Peninsula SnowPages



The Peninsula Manila SnowPage sports a vibrantly colorful indigenous tribal pattern in red, blue and yellow and the sun motif adapted from the iconic “Sunburst” sculpture in The Lobby


Every year, The Peninsula Hotels does a fundraising campaign at Christmas time. They’ve already raised USD 1.5 million since 2003. This year, the holiday fundraiser is done in partnership with luxury toy-art collective, Papinee. The Peninsula’s iconic holiday mascot SnowPage gets a makeover by Papinee. There are 10 different limited edition SnowPages, each inspired by the culture and and traditions of each of The Peninsula Hotel worldwide.

There are only 300 SnowPages in each Peninsula Hotel. The price of the limited edition SnowPage is P4,000.


Papinee SnowPage toy in the making2
Hand-made with luxurious fabrics and detailed embroidery, the limited-edition SnowPage also include the chance to win the experience of a lifetime with surprise seasonal gifts. Hidden inside a large number of the boxes are “Golden Tickets” for bespoke Peninsula adventures specially designed to create lasting memories for all the family.


Lucky guests have the chance to win the grand prize of a two-night stay for four in a Premier Suite, a fun dinner for four at Spices, daily breakfast plus exciting Peninsula Academy family experiences including learning how to prepare a halo-halo (traditional Filipino iced dessert). Other prizes feature delectable dinners for four, or the celebrated Peninsula Afternoon Tea sets.


Papinee SnowPage toy in the making4
The Creative Director & Founder of PAPINEE, Mr Dev Suj, was in Manila yesterday and introduced us to his brand. PAPINEE installations and art directives have also led to monumental creative projects during Art Basel, with the Financial Times, at amFAR during the Cannes Film Festival, with Louis Vuitton, at Monocle, at the Sultan Gallery Kuwait, at Shanghai Fashion Week, with ICC Elements, Xintiandi and many more.


Papinee SnowPage toy in the making
The Peninsula Manila SnowPage sports a vibrantly colorful indigenous tribal pattern in red, blue and yellow and the sun motif adapted from the iconic “Sunburst” sculpture in The Lobby.


Papinee has specially designed 10 limited edition SnowPages, each inspired by the culture and traditions of each of the The Peninsula Hotel worldwide
PAPINEE has specially designed 10 limited edition SnowPages, each inspired by the culture and traditions of each of The Peninsula Hotel properties worldwide.  There are just 300 SnowPages created for each city. A percentage of proceeds from each SnowPage will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation®.


Limited edition SnowPage plush toy by Papinee, P4,000 nett
Selected gift boxes contain “Golden Tickets” and the chance to win glamorous prizes for the family to enjoy.



Justin Trudeau



Justin Trudeau
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wearing a Philippine barong during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting in Manila on November 18, 2015. Photo by Edgar Su, Reuters.


It has been a week of contradictions. We were dealing with the shock and horror of the terror attacks in France, Mali, Beirut and other places. There has been heightened security alerts in Metro Manila due to APEC. But on a micro level, we were having a very relaxing time at home with the kids for nine days! It was the most perfect staycation. We are very lucky to be in a relatively peaceful society.

In between worrying about and sympathizing over the world’s troubles, Filipinos had some fun with the leaders of the APEC member nations. I wanted to wait until all the craziness over the #APEChotties went away before posting this. In case you still don’t know what APEC hotties are all about, watch this Jeanne Moos report.

My Facebook feed was filled with photos of Justin Trudeau. It got to a very uncomfortable level, because he is, after all, the leader of a country which happens to be mine. But I suppose Filipino fans are really the best. One week it’s Aldub, the next week it’s Justin Trudeau.

I stumbled upon this video after not having seen it since it aired live on TV back in 2000. This is Justin Trudeau giving the eulogy for his dad, Canada’s Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. I am a product of Pierre Trudeau’s Canada. He was the PM when we first arrived. I was witness to how well-loved he was.




Hereditary cancer screening




Every October, the world comes together to celebrate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We get surrounded by a sea of pink – beauty products, clothing, food, and even buildings that get lit up. There have been  advancement in medical research for breast cancer. And the message has always been clear – that early detection can save lives. And yet every year, someone I know gets breast cancer. And from December of last year, I had seven friends who died of cancer (two were male, and of the five females, four had breast cancer). Maybe it’s our age. Maybe I just know too many people.

When I was growing up, no one I knew had cancer. No one in my family had it. None of my parents’ friends had it — until I was a teenager in Toronto, and my mom’s close friend got it and fought it. Just yesterday, I found out two people I know have cancer – breast and esophagus. This is in addition to my long list of survivor friends.

I know way too many people with cancer. And despite how dreadful it is, knowing them gives me hope and strength. And walking them through their treatments has brought me closer to God and made me more aware of my own mortality. My friends who have had cancer are among the kindest and most giving people I know. Maybe its living with gratitude every day that makes them feel the grace of God. From them I learned that cancer isn’t always a death sentence — that early detection saves lives.

I looked through my files and found a lot of pink ribbon campaigns and breast cancer awareness events from the past. My best friend from childhood, Mel Lerma, is the country manager of Estee Lauder. And they are the leading organization in fund raising for breast cancer research. So I naturally supported Mel from Day 1. I also was given the gift of getting to know I Can Serve‘s Kara Magsanoc-Alipala really well. Kara is truly a blessing to so many. She is like a sister – so full of love and clarity. I Can Serve helps a lot of women via high impact information campaigns and community-based screening programs. Then there are prayer warriors outside the pink ribbon campaigns – my brother in law, my spiritual community at my kids’ school, and strangers I see when I sit in random chapels. People fight cancer with information, research, surgery, medicine, and faith.

Here are some photos from previous pink ribbon campaigns and events —


Mel Lerma and Daphne Oseña-Paez
With Mel in 2012, when Estee Lauder lit up the Ayala Museum in pink.


Rustan's Anton Huang, Estee Lauder's Mel Lerma, Daphne Osena-Paez and Rovilson Fernandez 4
Supporting my friend’s advocacy with Rustan’s Anton Huang, Estee Lauder’s Mel Lerma, and Rovilson Fernandez back in 2012.


Rhoda Aldanese of Rustans, Arnold Vegafrea, Daphne Osena and
Another Estee Lauder event with Rhoda Aldanese of Rustans, Arnold Vegafrea and breast cancer survivor Maritoni Fernandez in 2008.


With Mel at Estee Lauder pink ribbon event in Peninsula Manila in 2014.


I Can Serve 2015
Just last month at the recent I Can Serve fundraiser with co-founder and breast cancer survivor Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala.


Me and Kara last July 2015 at St Luke’s Global City, where I moderated discussions on radiation therapy.


My super friend and awesome breast cancer survivor Alya Honasan of Philippine Daily Inquirer and St Luke’s radiation doctor.


Last 2014, I hosted a portion of I Can Serve’s annual party with Kara.


I volunteered to man the I Can Serve booth in Rockwell in 2014. I do not hold an official title with I Can Serve. I just volunteer my services.


With breast cancer survivor volunteers and I Can Serve’s co-founder Crissan Celdran (on far right). Crissan is a survivor of Stage 3 breast cancer from fifteen years ago. These are the bravest, kindest, and most generous women I know. They provide a community of support.


Recently I learned more about hereditary cancer while hosting an event for Philippine Medical Oncologists presented by Hi-Precision Diagnostics. Hi-Precision Diagnostics is a medical diagnostic clinic that exclusively carries the the Myriad myRisk™ test in the Philippines. About 10% of people afflicted with breast cancer acquired it because of genetics/hereditary.

The Myriad myRisk™ test is the same one that Angelina Jolie took which determined she was carrying a faulty gene known as the BRCA1. This meant she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer. This led to her decision to have a preventive double mastectomy and have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. There are many arguments for and against Angelina’s drastic move. You may read Angelina’s journal, “My Medical Choice”.

Though the Myriad myRisk™ Hereditary Cancer Test is a giant leap in detecting potential cancers, it is not a test that’s necessary for everybody. Only those who are at high risk, with family history of cancer, should consider doing this test under the care of an oncologist.

The process is quick and virtually painless. By utilizing blood and saliva samples for their advanced laboratory analysis, as well as a scientifically-proven Hereditary Cancer Quiz, Myriad myRisk™ calculates both physiological and historical risks of cancer leading to a more well-rounded diagnosis. Through this, Myriad myRisk™ provides clear direction for patients for treatment or prevention, through specific medical management recommendations.


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I moderated the discussion about Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment at a recent convention for Philippine oncologists.


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Here are some of the tests offered by Hi-Precision — Myriad myRisk™, one of Myriad’s most effective cancer-detection diagnosis, utilizes a 25-gene panel that efficiently and expediently identifies the elevated risks of eight types of cancers, among them breast, ovarian, gastric, colorectal, pancreatic, melanoma, prostate, and endometrial. Providing clear insights into cancer risks among patients by blending genetic testing status with hereditary cancer history, Myriad myRisk™ assesses the possibilities of cancer occurrences in an individual, leading to clinically actionable diagnoses.


A few days ago, I visited Hi-Precision Diagnostics’ head office where their laboratory is located. Here with Hi-Precision’s Melissa Ongsue-Lee and Vanessa Ongsue.


Vanessa showed me around the very impressive diagnostic labs. All analysis and lab work for Myriad tests are flown abroad. Only the sample extraction is done locally.


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With Dr Mariano Atacador, Melissa Ongsue-Lee, Lionell Lee, Myriad’s Andrea Tesoriero, Vanessa Ongsue, Carewell’s Robert Suntay.


For more info on Myriad genetic cancer screening tests —

Facebook: hpdiagnostics
Twitter: @HP_Diagnostics
Instagram: @hiprecisiondiagnostics
Head Office Corporate Hotline: +63 2 863-9999

Sophia’s experience in France



My daughter Sophia’s essay about her camp experience in France got published in the Inquirer over last October 17. To say that I am so proud is an understatement. Seeing her byline put me over the moon. She’s only 12.


Copain du Monde Inquirer  Press
You may read Sophia’s full article and photo gallery in the Inquirer here.


If you recall from my Instagram, last August, I went to France. That trip wasn’t about me or my work. It was all for Sophia. She was chosen to participate in Copain du Monde, a 2-week camp in the Vosges department in the Lorraine region of France. The trip was sponsored by Secours Populaire Francais (SPF), a French organization that engages in humanitarian programs in France and in other countries in need. In the Philippines, SPF is sponsoring a Yolanda rehabilitation program in Busuanga in partnership with Mirasol Foundation where they rebuilt a school and assisted in some livelihood-generating programs.

Once a year, SPF hosts children from all over France and a few invited countries to participate in summer camps. This year, for the camp in Vosges, they invited children from Japan, Haiti, Nepal, Israel and the Philippines. Sophia was among the four Filipino children chosen by Mirasol Foundation to be sent as a delegate of the Philippines to France. They chose children from a list of nominees from another camp program that my daughter belongs to. While Sophia and the other delegates’ trip was fully sponsored, I presented myself as a “volunteer”. I paid my own way and SPF took care of my accommodations and food at camp. I was with Sophia and the kids for a week. Then I left her in France for the last week. The results of my journey are thousands of beautiful photos and a long video that I edited as their memento. You may view it here or scroll below.


Copain du Monde camp was in a beautiful property in Xonrupt-Longermer, nestled in Vosges at the Lorraine region of France.


After almost 24 hours of traveling, we arrived at Les Jonquilles in Xonrupt-Longemer. Sophia with Alexa Loste, wearing the sweatshirt that Soph designed for the Philippine delegation.


The start of my camp mom duties, wearing the sweatshirt that Sophia designed — just so happy to be breathing fresh mountain air.


The day the kids arrived at camp, they played ice breaker games.


In a setting like this.


Gerardmer is a small lake-side town in the mountains of Lorraine. History buffs would know that this was once the site of active battle during the Franco-Prussian War and World War 1.


The war memorial in Gerardmer.


Sophia’s favourite activity was rock climbing and rappelling.


They went camping overnight two times in different locations. Camping, like in a tent. Here, Soph and Alexa were enjoying the stillness of Lac du Longemer.


This was the hike to the campsite.


We travelled to Paris by train We left Gerardmer at 4am, got to Paris by 9am, boarded the train again at 5pm, back to our chalet by 8pm.


The main activity of Copain du Monde was a one-day trip to Paris to cebrate the 70th anniversary of Secours Populaire Francais. More on that in a separate blog.


One rainy day, the kids took part in indoor activities. Alexa and Joaquin chose baking. They learned how to bake Mirabelle tarte. Mirabelle is a small seeded fruit, much like a peach or plum. It is lovely. And that pie was so easy to make. Now if I could please find some mirabelles here.


This is Naomi. She and her family moved to France from Tibet three years ago.


Even on rainy days, they had outdoor art activities.


This is the bagtag of the Philippine delegation using Sophia’s design. We had Booths Republic make them for us.


France Copain du Monde
Lake Gerardmer


We went kayaking.


Soph and I enjoyed this kayaking experience. I used to hate kayaking in Canada (my brother took me on an extreme camping adventure where we had to kayak 5 hours to camp). This was so much fun.


From Sophia’s article, “it was far from ordinary kayaking because this one had games. My favorite was “the boat is sinking.” The rules: Someone has to yell out a certain number, and in 10 seconds you must group yourselves together and hold on to each other’s boats using the side handles. Whoever gets left behind must stand on your kayak for three seconds—without falling. It was hilarious watching people tip their boats over, screaming their heads off.”


Skipping stones. It’s universal.


We made sure the kids heard Mass on a Sunday. We found this lovely little church on top of a hill in Gerardmer.


After Mass, we walked back up to our lodge. This was the pretty view.


At the cultural concert, the kids performed some songs and a dance. These are all in the video below.


Our daily breakfast. Same every day. No plates. I thought I’d sworn off bread. But now I really miss it.


We had the perfect weather in August. Temperatures ranged from 13 to 18 degrees. But it also got summer hot when the sun was out and there was no shade. Here, the kids did some art activities at the courtyard.


The courtyard was also the only spot where there was wifi. So we (the adults) made it our little office. These are the adult leaders from the other delegations — Prizma from Nepal, Ibrahim from Israel and EJ Pepito from the Philippines.


One afternoon in Gerardmer, we were given some free time. Soph and the kids sat under a tree waiting for our ride home. I went looking to buy some wifi load for this Orange mobile wifi that I bought. I ended up three blocks away. Then I saw the most amazing soft ice cream. I knew Soph loved soft ice cream so I bought her one. The sun was out and after 20 seconds the ice cream started to melt. So there I was, running like a mad woman with melting ice cream for my daughter. When it got to her, it was dripping with vanilla and chocolate melted ice cream. I told her, that is the love of a mother for her child. I looked like a crazy woman running through the narrow streets of Gerardmer holding that melting cone.


They swam at an indoor heated pool.


Most of the days were spent out playing in the beautiful field.


The girls made up their own game and own rules. There was a language barrier. But kids just need to play and they totally understand each other.


There are more stories and photos. I’d like to share them in a separate blog entry. My daughter had a life-changing experience in France. She learned so much. Here is the link to her Inquirer article again.

In Sophia’s own words, “Copain du Monde changed my life in two weeks. We did not talk about politics or how to fix the world’s problems. But we were just happy to be with other children from different parts of the globe. It was a reminder that children are the future of the world, that in a loving and peaceful environment, children would become better citizens.”


Hope you enjoy this long video I made. You may skip past the halfway mark to see their performance.