I judged Manila FAME International 2011




Last weekend, I was at the Manila FAME International show to see the best in Philippine design – in home furnishings, furniture, holiday and gift items, fashion accessories and more. It was a huge honour to have been asked to be one of the Board of Judges.


The board of judges included Jennie Javelosa, a writer and social entrepreneur; Toby Guggenheim, an American architect; Kenneth Cobonpue, me and Robert Alejandro a graphic and product designer. Also in photo is Stella from Kenneth Cobonpue Inc.


Yes this has been a year of judging some of the most important art and design shows in the country. I really don’t know how to put it without sounding so beauty queenly – but  wow, it truly has been an honour. Thank you for the trust! This year I judged Cebu Next furniture exhibition, Metrobank Art and Design Awards, UP Interior Design‘s idisenyo and now Katha Awards of Manila FAME which brought together Manila Now, Cebu Next and Bijoux Cebu. In the past, I’ve also sat as a member of the board of judges of the British Council to select the International Young Creative Entrepreneur Award.

It is not easy judging creativity and art. I really have a hard time doing it. And I hate having to rate beauty by using numbers. I just try to see everything through the eyes of an editor (I once was, and sort of still am with the way UZ is run). Each competition brings with it so much wealth of experience and new learnings, not just for the contestants but for me as well.

I have to wait for the official release of the results of CITEM’s Manila Fame winners. Then I will share with you my most eye-opening experience in judging so far.




Banana Morning Smile




Here’s my banana smile.


There is a reason why I’m doing this banana smile. And it isn’t just to be silly. Although my kids and I love doing these things with fruits – bananas, oranges, apples and grapes. It’s not like we play with our food though. But as most parents would agree, we try anything to make healthy food fun to eat. Bananas were never a problem though because it’s one of those first foods babies love to eat – ofcourse only after 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding.

Back to the banana smile. Dole Fresh Philippines is launching a Facebook promo under the Dole Fresh Philippines fan page, entitled “BANANA SMILE.” It is such a cute promo because it promotes positivism and fresh mornings by asking users to upload their own smiling photographs. So you start your day right – by smiling and eating healthy.

And here’s why I’m supporting this campaign… by joining the BANANA SMILE Facebook promo, you will actually be helping Operation Smile Philippines.  For every entry that you send, Dole Philippines will donate a cluster of DOLE® Bananas to Operation Smile Philippines’ missions and on top of this, it will sponsor one child’s operation per week for four weeks – so she or he can smile big again.



The BANANA SMILE promo is quite simple. Users only need to:



You can be as creative as you want. You can even draw and decorate your banana. Very important that your DOLE®  banana has the Dole sticker.


As you can see, I had way too much fun trying to do a sample shot. The telephone shots in the bottom would probably be unaccepted because remember now, it’s all about smiles. With every entry, a cluster of DOLE® bananas will donated to Operation Smile Missions. And every week during the promo period, Dole Fresh Philippines will sponsor a child with a cleft lip and/or palate deformity via a free reconstructive surgery .



Entries will be judged every Friday (Promo from October 24 until November 21, 2011) for a chance to win the weekly Fitness First Gym Membership prizes – while the lucky grand winner can take home a 16GB Blackberry Playbook!

Criteria for judging are as follows:

  • 20% Likes – get your friends to vote for your entry
  • 50% Creativity – time to get those juices flowing and smile big
  • 30% Total Impact – over-all clarity and brightness of smile

*make sure you read through the promo mechanics and uploading mechanics as there are limitation to file sizes and formats. All the information you need is in their Facebook page.


It just takes a few minutes to upload a photo and by simply joining you already get to make a difference in the lives of many kids. If you’re lucky enough to win during the weekly judging, you get a Fitness First membership. And the grand prize winner gets a 16GB Blackberry Playbook. So get creative and upload your photo here.

Promo runs from October 24 to November 24, 2011. I’ll be checking to see how you guys are doing with the photos (but I’m not involved with the contest). I’ll also be tweeting occasionally and inviting you all to retweet this so more people get help from Dole Philippines and Operation Smile. Open for anyone 18 yrs and older, within the Philippines only (DTI-NCR Permit No. 7851 Series of 2011.)

Good luck and have fun! Smile!





House on a hill



Last week October 14, we featured a home in a hilly subdivision. The property had a view of the Marikina Valley up to the mountain range beyond. The family built a home inspired by Ilocos architecture to be the backdrop of their huge art collection.


The lanai was on the highest part of the property.


It was big enough host huge parties for this family’s entertaining needs.


This is the front part of the house. The street-level entrance is three-and-a-half storeys down.


They built around the old sampaloc tree. The owner said it was about a hundred years old.


The edge of the lanai was lined with small bamboo plants and shrubs. The uplighting and wall sconces give a nice glow at night. They couldn’t bother trying to grow grass in this area as it was covered by the huge tree’s canopy and therefore didn’t have direct sun. So they paved it with outdoor floor tiles. It is important to have a drainage solution if you plan to do this. They also had outdoor speakers installed hidden in the landscaping.


The exterior architecture had a mix of Vigan bricks, painted concrete and wooden latticework.


The main entrance was one floor up from the ground level. This had a lovely vaulted ceiling lined with bricks. But sorry, I don’t have a photo. We showed it in UZ though.


The secondary entrance on the side (so technically this was the basement) had a nice reception area at the foyer using the first “sala set” of the owners from the time they got married. The shape of the sofa is a gallinera (however this didn’t have a functional storage space under the seat as in traditional gallineras).


The kitchen is where they do their daily entertaining. It’s pretty with Vigan bricks and patterned cement tiles. It also shares the space with a smaller dining area and lounge with a TV.


The niches, lined with bricks, hold all the basic kitchen appliances.


The formal living room is up in the same level as the lanai. They admit they hardly use this room, except for when they’re having a party. Here their walls hold paintings by local masters like Bencab, Alcuaz, Sanso and many more.


The painting on the right is by Marcel Antonio, whose work I’ve always wanted to own (must make that a project… wishlist). The big painting, with a social realist theme is by an artist whose name escapes me right now. The family chose rattan furniture with clean lines and comfortable cushions and pillows.


The house doesn’t feel antiquey or Ilocandia themed because of the use of big picture windows that both maximize the views of the mountains and allow a glimpse into the gallery-like setting in hallway and vestibule. This is further emphasized by the bright lights in this part of the house. Like a mix of old and new.





Urban Zone airs in ABSCBN Channel 2 every Friday night after SOCO and thru TFC in all regions worldwide.



Attempt at hair tutorial



Once, I uploaded this on instagram. I got a lot of questions asking how to use these things. They are metal coils for hair. These particular ones are from Goody. Please don’t ask me where to buy them. They are sold wherever Goody products are sold, practically everywhere. (EDIT: And no, these were not sent to me by Goody.)


I use them to hold my hair in a loose chignon. Here’s a messy version, during the judging of UP Interior Design competition. Someone in twitter asked me how I did my hair here. She said it was very “Hamptons.” Haha. Cute, but I had no idea what that meant. If it means I look like I didn’t care about my hair (like I always do), then that’s success! I honestly don’t have time to have my hair done everyday.


So yesterday during a UZ shoot, I attempted to do an instructional video. Denmark shot me using my iPhone. This one came out super messy though because my hair is extremely layered right now. It’s not supposed to have that starburst effect. If you twist your hair around carefully, you’ll succeed. The video sucks, but you’ll get the idea. Seriously, these coils – just two of them – can hold your hair up in a bun even without an elastic band. Each box comes with two coils, priced under P500.



If you are a fan of perfect Manila hair then this product is not for you. If you’ve been using those claws, this is a better and more invisible way of putting your hair up.



Lemon Kiss



Folks, let’s welcome my new blog sponsor, Lemon Kiss. It’s a brand of clothing for little girls sold primarily at most SM department stores nationwide. Lots of pretty prints in flattering silhouettes that little girls love. Lily and Stella got to try some and they loved twirling in them. Sophia is still looking for an occasion to wear a dress again. As an 8 year old she pretty much dictates what she wants to wear – leggings, shorts and lots of grey.

Lemon Kiss dresses are mostly made of cotton, therefore very comfortable and light. Another plus factor is the price range. Dresses are P400 to P700+, knitted dresses are only P400 to P500+ plus, woven dresses are from P500 to P700+, blouses are around P300 and bottoms are P500 to P600+.

Here are some samples from their newest collection –


Full skirts are always a winner with little girls.


This has a halter back, perfect for our tropical weather. Sophia has this dress. She’s just waiting for a time and place to wear it. Pink and brown, so pretty.


My girls, Stella and Lily wore their Lemon Kiss dresses one weekend. As I do with Soph, I let them style themselves. Lily chose to wear her dress with red rubber rain boots (go figure). Stella’s dress was still a bit long but she wore it anyway and traipsed around like a princess.


Here are some Stella scenes at Ronac Art Center…


Feeling so free…


And more giddy smiles.


That afternoon we went to a cousin’s party. As you can see, Lily styled herself with a feather clip.


They also have clothes in neutral colours, with pink piping.


This one has a peekaboo hole in the back. Good for summer.


The prettiness level of this dress is high, despite it being blue. I managed to convince Lily to wear blue…


… because of the fullness of the skirt.


Lemon Kiss is available at all SM department stores nationwide.


And to welcome Daphne readers, Lemon Kiss is giving away one of each dress from their most recent collection. All you have to do is LIKE Lemon Kiss in Facebook and follow their promo mechanics there. Very easy. Good luck! Their giveaway lasts til October 31. Like, like….