Megaworld changes the city’s skyline with The Mactan Newtown, a township development that brings the company’s Live-Work-Play concept to Cebu, appealing to it-couple Anna Igpit and Glenn Soco, who talk about dealing with the demands of their lifestyle and how an easygoing outlook works for their five-year relationship.
It had been a cloudy afternoon in Mactan, with a few clumps of dark clouds still looming after the heavy downpour earlier in the day. Thankfully, the sun made its appearance just as Anna Igpit and Glenn Soco emerged to pose for this issue’s cover photo. The two converse as the team gets ready, jokingly picking at each others outfits—Glenn’s a sharp suit and Anna in an intricate Cary Santiago creation. As the dress’ train flutters in the ocean breeze, the couple poses against the dramatic backdrop of the now streaming sunlight bouncing off the façade of One World Center, the first building in Megaworld’s The Mactan Newtown. As the company’s first large- scale project in Cebu, The Mactan Newtown is the chance for locals to enjoy the Live-Work-Play concept that Megaworld pioneered in the country. “We have always recognized the growth potential of Cebu and felt that now is the best time to do something here of this scale,” says Megaworld Cebu Properties Inc. president Noli Hernandez. It’s an instinct that proved true, with BPO companies opening in One World Center by the first quarter of the year and the first residential clusters of One Pacific Residences and 8 Newtown Boulevard almost sold out less than a year after they were launched. “The market reception to the project is, to say the least, overwhelming.”
Perhaps Megaworld’s track record worked in their favor, having created a string of successful township communities in Metro Manila that began with Eastwood City in Libis. “As the country’s first Cyberpark, Eastwood City brought together the first BPO companies in one location and in the process gave birth to the BPO industry in the country,” Noli shares. To make it a truly dynamic destination, though, condominium towers were constructed around the property with lifestyle amenities of retail stores, restaurants, a park and cinemas interspersed among the buildings.
From there, the company continued on to create other world- class communities. They are in fact the largest developer in the Fort Bonifacio area, with an aggregate property of 106 hectares from the Forbestown Center, Uptown Bonifacio, McKinley Hill and McKinley West. “In McKinley Hill, we tweaked the formula of Live-Work-Play and added the Learn component with the integration of learning institutions such as the Chinese International School, the Korean International School, as well as the Enderun College,” Noli explains, showing the projects’ adaptability. In Newport City, the Play component is upped through Resorts World Manila, which includes the Marriott Hotel, the Maxims Hotel and the acclaimed Newport Performing Arts Center.
In the case of The Mactan Newtown, the components are in full swing. The success of 8 Newtown Boulevard and One Pacific Residences has paved the way for other residential projects, all of which will host a variety of wellness-oriented amenities, such as One Pacific Residences’ wall-climbing facility and aqua gym, although other retail and dining amenities will soon be opening on the site. Breaking ground for Two World Center is in the works, while the first week of the year saw the grand opening of McDonald’s in One World Center—a modern outlet of the fastfood favorite that boasts the largest seating capacity in Cebu and colorful graphic art on the walls.
“We have been very fortunate to have been given full support by the Lapu-lapu city government, as well as the warm and enthusiastic reception by the people of Mactan,” says Noli, though he admits that, like all other projects, the actual development of the property posed its own development and construction challenges. Its promising start has given way to possible expansion. “As it is, The Mactan Newtown is already poised to offer a complete community experience. But having a beachfront property will be a great addition to the development, and we are currently pursuing that tack.”
It’s the kind of lifestyle that would appeal to today’s career-driven and on-the-go personalities. “Most of our residents and buyers come from a fairly young demographic,” says Noli. “It’s business owners, executives, entrepreneurs and upward mobile individuals who are looking to be at the center of a cosmopolitan lifestyle.”
The concept certainly appealed to Anna and Glenn, who made their own inquiries on the property in between takes. “I love the setting because it’s near the beach, and I love the beach,” Glenn admits. “Convenience is very important, and Newtown has all the amenities and features in one place.”
Anna agrees, “It’s very appealing, especially if you’re career- oriented and you want to be in a place where you get both worlds. You’re near the beach but at the same time, when you step out of your unit, you get to eat out at restaurants or shop at good stores.”
It’s understandable that accessibility and convenience are factors both Anna and Glenn appreciate, considering their own lives are mostly spent juggling various work commitments and time for each other. “He has his own thing and I do too. We never reached a point where we told each other what to do,” Anna says. Glenn adds, “There may be issues that we have to deal with from time to time, but we move on in any situation. We make our respective careers a priority, and we work it out so both our worlds compliment each other.”
It’s an arrangement they manage to work out, as both their worlds are flourishing on their own. Born in Bohol, Anna Igpit was part of various pageants before she was crowned Bb. Pilipinas-World in 2006. She went on to represent the country in that year’s Miss World pageant in Warsaw, Poland, being the first Boholana to compete in an international beauty competition. Currently, her charm for public speaking is put to good use as a host, whether its for various social events or her GMA 7 Cebu show Istayl Nato. She is also one-third of the Wicked Sisters, an events planning company that produces occasions with, in their own words, “a wickedly inventive slant.”
On his end, Glenn Soco is the man behind many successful businesses, first of which is the janitorial services company that he took over from his parents in 1995 and expanded to provide a full range of manpower services, and the Global Power Skills Development Center, a TESDA-accredited training facility for marketable skills. He also started Coffee Dream in 1996 to give the coffee-drinking lifestyle a local twist—the chain uses 100% local beans and products, and promotes small businesses by selling items like cassava cookies, ginamos paste and local tablea. His business endeavors are partnered with a strong sense of corporate social responsibility, supporting causes such as providing day care centers to barangays, helping cancer-stricken children and promoting sports development. “I like effecting positive change in the lives of people, whether it’s in business, social work or sports. I think I’ve always had the heart for public service,” he says, alluding to his plans of running for public office. “Even in our business, providing employment gives a different fulfillment. Those are simple joys that are hard to quantify, and I hope it reverberates in my organization and outside it.”
Individually formidable in their own right, together they are one of Cebu’s power couples, the kind of people whose very presence earn excited greetings, second glances and the occasional hushed comments from observers—even when dressed down for the more casual interview over coffee on a sunny morning. “People can get really interested in us,” Anna admits. “They see the little things we do and interpret it in their own way. I can get very affected by it, but he’s very practical and doesn’t get into it, so that rubs off on me.”
Without the camera and the black tie attire, the two have the easy cadence that shows off their five or so years together. They exchange looks and teasing comments as they talk about their early days. “I wasn’t attracted to him at first,” Anna laughs, though she remembers a few romantic gestures that eventually won her over. “One thing I won’t forget is when I was based in Manila. I was at Starbucks in a mall, and someone from Coffee Dream was suddenly there carrying a huge box of flowers for me.” Glenn’s take is shorter, and elicits a laugh from his girlfriend: “She just charmed me to death. That’s it.” The couple was introduced by a mutual friend, though they didn’t exchange numbers until two years after. “There wasn’t any formal courtship. We don’t even have an anniversary,” Anna shares. “There’s really no pressure. Our relationship’s not normal.”
The rapport is candid, with a common sense of humor that epitomizes how comfortable they are with each other. “No comment. You have the floor please,” Glenn jokes when asked about their plans for the future. “Well, definitely stay together. Like any relationship, you want it to end well,” Anna answers, to which he interrupts laughing, “What do you mean end?”
Taking on a more serious tone, Glenn explains, “In relationships, you don’t have to think too far ahead because it applies a lot of pressure on the both of you. Not everything can be made out objectively, or that it has to be this or that. Relationships can be very simple and very easy, that’s where maturity sets in. I think there’s something that works with us for us to make it to five years. It’s common that you have problems every now and then, and it’s about what works for you. Sometimes you don’t even need to talk about it, and everything will just be resolved in its own time.”
Next to him, Anna laughs, “It’s relationship advice from Glenn Soco.” Considering how well it’s worked out for them, it’s probably sound advice to take.
- by Shari Quimbo
- photography Jan Gonzales
- sittings editor Katsy Borromeo
- production manager David Jones Cua
- fashion stylist and art director Michael Sanchez
- hair and makeup Romero Vergara and Ramil Solis
- assistant Jessie Egos
- shot on location at The Mactan Newtown
THROWBACK THURSDAY: Thanksgiving with the Woolbrights
THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
The holiday season kicks off officially with Thanksgiving. A time to be grateful for family, friends and blessings. Although this is not usually practiced in our tropical country, there are, however, families like the Woolbrights for whom this is a time-honored tradition.
by Janine Taylor sittings editor Katsy Borromeo fashion stylist Mikey Sanchez food stylist Nicolette Gaw-Yu production manager David Jones Cua intern Danica Ronquillo hair and make-up Jessie Glova assistant Jojo Embalzado photography Joseph Ong locale Woolbright Residence
Eddie Woolbright was among the thousands of G.I.’s that landed on the shores of the Philippines during the Japanese occupation. After the war, a few enterprising American soldiers came back, including the 24-year old Eddie who made Tacloban his home, before settling down in Cebu in the 1950s and opened a restaurant and a hardware store downtown—Eddie’s Log Cabin and Eddie’s Hardware and Auto Supply, respectively.
Eddie’s Log Cabin quickly became the hub of social, political and even military scene. It was the first air-conditioned café in town, and more importantly, it offered American diner food including a soda fountain and an ice cream parlor. It was patronized by one and all for its reputation for good food and service.
It also didn’t take long for the fearless Eddie Woolbright to realize that the real estate in the sleepy hillside suburbs was ripe for development. “I will show Cebu what a good planned subdivision is,” Eddie had said, when the late Senator Marcelo Fernan, then a young legal counselor for Columbian Rope Co., took Eddie to see the property. Pretty soon, Eddie had purchased over thirty-three hectares of otherwise undeveloped land from the heirs of the late Arlington Pond.
“Buy land,” Eddie Woolbright was known to quote the late humorist Will Rogers, “because they ain’t gonna make more.”
With his added access to army surplus, he bulldozed tracts of land, and a decade later, Beverly Hills, the first major subdivision in Cebu City, was created, and marketed to the city’s growing well-to-do locals, with the subdivision’s connotations of Hollywood and colonial American aesthetic. Eddie’s belief in the business potentials of central Cebu city enabled him to see much growth in his investments in land development, water drilling, construction, and general trading.
Eddie had nine children: Rick, Anita, Marc, Gilbert, Alice, Kathy, Kristy, Karen and Joy. All recall that each holiday was as important to them as Christmas. Turkey Thanksgiving dinners, for example, as it was known in the Woolbright household, began when Eddie’s mom, Nell, came to visit sometimes in the 1960s. Eddie would buy a butterball turkey from the American base in Clark and she whipped up a traditional feast complete with cornbread stuffing, cranberry jelly, candied yams, garlic mashed potatoes and her famous giblet gravy which was poured literally all over the bird, as they do back in her home in Oklahoma. Grandma Nell also taught the cooks at Eddie’s Log Cabin to make the famous Coconut Cream Pie, another Eddie’s Log Cabin standard. Kathy also recollects, “It was also dad’s idea that the restaurant and the hotel should serve breakfast 24 hours, and since I loved my Mexican omelet, sliced ham, buttered toast I enjoyed being able to eat breakfast any time of the day.”
My dad taught me how to be humble. He told us stories about his younger days jumping trains, eating nothing but grapes for days just to go pick cotton. He had a hard life growing up and I guess he wanted us, his children, to know the meaning of hard work. He would say, “Nobody owes you a life in this world”. I didn’t understand it then but I do now. -Alice Woolbright
Shortly after, turkey was introduced in the menu of Eddie’s Log Cabin, both Americans and Cebuanos, with a penchant for this wholesome meal, look for it when November came, and more especially on Thanksgiving Day. “Dad loved quality meat, and passed on this fondness to us, his children,” noted Karen, “So special meals always consisted of a good steak or the tender Prime Rib Roast. Of course, the year was never complete without a Turkey once or twice.”
As the sisters change into various outfits for the photo shoot in their childhood home, each one recalled the happy memories this holiday brings.
Alice, recalls disliking the giblet gravy as a child but since her dad would serve her at the dinner table she had no choice but to eat it. She adds, “He would get upset if we did not try everything.” Funnily enough, she now looks forward to the giblet gravy and can’t imagine turkey without it. Her dad, she said, employed the same tactic with his customers at the restaurant so after a while, they ended up getting used to it, and will not have their turkey any other way.
Between brothers and sisters coming home from out of town and family members in the States, there was always some degree of traveling or entertaining company. Dad valued the family bond and holidays were the best time to reinforce that. –Karen Woolbright
Joy Woolbright-Sotto fondly remembers watching her dad carve the bird. “He made sure that each one of the kids learned how to do it properly, with the white meat sliced thinly enough, and followed last by the dark meat,” she says. A feat she now does with ease. Future doctor Karen says that her dad would always carve the wings and serve it to her, which is still her favorite part of the fowl. Kathy though, considers turkey her comfort food. But she says that she loves the Coconut Cream Pie, which is also served on the restaurant’s menu, and that as a child she could eat half a pie in bed.
Cebu in the 60s and 70s was a very small town, if you wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving, you went to Eddie’s. Eddie’s Log Cabin, like its owner was a trailblazer, the balut dice game originated there, many singers’ careers such as Elizabeth Ramsey’s were given their first break there.
The torch has been passed on to his children, and they too celebrate it with turkey dinners and all the trimmings, ensuring that the restaurant still serves the traditional menu, down to the Coconut Cream Pie. Thanksgiving will always be celebrated at their homes, and the Beverly Hotel, the last legacy that Eddie Woolbright gave his children to run.
Another legacy that Eddie left to his children was a love for food and Alice was quick share that she got it too, “I’m usually home during the day and I find myself in the kitchen trying to cook up new dishes to serve.”
Back at the Woolbright ancestral home, which is also now Alice’s home, the dining table has been set, evoking autumn and harvest, the candles are lit, the wine is being poured, the buffet table is groaning under the weight of the Thanksgiving repast. The sisters are seated at the table, each with a glass of wine discussing whose turn it is to carve. The annual Woolbright turkey dinner is about to start and I am glad to be invited to join them at their family home. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.
(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s November 2011 Entertaining Issue, “The Gift that Keeps on Giving” on pages 72-77.)
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.
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