The Climate Change Commission’s ambassadors Anna Oposa, Bianca Gonzalez and Pie Alvarez talk about why we should be standing up and taking notice of the planet’s pleas for help, and what exactly we need to know and do to save the world.
The heat is particularly excruciating on the day of the cover shoot, with the ocean breeze being an especially welcome respite from the noon sun. It’s not at all surprising that most of the team went on to discussing the past summer, recounting temperatures that have reached record highs and the inescapable humidity. “It’s climate change,” someone says, which earns a knowing laugh from our trio of cover stars.
Anna Oposa, Bianca Gonzalez and Pie Alvarez grace Zee Lifestyle’s cover at what seems to be an opportune time, considering the past months make it practically impossible to ignore the current changes in weather and the environment. As ambassadors of the Climate Change Commission’s Greeneration campaign, these three ladies have begun traveling around the country for the Greeneration Summits—most recently in Cebu, where the three of them were brought together for the first time. More summits are currently in the works, but already kids have been taking notice—after all, it’s hard to not pay attention when three beautiful, intelligent and captivatingly charismatic women are talking in front of you.
“Their contribution has been substantial in getting the youth involved,” says Secretary Lucille Sering about the trio she likens to Charlie’s Angels, pointing out how each girl exudes substance and perfectly embodies the cause by practicing what they preach. “We get them involved in promoting consciousness programs of the CCC and showcase the things they actually do as individuals: Anna with her dolphin protection projects, Pie and her government programs in San Vicente, and Bianca with her effort to pursue a green lifestyle.” Besides the work they do as a group, the girls also have their own individual contributions to the CCC, such as conducting workshops, seminars and activity-based research.
For their differences, the three girls come together not just as coambassadors but also as close friends, chatting and laughing comfortably as they get ready for the various shots throughout the day. Theirs is an easy camaraderie that is quite contagious, each girl gracious and funny but with a quiet determination that flows steadily beneath the surface. In any case, the trio remains approachable and amiable, gamely stepping in and out of the water for their respective shots. The beachside setting might be one that’s all to familiar to Anna Oposa,a marine conservationist, writer and self-proclaimed Chief Mermaid, a title that she’s happy to report is catching on. “Even letters from government groups and agencies are addressed to Anna Oposa, Chief Mermaid of Save the Philippine Seas,” she shares with a laugh.
“I met Anna through her father, the noted environmental lawyer Atty. Tony Oposa, in Cancun, Mexico,” the secretary recalls. “She was part of the youth delegation that joined the climate change talks there. Although our first encounter was our joint interest in music, I knew right then and there she was one of the best candidates. She is passionate, intelligent and crazy—and we need to have a little craziness to be able to sustain advocacies that only a few so far can pursue full-time.”
True enough, Anna lights up and talks animatedly about her causes, especially her own personal endeavor Save the Philippine Seas (SPS). “I grew up around the sea. I started diving at 15 because my brothers and dad were diving too. The sea is a different world, and it’s unfortunate that not a lot of people get to see it. I’m convinced if they did, they would be more inspired to protect it,” she says. Organized with friends from various fields and backgrounds, SPS was the chance for Anna to speak at a Senate hearing in June 1, 2011 in aid of the legislation on the issue called ‘the rape of the Philippine seas.’ “The Philippines is the center of marine biodiversity in the world, but it is also the center of adversity. Our waters are incredibly rich with natural resources and consequently, potential to power our economy by providing jobs in tourism and agriculture, and providing seafood. If we used ecologically sound fishing methods, no one in the Philippines should go hungry.
It’s easy to understand why anyone would choose Anna as a spokesperson. In her talks, she is witty but firm, with an authoritative way of speaking that comes from years of experience and efforts. Her environmental career started off in 2007, when she was a diver-volunteer for an underwater cleanup. “I saw diapers and all sorts of garbage 40-60 feet underwater. After that dive, I slowly shifted from my first love of musical theater, and started doing more environmental projects.”
Currently, Anna spends a lot of time in Malapascua, where she spearheads efforts for thresher shark conservation—the funding for which she received when she was the first Filipino and youngest person to win the Future for Nature Award in the Netherlands. “Since the project began last year, I have been working with dive guides, teachers, students, the Bantay Dagat and dive operators for different activities,” she explains. “In April, we trained the teachers to incorporate marine science into their educational curriculum and even taught them how to snorkel. We also held an Arts-Science Festival for over 100 students, so they would have an opportunity to learn about the environment in a fun way. For the dive guides and operators, we work together to promote sustainable diving practices.”
Anna’s efforts are mirrored in another seaside community by Pie Alvarez, the newly re-elected mayor of San Vicente, Palawan, a community that boasts of being one of the most ecologically sustainable in the Philippines. “I’ve known Mayor Pie since she was in high school; she was an innocent kid then, but I already noticed that her heart was in the right place,” the secretary shares. “When Pie went to college in Boston, she took up a course related to the environment. She eventually joined politics and won as mayor, and I knew right away that she was the perfect model not only for the youth, but also for young local government officials in promoting environmental conservation.”
Pie’s decision to run for office actually stems from very simple but remarkable reasons. “My parents taught me a very simple life lesson: if you are blessed in life, you should always share your blessings and give back,” she explains, remembering how she had campaigned as a college senior and was declared mayor just days from her graduation. Besides that, she did it as a proactive reaction to the state of the country’s political system. “Instead of complaining or turning my back and working abroad, I chose to do something about it. Being a public servant is no easy task and it requires commitment, hard work and passion. The Philippines is often criticized for having a corrupt government system, and I wanted to do my part in trying to change that. I strongly believed that there is a chance for our country but we have to start today, so I decided to begin my personal quest to do good at the age of 21.”
Since being elected, Pie has been working to properly maintain her beautiful seaside community by striving for the protection of the ecosystem while educating and leading the people to understand the importance of why they should be living sustainably. It’s an effort that led her to working with the Climate Change Commission early on, with San Vicente as the model for the commission’s Eco-Town Framework. “We both wanted to work together to identify vulnerabilities, assess the existing landscape and implement climate change-resilient plans.” It only seemed natural, then, to transition into becoming an ambassador for the cause. “I immediately wanted to be a part of it! Empowering the youth on climate change is a fundamental building block for our country.”
Of course, empowering the youth isn’t about throwing them examples and lifestyles that could seem daunting for the average teenager. “I think that’s what they appreciated most about me,” says Bianca Gonzalez, who completes the trio. “I was very open from the start that I had much to learn and would love to study the issue more. I didn’t want to be just a talking head. I think they saw that I could represent environmental awareness and conservation from a sort of layman’s perspective.”
“I met Bianca through Anna and Pie,” the secretary says. “During our first meeting, I felt really light about her and how positive she was as a person. I instantly became a fan, and if she can make a fan out of me who’s not really following showbiz, how much more for others? Also, her chemistry with Pie and Anna makes the perfect combination, and they make ‘selling’ the idea easy.”
Bianca’s is a name that most Filipino households are familiar with, seeing her face on TV, magazines and billboards across the country. More than that, though, Bianca is also a powerful force on social media—she has 2.3 million followers on Twitter alone—which she uses in promoting her own advocacy. “It’s always been education and youth empowerment, which are the basic keys everyone needs to succeed,” she shares, recounting how her former youth program Y Speak had been about giving the youth a voice on current social issues. “Social media made it cheaper and easier to reach a lot of people. But at the same time, it makes people’s attention spans a lot shorter, and you’re competing with so many other things and posts for attention.” In this regard, she helps in disseminating information on Greeneration and the Climate Change Commission by sharing articles on her feed.
It’s proven effective, with her 10 Eco-Friendly Things to Do shared at the Greeneration Summit in Cebu quickly went viral—blogs have been posting and re-posting the list, which included items like using paper instead of plastic, switching off unused electrical items and using public transportation. But she admits that some of it is easier said than done. “Living in Manila, it can be hard to bike or commute, so I would carpool,” she shares about her college days, when she was living in Parañaque but studying in Quezon City. “I also use LED and inverter appliances, which saves more energy in the long run. It’s nothing so hardcore; maybe I can do more in the coming years.” It may seem simple enough, but Bianca’s slow but determined change in her lifestyle is one that is relatable, and makes the task of saving the planet seem less daunting.
The girls all acknowledge that everyone can start making a change through the little things, but they all agree that the actions should be rooted in education—after all, an infinite amount of information is now readily available online. “Begin with yourself. That’s the simplest and most effective way to start living sustainability,” says Pie, going back to Bianca’s list. “There are countless ways to change our bad habits and shift to an eco-conscious way of living.”
Anna, who Bianca playfully calls the hardcore environmentalist of the group, has other advice for kids who want to play their part in the campaign. “Write letters to leaders, discuss issues with your family and friends, engage in meaningful conversations with strangers and other like-minded people online, participate in projects and, most importantly, walk your talk. No one’s going to believe in your cause or be inspired if you diss the government for waste management when you don’t even segregate your waste at home.”
In the end, they agree that the worst enemy we have in becoming more sustainable is ourselves. “Anna has this thing that she says: global whining,” Bianca shares. “It’s easy to complain but if you do nothing about it, then that’s the problem.”
“The biggest challenge I face is apathy,” Anna adds. “The hardest part of my work is getting people to care about their own resources.” It’s an interesting fact, considering how people don’t seem to realize that this is something that will affect everyone’s future. “Nothing in life is free, and as consumers we use up a lot of the earth’s natural resources,” Pie says. “This comes at a price that negatively hurts our existing ecosystems.” In the mayor’s case, she leads with a passion that’s admirable. “I hope to show the youth that you don’t need to be a scientist or hold a PhD to do something for the environment and for the country. I don’t need audience members starting their own movements; revolutions begin inside, with the choices they make every day.”
Anna agrees, adding that it’s as simple as “reduce, reuse, recycle.” In Bianca’s case, she has a simple goal for the movement, a statement that makes the seemingly impossible task something that everyone can contribute to. “If every person hears of what we’re doing—whether it’s reading a tweet or an article, or hearing about one of our projects—and it helps them change a bad habit, then we would have done our job. Maybe someone who didn’t used to segregate their garbage decides to change, or if someone unplugs their appliances when they’re not using it, then I think that would make us successful.”
- by Shari Quimbo
- creative director David Jones Cua
- photography Hamelton Gilig
- assistant EJ Negre
- fashion stylist Pia Echevarria
- assistant Lor Yutico
- hair and make up Romero Vergara, Gino Fonghe, Jesse Egos, and Jay Failanga
- locale Crimson Resort and Spa Mactan
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.