Friday, November 14

Planning a Clean & Green Township

Living in an urban jungle called Metro Manila makes me think of little ways on how to make the city better for everybody. My background in architecture and design obviously helps but just by experiencing the day-to-day life here compared to how life is abroad opened my eyes to the harsh reality (and a hopeful future) that Metro Manila is far from ideal and could definitely be better. 

It was in the home of Sylvia Tay van Remoortele, the wife of Belgian Ambassador to the Philippines, that I was acquainted with this wonderful project called Planning a Clean & Green Township, which Sylvia started in 2012. It is a competition for youth leaders 14-20 years old, and they are tasked to come up with a master plan for a clean and green township. They use real cities as subjects, and they have already featured Hanoi, Vietnam (2012), Iskandar Johor, Malaysia (2013), and Yangon, Myanmar (2014). For 2015, the city of Manila will be taking the spotlight. 

It is a great way to envision what Manila would look like if you were to rebuild it. Registration has already started, and while I can't join because I'm too old, I hope you guys can spread the news to your schools and friends who you think might be interested. Oh, and one more thing, Sylvia mentioned that the registration fees (and I think the SG expenses too) are waived for public schools. Very cool, right?

Read on if you're interested. 

According to Sylvia, the aims of the competition are:
  • Ensuring that young people are capable of taking on the 21st century challenges of global warming and climate change, social inequities, unsustainable lifestyles and the urgent need for proper management of our natural resources like forestation and energy.
  • Appreciation for global issues such as poverty, inequality, hunger and environmental degradation that often afflicts developing countries.
  • Promotion of learners' growth and development with values such as respect for the environment and sustainability.
  • Encourage responsible lifestyle choices, heighten awareness of global environmental issues, create awareness of cultural and societal sensitivities.
Teams will have 4-6 members and they need to write a 15-page sustainable and viable plan for the city of Manila for the preliminary round. A workshop will be held on February 7th, 2015 at the Mind Museum to help the teams write an effective proposal.

Once the teams get selected, they will be invited to Singapore for a 5-day study trip from March 31st to April 5th, which will also include the finals and awarding ceremony. 

The competition is endorsed by the city of Manila, Department of Tourism, Department of Education, Bases Conversion Development Authority, The Mind Museum, Centre for Liveable Cities (Singapore) and other research and education centers.

If you'd like to know more, visit:
Facebook: /activistarads

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Monday, November 10

The Missoni Home Nabarniz Rug

Recently, I partnered with Chairish, an exclusive, curator approved, online marketplace for vintage and used furniture, to come up with a mood board centering on this very colorful rug. I decided to create an office space mood board and started with the rug. I chose this Missoni Home Nabarniz Rug from Chairish because of its unusual shape and its vibrant display of color. I am currently decorating my office studio at our new home, and this style study makes me want to splash the room with tons of vibrant colors because of this amazing piece.

[1] Missoni Home Nabarniz Rug's fun, octagonal shape creates an interesting conversation starter in any space. It is made from New Zealand wool that is dyed in pink, purple and green. The 3.6" thickness doesn't hurt a bit either. $843, Chairish.

[2] Studio Mirrored Desk $499, Z Gallerie.

[3] Saarinen Executive Armchair with Casters, Chartreuse. $2,067, Design Within Reach.

[4] Dupioni Silk Drape, Indigo. $189, Pottery Barn.

[5] Rubber Coated Orange Wastecan $24.99, CB2.

[6] Arod Work Lamp, Gray. $39.99, Ikea.

[7] Tanner Bookcase. $479, Pottery Barn.

[8] Iron Circle 30" Wall Clock. $79.96, CB2.

[9] Gerrebo Picture, Gingersmere. $29.99, Ikea.

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Monday, October 20

Travel: Dream It, Build It in Grand Rapids

Before we went to Legoland in California, we had a glimpse of some Lego masterpieces at Grand Rapids Public Museum. The exhibit was titled "Dream It, Build It", and it featured famous architectural buildings. These aren't the retail ones you see sold in Lego stores. It was built by Certified Lego Professional Adam Reed Tucker.

I know this is super late and the Dream It, Build It exhibit has already come and gone, but here are some of the photos we took.

Here's Burj Khalifa (located at Dubai, UAE and designed by Skidmore, Owens and Merrill) at the entrance. See? It's sooo tall that I can't even fit the whole building in the frame.

Gateway Arch (St. Louis, MO) designed by Eero Saarinen and Haanskarl Bandel

World Trade Center North Tower (New York, NY) designed by Minory Yamasaki with Emery Roth & Sons | Empire State Building (New York, NY) designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon

Marina City (Chicago, IL) designed by Bertrand Goldberg

Look at the gorgeous details.

Fallingwater (Mill Run, PA) designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Transamerica Pyramid (San Francisco, CA) designed by William Perreira

They also had this area where kids can play with Lego bricks on the table and on the wall.

Another area was dedicated to little (and big) spies. You get a list of items and you have to look for them in this Lego town.

Someone was so tired, she had to sit down on the ledge.

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Monday, October 13

The Next Big Food Entrepreneur

I love food-related events, and I try to always go find new stuff (food, that is) to taste and enjoy. So to you, my budding food entrepreneur readers, here is something that might interest you.



Aside from being the country’s premier night food market destination, Mercato Centrale has helped give birth to some of the country’s newest and most innovative food concepts.  Popular chains like Manang’s Chicken, Merry Moo Ice Cream, Mochiko, Brasas Latin American Street Food, Spring by Ha-Yuan, Kristina’s Premium Inutak, Baked by Anita, and many more started off as food stalls in Mercato Centrale before they became successful food businesses. 

But prior to their multi-million food ventures, many of these entrepreneurs started off as home-based food businesses or just passionate cooks and bakers who had a pioneering food concept, unique style of cooking, or a secret or heirloom recipe that they ‘incubated’ in the Mercato Centrale food market.

Building on its commitment to support food entrepreneurship, Mercato Centrale brings back its much-awaited “Next Big Food Entrepreneur Contest” along with, Mastercard, Globe My Business and partners Entrepreneur Magazine, Yummy Magazine, Yummy Ph, Philippine Star, and Go Negosyo.

Now on its third year, The Next Big Food Entrepreneur contest is a culinary showdown that provides an opportunity for budding food entrepreneurs from all walks of life to turn their food business concepts into reality! The winner of the contest will get PHP 100,000 start up capital, a rent-free stall in Mercato Centrale for six months, and a feature in Entrepreneur Magazine, Yummy, The Philippine Star,, Globe My Business Digital and Our Awesome Planet.

The Next Big Food Entrepreneur is open to all aspiring food entrepreneurs, ages 18 years old and above, residing in the Philippines.  The contest is divided into three parts: a food taste test activity for all interested participants, a four-weekend open market selling event at Mercato Centrale, Bonifacio Global City for all participants who pass the taste test, and finally, the submission of a business plan.  The cut-off for all interested participants for the food taste test is October 31, 2014. 

For more information on how to join the contest, please visit Mercato Centrale on Facebook,,  or contact +639178401152 or +6329175857989.

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Wednesday, September 17

QiWellness Living -- An Epitome of Relaxation

Pronounced as chi, qi in Mandarin means energy -- the life force in everything. Aptly named after this term, QiWellness Living in Tagaytay promotes a very sensorial experience and a place to relax and unwind from the urban jungle that is Manila.

QiWellness Living is discreetly tucked along the main road in Tagaytay, and even if we frequent Tagaytay, we weren't able to notice it when we went there a couple of Saturdays back to sample their 8-course Yin-Yang dinner menu. I was told that the place has an unobstructed view of Taal but we didn't get to see it because we arrived well after the sun has already set.

A couple of red doors with brass lion door knockers greeted us from the entrance. The same brass lion door knockers adorn a couple of other rooms inside but with a black door. The good people of QiWellness gave us a tour of the place. As with most places in Tagaytay on the side of the volcano, the entrance is located on the topmost floor. We also found the kitchen and a big dining table in the Ming-era style on the same level. As we went down, there is a really old-looking tree that was very nicely lit. I thought that it contributed to the ambiance of the place.

I was a bit surprised that as we entered, there was a loud sound of a gong. They sound it every time a guest arrives. It was alright during the first couple of times, but I felt that it became too much after a while. Haha. Nakakagulat lang everytime they sound it.

On the floor below, we saw the tea house complete with a tiled roof that reminded us of the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Countless tea kettles adorn the back wall of the bar. Clear glass railings sits on the Taal viewing side. More seating for al fresco dining can be found here. On the other side of the floor, we were ushered to the Opium den, where you can get the Qiharmony or Qireflexology services. It was dark and red, but air conditioned. The area was divided by curtains. I guess the only thing missing was actual opium. Hahaha.

Further down are a couple of jacuzzis, which comprise most of the bath house. The yin yang pools reflect the opposing nature of yin and yang -- black and white, hot and cold. Oh, did I mention that while you're soaking in the pools, you see the view of Taal? Wow, right? I am so coming back here during the day. There's also a steam room nearby and a couple of private massage rooms on the side. These rooms may be converted into bedrooms for those who want to stay overnight.

After the tour, we got ready for dinner. Because it was evening and I only brought my phone with me, these photos don't do the food justice.

My favorite was the scallop dish.

I think it was reasonably priced and we loved the food they served. My husband and I are both fans of tasting menus and the summer dinner menu of QiWellness Living definitely didn't disappoint.

QiWellness Living
Aguinaldo Highway, Brgy. Maharlika East,
Tagaytay City, Philippines
+63 917 522 6969

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