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.



Holy Carabao



It’s that time of the year again. I’m sure some, if not most, of you have started your Christmas shopping or at least have made the lists. Don’t look at me because I’m a procrastinator. I like sharing gift ideas though. Here’s something from Hindy Tantoco. Hindy, we’ve known as designer and creator of Culte Femme. She has since taken a sabbatical to focus on family and other creative pursuits while living in a beautiful farm. She really lives in a farm – cows, horses, chickens and all. I love her home.

This Christmas, again, Hindy is taking orders for her pro-Pinoy, pro-organic, pro-wellness, pro-yummy and pro-happy gift crates called Holy Carabao. These are great for friends, family, business colleagues and teachers on your Christmas list.


Bowl of Greens P995 + VAT
Salad is the new fruitcake. Show them how much you care with something healthy, revitalizing and not re-giftable. Fresh, scrumptious salad for two.
Includes: our signature Holy Carabao wooden crate; a wooden salad bowl; bamboo tongs; organic/biodynamic lettuce, micro greens, sprouts and cherry tomatoes — wrapped in a sealed bag with FreshPicks® ethylene absorber to ensure postharvest freshness for a longer period.


Flower Power Pots P695 + VAT
Flowers aren’t just for Valentine’s. Blooming gifts will bring love (not war) long after the 12 days of Christmas. Peace out.
Includes: our signature Holy Carabao wooden crate; two terracotta pots wrapped in cheerful farbic; two varieties of live, planted blooms in rich, living, organic soil.
You may substitute flowers with organic herbs like Tarragon, Basil, Oregano, and Dill for P875
You may also specify the flowers you prefer. For example: Poinsettias. Prices subject to change depending on flower variety.


Click, click to see MORE Holy Carabao options…


Chef Stevie’s Vietnamese menu




During our trip to India, my food friend was Steven Villacin. He’s so adventurous, ofcourse, being a foodie and all. Our first meal was breakfast. I was seated beside him and we tried everything. I was surprised that I liked the salty masala buttermilk. He said it was an “acquired taste.” The salty milk was just all wrong to him. It had herbs floating on top too, like a mojito. For me, it neutralized my tongue. It had been burning from all the curry and chutneys I was trying.

Stevie, as everyone fondly calls him, used to work in the financial industry. He ended his high-powered and fast-paced career and went for what he truly loved doing. Cooking. He put up a food order/catering business called Chef Stevie’s and made a name for himself with his specialty, Hainanese chicken rice. This has been my never-fail pot luck contribution at most parties.

Last Saturday, Stevie and his cousin Claudette CV Travel, the travel agency that put together our fabulous India tour, treated us to Chef Stevie’s new menu. We had an awesome lunch at home. Patrick is now expecting something like this every weekend. Good thing I have Chef Stevie’s number on my fave list. Haha.

Warning, viewing food photos past midnight can make you hungry.


Fried Shrimp Lumpia with Bacon served with Sweet Chili Sauce – Php1,200 for 50 pcs. (minimum).


The kids loved this!!! And so did I.


Fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls with Peanut Sauce. One order consists of 15 pieces for Php1,050. Additional pieces are charged at Php70 per piece


I felt healthy eating this. I kept getting reminded that everyone I met in Vietnam was slim.


Oriental Chicken Salad with Hoisin Dressing. One order consists of 2 half size deep pans (11 3/4 in. x 9 3/8 in. x 2 9/16 in.) for Php1,700. Chef Stevie currently does not accept half orders since not a lot of people order this. It’s perfect for a big lunch. Ours lasted three days! It also comes with crispy noodles for sprinkling on top.


To order Chef Stevie’s Vietnamese menu or his famous Hainanese Chicken Rice, +63906-508-4155


Casa Roces




A couple of weeks ago, we shot Urban Zone at this “new” restaurant called Casa Roces. My producers told me it was near Malacanang. They said it was an old Legarda house. I had to double check to ask if they were referring to Cocina de Tita Moning, which is known as the Legarda mansion. I’ve eaten there too many times. It’s a place you have to go fasting for before eating there.

Well, it was a pleasant surprise to see another house, also within the Malacanang neighbourhood. This one has a view of the Palace gates. It is literally across the street from the palace. The entire house was recently renovated to be converted into a restaurant and cafe. I interviewed the architect of the renovation, Tina Bonoan. It’s amazing that they respected the integrity of the structure but gave the place all the comforts of contemporary living.

The cafe is named Cape Chino after Don Chino Roces. Everywhere in the house there are reminders of the family’s heritage – prints of La Vanguardia and the old Manila Times news papers, photos and memorabilia from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I ran into Peachy Prieto who runs the business and she told me the story of the house, which her great aunt lived in. I forget the details of how the Prietos, Legardas, Roceses and all are related. Basta they are. Peachy pointed out that this wasn’t a mansion. It was just a regular house built in Commonwealth style. I thought it was gorgeous.

The restaurant is run and managed by the Cravings group. I enjoyed my meal. But please do not expect a full blown food review. You know me and food.

This post is picture-heavy so I split it. Please click on “Read more” to read more…


The gate of Casa Roces is right across the gate of Malacanang.


Interviewing the architect of the renovation/restoration Tina Bonoan. It is a perfect example of adaptive re-use. The main entrance of the house used to be off to the side (left photo). This is now the valet drop-off. Pedestrian guests can enter through the garden side, which Tina opened up to give a more dramatic entrance. They also knocked down walls in exchange for tempered glass picture windows. There’s a big Impy Pilapil sculpture and water feature out front.


The old foyer of the old entrance. Tina barely touched the layout of the great hallway. She just painted the walls and lined parts of the ceiling with pages from the old newspapers of Chino Roces.


The garden-side of the house, which faces Malacanang, has been opened up with sliding doors and a beautiful wooden deck.


Furniture came from the personal collection of the Legardas, Roces and Prietos. I love the mishmash of styles and periods.


The door to the cafe may look familiar to those who’ve been to Morita’s years ago. Morita is also a member of the clan.


The cafe reception is actually an extension from the original structure. It also opens up to a cozy outdoor bar with stone tables. Tina displayed memorabilia from the family. I love how un-stuffy the antiques look. Credit that to the chic/contemporary shelves painted in sunny yellow.


Everything here is original. The wood was just refinished. I love long curtains that drape and gather over the floor. It’s the only way to do drapes. I’m loving the light that comes through in this stairwell. The upper floor has private function rooms.


This is the terrace over the driveway of the old main entrance. Most old homes kept this as an outdoor balcony or smoking area. It was like a sunroom for the old family. Tina converted it to a private dining hall.


Original machuca tiles. This was one of my favourite rooms.


I loved that old homes had generous windows and huge eaves. Lots of natural light came in but no direct sunlight to make the rooms a living hell. I hope new architects never forget how our old homes were built. There’s so much wisdom in the bahay kubo, bahay na bato and their types.

Theres more…

Click to see the rest of the story

Esquire UK features Filipino food



I very rarely write about food. It’s not my favourite topic. Don’t get me wrong. I love to eat. I eat everything except innards and exotic stuff. I enjoy expensive meals and good wine. But I just don’t like writing about it for the simple reason that I don’t have enough words in me to describe food. This coming from someone who hosted a TV show that was 1/3 about food. I used to dread doing food reviews for F. So whenever I get invited to restaurants now, 95% of the time I decline. I am not a food blogger.

So when Charisse Chuidian and Erika Aquino of the Mandarin Oriental Manila emailed me scans of the August 2011 of Esquire UK, with a heading that included “Filipino food” I shelved it for a few days. I told Erika I’d read it after the hullaballoo about Lily’s birthday had passed. I read it last night, and whoa! I was floored. Amazing article about Filipino food written by Tom Parker-Bowles, who happens to be the son of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

I sent it to my brother, a major foodie, and this is what he sent back, ” ‘I swallow it down and bite into the egg. It’s beautiful, regally rich and pungent. A soft-boiled egg in a mink cape, packing a gold-plated AK-47.’ — Food porn… Even Tony Bourdain did not describe balut this way!”

Everyone must read this. Click on the photo, then click again for a readable size.










I love how Tom described Gaita Fores as “small and sexy.” How wonderful! And Imelda as “part Dame Edna, part Liz Taylor with a hint of Cleopatra and your granny too.” So true. I have shared a few meals with her. This is such a great article, I will stop writing about it because… I don’t have enough words. Everything he wrote was so true. From the gut.



Source: Mandarin Oriental Manila with permission from the author. And Esquire UK.

All pages are readable, just click on the photo scan and click again.