Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Time To Paint

I've always imagined spending summers with just my watercolor tubes and paint brushes. If I weren't designing clothes, I would probably be a painter or a gardener. I'd go to the province and I would do nothing but just eat and paint.. and maybe grow an herb garden as well.
Today, my friends took me to this unique restaurant an hour and a half away from the city. You get a little bit of private space, eating inside little huts on top of rafts floating on a fish pond. I snapped some photos and thought how lovely it would be to paint the rustic scenery.
Thirty minutes on the computer, I did the next best thing, I tweaked my photos to look like old magazine cover illustrations. Oh, one day, I'll do it the old fashioned way.

We ate at little huts on top of bamboo rafts.

Bubbly Dinny Lazo.

Our gracious host, Lumen Teves.

Dynamic duo, John Cuenco and Dinny Lazo.

Enjoying grilled tuna and deep fried pork knuckles.

A narrow bridge crosses the pond.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gerry Sunga's Maharani Jewels

I recently presented an Indian inspired collection for the seventy-first anniversary of Philippine Airlines. India's rich culture has always fascinated me and it really was a thrill working on these looks. I wanted to keep my pieces simple and tailored with subtle suggestions of Indian ornamentation.
Thank God for fabulous friends, jewelry designer Gerry Sunga lovingly fashioned brilliants and jade into bindis and brooches to match my pantsuits and coat dresses. Modern-day Maharani looks.

Gerry Sunga silver, onyx, mother of pearl and pearl bindis.

White Jade Buddha brooch.

Jade and ruby brooch with gold thread tassel.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A House Of Prayer And Healing

I was introduced to real life nuns by a theatre actress playing a nun. My friend Joanna Ampil invited me to a matinee of The Sound Of Music where she plays Maria and there I met Sister Jo. The good Sister from the order of the Religious of the Virgin Mary was Joanna's high school teacher and remains her spiritual counselor to this day.

Sister Jo in between me and Joanna Ampil.

One day, I got a text message from Sister Jo and the privilege of having lunch at their convent and seeing for the first time the compound of the RVM. One always gets a feeling of peace and comfort in a place like this, and indeed, it serves as a retreat house for students, office workers and individuals looking for answers.
I learned that the Chapel of the Assumption is open to the public everyday for Mass at 630 in the morning. Surely something worth waking up for.

Mother Ignacia founded the order of the Religious of the Virgin Mary.

Mother Ignacia's statue at the court yard.

Our Lady of the Assumption Chapel

Our Lady of the Assumption

Betania Retreat House, 214 N. Domingo St., Cubao, Quezon City, Philippines

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Manila Wears A Smile

We called it Manila Night. To celebrate our new optimism and renewed patriotism, twenty Filipino designers presented fashion accessories and resort wear at the SMDC showroom in the Mall of Asia complex by the bay. Gino Gonzales transformed the humongous place into to a modern tropical rainforest with a huge block of tropical foliage as centerpiece. A band played festive music as models moved from one platform to another. Waiters went around with trays of wine and Manila Mojito. Cebu lechon, roast beef and Tinola rice by Chef Laudico was hard to resist even for many of those denizens maintaining size zeros.
Manila Wear is a baby in the world's fashion stage, one born of love and promise. And like a baby, it brings a smile at first sight.

The SMDC showroom was given a tropical forest feel by Gino Gonzales.

Five lamp-like installations were used as settings for the fashion tableaux.

My collection of citrus colored Cotton Abaca from Catanduanes.

Jojie Lloren's cool palette of Pina Silk from Aklan.

Inno Sotto's Mindanao silk mixed with French lace.

Cesar Gaupo's Pina and chiffon resort line.

Beautiful table setting for the fashion accessories.

Necklace by Gerry Sunga.

'Fairy wings' earrings by Patrice Ramos-Diaz.

Shoe designer Maco Custodio.

Mons Romulo and Patrice Diaz.

Kenneth Cobonpue and Josie Natori.

Vic Barba, Tonichi Nocom and James Reyes.

Jay Khan and Randy Ortiz.

Tonichi Nocom, Mike de la Rosa, Rusty Lopez and Royal Pineda.

Ageless Tweetie de Leon-Gonzales.

Model Ralph Joseph.

Michelle Tomacruz and Len Lopez.

Always a joy to see, James Reyes.

Jia Estrella and I enjoying the white wine.

Michelle Tomacruz and I enjoying more white wine.

And more for Jojie Lloren, Inno Sotto, Gia Estrella, Dennis Lustico, Michelle Tomacruz and me.

Fashion Family!

Bong & Lumen Teves, moi, John Cuenco, Eve Maduma, Dinny Lazo and Dayang Teves.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Purist Age

I take deep pride in the Filipino talent. In the last twenty years, Philippine design has evolved from ornate to pure. Chairs that seem to float on air, coats in the most gossamer of fabrics, neck pieces that are rich yet unostentatious. These define the new Filipino purist aesthetic, see and feel the tide at the Manila FAME, 14-17 March 2012 at the SMX Convention Center, Manila.

Manila Wear by Rajo Laurel, Jojie Lloren, Vic Barba and Joey Samson

Necklace made of gold plated zipper heads by Joel Escober

Neckpiece by Joyce Makitalo

With the moving forces behind FAME, Rosvi Gaetos, Josie Natori, Inno Sotto, Budji Layug and Kenneth Cobonpue

For more info, go to

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception Cathedral

Again, I went down memory lane and visited the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
I used to sketch its bell tower from my Grade 5 classroom where I got a good view of the Church. I loved First Friday Masses when I had to walk the long aisle for Offertory and Holy Communion, I was imagining I was Edward VI being crowned King of England by Fr. Kucher.
Since Cubao became a Diocese, the Church was elevated to Cathedral status and underwent a beautiful renovation retaining its simple grandeur.
After taking photos with my handy camera, I walked to the second pew where I used to pray before exams. I knelt and whispered a very short prayer - "Thank You".

The Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Lantana St., Cubao

Baroque Style Narra Doors

The Main Altar

The Four Evangelists

Our Lady Of The Immaculate Conception

Stained glass window of the Annunciation