Trick or Treat with UNICEF





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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


Sophia with Tito Gary.


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.


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 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.





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.


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.


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.


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.


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.






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.








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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.






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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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 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.


photo 3
We were invited by the producers to “meet and greet” Snow White and Dopey.


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.



My most important audience



I spent this afternoon giving a talk to my most important audience – little girls from the age of 6 to 13. (Stella was also there and she’s only 4.)


The girls wanted to know how I got my dream job (or jobs). I walked them through my long TV career — from how I started as a reporter to how I became a TV host for the shows F, Proudly Filipina, ANC Life, Guide to Urban Living and to eventually produce and host Urban Zone. I also talked about how I got my brand collaborations and how I started this blog. My language and delivery were much simplified because I wanted the girls to get my story. I shared some lessons like all the good things happening to me now (like the Taylor Swift interview) are results of many years of hard work and mastering my craft. And one thing I want them to remember – never be afraid to ask for what you want.


I loved seeing the faces of these wide-eyed girls with big dreams! It was a privilege to share my story – that nothing is impossible if you are determined, focused, willing to learn and work hard. But you have to be smart too. Education counts. Even though I didn’t end up in the field that I studied, having my degree a good university gave me confidence to try new things without being afraid of failure. There was no road map for this journey that I chose. No one new that blogs would be considered a valid form of media 10 years ago. I didn’t know how to get DAPHNE products out in the market. In my TV work, I’ve had doors close on me. I’ve handled disappointment. I was told that what I wanted was impossible. But continued doing what I loved doing which was telling a story – using words, pictures and videos. Everything else followed. And I still love what I’m doing.


Our venue for this private little talk was Commune at Liberty Plaza, 102 H.V. Dela Costa Street, Salcedo Village, Makati City


Commune baristas make the cutest latte art. Here is Sophia’s cup of hot chocolate.


Ill be giving a pep talk to my most important audience. Little girls ages 7 to 13. My sponsor @gingersnapsph is giving the cutest accessories. I love my job. #shine #dream #daphneph #daphneop
All the kids and moms received bracelets from my sponsor Gingersnaps.



Agatha Ruiz de la Prada





And just like that, Philippine summer is almost over. And soon, it’s “back to school.” I had a head start with my kids’ school bags and pencil cases. Last year, they had the Romero Britto Collection from National Book Store. Now we’re all about the Agatha Ruiz de la Prada Collection.

Agatha Ruiz de la Prada is a Spanish fashion designer which became known through her unmistakable hearts, clouds and flowers designs. She has brought a breath of fresh air making bold use of colors in her designs and projects.

Under the premiere stationery brand Miquelrius from Spain, the Agatha Ruiz de la Prada Collection includes two vibrant themes—orange flower and pink heart designs. Each set displays bold colors and patterns. The collection is comprised of stationery items such as spiral notebooks in A4, A5, A6 and A7 sizes, mini notebooks, notepads, ring binders with “O” and “D”-shaped rings, and folder with flaps, and travel accessories such as backpack, messenger bag, shoulder bag, pouches and mini cylindrical pouches.

The Agatha Ruiz de la Prada Collection is exclusively available in selected National Book Store branches. Shop online at Follow National Book Store on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@nbsalert) for updates on the latest events, promos and contests.



10 Awesome Summer Activities for Kids



Philippine summer is almost here. It’s weird because mornings still feel like the January cold spell but by lunch time it’s so hot again. I am so scared about how hot it could be this summer considering the strange weather we’ve all been having – Polar Vortex there, sweater weather here. Good luck to all of us.

Since classes are almost over for traditional Filipino schools, I made a list of 10 awesome summer activities your kids may enjoy by the end of this month. I didn’t include swimming and theatre since those are pretty much standard.

My criteria for awesomeness includes one of all of the following — a) I’ve tried them for my kids and they loved them, b) my friends kids have done them and loved them, c) My friend own and run the activities/camps and I trust them.


1. Soccer with the Younghusband brothers

The pool of coaches that will handle the summer clinics is spearheaded by James and Phil Younghusband of the Philippine Azkals, together with Technical Director Nate Burkey.


Chelsea FC Summer Camp 2014 organized by the Younghusband Football Academy (TYFA) through their training arm, the Chelsea FC Soccer School Philippines (CFCSSPh) will begin on April 1, 2-14.

Anyone can participate in this Summer Camp. Kids as young as three (3) years old and even adults are welcome to join the training sessions at the Gatorade Chelsea FC Blue Pitch at Circuit Makati (the latest artificial football field and the first FIFA-sized blue football field in the country) and at Ayala Alabang Country Club.

Blue Pitch, BGC: Tuesdays & Thursdays 5-8PM and Saturdays 2-5PM
Alabang Country Club: Wednesdays 4-6PM and Saturdays 8-10AM

For registration and inquiries, please call: 807-0278, or 0918-837-8019 or 0917-538-7589. Or email or For more information,


2. Fashion courses at SOFA



This summer the School of Fashion and Arts Design Institute has a number of programs for kids of all ages. For younger kids aged 4-7 there are arts and craft classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and Fashion Design for Kids aged 8-12 . For teens there are short capsule series in Interior Styling, Fashion Design, Fashion Film Making, Fashion Immersion, Packaging Design and others.


5-yr old Lily at skirt-making class at SOFA (school of fashion & arts)
Lily and Sophia did a one-day fashion camp at SoFA a couple of years ago. They still remember how much fun they had.


Lily made this skirt at SoFA kids fashion workshop.
She “designed” this skirt and put embellishments on it.


To reserve a slot, contact 478-4611 or 478-4622 loc. 115. SoFA Design Institute is located at the Ground Floor of Enzo Building, 399 Sen. Gil Puyat Ave, Makati City.

Check out for a full listing of courses.


3. Modern Dance

MDS GRAD5 march 2 2014


If modern dancing is something your kids would like to try there’s Movement Dance Studio. They have two locations listed below. Also check out their programs for adults. This is a place that mixes dance with fitness.

Register before March 15th and you get 20% off.

Makati:  2nd Floor, Three Salcedo Place, Tordesillas St. Salcedo Village 392-6220 / 0922-886-8343

Podium Mall: 4th Floor, inside Kidsville Play and Party Center 788-6527 / 0933-360-5344


4. Sewing Classes



Last year, I made a big leap and enrolled myself in sewing classes. I had owned an electric sewing machine for years and never knew how to operate it. On the first session, I successfully made a pouch bag. And on the second day, a sling bag.

This school is located in BF Homes Paranaque. It is actually a very cute sewing school for kids and I found out about it through one of my readers. The owner and instructor, Anne del Rosario, had some slots for adults when I enrolled last year. This summer, she has organized a number of sewing camps for kids.


This is the bag I made on the second day. It was a bit tricky because it had a lining inside. But I did it in a couple of hours!


For more information of kids’ sewing camp this summer, check out Sew Easy for Kids or call 0919-999-4009. Tell Anne I sent you.


5. A real summer camp… away from home



I’m sure many of you have heard of CISV or Children’s International Summer Village. It is an international organization that’s been around since the 1950’s. After World War II ended, many peace initiatives were created through the UN. CISV is unique for it believes that the ultimate source for lasting peace is in the hands of children.

The first CISV Village was held in 1951. It continues on to this day. CISV Villages are international camps that inspire 11-year-old children to imagine a more just and peaceful world. Children come together from 10-12 different countries to take part in a variety of educational, cultural and fun activities. There are local mini camps as well.

Click here to see activities of the Philippine chapter of CISV.


6. Art classes

These were the works created by children who were going through trauma. They had undergone art therapy with art educator, Bambi Mañosa of Creative Kids Studio. It was shown at the Ayala Museum during the 25th Anniversary of Consuelo Foundation.


Bambi and Creative Kids regular classes.


Creative Kids Studio runs beautiful art programs for kids in the Alabang area. I describe their activities as very “Art Attack” or “Hi-5” but in a more original way, and sometimes inspired by Filipino culture. Lots of bright colours, textures and shapes. Art therapy is something Bambi does as a special program in addition to running the regular art school. Creative Kids Studio caters to children of all ages.


summer 2014 workshop schedule


This summer Creative Kids Studio’s theme is all about Filipino Fiestas! They have arts and crafts classes for kids as young as 2 years old up to 12 years old. There are two new classes this year that look interesting- Interior Design and Paper Theater.

To reserve a slot for your kids contact 917-872-5307 or email


7.  Ice Skating

May 17, 2008
Sophia when she was 5.


Lily when she was 5.


If you want to raise the next Filipino winter olympian like Michael Christian Martinez, you better start sending your kids to your nearest mall ice skating rinks. We’ve personally used the one in SM Mall of Asia and at the old SM Megamall. They have guides (some real athletic coaches, some just people who know how to skate) on a first come first served basis. Or you can buy a set of classes and reserve the coach of your choice.

The fee for use of the ice skating rink already includes use of skates and helmets. If you have your own skates (like we do), you still have to pay the same amount of the use of ice-skates-helmet package. There were some stressful rules like each kid can only bring one companion inside the rink area. But if you have two kids you can’t have two adults come in, only just one. Strange, but manageable. Just check in separately in two batches. Sigh.

Anyway, Sophia did lessons for a few years. Lily did one season. But I have to admit, we weren’t as dedicated as the mother of Michael Martinez. And school got in the way. Haha. Doing regular morning weekend mall sessions were tough – and you wouldn’t want to do it in the afternoon either because the rink is just so full of people. So the girls hung up their skates last year. Now we have skates in all sizes which Stella will eventually inherit. But I’m glad Soph and Lily know the basics of ice skating.


8.  Ballet with Danspace Manila



My two older daughters have both done ballet over a few summers, but poor little Stella hasn’t had her turn yet. We hope to find time this year between swimming lessons.

If you’re in the Makati area, try your kids at classical or modern ballet in Danspace Manila under the direction of Maritoni Rufino-Tordesillas, the Principal Dancer for the Philippine Ballet Theatre (PBT). Danspace trains children from 4 years old and above. The school uses the Australian Conservatoire of Ballet (ACB) syllabus which adapted the 8-year Russian Vaganova method into a 12-year training and examination program. The program emphasizes correct placement, dynamics and performance quality.

For more information, or check them out in Facebook.


 9.  Archery

Young archers at Aim Right Archery Range.


For something new and different, have your kids try archery. It can give your child enlightenment, help her develop discipline and self-confidence, and give her some exercise. It can encourage your child to focus, set goals, be respectful of others, and even be a better student.

The Aim Right Archery Range is at Longos, Malolos at The Garden Pavilion, The Cabanas. Price for the range is only P150 per hour. Rental of bow and arrows another P150 per hour. Coaching 200 per hour. A beginner can use the range and rent with coaching for 500 per hour. Summer classes are for 5 sessions discounted at 10% off. At Aim Right, they can teach Olympic recurve and barebow.

Contact Doods Tanabe at 0932 654 9221 or check out Aim Right Archery Range in Facebook for more information.


10. Crafting

Watercolour sessions with Alessandra Lanot


I stumbled upon Alessandra Lanot’s world while planning for Sophia’s birthday last month. My niece Bea recommended her. Soph didn’t want a party. She just wanted a hangout day with her school friends. So I asked Alessandra to host a little crafting party. Alessandra prepared a wonderful morning filled with activities that the tweens really enjoyed making – plush toys, greeting cards, tote bags. I promise to blog about that event.

In real life Alessandra does graphic design and runs a vegetarian restaurant. Crafting is her thing and she does it so well. Check out a the listing of Alessandra Lanot’s “crafternoons” in her blog Life After Breakfast.


So what are your awesome plans for the summer?