Bad mommy

My son Ben came home from school today and said, in Social Studies they learned about the “It’s more fun in the Philippines” campaign. Teacher showed them cool images from the Internet such as

It's more fun in the Philippines

It's more fun in the Philippines

It's more fun in the Philippines

Ben said, “I didn’t know Philippines was fun and cool. I thought it was just dirty. Mommy can we go to those places please?”
“Sure,” I said. I felt like a bad mommy because we’ve only been to Tagaytay and Lipa, and Baguio when Ben was a baby.

When Ben was a blond

I’d like to go to Baguio more often (we have a house) but I’m really scared of how our driver drives to and from Baguio. Plus I heard there’s no more airport in Baguio. I really want to go out of town but I’m very prissy about hotel accommodations and bathrooms.
“Let’s go to Cebu!” I told Ben. I already know what to eat (lechon) and where to stay.

Abaca resort- a quickie escape from Hong Kong

Abaca resort room 2

Abaca resort room 6

We should really do Cebu this year.
Jeroen has taken the kids to the beach while I was traveling, but I come home to pictures like this. The horror!

The horror!

Jeroen has seen more of the Philippines than me. He’s been to Sagada, Batat, Boracay, Bohol, Davao, Cebu, etc.
I’d really like to see more of the Philippines, if only there were more posh hotels with really nice bathrooms. I don’t mean “clean” or “decent” bathrooms, I really mean NICE. We need to discover Philippines this year.

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

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

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.

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