I normally don’t blog about politics, religion or current events. This is an exception. I have been so deeply moved by the life and death of Secretary Jesse Robredo. I knew of his work from my international development network – CUI and UNICEF. He was a partner in good governance and children’s rights. And the rest, we know from the daily tributes and news coverage.


I took this photo yesterday, August 27, a National Holiday celebrating Heroes’ Day. Our flag has been flying at half-mast in honour of Secretary Jesse Robredo’s death.


This morning at Villamor. Waiting for Sec #robredo. #salamatjesse
I wanted to pay my respects to a man I only met once in an official UNICEF function. I didn’t have a personal connection to the family or to the Cabinet. Last Friday, I waited by the tarmac of Villamor Air Base  alongside journalists to witness the arrival of the family and of  Secretary Robredo’s remains in Manila.


I wasn’t there in any official capacity or with any duty. I simply wanted to pay my respects and salute this good person.


Honour guards.


The Cabinet secretaries.


The plane’s arrival.


The silence was healing.


The family.



Biopha Organics





My friends at Souq Organics sent me the entire range of Biopha Organics. My kids are using the bath products. Lovely because the price points are much friendlier. Much.

“Biopha Organics collection of personal care products are certified ORGANIC by not just one, but two international organic regulatory organizations: Ecocert and CosmeBio. This means that every ingredient in every bottle of Biopha Organics comes from 100% natural origin and is free from GMOs, petrochemicals and chlorine derivatives, parabens and artificial scents and coloring.” (Source: press kit).

You can buy Biopha Organics online through Souq Organics website.



Samsung Digital Home Appliances



Last week we had the press launch of our Samsung Digital Home Appliance campaign. I was introduced as the brand ambassador together with beautiful celeb moms Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Amanda Griffin-Jacob and Rissa Mananquil-Trillo. Each of us represented the different appliances within the digital range. All the products are so beautiful (design is the first thing I notice). Needless to say, in terms of function these are top of the line in the digital home appliance arena. I will be blogging more about the products in the future. Especially the ones I will have in my home – in my new kitchen (still in progress).


Samsung Executives DJ Kim, Advisor for Digital Appliances, Benjie Jimenez, SEPCO Marketing Director and Joey Hidalgo, Business Unit Head for Digital Appliances with Samsung Brand Ambassadors Amanda Griffin-Jacob, Rissa Mananquil-Trillo, Daphne Osena-Paez and Tessa Prieto-Valdes.


The first time I saw this Samsung air-conditioner I thought it was a piece of sculpture. Because of its exclusive rose-inspired design, it is aptly named the Samsung Rose Air Conditioner. With Twin Cooling Fans, this product produces cold breezes that can reach up to 13 meters. With its air-purifying Virus Doctor Technology and energy-saving Inverter Technology, the Samsung Rose Air Conditioner does not only look like a piece of art, it also makes your living an art in itself.


Tessa also has the new Samsung Digital “Rose” Air Conditioner. Mine just came to our house a few weeks ago. We have yet to install it in our formal living room. But before that, I’m having our windows fixed to ensure energy efficiency. Remember that we have wooden & capiz windows. Haha.


Rissa bonds with her family in style with the wall mounted split-type Samsung Digital Air Conditioner. Rissa gave birth to a beautiful and healthy baby girl two days after this event!!


Amanda loves her Samsung Digital Washing Machine.


Tweaking my kitchen design because I'm getting this awesome #Samsung digital refrigerator. Still haven't found my sink!
This is my baby. The 28 cu.ft. Samsung French Door refrigerator. You can read more about it here. Waiting for my photos with the fridge. Promise to blog more.


Lots of exciting new products are being launched with Samsung Digital Home Appliances. And I’m very proud to be representing the brand. Can’t wait to share more news in the future.



UNICEF Breastfeeding Stories in Taguig


August is Breastfeeding Month. I meant to share this story weeks ago, but the storms and floods got me off focus. I went on a UNICEF site visit to Taguig a few weeks ago to see their breastfeeding program.

We chose Taguig over other cities or municipalities because in a recent survey of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Taguig recorded an increase in exclusive breastfeeding rates from 68 to 73 percent. We wanted to see for ourselves how they did it. Taguig is the perfect example of a community that upholds a breastfeeding culture. Through the combination of effective laws and policies that promote and protect breastfeeding, supportive local leaders, health service providers and family members, as well as activities that reach out to mothers and their babies, any community can ensure the best start for its children.

Before going on field we met with Taguig’s Mayor Lani Cayetano. She told me that it doesn’t really take much to support a breastfeeding program in a city or municipality. “In terms of funding, not much. However, it does take a lot of heart and commitment from everyone, from the mayor to the councilors, down to the barangay captains and community health workers and volunteers,” Mayor Cayetano said. It is also cost-effective in the long term. The more breastfeeding mothers there are, the healthier their children and citizens will turn out to be. This means fewer people seeking medical treatment in the long run.


This is the breastfeeding lounge in the Taguig Municipal Hall. It goes beyond a basic breastfeeding room with a sofa and fridge. It has a massage chair, mini kitchen, lots of seating, a TV…


… and a play and learn area for toddlers. I wish all companies and malls had something like this.


Taguig City also recently started to implement the Department of Health’s TSEK Program – short for Tama, Sapat at Eksklusibo – to improve exclusive breastfeeding rates among mothers and infants up to six months old. The TSEK program receives crucial support from the World Health Organisation through the joint UN programme to tackle infant and child nutrition, and from the Government of Spain and the European Union. Local NGOs such as Arugaan also lend assistance by transferring breastfeeding knowledge and counselling skills to the breastfeeding peer counsellors.


UNICEF’s Angela Travis and I with Mayor Lani Cayetano and her municipal health team. We then proceed to do our rounds in Taguig


I gave a brief talk about my experience as a breastfeeding mom. All my daughters are exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months and complementary breastfed (with solids) up to 12 months.


Please allow me to give a little explanation about exclusive breastfeeding. “Exclusive” breastfeeding means babies from birth to 6 months are fed only mother’s milk, and nothing else, not even water. It has many benefits for both the infant and mother. Studies show that breastfeeding exclusively is the best way to feed a baby, providing all the nutrients a baby needs for the first six months of life. Breastfeeding also contributes to the health and well-being of mothers–it reduces the risk of ovarian and breast cancer and helps space pregnancies. Best of all, it promotes mother and child bonding. After six months, nutritious and safe complementary food can be given but breastfeeding is still encouraged for up to two years and beyond.


Mothers and fathers waiting for their turn to see the doctors.


Here is a lovely seven-day old baby getting her shots. Warning, there are a lot of baby photos in this post. I love babies!


Click, click, click… to see more of Taguig’s successful breastfeeding program.


The Robredo Effect



I can’t believe August is almost over. So much has happened this month – the storms, the floods and the tragic death of Secretary Jesse Robredo. I have said so much in Twitter and Facebook, but words are never enough to express this great loss for our country. Secretary Robredo was able to achieve so much of what good governance is all about — something seemingly so impossible in 99% of this country. But he did it. He could have done more. I am grieving.

I met Sec Robredo through UNICEF this year. And even before I met him, his reputation preceded him within the international development circles. UNICEF always spoke highly of him and I finally had the honour of meeting him at the launch of the Children in an Urban World event which I hosted. Before he spoke about child-friendly municipalities he told us the important role of parents, specially mentioning his wife Leni, in providing a safe and healthy environment for children. He said his wife could have done a lot in development but focused on raising their three daughters at home. I thought that was so remarkable and it needed to be said.

Even the organization I used to work with in Canada before joining Philippine media in the late 90’s also mourns his death. Here is the statement of the Canadian Urban Institute. He was a supportive partner and ally. Urban planning and international development was my field before switching to Philippine media. In the years I worked as project manager of the CUI, I had never really seen a true success story in good governance. I’m not singling out the Philippines situation here. I worked in Mexico and managed programs in the Baltic states and Vietnam as well. I felt like everything I learned in urban planning just had to remain theoretical outside of Canada. It was frustrating. I quit. But Jesse didn’t.

Now that we’re learning about what Jesse Robredo achieved as Mayor of Naga which led to his winning the Asian Nobel Peace Prize, the Ramon Magsaysay Award, we’ve seen that it can all be done — transparency, no corruption, lower crime rate, a city run like an efficient business, citizens participating as stakeholders, no informal settlers and more. I don’t know when we can see another Robredo doing this in local government again.

But perhaps the deepest reason I am so affected by his death goes beyond the feeling of being orphaned and losing hope in what could have been a great leadership for our country. I am simply so so sad that Aika, Patricia and Jillian lost their most loving, dedicated and good dad. My heart goes out to the Robredo family. My deepest and most sincere condolences to Atty Leni and her daughters.