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Nissan Takes The Wheel with Innovation that Excites

There was a collective murmur of appreciation as the 2017 Nissan GT-R rolled into the porte cochere of Montebello Villa Hotel on the gloomy October morning of the photo shoot, the day before this very car was set to lead the 50-car rally of Tour de Cebu. With its glossy orange finish and sleek (dare we say sexy?) lines, it certainly looked like a ray of sunshine streaming into the mostly gray day.

“The GT-R is Nissan’s iconic super sports car, and is the epitome of our brand promise of bringing ‘Innovation that Excites’,” says Ramesh Narasimhan, Nissan Philippines Inc.’s (NPI) President and Managing Director. Having flown in for the Tour’s festivities, he drives the GT-R with the ease of someone who understood the craftsmanship behind the hood—something to be expected for someone at the helm of Nissan’s Philippine operations.

Of course, there’s more to Nissan than just the GT-R. With Jukes, Urvans and especially Almeras steadily rising in numbers through the years, the Nissan brand has cemented its presence on our roads. This may be largely thanks to the establishment of Nissan Philippines Inc. four years ago, creating a local base for the global brand and consolidating their operational efforts in the country.

“While the Nissan brand is not new to the Filipinos, our company is still quite young,” Ramesh explains about NPI. “We have only been operational in the country for four years, and during this time, we have been setting the foundations to build and strengthen the brand. Now that we are in that position to truly give the brand a push, we are excited to offer a wider range of innovative vehicles to cater to a highly intelligent automative market.”

Models like the spacious Urvan, the tough Navra pickup, the economical Almera, and the stylish Juke have all gained a following in their respective. “It’s very difficult to choose just one,” Ramesh says when asked if he had a personal favorite in the Nissan lineup. “My favorites definitely include the Nissan GT-R and Patrol Royale. In Japan, I had the chance to drive the Note E-Power. It’s a small car, but because of the technology behind it, it delivered a very exciting and exhilarating drive.”

Nissan currently has 34 dealerships in 31 cities around the Philippines, three of which are in Cebu. “Our three dealerships are spread out in Cebu—one in the north, one in Cebu City, and one in the South—to cater to the growing market, and expand our reach in the region,” Ramesh shares. Nissan Maguikay in Mandaue City, headed by Julie Tio, has been in operations for years, while Charles Sy’s Nissan Central in the North Reclamation Area, and Markane and Michael Goho’s Nissan South in Talisay opened one day apart earlier this year.

“At the end of the day, the objective is to grow the Nissan brand in the Philippines, and with the support of these three dealers, we believe that we can achieve this goal,” Ramesh continues.

Ramesh certainly seems like the perfect fit for his role atop the company. A gradate of Commerce and Cost and Management Accounting in India, he had moved to Australia to finish his Masters of Business Administration at the Monash University in Melbourne. From there, he worked in finance for the Ford Motor Company for ten years, before he took on the role of Chief Financial Officer in Nissan Motors Australia.

“During that time, I was fortunate to have had a number of different roles that helped me deepen understanding of the business and automative industry as a whole,” Ramesh shares of his past experience. “Having a strong background in Finance has definitely helped me in my current role as NPI’s President and Managing Director. Being able to understand the company’s financial situation ensures that were growing profitability in a sustainable way.”

When the opportunity to move to the Philippines came up two years into his tenure, though, Ramesh thought it would be a great change. “I was eager to move to a more general management position to broaden my view of the organization. So when this opportunity arrived, I was more than willing to take it,” he admits.

These days, Ramesh oversees the company’s operations in the Philippines, and works with his team in creating a vision for the organization and developing strategic plans that will help achieve that vision. “These include plans to expand our business, grow our market share, and identify potential growth segments for the brand,” Ramesh explains. “But the most important part of my job, I believe, is to ensure that we have a highly motivated team who would put those plans into action. I enjoy getting to know the employees, and what they need in terms of support and training, because a strong, passionate team is what will bring Nissan to the next level.”

The conscious effort to focus on the team is something to note, considering Ramesh believes the best part about the Philippines is its people. “Filipinos are so hospitable, friendly and welcoming. I have felt very at home here, since day one,” he admits. “I enjoy the family-like atmosphere show, as well as their love of food and music. These, along with the vibrant market, make the Philippines a very attractive place to live in.”

Part and parcel to the job is traveling to different parts to the country on business, bringing us back to the day of the shoot. He stands next to GT-R, looking dashing in a Ricardo Preto jacket that matched the sporty feel of the car. “This particular model, which is the vehicle’s latest iteration, features between ‘GT’ or Grand Touring, and ‘R’ or Racing. This means that it is the most comfortable GT-R ever made, yet does not compromise its driving performance,” he told us. “It was launched here in the Philippines in 2016, during the fifth Philippine International Motor Show, and has been making waves in the market ever since.”

Even in its older models, the GT-R is certainly iconic, but Ramesh explains that elements of the car’s aesthetic is also present in the other models in Nissan’s lineup. “In terms of looks, our vehicles carry specific design elements that give them a distinct Nissan style and allow them to stand out on the road,” he says. “In terms of technology, we are beginning to bring in Nissan Intelligent Mobility in the Philippines, starting with the new Nissan X-Trail. Nissan Intelligent Mobility, or NIM, is a comprehensive set of features that makes driving safer and more enjoyable for the customer.”

Displaying the full power and features of the NIM was the recently launched Nissan IMx at the 45th Tokyo Motor Show this year, promising a better driving experience by creating a better connection between you and your car. The NIM has features that can only be defined as the future of driving—the Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, which watches two cars ahead for accident prevention; the Intelligent Blind Spot Warning that alerts you to vehicles in your blind spots; the Intelligent Lane Intervention that keeps you from drifting out of your lane; the Intelligent Back-Up Intervention that checks for vehicles behind you and automatically brakes for things you can’t see; the Intelligent Around View Monitor that gives you a bird’s eye view of your surroundings; and the Intelligent Distance Control, which ensures you’re following other cars from a safe distance in traffic.

Certainly impressive in itself, the NIM is packaged in stylish, contemporary vehicle shapes that show how Nissan brings together beautiful aesthetics and innovative technologies for a ride that’s like no other.

“Innovation that Excites,” Ramesh reiterates the brand promise as he gets in the car to reposition the GT-R into another photo-op spot. With everything coming up and Ramesh behind the wheel, it seems inevitable that Nissan Philippines Inc. is set on delivering that promise.


Julie Tio
Nissan Cebu Mandaue
ML Quezon Avenue, Maguikay, Mandaue City

photography Ezekiel Sullano
makeup Romero Vergara
hair Jesse Egos

What made you choose Nissan as a brand to bring into Cebu?

We have the unique distinction of being one of the oldest Nissan dealers in the Philippines, with our partnership beginning in 1993. We are also one of the few dealerships in the country that distributes Nissan exclusively. This longstanding partnership has bred a culture of loyalty, not only between our group and Nissan, but with our customers as well. In fact, we have had customers in the past whose children are our customers now. This is a testament of the Cebuanos trust in the Nissan brand. This kind of personal relationship between Nissan and our customers keeps us going, and inspires us to do our best to serve their requirements


Charles Sy
Nissan Cebu Central
A. Soriano Avenue, North Reclamation Area, Cebu City

photography Mark Philip Dales

What made you choose Nissan as a brand to bring into Cebu?

Nissan has always been on the forefront of automative technological innovation. For example, Nissan is the world’s first EV (Electric Vehicle) mainstream manufacturer. They are currently number one in EV sales worldwide. It is for this and a whole lot of other reasons that our group, The Autocentral Group, decided to carry Nissan in our brand lineup. Nissan is synonymous with innovation, quality and durability—these are the qualities that make Nissan an integral part of our company.


Michael and Markane Goho
Nissan Cebu South
Highway Linao, Talisay City

What made you choose Nissan as a brand to bring into Cebu?

We chose Nissan because we have a strong passion for the brand and everything it represents. We see so much potential with Nissan in the Philippine market. Nissan offers a lot of promising and exciting new products that will delight our customers. We also admire the brand’s strong emphasis on the importance of Customer Experience, as this is also a central direction for our group.

Nissan chose us because the direction of both our companies are very much aligned. We share many values and commonalities.



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5 Dishes That You’ve Got to Try When in Cebu

Cebu food is more than just lechon. As a food writer and one of Sugbo Mercado’s proprietors, Michael Karlo Lim shares the dishes you have to try in the city, and some helpful tips on how to best enjoy them.

I’d imagine someone to mention a trip to Cebu, and all in attendance who know of this island or have been to it would excitedly exclaim, “Lechon!” That or the classic tourist buzzwords: Larsian, dried mangoes, ngohiong and danggit. The past few years have contributed several additions, extending that listing to mostly items held to the extreme or the unconventional, like Tuslob Buwa, but these haven’t really taken those from the outside looking in away from making a beeline for “the best pig ever.”

Food is at the heart of Cebuano culture. With eateries everywhere, as this city becomes more progressive, so does our cuisine. The island’s resources and the fact that it is a hub city in the South have given the people more than enough room and reason to explore cooking. Over the past decades, they have gone the distance, beyond perfecting roast pork to world renown. There are now a lot more local restaurants serving up items that I’d daresay would be quite competitive on the international culinary stage. From traditional recipes to exciting newfangled items, and from veritable kitchen science experiments to home-cooked simplicity, the breadth encapsulates Cebu’s diversity, tossing in what’s local with some global influence to simmer tradition and fusion in a big pot of delicious.

The Cebuano is notoriously hard to please, fickle, either always on the lookout for what’s new or extremely devout to their inclinations. We’re constantly shifting through the new kids on the block, hopefully seeing beyond distracting thematics, and zoning in on what’s damn good. There is always a handful of must-try food items anywhere that both represent the essence of the city and gives you a taste of its times. Here are five of my personal favorites that anyone visiting Cebu must try.

Originally published in the Zee Digital Vol. 1. To get your free copy, click here!

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Art Flush: Inodoro

His chosen creative name may illicit a chuckle here and there, but PJ Ong’s passion for art and graphic design is no laughing matter. With Inodoro, he’s introduced his own brand of aesthetics, something that landed him a Uniqlo collaboration.

His chosen creative name may illicit a chuckle here and there, but PJ Ong’s passion for art and graphic design is no laughing matter. With Inodoro, he’s introduced his own brand of aesthetics, something that landed him a Uniqlo collaboration.

“I’m probably the friendliest graphic designer you’ll know,” PJ Ong says as we were wrapping up after the shoot at the villa of Crimson Mactan Resort and Spa. I had asked him what it was that he felt made him stand out from other artists, and he’d replied his character.

Definitely easygoing, PJ is the man behind Indoro, his creative signature that had received widespread recognition for being the Filipino artist featured in a Uniqlo collection. “It was a great pleasure collaborating with Uniqlo for their Feel the SEA campaign,” he said smiling. “I’m still overwhelmed with the positivity that a team of highly esteemed curators chose me to represent the Philippines.”

It’s not unusual for someone to ask why PJ had chosen Inodoro as his brand name, considering it is the local word for a toilet. “I wanted a name that had Filipino-Spanish roots, with hints of controversy and humor. Embracing the punk ethos, my moniker naturally has a streak of rebellion and non-conformism. In short, a Fuck You attitude. Plus, it’s hard to forget.”

Inodoro is entirely abstract and experimental design. PJ stressed that each project is a unique endeavor, but he always tries to stay true to his design DNA. His work emphasize his principles, which are rooted in being forward-thinking, through-driven and dynamic.

This is an excerpt from the Zee Digital Magazine Vol. 1. To read the full story and get your own copy, click here!


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Two to Tango: Christina and Duke Frasco

Whether it’s spearheading progressive efforts in Liloan or spending weekends with their kids, Christina and Duke Frasco do things as a team. On their ninth year as a wedded couple, they share a side of themselves we haven’t seen before.

Whether it’s spearheading progressive efforts in Liloan or spending weekends with their kids, Christina and Duke Frasco do things as a team. On their ninth year as a wedded couple, they share a side of themselves we haven’t seen before.

Despite it being a day for family, Christina and Duke Frasco gamely accepted our Sunday-scheduled photo shoot. Not that they had any choice, considering that most days found their schedules fully packed.

The dynamic couple is hard to pin down for a reason. Christina is the mayor of Liloan, a first-class municipality in Cebu. On the other hand, Duke was appointed Cebu Port Authority Commissioner by President Rodrigo Duterte just last year, willingly giving up his position as Liloan’s vice-mayor alongside his wife. While they have a lot on their plate because of work, having three young children is an added responsibility.

The Love of Liloan

Goal-driven and full of ideals, the couple has helped develop Liloan into what it is today. The municipality is one of the most progressive in Cebu, even establishing the Liloan Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Federation during Christina’s term, the first in the country spearheaded by a local government unit. Liloan prides itself in having the first LGU-established gender-neutral public restroom in the country.

“Our dream is to become a city,” Christina divulges. She envisions Liloan as an ideal place to live, study, work and invest. “In preparation for that, we are focusing on improving public infrastructure, opening up and improving road networks, and ensuring strict compliance with our Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Land Use Plans to ensure that development is regulated, deliberate and sustainable.”

This year, Liloan is launching tour packages that will feature its cottage industries and various tourist sites. Health services are being professionalized, scholarship programs expanded, and more investments channeled into its law enforcement and disaster response programs.

“We are also enhancing our community governance programs focused on protecting the environment, providing economic opportunities through livelihood, and reaching out to all sectors and stakeholders by incentivizing participation and compliance with our laws and regulations,” Christina adds.

Duke shares that every now and then, he offers input to his wife. “I advice Christina on various matters, especially regarding the projects started during my term, such as our scholarship program and purok system,” he says. “Being the party chairman of our local political party, I am also in continued contact with our local leaders.”

A Great Pair

It’s evident that the two make a great pair. They met back in June 2007 at Gwendolyn Garcia’s—Christina’s mother—inauguration as the re-elected Governor of Cebu. Duke was among the officials invited to attend, having just been elected into his first term as the Mayor of Liloan. Christina had just recently passed the bar exams and became a lawyer.

“I suppose you could say that we met at a time when both of us were at a turning point in our lives,” Christina recalls. “It is a blessing that our paths crossed at a time that it did. I was taken by Duke’s charisma. To me, he exuded kindness and humility. Of course, bonus sad gyud na guapo kaayo siya (it’s a bonus that he’s so handsome)!”

“I thought she was beautiful, elegant and well-spoken,” Duke adds. “When we were introduced, I was speechless!”

They’re naturals in front of the camera, effortlessly settling into the poses the photographer asks them to do. At one point, they’re locked in an intimate embrace and looking into each others’ eyes. Duke sweeps in for a kiss that makes everyone in the studio coo.

“I couldn’t help it,” Duke defends himself with a laugh, holding Christina closer as she giggles.

“He can’t resist me,” she tells us with raised eyebrows.

This is an excerpt from the Zee Digital Magazine Vol. 1. To get the full story and your own copy, click HERE to subscribe now!

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