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.

 

 

 

 

 

6 Hacks for a Chic Life

 

 

When I wrote my book CHIC: Tips on Life, Style, and Work, I shared stories about my life and my home. I gave tips on travel, food, fashion. I had no idea my publishers would give the book its title. To be chic is something I never attempted to attain. I always felt very under-chic myself. It’s a big word. All my life, I’ve always worked with what I have. But I did learn a few tricks along the way – from my mother, my friends, and the world that I move around in. And at my age, I know that being “chic” doesn’t just mean fashion or style. It’s how you live.

Last Christmas, I had an unplanned little get-together in my home. I was not prepared at all – no catered dishes, no fresh flowers, no nothing. So I rushed to S&R and tried to find things that would help “chicify” my tablescape. We somehow achieved it.

But living a CHIC life isn’t all about appearances. It is also about the invisible and smart choices you make – the ones that give you and your family a lot of comfort, good health, and an ease that seems so natural. It takes effort though.

Here is my attempt to share with you some tricks for an apparent chic home. Most of the tips I share contain products that will be on sale at the  S&R Members’ Treat on September 27, 2017 until October 01, 2017 in all S&R warehouse clubs nationwide!

 

1. Use pedestal trays, glass domes, and wooden blocks for instant chic on your table.

 

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Store-bought baked goods and cold-cuts look instantly chic when placed on glass pedestal trays. Glass domes make cupcakes look instantly chic. Holiday cookies double up as colorful decor to spruce up your table.

 

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Holiday cookies from S&R

 

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These cookie tins are always good to have in your pantry. They’re good for “just in case” and unplanned entertaining at home. They also make pretty gifts. I love cookie tins — I use them as storage containers. These are on sale at the S&R Members Treat.

 

 

2. Aim for a healthy breakfast. Ok, so we love our bacon and corned beef. But we consciously limit them to a few times a month. We make an effort to start the day right with fruit or green juice, plus our cereals and grains. Here’s an example of a recipe I shared in my book.

 

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Chia seed pudding. You can use yoghurt, milk, or coconut or almond milk. Store it in the fridge over night. They’re nice and chewy the next morning.

 

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Overnight oats make for great breakfast or healthy snacks. Just layer oats, yoghurt, flaxseed, chia seed, and top off with fruit or maple syrup.

 

Chia seeds, flaxseed meal, oats, yogurt, and maple syrup. Its so good. I made it for my snack tomorrow but it tasted so good, Soph and I ate it tonight as dessert. #daphneskitchen
We’re Canadian and we love our maple syrup. The kids love overnight oats.

 

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Watch out for Dad D Pak Quick Oats at the S&R Members Treat sale. Oh look, they’re from the Canadian Prairies. Yay.

 

 

3. Use non-toxic laundry detergent. Since I am making a huge effort to detoxify our home – for my kids who have asthma, and for myself with possible hormone issues – I carefully choose our laundry products. This means less bubbles and no artificial scents. It takes a while to convert the whole household to believe in such products. We’ve been programmed to believe that bubbles equals cleansing. But really, bubbles just mean there’s a lot of detergent in the product. Luckily we have these in Manila now, via S&R.

 

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Here’s what I use at home. It isn’t cheap. So I stock up on them when they are on sale.

 

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Speaking of sale… Yay! These are included at the S&R Members Treat.

 

 

4. Always have spreads and good quality syrups at home.

 

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You can use them as snack toppings, or if you’re like me, I actually try to make homemade ice cream. Spreads and syrups do well as flavouring on dairy ice cream. Or you can simply use them as bread or biscuit spreads, or coffee flavouring.

 

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Heads up! Fundelina and Bickford’s are on sale at the S&R Members Treat event.

 

 

5. Fancy, not so fancy chips. I honestly am not a big junkfood snacker. I can do without potato chips with its salt and artificial flavouring. But if it has sea salt, herbs, natural flavour, and definitely no MSG, then I’ll take them.

 

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I discovered these fancy chips in S&R, I got hooked. These root chips seem to be the healthier choice – sweet potato, cassava, purple potato. Yum.

 

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These are good. Original Taro Chips. Look for them at the S&R Members Treat. (packaging may be different).

 

 

6. Chic people ride bikes. Or maybe not. Sometimes. Well, in a perfect world, we would all be wearing minimalist-style clothing and biking to and from work — like in Japan or the Netherlands. My husband is quite the bike guy. He is well-respected by his bike peers, (quite the connoisseur, I hear). So naturally our girls are growing up as bikers too.

 

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Sophia and Lily love their bikes. Stella is still transitioning to a big bike.

 

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I’ve always been riding a bike. I even had a horrible accident when I was 8 years old which left me with 16 stitches across my forehead. That’s in my book, by the way. I never stopped loving biking, but now I just do it for leisure because I’m terrified of too much sun exposure (my skin). Here’s a photo of me biking in the Google campus in California a few years ago. My husband thinks I liked biking there just because it felt like the entire outdoors had an air conditioner on — around 19 degrees. I think so.

 

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Patrick’s bicycle-themed cake.

 

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At the S&R Members Treat, this Schwinn Volare 1300 road bike is on sale.

 

Well, that’s all for now. I hope you liked my little list that I made. Let me know if you have suggestions for other lists I can compile for you.

The most eagerly anticipated S&R Members’ Treat is happening this September 27, 2017 until October 01, 2017 in all S&R warehouse clubs nationwide!

S&R Members will get five whole days of big value and even bigger savings, with Buy 1 Take 1 deals, Buy 2 Take 2 deals and price reductions of up to 50% off on lots and lots of S&R items – from grocery staples like breakfast essentials, baon goodies, yummy baked goodies, imported treats, to various gift items, housewares, towels and linens, and even select appliances – exclusive to all S&R members.

S&R currently has 13 warehouse clubs nationwide:

BGC (Taguig City)Aseana (Pasay City), Congressional (Quezon City), Alabang (Muntinlupa City), Shaw (Mandaluyong City), Cebu, Pampanga, Imus (Cavite), Nuvali (Laguna), Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Davao and the recently opened; S&R Commonwealth (Quezon City)

Doors will open as early as 08:00AM until 09:00PM!

For more information S&R Membership Shopping on Facebook, S&R Official on Instagram, and S&R on Twitter

 

 

 

For Patrick

 

 

This letter was published in Manila Bulletin on June 17, 2017. It was a surprise for Patrick. And he was surprised. He says he didn’t do much to deserve such praises. He says his greatest contribution was to not get in the way of my mothering, because I wanted to do so much for them and it brought me joy. Well, okay. But dads, especially mine and Patrick, play a big role in child rearing. Their physical presence and interaction during the early years of life do so much in enriching the development of a child. And the relationship between father and daughter is so special. I really believe that awesome dads who are doting and always present make a secure and confident daughter. That’s just my opinion. I wrote this to support UNICEF’s #earlymomentsmatter campaign.

 

Dear Patrick,

Being parents to our three girls is one of the biggest blessings in our life together. Seeing them thrive in every stage of their young lives is an amazing achievement for both of us; and I am so grateful to be in this journey with you by my side. We know there will be challenges that each child will face, but having you as their loving and doting Super-Dad gives them extra strength to face the world.

I look back fondly at the time when we were new parents—those long, sleepless nights with each baby’s crying fits and diaper changes; and even when one of the girls’ poop leaked and dropped on my toes while we were out for a walk. We can now laugh at those moments, even though back then I’d sometimes ask if I was failing as a mother. You joyfully took on half of the many responsibilities—like lovingly burping the babies after each time I fed them.

 

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My favorite photo. Patrick and Lily.

 

From the first signs of life in my womb, you made sure I was healthy and that I got regular medical guidance. You attended all Lamaze classes and gyrated your hips during the exercises. When we didn’t get to do the last Lamaze class because Sophia was born early, you brought the manual and had to DIY the swaddling. You never missed any of my monthly doctor’s visits. You made sure I ate well and indulged me in my cravings. I was easy, though, I just liked broccoli, beans, and plums.

You became the expert baby whisperer, successfully plopping Lily’s full cheeks on your shoulder after each feed and rocking her to sleep in seconds. To this day, she has very good sleeping habits.

You were very supportive of my wish to exclusively breastfeed each baby by making sure I was always comfortable. You gave me back and neck rubs whenever I needed them, joined in the whole ritual of propping me up with pillows, and made sure I had a glass of water nearby. You knew breastfeeding was not only good for the babies, but also easier for us once we got our rhythm going. You helped me prepare pureed carrots, beans, and potatoes when it was time for them to have solids on their sixth month; and you encouraged me to continue breastfeeding even then, which I really appreciate.

 

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Patrick and Stella.

 

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Patrick with Sophia and Lily in Singapore

 

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Patrick and Lily in Singapore

 

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Patrick and Sophia at the dentist.

 

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Photo by Real Kids’ Doods and Issay Tanabe.

 

When I faced challenges and felt guilt when I returned to work, you supported me through it all by reminding me that I was not only a good mom but that I’m also a strong and beautiful woman. Mothers need to hear these from their partners, even if they’re sometimes an exaggeration of the truth. Do you remember the time you almost forced me out of the house to have a foot spa and hair treatment a week after I gave birth? You knew little things like this would make me feel like my old self again. You jokingly said, “happy wife, happy life.” To that I add, “happy mom, happier babies.”

Now that they are in school, our girls are going through their lessons knowing that Dad is there to help them in Filipino and Social Studies, even if it means having to hand-draw Stella’s Tagalog vocabulary worksheets. I treasure these sketches like precious art work.
You built worktables for each of them so they could tinker, build miniature doll houses, and sculpt in clay; and we savor the joy of their drawings, sculptures, paintings, and writing.
They are also very active and well-rounded girls who love biking and the outdoors just like you do. Thank you for taking care of that department.

You always listen to them, even if at times it is challenging to hear in a house full of little women. You joined me in reading to them even when they were just babies drooling on the pages of each picture book. You watch their poetry, art shows, and plays at school with the same enthusiasm as when they perform their made-up “Broadway productions” at home. I love how you take time to make their favorite hot chocolate drinks in the mornings.

You may think I’m not looking, but I see you. I see you do these wonderful things for them, Patrick.

It is the lessons outside the classrooms that they need most help navigating life, things for which there are no blueprints or manuals. But you are always by my side, helping raise our girls to be “Wonder Women” in their own right. While young girls need good female role models, and this is why I try to be present in all their activities, nothing replaces the security and comfort a father can give his daughters. It was your role during the earliest moments in their lives that have made such difference in how they are now.

 

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Art Fair Manila 2017

 

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At our favorite bistro, UNO.

 

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Carrying Stella in Japan. She just turned 7 then.

 

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Game of the Generals with Stella.

 

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Chess with Stella.

 

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Cooking with Lily.

 

And look at them now: bright, creative, and energetic girls who bring so much joy and love in our lives and those of others. I’m amazed by their talents and their boundless creativity that started from when they were young because you helped me nurture them. Those precious times you played with them stimulated their brains.

Only time will tell if we’ve done a good job raising our girls. It’s never an easy task, especially in the digital age. Children get sad, frustrated, or angry at times. It’s natural and healthy for them to be able to express their emotions. But I’m proud and thankful you handle situations like this with so much love, patience, and understanding.

 

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Our girls in their Gingersnaps frocks.

 

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Museum visit.

 

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In Liliw, Laguna.

 

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Thanks for being the calming force in a house full of emotional women. Most of all, thank you for taking care of me.

 

Just a few days ago, I remembered it has been 21 years since we’ve known each other. It was the anniversary of our first lunch as friends after which you never left my side. Since then, you have been my partner in every important decision in my life—work, health, home décor, travel plans, and when UNICEF came knocking at my door. It was a huge responsibility and one that I was honored to accept. You helped me make that life-changing decision and you continue to do so with each new challenge that my work with UNICEF brings into my life.

So, especially today on Father’s Day, I’m proud to call you the Super-Dad to our three girls. I am confident they will find their place in a crowded world, speak their voices in a space full of noise, and share their talents despite the intimidation of judgment in a complicated maze of female adolescence. I don’t often get the chance to tell you what an amazing husband, father, and partner you are, but let this be my way to honor you as the greatest father to Sophia, Lily, and Stella.

Thank you for all that you do.

xoxo