Sometime before Christmas, my family and I got treated by Rockwell to an overnight staycation at Aruga by Rockwell. December was so hectic that I wasn’t able to book our room right away. We ended up staying at Aruga just a few days before Christmas. We loved it so much, we bought another night and stayed the whole weekend. I was able to do all my Christmas shopping done in Powerplant Mall.

It was lovely playing house with the kids at a place we already knew so well. We loved that everything was within reach. Aruga is connected to Powerplant Mall underground, literally 20 steps on foot. Let’s backtrack a bit. I didn’t even know Rockwell had serviced apartments. So it was a pleasant surprise to see that there is this option for visitors coming to Manila – 114 fully-furnished apartments with the same level of service, maintenance, safety and attention to detail as we have come to know about Rockwell developments in the past.


A lovely gift welcomed us at our two bedroom suite.


In it were treats from Aruga partners within Rockwell – treatments in Emphasis salon, movie passes, facials, yoga services and Kerastase hair treatments.


The living and dining room.


The kids took over the couch at night. Jumanji was on TV.


View from our window


Free golf cart shuttle service within the Rockwell compound…


… which the kids loved!


Before bedtime, we received another gift delivered by the staff – milk and cookies from Eric Kayser.


The view at morning.

The first morning, we had breakfast at Rockwell Club.


The second morning, we chose Refinery for breakfast.


My Fifi.


I did some last minute shopping at Powerplant Mall. I stocked up on DAPHNE Home Scents x Bench (yes, I buy my own products).


Shopping spree at Gingersnaps.


The kitchen was completely furnished. I cooked a couple of meals. The room also had a washer and dryer.


We had a two-bedroom suite. This is what the second bedroom looked like.


Bathroom amenities


Throughout the stay, I’d find random little notes Lily left lying around.


Lily got a letter from the house keeper.


After getting that note from Rin, Lily wrote this. On our way out, the kids saw Rin. They gave her a hug. I asked how they knew it was Rin. She said, they read her name plate.


I love turndown services. And Aruga does it so well.


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MAC Cosmetics in Boracay



Leave it to MAC Cosmetics Philippines to present the Spring-Summer 2015 beauty trend report in the island paradise of Boracay. Every season and new collection in the past has so far been launched in very interesting and glamorous events. This one sets a new standard for seasonal launches. MAC Philippines flew the country’s top editors and a few bloggers to attend the presentation by Director of Artistry Romero Jennings. We all stayed at the luxurious Shangri-la Boracay for a couple of nights.

Here are some highlights.


Can't think of a better place to see the MAC Cosmetics SS2015 Trend Presentation. We're in paradise! #MACSS15boracay  #MACtrends #DaphneandNBS
Upon arrival we were treated to some island essentials – the Face Protect Lotion SPF 50 and Mineralized Charged Water. I had my DAPHNE & NBS margarita pouch. And my favourite pair of sunnies – Thierry Lasry limited edition.


The Shangri-la welcome. Yes to tropical fruits anytime.


Flying in, I wore my DAPHNE x Seek the Uniq wrap skirt.


My spacious room.


We were treated to a facial at Chi The Spa at Shangri-la Boracay.


With my best bud Ingrid Go, and Manila Bulletin’s Arnel Patawaran and Town & Country’s Nicole Limos.


We each had our own spa cottage.


Orchids everywhere.


I swear, my future cottage will have a lovely courtyard like this.


MAC hosted a beautiful welcome dinner by the beach garden.


Our table.


Lovely personal touches. Our water glasses were engraved with our own monograms.


So much loveliness.


With my BFF since birth Mel Lerma.


The cocktails were specifically designed inspired by lipsticks – Heroine, Ruby Woo, Morange, Candy Yum Yum and Sin.


What the cocktails looked like.


With MAC Director of Artistry Romero Jennings who flew in from New York and Country Manager of Estee Lauder Group Mel Lerma.


The smores bar was a big hit.


I finally got to wear my black silk dress that I bought from Magali Pascal in Bali. I love that shop.


Shangri-la Boracay at dusk.


MAC sent makeup artist Gee Vee to my room to prep me for dinner. Such luxury!


Monogrammed linen napkins at our farewell dinner.


Ingrid and I at the farewell dinner


Perfect place to wear caftans.


I wore mine during the day. My favourite caftan, from Mist in Bali.


My DAPHNE & NBS hummingbird tote bag came in handy.


Off to the beach to catch the sunset. Wore Melissa sandals.


We did the sunset thing…


Until it turned like this.


MAC Cosmetics Spring-Summer 2015 trends as interpreted by Romero Jennings, here.



Mexico, Me and the FEMSA Collection





Have you checked out the FEMSA Collection at Ayala Museum yet? This is a rare exhibition that’s on display until November 9th.  Mexico: Fantastic Identity, 20th Century Masterpieces of the FEMSA Collection, includes 60 art pieces by Mexican artists. It will take you on a journey through the different movements that transpired in Europe in the 20th century and how they have influenced the works of Mexican artists. I attended the gala opening upon the invitation of the Mexican Ambassador to the Philippines.


“We are honored to bring the FEMSA Collection to the Philippines for the first time, allowing us to further our goal of promoting education by encouraging appreciation for culture and the arts,” said Carlos Salazar, Chief Executive Officer of FEMSA.


Mexico: Fantastic Identity, 20th Century Masterpieces. FEMSA Collection sets about a superb Diego Rivera cubist oeuvre completed during his stay in Europe, followed by a significant assemblage created both by muralist José Clemente Orozco and David Alfaro Siqueiros, along relevant representatives of the Mexican School of Painting. These works display themes that reflect the Mexican national identity after the Revolutionary movement. Last century’s Vanguard and the self-styled Rupture movement – which promoted abstraction, geometrism and other plastic forms – similarly concur in the exhibit. The show is also accompanied by a photographic collection of artist’s portraits, several of which were produced by well-known Mexican photographers such as Manuel Álvarez Bravo and Graciela Iturbide.


Being a bad girl. Photos were not allowed, but my friend (who shall not be named) snapped this. Oops. Sorry. But it’s Frida Kahlo! And a very significant piece!


femsa 8
Left: Frida Kahlo’s My Dress Hangs There 1933, oil and collage on masonite 45.5 x 50.5cm. Frida painted in the US while her husband Diego Rivera was painting the mural at Rockefeller Center. It symbolises her longing to go back home to Mexico. You can also see references to industrialism and the social ills it brings. Right: Photograph of Frida Kahlo’s work and portrait of Frida. Photo from FEMSA media release.


With friends in government — I knew them before they joined this government. Secretary to the Cabinet of the Philippines Rene Almendras and Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs Ronald Llamas. (I am wearing a charm necklace from Mexico City.)


Photo from FEMSA media release.


femsa 2
Photo from FEMSA media release.


I loved seeing all my favourite Mexican artists under one roof, and right here in Makati. I haven’t really written about it yet, but I had a huge Mexican period during the first half of the 1990’s. I worked on some projects there under the urban planning group I worked for in Canada. It was in Mexico that I found interest in rediscovering my roots in the Philippines. I saw a lot of similarities with the culture and history of both countries. During that time, I immersed in all things Mexican – from art, history, food, language, crafts, literature. Seeing some of the FEMSA Collection here really brought me back.

I don’t have many photos of my stay in Mexico. No photos at the house of Frida Kahlo. This was pre-digital era. Gasp! Most of my photos are at my mom and dad’s house in Toronto. I found some that I had brought with me to Manila. Here are some scans.


Scan 16
Me in 1994 with an unfinished mural by David Alfaro Siqueiros from the 1940’s in Escuela de Bellas Artes, a cultural center in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico.


Scan 28
In Hacienda El Soyatal, Aguascalientes. I was a 24 years old here.


Scan 48
During one of my project management trips to Aguascalientes, I took a side trip to the state of Zacatecas, an old mining capital with beautiful colonial buildings.


Scan 14 copy
Zacatecas was one of the principal centres of silver mining from the early Spanish era until the 20th century


Scan 25
The National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City was massive. One of the world’s best. This is in front of the Mayan gallery.


Scan 23
I spent one Easter in Mexico City and witnessed the many devotees flock to Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. I didn’t know it then, I eventually became devoted to Our Lady.


I love Mexico. I am, to this day, greatly influenced by their art. I would love to one day take my family on a long trip there. It’s been too long for me. Time to rediscover.

And I am a huge fan of many Mexican artists especially Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Rufino Tamayo. I used to drag my mom, dad and sisters to far away galleries just to see some Frida Kahlos on loan – like in Mc Michael Art Gallery north of Toronto and the Knox Albright Gallery in Buffalo. And all these before Selma Hayek made the Frida movie.


If you haven’t yet, you should go see the FEMSA Collection before it goes away on November 9th. Photo courtesy of FEMSA media release.


Mexico: Fantastic Identity, 20th Century Masterpieces, FEMSA Collection will run from September 30 to November 9, 2014 at the Ayala Museum.



Taal Vista Hotel



I have fond memories of Taal Vista Hotel. The kids love it here because they get a great view of the volcano.


Our last trip there, they brought their telescope and sketched the full moon and volcano.


The view is fantastic.


Photo from 2012, Stella was just 2 and a half. Must visit again soon.


They also make the yummiest hot chocolate… traditional tsokolate.


Diamond Deals Flyers


Press release:

Taal Vista Hotel has Diamond Deals you’ll really want to steal. The landmark Tagaytay hotel is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year and offering guests overnight stays starting at Php5000 with breakfast for two and a Php500 Food and Beverage credit at the multi-awarded Café Veranda. Special discounted Diamond Deals will also be offered at the sales pavilion of the Taal Vista Hotel touring exhibit. Guests can get Php500 off weekend rates, complimentary upgrades on weekday bookings and up to Php750 Food and Beverage credit at Café Veranda.

Discover 75 years of stories and memories at Taal Vista Hotel: History and Heritage. The interactive multimedia exhibit curated by renowned cultural scholar and former National Museum director Corazon Alvina will highlight the significant historical milestones of Taal Vista Hotel as well as the city of Tagaytay. The exhibit showcases the hotel’s rich history, legacy of quality service and stories of memorable experiences. It is currently touring select SM Malls from September 18 to October 29.

Taal Vista Hotel is a landmark hotel in Tagaytay City known for its iconic view of Taal Lake and Volcano. For inquiries and reservations, please call +63 (2) 917 8225, +63 (46) 413 1000 or +63 0917 809 1254. Stay connected with Taal Vista Hotel. Visit the website at, like Taal Vista Hotel’s Facebook pageTwitter and Instagram.



Silicon Valley



Silicon Valley Eva Air

It’s been so long since I’ve flown in to the westcoast that I’d forgotten how much closer it is than flying home to Toronto.


I flew EVA Air to SFO via Taiwan, thanks to the coordination of Jeron Travel. Their premium economy seats are wide and roomy. They recline well-enough that I was completely comfortable during the flights.


I had a short layover in Taiwan going both directions.


EVA Air has different lounges in Taiwan Taoyuan Airport. Each has a slightly different vibe and decor, all brand new. They have The Garden, The Infinity, The Star and The Club. More info here.


This is The Infinity, designed with a futuristic appeal.


Entrance to The Infinity.


After a full 8 hours of sleep, we were at the Bay Area.


I had booked a cab to take me to San Jose. I tried to ignore the taxi meter as I sat through rush hour traffic.


Finally San Jose.


I was booked at the Fairmont San Jose right smack in the middle of downtown San Jose.


Very nice lobby. I’m a sucker for anything grand.


This lobby lounge gets packed at night – live music, dancing and all. I must thank Dudi Cruz of Fairmont Manila for contacting Fairmont San Jose and extending my stay one night at conference rate. All this through my friend Kara Alikpala. Thanks for the help!


Like I said, the lobby is so beautiful at night. Here, a bride and groom walked in the bar and just danced. Spontaneous.


I had a huge room with two beds all to myself. Missed my family so much.


View of Silicon Valley from my room.


Just next door to the Fairmont is the San Jose Museum.


And across the street is the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St Joseph. The original St. Joseph’s was built on this site in 1803, and was the first non-mission parish built in California for the benefit of Spanish settlers instead of the Mission Indians (Ohlone).


This is what it looks like inside. (There was a wedding rehearsal.)


I took a walk further down look for a place to eat.


It’s  a pretty city.


They have self-cleaning public toilets. A person can stay inside up to 20 minutes. There is a warning light on the 18th minute then the door opens automatically in 20 minutes with a siren. After each use, the toilet seat and bowl retract into the wall, where high-powered jets clean them with water and disinfectant. I didn’t try it.


San Pedro Square


They were showing “Ghostbusters” outdoors. Hipsterville.


Inside was a food court concept but with a more specialized approach. It was very much like the food truck concept.


I ordered an Arepa which is a flatbread made of ground maize dough or cooked flour. It is prominent in the cuisine of Colombia and Venezuela. This particular stall was Venezuelan.


I chose pulled pork.


Topped off with cheese. OMG. I can still taste it. Everything was perfect. The pork, cheese and most of all that bread. Please tell me there’s a Venezuelan family in Manila who makes arepas.


Pretty place.


On my first night, I didn’t sleep a wink. Jet lag was bad.


So I watched the sun go up. It was stunning.


The next morning I went shopping by myself in Santana Row.


Hello Anthropologie.


If only for their window displays. #anthrowindows


I will never get tired of cute tea towels.


And how they put things together just like that.


Every time I’m here I always want to change all the knobs and hardware in our house.


Selfie at Santa Row.


Madewell. Bought the cutest flats in tanned leather.


Paper Source was heaven! I didn’t want to leave.


I walked further up the street to the indoor mall. Confession, I bought a MacBook Air because I got tired of how heavy my MacBook Pro was. I got the most chichi MacBook Air model with all the high numbers. It’s been more than a couple of weeks and I haven’t even migrated yet. What is wrong with me?


What is the name of this pretty tree?


Next, Los Altos.