Christmas and pine



I recall when we were growing up, my mother put up the same exact Christmas tree every year. Same decor. No theme. And every year, she would add a new ornament – something one of us made or something she bought on Boxing Day the year before. When we were still living in Manila, we had the same artificial tree year after year. I was influenced by this. In our home, we have the same exact tree every year – same balls, same ornaments, no theme, not designed at all.


Me and my brother
The only time we had a different tree was this year. I don’t really know what the story is behind this twig tree. I used to laugh at it. Now I think it’s hip in a Charlie Brown way. I believe that was the year my dad ordered a tree from Clark Air Base; and it didn’t get to us on time. That’s me and my brother.


Telling Santa that she wants Barbie Diamond Castle
Christmas traditions are funny. The only thing we have consistent is our tree at home. When it comes to Santa Claus, it’s always different. We try to meet him – either in a mall or in a hotel. When Sophia was 6 she asked my why Santa’s beard was short. I told her that he had a shave but wanted the kids in the Philippines to see a bearded Santa like in his pictures, so he wore a fake beard. She believed.


Santa liked my baby's cookie
Soph remembers Santa this way from the year before that – with a glorious white beard. I hope he comes visit this season. Does anyone know which hotel or mall Santa with the full beard will be at?


We’ve been using the same artificial tree since we got married. Our ornaments at home don’t change. I bought these tin toys 10 years ago, before Sophia was born. It was our first Christmas as husband and wife. I wanted generic, vintage-type toys. Or maybe I just didn’t know we were going to have 3 three girls.


I love this ornament from my mom. She gave me two of these. I want more. They’re quite delicate, made of glass.


How did you grow up so fast?
Every year, a daughter does this with our old jingling bells wreath. These were in the house before I got here. My mother in law owned them, making them even more special. Soph started it.


A few years later, Lily’s doing it. I’m sure this year Stella will be putting the bell wreath on her head too.


The tree corner becomes one giant mess. Such is life in a small cottage. This was Stella last year.


Christmas wish
I added a new Christmas thingy last year. Dressed up the DAPHNE chairs with lights and a wreath.


Why am I writing about past Christmases? Well, our tree isn’t fully up yet. And I’m so bitin. Over the weekend we put up the tree but we had to stop after hanging the lights because both older kids have exams this week. Most parents in the Philippines know what that’s like. The world stops. I’m squeezing in this blog entry because by tomorrow, I won’t have time to do anything else.

We’ve been feeling Christmassy though, even without the decorated tree. I popped open a few of the new DAPHNE® Home Scents in Green Forest Pine and the house smells so festive! When Bench asked me about coming out with a Christmas scent, I knew it had to be predominantly pine. This is how I know Christmas in my parents’ house. This is what’s been lacking in our tropical home. The smell of Christmas.


daphne forest pine (1)
Limited Edition DAPHNE® Home Scents in Green Forest Pine, 100ml, P348. Available at select Bench and Dimensione stores.


By the way, here’s a list of Bench stores in the Middle East that carry the regular line of DAPHNE Home Scents (acres of lavender, homemade lemon tart and mint jasmine):

Dubai – Reef Mall, Dubai Festival City Mall, IBN Battutta Mall, and Meena Bazaar Mall

Abu Dhabi – Marina Mall and Dalma Mall

Fujairah – Fujairah City Centre Mall



Thank you Space Magazine



Thanks, Space! Just saw this. It’s from last year.


I love that the Daphne chair was mentioned in this collage. They are now exclusively available at Dimensione.



My booth at WorldBex





This experience has been incredible. And I still don’t know what the outcome will be.

Ever since I agreed to put up a booth at World Bex (Building and Construction Expo), my life has never been the same. I’ve increased my involvement with my product development. Last week I was at the factory of my furniture line, choosing colours and developing new shapes. Last night I was sanding some inexpensive black frames and spray-painting them metallic silver. It was a success. But now I can’t breathe well and I have cuts in my hands.

My booth is being put together by a professional contractor. Interior designer Nina Santamaria of Gruppo Santamaria helped me with my booth design. The Purpose Store created my wall paper. My UZ team prepared a nice AVP that’ll loop in my booth. Isabel Gatuslao created my print collaterals for me to handout. It all looks great in concept. But I won’t know how it’ll come together until tomorrow. I won’t post the perspective drawings just yet. I’ll do that once the booth is up.

Oh I wish I found a baker who could do mini cupcakes or cookies with little Daphne chairs. I wanted to have them on March 14 to give to media and on the weekend to give to Urbanistas and Daphne readers. But I didn’t get to do that.

I hope to see you this weekend, March 17 and 18. It’s open to the public then and admission is free. Anyone who’s planning to build or redecorate should come to WorldBex. I’d go even if I didn’t have a booth. We have a leaky roof and we really need to get that all fixed. Plus my kitchen. That renovation has been of epic proportions… I need to source more suppliers.

See you this weekend! Come say hi to me at the DAPHNE® booth.



I did some styling for Metro Home



A few weeks ago, I spent an afternoon at Ito Kish’ store in Nicanor Garcia St, Makati. Our friend, Carlo Tadiar asked us to do a spread for his magazine, Metro Home. The idea was to ask three designers to set up the same exact table and corner. Carlo invited me, Ito and Miguel Rosales. I tried to say no and stalled as long as I can. Busy was an understatement. But eventually it pushed thru and we had fun while doing it.


Metro Home1
And how the opening spread looks like. Yes, I included a Daphne chair in the background.


I chose to do a tea party setting – something young, playful and feminine. I was thinking of my kids while choosing my items. These photos were taken using my Olympus PEN EP3. I was playing with the art filters.


It all started with this set of stackable square plates. I found them in Dimensione. Loved the Palladian architecture details printed on them.


Then I saw the grass-like place mats. So instead of doing something ultra modern and architectural, I went the playful route.


And I couldn’t not have these. Fell in love with the print and packaging of these precious soaps in Dimensione. I had to have them in the photo. So I set them up like little petit fours on a cheese plate from Alessi (I couldn’t find a cute cake plate).


These bears are actually nylon eco bags. I thought they’d be good party favours. Here they are leaning on my whimsical teapot from home.


And I was running out of ideas and needed some colour so I picked up these playful glasses also from Dimensione. The napkins are actually waffle fabric tea towels from Ito Kish store. I just folded them to make them look like napkins.


Then I thought it needed more softness – so I brought out my Cath Kidston tea set.


And to pull everything together, I placed little bolster pillows on the back of each chair. Luckily Ito had some floral pillows in his store.


Here’s the current Metro Home issue. It’s also available digitally on Zinio. Support, support! It’s a great issue. Lovely country homes.



Thank you Lucy





From Lucy Torres-Gomez’ column today October 2, 2011 –

Last Christmas I got Juliana one of Daphne’s pretty pastel-colored chairs. I got her the color pink, and after her “oooh”s and “aaah”s (she wanted it the first time she laid eyes on it in a magazine feature) she immediately stationed it beside her desk, with half a dozen of her favorite art and coloring books on top. One lazy Sunday afternoon, she pulled down the heavy shades in our room and re-positioned the chair against the wall by her side of the bed. On it, in lieu of her stack of hardbound books, she placed her little white night lamp, a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul for Kids (she loves reading a few stories every night), and her “Where’s Wally” pamphlet (which is like the imported version of Larry Alcala’s “Slice of Life” artwork that I loved so much as a child). Norah Jones was playing on the CD player and after Juliana fluffed up all her pillows, she turned on the night lamp to softly brighten up the almost dark room (it was raining and the sun was already setting). Snuggling under the sheets she said, “Mama, we are in Paris.”

Read Lucy’s full column at the Philippine Star here.


I ran into Lucy Torres-Gomez at the lobby of Shangri-la Hotel last week. I hadn’t seen her in a while. While waiting for our cars, she told me this story about Juliana and her chair. I thought it was so lovely.

Today, I found out through Jockeylynn at Twitter that she wrote about Juliana’s Daphne chair in her column.

Lucy is one of my most favourite people. She is so incredibly nice. I don’t remember now how we first met – most definitely it was because of our TV work. But we always refer to our old connection – our Tita Ador Gatchalian. She is Lucy’s ninang and the best friend of her mom in Ormoc. Tita Ador is my dad’s second cousin and very close to our family.

It was my first time to see Lucy after she had become a Congresswoman. Thank you Lucy!!



P.S. Note to everyone, all original Daphne Furniture must have a brass seal with my brand’s name on it. This chair is only sold through Rustan’s and soon I will release it in another outlet (yet to be announced). No brass plate = fake. Sorry I have to keep saying that.