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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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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…

by: Zen

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People

#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.

ZEE’s Allain Fonte with the casts of the top-rating Thai BL series (2019) “Cause You’re My Boy” of GMMTV (from L-R) Amp Phurikulkrit Chusakdiskulwibul, AJ Chayapol Jutamas, Neo Trai Nimtawat, Frank Thanatsaran Samthonglai, ADF, Drake Laedeke, Phuwin Tangsakyuen, and JJ Chayakorn Jutamas.

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 wearing Marchesa at the Venezia Red Carpet in the Venice Film Festival (2019)

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.

 

Darren Criss with his dad (left) Charles William Criss, and his mother (right) Cerina Criss. Source

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 in Bangkok’s MRT (a scene in a Thai film).

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.

Raquella (right) with film director Olaf de Fleur (left) receives the Best Feature Film Award at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival in Germany. Photo grabbed from Berlinale archives.

There are still plenty of pride-themed films in the Philippines that gained recognition all over the world; yet these movies mentioned are special because of the talented Cebuanos that have  brought Cebu to world.  They truly are #CebuPride.

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Fashion

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.

 

April Duenas, Nikki Gayatin and Arielle Gayatin for Arcy Gayatin—Photos by John Paul Autor from Lifestyle Inquirer.net

 

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.

 

Arcy Gayatin (photo grabbed from Space Philippines Blog Spot)

 

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.

 

Arcy Gayatin’s Pink Flamingo collection                                               Arcy Gayatin’s Sketch on a Terno

 

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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