Sfera

 

 

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This season saw the opening of many foreign fashion brands here in Manila. It is a really exciting time for shoppers, but also a bit nerve-wracking for local retailers. I say all this competition is healthy for our economy. Plus for the many travellers who shop abroad, now you can focus on doing other things that travellers do like eat, see historical/architectural sites, experience local culture. I feel there will be less “need” for me to shop when I travel because almost everything is here now!

A few weeks ago, I attended the launch of Sfera. Its first branch is located at the second floor of SM Makati. Sfera is a Spanish brand that carries current fashion for women, men, and children. I really liked the personality of the brand. Lots of comfortable and current styles, but not exactly too trendy. I found a lot of relaxed clothing that’s perfect for casual days. But also discovered some interesting printed outfits and tailored items. The good news is – prices are very affordable. They had dresses as low as P1,200. On an average, each item I bought didn’t go over P2,000. I think I found my new favourite fast-fashion retailer.

 

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I almost got this grey sweatshirt but realized that I would need to actually make this blog come alive again. It’s kind of been in a long slumber. Haha. So sorry for being lackadaisical about updating my blog.

 

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These printed long sleeve shirt dresses are perfect for lazy weekends, while polished enough for easy meetings.

 

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I wore that red dress during a ribbon cutting ceremony at Manila FAME.

 

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I loved their collection of intimates. I got a couple of these stretchy lace-lined camisoles.

 

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Interesting details

 

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The accessories were arranged by themes. This beaded clutch had that nice Navajo pattern.

 

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Tropical

 

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The kids clothing are really “cool” – this, according to Sophia and Lily. And really friendly on the pocket. So affordable.

 

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See what I mean?

 

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I don’t know what’s happening, but my girls are really really into sweatshirts these days. They want to wear sweats every day.

 

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Cute tween fashion

 

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They even have infant wear

 

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With the merchandising team of Sfera. I love how no one wears socks in a certain demographic these days.

 

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With Jenni Epperson, Patti Filart and Rica Bonifacio.

 

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Lately all I’ve been wearing is Sfera. Good for non-occasion days and easy to spiff up for dressier parties.

 

Follow Sfera Philippines on Instagram at @sferaPH

 

 

Mexico, Me and the FEMSA Collection

 

 

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Have you checked out the FEMSA Collection at Ayala Museum yet? This is a rare exhibition that’s on display until November 9th.  Mexico: Fantastic Identity, 20th Century Masterpieces of the FEMSA Collection, includes 60 art pieces by Mexican artists. It will take you on a journey through the different movements that transpired in Europe in the 20th century and how they have influenced the works of Mexican artists. I attended the gala opening upon the invitation of the Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines.

 

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“We are honored to bring the FEMSA Collection to the Philippines for the first time, allowing us to further our goal of promoting education by encouraging appreciation for culture and the arts,” said Carlos Salazar, Chief Executive Officer of FEMSA.

 

Mexico: Fantastic Identity, 20th Century Masterpieces. FEMSA Collection sets about a superb Diego Rivera cubist oeuvre completed during his stay in Europe, followed by a significant assemblage created both by muralist José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, along relevant representatives of the Mexican School of Painting. These works display themes that reflect the Mexican national identity after the Revolutionary movement. Last century’s Vanguard and the self-styled Rupture movement – which promoted abstraction, geometrism and other plastic forms – similarly concur in the exhibit. The show is also accompanied by a photographic collection of artist’s portraits, several of which were produced by well-known Mexican photographers such as Manuel Álvarez Bravo and Graciela Iturbide.

 

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Being a bad girl. Photos were not allowed, but my friend (who shall not be named) snapped this. Oops. Sorry. But it’s Frida Kahlo! And a very significant piece!

 

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Left: Frida Kahlo’s My Dress Hangs There 1933, oil and collage on masonite 45.5 x 50.5cm. Frida painted in the US while her husband Diego Rivera was painting the mural at Rockefeller Center. It symbolises her longing to go back home to Mexico. You can also see references to industrialism and the social ills it brings. Right: Photograph of Frida Kahlo’s work and portrait of Frida. Photo from FEMSA media release.

 

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With friends in government — I knew them before they joined this government. Secretary to the Cabinet of the Philippines Rene Almendras and Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas. (I am wearing a charm necklace from Mexico City.)

 

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Photo from FEMSA media release.

 

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Photo from FEMSA media release.

 

I loved seeing all my favourite Mexican artists under one roof, and right here in Makati. I haven’t really written about it yet, but I had a huge Mexican period during the first half of the 1990’s. I worked on some projects there under the urban planning group I worked for in Canada. It was in Mexico that I found interest in rediscovering my roots in the Philippines. I saw a lot of similarities with the culture and history of both countries. During that time, I immersed in all things Mexican – from art, history, food, language, crafts, literature. Seeing some of the FEMSA Collection here really brought me back.

I don’t have many photos of my stay in Mexico. No photos at the house of Frida Kahlo. This was pre-digital era. Gasp! Most of my photos are at my mom and dad’s house in Toronto. I found some that I had brought with me to Manila. Here are some scans.

 

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Me in 1994 with an unfinished mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros from the 1940’s in Escuela de Bellas Artes, a cultural center in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.

 

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In Hacienda El Soyatal, Aguascalientes. I was a 24 years old here.

 

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During one of my project management trips to Aguascalientes, I took a side trip to the state of Zacatecas, an old mining capital with beautiful colonial buildings.

 

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Zacatecas was one of the principal centres of silver mining from the early Spanish era until the 20th century

 

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The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City was massive. One of the world’s best. This is in front of the Mayan gallery.

 

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I spent one Easter in Mexico City and witnessed the many devotees flock to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. I didn’t know it then, I eventually became devoted to Our Lady.

 

I love Mexico. I am, to this day, greatly influenced by their art. I would love to one day take my family on a long trip there. It’s been too long for me. Time to rediscover.

And I am a huge fan of many Mexican artists especially Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Rufino Tamayo. I used to drag my mom, dad and sisters to far away galleries just to see some Frida Kahlos on loan – like in Mc Michael Art Gallery north of Toronto and the Knox Albright Gallery in Buffalo. And all these before Selma Hayek made the Frida movie.

 

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If you haven’t yet, you should go see the FEMSA Collection before it goes away on November 9th. Photo courtesy of FEMSA media release.

 

Mexico: Fantastic Identity, 20th Century Masterpieces, FEMSA Collection will run from September 30 to November 9, 2014 at the Ayala Museum.

 

 

Trick or Treat with UNICEF

 

 

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Every year at this time, I look forward to Trick or Treat for UNICEF. This is the only UNICEF activity that my kids can join me at. The other programs I do with UNICEF involve travel to areas that are under adverse conditions such as my last visit to Haiyan-affected areas in Tacloban. But the TOT for UNICEF is the perfect way to involve kids in raising funds and awareness about children’s issues. This campaign shows how everyone, even children themselves, can do their share to help kids in need.

 

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These are the Trick or Treat for UNICEF boxes of Sophia, Lily and Stella. During Halloween events, they are to bring these boxes with them so they can ask “treat givers” for some money to help raise funds for UNICEF Philippines.

 

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The back of the box shows how every little contribution counts and makes a big difference in children’s lives. This gives a more meaningful celebration of Halloween. Any child can join this campaign. Just go to Toy Kingdom and sign up for a box. Then after Halloween, go to the SM Payment counters listed at the back of the box and submit your donations.

 

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Since TOT for UNICEF was launched in the Philippines in 2012, my kids have been looking forward to participating.  This was when Stella was just three years old (back in 2012). She never wanted to see me go, so she came with me on stage.

 

Caption this! Haha. Stella was falling. I knocked down Lily's hat. Soph's hat also fell. This was the moment Lily's name was announced as winner of art contest. Haha!
Also from 2012, the kids and I were taking Photo Booth pictures when the winners of the art contest were announced. This was the moment Lily heard her name! Haha.

 

My two kids won first prize in the art contest in each of their age categories. Awww. #tot4unicef @unicefphils
Both Sophia and Lily won 1st place during the art contest. Each child was asked to draw a super hero and explain its powers.  Photo from 2012.

 

Kicked off @unicefphils Trick or Treat boxes! Now kids can help other kids. Get your #tot4unicef kids from your schools.
The Kid Superheroes theme symbolizes Youth Empowerment. It sends a message to kids that they can be superheroes for other children in need. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF empowers kids to help others in a fun and creative way. Photo from 2012

 

Our favourite time of year at @unicefphils. My kids all run their own fundraising campaign during Halloween. Get your Trick or Treat Collection Boxes at Toy Kingdom and have your kids get involved with this great cause. #unicef @unicef #zamboanga #dogood
The following year, in 2013, my girls participated again. Here’s Stella, still glued to me.

 

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This year, we are all out in supporting TOT for UNICEF again. The kids did the whole 9 yards – art contest, commitment board, signing up for the boxes.  Stella, now 5, was able to assemble her own box. She’s taking charge of her TOT for UNICEF box as she goes trick or treating this weekend.

 

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All three daughters — all writers and artists — loved this part of the program. You can actually still join the online art contest here.

 

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This year’s Trick-or-Treat focuses on emergency preparedness since the Philippines is one of the most high-risk countries in the world for experiencing natural disasters like typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

 

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UNICEF Philippines National Ambassador Gary Valenciano performed in front of a crowd during the launch of the annual UNICEF Trick or Treat Event at the SM Southmall foodstreet, October 4, 2014. Photo UNICEF/Jeric Cruz 2014

 

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Verity Rushton, UNICEF Child Protection Officer; Gary Valenciano, UNICEF Philippines National Ambassador; me, UNICEF Special Advocate for Children; Babyruth Chuaunsu, SM Supermalls AVP-Operations; Lei Sia, Toy Kingdom Area Manager pose for a photo on the UNICEF Commitment wall, October 5, 2014 at the Launch of the UNICEF Trick or Treat event at the SM Southmall foodstreet.

 

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And my darling Sophia won again — first place! (I was not involved in the judging. I don’t know who the judges were.)

 

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Sophia with Tito Gary.

 

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Lily and Stella, showing their art work. It was good for them to see the kind of work UNICEF does for kids around the world. UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations to fund its work for children in the Philippines and worldwide. And now kids can join in giving back.

 

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Stella’s superhero is “Super Stella” and she has the power to teach all children how to read.

 

 

For more information on TOT for UNICEF, go to www.unicef.ph or visit their Facebook page here.

 

 

Jewelmer Gala

 

 

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It has become somewhat of a tradition that this time of the year, Jewelmer hosts a wonderful gala befitting the celebration of the Philippines’ National Gem. Back in 2012, I had the honour of being the host of the Jewelmer Gala. It was so glamorous and luxurious — Patrick Rosas did my hair and makeup and Randy Ortiz made my dress.

This year is Jewelmer’s 35th anniversary. It topped previous events with not just a runway fashion show, but an entire production involving theatre actors, dancers and a story of mankind’s despair over the death and destruction of planet earth, his realization that he can act upon it, and finally, his triumph in restoring balance to the environment. Performers include Prima Ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and award-winning actress Angel Aquino accompanied by original arrangements performed by the Manila Philarmonic. Top Filipino models, dressed in couture designed by Rhett Eala went on stage with Jewelmer Joaillerie’s Spring-Summer 2015 Collection.

Also launched was Jewelmer Joaillerie’s 35th Anniversary special pendant, symbolising the miracle of the golden pearl. It is composed of a 13mm golden South Sea pearl surrounded by an 18-karat yellow gold wave with 0.105-carat sparkling diamond “bubbles”. This piece depicts how the pearl is born from the sea even as it protects this miraculous treasure in its depths. It takes about five years and at least 323 individual steps to produce a single pearl. Each piece of this special edition pendant is numbered, handcrafted by Jewelmer’s expert artisans.

 

Jewelmer Senior Vice President and Creative Director Gaelle Branellec, Jewelmer Deputy CEO Jacques Christophe Branellec and
Jewelmer Senior Vice President and Creative Director Gaelle Branellec and Jewelmer Deputy CEO Jacques Christophe Branellec

 

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Liza Ilarde of Manila Bulletin’s Style Weekend

 

Jewelmer Marketing Manager Isabel T. San Agustin and Daphe Osena-Paez
With Jewelmer Marketing Manager Isabel T. San Agustin

 

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One of those rare moments, together at an event.

 

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The gala took place at my favourite Manila building, the Philippine International Convention Centre (PICC). I took advantage of the beautiful space and snapped a lot of photos. Here’s my shameless OOTD. I wore a dress off-the-rack from Religioso, made of cotton jersey (bodice) and cotton (skirt). My shoes are from Melissa, yes they are PVC. Bag from Aranaz. And I wore my own pair of studs and strand of white south sea pearls from Jewelmer, of course.

 

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Jewelmer was founded in 1979 by Filipino entrepreneur Manuel Cojuangco and French pearl farmer Jacques Branellec in their pearl farm in Palawan, Southern Philippines—one of the few places in the world capable of sustaining the Pinctada maxima oyster that brings forth the rarest of all pearl varieties, the golden South Sea pearl.

 

Prima Ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Ballet Manila (vince Arcilla by Alfred Mendoza Photography)
Prima Ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde and Ballet Manila. Photo by Vince Arcilla by Alfred Mendoza Photography.

 

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Angel Aquino played the role of Mother Earth.

 

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The Earth segment. Photo by Alfred Mendoza Photography

 

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Rhett Eala creations and the Jewelmer Joaillerie’s Earth collection. Photo by Vince Arcilla by Alfred Mendoza Photography.

 

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Water.  01 Baroque pearls, gems with unusual and dramatic silhouettes, are unexpected free expressions of nature, giving rise to unorthodox jewels that have long fired the imaginations of artists. This free-flowing TOCCATA necklace with 9 golden south sea pearls in 18-karat yellow gold lives up to its name, like a virtuoso piece of swift, lighthearted music. 02. From the  BOLLICINE Collection: A ring composed of one golden South Sea pearls set with diamonds in 18-Karat yellow gold. 03 Also from BOLLICINE, a bracelet composed of five golden South Sea pearls set with diamonds in 18-Karat yellow gold.

 

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Earth.  01 By far one of the most beautiful pieces of jewellery I’ve seen. This TROPICS necklace is composed of one single baroque South Sea pearl set with diamonds in 18-Karat yellow gold reflecting the earth’s bounty and many shapes, colours and textures of the natural world. 02 Scintillating petals unfurl in pavé diamonds, blossoming with the pearl at its heart. Each sparkling flower in the DOLCE ROSA collection is an unforgettable treasure, a sumptuous feast of nature and romance. Dangling earrings composed of two golden South Sea pearls set with 0.368 carat diamonds in 18-Karat yellow gold.  03 From the TROPICS Collection: Earrings composed of two golden South Sea pearls set with diamonds in 18-Karat yellow gold.

 

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Air.  01 From the LINEA DE ORO Collection, solid, straight lines are drawn in precious gold and set with sparkling stones to make a sophisticated setting against which the sensuous curves of a pearl stand out in stunning detail. A bracelet composed of five golden South Sea pearls set diamonds in 18-Karat yellow gold.  02 From the Zen collection, a cuff composed of golden South Sea pearls and diamonds in 18-Karat yellow gold.  03 From the Zen collection, amidst symmetrical ripples, a perfect duality of textures, and evenly spaced circles of light, a golden pearl floats in tranquility – a masterwork of breathtaking simplicity. A necklace composed of three golden South Sea pearls set with 20.66 carat diamonds in 18-Karat yellow gold

 

 

The Philippine Literary Festival 2014

 

 

Print Ad - The Philippine Literary Festival 2014 (6x30)

 

Announcement from my sponsor, National Book Store –

Raffles Makati and National Book Store present the first ever Philippine Literary Festival featuring international bestselling and award-winning authors Amy Tan and Chang-Rae Lee from October 23 to 25, 2014 at the Raffles Makati.

Attend three days of book signing, discussions and panels about books and literature with free admission! The Spotlight on Amy Tan panel will be on October 24 at 1:30 p.m. and her book signing will be on October 25 at 2 p.m. The Spotlight on Chang-Rae Lee panel and book signing will be on October 25 at 9 a.m. View the complete schedule and get details of all events at www.philippineliteraryfestival.com.

 

 

 

Author Photo - Amy Tan (credit to Rick Smolan)
Amy Tan is the woman behind ‘The Joy Luck Club’, ‘The Kitchen God’s Wife’, and ‘The Hundred Secret Senses’, which are all New York Times bestsellers and recipients of various awards all over the world. Her works have been translated into 35 languages.

 

Book Cover - Valley of Amazement
Amy Tan’s new novel ‘The Valley of Amazement’ is described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “a novel that grabs your soul”. Abandoned by her mother Lucia, and uncertain of her father’s identity, Violet is one of the most celebrated courtesans in Shanghai. Her quest will set her on a path fraught with danger and complexity, and the loss of her own daughter Flora. Lucia, a willful and wild American woman who was once the proprietress of Shanghai’s most exclusive courtesan house, nurses her own secret wounds. Her search for penance and redemption will bring her to a startling reunion with Flora, and will shatter all that Violet believed she knew about her mother.

 

Author Photo - Chang-rae Lee (credit to David Burnett)
Korean-American novelist Chang-Rae Lee is the author of ‘Native Speaker’, which garnered numerous awards including Ernest Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and the American Book Award. He was hailed as one of the 20 best American writers by The New Yorker magazine for his second novel ‘A Gesture Life’. His novel ‘Aloft’, earned him the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature in the Adult Fiction category in 2006. Photo credit ©2009 David Burnett, represented by Cathy Saypol, August 19, 2009, New York, NY, NY Public Library

 

Book Cover - On Such a Full Sea
‘On Such a Full Sea’ is Chang-Rae Lee’s latest novel set in a dystopian future America, which is described by the Washington Post as “a brilliant, deeply unnerving portrait”. In a class-divided future America where urban neighborhoods function as labor colonies for elite charter villages, Fan, a female fish-tank diver, embarks on what becomes a legendary quest to find the man she loves, who mysteriously disappears. Her journey will soon become a legend to those she left behind.

 

All events will be held at the Raffles Makati with registration starting at 8 a.m. everyday. Admission is free. Only books purchased at the Philippine Literary Festival will be entitled to signing passes for Amy Tan and Chang-Rae Lee. Sign up for updates and view the complete schedule at philippineliteraryfestival.com.

Follow National Book Store on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@nbsalert) for updates on the latest events, promos and contests. Tag #PLF2014 to join the discussion.