Styling is everything



Photo by Terry Uy. Styling by Mylene Chung of Photo Kitchen for the design portfolio of Isabel Gatuslao.


Wow. Look at how these creative geniuses see my brand!

Since I’ve been working with Isabel on my brand’s identity, I’ve began to be obsessed with how I do everything. I’m very conscious of how my products, my person and my blog all come together as one image that makes sense. It’s a real fun method of doing things. I’m sure marketing bigwigs have it all figured out. But everything I have in my world developed organically. So I’m just going with my gut here.

When I saw what Isabel, Terry and Mylene did for Isabel’s portfolio, my jaw dropped. It’s like they knew me completely. This one photo totally captures my world. Incidentally, the fabric is my pillowcase from Daphne® for Linens Direct. I love how everything was just strewn across the floor like that. Note to self: Pay attention to styling.


Privilege. To work with my friend's personal collection of charms, mixed with some of mine. #febphotoaday #hand #jewelry
In reality, this Instagram photo is my unstyled world. Complete with a bandaid around my thumb.


I had the privilege of working with a very stylish friend on her personal collection of charms. She bought two of my icons and my cross. I mixed them up with her own charms – each had sentimental value – on my chain. It was a long process. But in the end, when she texted and texted again – “I looooooove it” I knew I did my job right.

Please read more about the process of creating Isabel’s porfolio here.



Mamma Mia again



ABBA is big in our family. I grew up listening to their songs (also Bonney M). Lily’s favourite song from the time she was a toddler is Dancing Queen. She is our own little dancing queen. When she was just three years old (turning 4), my mom took her to see Mamma Mia at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto. It was the perfect experience for three generations of ABBA-loving women. My mom, me and my two older daughters. Though it wasn’t their first time to see live theatre or a musical, it was their first time to watch in a real Western theatre, or as Lily called it “feeter”.


Mamma Mia, Princess of Wales Theatre
This was Mamma Mia in Toronto where we had the ultimate grandmother-mother-daughter event in 2010.


Last year, whenever Lily would see billboards of Mamma Mia in the Skyway, she would ask if we were watching it again. I couldn’t promise. The tickets were very expensive. She found out Katy Perry was in town but she said she’d rather see Mamma Mia. I tried to get tickets, but for the good seats I wanted, it would have cost P26,000 for four tickets. Eeeps! So I gave it up.

Last week I got a call from Winnie of ABS-CBN Production. She said we were invited to the Gala Night. I managed to squeeze in a third ticket – so it was me, Soph and Lily again. Stella is still too small.


photo 3
The CCP was glorious that night. All photos are from my iPhone 4.


photo 2
Full house!


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My happy place



This week was all about my website. I’m sure you’ve noticed the reposting of many Urban Zone stories. There are a few of reasons for that. One is nostalgia; two is to satisfy the readers’ interest; and three is to test my server. We had some problems a couple of weeks ago due to high traffic. And this week I reached record highs. And no crashes. Thank you to my very capable technical guy (he’s more than that, actually) – Joben Ilagan of Seer Technologies. So folks, if you see any kinks in my site please let me know and we’ll get to the bottom of things.

There are many things I am grateful for in my life. This is probably one of the shallowest – but I am shameless enough to share it with you. This is my happy place. My closet. And the irony is, I don’t love this space because of my clothes. It’s really just the space in general. Here, I can surround myself with little things I love.


My husband made this lamp. It used to be a candle holder. I occasionally try to change the little vignette that I have here. A few days ago I added a mobile that I bought in Hobbes & Landes.


There’s really no significance to the mobile. I just liked how it looked.


I love this St Anne sculpture. It was a gift from my brother in law. The snow globe with Karl Lagerfeld inside, is a gift from Ingrid. Behind it a painting by Olan Ventura. In the foreground, a paperweight and a little handpainted box I bought in India.


And some books that are filed here for no particular reason. There are books all over our house.


La Blusa Rosa by Julian Schnabel.


Yes, it’s hanging in my closet. So I can see it everyday.

I’d love to see your happy place. Share…



Repost: 80-year-old house



This is an Urban Zone story we did back in 2009. I’m reposting it because I think we can all learn from this story. This was the home of  Brian Mangio, an architect.

The house was built in the 1930’s by a wealthy American family who lived in the Philippines. The main house was in the City of  Manila. They built this as a weekend home in a style similar to bungalows in Camp John Hay, Baguio. Back then San Juan was still “provincial.” They had stables for their horses in this huge property.

It’s has been subdivided since then. Some of the land had been sold and converted into condominiums. The house and the last 3,000+ sqm had been acquired by the Mangio family.


Garden Side - Before
Before: This is what the house looked like when they acquired it.


Mangio residence
After:This is what it looks like now after Architect Mangio’s restoration project


Tower Side - Before
Before: The side of the house facing the water tank


Tower Side New (1)
After: The side of the house was converted to be the main entrance


Mangio Residence
Inside. The living room (one side used to be the master bedroom). Brian tore down the ceiling, exposed the trusses, added clerestory windows and emphasized the natural colour and texture of the adobe stone walls.


Mangio Residence
The modern kitchen


Mangio Residence
How the kitchen looks from the outside


Mangio Residence
The enormous backyard. Brian’s parents live in the other end of the yard. (I love the idea of compound living, with extended family as neighbours. I’ve never been in this situation. What’s it like?)


Mangio Residence
The back porch. There used to be a view of the city of Manila from here (San Juan). Brian built a little pavillion for home spa services in the other end of the yard.


Original Water Tower
Original water tank from the 1930’s. Brian installed new pipes and a new tank. It’s a stunning feature. This is the only private water tower I’ve seen in Metro Manila.


Rare Philippine Eagle Owls (a mom and dad) made this tree their home
Rare Philippine Eagle owls (a mom and dad) had made this tree their home. They’re not held in captivity. They’re free to fly in and out. They come back regularly and one time they lay an egg that hatched successfully. Amazing. This property is a stone’s throw away from Greenhills, a highly urbanized area. It’s a good thing the Mangio’s are keeping the sprawling property as green as possible. Just next to their lot, a high rise development is about to go up. Hopefully the owls still find their way back to their tree. (Photo from Brian Mangio).


Baby Owl
The baby owl. Born in Brian and Annalou’s backyard tree. Somewhere between San Jan and Quezon City. (Photo from Brian Mangio).


BJ and Annalou Mangio
Brian and Annalou Mangio with me and Stanley Castro of UZ, back in 2009.


It’s great to have young architects, like Brian Mangio, who are enlightened enough to know the importance of preserving architectural/historical gems. More of this, please…






What do Walter Isaacson, Denise Richards, David Baldacci and Jane Lynch have in common besides writing a book?


They all signed their books for me! This one is incredible!!! Yes, it’s my second copy of Steve Jobs’ biography. The first one, I read. And this was sent as a gift. I will treasure this the most!


I actually didn’t know Denise Richards wrote a book. Everyone has a story to tell.


Best selling author David Baldacci.


Jane Lynch’s (Sue Silvester of Glee) autobiography Happy Accidents. Sounds like the story of my life – nothing was really planned.


Alton Brown
This is just fantastic! Even Alton Brown sent me a signed copy of his book, Good Eats 3.


Alton Brown
I was without a cook for two and a half weeks. (I’m holding my breath today, the day she promised to return from vacation). In these couple of weeks, I took total control of my kitchen. Alton Brown’s book helped a lot. If you’re familiar with his book, he dishes out a lot of information and trivia about every single ingredient and gadget you’ll need for cooking. This book is exactly like his show. Even the lay out. I love this!



All books are currently available at National Book Store.