Why God gave me boys

When I got pregnant for the first time, Jeroen and I really wanted a little girl.
Jeroen grew up with only one brother, so his heart ached for a baby girl. We started thinking of baby names.
When I told my Dad we thought of naming the baby Jasmine, because the doctor said the baby was now the size of a grain of rice, my Dad said, “I hope you have a boy.”
So we changed her name to Anneliese, after Anne Frank.
Imagine the pain when the doctor said, during my second trimester ultrasound, “I see a scrotum.”
Tears rolled down my cheeks.

Newborn Ben
Newborn Ben

Ten months after Benjamin was born, I was pregnant again.
On the second trimerster ultrasound, I heard the doctor say, “And there, right there, is the scrotum.”
Tears rolled down my cheeks.
My friend Patrice has three boys. When I cried to her, she reassured me that boys are loads of fun, are so lambing, and will cherish their mom.
I thought of three women who had all boys: Princess Diana, my Lola Paying, and my mother-in-law, Wil van Straten.
All of them were cherished by their boys.
And so I had Markus.

sun bathing
Both my babies were born jaundiced and had to go under bili lights

After I had Markus, the doctor said the factory was closed, but I still wanted a bigger family.
Jeroen and I thought of adopting a baby girl.
But things don’t always happen as planned. Jeroen and I went to the orphanage and I fell in love with a boy named Christian.


I am now the mother of three boys and I used to wonder why.

My boys

As it turns out, God knows what is best for me. Here’s what I love about having three boys:
1) Boys clothes are cheaper. You may have less choices in Manila, but they are cheaper.
2) They do not have to watch every Taylor Swift or One Direction concert. They are cheaper.
3) Having three boys means you need to enroll, bring, and fetch them from one school only.
4) Boys take care of themselves. I do not have to mind them all the time, as I imagine I would if I had a girl. But yes I do have to nag them about personal hygiene and manners all the time.
5) Since the boys can take care of themselves, I can have my “me” time and take care of myself whenever I feel like I am about to go nuts.
6) Yes they adore me. My boys—13, 11, and 7 years old—tell me they love me every single day. They fight for me. They kiss and hug me everyday. They give me flowers nicked from the neighbor’s garden. And most of the time, I don’t have to beg.

The only setbacks are the amount of shoes, gadgets, and haircuts they want or need, and the fact that they want to kill each other single everyday (think Cain and Abel).
On my recent trip to Hong Kong I finally realized why God didn’t give me girls: I can’t deal with Disney princesses.

Disney princess costumes

Jeroen and I talked about it and said we are likely to give in if our daughter wanted to become a Disney princess. But I guess I’ll never know. At the Hong Kong International Airport, when I saw those costumes on display, I finally walked away and told God, “Okay, now I get it. I’m OK with it. Thank you for my boys.”

Why Jo Ann Bitagcol is the greatest model of our generation

Very recently, Liza Ilarde of Style WeekendManila Bulletin‘s weekly Friday magazine—asked me to write a story about Jo Ann Bitagcol, whom many consider the toppest model in the local fashion industry.
Jo Ann was one of seven women featured in the magazine’s celebration of International Women’s Month, along with Heart Evangelista, Aivee Teo, Sarah Meier, Ann Ong, Olivia D’Aboville, and Gang Badoy.

Heart Evangelista

Now that the article has been published on newsprint, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to share it here so that those who missed it can read it too.

Jo Ann Bitagcol

Margarita Fores cooks up special Artusi degustazione dinner

If Margarita Fores is cooking, it’s hard to refuse an invitation.
What more if it is for a special Artusi degustazione meal prepared by Margarita Fores and Casa Artusi executive chef Carla Brigliadori.

Margarita Fores and Carla Brigliadori make piadina on the  spot
Margarita Fores and Carla Brigliadori make piadina on the spot

Dinner was at was Alta, Margarita’s new restaurant located at the Ascott Residences, Bonifacio Global City.
It was part of a three-day event to launch Cucina all’Opera, Musica e Cibo in Emilia-Romagna (The Operatic Kitchen, Music and Food in Emilia-Romagna), a book celebrating the food and music of the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy.

Cucina all'Opera

The book features short biographies of legendary musical masters of the country like Arcangello Corelli and Gioachino Rossini, their indelible contributions to the society, and traditional recipes promoting quality produce.
Written by Giancarlo Fre and translated to English by his wife, Margherita Spinazzola, it provides a unique literary, musical and gastronomic taste of Italy.

Before dinner, cocktails and a buffet of antipasti were served at the poolside of Ascott Residences.
Guests enjoyed Formaggi e Marmellate (cheeses and marmalade), La Frittura (fritters of sage, mushroom and squash flowers), Salsiccia coll’Uva (sausage with grapes), Trippa alla Parmigiana (tripe alla Parmigiana), polenta, cured meats, pickled vegetables and a Romagna-style bread.

salsiccia coll'uva
Salsiccia coll’Uva (sausage with grapes)

Then everyone moved to Alta where the dinner started with Sformato di Cavolfiore (cauliflower mold) with US scallop and Batangas lobster.

sformato di cavolfiore

After that was Tonno Fresco Coi Piselli (fresh tuna with peas, red wine and tomato). A orange ice of dalandan, Manille Dalandan Liquer and mint was served next to clear the palate.

tonno fresco coi piselli

The next course was Papperdelle all’Aretina, papperdelle noodles with organic Batangas duck, Parmigiano Reggiano and thyme.

pappardelle all'aretina

We also had Cinghiale Al Vino Rosso (wild boar in red wine and served on adlai, a kind of grain) and Bollito Misto (boiled meats consisting of beef belly, ox tongue, organic duck and cotechino) with duet of mostarda, cremona and Philippine fruit.

bollito misto
Bollito Misto

For dessert, guests had Latteruolo—milk pudding, Batangas chocolate and Philippine mango.


The recipes of the dishes served that night were culled from Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well by Pellegrino Artusi and Cucina all’Opera.

The Alta team resposnible for the Artusi dinner
The Alta team responsible for the Artusi dinner

Calligaris opens new showroom in Bonifacio

Italian furniture is usually associated with high price tags, but those made by Calligaris are comparatively more practical and affordable.
A six-seat dining table can into a table for 12. A book shelf’s appearance can change when you move a few baskets.
A coffee table can be converted into a dining table for four and, later on, six people with a few adjustments.

1) Coffee table

2) Table

3) Dining table

Founded by Antonio Calligaris in 1923, Calligaris has been described as a “democratic furniture” brand because they’re made for upwardly mobile individuals who are looking for impressive but affordable furniture and home accessories.
Company chairman Alessandro Calligaris was in Manila recently to launch the new showroom of Calligaris at the Clipp Center in Bonifacio Global City.

Alessandro Calligaris and wife Bruna
Alessandro Calligaris and wife Bruna

Ten years ago, Florence Ko, managing director of Gruppo Mobili Philippines, brought the brand to the Philippines.
Grupo Mobili Philippines is also the parent company of luxury home store Furnitalia, custom closet and kitchen crafters Space 2000 and lighting specialist store Lucern.
The company started in the Manzano district of Friuli, Italy with a handcrafted wooden chair called Marocca. Manzano, incidentally, is known as Italy’s “Chair District.”

Calligaris’ strength as a furniture brand is quality craftsmanship. While some brands are known only for beds or couches, Calligaris covers everything from sofas and dining tables to lamps and vases.
The Urban is a fixed and modular sofa which offers multiple configurations.


The Gamera chair has a polyamide shell, is stackable and suitable for indoor and outdoor use. It is light and tough at the same time.
LAM is a table that’s available in fixed and extending versions. The design is based on the idea of adopting a construction principle wood and metal.
The Frame table, created by Stephen Burks, has a light frame that intersects under the glass top.
Moss consists of a modular mirror with one colored metal container of equal size. The modules can be put together in different ways. When looking at a configuration, identification of the shapes and repeatability of the modules are almost impossible to detect.


Calligaris CODE (which stands for Complements Design) is a capsule collection of furniture created by Italy’s young designers. Calligaris also allows homeowners to customize pieces with choices of materials and colors.
The Calligaris showroom is located at the mezzanine of Clipp Center, 11th Avenue corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.
For inquiries, call 869-1059 to 61 or email info.calligaris@furnitalia.com.ph.

Clipps Center

Nackymade at Tala Manila this weekend

Japanese eyeglass artisans Nackymade returns to Manila this March 20-22 at Tala Manila from 10 AM-7 PM.
For the last two years, Naoki (Nacky) Nakagawa his wife Tomoko have been traveling to Manila (as well London, Florence, New York, and Hong Kong) to receive custom-made orders for eyewear.

Nackymade at Tala Manila

Each handmade eyeglass frame will cost around Php 25,000, without prescription lenses.
Nacky makes frames only. He will personally see each client and suggest what is best after measuring one’s head and face for the best fit.
You will need to make a 50% deposit and wait a few months for your glasses to arrive.
This year Nackymade celebrates its 10th anniversary by offering a new cherry blossom stem as well as brand new models and colors.


​For appointments, call Shiela Lobo at Tala Manila +639373725441 or email talamanilaonline@gmail.com.
Tala Manila is at Unit 103, Three Salcedo Place, Tordesillas Street, Salcedo Village, Makati.
To know more about Nackymade, click HERE or go to http://www.nackymade.com.

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