My day at Google



I was in Silicon Valley a couple of weeks ago to attend the BlogHer conference. Since I had a few days to spare and shopping wasn’t really the goal of the trip, I thought, why not try to get a tour of Google Campus? It is, after all, said to be one of the best companies to work for. And who hasn’t seen the movie The Internship?

So I did some research and found out that one has to be an invited and registered guest in order to get a tour of Google Campus in Mountain View, CA. The setting of the Google offices are spread out like a university campus, hence the popular reference as the “Google Campus.” It is huge. Like in North American universities, anyone can drive or walk through the campus and see the buildings. But you can’t gain access to the buildings unless you are a registered guest.

I found my way to Google through my friend Eliza Romualdez Valtos, who, through her husband Billy, asked a friend in Silicon Valley for a Google contact. One thing led to another and I got connected with Shrikand, who works for Google Chrome. My childhood friend Nina Carino drove me to Mountain View and joined our little tour. Security was strict. We needed to sign in and agree to some conditions.



Google Building 43, part of Googleplex.


The Google Campus is set in the quiet town of Mountain View, California. Lots of big trees and bike lanes.


We walked through so many buildings. Here’s a section of Building 43.


Googleplex Map1
I met my host at Google Building 1950


Googleplex Map2
The compound sprawled further. We walked up to the pond area. Then rode the bike on our way back.


So here’s the real “Google Drive”


Very bike-friendly.


Everywhere you look, you see the Google colours.


Adirondack chairs everywhere. I think it’s to get the Googlers’ mindset into a more relaxed state.


With our very patient host, Shrikand.


This is Googleplex. It’s exactly what they showed in the movie The Internship. Here there is a sculpture garden and outdoor cafe.


Public art everywhere. Here is the famous Google dinosaur statue. Apparently the Google founders bought it as a reminder for Googlers not to let the company become extinct like a dinosaur.


Plastic pink flamingos strewn all over the dinosaur.


More public art.


Don’t let those yellow and blue Muskoka Adirondack chairs fool you…


It’s THIS big.


We went to the Android building.


This is where all the Android operating systems are created. There is a sculpture for every Android operating system like Cupcake, Honeycomb, Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich.


There’s the newest Android baby, KitKat. At this part I saw a lot of visitors. Some were probably kids from the nearby houses. Though it seems to be a destination for curious tourists, there are no official tours as of yet. It’s not exactly open to the public, so like I mentioned above, you still have to be an invited and registered guest.


In my few days in Silicon Valley I was so dependent on car rides from friends like Nina and Gari Camaisa (more on our sightseeing at later posts). California and mass transit don’t really mix. So naturally, a lot of Googlers drive to work. Good to see that a lot of them drive electric cars. Here’s one of the many electric recharging stations on the Google Campus.


Of course I would like to highlight this. One of the Google employees told me that they have very good daycare facilities for employees kids.


We also saw one self-driving car!!


The sight of Googlers on bicycles made me giddy. Gosh that movie. Stop it already.


In keeping with the brand’s identity, all the Google bikes had the bright Google colours. They were just parked outside every building. No one owns a particular bike. You are free to use one to get from A to B.


So of course I had to get this photo for the books. Initially it was just a photo op. But really, after having walked the entire stretch of the campus, I asked Shrikand if we could just bike back to our initial meeting place.


So this is me in the real bike that I rode. I loved it! I wasn’t exactly dressed for it, wearing a dress and French Sole flats. But I had to get from A to B. Loved the feeling!!


These bikes were so much fun.


Saw this conference bike parked outside. It’s a circular bike for 7 people. One person steers and six pedal (or not).


Yes there really is an airplane/space ship inside one of the buildings. These next few photos are by my friend Lylah Juinio, who went to visit with her family a day after I did.


And yes it’s true, all Google employees get free food and drinks. All meals are free. All. Photo by Lylah Juinio


There are over 40 cafes in the Google Campus. My friend took us to the biggest one in Googleplex. This one had various themed cuisines – Italian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian, Mexican, American grill etc. And don’t expect your typical cafeteria food. They have gourmet chefs designing the menu.


My lunch. After getting a slice of ham and really good gourmet pizza, I lined up for a burrito.


Sorry for the shaky photo. I was balancing my tray. The pizzas were so good.


Pho soup and some dumplings


This isn’t the first playful office space I’ve seen. Locally there was the P&G head office that had sleep pods and spa treatments. Google had all that too. Here’s one with a pool table. Photo by Lylah Juinio


Some of the services for employees. Photo by Lylah Juinio


They’re big on composting and segregating waste. Yes!


The Google store where I bought some Tshirts and pens. It isn’t open to the public. You need an employee to bring you in. But if you really want Google merchandise you can purchase them all online in the Google shop.


So that’s how my Googliest day went.



* My trip to Silicon Valley in California was sponsored by EVA Air. Travel arrangements by Jeron Travel.

All my photos are taken from a Samsung Galaxy Camera 2. I love that it is directly linked to the Google cloud and all my photos are stored automatically.



Good Stuff 100



collage copper


You probably noticed that I’ve been making these layouts occasionally. I don’t use a quick program. I do old-fashioned cut and paste on Photoshop. Since I’ve been doing them for the past couple of years, the most troublesome part for me has always been putting a title on each collage. So I’ve decided, with the help of Patrick, to name this series “Good Stuff.” This is number 100 because I’ve lost track of how many Good Stuff collages I’ve made, so let’s just call this 100.

In my weekly “Good Stuff” collages I will highlight things that I love, wish, covet. Some are from my site partners, some are just picked off the net. It may or may not include gifted items or PR samples. I will indicate if so. All items will have links directing you to sites where you can buy them directly or get more info on them.

This week, my collage stemmed from that beautiful ivory coloured dress from Reiss. Everything else just followed.


01 I love the way this ivory dress is tailored. It can give an illusion of a small waist, long neck and a flattering neckline. Perfect dress for day or evening events.  Natalia dressicon from Reiss.

02  Soft Dog Pendant designed by Henrik Pedersen at Design Within Reach. DWR is my newest site partner and I can’t wait to work with them on highlighting some of my favourite things from their roster of good stuff. With this pendant lamp is, Pedersen wanted to evoke a lightness and purity that are reminiscent of Scandinavian design. What he achieved is a soft, sculptural, less industrial form that’s simple and welcoming.

03  Carmen sunglasses from House of Harlow 1960 comes in different colours but I’m loving this grapefruit version. It has this vintage feminine vibe that’s perfect for our tropical climate in Manila.

04  Hand-Painted Equestrian Charm Bracelet from One Kings Lane, on sale for $49. Made of 24-kt gold-plated intaglio, 24-kt gold-plated steel, and faceted glass. You know how much I love my hand-painted enamel medallion charms from Europe. Here is a chunky charm bracelet version from Susan Shaw.

05  After years of wearing uncomfortable underwire and padded bras, I’ve gotten rid of all of them. Since I am slightly built, I have found the perfect fit in soft bras and bralets. Feel free to discuss. I don’t really know if this is good or bad. But for me and my physique, I’m ok with less support. Loving this Trenta Soft Bra from Cosabella

06  Much to my husband’s dismay, I am never going to be a minimalist. Though I appreciate modern design like that pendant lamp from DWR, there will always be a part of me that will like kitsch and novelty. Like this Cockatoo Pitcher from Fitz and Floyd.

07  One Kings Lane works on flash sales. So if this pretty brass tray catches your fancy, click the link now. I think there’s only a day left to get this piece on discount.23″ Grandeur Brass Tray with leather handles from One Kings Lane.

08  Again, tugging on my old soul’s heart strings, this Pioneer Tea Kettle from Jacob Bromwell is perfect for my kitchen. It’s handcrafted from pure copper and is ideal for heating water for coffee, tea, or cocoa. A true collector’s item you can actually use, made the same way it was hundreds of years ago from when pioneers carried them in their wagons.


Pilates and me



Pilates square


Those of you who’ve been following and reading me for a while know that I’m not the most athletic person in the world. I often get letters asking what I do to stay fit. The truth was, I’ve been ignoring any form of exercise since Stella was born. So, that’s almost like five years of inactivity! I’ve gotten through life looking thin just by looking thin. I have small bones. By nature, I do not eat desserts. I’ve never been overweight. But lately I’ve been noticing a slump in my posture and a perpetual mound in my belly, not to mention the increase in body fat ratio. Since I do not do sports – I’ve retired from scuba diving, which wasn’t really a sport but a form of recreation – I thought, why not go back to Pilates.

I first started doing Pilates right after Stella was born. My main motivation then was to get back in shape as quickly as possible because I’d be filming a TV commercial five weeks after I gave birth. I’ve tried other gym routines and classes. Pilates was the only form of fitness that worked for me. After I shot the commercial and appeared on the runway for that beauty product, I bought pilates DVDs thinking I’d work out at home. I never did.

Early this year I had a major wake up call. All signs led to my health. Everything else had to take a back seat. Hence, the daily green juicing, more sleep, less meetings, more time to marvel at life, and getting in control of my kitchen and what we eat. I knew I had to have some sort of exercise. So I went back to the pilates studio.

I have found a new home in Options Studio. I’m back with my old pilates instructor, Jerald Jocson. Since April, I’ve committed to twice a week one-hour private sessions. Already though, my body is asking for more. So I may up the sessions to 3x a week.

The universe must have been convinced that I was serious about committing to pilates that the owners of Options Studio asked me to be their ambassador! I’m far from being an expert in pilates but I am so convinced that this is my form of exercise for life. Since I restarted I have found my inner balance again. I am centred not just physically but even emotionally. My posture has improved. I am conscious of my muscles, and my body is retraining them to contract in the right places. I feel taller and longer. I sleep better. And that crazy condition on my neck (myofascial pain syndrome) is starting to feel better.



I love being at Options Studio early in the morning. It helps kick start my day.


Every day is a learning experience. My pilates journey is a constant learning process.


I know what it’s like to be “busy.” I had to deal with erratic work schedules, commitments at my kids’ schools, and mommy pick-up duties at dismissal. I never had time for pilates. But now I found a way – and my schedule just opened up. If I can commit to my daily devotionals and meditation, my regular dermatologist visits, our doctor visits, I can commit to regular exercise. I also got rid of mommy guilt – that awful feeling when all you want to do is rush home and be with the kids because being away from them is not something good mothers do. That is just a useless thought. So I got rid of that. It is very important for mothers to take care of ourselves first before we can take care of our families.

Here’s why I love pilates –

Modern Pilates is designed to strengthen postural and core muscles and to create proper patterns of movement. This gives your body the correct alignment which in turn enables better function during any other activities you perform whether it’s sporting pursuits or just day-to-day things like sitting at a computer.

Having a strong core and postural muscles means that you don’t get tired as much during everyday activities and your back is less likely to get injured.

While practicing modern Pilates as taught at Options Studio your breathing is used in a natural way to encourage proper activation of the deep core muscles in the way that medical science tells us they are meant to be used.

The movements in Pilates are done in a controlled and stable manner and stretches are maintained with muscles still active to protect all the body’s joints. These exercises can be done on a thick mat which protects the spine or on specialised equipment. Small props are used for modifying the exercises to make them easier or harder depending on individual ability.



Photo by Lilen Uy


Photo by Lilen Uy


Options Studio’s Ole Eugenio, Trina Cancio and Lyd de Roca.


With Ole and Lyd at Options Studio Fort.


Here are some photos of the Options Studio team. I hope the next photos I do will have poses as complicated as these. One day I will get there… slowly but surely.










Click here for the different Pilates classes offered at all four Options Studio branches in Manila. I’d love to see you, my readers at one of the Options Studio branches. Say hi if you see me.

Salcedo village: 553-3314 / 585-1404 / 0917-874-6888
The Fort: 403-7154 / 0917-542-0460
Greenhills: 623-8449 / 0917-890-3229
Podium: 695-3263 / 0917-529-3307

Love yourself



Globe Business invited me to speak at their event called Project W. It is a private event held for the Globe’s women partners and clients, all of whom hold high-level positions in their respective companies. They’ve done it in Cebu and Davao and a few Fridays ago, it was held in Manila. The idea was to bring together Globe Business’ top women clients to feel treated to a day of relaxation, spend quality time on themselves, and value their individuality. It was a day to learn more about themselves, and feel empowered by listening to renowned speakers and life coaches.

I was invited to give a talk on the topic “The importance of loving yourself.” I’ve given many talks before, usually to students and universities and mostly focusing on urban planning, blogging and my career path. I’ve never really given a talk on a “self-help” topic. They gave me a couple of months to prepare for this but all my thoughts only made sense a few days before the event.

I showed the audience a peek into my life – as a mom, tv host, entrepreneur and blogger. I looked back at my journey and career path, both of which did not have a blueprint. I also never had a mentor. I shared the challenges and the kind of pressure I faced. I used to thrive on being busy, on working late at night. And this set the stage for my 20 reasons why you should love yourself. It’s too long to write here, but perhaps one day I can share it as a blog entry. Who knows.

Here are highlights from that lovely day with Globe Business Project W.


Every person faces difficult life choices. For me, as a working mom, it came when I was torn between going all the way with my TV work and spending more time at home. Instead of freaking out because I felt I had to choose, I celebrated the fact that I had a choice. It’s different for everyone.


This year has been an incredible journey for me. Part of my healing myself from burn out was to conquer “uncharted territory”. I am now finally in total control of my kitchen. And I got over my fear of cooking meats and chicken. I can cook anything now, and I do it with joy. It does so much to my spirit knowing I can make food for me and my family. I make sure I only use good stuff.


Perhaps the most important aspect of loving yourself is taking charge of your health. Have your annual mammogram once you’re 40. Some may need sonograms. The Philippines has the highest rate of breast cancer in the region. Let’s beat that by early detection.


There were three of us speakers that afternoon. Francis Kong spoke on Inspiring Excellence and Jackie Caniza on Life Design based on Values and Priorities.


With the dynamic guests of Project W. All were given kaftans.


I had fun meeting the participants.


The women were given a choice of pampering services.


Hydro yoga


The mani-pedi room


Foot spa


Lovely tableau by Globe’s Ronald Gonzales.


Ronald brought in some pretty coffee table books. At home, I like to surround myself with lovely books. I not only read and refer to them, I use them as part of my decor.


One of the function rooms at the Crimson Hotel was converted into a massage room.


Rags 2 Riches was there to allow the women to tap into their crafty juices.


All over the venue there were these lovely quotes by and about women.


This one, from Coco Chanel.


With the Globe Business team. Thank you for inviting me and making me part of this very inspiring day. Now, if I can just get my act together and do a DAPHNE® Day like this for my readers…