Debbie Palao



I was one of the three judges at this year’s Cebu Next international furniture show for the awards called Mugna. One of the designers that caught my attention was Debbie Palao. She’s not new in the business. She’s been designing furniture for over twenty years. She and her husband, Gus, run a successful furniture factory in Cebu. They’ve focused mainly on the foreign market, resulting in a strong brand that’s represented abroad but not locally (yet).

This year, Debbie granted our wish to feature her work and showroom in Urban Zone. I approached Debbie for the design auction I was organizing for UNICEF, called Auction for Action. She generously donated two Maze tables. The auction was a huge success. We raised over P1.4 million through an online auction. A lot of people were asking, who is Debbie Palao. Here’s Debbie’s world.


At the Cebu Next furniture expo in April 2011. I was with my fellow judges.


I fell in love with these chairs. Debbie named them “Pout”. Made of steel foundation with woven and tied thread. I love the mixture of hard and soft, in an exaggerated way.


This is the MAZE coffee table in natural rattan. The ones she donated to UNICEF were made of blackened rattan. Just look at the complexity of the pattern. Completely done by hand.


Me and Debbie at her showroom. I’m loving all those lamps.


Debbie Palao’s showroom in Mandaue, Cebu.


The showroom. In the foreground, another of my favourite, E’Kiss. It reminds me of telecom tower but with abaca rope criss crossing the steel bars. Again, I love the irony of mixing high tech metal against the humble abaca rope.


Another witty piece. Debbie calls this Ripples. It looks like a soft rug thrown on top of a stool. But it also looks like ripples in water caused by one pebble. I love how the piece was tied or woven together in one continuous line starting from the centre point.


One of my favourite chairs. Debbie took inspiration from one of her poufy skirts and came up with the idea of “dressing up” a chair. It’s such a stunning and witty piece.


The reason they called it Meryll was because of Meryll Streep’s character in The Devil Wears Prada who threw her jackets around. Debbie jokes that her family and staff refer to her as that same character when she’s not looking. šŸ™‚


Cute Button stool. All her pieces are ergonomically designed. All comfortable.


The chocolate brown with a pop of orange is adorable.


Debbie’s furniture is sold in Europe, India and South America. Her work has been featured in Elle Decor, House Beautiful and other major publications. Here’s one of the recent ones, spring 2011.


It’s that stool/side table that’s completely hand painted with dots. I love it’s graphic, ethnic vibe.


And here’s another version in the showroom.


Check out Debbie Palao’s site here.


All in a day, June 30


I had a full day yesterday – crazy but fun. I’ll get into a more detailed post later. I’m rushing today to go to my uncle’s funeral (mom’s brother). Death is never easy to understand. One day I will find the words to share the lessons I learned – about how I was touched by an angel almost literally – but it’ll take time and lots of understanding. Thank you in advance for you condolences and prayers.

Now here’s the story about yesterday, based on my iPhone photos. I knew I’d have a full day so I maximized time with the three rabbits in the morning – starting at 5:30. I had an appearance at Rustan’s Makati for my furniture line at 2pm. Then I had to rush over to Sofitel Hotel (Philippine Plaza) to model for Hindy Tantoco at Metro Wear by 5pm. I know, I know… I’m not a model. But hey, how can anyone say no to Hindy. All designers were given one outfit, one model. And she decided to choose a muse instead of a model, so that was me. Believe me, I was hesitant. I used the Rustan’s afternoon event as an excuse not to do it. But we all found a way. I say “we” because I was secretly flattered Hindy chose me over all her lovely friends. More on that later.

Before all the glam events, I had to do the groceries. I’m running out of ideas for snacks and lunch meals for the kids. Hmmm, that sounds like an interesting blog post. Anyway, I like doing the groceries by myself. No distraction. But I always end up going over budget.


photo 2
The price of garlic! Local/native garlic costs twice as much as garlic from Taiwan. Sigh. (I still chose native though).


This beef product doesn't have any label...
And I was a little ticked off that this meat product didn’t have a label about where it’s from, who the manufacturer is or if it’s even real beef. Isn’t there a law? Can anyone clue me in?


Daphne Furniture in Rustans
Then I rushed to go to Rustan’s Makati. Did makeup in the car. Painted my nails in the Rustan’s bathroom.


Daphne Furniture in Rustans
Here’s my set up inspired by the Amalfi coast. Daphne Furniture was used (except for the table). The scene was executed by Astrud Crisologo who is now a buyer for Rustan’s.


Metrowear backstage
Then I rushed over to the Sofitel. No traffic at the time. This is where I got made up by the MAC team.


Metrowear backstage
Hindy sent me to Pong Niu, a senior makeup artist for MAC.


Metrowear backstage
I died and went to MAC heaven.


Hindy's peg
This is the hair peg.


Hindy's peg
This is the makeup peg.


Metrowear backstage
Obviously not a wearable look. But it was a show and I trusted Hindy and Pong.


I was all alone – half scared and half thinking “let’s just have fun.” So I tweeted “Can Marina Benipayo teach me how to walk?” She is the goddess of the ramp! She closes all the shows. No one comes close to the way Marina glides and turns on the runway. I’ve only really met her once – during a shoot for Metro.


Marina Benipayo
Minutes after I tweeted that, THE Marina Benipayo walks in. I had no shame. So I just yelled out her name, “Marina!” Fierce makeup calls for fierce attitude. She ran up to me and said, “OMG Daphne, I didn’t recognize you.” And I was like, “What do you mean? This is my everyday makeup.” Haha. She told me stories about how after shows, she’d rush home to Angeles without washing theatrical makeup like this. And she’d scare off the toll operators. Haha.


Metrowear backstage
Yes, I have a huge head compared to Marina. I have a huge head, period. And so does Jackie O, haha. I asked her to give me some walking tips. She joked and said, “when you reach the end of the runway, do a tumble and then do the splits.” Hilarious. Then she said, “Seriously, if all else fails, just smile.”


Metrowear backstage
Reality was starting to set in. I’m not a model. I’m not a model. I’m just doing Hindy a favour and living out some childhood fantasies. I’m just playing dress up.


How’s that for a full day?

More about the two shows later…

Daphne Furniture in Rustan’s



I will be in Rustan’s for the Italian Festival today. My line, Daphne Furniture, is part of the celebration focusing on Italian Themed Home Decorating. I will be with Leif Erik Hannikainen and the lovely Mrs Nena Tantoco who is our ninang in our wedding!



I’ve also been meaning to thank Metro Home for having featured Daphne Furniture in many issues in the past. Thanks to my good friend, the editor-in-chief Carlo Tadiar and also to Barbie Pardo. I totally appreciate your support. The pieces shown below are similar to the ones we’ll be using at the Rustan’s event later.









Corners of our home


I did the ultimate in working from home today. My UZ team came over to shoot some spiels. This means you’ll be seeing snippets of my home in the next three episodes of Urban Zone. It is always a major production when my house is being shot. I’m glad I’m done the rounds of “publicity” for my sheets and furniture. There was a time we were shooting at the house every week. But now we’re back to reality. And reality with a husband who loves bicycles and three daughters who love toys just means we have clutter.

So I warned my team that we’ll have to do some major camera angling tricks to avoid the undesired shots. We are in the middle of supposedly having a garage sale and kitchen renovation. But those don’t seem to be happening. So we have stuff in boxes. Ugh.

I keep looking at how things were when we finished our room renovations. We had a clean slate. Now there are too many layers. Especially in my closet.


Master Bedroom
This is the “escritorio” in our room. Right now though there’s a TV on top of that desk. But we manage to keep this looking the same.


My favourite flower
This is my work desk, but now the kids have taken over. It’s full of bins of crayons and pens. Still relatively organized. Just a bit tight.

So here’s how our shoot went today. We limited the shots to little corners…


UZ shoot at home
We played with parts of the small lanai. I wore a sequined top which is the itchiest top ever created I think. I paired it with slim taupe pants and nude coloured heels. My bangs are getting long again and they’re starting to really bother me.


Manny and Denmark of UZ moved some furniture around. This is one of our outdoor chairs. It’s from the 60’s.


UZ shoot at home
Then they brought one of the Cobonpue chairs outside.


UZ shoot at home
I got this dress because it looked like fun. From Forever 21. I wore it with earrings that can convert into a bracelet. It’s a genius design by Diane von Furstenberg for H. Stern. Ring was a gift from Tito Villanueva, an interior designer friend.


UZ shoot at home
The red door. By the way, look at the icons of this website. The icon for Home/Blog is this exact door.


UZ shoot at home
This K&Company dress has a stunning colour. It’s just not registered well in this photo. I like wrap dresses. So easy to wear. My necklace is a collection of antique charms. The shoes are made by a local shop, the name escapes me.


So this is how my day went. In between filming, the kids were running around and air conditioning units were being cleaned.

Tell me, how did your day go?




UZ: Tagaytay weekend home

Hello friends! I’ve missed you. Sorry for taking that long break. We are THIS close to turning over and moving into our new site. I didn’t realize how tedious it could be. Plus I’ve been learning new skills that I’ll be applying to the new site. It’s like learning a new language, literally. And I’m having a hard time retaining the info unless I practice everyday. Yikes.

So in the meantime I’m back here in LJ to give you a few updates… because I’ve missed you all.

Here are a few photos from last week’s UZ shoot. This is a weekend home in Tagaytay. The owners wanted something that looked playful and fresh. The exterior of the house was dictated upon by the developers – all country-ish. So Mark Madolaria (interior designer) used that basic idea as well.


Lovely climate in Tagaytay.


All the homes had this character.


Setting the tone at the front entrance.


With Mark Madolaria, the interior designer.


Living and dining areas.


Dining area. Yellow was the main colour.


A couple of wing chairs by the side of the stairs. Nice use of those see-through acrylic nesting tables.


Most of the furniture came from Heima store.


They added new floors – engineered wood floor boards. The original floor was indoor/outdoor tiles.


Bedroom of teenage girl. She wanted something inspired by glam Barbie.


Bedroom of older sister. She wanted “Tiffany blue.”


Everything was new.


Mother’s bedroom. Very cute.


Wingchair from Heima. It’s called “Holly Parrot.”


Interiors by Mark That Space.