What is happening in our airport? I’m not talking about the obvious decay of facilities. That’s old news. I’m talking about security, or the lack thereof. On June 1, Patrick and I drove to NAIA to pick up my mom. (She’s back. Yay!)

Our usual system, an unspoken rule in our family, is that we would just pick up under our letters. So, either O for Osena or P for Paez. This is how it’s been for over a decade. But last night, there were no more letter signs. Instead, just generic signs with “Bay 1” and so on… I saw NAIA in a chaotic and confusing state. Apparently NAIA changed its system.

Manila Airport
No more alphabetized waiting areas. Just generic “Bay 1” etc..

Under the system that we’ve gotten used to, cars were usually not allowed to lay idle in the driveway. Security would only let you hang out for a maximum of 30 seconds, maybe up to a minute. But if your passenger wasn’t there, the airport guards would shoo you away. Then you’d have to do the rounds, make a U-turn in Nayong Pilipino, then drive up all over again. It was harsh, but in an overpopulated city, we all had to live with that. The system worked. Everyone followed the rules.

There was another option, pay for parking in the outside lot. There, you can have access to the waiting shed across from arrivals, but it wasn’t free. You can walk upstairs where there were fast food stalls and full blast air-conditioning while you can look over the huge glass viewing deck. I believe it was something like P50 per person. The downstairs wasn’t free either, but it was cheaper. Harsh. But again, in this country, one overseas-based Filipino would arrive and his whole clan or barangay would meet him at arrivals. I remember the old airport… with trucks and jeeps of relatives and friends either making “salubong” or making “hatid.”

That old system was the only thing that was good about NAIA. It actually worked. For decades. People were deterred from going to the airport. Families Friends and neighbours stopped going to the airport to pick up or send off a loved one. Instead they eagerly awaited their pasalubongs at home. The arrival area was actually decongested. And it worked just fine.

I don’t know why the new airport management changed the system when it wasn’t actually broken. Here’s what happened:

Manila Airport
Cars are now allowed to go by the curb and load/unload baggage. This was not allowed before. Now, you can drive up and totally block traffic for everyone else. Major congestion.

Manila Airport
Goodbye alphabetized waiting areas. Instead, generic numbered signs… with three irrelevant sponsor logos.

Manila Airport
This is the ground floor waiting shed across from arrivals. It’s free. No more charge. So it was pretty crowded.

Manila Airport
From the waiting shed anyone can cross the street and go to arrival bays. This was totally not allowed before. I was even able to walk up the arrival ramp. No one checked. All the security guards just looked but no one was checked.

I remember a few years ago, when Gloria Arroyo was still president, she flipped out on an airport general because the security guards were not checking vehicles. We all had to open the glove compartment and be subjected to major vehicle checks. Now? None of that. It’s a free for all. Anyone can drive in and you won’t even be stopped.

Security at the RCBC tower a mall is even tighter.

This worries me.

I like tight airport security. Makes me feel safe.

Saddest place, airport departure area

I know everyone HATES the Manila International Airport. Call me crazy, but I love the architecture. It’s all part of the same style as PICC, Cultural Centre of the Philippines, Philippine Plaza, Film Centre. But it badly needs repairs and an upgrade. There are ways to preserve the architectural style while upgrading the services and amenities. They can build extensions made of glass and steel but still preserve the facade and main structure. This is done all over the world. I like the retro feel. Imagine if the fixtures and interiors were upgraded. I’m excited about what Kenneth Cobonpue and his group has planned for NAIA1. And once I know, I will share the information with you.

I don’t think the solution is to build another state of the art airport. Because it really isn’t the building that’s wrong… it’s the management and delivery of services. NAIA2 and 3 are new, but I can think of a hundred things wrong with the way they’re being run and maintained.

For now, I hope NAIA and it’s security officers shape up. I like tight security. We need that. Bring it back. Before anything bad happens.

Kenneth Cobonpue’s new sculpture

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There are still four days left in our UNICEF Auction for Action in Please click on this logo and it’ll take you to the bidding site. You will see that the auction is going quite well but of course fundraising is never going to be enough. The more funds we raise, the more programs can be run for children in education, nutrition, safety, anti-trafficking and more.

Kenneth Cobonpue was the first artist I asked when we planned this auction. I wanted the auction to represent the best in Filipino design. And Kenneth tops the list. He donated two items, the Boomtown Lamp and the Harry rocking stool. Both are doing so well, I’m excited to see the outcome on Saturday. I think our site will be on fire then! So bid now.

I initially asked Kenneth for one piece. But one thing led to another and he gave two, which I wanted in the first place but didn’t know how to ask. I’m new to art auction for charity. I’ve had experience fundraising in my old sorority during university but this was different. I had to ask artists then I had to ask and hope that people would bid. By now, I have no shame. Haha. But here’s a snippet of our our text went. (Published with permission by both parties)…

Kenneth Cobonpue
Grammar freak that I am… major mistake on my part there. Oops. I meant “you’re”. But anyway, isn’t he so nice?

Just last week Kenneth’s new sculpture at the wellness garden of the Motion Picture and Television Fund in Hollywood was inaugurated. He told me about this last year while it was still in the works. It looks great to see Kenneth’s work in a different context. I think we need public sculptures like this in Manila. For now the best news we have, Kenneth and his colleagues Royal Pineda and Budji Layug are working with the NAIA management on some cosmetic improvements.

Kenneth Cobonpue
So there, yes I get noisy like that. Seriously though, where does the airport money go??? That’s P750 per traveller! NAIA must earn gazillions per day!

Moving on to design news, here is Kenneth’s public sculpture in MPTF in Hollywood.

Kenneth Cobonpue's structure in L.A.
Motion Picture and Television Fund, CA USA

Kenneth Cobonpue's structure in L.A.
Sculpture by Kenneth Cobonpue

In celebration of the dedication of the James and Paula Coburn Foundation
Wellness Garden, numerous members of the entertainment and philanthropic
community attended the dedication event at the Motion Picture &
Television Fund (MPTF) Woodland Hills campus. The wellness garden, one of
the most recent projects generously donated by the James and Paula Coburn
Foundation (JPCF), was designed to provide a shady, relaxing haven for
residents of the MPTF, while providing a fitting legacy to the Coburns.

Located adjacent to the Saban Center for Health and Wellness, amidst
teeming flora, the wellness garden includes a gong, a spherical
continuous motion fountain, and a custom Yin-Yang pergola created by
award-winning designer Kenneth Cobonpue, known for his signature pieces
in natural fibers and materials.
The project encompasses the Coburns’
dedication to health, while incorporating Paula’s love for gardening and
the outdoors and Jim’s spirituality and affinity for Eastern traditions.

Kenneth Cobonpue's structure in L.A.

Kenneth Cobonpue's structure in L.A.
Made of galvanized steel, nylon and polyethylene.

Kenneth Cobonpue's structure in L.A.
Yin-yang pergola.

All photos, from Kenneth Cobonpue’s private facebook account with permission.

Urban Zone: House with glass staircase

Last Sunday May 29, we showed a stunning house with a three-storey all-glass staircase. It warranted a lot of reactions from everyone — from awe to disbelief to ridiculous thoughts.

Yes, the entire staircase is made of glass from the first floor to the third floor. The architect and engineers used tempered glass. Yes, the owners considered the risks and possible inconvenience of seeing up someone’s skirt. But really, it’s a house not a hotel lobby. So I doubt guests would need to go upstairs to the bedrooms. And even if they did, all they have to do is ask everyone not to look up if they’re wearing a skirt.

UZ house May 29 2011 UZ house May 29 2011 UZ house May 29 2011

UZ house May 29 2011
They also have an outdoor shower at the guest’s powder room.

UZ house May 29 2011
And lots of Michael Cacnio scupltures. Here’s an adorable one with the fibre glass balloons.

UZ house May 29 2011
Here’s the front door.

The architect and designer is Liza Acedillo-Bautista.

My pendant at the auction

Hand-painted enamel pendant framed in 14 karat gold and pink tourmalines. Now at UNICEF’s Auction for Action for the benefit of children’s programs. Check it out here.

This pendant is in the UNICEF Auction for Action lot. It is a special one because it depicts a tender hug of a mother and baby. I don’t think I have to explain that part. You, my readers, know me. Instead, please allow me to tell the story of the pendants and how they happened to me.

At the early part of our marriage, Patrick gave me five antique hand-painted medallions. They came from the collection of his mother. I loved them first because of the technique and craft that went into painting miniature works of art. Those antique medallions came from Europe and became popular in the Philippines around the early 1900’s. They were so rare and delicate, but I hung them all together as a charm necklace.

Daphne on F
I wore them in F regularly and I got a lot of emails asking where I bought my necklace.

As seen on F
Then on the second-to-the-last show on February 2006 (before F was taken off the air), I decided to share the story of the pendants. Emails and orders poured in. I couldn’t keep up.

Then and even now, I have more inquiries and orders than I do have pendants. I couldn’t and still can’t meet the demand for my one of a kind necklaces. I don’t work with an assistant. Back then, I’d acquire antique medallions and rework them. That was impossible to continue as I didn’t have the time for antique-hunting. But I suppose this was meant to be… for me. I met an artist in Europe whose family specialized in miniature paintings like this. He currently runs his workshop creating these types of medallions. So these ones I now collect are all new – not antiques. Once I get the medals I work on the design of the frames – which are influenced by Philippine antique jewelry.

Metro Magazine April 2006
My first feature about the necklaces was in Metro Magazine April 2006.

ANC Life
I continued to wear them in my old show in ANC every Sunday evening. I was pregnant with Lily here.

My necklaces are in Preview October
Preview included my necklaces in this editorial with Carmina Villaroel in October 2006.

Shadow box for medals
I loved them so much, I made shadow boxes for my personal collection. I’d hang them in the box whenever they were not in use so I’d see them all the time.

Some of my pendants are available for sale in Accessory Lab. Some. Very few. Most people who inquire and order have to wait many weeks, some even months. I think my previous clients can attest to that. I am very grateful for their patience.

So this one pendant at the UNICEF Auction for Action is really special. I hope those who’ve been waiting for me to get my act together would consider bidding on the piece.

100 April 2010 - cover story
Just to show you, I still wear my medals up to now. I wear them all the time – either in dressy or everyday occasions. This is the cover story for 100 Magazine last April 2010.

Weekend Cover
Cover of a Cebu weekend newspaper. I was unstyled. I like piling on my beaded necklaces and layering them with my pendants.

Philippine Star
I also have miniatures. This one actually belongs to my daughter Sophia. I’m putting together miniature charms for my three girls. But not all in one go. Mama cannot afford it. Haha. Besides they know how valuable these little paintings are. So they know that they only get one charm every milestone birthday or event. Soph’s next pendant, she’ll receive at her first holy communion.

At Rustan's Estee Lauder event
Like I said, I wear them piled on. This was taken at a Rustan’s event.

with Balikbayan's host, Drew Arellano
This is what it looks like casually. I was the featured guest in Balikbayan, Drew Arellano’s show in GMA/QTV.

Please continue to watch the bidding online at Click on the logo below and it’ll take you there. The jewelry and paintings are quite popular with the bidders. The sculptures and furniture are doing well with collectors. We also have experience packages like a glamour photo shoot with Doc Marlon, custommade suit or gown by Joey Samson, dinner for 4 at Antonio’s and access to the dugout of the Azkals during playoffs.

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Click on this logo to check UNICEF’s Auction for Action.

Noel Crisostomo

Before the event
For the auction, I wore a dress made by Noel Crisostomo. (Makeup by Victor Ortega of Emphasis Salon, Hair by Alex Carbonel of Studio Fix).

It was my first time to try Noel. I had met him years ago during a fashion show gala (forgot whose). Alex Vergara of PDI introduced me to him. Noel is also Filipino-Canadian. He studied fashion at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto (now University). He had a career as a fashion designer in Toronto for many years until he decided to move back to Manila for personal reasons. Check out his work, featured in Canadian publications like Flare Canada, Elle Canada and Toronto Life here.

I like his work. It’s clean. He can do pretty, he can do architectural. And he delivers in a very professional manner. I like designers who know how to cut and sew… not just draw and embellish. Noel also seems to have that quality I always look for in local designers but can’t always find – restraint.

Noel Crisostomo

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