All in the Family
At Cebu Landmasters Inc., family is more than just sharing a last name. The genuine concern and mastery at addressing their catered market’s needs has turned Jose Soberano III’s homegrown company into a real estate developer that is building communities throughout the Visayas and Mindanao region.
With its modern glass façade and a strategic location on one of Cebu IT Park’s main avenues, Park Centrale is a building that unsurprisingly merits a few second looks. The sleek structure is home to several businesses, including BPOs and homegrown companies—including that of Cebu Landmasters Inc.
As the company behind Park Centrale and many other developments in Cebu, Cebu Landmasters Inc. occupies what is arguably the building’s prime space—the topmost floor that include an outdoor deck, large windows throughout the offices, and access to the rooftop that enjoys views all the way down to the Mactan Channel on one side and the hills of Busay on the other.
The company’s location now seems to be a proper representation of the company’s growth—in the past 12 years, Cebu Landmasters has grown from its first office in Labangon with a team of two people, to its current roster of 170 full-time employees housed in one of the premiere office addresses in the city.
At the heart of it, though, is Jose Soberano III, who had started the company after working with the Ayala Group for 23 years and seeing an opportunity to create his own development in Cebu’s countryside. The President and CEO wanted to cater to the housing needs of the middle-income bracket, particularly in areas close to his hometown of Pinamungajan on the Western side of Cebu, which led to the company’s first development, the San Josemaria Village in Balamban. “There was an opportunity to provide affordable, quality homes to the very hardworking employees in the shipbuilding industry in Balamban,” he shares. “This was a niche market, as we were one of the first to bring gated subdivision living to this part of Cebu.”
The humble beginnings have led to considerable success with over 25 developments to date, and at the heart of it all remains Joe and the passion that drove him to the business when he started. These days, though, he shares it with his wife Marose, the company’s Executive Vice-President of Finance, and children Franco and Joanna, who have each contributed to what the company is today.
“We had to talk them into it. Thankfully we succeeded,” Joe says lightheartedly when asked how he had gotten Franco and Joanna to join the team. “My children were well-placed in their previous careers, and it was something they could have easily built themselves and be on their own. However as a dad and CEO, I did my share by giving them a good option and making it an interesting business for them to be part of.”
“Since we were young, we were always exposed to our family business, but not particularly groomed or required to work for the company. My parents would always say it should come from us, it was up to us when or if we wanted to, or were ready,” shares Joanna Soberano, the company’s Vice-President and Marketing Director. With that in mind, she took up a bachelor’s degree—and later graduate studies—in Marketing Communications at the University of Asia & the Pacific. She then pursued a corporate career, taking on marketing and brand management roles in Nestle for seven years. “I was part of a Nestle international program in marketing as the delegate of Nestle Philippines, where I had expatriations in the headquarters in Switzerland and Thailand.”
On his part, the oldest child Franco Soberano had originally wanted to be a lawyer after his studies at the Ateneo de Manila University, where he had taken up Management with a major in Legal Management and minor in Finance. “Eventually I became very fascinated with the world of business, so the new dream was to climb up the corporate ladder and become an executive of a multi-national corporation,” Franco recalls, sharing that at the time, Cebu Landmasters had still been a young venture.
Their parents’ drive and the company’s eventual growth, though, inspired Franco to eventually join their ranks. “As I saw how my parents worked hard to grow the business, how well they took care of the employees and professionalize the business, it became an easier decision to join the family business,” he says, now serving as Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer.
For Joe’s part, Franco and Joanna came onboard at an optimum time. “This is a critical stage of the company’s push for growth and expansion, and we need all the help we can get. My plans for them are clear—they are the next to lead this company, and I have no doubt they will be excellent leaders as they already are.”
“We listen very carefully to the beat of the market, and we always internalize what is valuable to our customers.”
In fact, both Joanna and Franco plays vital roles in the company’s operations—for his part, Franco directs and manages day to day operations that include business development, project management, marketing and sales, documentation and property management. “Park Centrale will always be my ‘baby’ project,” Franco admits, although he has been involved in all of Cebu Landmasters’ projects since. “After my studies in New York,” where he’d studied Real Estate Development in Columbia University, “I was given this special project as I had recently learned about office design and development in Manhattan. Every little detail in the project, even the smallest piece of tile we ordered for the project, I can still remember—and in real estate, it helps a lot to be very meticulous and hands-on.”
Joanna had been in the company for less than a year, but she’s already spearheaded many improvements in the company’s marketing, establishing a competent team and developing strategies for branding and promotions. The company’s new slogan, “We Build With You in Mind,” is her brainchild.
“The best part about working in the family business is first the industry we are in. We are in the business of building homes, uplifting lives and communities,” Joanna shares, revealing a little bit of the mindset behind the slogan. “Homes are people’s hopes and dreams, a major decision point and life milestone. To make it happen for them the way they envision it, to make their hard-earned money count, guiding them through every step, that is our job.”
It’s understandable then, that Joanna feels the project’s new brand Casa Mira best represents what Cebu Landmasters wants to do for the Filipino family. “It’s a brand that we will be expanding this year as our economic flagship brand,” Joanna shares. “This is particularly meaningful to me because of how it delivers a Mira-cle to home-seekers, one that is in a beautiful community with amenities, well-located and priced only at P5000 a month. It gives opportunities for many people to have a home they have always wished for.”
As one of Cebu Landmasters’ highlight projects for 2017, Casa Mira features a development of townhouses, and has launched in Naga and Linao in Southern Cebu. The next year will see the brand expanding to Guadalupe in Cebu, and to the neighboring provinces of Iloilo, Bacolod and Dumaguete. “It’s about giving ‘more for the Filipino family,’” Joanna adds.
Casa Mira isn’t the only thing Cebu Landmasters has in store for the year—2017 is set to be the company’s biggest yet, with expansion in four new cities in the Visayas and Mindanao region (Davao, along with the locations for Casa Mira) and ten new projects on the way. This is already following an already major departure from their original purely residential projects, with Park Centrale being their first venture into commercial and office spaces. “It was part of our strategy to diversify our product lines, and support the growing demand for Grade A BPO and corporate offices,” says Joe. “When we completed the building in 2015, our spaces were all filled up in less than three months. This really is a testament to Cebu as being a favorite business or BPO destination for its world-class talent pool.”
Cebu Landmasters to continue on the thread of diverse products, their other projects of the year including the Baseline Center, a mixed-use lifestyle destination that brings together office spaces and residential condominium The Citadines by Ascott to a landmark Cebu destination; and the Latitude Corporate Center in Cebu Business Park, which is “Masterfully Crafted for Great Businesses.” Their newest projects pre-selling this month are the New York-inspired 38 Park Avenue in IT Park, which is set to open for pre-selling this month; and their very first venture in Davao City—the Mesa Tierra Garden Residences that will feature tranquil and green living spaces.
The experience in the real estate industry has brought about a development process that centers always on the customer—their projects’ future residents. “As a very first step, we pursue the best location. Whether it’s for a high-end project or an economic one, we will strive to offer a location that will give our buyers the best possible experience and value appreciation for the long-term,” Joe explains. “And we listen very carefully to the beat of the market, and we always internalize what is valuable to our customers.”
The forward-thinking approach means Cebu Landmasters is not just in the construction of residential or commercial structures. “Even after a project is completed, we are still very much part of the developments and see to it that projects are nurtured for the long-term,” Joe continues. “Our customer service will begin from the time you meet a CLI employee, and will continue well after you moved into your home.”
The company feels this is a strength that comes with being a homegrown company—one that is already the biggest local housing developer in Metro Cebu, with an 11% market share second only to real estate giant Ayala Land at 17%, and followed by Filinvest at 8%, based on the 2016 CBRE study. “Truly knowing the market—the needs, wants, real demand which comes with being closer to the people—we are able to render service that is hands-on and personalized, execute with speed, and deliver projects of good value,” Joe says.
“As a family business, we will always endeavor to grow across generations–the vision is always long-term.”
– Franco Soberano
That knowledge of the market comes in handy, especially in the face of a growing industry that now includes many developers coming in. “Competition is always welcome as all players will try to raise the bar, and our buyers will benefit from the improved standards,” Joe shares. “For homegrown real estate companies, it will always be a special responsibility to look after our fellow Cebuanos, so we will adapt to new competition, but at the same time we will drive new innovations as we will continue to know Cebu best.”
Cebu Landmasters’ success might be something attributed to this almost intimate association to their market, but it’s not all that surprising when you consider the group behind it shares a familial connection. “As a family business, we will always endeavor to grow across generations—the vision is always long-term,” Franco says. “The best part about it is that I’m able to journey with those dearest to me. We are also able to grow an extended family, as our executives and employees become very much part of the family.”
“We push and learn from each other everyday,” Joanna adds. “The challenge for a family business is to always strike a good balance between work and family. But I am lucky to have a family who puts us first, and one that keeps a professional, trusting and encouraging environment in the office.”
“The best part about working in the family business is, first, the industry we are in. We are in the business of building homes, uplifting lives and communities.” -Joanna Soberano
This environment is one that has carried Cebu Landmasters Inc. through its 12 years of success—the genuine concern and desire to improve their customer’s lives has become a backbone to a business that’s only going to reach new heights.
photography Dan Douglas Ong stylist Blaq Mafia makeup Arnauld hair Jesse Egos
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…
#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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
37 Years of High Fashion; Arcy Gayatin leaves a Legacy of Edginess and Elegance
Arcy Gayatin: A Legacy of Luxury in Fabrication
By: Allain Dumon Fonte
The brand Arcy Gayatin gave the Queen City of the South a distinct reputation in the fashion industry. The fashion line of Arcy Gayatin sets the bar higher each year for clothing luxury and fabrication techniques.
Araceli “Arcy” Ancajas Gayatin is the daughter Galileo Ancajas and Remedios Zanoria Ancajas who founded Cebu’s home brand, Gal’s Bakery. Arcy went to the University of San Carlos and studied Political Science. And just like Dr. Muccia Prada, who completed her Ph.D. in Political Science and established the luxury line of Prada, Arcy also got in touch with her artistic side and started her own fashion line. However, it was not Prada that influenced Arcy. Arcy was introduced to fashion and tailoring at a very young age by her mother, Madame Remedios Anacajas whom they dearly call Mama Eme. Mama Eme was running a tailoring business back then. It was called Arabel; named after Arcy and her sister Belma. Ara from Araceli and Bel from Belma. In those years, Arcy was fascinated by fabrics and was intrigued by how to manipulate the fabrics to come up with fashion-forward designs without compromising comfort and taste.
After 37 years of creating haute couture pieces for the most fashionable personalities in the Philippines, Arcy Gayatin is now laying down her sketchpads and pens to rest. As she enjoys her retirement, may be on a cruise to the Bahamas or a holiday to the Swiss Alps, Arcy Gayatin has left the fashion industry a legacy of elegant and edgy clothing ensembles that understand and define the shape of women; without compromising comfort and good taste.
To salute the lady who brought Cebu fashion to the world, a retrospective exhibition of Arcy’s incomparable masterpieces can be seen today at Ayala Center Cebu’s The Gallery; curated by fashion editor and writer, Clint Holton Potestas, and interior and fashion designer, Jul Oliva.
BALANCE. Arcy Gayatin is known for her perfect symmetrical lines when fabricating. She knows how to balance edginess and class; understanding well the strength and the finesse of a woman.
RHYTHM. Arcy’s expertise in draping and fabric manipulation can be seen in how she achieves rhythm between architectural lines and soft fabrics like silk and cashmere.
TEXTURE. With her thorough knowledge on fabrics, Arcy Gayatin has achieved the perfection of fabrication by working on different types of fabrics and creating a single piece of art out of them.
HARMONY. The simplicity of the silhouette plus the intricacy of the details create a wonderful harmony, making Arcy Gayatin’s design a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
The photos below show an up-close look at the intricacy and the exquisite craftsmanship of Arcy Gayatin’s fabrication techniques:
THE SPIDER WEB: one of Arcy’s genius fabrication techniques.
MATCH and PATCH: Arcy’s unique fabrication craft by patching layers of different types of lace and lace patterns
PLEATS: The perfection of symmetry in pleats on silk.
LA ROSE BLEUE: U.P. student, Danielle Alessandra Deutsch, inspired by the artistry of Arcy Gayatin, designed this midnight blue dress. The cabbage rose made from layers of silk organdy gave this evening ensemble a romantic appeal.
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LADY CYCLISTS HIT THE ROADS AND SLOPES OF CEBU.