes sparkle. Does he write about his personal experiences or project his life story in his novels? He said, not really. He has a happy life. Nothing tragic. Why always in North Carolina? He needs to know about a place in order to use it as a setting. Only North Carolina has that effect on him. It’s his home. Does he have a formula? 17 books, all best sellers. Over 90 million copies sold. You think?



Lots of stories and lessons from Nicholas. We didn’t discuss any of his books in detail. No mention of any character… though I was ready to pull out what I knew of Dawson and Amanda (Best of Me). We talked about the business of writing, building a brand, knowing one’s market, having all products and platforms be synergistic and writing with the intention of turning your book into a movie.


He signed my book.


For you @johannaholmes
Then I got him to sign one for my sister.


For Mom. @johannaholmes
And my mom. I didn’t get one for my youngest sister Pauline because she said, “who’s he?” Haha.


Nicholas calculated the hours he’s been awake since the time he left home. Yes, that’s his dinner napkin. LOL.


I have to say, for someone who only slept 12 hours in the past 73 hours, he was very charming and attentive. I could see how tired he was. We had to kill time between dinner and his guest appearance in ABS-CBN’s Bandila because his hotel was in Makati and traffic on Edsa was insane. By 9pm we were done with eating and the stories, I could see he was wilting. I asked if he wanted coffee. He said, “I wish I could just close my eyes before the interview.”

I called Julius Babao and asked if Nicholas could have his own dressing room (not the communal one for guests in news programs). One of the producers phoned me back. It was arranged, but she said there was no couch. Just single seats. I know ABS-CBN dressing rooms. So I told Nic (naks!). And he said that was ok. At least he’d be in a room.

I stayed up to watch Bandila. Boy did a quick and fun interview. Then he mentioned that Nic had some single chairs lined up in a dressing room and he lay down for a nap. Walang ka-arte-arte.

All I have to say is, Wow! Can I have some of his talent and luck?

(He did say a lot of it had to do with luck…)


With the National Book Store family, Miguel Ramos, Trina Alindogan and Xandra Ramos Padilla. NBS Founder Mrs Socorro Ramos was also at dinner. The only non-NBS’er were Town & Country editor in chief Yvette Fernandez and myself. (OMG I just noticed Xandra’s LVxSofia Coppola bag. OMG.)


Today, October 28, 2011 at 5 PM at The Podium you may have the rare opportunity of meeting Nicholas Sparks!!! One of the world’s best selling authors. “The Best of Me” is now available at all National Book Store and Powerbooks branches for P549.

Mechanics for the chance to get his autograph:

1. All purchases of Nicholas Sparks’ new book “The Best of Me” from National Book Store or Powerbooks will come with a Lucky Draw Coupon. Note: The Lucky Draw Coupon is not a guaranteed Signing Pass.

2. A person may purchase as many copies as he/she wants and each purchase will come with a Lucky Draw Coupon.

3. The Lucky Draw Coupon shall entitle the bearer to one (1) attempt at a Lucky Draw on Friday, October 28, 2011 at the atrium of The Podium. Lucky Draw will start upon registration at 1:00 pm.

4. Every person who draws a marked winning stub shall be entitled to a signing pass to have one (1) book signed by Nicholas Sparks at the event.

5. There will be a minimum of six hundred fifty (650) winning stubs in the the Lucky Draw.

6. In addition, there will also be fifty (50) Early Birds. The first fifty (50) persons to arrive at the venue will be allowed to have their Lucky Draw Coupon automatically exchanged for a Signing Pass. Limit is one (1) signing pass per Early Bird.

For more information, go here. There is also a second book signing on Saturday at 1oam. Only 200 books and all hardbound.



Giveaway in my FB page



While I’m trying to figure out how to move to another webhost, I’m doing a little giveaway in my Facebook page. If you want to participate, please click here and “Like” my page.


Up for grabs is this package from Goody. They saw my video tutorial and were very grateful for the mention. So I’m sharing this wih you. Join in my FB page.



UNICEF Champion for Children



I’m spending the day in Malacanang Palace today with UNICEF for the awarding of Child Friendly Municipalities. I look forward to this. The last time I was in Malacanang was as a reporter. For about a year I was covering then-President Fidel Ramos. That was my first assignment when I started my career in ABSCBN. I also went back years after when Luli Arroyo gave me a tour of the palace just before their family moved in. This was for F. I saw the kitchen and the private quarters. And they invited me to eat brunch on the controversial round table of former-President Estrada.

I’ve been spending some time meeting with UNICEF about our activities and plans for next year. We are already planning the next Auction for Action and other new activities. I found out too that Anne Curtis came in to sign up as a UNICEF Champion for Children and gave a generous donation. She had mentioned that she saw the video of my trip to Maguindanao and was so touched by it. Here is the video…



I wish I could have done more during that visit to Maguindanao. But unfortunately what was supposed to be a 3-day trip was cut short. Hours after I arrived, our security told us to leave due to some “activity” on the ground. We were there at the height of the peace talks between President Aquino and the MILF. Then we got news that the MILF had rejected the agreement. It was also just days after a few car bombs had gone off killing a government official. So I was only there for one night. Such is the reality of living and working in an area under conflict. Every day I think of the babies and children in the ARMM.

When I got back to Manila, I did a few rounds of media guestings to tell the story of little children with severe acute malnutrition. We went to TV5 and ANC. Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Dexter Matilla wrote about it. And so did Female Network but I can’t find the link anymore. I had no idea that this blog would reach Anne Curtis. Thank you Anne for making a big difference in many children’s lives.

Here’s a clip of our interview with ANC’s Lexi Schulze. I was with Dr Paul Zambrano of UNICEF. You can read more about how you too can help with this project here.



Just P600/month can save 3 children from severe acute malnutrition. Donate here.



Reminders and panic



Hi everyone.

I wrote this last night when I just got back from the Black Eyed Peas concert. It was fun. But Holy tiredness Batman. Age… Then I fell asleep before posting it. So here it is again.

I just wanted to post a few quick reminders before I completely doze off. I value this website so much, I spend a lot of time and money on it. I’m more than happy that these efforts are paying off because the readership has tripled since I launched this site (compared to my livejournal). I’m so thrilled at the community we have here. You are awesome readers!

I have technical issues with my site right now. So while I’m figuring everything out, please check my Facebook page. And if you like it, please “Like” it. I plan to have a little giveaway there.


And now the reminders:

1. Please respect intellectual property rights. I do not feel good about my photos being grabbed and reposted on other sites. So please do not borrow my photos. But feel free to link to and attribute my site. Links are always good. However if you really feel strongly about borrowing my photo to use in your blog, please ask me at info@daphne.ph. October, by the way, is intellectual property month.

2. Re-blogging is also not cool. I personally find it unethical. I read somewhere, Huffington Post I think, you can only quote up to 3 or 4 sentences from another site -with links and credit of course. But any longer than that is already somewhat like plagiarism. I’m okay with one paragraph with link. But please do not cut and paste my entire entry and repost in your site. Not cool. (Unless it’s for a good cause and I specifically request you to.)

3. This is daphne.ph not sulit.com. Please do not post links to your selling sites. That’s spam advertising.

4. I really appreciate all your comments. I read them all. Sometimes though, I get to read them while I’m on the go then I lose track of which comments I’ve answered or not. If you don’t get an answer to your question, please ask me again. I don’t mind. But I hope you don’t get frustrated. The one who sent hate mail just because her question got “ignored” was… not cool.

5. There are questions I really can’t answer always – like a) how much is this/that, because I’m not a selling site;  b) where did I buy this/that, because I usually identify my sources in my captions anyway, and those that I don’t identify are just random things. I don’t feel like I have to credit every single item that I own or wear. Or should I? I don’t consider myself a style blogger; and c) what’s the contact number of architects and designers, because there’s Google and professional directories. Anyway if I had their contact info, I would have written it in the entry.

6. The items in 5a, b and c are not written in stone though. I mean, I could give you info that I’ve just forgotten to put in the body of the story. So please don’t be afraid to ask if you feel compelled. Just please do not get offended if I can’t answer you.

6. For UZ concerns – like contact numbers, you may email bayanprod@hotmail.com

7. For interest in advertising in this site, you may contact me through info@daphne.ph

8. Pinterest is ok. Pin away…



I’m a little freaked out right now, since last night actually.  Apparently traffic to my site is so high that my webhost’s other clients are being affected. So I may have to transfer to another webhost. I don’t even know what all that means. But hopefully it’s all under control.

It’s true. Bandwith is the new gold. Where can I hoard that?

While I’m having problems here, please check my FB regularly… Thanks!



I want… Olympus PEN




A couple of weeks ago I hosted the launch of Olympus PEN cameras. With me in this photo are RedDot Philippines’ Denny Dy and Andrew Chong, RedDot Imaging USA’s Rene Buhay, the winner of an Olympus PEN EP-3, Akira “Alex” Fukui of Olympus Asia-Pacific and Japanese colleagues.


If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I am a huge fan of compact cameras. I do have a DSLR but I only use that when I really absolutely must (to deal with the speed of my moving children) and most recently in India (I can only travel with it if I am traveling solo because it is as big and heavy as Stella). But I’ve always hated lugging it around. I’ve been pleased with all my compact cameras – Leica DLux3, Ricoh GX200 and Ricoh GRD3. I’ve pushed them all to their limits. I learned manual photography on them.

“The Olympus PEN family combines the portability of a point-and-shoot with features found on bulkier cameras or camcorders to deliver amazing image quality and lightning fast speed. With a new 12.3-megapixel Live MOS Image Sensor, TruePic™ VI Image Processor, high ISO of 12,800, a reengineered autofocus system, full 1080i HD video with Dolby Digital sound recording, newly designed user interfaces and a variety of Art Filters and built-in creative features, these powerfully simple cameras offer advanced capabilities without the complexity of a digital single lens reflex (DSLR) camera.” – Source: Press Kit.


This is the flagship Olympus PEN EP-3 with a classic, all-metal design and the world’s fastest autofocus. A body portable enough to travel the world without sacrificing DSLR image quality and control that experienced photographers expect. It features a bright, 614,000 pixel, high-resolution, OLED touchscreen to easily navigate and control the camera at the touch of a finger. Php 47,999


I am lusting after this.  Each new PEN comes packaged with the re-sculpted M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm II R f3.5/5.6 II R zoom lens (28mm-84mm equivalent).


The PEN EP3 comes in black, silver and white. My biggest problem was choosing the colour. I still haven’t decided. As you can see, here is the gorgeous body. The holder on the right of the camera is removable. All cameras in the Olympus PEN series have interchangeable lenses. Aside from the kit lens – M.ZUIKO DIGITAL 14-42mm II R f3.5/5.6 II R zoom lens – you can buy other lenses according to your needs.


The M.Zuiko Digital ED 12m f2.0 lens is a high-speed, single-focal-length, wide-angle lens is ideal for shooting everything from high-quality, dramatic landscapes in low-light conditions to hard-to-get, spontaneous street shots. And if you’re after a blurry background effect, the M.Zuiko Digital ED 45mm f1.8 lens is a single focal length portrait lens with a beautiful shallow depth of field. The MSC mechanism is great for tracking a moving child or pet, and provides a quick and silent focus mechanism for movies and still photography.


The PEN E-PL3 or PEN Light is a powerful camera perfect for photographers who want their memories to reflect incredible, professional image quality. Easy-to-use creative technologies are packed in its versatile body – the size of a small, portable point-and-shoot camera, but with the versatility of interchangeable lenses. A clever, tilting three-inch LCD empowers photographers to go head-and-shoulders above the crowd to capture graduations, easily stoop to eye-level as babies take their first steps or even lower to the ground to get an adorable shot of the family pet. Available in 4 colours. Php 34,999

The PEN E-PM1 or the PEN Mini is the smallest and lightest Olympus PEN is available in six colors (purple, pink, brown, white, silver and black) and features a new and simplified user interface as well as a streamlined button structure for superior ease of use. Php 29,999


This is it. Christmas wish list. Can’t wait to have my own Olympus PEN.