On importing books



I received a surprise present from Gari Camaisa, principal designer of Jugenstil Interior + Architecture in California. I had featured Gari’s work a couple of months ago. You can read about it here.

I didn’t expect to receive anything at all. But what he sent was completely appreciated and needed. I have been a secret fan of De Vera for years even shamelessly stalking his small boutique at Bergdorf’s years back. He is one Pinoy I really want to meet and hope his taste level rubs off on me by osmosis. This was the most perfect present anyone has ever given me. Gari’s gesture really gave me much needed inspiration.


The beautiful package was sent to me via Fedex.


The wax seal was scented. Details!


Limited edition book. I will treasure forever.


I hate to taint this story with a bit of controversy, but I feel the story must be told. I promise, it’s for a good cause.

When the courier came to my house, they were charging me P3,400 for a package that was declared as “Books $200”. I felt it was too high and too random, so I instructed the maid not to accept it. Since it was a gift, I didn’t even know what exactly was inside the parcel. But I definitely did not think P3,400 was a fair amount. I was going to go to their office to have it recalculated.

So I Tweeted about my perception of an anomaly at Bureau of Customs (BoC), which, incidentally, made it to Spot.ph’s Tweet of the Week. See #16 here. After a few retweets, it got to Ruffy Biazon, Commissioner of the BoC. He said that books should be exempt from duties and that he would look into this. Fast forward, I emailed him the invoice. One thing led to another and I found out that ALL BOOKS are supposed to be duty free.

Just last December 2011, the Department of Finance passed an Department Order No. 57-2011 declaring that all books – whether of commercial quantity or for personal use – are not supposed to be taxed. This is part of the Florence Agreement, which the Philippines signed.

If you want to read the Department Order in simple English, click here. If you are importing books for commercial reasons, you just have to go through some paper work at the Dept of Finance. The books are free of duty. If it’s a small personal importation, you don’t need any complicated paperwork. You simply have to declare the package as “Books”.

“Department Order No. 57-2011 dated December 9 particularly exempted books for “personal use” from any extensive documentary requirements, but such importations “should be cleared and released through the required declaration of goods as provided under existing rules and regulations.” said Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima, explaining the order he signed. “One example is the one you have to fill out upon arriving at the airport. You need to check if you will bring in goods from other countries, but this does not necessarily mean that you will have to pay for it,” he added.

So, I got my beautiful book delivered two days later. And no, I didn’t pay the “taxes”.

If you think you are experiencing any questionable transactions or if you perceive some sort of unfair customs taxation you may report it in this website set up by Department of Finance – www.perangbayan.com or tweet @CommissionerBOC.

And now back to my beautiful book. Thank you Gari!





Social Media Day



Ayala Tower One at Ayala Triangle


Last June 30th I was invited to give a short talk at the Social Media Day celebration at Ayala Tower One. It was organized by TweetUp Manila and was spearheaded globally by Mashable. The theme was “Social Media Capital” as there are over 35 million Filipino netizens who made it possible to capture that new title for the country.

Over 27 million Filipinos regularly log in to Facebook while a couple of million have made Twitter a popular go-to site for trends, news and information. Since 2008, Filipino netizens have led the world in video and photo uploads. The growing numbers have made pundits name the Philippines the world’s social media capital since 2010.


I accepted the invite even though it was a weekend (family time) because I felt it was the right forum to share my story on how social media helped me get the support of the Canadian group Global Medic last December 2011. They responded to my request to come and help restore water and public health issues in Cagayan de Oro in the aftermath of Typhoon Sendong. The value of their assistance was over USD 150,000. Because of my constant pleas in Facebook and Twitter, I got to the right people in Philippine Air Lines, Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy who all sponsored the transport of volunteer Canadian medics and water purification tabs and equipment.


I haven’t really told the story in full. On a personal level, it was the biggest thing I’d ever accomplished without actually doing anything myself. I mean, I just made phone calls and requests. But the responsibility was enormous. I am so grateful to the Canadian men and women medics who volunteered to help our country and flew here on Christmas Eve. I have to tell this story again now because I really have to honour and give thanks to everyone who helped. This is a real case of moving mountains.


I remember being extremely frustrated and feeling helpless when I heard news of bodies being washed up and communities being wiped out because of Typhoon Washi (Sendong). I was about to bitch on Twitter and Facebook that not enough was being done when I remembered that my brother was a big supporter of Global Medic in Canada. So I thought, why not ask them to come here. They said yes in an instant. But between my brother and me we had to raise $50,000 USD to fund the mission’s initial stages. Of course we didn’t have that money. So my brother asked me to a) solicit for funds [not possible given the short time] or b) find a way to get the team and equipment to fly for free. That started my week of crazy begging and praying.


9GlobalMedic Navy
This was the earliest response. 48 hours after the flood, I got two of Global Medics’ local trucks on board this Philippine Navy ship. Thank you to Admiral Alex Pama of Philippine Navy and Col. Boy Santiago of Philippine Air Force for facilitating this request.


A Global Medic volunteer, distributing and demonstrating the use of water purification tablets in Iligan in the aftermath of Washi (Sendong).


Global Medic at work in Iligan. Restoring clean and safe water.


Right after the mission of the Canadian volunteer medics in CDO, I met them in Manila. We went to the corporate headquarters of Philippine Air Lines and gave thanks to Special Assistant to the Chairman & CEO on Special Projects Emilio Yu and PAL Foundation’s Menchu Sarmiento. It took a few phone calls before I got to the right people. I have to say thanks to Vivienne Tan and Joel Santos for supporting my request. PAL flew all the equipment, supplies (water purification tablets) and volunteer medics free of charge from Vancouver to Manila.


My childhood friend and fellow Air Force Brat, Col Miko Okol gave me access to the Air Force C-130 with no major questions asked. Through this whole feat, no one even met anyone face to face. We communicated by phone, text, email, Facebook. At the courtesy call, I expressed my gratitude to the Philippine Navy and Air Force but they replied by saying no thanks was needed. They did this to serve and help the Filipino people. Everyone was a hero. (Must mention Lt Col Ali who also assisted in the transfer of goods).


Back to the Social Media Day event, it also served as the launching date for Project 140, which seeks to identify and support 140 prospective scholars from the country’s poorest provinces, through the cooperation and sponsorship of social media users, big and small.


I am all for using social media as a tool for spreading goodness and connecting people who are in need. Sometimes I’m guilty of tweeting inane things – like my lunch, stuck in traffic updates, my cable digibox acting up. But really, social media is whatever you want to make of it. And what happened last December really proved to me that it can move mountains and help thousands of people.


My friend Zarah Hernaez co-emceed with her fiance Mark de Joya. Interesting story with these two – they met and fell in love via Twitter.


The new Miss World beauty queen was there. Stella said, “Look mama. A princess.” Then she loved the crown! The kids had no inhibitions. They went on stage to assist in carrying the crown.


But Stella was the real guardian of the Miss World crown.


And after waiting her turn, she finally got to try it on.


Congratulations to Ros Juan and Tonyo Cruz for a very successful Social Media Day. It reminded me of how truly connected we can all be. And how we can use this tool to make a positive difference.

By the way, a few days after we had successfully sent the Sendong relief mission to CDO, I got a tweet from the BCC in London. They invited me to participate in a discussion about emergency response and the need to be prepared. My angle was, if one person can do this (organize a relief mission over Facebook and Twitter), imagine what a government can do in setting up its city to be prepared for emergencies and disasters. I learned that the UN won’t have enough funds to respond to every environmental emergency in the future, that each country has a maximum allowable amount of assistance. It made me nervous about our country.

It is storm season again. Are we even prepared?



Links of London on Sale



I don’t think I’ll ever outgrow my love for charms and sterling silver. I love them as much as I love serious jewellery. Ok, maybe not. But I always find a reason to buy charms. Now my daughters’ caught the bug as well. Each one has her own charm collection. Triple the fun. Or quadruple, including me.

It’s that time of the year again. Links of London is on sale. Click, click.


Brit Lines Cuff
Brit Lines Cuff, was $470 now $329. I love how this incorporated both the chain link pattern and the cuff’s solid shape.


Ballet Bear Charm
Ballet Bear Charm, was $95 now $47.50. How can any Mama resist this ballet bear? Adorable.
Web Exclusive Festival Wellington Boot Charm
Web Exclusive Festival Wellington Boot Charm, was $85 now $42.50. If you haven’t had any or enough British fever, here’s a little way of showing joining the celebrations.


Bull and Bear Cufflinks
Bull and Bear Cufflinks was $215 now $107.50. If my man wore suits more often, I’d get these cufflinks.


Cloud Bead
Cloud Bead was $120 now $60.00. This, I must have. I don’t think a day passes by that I don’t talk about the weather. It’s storm season here and we’re always like, “Is it gonna flood? Are classes cancelled?” Must have this. (And oh, I was once and ABSCBN weather girl, haha.)


Love Note Multi Row Bracelet
Love Note Multi Row Bracelet was was $335 now $234.50. What an adorable bracelet! And there’s an option of hanging more charms in those links. I really like this!



Additional 25% off sale clothes at Anthropologie



My readers in the western world are so lucky. Shopping online for you is easy peasy. For us here, international online shopping is still a gamble. I actually just had an issue with the Bureau of Customs last week. Story will be shared in the future when I find the patience to recount it. What most people usually do is have the stuff sent to a third party shipper then they send it here at minimal cost.

This is a deal that’s too good to pass up. All Anthropologie clothing that’s already on sale will get an additional 25% off. How crazy is that? But the offer is for a very limited time only, probably just this weekend.

Here are the cute things I’ve picked out. I know you’ll find more… Have fun!


Laguna De Paca Dress
Laguna De Paca Dress was $194.00, now $99.95 plus additional 25% off.


Pernille Silk Dress
Pernille Silk Dress was $178.00 now $89.95 plus additional 25% off.


Seaborne Corset Top
Seaborne Corset Top was $118.00 Now $59.95 plus additional 25% off.


Changing Stripes Dress
Changing Stripes Dress was $158.00 Now $99.95 plus additional 25% off.


Anthro Floretum Cardigan
Floretum Cardigan was $98.00 now $49.95 plus additional 25% off.


For a very limited time only, all sale clothing will get an additional 25% off. Discount reflected at checkout.



Unboxing Daphne Home Scents



Ever since Bench launched Daphne Home Scents, I’ve been getting so many photos on Twitter and Instagram showing the purchase and unboxing of the bottle. I love getting a glimpse of your home and seeing how my scents are finding their own special place in your home.

I am so touched by your support. These photos and messages mean so much to me.

The scents are doing well. In the first week, the Rockwell branches ran out of Lemon Tart and Mint Jasmine right away. We are working on getting the stocks replenished. You may see them in Dimensione and most Bench flagship stores.

It took me two days to compile this group. Click on the thumbnails to see the names and bigger photos. I hope you like this.



I tried to include everyone but I know I may have missed a few. Just send me your photos again via Twitter or Instagram and mention @DaphneOP and I’ll add it here.

My way of saying Thanks!
I really mean it when I say THANK YOU.