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
Eight Years of Redefining Hospitality Service
by Allain Dumon Fonte
The person behind the very successful chain of Bayfront Hotel Cebu is the youngest son of entrepreneur couple, Edgar and Gregoria Cokaliong. I first met Charlton as a young and dashing gentleman busily working in their textile business. I am impressed with how he excellently juggled taking care of orders, organizing shipments, arranging deliveries, accounting, and even managing the staff of their textile company. Charlton is an alumnus of Cebu Eastern College where he finished his primary and secondary education. He then went to the University of San Carlos and studied accountancy. He successfully passed the accounting licensure examinations, and worked as a certified public accountant while helping in the family’s textile business; who would have thought that he would venture into hospitality.
In 2014, he first opened Bayfront Hotel Cebu at the North Reclamation Area. I even wondered why of all the places that he can start a hotel, he had to choose the North Reclamation Area. I find the location appalling for a hotel. What view will the guests see? I would not want to stay in a room where the views are cranes, machines, and container vans from the sea port. Yet, Charlton foresaw the future of hospitality service. He knew that with the recent developments of Cebu City, people will prefer to stay in hotels that are near to the city, and have access to almost everything they need. The hotel is right across SM City Cebu, 10 minutes from the sea ports, 30 minutes from the airport, and 15 minutes to almost all the tourist destinations in the city and in the hills of Cebu. Then, he made the hotel packages and event packages reasonably priced; yet, with a 5-star quality of service. I even questioned, are you not losing for the prices that you have set? However, since the hotel opened and up to the present, Bayfront Hotel Cebu has always been fully booked and is becoming the primary choice of venue for events and celebrations. Charlton explained that he foresaw that with the rising economy and the rising population of the metropolitan, people will always prefer to celebrate special occasions; yet, considering the inflation every year, people will also choose to become more practical by spending less without compromising quality. And this is what Bayfront Hotel Cebu delivers, an experience of excellent hospitality service at a price that no other can match.
Because of the continuous demand for their hotel rooms and venues, Charlton opened another Bayfront Hotel Cebu in September 2021. This time the location is at the heart of the uptown of Cebu in the Capitol Site. Again, Charlton banked on the great location of the second Bayfront hotel. I once again questioned him on this; considering the competition in the area because of the many up and coming business hotels that offer the same rates and packages. Charlton smiled and confidently said that apart from the great location, he also banks on the quality of service that his staff can deliver. “If you take care of your staff very well, your staff will take good care of your customers”. I have seen first hand how Charlton handles and manages his staff at their textile store, so I know how he also handles and takes good care of his staff in the hotel. And I realized that this is his biggest selling point, the hotel’s incomparable service and friendliness. Even though the hotel opened in the middle of pandemic restrictions, the new hotel is getting countless reservations; most especially that the Capitol Site Bayfront Hotel offers an amazing view of the city skyline at its roofdeck bar and pool area. The gym , pool , and bar amenities at the hotel’s roof deck with its view are a must to be experienced.
Early of 2022, Charlton also opened the hotel’s in-house dining feature. For seven years, Bayfront Hotel Cebu was catered by a third party food concessionaire. But, again, Charlton foresees that the Filipino market will be more critical to food and taste. I asked, why is this? Charlton explained that with travel becoming more affordable and accessible, people will get to experience different kinds of food and dine in different restaurants. Hence, people will now learn to benchmark, not only from local restaurants, but also from their dining experiences around the Philippines and overseas. Therefore, Bayfront Hotel Cebu needs to step up its game in dining. With the opening of Caja Kitchen, Bayfront Hotel offers more selections of Asian and Filipino comfort food fusion with international cuisines. With Caja Kitchen, Charlton turned a Filipino menu into an international dining experience. I asked him how he came up with all these. Charlton explained that dedication to make his guests happy and satisfied is the key motivation why he does not stop thinking about innovating and reinventing everyone’s hospitality and dining experience.
In September of this year, the Bayfront Hotel Cebu in North Reclamation Area is officially celebrating its 8th year of wonderful and excellent hospitality service; while the Bayfront Hotel Cebu in Capitol turns 1! Great and exciting anniversary promotions and packages await its patrons and guests! Please visit the social media pages of Bayfront Hotel Cebu to know the amazing anniversary deals!
With my last question, what does he have in mind now. Charlton just smiled and said, “Well, who knows? Another Bayfront Hotel Cebu shall rise soon!”. After this interesting conversation, I can say that Charlton is truly a man who can foresee the future; may it be in business, in the market, with the trends, and with new experiences.
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
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Citizens of the World: CAMPAIGN 2KRAINE
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
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.
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!
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.
It is sponsored by Zee Publications Inc., in our first foray after having been dormant during the pandemic and typhoon Odette. Zee will soon be launching a new artsy printed magazine called Eatz Cebu!
This Friday, March 25, at 6pm, we open the doors of Asmara Urban Resort (see map) for this fundraising where we hope you can join us by donating a minimum of $50 to the World Central Kitchen directly at https://wck.org/donate. It will be an evening of fun and fundraising, and entry is tru an email or digital receipt of your donation.
On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. By February 25, 2022, Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) was on the ground serving free wholesome meals to those fleeing the violence. Chef Andrés and his volunteers have already served more than one million meals to Ukrainian refugees, from basements, train stations, and shelters. Still, cooking and distributing food in a war zone comes with unique challenges. “We began operations…over two weeks ago inside Lviv,” says Andrés. “The last two days we saw some missiles falling down. So, the western side of Ukraine, that actually was a safe haven for many Ukrainians leaving war, is already kind of feeling like the war is getting closer.” For Andrés, it’s a humanitarian necessity and a call he answers. “The least we can do at World Central Kitchen is be next to them – making sure they will be fed every day.”
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