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.

 

 

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.

 

 

ASEAN 2017

 

 

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I has been almost half a year since this happened. I have been that absent from my blog. Oops. Blame Instagram.

Back in January, I got a call from an agency handling the launch of ASEAN in Malacanang Palace. They asked me if I could host the event. It would be attended by the President, his cabinet, the diplomatic corps, and the business community. 2017 is a big year for ASEAN, being its 50th anniversary, and it is hosted by the Philippines. Needless to say, I was honoured and thrilled to have been invited as the emcee.

Here are photos and screenshots from the event. And because a lot of people asked in Facebook and Instagram, I will highlight my fashion choices. I do not work with stylists for the simple reason that I enjoy dressing myself and making these creative decisions myself.

 

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Me in my long white dress and golden south sea pearls, at the launch of ASEAN 2017 in Malacanang Palace.

 

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Fitting my dress in Religioso.

I was asked to wear a long white dress but not a gown. They wanted sleeves that went down to my elbows. It was a challenge because I only had a week to plan my outfit and have it approved by the client (i.e. Malacanang). I scoured the malls to see if there is anything off the rack that I could wear. There was nothing. I remembered loving the black knee length dress that was worn by Valerie Trierweiler when she was the First Lady of former president of France, Francois Hollande. (Valerie was our guest a year before that. She was a patron of the organization my daughter Sophia was a part of. We met each other in France, then in Manila.)

Religioso came to my rescue by offering to make a version of Valerie’s dress for me. We used white silk crepe. I had to make sure the skirt fell like a column and that it barely skimmed the carpet when I’d wear my black pumps.

I wanted to stick to the classics, so I was sure I’d wear a strand of my own Jewelmer south sea pearls — either in white or gold. I actually brought both with me. But when I put on the golden strand, the decision had been instantly made. Aside from my stud earrings and single strand of pearls, I kept everything else bare.

 

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Screen shot from the Presidential Communications page in Facebook.

 

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My script was simple and straightforward. But I find that the simpler things are, the more nervous I get of mucking things up. You never ever, under any circumstance, want to mess up the president’s name. Ever. So I practiced that in my mind over and over. (Side story, the initial script said “His Excellency…” as heads of states should be announced, but the presidential staff edited it and kept it simple this way. Apparently President Duterte prefers it this way. In fact, the Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea introduced him as “the President of the Republic of the Philippines, Mayor Rodrigo Roa Duterte.” Interesting.

 

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The Rizal Ceremonial Hall, Malacanang.

 

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In my script, I had to announce that taking selfies with the President was strongly discouraged.

 

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Loved the wooden quatrefoil panels by the window facing the Pasig River. Incidentally, the President arrived at Malacanang by boat from across the river. He doesn’t actually stay in the Palace building.

 

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President Duterte and cabinet secretaries Medialdea and Lopez, listening to my cue.

 

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I announced the ceremonial launch of ASEAN while the President’s hand was on the sphere.

 

 

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Ceremonial launch of ASEAN via this “hand scanning” sphere.

 

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So because I follow protocol, I didn’t dare ask the President for a selfie. The guests though… made a beeline to him after the formalities.

 

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At Heroes’ Hall

 

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Back to my styling, I asked for big hair and a chignon. Big, worthy of Malacañang. So hairstylist Ronel Ros gave me this pouffy top and worked with my hair extensions, braided and bunched up like a chignon. My hair was just chin length then. I remembered I had a fake ponytail from my TV days. I actually had never used extensions on TV, but I owned it. It has finally come in handy. My makeup was by Ria Aquino.

 

 


Posted by Presidential Communications (Government of the Philippines) on Monday, January 23, 2017.

 

 

Philippine Readers and Writers Festival

 

 

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From our partners, National Book Store:

Previously known as The Philippines Literary Festival, National Book Store and Raffles Makati now present  The Philippines Readers and Writers Festival 2016 featuring Pulitzer award winning author Adam Johnson and New York Times bestselling authors Paula McLain and Anna Todd from August 26 to 28, 2016 at the Raffles Makati. Admission is free for all events.

 

Photo - Adam Johnson (credit to Tamara Beckwith)
Adam Johnson (credit to Tamara Beckwith)

 

Adam Johnson is the author of ‘The Orphan Master’s Son” which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and named as one of the best books of the year by more than a dozen publications. ‘The Orphan Master’s Son” follows a young man’s journey through the icy waters, dark tunnels, and eerie spy chambers of the world’s most mysterious dictatorship, North Korea. His other works include the short story collection ‘Fortune Smiles: Stories’. The Author Spotlight event on Adam Johnson will be on August 27 at 4 p.m.

 

The Orphan Master's Son

 

Photo - Paula McLain (credit to Nina Subin)
Paula McLain (photo credit: Nina Subin)

 

Paula McLain is the author of the novels ‘The Paris Wife’, ‘Circling the Sun’, ‘A Ticket to Ride’. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her phenomenally bestselling novel ‘The Paris Wife’ was named one of the best books of the year several publications including People magazine, Chicago Tribune, and Kirkus Reviews among others. It is a deeply evocative story that captures Paris in the twenties and an extraordinary love affair between two unforgettable people—Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley. The Author Spotlight event on Paula McLain will be on August 27 at 1 p.m.

 

The Paris Wife

 

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Anna Todd

 

Anna Todd is the author of the Wattpad sensation and bestselling ‘After’ series that includes ‘After’, ‘After We Collided’, ‘After We Fell’, ‘After Ever Happy’, and ‘Before’. ‘After’ series has started out as the most talked about story online with over 1 billion reads on Wattpad. It follows the story of Tessa Young, an optimistic freshman at Washington State University, and the dark, troubled guy who has stolen her heart—Hardin. The Author Spotlight event on Anna Todd will be on August 28 at 2 p.m.

 

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Readers can attend three days of book signings, discussions, and panels about books, literature, and culture from top Filipino writers and artists. Join Ambeth Ocampo, Nick Deocampo, Jose Dalisay Jr., Danton Remoto, Sarge Lacuesta, Krip Yuson, Dean Francis Alfar, Cristina Pantoja-Hidalgo, AA Patawaran, Kate Evangelista, Pam Pastor, Juan Miguel Severo, Alex Gonzaga, and many more for talks and book signings.

The events are made possible in partnership with Adarna House Publishing, ABS-CBN Publishing, Anvil Publishing, Ateneo De Manila University Press, CNN Life, Rogue, Summit Books, Tahanan Books, Team Magazine, The University of the Philippines Press, University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, VRJ Books, Visprint, Inc., Young Blood, and Young Star.

All events will be held at the Raffles Makati with registration starting at 8:30 a.m. everyday. Admission is free.  Only books purchased at National Book Store, National Book Store Express, and Powerbooks will be accommodated for the signing. Books by the authors will be available on site during the event. Sign up for updates and view the complete schedule at philippinereadersandwritersfestival.com.  Follow National Book Store on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@nbsalert). Tag #GoReadWrite2016 to join the discussion.

 

 

Crepusculo at Antonio’s Tagaytay

 

 

Antonios

 

It has been a while since Patrick and I went out on a Friday night, let a lone a Friday night in Tagaytay. But if there is one person who can drag me all the way there, it would be Tonyboy Escalante, chef and owner of Antonio’s. Tonyboy and his wife Agnes have been our friends since they were just starting to plan Antonio’s. We met through artist Popo San Pascual and Tita Sonya Garcia of Sonya’s Garden many years ago, when Patrick and I were just planning our wedding. Popo did the flowers in my wedding and his mom was my caterer. Tonyboy would tell me stories about his plans for his place. Of course since then Tita Sonya and Tonyboy have grown both their little cottages into restaurant empires and respected brands.

Last Friday May 27th, Tonyboy celebrated his birthday at Antonio’s Tagaytay in collaboration with Hennessy and Porsche. In attendance were his close friends from his hometown in Bacolod, Manila, and Tagaytay. It was like a reunion of sorts for us, the Tagaytay-Alfonso people. Yes, one day I will live there too. I hope.

Happy birthday, Chef Tonyboy! We are so proud of all you have achieved. Thank you for your friendship and generous spirit. More blessings to you and Agnes!

 

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Raclette station

 

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Raclette with french fries, marbled potato, gerkins, cocktail onions, chili flakes and paprika

 

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A staple at any Antonio’s event – Steak Tartare

 

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Beef Skewers

 

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Oyster station

 

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Prawn skewers spiced with lemongrass

 

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Burger Sandwiches with bbq sauce and caramelized onions

 

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Arugula lemon drop

 

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Manolet Escudero, Agnes Escalante, Baba Escudero, and Paul Henares

 

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Isabel Lozano, Eric Diaz, Tonyboy, Jinggoy Buensuceso, Wataru Sakuma, and friends.

 

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Popo San Pascual, Tonyboy, Tita Sonya

 

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Louie Ysmael, Claudine Trillo, Ian Dy

 

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Patrick and I with Tita Sonya

 

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Steve Mago and Pia Guanio

 

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Edu Manzano, me, Tonyboy, Maui Obrero, Timmy Obrero, Jun Obrero

 

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With Franco Tommasi of Villa Girardi wines

 

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Agnes Hechanova Escalante and Mitchie Yulo

 

For more info on Antonio’s visit www.antoniosrestaurant.ph