My year-end report



Stella ran to hug Lily
This time last year, we were in Batangas with my family – my sisters, their husbands and kids, my parents.


Before we all get back to regular programming, I wanted to share how 2011 looked through my eyes. I never used to do that –review highs and lows. Ugh. And I never made plans or resolutions for the new year. I just went on with life while it happened.

But I figured, it can’t really hurt to do this now. Just in case the world does end this year as the Mayans believe, at least I’ve got this floating on cyberspace. I’ve got a good filing system in my photo archives anyway, so it wasn’t much work to pull file photos. I will skip details about my professional work, because… really, who does that? This is about my personal journey and some of my most enriching experiences.


Click “More” if you want to read about my year…


We spent new year’s day of 2011 celebrating my Dad’s 70th birthday. My parents and siblings flew in for this occasion. Unfortunately my brother and his family couldn’t join us. But it was still one of the most memorable moments for our family.


Helicopter cupcakes
We gave my dad a party he would never forget. All his friends, relatives and military classmates were there. We had the works – great food, great band, dancing. All that was missing was my brother and his family.


Hong Kong 2011
Then because my folks were in town to supervise our children, my sister Hanni, her husband Trevor, Patrick and I escaped for a few days. We flew to Hong Kong. We ate, we shopped, we walked a lot.


Hong Kong 2011
It was wonderful.


Stopped over in Paseo (Sta Rosa)
It’s such a blessing to have my parents able to travel back and forth. And sometimes they squeeze in a mini trip – like a cruise around the region or fun vacation to places like Cuba, where my mom can still enjoy a few mojitos. Thank you God, for the gift of good health and a comfortable retired life for my folks. This photo was taken in Santa Rosa.


Davao Pearl Farm
Me and my mom in Pearl Farm, Davao.


Then when everyone went back to Canada, it was back to just the five of us. We had the best summer ever. I was a stay-at-home mom. Urban Zone took a break for three months. Yes, I stressed out over the professional implications of that process. But I found myself channeling my creativity towards new products, more surprise work and most of all, the luxury of time with my children. I was with them in all their summer activities – from swimming, to ballet, to acting, singing and theatre. Then when those were over, we pursued ice skating again.


Summer at home and at the club with my three girls.


Thanks for the skates @holmestj @Holmesjoh
We committed to weekly ice skating sessions, until eventually Patrick and I got tired of waking up early on weekends. Haha. Promise to resume this, my loves.


Be still, mother earth. #Prayersforjapan
It was a crazy year for the world – with Japan’s earthquake and tsunami; and our flooding in Mindanao. I don’t want to sink into depression but these are things that greatly affect me and my children. I will share my share my story of Mindanao later. Then the world celebrated the loss of some scary leaders like Osama Bin Laden, Muammar Gaddafi; while North Koreans mourned the death of their supreme leader Kim Jong Il. A few governments were toppled down through twitter. Meanwhile locally, nothing much has changed. Same old, same old.


Tott's at The Excelsior
Ingrid and I made a quick trip to Hong Kong in May, where we feasted on every duck dish…


Met Tory Burch
… and met Tory Burch at her party at the Four Seasons.


Then in August, there was this fabulous surprise trip to India. Ideally Patrick would have been with me, but my folks had gone back to Toronto by then, and we vowed never to leave our children with just Yayas (Hello, have you seen the movie Babel?).


This was the first thing I saw on my first day at the break of dawn on our way to Jaipur. I loved India…


… For its great architecture like this in Fatehpur Sikri. The shopping was fantastic. Wish I had more time. Here are my many India stories.


2011 saw one of our dreams come true. We hope to build an eco-friendly home away from home here.


Home is a happy place with lots of toys and books. It was a big year for books as our 8 year old Sophia became the ultimate reading machine. Lily continued to draw and fill up her sketch books. She still dances and feels music run through her veins. 2011 was the year Stella mastered the skill of talking in full sentences. Though true to her 2 year old self, she loves saying “mine”. Like “Mine going to sleep now”, “Mine taking a bath,” or “Mine finished drawing.”

It was also my year for Philippine design and art. I was asked to judge many design competitions and give talks to students. It was fun.


Cebu Next 2011 furniture design
I judged Cebu Next furniture expo.


And also judged Metrobank Art and Design Excellence Award for the interior design category…


… where I saw some very promising art.


Then Manila Fame/CITEM invited me to be among the board of judges for the prestigious Katha Award


… where we saw interesting designs, but my fellow judges (Kenneth Cobonpue, Robert Alejandro, Jeannie Javelosa) and I took a major stand and made the statement that no one gets the Katha Award. Bold, eh?


And before the year ended, the University of the Philippines Interior Design department asked me to judge their alumni competition. Here is the winning team’s design.


With fellow judges of the University of the Philippines Interior Design Competition.


By December, my older brother Cyrus came to Manila for two weeks. He was here primarily for his Zobel reunion. But he spent every single day with me. I can’t tell you enough what a gift it is to spend that much alone time with the person you were born with. My brother is almost exactly one year older than I am. And for the first decade of my life, it was pretty much the “Cyrus and Daphne” show. We were like twins. Yes, we fought like crazy as kids but we were together-together.


My brother’s first day. We had breakfast in Binondo.


2011 gave me a greater grasp of what I can do through UNICEF. The earlier part of the year, together with the UNICEF team, I curated and set up an auction of Philippine art and design. It was the first event of UNICEF Philippines that involved a new community – design, art, lifestyle. It was greatly supported by my artist friends – Kenneth Cobonpue, Ramon Orlina, Vito Selma, Ito Kish, Janina Dizon, Kristine Dee, Ingrid Go, Reg Yuson, Michael Cacnio and more. The 10-day online auction raised almost P1.5 million for UNICEF’s programs for children.


The success of Auction for Action landed us (me) on the international newsletter of UNICEF Ambassadors on the same page as Maggie Cheung, Mia Farrow and back to back with David Beckham. We hope to do the a similar auction in 2012 – more art, more funds to raise, more programs for children.


Had to cut my Maguindanao visit short due to security alert. Appreciate the short chance I had to serve & help.
In August, I made this life-changing trip to the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao). It took many weeks of thinking and analysing whether I should go to Maguindanao at the height of conflict. But there were stories that needed to be told about babies with severe acute malnutrition. I got there and visited two hospitals. But my 3-day trip was cut short to 24 hours due to a security alert. You may read about it here and here; and watch the video here.


I also learned that I could get big things done immediately when I set my mind to it. When typhoon Washi struck, like most of you, I wanted to help. UNICEF was quick to respond and led the restoration of safe and clean water immediately. Through my blog and twitter, we supported the fundraising call for emergency funds as well as the very important drive for human breastmilk. But I still felt like I could do more. I couldn’t wait for my “official role” to be needed because a trip to CDO and Iligan would have just caused logistical concerns among people who should be focusing on saving lives and restoring water and safety. I wanted to do something immediate and impactful other than packing or distributing relief goods.

So I did something out of the ordinary and wrote to Canada’s Global Medic. To make a long story short, between my brother Cyrus and me, we were able to coordinate a USD $100,000 mission to the Philippines. At one point the whole mission almost got cancelled and the only way to save it relied completely on my ability to, according to my brother, “make it happen.” One day I will tell this story in full with details because a number of people and organizations responded to my plea – namely Philippine Airlines, Philippine Air Force and Philippine Navy — and they deserve recognition. Here‘s a news clip from Toronto showing my brother’s interview.



That nearly-impossible thing we did got me the biggest stiff neck (which I plan to have looked at medically) but put everything else in perspective. I learned that mountains can move (PAL) and I can put two trucks on board a big ship — with everyone’s big heart and good intentions working together. It also landed me in a live radio interview with BBC London. Somehow the folks at BBC learned about my efforts in coordinating this relief mission through Twitter. I stayed up til 2AM to participate in a discussion with a British Member of Parliament and a UN official on global funding for disasters. I was supposed to be on for the full hour, but I felt that I said what I had to say in the first gap, so I let go and went to bed at 2:30AM. The producer wanted the angle of, “imagine if one person can make a huge difference, how much more a government.” It was the tail end of my involvement and I was just so physically exhausted. I was also very uncomfortable talking about myself – hence all the hesitation if you listen to the audio clip at the BBC link above. It doesn’t really matter that I sounded nervous, because I really was; and admittedly I am rusty with live reports. What struck me and continues to stay with me was what they said — that the world (i.e. the United Nations) does not have enough resources (i.e. money) to respond to all the future/possible disasters. YIKES.


Moving on to less serious but still weighty stuff, my Vogue Italia feature. I would be lying if I said this wasn’t a highlight. It is! And I’m so glad that great things happened after this feature because I honestly didn’t know what to write after Vogue Italia. I’m still floored by this. Fact.


By Isabel Gatuslao
The Daphne re-branding by Isabel Gatuslao. Halfway through the year, this website was finally launched – tying in all my products into one brand. This blog takes up a lot of my time. But I do it because I love it and everything that goes in it – the writing, the photos and the fact that I get to chronicle my personal journey. It is a bonus that I have readers like you.


Because of this blog I re-learned that when you do things you truly love and the passion, hard work and drive are there, good things really happen. I am reminded of my “hungry years” as a TV reporter when I did Video Postcards because broadcasting was my only language and I loved telling stories. Now I feel like I have truly found my voice. And Patrick was right all along. That I should think beyond TV.

2011 was also the year that brought me back to what my parents always told me (and what I always tell my daughters) — that I can make it happen. How’s that for self-affirmation? LOL.

Just before I finished writing this entry (which took two and a half days, by the way — because I have no cook and cleaner at home), I got a call announcing possible major change. Whatever. So much for all that positive affirmation. Ha. Ha.

Universe, I’m grateful for the lessons I learned in 2011. Because of them, I am ready for change and ready for a challenge. I think differently now and I can act differently.

To everyone, I pray for a happy and healthy 2012 for you and your loved ones. And whatever it is you want to do, remember, you can make it happen.



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