My booth at WorldBex





This experience has been incredible. And I still don’t know what the outcome will be.

Ever since I agreed to put up a booth at World Bex (Building and Construction Expo), my life has never been the same. I’ve increased my involvement with my product development. Last week I was at the factory of my furniture line, choosing colours and developing new shapes. Last night I was sanding some inexpensive black frames and spray-painting them metallic silver. It was a success. But now I can’t breathe well and I have cuts in my hands.

My booth is being put together by a professional contractor. Interior designer Nina Santamaria of Gruppo Santamaria helped me with my booth design. The Purpose Store created my wall paper. My UZ team prepared a nice AVP that’ll loop in my booth. Isabel Gatuslao created my print collaterals for me to handout. It all looks great in concept. But I won’t know how it’ll come together until tomorrow. I won’t post the perspective drawings just yet. I’ll do that once the booth is up.

Oh I wish I found a baker who could do mini cupcakes or cookies with little Daphne chairs. I wanted to have them on March 14 to give to media and on the weekend to give to Urbanistas and Daphne readers. But I didn’t get to do that.

I hope to see you this weekend, March 17 and 18. It’s open to the public then and admission is free. Anyone who’s planning to build or redecorate should come to WorldBex. I’d go even if I didn’t have a booth. We have a leaky roof and we really need to get that all fixed. Plus my kitchen. That renovation has been of epic proportions… I need to source more suppliers.

See you this weekend! Come say hi to me at the DAPHNE® booth.








I got this via Facebook over the weekend.

This is the shoot Bryan Boy, Ingrid and I did for SPARK last month. I love the cover line “Online Waves” with the sea in the background. I especially like how we wore our own clothes to the shoot. Bryan and Ingrid have achieved so much in the global fashion arena. Though I am nowhere in their radar, I feel that among all the things I’m doing with my brand, my website/blog is the one that keeps me most motivated and excited. It’s an honour being shot with them.

I haven’t seen the actual magazines yet. But they should be on the stands this week. Thank you Tom and Tanya Favis of SPARK magazine. Not only do the covers look great, we had a blast shooting this. Some behind the scenes photos… coming up.



House of Gene Flancia, Architect



I was the UST Architecture department yesterday. They invited me for a talk-show format speech. I love speaking with students. I get so wide-eyed as they do. Yesterday’s event was particularly overwhelming. We had a full house. So many UZ fans! Thank you.

One of the UST professors, architect Gene Flancia, was at the event. And I remembered that his house was one of those that I loved. It was streamlined, modern, “successfully” tropical (not all tropical homes are created equal) and beautiful. He built on 1/3 of the property and left the rest open and green. I also loved how he used the existing surroundings to his advantage like the leafy canopy of the tree across the street. And most importantly, he built a glass house that wasn’t a heat trap.

I love conversing with architects. It would be a shame to paraphrase their thoughts, so I will publish our email exchange in quotes. Here are some photos from that Urban Zone shoot last year.


House of/by Gene Flancia (architect)
Mr. Flancia built his house on the edge of the property to allow green open space in 2/3 of his land. “It’s cool that you take interest in my house. They say that one of the most challenging design projects for an architect is his own home. I found this to be partially true because a lot of people are expecting much from what you are going to produce, based on what they have seen as you design for others. It is more challenging if you have a strict budget and you will be spending your own money.”


House of/by Gene Flancia (architect)
“So with a tight budget at hand, I started constructing the house three years ago and finished it within a year, I went for the simplest lines that will exhibit a lot of design character, tropical, easy to maintain despite its sculpture white color.”


House of/by Gene Flancia (architect)
“I actually was flattered when you told me you can discern its sophistication in its design simplicity, despite its predominantly glass walls. I did that so I can appreciate my tropical garden. I am able to enjoy tons of natural light and use its shades and shadows as a design tool. You noticed that it’s not so hot either despite all the glass, it is because of the generous eaves that I have on the south west solar exposure and a lot of sliding glass doors and awning windows.”


House of/by Gene Flancia (architect)
Living room


Click “More…” to see this elegant tropical home.


Zayden Ramos, superboy and child author



Check out this beautifully written and illustrated book, The Hunters.


You will be floored! This book was written by a 4 year old. It is the perfect book for an early reading boy from ages 4 to 8 as it tells the story of Steve Hunter and his friends who try to save the Earth from an alien invasion from the planet Orania.


Part children’s book and part graphic novel, “The Hunters” was written by 4 year old Zayden Ramos and beautifully illustrated by award winning comic book illustrator and Trese creator Kajo Baldisimo.


This was at Zayden’s book launch attended by his classmates, hosted by his aunt Xandra Padilla. He wrote this when he was 4 years old! He’s 5 now.


“The Hunters” is filled with adventure and basically everything young boys like.  After all it was written by one of them. Zayden’s dad, Miguel Ramos, told me that this is for boys who don’t really care about fuzzy warm stuff like mamas who are llamas. (Hey, we love “Is your mama a llama?”) But when my girls got their copy, they loved everything about it! So this is for boys AND girls.


Lily's drawings
Lily remembered that she used to draw aliens when she was just 4 years old. Here is her drawing of an alien abduction. On the upper right you’ll see a duck being abducted by aliens. Then there a “fat” alien controlling the ship in the middle.


Lily's drawings
Another Lily drawing from when she was 4. A happy alien family dropping colourful balls into the earth. There’s also a girly space ship. Notice the mother alien… she has gorgeous lashes. And so does little girl alien. Lily loved drawing lashes.


A cover
“The Hunters” is published by Powerhans, the distributor of Brainy Baby in the Philippines. “The Hunters” is available for P169.75 in all National Book Store, Powerbooks and Bestsellers branches and on


A 4 year old. Amazing. I don’t even remember what I did when I was 4.

Congratulations Zayden!



UNICEF Report 2012: Children in an Urban World



I had the honour of hosting the launch of UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children 2012 report. This was a global initiative that took place at the same time and same day in other key cities. This year’s report focused on Children in an Urban World. It was a real honour because it had two of the subjects closest to my heart – children and urbanization. Urban planning was my field before I got into television by accident.


Unicef SOWC 2012 1
In a few years, the report says, the majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas. Children born in cities already account for 60 per cent of the increase in urban population. The Philippines is an urban society with half the population or 45 million people living in cities. Of Metro Manila’s 11 million people, 1.7 million children live in informal settlements. You may download the full report here.


Unicef in Sarangani - Aug 2010
The past two years, my work with UNICEF involved fundraising and advocating maternal health and breastfeeding. It took me to many rural areas – from Rizal, Laguna, Maguindanao and like this photo of a mother nursing her child in Sarangani. Yes, there are millions of children who need help in rural areas. These are the common stories we read about in rural areas – lack of health services, schools, transportation, nutrition and other basic resources. The government and other organizations continue to work towards delivering services to the rural poor. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake says, “But today, an increasing number of children living in slums and shantytowns are among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in the world, deprived of the most basic services and denied the right to thrive.”


DILG Sec Robredo, Dr Abdul Alim
DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo and Dr Abdul Alim of UNICEF Philippines.


If you’ve been reading for sometime you know that I always beg for open spaces and public parks in the city. Throw in public art and activities for children the way Bonifacio has it all figured out. Now my big concern is which summer activities my daughters will do. Where do they do theatre, ballet, art, swimming, skating – Makati, Alabang, Ortigas? We have big problems.

This is what city life means for us. We have access to dynamic activities – playgrounds, movies, theatres, malls, sports clubs, schools. But this isn’t the case for half of the children who live in urban areas. The same city we live in is also the setting for some of the greatest disparities in children’s health, education and opportunities. I don’t have to say this because we already know that. Just look outside your car window the next time you’re stuck in traffic.


I shot this in the city of Manila three years ago.


So what exactly does the report tell us? The report calls for a new approach to urban challenges. Policy-makers, real estate developers, architects, citizens all should take a part in reaching the most deprived and vulnerable children and families. Children should be at the heart of urban development, with urban policies prioritizing the needs of the most disadvantaged children in cities. Example, poor families pay more for their water – up to 50 times more – because they have to buy it from private vendors/water trucks, while rich families have direct connections to water mains.

I really encourage you to download the report and read/browse through it. We can all learn from it and try to understand the needs of poor children in cities.

For many of us urbanization is exciting and sexy. I love talking about architecture and how cities change, my need for artsy parks. But we, myself included, are all guilty of trying to brush away the problems of the urban poor, the squatters and the homeless we sometimes treat as invisible. Infrastructure and services are not keeping up with urban growth in many regions and children’s basic needs are not being met.


Mandaluyong Childrens Choir
The Mandaluyong Childrens Choir performed at the launch. Mandaluyong was awarded the Most Child-friendly municipality in the Philippines in 2010.


Do me a favour today – especially if you are in Metro Manila. I lifted this from the report. Look around. Do all children in your neighbourhood have the services they need? If not, why not? Does your city promote and safeguard the rights of children?

Get involved in local initiatives to improve neighbourhoods such as clean up schemes, city gardens and farms, or building renovation. Get involved in wider initiatives to tackle the barriers to child rights, such as poverty and discrimination, and to give local communities – particularly children and adolescents – a chance to influence the development of your city.

Join the debate: Listen to children and adolescents. Their views on your city may be surprising, but could help to create better cities for all. Add your voice to those working to improve the well-being of children in your city. If there is no debate, start one. Ask questions.