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Cebu: Food and Conversation with Joel Binamira, A Dinner Series by AXA Philippines

The first out of four of the Dinner Series by AXA Philippines, Cebu’s esteemed personalities gathered together for a night of food and conversation.

For this specially curated dinner in partnership with AXA Philippines—the first out of four—held at Qube Gallery, Chef Raki Urbina of Café Laguna served a menu of reimagined Filipino dishes, highlighted by Zubuchon‘s bespoke truffle lechon.

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Meet Aida Patana, the Cebuana Competing in the Mrs. Philippines World 2019 Pageant

We chat with Aida Patana about her taking on the title of the Visayas representative in the upcoming Mrs. Philippines World 2019, and her advocacy.

Women in today’s society perform many roles. Wife, mother, daughter, sister are some, aside from being an assistant, or a manager, and many other titles. Whichever the case, chances are that women have a handful of titles, and thus, a lot of roles to fulfill.

Take Aida Patana, for example. The 45-year-old Cebuana is a single mother to five children, but she’s also a grandmother to two, and is a boss to many through her talent agency, MTalents Events and Promotions. This year, she takes on the title of the Visayas representative in the upcoming Mrs. Philippines World 2019 to be held in Paris, France.

Aida shares that she was personally handpicked by Butz Alcancia, the pageant’s national director.

“I’m honoured to have this opportunity,” Aida shares. It’s the first major pageant she’s joined after she finished first runner-up during the Queen of Mandaue 2010. “I can connect with a lot of people around the world. Many Cebuanos are supporting me, and that makes me really happy.”

Her gown for the pageant will be designed by master couturier Cary Santiago, while her outfits throughout the week leading up to the pageant night will be provided by designers like Hanz Coquilla, Maria Elena, Danny Booc, and more. Jonas Borces will lead her glam team.

“I haven’t met the other candidates yet,” Aida says. She shares that the only interaction they’ve had are virtual, through their group chat.

Her advocacy is to create a livelihood program for single mothers, to help them stand on their own feet. As a single mother herself, her advocacy resonates deeply with her.

“I want to teach them to be strong, how to fish for themselves.” She shares. “I’m not embarrassed to sell anything, not when I have 5 kids to take care of. It’s been 14 years since I separated from my husband, and I have not asked for a single cent from him ever since.”

“I’ve been through a lot of struggles throughout my life,” she continues, “but I just pray to God to help me get through them.”

Aida goes on to share that one of the people who’s helped her a lot is Michel Lhuillier. The Frenchman has supported her throughout her journey since the beginning, and has been her mentor for the past nine years.

“He’s very kind,” she says. “He’s my mentor and idol. He’s a total workaholic and he’s so humble even if he has so much. I’m so blessed to have met him.”

She shares that she was shy to bring up the prospect of her joining the pageant, but Michel encouraged her to grab the opportunity.

The pageant will take place on October 26, 2019, where Aida will face other Filipinas from across the globe. The winner will officially represent the Philippines to the upcoming Mrs. World 2019 on November 26 in Las Vegas.

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Inside Michel and Amparito Lhuillier’s Sprawling Home

Zee walks you through the house of Cebu’s high-profile personalities, Michel and Amparito Lhuillier.

As the Honorary French Consul in the city, Michel Lhuillier, together with his wife, Amparito nee Llamas, entertain extensively, whether at home or at any of their restaurants in town. They have been, after all, for the last twenty years, active leaders in La Chaine des Rotisseurs, an international gastronomic society founded in Paris in 1950.

Although leading a hectic social life, the couple also yearned for the warmth and intimacy of family and home. They were ready to build their dream house when they realized that their sprawling home of thirty years in the heart of the Cebu City was being hemmed in by high-rise developments.

They turned to the venerable architectural firm of Unson and Jacinto to turn what was the former site of the well-known Salakot House, owned by former Governor Lito Osmeña, into their new residence.

Hunkered on top of Maria Luisa hills, open to the breezes, the Lhuillier house rose on this site, a hectare and a half of land commanding a spectacular 180-degree view of the metropolis below. The Lhuilliers could not have gotten farther away from it.

A long driveway runs to the front of the house, and solid- Wood double doors open to a grand foyer. Inside, the house is divided along the lines of the couple’s strong personalities. The west wing on the main level is where the master suite is located, accessed through an expansive study cum library. The east wing houses the more public areas: the formal dining room and the service hall composed of several well-appointed kitchens, the lanai with several entertaining sections, and a beautifully landscaped garden with a pool and its own entertaining pavilion. On the second level are three elegant, monochrome-coordinated guest rooms for the visiting Lhuillier children—Monique, Yvette, and Charles, and their respective spouses. Michael, the second son, lives in a nearby house with his wife Joanna.

The décor throughout the house is stately and traditional but with an eclectic approach. The antique and art collections are of superb quality and demonstrate how, when a piece of art or furniture is isolated to reveal its true form, it takes on an energy of its own in a contained explosion of style. But in the end, as Michel and Amparito have admirably demonstrated, the most ideal discussions are personal. “I worked very closely with the architect Teng Jacinto and the interior designer Conrad Onglao, so that there is not one single area in this house that does not reflect my personal taste,” Amparito says with pride.


The Lhuilliers’ art collection was acquired over a span of several decades and encompasses many styles and periods. The prized piece, however, is hung in the master’s bedroom: a portrait of Amparito by her uncle Don Antonio Garcia Llamas. Done in oil in 1963, it was acquired much later from the Luis Araneta art collection. It defines the beauty and charm of the lady of the house. Amparito and Michel’s daughter Monique is a renowned fashion designer who now has her own stemware and china-service line. For the tea setting at their house, Amparito proudly uses Monique’s creation for Royal Doulton.

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