20 Questions with Design Tastemaker Roselen Ocampo
The showroom director at Kenneth Cobonpue Manila on functional art, style icons, and people who make knockoff pieces.
IMAGE Kai Huang

What's in your handbag?
My wallet, lipstick, iphone, cologne, Kiehl’s Ultimate strength hand salve, and a Japanese sensu fan which is light and just the perfect size to keep me cool.

What inspires you?
Listening to a familiar song, reading something witty from a favorite author like Nelson de Mille, and practicing my spanish. We took spanish at Institucion Teresiana, now called Poveda. It also helped that my groupmates were three Spanish girls and they were all fluent in the language. I felt I was pretty good at the language and so I made an effort to improve. To be good at Spanish you need to know a lot of verbs, along with their conjugation, as well as a lot of nouns and adjectives.

Roselen at the Kenneth Cobonpue showroom

Style icons?
The Bouvier sisters—Jackie Kennedy Onassis and Lee Radziwill—for their style and love of beauty.

Trademark accessory?
A necklace with charms given to me as gifts, a Hans Brumann mother of pearl cross from my husband for our anniversary, and a Nuestra Señora medal, a gift my grandmother gave to me when I got married.

Tell us about your work with Kenneth Cobonpue?
I represent the brand in Manila and run the day-to-day operations at the showroom. Together with the team we meet clients, entertain guests, and make sure that everything is in excellent form.

What do you love most about your job?
I love being around functional art every day. It gives me a sense of fulfillment to be able to share this passion with a greater audience.

What do you like least about it?
Dishonest people who create Cobonpue knockoff pieces.

Fill in the blank: Everyone must meet...
Wiggle, the Dog, by Kenneth Cobonpue.

Name a social issue close to your heart?
Care of the elderly.

Who do you look up to?
My grandfather. He started with nothing but was a very hardworking Filipino-Chinese businessman and became successful. In my profession, I look up to Kenneth Cobonpue, along with other Filipino architects who have made a name for themselves in their field.

Favorite cities?
Sapporo and Barcelona.

Traveling with daughters Andie and Patricia

What book are you reading right now?
I first read Shogun, by James Clavell, back in high school, but I have been fascinated by Japanese culture and history in our travels and so I am reading it a second time.


Staple magazines?
I look forward to my Town&Country every month. I also love WSJ. InStyle is a feel-good magazine for me and I read it at the salon.

How much time do you spend on social media?
Too much that I feel I’m addicted. I wish I could unplug at times. I use it for work as well. sometimes I get responses faster via Facebook Messenger rather than via e-mail.

What's on your current playlist?
I’m still stuck in ’80s pop, rock, and dance remixes. I also like the tunes of Toshi Kubota and Utada Hikaru, even if I don’t understand them.

Who are your dream lunch companions?
My two granddaughters when they are old enough to lunch like ladies.

Were you given any great advice today?
Dressing up is the art of knowing yourself and what suits you, and knowing what works with your age and your lifestyle.

Roselen with her husband Larry

How do you entertain?
Quite casually. I don’t enjoy stiff dinners or events.

Pet peeve?
The misuse of “your” and “you’re.

Loves of your life?
Larry. My kids—Patricia and Tonio, Andrea, Javier, and Nino. My two granddaughters. The Ateneo Blue Eagles. One big fight!

What do you hope to dream about?
Being in Barcelona and conversing with the locals, or doing as the Japanese do in Sapporo.

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Manica C. Tiglao
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