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
EXCLUSIVE: Never Been Released Behind-the-Scenes photos of Zee Lifestyle’s Emerald Issue Cover Shoot
We celebrate the strength and resilience of womanhood in this year’s Mother’s Day by looking back at these never been seen before behind-the-scenes shots of Zee Lifestyle Magazine’s Emerald (20th Anniversary) Issue cover shoot featuring the “Leading Women” of Cebu.
To celebrate the 20 beautiful years of Zee Lifestyle as the ultimate source of lifestyle news in Cebu, we handpicked 12 strong and stylish women of Cebu from every age group. These women show us that independently building one’s strength of character and living one’s passion knows no age. From the beginning, Zee has always been empowering women, providing the Cebuanas a platform to express their beauty and confidence, share their passions, engage in economic and political participation which yields to viewing women with equality and respect that we deserve.
photography Jan Gonzales
creative director Melo Esguerra
art director Doro Barandino
sittings editor Shari Quimbo
beauty director Romero Vergara
makeup Arnauld, Janice Barillo and Nicko dela Peña
hair Jessie Egos and Jake Arias
fashion styling Clint Potestas
production assistants Patty Taboada and Katrina Labra
locale Marco Polo Plaza Hotel Cebu
Twelve women, two sets and one afternoon. That is how the Zee Lifestyle team decided to celebrate the title’s 20th anniversary issue—with a challenge that, in some ways, is one of our biggest productions yet.
The idea came along when publisher Eva Gullas and editor-at-large Melo Esguerra were discussing a cover story that would best represent the magazine’s history. From commissioning artistic depictions on Cebu to playing with the anniversary’s emerald theme, no idea had stuck until Melo suggested putting a series of women who had already been on the cover of Zee, again on the cover all together.
Coming up with the list of names, of course, was no small feat. Our covers from the last 20 years have included several strong personalities—from philanthropists and politicians, to actors, and names to soon watch out for, our pages have seen them all. The challenge, then, was to come up with a list of women who had been driving forces in their respective fields when they had first appeared on the cover, and remain as powerful players even today.
With input from editors, both past and present, we rounded up 12 women from different age groups, fields and industries, who are all strong and passionate at whatever it is they do—Amparito Lhuillier, who remains the doyenne of Cebu society as a picture of elegance and class with her continuing efforts in business and social causes; the always-stylish Marguerite Lhuillier, herself an example of sophistication in all her efforts, whether business or otherwise; Margot Osmeña, who as a Cebu City Councilor has spearheaded many urban projects directed for the betterment of living in the city; hospitality mavens June Alegrado and Alice Woolbright, who are deeply involved in the rise of their brands, Bluewater properties and Beverly Hotel, respectively; Christina Garcia Frasco, the current Lilo-an Mayor advocating impressively progressive efforts in the area; former model Fiona King, now a major player in homegrown real estate with projects like Bloq Residences; the fitness enthusiast Danessa Onglatco who has espoused wellness with the opening of Yogahub; restaurateur Carla Yeung-McKowen who is behind the city’s hottest dining outlet, The Pig & Palm; designer Mia Arcenas, whose signature resort wear and accessories are representative of Cebu’s laid back lifestyle; Kym Maitland-Smith, who juggles efforts in swimsuit design through SOLTI Activewear and is building awareness for the vegan lifestyle; and Kryz Uy, whose online presence was a strong one even before fashion blogs were on anyone’s radar.
An impressive bunch, for sure. These women properly embody the characteristics that Zee Lifestyle looks for in one who makes the cover—beauty, yes, but also elegance coupled with individuality, and always a strong drive to succeed in whatever efforts they are directed.
This, it turns out, was the fitting tribute to the years Zee has been Cebu’s premier lifestyle bible, as well as a sign of the things forthcoming. Our 12 cover stars may have been on our pages before, but if their current efforts are any indication, our pages will continue to see more of them in the future. And as continuing purveyors of what Cebu has to offer, Zee Lifestyle will happily be seeing them in the years to come.
(This article had already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s December 2016 Emerald Issue, “Leading Women” on pages 140-155.)
La Liga Henerales: Shaping History Awareness Back Again in Cebu
La Liga Henerales is a community of young talents passionately promotes historical awareness through periodic costumes carefully researched for its authenticity and accuracy and promoted as well in events and schools.
Only few individuals before were into pursuit in this historical awareness project until the age of communication where internet is convenient in the palm of our hands through our gadgets. New information travel fast and data is retrievable, yet also possess a disadvantage with the plethora of different social media platforms carried by various makers as well. In a daily basis, historical backgrounds are unearthed making its trend until now as new discoveries are released, but the idea of these information being shown and shared is as close as not valuing or commemorating to its sources leaving this information just a trend.
There is a certain community of Cebuanos that are taking a quest to rewrite and restructure what was in the past, filling the gaps in facts with further research of variable sources that are made debatable but sticks to it true cause, to unveil the truths of our heritage and our origins, as Cebuanos and as Filipinos as well.
La Liga Henerales is a Cebu-based, non-profit organization composed of a group of talented, committed and respectable individuals from different walks of life, schools and profession whose primary aim is to promote both, Cebuano and filipino culture and heritage that was depicted before in pre-colonial and colonial eras via re-enactment with costumes vested in proper research and investigation to achieve authenticity. They also push their cause on schools and other social gatherings promoting and spreading awareness about our local, and national heroes that we look up to. With these said, they also portray a closer look of the lifestyle of the past to where they perform stories, perform forgotten dances and rituals and portray their individual roles, vital in the fight of our country’s future during those challenging times, and in honor to spread awareness of the lost practices we had in those times.
Louis Kenneth Villaflor, an entrepreneur and an avid history enthusiast and costumer, founded the group on the purpose of re-educating the youth about real local and national history, he saw the opportunity to combine his favourite hobbies which is costuming and story role-playing and the process to instill the historical awareness and value among the youth and in schools, along with a group of fellow enthusiasts who shares his passion about research and history, they took it among themselves to be purposeful in the advocacy in spreading historical awareness in schools or events by wearing periodically correct costumes and sharing the stories and its value to the youth.
Behind the Garments
Meet Rodney “Pee-Wee” Senining, who has been in the fashion industry since the late 90’s, strives in concepts of avant-garde, innovation and cutting edge-fashion forward design. And also a teacher of Architecture, Fine Arts and Design of University of San Carlos, he had grown into research of books like the holy grail in the Library Resource Center and is always fascinated of the periodical times and how to preserve it; Hence, his interest had grown for the affinity of Periodical Costumes and Sustainable Fashion.
Being part of the group La Liga Henerales, he was tasked to instantly be their mentor for the young talents and as the organization is still new and developing with limited funds, resourcefulness and research were done to come up with a good output of photo shoot and was quite proud of it and still promise on the next editions of pieces to be more historically accurate. Even as teacher for Fashion Design in SAFAD, his expertise comes hand in hand with the members as he helps them do research as well. His passion and interest somehow led him with enough knowledge to key the insights of the significant periods and historical backgrounds of it.
Historical Awareness in Cebu
The strength and progress of a country is anchored on how well they know and honor its history. The means of historical awareness in Cebu is almost non-existent among the Cebuanos, although we push forward in tourism and promote beauty through sceneries and other aspects of culture yet never commemorate deeply on historical icons such as our other local heroes, and ancient cultures as well that is almost been forgotten in an urban Cebu. Nevertheless, as long as communities’ like La Liga Henerales are now evolving in a learning state by real discovery by multiple resources, this will always reflect of how we appreciate love, patriotism and honor to our country and would look forward to progress.
After the Razzmatazz and Razzle-dazzle: Post-Sinulog Thoughts
by Chrissy Grey Resaba
Buntings of red and yellow were removed from post to post. Streets were cleared and cleaned. Fireworks displays were faded in the sky. Beats of #prititit and tunes of tourism-booster Cebu tracks were being put to archive once again.
Contingents from different parts of Cebu and Central Visayas had gone back home. Party people had gone sober while some are still recovering. Traffic has gone back to normal. Businesses, as well, has gone back to normal.
However, all the fun and loud chants, smooth grooves, and frenzied choreographies are still replaying from the memory banks of the people who celebrated Sinulog 2020. The queen of all festivals in the Philippines has left again another mark of cultural and festive nostalgia to the people from all parts of the world and Cebuanos alike.
After all the razzmatazz and razzle-dazzle, let’s get to know what are these IG and FB personalities’ #PostSinulogThoughts about celebrating the newly-culminated Sinulog 2020 and how did they differentiate it to last year’s.
Eva Psychee Patalinjug, Binibining Pilipinas Grand International 2018 @evapatalinjug
I celebrated my Sinulog with my boyfriend and some of my close friends, we decided to choose a place where it’s not very crowded where we can see the whole Cebu, talk, and chill the night away. We went to Verified Lounge – Cebu’s newest premier sky lounge – located at the rooftop of the Avenir Building. It was something new for me as the night was calm as I was away from the busy streets of Cebu. It’s definitely one way of enjoying such festivities.
Kim Covert @kimcovert
The Sinulog celebration this year has been one of the most memorable events in my life. Not only was I invited to perform a few of my own songs during the weekend’s festivities but I also turned over my Binibining Cebu Tourism crown to my successor. Last year, I was busy with work and was not able to completely grasp the events. This year’s festival was more organized which is a great success for Cebu. Many have flown in and had spent time with their families in the “Pit Senyor” spirit, others have enjoyed spending time off with friends and colleagues. It was a great way for me to start my New Year and close my Cebu chapter before I leave to the US in a week.
Alem Garcia @thealemgarcia
Well pretty much, I was still busy doing shows and events for Sinulog. But what made it different this year was the religious celebration made me believe even more that Sto. Niño is indeed miraculous and that He is meant to be celebrated. Even though you are successful in your chosen field, furthermore, everything will be meaningless if you do not have the faith.
Philip Pingoy @almostablogger
We all have a Sinulog story to tell. It may be a story of losing faith and finding hope. But what is important is our devotion to the Holy Child Jesus (Señor. Sto. Niño). This year, my Sinulog experience was very different since I am already based in the United Kingdom. Thanks to the internet I was still able to watch the mass and all the festivities in Cebu. I am in UK because I prayed to Sto. Niño. So, let us not forget the reason we celebrate Sinulog and let us continue to share to the rest of the world why Sinulog is the grandest festival in the Philippines. Pit Senyor everyone! I hope you had a good one!
Lyssa Amor @lyssaamor
Sinulog celebrates Filipinos’ acceptance of Christianity. This year, I celebrated Sinulog by hearing the word of God. I went to church which I do every Sinulog but the difference now is that I am not in Cebu. It’s my first time to celebrate Sinulog away from home because I’m currently in Japan. Although I didn’t dance the traditional Sinulog dance this year, I wasn’t able to watch the fireworks in Ayala, and didn’t spend time with my friends in Mango and IT Park. Snr. Sto. Niño will always be in my heart and I am forever grateful that our ancestors accepted Christianity and we continue to embrace it up until today.
Kevin Geniston @kgeniston
Sinulog will always be a highlight for me as a Cebuano. This year has been fulfilling as I was able to brave the crowd in the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño de Cebu three times to attend the novena mass which had also become like bonding time with my family, daughter, friends and loved ones. I ended the celebration of the Sinulog festivities with a bit of the usual partying and/or clubbing.
Carlo Andrew Olano @kalamicebu
My Sinulog this year was a great mix of religious and secular activities. I was able to go to the church and somehow witnessed the Traslacion and the fluvial procession. I also went to many side events like parties, mall events, and fireworks exhibitions. Sinulog 2020 had a fantastic balance of fun, faith, and festivities.
Danna Bacolod @dannabacolod
This is the second time I spent Sinulog with Cebu Pacific. We had series of events prepared during its entire week and participated the grand parade by having a float last Sunday. I always feel excited to join Sinulog Grand Parade and see a lot of people celebrating their own way of Sinulog along the streets of Cebu. Guess it’s safe to say that I had so much fun. Even if this was work-related, I didn’t feel like I’m actually working as it was always joyful doing events like these.
Nimo Hideki @nimo_scheming
You prolly knew this already but, Sinulog 2020 was by far the most phenomenal Sinulog experience: more laidback than the previous years’. The music in every corner of the streets were still there to help you let loose and enjoy the experience. The surge of people had tested you both mentally and physically. But it was an experience you cannot miss like mingling with people from different walks of life and shouting out “Pit Senyor” to everyone. Summing up my Sinulog experience, I was able to get crazy and enjoy all aspects of the fest.
Michael Rey @michaelsomewhere
I had the most relaxed Sinulog experience this year. I did not party and preferred to witness the grand parade instead. I do think that this year’s celebration was more colorful and much safer as establishments strictly abided the rules imposed by the Cebu City Government. I was also amazed at how the festival of fashion here in Cebu has evolved throughout the years.
Now, how about you? What are your #PostSinulogThoughts this Prititit 2020? Viva Pit Senyor!
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