Options Studio Timog



This is great news for those living in Quezon City. Options Studio opened its fifth branch just across GMA-7 studios along Timog. I hosted the official launch and blessing of the studios last week and saw the prettiest pilates studio ever. The decor felt very glamorous in a contemporized neo-Baroque way. It has generous windows and mirrors giving a view of “downtown” Quezon City. I also spotted some major TV stars from GMA-7 enrolled for pilates in this specific location.

For more information on the five Options Studio branches in Metro Manila, visit www.options-studio.ph


The private room.


Cardiolates class.


It was wonderful to see former colleagues from my broadcasting years. GMA’s COO and Chief Financial Officer Felipe Yalong, whom I first met when we were both in ABS-CBN. GMA SAVP for Alternative Productions Gigi Santiago-Lara, who was behind the creation of my old show Proudly Filipina, GMA VP for Entertainment TV Marivin T. Arayata, Mrs. Fel Yalong, GMA SVP for Entertainment Lilibeth Rasonable and GMA Executive Reggie Magno.


With founder of Options Studio and pilates master Ole Eugenio, pilates enthusiast Irene Marcos-Araneta, and Options Studio Timog Managing Director Krish Yalong. I was wearing a new pilates outfit and cover up from Mulawear which is sold at Options Timog.


Me and Krish in their custom-made porter’s chair.


President of GMA-7 Gilberto Duavit Jr.  and TAPE Inc.’s Tony Tuviera


The very talented actress Jennylin Mercado, who was about to have her private pilates session, in photo with Jod Penson and Krish Yalong.


The new generation of TV stars Janine Gutierrez, Kylie Padilla, Julie Ann San Jose.


Gigi Lara with actor Alden Richards


Mrs. Yalong with Camille Prats, who is looking so good with her short hair.


Macy Espiritu Tan, Cara Martinez, Andrei Coronado, Karol Usis, Krish Yalong


And there’s me, demonstrating some poses on the reformer. I don’t remember how many reformers they had, but I count eight in this photo. Options Timog is the biggest studio among the five Options branches.


Pilates instructor Alain Buenaventura, guiding me through the Stability Chair.


For more information on prices, classes and schedules, contact:

Options Studio Timog
6th Floor, GEMPC Bldg, 132 Timog Ave, Diliman, Quezon City
Tel No.: 0917-771-6549

OptionsStudio – Makati
#103 G/F Nobel Plaza 110 Valero Street, Salcedo Village, Makati
Tel No.: 553 – 3314 / 585 – 1404
Email: ph@options-studio.com

OptionsStudio – Fort
2201 NAC Tower
32nd St. Corner 9th Avenue, BGC,
Taguig City
Tel No.:(632) 403 – 7154

OptionsStudio – Podium
Podium Mall, Level 4, Ortigas Center, 12 ADB Ave., Pasig City
Tel No.: (632) 695 – 3263

OptionsStudio – Greenhills
3rd Flr, 101 Connecticut corner Missouri Streets, Greenhills, San Juan del Monte
Tel No.: (632) 623 – 8449


Read about my pilates journey here and here.

My 2015



Happy new year.

I am back to writing. But in a very slow way. I started this post over two weeks ago. And now January is almost over.

I felt nostalgic. The last time I did this was 2012. And then social media happened. I got distracted. I didn’t do a retrospective of 2013 or 2014.

So because of the lack of stories from 2015, I spent time and dug up photos and stories about the year that was. I’m including moments big and small, random and deliberate, work and personal, travel and home. That was the year I met a member of the British royal family and a Prime Minister. I went up the Himalayas and down under in New Zealand. And we squeezed in a one month stay in Toronto. After writing, I realized that for a year that was totally unplanned, I had done so much. I put my trust in God completely. That was the year I just allowed Him to surprise me. And the blessings just came. Grateful.

Here goes… this is going to be a long one.


We started 2015 in our favourite beach.


We’ve been coming here for ten years.


I remember when Stella was so tiny and we still had to carry her through the sand bar.


Early morning walk while Patrick biked.


During the second week of 2015, Pope Francis visited the Philippines. I sat in the rain for 5 hours with my cousins and waited to have a glimpse of Pope Francis. It was exhilarating. And experience I will never forget.


The Launch of DAPHNE & National Book Store stationery line happened on the third week of January. I am ever so grateful for the trust that Xandra Ramos Padilla has for my brand. This was a dream come true.


Thank you National Book Store!


These pouches sold out real fast. This is the daisy (Margarita) print. I just love seeing my products together… in my home.


For the DAPHNE® & NBS products we took inspiration from my daughters’ names – the rose, the lily and the daisy. Isabel Gatuslao worked on the prints for me. We also had a hummingbird print that coincidently represents my dad – a helicopter pilot.


Manila bulletin Daphne NBS
The launch was extra special because it was the first time I brought my daughters to any of my official events. And my parents were also in town then.


January also gave us theatre. Stella and I were invited to watch Beauty and The Beast at the CCP by Globe Business. In photo is Globe’s President and CEO, Ernest Cu.


Stella enjoyed her night at the theatre. Thank you to Ron Gonzales for the invite. (She is still upset that I didn’t bring her to Wicked. She was too small then.)


I got a couple of nights away at Shangrila Boracay with the MAC Cosmetics team. They introduced their Spring Summer 2015 collection.


I swear, we were in Boracay for work.


Not a bad way to do real work. Read my report here.


Sophia Lego birthday 12
In February, Sophia joined a Lego competition in the mall. She was with my parents; we were not with her. She won first prize and came home with so many Lego sets! I’m doubly proud when the kids do things on their own initiative, with out mommy or daddy pushing them. Yay Sophia!


City of dreams Hosting
In the beginning of February, I hosted the official grand opening gala of the City of Dreams. I had been booked for this project half a year in ahead. And I was so amazed that it finally actually happened. I had the honour of saying “The doors of City of Dreams Manila are now open!” I don’t have official photos though. Haha.


City of dreams Hosting
Backstage at City of Dreams gala with one of my favourite makeup artists Ria Aquino.


I shared the stage with Ne-Yo and Kelly Rowland. (I introduced them on stage).


The very next day after City of Dreams launch, Patrick and I were on a plane to Bangkok to start our journey through Bhutan. Our one night in Bangkok was fun! I had never explored Bangkok before. I was always there for work.


We did touristy things like ride the tuktuk and ferry boat. We went to Jim Thompson’s house, ate street food, took photos of pink taxis. We just stayed for one night and flew to Bhutan the next morning.


Touchdown Bhutan! It was the most exciting plane landing. If the view wasn’t spectacular, I would have flipped out. It was like a scene right out of Indiana Jones. Maneouvering through the Himalayan mountains with the view of Mt Everest out the window, and suddenly a short landing strip.


Click for more of 2015 stories

The Aldub fever





Last Friday September 11, my friend Stephanie Arambulo Dela Cruz sent me this photo thru Facebook. You should have seen and heard my reaction. Haha. I didn’t ask for it. Stephanie knew that I had been appreciating “Aldub” for a while because I’ve made a declaration in my Facebook weeks before. Stephanie worked on the first Aldub commercial (McDonald’s), and asked her talents to do me this favour. You can see that both actors were wearing what they wore in the TVC.

I posted this on my Facebook page, got a crazy reaction from fans —  got a lot of questions from people who didn’t know them yet, some mentioned that I was the reason they started watching it. It got over 5,000 likes and hundreds of shares. These numbers mean nothing now. Yesterday, after Yaya Dub’s and Alden’s first date, they broke the internet with over 11 million tweets. Eleven million.

A lot has already been written about the Aldub phenomenon. So I won’t even try to add to the analysis. When I first posted about it in my Facebook page (the day the wall came down), I received some judgement from people who expected “more” out of me. Really, ugh. I also got judged for saying that I’d never watched Eat Bulaga ever before. Seriously. Noontime shows were not allowed in our house because the noise bothered me. All that has changed now. The entire household staff and I watch together! Ok, I may have exaggerated a little. I probably watched Eat Bulaga as a kid during the 70’s. I also said I didn’t know who the Dabarkads were. Of course I knew Tito, Vic and Joey. I knew some of the hosts personally. But to tell you the truth I didn’t know the rest of the gang! I really had to google. Wally Bayola and Jose Manalo’s comedy are completely new to me. And let me tell you, I am now a huge fan! Well, apparently some were upset with me for saying I didn’t know who the Dabarkads were. But just to give some perspective, I haven’t been watching any TV shows lately. And not just Eat Bulaga. I also have never watched an episode of Showtime. I’ve never seen Game of Thrones, Homeland, House of Cards, and I only saw one season of Gossip Girl. I just got too tired that I preferred to catch up on sleep whenever I could. So there… no snobbiness behind what I said. But I must admit, I got a little upset by the reaction that I deleted that post. (Yes, I get that way.)

I think what’s evident is that this Yaya Dub and Alden phenomenon has made converts out of non-viewers. And it’s not just me. I think after this weekend, more of my FB demographic will watch. I usually catch it on the Eat Bulaga Facebook Page before going to bed. After my two-week trip to France, I found myself catching up on episodes I missed. That’s how hooked I got.


Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 12.23.53 PM


Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 12.56.52 PM


I first found out about the Kalyeserye, a segment within Eat Bulaga, where half of the hosts go on remote locations to different barangays, the day after Yaya Dub fainted (in real life during the live show). There was a bit of a debate whether her fainting spell was scripted or real. Click on that link above and you’ll see how real it was. Yaya Dub is Maine Mendoza, a graduate of College of St Benilde who did her internship in culinary arts in New York. Maine became “famous” online because of her crazy Dubsmash hits, like this one…



Alden Richards is a GMA 7 actor whom I’ve actually met twice before. First time was during the opening of Options Studio Timog (see photo below). A few weeks later, during my guest appearance at the Ryzza Mae Show, he peeked his head into the dressing room and said “Hello, po.” Yes, he said “po.” Mabait na bata, hehe. He was cute and clean and mabango. But both times, he didn’t register well enough with me to get giddy. All that has changed now. I wish I could get invited to Broadway Centrum studios again.


Alden Richards at the launch of Options Studio Timog.


My husband wondered why he’d see me laughing my head off. I told him, the Lola characters were hilarious. Jose dancing Mambo Number 5 gets me all the time. I also told him that I was fascinated with Maine Mendoza and how she got discovered by Eat Bulaga via You Tube. They didn’t mean to make the Kalyeserye an #Aldub love story. It was supposed to be just the same segment where they meet real people, interact with them, give them advice, give them prizes. But one day in July, a couple of weeks into the first episode, Yaya Dub was caught reacting with a “kilig” smile when she saw Alden on the monitor. The rest was pure genius. The co-hosts teased the two. The audience reacted positively. The main hosts took a back seat and allowed all this to happen naturally.

I told my husband, and declared in that now-deleted FB post, that this was revolutionary. Again, something that sparked a debate. But I knew early in August that Eat Bulaga had not only created a new genre of local TV — a live series with a bit of improv that included audience participation online and in person — but it would also cause a disruption in the TV network landscape. And we see that happening now, with how the other networks have reacted. Again, 11 million tweets, what can anyone do? It reminded me of how Tagalog-dubbed Marimar also changed the TV landscape.

While most of my FB friends were oblivious to the Aldub craze, one of my friends who is a commercial pilot, sent me this private message. He said he has noticed a change in psyche of some Filipinos he worked with. (And yes, he is the only person who calls me Mare.)


Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 12.58.25 PM

Another fascinating thing about this phenomenon, is that it has sparked so many new creations like songs and art work. Check out these amazing fan art I found online.


Art by Gwendie85


Art by @Natzumiehan


Art by Gwendy85


The reason why I laugh non-stop, the Lolas, played by Jose, Wally and Paolo. Art by @eewlevi


From #ALDUBMostAwaitedDAte, that pugo egg and isaw. Art by @enjelicious


The genius use of the split screen! Art by @enjelicious


The adorable Maine Mendoza. Art by Cheeneetoh23


aldub yaya dub alden fan art vector cartoon paper sketch pabebe wave aldubyou
Art by Felix Cruz.


What’s your #aldub story?


Trying to do it all



We just got back from a month-long vacation in our other home, Toronto. Travel is such a great opportunity to learn and be inspired. I’m so glad that our kids see it that way too. However it can also create so much imbalance in your real life, if you don’t take care of business.

Example, my kids and husband were on vacation mode, but I, on the other hand, still had to deal with writing deadlines and product concepts. Because my work is digital, I could be anywhere in the world and still publish. The key to enjoying your vacation, is to make sure to get all the work out of the way early so you don’t have this dark cloud looming over you. And that I did. Check out our recent visit to Toronto.


Toronto’s skyline has changed so much.  It has been experiencing a condo/skyscraper boom! I can no longer see the landmarks I love like the ones by Mies van der Rohe, Royal York and the gold building.


In Toronto’s Casa Loma.


We maximised our park and playground time.


There are many things I try to look forward to after the end of a fantastic vacation. Instead of getting sad about missing family and the spontaneity of life during travels, I use this time to get myself excited about my work, my regular life, and my home. Though as a mother to three kids, I can’t exactly just focus on my work and myself. I have to organize my kids’ lives first – especially during the school year. It’s a crazy balancing act that works itself out somehow.

It gets overwhelming when I think of all the things I have to do in different segments of my life. It’s not like I can compartmentalize each segment. They all flow into each other. I have a home office that doubles as the kids’ study room. I have a kitchen that doubles as my blog office. And my closet has become some sort of supply room from all the samples sent to me. I manage my home, with the help of very good staff. But I’m still that person who has to think of menus, grocery lists, baon, doctors’ appointments, driver’s schedule while trying to meet deadlines, negotiating at meetings, and doing my job as a corporate emcee and host. I cook, I give my kids baths, and I make sure Patrick and I have lots of together time.

Here’s what the balancing act looks like —


My work table at home.


Prototypes of DAPHNE & National Book Store in my kitchen — because my kitchen doubles as an office. I love the light here.


In my professional life, I emcee high-profile/corporate events, and I’m a TV presenter. I do not miss the days of producing and hosting a weekly show by myself. Now my time is more flexible. And I get to do top quality work of my choice. This was when I hosted a benefit for Typhoon Haiyan with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian.


When I hosted the anniversary event of Etihad, with CEO James Hogan.


City of dreams Hosting
When I hosted the grand launch gala of City of Dreams.


Hair and make up time, also doubles as time to catch up on emails and some writing.


I often get asked at interviews, “How do you do it?” The truth is, I do not know. Everything just happens. I do not have a concrete system. I basically just make lists and try to tick off as much from that list as I can during the day. I spent a lot of my 30’s making do with very little sleep. That is something I am not very proud of. Whether you are a mom or not, please, do not scrimp on sleep. Your body needs to heal and recharge. Get enough sleep.

Here are a few tips on how I keep myself in top form in order to run my little enterprises, manage my home, take care of my family, and make sure I am healthy.

1. I avoid getting sick by keeping my immunity strong. The rainy season has set in, and the common cold lurks around the corner. No one wants to be set back by a cold, flu, or other infectious diseases. The most important habit I have (and have instilled on my kids) is to wash my hands with soap and water all the time. It is one of the best ways to stop the spread of diseases. And to top it up, I boost my immunity by taking multivitamins every day.


Remember when I took that trip to New Zealand and brought some Conzace with me? It helped keep my immunity up in the cold winter weather.


Multivitamins can help you fight off possible viruses and infections. I make sure to shield myself from catching a cold by taking multivitamins.


2. No matter how busy I am, I have committed to doing pilates at least twice a week. I do this in the morning before I start my day. My advice is for you to find the time that works best for you. My afternoons are unpredictable, so I prefer to get it out of the way in the mornings. Do not underestimate the power of a clear mind and strong body to uplift your spirit and productivity.


Pilates at Options Studio.


3. I avoid processed food. We still have fast food whenever it’s totally unavoidable, but this happens very seldom. I prepare healthier snacks and lunch for my kids (will have courage to share soon), and I usually make a bit more for my husband and me. I also have maintained my commitment to green-juicing. I have a cold presser and I religiously juice – cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, carrot, ginger, green apple and whatever greens I find in my fridge and the grocery.


Green juice gives me a jolt every morning. I take a glass daily, first thing in the morning. Then after twenty minutes, I have a regular breakfast. I don’t believe in skipping meals.


4. I do not work at night anymore. I used to write during those precious quiet times when everyone was asleep. I’d still have to wake up when the whole house woke up so I ended up being very sleep-deprived. Not a good thing. I stopped that. Now I sleep, sleep, sleep. Wake up early. Get things done. Working from bed is also very bad for your neck. More on that later.


No more working in bed.


5. Daily quiet time helps a lot. I start and end my day in prayer. Sometimes the busier I am, the more I need to unplug from the digital world, hide from the real world, and just sit still. I have a favourite chapel that I go to. I also make sure to connect with nature. There is a lack of public parks and open spaces in the city. We knew this decades ago. So my husband and I worked towards making sure we always have access to nature – beach, mountain, farm. That’s where I find stillness and calm.


I love sitting in chapels. We all have our way of praying. I find that being in a quiet space helps me find my centre and strengthen my faith.


City life can take a toll on us. I make sure we make time for fresh air in our little rural plot.


My happy place. This is home to us. We come here to get recharged so we can do what we do.


I’m curious to know how you keep it together. How do you balance your work, passions and family responsibilities? How do you keep yourselves healthy? Are you as conscious about immunity as I am?



Pilates classes



pilates tile


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