I love it when my friend Carlo Tadiar, editor in chief of Metro Home magazine, invites us to dinner at his house. He always hosts the most interesting dinner parties with the most engaging guests. Unlike most hosts (myself included), Carlo doesn’t have his food catered. He cooks everything himself. I always leave with a beautiful impression of a life of good taste and great style.

On Easter night, we had dinner at Carlo’s place. He had outdone himself again. The food was perfect – gazpacho, braised pork ribs, steamed fish, perfectly cooked shrimps and my favourite, “sosyal” na pinakbet.  Unfortunately I don’t have good food photos because I was too focused on eating. Here are some of the photos I managed to take.


Carlo’s living room with flash. I don’t like flash. So the rest of the photos are of the low-light, no-flash kinds. Pardon my unsteady hands. Blame it on the wine.


Carlo and me without flash


I saw this wall grow from being empty to the way it is now. And he says, he’s still not fished filling it up.


I love his throw pillows.


In my dream life I would want a wall full of curiosities like this. But it would be a battle with Patrick. He doesn’t like objects.


Carlo’s collection of photographs. Each has story. I love how stylishly undecorated his house is. Everything speaks of his own personal taste and not of a professional decorator’s. Never mind the fact that he is the Editor of a home design mag.


After dinner talks with writer and ballet instructor Cherish Garcia, furniture designer Gabby Lichauco, Ito Kish of Kish, Patrick.


SC Vizcarra’s Rita Nazareno and stylist Michael Salientes.


Carlo, fresh from the kitchen.


Another part of his collection – naked Ken doll.


I love bar carts. I’m still looking for the perfect one for our house.


I loved the way he filled this table with… stuff! It was perfectly cluttered. When I texted Carlo a question about the method to his way of decorating, he said “Wala lang.” (Just nothing.)


Matte porcelain little lamb (or is it a deer?).


Beside the lamb, a bunch of glass terrariums. One of them had three birds perched on its rim.


A garden gnome and brass lamp base.


I will never look at candy jars the same way again.





Tourism Shanghai



Thank you for your feedback about my Shanghai stories. I hope you’re not sick of them yet. I’m sure you’re sick of my chunky jacket. Told you from the start, I wore this for 4 days! I brought some other more fashiony jackets, but I didn’t want to risk getting cold.

It’s interesting that some of you have said you’ve been to Shanghai but didn’t see it the way I did. I really don’t know what to say about that except that each of us has her own way of experiencing things. We chose Shanghai because we wanted an urban experience. I wanted to learn about another city. I studied urban planning in university and this probably the reason why I see things the way I do. We actually spent an afternoon at the Shanghai Urban Plannning Museum – where I made sense of it all. Obviously I’ll be posting about that too later. Yes I’m a nerd.

I’m glad we didn’t do anything too touristy. That would have killed our mojo. We have become so jaded because of how we’ve experienced some tours (like in Bali, our guide was obviously on commission) that my husband and I prefer to go to a city and explore it ourselves. Our travel agent Claudette Vitug of CV Travel gave us a complimentary private tour package if we wanted it. So we spent half a day going to must-sees. It was pleasant and our tour guide wasn’t pushy. We just did a quick round of the Oriental Pearl Tower (we didn’t go up), skipped The Bund because it was the location of our hotel, went to a silk making factory where they sold us silk duvets and we bought (because it looked interesting), and did a quick walk through YuYuan Gardens. The rest of the time, we explored the city on foot and by taxi.


This is Nanjing Road, Shanghai’s very busy pedestrian shopping street. All the major chain stores are here – Uniqlo, GAP, Apple. We weren’t really here to shop so we just walked through. Luxury brands are taxed at a high rate in Shanghai, so take note of that. The only place I bought stuff were at Uniqlo, which will soon open in Manila anyway.


It’s worth a walk through at least once to watch the many people and see how old colonial buildings are being used as shops.


There was a building with a giant aquarium filled with sharks and beautiful turtles.


Have I told you that turtles are my favourite sea creatures? (Gosh, I hope this tank wasn’t a promo for a restaurant.)


Nanjing Road is to Shanghai what Champs-Elysees is to Paris.


Part of our halfday tour was a quick walk through YuYuan Gardens. Hello globalization, Starbucks. There are hundreds of shopping stalls here. I had to buy a compact flash drive for my camera. My tour guide said, “Are you Filipino? Because you do not shop like you’re from the Philippines. You have to haggle. At least half price.” I hate haggling.


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Chinese New Year at Mandarin Oriental



Lucky New Year Dishes
Lucky Dishes to welcome the Year of the Water Dragon


Chinese New Year at the Mandarin Oriental Manila has become a tradition for many. I’ve been once – we were ringing in the year of the sheep. Then days after I gave birth to my first daughter. Too much partying haha. I haven’t been back since. But I remember it clearly – the rituals, dragon dance, fireworks, mini parade.  Very festive.

This year that annual celebration will take place on the eve of 22 January at 10pm. To usher in the auspicious Year of the Water Dragon, Master Joseph Chau will again lead the ceremonies and rituals to augur luck in 2012. There will be dragon dances, traditional dotting of the eyes of the lions, and a 10-minute fireworks display. An eight-course Lauriat dinner, the first lucky meal of the year, follows at midnight at the elegantly decorated Ballroom. Tickets are PHP 2,988 net for adults and P1,588 for children.

Other offerings – a Prosperity room package which starts at PHP 6,888++ for an overnight stay for two, and includes international buffet breakfast, a PHP 1,000 dining credit in any of the hotel’s restaurants and a PHP 500 spa voucher. And Tin Hau’s homemade tikoy is also available at Rockwell from January 15 to 22. Is it true that tikoy has to be given to you by a Chinese friend for it to be lucky? Hello, friends. I need all the luck I can get.

If you don’t make it to the grand celebration, there’s always Tin Hau from Jan 23 to 29. In keeping with Chinese custom, the hotel’s master chefs annually lay out menus filled with dishes symbolic of wealth, good fortune, and family unity. With various culinary interpretations and sumptuous ingenuity, the Chinese restaurant’s team headed by Executive Chef Hann Furn Chen has created prosperity menus showcasing dishes that bring luck and harmony.


Poached Hong Kong  Chicken with Ginger Sauce
Poached Hong Kong chicken with spring onion and ginger sauce. A chicken dish is important during Chinese New Year, as eating chicken is considered healthy. The rooster’s crow is a good start to the day; likewise, eating chicken is a good start to the year.


Wok Fried Shrimp in XO Sauce 2
Wok fried shrimp with X.O. sauce. Also considered lucky are dishes that are golden or reddish in color. The cooking method of deep frying symbolizes Gold among the Chinese and serving a golden deep-fried dish, such as Wok fried Shrimp, is representative of abundance in wealth for the coming year.


Five Happiness Combination Platter
New Year’s five happiness combination platter: B.B.Q. suckling pig, roasted pork asado with honey sauce, marinated jelly fish Szechuan style, golden fried shrimp mousse and black moss rolls and crispy fried anchovy with spicy plum sauce.


The New Year’s Five Happiness Combination Platter is a barbecue combination of roast duck, chicken, pork and jellyfish. It is a symbol of a bountiful harvest for the coming year. The combination of different ingredients also symbolizes the gathering of friends and relatives for the occasion of Chinese New Year. Noodles, of course, are a staple on the menu as they are representative of a long and harmonious life.  In the Chinese language, the words “fish” and “profit” are homophonic to each other—they sound the same, and so eating steamed fish during Chinese New Year means more profit for the coming year.

For more information on Mandarin Oriental, Manila’s Chinese New Year activities, call the hotel on 750 8888 or email



Some thank yous



Here are some of the new things I received from brands/companies over the holidays. There were many more but I wasn’t able to photograph every single gift. I will try to post them in the future. So to everyone who sent goodies, thank you so much.


I wasn’t able to photograph all the beautiful wrapping. Why are the Holidays like that? Everything is just magnified and overloaded, it’s hard to focus and give attention to one thing. Every single item was wrapped with so much care.


My sister in law Isabelle sent the most original wrapping. She printed photos from our last family vacation and taped them on to kraft paper. Then she tied gold string around them (I bought the string for her in Market Market and sent them to NYC). I love these thoughtful personal touches.


The Estee Lauder team sent me this set from their Michael Kors collaboration. I love it! Perfect palette for everyday makeup. And the little pouch is so glam!


Curl enhancing products, gift from Alex Carbonel of Studio Fix Greenbelt. My favourite is APE. I spray it mid-day or in between events or places. It gives my hair a natural-looking bouncy wave. The label says “after-party spray.” The Moroccan Oil is very good too. Just use a little bit. It’s good for any hair, whether permed or not. Potion K is like a curl-enhancing lotion to be applied on wet hair.


VMV sent me this gift pack, for babies. They do everything so well – from merchandising to graphics and packaging. I have yet to try their products.


This LAMY fountain pen was a gift from Bong Rojales and Rossy Yabut of Heima. I love fountain pens! And this one’s so light.


You know me and tote bags. This was sent to me by Amina Aranaz. I love the mix of material she used – leather, shell, hardware. You can find this bag in Aranaz stores in Greenbelt and Rockwell.


Evita Peroni
Evita Peroni sent me this hair elastic with a leather flower. It works as a ponytail holder or headband. Or a bracelet.


This wasn’t a Christmas present. It was something we earned. But we only got the cards over the holidays.


As regular clients of CIBO, I can’t tell you enough how wonderful it is for our kids to be members of Club Bimbi. There are so many freebies and fun stuff. One time they had “make your own pizza” for kids! And it had spinach which the kids ate. Ask any CIBO branch about applying for a Bimbi card. It’s open to all kids under 13.




I did some styling for Metro Home



A few weeks ago, I spent an afternoon at Ito Kish’ store in Nicanor Garcia St, Makati. Our friend, Carlo Tadiar asked us to do a spread for his magazine, Metro Home. The idea was to ask three designers to set up the same exact table and corner. Carlo invited me, Ito and Miguel Rosales. I tried to say no and stalled as long as I can. Busy was an understatement. But eventually it pushed thru and we had fun while doing it.


Metro Home1
And how the opening spread looks like. Yes, I included a Daphne chair in the background.


I chose to do a tea party setting – something young, playful and feminine. I was thinking of my kids while choosing my items. These photos were taken using my Olympus PEN EP3. I was playing with the art filters.


It all started with this set of stackable square plates. I found them in Dimensione. Loved the Palladian architecture details printed on them.


Then I saw the grass-like place mats. So instead of doing something ultra modern and architectural, I went the playful route.


And I couldn’t not have these. Fell in love with the print and packaging of these precious soaps in Dimensione. I had to have them in the photo. So I set them up like little petit fours on a cheese plate from Alessi (I couldn’t find a cute cake plate).


These bears are actually nylon eco bags. I thought they’d be good party favours. Here they are leaning on my whimsical teapot from home.


And I was running out of ideas and needed some colour so I picked up these playful glasses also from Dimensione. The napkins are actually waffle fabric tea towels from Ito Kish store. I just folded them to make them look like napkins.


Then I thought it needed more softness – so I brought out my Cath Kidston tea set.


And to pull everything together, I placed little bolster pillows on the back of each chair. Luckily Ito had some floral pillows in his store.


Here’s the current Metro Home issue. It’s also available digitally on Zinio. Support, support! It’s a great issue. Lovely country homes.