Take a sneak peek into H&M in the Philippines

A recent visit to SM Megamall’s new Fashion Hall revealed three floors of H&M in progress, scheduled to open third quarter of this year. That means we’re at least two to three months away from having our own H&M in the Philippines.

H&M at SM Fashion Hall

Encompassing more than 3,000 square meters of space, H&M at SM Fashion Hall starts on the main floor all the way to the third level. It is clearly massive. Gisele Bundchen is all over the walls.

H&M at SM Fashion Hall

Last Tuesday, H&M opened their Manila showroom to special guests who got to preview what’s coming to the store this Autumn 2014.

H&M preview
H&M showroom in Manila

There were collections for men, women, and children

H&M showroom in Manila
H&M showroom in Manila

At first I thought Daniel Padilla had become a DJ, but it was DJ Badkiss on the deck

H&M preview in Manila

Drinks overflowed

H&M preview in Manila
H&M preview in Manila

I loved the flowers

H&M preview in Manila

and took these home. Thank you! They are still alive!!

H&M preview in Manila

Spotted at the event were the H&M team: Karin Bringevall, H&M PR Project Responsible, New Market Expansion; Danreb Mejia, H&M PH PR Responsible; Nikki Verzo, H&M PH Showroom Responsible; Abby Wee, PR Exec; and Lisa Chai, Regional PR Responsible

H&M team- Karin Bringevall, H&M PR Project Responsible, New Market Expansion, Danreb Mejia, H&M PH PR Responsible, Nikki Verzo, H&M PH Showroom Responsible, Abby Wee, PR Exec and Lisa Chan, Regional PR Responsible

Nicole Jacinto, Grace Velasco, Alexei Villaraza

Nicole Jacinto, Grace Velasco, Alexei Villaraza

Actress Lauren Young

Lauren Young

Rogue Editor-in-Chief Paolo Reyes, Rosanna Ocampo-Rodriguez, Juana Yupangco, Sidney Yap, Luis Espiritu and Kelly Misa-Fernandez

Rogue EIC Paolo Reyes, Rosanna Ocampo-Rodriguez, Juana Yupangco, Sidney Yap, Luis Espiritu and Kelly Misa-Fernandez

Janeena Chan

Janeena Chan

Donna Cuna-Pita, Myrza Sison, Isha Valles and Ianne Evangelista

Donna Cuna-Pita, Myrza Sison, Isha Valles and Ianne Evangelista

Dong Ronquillo

Dong Ronquillo

and me!

Cecile van Straten

Here’s my favourite piece from Autumn 2014—a nice hooded bathrobe jacket, perfect for the plane


As a “tomgirl”, I preferred the men’s pieces to the womens

H&M men
H&M men
H&M men
H&M menH&M men

When I was a kid there were only two dress shops in Manila—Mary Mike and something else that sold itchy puff-sleeve dresses. Kids have it so good these days…

H&M kids
H&M kids
H&M kids

And we can’t wait.
H&M at SM Fashion Hall will be part of the brand’s 3,200 locations across 54 markets worldwide.
“We are very proud to open our first store in the Philippines. H&M has always been about making great fashion and quality at the best price, and Manila promises to be a very exciting market,” said Magnus Olsson, Country Manager of Greater China and South East Asia H&M.
“We realise how much the country’s fashion-savvy shoppers have been anticipating the arrival of H&M, and we can’t wait to see how they will respond to the opening of this first store.”

Winners: Back to school giveaway @chuvaness

I’m excited to send five of these out to the winners of my last giveaway.
The bags are heavy because they are loaded with goodies.


Out of more than 1300 entries received, these were the lucky names chosen via random.org.

Glaiza Cay Santos of Carmona, Cavite
Annah Francesca Hipona of Cagayan de Oro City
Michael Villegas of Pasig City
Felice Faye Marco of Novaliches, Quezon City
Josie Villon of Quezon Avenue, Quezon City

I’ll be contacting the winners via email. Winners, please check your junk mail just in case it ends up there.
Thanks for joining and watch for my next giveaway soon!!

How a jumping toddler captured our hearts

This story appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Father’s Day special last Sunday, and I love how the writer was able to capture the story of Christian’s first days in our home.
I am quite amazed how Jeroen remembered the little details about the grains of rice, which I’d already forgotten.
So it’s great that this story was written, especially for Christian when he begins to understand.
Thank you Inquirer for contributing to our family’s memory bank.

How the van Stratens gained a third son–a self-reliant toddler

The first thing Jeroen van Straten noticed about his newly arrived foster child was how the boy, then barely 2 years old, would pick up rice grains that dropped out of his plate and pop these into his mouth while at the dinner table.
“If we gave him a toy, he would hold on to it, even a piece of paper. Whatever (it was), it was very valuable to him,” van Straten noted.

Chris and Jer

The child also knew how to clean up after relieving himself and was not scared of the dark if he had to do it at night.
Van Straten surmised that the child was on “survival mode”—that no one else would take care of him and so he had to do all things by himself.
“He knew how to eat by himself. In the orphanage, they’d probably give you a bowl and that’s it. You’re on your own. There was a caregiver for 30 kids,” said the businessman who manages two family enterprises.

Van Straten and wife Cecile have two biological sons.
“I always wanted to have a sister. I have a brother. I asked my parents before for a sister but it never happened,” he recalled.
After the two boys were born, the doctor advised Cecile not to have any more babies. So the couple decided to adopt a third, preferably a girl.
“There was this cute boy jumping at the back but I wasn’t really looking (at him). I was scouting for a girl,” van Straten said.

On the way back home, Cecile asked him whether he could still change his mind about getting a girl because, apparently, the jumping toddler had already captured his wife’s heart.
And so the “very long process” of legal adoption began.
The challenges actually began at the home front. The couple’s two sons were about 6 and 7 when the idea of adoption was raised.
“At that age, they didn’t want an ‘intruder,’” van Straten recalled.
Cecile hoisted a sign on their bedroom door asking their sons whether or not their parents could take the new boy home.
“There were stickers they could move to indicate their feelings. Our elder son was sort of ‘yes’ from the start for a couple of months but the (younger) one was ‘no,’ ‘maybe,’ ‘no,’ maybe’,” van Straten said.
Eventually, the younger boy said he was concerned about having to share his yaya and toys with the newbie.
“If that’s your only problem, we’ll solve it,” his parents said.

Christian comes home

The van Stratens were able to take in the toddler months after submitting their application papers, but it took about four years from the time the child was 1½ until 6 before a decision favoring the adoption was released.
One requirement was for van Straten to submit a police clearance. Being a foreigner, he was asked to get it from the Interpol.
But did he need a worldwide clearance? “I’ve been here longer than in any other country. Where do I get this police clearance from,” he asked.
Van Straten has been living in the Philippines since 1997.
There were also numerous home visits by social welfare agents and so much paperwork.
Van Straten’s bigger concern, however, was that unless a child moves out of an orphanage, nobody could take his slot in it.
“No new child can come in because (the orphanage) is already full. If it takes four or five years to take a kid out of an orphanage, in the same period no new kid can enter. It’s a waste of a child’s life,” he lamented.

Brother love


Just added: Happy Skin products for my giveaway

Stop the press! Er, the lottery.
Rissa Mananquil Trillo just sent me a bunch of Happy Skin products to share, so I’m adding these to the train cases I’m giving away.

Back to school giveaway

Rissa sent my favourite SS (second skin) creme—it’s what I use instead of foundation, plus moisturising lippies in various shades.

Happy Skin lippies

Happy Skin is probably the only homegrown, world-class makeup brand I really like. I will tell you all about it in an another entry.
Happy Skin lippies are available at Php 499 each in six shades:
First Kiss, Girls Night Out, Crushing On You, My First Time, Just Married, and Summer Fling.
Find them at Rustan’s Makati and Rustan’s Shangri-La, Beauty Bar, and Plains & Prints stores.
Or buy them online at shop.beautybar.com.ph.

To know more, go to www.happyskincosmetics.com.
I’ll be announcing the winners within the week. Thank you for your patience!

Can Bureau of Immigration’s Happy dance save their image?

Flash mobs are so yesterday. Yet I found this Bureau of Immigration airport dance highly entertaining.
Who knew they could dance?
Dozens of Bureau of Immigration personnel surprised arriving passengers last June 12 at NAIA Terminal 2 by dancing to Pharrell William’s Happy, as part of the Bureau’s “customer intimacy project, consistent with its branding initiatives,” according to its YouTube channel.
“This also to communicate the Bureau of Immigration’s plan of action: Good Guys In, Bad Guys Out.”
Their program BI-CARES aims to “deploy a friendlier, more customer-oriented troop of immigration officers who will create a better environment for all travellers going through our ports.”
BI C.A.R.E.S. stands for courtesy, accountability, responsibility, efficiency and services.
Spotted joining the dancers were showbiz personalities Grace Lee and Ai-Ai de las Alas.

PLDT update

Here’s our lovely apartment that had an internet problem.

Shang condo

On the corner was the PLDT modem that lacked in the internet department (see below)

defective PLDT modem

After numerous emails, tweets, texts, phone conversations, and a cry for help, I decided to pay Php 5,000 of my bill that had grown to Php 15,000 for internet that hadn’t been working since March—just to see if they would fix it.
True enough I got a call a couple of days later checking if my Internet was working.
It wasn’t and I told the sympathetic lady on the phone about my problem.
A couple of days later, a technician came over to check and confirm that my modem was out of order and changed it to this new white one.

new modem

So my PLDT internet is back up, but I thought I was paying for a faster speed??


Right now I’m just concerned whether they will reverse the charges for the months I didn’t have internet, because as of yesterday I received a bill for Php 11,319.37.
Hoping for PLDT’s help in fixing this.
Meanwhile, when it rains, it pours. This morning the PLDT Fibr at home just died.

PLDT at home - defective

I would love to know why there’s a red light on my modem and my phone is dead, but the PLDT Fibr hotline is perpetually busy. How do we ask for help?

EDIT: Yay, internet is back at home! Bill adjustment na lang. Thank You Lord!

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