Kitchen Studio



Last Friday, I hosted an intimate event at 105 Rada, the showroom of Kitchen Studio.


The event was to re-introduce old partners and new ones including Bisazza, Hunter Douglas and Kauffman.


I met Kitchen Studio’s Rafael Calero last year through my friends at Bisazza. We are trying to work on my kitchen at home – as soon as I get my act together.


David Kauffman talked about new products under their brand.


It’s always nice to see old friends – Joan Soro was my Editorial Assistant when I was editor of Metro Weddings eons ago. She then went on to be Managing Editor. Now she is with Cocoon magazine.


Flamenco dancers from Clara Ramona.


I wore Lanvin x H&M from last year – scored by Ingrid Go in Paris. Lucky me. I swear I had my hair blowdried before the event, but it has a life of its own and prefers to be disheveled. Used an old denim shoulderbag which I converted into a clutch.



Metrobank Art & Design Excellence


Earlier this year, Metrobank Foundation invited me to be a member of the Board of Judges of Metrobank Art & Design Excellence (MADE). It’s a very prestigious annual art/design competition. I had to be sworn to secrecy and not reveal myself as a judge. I was among the company of academics, artists, architects, designers. Ramon Orlina was chairman of the board of judges for sculpture. I was one of the judges for the Interior Design category – I suppose because of my exposure Urban Zone. I approached the “job” as a consumer and editor, as I am not a professional interior designer. I could just as well have judged painting as art is my first love and I secretly buy art. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree with a Specialist in Fine Art History from the University of Toronto (Urban Studies was my Major). It was a great honour to have been invited by Metrobank Foundation. The MADE awards’ past recipients include celebrated artists like Elmer Borlongan, Mark Justiniani, Gabby Barredo and recently Ronald Ventura, whose work sold at Sotheby’s for $1.1 million US dollars.


There was a little part where all the judges would be called on stage. Initially the organizers told me the attire was “formal.” Good thing I double checked. Formal means gown. But what they meant was business cocktail. As I don’t do business attire well, I opted for something cocktaily-artsy. This dress is from K&Company’s current collection. Wore them with nude pumps in vegetable tanned leather, can’t get any simpler than that. And a little minaudiere in purple, a gift from Katherine Cheng of K&Company. Grabbed my hair in a high ponytail and put make-up on in the car.


Just wanted to set the record straight. I am not a TV producer in the Philippines, US and Asian region. I’m just the producer of Urban Zone. But I have won awards for my work in the Philippines, US (Gold in US TV and Film Awards in Los Angeles, CA) and Asian region (two Asian TV awards). Sorry to toot my own horn, I have no publicist or manager, LOL.


Aniceto Sobrepena, President of Metrobank Foundation, with other VIPS, awarding the MADE winners.


Touches of Varekai…


Alexander Roxas, 2nd Prize winner for painting. His work, “Uncorrupted.”


A lot of people go shopping for new artists in MADE. I was interested in this but it got bought on the spot.


Interesting interpretations of social realism in a very Filipino way. I met one artist who wasn’t among those that competed. She said that she wouldn’t do well here because her art was “too happy.” Cute. Not to say that the art was all dark though. They all had deep socio-political messages, but some were approached with wit, humour and irony. I was on the lookout for technique. I love that there seems to be a move towards photorealism.


Great turnout.


One of the semi-finalists.


I loved the “uniform” of the Metrobank Foundation female staff. They looked distinguised and sophisticated.


The grand prize winner for Interior Design, IDr. Angelo Del Mundo. We picked two finalists out of a batch of 18. We reviewed their plans and sketches and deliberated amongst ourselves for one day. Then the two finalists, Angelo and Childy Elamparo, worked on an empty model unit of a Federaland condo for about two months. Then we went back to see the actual space and judged based on the actual. It was fun and taxing at the same time. I thought it would have made a great TV series…


MADE 3rd Prize winner Julmard Vicente and his winning piece “Prosti-Tuition.”


Sorry for the incomplete photos. I flew solo that day and as you can see, ended up carrying lots of things like my awesome plaque from MADE, a few magazines and stuff. I had to convert my minaudiere into a little bag (it had lapiz lazuli beads as handles).
Congratulations to all the winners and participants of MADE. Thank you Metrobank Foundation for inviting me. Long live Philippine art and design!



Urban Zone: The real Design Doctor



Last Friday we featured a 4-year old house that was renovated by new homeowners. They didn’t hire an interior designer or architect, just a contractor to do re-do the paint and changing of some windows. The couple, both doctors, had brought with them many of the furniture from their family’s home in an older part of town – mostly heirloom pieces and antiques. The husband, a cosmetic surgeon by profession, has a knack for designing spaces and a strong sense of style. I asked him why he didn’t hire design professionals, he said he would have been a tough client because he knew exactly what he wanted and what he didn’t want (plus they already had beautiful pieces to begin with).


When the couple bought the house, it was an all-white building. The family added brown borders to frame the windows and eaves trough.


Fine antiques at the entrance of the house. The oil painting dates back to the early 1900’s. The doctor says it’s always been hanging outdoors, even at their old house. I love gallineras. We have a few at home, and one of them is also outdoors, as seen in my BC mag cover early this year. A gallinera basically is an old wooden sofa with a caged storage space below, originally to hold live chickens. It’s the best space saving piece of furniture with a lovely story.


I asked the doctor what look he wanted to achieve when decorating their space. He said he grew up in southern subdivisions where a lot of his friends’ moms had comfortable homes and huge lanais. The peg was “Lanai Tita” – another term I so love. Haha. Can’t argue with that. Southern lanai living rocks! This house had a lot of outdoor living spaces, a huge garden, a pretty pool and lots of fresh air.


There used to be three small windows in this part of the house. The doctor consolidated it to create one huge picture window visible from the living and dining areas. He also personally managed the layout of his gardens.


The most used part of this house… the kitchen. I love the size and layout. Very comfortable. The lady of the house loves to bake.


The master bedroom. He defied the conventional relaxing room and painted a red accent wall. Red is the colour of energy and excitement. Hmmm, makes sense in a bedroom too. LOL. He also broke another feng shui rule of putting the headboard against a window. To remedy that, he hung these huge wooden screens that slide to the side whenever they want to open the window for ventillation. The wooden screens “disappear” as wall panelling when drawn to the side.


If you watched the show last Friday night you would see the cute feature of their lavatory. Instead of the conventional faucet and basin, the doctor sourced a lovely porcelain dish-like lavatory and installed a spray-type spout directly on the dish. The result looks like a little fountain that juts out of the lavatory. Cute.


Second-floor balcony where the kids do their arts and crafts.


He says the pool was just a bonus. It wasn’t part of their initial criteria when house hunting.


A major highlight – his “man cave” which housed his awesome audiophile equipment. I didn’t understand a thing, but I knew those things were very very valuable.



Urban Zone is seen on ABSCBN every Friday nights after SOCO and internationally via TFC The Filipino Channel. Please check with your local cable carrier regarding the schedule. The show is available online through by subscription.



Islands Stay, Cebu



A couple of months ago I was a guest of the Department of Trade and Industry at the Creative Cebu Summit. There I talked about my little creative enterprises. Why Cebu? I was part of the team put together by the British Council to assist in forming Creative Cebu in 2009. During that time I met Jay Aldeguer, who was also part of the same British Council program. Jay is the man behind The Islands Group – clothing, souvenirs, banca tours, water sports and more. Back then he had just launched the Islands Banca Cruise – a hip reincarnation of the traditional banca retrofitted with ipod docs and speakers, comfy beanbags and packed lunches. He told me his next dream step was a value chic hotel. Early this year, two branches of Islands Stay Hotels became a reality.

Just like all the existing Islands Group products and services, Islands Stay bears the bright orange logo (what is the name of that cute font?) and hip reincarnation of a traditional hotel/motel/inn. It has chic minimalist and CLEAN interiors. No-frills approach and yet all the basic necessities are there if you need them – including espresso and free wifi. The punchline is, you get all that for as low as P950 per room. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Read on…


So while I was in Cebu a couple of months ago, Jay Aldeguer CEO of The Islands Group, invited me to cut the ribbon of Islands Stay Hotel. Also with us was Cebu City Tourism Commissioner Marco Protacio.


No fancy concierge or reception area. Just a straightforward lobby-slash-coffee shop. Since opening, they’ve been enjoying an 85% occupancy rate during dry run, whereas hotels usually average 20% six months after opening. They have a 50% walk-in rate.


How cute is that? Incidentally, the group is targeting Palawan, Bohol and Baguio next.


“We pride ourselves on good design & service. We’re a value hotel but we make sure to make our guests feel relaxed and comfortable, and we’re the only hotel in Cebu that provides cold towels upon check-in,” – Jay Aldeguer.


Instead of using hotel terms like deluxe, standard, suite (which no one really understands why deluxe is not actually luxurious), Islands Stay classifies its room like Tshirt sizes – Small (P950 promo), Medium, Large and Extra Large (P2150). This is the Large room in the the Mactan branch.


I’m not going to say anything cliche about the details, except “Awww.”


The published rate of this room is P1650. For two people! Additional persons will be charged P300 upon check-in. There are two branches – in Mactan which is a 3-minute ride to the airport and Uptown which is a 3-minute walk from Ayala Mall.


They cater to a diverse market – 70% domestic and a healthy international clientele (30%) with different purposes like for business, to visit friends/relatives, flashpackers ie. business-class backpackers.


Free wifi in your room. (I hate having to pay for wifi at hotels).


Another “Awww” detail.


For more information,
Uptown Branch, Archbishop Reyes Ave., Cebu City (032) 266-0832
Mactan Branch, M.L. Quezon, Lapulapu City (032 )239-5456



Renovation project



Last night’s Urban Zone episode got a lot of feedback in Facebook and in my Twitter. Well, all episodes do. But last night’s was special because it featured the work of two young architects, Kellyn See and Rex Gapuz. Both are graduates of University of Santo Tomas architecture and both just got their Masters degree in Architecture at Politecnico di Milano. This was their first project after coming back from Milan.

It was a total renovation of a 16-year old house. The couple who had bought the house initially wanted their design services for the interiors only. Kellyn and Rex presented them with two scenarios – new furniture only and/or complete reconstruction of the house. The owners were impressed and went for it.

Here are the results. All photos are from Kellyn See.










Amazing, eh?

As of writing this, Kellyn and Rex don’t have a website yet. For now you can look for them in Facebook. Catch them while they’re still young and (hopefully) affordable.

EDIT:  Here are some photos from my camera before the batteries went dead.


With Kellyn and Rex


The ledge in the front of the house (it’s cement). This has the effect of continuing all the way inside.


The living room.


There’s the ledge


View from the foyer