“And we get to have beer?” Divine Maitland-Smith exclaims excitedly as we pop open a bottle of San Miguel, some refreshing relief from the heat wave on the sunny Saturday afternoon of the shoot. She pours herself a glass and raises it to Megan Campbell, who she’s sharing the cover with and was at the moment getting her makeup done. “This is already like the best shoot ever.”
Laid-back and fun aren’t the top two words that would come to mind when describing photo shoots—especially a full production such as this, which involved both newly bought and improvised equipment, 12 people in the studio, and a clothing collection that designer Yves Camingue brought over from Manila for the weekend. But somehow, the group of people who had come together and the concept for the shoot made it one of the most enjoyable productions we’ve done recently—and honestly, the beer might have helped too.
It seems like just yesterday when Divine won audiences over on Pinoy Big Brother, even though, much to my disbelief, her stint on the popular reality show was five years ago. “I know. It’s crazy,” she laughs. “I’m so old.”
“Going into PBB, I didn’t how what it was,” Divine recalls. I’d never even watched PBB before getting on the show—it was a platform I could use. I wanted to show people that you could be gay and comfortable in your skin, that you could be feminine or masculine or whatever.” She pauses, then adds with a laugh, “Also my mom made me do it because she was like, you need to do something with your life!”
One of the most genuinely friendly and happy people I’ve met in the city, Divine has a candid and easygoing demeanor that makes it easy to imagine her charming national audiences. It also helped that her close friendship with fellow Cebuano Slater Young had inspired an army of fans who shipped their make-believe romance. “We have a book based on us. It’s fan fiction,” she shares, shaking her head. “My fans gave me copies because I had no clue that this was happening. There’s a guy and girl kissing on a cover, and I’m like, that’s not us!”
Despite many fans’ hopes, though, Slater and Divine remain just good friends, but being part of the series has certainly affected her life even now, five years later. “It really changed my life completely,” she admits. “I was with ABS-CBN for three years doing TV series, and it’s just not for me. Being involved in the industry allowed me to see that I didn’t want to be in the industry that way.”
Instead, Divine spends most of her days waking up at five every morning to get ready for her culinary classes at ISCAHM. “I never wanted to go back to school, you know. School sucks,” she admits. “But it’s different when you’re passionate about something. I go to class excited, and I don’t wanna be late.”
The change in career might be something of a surprise for most people, but it’s actually one that’s a long time coming. “I’ve always been really into food. My favorite shows to watch are cooking shows—Masterchef, Top Chef, all that stuff. I love food, and I’m such a critic of restaurants that I go to,” Divine shares. “It’s kind of something that my ex pushed me to do. She was like, ‘You seem so passionate about it, why don’t you just do it?’”
The decision seemed to be the right one. Divine is animated as she talks about her favorite dish to cook, and the restaurant she hopes to open in the next year. “It’ll be healthier food, but still really good. I’m into lighter food—I mean, you can make fish and chips but with a lighter batter so it’s not so heavy, not so fattening. My school right now is very technical, so it’s very French. There’s a lot of butter and cream, a lot of the bad stuff. It’s great to learn the proper technique, but I wanna change.”
Change includes taking four months after graduation to move to Thailand, where she hopes to pick up more of Thai cooking techniques. “I want my restaurant to be Thai-influenced, because I lived there for so long and I love Thai food. They have texture—bitter, sweet. It’s like everything in one dish,” she explains.
The restaurant venture will also help her get back into her other passion—tattoos. “I design tattoos but I just don’t tattoo anymore,” Divine says with a sigh, adding that she might have a little corner in her studio dedicated to that.
Besides food and art, music remains a very big part of Divine’s life—she still flies to Manila regularly for DJ gigs, although it’s become a lot less frequent since she started school. Her main project, though, is a new music movement. “I’m trying to introduce house music, something not so mainstream. I feel like Cebu lacks diversity, and we need people to influence and show what else is there,” she says.
As I tell her about Joachim Go’s trance playlist and how people don’t seem to appreciate it, she shakes her head. “How can you not appreciate someone putting their love and passion into what they do? It’s hard to do it here, but it’s time for a change.”
Staying in your comfort zone is something that Divine feels strongly against. “That’s my motto—do one thing that scares you everyday, because it pushes you to be more,” she says. “How can you grow if you’re stuck?”
Megan and her fight against that stagnation by spending their free time exploring new activities. “We always try to do something for the first time, even just here in Cebu,” Megan quips.
And what was the last thing they did together for the first time? “Today,” Divine grins. “This was definitely a first.”
The first time I’d seen Megan was in the lookbook for Elated Industries’ 2016 Surf and Turf collection—and with her sharp jawline, her strong brows and piercing eyes, it’s hard not to notice her. There was just something about her that seemed mysterious but relaxed that was undeniably eye-catching.
“Modeling has always been my passion. It’s the only thing I feel is like my calling in life,” the 19-year-old admits. That passion certainly shows—at the shoot, she thought about each pose carefully and asked to have a mirror right in front of her, so she could critique her every move before finally directing her gaze to the camera. Her dedication pays off, considering the image we use in this spread is actually the very first one of this photoset.
“I’ve always known that I wanted to model, I think ever since I was a toddler,” Megan admits. “Obviously it’s a hard career but I like the challenge, because it makes me realize that this is for me.”
“Yeah, you put a camera in front of Megan, and she just transforms,” Divine adds candidly.
Besides modeling, Megan is also a radio jock for Monster Radio, a job that she’d gotten with the help of Raine Baljak. “She was working at Monster at the time, and she got me the connection,” she recalled. “It just went on from there. I’ve been very lucky.”
The entertainment industry is one that Megan is set on joining, but for reasons that are more endearing than just fortune and fame. “One of the reasons why I wanted to join radio, or entertainment and the media at all, is that you get to influence somebody—hopefully for the better,” she shares. “You can influence them by changing their mindset, by making them happy if they had a bad day. You get to use your voice for something hopefully good.”
Megan’s drive to do good and succeed in her endeavors is inspiring, and she’s planning on making the next year a platform to really start her career. “This year is a big year,” she declares. “This year is my year to really make it in modeling, and maybe going into acting and more entertainment. I don’t want to be 50 and look back, saying that I never tried. But also, I want this year to be something like a journey of self-discovery—to learn more every day.”
For someone who had just moved to Cebu from Hong Kong a little less than two years ago, Megan had already found a support system and a lifestyle that she felt she needed. “It was the most beautiful change I’ve ever had,” she admits about the move her family had done after she graduated high school and her mom retired from Cathay Pacific. “Compared to Hong Kong, coming here really humbles you, and it makes you see that there’s more to life than just working and paying for stuff. Moving here made me realize that life is about finding your own happiness. Life is about finding who you are as a person.”
Her life in Cebu has brought on a lot of changes and discoveries—such as introducing her to her favorite new restaurant Joed’s (a small hole-in-the-wall Japanese restaurant in Mabolo), and hidden spots she’d discovered on a recent road trip up north to Daanbantayan. For Megan, these are all stories that she collects and hopefully will share with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the future. “I want to have these stories where I’ve walked these different paths of life—then I understand people more,” she says. “I always tell myself, and my friends whenever they’re going through something: imagine your life to be a storybook. Make it the best damn storybook that anyone has ever read.”
Photography, hair and makeup by Arnauld | Styling by Blaq Mafia | All clothes by Yves Camingue
Originally published in Zee Lifestyle April 2017
EXCLUSIVE: Never Been Released Behind-the-Scenes photos of Zee Lifestyle’s Emerald Issue Cover Shoot
We celebrate the strength and resilience of womanhood in this year’s Mother’s Day by looking back at these never been seen before behind-the-scenes shots of Zee Lifestyle Magazine’s Emerald (20th Anniversary) Issue cover shoot featuring the “Leading Women” of Cebu.
To celebrate the 20 beautiful years of Zee Lifestyle as the ultimate source of lifestyle news in Cebu, we handpicked 12 strong and stylish women of Cebu from every age group. These women show us that independently building one’s strength of character and living one’s passion knows no age. From the beginning, Zee has always been empowering women, providing the Cebuanas a platform to express their beauty and confidence, share their passions, engage in economic and political participation which yields to viewing women with equality and respect that we deserve.
photography Jan Gonzales
creative director Melo Esguerra
art director Doro Barandino
sittings editor Shari Quimbo
beauty director Romero Vergara
makeup Arnauld, Janice Barillo and Nicko dela Peña
hair Jessie Egos and Jake Arias
fashion styling Clint Potestas
production assistants Patty Taboada and Katrina Labra
locale Marco Polo Plaza Hotel Cebu
Twelve women, two sets and one afternoon. That is how the Zee Lifestyle team decided to celebrate the title’s 20th anniversary issue—with a challenge that, in some ways, is one of our biggest productions yet.
The idea came along when publisher Eva Gullas and editor-at-large Melo Esguerra were discussing a cover story that would best represent the magazine’s history. From commissioning artistic depictions on Cebu to playing with the anniversary’s emerald theme, no idea had stuck until Melo suggested putting a series of women who had already been on the cover of Zee, again on the cover all together.
Coming up with the list of names, of course, was no small feat. Our covers from the last 20 years have included several strong personalities—from philanthropists and politicians, to actors, and names to soon watch out for, our pages have seen them all. The challenge, then, was to come up with a list of women who had been driving forces in their respective fields when they had first appeared on the cover, and remain as powerful players even today.
With input from editors, both past and present, we rounded up 12 women from different age groups, fields and industries, who are all strong and passionate at whatever it is they do—Amparito Lhuillier, who remains the doyenne of Cebu society as a picture of elegance and class with her continuing efforts in business and social causes; the always-stylish Marguerite Lhuillier, herself an example of sophistication in all her efforts, whether business or otherwise; Margot Osmeña, who as a Cebu City Councilor has spearheaded many urban projects directed for the betterment of living in the city; hospitality mavens June Alegrado and Alice Woolbright, who are deeply involved in the rise of their brands, Bluewater properties and Beverly Hotel, respectively; Christina Garcia Frasco, the current Lilo-an Mayor advocating impressively progressive efforts in the area; former model Fiona King, now a major player in homegrown real estate with projects like Bloq Residences; the fitness enthusiast Danessa Onglatco who has espoused wellness with the opening of Yogahub; restaurateur Carla Yeung-McKowen who is behind the city’s hottest dining outlet, The Pig & Palm; designer Mia Arcenas, whose signature resort wear and accessories are representative of Cebu’s laid back lifestyle; Kym Maitland-Smith, who juggles efforts in swimsuit design through SOLTI Activewear and is building awareness for the vegan lifestyle; and Kryz Uy, whose online presence was a strong one even before fashion blogs were on anyone’s radar.
An impressive bunch, for sure. These women properly embody the characteristics that Zee Lifestyle looks for in one who makes the cover—beauty, yes, but also elegance coupled with individuality, and always a strong drive to succeed in whatever efforts they are directed.
This, it turns out, was the fitting tribute to the years Zee has been Cebu’s premier lifestyle bible, as well as a sign of the things forthcoming. Our 12 cover stars may have been on our pages before, but if their current efforts are any indication, our pages will continue to see more of them in the future. And as continuing purveyors of what Cebu has to offer, Zee Lifestyle will happily be seeing them in the years to come.
(This article had already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s December 2016 Emerald Issue, “Leading Women” on pages 140-155.)
La Liga Henerales: Shaping History Awareness Back Again in Cebu
La Liga Henerales is a community of young talents passionately promotes historical awareness through periodic costumes carefully researched for its authenticity and accuracy and promoted as well in events and schools.
Only few individuals before were into pursuit in this historical awareness project until the age of communication where internet is convenient in the palm of our hands through our gadgets. New information travel fast and data is retrievable, yet also possess a disadvantage with the plethora of different social media platforms carried by various makers as well. In a daily basis, historical backgrounds are unearthed making its trend until now as new discoveries are released, but the idea of these information being shown and shared is as close as not valuing or commemorating to its sources leaving this information just a trend.
There is a certain community of Cebuanos that are taking a quest to rewrite and restructure what was in the past, filling the gaps in facts with further research of variable sources that are made debatable but sticks to it true cause, to unveil the truths of our heritage and our origins, as Cebuanos and as Filipinos as well.
La Liga Henerales is a Cebu-based, non-profit organization composed of a group of talented, committed and respectable individuals from different walks of life, schools and profession whose primary aim is to promote both, Cebuano and filipino culture and heritage that was depicted before in pre-colonial and colonial eras via re-enactment with costumes vested in proper research and investigation to achieve authenticity. They also push their cause on schools and other social gatherings promoting and spreading awareness about our local, and national heroes that we look up to. With these said, they also portray a closer look of the lifestyle of the past to where they perform stories, perform forgotten dances and rituals and portray their individual roles, vital in the fight of our country’s future during those challenging times, and in honor to spread awareness of the lost practices we had in those times.
Louis Kenneth Villaflor, an entrepreneur and an avid history enthusiast and costumer, founded the group on the purpose of re-educating the youth about real local and national history, he saw the opportunity to combine his favourite hobbies which is costuming and story role-playing and the process to instill the historical awareness and value among the youth and in schools, along with a group of fellow enthusiasts who shares his passion about research and history, they took it among themselves to be purposeful in the advocacy in spreading historical awareness in schools or events by wearing periodically correct costumes and sharing the stories and its value to the youth.
Behind the Garments
Meet Rodney “Pee-Wee” Senining, who has been in the fashion industry since the late 90’s, strives in concepts of avant-garde, innovation and cutting edge-fashion forward design. And also a teacher of Architecture, Fine Arts and Design of University of San Carlos, he had grown into research of books like the holy grail in the Library Resource Center and is always fascinated of the periodical times and how to preserve it; Hence, his interest had grown for the affinity of Periodical Costumes and Sustainable Fashion.
Being part of the group La Liga Henerales, he was tasked to instantly be their mentor for the young talents and as the organization is still new and developing with limited funds, resourcefulness and research were done to come up with a good output of photo shoot and was quite proud of it and still promise on the next editions of pieces to be more historically accurate. Even as teacher for Fashion Design in SAFAD, his expertise comes hand in hand with the members as he helps them do research as well. His passion and interest somehow led him with enough knowledge to key the insights of the significant periods and historical backgrounds of it.
Historical Awareness in Cebu
The strength and progress of a country is anchored on how well they know and honor its history. The means of historical awareness in Cebu is almost non-existent among the Cebuanos, although we push forward in tourism and promote beauty through sceneries and other aspects of culture yet never commemorate deeply on historical icons such as our other local heroes, and ancient cultures as well that is almost been forgotten in an urban Cebu. Nevertheless, as long as communities’ like La Liga Henerales are now evolving in a learning state by real discovery by multiple resources, this will always reflect of how we appreciate love, patriotism and honor to our country and would look forward to progress.
After the Razzmatazz and Razzle-dazzle: Post-Sinulog Thoughts
by Chrissy Grey Resaba
Buntings of red and yellow were removed from post to post. Streets were cleared and cleaned. Fireworks displays were faded in the sky. Beats of #prititit and tunes of tourism-booster Cebu tracks were being put to archive once again.
Contingents from different parts of Cebu and Central Visayas had gone back home. Party people had gone sober while some are still recovering. Traffic has gone back to normal. Businesses, as well, has gone back to normal.
However, all the fun and loud chants, smooth grooves, and frenzied choreographies are still replaying from the memory banks of the people who celebrated Sinulog 2020. The queen of all festivals in the Philippines has left again another mark of cultural and festive nostalgia to the people from all parts of the world and Cebuanos alike.
After all the razzmatazz and razzle-dazzle, let’s get to know what are these IG and FB personalities’ #PostSinulogThoughts about celebrating the newly-culminated Sinulog 2020 and how did they differentiate it to last year’s.
Eva Psychee Patalinjug, Binibining Pilipinas Grand International 2018 @evapatalinjug
I celebrated my Sinulog with my boyfriend and some of my close friends, we decided to choose a place where it’s not very crowded where we can see the whole Cebu, talk, and chill the night away. We went to Verified Lounge – Cebu’s newest premier sky lounge – located at the rooftop of the Avenir Building. It was something new for me as the night was calm as I was away from the busy streets of Cebu. It’s definitely one way of enjoying such festivities.
Kim Covert @kimcovert
The Sinulog celebration this year has been one of the most memorable events in my life. Not only was I invited to perform a few of my own songs during the weekend’s festivities but I also turned over my Binibining Cebu Tourism crown to my successor. Last year, I was busy with work and was not able to completely grasp the events. This year’s festival was more organized which is a great success for Cebu. Many have flown in and had spent time with their families in the “Pit Senyor” spirit, others have enjoyed spending time off with friends and colleagues. It was a great way for me to start my New Year and close my Cebu chapter before I leave to the US in a week.
Alem Garcia @thealemgarcia
Well pretty much, I was still busy doing shows and events for Sinulog. But what made it different this year was the religious celebration made me believe even more that Sto. Niño is indeed miraculous and that He is meant to be celebrated. Even though you are successful in your chosen field, furthermore, everything will be meaningless if you do not have the faith.
Philip Pingoy @almostablogger
We all have a Sinulog story to tell. It may be a story of losing faith and finding hope. But what is important is our devotion to the Holy Child Jesus (Señor. Sto. Niño). This year, my Sinulog experience was very different since I am already based in the United Kingdom. Thanks to the internet I was still able to watch the mass and all the festivities in Cebu. I am in UK because I prayed to Sto. Niño. So, let us not forget the reason we celebrate Sinulog and let us continue to share to the rest of the world why Sinulog is the grandest festival in the Philippines. Pit Senyor everyone! I hope you had a good one!
Lyssa Amor @lyssaamor
Sinulog celebrates Filipinos’ acceptance of Christianity. This year, I celebrated Sinulog by hearing the word of God. I went to church which I do every Sinulog but the difference now is that I am not in Cebu. It’s my first time to celebrate Sinulog away from home because I’m currently in Japan. Although I didn’t dance the traditional Sinulog dance this year, I wasn’t able to watch the fireworks in Ayala, and didn’t spend time with my friends in Mango and IT Park. Snr. Sto. Niño will always be in my heart and I am forever grateful that our ancestors accepted Christianity and we continue to embrace it up until today.
Kevin Geniston @kgeniston
Sinulog will always be a highlight for me as a Cebuano. This year has been fulfilling as I was able to brave the crowd in the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu three times to attend the novena mass which had also become like bonding time with my family, daughter, friends and loved ones. I ended the celebration of the Sinulog festivities with a bit of the usual partying and/or clubbing.
Carlo Andrew Olano @kalamicebu
My Sinulog this year was a great mix of religious and secular activities. I was able to go to the church and somehow witnessed the Traslacion and the fluvial procession. I also went to many side events like parties, mall events, and fireworks exhibitions. Sinulog 2020 had a fantastic balance of fun, faith, and festivities.
Danna Bacolod @dannabacolod
This is the second time I spent Sinulog with Cebu Pacific. We had series of events prepared during its entire week and participated the grand parade by having a float last Sunday. I always feel excited to join Sinulog Grand Parade and see a lot of people celebrating their own way of Sinulog along the streets of Cebu. Guess it’s safe to say that I had so much fun. Even if this was work-related, I didn’t feel like I’m actually working as it was always joyful doing events like these.
Nimo Hideki @nimo_scheming
You prolly knew this already but, Sinulog 2020 was by far the most phenomenal Sinulog experience: more laidback than the previous years’. The music in every corner of the streets were still there to help you let loose and enjoy the experience. The surge of people had tested you both mentally and physically. But it was an experience you cannot miss like mingling with people from different walks of life and shouting out “Pit Senyor” to everyone. Summing up my Sinulog experience, I was able to get crazy and enjoy all aspects of the fest.
Michael Rey @michaelsomewhere
I had the most relaxed Sinulog experience this year. I did not party and preferred to witness the grand parade instead. I do think that this year’s celebration was more colorful and much safer as establishments strictly abided the rules imposed by the Cebu City Government. I was also amazed at how the festival of fashion here in Cebu has evolved throughout the years.
Now, how about you? What are your #PostSinulogThoughts this Prititit 2020? Viva Pit Senyor!
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