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Jamie Herrell: Seas the Day

Jamie Herrell talks about the responsibilities of being Miss Earth 2014 and how The Mactan Newtown’s township lifestyle by the beach promotes the preservation of Cebu’s thriving marine life and other environmental initiatives.

It’s one of those picturesque days at the height of a Cebuano summer—the kind with cloudless sky and a bright sun that casts the sea in glistening light. The Zee Lifestyle team is on a boat, trying to dress up cover girl Miss Earth 2014 Jamie Herrell specifically for the underwater photoshoot. While being gently but routinely rocked by the waves, someone shrugs and laughs, “This is just another day at the office.”

The office, for that day at least, being the waters off the shores of Megaworld’s The Mactan Newtown – the country’s first cyberpark and township with its own beachfront in Mactan Island.

"I would really love to promote Lapu-Lapu City’s ecotourism spots because we have a lot to offer–the beaches, food, culture and most especially our hospitality. As the city’s slogan says, 'Come to Lapu-Lapu and free yourself.'" - Jamie Herrell, Zee Lifestyle May 2015  (Photography by Jan Gonzales/Dress by Bernardo Flores/Makeup by Jonas Borces)

“I would really love to promote Lapu-Lapu City’s ecotourism spots because we have a lot to offer–the beaches, food, culture and most especially our hospitality. As the city’s slogan says, ‘Come to Lapu-Lapu and free yourself.'” – Jamie Herrell, Zee Lifestyle May 2015 (Photography by Jan Gonzales/Dress by Bernardo Flores/Makeup by Jonas Borces)

The Mactan Newtown has become a unique township lifestyle with a beach when Megaworld, the country’s leader and pioneer in developing integrated urban townships, has acquired a prime property fronting the famous Mactan Shrine and its partnership with Landmark, Inc. to develop the 11-hectare Portofino Beach.

“This is the most exciting time for The Mactan Newtown. With the new beach area and around Mactan Shrine up for development, we are spicing up our pioneering ‘Live-Work-Play-Learn’ lifestyle concept in Central Visayas,” says Noli D. Hernandez, President, Megaworld Cebu Properties, Inc.

For 26 years, Megaworld has established its track record of pioneering the development of integrated urban townships across the country. With The Mactan Newtown’s unique resort lifestyle community, it is now envisioned to boost Cebu’s tourism industry by having an integrated lifestyle with its own natural beach as a primary amenity to the future residents, workers, and visitors of the township. This concept effectively minimizes the carbon foot print and maximizing and improving the use of land.

“Last year, Megaworld partnered with the World Wildlife Fund for Nature–Philippines (WWF-Philippines) to plant 5,000 mangrove seedlings in Mactan. Jamie was among those who took part in the effort to save Mactan’s Mangrove forests,” says Hernandez.

Jamie Herrell was actively involved in Megaworld Corporation's mangrove planting in Mactan Island last year (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, May 2015)

Jamie Herrell was actively involved in Megaworld Corporation’s mangrove planting in Mactan Island last year (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, May 2015)

Hailing from Mactan herself, Jamie shares the same sentiment. “I think it’s a really good deed that The Mactan Newtown is doing. For a company as big and busy as Megaworld, to still be putting in effort to do environmental activities is very impressive.”

The environment is something Jamie is very passionate about, and the opportunity to be Miss Earth and work with various organizations to address these issues is what drew her to the pageant in the first place. “When I saw how the organization of Miss Earth really pushed their advocacy, I told myself that if I would ever join a pageant, it would be Miss Earth,” she admits.

Jamie Herrell (Photography by Jan Gonzales/Hair and Makeup by Jonas Borces/Styled by BLAQ Mafia/Locale: The Mactan Newtown's beach)

“I don’t think that marine life in Mactan is in immediate danger, but I can see that if nothing changes, our waters could be threatened in the future. That is why we should act now by preserving our seas, not just to keep tourism alive, but also to sustain a healthy community on the island.” – Jamie Herrell, Zee Lifestyle May 2015 (Photography by Jan Gonzales/Dress by Oj Hofer/Hair and Makeup by Jonas Borces/Shot on location at The Mactan Newtown beach)

It must have been a calling—the 21-year-old was crowned Miss Earth 2014, adding the prestigious title to her already impressive resume of Reyna ng Aliwan 2014, Sinulog Festival Queen 2013, Miss MegaCebu 2013 and Miss Philippines Earth 2014. Through it all, though, Jamie never felt that she was winning the title for herself. “I wasn’t the only one that worked hard for the crown,” she explains. “My advisers and my family pushed me to a certain level and made this dream come true. So when I won, I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.

It isn’t hard to imagine why the people around Jamie are often compelled to work with her. She is sweet and cheerful, cracking jokes even as she floats around on the water with her elbows propped on a lifesaver. In between takes, she talks about her life in Manila, and keeps grinning while makeup artist Jonas Borces and Cebu manager Sven Chua playfully tease her about her posing. The easygoing attitude is remarkable, considering she had just flown in from Manila on an early flight, after a late night coming from an event. “Environmental activities, coastal cleanups, tree plantings, school tours, environmental seminars, promoting ecotourism in the Philippines, and even some hosting and modeling gigs,” she enumerates as what’s been keeping her busy.

Her passion for the title and the responsibilities that come with it is evident in how she describes her duties. “They expect you to always be on top of everything, because being a beauty queen is not just about looking pretty. It’s a job where you can’t slack off, and you have to be consistent in all the activities,” she shares. “Right now, my reigning queens and I are working on an advocacy that we hope will spread around the world. It’s not just to make people aware of the environmental issues, but also to inspire them to act and get involved.”

Being Miss Earth, Jamie has her hands in various environmental projects, but there are a few that she considers her priorities. “Climate change is the biggest issue, not just in the Philippines but also around the world,” she shares, pointing out how hot it’s been in the last few weeks. She’s also been known to speaking about educating children, considering they have the future in their hands, as well as being anti-animal cruelty.

Of course, Cebu and Mactan are still considered home, and they hold a special place in her heart. A few days after the shoot, she participated in the island’s Kadaugan Festival by playing Reyna Bulakna in the reenactment of Lapu-Lapu and Magellan’s legendary battle.

Jamie Herrell as Reyna Bulakna with Vin Abrenica as Lapu-Lapu during the Kadaugan Festival (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, May 2015)

Jamie Herrell as Reyna Bulakna with Vin Abrenica as Lapu-Lapu during the Kadaugan Festival (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, May 2015)

“I think Mactan is improving, and it’s really good to see how Lapu-Lapu is becoming one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Philippines,” she says. “This is why I would really love to promote Lapu-Lapu City’s ecotourism spots because we have a lot to offer—the beaches, food, culture, and most especially our hospitality. As the city’s slogan says, ‘Come to Lapu-Lapu and free yourself.’”

It’s an idea she shares with Megaworld, as The Mactan Newtown gears toward taking their Live-Work-Play-Learn by the Beach concept to fruition. With a land area of 28.8 hectares, the township will offer a complete resort lifestyle for its residents and guests at the 8 Newtown Boulevard, One Pacific Residences and One Manchester Place; workers at various BPO offices in One World Center and Two World Center; and students at the La Salle-supervised The Newtown School of Excellence.

The recently opened Mactan Alfresco, located near the township’s main entrance, is a charming gazebo to enjoy the famous local and international dishes from some of Cebu’s up-and-coming restaurants.

“We offer Mactan Alfresco to showcase some of Cebu’s best culinary kitchens, restaurants in a hawker-style food place. It is an exciting new dining concept at The Mactan Newtown that could boost the food tourism in Cebu,” shares Hernandez. (READ MORE: Eats in Cebu: Mactan Alfresco)

The Mactan Newtown's Mactan Alfresco brings the joy of eating to the outdoors (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, May 2015)

The Mactan Newtown’s Mactan Alfresco brings the joy of eating to the outdoors (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, May 2015)

Much like Jamie, Megaworld also intends to promote tourism in the area by rehabilitating the historic Mactan and Lapu-Lapu shrines.

The shoreline, of course, is another major aspect. Although Megaworld already has a number of township projects around the country, The Mactan Newtown is the first to boast of a beachfront, and Megaworld is working hard to ensure it remains pristine and protected.

“As a fully-integrated urban township, the township is spicing up the beachfront area, which will have first-class hotels overlooking the Hilutungan Channel, an exclusive world-class beach club, and sports facilities that will also promote active lifestyle by the beach. Aside of improving the area as a tourism hub, we will also have a long-term marine preservation and conservation through our various environmental initiatives in The Mactan Newtown,” says Hernandez.

“I don’t think that marine life in Mactan is in immediate danger, but I can see that if nothing changes, our waters could be threatened in the future,” Jamie adds. “That is why we should act now by preserving our seas, not just to keep tourism alive, but also to sustain a healthy community on the island.”

In the end, it only takes a few hours out at sea to remember why preserving the environment is such an important cause. As the salty breeze rushes past you and the ocean’s gleaming waves crash against the boat, the experience, you realize, is too good to rob the next generations of. Jamie shares a tactic that anyone can do to contribute to the effort of keeping such an experience a reality. “Think twice,” she says simply. “Think twice about what you do in your everyday life, and find alternatives that will help the environment. Even the littlest things that we do for Mother Earth count.”

Zee Lifestyle May 2015by Shari Quimbo photography Jan Gonzales production manager Patty Taboada
stylists Blaq Mafia hair and makeup Jonas Borces
special thanks to Islands Banca Cruises, Kawayan Marine Resort and Feel Deep Scuba Diving
Originally published in Zee Lifestyle May 2015



Cycling has been a growing sport and hobby for many years but it’s popularity has erupted since the Covid pandemic.  People biking to work and for recreation is an everyday sight in Cebu.  More and more are joining the ride.  Many are quite serious about cycling.  I know three ladies who are among those who’ve gone long distances across Cebu.

How did you get into serious cycling?  What was your motivation?

Blinky de Leon.  Event Host, Product Endorser & Influencer

“ I’ve been into cycling since I was a kid. A little backstory, I was around 10 years old when my dad surprised me with my first custom-made mountain bike. I still keep it until now, in fact I had it refurbished. It’s the most sentimental thing I ever received since it was his way/gesture to catch up with me after not seeing each other for almost 6 yrs. My dad is based in Germany and he also loves cycling and makes his own bamboo bike.”


“Just a year ago though, my friend Gazini randomly, out of nowhere, picked me up from home to bike with her to the South of Cebu. I felt really excited and motivated to get back on track because it’s very nostalgic and brings back so many great memories. And since then, the rest was history. We’ve been joining different groups, tried different routes and conquered different heights. I’ve met so many cyclists with very inspiring stories in the bike community who kept me feeling motivated too. I also look forward to the sights and the adventure that comes along with it.”


Yumz Mariot. Branding & Marketing Consultant

“I used to bike along with rock and wall climbing. I am lousy with ballgames which is why. Our usual route were Talamban and Mactan but one time, managed to ship gears all the way to Dumaguete for a quick ride to Valencia, the next town located at a higher elevation. Those were days when I did it for fun and what bike I was using did not matter.”

“Fast forward to 2021, a year after the pandemic lockdown began, I realized I have been lazy to do any fitness routine. Too caught up on juggling between house chores and Work from Home deliverables (I work as a Branding and Marketing Consultant), I started to feel my body needs to move as much as my brain does. A hysical fitness routine is as important as what I eat, or what I read or watch. So I decided to invest on a decent MTB, just very recently and got myself a much necessary restart. What motivates me even more is the area where I currently reside at. It is vast, fresh, green and safe for solo bikers like me.”


Prime Sarino. Digital Media Creative

“I started biking as a young teenager and I got the idea to start it as an adult hobby 3 years ago. I was already into running and I thought it would be great to venture into another outdoor activity to keep me occupied after work hours and weekends. I was set to travel for a year so I had to put aside the idea first but came pandemic. We were all forced to stay put and everything was put on hold. Cycling became my diversion. My cyclists friends invited me to quick and short rides. I enjoyed my first 50km ride and the sceneries and routes most of all. It also helped channel a positive mindset during the hard hit season of the pandemic. Not to mention it’s also another way to stay fit when we were forced into inactivity during the quarantine.”

Next in Part 2, we ask the ladies about their cycling experiences and memorable moments…

by: Zen

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#CebuPride:  Cebuanos in Multi-awarded Pride-Themed Films

Multi-awarded International Gay Movies with Cebuano Lead Casts

By:  Allain Dumon Fonte


Pride-themed movies are starting to invade the film industry as people become more accepting and are more intrigued on the stories about LGBTIQ.  Many have shared the intensity of emotions and laughed with the craziest jokes on gay-themed movies.  In the Philippines, these kinds of movies were questioned as to their morality and their message to the society.  The strong influence of the country’s religious standards had branded gay-themed movies as sex-oriented and nothing more.  Yet, with Thailand’s more tolerant culture, Thai BL (Boy’s Love) movies and television series have created a new perception to the viewers; and that is gay-themed movies are remarkably alike to all other movies – there is romance, comedy, drama, and the continuing struggle of living like normal people.  Hence, Thai BL TV series have a massive following all over Asia.  At the end of 2019, they became available in Netflix and are being watched by millions of viewers all over the world.

ZEE’s Allain Fonte with the casts of the top-rating Thai BL series (2019) “Cause You’re My Boy” of GMMTV (from L-R) Amp Phurikulkrit Chusakdiskulwibul, AJ Chayapol Jutamas, Neo Trai Nimtawat, Frank Thanatsaran Samthonglai, ADF, Drake Laedeke, Phuwin Tangsakyuen, and JJ Chayakorn Jutamas.

The Philippine film industry is not that far from Thailand’s.  Some of the LGBTIQ-themed movies and television series are slowly getting a following in Asia and are now accessible to viewers worldwide.  A few of these pride-themed movies that casted or directed by a Filipino have already been receiving nominations and awards from Golden Globe, The Berlin Film Festival, the Venezia Film Awards, and even the Emmy’s…and the Filipinos in these films hail their roots from Cebu!


1. Lingua Franca


Lingua Franca is a film directed by a Cebuana, Isabel Sandoval.  Sandoval also plays the main character of the movie, and she even wrote the screenplay.  Lingua Franca tells the story of Olivia, an undocumented transgender woman in New York who works as a caregiver to a senile old-lady of Russian-decent.  When Olivia is challenged to attain legal status in the US, she is left with a “marriage-based green card”.  While in search for her groom-to-be, she becomes romantically involved with Alex, Olga’s grandson.

The film is now available on Netflix and has received positive reviews from the media.  Stephen Dalton of the Hollywood Reporter wrote Lingua Franca is a “heartfelt personal statement rooted in timely, gripping issues that obviously resonate deeply with its author, notably trans rights and Trump-era immigration anxieties”.


Isabel Sandoval wearing Marchesa at the Venezia Red Carpet in the Venice Film Festival (2019)

Isabel Sandoval graduated summa cum laude with the degree in psychology from the University of San Carlos in Cebu, Philippines.  In New York, she pursued graduate studies in Film at NYU.  She is now currently residing in NYC, and already has award-winning films under her belt like Apparition, Lingua Franca, Senorita, Ritwal, The Unstoppable, and Judgement.


2. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story

This television series was aired in Netflix and has gained so much popularity because it showed the murder of world-renowned fashion designer, Gianni Versace, by a serial killer, Andrew Cunanan.  Based on Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History, this television series has 9 episodes of suspenseful scenes, and is star-studded with casts like Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz.  However, the main actor who played Andrew Cunanan is Darren Criss who gained his popularity after being a regular on the top rating TV show, Glee.  Darren Criss hails his roots from Cebu, Philippines.

The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story received positive reviews from critics. At the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, it received 9 nominations, and won 3 awards, including Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Darren Criss.


Darren Criss with his dad (left) Charles William Criss, and his mother (right) Cerina Criss. Source

Criss was born and raised in San Francisco, California, USA.  Criss was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended roman catholic schools.  He later moved to Michigan where he studied Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Theatre Performance and minor in music at the University of Michigan.  Criss’s father, Charles William Criss, is a banker and served as CEO of the East West bank in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Criss’s mom, Cerina, is a native of Talisay, Cebu, Philippines.  When he was younger, he visited Cebu a couple of times with his mother.  Darren Criss is very proud of his Cebuano roots and wants to portray Filipino characters in films and in theatres to promote visibility of the Filipinos in the American films.


3. The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela

     The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival where it grabbed the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film.  It was also awarded the Grand Jury Prize in the 10th 2008 Cinemanila International Film Festival at Malacañang Palace’s Kalayaan Hall.  It starred Raquela Rios also known as Minerva to her Cebuano friends.  Raquela  is a local of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines.  The film is directed by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson.


Raquella Rios in Bangkok’s MRT (a scene in a Thai film).

Raquella Rios is a native of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines, and she went to the University of San Carlos in Cebu, studying sociology and anthropology.  Before finishing her studies, Raquella left the Cebu and went to Iceland after being casted by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson for the movie The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela.  She is now based in Bangkok, Thailand as a fashion stylist and wardrobe assistant to some local Thai movies.  Raquella is also an activist for sex workers rights and trans rights in Southeast Asia; pushing for the recognition on the choice of their gender and the right to change their birth names.

Raquella (right) with film director Olaf de Fleur (left) receives the Best Feature Film Award at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival in Germany. Photo grabbed from Berlinale archives.

There are still plenty of pride-themed films in the Philippines that gained recognition all over the world; yet these movies mentioned are special because of the talented Cebuanos that have  brought Cebu to world.  They truly are #CebuPride.

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37 Years of High Fashion; Arcy Gayatin leaves a Legacy of Edginess and Elegance

Arcy Gayatin: A Legacy of Luxury in Fabrication


By:  Allain Dumon Fonte 


The brand Arcy Gayatin gave the Queen City of the South a distinct reputation in the fashion industry.  The fashion line of Arcy Gayatin sets the bar higher each year for clothing luxury and fabrication techniques.


April Duenas, Nikki Gayatin and Arielle Gayatin for Arcy Gayatin—Photos by John Paul Autor from Lifestyle Inquirer.net


Araceli “Arcy” Ancajas Gayatin is the daughter Galileo Ancajas and Remedios Zanoria Ancajas who founded Cebu’s home brand, Gal’s Bakery.  Arcy went to the University of San Carlos and studied Political Science.  And just like Dr. Muccia Prada, who completed her Ph.D. in Political Science and established the luxury line of Prada, Arcy also got in touch with her artistic side and started her own fashion line.  However, it was not Prada that influenced Arcy.  Arcy was introduced to fashion and tailoring at a very young age by her mother, Madame Remedios Anacajas whom they dearly call Mama Eme.  Mama Eme was running a tailoring business back then.  It was called Arabel; named after Arcy and her sister Belma.  Ara from Araceli and Bel from Belma.  In those years, Arcy was fascinated by fabrics and was intrigued by how to manipulate the fabrics to come up with fashion-forward designs without compromising comfort and taste.


Arcy Gayatin (photo grabbed from Space Philippines Blog Spot)


After 37 years of creating haute couture pieces for the most fashionable personalities in the Philippines, Arcy Gayatin is now laying down her sketchpads and pens to rest.  As she enjoys her retirement, may be on a cruise to the Bahamas or a holiday to the Swiss Alps, Arcy Gayatin has left the fashion industry a legacy of elegant and edgy clothing ensembles that understand and define the shape of women; without compromising comfort and good taste.


Arcy Gayatin’s Pink Flamingo collection                                               Arcy Gayatin’s Sketch on a Terno


To salute the lady who brought Cebu fashion to the world, a retrospective exhibition of Arcy’s incomparable masterpieces can be seen today at Ayala Center Cebu’s The Gallery; curated by fashion editor and writer, Clint Holton Potestas, and interior and fashion designer, Jul Oliva.


BALANCE.  Arcy Gayatin is known for her perfect symmetrical lines when fabricating.  She knows how to balance edginess and class; understanding well the strength and the finesse of a woman.


RHYTHM.  Arcy’s expertise in draping and fabric manipulation can be seen in how she achieves rhythm between architectural lines and soft fabrics like silk and cashmere.


TEXTURE.  With her thorough knowledge on fabrics, Arcy Gayatin has achieved the perfection of fabrication by working on different types of fabrics and creating a single piece of art out of them. 


HARMONY.  The simplicity of the silhouette plus the intricacy of the details create a wonderful harmony, making Arcy Gayatin’s design a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.


The photos below show an up-close look at the intricacy and the exquisite craftsmanship of Arcy Gayatin’s fabrication techniques:


THE SPIDER WEB:  one of Arcy’s genius fabrication techniques.


MATCH and PATCH:  Arcy’s unique fabrication craft by patching layers of different types of lace and lace patterns


PLEATS: The perfection of symmetry in pleats on silk.


LA ROSE BLEUE:  U.P. student, Danielle Alessandra Deutsch, inspired by the artistry of Arcy Gayatin, designed this midnight blue dress.   The cabbage rose made from layers of silk organdy gave this evening ensemble a romantic appeal.

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