Our new kitchen is done!

Dear friends and family,
At long last our 11-year-old kitchen has been renovated!
When we started to build our house 13 years ago, we were on a super tight budget. We couldn’t afford a professional kitchen manufacturer, so we had a carpenter-made kitchen, designed by Ed Calma nonetheless.
Since Jeroen is a chef, we wanted an open kitchen (at right) so he would not be left out while a party was going on.

Big Ass Fan at home

This was our kitchen in 2005

Our kitchen in 2005

and in 2007

Jeroen cooking

From the onset, our kitchen had many problems (mainly due to budget constraints)—like a leak that warped the wooden cabinets when it rained, to a Fisher & Paykel dishwasher that worked maybe 20 times until it conked out (don’t buy this brand!!), and an exhaust fan that didn’t work.
The counter top we chose chipped everywhere and was taped until we could renovate. The Insinkerator broke many times and the Fisher & Paykel refrigerator door just fell off after 13 years.
We’re lucky that we’re able to afford a new kitchen more than ten years later.
After consulting with architects Kellyn See and Rex Gapuz (and advice from Liza Crespo), we decided to go for Siematic, which is one of the best in Manila.
Prior to demolition, I asked Jeroen to have the open kitchen boarded up so that debris wouldn’t spill out onto the rest of the house.

Kitchen renovation

Jeroen, Kellyn and Rex have a kitchen meeting within the barricade

Kitchen renovation

Six months later, it’s done!

New kitchen

The exhaust fan works!!

New kitchen

We have lots of cupboards  and a handsome black Fedders chiller and freezer I found at S&R

New kitchen

The hallway is now boarded up as we change all the flooring from Ondoy vinyl* to tile.
The kids helped us pick out the new tile from five samples. Next we’ll be fixing the dining area.

Living room

Thank you Kellyn & Rex, Mr. Puyat, painter Noel, Siematic, Kuysen, all the workers, our house help who clean, and most especially to God for giving us the resources to fix our house.

*Typhoon Ondoy ruined our laminates so we had a temporary vinyl installed for five years!!

Tried & Tested: Nivea’s in-shower skin conditioner

HONG KONG—Hyatt Regency‘s bathrooms are chuva-approved!
It’s my second time to stay here. Location is at Hanoi Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, right across from Holiday Inn at Mody Road. Lobby isn’t great and you have to change elevators from street level to lobby to reach your room.
Room is clean and normal, but the bathrooms are minimalist and modern, just the way we like it.
One day I’ll have a shower and bath just like this—separate but in one stall.

Shower and bath

Counter sink is a must


Plus clean toilet


I ran out of moisturising soap, so I bought myself a big bottle of Nivea’s in-shower skin conditioner at Watsons.

Nivea skin conditioner

Nivea’s in-shower skin conditioner was recently launched in Manila for three skin types: dull, dry, and normal.


Skin conditioner works pretty much like hair conditioner.
When I was young we didn’t have hair conditioner at home, so I had many split ends. One of the things I liked to do in high school was to clip the split ends when the teacher wasn’t looking. Now we can’t live without hair conditioner!

One of the things I hate while traveling is what I call the “hotel itch”. That’s when my legs or back suddenly itch due to the aircon or change in weather, so applying lotion is a must.
Unfortunately I am too lazy to apply skin lotion everyday. Sometimes I remember, but most of the time I forget. Nivea’s in-shower skin conditioner works for me because I can shower with it, rinse, and it will leave a non-sticky moisturiser on my skin.
I do not recommend using it on the face though. I would still use a facial cleanser for that.
I tried and the skin conditioner felt a bit too oily for the face. For the rest of the body, it is perfect though.


How to use:
Use your regular body soap or shower gel. Then apply Nivea skin conditioner just like lotion on skin while in the shower. Rinse and towel off. I love it.
That said, I didn’t feel the “hotel itch” at all, and will continue to use this at home.
Nivea in-shower skin conditioner is now available in supermarkets and drug stores in the Philippines. Find them on the shelves, along with traditional body moisturisers. And read the label carefully for the words “in-shower”—you might confuse the packaging for Nivea lotions.

Delta + four major airlines move to NAIA 3

Good news for Delta Airlines travelers to and from Manila, Philippines: they’re moving to NAIA Terminal 3 beginning July 31, 2014 for arrivals and August 1st for departures.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Emirates, Singapore Air and Cathay Pacific will also be transferring to Terminal 3 by the middle to end of August. (Source)
NAIA Terminal 3 promises larger departure and immigration halls, a smoother walk between the airport entrance and gates, more seating areas, less congestion at security, and more shopping and dining options.

Airport Reflection
Photo: Dexter Baldon

Take note:
If you need to transfer between Terminal (T1) and Terminal (T3), allow at least 1½ hours to transfer between terminals.
An airport shuttle is available between terminals. The shuttle departs every 30-45 minutes, and the ride to T3 takes approximately 30 minutes.
Taxi service is also available between terminals. Taxis are located curbside at the T1 departure level, and the ride to T3 takes approximately 30-90 minutes.
Proceeding through the security checkpoint at T3 takes approximately 30 minutes.
BusinessElite® travellers may access Pacific Club in Manila,located on the L1 Mezzanine level. (Source)

Who’s afraid to fly to Hong Kong?

One of our favourite couples—Darren and Kissa McDermott—recently moved to Hong Kong.


When we found out they were leaving, Jeroen made a plan with his afam* friends to visit Darren.
Well, Hong Kong is on final sale, so I told Jeroen I am tagging along—with my friend Patrice.
I was really looking forward to this trip until planes started falling from the sky—starting with Malaysian Airlines (MH 17) on July 17th, followed by Taiwan’s TransAsia Airways on July 24, and Air Algerie on July 25.
To think Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 hasn’t even been found yet since March 8.

My fear of flying hit the roof two days before our trip. The night before I had no sleep.
It’s also my first time to try Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy. I figured 1.5 hours won’t hurt. Only the food did—an adobo roll that looked kawawa. Not that I eat on the plane anyway.


I kept my eyes on the screen watching the minutes count down and the altitude go up.
I prayed five rosaries and watched an afam next to me praying as well. I’m sure half the plane was scared to fly. I tried to play a few games of Maleficent but it made my heart beat faster.
I had deep conversations with God. Forty five minutes later, I started to think we are going to land safely. And we did!

Hong Kong reunion (L-R): Darren McDermott, Joeri Timp, Joris Spanhoff, Jeroen van Straten, Jasper van den Borne

Also on our flight were my Carlo Tanseco and Chunchi Soler


Victor Basa and Divine Lee—I keep seeing this couple in Hong Kong :)


At the airport I kept seeing men in yellow shoes—a sign from God!!

yellow shoes
yellow shoes
yellow shoes

At least one of them was chic

yellow shoes

Actor Lee Min Ho is everywhere!!

lee min ho
lee min ho
Lee Min Ho for Fila

And McDonald’s isn’t selling any patties due to the recent sanitation scandal


I spotted a T-shirt that looks like Andre Chang

Andre Chang tee Andre Chang

Then ended with the best steak and frites in Hong Kong at La Vache with Fed Tan of Social/Capital (L) and JJ Acuña (The Wanderlister)


*A foreigner assigned in Manila

Look who’s on Preview’s Best Dressed 2014

In 1999, I was on Mega magazine’s first ever Best Dressed issue. That was 15 years ago. (Photo: Lorraine Belmonte)

Cecile van Straten, Mega 1999

This year, I am one of Preview‘s Best Dressed—achieve! Hehe.
Seriously though my colour scheme hasn’t changed. And I am still difficult to photograph. (Photo: Koji Arboleda)

Comme des Garçons collectionCecile van Straten

When I was a kid we had film cameras and flashbulbs. You only took pictures during special occasions, unlike now where kids take selfies all the time and are used to the camera. That said, I would rather take pictures than be in them.
This month’s Preview (July 2014) features Georgina Wilson and Celine Lopez on the cover.

Preview cover July 2014

This year, Preview wanted to do more than come up with a list of best-dressed girls. So they decided to put two unlikely women together and ask them to converse. This year’s list also includes Jo Ann Bitagcol, Kim Jones, Ria Prieto, Pam Quiñones, Anne Arcenas, Marga Valdes-Trinidad, Tina Ong, Tinay Villiamiel, Zelda Kienle, Jessica Kienle, Dr. Aivee Teo, Jessica Yang, Marite Fe Ganse, Martine Cajucom, and Joane Laygo.

Also in the Best Dressed issue, Daryl Chang puts together a shopping guide for the first-time Manila visitor (or even long-time resident) including shopping haunts, a designer directory, and great finds that champion Philippine talent and craftsmanship.
They’ve also rounded up 30-plus pairs of the hottest footwear out there—and would you believe none of them have heels?
In the beauty pages you’ll find an arsenal of tools—from the right brush to different irons and blow dryers; plus how to get the perfect minimalist face in just 10 minutes.
Ann Jacobe takes you through a gym she’s dubbed “The Playground” and a healthy diet turned food business that’s given her the energy and glow of a woman half her age.
New neighborhood joints to eat in, Max Eigenmann’s photo diary from Art Basel Hong Kong, and a Q&A with Gab Valenciano are all in Preview July 2014.

My Oishi Sundate with Christian

Because of my work, I get lots of invitations. But for me to actually go to an event, there must be something special or different about it. This invitation from Oishi was difficult to ignore—a giant pack of chips landed at our front door.

OIshi event

Inside the mother sack are tons of Oishi’s newest chips featuring Team O’s Elmo Magalona, Daniel Padilla, and Ramon Bautista.

Oishi chips

The package included an invitation to a Snacktacular meet and greet with Team O at Glorietta.
“Who likes Daniel Padilla?” I asked the maids.
Ma’am, lahat po,” said Mariza.
Sinong pinaka die hard?” I asked.
Si Aiza po.”

I would have liked to take Aiza to the Oishi event, but they decided Yaya Joan would come with me and Christian.
In case you didn’t know, Daniel Padilla—nephew of Robin Padilla and son of Rommel Padilla and Karla Estrada—is equivalent to Justin Bieber in the Philippines. I can’t remember the last teen idol adored at this level by the masses (do you?). Even Mich Dulce likes him.
So one Sunday I packed my son Christian (6) and Yaya Joan to Glorietta 2’s Activity Center.
My heart was weeping for Brazil, so Christian wore this despite his father’s disapproval.

Oishi event

The activity centre was packed. It was difficult to cut through the crowd and enter the venue. Good thing Franco Santos of Bridges spotted us and let us in.
While waiting for celebrities to arrive, I took Christian around the activity booths. First, we hit the soft serve machine made of Oishi milk with oats. He chose chocolate.

Oishi event

Then celebrities arrived and all of a sudden everyone went wild

Oishi event

Good thing Yaya Joan was there. I don’t know these people…it’s Colleen Garcia

Oishi event

She is dating Billy Crawford apparently

Oishi event

Christian and I went to the next booth, where you take an empty sack and fill it up at a mock grocery filled with chips. Christian loved this activity.

Oishi event

He knows his Oishi favourites by heart so he knew exactly what to get, starting with Marty’s Cracklin’.

Oishi event
Oishi event
Oishi event
Oishi event

Elmo Magalona did it too, though not as wild as Christian

Oishi event
Elmo Magalona

Then Christian hit the trampoline, where he appeared to be jumping out of a pack of chips. It was hard to pull him away, trust me.

Oishi event

Ramon Bautista did it too

Oishi event

My favourite booth was the Make Your Own Snack Mix

Oishi event

You get an empty paper bag and choose the type of chips you like (I chose potato fries)

Oishi event

Then you choose from different flavoured powders

Oishi event

I chose nori, or Japanese seaweed

Oishi event

Shake, shake, and OMG this was so good!! I wanted to go back the next day to make some more, but the booth was already gone. Oishi, please make these chips for sale!! You can call them Chuva Chips, hehe :)

Oishi event

Robbie Becroft made some too

Oishi event

We like Robbie

Oishi event

We took our seats while waiting for the program to start. Christian was such a good boy.

Oishi event

And then screaming happened. Daniel Padilla had arrived.

Oishi event

My camera doesn’t quite capture the sound of my eardrums breaking

Oh, and Kathryn Bernardo was there.

Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla

They were brought backstage, and the show began with Team O’s Ramon Bautista, Slater Young, and Elmo Magalona

Oishi event
Oishi event

Through the wonders of technology, Elmo sang a duet via music video with his father Francis Magalona

Elmo Magalona

Elmo never fails to make his mom Pia smile

Oishi event

Daniel serenaded the fans

Oishi event

And the show ended with Daniel’s latest TV commercial for Oishi. Watch and see Daniel Padilla in action

I totally get why they love him, Mich Dulce included.
Thank you Oishi for the fun Sundate!!

Oishi event

Love, Christian

Oishi event


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