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Becoming Blake

There’s more to Blake Go than being just a bachelor—after all, he’s holding his own as the scion to a family business, with plenty of other ventures in his own right—but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some tricks up his sleeve.

There’s more to Blake Go than being just a bachelor—after all, he’s holding his own as the scion to a family business, with plenty of other ventures in his own right—but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some tricks up his sleeve.

It’s Lifedance Wicked Summer, what many considered the summer’s culminating party. The air is particularly humid, and the crazy dancing didn’t help—in fact, the crowds of people congregating around the stage are wearing shirts that are practically plastered to their backs. It’s a good thing, then, that we’re standing on the second floor balcony of the VIP area, wherethe heat is equally unbearable but the crowds are at least thinned out.

You kind of notice Blake Go the minute he enters your line of vision. And really, how could you not? He’s surrounded by a group of friends, wearing a coveted all-access ID pass and has a statuesque beauty on his arm. That’s not noting the amount of people who turn around to greet him—it seems every few steps, he stops and gives out a loose hug or a kiss on the cheek to an acquaintance, our group included. And then he’s off, with his posse not too far behind him.

It’s not surprising that a certain curiosity follows in the wake of this seemingly high-profile and well- connected persona, and when their queries are answered with a single name, what so often follows is, “Who the hell is Blake Go?”

The day of the shoot is Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Dressed in a bright red shirt and casual shorts, Blake arrives and greets everyone before playfully excusing himself to catch a glimpse of the game. He bounds up the stairs to Jan’s studio, the cheers and frustrated groans audible as the Heat and Spurs volley for the lead, despite the selection of Passion Pit’s discography that we chose for the day’s soundtrack. Every few seconds, he peeks out the door and gives us a thumbs up. “Sorry guys,” he says. “I have a bet riding on Miami winning today.”

Unfortunately for him, the game goes into overtime and it’s time for him to get into hair and makeup. That doesn’t faze him though; he sits on the makeup chair with his phone at hand, constantly refreshing the page that tells him the scores. Finally, we let him go to watch the game’s last few minutes, knowing full fell he couldn’t concentrate on looking good for the camera if he was constantly jittery about whether or not there’ll be a Game 7. When the game is over, he makes his way back on set with a big smile, despite the fact that he still lost the bet (because of some point system that this writer doesn’t completely understand). Either way, he’s happy. His team gets another shot at the championship—something they use well when they beat the Spurs in the final game a few days later.

That upbeat energy and boyish charm is something Blake seems to have a lot of, as he jumps from story after story with unmatched enthusiasm that makes you feel immediately atease around him. “Everyone says I’m easy to talk to,” he notes in the kind of nonchalant tone that is unself-conscious despite the fact that he’s basically pointing out his own good points. “I guess that’s why I’ve been called a playboy, because I hang out with a lotof girls, just because they find me easy to talk to. But sure, I like looking at beautiful women. I guess that’s just my personality.”

The candid way he says it is refreshing, especially at a time when people can tend to pretend they want something deeper than they actually do. “With me, what you see is what you get,” he says with a shrug.

That’s not to say, though, that there isn’t more to him than what meets the eye. As the eldest son of Nelson and Jennifer Faith Go of the family behind Prince Warehouse Club, a popular chain of local supermarkets and department stores, Blake Nelson Go was born into a childhood that’s probably more normal than you expect. “I have two younger brothers, Cris and Jake, who are both currently finishing school in San Francisco,” he shares. “We do get along, maybe a little too well,” he adds with a laugh, recalling some of the crazy memories he’s shared with them. “One summer, my brother Jake was home on vacation and we were coming home from the beach, driving on my convertible with the top down and the music turned up loud. We were dancing, standing and taking videos of ourselves while we were driving home. He’s deaf, but I guess he managed to dance along to the beat from the loud bass,” he recalls.

His relationship with his parents is an endearing quality, with his mom dropping by the shoot and giving him tips on how to pose more naturally. “I’m very close to my whole family, especially my parents. I like to think that I’m the tie that binds everyone together,” he says. “My dad is my hero, and the source of strength and guidance, while my mom just has the biggest heart and all the patience in the world.”

She must have needed it— Blake admits to some crazy childhood moments. “My most vivid childhood memory was when I was five, and my parents and I were in Chicago. While they were asleep, I snuck out of the house, and they later found me tumbling around in the snow butt-naked,” he laughs, before adding, “I even have the photos to prove it, but that’ll have to remain hidden.” Later on, though, his antics were shared with his brothers. “We usually have Sunday lunch with the family and sometimes Cris would have a date and couldn’t go, so I would cover for him and pretend that I have a huge hangover from the night before,” he recalls. “I guess he learned it from me, because when I was younger I would ask him to do the same thing.”

From rolling around the snow in his birthday suit, he went on to study at Sacred Heart School Cebu and then the Oxford Brookes University in London, where he received a BA degree in Business and Retail Management. “It’s hard to believe, but I actually graduated with honors.” It was a stepping stoneto his place now as the CEO for Prince Warehouse Club and SELLGORealty Corporation, their family’s core business. “Not the COO, okay? Child of Owner,” he jokes. Seriously speaking, though, he admits, “It’s always beena dream of mine to make the family business grow.”

He’s since moved on to venture into his own personal businesses, which includes Buddies, a chain that serves up burgers, Mexican food and hotdogs. With locations in Capitol, Talamban and a third branch that’s soon to open, the eatery is most popular for their Ultimate Burger Challenge. Has he been up to the task? “Yes, I’ve done it. The time limit is five minutes, and I finished the one-pounder burger patties and two orders of fries in about eight minutes. I’ll probably do it again soon and try to make it in five minutes.”

Blake also has his hand on the Cebu night scene. Together with JP Chiongbian, Jaja Chiongbian-Rama, Wayne Congmon and Derick Yap, he’d recently acquired Scrapyard after the House of Cebu transitioned into The Henry Hotel. The uniquely designed nightspot is a great venue on theweekends for 80s and 90s music, with a roster of bands playing on weeknights. “We’re renovating this month,” he shares, saying to expect a more lounge vibe.

Right across the parking lot from Scrapyard is Blake’s latest venture, Cable Car. “We’re very excited about it finally coming to Cebu,” he shares. “While I was studying in Manila, preparing to go to London, I went to Cable Car a lot to eat. We’re really famous for the Cable Car rice, the sisig rice—the food’s all actually really good, so that’s what we’re trying to promote.” Keeping it similar to the Manila set-up, Paseo Saturnino’s outlet will also have beer pong tournaments, which they take pretty seriously. “Whoever will win in Cebu will have to compete in Manila.”

The biggest thing, however, might be Lifedance, arguably the biggest and hottest party on the island.“It actually started out as Paradiso, a beach party six years ago that ran for four consecutive years in Tambuli and Portofino. It was my brother’s business and idea, and I was helping him out, but when he left for the States to study, I carried on,” he recalls. Pretty soon, the party had gotten too big for the resorts to accommodate, which led them to the boardwalk complex and a new concept. “The first one was May last year, andthe second was during Sinulog, which made history for Cebu. About 15,000 people showed up, some from Manila, Hong Kong and Singapore.” Endorsed by the Department of Tourism, it seems only inevitable that Lifedance continues on a steady rise. “Our goal is to be a part of the party calendar—the onethat includes Tomorrowland in Europe, the Zouk Out in Singapore and the Thailand Sensation Party.” He even ofers a little tease for those already looking forward to next January’s party– “we’re working on bringing in one of the top five DJs in the world. I’m just not going to say who.”

“What else do we have to talk about? What would be interesting?” he asks me while we’re sitting down post-shoot, and I feel a little rushed considering he’s supposed to be on a plane to Manila in just two hours.

“We are playing you up as a bachelor,” I begin, which he quickly replies with, “So my girlfriends?”

It’s no secret that Blake’s got a bit of a playboy reputation. When he’s out, he’s usually in a group that includes some of the best-looking women in the room, and has been linked to several ladies over the years– a list that includes actresses and some prominent personalities in Cebu. “Let’s not give names though, because I’m a gentleman,” he says, and insists that it’s purely an image people tend to attach to him. “A lot of people think I’m a chickboy. I’m surrounded by a lot of beautiful women, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m romantically interested in them. I haven’t had a lot of relationships. Most of the time, I’m single.”

Perhaps this is what has allowed him to narrow down his preferences, and when I ask about what he first notices in a woman, he answers quickly, “I look into the eyes, that’s what really captures my attention. But of course, it comes down to personality. I like intelligence, because I really like to talk– I talk a lot.” Yes, he really does. “So I want to be able to talk about anything and know we’ll understand each other. She has to have a sense of humor, and of course, I’ll notice if she’s really hot.”

And what exactly does he do after he takes notice? “I don’t really have a pick-up line. I just look at them and if they look back, then I’ll go up to them,” he shares, although he admits to something else after a short pause to think. “I have this thing when if I like a girl, I don’t really show them at first. I’;; pretent like it’s nothing, especially if I notice a lot of guys talking to her– I’d just say hi and then leave. Then she’d wonder, ‘why is this guy making deadma to me?'” He laughs when I point out that the gameplan is simple but effective. “I guess that’s my move.”

Once he’s won her over, it’s a different story. “When I’m a bachelor, yes, I go out a lot and people start calling me a party boy. But when I’m in a relationships, I really just stick to one,” he says, mentioning his longest relationship that lasted for four years. “It was a really good one. I learned a lot but I was probably too young. I was caught between staying in Cebu and pursuing a better education. In the end, I followed my dream.”

In the end, it seems, Blake really is a romantic at heart. “I’ll do anything to win a girl over. Seriously, I’ll do anything that I can think of. Sky’s the limit,” he answers, though he’s a little hesitant about sharing his craziest act of love, “Let’s not mention it, some of them might get jealous,” he laughs, although he’s careful to reiterate that “when it comes to girls, when I like her, I’ll do anything just to get her.”

When I ask him about the best piece of dating advice he has, I don’t expect it to be all that pragmatic– after all, he just admitted to going to great and unreasonable lengths to getting the girl. “Don’t go overboard,” which, in all honesty, seems like something he doesn’t follow himself. He continues though, “Just be yourself, because eventually they’ll find out about you. You can do whatever you can think of at the moment– buy her flowers or fly a plane just to see her for an hour.” Well that seems like a confession of a crazy act for love. “Yes, I did that,” he admits, “I flew a plane just to say hi, then came right back.”

To be fair, though, that is Blake being himself. After all, this is a guy who spends his free time driving his vast collection of sports cars, riding his bike along the sloping streets of Maria Luisa, taking his speedboat on a cruise on the Mactan Channel, or playing a few rounds of golf. When I ask him how many cars he owned, he smiles and answers, “A lot.” That I don’t find the answer immediately obnoxious is proof to how likeable he is while in conversation. “I don;t really have a favorite one– most of my sports cars have different characteristics. There’s one for a chill Sunday drive, and there’s a sporty one that I use for racing.”

The need for speed is something that Blake’s been addressing since he started go-karting when he was 15, winning National Rookie of the Year on his first year and eventually being awarded National Champion. “Eventually I moved on the to the toys for the big boys– cars. I was into drag racing, and was the first Filipino to be the two-time back-to-back champion for Quick8 and Class A drag racing.”

I guess, in some way, you can say that Blake has grown up– but that’s also not saying he’s not young at heart either. The 16-year old inside of him does rear its smiling head, as seen from the bouts of jokes peppered into every sentence and the unaffected laughter that’s a little bit contagious. Still, he’s set on achieving his goals for the next five years. “I’ll be expanding the family business and I’ll have a family of my own.” He adds cheekily, “That means I have five more years to live up to the Most Eligible Bachelor title.”

There seems to be no secrets when it comes to Blake Go. As he picks out the clothes he’s bringing along on his trip amongst the piles he’d brought along to the shoot– a collection of button-downs in various colors, tailored blazers and designer shoes– I ask him what outfit he feels most comfortable in. He smirks. “Naked.”

  • by Shari Quimbo
  • creative director David Jones Cua
  • photography Jan Gonzales (shot with a FujiFilm X-E1)
  • fashion stylist Michael Sanchez
  • assistant Lor Yutico
  • hair and make up Jay Castilloand Jomer Arances (Secanara Hands)
  • assistants Suzaine Smith and Geneva Villasencio
  • models Jaime Herrel and Cristlet Gerona (WAFER Models)

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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People

#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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