Kenneth Cobonpue needs no introduction to Zee Lifestyle readers. We’ve featured him often enough—his repeated collaboration with Hollywood star and activist Brad Pitt, the containers of yin-yang loveseats, croissant sofas, Pigalle beds bound for celebrities’ homes. His latest endeavor is a 324-square-meter lifestyle store carrying his label at Makati’s uber trendy Greenbelt area. Set to open in a few months, it will make accessible for the first time a three-dimensional view of his obsessively Filipino creative psyche, and the opportunity to buy them.
We wanted to convey a tropical park to greet arrivals, their first sight would be of palm trees and flowering plants as soon they step outside the luggage area,” Kenneth Cobonpue answered when asked what would be different in their proposed plan of the NAIA 1 rehabilitation. Gone would be the dark and bulky concrete square that faces the main airport terminal. In fact, that would be the first to go if Budji Layug, Royal Pineda and Kenneth would have their say.
“This is really about a dream, a vision, of creating a better image of the country through a series of projects in which people could participate and relive the spirit of bayanihan,” Kenneth told us. “We talk so much about our country being a tropical paradise but reality could be brutal to visitors. We wanted to change this experience by allowing a quick glimpse into a lush garden and a verdant canopy of trees in the arrival area itself.”
Sadly, this will not be the case anymore.
BACKTRACK The National Competitiveness Council (NCC), a public-private sector advisory council set up to address the need to improve the Philippines’ image, was reorganized last April to boost the country’s international ranking from the bottom third to the top third by 2016. The public sector members of the NCC are the Secretary of Trade and Industry (who serves as co-chairman), the Secretaries of Finance, Energy, Tourism, and Education, and the head of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
A month earlier, Kenneth was asked by some members of the Economic Cluster of the Cabinet to host a meeting to brainstorm on how we could pursue a new image for the Philippines. That meeting took place on March 20, 2011, with some members of the Cabinet—Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Trade Secretary Greg Domingo, Budget Secretary Butch Abad, the then Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, and Press Secretary Ricky Carandang, and people from the private sector, among them Josie Natori, Emily Abrera, Fernando Zobel, Brian Tenorio, Junie del Mundo, and Jeannie Javelosa, and Budji and Royal.
Among the ideas discussed, two projects were identified: the creation of a new country brand and the renovation of the NAIA-1 and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Each project would serve as a means of conveying a new message about the country—one that would capture our attributes and qualities while symbolizing progress and development at the same time.
They met again on March 25 to discuss both projects, during which two groups were created—one for the country brand and one for the renovation of the NAIA 1 and the Mactan Airport. Visiting the Cobonpue showroom in Cebu, the group made a unanimous decision in taking the lead set by Kenneth’s design sensibility in creating the “face of modern Philippines”.
On April 6, the first meeting of the airport renovation team was led by Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Angelo Honrado, with NAIA Terminal Manager Dante Basanta, architect Royal Pineda, and designers Budji Layug and Kenneth Cobonpue. They studied the situation of the entire Manila International Airport Authority before the actual design process started.
MIAA is composed of four terminals: NAIA 1, Terminal 2 or the Centennial Airport, Terminal 3, and the Domestic Airport. NAIA-1, designed by Leandro Locsin who was posthumously declared a National Artist for architecture in 2008, was constructed in 1978 and completed in 1981. At 67,000 square meters, it was originally designed to handle 4.5 million passengers per year. It has long reached itsmaximum capability, and with some improvements and additions its capacity has been extended to 6.0 million passengers per year. It served over 7 million in 2010. Today, the four terminals services over 27 million passengers, with NAIA 1 and 2 the most highly congested.
Even if Terminal 3 were opened for multiple airlines, there can be no way of shifting all of NAIA 1’s capacity to Terminal 3 alone should the former be shut down. The possibilty of opening Clark Airport would somehow decongest Terminal 1, but still it would be inconceivable to divert all traffic there, regardless of whether or not a high-speed rail link could be established between Metro Manila and Clark to support it. Besides, such a project would take years to complete anyway.
Thus, fixing NAIA 1 and getting Terminal 3 fully open makes so much sense now. The needs are immediate. With that in mind, Kenneth, Budji, and Royal’s team set out to create a renovation design for NAIA 1 in conjunction with the airport’s own engineers and architects.
THE PROPOSAL In designing the changes, the basic mission was to transform NAIA 1 into a boutique airport, a modern gateway that would give passengers a better travel experience in terms of service, comfort, and facilities. Maintaining the structural integrity of the building was given paramount importance; hence, no thought about changing the structure of the building or expanding its present size was ever entertained. The solution was to clear some design structures and to streamline some of the steps which passengers have to undergo in the airport.
One such problem, often cited by passengers, is the lack of food outlets and restaurants in the area. The team’s solution was to create a park with world-class Filipino restaurants and cafés around it. This could become a waiting and receiving lounge for the passengers and their greeters, a welcome change from the only amenity that exists today: the open-air parking lot blocked off by a fence from the arrival extension area that keeps the greeters away—either sweltering in the heat or soaked by rain.
Presently, passengers have to work their way down a steep ramp to the arrival extension level so they could be picked up by their cars or relatives. For most people walking down that ramp, the experience is more like being dragged down by your own luggage. Hence, part of the proposed design was a walkway lined with trees and shaded by modern sculptural concrete canopies that would go around the park. Passengers could be picked up along the entire length of the walkway, which would be ten times longer than the existing pick-up point—a convenience that could readily be pursued since space is available to begin with.
Discussions on construction were started based on NAIA’s own plan to renovate the airport section by section. A decision was made to hold off any renovation until a full plan could be drawn up. Even the redesign and renovation of Duty Free Philippines, to be done at its own expense, would be timed to coincide with NAIA’s overall plan, to make sure that everything would fit into the larger design. A review of office structures, procedures, and flows, including the locations of conveyor systems, terminal fee booths, passport control, security screening, immigration booths, and baggage claim areas were also considered. As the design process progressed, discussions came to include lighting systems, air conditioning requirements, and even the retail mix and locations for specific types of concessionaires.
Another decision made was to differentiate the services available within the airport system, so a review of the staff’s service delivery was also started. For this purpose, the hotel staff of the AIM Conference Center was invited to design a training program for the airport service staff. Plans for inviting Filipino designers to create new uniform designs for the different staff positions, as well as getting curators to manage art installations within the airport terminal, were laid down.
The total cost of renovating NAIA-1’s interiors was estimated at P500 million, while another P500 million would be needed for the creation of a better outdoor arrival extension area with a park, restaurants and shops, and a three-storey parking garage that would replace the present sprawling, open-air parking lot.
After fully engaging the NAIA staff in a series of discussions on budget limitations, the team of Kenneth, Budji, and Royal presented their proposal for the design concept to the MIAA Management Committee on May 24 last year and to the Economic Cluster on May 25. They also made a presentation to the MIAA Board on May 26, which adopted the proposal subject to the availability of funds. The Board formally created a Project Management Office (PMO) and an organizational structure for the project.
The design team worked as pro bono consultants as they guided the NAIA PMO and its own team of in-house architects and engineers in preparing the proposal’s detailed architectural drawings. All technical drawings were automatically owned by the NAIA including all architectural perspectives and floor plans. All the plans and material specifications were used by the PMO for cost estimates as it prepared the bid documents and Invitations to Bid needed for any work to proceed.
Meanwhile, news broke that the NAIA-1 got the ignoble award—that of being the worst international airport in Asia and fifth worst in the whole world. The label went viral on Facebook in a matter of days, on the heels of the furor over the plagiarism committed in Tourism Secretary Albert Lim’s Pilipinas Kay Ganda campaign, and shaking the government out of its stupor.
Away from the glaring lights of publicity, Kenneth, together with Budji Layug and Royal Pineda, forged on and quietly worked on polishing their final plans for the redo of the tired-looking NAIA 1 terminal. In October, the team unveiled a plan that was highly aesthetic but also real and concrete. They presented it to an excited social network community where they were enthusiastically received and welcomed.
THE DECISION TO CHANGE HANDS The momentum towards NAIA’s renovation was unexpectedly broken however, when former Senator Mar Roxas, appointed by President Benigno Aquino III as the new Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary on June 7, 2011, dismissed the meticulous plans, in a meeting with Budji and Royal, together with NCC Chairman Bill Luz early last November. The NAIA 1 project falls under the DOTC jurisdiction. Roxas made the decision to award the project to the original architect of NAIA-1, the firm of Leandro Locsin, citing as his reason that they would have access to all the original drawings. This negating all the eight months of work that included construction plans and documents ready for bidding, and reversing the directive issued eight months earlier by Trade Secretary Greg Domingo, Budget and Management Secretary Butch Abad, former Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and then Communications Secretary Ricky Carandang, and the decision of the MIAA in May 2011 to adopt the team’s design.
For a government that demands our support and understanding, they sure know how to put an end to any form of volunteerism from willing citizens.
CEBU’S TURN It’s the new year and we move forward. Kenneth is fresh from his family holiday in the US, and we reminded him on the side note of the Mactan Cebu airport, part of the original rebranding plans. Mactan International Airport’s last incarnation was in 1998, and since then visitors, and accompanying revenues, have more than doubled. Just like NAIA 1, it is crying for a major overhaul, with international visitors streaming in from the spic-and-span Hong Kong, Narita, Seoul, and Singapore airport terminals.
The local airport authority, headed by Paul Villarete, is as anxious as well to jump-start the project. “I am just waiting for Kenneth’s group to present the plans,” he said. “It will then be reviewed at a local level before it’s submitted to Manila for final approval.”
Rene Almendras, the Cebuano cabinet secretary and close advisor of the President, on a recent visit home, also mentioned the same thing. “The local level has a lot of say on what direction the Cebu airport renovation will be heading. The Department of Finance will still bankroll the project, but they have more or less voiced their approval of Kenneth’s group at the very start,” he intimated.
Redesigning the Mactan Airport has its own peculiar challenges, Kenneth confessed, due mostly to its narrow dimension. “Nevertheless,” he said, “we already have some ideas on where to start, like opening up one wall to glass and raising the ceiling—those are the ones that are easy to fix. The hard part will be the basic infrastructure. Because of its age, we will probably need to update all hardware.”
The Mactan Airport Authority, according to Villarete, also expressed the three main concerns similar to those in Manila—first, the travelers’ security; second, the basic infrastructure and how to update it to meet current standards; and third, the aesthetics, how to offer the same convenience and style to make the airport measure up to similar ones around Asia.
There are hurdles ahead. A proposed plan by Congressman Tomas Osmena will build an airport from scratch at the southern tip of Mactan Island using mostly reclaimed land, might just affect the project. There is a need for a second runway that would only be possible through expansion. Airport authorities are confident this can be done in eight years or less.
And yet, whatever these may be, the people already have a lot to anchor their hopes on while dreaming of a better airport soon in Mactan. For one, Cebu is not as bureaucratic as Manila, where political chess is always being played. For another, the project would not be as expensive and so is not likely to attract the big players.
The biggest gain would be a beautiful concept that we could all expect from Kenneth, Budji, and Royal. With them having offered their services and vision pro bono, what
EXCLUSIVE: Never Been Released Behind-the-Scenes photos of Zee Lifestyle’s Emerald Issue Cover Shoot
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(This article had already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s December 2016 Emerald Issue, “Leading Women” on pages 140-155.)
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.
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
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.
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 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 @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 @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 @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 @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 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 @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 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 @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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