Gentrified Shanghai – Tianzifang



Taxi cabs are really cheap in Shanghai. Language is an issue if you don’t speak Chinese. So it’s best to ask your hotel to write your destinations/itinerary in Chinese characters. But I loved that the cabs were so cheap, we were able wander around without a real plan.

Every single person who knew we were going to Shanghai said that we should go to Xintiandi. And I agree, it’s not to be missed. It’s a very posh shopping, eating and entertainment district – which I didn’t really care much for because everything felt too international. At one point I felt like I was in Hazelton Lanes in Toronto. Xintiandi deserves it’s own post though (later), because it’s a great example of a gentrified redevelopment of what used to be traditional row houses/shikumen. It was beautiful and perfect. But on our first day, I was looking for charm and more local colour. So we went to Tianzifang.




Beautiful sycamore trees at Xintiandi. Why can’t we have tree lined streets?


My friend Lylah Juinio has been living in China as an expat for over 10 years. She was responsible for awakening my interest in Shanghai. On her list of recommendations was Tianzifang, knowing that I like artsy fartsy stuff. Here’s my impression of Tianzifang – the gateway entry and narrow streets reminded me of the Cashbahs in Morocco (from what I remembered when I was 16); the many hipster creative entrepreneurs had a very Williamsburg, Brooklyn vibe; the handcrafts looked like a fun 3D Etsy site; and the quaint small international restaurants at one point felt very Boracay D’Mall. It’s like Malugay’s The Collective if more hipster artists moved in. And I mean all that in a good way. It was a total contrast from the perfectly manicured Xintiandi. Though both redevelopments were planned by the government (nothing here is accidental, everything is perfectly planned), Tianzifang felt a bit more organic.


One of the many entrance gates into Tianzifang, along Taikang Road.


Taikang Road had buildings that looked like this.


Very interesting use of wire mesh/screen.


We wandered around Tianzifang’s narrow streets until night time.


Patrick went shopping in this quaint antique shop that specialized in eyewear.



Click “More…” to see my gazillion Tianzifang photos.


Vito Selma’s Delilah



This morning I woke up to this video. Vito Selma oozes with creativity and inspiration with everything he does – industrial design, photography, cinema and even instagram.

This is one of his new designs. Delilah. A stunning rocking chair. It’ll be available at KISH.

I think this would be perfect for my next Unicef Auction for Action, Vito. It’s perfect for children and the child in all of us. Wish I had this when I was nursing my babies. This is so beautiful! And the film, lovely.




DELILAH from vitoselma on Vimeo.

Like the ebb and flow of the tides, the act of coming and going reverberates in our most basal instincts as human beings. We go forth, only to go back- to a favorite song, a frayed shirt, a well-loved meal. Back and forth, back and forth.

A rocking chair, a silent testimony to countless babies being nursed to sleep, coming and going between wakefulness and slumber. A rocking chair, tucked into a corner, unused, all but forgotten. A rocking chair, refashioned. Back and forth, back and forth, we go.

Vito Selma






This is the newest piece in my jewellery collection. I have a few days left of admiring it before releasing it in the wild. It has the Virgin of Hope, St Therese of Lisieux, Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Guadalupe with various stones in 14 karat gold (which by the way is just so expensive… sigh).


The necklace is supposed to go out there too. But I love the chain so much. It is currently still being “test driven”.


I often get asked whether I plan to make jewellery that doesn’t reflect Catholic religious iconography. If I did that, then I would fully get into the jewellery business. But that’s not really where I’m headed yet. I’m a bit of a specialist. A one-product type of person. I love the hand-painted charms not only because they represent faith and religiosity. I love them also for the craftsmanship and artistry that go into them. Each is a miniature painting. The history part is also one that drives me – I love period pieces that reflect the crafts of different eras like Byzantine, Medieval, Greek and Roman, Etruscan and Philippine Colonial. That bracelet is probably the most “contemporary” piece I’ve done if it weren’t for the antique medals.

Recently I’ve acquired charms from my travels and some from gifts. These reflect iconography from different faiths and beliefs.


This is a gift from my brother-in-law, Fr. Dennis. He got this from  San Miguel de Allende, Mexico which is one of my favourite places in the world. The heart charms are either talismans or prayer pendants. He also gave me a bag of pendants that represent your wants and needs – a foot, a hand, money, house – anything you’re praying for. I didn’t take a picture because I’ll be working them into jewellery soon.


These, I acquired in my India trip. Each pendant is a miniature painting of an Indian Hindu diety. Unlike my Catholic icons, these are painted on paper. But the level of craftsmanship and skill is superb! The details are so tiny! I love them. (And I’m not Hindu. See my point?) I will also be working these into a necklace. They weren’t easy to find and they weren’t cheap either, so this is all I have.


This is just so precious. A portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe looking like an Indian diety. I got this from the same artist’s shop. And I just had to have it. Perfect mix of faiths – Catholic and Hindu.





Kenneth Cobonpue 2012


Cabaret is the newest design by Kenneth Cobonpue. It is a great mix of craftsmanship, technology and design. The thing about Kenneth’s work is that not only do they look perfect, they are all very comfortable. This line is just stunning.

Cabaret Collection2


“Cabaret provides a modern take on the brand’s sought after craftsmanship techniques. Weaving fabric-wrapped foam on a steel frame conveys the next generation of the evolving outdoor luxury furniture market. The collection blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor living, providing comfort and warmth in both settings. Available in a variety of colour combinations.” – Press Kit.


Cabaret Collection1.2
Cabaret high back sofa made of polyester fabric, reticulated foam and steel. Outdoor version uses acrylic fabric instead.


Cabaret Collection0
Coffee table and end table made of fiberglass reinforced polyester, polyester fabric and reticulated foam. For outdoor version, fiberglass reinforced polyester, acrylic fabric and reticulated foam.


For more information visit



I’m still here



I’m still here. I’ve just been incredibly busy the past week. It was all about my school homecoming, my daughter’s pool party, my parents’ arrival and planning a trip. I haven’t had a moment to sit down and blog. I do have some stories in the back burner.

Just wanted to share some photos taken by my friend Dan Gil. I grew up with Dan in the same quaint neighbourhood back when we all had beautiful backyards and we could skateboard down tree-lined streets. Those were The Wonderyears. Fast-forward to now, Dan is quite the creative genius. He runs a music/audio provider and recording studio called Liquid Post. He’s part of an ad agency, and he’s in a band called Chillitees.  He does a lot more than that, actually. Two weeks ago, we had lunch in Makati. We’re hoping to do a project together — purely for the love of creativity.

While waiting for our food, Dan whipped out his Fuji camera and began shooting me. I didn’t have makeup on that day. Ok, so I may have drawn on my brows with K-Palette. But no other chorvas. And I was running so late that day, I didn’t get to wash my hair. It was in a messy bun. I’m sharing this because I think in this day an age of over-styling and rampant (and useless) photoshopping of my square jaw, I find raw images like these quite refreshing. Or am I delusional?








All photos by Dan Gil.