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
LADY CYCLISTS HIT THE ROADS AND SLOPES OF CEBU.
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…
#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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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LADY CYCLISTS HIT THE ROADS AND SLOPES OF CEBU.