fbpx
Connect with us

People

Amanda Booth & Izzara Ugarte: Pair Play

Young and ready to take on the world, Amanda Booth and Izzara Ugarte fly off to separate cities yet remain rooted in a bond that is close to home. Zee Lifestyle catches up with them at Bluewater Maribago, where they’re stylish and sophisticated in designer dresses and SM Accessories‘ latest collection.

ON AMANDA: Black lace body con dress by JUN ESCARIO, multi-strand pearl necklace from SM ACCESSORIES / ON IZZARA: White tie-up blouse and maxi skirt by JUN ESCARIO, multi-strand chain necklace and silver rings from SM ACCESSORIES. (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

ON AMANDA: Black lace body con dress by JUN ESCARIO, multi-strand pearl necklace from SM ACCESSORIES / ON IZZARA: White tie-up blouse and maxi skirt by JUN ESCARIO, multi-strand chain necklace and silver rings from SM ACCESSORIES. (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

On the day I’m seeing Amanda Booth and Izzara Ugarte for a casual production meeting before the Fashion Issue’s cover shoot, the traffic on A.S. Fortuna is particularly vicious and I’m running late. “No worries, I just got here,” Amanda texts me. I find her a few minutes later sipping coffee and looking incredibly chic in her sleek ponytail, white button-down and black jeans.

Even though she has been studying marketing for just a year at The American University of Paris, the classic Parisian style has clearly seeped into Amanda’s persona. She had always been well dressed and now that she’s back for the summer, her style is a little bit more polished than the average 19-year old.

It’s a study in contrasts, then, when her cousin Izza walks into the coffee shop, the epitome of laid-back style with her long hair, peasant blouse and white shorts. “I had to take my brother to the airport, and the traffic is just horrible,” she explains, sitting down next to Amanda. For her part, Izza is in town after her year at the University of San Francisco, before flying to Spain to continue her hospitality management course at Les Roches Marbella.

In between discussing the looks and location (“We’d like to have the shoot at Bluewater Maribago, because we really grew up there,” Izza says), the two exchange anecdotes on how they were preparing for the fashion shoot. “We were looking through old issues of Zee, trying to do the poses all the models were doing,” Amanda laughs, and they both strike a common model pose—one hand on the hip, shoulder popped and sultry gaze—before bursting into a fit of laughter.

“We can’t do that!” Izza exclaims. “It’s just not us.”


 

In some ways, Amanda and Izza do look like opposites—Amanda’s fair complexion and light dusting of freckles are a striking complement to Izza’s tanned skin and sun-kissed glow. But when they’re together and cracking jokes, it’s hard to tell where one girl ends and the other begins.

“Amanda is my partner in crime,” Izza declares. “I’ve known her since we were in diapers so it’s very difficult to pinpoint the earliest memory. When we were toddlers, our yayas were sisters. During family events and birthday parties, we would always sit beside each other, with one hand on a barbecue stick and the other spaghetti. We had the same taste and love for food—I always knew she was a keeper.”

Growing up together meant years of shared anecdotes, and both girls have a number of funny stories to tell. “Once Izza, both our younger brothers and I watched Goosebumps together, and they couldn’t sleep that night,” Amanda recalls with a laugh. “Izza’s mom called my mom the next morning because Izza and her brother said that I had coerced them into watching it since I was the oldest in the group. I ended up getting grounded while the three others got away scot-free!”

ON AMANDA: Backless dress by JUN ESCARIO, necklace with bead florets, earrings and bracelet set from SM ACCESSORIES. (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

ON AMANDA: Backless dress by JUN ESCARIO, necklace with bead florets, earrings and bracelet set from SM ACCESSORIES. (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

It was especially important for both girls to have the cover shoot at Bluewater Maribago because they say, in many instances, it was the scene of the crime. “Some of my earliest memories of Izza are running around soaking wet from the pool and then sneaking into the kitchen barefoot in our bikinis,” Amanda shares. “All we wanted was to be little elves to the pastry chefs and we would get kicked out of the kitchen! But we always managed to sneak out a few treats.”

Their escapades at the resort included selling buko juice to guests, hunting down Easter eggs the night before the egg hunt and even a few recent injuries. “We used to ride salbabidas (floaters) all day,” Izza says. “A few years ago, we were on the salbabida drifting on the water. Amanda toppled me and kicked me in the face! My nose bled for 20 minutes and my upper lip bruised so badly.”

These days, the girls are a bit more subdued than they were ten years ago, and it clearly shows in how Izza makes sure everything in the resort goes smoothly for the photo shoot. The daughter of David Ugarte and June Alegrado, whose family owns the resort, Izza and her siblings have been helping out in Bluewater’s operations for years. It’s part of the reason why she decided to take up hospitality management in her further studies. “I believe that tourism plays a huge role in any country,” she says. “Hospitality management is tourism. It’s the plane you fly, the boat you take, the food you eat and the place you stay. It’s a diverse course.”

Amanda, a scion of the family behind Mehitabel Furniture, is the daughter of Robert Aboitiz Booth and Tamsin Jackson Booth. “It’s on the creative side, which I think I would be good at. My parents have always thought I’ve had a good eye for things,” she says about deciding to take up marketing in Paris. “I’ve always been interested in media, communications, PR. Besides that, marketing is vital to all industries, so you know you can always get a job with a marketing degree.”

Although they grew up in Cebu, the duo has been living out of the country for years now since leaving to finish high school at boarding schools in the US—Izza in Connecticut and Amanda in California. It’s made them more independent than most people their age, and ready to take on the challenges of their new cities of residence.

“Before I went away, I didn’t even know how to do laundry! That’s one of the first things my mom had to teach me,” Amanda admits. “I am so much more independent now than I was three years ago. It’s funny because now grocery shopping is one of my favorite things to do. I love living on my own and doing everything at my own pace.”

“I’ve matured a lot,” Izza agrees. “I’ve come to realize that being shy and not trying to truly express how I feel was a waste of time. We only get one life—say how you feel. No one grows up and becomes an adult, not even our parents. Time just flies by as we strive to be and do our best. All of a sudden, we’re older and adults.” She pauses for a bit and laughs. “I am veering away from the subject, but yes, I have definitely grown personally.”

ON IZZARA: Nude satin dress from JONES NEW YORK, beaded choker and necklace with gem details from SM ACCESSORIES (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

ON IZZARA: Nude satin dress from JONES NEW YORK, beaded choker and necklace with gem details from SM ACCESSORIES (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

These little glimpses prove that, through their independent endeavors, the 19-year-olds in them is still very much present—particularly in their eagerness to explore their respective cities. “In San Francisco, when I wasn’t in school, I would be going to different districts with my friends. The city was our playground, and I don’t doubt that Spain will be different,” Izza enthuses. “I will continuously expand my knowledge even outside of school. Spain is so rich in historical events and traditions. Aside from the history, Marbella is right next to the coast so I’ll have the beach 15 minutes away, which is awesome!”

The City of Lights is Amanda’s own playground, and she’s found it very much like her hometown. “There’s a laid-back lifestyle. It’s a big city and people do rush around, of course, but people have such a calm way of going about their lives,” she says. “But people in Paris don’t smile like they do in Cebu.” In the past year, her days have been exploring the city in between her classes and homework. “When it’s warm out, we’d go to a park and have a picnic, but in the winter, my friends and I would go to a café and just sit, talk and people-watch for hours.”

With Marbella and Paris just a short distance away, the cousins are already thinking of weekend trips to each other’s cities. “It’s all we’ve been talking about,” Amanda admits. “We’ll finally be able to be together for each others’ birthday! We haven’t planned any trip yet, but we’ll visit each other, and then we’ll get to other places. This is a whole new adventure for us.”

“We’ve been separated for way too long. For three years, we’ve lived on different coasts, then different countries,” Izza adds. “It’s awesome that we will soon be so close to each other. I’ve never been to Paris, and I am excited to finally go.”

“WhatsApp used to be our best friend,” Amanda says of the time they were living away from each other. “Skype, not so much. Whenever we get a bad connection—which is all the time—we hang up, get back on WhatsApp and blame each other for the bad internet connection.”

“We’re too lazy,” Izza laughs. “Instead, we’ll send voicemails to each other. I remember I was waiting for a pizza outside my USF dorm and I was freezing cold—and I was in shorts, don’t ask why—and I was sending Amanda voicemails and pictures. Technology just makes everything so simple.”

Both girls agree that being away from family is one of the hardest things about living abroad, so it’s comforting to know that someone you’re close to is just a few hours away. “There’s a certain comfort you get from being home that you don’t realize exists until you’re away for a long time,” Amanda says. “For me, that comfort is in my family. They always know how to make me happy.”

That’s why, Amanda goes on to explain, that summers of the past few years have been completely dedicated to spending time in Cebu. “I can travel when I leave here,” she says. “For now, it’s great to be able to catch up with everyone, go out around the city or head for the beach.”

That’s not to say they don’t wish for the little luxuries they’d already gotten used to while being away from Cebu. While Amanda yearns for Paris’ food and street markets, Izza misses something a bit simpler. “Being able to watch Netflix in bed,” she admits. “They need to set up servers in the Philippines.”

ON IZZARA: Maxi dress with tie-back crop top by BARBIE ALVEZ, multi-strand chain necklace from SM ACCESSORIES. ON AMANDA: Backless halter dress by BARBIE ALVEZ, gold bracelet, sculptural woven cuff and gold rings from SM ACCESSORIES. (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

ON IZZARA: Maxi dress with tie-back crop top by BARBIE ALVEZ, multi-strand chain necklace from SM ACCESSORIES. ON AMANDA: Backless halter dress by BARBIE ALVEZ, gold bracelet, sculptural woven cuff and gold rings from SM ACCESSORIES. (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)


 

The day of the shoot finds the beds of one of Bluewater Maribago’s villas completely covered in designer clothes and SM Accessories collated especially for the cover shoot. With the variety of items laid out, the girls—hair pinned up and munching on Tostitos and chocolate truffles—look through the collection as they discuss with the stylists the different looks.

“I love full skirts, pantsuits and minimalist dresses—the classics,” Amanda says, admiring the floral prints of a backless halter gown by Barbie Alvez. “My family likes to joke that I’m an old soul.”

Izza shrugs. “My mom says I dress too rugged. Is that what you’d call my personal style?”

That wasn’t always the case, though. “Izza and I have pretty much switched roles,” Amanda laughs. “She was the extremely girly one and I was the little tomboy when we were younger. She always had her hair done up in nice braids and always wore cutesy clothes, while I had a short boy cut because I couldn’t keep my hair from being a mess; and I strutted my stuff in bikini bottoms and no top!”

“She was the most bugoy person I knew,” Izza agrees. “Nowadays, I don’t even brush my hair and I just throw on the first thing I see, while it takes Amanda forever to get ready. Seriously, you have to tell her plans a day before.”

“Now, Amanda’s very classy. She knows what she’s doing,” Izza continues. “But if you really get to know her, she has a super kiat personality. She is not that reserved.”

“She’s definitely very boho,” Amanda says about her cousin. “She’s always in loose, printed dresses. She always wears sandals. Her style is very laid-back—perfect for Cebu!”

ON AMANDA: Backless dress by JUN ESCARIO, necklace with bead florets, earrings and bracelet set from SM ACCESSORIES. ON IZZARA: Nude satin dress from JONES NEW YORK, beaded choker and necklace with gem details from SM ACCESSORIES. (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

ON AMANDA: Backless dress by JUN ESCARIO, necklace with bead florets, earrings and bracelet set from SM ACCESSORIES. ON IZZARA: Nude satin dress from JONES NEW YORK, beaded choker and necklace with gem details from SM ACCESSORIES. (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

As they go through the accessories, they help mix and match the items that would suit their outfits and their own personal style. With a wide collection that includes jewelry, bags, home decor, and others, SM Accessories is a growing repository for fashionable accents at reasonable price points. As the fashion accessories authority, SM Accessories features a wide range of jewelry, eyewear, belts, bags and a lot more that are carefully selected by a team of fashion experts to complete any fashion statement.

“During the day, my favorite accessory is my pair of pearl earrings,” Amanda shares, which made the multi-strand pearl necklace a perfect match for her Jun Escario lace dress. Its sophisticated and ladylike look was a fit to Amanda’s classic style. “Sometimes I’ll wear diamond studs at night. When I’m back in Paris, my favorite thing to wear is a brooch. I always have my gold medallion around my neck, a gift to me from my parents.”

That sentimentality is something Izza also shares in her choice of trinkets. “I wear four accessories all day, everyday—a gold ring from my brother’s girlfriend, Nikki; my grandmother Marle’s favorite ring and earrings; and my medallion. Those are my favorites.” From delicate thin rings to a pair of thick gold ones connected together with a light chain, the collection of rings were elegantly playful on Izza’s manicured fingers. “Nail Play!” she laughs, showing off her nude manicure and referring to the nail salon her and Amanda’s mom owned together with a group of friends.

It seems, though, that the similarities in dressing up end there. Asked if they borrow each other’s clothes, and both girls burst out in laughter. “No!” Amanda says. “We look at what the other is wearing and we go, ‘oh wow, I could never pull that off.’”

“She left a pair of shorts in my house, and I have claimed them as my own. Does that count?” Izza jokes. Amanda adds, “She’s had them for five years and counting.”

When it’s time to dress up, the two are supportive of local designers, with Izza naming Mia Arcenas, Jun Escario and Oj Hofer as her favorites and Amanda acknowledging Hanz Coquilla as her go-to. “Internationally, my favorite designer is Raf Simons,” Amanda adds. “Every piece he creates for Dior is breathtaking.”

Decidedly very different in terms of personal style—best exemplified by the favorite things in their closet, Amanda names a red wool Prada dress that “looks like it’s straight out of the 1950s” while Izza’s answer is a T-shirt and Nike shorts—the two have a connection that transcends the cousin bond. Despite being apart for long stretches, every time the two are in the same city, they pick up right where they left off.

ON AMANDA: Backless halter dress by BARBIE ALVEZ, gold bracelet, sculptural woven cuff and gold rings from SM ACCESSORIES. ON IZZARA: Maxi dress with tie-back crop top by BARBIE ALVEZ, multi-strand chain necklace from SM ACCESSORIES. (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

ON AMANDA: Backless halter dress by BARBIE ALVEZ, gold bracelet, sculptural woven cuff and gold rings from SM ACCESSORIES. ON IZZARA: Maxi dress with tie-back crop top by BARBIE ALVEZ, multi-strand chain necklace from SM ACCESSORIES. (Originally published in Zee Lifestyle August-September 2015: Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

“We’ll just watch TV shows or do a movie marathon together while eating santol and green mango. It’s one of the first things we do when we’re both back in Cebu,” Amanda says. “We love going on adventures. We once drove to Carcar in the middle of the night, and just stopped to eat at different places on the way. I guess you could say our favorite thing to do together is eat.”

“Yeah, I don’t think I can say anything else,” Izza agrees. “I’ll text her and we would be craving the same cuisines. I found this Buzzfeed quiz online called, What Famous Disney Duo Represents You and Your BFF. I sent it to Amanda while she was in Paris—we both got Timon and Pumba.”

The easy relationship these two have is backed by years of shared experiences and a genuine appreciation for being in each other’s lives. Amanda admits that Izza is the one who got her to come out of her shell. “She’s always said it isn’t worth hiding in the background and letting everything pass you by. It’s something I’ve always struggled with but I’ve come a long way with her help, and I love her for it,” she says. “Izza’s just so lighthearted, so unbothered by everything. I love laughing with her—she has the most genuine and contagious laugh.”

“No one can tolerate my mood swings better than Amanda,” Izza shares on her end. “And I admire her effortless grace. No matter what is going on in her life, she manages to look flawless. She is a great support system and is always there for anyone who needs it, so she’s the mother of the group.”

As the pair bounce off to the bathroom to help each other change into their shoot’s first look, it’s clear that Amanda and Izza will find their shared stories only growing exponentially in the next years. In spite of the different directions their lives take them on, they remain rooted in their friendship—though friendship may seem to be too light a word. “I know that no matter what life throws at us, we will always have each other,” Izza says with a smile. “Always. We are sisters.”

Zee Lifestyle’s August-September Fashion Issue: Amanda Booth & Izzara Ugarte (Sittings Editor: Shari Quimbo/Photography by Dan Douglas Ong/Styled by Blaq Mafia/Makeup by Arnauld/Hair by Carlos Conde/All accessories from SM Accessories)

by Shari Quimbo photography Dan Douglas Ong stylists Blaq Mafia makeup Arnauld hair Carlos Conde locale Bluewater Maribago all accessories by SM Accessories
Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, August-September 2015

For back issues, download the Magzter app on your mobile device and search for ‘Zee Lifestyle‘. Like Zee Lifestyle on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

People

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.  

Continue Reading

People

Congratulations to Our New DOT Secretary! The Story of Cebu’s Power Couple

Congratulations to Our New DOT Secretary!

The Story of Cebu’s New Power Couple

Whether it’s spearheading progressive efforts in Liloan or spending weekends with their kids, Christina and Duke Frasco do things as a team. On their ninth year as a wedded couple, they share a side of themselves we haven’t seen before.
Republished  from Zee’s Digital Issue dated January 2018
by Gia Mayola photography Dan Douglas Ong sittings editor Shari Quimbo hair and makeup Arnauld stylist Vanessa East

ON CHRISTINA Sleeveless top, jeans and pumps, model’s own. ON DUKE Pierre del Hierro sweater, from RUSTAN’S AYALA CENTER CEBU. Joggers and sneakers, model’s own.

Despite it being a day for family, Christina and Duke Frasco gamely accepted our Sunday-scheduled photo shoot. Not that they had any choice, considering that most days found their schedules fully packed.

The dynamic couple is hard to pin down for a reason. Christina is the mayor of Liloan, a first-class municipality in Cebu. On the other hand, Duke was appointed Cebu Port Authority Commissioner by President Rodrigo Duterte just last year, willingly giving up his position as Liloan’s vice-mayor alongside his wife. While they have a lot on their plate because of work, having three young children is an added responsibility.

PUBLIC SERVANTS

Driven by her administration’s goals for sustainable and inclusive development, Christina has introduced various innovations to public leadership, focusing on stakeholder participation in community governance and equitable access to government service.

She established the Liloan Community Action for Reforestation and Environmental Sustainability (LILOAN CARES), which brings community stakeholders together to periodically engage in environment programs. She also put up a Green Points System, which grants incentives to businesses that implement environment-friendly measures. Additionally, she has introduced an engaging approach to recycling in schools, and prohibits the use of plastics on certain days of the week. She has also founded Operation Second Chance providing rehabilitation and livelihood to drug surrenderees, and the Liloan Leading Empowered Action Against Drugs Summit (LILOAN LEADS), among many others.

On his end, Duke is a dynamic and engaging leader who thrives under pressure and focuses on realizing long-term goals and sustainable development. His governance has garnered him multiple awards—The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines Award 2014 for Public Administration, from the Junior Chamber International (JCI), Inc. and the Gerry Roxas Foundation.

With his first two terms as mayor, Liloan elevated from a third-class municipality to a first-class one. He boldly spearheaded a comprehensive overhaul of the municipal tax code, and the modernization of local business processes.

ON CHRISTINA Josie Natori knit sleeveless top and lounge pants, from RUSTAN’S AYALA CENTER CEBU. ON DUKE T-shirt, model’s own. Ricardo Preto trousers, from RUSTAN’S AYALA CENTER CEBU.

THE LOVE OF LILOAN

Goal-driven and full of ideals, the couple has helped develop Liloan into what it is today. The municipality is one of the most progressive in Cebu, even establishing the Liloan Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Federation during Christina’s term, the first in the country spearheaded by a local government unit. Liloan prides itself in having the first LGU-established gender-neutral public restroom in the country.

“Our dream is to become a city,” Christina divulges. She envisions Liloan as an ideal place to live, study, work and invest. “In preparation for that, we are focusing on improving public infrastructure, opening up and improving road networks, and ensuring strict compliance with our Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Land Use Plans to ensure that development is regulated, deliberate and sustainable.”

This year, Liloan is launching tour packages that will feature its cottage industries and various tourist sites. Health services are being professionalized, scholarship programs expanded, and more investments channeled into its law enforcement and disaster response programs.

“We are also enhancing our community governance programs focused on protecting the environment, providing economic opportunities through livelihood, and reaching out to all sectors and stakeholders by incentivizing participation and compliance with our laws and regulations,” Christina adds.

Duke shares that every now and then, he offers input to his wife. “I advice Christina on various matters, especially regarding the projects started during my term, such as our scholarship program and purok system,” he says. “Being the party chairman of our local political party, I am also in continued contact with our local leaders.”

ON CHRISTINA Cropped top and jeans, model’s own.

THE PORT AUTHORITY

Beyond Liloan, Duke is enjoying his new position. “Since the thrust of the Cebu Port Authority spans the entire Province of Cebu, I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to improving the transport of people and goods throughout Cebu, through the continued improvement of existing ports and establishment of new ports.”

New ports, such as the plans of moving the Cebu International Port north, off the coasts of Consolacion and Liloan to decongest the city. 

“A port is always a welcome development considering it will further boost the economy of Liloan and Consolacion, and the entire Northern Cebu,” Duke says. “It provides livelihood opportunities for our people, which are relevant factors for cityhood. Moreover, the more ports, international or domestic, that we develop here, the better it will be for the people of Cebu.”

The addition of more ports will complement the project he has been working on the past year, the ferry boat system. He laments the terrible traffic that Cebuanos experience each day, comparing the travel time it takes from Liloan to Cebu City ten years ago and now. The ferry boat system includes developing ports in strategic locations in the Province of Cebu, connecting ferries or boats that can accommodate 80 to 200 people per boat. That includes room for motorcycles and possibly vehicles.

Duke expects this to be a game changer for the Cebuano. “Hopefully, it will relieve us of the stress and frustration we experience each day going through Cebu traffic,” he says. “I can just imagine our fellow Cebuanos feeling relaxed on a boat, feeling the sun and sea breeze on their faces, as opposed to the honking of horns and uneasiness of sitting in a PUJ or in your vehicles, not knowing whether they will arrive on time at their destination.”

Aside from his work with the Cebu Port Authority, Duke is also involved with his family’s business Titay’s as the Chief Financial Officer, and as a member of the Board of Directors. 

ON DUKE Pierre del Hierro sweater from RUSTAN’S AYALA CENTER CEBU. Jeans and fedora, model’s own.

A GREAT PAIR

It’s evident that the two make a great pair. They met back in June 2007 at Gwendolyn Garcia’s—Christina’s mother—inauguration as the re-elected Governor of Cebu. Duke was among the officials invited to attend, having just been elected into his first term as the Mayor of Liloan. Christina had just recently passed the bar exams and became a lawyer.

“I suppose you could say that we met at a time when both of us were at a turning point in our lives,” Christina recalls. “It is a blessing that our paths crossed at a time that it did. I was taken by Duke’s charisma. To me, he exuded kindness and humility. Of course, bonus sad gyud na guapo kaayo siya (it’s a bonus that he’s so handsome)!”

“I thought she was beautiful, elegant and well-spoken,” Duke adds. “When we were introduced, I was speechless!”

They’re naturals in front of the camera, effortlessly settling into the poses the photographer asks them to do. At one point, they’re locked in an intimate embrace and looking into each others’ eyes. Duke sweeps in for a kiss that makes everyone in the studio coo.

“I couldn’t help it,” Duke defends himself with a laugh, holding Christina closer as she giggles.

“He can’t resist me,” she tells us with raised eyebrows.

FAMILY TIES

The couple comes from political families, and it’s interesting to note that neither of the two had initial plans of running 

for office. Duke was in the audit and finance industry in the US, working for global consulting firm Protiviti right after finishing his double degree in Business Administration (Finance and Business Law) and Accounting at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

“I had no plans at all,” Duke admits. “My father, who had been Mayor then Vice-Mayor, died unexpectedly. The barangay captains of Liloan contacted me because the wanted to have me run for the position. It took me a couple of years before I finally decided to come home and run for Mayor in 2006.”

On Christina’s end, she had spent nearly ten years focused on building her career as a lawyer. After graduating from Ateneo Law, she practiced litigation, international arbitration and corporate law with one of the top-tier law firms in the Philippines, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & Delos Angeles, being the head of its Cebu office.

“I knew that I wanted to make something of myself out of my own achievements, outside of and away from politics,” Christina shares. “I must say though that being exposed to public service at a young age led me to an inclination to help others. I always felt a sense of duty to my country, because that’s what I saw in my family as I was growing up.”

Despite initially having no plans to follow in their family’s political path, they both express a deep appreciation and admiration for their respective families’ contributions to Cebu. “He was Mayor of Liloan for close to a decade, but served Liloan all his life,” Duke says about his father, the late Panphil B. Frasco or Dodong Daku. “He was a man of the people, and Liloanons still speak of his kindness and humility to this day. I also greatly admire my uncle Gerardo ‘Dodong Gamay’ Frasco, for his pragmatism and wisdom, which has guided our family to carrying on the Titay’s legacy spanning 111 years.”

“For me, they have set the bar to which I would like to contribute to Cebu as a Cebuano,” Christina says of her own family. “For his statesmanship and brilliant legal mind, my grandfather, former Governor and Deputy Speaker Pablo P. Garcia. For her passion towards community development and social justice, my grandmother, the late Judge and Cebu CFI Community Cooperative founder Esperanza F. Garcia. For her great love for Cebu and legendary work ethic, my mom, former Governor Gwen F. Garcia.”

NEW LEADERSHIP

As two young personalities in government, they hope to be able to empower people through education. For ten years now since Duke’s first term and continuing though Christina’s current term, they have a scholarship program that has benefitted over 6,000 students.

They believe that an educated population is an empowered population, capable of becoming financially independent and discerning in their choices. “For us, this is key to breaking out of the bonds of poverty and patronage,” Christina affirms.

The Frascos hope to introduce innovations to governance, like reducing redundancies and bureaucracy through the use of technology, and being more connected and transparent through the use of social media. They also support the call for Federalism, believing that it will give local governments more leeway and funding in improving local infrastructure and creating more locally-relevant projects for the people.

Considering that standpoint, it’s no surprise how vocal the couple has been in their support for the controversial President Rodrigo Duterte. “President Duterte has political will, and he is a law and order President,” they say. “We believe that his extensive executive experience sets him apart as a leader because he knows the value of enforcing the law in order to have a stable society. At the same time, he recognizes the necessity of governing in a manner that is compassionate and responsive to the needs of the people.”

In the face of many conflicting views toward the President’s brand of leadership, both Duke and Christina acknowledge that opposition is necessary for a working democracy, but hope that Filipinos can come together and support his national agenda of building a stable and peaceful society. “We owe it to our country to set aside what divides us, and to unite behind our common goal of attaining a better life for our countrymen and for our children.”

Aside from their daily responsibilities, the couple also fosters their own advocacies. With education being high on Duke’s list of priorities, Christina also extends efforts for the empowerment of women and children. “The promotion of inclusive development as well—giving equitable opportunities to vulnerable sectors such as the LGBT and the youth,” she adds.

EVERYDAY LIFE

Being in the government means a lot of responsibility for the couple, and a typical day for them is being up 6:00 in the morning to have breakfast with their children before school, then going to their respective offices for work.

For Duke, work is either at the Cebu Port Authority to attend board meetings, or at their Frasco Group Office to attend to business matters. He also attends to pressing concerns in Liloan if need be, which shows how he is still dedicated to it even if he is no longer its Vice-Mayor.

Christina is either at the Municipal Hall to sign papers, attend meetings and meet constituents at the office, or scheduling visits to Liloan’s barangays and puroks.

To keep from getting too stressed or burnt out, Duke says, “I go to the gym and I run. I also like to Netflix and chill.”

Christina, on the other hand, makes time to paint and experiment with new dishes for Duke and their kids. She mentions that, if their schedules permit, they try to devote their weekends to their kids—watching movies, eating out, and traveling. “When Duke and I get home, we also make a conscious decision not to talk about work,” she finishes.

A COUPLE AT WORK

While some people might find the idea of a married couple working together as a possible hindrance to getting things done, the Frascos think otherwise. To them, it is an advantage because their vision and values are aligned. “We are able to enjoy our victories together, and we’re able to lift each other up in tough times, knowing that we will have each other’s back,” they share.

Duke and Christina are celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary this year, and it’s no question that the romance is still very much alive between them. They share that their marriage is anchored on their love for each other, their love for their family, and their shared goals for the future.

At the same time, they emphasize that retaining a sense of individuality is also important, along with having a healthy respect for each other’s differences. Compromise is key, and they constantly make sure to keep their values and goals in check, adjusting each other’s expectations as necessary and working out their differences.

Considering all that Duke and Christina have accomplished at a young age, we had to ask if they had plans of running for higher office. “We have great plans for the future, not just for ourselves, but also for our family and for Liloan,” they said. “As Cebuanos, we would like to continue to contribute to the development of Cebu. However, we also realize that ultimately, it is for the people to decide whether they would want us to continue to serve. As for the rest, it is in God’s hands. So we are focused on doing as much as we can in the here and now, with the opportunities that we have been given, for which we feel very blessed.”

Continue Reading

Events

Citizens of the World: CAMPAIGN 2KRAINE

Asmara Urban Resort and Lifestyle Village

Citizens of the World: CAMPAIGN 2KRAINE

By Eva Gullas

“We are all citizens of the world. What’s good for you, must be good for all. If you are lost, share a plate with a stranger… you will find who you are.”

-Jose Andres, renowned Spanish Chef and founder of World Central Kitchen

 

Chef José Andrés

Where there are humanitarian disasters, you will find the volunteers of World Central Kitchen.  In their midst will be local chefs, most of them inspired by its iconic founder, celebrity chef José Andrés. Founded in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake in  2010, World Central Kitchen established its “chef network,” of global professional chefs. The vision was for a kind of “chefs without borders” program where volunteers would enact positive change by cooking using local knowledge and resources. Last year, they even came to the island of Siargao in response to an Instagram plea for help after typhoon Odette almost levelled this idyllic paradise. WCK sponsored 2 community kitchens for 2 months serving 250 to 500 meals per day in Siargao.

WCK at Siargao with volunteers, December 2021. (Photo courtesy of Ai-Ai Garcia)

Chef José Andrés was born in Spain where he honed his culinary skills at the eponymous El Bulli under Ferran Adria. By the time he moved to the US in 1991, he was well on his way to being part of the celebrity chefs, with his Bazaar restaurant at the then SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills a favorite hang-out for Hollywood stars. Michelin stars and James Beard awards followed closely. These days though, Jose Andres spends his time in kitchens all over the world while his top rated chain of restaurants in the US continue to thrive. There’s a Bazaar restaurant at Las Vegas and Miami, and if you happen to be in the area, check out their amazing servings – it’s worth the splurge especially since it is owned by this great humanitarian!

The Bazaar Restaurant in Miami

With the Ukraine invasion delivered to us in sharp details tru social media and TV, it’s hard to ignore. And so, it was a natural conversation to be able to do something about it even in a small way. On a full-moon evening a few days ago, joining us at a beachside home for dinner was Matthew Wood, the German singer guest of Miranda Konstantiniduo who is here for a few days to shoot his latest music video. Sated with a good meal by the sea, we idly discussed a fund raising event with Matthew. We have been so engrossed with local politics and a looming election in just 2 months, that it was refreshing to talk about something bigger than our small world. Butch Carungay, seated in front of me, took the idea to heart and by the following day, he had the graphics for the event, and a ready rolodex of possible donors for the silent auction. Getting on board the following night was Carlo Cordaro, who happily lent us the second level of Asmara Resort. To complement Matthew, Cebuana singer Doods Osmena also will belt out a few songs. An impressive list of items for the silent auction is being compiled by Butch, composed of overnight stays at top resorts, artworks and furniture pieces from named artists.  We will post a list on the day of event. 

German singer Matthew Wood

Asmara Urban Resort and Lifestyle Village

Ribbon designed by Butch Carungay for guests at the fund raising event

It is sponsored by Zee Publications Inc., in our first foray after having been dormant during the pandemic and typhoon Odette. Zee will soon be launching a new artsy printed magazine called Eatz Cebu! 

This Friday, March 25, at 6pm, we open the doors of Asmara Urban Resort (see map) for this fundraising where we hope you can join us by donating a minimum of $50 to the World Central Kitchen directly at https://wck.org/donate. It will be an evening of fun and fundraising, and entry is tru an email or digital receipt of your donation. 

***

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. By February 25, 2022, Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) was on the ground serving free wholesome meals to those fleeing the violence. Chef Andrés and his volunteers have already served more than one million meals to Ukrainian refugees, from basements, train stations, and shelters. Still, cooking and distributing food in a war zone comes with unique challenges. “We began operations…over two weeks ago inside Lviv,” says Andrés. “The last two days we saw some missiles falling down. So, the western side of Ukraine, that actually was a safe haven for many Ukrainians leaving war, is already kind of feeling like the war is getting closer.” For Andrés, it’s a humanitarian necessity and a call he answers. “The least we can do at World Central Kitchen is be next to them – making sure they will be fed every day.”

SOURCE: MSNBC

Continue Reading

Trending