More a series of impressions than a direct political portrait, a conversation with Senate reelectionist Francis Escudero, better known to the public as Chiz, reveals the ideals and goals that move a man who could be president one day.
Senator Francis Joseph Guevara escudero wears his stature easily, making it look so effortless and so apt. Yet his being likeable goes beyond having his very down-to-earth nickname—Chiz being a youthful moniker that immediately signifies new blood. He gives off a sense of the “everyman,” and with it that trust factor that wins people over or blunts any sort of misgiving. As a senator who does product endorsement as favors for friends who own businesses, as he told Manila times earlier this July, his smiling face is seen on billboards and buses just as his serious countenance is on television during televised senate hearings. Curiously, both sides to his persona make him seem all the more accessible. In fact, at a recent photo shoot for another endorsement, Chiz had barely stepped out of the studio for a short break when a few women burst from the adjacent office to ask for a photo. Gamely, the senator indulged them. The reaction he elicits is a little bit like a rock star, albeit in a subdued way, with his presence inspiring giddy smiles from people waiting to take a photo with him.
When the flurry of activities dies down, he notes, “I’m not used sa ganung klaseng atensyon (to this kind of attention).” it’s a little surprising, if a tad self-effacing, considering he does look the part of a self-assured public figure. He even jokes, “Madalas ko ngang sinasabi nung high school ako, lahat ng mga crush ko walang crush sa ‘kin e. (When I was in high school, everyone I had a crush on didn’t like me back)” More seriously, he admits, “Pinagpawisan ‘yung kamay ko at may kaba pa rin ako ‘pag nagsasalita. (I still get nervous whenever I have to speak.)” Still, he welcomes this uneasiness as a “good feeling,” going on to say, “it keeps my feet on the ground, makes me more real and in touch with who I was before I entered politics. A day will come soon that I’ll no longer be in politics and be back to who I was before I joined it.”
In the face of many politicians who see the impression of retirement as an alien concept, this one thinks of the day he would leave public service behind, leaving the impression that he would voluntarily do so when the time comes. “No one sits or holds a position forever. Kung hindi ko kayang gawin ‘yon (when I won’t be able to do the job), someone will step up to the plate and perform the job perhaps even better than I have or will ever be able to.”
Senator Chiz is an articulate, self-edited speaker who delivers his words rapidly. It’s a little disconcerting, this speaking cadence; it makes most of the things he says sound like a practiced speech instead of an impromptu answer, but that’s just a manner called for by his position. During the shoot, the senator laughs and talks easily, but that might seem inappropriate when he’s on duty. “’Yung salita ko kasi, nanggaling sa pelikulang Pilipino na mahilig manood ‘yung yaya ko nun (I learned how to talk from Filipino movies that my nanny used to like watching).” he adds, “Kasi inimbento naman ang salita para magkaintindihan tayo, hindi para magandang pakinggan. Mas mahalaga na maintindihan ka. (Language was invented for us to understand each other, not for it to sound good. It’s more important to be understood.)”
Coming from a middle class family, he proudly says, “hanggang ngayon ‘yon pa rin ang pananaw at pagtingin ko sa sarili ko. Lumaki ako sa ordinaryong bahay, nag-aral sa pampublikong paaralan, nagba-basketball sa kanto—lahat ‘yon pinagdaanan ko. (That’s still the way I see myself. I grew up in an ordinary house, went to public school, played basketball on the street—I went through all that.)”
The senator is a fourth- generation escudero to serve as a pubic official, his father the late Salvador Escudero, Marcos-era Minister of Food and agriculture before moving on to become the Secretary of Agriculture in 1996 and later a congressman. The family name, he notes, is what makes people assume wealth, because of the popular Villa Escudero, a plantation and resort on the border of Quezon and Laguna that belongs to distant relatives.
Tt’s one thing to build a reputation, and another to keep it. The senator enjoys a high public approval rating, winning his seat in the senate with the second highest number of votes, only slightly behind Senator Loren Legarda. Running for a re-election in 2013, the senator topped a Pulse Asia survey published in December 2011. His highly public persona has been met with criticism, as has been his designs for the highest seat in the land. “Anyone who’s in politics right now who says they do not have an eye for the presidency is lying through his teeth,” he says. “Wala namang masama roon. (there’s nothing wrong with that)”
Still, when asked if he thinks he is ready for the job, he quickly says, “no one is ready to be president. Walang isang taong kayang gawin lahat ‘yan. (there’s noone who can do all that) I think it’s a question of having your heart in the right place, and of being in government long enough to know its limitations and what needs to be done, but not too long to be eaten by the system and not be able to effect meaningful change anymore.”
One thing he learned from his father is to live a simple life, its importance especially emphasized during the EDSA Revolution in 1986. “Noong panahon ni Marcos, akala nila wala nang katapusan ang pagiging nasa pwesto nila. Pero hindi ganun ang tatay ko at sa murang edad nakita ko ‘yon. Mula sa pagkakaroon ng maraming kaibigan, maraming nagbibigay ng kung anu-anong regalo, biglang nawala lahat ‘yon. (During Marcos’ time, the politicians thought there was no end to their terms. But my dad wasn’t like that and i saw that at a young age. having a lot of friends and receiving a lot of gifts, it was just suddenly gone.)” But he recalls still having a relatively normal life compared to those displaced by the former president’s loss of power.
He also remains pragmatic when it comes to working within the system. “Most people think: ‘ayaw ko pumasok sa gobyerno kasi ang dumi nila (i don’t want to be in the government because they’re corrupt.)’ Kaya siguro madudumi nga ang ibang nasa gobyerno dahil ang malilinis ayaw pumasok e. (Maybe officials are corrupt because the good ones don’t want to go into politics.) Secondly, you can’t change anything from the outside. to change things, the effort should come both from the inside and the outside. Third, siguro ‘yon ang dahilan kung bakit ako maaga pumasok sa pulitika at kung bakit ayaw kong tumanda sa pulitika. Kasi kung katulad ko rin sila, dapat umalis na rin ako rito. (Maybe that’s the reason i entered politics early and why i don’t want to grow old in that position, because if once I become like those who are corrupt, then it’s time for me to go.)”
The outlook on the government might come from the televised hearings that deal with those accused of corruption and inquests into missing funds by the millions—figures that are a travesty to be thrown in the face of many living in poverty. “It is frustrating sometimes, but also unfair,” says Senator Chiz, before arguing that the media often reports only the most sensational. “Hindi namin kasalanan kung ang kino-cover ng media lang ‘yong away at ‘yong kontrobersiya. (It’s not our fault that the media only covers the fights and the controversies.) that it’s seen on tV does not necessarily mean that that’s the only thing we’re doing. That’s just how it is, we cannot impose on media what they will air on tV or radio, or write in print.”
Of all his work, he says he is proudest when, as a Congressman, he was instrumental in providing electricity in barangays in Sorsogon, even connecting them via a road network–things taken for granted in cities. Meanwhile, as a member of the Senate, he values having given voice to a good number of Filipinos in the various issues of government. Like most citizens, he decries the lack of continuity in projects, believing that there should be career officials in certain departments. “Certain departments should have career officials, for continuity regardless of who the president is. Otherwise, ‘yong bagong palit na Secretary, ire-review to death ‘yong mga ginawa ng nakaraan, hahanapin ng butas at kaso. (The new Secretary would just review the programs of the previous, looking for something to build a case on.)”
Believing that “government is about allocating scarce resources,” the senator says that when he does choose to run for higher office, “Kwentas klaras,” he saus pointedly. “What you see is what you get. Our platform would be based on the national budget. Kung hindi mo naman popondahan ‘yan, ‘wag ka nang magaksaya ng laway. (If you’re not going to put money in, then don’t waste your breath.)” He cites the examples of the government choosing to allocate one billion pesos per province to 80 provinces. “We have a budget of nearly two trillion persos already. One billion lang ang pinaguusapan natin. Walongpu lang ang probinsya mo eh. Kada probinsya, iba ang pangangailangan. Habang tumataas and pwesto mo, mas lalo ka dapat magtanon kung anong kailangan ng pinaglilingkuran mo. (We’re only talking about one billion for just eighty provinces. Each province has its own needs. The higher office you hold, the more you should be asking about the needs of the people you serve.)”
As for future political plans, he keeps it simple. “In general terms, I just want to continue to represent the people. I also want to focus on education. I haven’t been fortunate enough to the chair of the Committee of Education in the Senate. Hopefully this coming Congress, I will.” Of course, an elected official has additional burdens that he is accountable for, and Senator Chiz has more ideas about how things should be run within the system. As he champions the plight of the less fortunate and to address the inequalities in the government, what really drives him to public services is simply: “I’ve always wanted to be remembered for having dones something while remembering that I should keep my name clean.”
His personal life may have recently become entertainment and internet fodder, thanks to a new relationship with actress Heart Evangelista, but Senator Chiz points out, “It’s not coming from us. Hiwalay naman kasi ‘yon e. ‘Yong personal kong buhay, walang kinalaman sa trabaho ko. (That’s a separate matter. My personal life has nothing to do with my work.)” He is clear that, even while still married, he refuses to take his work home with him. Outside of the job, his family is his motivation, making a point to spend time with his kids, fraternal twins Maria cecilia and Joaquin cruz. Especially now as a single parent, he comes home between appointments and even makes an effort to instill discipline, for them “to have a sense na hindi lahat ng gusto nilang gawin, pwede nilang gawin. (that they can’t do everything they want to do.)” In fact, this holiday season, the thing he most looks forward to is to see “the look on my twins’ faces when they open their gifts.”
There really is a sense of lightness in how Senator Chiz carries himself, perhaps the lack of a self- important air. During the interview, he arrives without a coterie of staff fussing over him or a hound of bodyguards to keep anyone from getting too close. The truthfulness of a public official isn’t in rhetoric, it is in action; and Senator Chiz is an idealist with a vision to change the system
to serve people better. Whether he succeeds or simply ignites hope for future leaders, hopefully what he’s done so far as a true public servant will hold when put to the test, especially in light of the hard work that has chosen him.
- by Annie S. Alejo
- photography Doc Marlon Pecjo
- art direction and styling by Melo Esguerra
- shot on location at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila Hotel
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!