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H&M Philippines: VIP night (Part 4)

After seeing the entire store on the afternoon of the 15th, I decided to go home and rest before the VIP event at 7 PM.

I knew beforehand that 1500 guests were invited—most of which were sure to come. So I did the math: if the H&M store at SM Fashion Hall is 3,000 square meters, divided by 1500 guests, we’re looking at two people per square meter including racks of merchandise. I just knew there would be pandemonay.

Store interior 2

So I went home to rest and told my friends to meet me at home at 9:30 and plan to leave past 10. We also monitored the crowd density through live updates on Instagram. Here’s who came to VIP night:

Karl-Johan Persson, CEO and president of H&M, came straight from the airport (H&M was founded by his grandfather Erling Persson)

Karl-Johan Persson

Rachelle Ann Go performed outside

Rachelle Ann Go

while Japanese DJ Mademoiselle Yulia played inside

DJ Mademoiselle Yulia

Spotted on the red carpet were celebrities Maggie Wilson Consunji

Maggie Wilson-Consunji

Mike Concepcion and Jess Connelly

Mike Concepcion and Jess Connelly

Model Vanessa Matsunaga

Vanessa Matsunaga

Models Valerie delos Santos and Robby Mananquil

Valerie delos Santos and Robby Mananquil

Editor Ria Prieto with son Dimitry

Ria Prieto with son, Dimitri

Model Phoemela Baranda

Phoemela Baranda

and half of the Magalona family (L-R): Arkin, Saab, Pia, Clara, Frank Magalona

The Magalonas - Arkin, Sab, Pia, Clara and Frank

Inside, I saw actor Elmo Magalona

Elmo Magalona

Model Tweetie de Leon Gonzalez

Tweetie Gonzalez

My neighbors Paolo and Rissa Trillo

Paolo and Rissa Trillo

Editor Liza Ilarde

Liza Ilarde

H&M followers Larisse Wan and Tricia Pancho

Larisse, Tricia and friends

Also saw stylist Andre Chang

Andre Chang

and his sister Daryl Chang of Preview magazine

Daryl Chang

The crowd had already thinned out when we arrived at 10:30 and guests were mostly paying, like makeup artist Tatin Young (left) and Inquirer’s Pam Pastor

Pam Pastor

cashier scene

Also spotted Margarita Fores’ friendly waiters Rene Balbin

Rene Balbin

and Homber Mijares, whose tray of scallops I wiped out (yum!!)



On our way out I saw my friend, makeup artist Eliza Santiago, still looking fresh late at night.

Eliza Santiago

My friends and I left SM Megamall close to midnight, with only one day, nine hours, and 28 minutes before H&M Philippines opened to the public.

one day to go

(To be continued)

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H&M Philippines: the calm before the storm (Part 3)

H&M at SM Fashion Hall has three floors. The first two levels are dedicated to women’s wear.

From what I saw, the first floor has the pricier, premium items

inside the store

inside the store

inside the store

while the second floor has more of the basics and the teeny stuff

inside the store

inside the store

inside the store

inside the store

The only thing I picked up for myself are a pack of the softest black socks (as usual).

As a mom of three boys ages 6, 12, and 13, my favourite was the boys’ section on the 3rd level with great prices. Amazing to see H&M prices in our own currency. The 20% discount on VIP night was enticing, but I limited my haul to these:

H&M receipt

Here’s a great gift idea for all your nieces and nephews and godchildren—H&M gift cards that get loaded at the cashier from Php 300 up.

gift cards

Spotted working before the guests arrived were Dan Mejia (PR Responsible, H&M Philippines) with Mangus Olsson (H&M Country Manager, Greater China and Southeast Asia)

Dan and Marcus

Friendly faces from L-R: Jose Baccol from Cibo di M catering, photographer Daniel Tan, Dan Mejia of H&M, and photographer Ryan Ong


Surprised to see our former security Salvador Odeña (left) and his colleague Baineg Julit at the door

store guards

Outside, events director Jackie Aquino and his team made sure everything was in place

Jackie Aquino

As did Alexei Villaraza (Director of Media Content, Bridges PR) and Nikki Verzo (H&M Showroom Manager) with Philippine Star’s Monique Buensalido

Alexei, Nikki, Monique

(Up next: VIP night)

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H&M Philippines: the calm before the storm

The invitations arrived on October 7 with specific instructions to confirm attendance and bring the physical invitation to VIP night on October 15th from 7PM to midnight.


But then I had an assignment to interview H&M’s Catarina Midby at 3:30 PM, so I was there at 3 PM.

SM Fashion Hall was ready for opening with ads screaming inviting prices.

H&M ads

The area fronting the store was barricaded, and behind it, a red-carpeted floor

before the event

before the event

The SM guards were getting ready

SM guards

as were men in black (bouncers)

men in black

I had time to kill so I decided to review my notes at Tim Ho Wan—first time I have ever seen it without a line (and I have been there 15 times since it opened)

Tim Ho Wam no queue

Half an hour later I received a text that Catarina Midby had arrived for the interview. (more on that later)

Catarina Midby of H&M

After a 15-minutes, I had to give way to Coco Alcuaz of ANC. They gave me a chance to look at the entire store and decide what to buy later. H&M at SM Fashion Hall has three floors with 3,000 square meters of space.

I started at the third level where the children’s and menswear are located.

The children’s section is my favorite of all. It makes me feel bad I no longer have a small baby.

baby clothes

baby clothes

baby clothes

I found the men’s section more interesting the women’s with its long, flowy, dark Rick Owens-like pieces.

inside the store

inside the store

inside the store

inside the store

inside the store

and a good selection of basics, classics, and David Beckham Bodywear

inside the store

inside the store

inside the store

(To be continued)

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The best sushi in the world

“You have to love your job. You must fall in love with your work.”

Before Jeroen and I got married, we spent our spare time watching rented laser discs and VHS tapes at home (yes, this was the late ’90s).

To this day I look forward to our movie dates at home, though renting movies outside is no longer necessary.

I enjoy watching movies on my Mac, with the lights out, the freezing aircon, and hiding under a blanket.

Yesterday my dad gave us a copy of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, about an 85 year-old sushi chef, Jiro Ono, considered by many as the world’s greatest sushi chef.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi SG poster

Ten minutes into the film, Jeroen and I felt very much moved by documentary, which also made me seriously crave for sushi. Watching it reminded me of eating sushi in Ginza, where tears rolled down my cheeks when the chef put too much wasabi on my food.

Such a thing would never happen in Sukiyabashi Jiro, where sushi is prepared to perfection.

Sukiyabashi Jiro

The 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant is located in a Ginza subway station. But despite its humble appearance, it is the first sushi restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars. A three-star Michelin rating means it is worth traveling to that country to eat in that restaurant.


A typical meal here costs 30,000 yen (or Php 16,000) for 20 pieces of sushi—all served within 15 minutes. But despite its top-dollar price, the restaurant is always booked—you need to reserve at least one month in advance.

Jiro dreams of sushi

Jiro dreams of sushi

Watching the film made me think of all the humble Japanese workers I’ve seen around Tokyo doing their day-to-day jobs, where even the simplest of tasks—such as gift wrapping in a department store—is performed with utmost care and skill—something us Filipinos could learn from.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi is director David Gelb’s first feature film. It teaches the importance of work and repetition, family, and the art of perfection, while chronicling Jiro’s life as an unparalleled success in the culinary world.

Jiro dreams of sushi

Jiro’s life wasn’t easy. He practically raised himself when his parents left him alone at age 7. In order to survive, he started working very young and very hard.

Though he admits having been absent during his two sons’ growing up years, he made up for lost time by training them, pushing them out the door, and making sure to leave them a legacy of hard work, pride and very high standards.

If you love sushi, Japan, and its lovely people, don’t miss this.

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What H&M Philippines means to me (Part 1)

I can’t remember any store opening that has been crazier or more anticipated than H&M in the Philippines.

I can only think of a few more brands that would cause a similar or bigger opening—that is, if these brands will ever hit our shores:

1) IKEA — expect pandemonay

2) Disneyland — probably not in our lifetime

3) Target — probably will not happen

4) Shake Shack — heard it is coming, and I’m scared for the queue and my weight

5) Din Tai Fung — heard they are coming and I’m not joining the queue

The first time I ever heard of H&M was in the winter of 2000, when I had to fly to the Netherlands without any winter clothes. Jeroen picked me up at Schipol Airport and promised to help me buy winter clothes at Hennes & Mauritz, which is what it was called then.

All I remember now was buying mostly basic long-sleeve T-shirts that were very affordable.

I am not your regular H&M customer. I don’t make it a point to go to an H&M store when traveling—unless there is an important collab I am interested in, such as Comme des Garçons in 2008

H&M for Comme des Garçons

and Maison Martin Margiela in 2012—both of which I lined up for

H&M queue at Elements HK (before dinner)

I’ve been to H&M stores a few times where all I bought were children’s clothes and socks for me.

But even though I’m not your regular H&M customer, I am excited for all Filipinos who are.

What does H&M opening in the Philippines mean to me?

1) No need to drop by H&M at all when traveling

2) Hoping I never have to fly to another country for future collabs

3) I am aware that many Filipinos are bitter that there is now H&M here. Not me. The ones who are bitter are the ones who consider H&M “high fashion”. H&M is fashion for all, so we should be happy for all Filipinos who can update their wardrobe at an affordable price.

4) Have a feeling that many clothing brands are going to feel the hit of H&M in their own stores.

5) I’m expecting the queues to last until January.

That said, I feel lucky to have been invited to the H&M showroom in Manila last June 2014 and the VIP shopping event last October 15.

H&M showroom in Manila

H&M headquarters in Makati, Philippines

(To be continued)

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Nigo makes Adidas look too cool

While most Japanese people are born with an innate sense of cool, some Japanese are naturally cooler than others.

Take Nigo—music producer, DJ and creator of the urban clothing line A Bathing Ape, otherwise known as Bape.


In the early ’90s, I was one of those who curiously lined up at the Bape store in Aoyama to see what the hype was all about. All I remember now is, everything was for men.

I have never worn anything Bape (or Bapy for women), but have always been aware of Nigo.

Earlier this month, an auction of 107 items from his private collection achieved a whopping US$4.5 Million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong.

This November, adidas Originals will release its collaboration with by NIGO for Fall/Winter 2014.

Nigo x adidas

Nigo x adidas

Nigo x adidas

Nigo x adidas

Nigo x adidas

Nigo x adidas

True to his passion for classic and vintage clothing, Nigo has handpicked and re-interpreted pieces from the Adidas Originals archives, blending sportswear with contemporary street style to create new street classics.

Adidas Originals by NIGO will be available at leading Adidas stores in the Philippines starting November 1, 2015.

Watch how Nigo makes Adidas look too cool.

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Tried and tested: Tangle Teezer detangling brush

I’ve had tangled hair problems since I was little. Growing up, I used Johnson’s No More Tangles spray


Not able to find that anymore, I discovered Liese Smooth Hair Cocktail, which I hoard whenever in Hong Kong


Both are not available in the Philippines, so for those who have hair tangle problems, I recommend the Tangle Teezer.

Tangle Teezer

Thanks to whoever sent this to me! Tangle Teezer really works. I have really thin hair, but my friend’s daughter Kimi, who has thick mermaid hair (she’s a swimmer) has seriously tangled hair. Her mom has tried everything to fix her hair and gave up. I, however, did not. So when I received these Tangle Teezers, one went to Kimi and one went to me. Now Kimi and her mom swear by it

Tangle Teezer

Kimi no longer looks like a harassed mermaid whenever she comes over to visit. She looks neat and pretty and I’m happy we found a product that works for her.

Tangle Teezer was invented by a Vidal Sassoon-trained color technician with over 25 years of hair care experience, when Shaun Pulfrey realised there was a need for a detangling hair tool that didn’t fight or lock in tangles.

He came up with a hairbrush that looks and feels different, with specifically spaced and designed teeth that flexed over tangles without pulling or snagging. Highly recommended.

Tangle teezer

Tangle Teezer comes in other shapes and colors and starts at Php 900 each.

To know more about the product, go to

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Puregold’s 1st KAINdustriya Convention this October 14 and 15

Retail giant Puregold begins a new tradition for the country’s “neighborhood chefs” in a national fiesta where food entrepreneurs can purchase top food items, learn, and improve their earning potential.

Puregold will gather more than 10,000 caterers, canteen, hotel and even karinderya entrepreneurs on October 14 and 15 at the World Trade Center’s Tent Area in Pasay City.

Puregold hopes to recognize the role of Filipino “KAINtrepreneurs” in helping drive the economy in their own way.


“These food resellers stir the local economy through their businesses. They rely on supplies from within their own localities and even generate jobs in their communities,” said Vincent Co, Puregold Merchandising Director.

“They also provide nourishment to the country’s workforce—laborers, office workers, even executives who may not have the time to prepare meals on their own but look to enjoy Filipino homecooking while at work, perhaps during lunch break, merienda or dinner,” said Co.

The convention aims to give small- and medium-scale food entrepreneurs what the largely successful annual Puregold Sari-Sari Store Convention has been providing tindahan owners for 11 years now.

“We are holding KAINdustriya to recognize the significant number and contribution of our members who are food resellers,” said Co.

During the two-day event, entrepreneurs may attend free seminars and learn business tips from experts, including Mercato Centrale group’s RJ Ledesma and Anton Diaz. They may also learn new recipes in cooking demonstrations by renowned chefs, check out a trade showcase and most importantly buy food retail products in discounted prices.

“It will be two days of kita, kain and kabuhayan for our neighborhood chefs. Through this event, we hope to foster a sense of community among our food entrepreneurs and inspire them to bring their business to another level,” said Co.

Apart from the main convention, Puregold will also hold pocket KAINdustriya events including food seminars, cooking demonstrations and contests in several branches: QI Central, Paranaque, Cainta Junction, Valenzuela, Meycauayan and Dau.

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Meet authors Amy Tan and Chang-Rae Lee at the Philippine Literary Festival

Amy Tan, author of The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God’s Wife will be a guest of National Book Store and Raffles Makati this October 23-25, 2014 in the first ever Philippine Literary Festival.

Author Photo - Amy Tan (credit to Rick Smolan)

(Photo: Rick Smolan)

Attend three days of book signings and panel discussions on books and literature.

The Spotlight on Amy Tan panel will be on October 24 at 1:30 PM, while her book signing will be on October 25 at 2 PM.

Joining Amy Tan is Korean-American novelist Chang-Rae Lee, author of Native Speaker, which garnered numerous awards including the Ernest Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and the American Book Award.

The Spotlight on Chang-Rae Lee panel and book signing will be on October 25 at 9 AM.

Author Photo - Chang-rae Lee (credit to David Burnett)

(Photo: David Burnett)

All events will be held at the Raffles Makati with registration beginning at 8 AM. Admission is free. Only books purchased at the Philippine Literary Festival will be accepted to signing passes for Amy Tan and Chang-Rae Lee.

View the complete schedule at

amy tan flier

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Michael Kors hosts dinner party for Young Hollywood

Michael Kors recently hosted a dinner at Hillcrest House for 150 guests to celebrate the launch of Claiborne Swanson Frank’s new book, Young Hollywood, with a foreword written by the designer himself.

At Michael Kors

Designer Michael Kors and photographer Claiborne Swanson Frank

Claiborne Swanson Frank drew inspiration from Old Hollywood when she photographed over sixty up-and-coming women to watch in Hollywood today.

Young Hollywood follows her first book with Assouline, American Beauty, published in 2012. The book is available for sale at select Michael Kors stores globally and through Assouline distribution channels this fall.

Young Hollywood book cover

Cover girl and actress Isabel Lucas was at the book launch hosted by Michael Kors last October 2, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California.

At Michael Kors

Emmy Rossum

At Michael Kors

Actress Holland Roden

At Michael Kors

Actress Abigail Spencer

At Michael Kors

Model Harley Viera-Newton

At Michael Kors

Model Madisyn Ritland

At Michael Kors

Model Noah Mills

At Michael Kors

Actress Lorenza Izzo

At Michael Kors

Jane Ross

At Michael Kors

(L-R) Musicians Jimmy Giannopoulos, Zoe Kravitz and James Levy of the band Lolawolf

At Michael Kors

In the Philippines, Michael Kors is exclusively distributed by Stores Specialists, Inc. with locations at The Power Plant Mall, Greenbelt 5, Rustan’s Makati, Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Newport, and Bonifacio High Street Central Square.

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