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At Home With Audrey

Right from the start of the interview, one thing is crystal clear: Audrey Zubiri takes motherhood very seriously. “I’m sorry I couldn’t make it last Saturday,” she says as she takes her seat inside the quiet café in Makati on a Monday morning. “It was my son’s birthday party. He just turned one.” We had initially asked her to have the interview at an earlier date but she politely asked if we could re-schedule it.

Right from the start of the interview, one thing is crystal clear: Audrey Zubiri takes motherhood very seriously. “I’m sorry I couldn’t make it last Saturday,” she says as she takes her seat inside the quiet café in Makati on a Monday morning. “It was my son’s birthday party. He just turned one.” We had initially asked her to have the interview at an earlier date but she politely asked if we could  re-schedule it.

If you followed her modeling and hosting career, it would have taken a while for the fact that she is now a mom to sink in. Her radiant beauty is no different from when she was in the limelight, with her slim figure, glowing skin, and a youthful, sunny smile that instantly brightens up the room. You would also have found it quite difficult to believe that she didn’t always look like this. “Growing up, I was a happy teenager, but I was super dorky. I really fit the stereotype—I had the thick glasses, the braces, the acne,” she shares. “I was super thin and lanky, with awkward arms and a flat chest. I had a bad haircut because of the girl band TLC. I was trying to imitate T-Boz; I thought she was cool. It was a disaster!”

She laughs at herself as she says this, and it is this candor and lack of vanity and pretension that allow her to talk about her modeling and hosting days without sounding conceited at all. “I started modeling in late high school,” she says. “I got rid of the glasses, braces, and acne. When I got to college, Robbie Carmona was having an event where I was modeling. One of the hosts didn’t show up so he asked me if I wanted to co-host. And I was like, ‘Yeah, sure, why not?’ So I gave it a shot and in the audience, there was someone from Studio 23. He came up to me after the show and asked me to audition for a spot as one of their VJs. I did, and I got in.” She goes on to explain how modeling and hosting would eventually fit into the grander scheme of things. “You’re always in front of people when you’re modeling or hosting, and when you’re campaigning for your husband, it’s the same thing” she bemused with a sense of humor. “Maybe it’s like that; in a way, you go from one audience to another. It helped in a sense that I’m very comfortable with crowds. I think it trained me to deal with so many people that it’s now easy for me to get along with anyone I meet.”

On a day-to-day basis, Audrey interacts with a lot of people and juggles a variety of activities. On top of running errands like doing the groceries and going to the bank, she writes for a broadsheet’s Parenting section every Wednesday, visits construction sites for her build-and-sell business, and owns two franchises of a popular local restaurant chain. She is also active in a number of foundations, with Bantay Bata being one of the closest to her heart (her most recent project was a fashion show-slash-brunch for Mother’s Day this year). But all these things take a backseat when it comes to her children, three-year-old Adriana and one-year-old Juanmi. “My parenting style is very hands-on. I’m involved with everything—from the small everyday things like giving them a bath and feeding them to the more social aspects like taking them to play dates and children’s parties. On Tuesday afternoons, I host a play date at our house so I can see the kids Adriana plays with and so she can learn to share her things. I want her to be comfortable having her friends come over to the house so that when she gets older, she won’t go out partying so often!”

“The time I spend with my kids has to be both quality and quantity. Some parents allot quality time but it’s only 30 minutes—what about the rest of the day? Or sometimes it’s just quantity, where they could be at home with the kids the whole day, but they don’t make the most of their time together,” Audrey says. “So I really make it a point to spend quality time with them, and the quantity of the time has to be a majority of my day. That’s non-negotiable. Everything else is just on the side—if an activity’s going to get in the way of me spending time with my family, that’s when I weigh it in: Is it essential or not? If it’s not, then it gets discarded. If it’s really important, then I’ll figure out a way to incorporate it. But my first priority is always my family.”

At some point during the interview, Audrey whips out her camera to show off photos of her kids. She speaks of them with genuine pride and an almost tangible excitement in her voice—her world revolves around them, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Adriana is a lot like Migz,” she says. “She looks like him, and her personality is very strong. She knows what she wants and what she doesn’t. But I also see myself in her in the sense that she’s very cautious—she’s always saying ‘Baka mahulog ako.’ And that’s how I am—I don’t ride roller coasters because I’m scared of them, and I was never good at sports. Juanmi, on the other hand, is brave and adventurous like Migz. He started walking at an early age because he didn’t care if he’d fall; he’d just stand up and try again. He’s very chill and very steady—he just watches everybody and he’s always cool and always laughing. If he’s playing with something and his sister grabs it, he doesn’t get mad. He’ll just move on to another toy.”

When asked about her biggest accomplishment, Audrey neither runs through a list of her successful business ventures nor recites a litany of her various socially-oriented projects. “I’m very proud of our home life,” she says simply. “I’m proud of the way Miguel and I have handled our family despite his really hectic and erratic schedule. Our marriage is very grounded, very loving, and still very romantic. We are companions in everything we do. It’s good to have someone who always makes sure you’ll be okay. I always call him my partner in crime. We have the same sense of humor—we’re really babaw and we’re both so baduy. We enjoy traveling, and I love our little dates together. Sometimes, we have nice dates where I can dress up, but sometimes we’re so busy that we just go to a coffee shop and sit in a corner talking until midnight.” The couple is based in Manila but visits Bukidnon as often as they can. Migz’ family is from Bukidnon and before becoming a senator, Miguel was a congressman of the third district. Their family connection extends as far as Cebu, Mig’s uncle and his father’s first cousin Ben Zubiri,  more popularly known as Iyo Karpo is the Cebuano composer and actor famous for the love song, Matud Nila.

She pauses to reconsider the question and admits, “If you had asked me several years ago, I would have said my biggest accomplishment was studying communications technology management in Ateneo while doing modeling on the side. It was fun, but things like that suddenly lose their weight when you have kids. They really put things into perspective; suddenly, nothing is as important. My kids have brought so much joy into my life, more joy than I ever thought possible. Having children makes you see how beautiful life is—you become so content with everything. At the same time, they really help you prioritize things in your life; you realize what’s essential and what’s not. Having kids also changes you in the sense that you want to be a better person for them. You know they’re going to be watching you and following in your footsteps, so of course you make an effort for them to see only the best example from you.” When all is said and done, Audrey Zubiri has nothing but gratitude for the life she is living. “Every morning, I open my eyes and I am so thankful just because my daughter is there beside me, waking me up. The littlest things make me so happy.”

Of course, the interview doesn’t end without a question she probably gets all too often: Will she be running for public office in the future? “Right now, I feel like one politician in the family is enough,” she says. “Being in politics is such a demanding job—it’s like the most demanding boss ever, and I often have to learn how to share Miguel with his work. While it’s rewarding and fulfilling knowing that my husband is helping so many people and doing so many good things, I don’t want to be in politics because I don’t want to delegate the job of being a mom to someone else. A lot of good people have the potential to take care of a district and serve a certain town. But raising my two kids—taking care of them, keeping them safe and healthy, making sure that their values are shaped properly and their principles are set on a solid foundation—that’s a job only I can do.” She smiles and stops to correct herself: “That’s a job only I should be doing.”

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EXCLUSIVE: Never Been Released Behind-the-Scenes photos of Zee Lifestyle’s Emerald Issue Cover Shoot

Photographer Jan Gonzales, Margie Lhuillier, June Alegrado, Kryz Uy, Mia Arcenas, Amparito Lhuillier and Alice Woolbright

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.

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LEADING WOMEN

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.

Oj Hofer and Margot Osmeña

Kryz Uy

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.

Amparito Lhuillier, Kryz Uy, Alice Woolbright, Margot Osmeña and June Alegrado all wearing MIRANDA KONSTANTINIDOU

Photographer Jan Gonzales and creative director Melo Esguerra

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.

Kymberly Maitland-Smith

Makeup Artist Romero Vergara, June Alegrado and Hair Stylist Jessie Egos

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.

FROM LEFT Marguerite wears CARY SANTIAGO; June wears PHILIP RODRIGUEZ; Mia wears MIA ARCENAS; Kryz wears ELIZABETH HALLIE; Amparito wears MONIQUE LHUILLIER; Alice wears PHILIP RODRIGUEZ; Fiona wears VANIA ROMOFF; Margot wears PHILIP RODRIGUEZ; Danessa wears OJ HOFER; Carla wears ALICE+OLIVIA; Christina wears DINO LLOREN

(This article had already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s December 2016 Emerald Issue, “Leading Women” on pages 140-155.)

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Culture

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.

The Founder

Combining passion and education. Louis Villaflor re-enacts his way patriotism through his periodical costumes and expresses his love for Cebu and Philippines as a culture-centric country.

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

With the its senior expertise of fashion design and a teacher of the field, his passion also of history caters also in his designs as he pushes through sustainable fashion and historical awareness combined.

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.

 

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Culture

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 Patalinjug

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

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

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

 

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

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 Olano

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

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 Scheming

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

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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