Have you smelled Alice Blue?

I’m very particular about smell, so only a few scents really appeal to me. It can be as simple as vanilla or Dove shea butter soap. I like the scent of Soumak’s Kuliglig room spray, which makes me sleepy. I love the smell of my kids after bathing with Johnson’s lavender wash. Another thing I really like is Nivea’s Happy Time deodorant :)

Dovekuliglig by soumakJohnson's bedtime bathNivea

Most recently I discovered something, of all places, in the Family Lounge restroom of Glorietta 4. It was the sweet scent of Alice Blue’s Berry Crumble candle. I took a quick photo with my phone and asked the restroom attendant about it. She said I could find it in Glorietta 3.

Alice Blue

Luckily, Grace knew exactly where it was. I bought one candle, lit it at home and wondered: how come I’d never heard of this and how come I found out after Christmas??

Alice Blue

I was pleasantly surprised to find out Alice Blue candles are made in the Philippines.
Started in 2005 by two environmentalists hoping to create a candle that really scents the room, the hand-poured candles are made of soy wax—a renewable, biodegradable source—instead of paraffin wax, which is a byproduct of crude oil.
The candles were named after a pale shade of blue dedicated to Theodore Roosevelt’s daughter, Alice Roosevelt-Longworth.
Selected fragrance oils and high-quality cotton and paper wicks are used to make them longer-lasting and highly fragrant (which I can attest to). And whether they’re lit up or not, you can already smell the scent straight from the glass.
Find them in kiosks at Rockwell mall, Glorietta 3, and Trinoma.
To know more, go to http://www.alicebluecandle.com/.

Alice Blue Candles
Photo: Daniel Lampa

Dinner with James Jean, Part 1

“Tell you the truth, I’d never heard of you until you did the Prada bag,” I heard myself telling James Jean over dinner last Thursday.
“Uh hmmm,” James nodded as though he may have heard it before—from a girl. Mostly known for his comic book covers, I would imagine that 90% of his fan base are male.
I told him I wasn’t a big fan of Prada either until the bags came out. Do you remember this bag? My dad gave it to me for Mother’s Day in 2008.

The best mother's day gift

I had seen the bag in Singapore but it was not for sale—by order only. I thought I would never get the bag. But in May 2008, there it was at the window of the Prada store in Greenbelt 4. Luckily my dad was there and bought it for me.
Last Thursday I was sitting next to the artist who did the artwork for Prada.


Born in 1979 in Taiwan, James Jean was only three years old when his father received an opportunity to work in a prestigious firm in the U.S. where he is based, having lived in New Jersey, New York and currently Los Angeles.
“I’ve always drawn,” he narrated. “My parents would bring home reams and reams of computer paper and I would draw endlessly.”
He just never stopped. In 2001 he started drawing covers for DC Comics, which won him seven Eisner awards, three consecutive Harvey awards, two gold medals and a silver from the Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, and a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators of New York, says Wiki.
He has worked in advertising, contributed to numerous publications, and counts among his clients: Time magazine, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Spin, ESPN, Playboy, Knopf, Atlantic Records, and Target, among others.
In 2007, he was asked to create a mural for the Prada Epicenter stores in New York and Los Angeles.

James Jean Mural at Prada

James said Mrs. Prada gave him some keywords to work with: romantic, historical, sci-fi, surreal, non-linear.
“Prada was a dream client,” said James, who was also asked to create a storyboard and short film based on the mural.

A second mural was created, printed on fabric and leather bags, and used as a backdrop for this famous photo shoot starring model Sasha Pivarova.




Of course he was invited to see the runway show in Milan. Remember this?

In 2008, he decided to retire from commercial projects to focus on painting, results of which are seen in Rebus, his new book that showcases new works as well as important creative milestones in his career.


James signs my books


James Jean autograph

James Jean was in Manila as a guest of Fully Booked which brought him to talks at Ateneo University and College of Saint Benilde, a guesting at ANC Mornings, and book signings at Fully Booked Katipunan and The Fort.
(To be continued)

To know more about the artist, go to http://www.jamesjean.com/.

What is heartbreaking?

One of the things I started to do this 2012 is to go back to paper—back to a paper planner (a Moleskine) instead of using iCal, and to read the books stocked in my bedroom.
Since I’m at National Bookstore at least once a week, I happened to spot this book written by Cathy Babao Guballa, Between Loss and Forever: Filipino Mothers on the Grief Journey.


It’s a compilation of stories from moms who had lost a child due to accidents, illness, suicide and sometimes even murder.
I had to think about buying the book because of the scary subject, as though reading it might attract the subject matter to happen to me.

When I first gave birth to Ben, I remember feeling a high and a kind of love I had never felt before, stronger than one’s love for a husband, parent, any other person or object. But along with that deep love came a morbid fear of losing the child. I had postpartum depression for a few months. I wouldn’t sleep or leave the baby’s side. I felt that if I closed my eyes, the baby would die. In between catnaps I would wake up to check if the baby was still breathing.
In the first month alone, we had 9 trips to the pediatrician. I actually had three pediatricians. If I didn’t believe one or two doctors, a third once can convince me my baby’s OK.

Ten years later, I’m a mom to three boys and grateful that nobody’s been confined to the hospital in the last three years. From experience, I’ve learned not to panic at every fever like I used to.
Still I can’t help but think of my kids all the time and pray for their health and safety. My friends understand why I treat my kids the way I do. I don’t stress them for high grades (they get that on their own). I smother them in hugs and kisses and don’t hesitate to let them know they are loved. I rarely get mad. If ever I do, the kids sometimes laugh because they think I’m joking (which is sad).
I don’t deprive them of certain things because If I can buy myself a bag, I can get them what they want. Not all the time, but I do reward them for high grades or a trip to the dentist.
I don’t wait for special occasions because I know moms who have lost a child. I know it sounds morbid but I don’t want to regret anything.

That said, I finally started the book last Wednesday on the way to the Department of Tourism. Traffic was so bad, I was able to read half the book. When my son Ben saw me reading the book at home, he told me to stop because it was creeping him out.
The other half I finished last night, and I asked Jeroen to read a few pages about someone we know who lost a son.
Besides telling the stories of the moms and how they lost their child, the book also offers advice on how to deal with grief and recovery as the author herself lost her son due to complications from an open-heart surgery. It also tells you how to comfort someone who’s had a death in the family—what to do and what you shouldn’t say.
The next video shows some of the moms and kids mentioned in the book, available at National Bookstore.
To know more, visit the book’s blog or Facebook page.

What is heartwarming?

The assistant of the Secretary of Tourism emailed me during the holidays, asking if I would be free to meet with Sec. Mon Jimenez on January 5th.
At first I thought it was a prank when a venue in Serendra was suggested. When the meeting was moved to the Department of Tourism instead, I knew I had to get up in the morning and be there.
The day before, Carlos Celdran had already met with Sec. Jimenez about the new ad campaign they are launching for the Philippines. Yesterday it was mine and Anton Diaz’s turn.
I arrived early for the 11 AM meeting and had time to go around the building. Guys, this is not the Fullerton Hotel, this is the Department of Tourism.


It may look good on my Canon S95, but the building is really dilapidated. My heart sank as I entered the restroom and saw conditions that make NAIA’s toilets look like the Four Seasons. That said, I understood there really was no budget there.
I went up the stairs to the fourth floor and found Anton Diaz at the reception area outside the Secretary’s office.
To pass the time, Anton and I talked about our blogs. Having never been to Boracay, I asked Anton to explain the meanings of Stations 1-3, which he happily did.


Map of Boracay

After nearly an hour, we moved into the well-appointed office Secretary’s office and was grateful I wore a long cardigan (read: winter).



Prior to the meeting, I had spoken to my dad, my uncle Greg Garcia, my brother-in-law Leo Riingen and my sister, who all had good things to say about the Sec. Jimenez. So even though I have all these negative thoughts about local tourism, I decided to just listen to what he had to say.
And so, he blew me away.

L-R: Anton Diaz, Sec. Jimenez, Ren Sapitan (Executive Assistant to the Secretary)

There were some things said in private, which gave me an idea about where the Secretary was coming from. And there was the campaign that he explained to us, where it was coming from, the low budget they were working with, the bureaucracy, the frustrations and the limitations. With that, I decided to support before fighting for changes (that’s for later ;))
Eight ad agencies were invited to bid. In the end, BBDO won with a simple campaign that sells an idea instead of a rhyme or an adjective. That idea is fun.


Because of the low budget, the local campaign will rely on social media like us who are on blogs, Facebook and Twitter, hence the hashtagged campaign, #1ForFun which is currently trending on twitter.
The real budget will be spent mostly on an international campaign, and expect many creative ideas to appear abroad such as




After the meeting I was really psyched to help DOT in any way I can. Sec. Jimenez said they would send us the campaign materials as they come. We said goodbyes, Anton and I took the stairs going down.
Past 1 PM, I told the driver to take me to Café Adriatico for a solo lunch. Unfortunately, Chicken ala Kiev is no longer there, so I had Lola Ising’s Adobo Rice, which no longer had its “kick”.


Without my favorite dish, it didn’t make sense to come back to this place I have been going back to since 1987


Outside there were many hip foreigners such as this couple wondering what to order


Malate still has a few tourists going around with maps and confused looks, enjoying the sun in their shorts, sleeveless tops and slippers and I wonder, can we make them come back and multiply and will you help?

To know more about the campaign, click HERE.

Diptyque opens at IFC

HONG KONG—The story of diptyque reminds me of the store in Greenbelt 5 called AC+632.
Whenever I walk into AC+632 I see all sorts of things brought in by Chito Vijandre and Ricky Toledo from their travels abroad. You could say there’s something very French in that store.
Diptyque, on the other hand, began in Paris in 1961. It was opened by three friends with a passion for travel and design.

L-R: Yves Coueslant (The Stage Designer), Christiane Gautrot (Designer), Desmond Knox-Leet (The Painter)

The store on the bohemian side of 34 Boulevard Saint-Germain became known as a kind of “chic bazaar” for fans who loved their avant-garde fabrics, decorative items, wooden toys, and all kinds of knickknacks the trio brought back from travels to the Far East and Africa.
In 1963 they introduced colored and scented candles, which were such a hit, it eventually became the main focus of their business: the diptyque label was born.


Today, 50 years later, the diptyque brand is synonymous with world-renowned fragrances and scented candles. It counts among its many fans Karl Lagerfeld, Philippe Starck, Andree Putman, Jane Birkin, Christian Lacroix, Manolo Blahnik, Ines de la Fressange, Pierre Herme, and John Galliano.


John Galliano x Diptyque

Found in 40 countries around the world, diptyque recently opened its first stand-alone boutique in Asia at Hong Kong’s International Finance Center or IFC Mall. The 270-square-foot space was by designed by “couturier of interior design” Olivier Lempereur.

diptyque store_01

diptyque store_02

Eric Cauvin, Commercial Director of diptyque showed us the entire product lines which includes 38 scents of candles, 13 kinds of eaux de toilette, bath and body care products, and home fragrances.

Eric at Diptyque

Lunch followed at Lane Crawford’s Café Costa

Costa at Lane Crawford

Stanislas, Sophie, Eric
L-R: diptyque’s Stanislas Le Bert (Area Sales Manager Grand Export), Sophie Lambert (Chief Operating Officer), and Eric Cauvin

At night the official opening at the IFC store was highlighted by a ceremonial lighting of candles headed by Sophie Lambert, Mr. Clement Yang, managing director of Vitel International Company; and Elisa Barthelemy, wife of the Consul General of France.

Ceremonial lighting of candles, Diptyque IFC

Also spotted (from L-R): Stanislas Le Bert, Sophie Lambert, Cheuk Wan Chi, Fan Chiang, Barney Cheng, Lisa S, Clement Yang, Mme. Elisa Barthelemy, and Eric Cauvin


diptyque is at Shop 1080, Podium Level 1 ifc mall, No. 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong.
In the Philippines, it is available exclusively at Rustan’s department stores.

To know more about the products, go to http://www.diptyqueparis.com/.

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