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Divine Maitland-Smith and Megan Campbell are the Coolest Girls You’ll Meet

Cool, smart and beautiful–those are just some of the words we can use to describe Megan Campbell and Divine Maitland-Smith.

“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.

DIVINE MAITLAND-SMITH

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.”

MEGAN CAMPBELL

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

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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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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