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Carla Yeung: A Charmed Life

This month, our cover girl will walk the aisle in a Monique Lhuillier wedding gown. “Monique is a family friend, and we’ve been friends since we were children,” Carla Yeung explains the choice. “We did the fitting last October in Los Angeles, and Monique’s first sketch hit the mark for me right away.” The gown is made of yards and yards of duchesse silk embellished with Swarovski crystals. “My friends from Hong Kong and London are coming over, and I’m sure they will find Cebu quite changed from the last time they were here.” The last grand affair her friends came over for was Carla’s debut in 1997, a lavish event where guests came in black tie and shimmering gowns, like a fairy tale ball.

This month, our cover girl will walk the aisle in a Monique Lhuillier wedding gown.  “Monique is a family friend, and we’ve been friends since we were children,” Carla Yeung explains the choice.  “We did the fitting last October in Los Angeles, and Monique’s first sketch hit the mark for me right away.”  The gown is made of yards and yards of duchesse silk embellished with Swarovski crystals. “My friends from Hong Kong and London are coming over, and I’m sure they will find Cebu quite changed from the last time they were here.”  The last grand affair her friends came over for was Carla’s debut in 1997, a lavish event where guests came in black tie and shimmering gowns, like a fairy tale ball.

The 31-year-old Carla Marie Salimbangon Yeung, comes from a big family on her mother’s side.  Her mother, Mariquita, whose roots are from Daan Bantayan, a sleepy town in the northern side of Cebu island, has six siblings, and altogether there are more than twenty cousins to play with on their frequent vacations to Cebu. “Carla, Jewelle and Martin would come here every year during the holidays and summers,” say Lauren Salimbangon, Carla’s second cousin. “We all live in the same family compound and the whole gang would just bond, no one would be left out.”

Some summers, it would also be the turn of the cousins to visit them in Hong Kong. Ocean Park, shopping and ice-skating would be on their to-do list and they would just enjoy each other’s company. Growing up, they shared many things, toys, clothes, even the same haircut –a bob for the girls and crew-cut for the boys. At first glance, Carla seems reserved, prim and proper, but deep down, her cousins say, she is also a cool rocker chick digging hard-metal tunes from Guns and Roses, and playing Warcraft for hours. She was also adventurous enough to wear whatever her sister Jewelle asked her to wear for their various costumed parties.

Carla, her brother Martin and sister Jewelle, were all born and raised in Hong Kong where the family settled and where her father Carlos had started a company that deals in diamonds, Simplex Diam Limited.  The three siblings share a special relationship with each other and have remained quite close through the years. Martin has taken on the role as the protective “older brother” even if technically Carla is older than him. While Jewelle or Judg, as Carla affectionately calls her younger sister, the more adventurous between the two sisters, is her best friend.

DADDY’S GIRL  As the first daughter, Carla takes center stage and her doting father Carlos is a strong presence in her life. “He’s a taipan in the boardroom but he’s a teddy bear really,” she smiles. “I admire my father’s focus and business sense, but also his warmth and generosity.” For our cover shoot, he took time to send Carla his choice of jewelry for her to wear.  This gesture from father to daughter clearly showed that no endeavor of hers is too small for him to show his full support.

Growing up, Carla was always conscious of the activities of Operation Smile, a charitable organization that helps children with facial deformities.  Her mom has spearheaded its local operations for the last ten years, coordinating medical missions for volunteer doctors from abroad and ensuring proper sanitation, medicines and meals for one and all. “My mom is also an inspiration – she is a strong woman, she never loses her poise despite adversities,” Carla says after one of the grueling activities they do out of town.

Carla went to the German Swiss International School in Hong Kong before being sent to London to attend St. Mary’s Boarding School in Oxfordshire where she finished her A levels, or high school, before proceeding to Kingston University in Surrey for her postgraduate studies and eventually earning a degree in English Law.  “I went to England at the age of fourteen, and stayed there until I was in my twenties.  Strangely enough, I miss the cold, there’s nothing quite like coming into a house with a fireplace while it’s freezing outside.” After college, she briefly worked for a law firm in Hong Kong.

BUSINESSWOMAN

After years of living abroad, Carla ran out of excuses, and when her dad requested her help in the family business, she was ready to settle home.  The Yeungs had accumulated quite a substantial amount of land in Cebu and Carla was the perfect candidate to pursue the family’s plan to enter the real estate market. She was given the task of developing Bayswater, a 8.5-hectare property in Mactan that would ultimately contain close to 800  dwellings targeted for Cebu’s growing middle market.  “The best part of being in Cebu is being able to learn from my parents,” admits Carla. “I feel very fortunate to have them guide me. I may have some business knowledge from school but over here, there is a more Asian business culture, we deal with a lot of Chinese and local businessmen and they have different ways of doing things.” She joins her mother, who is the chairman of MSY Holdings Corporation, in the company’s vision of building affordable residential properties and nurturing communities using environment-friendly designs in Mactan, an area known for its dynamic economic growth and natural tourist attractions.

There are other plans in the works for the company – a luxe resort is almost done in Daan Bantayan.  When fully operational, the the 18-room Kandiya Boutique Resort will employ a big number of the local populace and spark tourist activity in that part of Cebu, eventually extending to their properties in the neighboring island of Malapascua.  Also on the drawing board is a high-end residential tower in the Nivel Hills that would offer spectacular views of the city.

BLUSHING BRIDE

Happily, the young lady gets a handful of help from her soon- to-be-husband, Chris McKowen, who gained his real estate experience while working in London for a company that redeveloped high-end flats.  “When Carla’s father told me that he would never let her settle in London, I had no choice but to move with her to Cebu,” Chris relates.  They met while both were in boarding school, in one of the “mixer dances,” but started dating only when they met again after ten years. The McKowens come from a long line of Irish gentry; they moved to England at the turn of the century, in an area near Suffolk and Essex referred to as the Constable Country, as this was where the renowned painter John Constable used as the subject of his many landscapes.

On their big day, three things are certain. That Carla’s mom would have brilliantly outdone herself in producing a grand wedding any mother would be proud of; that the Father of the Bride would have tears of joy giving her  “little girl” away to such a nice man; and that Carla would know in her heart that everything is as it should be.

  • creative direction KATSY BORROMEO
  • couture CARY SANTIAGO
  • hair and make-up ROMERO VERGARA
  • photography DAN DOUGLAS ONG
  • locale Kenneth Cobonpue showroom, Interior Crafts of The Islands, Inc.
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Design

Filipino graphic designer makes history, joins Switzerland’s Museum of Avant-garde among genre’s greats

PJ Ong of Inodoro, an internationally renowned graphic designer, is the first Filipino whose work will be part of the permanent collection of Switzerland’s Museum of Avant-garde

CEBU CITY — In a groundbreaking achievement, Cebu-based graphic designer and art director PJ Ong of Inodoro Design Studio, is set to become the first Filipino artist permanently exhibited at Museum of Avant-garde (MA-g) in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

Cebu-based graphic designer and art director of Inodoro Design Studio, PJ Ong

Ong’s recognition at MA-g places him among over 250 avant-garde artists, including iconic figures like Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, signifying a profound milestone in museum history.

“Avant-garde,” is a term that refers to pushing the boundaries of artistic expression.

“I am extremely honored and humbled. It is a remarkable milestone in my creative journey, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a prominent platform. The acknowledgment, especially considering Switzerland’s exacting standards in art and design, is truly fulfilling,” said Ong.

 

Part of a stellar contemporary collection

Under the museum’s Contemporary Collection, Ong will join global contemporary agencies such as M/M Paris (collaborator of Icelandic singer-songwriter and composer, Björk), WORK Pte Ltd (brainchild of the “Godfather of Singapore Graphic Design,” Theseus Chan), Bedow (Stockholm), BVD Stockholm AB (Stockholm), Socio Design (London) and Milkxhake (Hong Kong), among others.

Ong’s music packaging design for the Filipino harsh noise duo, White Widow, will be featured in the museum. The band’s album “The God Uterus Dissolves” — released under Melt Records — features an unconventional cassette tape packaging incorporating a hand-crafted wire mesh, elevating it into a unique and bespoke collector’s item.

The museum’s selection process for its Contemporary Collection involved three categories: Graphic Design, Photography, and Illustration. Swiss-Canadian Fritz Gottschalk, a prominent figure in contemporary graphic design, led the Graphic Design category.

“This is profoundly validating for me as a graphic designer. Being part of a museum’s permanent contemporary collection is a lasting testament to my capabilities as an artist,” said Ong.

‘Poetry you can touch’

The graphic designer from Cebu City further defined the album as a “deliberate departure from the ordinary,” stating that it was a testament to the artist’s and band’s dedication to pushing boundaries and offering the audience a unique and immersive experience.

“Careful consideration was given to every detail, including choosing a premium supplier for the cassette tape. Opting for a screen-printed cassette, where design elements were applied directly to the surface, gave it a contemporary and visually striking result, helping us reinforce the design narrative,” said Ong.

“From the cohesive placement of elements to using symbols instead of track titles on the spine and customizing fonts, every aspect was carefully thought out. Rather than opting for the conventional wire mesh treatment on print, I took a bold step by incorporating a hand-crafted wire mesh, adding a unique and sensory dimension to the album — almost like poetry you can touch.”

 

Profound honor

Established in 2003, Inodoro Design Studio under Ong’s leadership has garnered global acclaim for its bold design philosophy, spanning music, fashion, architecture, culture and technology. In becoming the first Filipino whose work will be on display at the MA-g, Ong stated that it is “particularly humbling.”

“Traditionally, these privileges are given to individuals who have amassed decades of experience, attained mastery in their craft, or even as a posthumous acknowledgment. To be among those selected is a profound and unexpected honor,” he said.

“Museums typically focus on visual artists, and for a graphic designer, especially within the realm of commercial work, recognition can be more elusive. I appreciate the challenges of this less conventional route and I am committed to proving the significance of graphic design in the broader artistic landscape.”

Art enthusiasts can anticipate viewing Ong’s work with “The God Uterus Dissolves” at MA-g, scheduled to open to the general public in 2025.

***

About The Museum of Avant-garde (MA-g)

The Museum of Avant-garde compiles an original body of work from private collections, providing a unique perspective on the cultural and artistic significance of avant-garde movements. These movements, synonymous with transformative ideologies and daring experimentations, played a pivotal role in challenging political and societal conventions. For more information, visit www.ma-g.org.

 

About Inodoro

Inodoro is the creative moniker of graphic designer and art director PJ Ong, a prominent figure in the Philippine design scene. Established in 2003, Inodoro Design Studio, based in Cebu, Philippines, has garnered international recognition for its bold and distinctive design, with a focus on thought-driven imagery and iconic visual language. The studio specializes in identities, custom typography, graphic design and art direction. For more information, visit www.inodoro-design.com.

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Ladies Who Support Ladies

Women’s Circle is an organization composed of Cebuano ladies who are successful entrepreneurs and top executives.  They recently held a fellowship event at the Sheraton Mactan Resort, with special guests from the Women’s Business Council Philippines. Chairperson, Rosemarie Rafael and Council Secretary Cynthia Mamon both flew in from Manila to discuss alliances between the Cebu and Manila groups.

Loot bag from Jo Malone, Sheraton, R&M Chocomanga, gift card from Maayo Clinic, sarong from Ferimar.

The half day event was organized by Perl Jacalan, Gina Atienza and Eva Gullas. Sheraton Resort through its GM Dottie Wugler Cronin supported the event as it is aligned with the hotel’s women initiatives.  The successful event was made more fun with generous give-aways, notably Jo Malone perfumes, Sheraton bags, R&M Chocomanga and sarongs from Ferimar.

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Eight Years of Redefining Hospitality Service

by Allain Dumon Fonte

The person behind the very successful chain of Bayfront Hotel  Cebu is the youngest son of entrepreneur couple, Edgar and Gregoria Cokaliong.  I first met Charlton as a young and dashing gentleman busily working in their textile business.  I am impressed with how he excellently juggled taking care of orders, organizing shipments, arranging deliveries, accounting, and even managing the staff of their textile company.  Charlton is an alumnus of Cebu Eastern College where he finished his primary and secondary education.  He then went to the University of San Carlos and studied accountancy.  He successfully passed the accounting licensure examinations, and worked as a certified public accountant while helping in the family’s textile business; who would have thought that he would venture into hospitality.  

Charlton Cokaliong (Managing Director of Bayfron Hotel Cebu). Picture taken at the Bayfront Hotel Lobby.

In 2014, he first opened Bayfront Hotel Cebu at the North Reclamation Area.  I even wondered why of all the places that he can start a hotel, he had to choose the North Reclamation Area.  I find the location appalling for a hotel.  What view will the guests see?  I would not want to stay in a room where the views are cranes, machines, and container vans from the sea port.  Yet, Charlton foresaw the future of hospitality service.  He knew that with the recent developments of Cebu City, people will prefer to stay in hotels that are near to the city, and have access to almost everything they need.  The hotel is right across SM City Cebu, 10 minutes from the sea ports, 30 minutes from the airport, and 15 minutes to almost all the tourist destinations in the city and in the hills of Cebu.  Then, he made the hotel packages and event packages reasonably priced; yet, with a 5-star quality of service.  I even questioned, are you not losing for the prices that you have set?  However, since the hotel opened and up to the present, Bayfront Hotel Cebu has always been fully booked and is becoming the primary choice of venue for events and celebrations.  Charlton explained that he foresaw that with the rising economy and the rising population of the metropolitan, people will always prefer to celebrate special occasions; yet, considering the inflation every year, people will also choose to become more practical by spending less  without compromising quality.  And this is what Bayfront Hotel Cebu delivers, an experience of excellent hospitality service at a price that no other can match.

Bayfront Hotel Cebu in Capitol Site.

Because of the continuous demand for their hotel rooms and venues, Charlton opened another Bayfront Hotel Cebu in September 2021.  This time the location is at the heart of the uptown of Cebu in the Capitol Site.  Again, Charlton banked on the great location of the second Bayfront hotel.  I once again questioned him on this; considering the competition in the area because of the many up and coming business hotels that offer the same rates and packages.  Charlton smiled and confidently said that apart from the great location, he also banks on the quality of service that his staff can deliver.  “If you take care of your staff very well, your staff will take good care of your customers”.  I have seen first hand how Charlton handles and manages his staff at their textile store, so I know how he also handles and takes good care of his staff in the hotel.  And I realized that this is his biggest selling point, the hotel’s incomparable service and friendliness.  Even though the hotel opened in the middle of pandemic restrictions, the new hotel is getting countless reservations; most especially that the Capitol Site Bayfront Hotel offers an amazing view of the city skyline at its roofdeck bar and pool area.  The gym , pool , and bar amenities at the hotel’s roof deck with its view are a must to be experienced.

Standard De Luxe Room at the Bayfront Hotel Cebu.

Early of 2022, Charlton also opened the hotel’s in-house dining feature.  For seven years, Bayfront Hotel Cebu was catered by a third party food concessionaire.  But, again, Charlton foresees that the Filipino market will be more critical to food and taste.  I asked, why is this?  Charlton explained that with travel becoming more affordable and accessible, people will get to experience different kinds of food and dine in different restaurants.  Hence, people will now learn to benchmark, not only from local restaurants, but also from their dining experiences around the Philippines and overseas.  Therefore, Bayfront Hotel Cebu needs to step up its game in dining.  With the opening of Caja Kitchen, Bayfront Hotel offers more selections of Asian and Filipino comfort food fusion with international cuisines.  With Caja Kitchen, Charlton turned a Filipino menu into an international dining experience. I asked him how he came up with all these.  Charlton  explained that dedication to make his guests happy and satisfied is the key motivation why he does not stop thinking about innovating and reinventing everyone’s hospitality and dining experience. 

Caja Restaurant: Bayfront Hotel Cebu’s in-house dining facility.

In September of this year, the Bayfront Hotel Cebu in North Reclamation Area is officially celebrating its 8th year of wonderful and excellent hospitality service; while the Bayfront Hotel Cebu in Capitol turns 1!  Great and exciting anniversary promotions and packages await its patrons and guests!  Please visit the social media pages of Bayfront Hotel Cebu to know the amazing anniversary deals!

With my last question, what does he have in mind now.  Charlton just smiled and said, “Well, who knows?  Another Bayfront Hotel Cebu shall rise soon!”.  After this interesting conversation, I can say that Charlton is truly a man who can foresee the future; may it be in business, in the market, with the trends, and with new experiences.  

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