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Philippines-Based Artist & Philantropist Aditi Ahuja Wins At Mrs. Universe Pageant

Artist and philanthropist Aditi Ahuja was crowned at the Mrs. Universe 2018 pageant, held last December 10, 2018 at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino. For nine years, Ahuja has been involved with local institutions that support her advocacies related to children and young women.

When it comes to Filipinos and pageants, 2018 was a milestone year. Just days before Catriona Gray brought home the crown for Miss Universe, artist and philanthropist Aditi Ahuja was crowned at the Mrs. Universe 2018 pageant, held last December 10, 2018 at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel & Casino.

Ahuja, 39, represented West Pacific Asia and competed against 88 contestants from around the world. She won the crown and award for Mrs. Universe Joy 2018 and Mrs. Universe Generosity 2018, a recognition of her social work endeavors in the Philippines.

“I was overwhelmed with happiness and gratitude for this title,” shares Ahuja. “For me, it completely depicts what I am, my heart and my work, it’s a consolidation of my advocacy and beliefs—when we care for others, our own strength to live increases. The passion to help is equivalent to the passion to lead a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.” She adds that with her win, she wants to spread awareness amongst the young women and kids of our society to believe in the inherent potential of

becoming happy in whatever circumstances they’re born in, or currently experiencing.

For nine years, Ahuja has been involved with local institutions that support her advocacies related to children and young women. She works with the Mahavir Foundation to provide artificial limbs to the handicapped, the Tahanan Ng Pagmamahal to provide homes for abandoned children, Marilac Hills to aid sexually abused girls and women, the Nazareth Home to support single mothers, and the Ms. Possibilities Foundation to support women and children with special needs.

Born in Lucknow, India, Ahuja moved to the Philippines in 2009 with her family and began a career as a contemporary artist alongside her charity work. She put up her first solo exhibit, The Spiritual Magma: A World-at-Large Series at the Qube Gallery in Cebu on October 2015. Currently, she runs Sprout: A Comprehensive Art Curriculum, an art and creativity enhancement workshops on weekends, and plans another solo exhibit by early 2020.

An occasional model, Ahuja has also been recognized as one of Manila’s Best Dressed Women in 2017, and does modeling assignments for a cause.

Mrs. Universe was founded in 2007, with its inaugural pageant held in El Salvador. The competition is open to married women ages 18-55. It takes pride in recognizing honorable women in society, and providing them with a forum to share their advocacies, as well as solutions on how to help their local communities.


“This was my first time to participate at a pageant at this global level. When this came my way, I had a thought-provoking reflection and knew I was going for it and giving my best. Moreover, I wanted to experience the entire process, be a part of one of the most reputed pageants, meet a circle of influential ladies across the globe, build associations, and also make my friends, family and the entire community proud.”


“It was like riding on unchartered oceans with each day testing you with a new challenge. I knew our every move was under evaluation through the highly demanding days. Aligning myself with the expectations of the pageant and preparing to be one of the top 88 women from all across the globe was exciting, thought-provoking, and nerve breaking at the same time, but the support of friends, family, and my community was unbelievable. “


“I believe none of us are complete without the spirit of giving and pursuing a difference in the societies we live in. We as human beings must not function in isolation, but care about our society at large. If each one of us start thinking this way, the world would be a better place.

I follow a concept of oneness of life and environment that is instituted by a Buddhist philosophy of Soka Gakkai International. It’s based on the humanistic philosophy of compassion, and love and courage, thus leading to global peace. Practicing this further opened up my path towards social work. Contributing and making a difference in the society has made the whole journey of life more meaningful and rewarding. “

“Managing this symphony of different roles is self-energizing. I’m blessed to have a very supportive family, a very caring partner, and kind and loving kids who trust me. It definitely gets challenging, but my passion to create value in every moment of life is what gives me the courage and compassion to keep all of it afloat together.”


Mactan-Cebu International Airport’s Terminal 2: A Blend of Aesthetics and Efficiency

Touted as the Philippines’ only resort airport, Mactan-Cebu International Airport’s Terminal 2 is a lifestyle destination all its own. It’s poised to connect Cebu to the rest of the world.

By Carlo Rivera
This story is taken from our archives. Originally published in Zee Digital Vol 1.

If you need proof that Cebu is fast becoming a travel hub, you just need to check the numbers. More than 10 million passengers—domestic and international—passed through the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) in 2017. That shows a rise of almost two million people from the previous year’s nine million passenger traffic count.

As the country’s second biggest gateway, the MCIA had struggled with overworked runways and lack of passenger terminals, especially as it continued to accommodate more flights daily. It was timely, then, that GMR Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC) came in and cemented the plans for expansion.

GMCAC won the 25-year public-private partnership contract to take over airport operations from the government. Since their appointment in 2014, they have put in considerable improvements to make airport functions more efficient. Previously cramped corridors were opened up and brightened, allowing for a smoother flow of foot traffic and airier interiors. Creature comforts like restrooms were updated, and thoughtful details such as the breastfeeding station were installed. Most notably, GMCAC
installed an electronic boarding pass reader, so passengers can move into the predeparture area more quickly.

Of course, that has been overshadowed by the buzz generated by Terminal 2. Its inauguration celebration was attended by President Rodrigo Duterte, and a number of prominent Cebuano personalities who were all curious about the new terminal. It officially opened its doors on July 1, and has since seen the opening of a number of new direct routes. The expansive development of terminal two is what the buzz is all about.

Terminal 2’s interiors boast of a resort-like design

“The construction of a new world-class passenger terminal is meant to drive further growth in passenger traffic, which translates to a more robust tourism environment for the region,” says Andrew Harrison, GMCAC’s Chief Executive Advisor.

Touted as the country’s only resort airport, the MCIA Terminal 2 is a lifestyle destination all its own. The design is a collaboration between the hong Kong-based Integrated Design Associates, and top Filipino interior design and architecture duo Budji Layug and Royal Pineda.

The terminal features a series of 15-meter high arches that evoke the image of waves, a fitting homage to the seas surrounding Mactan Island. Supplied by the European company Rubner Group, each arch was shipped in one piece and created with wood from a sustainable supply.

More importantly, the new terminal will also serve to highlight local Cebuano talent—world-renowned designer Kenneth Cobonpue is coming in to create pieces for the interiors, while celebrated fashion designer Cary Santiago designed the airport’s staff uniforms.

On his end, Kenneth is excited to create a world-class terminal with his frequent collaborators Budji Layug and Royal Pineda, and believes the design will make history. “We are hopeful that this is going to be the best airport in the country.”

The aesthetic elements aside, it’s clear that efficiency was a top priority in coming up with the design. A two-level forecourt segregates the Arrivals and Departures area. There are 48 check-in counters, which are expandable to 72, and provisions for seven passenger boarding bridges. It’s also equipped with 12 escalators and 15 elevators, facilitating the easy movement of passengers, especially persons with disabilities.

To further enhance customer service, there will be a premium lounge at the International Departures area. Passengers who are either leaving or coming can enjoy a number of in-terminal activities, or visit the new retail and dining concepts. There’s even the option of enjoying Cebu’s famous lechon in one
of the stalls at the terminal.

Photography by Nath Ybanez

With Terminal 2’s completion, GMCAC is anticipating another rise in passenger count, especially as more routes are being opened from Cebu. After all, GMCAC shares that they can accommodate an estimate of 13 million passengers annually.

Since the beginning of this year, MCIA has already welcomed an addition of six airlines on its roster—Air Juan, Juneyao Air, OK Air, Lucky Air, Sichuan Airlines, and Pan Pacific Airlines. Qatar Airways also announced its return to Cebu during ITB Berlin, the world’s biggest travel trade show. On the other hand, airlines who are already servicing Cebu have pledged to add more flights to their current offering. Just recently, Air Asia introduced direct flights to Shanghai.

That said, GMCAC is also hyping up its penetration of the Chinese market. “We have four new Chinese airlines that opened,” said Avigael Maningo, GMCAC Corporate Communications Manager. “The Chinese market has become the highest spenders in Asia, and we are trying to bring them to Cebu.”

With all the brands coming in, GMCAC hopes the year will end with more direct flights from Cebu to destinations in Southeast Asia, Australia and Europe.

Furthermore, the new airport project has opened doors to foreign investment opportunities in the country. According to GMCAC President Louie Ferrer, they are looking to promote Cebu to other untapped markets. GMCAC credits the remarkable growth in MCIA’s passenger traffic to its destination marketing initiatives, and its positioning of Cebu as a gateway to the rest of the Philippines, and
as a major transfer hub to international destinations.

It’s clear that Cebu is fast becoming the international travel hub of the Visayas and Mindanao regions, with residents from neighboring provinces taking their connecting flights from the MCIA, instead of through Metro Manila. It would definitely be a more efficient option—Cebu is closer to the southern regions of the Philippines, and international flights here could free up the already highly congested Metro Manila airports.

The challenge, then, is making sure the MCIA does not fall into the same trap its northern counterpart did. Although there’s yet to be any concrete confirmation, there are already plans of reclaiming land to expand the runway. There’s also talk of designating runways strictly for take-offs and landings, which would make air traffic flow more seamless.

According to Branding head JR Torres, the next step is renovating Terminal 1. GMCAC is hoping to bring major upgrades by next year, with some noticeable improvements on the old
structure and its processes.

In the meantime, we are invited to experience MCIA Terminal 2. Although it’s not yet functional in its entirety, and we hear there are processes that need to be streamlined, we’re extremely proud to have such a monumental gateway in Cebu. Its towering facade of curves and glass is a promise—one of progress, development, and bringing the rest of the world a little closer to home.

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Enjoy a Funtastic Easter Sunday with the Kids at Rustans

Easter is just a skip away, and for kids it’s really a super fun holiday.

Egg-citing treats and surprises await them at the Rustan’s Easter Party on Sunday, April 21, 2 p.m. at the  Rustan’s Children’s Department, Ayala Center Cebu. For a minimum single receipt purchase of  P 3,000 from the Kids’ Department, come and enjoy the following:

Food Carts

Sure to delight kids are a selection of food carts filled with yummy sweet and savory snacks. 

Easter Egg Hunt

The Easter Bunny hid many colorful Easter eggs at the barnyard for our precious little hunters to find. Hop along and join the search for a chance to win special prizes from our different kids’ brands. Each participant also gets a Kinderjoy egg!

Easter Egg Decorating

Kids get to design and take home their one-of-a-kind egg creation at the Easter egg decorating station.

Crayola Art Activity

Let your kid’s inner artist shine. Make a splash with pastel shades, bright patterns or rainbow colors. 

Lego Building Contest

Fancy building an Easter bunny or a giant Easter egg? Let kids’ imaginations take flight with the Lego Building Contest at the Lego Corner. Exciting prizes are in store for those with the most creative and imaginative Lego creations.

It’s going to be a very hoppy Easter celebration at the Rustan’s Department Store.

For more information and updates, visit https://rustans.com.ph and @rustansph on Facebook and Instagram

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Here’s What Cebu’s Restaurateurs are Preparing for Easter Week

The arrival of Holy Week often means a mass exodus out of the city—whether it’s for a trip back to one’s hometown or an opportunity for a vacation. That being said, food choices during this time are often limited, with restaurants cutting down hours to prepare for the holidays, or creating menus that suit the season.
While it’s interesting to know what these food spots will offer, we’re curious about what the people behind them prepare at home. To satiate our curiosity, we asked some of Cebu’s notable chefs and restaurateurs what they’re cooking up this week.
“For Most Holy week days, we’re most likely out of town. But buona pascqua is huge in Italy. So when we’re in town, we’re spending Sundays around the kitchen. We do gnocchi in all sorts of forms. We’re rolling it, then pan frying, adding reduced liquid , adding meat. Using cauliflower to make it healthier. And how can Easter be without a sweet? A Burnt Caramelized mini “otap” Tart with pear is our choice.” —Kate Anzani, Anzani
“One day this Holy Week, it’s going to be ribeye, mashed potatoes, puttanesca pasta for dinner and homemade tacos & margarita for the afternoon. Other days, we dine out.” —Jan Rodriguez, Weekend 

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