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Inside Cebu: The Velavana

In the 22 years that Zee has been around, countless homes have made it to our glossy pages, and as we turned digital, on our screen—but there’s nothing quite like the Velavana, a whimsical bahay kubo crafted from bamboo. 

Velvana Cebu Facade - Zee Lifestyle Cebu

The facade of the Velavana. Photo by Oliver Echevarria

 
In the 22 years that Zee has been around, countless homes have made it to our glossy pages, and as we turned digital, on our screen—but there’s nothing quite like the Velavana, a whimsical bahay kubo crafted from bamboo. 
 
Literally translating to “cube house”, the bahay kubo often serves as an icon of Philippine culture, and is mostly found in rural areas. It’s seen in many artworks that depict bayanihan, a Filipino value that refers to communal unity or a joint effort to achieve an objective, where a group of people are seen carrying the bahay kubo to transport it to a new location.
 
There aren’t many of these houses left standing in the urban sprawl of Cebu City; concrete is the preferred material for building properties, and contemporary architecture takes the lead. Although, that’s not to say that the bahay kubo is outdated in any way, as its architectural principles gave way to many houses and buildings that rose after the pre-colonial era, and even until now. 
 
Velvana Cebu Interior - Zee Lifestyle Cebu

The open area and high-ceilinged foyer easily allows the breeze to pass through. Photo by Oliver Echevarria

 
The Velavana proves that the bahay kubo is a beautiful remnant of the past. Its location makes it doubly precious—built atop a hill in Cebu’s most exclusive gated community, the Velavana sprawls across a half hectare property surrounded by native foliage such as trees of banana, coconut, and bamboo—the last one doesn’t come as a surprise, seeing as Velavana is a combination of the Sanskrit words vela and vana, which mean “bamboo” and “house”, respectively.  
 
Velvana Cebu Foyer Lamps - Zee Lifestyle Cebu

In the foyer, lamps made from rattan and bamboo hang overhead. Photo by Oliver Echevarria

 
Its owner, whose identity we shall keep under wraps for their requested privacy, built Velavana for them and their family to hang out. For them, it’s the best venue to relax and unwind.
 
“The design was visioned in my brain, executed by two carpenters,” they share. “[It] Did challenge my artistic skills to the test. The end result… [is] Pure joy in my unicorn—rare and highly-valued— hideaway.”
 
Velvana Cebu Stairs - Zee Lifestyle Cebu

Before entering the house, guests must take off their shoe use the handwoven slippers at the entrance. Photo by Oliver Echevarria

 
When you step inside, its chic and airy interiors might throw you in for a loop. Nearly everything is made from organic materials—the furniture, the tables, the hanging lamps, the decor. In the foyer, bamboo vases filled with large glossy leaves of the philodendron and bright white orchids sit atop a glass table with intricately-woven wooden legs. 
 
Velvana Cebu Dining Area - Zee Lifestyle Cebu

Velvana’s open air dining area. Photo by Oliver Echevarria

 
To the right is the open-air dining area, with the table and chairs woven from rattan. The same material is used to weave the charger plates and napkin holders, adding a native touch to the table settings. 
 
Velvana Cebu Sungka Flowers - Zee Lifestyle Cebu

Photo by Oliver Echevarria

 
Right in the center of the table lie a variety of Filipino elements. Green tundan (a variety of banana found all over the Philippines), along with white orchids, sungka boards and succulents are lined up to keep with the rustic theme. Hanging above the table are a swanky mishmash of white bougainvillea, ferns, leaves, more orchids, and succulents in terrariums. 
 
Velvana Cebu Living Area - Zee Lifestyle Cebu

The living area makes for the ideal place for a nightcap. Photo by Oliver Echevarria

 

On the left of the foyer is a living area, filled with the similarly-themed furniture. Clean white linen furbishing are offset by the woven elements, and greenery liven up the space. Sitting on the couch here gives you an unobstructed view of the city skyline, up until the sea surrounding the island. Everything about the Velavana screams serenity and relaxation, as if you’re on a retreat in tropical paradise. 

Beauty & Wellness

5 Things We Love About Nailplay, a Luxury Nailspa

Tucked into a quiet area in the hustle and bustle of Banilad, you can find a haven where you can look fabulous and fresh in one go.

Nailplay is a luxury nailspa that was a brainchild of five ladies, who wanted a place that was clean, had a relaxing ambience away from the city, and basically, was their own secret getaway.

Upon seeing the studio, a lush landscape is the welcoming sight. To get into the nailspa, guests have to cross a little wooden bridge, above a pond filled with koi fish. Immediately, it’s obvious that a trip to Nailplay guarantees a relaxing experience.

Faye Louise Veloso, the woman who manages Nailplay, explains that the studio’s overall concept is more in line with wellness.

“It’s really a cross between an ordinary nail salon and a spa, so we refer to Nailplay as as Nailspa,” Louise says.

The nailspa, as it’s lovingly called, offers services such as their Luxury Urban Escape, which involves an hour of relaxation through their SpaPlay Mani and Footspa, followed by your choice of a deep back and shoulders massage, or their 30-minute hair treatment.

Of course, Nailplay also offers nail services, with a choice of regular or gel nail polish. For those who want a fancier take on nails, you may also get nail art done by their staff. To complement the massage and nails, try Nailplay’s Signature Mink Eyelash Extensions These are lightweight and natural-looking, as it comes in three different lengths to match one’s natural eyalashes. And, to round off the pamper session, they also offer eyebrow waxing and threading! There’s no need to hop from one place to another to get all these services done.

For those who want to have bridal showers or a pamper-filled birthday bash, Nailplay also offers packages that fit the client’s needs. The package includes the exclusive use of the venue for three hours, manicure and pedicure for all the guests and light catering for the event. During the event, guests may upgrade to any of the other services that the nailspa offers.

“It’s been quite popular with bridal showers, but we recently hosted a children’s birthday party,” Louise shares. “I’ve been told the kids had a blast!”

Louise believes that Nailplay’s venue plays a huge role in its success.

“The landscaping was done beautifully, and it doesn’t even feel like you’re in the heart of Cebu!” She says. “Our friendly beauty therapists are also what make Nailplay what it is—our top customer service is why our clients keep coming back.”

While Louise is often between Cebu and Sydney, she shares that treating herself is as simple as taking the time to eat well, do some exercise, or get a footspa—at Nailplay, of course. Her personal favourite service though, is their Signature Mink Eyelashes.

“One of the beauty therapists even thought I had naturally long lashes,” she recounts, “without realising I just had them done!”

While Nailplay has only one store in Cebu, Louise divulges that they have plans of expanding in the future.

“I think the wellness market in Cebu is ready for our luxury and boutique Nailspa services,” she states. “Hopefully within the next five years, you’ll see more Nailplay stores in similar unique locations.”

Check out the video below to know the 5 Things We Love About Nailplay, or visit their website at www.nailplayphilippines.com.

 

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Beauty & Wellness

These Four Women Show Us How They Empower Themselves Through Pole Fitness

Charmaine, Jane, Ginie, and Ant are four women who take women empowerment on another level. With their daily morning routine of working their day jobs and attending to other matters, they all meet up in the afternoon to do one thing – Pole Fitness. Inside their studio, Pole Sphinx, they practice and teach other men and women about the beauty and grace of Pole Fitness and how it has helped them achieve much of what they are today.

Zee takes you inside their studio to fully know how these women empower others through Pole Fitness.

 

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Fashion

Rajo Laurel, Amina Aranaz-Alunan, and Bianca King Share Tips on How to Take Better Care of Your Clothes

To help keep your clothes in the best shape, check out these tips from Electrolux FashionCare Ambassador Rajo Laurel, along with the FashionCare Council members Amina Aranaz-Alunan and Bianca King.

Wear it well without wearing it out! That is the fashion philosophy shared by Electrolux, a
leading global appliance company from Sweden, when it comes to clothes. You don’t
need a lot of clothes to look stylish – just give them some TLC, especially when doing
your laundry.

To help keep your clothes in the best shape, check out these tips from Electrolux
FashionCare Ambassador Rajo Laurel, along with the FashionCare Council members
Amina Aranaz-Alunan and Bianca King. From washing to storing, these practical hacks
will help keep your clothes looking new for longer.

Check the Label
Acclaimed fashion designer Rajo Laurel shared that his number one rule when it comes
to caring for clothes is to check the care label, which teaches you everything from the
temperature, the kind of cycle and even instructions on drying, bleaching and ironing.
And if those laundry symbols look like hieroglyphics to you? Executive director and
teacher of SoFA Design Institute, and Creative Director of fashion accessories and bag
label ARANÁZ Amina Aranaz-Alunan’s practical tip: print out a guide that explains the
symbols for laundry instructions.

Caring for White Shirts and Tops
A staple in anyone’s wardrobe, the classic white tee is a great piece to build your
wardrobe around. It’s easy to dress up and down, going from casual to business-chic.
To keep your white shirt looking new, before washing, unbutton your shirt including its
cuffs and collar. Check the label recommendations for care guidelines. Use a laundry
detergent that contains bleach to really make your whites, white.

And if your white shirt or polo gets wrinkled easily, check if your washing machine has a
Steam or Vapour Care setting – this relaxes the fibres and removes odours to bring back
that soft, fresh feel to your white top.

Caring for Colours
Having coloured pieces is a great way to make a look pop but they are also prone to
fading faster than dark or white clothing. To help make sure your coloured garments
don’t lose their vibrance, sort your garments by colour before doing the laundry. Bright
clothes such as purples, reds and oranges can be washed together, so can bright blues
and greens. If a colour stands out on its own, consider washing it alone. Then check the
garment for stains and apply a small amount of liquid detergent to the stain and shake
gently in water. Turn your garments inside out to minimize rubbing of fibres. Choose a
low temperature and avoid hot settings that can cause fading. You can also use a gentle
wash cycle.

Caring for Jeans
Denim is durable but to make them last longer, especially the coloured and printed
denims or anything with a deep indigo wash, you need to give them extra special care.
The key to a long life is to wash at a low temperature and avoid over washing. First off,
be sure to wear your jeans for as long as possible before they are first washed to give
them a comfortable shape and a natural fade. Separate your jeans from white or other
brightly coloured clothes because they might bleed colour. Turn them inside out before
washing as well.

Dealing with Stains
The FashionCare Council members all share that it’s best to deal with stains
immediately. Soak or try to wash them off right away. For food and wine stains, Laurel
shares that he uses salt and soda water on the stains before washing as these help to
lift the stains.

Here are some other helpful tips to remove common stains: For ink stains, blot the
stained area with alcohol using a clean cloth and rinse thoroughly. For coffee stains,
first try using cold water through the back of the stain for 10-15 minutes. If the stain is
not fully removed, use liquid laundry detergent and a little cold water, or try using dish
washing liquid. Gently rub the liquid detergent or dish washing liquid with your thumb to
loosen the stain for about five minutes.

Proper Storage
The FashionCare Council members also shared that storage can play a role in keeping
clothes looking their best. Model and actress, Bianca King advised people to keep their
closets neat so you have a full account of everything you own and to know which items
should be hung or folded (if it’s a knit or weave). And speaking of hanging, Laurel and
Aranz-Alunan both mentioned the importance of using proper hangers – Laurel
mentioned avoiding those without foam defense as they could ruin the shape of clothes.
Another advantage of keeping a closet organized is it could help you plan your wardrobe
– you can rotate your pieces, as shared by Laurel, to help prolong their life.

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