Four shows in 9 days



I’ve had a pretty amazing week in terms of culture and the arts. For some reason, I got to see four live wonderful shows in 9 days. It started with Disney Live, then Pinocchio the next day, then Shrek The Musical — all with the kids. Then last night my friend Katherine and I watched Noli Me Tangere The Opera. Oh in between those shows, Patrick and I watched Lav Diaz’s four and a half hour long Norte, Hangganan ng Kasaysayan which I raved about in Instagram.





Music by Felipe De Leon (National Artist)
Libretto by Guillermo Tolentino (National Artist)

Noli Me Tangere is the Philippines’ first full-length Filipino opera composed in 1957 by two National Artists Felipe Padilla de Leon and Guillermo Tolentino based on Dr. Jose Rizal’s novel. De Leon composed the music and Tolentino created the libretto.

The musical presentation, an opera in three acts, follows the story of Juan Crisostomo Ibarra, who returns to the Philippines after pursuing scholarly studies in Europe. He plans to open up a school and marry Maria Clara, his betrothed. However, parish priest Padre Damaso, the archenemy of the Ibarras, is out to hinder Crisostomo’s plans, which creates “a dramatic storyline of forbidden love, betrayal and revenge. Noli Me Tangere (Touch Me Not) depicts the abuses suffered by the native Indios at the hands of Spanish tyrants. The opera paints us a clear picture of the so called “social cancer” that illustrates the rotten system of governance, the illicit ways of the church and the unfavorable trade of the privilege class.


Beautiful performance on Saturday night. It was my first time to know the story of Noli Me Tangere. Hearing the words sung as an opera in Filipino was just an incredible experience.


The stage design was beautiful. Maestro Rodel Colmenar and the Manila Philharmonic Orchestra were amazing. Do not worry about not understanding the songs (in Filipino), they provide English translation on screen.


My friend Katherine Cheng (designer of K&Company, the dress I’m wearing) and I with the producers of Noli Me Tangere The Opera, NY-based Jerry Sibal & Edwin Josue. They approached me at the lobby before the show. Turns out they were loyal viewers of Urban Zone. Nice. Jerry is a well-known floral end event designer in New York.


The staging of Noli Me Tangere The Opera locally at Resorts World’s Newport Theatre was the brain child of Loida Nicolas Lewis (in black with floral details), Edwin Josue and Jerry Sibal. This opera first premiered in 1957. It was only restaged in 1987 at the CCP and never heard about until now. Mrs Lewis and the producers restaged it at New York’s Lincoln Centre late last year, and just a few months ago at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC.






I was so moved by the performance of Antoni Mendezona as Sisa. I’ve seen a few interpretations of Sisa which usually involves screaming and capitalizing on her mental breakdown. But hearing her express her pain as a suffering mother through opera songs was a mind-blowing experience. It was my first time to hear Sal Malaki perform. And wow, all I can say is his voice truly is a gift from God. Rachelle Gerodias was her perfect self. I’ve had the privilege of working with her twice — once at the launch of MDF Italia at Studio Dimensione, and the next was a couple of weeks ago when I hosted the Bank of Singapore’s preview gala for Salcedo Auctions.

I highly recommend Noli Me Tangere, The Opera. They are only showing until September 28th. Even if you were not a fan of Noli back in high school or if you think opera is just for the highbrow, try watching this beautiful all-Filipino opera. It’s a feast for the senses. If you can, bring your high school-level kids. It may even help them appreciate the story in class.

For tickets to Noli Me Tangere, The Opera click here.








I took the kids to watch the press preview of Atlantis Production’s Shrek The Musical last Thursday night (before typhoon Mario struck). It was a school night but we all agreed to take the risk of staying up past bedtime. The kids and I were guests of MAC Cosmetics and they gave us access to the makeup room backstage. The kids got to see a demo of how Fiona was turned green.

As the title suggests, Shrek The Musical is a stage adaptation of the Oscar-winning DreamWorks animated film Shrek. Just like the movie, Shrek The Musical has quirky twists on old familiar fairytales. This production is family-friendly. All three daughters – Sophia, Lily and Stella – loved it. They say it’s their favourite of all the shows. It was hilarious.

The casting, costumes and set design were fantastic. Congratulations to the director, Bobby Garcia. I was floored by the performance of Nyoy Volante as Donkey. He was so funny and really sounded like Donkey aka Eddie Murphy. Rycharde Everley, a British actor, played Shrek convincingly. Jett Pangan as Lord Farquaad was excellent.


Shrek The Musical is great fun for kids of all ages. Stella couldn’t stop talking about the funniest parts. And I had forgotten how beautiful Meralco Theater was. I’m so glad the owners are good at maintaining buildings. I performed my ballet recital here a gazillion years ago.


After the show, the kids and I were invited by the MAC Cosmetics team to see a demo backstage. This is the  exact green theatre makeup used on Fiona. It’s from the MAC Pro line called True Chartreuse.


Stella observing the greening of the demo model by MAC theatre makeup artist Myrene Santos.


According to Myrene, it can take as little as five minutes to green Princess Fiona’s face once the basic foundation, eyes and lips are already done. But watch out for some pretty amazing special effects on stage. You’ll witness Princess Fiona transform in less than two minutes. I don’t know how they did it.


Sophia took down notes. She plans to write about this experience for her school paper. Lily was way too sleepy at this point. It was past 11pm.


If you are looking for a fun musical this season, this is it. Bring your kids. I guarantee they will love it. For tickets to Shrek The Musical by Atlantis Productions, click here. Show ends October 12, 2014.






Every year, the past nine years, I’ve been taking the kids to see a kid-friendly Repertory Philippines musical. I give credit to the preschool teachers of my kids. They are loyal supporters of REP.

This year’s production of Pinocchio is so beautifully presented. We all know the story of a wooden puppet who wants to become a real boy. And that of Geppetto, the kind and generous toymaker. The afternoon we watched, our Geppetto was Miguel Faustmann.


I don’ t know if it’s the parent in me, but I was really touched by this very familiar story all over again. Stella said she got sad in some parts but she was happy in the end.


If you haven’t yet, you must bring your young children to one of REP’s productions for young audiences. Not only is it a great way to get your kids used to theatre etiquette at a young age, the colourful scenes, songs and dances will stay with them for a long time. (All stage photos are courtesy of Repertory Philippines. We can’t take photos while the show is ongoing).


Most of REP’s musicals for kids involve audience participation. Sophia got chosen to participate in the opening scene by pinning the map of Italy on the board. Haha.


This is the last year of my preschooler. I will miss our annual REP shows. But I think this is a tradition we wish to keep. I will always take my kids to see REP’s Young Theatre.


Last Saturday night at the lobby of Noli Me Tangere The Opera, I met this young girl named Andee Achacoso. She played Pinocchio the time we watched. She’s got a great voice that almost made me cry.


Repertory Philippines’ Pinocchio is playing at Onstage Theatre, 2nd Floor of Greenbelt 1 Makati until December 14, 2014. Bring your kids to this one. They will love it. You will love it. For tickets, click here.




Disney Live stayed true to form with spectacular costumes and stage design at the enormous MOA Arena. The singing, of course, was not live. But all the Disney princess fans in this family loved the show.


photo 3
We were invited by the producers to “meet and greet” Snow White and Dopey.


We also got to “meet and greet” the Magalonas and Danica Sotto-Pingris. Haha 🙂


Disney Live was on a special 3-day run last September 12 to 14th. Watch out for more Disney productions as Christmas time rolls in.


NOTE: I do not have a professional relationship with any of the producers of the four shows. I did not and will not get any commission from ticket sales. I paid for my tickets for Noli Me Tangere and Repertory Philippines’ Pinnochio. For Shrek The Musical, we got free tickets from MAC Cosmetics. For Disney Live, we were given free tickets as part of the online promo they had.



BlogHer 2014



I attended the BlogHer 2014 conference at Silicon Valley a few weeks ago. I don’t really know why I went out of my way to be there. It was a spur of the moment decision because I wanted to do something I had never done before and be in a place I’d never been to. I could have just chosen a more exotic location but instead, I chose Silicon Valley. I figured, my blog rode that whole from-hobby-to-industry wave that most early bloggers experienced. Perhaps it’s time to figure out where my blog fits in in the grand scheme of things. I spent my own money for the conference fees and my hotel accommodations. I was about to pay for my airline fare, when EVA Air, through Jeron Travel, sponsored my round trip ticket.

It was the 10th year anniversary of BlogHer, a huge network of American women bloggers, who contribute content, participate in a community of shared interests and earn from commerce. Im a new member of BlogHer network. I saw the line up of speakers and participants, and that’s what made me decide to attend. And because it was the 10th anniversary, we looked back at how we all started blogging then and the challenges and opportunities we face now that there are different forms of social media.

As soon as I found out that Arianna Huffington would speak, I was there. She’s a woman I look up to, having created one of the most influential news sites online. Then there was Richelle Parham, CMO of eBay North America who talked about the huge opportunities available to and largely untapped by online influencers. Melissa Barnes, head of global brands for Twitter, Melissa gave an exciting talk about working with Twitter’s biggest customers to help them drive measurable results and create custom initiatives that are authentic and appropriate for Twitter. Hollywood star Kerry Washington was also a highlight. She talked about her advocacies and political voice on Twitter. There were many other keynote speakers and workshop speakers who were very informative and inspiring. For more information on BlogHer, go here.

Here are some highlights of my BlogHer’14 experience.


It was my first time in San Jose, California. I stayed at the beautiful Fairmont San Jose.


You know you’re in California when you see these…


San Jose Convention Center


The first morning of BlogHer’14


I don’t know exactly how many participants there were at this conference. There must have been over 2000.


The main hall where the keynote speakers presented.


Got a chance to meet with the CEO and co-founder of BlogHer Inc., Lisa Stone. She was floored when she found out I flew in from Manila just to attend the conference.


With COO and co-founder of BlogHer Inc., Elisa Camahort. Her father is of Filipino descent.


So ya, all my photos were selfies not just because that was the theme of the conference – selfiebration – but also because I was alone.


Kerry Washington was one of the keynote speakers. She talked about how social media and the fans saved Scandal. Every Thursday night, all cast members, producers and writers got on Twitter to exchange with fans. “There are so few water cooler shows now because you can watch most shows whenever you want, like on netflix. Social Media has allowed us to be a water cooler show because if you don’t watch it when it airs, social media may spoil it for you.”


Kerry Washington was so awesome. She even took a selfie from the stage. It was the weekend before she would go back to work that Monday after having given birth. At one point, she heard a baby make a cute fussy sound in the audience (BlogHer is a mommy- and baby-friendly conference) and she stopped and looked for the baby. She joked that you can tell she’s a new mom.


There was a booth for The Mrs., an all-female rock band from Austin, Texas, who launched a new album titled Enough. They had this magic mirror that gave women the experience of seeing themselves in a different way. It was quite touching, actually. You can see the video here.


Arianna Huffington was also among the keynote speakers. She was interviewed by Guy Kawasaki.


Arianna signed her books. I lined up and waited for my turn. She’s charming, funny, witty. So sharp! More on Arianna Huffington in a future blogpost.


It was good to see that Samsung was a sponsor. They had a kitchen display called Samsung Living Atelier. I told them that in the Philippines, I represent Samsung digital home appliances.


So random. I won this Nikon DSLR at the Dreamhost booth!


My travel arrangements were done through Jeron Travel. I flew via Taiwan by EVA Air. All photos were taken using the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2.




Love yourself



Globe Business invited me to speak at their event called Project W. It is a private event held for the Globe’s women partners and clients, all of whom hold high-level positions in their respective companies. They’ve done it in Cebu and Davao and a few Fridays ago, it was held in Manila. The idea was to bring together Globe Business’ top women clients to feel treated to a day of relaxation, spend quality time on themselves, and value their individuality. It was a day to learn more about themselves, and feel empowered by listening to renowned speakers and life coaches.

I was invited to give a talk on the topic “The importance of loving yourself.” I’ve given many talks before, usually to students and universities and mostly focusing on urban planning, blogging and my career path. I’ve never really given a talk on a “self-help” topic. They gave me a couple of months to prepare for this but all my thoughts only made sense a few days before the event.

I showed the audience a peek into my life – as a mom, tv host, entrepreneur and blogger. I looked back at my journey and career path, both of which did not have a blueprint. I also never had a mentor. I shared the challenges and the kind of pressure I faced. I used to thrive on being busy, on working late at night. And this set the stage for my 20 reasons why you should love yourself. It’s too long to write here, but perhaps one day I can share it as a blog entry. Who knows.

Here are highlights from that lovely day with Globe Business Project W.


Every person faces difficult life choices. For me, as a working mom, it came when I was torn between going all the way with my TV work and spending more time at home. Instead of freaking out because I felt I had to choose, I celebrated the fact that I had a choice. It’s different for everyone.


This year has been an incredible journey for me. Part of my healing myself from burn out was to conquer “uncharted territory”. I am now finally in total control of my kitchen. And I got over my fear of cooking meats and chicken. I can cook anything now, and I do it with joy. It does so much to my spirit knowing I can make food for me and my family. I make sure I only use good stuff.


Perhaps the most important aspect of loving yourself is taking charge of your health. Have your annual mammogram once you’re 40. Some may need sonograms. The Philippines has the highest rate of breast cancer in the region. Let’s beat that by early detection.


There were three of us speakers that afternoon. Francis Kong spoke on Inspiring Excellence and Jackie Caniza on Life Design based on Values and Priorities.


With the dynamic guests of Project W. All were given kaftans.


I had fun meeting the participants.


The women were given a choice of pampering services.


Hydro yoga


The mani-pedi room


Foot spa


Lovely tableau by Globe’s Ronald Gonzales.


Ronald brought in some pretty coffee table books. At home, I like to surround myself with lovely books. I not only read and refer to them, I use them as part of my decor.


One of the function rooms at the Crimson Hotel was converted into a massage room.


Rags 2 Riches was there to allow the women to tap into their crafty juices.


All over the venue there were these lovely quotes by and about women.


This one, from Coco Chanel.


With the Globe Business team. Thank you for inviting me and making me part of this very inspiring day. Now, if I can just get my act together and do a DAPHNE® Day like this for my readers…



Taylor’s Mom



“From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for giving my child the opportunity to do what she loves doing. It is my absolute joy, as a mother, to see a crowd in a packed arena sing along with my child. Thank you.” – told to me by Andrea Finlay Swift, Taylor Swift’s Mom. Manila. June 6, 2014.


Listen. We all sang along with her.

(We were near the main stage. This part of the video shows Taylor at the other end of the arena at at extension of the stage, hence the back view.)


I don’t know why, despite all the excitement over meeting Taylor Swift, what resonated with me was that thing that her mom said… “I thank you all for giving my child the opportunity to do what she loves doing. It is my absolute joy, as a mother, to see an entire crowd sing along with my child.” Sniff.

Here is Best Day again. A song Taylor wrote as a surprise for her mom. The videos are from her childhood. A lot of love there. It reminds me of the many “best days” I have with with my own mom and dad and my children.



Meeting Taylor Swift



Daphne Osena-Paez with Taylor Swift_MCA MUSIC (Universal Music Philippines)
With Taylor Swift at her exclusive Vibe Room party before the Manila concert June 6, 2014. Photo courtesy of Taylor Swift’s management group. Thanks to MCA Music Philippines for this amazing opportunity.


It’s no big secret that my girls and I are big fans of Taylor Swift. My old blog has this story documenting Lily’s love for Taylor since she was a toddler. In 2011, I went through so much just to buy tickets for Sophia and Lily to watch Taylor Swift in Manila. And Lily, who was only 4 years old then, fell asleep after the first song because it was past her bedtime. This time, I couldn’t find any tickets for me and my girls. Tickets sold out within minutes.

Last week I got a phone call from MCA Music Philippines’ Melissa Juco. She asked if I was available on Friday, June 6th to attend Taylor Swift’s super exclusive Vibe Room / Tea Party just before the concert. I shrieked. The kids heard me. And so began the heartbreak and disappointment. Lily said, “Why you? I’ve loved her my whole life.” There was just no way I could have even tried to bring my kids to this exclusive meet & greet with Taylor Swift. Security checks, accreditation, confirmation. There were only 12 media guests invited. It was very special. I promised them I’d try to get Taylor’s autograph for them.

Here’s how it all went.


Last Friday we were told to be at MOA Arena by 5PM. The text said, “Please be prompt.” I was there at 5pm on the dot.


The gates didn’t actually open til 5:30. So I stood by the ramp and waited.


There I met Jill of Inquirer Super. She’s the one with the multi-coloured hair.


I wanted to take pictures of the fans wearing costumes inspired by Taylor Swift’s music videos. But I was running low on battery for both my phone and camera. So I was conserving…


By 5:45 we met the MCA Music Philippines managers and they brought us inside the building. I’m so glad I was prompt. Because as soon as we went through the gates, we were whisked upstairs to get backstage. There was no time to wait for other media guests. Some were left behind.


The walk towards the backstage of MOA Arena.


Footwear was an issue for me. I wanted height because… well, I was meeting Taylor Swift! But I didn’t know if we’d go straight to the concert or if there would be time to change shoes in between. So I wore my most comfortable heels – these are from Tory Burch. I had flats on standby with my driver, but I couldn’t go out to meet him and change shoes anyway. So ya, I was that girl in high heels during a concert. Haha.


There was a lot of security – X-rays, metal detectors, body guards both local and foreign. We entered the Vibe Room, which is basically a tent beside the technical backstage. There was a lot of red – fabric, pillows, lights. Inside, the mood was very relaxed, security faded to the background. Taylor Swift’s management rep came out to host us and offered us food, drinks and Cornetto. They advised us to spread out to different parts of the tent so that Taylor could move around and get to talk to each of us alone. We were not allowed to take pictures ourselves though. They said Taylor’s official photographer will shoot the photo.


I brought these drawings with me. Sophia, Lily and Stella each drew a Taylor portrait. Then wrote a letter in the back. I put a Fuji polaroid of them holding up Taylor standees which I took minutes before I left the house. They were all in stripes in homage to Taylor.


It took a quick 10 minutes at the Viber Room, then Taylor Swift entered the room together with a woman I quickly recognised as her mother. I knew she was Taylor’s mom because of my favourite video – Best Day. I smiled and waved at her mom like we were long lost friends, and she said hi back. Then I zeroed in on the tall, skinny, blonde-haired super star. She looked exactly like she does in her videos. Just like a living doll. Taylor wore a, pardon the pun, tailored little black dress with mesh cut outs on the sides to further emphasize her already unbelievably small waist. She had peep-toe black pumps with the cutest sabrina heel.

Taylor started to work the room to meet all of us one by one. I didn’t want to go first. I wanted to observe. I had to measure up if it was appropriate to give her a gift from my daughters – their drawings of all things Taylor Swift. The conversations worked like a formal reception line except that we were not in a straight line. Some interactions were faster than others. After introductions, she would ask questions, or the journalists would volunteer Taylor fan anecdotes from the radio, the music channel or the papers. It was not an interview or a press conference. There was a lot of laughter and jokes. She’s really charming. She even got a bit dorky with one of the record label managers. She signed one 8×10 poster for each. Then posed for a souvenir photo.

Then it was my turn. She walked towards me, extended her hand. We shook hands. I told her my first name.

Taylor Swift: Hi. I love your necklace. It’s so pretty. (Then she looks right at my necklace. I always wear my own work when it’s a milestone event.)

Me: Thank you. I make these. I’m also a jewellery designer.

TS: (Still looking at my neck piece, then looks right into my eyes). It’s really beautiful.

Me: Oh thanks. (Thought bubble… I wish I had thought of giving her a pendant and chain, even though that would cost me a lot because it’s all 14 karat gold. But I seriously would not mind if there was a chance that she’d wear it.)

TS: Hey we have the same hair.

Me: Oh my gosh. Well, ah, you’re very beautiful. (I was dying of kilig-ness and that’s all I could say.)

TS: Oh thank you.

So then I told her a little bit about what I do – TV and this website… that part got awkward. So then I found my opening to present her with my daughter’s gifts.

Me:  Taylor, I have three daughters and they are all big fans of yours. They made some artwork for you and asked that I give them to you.

TS: Oh wow. Thank you. Are they coming to the concert?

Me: No they’re not. Your concert sold out within minutes. But they watched your first concert in 2011. Lily was just 4 then.

TS: Oh cool. Well at least they’ll have a story to tell now. (Then she looks at the art work. Sophia’s drawings were on top.) Wow they are really so good at drawing. So creative. My goodness. Look at that, she drew my cat. My outfit. They’re really good artists. Thank you for this. (Then the small box of art leaves her hands). Do you want me to sign the picture?

Me: Yes please. For Sophia, Lily and Stella.

TS: They such pretty names. (She signs).  Do you want to have a photo with me?

Me: Yes please. Is it ok if we have the photo with my daughters’ works? They would be so thrilled.

TS: Yes of course. (And she holds it in her hands. The photographer takes 4 shots just to be sure.)

Me: By the way I was star struck with your mom too. I think she’s awesome. I know her from your song Best Day.

TS: Oh she’d get a kick out of hearing that.

Me: Thanks so much for all this.

TS: You’re welcome. And I love your dress. I really do.

Me: Oh gosh, thanks again. (Three major compliments from Taylor Swift. Plus she said we had the same hair.)


Precious gift for my daughters.


That’s how it went. Then before having her photo op with the MCA Music team, she spoke to all of us. She said that she recognizes the importance of media – the music channels, news reports, blogs etc. – because this is what got her to reach so many fans. “So to show appreciation for all that you do, since I have a concert to get ready for, I have asked my Mom to give you an exclusive backstage tour. I hope you like it. See you at the concert.”


Taylor Swift 2X Platinum Plaque Presentation for RED Album_MCA MUSIC 2_low res with names
Taylor Swift’s album Red received the double platinum award given by Anissa Kiang (Marketing Director for Asia, Universal Music Group), Cris Hermosisima (Senior Business Development Manager, MCA MUSIC), MJ Juco (Strategic Marketing Manager, MCA MUSIC), TAYLOR SWIFT, Mark Bonifacio (Domestic Marketing Manager, MCA MUSIC) and Haze Romawac (EMI Marketing Manager, MCA MUSIC)


Thank you Melissa Juco of MCA Music for the invitation and exclusive goodies from Taylor Swift. I actually bought two new Taylor Swift CDs (our old ones are dogeared) before meeting her but I got so flustered by all the compliments that I forgot to have her sign them.


Taylor Swift’s mother is Andrea Finlay but everyone calls her Momma Swift.


One of the reasons I like Taylor Swift so much, aside from her songs, is that she has a great relationship with her parents. She wrote Best Day to surprise her mom one Christmas. To my mommy readers, if you haven’t seen this video yet, you must. And let me know what you think. Because it is an anthem in our house.

Some snippets of the tour by Momma Swift –

The RED Tour has been going on for 16 months. They had 67 dates in the US alone.
They are on the tail end of the RED Tour. She was wistful when she said this.
They have 75 people working with them full time for this tour. And wherever they go, they hire about 200 more local staff – from security to technicals.
The video wall has over 4 million pixels. She conceptualizes her own videos. During the live show there are 12 camera angles with 2 permanent ones focused on her.
There are 7 costume changes in the RED tour. The fastest one is 3.5 seconds during the song Trouble.
Taylor likes has a theatrical approach to her shows. This love for theatre and grand costumes date back to when she was 7 or 9. She was into theatre productions at school. Her grandmother is an opera singer.
Taylor learned the guitar and started writing her own songs at 12.
Mama Swift initially wanted Taylor to be a horse rider.
Taylor plays four instruments at the show – banjo, piano, 7 electric guitars and 6 string guitars.
Taylor never lip-synchs in her concerts. Even if she’s sick.


This was the only part where we could take photos backstage. Look at all the guitars!


We were seated at Patron Section 116, which is very near the front but not on the floor. I love our seats because the stage was just on our eye level. (Yes, I have a neck problem. Haha.)


Since she said we had the same hair, I started obsessing over her hair. I think I need a fringe.


She plays the banjo.








One of the fancier costumes. She wore this during Trouble. Then…


In the middle of the song, she changed into this. Within 3.5 seconds.


She wore a red Manila T-shirt


The fans were predominantly girls. I wished my daughters were with me. But I was happy that I got them an autograph.


Love Story was ballerina and princess inspired.




Great concert. We love you Taylor Swift!