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Confluence of Characters

Bernadette Aboitiz, Rochelle del Rosario and June Alegrado are accomplished ladies whose worlds revolve around family, work and civic responsibilities to a younger generation to which Andrea, Kristy and Krystle belong. Their commonality? Comfortable elegance that transcends the age gap…

Bernadette Aboitiz, Rochelle del Rosario and June Alegrado are accomplished ladies whose worlds revolve around family, work and civic responsibilities to a younger generation to which Andrea, Kristy and Krystle belong. Their commonality?  Comfortable elegance that transcends the age gap…

Dinner is to be hosted by Kathy Tesoro, the exclusive distributor of Brazilian brand, Grendha. It is the eve before the cover shoot and in an effort to, as she puts it, “break the ice,” we await the six ladies handpicked to be the faces, or rather feet, of the footwear line known for its chic designs sculpted ingeniously from PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) – that soft rubber that’s surpassed trends for many years for its comfort and water-repelling magic.

The first to arrive at Maya Mexican restaurant happens to be the youngest of the pack, fifteen-year- old Andrea Aldeguer, the eldest daughter of entrepreneur Jay Aldeguer, and the former Camille Villarreal. She brings two endearing accessories – a close friend and the timidity that comes with youth. Of course, later that evening, she would also be the earliest to leave, as our cheery teen, who is a junior at Sacred Heart School – Hijas de Jesus, has a nine pm curfew.  “I own five Grendhas,” she admits, sporting a pair of cute flats that evening. She wears the boho chic style of High School Musical star, Vanessa Hudgens. For someone who hasn’t reached sweet sixteen yet, she has no qualms about wanting to someday be part of the fashion world. After all, she was only seven when she designed her first dress for their specialty retail boutique, Loalde. “I used to spend every weekend at the office.” She would also travel with her grandmother to Hongkong to select merchandise that would best suit the brand’s image. The self-confessed shopaholic and blogger has her sights on being a stylist ala Rachel Zoe.

Next to arrive was Zee Lifestyle’s very own budding stylist, a girl you probably will never catch without a little eyeshadow to offset her almond-shaped eyes or sans her hair in perfect, soft curls. A fresh graduate from the Ateneo de Manila University, Krystle Uy is already making a name for herself in the industry through her styling and directing stints for dailies and glossies, recently adding Zee Lifestyle to her growing resume. “Don’t ever think you can’t do it, because anything you put your mind to, you can achieve” is the mantra she lives by. Having spent a semester in Paris to take a fashion course at Mod’art International, Krystle has had a taste of living in a foreign country where she ultimately developed her street smarts as well as fashion savvy. She belongs after all to a family that owns the retail chain of Rosita’s, and surrounded with two equally fashionable sisters, Jacklyn (who also photographs for Zee Lifestyle) and Diane. Au courant with the latest fads, she is currently co-manning the new campaign for her sister’s rapidly expanding clothes shop, What A Girl Wants (WAGW). And when she’s not running in heels to see to WAGW’s fashion shows and the like, Krystle laces up her ballet shoes and pirouettes. “I’ve been a performing artist for eight years now. Dance, like fashion, helps me express myself in a liberating way.”

The mood in the restaurant begins to liven up as one by one the guests arrive.  The svelte Bernie Aboitiz comes with Zee Lifestyle’s Eva Gullas, her next-door neighbor. She is shortly followed by Rochelle del Rosario, who planed in earlier from her Davao home. By now, everyone is aware that Grendha’s two other chosen endorsers can’t make it – Kristy Tesoro who was taking the last flight from Davao to Cebu that night, and June Alegrado who was feeling under the weather. Still the table is abuzz on June’s bagging the most coveted prize of a brand new car raffled at Radisson Blu’s grand opening two nights ago, and where the photo shoot was to set for the following day.

To eat or not to eat before the big day? This was a question that got mixed responses from the women. Who could ignore the occasional ooh’s and aah’s over the melt-in-your-mouth signature vientre de tuerco dish. By the end of the night, whether it was a margarita or a glass of Chardonnay in one’s hand, a single dynamic rang true: there was no way the merriment wouldn’t spill over to the next day.

The morning of the cover shoot. While the vanity cases are disassembled on the tables to create makeshift make-up counters, a dose of “yuppie-ness” greets us in the form of Kristy Tesoro, Kathy’s younger sister. She seems well-rested from her late-night arrival and is ready to get down to business in a sensible pair of black wide leg trousers with a sleeveless fuschia blouse. She is classic with a twist personified. “I think it’s all about detail.  You will most likely find me in an outfit in basic colors. However, there will surely be a piece of accessory like a necklace, cocktail ring or bib that will complete the outfit.” Also a graduate from Ateneo de Manila, Kristy is currently a marketing manager for a multinational firm. “I have been independent for so long. Living alone has really helped me be more confident to take on the things that life throws my way.” After a long day of hard work, she likes to have a short run and meet with friends after. “Aside from my day job, I’m also into business so that takes up most of my time.” She helps sister Kathy manage their Grendha outlets and given her love of shoes, she helps choose the styles that will be available for the next collection.

As the morning progresses, the women enter the room as if by an unspoken roll call.  Each waits patiently for her turn on the make-up stool. Some choose to browse the net on their laptops, others prefer to chat with their friends over a cup of coffee or tea while occasionally admiring FTV’s coverage of São Paulo fashion week flashing on the room’s flat screen telly.

When June Alegrado breezes in, there is an immediate exchange of hellos. June is one whom you instinctively sense is very comfortable in her own skin – and perfectly bronzed at that. Her sheer animal print caftan and long ebony mane emphasize this vixen’s raw sensuality. “I like clothes that have clean uncluttered lines. I like elongated silhouettes that follow the form, and accessories that are unobtrusive,” June declares. The Alegrados hail from Butuan City, where the family ran a lumber business before relocating to Cebu City. Her dad has since expanded the business to include beach properties, notably the luxe resort of Maribago Bluewater in Mactan, the Almont chain of hotels and resorts in Mindanao, Sumilon Bluewater Beach Resort – an island paradise at the southern tip of Cebu and an upcoming resort project in Bohol. The resorts are ably managed by June’s sister, Julie Alegrado Vergara, but June was given the responsibility of running the spas (for this, she goes to Thailand for continuous training), as well as the gift shops.

She stops to say hi to Andrea, who is batchmates with her daughter. “My children keep me busy. Whenever possible, spending quality time with them is a priority. Being a single mother is very challenging and demanding,” she confesses.  To prove that point, June was juggling a tight schedule that day, trying to catch an afternoon flight to Manila to be with the two younger kids, Izarra, fourteen and Iñigo, thirteen, who were competing in a soccer tournament.  In between sips of tea, she also had to sign a footlong pile of checks for the company’s payroll. Just a few months ago, June was spotted at a local builder warehouse choosing tiles—she had to refurbish two bathrooms for her second son, Basi, who goes to school in the US and was bringing in four friends for a vacation.  June planned out an itinerary to keep the kids get a wonderful holiday—checking on the bathroom, the breakfast menu and everything in between. “My oldest son, Domiku, is my rock, he’s been there for me and his younger siblings,” June proudly credits her 22-year-old son who is currently a student at Enderun College in Manila.

On the side, she’s been quietly working quietly with the resort’s employees for their adopted advocacy. “Through our family’s foundation, we’ve been sponsoring deserving students for more than ten years.  We started with children of our employees. By 2011, we will complete our training center for basic hospitality skills and expand our educational advocacy.” A mother who has had her share of life’s ups and downs, June radiates optimism when she reveals that her strength, just like any other woman’s, is a product of a lifetime’s worth of hits and misses. “The more misses you recover from, the better person you become.”

As the six women find their best angles and balance out the cricks in their necks from holding their poses, they are proof that practice really does make for perfection.  After an hour or so, they ease into their element, finding the technique of feigned dialogue a welcome icebreaker for those candid shots. Eventually, this evolves into a genuine exchange of ideas between the women.

Rochelle Rabat del Rosario, for one, has an effervescent personality that makes you want to talk to her for hours. Although her wardrobe consists mostly of her favorite shade – white—her playful side pops out in the pleats and fringes of her feminine garments. Her clothing choices have an easygoing resort vibe but are also appropriately fit for the occasion. “I wear whatever I’m in the mood for, as long as when I look at myself in the mirror, I like what I see and I’m comfortable in it. When my thirteen-year-old daughter, Ariana, approves of my outfit, then it has passed the test.” This mother of two (her son Robertino is attending Ateneo de Manila at the moment), Rochelle was raised in Mati, Davao Oriental and belongs to a political family, from both hers and her husband’s side. Her father-in-law, Rodolfo del Rosario, is the governor of Davao del Norte while her husband, Rodney, who is the oldest son, runs Century Rural Bank. But instead of following tradition, Rochelle would rather make the world a better place through her cooking. A self-confessed foodie, she takes pleasure in preparing Filipino and Mediterranean dishes for friends at their cozy home setting. Food also takes her outside her home. “We have around sixty children in our feeding program, which was started by a good friend. Every month, they are weighed to gauge its effectiveness. One challenge is finding a kitchen-type place that meets our hygienic standards, and for this we usually used each other’s kitchens, which can be both fun and frustrating,” she admits. Her volunteer work is now part of her weekly routine, which includes managing her Coffee Dream franchise and stretching out her lithe limbs in Pilates class. How does this busy mother of two unwind? “I usually have a glass of wine with my husband. It doesn’t matter where.”

“Those are really nice,” Bernie gushes as she admires the metal detail on Rochelle’s Grendha flip-flops. She is quite a vision herself in a minimalistic ivory body-hugging gown. Her practical sensibility is echoed in the way she dresses – sophistication wrapped up in comfort, accented with a watch to, yes, tell the time. This active individual likes to take on tasks from start to finish without wasting a single minute, especially when it’s something she’s passionate about. Nowadays, Bernadette Montinola Aboitiz is on a mission to decongest our public schools and give out-of-school youth a good education similar to what her children are privileged to have. Her membership in The Lord Who Cares Foundation is a lot more than a mere pastime; it’s a calling to, as she puts it, “seize those divine moments.”

Bernie’s relationship with the foundation stems from somewhere deep. “When I was recovering from cancer, I volunteered to help out in the first year of running a school for mostly dumpsite children. I began to pursue a second degree in education to become a teacher in this school.” It was an arduous feat for Bernie to go back to reviewing for the licensing exam at her age, but it has paid off immensely. “Now, I teach a job reinforcement course prepared by an international justice mission to help disenfranchised youths either pursue college or prepare themselves for the workforce. We point them in the right direction.” In fact, one of the companies that support this program is Visayan Electric Company, where husband Jimmy Aboitiz is the SVP and COO. “Their world is small. This program exposes them to income opportunities they can aspire for. We need to reach out and help our youth!”

That is not to say that Bernie, who comes from Manila—she and Jimmy met in Los Angeles during their school days—doesn’t enjoy life.  The couple often sneak out to little trips together especially now that their three children – Liane, Rafa and Gabby – have left them with an empty nest to go to school in the US.
Such vivacity exuded by these six females from diverse backgrounds. Yet somehow, they are now intertwined by the common thread of literally the sandals on their feet that day.

  • by PIA ECHEVARRIA
  • sittings editor KATSY BORROMEO
  • photography CANDICE RUIZ
  • fashion stylist MIKEY SANCHEZ
  • make-up artist EMI AYAG and JESSIE GLOVA
  • hair stylist JAIME MONDIGO
  • hair and make-up stylist RHEY ABELLA
  • locale RADISSON BLU

People

Congratulations to Our New DOT Secretary! The Story of Cebu’s Power Couple

Congratulations to Our New DOT Secretary!

The Story of Cebu’s New Power Couple

Whether it’s spearheading progressive efforts in Liloan or spending weekends with their kids, Christina and Duke Frasco do things as a team. On their ninth year as a wedded couple, they share a side of themselves we haven’t seen before.
Republished  from Zee’s Digital Issue dated January 2018
by Gia Mayola photography Dan Douglas Ong sittings editor Shari Quimbo hair and makeup Arnauld stylist Vanessa East

ON CHRISTINA Sleeveless top, jeans and pumps, model’s own. ON DUKE Pierre del Hierro sweater, from RUSTAN’S AYALA CENTER CEBU. Joggers and sneakers, model’s own.

Despite it being a day for family, Christina and Duke Frasco gamely accepted our Sunday-scheduled photo shoot. Not that they had any choice, considering that most days found their schedules fully packed.

The dynamic couple is hard to pin down for a reason. Christina is the mayor of Liloan, a first-class municipality in Cebu. On the other hand, Duke was appointed Cebu Port Authority Commissioner by President Rodrigo Duterte just last year, willingly giving up his position as Liloan’s vice-mayor alongside his wife. While they have a lot on their plate because of work, having three young children is an added responsibility.

PUBLIC SERVANTS

Driven by her administration’s goals for sustainable and inclusive development, Christina has introduced various innovations to public leadership, focusing on stakeholder participation in community governance and equitable access to government service.

She established the Liloan Community Action for Reforestation and Environmental Sustainability (LILOAN CARES), which brings community stakeholders together to periodically engage in environment programs. She also put up a Green Points System, which grants incentives to businesses that implement environment-friendly measures. Additionally, she has introduced an engaging approach to recycling in schools, and prohibits the use of plastics on certain days of the week. She has also founded Operation Second Chance providing rehabilitation and livelihood to drug surrenderees, and the Liloan Leading Empowered Action Against Drugs Summit (LILOAN LEADS), among many others.

On his end, Duke is a dynamic and engaging leader who thrives under pressure and focuses on realizing long-term goals and sustainable development. His governance has garnered him multiple awards—The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines Award 2014 for Public Administration, from the Junior Chamber International (JCI), Inc. and the Gerry Roxas Foundation.

With his first two terms as mayor, Liloan elevated from a third-class municipality to a first-class one. He boldly spearheaded a comprehensive overhaul of the municipal tax code, and the modernization of local business processes.

ON CHRISTINA Josie Natori knit sleeveless top and lounge pants, from RUSTAN’S AYALA CENTER CEBU. ON DUKE T-shirt, model’s own. Ricardo Preto trousers, from RUSTAN’S AYALA CENTER CEBU.

THE LOVE OF LILOAN

Goal-driven and full of ideals, the couple has helped develop Liloan into what it is today. The municipality is one of the most progressive in Cebu, even establishing the Liloan Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Federation during Christina’s term, the first in the country spearheaded by a local government unit. Liloan prides itself in having the first LGU-established gender-neutral public restroom in the country.

“Our dream is to become a city,” Christina divulges. She envisions Liloan as an ideal place to live, study, work and invest. “In preparation for that, we are focusing on improving public infrastructure, opening up and improving road networks, and ensuring strict compliance with our Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Land Use Plans to ensure that development is regulated, deliberate and sustainable.”

This year, Liloan is launching tour packages that will feature its cottage industries and various tourist sites. Health services are being professionalized, scholarship programs expanded, and more investments channeled into its law enforcement and disaster response programs.

“We are also enhancing our community governance programs focused on protecting the environment, providing economic opportunities through livelihood, and reaching out to all sectors and stakeholders by incentivizing participation and compliance with our laws and regulations,” Christina adds.

Duke shares that every now and then, he offers input to his wife. “I advice Christina on various matters, especially regarding the projects started during my term, such as our scholarship program and purok system,” he says. “Being the party chairman of our local political party, I am also in continued contact with our local leaders.”

ON CHRISTINA Cropped top and jeans, model’s own.

THE PORT AUTHORITY

Beyond Liloan, Duke is enjoying his new position. “Since the thrust of the Cebu Port Authority spans the entire Province of Cebu, I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to improving the transport of people and goods throughout Cebu, through the continued improvement of existing ports and establishment of new ports.”

New ports, such as the plans of moving the Cebu International Port north, off the coasts of Consolacion and Liloan to decongest the city. 

“A port is always a welcome development considering it will further boost the economy of Liloan and Consolacion, and the entire Northern Cebu,” Duke says. “It provides livelihood opportunities for our people, which are relevant factors for cityhood. Moreover, the more ports, international or domestic, that we develop here, the better it will be for the people of Cebu.”

The addition of more ports will complement the project he has been working on the past year, the ferry boat system. He laments the terrible traffic that Cebuanos experience each day, comparing the travel time it takes from Liloan to Cebu City ten years ago and now. The ferry boat system includes developing ports in strategic locations in the Province of Cebu, connecting ferries or boats that can accommodate 80 to 200 people per boat. That includes room for motorcycles and possibly vehicles.

Duke expects this to be a game changer for the Cebuano. “Hopefully, it will relieve us of the stress and frustration we experience each day going through Cebu traffic,” he says. “I can just imagine our fellow Cebuanos feeling relaxed on a boat, feeling the sun and sea breeze on their faces, as opposed to the honking of horns and uneasiness of sitting in a PUJ or in your vehicles, not knowing whether they will arrive on time at their destination.”

Aside from his work with the Cebu Port Authority, Duke is also involved with his family’s business Titay’s as the Chief Financial Officer, and as a member of the Board of Directors. 

ON DUKE Pierre del Hierro sweater from RUSTAN’S AYALA CENTER CEBU. Jeans and fedora, model’s own.

A GREAT PAIR

It’s evident that the two make a great pair. They met back in June 2007 at Gwendolyn Garcia’s—Christina’s mother—inauguration as the re-elected Governor of Cebu. Duke was among the officials invited to attend, having just been elected into his first term as the Mayor of Liloan. Christina had just recently passed the bar exams and became a lawyer.

“I suppose you could say that we met at a time when both of us were at a turning point in our lives,” Christina recalls. “It is a blessing that our paths crossed at a time that it did. I was taken by Duke’s charisma. To me, he exuded kindness and humility. Of course, bonus sad gyud na guapo kaayo siya (it’s a bonus that he’s so handsome)!”

“I thought she was beautiful, elegant and well-spoken,” Duke adds. “When we were introduced, I was speechless!”

They’re naturals in front of the camera, effortlessly settling into the poses the photographer asks them to do. At one point, they’re locked in an intimate embrace and looking into each others’ eyes. Duke sweeps in for a kiss that makes everyone in the studio coo.

“I couldn’t help it,” Duke defends himself with a laugh, holding Christina closer as she giggles.

“He can’t resist me,” she tells us with raised eyebrows.

FAMILY TIES

The couple comes from political families, and it’s interesting to note that neither of the two had initial plans of running 

for office. Duke was in the audit and finance industry in the US, working for global consulting firm Protiviti right after finishing his double degree in Business Administration (Finance and Business Law) and Accounting at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

“I had no plans at all,” Duke admits. “My father, who had been Mayor then Vice-Mayor, died unexpectedly. The barangay captains of Liloan contacted me because the wanted to have me run for the position. It took me a couple of years before I finally decided to come home and run for Mayor in 2006.”

On Christina’s end, she had spent nearly ten years focused on building her career as a lawyer. After graduating from Ateneo Law, she practiced litigation, international arbitration and corporate law with one of the top-tier law firms in the Philippines, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & Delos Angeles, being the head of its Cebu office.

“I knew that I wanted to make something of myself out of my own achievements, outside of and away from politics,” Christina shares. “I must say though that being exposed to public service at a young age led me to an inclination to help others. I always felt a sense of duty to my country, because that’s what I saw in my family as I was growing up.”

Despite initially having no plans to follow in their family’s political path, they both express a deep appreciation and admiration for their respective families’ contributions to Cebu. “He was Mayor of Liloan for close to a decade, but served Liloan all his life,” Duke says about his father, the late Panphil B. Frasco or Dodong Daku. “He was a man of the people, and Liloanons still speak of his kindness and humility to this day. I also greatly admire my uncle Gerardo ‘Dodong Gamay’ Frasco, for his pragmatism and wisdom, which has guided our family to carrying on the Titay’s legacy spanning 111 years.”

“For me, they have set the bar to which I would like to contribute to Cebu as a Cebuano,” Christina says of her own family. “For his statesmanship and brilliant legal mind, my grandfather, former Governor and Deputy Speaker Pablo P. Garcia. For her passion towards community development and social justice, my grandmother, the late Judge and Cebu CFI Community Cooperative founder Esperanza F. Garcia. For her great love for Cebu and legendary work ethic, my mom, former Governor Gwen F. Garcia.”

NEW LEADERSHIP

As two young personalities in government, they hope to be able to empower people through education. For ten years now since Duke’s first term and continuing though Christina’s current term, they have a scholarship program that has benefitted over 6,000 students.

They believe that an educated population is an empowered population, capable of becoming financially independent and discerning in their choices. “For us, this is key to breaking out of the bonds of poverty and patronage,” Christina affirms.

The Frascos hope to introduce innovations to governance, like reducing redundancies and bureaucracy through the use of technology, and being more connected and transparent through the use of social media. They also support the call for Federalism, believing that it will give local governments more leeway and funding in improving local infrastructure and creating more locally-relevant projects for the people.

Considering that standpoint, it’s no surprise how vocal the couple has been in their support for the controversial President Rodrigo Duterte. “President Duterte has political will, and he is a law and order President,” they say. “We believe that his extensive executive experience sets him apart as a leader because he knows the value of enforcing the law in order to have a stable society. At the same time, he recognizes the necessity of governing in a manner that is compassionate and responsive to the needs of the people.”

In the face of many conflicting views toward the President’s brand of leadership, both Duke and Christina acknowledge that opposition is necessary for a working democracy, but hope that Filipinos can come together and support his national agenda of building a stable and peaceful society. “We owe it to our country to set aside what divides us, and to unite behind our common goal of attaining a better life for our countrymen and for our children.”

Aside from their daily responsibilities, the couple also fosters their own advocacies. With education being high on Duke’s list of priorities, Christina also extends efforts for the empowerment of women and children. “The promotion of inclusive development as well—giving equitable opportunities to vulnerable sectors such as the LGBT and the youth,” she adds.

EVERYDAY LIFE

Being in the government means a lot of responsibility for the couple, and a typical day for them is being up 6:00 in the morning to have breakfast with their children before school, then going to their respective offices for work.

For Duke, work is either at the Cebu Port Authority to attend board meetings, or at their Frasco Group Office to attend to business matters. He also attends to pressing concerns in Liloan if need be, which shows how he is still dedicated to it even if he is no longer its Vice-Mayor.

Christina is either at the Municipal Hall to sign papers, attend meetings and meet constituents at the office, or scheduling visits to Liloan’s barangays and puroks.

To keep from getting too stressed or burnt out, Duke says, “I go to the gym and I run. I also like to Netflix and chill.”

Christina, on the other hand, makes time to paint and experiment with new dishes for Duke and their kids. She mentions that, if their schedules permit, they try to devote their weekends to their kids—watching movies, eating out, and traveling. “When Duke and I get home, we also make a conscious decision not to talk about work,” she finishes.

A COUPLE AT WORK

While some people might find the idea of a married couple working together as a possible hindrance to getting things done, the Frascos think otherwise. To them, it is an advantage because their vision and values are aligned. “We are able to enjoy our victories together, and we’re able to lift each other up in tough times, knowing that we will have each other’s back,” they share.

Duke and Christina are celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary this year, and it’s no question that the romance is still very much alive between them. They share that their marriage is anchored on their love for each other, their love for their family, and their shared goals for the future.

At the same time, they emphasize that retaining a sense of individuality is also important, along with having a healthy respect for each other’s differences. Compromise is key, and they constantly make sure to keep their values and goals in check, adjusting each other’s expectations as necessary and working out their differences.

Considering all that Duke and Christina have accomplished at a young age, we had to ask if they had plans of running for higher office. “We have great plans for the future, not just for ourselves, but also for our family and for Liloan,” they said. “As Cebuanos, we would like to continue to contribute to the development of Cebu. However, we also realize that ultimately, it is for the people to decide whether they would want us to continue to serve. As for the rest, it is in God’s hands. So we are focused on doing as much as we can in the here and now, with the opportunities that we have been given, for which we feel very blessed.”

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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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