Rockwell Land finally ventures outside of Metro Manila with 32 Sanson, collaborating with Ed and Mirella Gallego to create a sophisticated tropical escape that fosters a true sense of community.
The unassuming Sanson Road sits just off one of the city’s busier corners— just one street down from where Cebu Veterans Drive, Salinas Drive and Gorordo Avenue intersect. Pulling into the quiet street is a quick respite from the bustle of the main road, with houses sitting alongside it, before it comes to an end in from of a black metal gate attached to fences covered in climbing plants. It’s immediately a sophisticated standout, further exemplified by the subtle signage that reads 32 Sanson.
As Rockwell Land’s first venture outside of Metro Manila, the excitement for the development is understandably palpable. The developer is best known for the Power Plant complex in Makati, where the high-end mall’s designer brands and world-class restaurants are complemented by the blocks of high-rise residential condominiums that have become some of the most prestigious addresses in the capital. Since then, they have expanded to The Grove by Rockwell in Pasig City, transforming the once quiet enclave into a destination with renowned dining outlets and luxurious residences.
Now with billboards announcing the developer’s arrival in Cebu and the city’s real estate-inclined all abuzz with the news, 32 Sanson is easily becoming one of the most anticipated residential projects on the island. “Rockwell’s expansion outside of Manila was a natural step,” says Valerie Soliven, the company’s senior vice-president for sales and marketing. “After the positive reception we received in Ortigas, Quezon City and San Juan, we were truly eager to venture out regionally. The vibrant city of Cebu has always been attractive to Rockwell. Its booming economy, relaxed lifestyle and lively personality was something the company sought to participate in.”
Rockwell Land wanted to create a property that would appeal to the distinct Cebuano lifestyle that drew them to develop in the city in the first place, yet somehow maintain the developer’s trademark penchant for high-end community living with integrated outdoor spaces. To achieve this, the company tapped into the talents of Ed Gallego and Gallego architects—a Cebu based design practice that has created beautiful spaces around the country and in Southeast Asia. With the impressive roster of projects under their belt, Gallego Achitects and its principal architect have become respected names in the industry for pushing the design envelope by taking global architectural trends and adapting it into the local sensibilities. With all that experience, though, Ed insists that they haven’t fallen into one certain template. “We don’t have a signature style, because I think that’s quite boring—to be rubberstamped as a ‘Gallego design.’ I would rather say that all our designs are livable, where people can be comfortable and relaxed. That’s really what we want to be known for.”
That kind of philosophy, then, seems like a good fit for the kind of lifestyle Rockwell is going for, although being a Cebuano team might have helped too. “We wanted a Cebuano architect, someone who had a true understanding of the Cebuano aesthetic and lifestyle, and therefore could design a project that would harmonize with the city and its people,” Valerie explained. “Gallego Architects’ designs are timeless, and marry both form and function.”
On Ed’s part, there was also a sense of excitement over working with Rockwell. “If you’re familiar with the way Rockwell’s developments in Manila are put together, I think that’s what opened my eyes to a different lifestyle that I believe would suit the Cebuano mindset,” he shares. “Also, we like to take on challenges, and this is an amazing one for us—to come up with something different for Cebu, as opposed to what’s being offered right now.”
Aside from the opportunity to redefine the Cebuano residential landscape, the project is also close to home—being one of the first big ones Ed is doing with daughter Mirella, who joined the firm to take care of the administrative work in 2012, after graduating from the University of New South Wales. “I think we found a good working style, and it’s been working out well for us in the last two years,” Mirella answered when asked about what it’s like to work with her renowned father. On a more serious note, she acknowledges that being awarded the project was an amazing experience for her and the rest of the firm. “We really worked hard on the concept. It’s been a real challenge, because this project is a big deal,” she admits. “It’s their first one outside of Manila, and we’re a Cebuano firm doing this for such a prestigious development. It’s been very exciting for us, and for everyone in the office. I think it’s definitely given everyone a sense of accomplishment.”
The 3.2-hectare property used to be the site of the Mehitabel factory, in itself a significant part of Cebuano design history. Founded in 1947 through the partnership of Maria Aboitiz and US officer Major Clarence Gushurst, Mehitabel Furniture was the company to pioneer the now iconic rattan furniture. It’s since been passed on to generations— the company was under Maria Aboitiz’s daughter Josephine Booth in the 70s, and later Josephine’s son Robert—and has been expanded their reach beyond Philippine borders, exportin to the USA, Japan, Europe and Australia.
Now it’s a private enclave that is a sanctuary in the heart of Cebu, enjoying an atmosphere of being slightly hidden from the busier parts of the city, although all that is just a short distance away. “When you walk around the property, you won’t feel like you’re in Cebu City,” says Mirella. “Hopefully when it’s finished, we accomplish the feel of being tucked away from the city but still being a part of it. At the end of the day, it’s going to be very laidback and casual—which is very Cebuano—but it’s uplifted casual. It’s chic casual.”
Both groups decided to take advantage of the property’s natural appeal to create an environment that would marry all the ideals that they individually stood for—Rockwell’s stamp of landscaped spaces, open living and sense of community combined with Gallego Architects’ belief of creating comfortable spaces that retain a sophisticated aesthetic. “We all had to compromise at some point about what’s best for everyone involved—the client, the potential buyers and ourselves as well, as far as the design attributes are concerned,” Ed admits. “But they respected our initial concept. There were a lot of challenges, but luckily we were working with a great team that knows their business. It was an easy process.”
“We synced very well from the beginning,” Mirella adds. “It’s been fun. We learned a lot from them, and I think they’ve also learned from us. It’s nice because it was all a team effort. It wasn’t just the architecture—we’re also working with marketing and the other groups connected to the development. It’s been a very collaborative project.”
The gates of 32 Sanson open up into a curved, brick driveway that leads to the sales office, which will later be converted into one of the development’s two clubhouses. The structure’s façade is covered in wooden planks in mismatched washes, its tall windows punctuated with carved transoms that continue on the tropical feel. Overgrown trees and manicured lawns make up the outdoors, while inside paneled white walls, dark wooden accents and stylish furniture pieces from Vito Selma and Clayton Tugonon create an ambience of easy elegance.
If the office is any indication, 32 Sanson is definitely set on delivering its promise of laidback city living to its potential residents. The slight breeze is already tempting enough, even without the fully landscaped gardens the development will boast of upon completion.
Of course, another selling point that most people will appreciate is the sense of exclusivity that dominates the location. Besides being tucked away in what feels like its own little valley, the entire property will only have a total of 355 units distributed over five buildings that’s interspersed with a lot of open space. “We wanted to introduce the concept of high-end living in a low-rise, and to provide quality spacious and low-density residences,” Valerie explains.
The property’s amenities are spread throughout the space, connected with paths lined with lush foliage. In true communal spirit, pocket gardens and play areas bring residents outside and encourage some neighborly interaction. Amidst these features, 32 Sanson will also have two swimming pools, a gym, game room, function room, multi-purpose court, lawn and children’s play area, and a long jogging path across the verdant surroundings.
“Almost 70% of the land is garden space, and that’s unheard of anywhere in the Philippines—that a developer is willing to give up that much land area,” says Ed. Valerie agrees, “we’ve always placed a premium on landscaping and open space, as seen in developments in Metro Manila.”
That’s certainly a premium for anyone who’s grown weary of city living—after all, the sight of bright green foliage is a calming one after that of concrete streets and buildings. 32 Sanson takes it up a notch though by promising an almost entirely pedestrian street surface. “The property features unique subterranean roads that bring all vehicles to the basement level,” Valerie explains. “This allows the surface of the property to be solely for the use of pedestrians, garden space and amenities.”
The units themselves will be spacious, with the one-bedroom unit at around 65 square meters and the three-bedroom at 144 square meters. Large windows and balconies create an airy space that brings the views of the outdoors in. The truly indulgent can choose to reside in one of the exclusive Garden Units—located on the ground level, these two-bedroom apartments have private pocket gardens that are perfect for lounging on lazy afternoons.
“I really think that having a lot of space outdoors is something Cebuanos can appreciate, especially because we don’t really have a lot of parks or places like that,” Mirella observes. “Cebuanos actually do like the outdoors. When you ask people about their plans for the weekend, they’re usually at the beach or they go up to the mountains. In that sense, 32 Sanson syncs with that Cebuano lifestyle—being able to have outdoor spaces that are easy and relaxed.”
Turnover isn’t scheduled until 2016, but already it’s easy to imagine just what kind of lifestyle 32 Sanson will have to offer. As an urban sanctuary that the sophisticated set will be happy to retreat to, it’s a brand new address in the city that’s covetable for the kind of open living that seems to get more and more unattainable with each year. “It’s perfect for someone who appreciates the environment and causal living, but also appreciates style,” Mirella muses. Ed adds, “It’s for someone who likes the relaxed atmosphere of living in a community, someone who enjoys the good life.”
The concept of ‘the good life’ is something that tends to be subjective depending on who’s doing the defining. In the case of 32 Sanson, the good life they’re serving up seems quite simple—a private but airy space that’s all your own, lots of landscaped areas to be alone or seek neighborly interaction al fresco, and all this just a short distance away from the hottest spots in the city. With all that in mind, who wouldn’t want to drive into 32 Sanson’s gates and sigh with the utter satisfaction that this little piece of sanctuary is what you call home?
- by Shari Quimbo
- photography Jan Gonzales
- fashion stylist RENova
- assistant Lor Yutico
- hair and makeup Romero Vergara
- assistant Jessie Egos
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.