Saturday, March 28, 2009


Subtitle: If the shoe fits, sell it (or steal it or better yet, exchange it). In the last entry, I chronicled the alleged paper trail of A.C. or The Angel of Debt, a Filipina fraudster in HK.
Clearly she knows what she has been doing because she supposedly declared to a friend, “After I pay off all the ‘small debts,’ no one can touch me. You can’t even arrest me.”

WHELL---Angel--you did leave a paper trail of 'small' bounced checks but a bounced check IS a bounced check and it's FRAUD especially when you write several.

Sadly, the bulk of her debts are from (formerly) very good friends who helped her in her time of need. But before we get to the bad ass parts of the story (I think the worst is yet to come), I found out that she allegedly walked off with inventory from a designer line that was having a trunk show. (When confronted that she walked off with three handbags, she corrected the source by saying, 'Only two bags and a bangle which I wanted to exchange..." FOR WHAT!??? Cash or shoes???)

Supposedly her reputation ‘as a buyer’ sank to an all time low when she was allegedly blacklisted at On Pedder.

For what, we don’t exactly know but your guess is as good as mine. Check please!

Sometime last year, the Angel of Debt found herself homeless in Hong Kong and found accommodations with Leonor Herbert who has a 3-bedroom flat in Mid-levels. This friend rented a room out to the Angel of Debt for about 3000 HKD a month.
Her rent checks bounced.

In return for this kindness, AC borrowed Leonor’s credit card (supposedly with her permission) and charged about 40,000 HKD on it, her first transaction being for laser hair removal.
These days, I think there is a lot more her lenders want to pull out of her than just hair.

I don’t have details on this ‘loan’ and others but hopefully these entries will encourage people to come forward and be more vigilant about lending money to the Angel of Death (A.C.) and other similar characters.

OKAY---back to the story because we haven’t gotten to the part of the nightmare that wakes you up screaming in fear:

The Angel of Debt claimed to be ‘taking care’ of the payments but when Leonor and her boyfriend applied for a loan to buy a flat, here is what Leonor the Lender found out:
…..that she was blacklisted by Visa (surprise, surprise…because of the very card the Angel of Debt was using)
……that the lending bank refused to put her name on the title if she didn’t pay off the credit card debts. Leonor's boyfriend put up the money.

A few weeks ago, The Angel of Debt allegedly sold her used Tod’s shoes to Leonor’s sister saying that she wanted to use the money to pay for her yoga classes.

Of course, we know what happened there…..(see earlier entry)

She also supposedly borrowed money from Leonor’s helper, one of a hoard of helpers she has borrowed money from. Helpers in HK do not exactly make CEO wages and a few hundred dollars which may be lunch to us is a living for them.


The Angel of Debt should really get a debt sentence.

She also owes about 35,000 HKD to Lenny Eudela who, aside from helping her financially, also cooked for her.

I wish I could have friends like that! Anyone want to cook for me? (Japanese or Italian, please) Or 'lend' me money which I can pay back with a bad check?


Sub-title for the Filipino community: As Ate Vi once said, “I am not the addict, I am da victimS…”

For a major financial center like Hong Kong, success is celebrated probably as much as humiliation and punishment can be suffered from failure and/or fraud.

Ah…Failure…A word as bad as a curse in Hong Kong. But then so is FRAUD!

Ordinary people come into such close proximity to wealth. It is a city of winners where you could be sitting in a taxi in traffic next to a brand new chauffer-driven Bentley carrying the owner of a publicly-listed conglomerate.

….With office girls brushing shoulders with CEOs and managing directors at lunchtime sandwich queues and walking past well-dressed taitais, who can blame them for doing anything to own a Birkin?

It is no surprise, then, to know that certain individuals choose fraud as a method of satiating their lust for luxury goods and keeping up with the wealth they are surrounded with but do not really have.

Such is the modus operandi of a Filipina permanent resident in Hong Kong with the initials A----.C------, owner of a fashion company operating as B------- B---.

She is apparently engaged in intentional check fraud, aka check kiting or paperhanging. defines intentional fraud as: The account holder knowingly writes a check for an amount not contained within the account, absent of the expectation of receiving such funds prior to the clearing of the check, or in the case of pathological gamblers, the expectation is contingent upon winning.

….Clearly, AC is an Angel of Debt who left a trail of unpaid debts and bouncing checks totaling about 100,000 HKD in 2008, her ‘Year of Living Dangerously.”

She is no gambler but rather a ‘shopper’ and ‘high maintenance woman.’ In an email to friends, it seems like she wants people to know her as ‘a good buyer’ and I quote, “What hurts is that two years ago when I had money, no one talked about me, nobody said oh she is a good buyer, she is a nice girl with a good heart. She is generous….”

WHHEELL, Lane Crawford Shoppers, you-s be-es the judge…….

Unfortunately, what I know now may only be the tip of my Jimmy Choos. There could be more individuals and/or small enterprises who have been victimized by this check kite-flyer.

This may not be entirely her story. Of course she will have ‘her side.’ Who doesn’t? Even a backless Issa dress has a back side…..

But it is really the story of her victims who were once her friends....people who lent her money because they were really ‘generous’ and trusting.

Her current paper trail of bounced checks started late last year. They were not very large amounts but her guts and sense of entitlement hurt and baffle her debtors.

From debts to an individual for as little as 500 HKD to as much as 40,000 HKD, AC allegedly remains unapologetic. “I will not apologize to anyone and I will only apologize when I want to….”

And to a lender, “I admit 95% is my fault but 5% is your fault because you lent me your credit card.” (Sounds like what the US government would say to China)

In October 2008, she put a cash down payment of HKD 1000 for a crocodile bag from a vendor in Sheung Wan. The next day, she returned to the shop and asked the owner if she could ‘borrow 1000 HKD but don’t tell my friends I borrowed money from you….” The owner refused.

When she came to pick up the bag, she wrote out a check for 2300 HKD. It bounced.

Recently, she went back to the bag manufacturer and wanted to sell the bag back to her. AND...Get this....Hold on to your YSL Downtown bags, girls.....
She also wanted to sell her a Nuti ostrich bag that she supposedly bought for 22,000 HKD. (More on that later)

In November 2008, she wrote a check for about 2000 HKD for fashion jewelry from a local HK designer. It bounced but The Angel of Debt had the guts to call the designer and ask to do an exchange after Chinese New Year. She never did.

Only in March 2008 were many of her creditors/victims were on to her….

They acted very slowly because everyone was too ashamed to talk about it with anyone else because everyone was either The Angel of Debt’s friend or knew her through a friend.

Early this year, she saw a doctor about her swollen foot but had to borrow about 2500 HKD for this. Perhaps she was really skint but without good reason. She brandished the 22,000 HKD Nuti ostrich bag to her friend who lent her this money. Not only that, she wanted this friend to deliver part of the money to her while she was…wait for it….getting a pedicure at a beauty salon!!! (HSBC, can you deliver my ATM withdrawals to Il Colpo??)


Last week, she wrote a check for about 3000 HKD to a yoga studio.
Only this week did she call to tell them NOT to deposit the check because she supposedly closed her account.
I wonder if karma covers bouncing checks......


It seems like she has been writing checks with the knowledge that she either has no money in her bank account or she may no longer have an existing account.

Why did it take her a week to tell them that she closed her account and if she knew she this, why even write the check?
(She wrote me a check for 1600 HKD in August 2008 and called the next day to say she was going to give me cash. I have yet to receive it)

She has allegedly sold her YSL bag to Milan Station, sold her computer, borrowed money from helpers of her friends.

So far not so serious….

In the next entry, I will give you the ‘balance’ of her account. One for 40,000 HKD and another for 20,000 LOADS MORE such as walking off with inventory and being allegedly blacklisted at On Pedder!!
You may have to think twice before you even let someone with the intials A.C. ask you for the time….or your money…..

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I just came home from a glamorous lunch at a very glamorous restaurant with equally glamorous people from a glamorous (genuinely) INTERNATIONAL brand.
After talking about the entire luxury business over lunch plus using my horrifying French at a post-lunch-new-baby-social call (complete with cadeau pour les enfant de Jacadi)---
I ALMOST THREW UP LAUGHING....I SNORTED, I COUGHED and I CHOKED until my maid started screaming with fear that I was dying......
When I saw an entry on 'international' designer Boyet Fajardo on it and weep! hahaha!!)
Inter-na---wut!!??? OH MY GAS!!! MY stomach is now FULL OF GAS!!!! I think my heart is gonna stop!!!!
In it, the 'international' cotourier (on Friendster)/designer's spokesman issued an apology saying Boyet Fajardo's unspeakable behaviour towards the staff at Duty Free was a 'creative outburst...'
CREATIVE OUTBURST!!??? What was so creative about shopping at Duty Free that necessitated an outburst?? Deciding on whether to buy Johnnie Walker Black or Red? Or Toblerone milk, dark or white??? Large or small Kisses?
Creative outburst!!! Jesus H Christ!!! When JHC was giving out creativity I really think Boyet was too-Fajardo to even get a drop!!! Creative outburst!! This blog has more creative outburst than a zipper from his line!!!
I did have an outburst, though. An outburst of laughter. AND I literally burst out of my Chloe paperbag linen trousers and had to get into an old Isabel Marant pair!!!
Then it gets funnier...The piece goes on to say that he is an international Filipino designer who sells to Switzerland (where the population is at an all time high of 1o0 and the age demographic is between 65 and death) and United Arab Emirates (the perfect market for a Boyet Fajardo creation where you can hide fashion don'ts under a black bedsheet )
I am so speechless and my eyesight is blinded by tears in my eyes from laughing that I can't even type!! I'm drowning in the glass of water I just drank. Shouldn't have done that if I had known what I was gonna read!!
THEN it gets EVEN funnier: "He said the online petitioners should consider Fajardo's rising international status before pursuing the boycott."
Rising from what?? The ashes like a phoenix or from an oversized clam like Venus??
What is it about 'international' that I am not understanding???
HOOKAY--Hookay-hahaha---I should not have said I wish Boyet Fajardo goes out of business because in fact, he shows so much promise for another type of business....
I think Mr Fajardo and his spokesman should consider a job in stand-up comedy because I'm still laughing and my new Colossal Volume mascara is running....(like the way people are from his clothes!!!)
Oh My GAWD!! My lipstick is smeared (like Boyet Fajardo's reputation) and now I look like a clown (Mr Fajardo's next career)!!!
Boyet, babeh...You make me more than smile!! I'm fuckin' laughing my eyes out and already they are TINY!! I've got nuttin' left!!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

As Ate Vi once said, "How do I luke?"

Unang-una, nagpapasalamat ako sa parents ko at kay Kuya Amiel and the staff of m2.o Communications for kindly volunteering to help me FINALLY put some real chic into the visual appeal of my blog. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!

DOESN'T IT LOOK GREAT, boys and girls and gheys? Even if you-s hate-s eet, you have to admit it STILL looks better than Boyet Fajardo's clothes!! Go on, admit it!!
The blog was designed by the talented Monica Sabado and Jeeves De Veyra of m2.0, a two-year old boutique media company that counts APAC and Italianni's as clients. Log onto for more information. They also have a Facebook Group headed by Rain Baguio, our editor at

Aside from Boyet Gone Too Fajardo's bald spot and atrocious clothes sense, what else made you laugh this weekend?
Unbeknownst to moi until it spilled the beans, the Patola Vine has a relative called Poison Ivy spewing venom in Boyet Not-De-Leon's famous garden in his Valle Verde house. Supposedly many saw this scandale coming to the self-annointed-on-Friendster 'cotourier' simply because he brags better than he designs clothes. All he talks about are his travels, his homes (only 2, ha!??? Tell THAT to the Kaiser!! and NO PRIVATE PLANE!! loser!), his art and antiques.

Well now there's gonna be a whole load of talkin' going on and it ain't gonna be about art or fashion.

As much as blogs have a lot of funny and controversial information, their comments sections are equally hilarious (sometimes even funnier than the main entries!). This one was sent to me by my friends at

Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Is Smith Innocent Afterall?":
"I think "Boldstar" is Kitty Go, yung blooger na ang lakas ng loob mamintas matronish naman. Di kayang itago ng Roger Vivier ang itsura niya."

(How can Boldstar be me if he/she is so much smarter and more serious about issues?)

I admit I AM a MATRONA!! I'm old, fat and childless. I also wear the matronic brand Roger Vivier. One does not need to 'hide' behind it because it ain't exactly the height of hip. It's classic and bourgeois (aka safe and 'common'). I only wear the Belle Vivier with rectangualr pilgrim buckles. I wouldn't even consider the curved or asymmetrical new ones.

My wardrobe reflects my personality and my lifestyle. I wear shoes the same way I wear my clothes. Although I wear different ones for different occasions and locations, I have it down to a science---pure linen for French country summers, Indian caftans for tropical city summers, Rick Owens for spring in New York, Tokyo and London, Fendi for apres-ski, empowering Yohji and CdeG for when I'm feeling fat and unworthy and Lanvin as often as I can....

So when do I wear RV? Well, it is sort of a conservative banker's shoe so I wear that to banker events where you don't want to look skint but don't want to look like your husband is in AIG's bonus pool, either. And I wear it with leggings or a DVF dress (which is racy by banking standards) so people don't think I am head of JP Morgan Fixed Income even if my income IS FIXED. At an all time low.....

Saturday, March 21, 2009

BOYET (gone too) FAJARDO

I originally wasn't going to write an entry on Boycott (ay este ...Boyet) Fajardo since everyone and their Duty Free shopping bag has said something (and everything fit and unfit to print) about this incident.

I didn't even bother uploading the video because a) everyone seems to have a copy of it on their site, b) I don't know how to upload videos from anywhere let alone turn on my TV and c) the last time I uploaded a video was for a supposedly romantic encounter which I mistook for a crime scene. It was promptly removed from YouTube.

I was going to comment about women flying under cover (read: in burkha) but Boyet has certainly outpaced Burkha in the controversy department.

In case you-s have not gotten the cyberspacial memo, please log onto the following sites for videos and hardly a comment on the side of the fashion don't (in more ways than one): -put up by his own fans who want to lay him on the cutting

Boyet Fajardo is also coming to a talk show near you---the one with Boy "Certainly not DingDong Dantes just look into my magic mirror" Abunda and Kris 'Walang part na hindi Plastic' Aquino.

Also, may I say that in his Friendster account, he spells his profession as "cotourier" or something like that. Marc is busy with his new marriage so I'm gonna call Karl and I KNOW his straight hair is gonna frizz like a Santo Nino.

And finally....

I FUCKIN' HOPE HE GOES OUT OF BUSINESS because with his looks and attitude, he wouldn't even be able to find a job as....what?....a Duty Free cashier???
(I also hope the little gay cashier gains some weight and gets some kind of compensation like a lot of cash or a reality show. Just not free clothes and certainly not the monstrous clothes by Boyet Fajardo)

Yan lang pow.....

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Remuneration and other benefits in this economic climate has been under much debate but sometimes what I read in the news (I don't watch TV because I don't know how to turn the TV on) could be PR strategies, news to 'please the peeps' or simply ignorance.
I am not defending the (former) masters of the universe but when I read about Obama's plan to cap top banking executives' salaries at USD 500,000, I had to laugh. Doesn't his finance staff know that traders and brokers sometimes make more than board members? Last week, the US media criticized Ken Lewis, Bank of America CEO, disembarking from a private plane that costs USD 5000 an hour to run. Little do they know it would very likely cost BofA shareholders more in time and logtistics if their CEO flew commercial.
WHHEELL---but that's just my opinion, I certainly not being of the private-plane crowd. (But still HOPING to be...very likely dreaming....)
Now on to topics at 'ground level.'
Yesterday at lunch, amdist the ooohhing and aaahhing of one of the ladies' new fierce-gladiator 6850 HKD pair of heels (plus 10% Lane Crawford discount) ---Balenciaga? Givenchy? Who knows! They all look the same these days!---I mentioned that I never thought, in my fashion life, that I would ever see the day of 1000 USD shoes.
That day arrived last year (or maybe two years ago), the final year for all of us to be shopping dangerously. Plus the shoes have been ugly! (In the last two years I have only bought the following brands: Alaia, Rupert Sanderson and Roger Vivier) Yesterday we also bemoaned the weakening of Dries van Noten, a line I shopped every season until about three or four years ago.
Anyway, back to shoes. Everyone said they could still remember the last time they paid 100-200 USD for a pair of shoes---Walter Steiger, Susan Bennis/Warren Edwards (I spent all of my food allowance on a loafer), Helene Arpels, Joan and David....(Yes, we are all THAT OLD!)
On the way home, I thought of the times when I 'really got it' from my parents for spending too much and I will tell you what I bought in the name of fashion and at the expense of my allowance or rent, but never tuition.
When I moved to New York for school, my aunt told my Mom I had to have two pairs of boots for the winter: a plastic one for the snow and a sturdy leather one for the rest of the winter including when it rains. My Mom and aunt had LL Bean and Clark's in mind. I ended up buying a super soft pair of dark brown Andrea Carrano calfskin boots which I still have today and a burgundy Fendi rainboot plastered with its Zucca (double F) logo. Strike One.
Strikes Two and Three happened in Hong Kong. Strike Two was when I took a childhood friend to Matsuda and both of us proceeded to buy a t-shirt each, probably the cost of a night's stay at a 5-star hotel. I didn't hear the end of "How could you have brought that kid to such an expensive place that even WE WOULD NEVER think of entering?" "What is it, anyway? Is this T-shirt made of gold?" (Now you can see I can never escape this question---I still get it from my husband)
Strike Three was when I bought a small WHITE leather day bag at Bally and a super soft (again!) leather cosmetic case at Basile, both of which I still have. The Basile make-up case now has some kind of oil stain and the Bally bag I have dyed black.
I AM THAT OLD!! (Basile and Matsuda have closed ages ago and Bally is under revival)
This is what "I got" from my Dad, "Do you know I only have ONE pair of Bally shoes and you go out and buy a bag? What is that other expensive thing whose name I don't even recognize? If it's so expensive, how come no one knows the brand? Who TOLD you about this brand? Can't you use a plastic case from Rustan's like everyone else?"
I realized I had to leave home. QUICK! Because my peeps and I did not share the same (fashion) universe.
Now I can laugh but I didn't for many years growing up. Maybe that's why I have hung on to those things. (I had to throw out the Fendi boots when they finally leaked. The Matsuda t-shirt ended up as a rag)
NOW they wanna know what happens when I meet Karl, Donatella, Vivienne, Alber or Arnault....and how is London, Paris and Rome?
Speaking of laughter, have you kids laughed at all this week? I HAVE!! TERRIBLY!!!
The comments on the Bryan Boy=Chikatime entry are so hilarious but the one that really killed me, and I haven't laughed as much since Chikatime was:
from Anonymous:(v Pinoy!)
3 ways to eliminate fagot (sic) worm:1) death by elephant katol, 2) death by lethal injection of vodka, 3) death bu firing squad using tirador, 4) Ipako sa cruz!
THEN after reading that, my manicurista tells me that she lives at the Belchers in Kennedy Town/Pok Fu Lam and IF and ONLY IF I remember right, Wendy Puyat used to live there!!!
(I couldn't stop laughing...Someone please tell me I'm wrong)
And finally, this piece of gossip which is not so funny but can you picture Xeng packing them all in and running away with them? Xeng supposedly ran of with 13,000 USD worth of bathing suits from a Brazilian designer based in New York City and is now selling them in Manila.
So you guys in Boracay, check your suitcases for STOLEN GOODS!!! hahahaha!!!
Now if you'll excuse me while I leave my desk to get a pair of new Roger Viviers. Which I INTEND to pay FOR!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009



I originally wanted to discuss Stephen Roach's (chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia) column from yesterday's Financial Times but I think Da Who is Chikatime is much more newsworthy than boring world trade and they can fight it out even more next month at the G20 in London. After this whole economic debacle, we will have G2000 as that will be the only fashion brand the world will be able to afford.

OH MY GAS!!! It was impossible for me to get a turn at my own computer what with the Patola Vine monitoring AND taking calls on MY phone. I had to disconnect its phone late last year when I found out we didn't have enough money for fertilizer.
Chances are, if you are a regular reader of this blog, you would already have known to go into DV's site because I only mentioned it TWICE in the last few days. If not, don't bother making tea. Close this page now and quickly clickety click on DV's site then have your maid bring you tea.
Gorrell has finally spilled the beans. Chikatime = Bryan Boy. Why are we NOT surprised?

I knew that sometime late last year but I was told 'not to tell.' Of course, since I am so trustworthy (as in my lips are sealed this time) I did not tell anyone. Especially NOT the Patola Vine since that thing is the creepy-crawliest plant I've ever known. Everyone complains that it talks too much. So much so that we are now banned from one of the public areas of the Hong Kong Foreign Correspondent's Club.
There are several general issues I want to address from the Comments section on DV:
As it is, the DV comment section is so active (50 something vs Francis Magalona's 8 tells you that the Chikatime entry is on speed...) that I don't want to interfere.
1) That Brian Gorrell may not have written the piece. As a new member of the DV Council, like the original editorial board, I get to read important entries that are scheduled for publication. Gorrell DID write most of the piece but, like most stories that go into papers, there were some very minor edits. Someone once told me, "If they criticize you for grammar, that means they have nothing bad to say...."
What the hell do you think the editors are there for? Do you-s actually THINK that whatever Jason Blair turned in to his New York Times editor was printed as is? (Well, look at what happened to Jason Blair at may edit na yan, ha!)
Well, I can talk but truthfully, I do nothing but sit in my dog-print pajamas while the rest of the Council works.
2) That DV and Gorrell have been very inconsiderate seeing as there was a death in BB's family. The idea for this story was planned weeks in advance. It was written, read and edited to coincide with DV's first anniversary. In fact, the editors have been kind. If they really wanted to cause BB misery, they could have published it on his birthday which is next week (or the following week).
3) What's in it for Gorrell or DV? Honestly, nothing. (Well, it probably helps that BB offended him and scores of other people) DV strives to deliver social and political stories on lies, debauchery, pretentiousness, carnality, etc...and most of the public seems to think BB epitomizes those qualities. The DV Council has debated on the importance of this topic but bottom line, IT IS A STORY. And a good/controversial one!
4) But we loved Chikatime! I did, Gorrell did and we admit it. I stand by my praise for the site's content--hilarious prose that accompanied incriminating photos. I still wish I was able to do something like it. But what many did not like was BB's betrayal of long and sincere friendships at the cost of this site.
5) The point of the Chikatime 'reveal' was also to deter future 'anonymous bloggers.' Why did I even bring this up when posters were mostly 'anonymous?"
Why was I not surprised that BB was behind Chikatime? I am used to the world of pretense and backstabbing. Even if I did not get negative exposure at Chikatime, I always thought I would be next just because of my books and this blog. Or my eye make-up.
Maybe it was because BB asked me about listing a Chikatime-type blog in HK to avoid lawsuits but never did it. Perhaps he saw no reason to, having been there, done that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


While we wait holding in our stomach muscles and Hermes belt buckles before Dona Victorina reveals who was behind Chikatime (, commercial muna...

It doesn't seem like the world is collapsing from beneath us because IT REALLY IS!! Stock markets and the world are collapsing! (Even the Mandarin ladies locker attendant knows HSBC stock is worthless...Hong Kong, we have a problem...) Buildings are not quite collapsing but construction has halted in former cement and steel gobbling cities like Dubai and Macau.

Has capitalism failed? Aside from holding out until the spring sales, the buzz in HK is that perhaps the Chinese governement had it right all along.
(And so did Chanel as the shops were packed for the last few days with customers rushing to buy new Spring-Summer pieces to wear to this afternoon's show at the Four Seasons--my, my...)

To aid your ADD-internet generation-not more than 200 words-reading capabilites, I have magnified what I think are the important parts in this extremely long but authoritative article.

This from yesterday's Financial Times, the first of a series entitled "The Future of Capitalism."

Seeds of its own destruction
By Martin Wolf

Another ideological god has failed. The assumptions that ruled policy and politics over three decades suddenly look as outdated as revolutionary socialism.
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” Thus quipped Ronald Reagan, hero of US conservatism. The remark seems ancient history now that governments are pouring trillions of dollars, euros and pounds into financial systems.
“Governments bad; deregulated markets good”: how can this faith escape unscathed after Alan Greenspan, pupil of Ayn Rand and predominant central banker of the era, described himself, in congressional testimony last October, as being “in a state of shocked disbelief” over the failure of the “self-interest of lending institutions to protect shareholders’ equity”?
In the west, the pro-market ideology of the past three decades was a reaction to the perceived failure of the mixed-economy, Keynesian model of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. The move to the market was associated with the election of Reagan as US president in 1980 and the ascent to the British prime ministership of Margaret Thatcher the year before. Little less important was the role of Paul Volcker, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, in crushing inflation.
Yet bigger events shaped this epoch: the shift of China from the plan to the market under Deng Xiaoping, the collapse of Soviet communism between 1989 and 1991 and the end of India’s inward-looking economic policies after 1991. The death of central planning, the end of the cold war and, above all, the entry of billions of new participants into the rapidly globalising world economy were the high points of this era.
Today, with a huge global financial crisis and a synchronised slump in economic activity, the world is changing again. The financial system is the brain of the market economy. If it needs so expensive a rescue, what is left of Reagan’s dismissal of governments? If the financial system has failed, what remains of confidence in markets?
It is impossible at such a turning point to know where we are going. In the chaotic 1970s, few guessed that the next epoch would see the taming of inflation, the unleashing of capitalism and the death of communism. What will happen now depends on choices unmade and shocks unknown. Yet the combination of a financial collapse with a huge recession, if not something worse, will surely change the world. The legitimacy of the market will weaken. The credibility of the US will be damaged. The authority of China will rise. Globalisation itself may founder. This is a time of upheaval.
How did the world arrive here? A big part of the answer is that the era of liberalisation contained seeds of its own downfall: this was also a period of massive growth in the scale and profitability of the financial sector, of frenetic financial innovation, of growing global macroeconomic imbalances, of huge household borrowing and of bubbles in asset prices.
In the US, core of the global market economy and centre of the current storm, the aggregate debt of the financial sector jumped from 22 per cent of gross domestic product in 1981 to 117 per cent by the third quarter of 2008. In the UK, with its heavy reliance on financial activity, gross debt of the financial sector reached almost 250 per cent of GDP.
Carmen Reinhart of the University of Maryland and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard argue that the era of liberalisation was also a time of exceptionally frequent financial crises, surpassed, since 1900, only by the 1930s. It was also an era of massive asset price bubbles. By intervening to keep their exchange rates down and accumulating foreign currency reserves, governments of emerging economies generated huge current account surpluses, which they recycled, together with inflows of private capital, into official capital outflows: between the end of the 1990s and the peak in July 2008, their currency reserves alone rose by $5,300bn.
These huge flows of capital, on top of the traditional surpluses of a number of high-income countries and the burgeoning surpluses of oil exporters, largely ended up in a small number of high-income countries and particularly in the US. At the peak, America absorbed about 70 per cent of the rest of the world’s surplus savings.
Meanwhile, inside the US the ratio of household debt to GDP rose from 66 per cent in 1997 to 100 per cent a decade later
. Even bigger jumps in household indebtedness occurred in the UK. These surges in household debt were supported, in turn, by highly elastic and innovative financial systems and, in the US, by government programmes.
Throughout, the financial sector innovated ceaselessly. Warren Buffett, the legendary investor, described derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction”. He was proved at least partly right. In the 2000s, the “shadow banking system” emerged and traditional banking was largely replaced by the originate-and-distribute model of securitisation via constructions such as collateralised debt obligations. This model blew up in 2007.
We are witnessing the deepest, broadest and most dangerous financial crisis since the 1930s. As Profs Reinhart and Rogoff argue in another paper, “banking crises are associated with profound declines in output and employment”. This is partly because of overstretched balance sheets: in the US, overall debt reached an all-time peak of just under 350 per cent of GDP – 85 per cent of it private. This was up from just over 160 per cent in 1980.
Among the possible outcomes of this shock are: massive and prolonged fiscal deficits in countries with large external deficits, as they try to sustain demand; a prolonged world recession; a brutal adjustment of the global balance of payments; a collapse of the dollar; soaring inflation; and a resort to protectionism. The transformation will surely go deepest in the financial sector itself. The proposition that sophisticated modern finance was able to transfer risk to those best able to manage it has failed. The paradigm is, instead, that risk has been transferred to those least able to understand it. As Mr Volcker remarked during a speech last April: “Simply stated, the bright new financial system – for all its talented participants, for all its rich rewards – has failed the test of the marketplace.”
In a recent paper Andrew Haldane, the Bank of England’s executive director for financial stability, shows how little banks understood of the risks they were supposed to manage. He ascribes these failures to “disaster myopia” (the tendency to underestimate risks), a lack of awareness of “network externalities” (spill­overs from one institution to the others) and “misaligned incentives” (the upside to employees and the downside to shareholders and taxpayers).
. . .
After the crisis, we will surely “see finance less proud”, as Winston Churchill desired back in 1925. Markets will impose a brutal, if temporary, discipline. Regulation will also tighten.
Less clear is whether policymakers will contemplate structural remedies: a separation of utility commercial banking from investment banking; or the forced reduction in the size and complexity of institutions deemed too big or interconnected to fail. One could also imagine a return of much banking activity to the home market, as governments increasingly call the tune. If so, this would be “de-globalisation”.
Churchill called also for industry to be “more content”. In the short run, however, the collapse of the financial system is achieving the opposite: a worldwide industrial slump. It is also spreading to every significant sector of the real economy, much of which is clamouring for assistance.
Yet if the financial system has proved dysfunctional, how far can we rely on the maximisation of shareholder value as the way to guide business? The bulk of shareholdings is, after all, controlled by financial institutions. Events of the past 18 months must confirm the folly of this idea. It is better, many will conclude, to let managers determine the direction of their companies than let financial players or markets override them.
A likely result will be an increased willingness by governments to protect companies from active shareholders – hedge funds, private equity and other investors. As a defective financial sector loses its credibility, the legitimacy of the market process itself is damaged. This is particularly true of the free-wheeling “Anglo-Saxon” approach.
No less likely are big changes in monetary policy. The macro­economic consensus had been in favour of a separation of responsibility for monetary and fiscal policy, the placing of fiscal policy on autopilot, independence of central banks and the orientation of monetary decisions towards targeting inflation. But with interest rates close to zero, the distinction between monetary and fiscal policy vanishes. More fundamental is the challenge to the decision to ignore asset prices in the setting of monetary policy.
Many argue that Mr Greenspan, who succeeded Mr Volcker, created the conditions for both bubbles and subsequent collapse. He used to argue that it would be easier to clean up after the bursting of a bubble than identify such a bubble in real time and then prick it. In a reassessment of the doctrine last November, Donald Kohn, Fed vice-chairman, restated the orthodox position, but with a degree of discomfort.
Mr Kohn now states that “in light of the demonstrated importance to the real economy of speculative booms and busts (which can take years to play out), central banks probably should always try to look out over a long horizon when evaluating the economic outlook and deliberating about the appropriate accompanying path of the policy rate”. Central banks will have to go further, via either monetary policy or regulatory instruments.
. . .
Yet a huge financial crisis, together with a deep global recession, if not something far worse, is going to have much wider effects than just these.
Remember what happened in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Unemployment rose to one-quarter of the labour force in important countries, including the US. This transformed capitalism and the role of government for half a century, even in the liberal democracies. It led to the collapse of liberal trade, fortified the credibility of socialism and communism and shifted many policymakers towards import substitution as a development strategy.
The Depression led also to xenophobia and authoritarianism. Frightened people become tribal: dividing lines open within and between societies. In 1930, the Nazis won 18 per cent of the German vote; in 1932, at the height of the Depression, their share had risen to 37 per cent.
One transformation that can already be seen is in attitudes to pay. Even the US and UK are exerting direct control over pay levels and structures in assisted institutions. From the inconceivable to the habitual has taken a year. Equally obvious is a wider shift in attitudes towards inequality: vast rewards were acceptable in return for exceptional competence; as compensation for costly incompetence, they are intolerable. Marginal tax rates on the wealthier are on the way back up.
Yet another impact will be on the sense of insecurity. The credibility of moving pension savings from government-run pay-as-you-go systems to market-based systems will be far smaller than before, even though, ironically, the opportunity for profitable long-term investment has risen. Politics, like markets, overshoot.
The search for security will strengthen political control over markets. A shift towards politics entails a shift towards the national, away from the global. This is already evident in finance. It is shown too in the determination to rescue national producers. But protectionist intervention is likely to extend well beyond the cases seen so far: these are still early days.
The impact of the crisis will be particularly hard on emerging countries: the number of people in extreme poverty will rise, the size of the new middle class will fall and governments of some indebted emerging countries will surely default. Confidence in local and global elites, in the market and even in the possibility of material progress will weaken, with potentially devastating social and political consequences. Helping emerging economies through a crisis for which most have no responsibility whatsoever is a necessity.
The ability of the west in general and the US in particular to influence the course of events will also be damaged. The collapse of the western financial system, while China’s flourishes, marks a humiliating end to the “uni-polar moment”. As western policymakers struggle, their credibility lies broken. Who still trusts the teachers?
These changes will endanger the ability of the world not just to manage the global economy but also to cope with strategic challenges: fragile states, terrorism, climate change and the rise of new great powers. At the extreme, the integration of the global economy on which almost everybody now depends might be reversed. Globalisation is a choice. The integrated economy of the decades before the first world war collapsed. It could do so again.
On June 19 2007, I concluded an article on the “new capitalism” with the observation that it remained “untested”. The test has come: it failed. The era of financial liberalisation has ended. Yet, unlike in the 1930s, no credible alternative to the market economy exists and the habits of international co-operation are deep.
“I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas any more,” said Dorothy after a tornado dropped her, her house and dog in the land of Oz. The world of the past three decades has gone. Where we end up, after this financial tornado, is for us to seek to determine.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Coming to a ramp near you: Aavel Bacudio's confection
for April's Fashion Watch

Wealthy Filipinos used to hire maids from HK. Now the HK Chinese hire us.
How did we lose rice production to Indonesia and Vietnam? We practically INVENTED RICE!! What made us choose malls over meals?
Which brings me to our talent---fashion, advertising and other creatives. Why did we (that includes me) have to leave?
The original and most obvious reason was ambition. There was no way to move up in the Philippines if there was no opportunity. For me, that was in the Eighties. At that time Marcos had already raped the economy so much that we wuz beggin’ for it.

But by the time I returned in the mid-Nineties, there was STILL no opportunity when Hong Kong and Singapore were already huge trading ports, paying salaries equal to or even more (if you count housing and low taxation) than New York or London. My friends in America laughed until they cried when I told them my salary was going down every year. When I arrived, it was 25 pesos to 1 USD. When I left five years later it was 40 to 1.

When I came back to Manila, running magazines put me in touch with the local fashion business. By this time, the country was so enamored with what was ‘imported’ there was no going back for store returns. I’m not saying imports are bad. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea are huge consumers of imports, particularly true luxury goods. As much as Pinoys like to think so, Marks and Spencer, Nine West, Abecrombie and Fitch and the Gap are NOT luxury goods houses.

However, for us to sustain any form of luxury or middle market ‘imports’ economy, we must first learn to appreciate our own. And that means going to local designers NOT JUST for a wedding gown or a pink chiffon matrona ninang dress with matching taffeta mules!!! Thailand has a booming local fashion retail scene as presented in Siam Center. Singapore has that treasure trove of a dump, Herren Plaza. Although people bemoan Hong Kong’s loss as a manufacturing base, it has produced Espirit, Shanghai Tang, Blanc de Chine, Spy (v cute!) and Giordano. It is not easy. The Japanese, now the purveyor of chic and cool, were not accepted by their own department stores until they showed in Paris in the Eighties. The Taiwanese struggled with mom and pop businesses until one…JUST ONE … buyer with foresight at the Sunrise Department store kick started a whole industry that still exists and continues to grow today. They have a local designer selling jackets at 3000 USD that hangs in the same areas as Valentino and Chanel. The others sit happily in malls next to agnes b, Tod’s, Juicy, etc. There is no snobbism unlike in the Philippines. It could be education, it could be a strong middle class, it could be a long national history but…..

It is also ignorance of mall operators and snobbishness of the brands. Again, the lack of national pride. It is the duty of big business to educate its customers but they don’t. And so we have the biggest American bourgeois market outside America----the land of jeans, white shirt and loafers (which is not a bad thing on Margarita Fores but a uniform on everyone else!), tee-shirt, “It” bag, jeans and Jimmy Choos, all New York black (in the tropics?).…..

On the other hand, I have to commend Ayala Land for having an area for local designers in Glorietta 5. (I saw that last year so God knows what it looks like today) The time has really come and like I said, it takes one---one with foresight, one with belief and one with capital to take this gamble. I hope the rents will not kill the local brands. (Everywhere in the free world, rents are like cancer. They kill you)

Why is it that for us, if it’s local, it’s ‘pangit?” Of course there are things everywhere that are really diabolical (except Japan because there, they just have ‘weird”) but there are many things in the Philippines that can be developed but we have to work on our quality. I can think of several names that do not fail to disappoint ---Silk Cocoon scarves (Everyone goes, “Wow!”) Jewelmer, Happy Feet (My yoga classmates in HK and people in Europe want to know where I bought mine!), Bench, Budji, Kenneth Cobunpue, Regatta boxer shorts (one London journalist told me they are better than Turnbull and Asser’s), Rizal Farms, the Magsaysay honey cosmetics guy in Tagaytay. New York labels such as Kotur and Rafe (a NY-based Filipino-owned label) source materials and draw inspiration from the Philippines. As much as I dislike the owners, Celestina has put out a product that the country can be proud of. (As long as they pay their suppliers!)

If you have two things with the same price tag and the local one is better made, why would you choose the one from Marlboro Classics or the discount outlet? Because it has ‘status?”

I think aside from losing national pride, the country has also lost the memo posted in many closets across the word: That the “It” bag is over. For the true fashionista, “It” never really was.

OH OH OH OH....The Patola Vine came home practcially out of breath last night, heaving from the weight of its branches. It was at the garden center looking for a shovel to bury me with when it ran into none other than Dona Victorina ( who ALREADY BOUGHT A SHOVEL to bury one of the most popular bloggers and also bought a tungsten lamp to SHED LIGHT on the person behind a now defunct gossip blog!!

OH MY GAS!!! When will this happen?? VERY SOON!!!
OH MY GAS mag-load na kayo ng telephone because this will be BIG!


BUY LOCAL: From the just launched men's line by one of Manila's popular
names, Aavel Bacudio, who is presenting a collection at Fashion Watch this April

A mole in Martin Margiela (ay no--KnCo pala for this entry!) told me that Cito Beltran either had a program or did a story on ‘buying local’ which was generally well received. Every country, particularly developed countries with active financial centers, is affected by this recession and for almost all, the solution is to generate domestic business. America has its protectionist ‘Buy American.” What’s there to buy? Cars? The California Dream? (now shattered and bankrupt) American Apparel—made in downtown LA! China is putting its people to work on public infrastructure probably to avoid unrest in the countryside. Indonesia also wants to generate local business and is even nationally promoting local fashion through Batik Fridays but it also wants to ‘export labor.” (read: maids and construction workers…Juice ko…Allah on a bike!)

It may be too late (but better late than never) to try to generate local business now that the going is tough. This should have been done way before any of this happened. Like maybe 20 years ago? Take the example of Taiwan, a country so dependent on tech exports that you could say they built the country online. From yesterday’s Herald Tribune: “The financial tsunami makes it possible to rethink our economic development strategy, as to whether we should rely so much on exports,” President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan said in an interview in Taipei.”When….We think we should attach more emphasis on domestic demand instead of putting all our eggs in one basket.”

President Ma can say this because despite its economy being largely export oriented, Taiwan has a relatively strong domestic economy. Probably because it has ‘no friends’ and China was always a threat, the country made sure that first, it fed its people. Taiwan produces a lot of its own produce that even international gourmet chefs sing praises for local poultry, fish and vegetables. Even a food ignoramus like me noticed that the local produce I ate in Taiwan was so much fresher than what I eat in Hong Kong which is all imported. (Hong Kong physically does not have enough land to grow crops unless it’s done in small farms in Sai Kung and then the harvest can only feed a family of four minus the dog)

Second, like Korea and Japan, Taiwan educated their people to the highest levels. Okay—everything is in Chinese but who needs English these days especially if you have a poor command of it like the Philippines? Teachers get not only respect but a high salary. The local publishing business is booming not only for magazines and newspapers but also books. As a former publisher, there is no place I feel more inadequate than in Korea, Taiwan or Japan. If you think they only read their work, read the fine print. Bookstores are open all night and are stocked with every conceivable novel translated into Chinese.

Whenever I talk to Taiwanese about their country and my country, they always ask the same thing, “Taiwan used to admire the Philippines so much. Our goal was to be like the Philippines. What happened?”

I can tell you what happened. We can see it in our local fashion industry and in domestic retail.

We lost our national pride--lost it by being blinded by the glitz of Hollywood yet not being remotely close to Brian Grazer’s parking space, lost it by thinking Manila was Manhattan but it was more like Hell’s Kitchen. We lost our way because we thought everyone else was better. Everyone else means those who are American or ‘white.’
(When we used to live in the Philippines, I would ask my husband who is white, to call the waiters because then we would get REAL service. That does not work in Hong Kong or Japan. National pride)

Little did we know we had so much going for us (talent and natural resources) which we ended up giving away. We can no longer blame the Marcoses. In the last 40 years, so much opportunity has been lost. Little by little, our then poorer neighbors (Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore) caught up with us and ended up beating us to the finish line.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


The world has lost confidence (and money) in itself and in retail and now the Philippine government (the most un-high tech in the world) wants to shut us up!! Not only traditional media but also blogs!!

The Pinoy government is so low-tech that it was not affected by the millenium bug because they didn't have any computers. My husband loves to tell the story of the time he was waiting to see the Central Bank governor and in the waiting area (of course they waited for hours) all they saw was a stream of people going back and forth carrying heaps of paper.

I think he knew Toto was not in Geneva anymore.....

The government (the houses of Snake-nete and Tongress to you and me) is planning to pass The Right to Reply Bill. This bill, with its misleading name, actually DOES NOT give the media any rights at all. (Anyone else can reply. Just not the media)
Here is the executive summary (or at least what I understand) without the legalese that drives everyone mad:
The bill states that technically, ANYONE--public and private individuals and corporations have 'the right to reply' to ---wait for it----situations where they are accused directly, indirectly, or by innuendo, suggestion or RUMOR! – of having committed a crime, of committing a crime, or of intending to commit a crime OR for ANY LAPSE IN BEHAVIOR in public OR PRIVATE! (basically, it covers everything including whether or not you had butter with your pan de sal for breakfast)

This reply can be done if "the accusation, innuendo, suggestion or rumor was published or printed in publications circulated commercially or for free or broadcast over radio, television, WEBSITES, or through ANY ELECTRONIC DEVICE."
(I am assuming that includes blogs)

The reply has to be given equal space FREE OF CHARGE in the same medium as the original piece or broadcast. Since this covers everything and anything that involves people and/or people having sex with animals, the only topics left for public discussion are fashion and beauty as long as the make-up artist doesn't say you are ugly.

And BEFORE this NON-RETROACTIVE rule takes effect, let me just say kudos to Millet Mananquil who got it right all this time because she can still continue to charge PR people per column inches because she doesn't cover news or showbiz.

And BEFORE this NON-RETROACTIVE rule takes place, may I request the residents of 44 Pili in South Forbes to please pay your contractors the money you owe them.

You can check out the massive house that looks as big as a resort on their architect's webiste, Click on "Works" then "Recent Projects."

You'll see Joey de Venecia III's house in the first image. That's NOT the one.
It's the second one...Under Gem Equities/Eusebio Garcia.
If you built such a beautiful house, why were contractors not paid? Ex-deal ba yan with builders? (Pang Millet Mananquil lang yan!) Is this your idea of living like a king---in ancient Egypt using slave labour?

Uhh...also...The house is beautiful....Can I come for tea???

Yan lang pow.....

Before I close (I might end up having to permanently close with that stupid Right to Reply Bill) I have another one of my husband-fashion stories which seem so popular with readers.
At Lane Crawford, we saw a Judith Leiber bag similar to this---a feline evening bag with eyes.
(What was HE doing at Lane Crawford? Taking a short cut to the gym!)
H: That small thing is 45,000 HKD (about 5000 USD)????!! WHY!??
K: It's Judith Leiber... Handmade. ..Austrian crystals.
(long, long silence as he stares at the cat without touching it in case he breaks it....)
H: Well at least do the EYES MOVE?
K: No and the only things that should move now are us if we are not going to buy it.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Sometimes even the fabulous not only fall from fashion but FAIL in fashion.
Credit crunch or not, my husband always manages to bring my lofty fashion choices back to earth. He also happens to be the one who pays my bills so being a resident fashion critic only brings his bank balance great advantage.
But I must say.... He does have an 'eye'......Well, not really....Eye-wan!
It DOES help to have an outside opinion. On Adidas by Stella McCartney (above): I have a similar one to this in black and was asked, 'Why are you wearing a garbage bag over your gym clothes? It doesn't even fit well!"
Aaaahh! Marni. The favourite of fashionistas but I never felt is was 'me.' I did, however, manage to buy an Aegean blue and white double-faced linen jacket with frayed and exposed seams similar to the one above. I loved the jacket which was reversible (well, sort of), easy to wear with everything and most of all did not wrinkle. Since I thought this jacket was such a great deal, I decided to wear it one weekend at breakfast:
H: Did you buy that at one of the sample sales? Why do you look like you just had a fight?
K: No. Why, does it look cheap?
H: I only hope you didn't pay very much for it. Who in their right mind would sell something that looks like an unfinished tailor's muslin? And YOU bought it!
K: It's reversible.
H: It reverses from bad to worse. I don't want to ever se it again.
K: (deadma nalang because all you followers of fashion know how much these things cost)
Because of this, that particular jacket only comes out at fashion events and lunches with fags. I did think of bringing it with me on a press trip to Indonesia because I figured if I was going to a poor country, I might as well look poh! Well, this is what transpired between me and a straight male business reporter on the way back to Hong Kong.
Reporter: (serioso siya, ha...) I hope you don't mind me asking but what happened to your jacket? Are you going to get it mended in Hong Kong?
Kitty: Nothing happened to this jacket. It's the look.
R: Is looking poor the latest style?
K: I assure you, it will be soon. You'll read about it in the Financial Times.
(The stock market collapsed the following week)
My husband on Giuseppe Zanotti (below):
H: SIX THOUSAND HK dollars for a pair of sandals with TWO strips of leather?
K: Yes.
H: Are the diamonds real? Because if they are real then it's a great deal.
(This is the same person who said of the Hermes Birkin, "SEVEN THOUSAND EUROS for a bag? Are the fastenings made of gold? Because gold (at that time) is only trading at 600 USD an ounce and I don't see an ounce in there...."
(Well gold is now 1200 USD an ounce. Maybe it's time to buy! The Birkin, I mean.... )
COMMERCIAL MUNA: Moles in Missoni or Margiela who have nothing good to say, want to 'report' social atrocities, society misdemeanors and/or crimes of the pseudo-fashionable, please send emails to: I'll be waiting by the phone....ay


HOKAY EVERYONE! As this blog is better known for rumor rather than truth (wink!wink!), it's high time someone asked me to make a correction.
The highly recommended HIV advice website is really the creation of CHOLO LAUREL, not Brian Gorrell and Shola Luna. They simply 'work there.'
PS--In my last post, I briefly discussed the sale held by the 'two poufs,' Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge. The sale alone shattered so many records including the already eye-popping estimated EU 2-3 million (euros pala, not USD) for an Eileen Gray chair that went for---hold on to your jewelled Hermes belt buckle---EU 21.9 million!!!
In death, as in life, Yves Saint Laurent never failed to make an impression.