Theatre bookstore



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The old Runnymede Theatre in Toronto. Now a bookstore.


So the kids went back to school this week. We had one week to adjust to Philippine time and heat. It wasn’t hard. We missed the Philippines so much that we dove right in to the time zone. Pinoy parents, how did your kids do with back-to-school?

It’s hard to believe summer’s over. We were away since March and just got back early June. Our stay was filled with big travel stories but it’s the little every day nothings that I fondly look back on. The trip wasn’t about just loving Toronto. It was simply about being home with my family. Glad that the kids  love both homes equally.

I was going through thousands of photos in my library and found photos of the old Runnymede Theatre which is now Chapters bookstore. You’ll have to excuse me that I’ll be sharing Toronto stories and snippets of our family vacation every now and then. This blog serves as my diary too. Haha.

The urban planner in me always appreciates stories like this. It isn’t about fake development but about real organic neighbourhoods. Bloor West Village or BWV is the first mandatory business improvement district (or BIA, business improvement association). Meaning if you happen to be a business owner within the district, it is mandatory for you to pay a fee that will go towards improvements and marketing of the area. There is an elected board that represents the BIA. This is all recognized by the municipal government.

The Bloor West Village Business Improvement Association (BIA) was founded as the first of its kind in the world in 1970. The reason Bloor West did this was to improve and protect the area. When the subway line was created in the late 1960’s people had direct access to downtown shopping and malls in regional areas, bypassing Bloor West Village altogether. Now, 40 years later, the Bloor West Village neighbourhood has become a destination for many people. This model of protecting, marketing and improving local business communities spawned all over Toronto. In Metro Manila, I can see a model like this benefiting organic commercial neighbourhoods like Malate, Timog/Tomas Morato, Pasong Tamo Extension, Cubao Ex, Pioneer St area, Reposo Street.


We went to Bloor West Village on a rare warm weekend in May. It had been a very cold spring.


I love the unpretentious bakeries and cafes in this neighbourhood.


Brunch at Bread and Roses, one of High Park’s busiest bakeries. I had a yummy quiche with a huge dill pickle.  They have wonderful cookies and cupcakes, meat pies, coffee.


My nephew had a cupcake with a Spiderman ring on it.


This was the old Runnymede Theatre on Bloor St West. It was built in the 1920’s as a vaudeville theatre. It was eventually converted into a movie theatre until it lost its relevance. It faced the possibility of demolition.


Instead of tearing down the old theatre, Chapters Indigo turned it into a book store.


Here’s what the stage looks like now.


It became the setting of the magazine racks and how-to books.


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Beautiful space. I love it.


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Much of the original structure was left in place. However the grand staircases were replaced by escalators.


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The old projector is still on display, as are some old theatre seats.


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Beautiful carved molding


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Not everyone is happy with the changes at the theatre. But considering many old buildings have easily been torn down, I’m glad the old Runny is still there.


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Most of it.


Check it out in 360.


Chapters Runnymede is at 225 Bloor Street West, Toronto.



Manolo Blahnik sale



While I was in Toronto in the spring, I enjoyed browsing through the private sales at Rue La La – a members-only online shopping destination for all things related to a life of style. Unfortunately they only ship within the US for now. You can do what I like to do, ship to a relative (in my case, my in-laws in New York) then have them send or bring it to Manila. Third-party shippers like Johnny Air may be good but I can’t vouch because I haven’t used them.

Rue La La has some well-curated selections of the most coveted brands in fashion, home, beauty, travel, and more within 48-hour, private sale boutiques. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. Like a flash sale.


Manolo Blahnik


Manolo Blahnik will have their private boutique sale on June 13 to 15th. I saw the preview and they are all yummy. Here are some I’m sure a few Blahnik fans would love. The links are live and lead to the preview page for now, but when the sale starts it’ll go directly to the particular shoe…


MB collage


Nippota Satin Sandal. Was $825, now $499.

Inglex Jeweled Satin Pump. Was $1295, now $629.

Kioko Jeweled Satin Sandal. Was $895, now $649.

Pelluxat Satin Embellished Pump. Was $925, now $579.


Manolo Blahnik boutique opens on June 13, 2013 at 3PM ET in Rue La La. Prices are valid for the 48-hour period.



Peter Som for Anthropologie



I’ve been a fan of Anthropologie’s Made in Kind line. These are limited-edition designs created in collaboration with talents in fashion, art and other fields. This season, renowned fashion designer Peter Som launched his first collection for Anthropologie. Som shows his trademark prints combined with couture touches of hand-embroidery and delicate lace.




Sophie Dress, a throwback-femme, textured cotton dress, complete with fitted bodice and a swaying circle skirt. Paired with chunky gold jewelry to add a touch of modern to the retro. Cotton, rayon, silk with polyester lining. $228

Arabella Blue Poppy Dress, Som adds beading and embroidery to the bodice of his flowing silk A-line. No need to pile on the jewellery since the subtle sparkle speaks for itself. Silk and polyester lining. $368




Elizabeth Zebra Silk Dress, Som plays with the juxtaposition of classic and modern: the timelessness of a fit-and-flare silhouette and a navy-and-white color scheme is energized by a wild print. $198

Genevieve Postcard Dress, Lots of things going on in this dress – the scenic print, the ruffles in the front and back and the peplum – yet somehow it works! $228



La Pomme in the islands



Apol Lejano-Massebieau and Ito Kish


I met Apol last March at Manila FAME. I felt like I knew her already. We must have met over 10 years ago while we were both in media. She was the founding editor of Real Living magazine. She has since gotten married, moved to France, explored being a creative entrepreneur, and moved back to the Philippines with her husband and daughter to live by the beach in Bohol.

She told me about her online shop La Pomme Kids selling crafts she designs and makes herself, as well as products created by other Filipino artists and artisans.

Check out La Pomme Kids at their pop-up shop at KISH on Friday & Saturday June 21 & 22. Here’s an idea of what LPK has and a glimpse into Apol’s creative life in Bohol.


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A fabric castle tower.


Baskets made by the artisans of Antequera, Bohol, painted in juicy colors.


An art doll made by Anna Rosete.


What’s the story of La Pomme Home & Kids? Did you really plan on pursuing this creative endeavour or was it accidental as a result of your move to the island?

La Pomme Home has been around since 2007, a handmade home décor endeavor I started in France that in the beginning was more about objects for children, before I ventured into grown-up stuff. I got back to the Philippines knowing that I’d continue doing that, but this time instead of using French linen and vintage cotton, working with materials from here. La Pomme Kids is a happy accident, because when I got back here I also felt the urge to return to making things for children, with the added bonus of working with Filipino artists and artisans.




I know a lot of people who dream of taking their north american/european retirement packages and buying a beach or an island in the Philippines. Was this your dream life as well? What did you and your husband have to do to attain this “dream life” far from the western world?

Our ideal life had always been to live creative lives with a certain measure of freedom from that sad lifestyle conveyed by the French expression “métro, boulot, dodo,” meaning a life all about routine and work. We lived in a quaint provincial village in France, and worked for ourselves, so we already had what we wanted. Except that France really is a very structured society, where life is almost too predictable. When we had our daughter, we knew that we wanted her to experience a culture different from that. We wanted her to grow up not being afraid to take risks, to be able to think out of the box, abilities we feel are not prized by the French culture. So this move back here. Our thinking is, even when we move on, maybe find ourselves back in Europe, she’d already have been immersed in a different kind of being, and be conscious of the fact that life is not necessarily a well-ordered set of events.




Three things you learned about yourself when you decided to do this major life switch.

That I’m not quite as cool as my husband. I need a certain measure of order and security in my days.
That I need to work. I can’t be lolling around on the beach all day!
That I really like cool weather.




Describe a typical day.

I wake up around five a.m., do e-mail and some work on the computer. My daughter is up around 7 a.m., so we make breakfast. My husband comes straggling in an hour later. Then they go to the beach, or to Lilou’s preschool, while I stay home, get photos done for the shop or take care care of orders. They’re back for lunch. Afternoons we’ll probably be with people who work with us, maybe artisans or home crafters, to discuss products. Often this involves long drives to faraway towns, and stops at places like swimming holes you’d find in caves, or waterfalls, or lakes, anything to escape the heat. Once we found a restaurant that served crocodile. But usually we’ll just stop at a market to see if we can’t buy some fish for dinner.




Tell us about your sewing hobby. How did it start? When do you find time to sew?

I had always been involved in making things with my hands. Before I left Manila a decade ago, aside from working in media, I was also making jewelry. When I got to France, knowing that I could sew, my mother-in-law gave me a hand-me-down portable sewing machine with 60s-style orange and yellow flowers decorating its plastic body, and funkily named “Singer Starlet.” I’ve not looked back since! I find the time at night, when my child is in bed and my husband is at the computer.




Upside of living the way you do? Downside if any?

Upside is we get to spend the whole day with our child. Downside is we rarely get to spend quality couple time alone.


Three things you miss about living in France.

Springtime and cherries. Good meat and cheese. The way people are frank and verbal.




Three things of France you brought to Bohol.

The language, which we speak at home when there’s no one else around.
A certain “jusqu’a bout-ism,” which means going to the very end to get what we want or push our point. My family is a very stubborn lot.
My Laguiole knife, a gift from my husband. Very beautiful, but also practical. It’s indispensable for cutting into those barbecued pork bellies and delicious tropical fruits that we eat a lot of here.




What do you want Lilou to learn about this experience?

That she can create the life she wants.




Where is home?

We’ve only been here less than six months, so I still miss France. Bohol is very pretty, but I think the language prevents us from really feeling at ease here. I like it every time I’m in Manila, but the pollution and sheer density of people living there are a bit scary. So, uhm, can you ask me again in six months?


Apol’s website La Pomme Home and Kids.



The science of beauty



I’m again thinking about the three days I spent in Bangkok for P&G Beauty’s Vision House last season. We stayed at Sofitel So Bangkok, surrounded by great design and lots of beauty talk.

I’ve just gotten back from over two months of living in my parents’ home in Toronto. My hair and skin were exposed to extreme weather conditions from the tail end of winter, a very cold spring, and the harsh sun of Canada. I had no help in the professional beauty department – no salons, dermatologists, facials, makeup stylists. I relied only on at-home treatments by Olay moisturizers and Pantene hair conditioners and shampoos. Proud to say, we managed with flying colours.

At P&G Vision House in Bangkok, I got to know the science behind skin and hair care. Here are some highlights from our beauty talks.


I loved the lobby of So Bangkok.


The rooms were designed by four of Thailand’s leading interior designers each bring to life Water, Earth, Wood, and Metal elements.


Changing light in the lobby.


It was a bonus that I got to shop H&M’s collaboration with Maison Martin Margiela with no line ups or hype then. The collection was practically complete at the store. Here I wore one of the Margiela dresses for my interview with Liv Tyler.


I was grateful that all the activities were inside the hotel. I didn’t have to live through BKK’s rush hour traffic.


What our regional sessions looked like. Here I am with our Pinoy editorial contingent — Regina Belmonte of Philippine Star, Tim Yap and me as P&G Beauty brand ambassadors, Suki Salvador of Mega.


The colour and style forecast for SS2013 – Jade Allure, Flaming Femme, Hyper Tropicality, and Perfect Poise.


Each trend was presented with inspiration from across the globe in the fields of art, architecture, design, technology, and music. Of all the trends, needless to say Perfect Poise is the one that resonated with me. It’s about feminity in a simple, sensual, romantic way. Think glowing skin with peaches and nude tones contrasted with dark browns and black.


Jade Allure is about East meets West and luxury. Think mineral tones like amethyst, tourmaline, tigers eye and jade.


Hyper Tropicality is a burst of colour with exotic shades of fuchsia, purples, blues and turquoises. It’s all about a high voltage future!


As the name suggests, Flaming Femme is about a rainbow of reds working from orange to intense rouge. It’s a celebration of the city and its hot vibe.


Here’s how Wella Professionals Global Creative Directors Josh Wood and Eugene Souleiman defined the trends.


Hyper tropicality.


Jade Allure


Perfect Poise.


All the creative directors on stage with the different trends including Flaming Femme.


Our team with Josh Wood and Eugene Souleiman.


At the Olay Total Effects afternoon session, we learned about the negative effects of sugar on skin. I know a woman who has cut off sugar from her diet, not just for health reasons, but for beauty.


Chris Horwang, Olay Total Effects ambassador in Thailand.


Here are the obvious physical stressors that affect all of us. All these stressful conditions at work, at home, in the city can have devastating consequences to our skin. Research by Olay shows evidence that skin might be aging more rapidly today than in the past generations.


A new formulation of Olay Total Effects was introduced.


Olay’s scientist Murali Sampath demonstrationed the superiority of Olay Regenerist vs. a US$250 luxury cream.


We participated in a hands-on demo to see the superiority and product efficacy of the new generation Olay Regenerist.  Women spend a lot of money on skincare that often end up unused in their bathroom cabinets simply because the products don’t work fast enough. This is called the “skincare graveyard” which, according to scientist Mary Johnson, 63 million women have at home. Are you guilty of that? I used to be.


Olay Regenerist has superior hydration abilities.


Pantene kicked off the second day of P&G Beauty VisionHouse 2013 with a bang, making history by launching for the first time in Asia, the world’s first global hair health forum – the Pantene Hair Research Alliance. Here were some of the most respected names in the field of hair care research – Dr. Steve Shiel, Dr. Jeni Thomas, Dr. Sandeep Sattur, and Dr. Sotaro Kurata.


The Thai actress Noon Wooranuch with P&G hair care scientist Lais Koelle


Women’s perception of hair issues – despite all the treatments we undergo, our standard of healthy hair is still “virgin hair”.


We were to cut a strand of our hair to check its health condition.


My hair, somewhat healthy.


Liv Tyler was happy to be working with Pantene again. She first worked with the brand when she did a commercial for Pantene back when she was 19 years old.


Duffy, renowned celebrity hairstylist and Pantene Regional Creative Director, shares that virgin hair was the definitive beauty benchmark of 2013. So let’s all aim for that look!


Liv Tyler was like a goddess! Check out this video.


Then Head & Shoulders revealed its newest global ambassador, Leo Messi.


Remember former MTV VJ Utt? He hosted the Head & Shoulders talk show format that addressed different topics affecting men’s ability to stay cool – like fashion, lifestyle, dating, work.


There was a live scalp examination that demonstrated the similarities between those of men and women.


with Nicholas Hotham, Global Director of Communications, P&G Trends and Innovation