My Tropical Life

 

 

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By now some of you may know that I have a new collection of products in National Bookstore. It was launched a couple of months ago as part of the NBS@75 celebration, or the 75th anniversary of National Bookstore, alongside the products of six other design influencers. This is my second capsule collection for National. The first one was a 15-piece collection released in 2015 — these were inspired by the flower names of my daughters.

 

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My first collection at National Bookstore in 2015 was inspired by the floral names of my three daughters – the rose, the lily, and the daisy.

 

For the 75th anniversary of National Bookstore, we were each asked to create three products. I initially wanted my daughters to illustrate the prints. (Yes, they are that good. But like me they can be stubborn when their mother commissions flower drawings. History repeats itself). Because of time constraints, National commissioned a local artist to work on my prints. We came up with three prints based on the world I wanted to convey. I created a set of three notebooks in different sizes, an all-purpose pouch, and a file envelope pouch which can hold a laptop, books, and other things. You may see the launch event and photos of the collection in my next blog.

I am sharing with you the story of my collection, inspired by a hashtag I love to use — #mytropicallife. The past couple of years, I have spent more time at home than working on the road. You may have noticed I’ve slowed down on my TV work – both deliberately and just because – and I used this time to learn new skills, like cooking, gardening, and all these quaint domestic disciplines that I never had much time for. I finally figured out how plants grow and thrive. They no longer die on me, thank God. And because of that, my little “farm” out of town is growing cacao and passion fruit. In a couple of years, I hope I may actually have enough produce from my little farm to call myself a farmer. For now, I have my little tropical garden in our suburban home. I am constantly surrounded by bougainvilleas and frangipani/kalachuchi blooms. And that’s where I got the idea for this collection.

 

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Will post highlights from the launch soon.

 

 

De’Longhi in my kitchen

 

 

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Me in my unstyled, real-life kitchen. With Chef Mitchy Sison.

 

If you’ve been following me in my @DaphneOP Instagram account, you would have noticed my little cooking and baking adventures in my kitchen. I often cook on an open fire – my range is a very good gas/fire range – and I enjoy using my LeCreuset dutch oven for everything from stews to Bolognese. Lately though I’ve been using my smaller De’Longhi oven for baking quiche, bread, lasagne. It heats up faster, and gets the job done without firing up my huge oven.

I have a few nifty gadgets and tools that make working in my kitchen fun. The De’Longhi gelato maker continues to be a family favourite. My kids love creating their own gelato. Vanilla is a family fave. And when we have a surplus of fruit, we also make gelato. Let me know if you want me to blog about my gelato adventures.

This season, I have a new “game changer” in the kitchen. It is the De’Longhi Multifry. As the name suggests, it is technically an air-fryer. But it is also more than that. Sure you can make the perfect “fried” chicken using absolutely no oil. But you can also bake, make risotto, stews, steamed veggies, pizza. The possibilities are endless.

It is now December 11, and I know there are a lot of us with open wishlists for ourselves. Or you have someone very very special to give to – like newly weds, new homecooks, busy moms who have to have a constant supply of “baon”, or a person living alone – consider the Multifry. Keep reading, and please watch the video below.

 

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My gelato maker at home.

 

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We make our own vanilla gelato. And other flavours.

 

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At last year’s De’Longhi Christmas get-together, I saw the Multifry at work.

 

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We made everything from the usual crispy “fried” chicken to kebabs…

 

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To red velvet mini-cakes.

 

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I had loads of fun with my former colleagues in broadcasting.

 

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I shared my books, CHIC – Tips on Life, Style, and Work. Everyone got one.

 

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And went nuts with my De’Longhi family

 

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In my life at home, this is what I have. The De’Longhi Prima Donna XS at home.

 

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My favourite is a tall cappuccino. But since I’m trying to go dairy-free and fat-free, I’m now having an Americano daily. (PS, the De’Longhi coffee machines dont use disposable pods. That is a no-no in my books. I cannot stand adding any more garbage to our landfills and oceans. The De’Longhi coffee machine I have grinds the coffee beans when needed, giving it a fresh ground taste. The waste generated from ground coffee goes into our compost bin. Practically zero waste).

 

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The De’Longhi Multifry

As the name suggests, the De’Longhi Multifry fries food and does multiple other things. It is an innovative cooking appliance combining a low-oil fryer and a multicooker to meet different needs. It enables you to rapidly fry tasty fresh potatoes in a healthier way with minimum oil and to prepare a variety of recipes: from risottos to cous cous, from stews to ratatouilles. Multifry even allows you to bake pizzas, cakes and pies.

Here are some dishes we made at home. The first is a roast chicken with sausage and apple stuffing. Its something you can serve for a festive meal – the herbs and apple stuffing give a regular roast chicken that hint of special effort. For this we didn’t use the De’Longhi Multifry, though you could roast a chicken in it. We used the De’Longhi rotisserie oven.

Roast Chicken with Sausage and Apple Stuffing

Ingredients:
One whole roasting chicken, about 1.5 kilo

Stuffing:
1 granny smith apple, seeded and cubed
1 red delicious apple, seeded and cubed
1 teaspoon 5 spice powder
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 pcs Italian sausage, casing removed
2 slices sourdough bread, cut into cubes
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil

Spice Rub:
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat the Delonghi Oven to 400 F.

Drain any residual liquid in the whole chicken and pat dry with paper towels, inside and out.

In a medium bowl, toss together apples, 5 spice powder, sour dough bread, sausage, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with coconut oil. Mix until apple pieces are evenly coated.

Stuff chicken cavity with apple pieces and close both ends with skewers.

Combine spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl and sprinkle spice mixture evenly over all sides of the chicken.

Place stuffed chicken in a roasting pan, breast side up. After 30 minutes, turn oven temperature down to 350 F and put cover on roasting pan (make sure roasting pan vents are closed).

Roast for an additional 30 minutes.

Remove chicken from the oven and rest it rest on a chopping board for 20 minutes, covered until serving.

 

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Ingredients for chicken stuffing.

 

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Five spice rub

 

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Chicken is ready with the spice rub, skewered…

 

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There it is in the De’Longhi oven

 

Honey Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

1 kilo sweet potatoes, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

extra virgin olive oil

rock salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon butter

Instructions:

Using the De Longhi Multifry, remove the paddle and fill the bowl with water 2 inch in depth. Close the lid, select the PAN function, select power level 4, set 10 minutes and press the program start/stop button.

Once the water starts boiling, place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Boil for 5 minutes or until slightly tender. Drain water and attach the paddle attachment.

Drizzle the extra virgin olive oil using the oil pourer at level 2, season with salt and pepper.

Select the OVEN function and select power level 3 for 5 minutes, close the lid and press the program start/stop button.

Towards the last two minutes, add the honey and butter. Cook until sweet potatoes are crispy and coated.

 

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Herbs and honey to top off our sweet potatoes.

 

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The Multifry has an automatic mixing paddle which gently mixes food and permits cooking without any need to manually stir food. Hands free for me!

 

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That butter and honey in the end totally makes this dish what it is.

 

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Honey Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes!! Yum.

 

Molten Nutella Lava Cake

Ingredients:
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup Nutella
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

Instructions:

Using the De Longhi Multifry, remove the paddle and preheat. Close the lid, select the OVEN function, select power level 3, set 20 minutes and press the program start/stop button.

Grease two small ramekins, then dust with cocoa powder, shaking out any excess. Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together egg, egg yolk, and granulated sugar until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Add melted butter and Nutella and whisk until well-combined. Add flour and whisk until incorporated.

Divide batter among the prepared ramekins. Place ramekins on the Delonghi Multifry, and bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes. You want to keep a close eye on these; all ovens run differently so remove them from the oven when the edges are set but the center still jiggles slightly.

Run a knife around the edges of the cakes as soon as you remove them from the oven. Let cool for 3-4 minutes, then swiftly but gently invert onto individual serving plates. Garnish with strawberries and powdered sugar if desired, and serve immediately.

 

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The simplest ingredients for molten lava cake.

 

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Folding the egg into the mixture.

 

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Pouring the batter into those little ramekins I’ve had but have never really used.

 

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Ready for the Multifry. It would just take 12 minutes!

 

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A “first” in my kitchen. A real chef helping me out. I’d like to see this as an ongoing series. What do you think?

 

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End product. Molten Lava cake. My kids loved it! So did I. And Im not even a desert person.

 

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Perfect roast chicken

 

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That was our lunch plate. Roast chicken with honey thyme sweet potatoes!

 

Please watch our video. You will see how easy it is to cook and bake using the Multifry. Lots of tips in there too from Chef Mitchy.

 

 

De’Longhi Philippines just opened their first concept store in Ayala Vertis North. It’s worth the drive to Quezon City, I tell you (southerner here). It has a fully functioning kitchen and of course a gorgeous coffee bar. All their coffee machines are there for you to try. They can demo the Multifry for you too. Just tell them Daphne sent you. Have a free coffee as well, while you are there. Follow De’Longhi Philippines in Facebook.

Let me know what you think of me blogging about food and cooking. It’s something I never felt comfortable about because I am a novice cook. But I do love cooking. And more importantly, my kids think I’m the best “chef”. Haha. Would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below or in Facebook.

 

Inspired gifts from UNICEF

 

 

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During my travels with UNICEF I have personally seen how therapeutic food helped malnourished children get back to health, and how hygiene supplies made a difference for those displaced during typhoons, so your gift can truly touch a child in need especially this holiday season.

 

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This is a Tippy-Tap, a makeshift hand-washing station. We encourage and remind children to wash their hands using soap and water before meals and every time they use the toilets. This is one of the easiest ways to control the spread of infections (and germs). This was taken in Tacloban, months after Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan hit.

 

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It is important for children to play and be in child-friendly spaces after a traumatic emergency situation. This was taken in a make-shift daycare centre in Barangay Boston, Davao Oriental, three months after Typhoon Pablo struck. I remember being so touched by these two brothers. Older brother held and protected his little brother even as they walked home.

 

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School children in a crowded classroom in Davao Oriental after Typhoon Pablo struck in 2012. Most of the schools were destroyed. Through the government and partner organizations, UNICEF helps set up the kids to resume their education as soon as it is safe.

 

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One of my most memorable visits, I believe in 2010. We went to Sarangani province and visited areas affected by armed conflict. I spoke to mothers in many communities, and encouraged them to continue exclusively breastfeeding their infants until 6 months, and complementary feeding until 2 years and beyond.

 

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Not all my travels took me to far away places, some were right here in Metro Manila At one of the biggest public schools in the country, in Quezon City.

 

Every time I post stories about my volunteer work with UNICEF around the Philippines, I often get messages asking how they, too, can help. I am so happy to share that this Christmas you can help and be involved with UNICEF directly.

I know how it is to stress out over finding the right gifts. Every year I always promise to be more organized, but it never happens. I often find myself cramming in the malls or in online shops days before the big day. This time, I have found the best, easiest, most impactful gift you can give.

Here is a way for people to donate and dedicate an Inspired Gift for children in need. While you give your donation, you will be able to send a virtual Christmas gifts to your  to your colleagues, friends, or family. The gifts range from Php300 to Php 2,500 which include school and hygiene supplies, medicines and treatments for children who suffer from malnutrition, as well as seminars and training materials to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. Upon making their donation, the recipient of the Inspired Gift receives a personalized e-card from the sender.

 

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Make this the most meaningful Christmas yet! On behalf of your family and friends, give a UNICEF Inspired Gift to a Filipino child in need.

Shop for gifts that give back at https://inspiredgifts.unicef.ph

It will be the best Christmas gift they never got!

 

Ayala’s Sustainability Summit

 

 

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Ayala Sustainability Summit 2017

 

Around his time last year, October 2016, I attended the United Nations’ official kickoff for the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the Philippines. As UNICEF’s Special Advocate for Children since 2010, I was invited to speak about the volunteer work I do through UNICEF Philippines. A couple of years before in 2015, I hosted the culminating event or graduation of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Of the eight MDGs, Goals 4 and 5 (Reduce Child Mortality, and Improve Maternal Health) were the focus of my work as UNICEF Special Advocate. One of the ways to easiest and the best interventions to lower the number of infant deaths, was to promote exclusive breastfeeding for infants from the moment of birth up to six months, and complementary feeding up to two years old. I went around the country, to the most disadvantaged areas, to speak to health workers, mothers, community leaders, government agencies, and as a bonus I got to cuddle some cute infants. This advocacy brought me as far as Maguindanao during a time of conflict, Sarangani, Davao Oriental after Typhoon Pablo, Tacloban after Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, Rizal, Quezon, Laguna, and as near as the slums of Taguig. As the years went by, I also contributed by organizing some fundraising campaigns, the highest profile among the four events was the auction of chairs designed by Kenneth Cobonpue for APEC. We raised a total of 8.8 million pesos in two hours. In addition to advocating better maternal health programs, and encouraging breastfeeding, I am also now doing some work on child protection, mainly violence against children.

All these development jargon may sound like stuff I lifted from a technical brochure. But having been on the ground, having met many mothers, and knowing the plight of their families especially during environmental emergencies, the best way to communicate the importance of these lofty goals is to simply tell their stories.

 

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At the UN Day celebration in 2016, where I gave a brief talk. As one of UNICEF’s national ambassadors, I continue to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

 

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At the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of Children and the culmination of the Millennium Development Goals in  2015. The UN SDGs were launched a year after the MDG culmination.

 

The new SDGs are 17 goals that aim to transform our world by 2030. You can read more about the global goals here. They are simplified with well-designed flat icons. I wish all local schools included the SDGs in their curriculum. The world’s critical needs are to end extreme poverty, fight inequality & injustice, and fix climate change. The Philippines is right smack in the middle of this global crisis. If the situation does not improve, it may be catastrophic for our land and our people.

 

This is the video that shows international celebrities and UN goodwill ambassadors’ support for the SDGs or Global Goals.

 

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Once in a while, my worlds collide and create wonderful things. I’ve had the privilege to work with the Ayala Group a few times in the past – as host/emcee of their corporate events, and as a creative partner when they sponsored a season of my Urban Zone TV show. In July 2017, I hosted the launch of Children’s Rights and Business Principles with UNICEF, in partnership with the Makati Business Club. The CRBP is a set of principles to guide private sector companies on the full range of actions they can take in the workplace, marketplace and community to respect and support children’s rights. The CRBP was supported by the Ayala Group. In photo, I am having a conversation with my seatmate, JP Orbeta of Ayala Corp.

 

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It was supported by the country’s prominent CEOs and partners like Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, Chairman of the Ayala Group of Companies. Photo source.

 

The UN recognizes that in order to achieve these global goals, all sectors of society and all types of people must support and participate in it. One of the major groups, of course, is business and industry. The Ayala Group, not only has committed to respect and support children’s rights via the CRBP, but has also been committed to a strong sustainability philosophy since 2012. Ayala is integrating sustainable development goals into its core strategies and corporate culture. You can read more about Ayala’s commitment to sustainability here.

 

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Ayala Corp. chair and chief executive officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala has been named one of the 10 “United Nations SDG Pioneers” for 2017. He was given recognition at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit 2017 last Sept. 21 in New York.

 

Last October 6, 2016, Ayala hosted its 7th annual Sustainability Summit. I was invited to attend together with advocates of sustainability in government, non-profit organizations and social enterprise, as well as Ayala executives and managers. They shared experiences and insights on finding solutions to local and global social development challenges. The Summit coincided with the UN Global Compact’s recognition of Ayala Corporation President and CEO, Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala, as the UN SDG Pioneer for Sustainable Business Strategy and Operations.

 

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The Ayala Group presented their commitment to at least 10 principles of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

 

Since, sustainability has been integrated into various Ayala businesses, it has included long-term sustainability targets in its many business interests. Some of these targets and goals are highlighted in this brochure:
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Prof. Zeger Van Der Wal, Associate Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore.

 

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Prof Van Der Wal presented 8 global mega trends. According to Prof Van Der Wal, aside from the good effects and positive contribution to society, a sustainability culture brings about good business as well. Your company will get new, well-paying customers. There is a consciousness among consumers these days; many are willing to pay extra as long as they know the products are eco-friendly and were created using sustainable business practices. You will also create a culture of high-performing employees in the future. And you encourage a better reputation.

 

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Ayala Corporation’s Chief Finance Officer, Chief Risk Officer, and Chief Sustainability Officer Jose Teodoro Limcaoco gave the welcome remarks.

 

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Richard Welford, president of CSR Asia, talked about creating a culture of sustainability by giving examples of global companies that have embedded sustainability in their corporate culture. He encouraged companies to create communities within where employees themselves believe in sustainability and become champions.

 

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Ernest Cu, CEO of Globe Telecom, talked about how their culture has transformed to become a trusted and sustainable company. He said, with a sustainability culture imbibed throughout the organization, employees feel empowered and find meaning in their work, customers feel special and valued, and shareholders feel confident and rewarded.

 

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Ayala’s John Philip Orbeta, Richard Welford, Ernest Cu and Tony Lambino.

 

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Zubaida Bai, Founder of ayzh, is an advocate of maternal health in India. She is also a champion of the UN SDG.

 

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The story tellers. Tobit Cruz, from Taytay Rizal local government, Len Cabili, Founder of Filip+Inna, Irenea & Erelie Hitgano, Founders of Hillsview Mangostea in Davao Oriental. The discussion was moderated by Mark Mulingbayan, Sustainability Head, MWC.

 

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Irenea Hitgano of Hillsview Mangostea told her amazing story of how Typhoon Pablo left their mangosteen plantation devastated in 2012. While mourning the loss of their harvest, they realized that the fallen trees, with its leaves and barks, had very good medicinal properties. This was how Mangostea (mangosteen tea) was born. As the saying goes, when life throws you lemons, you make lemonade.

 

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Len Cabili, founder of Filip+Inna, told her story about finding meaningful work after she had been diagnosed with Thyroid cancer. She found this in her roots in Mindanao. Filip+Inna works with different communities of weavers all over the Philippines. Her products are now sold in prestigious shops in the US and in Europe.

 

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Tobit Cruz was a former Ayala employee. He wanted to make a difference in his community in Taytay, Rizal. With baby steps, he got involved with the river clean up and rehabilitation, until he found his way to be an elected local leader. Tobit is now councillor in Taytay Rizal.

 

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I love what Mr Zobel said, that institutions should want to contribute to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a personal responsibility not because they’re mandated.

 

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With Mr Zobel and Globe’s Ernest Cu.

 

The occasion also coincided with the launch of the new Ayala website, with an updated section on sustainability. You may check out www.ayala.com.ph

 

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The participants of the 2017 Ayala Sustainability Summit.

 

 

Lily’s favourite moment

 

 

Things have been so crazy for me lately. I’m not working on a big project or anything specific. But I feel busier than usual. It’s like everything from real life just piled up. I fill my hours and minutes doing so much at home, at work, at my kids’ school, I can’t seem to accomplish anything at the end of the day. Everything is half-done. This is the multi-tasker’s nightmare. Busy but feeling unaccomplished. How did this happen?

I told Patrick, I wish I could go on a long haul flight just so I could watch movies uninterrupted. Heck I’d be happy riding a P2P (point to point) bus from Glorietta to Trinoma just to watch one film in its entirety.

So we got to talking hypothetical situations. “What would you do if you didn’t have to work or do homework?” My answer was, “watch movies.”

Lily’s answer got me.

“I would sit on a rock under a tree, facing a lake or a pond. There, I will sketch and paint. Just like that time in Shanghai, Mom.”

Lily was referring to that time last April when I brought her to Shanghai with me while I filmed for AirAsia Red Talks. It was not the usual travel situation because it was for my work. I told her ahead of time, that the priority is to film Mama in specific scenes. So she would just have to cooperate.

My girl was more than cooperative. She was a real trooper. She walked patiently on The Bund while we waited for the light to change. She saw our team shoot a time-lapse of the skyline for what seemed like an hour, just to get a good 10 second footage of the sunset. Everywhere we went, she brought a book, a sketchbook, and a few pens.

 


This is the moment imprinted in her memory.

 


The rock. The little pond. The trees.

 


Lily sketched the trees in her paper notebook. But drew more details in her head. Today she still talks about the light and the pleasant weather.

 


I remember loving that moment too. That’s why I took so many photos of her while she was in her zone.

 

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Our candid moments were captured by some of our crew members.

 

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I valued that day too. This became my screensaver for the past six months.

 

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We had a lot of special moments during that work trip. This was our first night, shooting at The Bund. Lily was tired. She got sad and missed her sisters.

 

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Another sketch time. While waiting for the bus, she found a spot to sit on near the Shanghai Expo red building.

 

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When she was so afraid to step on the glass floor at the Oriental Pearl Tower, but I didn’t want her to miss the chance for a great photo. So we just sat together and got the shot.

 

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Another must photo spot on The Bund

 

I brought Lily as my “plus one” on this shoot trip because it was her turn. I already had travelled alone with Sophia. We went to France when she attended a two-week camp in Gerardmer and Paris. (Note, that after Lily got back and talked to her sisters about the great time she had with me, Sophia asked if she could go back next in line to travel with me too. She says the France trip shouldn’t count because it wasn’t so much a mother-daughter experience, she was focused on doing the camp experience. She’s right. And I can’t wait to take her on a trip next. And Stella too.)

I will write a separate story about why these one-on-one dates with daughters (or sons) matter so much. For now, I hope you enjoy this video from our AirAsia Red Talks series. There are six episodes in this series, which you can find in the AirAsia Facebook Page. This one documented my Shanghai trip with Lily, and it ends with a poem (not written by me) about why we travel.