Happy new year.
I am back to writing. But in a very slow way. I started this post over two weeks ago. And now January is almost over.
I felt nostalgic. The last time I did this was 2012. And then social media happened. I got distracted. I didn’t do a retrospective of 2013 or 2014.
So because of the lack of stories from 2015, I spent time and dug up photos and stories about the year that was. I’m including moments big and small, random and deliberate, work and personal, travel and home. That was the year I met a member of the British royal family and a Prime Minister. I went up the Himalayas and down under in New Zealand. And we squeezed in a one month stay in Toronto. After writing, I realized that for a year that was totally unplanned, I had done so much. I put my trust in God completely. That was the year I just allowed Him to surprise me. And the blessings just came. Grateful.
Here goes… this is going to be a long one.
During the second week of 2015, Pope Francis visited the Philippines. I sat in the rain for 5 hours with my cousins and waited to have a glimpse of Pope Francis. It was exhilarating. And experience I will never forget.
The Launch of DAPHNE & National Book Store stationery line happened on the third week of January. I am ever so grateful for the trust that Xandra Ramos Padilla has for my brand. This was a dream come true.
Thank you National Book Store!
For the DAPHNE® & NBS products we took inspiration from my daughters’ names – the rose, the lily and the daisy. Isabel Gatuslao worked on the prints for me. We also had a hummingbird print that coincidently represents my dad – a helicopter pilot.
Not a bad way to do real work. Read my report here.
In February, Sophia joined a Lego competition in the mall. She was with my parents; we were not with her. She won first prize and came home with so many Lego sets! I’m doubly proud when the kids do things on their own initiative, with out mommy or daddy pushing them. Yay Sophia!
In the beginning of February, I hosted the official grand opening gala of the City of Dreams. I had been booked for this project half a year in ahead. And I was so amazed that it finally actually happened. I had the honour of saying “The doors of City of Dreams Manila are now open!” I don’t have official photos though. Haha.
The very next day after City of Dreams launch, Patrick and I were on a plane to Bangkok to start our journey through Bhutan. Our one night in Bangkok was fun! I had never explored Bangkok before. I was always there for work.
We did touristy things like ride the tuktuk and ferry boat. We went to Jim Thompson’s house, ate street food, took photos of pink taxis. We just stayed for one night and flew to Bhutan the next morning.
Touchdown Bhutan! It was the most exciting plane landing. If the view wasn’t spectacular, I would have flipped out. It was like a scene right out of Indiana Jones. Maneouvering through the Himalayan mountains with the view of Mt Everest out the window, and suddenly a short landing strip.
Click for more of 2015 stories
Watch one of my Bhutan videos.
Our journey through Bhutan was curated by Amala Destinations. We spent 8 days traveling from Paro to Thimphu to Punakha to Phobjikha and back to Paro. It was one of our most beautiful and most special trips.
Totally random, saw a family of yak herders on our way to Gangtey (Phobjikha). We stopped the car and walked down to where the farmer was milking a yak. She let me try. It was very… interesting! Haha.
The beautiful children of Bhutan. Read about our trip to the Kingdom of Happiness in this blog.
A favourite in Bhutan, Gangtey Goenpa Lodge. Read about our different hotels in Bhutan here.
My mom and I chaperoned Stella at her kindergarten class’ field trip. Who knew that there was a very green park in Pasig? It was pretty impressive. There was a small train, lots of trees, some animals (not a full-blown zoo), a butterfly shed and lots of tree seedlings with labels! I am so grateful that I get to do this… be a school mom.
Click here to see the DAPHNE DIARIES, Wander in Barcelona, that aired in Lifestyle Network.
Here is the DAPHNE DIARIES, Feast in Barcelona.
I was presented to Her Royal Highness. I curtsied (finally got to use my curtsy knowledge from years in Pi Beta Phi). Shook her gloved hand. Only spoke when spoken to. She asked me how long I have been living in the Philippines. She asked me about my UNICEF advocacy. She was in the Philippines to support Save the Children. There is no photo of us talking to each other. Here you see a bit of my face behind HRH’s back.
The Canadian Embassy invited me to once again support their Study in Canada program. If you are considering sending your child to university abroad, you may want to check out Canadian schools. As of last checking, my alma mater, University of Toronto, ranked #17 globally.
January to March was so nice because my parents were with us. It is so nice for my kids to have their grandparents around. And we are so grateful that they are now snowbirds (Snowbirds are retired people who avoid the snow and the cold and migrate to the south during wither. In their case, they go east then south to be with us.) I am truly so grateful that my folks are doing so well. Thank you, God.
At Maison et Objet Asia, I interviewed Designer of the Year Neri+Hu – husband and wife team Lyndon Neri and Rosanna Hu. I had met Lyndon previously at the Cebu Chamber of Commerce’s Design Talks. Lyndon is Chinese Filipino. Read my interview with Neri+Hu here.
Ann gave me two of her rings. I love them! You can check out her work here.
I got to hang out with my good friend who I miss so much, James Ong. He now heads all of COCONUTS media in Singapore. Check out Coconuts Manila.
A week after my Singapore trip, I found myself at the Senate of the Philippines. I was among 15 women honoured by the Senate. “Senate Resolution No. 1237, which honours fifteen women for their invaluable contributions. These women are achievers in their respective fields. They inspire the whole nation, especially young girls to excel despite adversities, despite obstacles.”
Officially “legit.” My name is in a Senate Resolution. I still don’t know how this happened. But wow, so grateful to be able to do good work through UNICEF… and that my parents and my daughter were able to witness this big event.
Definitely a special moment in my career. Here is the story.
Back in the home font, Stella graduated from pre-school. As Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. After 9 years of being a preschool mom, I had to move myself up. All 3 daughters went to this lovely preschool with 3 amazing teachers. I made great friends here. This was our community. Just a few weeks before this, our beloved teacher, Issay Padilla passed away.
I continued my commitment to pilates. I still go two to three times a week. Options Studio is one my most special partners. Without pilates, my life would be full of body pain. Seriously. Pilates gives me strength, mindful posture, and efficient breathing. It isn’t about a fitness craze or lifestyle brag. Pilates, for me, heals me from the inside out. Read my pilates journey here.
I learned some good quality slow cooking with Bettina Osmeña, who sells her amazing dishes at the Dasmariñas Village Bazaar.
Cher came to Manila in April and we got to hang out one afternoon. We don’t have a decent photo together because all we did was giggle and cackle. She makes me laugh so much! I miss this girl! F girls forever! Leave a comment if you remember us F girls.
I remember this day in May. It was one of the hottest days. We took off from the city and went to our little plot. I’ve been saying this for years, but this is where we plan to build a cottage. I hope that we find the time and the will to actually start. I’m happy that we started planting already.
Also in May, the producers of Eat Bulaga invited me to appear as a guest in The Ryzza Mae Show.
I showed Ryzza Mae my DAPHNE®&NBS products. What a riot! Watch highlights here.
There’s more! Click, click.
Hobbiton was fun. Here’s my video.
The Maoris of Miraka farm performed a Powhiri for us. A powhiri is a traditional welcome ceremony in a marae (a communal sacred place) that is only performed for special guests or an event like a dedication of a building. In the end of the powhiri, we all went around the room and did the hongi (nose rub) with all the Maoris present. It was amazing. (The photographer was only able to capture the kiss this Maori woman gave me, and not the hongi.) I was very moved by this ceremony and felt so connected to the Maori people.
Back in Manila in early June, PLDT Fibr invited our family to watch Idina Menzel. The kids were thrilled! Stella loves Defying Gravity and Let it Go. Idina was amazing. She kicked off her shoes and performed her concert in bare feet.
For some strange reason, I developed a frozen shoulder in New Zealand. It started when I had difficulty putting on my coat (like a senior citizen!). By the time I got back to Manila, my movement was so constricted. I continued my pilates. Ole Eugenio and four other pilates instructors at Options Studio worked with me. After many months of continuous rehab pilates my frozen shoulder got better. I am ok now! It’s true. Just keep moving! And #movewithoptions.
Then, on what seemed like a whim, we flew to Toronto to spend one month with my family in June. This is the additional wing of the Royal Ontario Museum, designed by Daniel Liebeskind. This was once my “backyard” and “playground.” Some of my art history classes were held at the ROM. And I used to live up the street from here.
My photo and Facebook page did the rounds. It was covered by CNN, TV5, ABS-CBN, GMA7 and many online journals. This photo is still being used (sometimes without permission) up to now. Funny how it had to take an accidental aerial shot to show the meaning of population density and congestion.
These days, we barely make time for Niagara Falls. It’s always a 20 minute photo op and never a destination. Why oh why do I take this place for granted? I need a whole day to have our kids do the attractions, no matter how cheesy they are.
It’s just been half the year, there are more little stories. Click, click.
In August, I did a field visit in Naga for UNICEF.
Towards the end of August, Sophia went to France for two weeks (I tagged along as a parent volunteer and journalist.) She was chosen by Mirasol Foundation to represent the Philippines at Copain du Monde, a summer camp sponsored by Secours Populaire Francais. Part of the program was spent in Paris for a day. I am so very proud of Sophia for what she has done here. She wrote about her experiences in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Soph met and danced with the ex First Lady of France, Valerie Trierweiler, who is a patron of Secours Populaire Francais. You may watch the video of Soph’s camp experience here.
My chair was faked again and displayed in Iloilo venue set up for APEC.
SM immediately pulled out the chairs from display. But this manufacturer – Solid Gold – never apologized nor stopped making these chairs. Please note that the DAPHNE® Chairs are no longer being manufactured or sold. We have retired the design. But we still own it. So, no… it’s not ok to copy.
In the pop culture front, I discovered the joy of watching AlDub as it unfolded during its early weeks. I kept it a “secret” in August. Then in September, I came out. haha. This blog entry on Aldub Fever went viral. My friend Stephanie Arambulo worked on the tandem’s first ever TV commercial (they have so many now). And she surprised me with this fan sign.
Because of my “analysis” of the Aldub phenomenon, we made it to the BBC.
The K&Company Holiday 2015 collection was gorgeous.
Still in October, I hosted an evening of talks on hereditary cancer screening by Hi-Precision. If you think you are at risk of cancer because of your family history, it may be worth inquiring about this procedure. It’s the same one Angelina Jolie took, which determined she carried the BRCA gene.
During my trip to Singapore for Maison et Objet Asia, I met the editor and publisher of Design Anthology magazine. They came to Manila in October and co-hosted a party with Maison et Objet at the stunning home of Cynthia Almario. Design Anthology had invited me to write for the special Manila issue, however I couldn’t commit time-wise. Hoping this year, I get to do more writing again.
With the Belo Babies, at the dinner hosted by Belo Medical Group to inaugurate a new anti-aging machine by LPG. With a real life Belo Baby – Quark Henares together with Alice Dixson and Tom Rodriguez.
Click for more.
My 16-month old MacBook Air crashed. I bought it in the US (in Los Altos, CA) and chose the most powerful and most sophisticated model in 2014. I was so distraught that the motherboard just died. PowerMac, an authorised local reseller, said it would cost me P30,000 to replace the motherboard. I phoned 1-800 Apple Care and told them my very sad story. I didn’t have extended warranty. But they still replaced my motherboard for free. Faith restored in Apple.
I visited the head office and main lab of Hi-Precision Diagnostics, my blog sponsor. Check out their list of diagnostic services including cancer screenings, food intolerance tests, and prenatal screening here.
I went for a silver blue colour. A few days after I got my couch, Pantone announced their colour of the year – rose quartz and serenity. Serenity looks like this.
During APEC, while Kenneth Cobonpue was setting up for the Welcome Dinner for which he he specially designed these green version of the Yoda chairs, he rang my phone. He said “Daphne, do you want Obama’s chair?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Do you want to auction it off for charity?” Of course I said “Yes, let’s auction it for the benefit of UNICEF. And oh, do can I also have Trudeau’s chair, and Nieto’s and three more?”
US President Barack Obama on a Kenneth Cobonpue Yoda Chair at the APEC 2015 Welcome Dinner. Together with the UNICEF Philippines team and Kenneth’s staff put together Auction for Action in two weeks. And this was at the height of the Christmas rush!
Here is a short video about Auction for Action #APEC2015Chairs
The actual auction took place on December 16th. It was the most exciting 2-hours of my hosting career. I was the auctioneer and did not take a break. We sold all 6 APEC chairs for a total of P8.8 million. I was in shock. The past three Auction for Action events, I raised a total of P8.2 million. And this time, in a span of 2 hours, we raised more than what we did in three years. This will go along way in funding UNICEF Phililppines’ programs for the First 1000 Days.
In between the UNICEF auction preview and the actual Auction for Action (1 week period), the officials of France’s Secours Populaire Francais came to the Philippines to inaugurate a high school they helped rebuild after Typhoon Haiyan’s devastation in Busuanga, Palawan. SPF was the organization that sponsored Sophia’s trip to France in August. We were invited to go to Busuanga for the inauguration, but I could not attend because of my UNICEF duties. So instead I committed to help organise their dinner in Manila on Dec 13th. In this photo is SPF President Julien Laupretre and former First Lady of France, Valerie Trierweiler. Also present was Dep Ed Secretary Armin Luistro and Mirasol Foundation’s Danny Rayos del Sol and Amy Loste.
Sophia presented Julien Laupretre, President of Secours Populaire Francais, with her artwork inspired by her experience in France last August. Also in photo is Marie Francoise Thull SPF Moselle President.
Well this has been the longest blog entry I’ve posted maybe. Or at least photo-wise, it’s very long. I can’t thank you enough for still being here.
2015 was a year when I didn’t make any specific plans for work or the family. Yet looking back, I realize that everything just unfolded at the right time and the right place.
2016 may not be as relaxed or carefree. I have a few projects that I’m working on now, and I have real deadlines. But I will continue to just let God surprise me. Hopefully it involves lots of travel.
Have a great 2016 everyone!