Real estate developer Fiona King gives the young, ambitious and independent Cebuano a home he didn’t know he could own. Through BLOQ Residences, she fulfills her advocacy to encourage the young professionals of Cebu to invest in real estate.
“Real estate is a creative outlet,” says Fiona King, the founder of RFK Holdings Inc. “I started in the field of building and selling houses. It later grew to developing pocket-sized communities. The development process was always something I enjoyed—collaborating and sharing ideas with architects, doing site visits and seeing the final state of the house being lived in.”
After several years and a portfolio of select projects, Fiona recently embarked on a dream project that is causing a significant stir in the market—the BLOQ Residences. Fiona narrates that the concept of BLOQ Residences started when she asked her office staff where they lived. “I found out that most of them were renting,” she recalls. “This was when I decided to challenge myself to come up with a product that can fill the need for living space, which you can own paying with your rent money.” This philosophy led to BLOQ Residences’ too simple and powerful catchphrase, ‘Why rent when you can own?’
“We saw a need for young professionals to find an urban home that is safe, accessible, and something they can proudly call their own,” explains Fiona. BLOQ is an aspiration of the first-time property buyer who wants a home that feels just right for his lifestyle—nothing stiff, grand, or pretentious; but is not too small, too far, or just largely compromised. “It’s important because real estate ownership, in my opinion, is one of the best forms of investments. It appreciates through time and it is tangible. Through BLOQ Residences, we hope that we can give Cebu’s working population the opportunity to invest in real estate. With BLOQ’s price points and payment schemes, we’ve proven to the market that with creative thinking, real estate investment need not be capital-intensive.”
BLOQ Residences honors the new market’s inclination towards DIY home decorating projects, in the spirit of social media sites such as Pinterest and Tumblr. Future residents can customize their units from the moment you enter the front door—literally. “We start with letting our buyers choose the color of the doors. We strongly felt that giving this option inspires them to make their space uniquely their own,” states Fiona, who is a huge fan of tasteful design, especially in the fields of architecture and furniture.
Beyond the front door, BLOQ bypasses the standard practice of defining all the spaces in the unit, opting instead for an open layout design to maximize usage. “Our central concept of universal space also embraces the market’s want to personalize their units. Your own BLOQ is meant to be your personal space. This is then up to you on how you would like to accessorize it, as you would with jewelry or clothes,” says Fiona.
BLOQ Residences keeps things simple for their buyers by offering just two types of units. The studio units are designed to be comfortable on its own, while giving people who seek more space the option to combine units. On the other hand, the loft units have high floor-to-ceiling heights, with the main level designed to be the living area while reserving the loft level as a more private space. “I’m pleasantly surprised by the market’s enthusiasm for our loft units. I guess the layout just brings out the kid in us wanting to climb up our bunk beds.”
What makes BLOQ Residences unique is, considering its target market, it’s a balance of space and cost. Fiona believes that BLOQ Residences is able to deliver on its price points because of the size it offers. Amenities are stripped down to the basic necessities to minimize monthly dues. “We hope to raise the bar for real estate communities that are highly livable, personality-focused, and conversation-worthy,” she says.
Fiona, a Mass Communications graduate and currently taking up her Masters degree in Real Estate Management, is married to Richard Ray King, a Civil Engineer and the Managing Director of King Properties and RDAK Land. At first, Fiona was raising their three children and doing build-and-sell on the side, which is something she’s very passionate about.
“I believe there is something magical about developing homes,” she shares. “What started out as an idea that gets drawn on paper, eventually gets built and then finally becomes a home. What starts out as an idea becomes tangible through the collaborative efforts of our architects, engineers and contractors.”
Considering that, real estate was a natural direction. “Our dad Ric is a very active real estate investor. Dad is really a forward thinker with his choices of projects in real estate: residential subdivisions, condominiums, a memorial park and industrial parks. We are very fortunate to be guided by his business sense and experience. Our family has been very patient and supportive of our endeavors,” says Fiona, who serves as the first vice-president of the Philippine Association of Real Estate Board-Cebu Real Estate Board (PAREB-CEREB).
As BLOQ Residences gains momentum, Fiona admits that she no longer has the luxury of time. When asked how she separates her working relationship from her marriage, she answers that she makes it a point to meet her husband for lunch for some quality time; they talk about what they want to do and their plans together. Evenings and weekends are usually reserved for the children, although sometimes they also make work a family affair. “On weekends, we take the children with us to the site, to check on the construction.” Fiona shares that their eldest daughter Renoa is their litmus test. “When she says, ‘Mommy, it’s so beautiful!’ it gets sold. She appreciates.”
More than anything, what inspires Fiona is their children. “My children are my driving force. We work hard so that they can pursue whatever they want in life,” she shares. “We want to give them the best opportunities. Our condition for the kids is, if you want to be an artist, if you want to be a singer, you might as well be the best at what you want to do.”
“Same for RFK Holdings,” she concludes. “We might be a small developer, but in the aspect of the niche we are catering to, we want to be the best.”
What is BLOQ Residences?
BLOQ Residences are affordable modern residential developments meant to address the rising need for a place to live in the city. BLOQ provides residential spaces which are strategically priced to equal an average person’s rent money. More than anything, BLOQ is a lifestyle. It is an answer to the evolving needs of our modern lives. BLOQ is a solution for young professional to balance work and everything else in life.
WHO is BLOQ’s target market?
BLOQ is for the young, inspired, and hardworking Cebuanos who are finally coming into their own.
HOW big is a unit at BLOQ? And what does it come with?
There are two (2) types of units for BLOQ: STUDIO and LOFT. With much consideration for the needs of our modern lifestyle, STUDIO units are designed to be 18 sqm, while the LOFT units are to be 27 sqm. Maximizing on value and flexibility, BLOQ’s units are delivered with a fitted out bathroom, kitchen counter top, painted walls, and straight to finish concrete floors. Each unit owner is encouraged to personalize their space unique to their tastes and preferences, starting with a choice to pick the color of their door.
What amenities does BLOQ have?
BLOQ is unique. Because of the market it is for, it is a balance of space and cost. Decorative features are forgone in order to maximize on utility. In order to lessen the burden of monthly expenses to maintain the buildings, amenities are narrowed down to the essentials such as parking areas, laundry areas, janitorial services and security services.
WHERE are BLOQ’s projects located?
BLOQ developments are always conveniently placed in locations that are close to Cebu’s urban centers. Primary considerations are ease of public transport, safety, and overall livability.
- BLOQ Talamban: 8-storey, 126 units, turnover on 2Q 2016
- BLOQ Banawa: 16-storey, 148 units, turnover on 4Q 2017
- BLOQ Sikatuna: 16-storey, 161 units, turnover on 4Q 2017
- BLOQ Plaridel: 8-storey, 133 units, turnover on 2Q 2017
What makes BLOQ different from other residential developments?
VALUE. Most residential condominiums have been primed as an investment. The current market offerings are priced and packaged to be attractive for people looking for a property to earn a recurring income on or as a tool to hedge against inflation. BLOQ, however, is packaged and priced to be a development where the buyers themselves will live in their investment. BLOQ advocates for young professionals to invest in themselves. Instead of paying for rent, which is an expense, why not buy your own space using your rent money and having to enjoy all the benefits of real estate investment, in particular, value appreciation.
Originally published in Zee Lifestyle February 2015
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!