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Cebu Next

Armed with talent and a driving ambition, this crop of cool kids have been working and excelling in their respective industries to bring Cebu into the future, all while embodying a style statement that makes work look good.

The names that grace our next few pages are no strangers to Zee Lifestyle, but then again, that just goes to show much they’ve already accomplished. Armed with talent and a driving ambition, this crop of cool kids have been working and excelling in their respective industries to bring Cebu into the future, all while embodying a style statement that makes work look good. This month, we catch up with them to see what they’ve been up to and what they’ve got planned. It may not be all smooth sailing, but clearly they have nothing in mind but continuing on full speed ahead.

MATTEO GUIDICELLI

Actor, TV Personality

There must be something about guys who drive fast. In the case of Matteo Guidicelli, his clout as a three-time winner of the Karter of the Year award is matched by broad shoulders, a brooding gaze and an overall appeal that’s made girls squeal since he first emerged as a veritable boy wonder in the Philippine karting arena. “I used to fly to Manila from Cebu every weekend for races because all of them were in Manila or abroad,” he recalls of his beginnings. “Eventually my parents decided to move, then we started looking for sponsors. That’s when Penshoppe came in.”

That first print ad eventually gave way to several others, though that didn’t mean it came easily. “I was so nervous, I couldn’t move,” Matteo admits about his first photo shoot with Xander Angeles. “I didn’t know what to do or how to pose.” That didn’t stop the industry from taking notice, eventually booking him for acting jobs after he left Columbia College in Chicago two years into his course. “I realized that I wanted to be in showbiz, so I came back home.”

The move turned out to be a good one, with Matteo soon booking several acting gigs until he truly broke out in the primetime television series Agua Bendita. “It was such a blessing because it put me and Andi’s names out there,” he shares, referring to co-star Andi Eigenmann, who was also a new talent at the time. “Because the show was such a hit, I got offered more projects,” projects that’s included movies like Catch Me, I’m in Love with Sarah Geronimo and My Cactus Heart with former real-life girlfriend Maja Salvador, as well as the TV show My Binondo Girl with fellow Cebu native Kim Chiu.

“I consider myself fortunate to have worked with all these leading ladies,” he says, though it would be hard to think working with Matteo could ever be a chore. Most recently, he’s been heating up television screens with Jessy Mendiola in Precious Hearts Romances’ Paraiso, which follows the story of two people stranded on a deserted island. “It’s daring and it shows a lot of skin,” he admits, also saying that he does his own stunts. “I’m working so hard for it so I hope that everyone likes it.”

VANIA ROMOFF

Fashion Designer 

When asked about what the biggest challenge of being a designer was, Vania Romoff answers, “To get noticed and, when that happens, to endure.” She’s certainly gotten her share of attention since her debut at Philippine Fashion Week in 2009 and subsequent relocation to Manila. Now her creations grace the red carpet and magazine covers, sometimes on the designer herself. Of course it’s no surprise that editors are as keen on photographing Vania as much as her creations, with her statuesque Russian-Filipino beauty. There’s a laidback but sophisticated feel about her that is immediately noticed, which translates well into her creations. “I won’t do something I would not wear myself. It starts from personal taste,” she says, naming the undone looks of Parisian chic as her style influence.

Her personal taste has resulted in detailed creations that are flattering and comfortable. “The best compliment is hearing someone say they feel beautiful in my clothes,” she shares. It’s hard not to, what with the way she puts together pieces that are feminine yet simple, embodying an understated elegance that gives off a regal air, whether it’s the easy column dresses in soft fabrics or her collection of structured jackets.

It seems Vania has stamped the fashion scene with her presence, and the industry clearly approves. She was recently chosen by the Philippine Consulate General of the United States as one of five designers who participated in an International Fashion Tour, which allowed Vania to showcase her Spring/Summer 2012 collection on runways in Seattle and New York. New York, especially, was a venture out of her comfort zone. “I flew in alone and did everything myself,” she says, recalling her battle with the subway system and handing out invites in a state of anonymity. It’s  reminiscent of how she started in Manila, running around the city in sneakers to meet clients and have meetings in coffee shops. She’s come a long way and certainly Vania isn’t anonymous anymore.

KRYZ UY

Blogger

“I’ve been traveling for work and fun,” says Kryz Uy on her busy last couple of months. “I keep moving around and hardly have time to stay put in my own home because work just keeps coming in.” Her numerous followers must feel like they’ve traveled right alongside her, with her Twitter and eponymous blog getting constant traffic and her Instagram photos gaining as much as 7,000 likes. Besides the outfit updates and visual travel anecdotes, though, Kryz is also keeping busy as the creative director of What A Girl Wants, a boutique chain that is steadily expanding across the Philippines.

With its collection of trendy clothing, WAGW gives the fashion-inclined a chance to create their own Kryz Uy renditions, although the original still has a personality all her own. “Over the years, my style has evolved into simpler, more streamlined dressing and sleek fuss-free looks, but I always inject a touch of youth and quirkiness into it to make it more me.” It’s this lighthearted individuality that makes her a regular on Lookbook.nu’s list of biggest karma gainers of all time, though she still packs her closet with the classics—high heels, a crisp white button-down, denim cut-offs and a good men’s watch. “If I was an accessory, I’d be similar to Michael Kor’s oversized Tortoise watch. It’s classic yet modern, striking but not over the top.”

The busy schedule seems to have left her almost ambivalent about the future, as she shrugs, “Who knows what the future brings? Hopefully, more success and more travel opportunities.” She names Israel and Iceland as her dream destinations but these days, she’s excited about something closer to home. “It might sound cliché, but what Cebuana wouldn’t think it’s the most epic event of the year? WAGW is actually sponsoring the Baseline Sinulog party this year. Can’t wait for that!” Knowing they might catch a glimpse of her on the streets, her followers probably can’t wait either.

RALEENE CABRERA

Interior Designer, Musician, Blogger, Entrepreneur

“Focus on work, visit Europe and design, design, design!” says Raleene Cabrera of her plans for the next year, which specifically include practicing interior design, booking singing gigs with her sister Rizza, planning a holiday revamp for her online vegan dessert store Skinny Sweets, and putting a lot more effort into her blog. She’s recently taken a more concrete step towards adulthood—moving into her own place that she redesigned with her team. “I live without household help and I’m trying to be more independent,” she shares before admitting, “but I’m glad that my dad and sister are just a phone call away for emergencies.”

Designing her own space is just the beginning of her career, her schedule now packed with visits to construction sites that have changed her views on dressing. “Being on-site is just not glamorous, so I am keener on utilitarian fashion nowadays.” She’s found a way to infuse her personality into her comfortable outfits. “I’ve been more into boots lately—high-heeled and casual ones. I find that they pull an outfit together and I can easily transition my look from work to partying. They’re also easier to walk in and I’m not worried if it suddenly rains in the city.” Besides the boots, she plays up her looks with accessories, colorful blazers and denim button- downs, which she says, “I always end up resorting to.”

Raleene dreams of visiting the Maldives and Iceland, but for a vacation that’s much closer, she names Philippine festivals as a great way to explore the local cities and cuisines. “It’s when everyone is extra hospitable.” She plays the part of the hostess herself on Sinulog, where her weekend itinerary gets just as busy as her regular days. “I usually invite my friends from Manila to stay in our home and my mom would feed them lechon everyday. Then it’s island hopping or swimming, and then clubbing at night. On Sunday, we’re usually at the street parties ‘til dinnertime, when I take my guests to Larsian’s before watching post- Sinulog gigs in the city.” 

HOLLY DYCHANGCO

Entrepreneur   

“Wear what makes you comfortable and what makes you feel sexy,” Holly Dychangco says on the best fashion advice she’s gotten. “But sexy doesn’t mean you have to expose yourself provocatively. Sexy is in the way you carry yourself.” Her confidence now comes by learning from some style detours along the way. “I did get very hipster at one point, while I was living in San Francisco. I guess the way the scene out there influenced me.”

Considering her return from the bay area was just a few months ago, Holly has been off to work and on the go with various opportunities. “I’ve been involved in the development of this new brand, Urbanfolio. It gives the design trends in Cebu a little push forward as we expose local design and talent through our television show.” The packed schedule called for a style evolution, which she calls simple and streamlined. “I choose comfort over extreme glitz and glam. Since I started working, the closet has definitely evolved to include a bit more professional clothing.”

Of course, her style isn’t the only thing that’s evolved. Although still comfortably affable, Holly’s definitely learned some things from the obstacles she’s been through. “All I can say is that the industry is a tough field,” she shares. “I learned to stay strong and push forward. There are people who try to bring you down, but I believe it’s a battle between you and yourself. I am my own competition, and it’s broadened my understanding of the industry and the ways of handling tough situations.”

With that, she looks forward to the future, “I have big, big plans. Fingers crossed, I will be launching a special line of furnishings and accessories, a new design collection. Also, a lot of traveling, hopefully in Madagascar or the Maldives.” She also espouses the offerings in our own backyard. “There’s food and white sand beaches,” she says of what to see in the Philippines. And then there’s Sinulog. “I’m usually the person dancing with the street dancers, covered in paint, or jumping up and down the crowd to the beat while the Sinulog parade is happening. I usually go where the beat takes me.”

VITO SELMA

Furniture Designer

A quick look at Vito Selma’s Instagram profile will have you wishing your passport saw just as much use, his profile description of “keep calm and sail on” being apropos to his collection of travel, fashion and design photos. “I have a goal of traveling to all the continents before I turn 30,” he shares. “South America is the only one left. I’d be happiest to travel around the continent, hoping to follow the route of Che Guevara, just not on a motorbike.”

The wanderlust seems to work well with his career, with Vito traveling all over the world for trade shows and client meetings. It’s an on-the-go lifestyle that has the furniture designer thinking his shoes best epitomizes who he is. “Shoes tell a lot of where I’ve been,” he says. “Good shoes are a great investment as you spend most of your time in a day wearing them.” The simple philosophy makes sense, capitalizing on the belief of dressing for himself and not other people. “I’m a very casual guy. I just learned to polish up after living in Milan.” The exposure to other cultures affects more than just his sartorial choices, of course. “Life is all about growth. I learn from experience and others, apply all that information into my future, decisions and designs.”

His future proves to include just as much wandering as his past, his schedule marked with a return to Paris in January for Maison et Objet, a meet-and-greet for his US clients and a Philippine launch for his 2013 collection in March. However, Vito makes room for philanthropy. “I’m working on a project with an architect and business designer to improve education in the country, especially in remote areas where there isn’t a lot of opportunities for children.”

The chances to give back prove the designer’s continued support for where he’s from, as does his appreciation for local sights. “Philippine architecture,” he answers when asked for a cultural can’t-miss. “People take for granted the history of design and architecture that’s in the older parts of town. I wish there was more investment in preserving these historically rich old homes and buildings.” Vito might see a different world from the rest of us, but his photos offer a little peek into it that, truthfully, still makes us a little bit envious.

SLATER YOUNG

Actor, TV Personality

After winning Pinoy Big Brother and taking on movie and television projects, Slater Young might have been shy as the engineer who was following in his father’s footsteps and working at the family business Hi-Speed Construction, but his current career path in showbiz has been teaching him otherwise. “It gets you out of your shell quickly,” he says on how the last few months changed him. “It gives you confidence, especially when you know that a lot of people are supporting you. The industry is built on relationships with the people you work with, so it’s made me a more sociable person. I still have a lot to learn though.”

The humble way he points out his own room for improvement is probably how he won over thousands of fans in a little over a year; then again, it could have been his bright-eyed boyish good looks. With already close to 300,000 followers of Twitter, Slater continues to charm audiences with more acting projects, including the new show A Beautiful Affair with John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo. Despite the national fame, though, his affinity to Cebu isn’t easily shaken, especially around January. “You can’t miss Sinulog. I’ll be there this year—the first time since PBB—and I’ll be ready to have a great time,” he enthused.

Like most Cebuanos, Slater takes a more laidback approach to fashion. “It’s usually just polo shirts and jeans,” he says of what outfit best reflects his personality. The minimalistic dressing had to be slightly altered though. “I didn’t use to mind what I was wearing as long as I’m comfortable,” he confesses. “But they told me I had to dress like a star!” Considering the fanfare that’s starting to follow him around, his disarming smile might have been enough to make him one anyway.

MIA ARCENAS

Fashion and Accessories Designer, Entrepreneur    

“I’m definitely not sitting at home and watching it on TV,” Mia Arcenas says of her Sinulog plans come January, when she will be entertaining friends from LA. “My face paint, whistle and feather hat will be ready so I will be seeing you on the streets!” The exuberance for the festival is the kind of thing about the fashion designer and recent Bb. Pilipinas contestant that sets anyone who has qualms about meeting her immediately at ease. “I’m like a pair of comfortable high heels. Most people see me as intimidating, too high up there, when I’m really not.”

Perhaps more than her long legs and bronzed skin, it’s Mia’s air of confidence that makes her immediately stand out, but that’s just from having the drive to get what she wants out of life. “Every experience has definitely been a learning curve to knowing what I really want in life. Traveling around the world, working for the family business, school, and all the other circumstances I’ve put myself into add up to realizing my wants and needs.” That’s included working on her brand and focusing on apparel and accessories for the resortwear market.

As for her own style, Mia’s found herself backing on sound advice she received at an early age. “When I was about nine or ten, my mom always used to tell me, ‘build your closet; it’s about quality, not quantity.’ It is definitely important to invest on good pieces that will last years, instead of two to three washes.” Since then, her style has evolved into more solid-colored and quality pieces that she matches with her collection of shoes. “It’s more put-together, feminine but edgy.”

There might be some room for other style inspirations as she travels in the next year, which could include stops in Egypt, Turkey, Maldives, Bali and Tokyo. As for the rest of what’s to come, Mia is unapologetic about going after what she wants. “Nothing is set in stone, and you’ll just have to see what happens. But I’ve got high hopes and big dreams. They say big dreams take as much energy as small dreams, so why not go for the gold?”

  • by Shari Quimbo
  • produced by Melo Esguerra
  • photography Dan Douglas Ong
  • sittings editor Michael Sanchez
  • locale Cebu Yacht Club

Events

Citizens of the World: CAMPAIGN 2KRAINE

Asmara Urban Resort and Lifestyle Village

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

 

Chef José Andrés

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.

WCK at Siargao with volunteers, December 2021. (Photo courtesy of Ai-Ai Garcia)

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!

The Bazaar Restaurant in Miami

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. 

German singer Matthew Wood

Asmara Urban Resort and Lifestyle Village

Ribbon designed by Butch Carungay for guests at the fund raising 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.”

SOURCE: MSNBC

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People

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. 

Cleofe Albiso, Managing Director of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts  

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 careers@megaworldhotels.com. You may also inquire about your future stays through salesinquiry@megaworldhotels.com or connect with them through any of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts’ and its properties’ social media pages. 

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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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