Young and ready to take on the world, Amanda Booth and Izzara Ugarte fly off to separate cities yet remain rooted in a bond that is close to home. Zee Lifestyle catches up with them at Bluewater Maribago, where they’re stylish and sophisticated in designer dresses and SM Accessories‘ latest collection.
On the day I’m seeing Amanda Booth and Izzara Ugarte for a casual production meeting before the Fashion Issue’s cover shoot, the traffic on A.S. Fortuna is particularly vicious and I’m running late. “No worries, I just got here,” Amanda texts me. I find her a few minutes later sipping coffee and looking incredibly chic in her sleek ponytail, white button-down and black jeans.
Even though she has been studying marketing for just a year at The American University of Paris, the classic Parisian style has clearly seeped into Amanda’s persona. She had always been well dressed and now that she’s back for the summer, her style is a little bit more polished than the average 19-year old.
It’s a study in contrasts, then, when her cousin Izza walks into the coffee shop, the epitome of laid-back style with her long hair, peasant blouse and white shorts. “I had to take my brother to the airport, and the traffic is just horrible,” she explains, sitting down next to Amanda. For her part, Izza is in town after her year at the University of San Francisco, before flying to Spain to continue her hospitality management course at Les Roches Marbella.
In between discussing the looks and location (“We’d like to have the shoot at Bluewater Maribago, because we really grew up there,” Izza says), the two exchange anecdotes on how they were preparing for the fashion shoot. “We were looking through old issues of Zee, trying to do the poses all the models were doing,” Amanda laughs, and they both strike a common model pose—one hand on the hip, shoulder popped and sultry gaze—before bursting into a fit of laughter.
“We can’t do that!” Izza exclaims. “It’s just not us.”
In some ways, Amanda and Izza do look like opposites—Amanda’s fair complexion and light dusting of freckles are a striking complement to Izza’s tanned skin and sun-kissed glow. But when they’re together and cracking jokes, it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins.
“Amanda is my partner in crime,” Izza declares. “I’ve known her since we were in diapers so it’s very difficult to pinpoint the earliest memory. When we were toddlers, our yayas were sisters. During family events and birthday parties, we would always sit beside each other, with one hand on a barbecue stick and the other spaghetti. We had the same taste and love for food—I always knew she was a keeper.”
Growing up together meant years of shared anecdotes, and both girls have a number of funny stories to tell. “Once Izza, both our younger brothers and I watched Goosebumps together, and they couldn’t sleep that night,” Amanda recalls with a laugh. “Izza’s mom called my mom the next morning because Izza and her brother said that I had coerced them into watching it since I was the oldest in the group. I ended up getting grounded while the three others got away scot-free!”
It was especially important for both girls to have the cover shoot at Bluewater Maribago because they say, in many instances, it was the scene of the crime. “Some of my earliest memories of Izza are running around soaking wet from the pool and then sneaking into the kitchen barefoot in our bikinis,” Amanda shares. “All we wanted was to be little elves to the pastry chefs and we would get kicked out of the kitchen! But we always managed to sneak out a few treats.”
Their escapades at the resort included selling buko juice to guests, hunting down Easter eggs the night before the egg hunt and even a few recent injuries. “We used to ride salbabidas (floaters) all day,” Izza says. “A few years ago, we were on the salbabida drifting on the water. Amanda toppled me and kicked me in the face! My nose bled for 20 minutes and my upper lip bruised so badly.”
These days, the girls are a bit more subdued than they were ten years ago, and it clearly shows in how Izza makes sure everything in the resort goes smoothly for the photo shoot. The daughter of David Ugarte and June Alegrado, whose family owns the resort, Izza and her siblings have been helping out in Bluewater’s operations for years. It’s part of the reason why she decided to take up hospitality management in her further studies. “I believe that tourism plays a huge role in any country,” she says. “Hospitality management is tourism. It’s the plane you fly, the boat you take, the food you eat and the place you stay. It’s a diverse course.”
Amanda, a scion of the family behind Mehitabel Furniture, is the daughter of Robert Aboitiz Booth and Tamsin Jackson Booth. “It’s on the creative side, which I think I would be good at. My parents have always thought I’ve had a good eye for things,” she says about deciding to take up marketing in Paris. “I’ve always been interested in media, communications, PR. Besides that, marketing is vital to all industries, so you know you can always get a job with a marketing degree.”
Although they grew up in Cebu, the duo has been living out of the country for years now since leaving to finish high school at boarding schools in the US—Izza in Connecticut and Amanda in California. It’s made them more independent than most people their age, and ready to take on the challenges of their new cities of residence.
“Before I went away, I didn’t even know how to do laundry! That’s one of the first things my mom had to teach me,” Amanda admits. “I am so much more independent now than I was three years ago. It’s funny because now grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do. I love living on my own and doing everything at my own pace.”
“I’ve matured a lot,” Izza agrees. “I’ve come to realize that being shy and not trying to truly express how I feel was a waste of time. We only get one life—say how you feel. No one grows up and becomes an adult, not even our parents. Time just flies by as we strive to be and do our best. All of a sudden, we’re older and adults.” She pauses for a bit and laughs. “I am veering away from the subject, but yes, I have definitely grown personally.”
These little glimpses prove that, through their independent endeavors, the 19-year-olds in them is still very much present—particularly in their eagerness to explore their respective cities. “In San Francisco, when I wasn’t in school, I would be going to different districts with my friends. The city was our playground, and I don’t doubt that Spain will be different,” Izza enthuses. “I will continuously expand my knowledge even outside of school. Spain is so rich in historical events and traditions. Aside from the history, Marbella is right next to the coast so I’ll have the beach 15 minutes away, which is awesome!”
The City of Lights is Amanda’s own playground, and she’s found it very much like her hometown. “There’s a laid-back lifestyle. It’s a big city and people do rush around, of course, but people have such a calm way of going about their lives,” she says. “But people in Paris don’t smile like they do in Cebu.” In the past year, her days have been exploring the city in between her classes and homework. “When it’s warm out, we’d go to a park and have a picnic, but in the winter, my friends and I would go to a café and just sit, talk and people-watch for hours.”
With Marbella and Paris just a short distance away, the cousins are already thinking of weekend trips to each other’s cities. “It’s all we’ve been talking about,” Amanda admits. “We’ll finally be able to be together for each others’ birthday! We haven’t planned any trip yet, but we’ll visit each other, and then we’ll get to other places. This is a whole new adventure for us.”
“We’ve been separated for way too long. For three years, we’ve lived on different coasts, then different countries,” Izza adds. “It’s awesome that we will soon be so close to each other. I’ve never been to Paris, and I am excited to finally go.”
“WhatsApp used to be our best friend,” Amanda says of the time they were living away from each other. “Skype, not so much. Whenever we get a bad connection—which is all the time—we hang up, get back on WhatsApp and blame each other for the bad internet connection.”
“We’re too lazy,” Izza laughs. “Instead, we’ll send voicemails to each other. I remember I was waiting for a pizza outside my USF dorm and I was freezing cold—and I was in shorts, don’t ask why—and I was sending Amanda voicemails and pictures. Technology just makes everything so simple.”
Both girls agree that being away from family is one of the hardest things about living abroad, so it’s comforting to know that someone you’re close to is just a few hours away. “There’s a certain comfort you get from being home that you don’t realize exists until you’re away for a long time,” Amanda says. “For me, that comfort is in my family. They always know how to make me happy.”
That’s why, Amanda goes on to explain, that summers of the past few years have been completely dedicated to spending time in Cebu. “I can travel when I leave here,” she says. “For now, it’s great to be able to catch up with everyone, go out around the city or head for the beach.”
That’s not to say they don’t wish for the little luxuries they’d already gotten used to while being away from Cebu. While Amanda yearns for Paris’ food and street markets, Izza misses something a bit simpler. “Being able to watch Netflix in bed,” she admits. “They need to set up servers in the Philippines.”
The day of the shoot finds the beds of one of Bluewater Maribago’s villas completely covered in designer clothes and SM Accessories collated especially for the cover shoot. With the variety of items laid out, the girls—hair pinned up and munching on Tostitos and chocolate truffles—look through the collection as they discuss with the stylists the different looks.
“I love full skirts, pantsuits and minimalist dresses—the classics,” Amanda says, admiring the floral prints of a backless halter gown by Barbie Alvez. “My family likes to joke that I’m an old soul.”
Izza shrugs. “My mom says I dress too rugged. Is that what you’d call my personal style?”
That wasn’t always the case, though. “Izza and I have pretty much switched roles,” Amanda laughs. “She was the extremely girly one and I was the little tomboy when we were younger. She always had her hair done up in nice braids and always wore cutesy clothes, while I had a short boy cut because I couldn’t keep my hair from being a mess; and I strutted my stuff in bikini bottoms and no top!”
“She was the most bugoy person I knew,” Izza agrees. “Nowadays, I don’t even brush my hair and I just throw on the first thing I see, while it takes Amanda forever to get ready. Seriously, you have to tell her plans a day before.”
“Now, Amanda’s very classy. She knows what she’s doing,” Izza continues. “But if you really get to know her, she has a super kiat personality. She is not that reserved.”
“She’s definitely very boho,” Amanda says about her cousin. “She’s always in loose, printed dresses. She always wears sandals. Her style is very laid-back—perfect for Cebu!”
As they go through the accessories, they help mix and match the items that would suit their outfits and their own personal style. With a wide collection that includes jewelry, bags, home decor, and others, SM Accessories is a growing repository for fashionable accents at reasonable price points. As the fashion accessories authority, SM Accessories features a wide range of jewelry, eyewear, belts, bags and a lot more that are carefully selected by a team of fashion experts to complete any fashion statement.
“During the day, my favorite accessory is my pair of pearl earrings,” Amanda shares, which made the multi-strand pearl necklace a perfect match for her Jun Escario lace dress. Its sophisticated and ladylike look was a fit to Amanda’s classic style. “Sometimes I’ll wear diamond studs at night. When I’m back in Paris, my favorite thing to wear is a brooch. I always have my gold medallion around my neck, a gift to me from my parents.”
That sentimentality is something Izza also shares in her choice of trinkets. “I wear four accessories all day, everyday—a gold ring from my brother’s girlfriend, Nikki; my grandmother Marle’s favorite ring and earrings; and my medallion. Those are my favorites.” From delicate thin rings to a pair of thick gold ones connected together with a light chain, the collection of rings were elegantly playful on Izza’s manicured fingers. “Nail Play!” she laughs, showing off her nude manicure and referring to the nail salon her and Amanda’s mom owned together with a group of friends.
It seems, though, that the similarities in dressing up end there. Asked if they borrow each other’s clothes, and both girls burst out in laughter. “No!” Amanda says. “We look at what the other is wearing and we go, ‘oh wow, I could never pull that off.’”
“She left a pair of shorts in my house, and I have claimed them as my own. Does that count?” Izza jokes. Amanda adds, “She’s had them for five years and counting.”
When it’s time to dress up, the two are supportive of local designers, with Izza naming Mia Arcenas, Jun Escario and Oj Hofer as her favorites and Amanda acknowledging Hanz Coquilla as her go-to. “Internationally, my favorite designer is Raf Simons,” Amanda adds. “Every piece he creates for Dior is breathtaking.”
Decidedly very different in terms of personal style—best exemplified by the favorite things in their closet, Amanda names a red wool Prada dress that “looks like it’s straight out of the 1950s” while Izza’s answer is a T-shirt and Nike shorts—the two have a connection that transcends the cousin bond. Despite being apart for long stretches, every time the two are in the same city, they pick up right where they left off.
“We’ll just watch TV shows or do a movie marathon together while eating santol and green mango. It’s one of the first things we do when we’re both back in Cebu,” Amanda says. “We love going on adventures. We once drove to Carcar in the middle of the night, and just stopped to eat at different places on the way. I guess you could say our favorite thing to do together is eat.”
“Yeah, I don’t think I can say anything else,” Izza agrees. “I’ll text her and we would be craving the same cuisines. I found this Buzzfeed quiz online called, What Famous Disney Duo Represents You and Your BFF. I sent it to Amanda while she was in Paris—we both got Timon and Pumba.”
The easy relationship these two have is backed by years of shared experiences and a genuine appreciation for being in each other’s lives. Amanda admits that Izza is the one who got her to come out of her shell. “She’s always said it isn’t worth hiding in the background and letting everything pass you by. It’s something I’ve always struggled with but I’ve come a long way with her help, and I love her for it,” she says. “Izza’s just so lighthearted, so unbothered by everything. I love laughing with her—she has the most genuine and contagious laugh.”
“No one can tolerate my mood swings better than Amanda,” Izza shares on her end. “And I admire her effortless grace. No matter what is going on in her life, she manages to look flawless. She is a great support system and is always there for anyone who needs it, so she’s the mother of the group.”
As the pair bounce off to the bathroom to help each other change into their shoot’s first look, it’s clear that Amanda and Izza will find their shared stories only growing exponentially in the next years. In spite of the different directions their lives take them on, they remain rooted in their friendship—though friendship may seem to be too light a word. “I know that no matter what life throws at us, we will always have each other,” Izza says with a smile. “Always. We are sisters.”
by Shari Quimbo photography Dan Douglas Ong stylists Blaq Mafia makeup Arnauld hair Carlos Conde locale Bluewater Maribago all accessories by SM Accessories
Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, August-September 2015
Congratulations to Our New DOT Secretary! The Story of Cebu’s Power Couple
Congratulations to Our New DOT Secretary!
The Story of Cebu’s New Power Couple
Whether it’s spearheading progressive efforts in Liloan or spending weekends with their kids, Christina and Duke Frasco do things as a team. On their ninth year as a wedded couple, they share a side of themselves we haven’t seen before.
Republished from Zee’s Digital Issue dated January 2018
by Gia Mayola photography Dan Douglas Ong sittings editor Shari Quimbo hair and makeup Arnauld stylist Vanessa East
Despite it being a day for family, Christina and Duke Frasco gamely accepted our Sunday-scheduled photo shoot. Not that they had any choice, considering that most days found their schedules fully packed.
The dynamic couple is hard to pin down for a reason. Christina is the mayor of Liloan, a first-class municipality in Cebu. On the other hand, Duke was appointed Cebu Port Authority Commissioner by President Rodrigo Duterte just last year, willingly giving up his position as Liloan’s vice-mayor alongside his wife. While they have a lot on their plate because of work, having three young children is an added responsibility.
Driven by her administration’s goals for sustainable and inclusive development, Christina has introduced various innovations to public leadership, focusing on stakeholder participation in community governance and equitable access to government service.
She established the Liloan Community Action for Reforestation and Environmental Sustainability (LILOAN CARES), which brings community stakeholders together to periodically engage in environment programs. She also put up a Green Points System, which grants incentives to businesses that implement environment-friendly measures. Additionally, she has introduced an engaging approach to recycling in schools, and prohibits the use of plastics on certain days of the week. She has also founded Operation Second Chance providing rehabilitation and livelihood to drug surrenderees, and the Liloan Leading Empowered Action Against Drugs Summit (LILOAN LEADS), among many others.
On his end, Duke is a dynamic and engaging leader who thrives under pressure and focuses on realizing long-term goals and sustainable development. His governance has garnered him multiple awards—The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines Award 2014 for Public Administration, from the Junior Chamber International (JCI), Inc. and the Gerry Roxas Foundation.
With his first two terms as mayor, Liloan elevated from a third-class municipality to a first-class one. He boldly spearheaded a comprehensive overhaul of the municipal tax code, and the modernization of local business processes.
THE LOVE OF LILOAN
Goal-driven and full of ideals, the couple has helped develop Liloan into what it is today. The municipality is one of the most progressive in Cebu, even establishing the Liloan Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Federation during Christina’s term, the first in the country spearheaded by a local government unit. Liloan prides itself in having the first LGU-established gender-neutral public restroom in the country.
“Our dream is to become a city,” Christina divulges. She envisions Liloan as an ideal place to live, study, work and invest. “In preparation for that, we are focusing on improving public infrastructure, opening up and improving road networks, and ensuring strict compliance with our Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Land Use Plans to ensure that development is regulated, deliberate and sustainable.”
This year, Liloan is launching tour packages that will feature its cottage industries and various tourist sites. Health services are being professionalized, scholarship programs expanded, and more investments channeled into its law enforcement and disaster response programs.
“We are also enhancing our community governance programs focused on protecting the environment, providing economic opportunities through livelihood, and reaching out to all sectors and stakeholders by incentivizing participation and compliance with our laws and regulations,” Christina adds.
Duke shares that every now and then, he offers input to his wife. “I advice Christina on various matters, especially regarding the projects started during my term, such as our scholarship program and purok system,” he says. “Being the party chairman of our local political party, I am also in continued contact with our local leaders.”
THE PORT AUTHORITY
Beyond Liloan, Duke is enjoying his new position. “Since the thrust of the Cebu Port Authority spans the entire Province of Cebu, I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to improving the transport of people and goods throughout Cebu, through the continued improvement of existing ports and establishment of new ports.”
New ports, such as the plans of moving the Cebu International Port north, off the coasts of Consolacion and Liloan to decongest the city.
“A port is always a welcome development considering it will further boost the economy of Liloan and Consolacion, and the entire Northern Cebu,” Duke says. “It provides livelihood opportunities for our people, which are relevant factors for cityhood. Moreover, the more ports, international or domestic, that we develop here, the better it will be for the people of Cebu.”
The addition of more ports will complement the project he has been working on the past year, the ferry boat system. He laments the terrible traffic that Cebuanos experience each day, comparing the travel time it takes from Liloan to Cebu City ten years ago and now. The ferry boat system includes developing ports in strategic locations in the Province of Cebu, connecting ferries or boats that can accommodate 80 to 200 people per boat. That includes room for motorcycles and possibly vehicles.
Duke expects this to be a game changer for the Cebuano. “Hopefully, it will relieve us of the stress and frustration we experience each day going through Cebu traffic,” he says. “I can just imagine our fellow Cebuanos feeling relaxed on a boat, feeling the sun and sea breeze on their faces, as opposed to the honking of horns and uneasiness of sitting in a PUJ or in your vehicles, not knowing whether they will arrive on time at their destination.”
Aside from his work with the Cebu Port Authority, Duke is also involved with his family’s business Titay’s as the Chief Financial Officer, and as a member of the Board of Directors.
A GREAT PAIR
It’s evident that the two make a great pair. They met back in June 2007 at Gwendolyn Garcia’s—Christina’s mother—inauguration as the re-elected Governor of Cebu. Duke was among the officials invited to attend, having just been elected into his first term as the Mayor of Liloan. Christina had just recently passed the bar exams and became a lawyer.
“I suppose you could say that we met at a time when both of us were at a turning point in our lives,” Christina recalls. “It is a blessing that our paths crossed at a time that it did. I was taken by Duke’s charisma. To me, he exuded kindness and humility. Of course, bonus sad gyud na guapo kaayo siya (it’s a bonus that he’s so handsome)!”
“I thought she was beautiful, elegant and well-spoken,” Duke adds. “When we were introduced, I was speechless!”
They’re naturals in front of the camera, effortlessly settling into the poses the photographer asks them to do. At one point, they’re locked in an intimate embrace and looking into each others’ eyes. Duke sweeps in for a kiss that makes everyone in the studio coo.
“I couldn’t help it,” Duke defends himself with a laugh, holding Christina closer as she giggles.
“He can’t resist me,” she tells us with raised eyebrows.
The couple comes from political families, and it’s interesting to note that neither of the two had initial plans of running
for office. Duke was in the audit and finance industry in the US, working for global consulting firm Protiviti right after finishing his double degree in Business Administration (Finance and Business Law) and Accounting at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
“I had no plans at all,” Duke admits. “My father, who had been Mayor then Vice-Mayor, died unexpectedly. The barangay captains of Liloan contacted me because the wanted to have me run for the position. It took me a couple of years before I finally decided to come home and run for Mayor in 2006.”
On Christina’s end, she had spent nearly ten years focused on building her career as a lawyer. After graduating from Ateneo Law, she practiced litigation, international arbitration and corporate law with one of the top-tier law firms in the Philippines, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & Delos Angeles, being the head of its Cebu office.
“I knew that I wanted to make something of myself out of my own achievements, outside of and away from politics,” Christina shares. “I must say though that being exposed to public service at a young age led me to an inclination to help others. I always felt a sense of duty to my country, because that’s what I saw in my family as I was growing up.”
Despite initially having no plans to follow in their family’s political path, they both express a deep appreciation and admiration for their respective families’ contributions to Cebu. “He was Mayor of Liloan for close to a decade, but served Liloan all his life,” Duke says about his father, the late Panphil B. Frasco or Dodong Daku. “He was a man of the people, and Liloanons still speak of his kindness and humility to this day. I also greatly admire my uncle Gerardo ‘Dodong Gamay’ Frasco, for his pragmatism and wisdom, which has guided our family to carrying on the Titay’s legacy spanning 111 years.”
“For me, they have set the bar to which I would like to contribute to Cebu as a Cebuano,” Christina says of her own family. “For his statesmanship and brilliant legal mind, my grandfather, former Governor and Deputy Speaker Pablo P. Garcia. For her passion towards community development and social justice, my grandmother, the late Judge and Cebu CFI Community Cooperative founder Esperanza F. Garcia. For her great love for Cebu and legendary work ethic, my mom, former Governor Gwen F. Garcia.”
As two young personalities in government, they hope to be able to empower people through education. For ten years now since Duke’s first term and continuing though Christina’s current term, they have a scholarship program that has benefitted over 6,000 students.
They believe that an educated population is an empowered population, capable of becoming financially independent and discerning in their choices. “For us, this is key to breaking out of the bonds of poverty and patronage,” Christina affirms.
The Frascos hope to introduce innovations to governance, like reducing redundancies and bureaucracy through the use of technology, and being more connected and transparent through the use of social media. They also support the call for Federalism, believing that it will give local governments more leeway and funding in improving local infrastructure and creating more locally-relevant projects for the people.
Considering that standpoint, it’s no surprise how vocal the couple has been in their support for the controversial President Rodrigo Duterte. “President Duterte has political will, and he is a law and order President,” they say. “We believe that his extensive executive experience sets him apart as a leader because he knows the value of enforcing the law in order to have a stable society. At the same time, he recognizes the necessity of governing in a manner that is compassionate and responsive to the needs of the people.”
In the face of many conflicting views toward the President’s brand of leadership, both Duke and Christina acknowledge that opposition is necessary for a working democracy, but hope that Filipinos can come together and support his national agenda of building a stable and peaceful society. “We owe it to our country to set aside what divides us, and to unite behind our common goal of attaining a better life for our countrymen and for our children.”
Aside from their daily responsibilities, the couple also fosters their own advocacies. With education being high on Duke’s list of priorities, Christina also extends efforts for the empowerment of women and children. “The promotion of inclusive development as well—giving equitable opportunities to vulnerable sectors such as the LGBT and the youth,” she adds.
Being in the government means a lot of responsibility for the couple, and a typical day for them is being up 6:00 in the morning to have breakfast with their children before school, then going to their respective offices for work.
For Duke, work is either at the Cebu Port Authority to attend board meetings, or at their Frasco Group Office to attend to business matters. He also attends to pressing concerns in Liloan if need be, which shows how he is still dedicated to it even if he is no longer its Vice-Mayor.
Christina is either at the Municipal Hall to sign papers, attend meetings and meet constituents at the office, or scheduling visits to Liloan’s barangays and puroks.
To keep from getting too stressed or burnt out, Duke says, “I go to the gym and I run. I also like to Netflix and chill.”
Christina, on the other hand, makes time to paint and experiment with new dishes for Duke and their kids. She mentions that, if their schedules permit, they try to devote their weekends to their kids—watching movies, eating out, and traveling. “When Duke and I get home, we also make a conscious decision not to talk about work,” she finishes.
A COUPLE AT WORK
While some people might find the idea of a married couple working together as a possible hindrance to getting things done, the Frascos think otherwise. To them, it is an advantage because their vision and values are aligned. “We are able to enjoy our victories together, and we’re able to lift each other up in tough times, knowing that we will have each other’s back,” they share.
Duke and Christina are celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary this year, and it’s no question that the romance is still very much alive between them. They share that their marriage is anchored on their love for each other, their love for their family, and their shared goals for the future.
At the same time, they emphasize that retaining a sense of individuality is also important, along with having a healthy respect for each other’s differences. Compromise is key, and they constantly make sure to keep their values and goals in check, adjusting each other’s expectations as necessary and working out their differences.
Considering all that Duke and Christina have accomplished at a young age, we had to ask if they had plans of running for higher office. “We have great plans for the future, not just for ourselves, but also for our family and for Liloan,” they said. “As Cebuanos, we would like to continue to contribute to the development of Cebu. However, we also realize that ultimately, it is for the people to decide whether they would want us to continue to serve. As for the rest, it is in God’s hands. So we are focused on doing as much as we can in the here and now, with the opportunities that we have been given, for which we feel very blessed.”
Citizens of the World: CAMPAIGN 2KRAINE
Citizens of the World: CAMPAIGN 2KRAINE
By Eva Gullas
“We are all citizens of the world. What’s good for you, must be good for all. If you are lost, share a plate with a stranger… you will find who you are.”
-Jose Andres, renowned Spanish Chef and founder of World Central Kitchen
Where there are humanitarian disasters, you will find the volunteers of World Central Kitchen. In their midst will be local chefs, most of them inspired by its iconic founder, celebrity chef José Andrés. Founded in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in 2010, World Central Kitchen established its “chef network,” of global professional chefs. The vision was for a kind of “chefs without borders” program where volunteers would enact positive change by cooking using local knowledge and resources. Last year, they even came to the island of Siargao in response to an Instagram plea for help after typhoon Odette almost levelled this idyllic paradise. WCK sponsored 2 community kitchens for 2 months serving 250 to 500 meals per day in Siargao.
Chef José Andrés was born in Spain where he honed his culinary skills at the eponymous El Bulli under Ferran Adria. By the time he moved to the US in 1991, he was well on his way to being part of the celebrity chefs, with his Bazaar restaurant at the then SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills a favorite hang-out for Hollywood stars. Michelin stars and James Beard awards followed closely. These days though, Jose Andres spends his time in kitchens all over the world while his top rated chain of restaurants in the US continue to thrive. There’s a Bazaar restaurant at Las Vegas and Miami, and if you happen to be in the area, check out their amazing servings – it’s worth the splurge especially since it is owned by this great humanitarian!
With the Ukraine invasion delivered to us in sharp details tru social media and TV, it’s hard to ignore. And so, it was a natural conversation to be able to do something about it even in a small way. On a full-moon evening a few days ago, joining us at a beachside home for dinner was Matthew Wood, the German singer guest of Miranda Konstantiniduo who is here for a few days to shoot his latest music video. Sated with a good meal by the sea, we idly discussed a fund raising event with Matthew. We have been so engrossed with local politics and a looming election in just 2 months, that it was refreshing to talk about something bigger than our small world. Butch Carungay, seated in front of me, took the idea to heart and by the following day, he had the graphics for the event, and a ready rolodex of possible donors for the silent auction. Getting on board the following night was Carlo Cordaro, who happily lent us the second level of Asmara Resort. To complement Matthew, Cebuana singer Doods Osmena also will belt out a few songs. An impressive list of items for the silent auction is being compiled by Butch, composed of overnight stays at top resorts, artworks and furniture pieces from named artists. We will post a list on the day of event.
It is sponsored by Zee Publications Inc., in our first foray after having been dormant during the pandemic and typhoon Odette. Zee will soon be launching a new artsy printed magazine called Eatz Cebu!
This Friday, March 25, at 6pm, we open the doors of Asmara Urban Resort (see map) for this fundraising where we hope you can join us by donating a minimum of $50 to the World Central Kitchen directly at https://wck.org/donate. It will be an evening of fun and fundraising, and entry is tru an email or digital receipt of your donation.
On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. By February 25, 2022, Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) was on the ground serving free wholesome meals to those fleeing the violence. Chef Andrés and his volunteers have already served more than one million meals to Ukrainian refugees, from basements, train stations, and shelters. Still, cooking and distributing food in a war zone comes with unique challenges. “We began operations…over two weeks ago inside Lviv,” says Andrés. “The last two days we saw some missiles falling down. So, the western side of Ukraine, that actually was a safe haven for many Ukrainians leaving war, is already kind of feeling like the war is getting closer.” For Andrés, it’s a humanitarian necessity and a call he answers. “The least we can do at World Central Kitchen is be next to them – making sure they will be fed every day.”
What Makes an Empowered Woman? Let’s take it from Megaworld Hotels and Resorts’ Managing Director, Cleofe Albiso
What is an empowered woman made of? Managing Director Cleofe Albiso of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts, the Philippines’ largest homegrown hospitality chain with 4,000 room keys and 11 hotels, composes her thoughts and shares that its grit, resilience, and love.
Settling in on her new leadership role at the start of the new year, Albiso looks back even way before joining the organization during the last quarter of 2019 as its Group General Manager. It comes as a surprise when she shares that her years takes her back from being a pre-school teacher in Cebu using her degree in Bachelor of Science in Education major in mathematics finishing Magna Cum Laude. After a while, and with doors opening for her to join the corporate world, she finds herself earning her years in sales and marketing where she has gathered decades worth of exemplary experience being part of the country’s biggest telecommunications group and international hospitality brands.
With the highs and blows of life and as well as business, she shares that “An empowered woman needs to have grit”. The will to persevere and continue with passion has become her brand of leadership in serving not just clients and guests, but as well as taking care of the people she works with. Through her dedication, Albiso has since continued to climb the corporate ladder and was also recognized as the first Filipino General Manager of a Marriott International branded property in the country, the Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo that is also one of Megaworld Corporation’s many other operated international hotels in the Philippines.
Fast forward to today, she looks at the future with gratefulness as she embraces the opportunity to empower the lives of 2,000 employees present across 11 hotels and not to mention 3 more properties opening this year as well as in 2023. She shares that “My responsibility can only be best tackled by filling my heart with gratitude and keeping my purpose in close check when times get challenging.”
More than ever, she has come to understand that “Resilience is her way of life.” She explains that challenges come and go along with every solution that solves each one of them. Safe to say, what she considers as the biggest one yet would have to be this pandemic. Albiso hopes that after a two year pause and struggle of the industry “My constant prayer is for our fellow Filipinos to help us recover by patronizing homegrown brands for them to explore the Philippines and travel again.” She said that in doing so “this will mean more jobs for the hospitality and tourism practitioners and boost confidence in the total industry to go back on full swing once again.”
Admittedly, despite being one of the industries at the frontline of the pandemic, she can still say that “The culture of appreciation in our very own organization has been better strengthened during these times”. The company lives by the Circle of Happiness. She explains that “Our organization operates with a culture that reminds us to love ourselves, our families, our work, our community with the love of God at the center of everything we do.” This pandemic has better reminded them to strive to take care of the wholistic well-being of each employee from physical to emotional and even mental health.
On top of that, Albiso gathers that what allows them to thrive is their team’s collective ability to take care of their key stakeholders, execute efforts geared towards sustaining the business, and making people stay and work passionately. She further adds “We are a work in progress and there are many more business and service facets that we are focusing on improving” and humbly claims that “The best years for Megaworld Hotels and Resorts are yet to come.”
When asked about what her best advice to fellow women would be as they reach for their dreams, she said “I only found genuine fulfillment when I started having a relationship with God. It is only by accepting that we cannot do things by ourselves that we become dependent on our creator.” According to her it is important “That we do not give credit to our talent, creativity and hard work (alone) but give glory to the one above us who have blessed us with all that.”
At present, their properties are continuously looking to hire qualified applicants for vacant positions in front office, security, information technology, food and beverage, sales & marketing, human resources and engineering for Belmont Hotel Manila and Savoy Hotel Manila within Newport City in Pasay across NAIA terminal 3, Kingsford Hotel Manila located in the Entertainment City of Paranaque, Hotel Lucky Chinatown in Binondo, Twin Lakes Hotel near Tagaytay, Eastwood Richmonde Hotel in Quezon City, Richmonde Hotel Ortigas in Pasig, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo in Iloilo Business Park of Iloilo City, Belmont Hotel Boracay or Savoy Hotel Boracay located at the Newcoast Boracay and Savoy Hotel Mactan Newtown in Cebu.
For more information about how you can be part of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts, kindly email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also inquire about your future stays through email@example.com or connect with them through any of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts’ and its properties’ social media pages.
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