Message from Ms. Gina Lopez

Haven’t been able to get online this entire day as I had a visit from Lia in the morning, lipo-cavitation and RF after lunch, meeting with Yodel in the afternoon, plus dinner and exercise with Grace in the evening.
This afternoon I received a friendly call from Ms. Gina Lopez, whom I blogged about after the #WhyMining forum at the InterContinental Manila last week.
After hearing each other’s sides, I asked her if she would like me to take the post down, which I did this afternoon.
Following is her email to me, which I also promised to publish.
Comments will be closed for this entry. Thank you :)

Gina Lopez
Photo: BBC World Service

Dear Cecile,

The videos you have on your blog are snippets of me talking about eco tourism.
I have five eco tourism projects in Puerto Princessa—one of which is offering sashimi to the tourists that go see the dolphins. Dolphins eat the same food as tuna—so when one views the dophins one can also eat sashimi on board.
The Glamping—Glamour Camping is one of our eco tourism tools we will be using in Brookespoint. This means camping at the foot of the mountains, enjoying the splendour of nature and paying a good amount of money which will all go to the community. Glamping is done in Africa and it is very popular.
All efforts are meant to benefit the community. It is totally unethical to take snippets of me talking, edit it and distort it to mean something else.
If the mining industry does not agree with my views on conserving the beauty of nature, they should stick to the issues – and not hit below the belt.
Cecile because the videos are a very unfair distortion of the Truth – I would very much appreciate it if you take it out of your blog. Thank you for your understanding.

Gina Lopez

Lucy Hale’s Manila diary

I first heard about Pretty Little Liars on Twitter, when one of the American celebs I was following mentioned it (can’t remember which one). I got hooked on Season 1.
Season 2, I started getting exasperated from all the stress going on with that show (who the hell is A??). And then the last few episodes, I started to get hooked again.

Pretty Little liars

The mystery/thriller stars four of today’s prettiest stars: Troian Bellisario (the chicest one, at left), Ashley Benson (the blonde), Shay Mitchell (at right, who is half Filipino), and Lucy Hale, who also happens to be the newest Bench girl.

Lucy Hale for Bench

Lucy was in town last month as a special guest of BENCH CEO, Ben Chan. She flew in with celebrity hairstylist, Scott Cunha, who has also styled the likes of Miley Cyrus, Nicole Richie, Emma Roberts and Diane Kruger.
It was her first time in Asia, confessed the 22-year-old star, who flew in via Hong Kong from Los Angeles.

Lucy Hale and Scott Cunha
Lucy instagrammed on the plane with Scott Cunha

Lucy Hale
Arriving at our beloved NAIA

During her three days here, Lucy toured and shopped at several Bench-owned stores (including Aldo), sampled Filipino, Chinese and Thai food, enjoyed fresh mango shake, and tasted ube for the first time.
She bought Ilog Maria lotion at the Echostore, plus pearls and trinkets in Greenhills, along with makeup artist Chechel Joson.

mango juice
Trying mango juice for the first time

Scott Cunha and Lucy Hale at Bonifacio High Street
Strolling at Serendra

She marveled at her giant billboard and tweeted, “This is crazy!” after seeing her likeness on a massive Bench window.

Lucy Hale

this is crazy

On her first night, she popped in at the Secret Fresh x Bench T-shirt launch at Greenbelt 5.

Lucy Hale
L-R: Egg Fiasco, Lucy Hale, JJ Zamoranos

Friday night, Ben Chan hosted an intimate dinner at home where Lucy and Scott met Bench friends and family: Liz Uy, Georgina Wilson, Paula Taylor, Isabelle Daza (Photo: Raymond Gutierrez)


She was introduced to American Idol’s David Archuleta, who is also the newest face of BENCH.

L-R: David Archuleta, Ben Chan, Lucy Hale

On Saturday afternoon, Lucy got to meet and greet her fans in a special event at SMX where I got to sit down with her for a brief interview.
I carefully selected my outfit for the day knowing the petite actress and I are the same height (we are both 5’2”). I was excited to meet the star of the show I’ve been following up-to-date for the last two seasons.
My friend Kevin and I arrived an hour early for our 4 p.m. time slot and killed the time sipping Haagen-Dazs milkshakes at nearby SM Mall of Asia. At 4 p.m. we were back at SMX just in time for to meet the young star in a private room.
At the scene were familiar faces such as Bench’s Lawrence Cua and Jojo Liamzon, photographer Patrick Uy, makeup artist Chechel Joson, and reporter Gretchen Fullido. Also present were her manager Strand and hairstylist Scott.
Lucy wore a Bench T-shirt and jeans matched with Aldo shoes and accessories to the interview.

Lucy Hale and Kevin Ching
Lucy and Kevin at SMX

Me: Ben Chan called you the sweetest, most down-to-earth celebrity he’s ever met. Can you tell us why you call him Daddy Warbucks?

LUCY HALE: He’s given me a lot of things; he’s been so kind to me. We had lunch at Peking Garden and one of his friends was wearing this gorgeous bracelet that I liked and he tracked it down and gave it to me at a dinner he hosted for me.

What made you say yes to Bench when they asked you to be an endorser?

I love the whole international aspect of it, it was overseas, and then I saw the clothes and then it was a no-brainer because they’re so affordable and yet they’re really cute.

I saw you went shopping with Scott at Bench the other day. What did you guys get?

You mean, what did I not get? I got swimsuits, underwear, bras, jeans, shirts, hats, skirts, and this jumper thing. And Scott got all the men’s underwear, every single pair — maybe 20 pairs of underwear (laughs). He seriously needs to be the next endorser for Bench Body.

Your beauty is much appreciated in the Philippines because you’re a brunette and petite. What fashion and beauty tips can you give to a petite girl?

I know for me, I can’t wear certain lengths because of proportions, like I can’t wear over-the-knee boots cause I want to appear taller. So I guess it’s all about finding what works for your body but at the same time — and it all sounds contradictory — but don’t be afraid to take risks, don’t be afraid to try new things. That’s sort of like my motto.

What’s the real score between you and Ian Harding and who is your closest friend on the show?

Ian in real life is a goofball, he’s extremely sweet and a dear, dear friend and we are definitely just friends. He’s one of the people I’m closest to and like the most genuine person you’ll ever meet. He’s such a nice guy… My closest friend is Keegan Allen, who plays Toby on the show. His body is ridiculous, too. He can do Bench Body, I should tell Ben!

Bayo’s summer vibe

BAYO reveals their summer 2012 ad campaign starring KC Concepcion in a “vintage road trip” a la Thelma and Louise.
Brand endorser KC wears pieces from the collection that is retro inspired, in hand-printed fabrics florals, stripes, geometric pointelle, and crochet cottons.
Candy-colored pantone hues like Hot Coral, Chalk Pink and Fandango Pink create a fantasy lifestyle inspired by the late 50’s and early 60’s California glamour.

KC Concepcion

KC Concepcion

KC Concepcion

To see more of the collection, go to

Lunch with Chuck Hughes

Being married to a chef means we watch the Asian Food Channel (AFC) a lot. That’s why I when I was invited to have lunch with Chuck Hughes, star of Chuck’s Day Off, I readily accepted and dragged my carcass off my bed.
After all, Edsa Shangri-La’s HEAT is just around the corner.


We come here often, but never had I seen HEAT so filled to the rafters, especially on a Monday lunch.
Turns out they sold many tables to Chuck Hughes fans, waiting to get a glimpse of the Canadian chef.
Lucky for some of us, a select group of media was treated to a cooking demo where chef Hughes used seafood flown in from Canada.


The tall chef arrived wearing a black AFC apron over a black shirt, day-off shorts and sneakers, and immediately spoke nonstop about his love for the Philippines, the people and the food (read: madaldal).
He was introduced by Karra-Lee Gerrits, Commercial Counsellor of the Embassy of Canada in Manila.


Chuck went on to cook three dishes, assisted by Chef Trixie Hafalla of HEAT


Being married to a chef also means I get turned on whenever a cute guy can chop, season and fry :)


He made Salt-cured cod and roasted garlic spread crouton

Salt-cured cod and roasted garlic spread crouton

Pan-grilled rock perch fillet with green gazpacho

Pan-grilled rock perch fillet with green gazpacho

and Jerk Dungeness crab with chili and chives

Chuck Hughes crab

These were put aside on a table, while the chef sat down with us for quick lunch.
Luckily the entire buffet spread consisted of seafood, which is in sync with my Lenten sacrifice.
What I really loved were the Oysters Rockefeller and the crab.

Chuck Hughes buffet

In between bites, Chef Hughes talked about his trip to the dampa near Manila Bay, where he sampled fresh seafood cooked by locals, enjoyed with halo-halo and green mango with bagoong.

Chuck Hughes in Manila

Chuck Hughes in Manila

Chuck Hughes in Manila

He spoke excitedly about a Filipino episode he recently taped where he cooks adobo pork shanks and pineapple coconut pie for a Filipino father and son.
Having achieved a lot at the age of 35, he still expressed a desire to have kids—but it’s hard right now with two successful restaurants in Montreal, a TV show and traveling all over the world.
“I’m lucky to have a girlfriend who understands,” said Chuck of Sabrina Bronfen, whom he gets to see maybe six days in a month whenever he’s in Canada. Chuck spoke of her fondly and describes her as a very good cook.
(He forgot to mention, she is gorgeous.)

GILT CITY and FOOD NETWORK COOKING  CHANNEL host the James Beard Foundation Chefs Night Out “Pop Up Party” Hosted by Anne Burrell, host of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef and Lee Brian Schrager,Gilt City Chief Lifestyle Advisor

Then Chuck was whisked away to his fans in HEAT (no pun intended) who were waiting for photo ops. He gladly posed for pictures, stopping only briefly for a bathroom break. (Okay ang dami nila….)

Pila balde

All this time, I didn’t want to leave because I was eyeing the Dungeness crab on the table. I gathered enough guts to ask Lesley Tan, Director of Communications at Edsa Shangri-La, if I could take home the crab for dinner.
Imagine my excitement when she said yes!
Then imagine my shock when I saw her taking this to the back

Lesley Tan

Dungeness crab from Canada

No, Lesley, not that crab, the one Chuck cooked! I was so embarrassed. I wanted my husband to try it at home :)
Oh, you mean, this crab.

Chuck Hughes in Manila

Chuck was back, so we made him chika. I asked him to show us his tatts.

Chuck Hughes tattoo

There’s lemon meringue pie

Chuck Hughes tattoo


Chuck Hughes tattoo

and the perfect temperature for baked potato

Chuck Hughes tattoo

Chuck said he loves talangka so much, he’s planning to make it his next tattoo. He is really one of the most pleasant, nicest, down-to-earth celebs I have ever met.
And I came home with the best swag ever—Chuck Hughes Dungeness chili crab in a takeout container.
Special thanks to my 4th grade best friend, Annie Ick, who now works at the Shang!

Annie Ick

That night I sat down for dinner with my husband and kids who luckily are not into crabs.
The cook heated up the crab in our airfryer. My husband had two bites and I had it all to myself.
I can tell you this much: I was in heaven. I’m convinced Chuck Hughes is a wonderful chef!

Inside the Mind Museum

Like many people, I was excited to see the Mind Museum, hopefully before everyone else does.
I had already bought entrance tickets to the Mind Museum for its opening day (March 16) when I thought of asking my friend Ginggay if she had connections inside. Her mom does, so Ginggay brought a bunch of us in last Saturday for a preview.
The Mind Museum is called the “first world class museum in the Philippines” with over 250 inter-active “minds-on” and hands-on exhibits. Because of the ultra-modern building design (by Architect Ed Calma) and all the people behind it, we had high expectations—we don’t usually see things like these opening in Manila, ever.
But maybe I’m not the market. I never liked science in school, I also got bored with the Singapore Science Centre.
The tickets I paid for on opening day cost me Php 750 each for an unlimited day pass, but after the tour, I felt it was worth only Php 500 tops.
Let me digress for a bit. I was given an Olympus F1.8 camera to test, so all the pictures in this entry were taken by this camera.


Here’s a summary of what we saw: This female voiced-robot will greet you at the entrance, but the voice isn’t robotic at all.


The next thing we saw was this uninteresting giant candy bar with a giant fly on top of it.
Lucky if you can get one of these tour guides to explain everything



There were giant test tubes (don’t know what they’re for).
Actually there were a lot of things there that appeared more decorative than interesting.


Here’s a cilia


Noel was looking at some 3D stuff


Very Ed Calmic, if you ask me


Everyone was taking pictures everywhere and it’s allowed. Thank you security guards for being friendly.


Here comes the cool stuff: a giant T-rex skeleton that looked very realistic


You can climb some stairs for a better view, but the carpeted stairs were falling apart, even before opening date


Apart from the giant T-rex, the star of the show was this giant butanding, where everyone had the same idea of taking a picture with their head inside the mouth (kind of like everyone has the same idea when taking a picture at the Leaning Tower of Pisa)


I really liked the 3-D Periodic Table of Elements


Each capsule had an object inside which had the featured element


Walking through this tunnel


Love the Margielic giant brain with neon lights


Very cool: Electrostatic ball, which makes your hair stand




I’m afraid for my boys’ comments/imagination when they see this evolution of man chuchu


Especially the small creature on the right


This one is so creepy


A very cool hand with Penny (L) and Grace


Ok, I really love this moon. Wish I had one on our roofdeck. Can I buy this?


There’s this enclosed dome you can enter with a starry show inside. You have to take off your shoes when you enter. I did not enter because it smelled of cachichas. May I recommend Air & Odor Management?


I’m glad to say the restrooms are Singapore-standard. How I wish Ed Calma would be hired to fix NAIA.



Toilet paper, complete water closet with cover, and decent trash bin


This beautiful shot reminds me of a scene from Logan’s Run, my favorite ’70s sci-fi movie.


If they would screen movies here, they should show Logan’s Run. Here’s the auditorium


Going up and down the escalator, I realized the Olympus camera has no movie setting, so I guess I’m going back to Canon


Here’s one of my favorite rooms—it’s a function room. It made me wish for an empty room in my house, so I’m gonna get rid of so many things hopefully next week.


There’s a cool X-ray machine that wasn’t working yet. Guess which one’s my bag?


I understand there were many sponsors for this project, I just don’t think it’s necessary to give them a booth. Here’s the American Standard display on the second floor. I certainly hope it’s not a permanent exhibition

Noel's trying to ask Chloe to sit on the toilet

Spotted: Ed Calma checking out the premises.

Ed Calma

He did a really good job design-wise. But the building design and structure are far more superior to the actual features of the museum. For example, the 2nd floor was a complete waste of space. They even had arcade games in there (space filler much?).
I’ll bring my kids back on opening day and see how they like it. Maybe it really is for kids and I expected too much, but most of the adults I spoke to were also underwhelmed.
Well, there’s always room and time for improvement.

To buy advance tickets and know more about the Mind Museum, go to

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