Christmas Gift Ideas

 

 

So here we go again. It’s mid-December. Have you done your Christmas shopping yet? Or are you in a panic? Don’t be.

I was actually a bit more organized this year. I stocked up on pieces that I knew were giftable while shopping for myself at SM Home. I also went on a short trip to Barcelona. It’s for a special TV project that will air in January. More on that later. I knew I’d be gone, so I got most of my shopping done a couple of weeks ago.

Since this was the year I conquered the kitchen (yes!), I focused on shopping around this theme. I figured my friends and family could always use trays, containers, serving dishes, cookware etc. I was amazed at the wide range and assortment of gift items like in the bed and bath section, kitchen tools, home decor and accents at SM Home. What makes it even better, is the affordable price range. I also love the way SM home is organized now. If you’ve been to the Makati, Aura, and MOA stores lately, you’d know what I mean. All like objects are in the same place, neatly arranged in colour blocking.

Here are a few gift ideas that I’ve picked out from a few days of shopping. Hope you find something here…

 

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For teachers, co-workers, students, staff, these stainless steel lunch kits will always come in handy all year round. Each has a handle which makes it very easy to be brought by kids or adults. It’s big enough to store warm rice and the double decker version is perfect to hold a main dish separately. Look at the friendly prices — two layers P399.75, one layer P249.75. To give it some personal touches, fill the lunch kits with packs of candies, cookies, chocolates when you give it as a gift.

 

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For your couple friends, family friends, colleagues and associates who matter. Chip n’Dip Serveware P699.75. Again, to add that personal touch, include a bag of good quality tortilla chips and some salsa. Homemade would be good. I would also throw in some tea towels or gingham print napkins (plenty at SM Home). Wrap all of them in a basket with cellophane. Chic!

 

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For your couple friends, wedding godparents, business associate, a special kris kringle event, or your parents. Perfect for entertaining throughout the holiday season with pica-pica or cocktail party food. It packs away flat, yay! Keizo 3-tier square service set P1299.75

 

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For your good friends who are domestic divas, mommies, hobbyists, give them this Westinghouse Mini Donut Maker, P1099.75. You or your recipient can enjoy fresh baked homemade donuts with the mini donut maker without frying. My kids love anything miniature, so this will definitely be a hit with them. It has uniquely designed donut holes on non-stick plates that create 7 delicious donuts in under 4-6 minutes. This is a healthier alternative to store-bought donuts which are deep fried. You can also control the ingredients of your batter.

 

I’ll be posting more gift ideas in my Instagram at @DaphneOP throughout the next couple of weeks. I’ll be going back for more items this week. Will post more good finds.

 

SM Home is located at The SM Store. For regular updates, please follow SM Home on Twitter at @SMHome_Ph, on Instagram at @SMHome, and on Facebook at SM Home

 

 

Mini Melissa

 

 

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Set up

 

Wow, thank you for your response to my previous post about getting back to basics and telling more stories. I really appreciate that you’re all still here. Thanks for the comments in Disqus below, in my Facebook page, and even in Instagram. We will try to tell more stories.

It took me days to complete this post. Haha. Because after all that, here is another product launch. But hey, really, this happened to me and Stella, and we had fun, so I’m telling this story. In fact, I enjoy this brand so much they recently made me brand ambassador (full disclosure). So this is about Mini Melissa, the kiddie line of Melissa shoes. I’ve been a fan of the brand for over five years. They are comfortable and stylish… and lots of fun. I can’t remember exactly when I first bought Melissa. But here is my favourite pair.

 

Wearing K&Company dress and Melissa shoes
This one, my happiest shoes! Vivienne Westwood x Melissa. From an Urban Zone shoot in 2010.

 

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Apparently I wasn’t the only one who loved Melissa. When Lily was 4, she would borrow them.

 

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Ooh, when Stella was a baby, she also played with them.

 

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In 2010, the mother brand Melissa launched Mini Melissa. We bought the first generation Mini Melissa x Vivienne Westwood for Lily. It got handed down to Stella. These are a major upgrade from the jelly shoes we grew up with.

 

Click to see more Mini Melissa…

(more…)

Our Sweet Christmas

 

 

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I know Christmas starts early in the Philippines. I have friends who put up their Christmas trees on September 1st! As they say, Christmas starts during the “-ber” months. But in our home, we’ve always put up our tree on the first or second weekend of December.

Well this year, we are doing things differently in the Paez house. For one, we have a brand new tree. And secondly, we are trying new ornaments. You know how much we love our old ornaments. They all have a story. They all have sentimental value. Some are precious hand-blown glass and brass balls. (Breakage is always part of annual Christmas memories.) We are keeping them and bringing some out. But for the first time we are doing a themed Christmas tree!

A few days before Halloween, I was walking by the SM Store and couldn’t resist the Christmas decorations. So I went inside and found myself in the Christmas wonderland-like setting at SM Home. They had a wide range of Christmas decor, arranged by colour and themes. They had classic and sophisticated ornaments, cute cartoony Santa decor, toy-inspired accessories, and kiddie versions of Christmas trinkets.

 

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I saw this Christmas candy-themed tree at SM Home. I took a mental note (and stole a phone pic) of the cute peppermint candies!! Inspiration can strike anytime and anywhere.

 

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Then I checked out their Instagram account at @SMhome and found the cutest ornaments. Cupcakes, donuts, ice cream cones! It would go perfectly with the peppermint candies. So I made an executive decision to go with an all-new theme this year. After all, life was extremely sweet for us this year. The kids and Patrick loved it!

 

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I thought that the “Sweet Treats” collection would stand out better on either a white tree or a “snow”-capped tree. Yay for artificial trees. Let it snow!

 

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Look at our new cupcake ornaments!

 

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Soph calls this “dippin’ dots.”

 

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Big fat balls, colourful cupcakes, plastic mini donuts and ice cream cones! All so light!

 

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Stella was my little elf.

 

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She was so good with distributing the ornaments evenly. We had to stop after a few hangings ’til Lily and Sophia could join us.

 

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I only got to hang the ones on top. The girls did everything else. This is the most kid-friendly tree we’ve had. All the ornaments were so light and nothing was breakable.

 

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Our tree is full!

 

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All done!!! But we still need a tree topper. Any suggestions?

 

Check out the different Christmas ornaments and accessories at SM Home at The SM Store. Follow them Facebook at SM Home, Instagram @smhome, and Twitter @SMHome_PH for more information and inspiration.

 

 

Trick or Treat with UNICEF

 

 

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Every year at this time, I look forward to Trick or Treat for UNICEF. This is the only UNICEF activity that my kids can join me at. The other programs I do with UNICEF involve travel to areas that are under adverse conditions such as my last visit to Haiyan-affected areas in Tacloban. But the TOT for UNICEF is the perfect way to involve kids in raising funds and awareness about children’s issues. This campaign shows how everyone, even children themselves, can do their share to help kids in need.

 

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These are the Trick or Treat for UNICEF boxes of Sophia, Lily and Stella. During Halloween events, they are to bring these boxes with them so they can ask “treat givers” for some money to help raise funds for UNICEF Philippines.

 

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The back of the box shows how every little contribution counts and makes a big difference in children’s lives. This gives a more meaningful celebration of Halloween. Any child can join this campaign. Just go to Toy Kingdom and sign up for a box. Then after Halloween, go to the SM Payment counters listed at the back of the box and submit your donations.

 

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Since TOT for UNICEF was launched in the Philippines in 2012, my kids have been looking forward to participating.  This was when Stella was just three years old (back in 2012). She never wanted to see me go, so she came with me on stage.

 

Caption this! Haha. Stella was falling. I knocked down Lily's hat. Soph's hat also fell. This was the moment Lily's name was announced as winner of art contest. Haha!
Also from 2012, the kids and I were taking Photo Booth pictures when the winners of the art contest were announced. This was the moment Lily heard her name! Haha.

 

My two kids won first prize in the art contest in each of their age categories. Awww. #tot4unicef @unicefphils
Both Sophia and Lily won 1st place during the art contest. Each child was asked to draw a super hero and explain its powers.  Photo from 2012.

 

Kicked off @unicefphils Trick or Treat boxes! Now kids can help other kids. Get your #tot4unicef kids from your schools.
The Kid Superheroes theme symbolizes Youth Empowerment. It sends a message to kids that they can be superheroes for other children in need. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF empowers kids to help others in a fun and creative way. Photo from 2012

 

Our favourite time of year at @unicefphils. My kids all run their own fundraising campaign during Halloween. Get your Trick or Treat Collection Boxes at Toy Kingdom and have your kids get involved with this great cause. #unicef @unicef #zamboanga #dogood
The following year, in 2013, my girls participated again. Here’s Stella, still glued to me.

 

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This year, we are all out in supporting TOT for UNICEF again. The kids did the whole 9 yards – art contest, commitment board, signing up for the boxes.  Stella, now 5, was able to assemble her own box. She’s taking charge of her TOT for UNICEF box as she goes trick or treating this weekend.

 

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All three daughters — all writers and artists — loved this part of the program. You can actually still join the online art contest here.

 

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This year’s Trick-or-Treat focuses on emergency preparedness since the Philippines is one of the most high-risk countries in the world for experiencing natural disasters like typhoons, floods, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

 

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UNICEF Philippines National Ambassador Gary Valenciano performed in front of a crowd during the launch of the annual UNICEF Trick or Treat Event at the SM Southmall foodstreet, October 4, 2014. Photo UNICEF/Jeric Cruz 2014

 

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Verity Rushton, UNICEF Child Protection Officer; Gary Valenciano, UNICEF Philippines National Ambassador; me, UNICEF Special Advocate for Children; Babyruth Chuaunsu, SM Supermalls AVP-Operations; Lei Sia, Toy Kingdom Area Manager pose for a photo on the UNICEF Commitment wall, October 5, 2014 at the Launch of the UNICEF Trick or Treat event at the SM Southmall foodstreet.

 

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And my darling Sophia won again — first place! (I was not involved in the judging. I don’t know who the judges were.)

 

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Sophia with Tito Gary.

 

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Lily and Stella, showing their art work. It was good for them to see the kind of work UNICEF does for kids around the world. UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations to fund its work for children in the Philippines and worldwide. And now kids can join in giving back.

 

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Stella’s superhero is “Super Stella” and she has the power to teach all children how to read.

 

 

For more information on TOT for UNICEF, go to www.unicef.ph or visit their Facebook page here.

 

 

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.

 

NOLI ME TANGERE, THE OPERA

Noli

 

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

SHREK THE MUSICAL

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Shrek-the-Musical

 

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

PINOCCHIO

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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).

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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: THREE CLASSIC FAIRY TALES

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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.

 

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

 

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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.