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Becoming Blake

There’s more to Blake Go than being just a bachelor—after all, he’s holding his own as the scion to a family business, with plenty of other ventures in his own right—but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some tricks up his sleeve.

There’s more to Blake Go than being just a bachelor—after all, he’s holding his own as the scion to a family business, with plenty of other ventures in his own right—but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have some tricks up his sleeve.

It’s Lifedance Wicked Summer, what many considered the summer’s culminating party. The air is particularly humid, and the crazy dancing didn’t help—in fact, the crowds of people congregating around the stage are wearing shirts that are practically plastered to their backs. It’s a good thing, then, that we’re standing on the second floor balcony of the VIP area, wherethe heat is equally unbearable but the crowds are at least thinned out.

You kind of notice Blake Go the minute he enters your line of vision. And really, how could you not? He’s surrounded by a group of friends, wearing a coveted all-access ID pass and has a statuesque beauty on his arm. That’s not noting the amount of people who turn around to greet him—it seems every few steps, he stops and gives out a loose hug or a kiss on the cheek to an acquaintance, our group included. And then he’s off, with his posse not too far behind him.

It’s not surprising that a certain curiosity follows in the wake of this seemingly high-profile and well- connected persona, and when their queries are answered with a single name, what so often follows is, “Who the hell is Blake Go?”

The day of the shoot is Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Dressed in a bright red shirt and casual shorts, Blake arrives and greets everyone before playfully excusing himself to catch a glimpse of the game. He bounds up the stairs to Jan’s studio, the cheers and frustrated groans audible as the Heat and Spurs volley for the lead, despite the selection of Passion Pit’s discography that we chose for the day’s soundtrack. Every few seconds, he peeks out the door and gives us a thumbs up. “Sorry guys,” he says. “I have a bet riding on Miami winning today.”

Unfortunately for him, the game goes into overtime and it’s time for him to get into hair and makeup. That doesn’t faze him though; he sits on the makeup chair with his phone at hand, constantly refreshing the page that tells him the scores. Finally, we let him go to watch the game’s last few minutes, knowing full fell he couldn’t concentrate on looking good for the camera if he was constantly jittery about whether or not there’ll be a Game 7. When the game is over, he makes his way back on set with a big smile, despite the fact that he still lost the bet (because of some point system that this writer doesn’t completely understand). Either way, he’s happy. His team gets another shot at the championship—something they use well when they beat the Spurs in the final game a few days later.

That upbeat energy and boyish charm is something Blake seems to have a lot of, as he jumps from story after story with unmatched enthusiasm that makes you feel immediately atease around him. “Everyone says I’m easy to talk to,” he notes in the kind of nonchalant tone that is unself-conscious despite the fact that he’s basically pointing out his own good points. “I guess that’s why I’ve been called a playboy, because I hang out with a lotof girls, just because they find me easy to talk to. But sure, I like looking at beautiful women. I guess that’s just my personality.”

The candid way he says it is refreshing, especially at a time when people can tend to pretend they want something deeper than they actually do. “With me, what you see is what you get,” he says with a shrug.

That’s not to say, though, that there isn’t more to him than what meets the eye. As the eldest son of Nelson and Jennifer Faith Go of the family behind Prince Warehouse Club, a popular chain of local supermarkets and department stores, Blake Nelson Go was born into a childhood that’s probably more normal than you expect. “I have two younger brothers, Cris and Jake, who are both currently finishing school in San Francisco,” he shares. “We do get along, maybe a little too well,” he adds with a laugh, recalling some of the crazy memories he’s shared with them. “One summer, my brother Jake was home on vacation and we were coming home from the beach, driving on my convertible with the top down and the music turned up loud. We were dancing, standing and taking videos of ourselves while we were driving home. He’s deaf, but I guess he managed to dance along to the beat from the loud bass,” he recalls.

His relationship with his parents is an endearing quality, with his mom dropping by the shoot and giving him tips on how to pose more naturally. “I’m very close to my whole family, especially my parents. I like to think that I’m the tie that binds everyone together,” he says. “My dad is my hero, and the source of strength and guidance, while my mom just has the biggest heart and all the patience in the world.”

She must have needed it— Blake admits to some crazy childhood moments. “My most vivid childhood memory was when I was five, and my parents and I were in Chicago. While they were asleep, I snuck out of the house, and they later found me tumbling around in the snow butt-naked,” he laughs, before adding, “I even have the photos to prove it, but that’ll have to remain hidden.” Later on, though, his antics were shared with his brothers. “We usually have Sunday lunch with the family and sometimes Cris would have a date and couldn’t go, so I would cover for him and pretend that I have a huge hangover from the night before,” he recalls. “I guess he learned it from me, because when I was younger I would ask him to do the same thing.”

From rolling around the snow in his birthday suit, he went on to study at Sacred Heart School Cebu and then the Oxford Brookes University in London, where he received a BA degree in Business and Retail Management. “It’s hard to believe, but I actually graduated with honors.” It was a stepping stoneto his place now as the CEO for Prince Warehouse Club and SELLGORealty Corporation, their family’s core business. “Not the COO, okay? Child of Owner,” he jokes. Seriously speaking, though, he admits, “It’s always beena dream of mine to make the family business grow.”

He’s since moved on to venture into his own personal businesses, which includes Buddies, a chain that serves up burgers, Mexican food and hotdogs. With locations in Capitol, Talamban and a third branch that’s soon to open, the eatery is most popular for their Ultimate Burger Challenge. Has he been up to the task? “Yes, I’ve done it. The time limit is five minutes, and I finished the one-pounder burger patties and two orders of fries in about eight minutes. I’ll probably do it again soon and try to make it in five minutes.”

Blake also has his hand on the Cebu night scene. Together with JP Chiongbian, Jaja Chiongbian-Rama, Wayne Congmon and Derick Yap, he’d recently acquired Scrapyard after the House of Cebu transitioned into The Henry Hotel. The uniquely designed nightspot is a great venue on theweekends for 80s and 90s music, with a roster of bands playing on weeknights. “We’re renovating this month,” he shares, saying to expect a more lounge vibe.

Right across the parking lot from Scrapyard is Blake’s latest venture, Cable Car. “We’re very excited about it finally coming to Cebu,” he shares. “While I was studying in Manila, preparing to go to London, I went to Cable Car a lot to eat. We’re really famous for the Cable Car rice, the sisig rice—the food’s all actually really good, so that’s what we’re trying to promote.” Keeping it similar to the Manila set-up, Paseo Saturnino’s outlet will also have beer pong tournaments, which they take pretty seriously. “Whoever will win in Cebu will have to compete in Manila.”

The biggest thing, however, might be Lifedance, arguably the biggest and hottest party on the island.“It actually started out as Paradiso, a beach party six years ago that ran for four consecutive years in Tambuli and Portofino. It was my brother’s business and idea, and I was helping him out, but when he left for the States to study, I carried on,” he recalls. Pretty soon, the party had gotten too big for the resorts to accommodate, which led them to the boardwalk complex and a new concept. “The first one was May last year, andthe second was during Sinulog, which made history for Cebu. About 15,000 people showed up, some from Manila, Hong Kong and Singapore.” Endorsed by the Department of Tourism, it seems only inevitable that Lifedance continues on a steady rise. “Our goal is to be a part of the party calendar—the onethat includes Tomorrowland in Europe, the Zouk Out in Singapore and the Thailand Sensation Party.” He even ofers a little tease for those already looking forward to next January’s party– “we’re working on bringing in one of the top five DJs in the world. I’m just not going to say who.”

“What else do we have to talk about? What would be interesting?” he asks me while we’re sitting down post-shoot, and I feel a little rushed considering he’s supposed to be on a plane to Manila in just two hours.

“We are playing you up as a bachelor,” I begin, which he quickly replies with, “So my girlfriends?”

It’s no secret that Blake’s got a bit of a playboy reputation. When he’s out, he’s usually in a group that includes some of the best-looking women in the room, and has been linked to several ladies over the years– a list that includes actresses and some prominent personalities in Cebu. “Let’s not give names though, because I’m a gentleman,” he says, and insists that it’s purely an image people tend to attach to him. “A lot of people think I’m a chickboy. I’m surrounded by a lot of beautiful women, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m romantically interested in them. I haven’t had a lot of relationships. Most of the time, I’m single.”

Perhaps this is what has allowed him to narrow down his preferences, and when I ask about what he first notices in a woman, he answers quickly, “I look into the eyes, that’s what really captures my attention. But of course, it comes down to personality. I like intelligence, because I really like to talk– I talk a lot.” Yes, he really does. “So I want to be able to talk about anything and know we’ll understand each other. She has to have a sense of humor, and of course, I’ll notice if she’s really hot.”

And what exactly does he do after he takes notice? “I don’t really have a pick-up line. I just look at them and if they look back, then I’ll go up to them,” he shares, although he admits to something else after a short pause to think. “I have this thing when if I like a girl, I don’t really show them at first. I’;; pretent like it’s nothing, especially if I notice a lot of guys talking to her– I’d just say hi and then leave. Then she’d wonder, ‘why is this guy making deadma to me?'” He laughs when I point out that the gameplan is simple but effective. “I guess that’s my move.”

Once he’s won her over, it’s a different story. “When I’m a bachelor, yes, I go out a lot and people start calling me a party boy. But when I’m in a relationships, I really just stick to one,” he says, mentioning his longest relationship that lasted for four years. “It was a really good one. I learned a lot but I was probably too young. I was caught between staying in Cebu and pursuing a better education. In the end, I followed my dream.”

In the end, it seems, Blake really is a romantic at heart. “I’ll do anything to win a girl over. Seriously, I’ll do anything that I can think of. Sky’s the limit,” he answers, though he’s a little hesitant about sharing his craziest act of love, “Let’s not mention it, some of them might get jealous,” he laughs, although he’s careful to reiterate that “when it comes to girls, when I like her, I’ll do anything just to get her.”

When I ask him about the best piece of dating advice he has, I don’t expect it to be all that pragmatic– after all, he just admitted to going to great and unreasonable lengths to getting the girl. “Don’t go overboard,” which, in all honesty, seems like something he doesn’t follow himself. He continues though, “Just be yourself, because eventually they’ll find out about you. You can do whatever you can think of at the moment– buy her flowers or fly a plane just to see her for an hour.” Well that seems like a confession of a crazy act for love. “Yes, I did that,” he admits, “I flew a plane just to say hi, then came right back.”

To be fair, though, that is Blake being himself. After all, this is a guy who spends his free time driving his vast collection of sports cars, riding his bike along the sloping streets of Maria Luisa, taking his speedboat on a cruise on the Mactan Channel, or playing a few rounds of golf. When I ask him how many cars he owned, he smiles and answers, “A lot.” That I don’t find the answer immediately obnoxious is proof to how likeable he is while in conversation. “I don;t really have a favorite one– most of my sports cars have different characteristics. There’s one for a chill Sunday drive, and there’s a sporty one that I use for racing.”

The need for speed is something that Blake’s been addressing since he started go-karting when he was 15, winning National Rookie of the Year on his first year and eventually being awarded National Champion. “Eventually I moved on the to the toys for the big boys– cars. I was into drag racing, and was the first Filipino to be the two-time back-to-back champion for Quick8 and Class A drag racing.”

I guess, in some way, you can say that Blake has grown up– but that’s also not saying he’s not young at heart either. The 16-year old inside of him does rear its smiling head, as seen from the bouts of jokes peppered into every sentence and the unaffected laughter that’s a little bit contagious. Still, he’s set on achieving his goals for the next five years. “I’ll be expanding the family business and I’ll have a family of my own.” He adds cheekily, “That means I have five more years to live up to the Most Eligible Bachelor title.”

There seems to be no secrets when it comes to Blake Go. As he picks out the clothes he’s bringing along on his trip amongst the piles he’d brought along to the shoot– a collection of button-downs in various colors, tailored blazers and designer shoes– I ask him what outfit he feels most comfortable in. He smirks. “Naked.”

  • by Shari Quimbo
  • creative director David Jones Cua
  • photography Jan Gonzales (shot with a FujiFilm X-E1)
  • fashion stylist Michael Sanchez
  • assistant Lor Yutico
  • hair and make up Jay Castilloand Jomer Arances (Secanara Hands)
  • assistants Suzaine Smith and Geneva Villasencio
  • models Jaime Herrel and Cristlet Gerona (WAFER Models)

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.”

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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. 

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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

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What Makes an Empowered Woman? Let’s take it from Megaworld Hotels and Resorts’ Managing Director, Cleofe Albiso

What is an empowered woman made of? Managing Director Cleofe Albiso of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts, the Philippines’ largest homegrown hospitality chain with 4,000 room keys and 11 hotels, composes her thoughts and shares that its grit, resilience, and love. 

Cleofe Albiso, Managing Director of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts  

Settling in on her new leadership role at the start of the new year, Albiso looks back even way before joining the organization during the last quarter of 2019 as its Group General Manager. It comes as a surprise when she shares that her years takes her back from being a pre-school teacher in Cebu using her degree in Bachelor of Science in Education major in mathematics finishing Magna Cum Laude. After a while, and with doors opening for her to join the corporate world, she finds herself earning her years in sales and marketing where she has gathered decades worth of exemplary experience being part of the country’s biggest telecommunications group and international hospitality brands. 

With the highs and blows of life and as well as business, she shares that “An empowered woman needs to have grit”. The will to persevere and continue with passion has become her brand of leadership in serving not just clients and guests, but as well as taking care of the people she works with. Through her dedication, Albiso has since continued to climb the corporate ladder and was also recognized as the first Filipino General Manager of a Marriott International branded property in the country, the Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo that is also one of Megaworld Corporation’s many other operated international hotels in the Philippines. 

Fast forward to today, she looks at the future with gratefulness as she embraces the opportunity to empower the lives of 2,000 employees present across 11 hotels and not to mention 3 more properties opening this year as well as in 2023. She shares that “My responsibility can only be best tackled by filling my heart with gratitude and keeping my purpose in close check when times get challenging.” 

More than ever, she has come to understand that “Resilience is her way of life.” She explains that challenges come and go along with every solution that solves each one of them. Safe to say, what she considers as the biggest one yet would have to be this pandemic.  Albiso hopes that after a two year pause and struggle of the industry “My constant prayer is for our fellow Filipinos to help us recover by patronizing homegrown brands for them to explore the Philippines and travel again.” She said that in doing so “this will mean more jobs for the hospitality and tourism practitioners and boost confidence in the total industry to go back on full swing once again.” 

Admittedly, despite being one of the industries at the frontline of the pandemic, she can still say that “The culture of appreciation in our very own organization has been better strengthened during these times”.  The company lives by the Circle of Happiness. She explains that “Our organization operates with a culture that reminds us to love ourselves, our families, our work, our community with the love of God at the center of everything we do.” This pandemic has better reminded them to strive to take care of the wholistic well-being of each employee from physical to emotional and even mental health.

On top of that, Albiso gathers that what allows them to thrive is their team’s collective ability to take care of their key stakeholders, execute efforts geared towards sustaining the business, and making people stay and work passionately.  She further adds “We are a work in progress and there are many more business and service facets that we are focusing on improving” and humbly claims that “The best years for Megaworld Hotels and Resorts are yet to come.”

When asked about what her best advice to fellow women would be as they reach for their dreams, she said “I only found genuine fulfillment when I started having a relationship with God.  It is only by accepting that we cannot do things by ourselves that we become dependent on our creator.” According to her it is important “That we do not give credit to our talent, creativity and hard work (alone) but give glory to the one above us who have blessed us with all that.”  

At present, their properties are continuously looking to hire qualified applicants for vacant positions in front office, security, information technology, food and beverage, sales & marketing, human resources and engineering for Belmont Hotel Manila and Savoy Hotel Manila within Newport City in Pasay across NAIA terminal 3, Kingsford Hotel Manila located in the Entertainment City of Paranaque, Hotel Lucky Chinatown in Binondo, Twin Lakes Hotel near Tagaytay, Eastwood Richmonde Hotel in Quezon City, Richmonde Hotel Ortigas in Pasig, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo in Iloilo Business Park of Iloilo City, Belmont Hotel Boracay or Savoy Hotel Boracay located at the Newcoast Boracay and Savoy Hotel Mactan Newtown in Cebu.

For more information about how you can be part of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts, kindly email careers@megaworldhotels.com. You may also inquire about your future stays through salesinquiry@megaworldhotels.com or connect with them through any of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts’ and its properties’ social media pages. 

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