Honoured by the Senate of the Philippines




Last March 16, 2015 I was invited to attend a women’s month celebration at the Philippine Senate by Senator Pia Cayetano. Her staff told me that I had been chosen to be among 15 women who would be celebrated for our achievements in different fields. I knew there would be a Women’s Month exhibit entitled “Empowered Women: Raising the Bar,” highlighting women who’ve made valuable contributions in different areas of society. But I didn’t really know that there would be an entire ceremony that would formalize and legalize our “honours.”

I was allowed to bring three guests, so I brought both my parents and my eldest daughter, Sophia. My parents are here for a few more weeks and I thought it would be a treat for them to see something they only get to see in ANC televised hearings. I brought my daughter so she could meet the other honourees. It’s important for young girls to have different and good role models. Since my husband had seen many events at the Senate as a journalist, I figured he could miss this one.

After the ribbon-cutting moment with Senator Pia Cayetano and Senator Cynthia Villar, we were escorted to the Senate Hall. I was seated right in the middle of the VIP gallery across the table and stage of the Senate President. Beside me were fellow awardees prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, social entrepreneurs Anna and Camille Meloto, first Filipina to climb Mount Everest Noelle Wenceslao, 4-time world champion in bowling Bong Coo, and soprano Rachelle Gerodias.

Senator Pia Cayetano read her “Senate Resolution No. 1237, which honours fifteen women for their invaluable contributions. These women are achievers in their respective fields. They inspire the whole nation, especially young girls to excel despite adversities, despite obstacles.” Source: Pia Cayetano. I heard words like “trailblazers”, “drivers of change”, and “bringing honour to the country.” I was stunned.

I am so thrilled that my parents and my daughter got to see me get honoured by the Philippine Senate. I came to the Philippines in the mid-90’s, not to be in media, but I took on an assignment as project manager of an urban planning program in the Visayas, funded by the government of Canada. Even back then, I was aware of the need to participate in nation building. Before I joined Philippine media, I went to Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, and volunteered on medical missions. And as I got “side-tracked” to the worlds of broadcasting, blogging, and entrepreneurship, I had always found ways to try to make a difference, mostly by telling stories. Moving here cost me a lot – my family, my education, my career in international development and urban planning. I wanted my move here to make sense. I know it does because I met my husband and had our family here. But I wanted my work to make sense. I eventually found my voice when UNICEF appointed me as Special Advocate for Children in 2010. It sort of formalized what I had been doing – advocating for marginalized mothers and infants, for the awareness of heritage conservation, for the need for urban parks and other environmental causes. But I haven’t really done anything concrete, nothing tangible. I still want to be able to do more. Like I always say, no one needs a fancy title just to make a difference. We can all do.

I pray for humility. But this is a really big deal for me. So thank you for allowing me to share my story. I dont know if I really deserve this honour. But at that moment when I stood up and Sen Pia read my name and my contributions, the only thing I could think of was “Thank you God for leading me down this path. It wasn’t always making sense. It still doesn’t sometimes. But I am just following your path.” When I calmed down, I kept whispering to Camille, Lisa and Rachelle, “Wow, this is so awesome. Our how amazing that our parents are here to witness this.” Then I turned to Noelle, “Our names are in a Senate Resolution!” Then Noelle says, “Can you believe it? We are so legit!” Chuckles.


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On the Senate floor before formal session began. From L-R, Noelle Wenceslao, Lisa Macuja-Elizade, Anna Meloto, Senate President Franklin Drilon, Camille Meloto, Senator Pia Cayetano, Bong Coo, me, and Senator Bongbong Marcos.


My view


I am amazed with this group of women who have achieved so much and serve as inspirations and role models.


There’s my 3-person cheering squad. Nothing but love.


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My moment. I don’t know why I have a pseudo-duck face. I was really nervous and in disbelief. Plus one of my senator friends tried to make me laugh. (Oh, by the way, I am totally aware it was a bad hair day. I arrived with my hair pulled back in a tight pony tail. After my first photos, my mother tells me that the pony tail made me look old. She suggested I take it down. So I did. And this is what happened. Disaster! Haha.)


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I love this about us Filipinos. That we stand and put our right hand to our heart when we sing our national anthem. This meant a lot to me.


Holding the actual Senate Resolution.


In her privilege speech, Sen Pia Cayetano read, “In this light, I rise to sponsor P.S. Resolution No. 1237 which seeks to honor fifteen women for their invaluable contributions. These women are achievers in their respective fields. They inspire the whole nation, especially young girls to excel despite adversities, despite obstacles.” This is for my daughters.


I thank UNICEF for the trusting me with this great platform, for giving me a means to affect change, for creating programs that protect the rights of children everywhere.


At the Women’s Month exhibit.


Lisa Macuja brought her ballet shoes.


With Senator Cynthia Villar and Sen Pia Cayetano.


Dr. Fe Del Mundo, first woman admitted to Harvard Medical School in 1936.


Four-time world champion Olivia Bong Coo.


Also given honours were White House Chef Cristeta Comerford, entrepreneur Sheila Marcelo, and world-renowned fashion designer Monique Lhuillier.


Lang Dulay, famous T’boli dreamweaver.


The Empowered Filipinas: Raising the Bar exhibit is still on at the Philippine Senate until the end of March.


Girl power at Senator Pia’s  little reception.


Soph collected autographs from the women awardees. Here she is with mountaineer Noelle Wenceslao. Soph, in her young age, has already trekked Mt Pinatubo.


Sophia telling Senator Cayetano that she was part of the school group that went to the Senate months ago to talk to her about the Torre de Manila issue. Sophia wrote her opinion editorial on Torre de Manila (destroying the view of the Rizal Monument) in her school’s newspaper.


The actual resolution.




Thank you Senator Pia Cayetano for recognizing the role of women in nation-building (and for the cake from Slice). Thank you to the Senate of the Philippines for the honour. You made my parents so proud.



Melissa One by One





Melissa recently introduced a revolutionary collection that (I hate cliches) is a total game-changer. One by One is an innovation in design. Each shoe can be worn on either the right or the left foot. There are nine patterns to choose from. Shoes are sold individually, not in pairs. You can mix and match any of the nine styles to create a unique pair; or wear them interchangeably.








Nine different patterns can create 81 possible combinations.


Here are the 3 One By One shoes I have.


A few weeks ago, Melissa launched One By One in the Philippines. We wore our non-pairs. Kelly Misa, Patty Laurel-Filart, Rissa Mananquil-Trilio



This is an amazing design solution. A shoe you can wear on your left or right foot. And patterns that don’t match but somehow work well together.



Host of the event Nicole Anderson, wearing her One by Ones.


My 12 year old is crazy about this concept.



One by One by Melissa is available at the following Geleia stores: TriNoma, Greenbelt 5, SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall, SM Aura, Alabang Town Center, Robinsons Magnolia, and Shangri-la Plaza East Wing. Price is P1,447.50 per shoe or P2,895 per pair. For more information, you may visit www.melissa.com.br/onebyone/en.




Beef Barley Soup





I am far from being the expert cook. Admittedly, I only started liking to cook when I got my dream kitchen. And I only started cooking successfully last year. You Tube played a big role in this big achievement of mine. Gusteau was right when he said, “Anyone can cook.” So with my new found success, haha, I am finding courage to share with you some simple recipes that have become a regular part of our home menu.


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Barley is a staple at our house. I store them in these mason jars that I get from pasta sauce. (Why buy when you can re-use jam jars and pasta sauce jars).


I grew up with my mom’s barley soup. It’s it also my favourite comfort food in Cibo. So whenever I run out of ideas, this is the dish I whip up for my family. It’s kid-approved. So I always make sure we have barley in our pantry. Another thing that’s a staple in my kitchen is Bertolli olive oils, which is finally available again in the Philippines through Fly Ace Corporation, a leading distributor of food products. I met the people behind Fly Ace when I hosted the launch of Lotus Biscoff, which they also officially brought into the country.


Three types of Bertolli olive oil, available in leading supermarkets in the Philippines, exclusively distributed by Fly Ace Corporation.


Bertolli is the “World’s Best Selling Olive Oil”.  There are three types of Bertolli Olive Oils –Extra Virgin, Classico and Extra Light. In the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing recipes using each of the three variants. Basically, Extra Virgin olive oil is best used for marinades, dressing and dips. You don’t cook with it. For cooking, use Classico olive oil. Its is perfect for sauces, roasting or grilling. Then there is the Extra Light olive oil, with its mild taste, making it perfect for sautéing, frying and even baking.

For my barley soup, I used Bertolli Classico olive oil. I based my barley soup on Ina Garten’s basic recipe but reformulated it based on what was available in my kitchen pantry. I also altered the process a bit and it worked fine. I hope you find my easy version to work for you too.


Celery and leeks


Bay leaves, onion, garlic.




Here’s my recipe for Beef Barley Soup

1 Bertolli Classico olive oil
1/2 kg beef shreds (oxtail tastes better but you’ll need time and patience to make it tender)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped leeks
1 cup diced carrots
3/4 to 1 cup chopped onion (white onions work best, but I only had local red onions so I used less)
1/2 to 1 cup diced celery (I like celery so I placed 1 cup)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
3 bay leaves
8 cups canned beef broth (or homemade from beef or chicken bones)
3/4 cup pearled barley


1. Heat the Bertolli Classico olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. I’m using my new Le Creuset, which I feel I have finally earned and deserved.


2. Add the beef strips, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium to high heat, stirring occasionally, for at least 10 minutes until browned all over. Remove the beef with a slotted spoon and set aside.


3. Add the leeks, carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the fat in the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. Throw in sprigs of thyme and bay leaves.


4. Return the beef to the pot and add the broth, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Once boiling, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 hour. You may discard the thyme sprigs (if you bundled it) and the bay leaves, and skim off the fat.


5. Add the barley. Let it simmer for another 40 minutes. This is where I altered Ina Garten’s recipe. She recommends boiling the barley separately, draining it, then adding it to the soup mixture. I placed my barley directly into my soup.


6. That’s it! Beef and Barley Soup!


You can change the ingredients based on what you have in your fridge. If you prefer a heartier meal, choose bigger chunks of meat with bone. If so, you may not even need beef stock. Just use water.



Pilates classes



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I read a fascinating article about How Wellness Became the New Luxury Status Symbol and I have to say, with the many brags in my Instagram feed about marathons, green juice and cute workout outfits, a lot of this is true. Though I was unaware of such lifestyle trend, I’m afraid I may have been guilty a few times of posting my green juice and pilates selfies. I have not yet revealed my “abs” though, and that’s not really going to happen, haha.

My passion for Pilates has nothing to do with a lifestyle trend. Pilates is the only fitness activity that works for me. It has helped me so much with my neck pains. In terms of the fitness fashion trends, I have very few workout outfits that I have been rotating for a while now. After reading that article, I’m thinking I really should be making an effort to look more fashionable in my pilates outfits. My green juice isn’t “a display of wealth, discipline, and responsibility”, as the article states. I am a real believer in the power of enzymes found in raw green vegetables. Yes, buying all that organic kale, cucumber, celery and wheatgrass can add up. But it’s something I make room for in our budget.

I love my Pilates community. In the almost one year that I’ve been regularly going to my sessions at Options Studio, I have reached a level of comfort among the instructors and women who have private sessions during my same schedule. Pilates, for us, isn’t a social thing. It’s totally personal. We all have our own goals and reasons for doing pilates.

I do private sessions at least twice a week. Options Studio has semi-private sessions, which is a great idea if you want to work out with a friend or spouse. Its also a great mother-daughter activity. They also have small group classes. In the next few weeks, Options Studio’s Master Trainer Ole Eugenio will be conducting master classes. Ole is a well-respected pilates practitioner, not just in the Philippines, but all over the region. I’ve posted his schedule below. Beginners are welcome.






Me and the master himself, Ole Eugenio.


Cardiolates spells fun… and endorphins!


I love early morning sessions


With my trainer Camille


Trying to stretch me into the splits.


After a session.


My post-pilates “glow” haha!


See you at Options Studio!


Options Studio branches:
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






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I can’t believe I haven’t even written about the story of the DAPHNE® & National Book Store collaboration yet and the products are over halfway sold already. I’m sort of in a panic because I actually want to hoard as much of these products as I could. They make the perfect gifts. And I love using them myself. Now that I said that, I will try to troop to National Book Store tomorrow and try to stock up on my favourites (all).

Meanwhile, as promised,  I’m sharing with you some of the photos by friends, followers and readers who have posted with the hashtag #DaphneandNBS. I remember doing this when the DAPHNE x Bench Home Scents came out and many of you posted your unboxing and use of the bottle. I looooved that! And now you are doing the same with the Daphne & National Book Store stationery.

Thank you for sharing a bit of your world with me. I love seeing how you use my products. Yay to Daphnefication. Haha. Keep them coming!


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From Rica Peralejo’s instagram @ricaperalejo.ph


DOP NBS @krislerismania
We are in good company, with Sen Miriam Santiago’s book. From @krislerismania


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From Belo’s @cristallebelo.


DOP NBS @theabakescupcakes
From @theabakescupcakes


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It is amazing to see my products alongside the greats like Orla Kiely and Cath Kidston. Photo from my friend Elna in London or @sle117


Elna wore my Daphne tote in London Fashion Week! @sle117


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From Elle Decoration’s Devi De Veyra


DOP NBS @marrylerojo2
From @marrylerojo


DOP NBS @charrypotter
From @charrypotter


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More crafting cuteness from @marrylerojo


DOP NBS @delladeleos
With lovely rings and a cute pola by @delladeleos


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From Kristine Margareth Santos Aba-a


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And here is Kristine Margareth’s little girl, totally DAPHNE-fied.


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From @juicehut_manila


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From @isalcaraz


From Ivonne Capistrano, a teacher in the US.


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The Lily pouch from Cheng Flores via FB.


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From Ry-Anne, traveling to Singapore.


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My friend Ginger Roxas Arzt uses the whiteboard calendar for her menu planning. So do I.


DOP NBS @mangofreeze
Detail of our journals by @mangofreeze


DOP NBS @deynakim
Lovely desk by @deynakim


DOP NBS @aapatawaran
Manila Bulletin’s @aapatawaran uses my pen! And that’s some real poetry folks.


DOP NBS @iamtiramisu
Precious baby doodles by @iamtiramisu


DOP NBS @hazelcaballeroscott
Now if I woke up to a scene like this everyday…. wow. By @hazelcaballeroscott


DOP NBS @elainecarag
Ok where did that baby Groot come from. I want! Haha. From @elainecarag


DOP NBS @dulcesia
Looks like Dulce’s daughter likes making her own plans. From @dulcesia.


DOP NBS @apolonski
Organizing pouch. Photo by @apolonski.


DOP NBS @catcantada
Loving everything in her bedside table. From @catcantada.


DOP NBS @beadladymanila
My daughter Sophia is going nuts over @beadladymanila’s polymer creations. She wants to learn how to make these little cupcakes.


My hummingbird bag made a cameo appearance at an ABS-CBN soap opera.



Share your #DaphneandNBS photos in Instagram or FB… I will post them again. Thanks everyone!!