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A Journey to Paradise

The story of Hervé Lampert and his wife Tess is a story of lives as intertwined as the DEDON story is to Cebu. Perhaps the love story of the dynamic couple, with Tess being the wife of the CEO, could arguably be the unseen force that makes DEDON and Cebu a successful match.

The story of Hervé Lampert and his wife Tess is a story of lives as intertwined as the DEDON story is to Cebu. Perhaps the love story of the dynamic couple, with Tess being the wife of the CEO, could arguably be the unseen force that makes DEDON and Cebu a successful match.

I first met Tess through my dear friend Jun Escario at a birthday lunch at Anzani’s. Without uttering a word, she reveals something extraordinary about herself with her soulful almond eyes. As I gazed into them that time, I already thought, “This lady is special,” and then hoped that we both could find the time for more than a mere chit-chat.

The next time I saw her was at the Red Cross Ball at Makati Shangri-La. She was wearing a beautiful gown created for her by her close friend Cary Santiago. With such a huge crowd and all the champagne served that evening, all we managed to talk about was the DEDON showcase in the Salone de Mobile that I attended last year in Milan. It was a short conversation before we said our pleasant goodbyes.

Then, at Zee Lifestyle’s Black and Bling party at the Rizal Library, I saw Tess again and this time with her dashing husband Hervé. I couldn’t help admire how beautifully in sync they were on the dance floor. They were like yin and yang as they swayed their bodies in harmony to whatever genre of music was playing— from the 70s disco, to tango and mambo.

“We met in Mi Vida, a dance club in Cebu, more than a decade ago,” Hervé recalls with a smile. The unexpected meeting led to another evening of music and dance.

“I did not waste anytime,” remembers Tess with laughter. “I invited him to celebrate my birthday with me in an intimate dinner.” Apparently, the moment they first hit the dance floor, they never stopped dancing—eventually to the rhythm of life as they became man and wife. Finding each other in Cebu was the beginning of living in paradise for both Hervé and Tess.

Hervé Lampert grew up on a farm in France. Even at an early age, he dreamt of running a business his own way. He worked shortly in the Marketing Division of an American company in Paris whilst still finishing his business degree from the Graduate School for International Business Administration in Strasbourg. In 1997 he met Bobby Dekeyser, the founding chairman of DEDON and moved to Lüneburg, Germany to help build the company.

In 2000, at the age of 24, he made a big leap into unknown territory and moved to Cebu, to set up DEDON’s manufacturing facility, which would address the recurring problems with quality in the company.

Hervé confesses, “It was the hardest in the beginning because of the trust we gave to this couple who was supposedly our partner in building the company but who failed us in more ways than one.” Nonetheless, he looks back with pride at how challenges became opportunities for him to move on and succeed. His secret in life, he says, is “living with passion and inspiration.”

Starting with seven employees, Hervé saw the growth of DEDON Cebu within a span of 8 years, providing fair and gainful employment to 3,600 employees in a part of the world where such ethical practice is an exception rather than the rule. He is the force behind DEDON’s commitment to their employees and their social responsibility. But for the record, DEDON is not comfortable with the term ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ or CSR.

‘’For one thing, we don’t think of ourselves as particularly corporate,” Hervé says. “‘Corporate social responsibility’ can sound like a PR obligation—something a company does because it’s expected to—whereas at DEDON, positive social action is an everyday expression of our culture.

“There are certain values, such as respecting others, that we hold in our own lives,” he explains, “so why shouldn’t they be the foundation of the organization as well? When you look, for example, at the work people do here in Cebu—the time they spend, the processes involved, the beauty they create—you have to respect it by allowing them to share in the success of the organization.” For Hervé this means not merely complying with local labor standards but, as with everything they do, setting their own standards and continually raising them.

“We’re not in Southeast Asia because it’s cheaper, but because of the competency and skills here, weaving in particular. So for us, it’s natural to show people that we care about them, the same as we do care about our partners everywhere. The respect is real. We’re all part of the same team.”

Hervé’s ultimate commitment nevertheless is to his family. It is the same respect that he accords his team in DEDON that he extends to his partner in life, his wife Tess.

Tess, a true-blue Cebuana, grew up with her lola when her parents separated early on. She recalls her childhood with nostalgia: “My journey in life is very colorful. I’m a lola’s girl. I grew up in a simple life with her but very conservative and religious.’’

She admits that as she was growing up, life was never easy, but then she also never saw her cup as half empty nor half full; instead, to her, it was always more than enough.

“I never complained,” she says. “I accept things as they are and do my best to make things better.’’ It is this positive outlook in life that makes Tess extraordinary.

“It was a dark period in my life when I met Hervé. I was just healing from a previous relationship that had scarred my inner core.’’ The most colorful part of her past had made her the woman that she is today—confident, certain, committed, and passionate.

But what I find most fascinating and inspiring is how Tess talks honestly about her life lessons and how, despite all the moments that she was down and broken, she was able to keep her heart whole.

Though she never pursued her career as a nurse, so she can be there for her family, she feels that being a mother is her most important role to date. Hervé and Tess have two beautiful girls, Veia who is six, and Maori who is four. The Lamperts are a typical family; Hervé is the doting father who insists that the girls clean up after their toys, while Tess enjoys dressing them up. With a mixed background, conversations in the family slide effortlessly from English to French and Visayan, and meals are a hodgepodge of croissants, pasta, and bangus with rice. The girls’ nanny, Dorothia Galolo, has been employed by Hervé since he was a bachelor and she is a valuable member of the family already. Tess, however, is in her element at the kitchen where she can whip up French and Filipino dishes befitting even, the French ambassador.

Quite the multi-tasker, Tess continues to pursue her other passions as she fully embraces the roles of being a mother and a wife. Currently, she is wrapping up two special projects that she also considers her two babies. One has required her creative instincts in transforming an old house that they purchased four years ago into a French country home. Her constant travels to France, Hervé’s first home, have exposed her to the authentic colors and textures of the homes outside of Paris.

When the tenants vacated a property that they own in Maria Luisa, Tess immediately got the idea of doing a total makeover, not just with the structure of the house but also its interiors, furniture and fixtures included. The result is an elegant French country home with gray walls with white detailing.

Tess proudly shares her feat. “I am very happy with this project. I poured into it blood and sweat looking at every single detail till the entire process of renovation finally paid off. Now I can’t wait to bring in the furniture to finally complete the transformation.”

The other “baby” of Tess is something even more special—the most anticipated DEDON Island Resort in Siargao island in Mindanao. January and February had been the most intense for the Lamperts preparing for this.

“Dedon will offer its services as bespoke travel—from limo service at your city of origin, to a stopover in Cebu where we have chosen abaca as our partner, or in Manila, whatever the guest prefers,” Hervé points out.

Indeed, the site’s remoteness makes it a truly private island. Although the local government has taken notice and has built a sparkling new airport there, and a local airline might increase its number of flights as well, the resort will still operate in the strictest sense of exclusivity, dictated mainly by a price range that makes it prohibitive except to a few who can splurge its four-figure euro daily rate. The island houses nine private villas, which can accommodate 24 guests at a time.

Taking the Friday shuttle to Siargao almost weekly, it has been Tess’s job to usher a team of French architects and designers ever since the resort was acquired from its previous owner, Nicholas Rambeau. Tess, who speaks the local dialect, was tasked with the Herculean job of polishing the existing structure, as well as augmenting it with four new villas, into DEDON luxe. It involves the entire DEDON team to actualize this project, including Hervé’s brother Vince Lampert, who is responsible for creating all the special DEDON product exclusive only to the resort and who also serves as the Managing Director of DEDON.  Tess is only more than happy to get her creative hands into the project. She has also taken time to travel from Cebu to different parts of the country in order to discover artisan products that she can integrate into the lifestyle of the resort. We are not just talking about furniture here.

When the company pursued the philosophy behind the name which goes beyond the indoor and outdoor furniture that they are known for, a bigger idea came to life—DEDON Places.

“DEDON Places is a budding collection of one-of-a-kind accommodations around the world,” DEDON founding chairman Bobby Dekeyser says, “each with its own outdoor orientation, from a ski chalet to an island hideaway, an African wilderness lodge, a tree house, an igloo, a boat or a city harbor hotel.

“In many ways, these accommodations are a reflection our company’s nomadic spirit,” he explains. “Because we’re always on the move, meeting up with partners, team members, and friends in so many different parts of the world, we’re always discovering incredible places. Now we want to let others know about them and share the experience, too.” And the first to open in this direction will be DEDON Island Resort on Siargao Island in the Philippines.

“Remote and exotic, with clear blue waters and lush tropical flora, it’s a destination we’ve been visiting for a decade,” Bobby Dekeyser says. “Having acquired it earlier this year, a group of 30 of us, including the celebrated designer and DEDON collaborator Jean-Marie Massaud, his architectural partner Daniel Pouzet, and their families, spent 14 days living on the island. Based on our shared experience there, Jean-Marie and Daniel are adapting the property to match the vision of DEDON Places.” Massaud is known for his contemporary minimalistic and at times futuristic furniture such as the Aspen Sofa from Casinna and the Kennedee Modular Sofa which he design for Poltrona Frau. Together, they designed the architecture behind the Chivas Stadium in Guadalajara, Mexico. Both are currently the in-house designers of Dedon.

And this is where the journey of Tess to paradise continues. ‘’I have made Siargao my second home,” she says, “ever since we started developing the DEDON Island Resort. After the French architect Jean-Marie Massaud and his partner Daniel Pouzet worked on the amazing architectural design of the entire resort, it is now all in my hands to complete the picture. From the purchasing of every minute detail to personally hiring and training the staff and immersing our foreign staff into the local culture, my heart and soul are involved.’’

More importantly, she has helped increase the environmental awareness of both the locals and the resort management—to ensure their commitment to creating and preserving an ecological consciousness that would be a way of life not just in the resort but in the rest of the island as well. After all, in her very words, ‘’Siargao is more than a surfing capital of the country. It is paradise!’’

Lifestyle

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Thanksgiving with the Woolbrights

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

The holiday season kicks off officially with Thanksgiving. A time to be grateful for family, friends and blessings. Although this is not usually practiced in our tropical country, there are, however, families like the Woolbrights for whom this is a time-honored tradition.

by Janine Taylor sittings editor Katsy Borromeo fashion stylist Mikey Sanchez food stylist Nicolette Gaw-Yu production manager David Jones Cua intern Danica Ronquillo hair and make-up Jessie Glova assistant Jojo Embalzado photography Joseph Ong locale Woolbright Residence

 

Eddie Woolbright was among the thousands of G.I.’s that landed on the shores of the Philippines during the Japanese occupation. After the war, a few enterprising American soldiers came back, including the 24-year old Eddie who made Tacloban his home, before settling down in Cebu in the 1950s and opened a restaurant and a hardware store downtown—Eddie’s Log Cabin and Eddie’s Hardware and Auto Supply, respectively.

Eddie’s Log Cabin quickly became the hub of social, political and even military scene. It was the first air-conditioned café in town, and more importantly, it offered American diner food including a soda fountain and an ice cream parlor. It was patronized by one and all for its reputation for good food and service.

It also didn’t take long for the fearless Eddie Woolbright to realize that the real estate in the sleepy hillside suburbs was ripe for development. “I will show Cebu what a good planned subdivision is,” Eddie had said, when the late Senator Marcelo Fernan, then a young legal counselor for Columbian Rope Co., took Eddie to see the property. Pretty soon, Eddie had purchased over thirty-three hectares of otherwise undeveloped land from the heirs of the late Arlington Pond.

“Buy land,” Eddie Woolbright was known to quote the late humorist Will Rogers, “because they ain’t gonna make more.”

With his added access to army surplus, he bulldozed tracts of land, and a decade later, Beverly Hills, the first major subdivision in Cebu City, was created, and marketed to the city’s growing well-to-do locals, with the subdivision’s connotations of Hollywood and colonial American aesthetic. Eddie’s belief in the business potentials of central Cebu city enabled him to see much growth in his investments in land development, water drilling, construction, and general trading.

ON THE COVER The Woolbright sisters, Joy, Karen and Alice don Jun Escario’s Holiday Collection, photographed in their home by Joseph Ong. Hair and make-up by Jessie Glova.

 

Eddie had nine children: Rick, Anita, Marc, Gilbert, Alice, Kathy, Kristy, Karen and Joy. All recall that each holiday was as important to them as Christmas. Turkey Thanksgiving dinners, for example, as it was known in the Woolbright household, began when Eddie’s mom, Nell, came to visit sometimes in the 1960s. Eddie would buy a butterball turkey from the American base in Clark and she whipped up a traditional feast complete with cornbread stuffing, cranberry jelly, candied yams, garlic mashed potatoes and her famous giblet gravy which was poured literally all over the bird, as they do back in her home in Oklahoma. Grandma Nell also taught the cooks at Eddie’s Log Cabin to make the famous Coconut Cream Pie, another Eddie’s Log Cabin standard. Kathy also recollects, “It was also dad’s idea that the restaurant and the hotel should serve breakfast 24 hours, and since I loved my Mexican omelet, sliced ham, buttered toast I enjoyed being able to eat breakfast any time of the day.” 

My dad taught me how to be humble. He told us stories about his younger days jumping trains, eating nothing but grapes for days just to go pick cotton. He had a hard life growing up and I guess he wanted us, his children, to know the meaning of hard work. He would say, “Nobody owes you a life in this world”. I didn’t understand it then but I do now. -Alice Woolbright

 

FROM LEFT ON JOY Nude dress, models own; ring and bangle by Gladys Young; ON ALICE Sequined LBD, models own; ON KAREN Grey pleated shift dress from Loalde; ring and necklace by Gladys Young.

Shortly after, turkey was introduced in the menu of Eddie’s Log Cabin, both Americans and Cebuanos, with a penchant for this wholesome meal, look for it when November came, and more especially on Thanksgiving Day. “Dad loved quality meat, and passed on this fondness to us, his children,” noted Karen, “So special meals always consisted of a good steak or the tender Prime Rib Roast. Of course, the year was never complete without a Turkey once or twice.”

As the sisters change into various outfits for the photo shoot in their childhood home, each one recalled the happy memories this holiday brings.  

ON KAREN Teal pantsuit from Loalde, belt by Gladys Young; ON JOY Plum cocktail dress, model’s own; ON ALICE Teal corseted dress by Jun Escario, belt by Gladys Young.

Alice, recalls disliking the giblet gravy as a child but since her dad would serve her at the dinner table she had no choice but to eat it. She adds, “He would get upset if we did not try everything.” Funnily enough, she now looks forward to the giblet gravy and can’t imagine turkey without it.  Her dad, she said, employed the same tactic with his customers at the restaurant so after a while, they ended up getting used to it, and will not have their turkey any other way.

Between brothers and sisters coming home from out of town and family members in the States, there was always some degree of traveling or entertaining company. Dad valued the family bond and holidays were the best time to reinforce that. –Karen Woolbright

Happy hour with the Woolbright siblings.

The family pet Chewy joins in on the annual Woolbright Thanksgiving dinner.

Joy Woolbright-Sotto fondly remembers watching her dad carve the bird. “He made sure that each one of the kids learned how to do it properly, with the white meat sliced thinly enough, and followed last by the dark meat,” she says. A feat she now does with ease. Future doctor Karen says that her dad would always carve the wings and serve it to her, which is still her favorite part of the fowl. Kathy though, considers turkey her comfort food. But she says that she loves the Coconut Cream Pie, which is also served on the restaurant’s menu, and that as a child she could eat half a pie in bed. 

 

Old fashioned roast turkey

Cebu in the 60s and 70s was a very small town, if you wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving, you went to Eddie’s. Eddie’s Log Cabin, like its owner was a trailblazer, the balut dice game originated there, many singers’ careers such as Elizabeth Ramsey’s were given their first break there.  

The torch has been passed on to his children, and they too celebrate it with turkey dinners and all the trimmings, ensuring that the restaurant still serves the traditional menu, down to the Coconut Cream Pie.  Thanksgiving will always be celebrated at their homes, and the Beverly Hotel, the last legacy that Eddie Woolbright gave his children to run.

Another legacy that Eddie left to his children was a love for food and Alice was quick share that she got it too, “I’m usually home during the day and I find myself in the kitchen trying to cook up new dishes to serve.”

 

Back at the Woolbright ancestral home, which is also now Alice’s home, the dining table has been set, evoking autumn and harvest, the candles are lit, the wine is being poured, the buffet table is groaning under the weight of the Thanksgiving repast. The sisters are seated at the table, each with a glass of wine discussing whose turn it is to carve. The annual Woolbright turkey dinner is about to start and I am glad to be invited to join them at their family home. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.

 

(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s November 2011 Entertaining Issue, “The Gift that Keeps on Giving” on pages 72-77.)

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LADY CYCLISTS HIT THE ROADS AND SLOPES OF CEBU.

Cycling has been a growing sport and hobby for many years but it’s popularity has erupted since the Covid pandemic.  People biking to work and for recreation is an everyday sight in Cebu.  More and more are joining the ride.  Many are quite serious about cycling.  I know three ladies who are among those who’ve gone long distances across Cebu.

How did you get into serious cycling?  What was your motivation?

Blinky de Leon.  Event Host, Product Endorser & Influencer

“ I’ve been into cycling since I was a kid. A little backstory, I was around 10 years old when my dad surprised me with my first custom-made mountain bike. I still keep it until now, in fact I had it refurbished. It’s the most sentimental thing I ever received since it was his way/gesture to catch up with me after not seeing each other for almost 6 yrs. My dad is based in Germany and he also loves cycling and makes his own bamboo bike.”

 

“Just a year ago though, my friend Gazini randomly, out of nowhere, picked me up from home to bike with her to the South of Cebu. I felt really excited and motivated to get back on track because it’s very nostalgic and brings back so many great memories. And since then, the rest was history. We’ve been joining different groups, tried different routes and conquered different heights. I’ve met so many cyclists with very inspiring stories in the bike community who kept me feeling motivated too. I also look forward to the sights and the adventure that comes along with it.”

 

Yumz Mariot. Branding & Marketing Consultant

“I used to bike along with rock and wall climbing. I am lousy with ballgames which is why. Our usual route were Talamban and Mactan but one time, managed to ship gears all the way to Dumaguete for a quick ride to Valencia, the next town located at a higher elevation. Those were days when I did it for fun and what bike I was using did not matter.”

“Fast forward to 2021, a year after the pandemic lockdown began, I realized I have been lazy to do any fitness routine. Too caught up on juggling between house chores and Work from Home deliverables (I work as a Branding and Marketing Consultant), I started to feel my body needs to move as much as my brain does. A hysical fitness routine is as important as what I eat, or what I read or watch. So I decided to invest on a decent MTB, just very recently and got myself a much necessary restart. What motivates me even more is the area where I currently reside at. It is vast, fresh, green and safe for solo bikers like me.”

 

Prime Sarino. Digital Media Creative

“I started biking as a young teenager and I got the idea to start it as an adult hobby 3 years ago. I was already into running and I thought it would be great to venture into another outdoor activity to keep me occupied after work hours and weekends. I was set to travel for a year so I had to put aside the idea first but came pandemic. We were all forced to stay put and everything was put on hold. Cycling became my diversion. My cyclists friends invited me to quick and short rides. I enjoyed my first 50km ride and the sceneries and routes most of all. It also helped channel a positive mindset during the hard hit season of the pandemic. Not to mention it’s also another way to stay fit when we were forced into inactivity during the quarantine.”

Next in Part 2, we ask the ladies about their cycling experiences and memorable moments…

by: Zen

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#CebuPride:  Cebuanos in Multi-awarded Pride-Themed Films

Multi-awarded International Gay Movies with Cebuano Lead Casts

By:  Allain Dumon Fonte

 

Pride-themed movies are starting to invade the film industry as people become more accepting and are more intrigued on the stories about LGBTIQ.  Many have shared the intensity of emotions and laughed with the craziest jokes on gay-themed movies.  In the Philippines, these kinds of movies were questioned as to their morality and their message to the society.  The strong influence of the country’s religious standards had branded gay-themed movies as sex-oriented and nothing more.  Yet, with Thailand’s more tolerant culture, Thai BL (Boy’s Love) movies and television series have created a new perception to the viewers; and that is gay-themed movies are remarkably alike to all other movies – there is romance, comedy, drama, and the continuing struggle of living like normal people.  Hence, Thai BL TV series have a massive following all over Asia.  At the end of 2019, they became available in Netflix and are being watched by millions of viewers all over the world.

ZEE’s Allain Fonte with the casts of the top-rating Thai BL series (2019) “Cause You’re My Boy” of GMMTV (from L-R) Amp Phurikulkrit Chusakdiskulwibul, AJ Chayapol Jutamas, Neo Trai Nimtawat, Frank Thanatsaran Samthonglai, ADF, Drake Laedeke, Phuwin Tangsakyuen, and JJ Chayakorn Jutamas.

The Philippine film industry is not that far from Thailand’s.  Some of the LGBTIQ-themed movies and television series are slowly getting a following in Asia and are now accessible to viewers worldwide.  A few of these pride-themed movies that casted or directed by a Filipino have already been receiving nominations and awards from Golden Globe, The Berlin Film Festival, the Venezia Film Awards, and even the Emmy’s…and the Filipinos in these films hail their roots from Cebu!

 

1. Lingua Franca

 

Lingua Franca is a film directed by a Cebuana, Isabel Sandoval.  Sandoval also plays the main character of the movie, and she even wrote the screenplay.  Lingua Franca tells the story of Olivia, an undocumented transgender woman in New York who works as a caregiver to a senile old-lady of Russian-decent.  When Olivia is challenged to attain legal status in the US, she is left with a “marriage-based green card”.  While in search for her groom-to-be, she becomes romantically involved with Alex, Olga’s grandson.

The film is now available on Netflix and has received positive reviews from the media.  Stephen Dalton of the Hollywood Reporter wrote Lingua Franca is a “heartfelt personal statement rooted in timely, gripping issues that obviously resonate deeply with its author, notably trans rights and Trump-era immigration anxieties”.

 

Isabel Sandoval wearing Marchesa at the Venezia Red Carpet in the Venice Film Festival (2019)

Isabel Sandoval graduated summa cum laude with the degree in psychology from the University of San Carlos in Cebu, Philippines.  In New York, she pursued graduate studies in Film at NYU.  She is now currently residing in NYC, and already has award-winning films under her belt like Apparition, Lingua Franca, Senorita, Ritwal, The Unstoppable, and Judgement.

 

2. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

This television series was aired in Netflix and has gained so much popularity because it showed the murder of world-renowned fashion designer, Gianni Versace, by a serial killer, Andrew Cunanan.  Based on Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History, this television series has 9 episodes of suspenseful scenes, and is star-studded with casts like Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz.  However, the main actor who played Andrew Cunanan is Darren Criss who gained his popularity after being a regular on the top rating TV show, Glee.  Darren Criss hails his roots from Cebu, Philippines.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story received positive reviews from critics. At the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, it received 9 nominations, and won 3 awards, including Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Darren Criss.

 

Darren Criss with his dad (left) Charles William Criss, and his mother (right) Cerina Criss. Source

Criss was born and raised in San Francisco, California, USA.  Criss was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended roman catholic schools.  He later moved to Michigan where he studied Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Theatre Performance and minor in music at the University of Michigan.  Criss’s father, Charles William Criss, is a banker and served as CEO of the East West bank in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Criss’s mom, Cerina, is a native of Talisay, Cebu, Philippines.  When he was younger, he visited Cebu a couple of times with his mother.  Darren Criss is very proud of his Cebuano roots and wants to portray Filipino characters in films and in theatres to promote visibility of the Filipinos in the American films.

 

3. The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela

     The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival where it grabbed the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film.  It was also awarded the Grand Jury Prize in the 10th 2008 Cinemanila International Film Festival at Malacañang Palace’s Kalayaan Hall.  It starred Raquela Rios also known as Minerva to her Cebuano friends.  Raquela  is a local of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines.  The film is directed by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson.

 

Raquella Rios in Bangkok’s MRT (a scene in a Thai film).

Raquella Rios is a native of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines, and she went to the University of San Carlos in Cebu, studying sociology and anthropology.  Before finishing her studies, Raquella left the Cebu and went to Iceland after being casted by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson for the movie The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela.  She is now based in Bangkok, Thailand as a fashion stylist and wardrobe assistant to some local Thai movies.  Raquella is also an activist for sex workers rights and trans rights in Southeast Asia; pushing for the recognition on the choice of their gender and the right to change their birth names.

Raquella (right) with film director Olaf de Fleur (left) receives the Best Feature Film Award at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival in Germany. Photo grabbed from Berlinale archives.

There are still plenty of pride-themed films in the Philippines that gained recognition all over the world; yet these movies mentioned are special because of the talented Cebuanos that have  brought Cebu to world.  They truly are #CebuPride.

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