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Cebu Landmasters’ Humble Beginnings and Soaring Success

The homegrown and family-run real estate business started by Jose Soberano III has turned into a thriving developer that’s expanded beyond Cebu to its neighboring regions, but remain at its heart all about the Filipino family.

All in the Family

At Cebu Landmasters Inc., family is more than just sharing a last name. The genuine concern and mastery at addressing their catered market’s needs has turned Jose Soberano III’s homegrown company into a real estate developer that is building communities throughout the Visayas and Mindanao region.

 

 

With its modern glass façade and a strategic location on one of Cebu IT Park’s main avenues, Park Centrale is a building that unsurprisingly merits a few second looks. The sleek structure is home to several businesses, including BPOs and homegrown companies—including that of Cebu Landmasters Inc.

As the company behind Park Centrale and many other developments in Cebu, Cebu Landmasters Inc. occupies what is arguably the building’s prime space—the topmost floor that include an outdoor deck, large windows throughout the offices, and access to the rooftop that enjoys views all the way down to the Mactan Channel on one side and the hills of Busay on the other.

The company’s location now seems to be a proper representation of the company’s growth—in the past 12 years, Cebu Landmasters has grown from its first office in Labangon with a team of two people, to its current roster of 170 full-time employees housed in one of the premiere office addresses in the city.

At the heart of it, though, is Jose Soberano III, who had started the company after working with the Ayala Group for 23 years and seeing an opportunity to create his own development in Cebu’s countryside. The President and CEO wanted to cater to the housing needs of the middle-income bracket, particularly in areas close to his hometown of Pinamungajan on the Western side of Cebu, which led to the company’s first development, the San Josemaria Village in Balamban. “There was an opportunity to provide affordable, quality homes to the very hardworking employees in the shipbuilding industry in Balamban,” he shares. “This was a niche market, as we were one of the first to bring gated subdivision living to this part of Cebu.”

The humble beginnings have led to considerable success with over 25 developments to date, and at the heart of it all remains Joe and the passion that drove him to the business when he started. These days, though, he shares it with his wife Marose, the company’s Executive Vice-President of Finance, and children Franco and Joanna, who have each contributed to what the company is today.

“We had to talk them into it. Thankfully we succeeded,” Joe says lightheartedly when asked how he had gotten Franco and Joanna to join the team. “My children were well-placed in their previous careers, and it was something they could have easily built themselves and be on their own. However as a dad and CEO, I did my share by giving them a good option and making it an interesting business for them to be part of.”

“Since we were young, we were always exposed to our family business, but not particularly groomed or required to work for the company. My parents would always say it should come from us, it was up to us when or if we wanted to, or were ready,” shares Joanna Soberano, the company’s Vice-President and Marketing Director. With that in mind, she took up a bachelor’s degree—and later graduate studies—in Marketing Communications at the University of Asia & the Pacific. She then pursued a corporate career, taking on marketing and brand management roles in Nestle for seven years. “I was part of a Nestle international program in marketing as the delegate of Nestle Philippines, where I had expatriations in the headquarters in Switzerland and Thailand.”

On his part, the oldest child Franco Soberano had originally wanted to be a lawyer after his studies at the Ateneo de Manila University, where he had taken up Management with a major in Legal Management and minor in Finance. “Eventually I became very fascinated with the world of business, so the new dream was to climb up the corporate ladder and become an executive of a multi-national corporation,” Franco recalls, sharing that at the time, Cebu Landmasters had still been a young venture.

Their parents’ drive and the company’s eventual growth, though, inspired Franco to eventually join their ranks. “As I saw how my parents worked hard to grow the business, how well they took care of the employees and professionalize the business, it became an easier decision to join the family business,” he says, now serving as Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer.

For Joe’s part, Franco and Joanna came onboard at an optimum time. “This is a critical stage of the company’s push for growth and expansion, and we need all the help we can get. My plans for them are clear—they are the next to lead this company, and I have no doubt they will be excellent leaders as they already are.”

“We listen very carefully to the beat of the market, and we always internalize what is valuable to our customers.”

-Joe Soberano

In fact, both Joanna and Franco plays vital roles in the company’s operations—for his part, Franco directs and manages day to day operations that include business development, project management, marketing and sales, documentation and property management. “Park Centrale will always be my ‘baby’ project,” Franco admits, although he has been involved in all of Cebu Landmasters’ projects since. “After my studies in New York,” where he’d studied Real Estate Development in Columbia University, “I was given this special project as I had recently learned about office design and development in Manhattan. Every little detail in the project, even the smallest piece of tile we ordered for the project, I can still remember—and in real estate, it helps a lot to be very meticulous and hands-on.”

Joanna had been in the company for less than a year, but she’s already spearheaded many improvements in the company’s marketing, establishing a competent team and developing strategies for branding and promotions. The company’s new slogan, “We Build With You in Mind,” is her brainchild. 

“The best part about working in the family business is first the industry we are in. We are in the business of building homes, uplifting lives and communities,” Joanna shares, revealing a little bit of the mindset behind the slogan. “Homes are people’s hopes and dreams, a major decision point and life milestone. To make it happen for them the way they envision it, to make their hard-earned money count, guiding them through every step, that is our job.”

It’s understandable then, that Joanna feels the project’s new brand Casa Mira best represents what Cebu Landmasters wants to do for the Filipino family.  “It’s a brand that we will be expanding this year as our economic flagship brand,” Joanna shares. “This is particularly meaningful to me because of how it delivers a Mira-cle to home-seekers, one that is in a beautiful community with amenities, well-located and priced only at P5000 a month. It gives opportunities for many people to have a home they have always wished for.”

As one of Cebu Landmasters’ highlight projects for 2017, Casa Mira features a development of townhouses, and has launched in Naga and Linao in Southern Cebu. The next year will see the brand expanding to Guadalupe in Cebu, and to the neighboring provinces of Iloilo, Bacolod and Dumaguete. “It’s about giving ‘more for the Filipino family,’” Joanna adds.

 

Casa Mira isn’t the only thing Cebu Landmasters has in store for the year—2017 is set to be the company’s biggest yet, with expansion in four new cities in the Visayas and Mindanao region (Davao, along with the locations for Casa Mira) and ten new projects on the way. This is already following an already major departure from their original purely residential projects, with Park Centrale being their first venture into commercial and office spaces. “It was part of our strategy to diversify our product lines, and support the growing demand for Grade A BPO and corporate offices,” says Joe. “When we completed the building in 2015, our spaces were all filled up in less than three months. This really is a testament to Cebu as being a favorite business or BPO destination for its world-class talent pool.”

Cebu Landmasters to continue on the thread of diverse products, their other projects of the year including the Baseline Center, a mixed-use lifestyle destination that brings together office spaces and residential condominium The Citadines by Ascott to a landmark Cebu destination; and the Latitude Corporate Center in Cebu Business Park, which is “Masterfully Crafted for Great Businesses.” Their newest projects pre-selling this month are the New York-inspired 38 Park Avenue in IT Park, which is set to open for pre-selling this month; and their very first venture in Davao City—the Mesa Tierra Garden Residences that will feature tranquil and green living spaces.

The experience in the real estate industry has brought about a development process that centers always on the customer—their projects’ future residents. “As a very first step, we pursue the best location. Whether it’s for a high-end project or an economic one, we will strive to offer a location that will give our buyers the best possible experience and value appreciation for the long-term,” Joe explains. “And we listen very carefully to the beat of the market, and we always internalize what is valuable to our customers.”

The forward-thinking approach means Cebu Landmasters is not just in the construction of residential or commercial structures. “Even after a project is completed, we are still very much part of the developments and see to it that projects are nurtured for the long-term,” Joe continues. “Our customer service will begin from the time you meet a CLI employee, and will continue well after you moved into your home.”

The company feels this is a strength that comes with being a homegrown company—one that is already the biggest local housing developer in Metro Cebu, with an 11% market share second only to real estate giant Ayala Land at 17%, and followed by Filinvest at 8%, based on the 2016 CBRE study. “Truly knowing the market—the needs, wants, real demand which comes with being closer to the people—we are able to render service that is hands-on and personalized, execute with speed, and deliver projects of good value,” Joe says.

“As a family business, we will always endeavor to grow across generations–the vision is always long-term.”

– Franco Soberano

That knowledge of the market comes in handy, especially in the face of a growing industry that now includes many developers coming in. “Competition is always welcome as all players will try to raise the bar, and our buyers will benefit from the improved standards,” Joe shares. “For homegrown real estate companies, it will always be a special responsibility to look after our fellow Cebuanos, so we will adapt to new competition, but at the same time we will drive new innovations as we will continue to know Cebu best.”

Cebu Landmasters’ success might be something attributed to this almost intimate association to their market, but it’s not all that surprising when you consider the group behind it shares a familial connection. “As a family business, we will always endeavor to grow across generations—the vision is always long-term,” Franco says. “The best part about it is that I’m able to journey with those dearest to me. We are also able to grow an extended family, as our executives and employees become very much part of the family.”

“We push and learn from each other everyday,” Joanna adds. “The challenge for a family business is to always strike a good balance between work and family. But I am lucky to have a family who puts us first, and one that keeps a professional, trusting and encouraging environment in the office.”

“The best part about working in the family business is, first, the industry we are in. We are in the business of building homes, uplifting lives and communities.” -Joanna Soberano

This environment is one that has carried Cebu Landmasters Inc. through its 12 years of success—the genuine concern and desire to improve their customer’s lives has become a backbone to a business that’s only going to reach new heights.

 

photography Dan Douglas Ong stylist Blaq Mafia makeup Arnauld hair Jesse Egos

People

Eight Years of Redefining Hospitality Service

by Allain Dumon Fonte

The person behind the very successful chain of Bayfront Hotel  Cebu is the youngest son of entrepreneur couple, Edgar and Gregoria Cokaliong.  I first met Charlton as a young and dashing gentleman busily working in their textile business.  I am impressed with how he excellently juggled taking care of orders, organizing shipments, arranging deliveries, accounting, and even managing the staff of their textile company.  Charlton is an alumnus of Cebu Eastern College where he finished his primary and secondary education.  He then went to the University of San Carlos and studied accountancy.  He successfully passed the accounting licensure examinations, and worked as a certified public accountant while helping in the family’s textile business; who would have thought that he would venture into hospitality.  

Charlton Cokaliong (Managing Director of Bayfron Hotel Cebu). Picture taken at the Bayfront Hotel Lobby.

In 2014, he first opened Bayfront Hotel Cebu at the North Reclamation Area.  I even wondered why of all the places that he can start a hotel, he had to choose the North Reclamation Area.  I find the location appalling for a hotel.  What view will the guests see?  I would not want to stay in a room where the views are cranes, machines, and container vans from the sea port.  Yet, Charlton foresaw the future of hospitality service.  He knew that with the recent developments of Cebu City, people will prefer to stay in hotels that are near to the city, and have access to almost everything they need.  The hotel is right across SM City Cebu, 10 minutes from the sea ports, 30 minutes from the airport, and 15 minutes to almost all the tourist destinations in the city and in the hills of Cebu.  Then, he made the hotel packages and event packages reasonably priced; yet, with a 5-star quality of service.  I even questioned, are you not losing for the prices that you have set?  However, since the hotel opened and up to the present, Bayfront Hotel Cebu has always been fully booked and is becoming the primary choice of venue for events and celebrations.  Charlton explained that he foresaw that with the rising economy and the rising population of the metropolitan, people will always prefer to celebrate special occasions; yet, considering the inflation every year, people will also choose to become more practical by spending less  without compromising quality.  And this is what Bayfront Hotel Cebu delivers, an experience of excellent hospitality service at a price that no other can match.

Bayfront Hotel Cebu in Capitol Site.

Because of the continuous demand for their hotel rooms and venues, Charlton opened another Bayfront Hotel Cebu in September 2021.  This time the location is at the heart of the uptown of Cebu in the Capitol Site.  Again, Charlton banked on the great location of the second Bayfront hotel.  I once again questioned him on this; considering the competition in the area because of the many up and coming business hotels that offer the same rates and packages.  Charlton smiled and confidently said that apart from the great location, he also banks on the quality of service that his staff can deliver.  “If you take care of your staff very well, your staff will take good care of your customers”.  I have seen first hand how Charlton handles and manages his staff at their textile store, so I know how he also handles and takes good care of his staff in the hotel.  And I realized that this is his biggest selling point, the hotel’s incomparable service and friendliness.  Even though the hotel opened in the middle of pandemic restrictions, the new hotel is getting countless reservations; most especially that the Capitol Site Bayfront Hotel offers an amazing view of the city skyline at its roofdeck bar and pool area.  The gym , pool , and bar amenities at the hotel’s roof deck with its view are a must to be experienced.

Standard De Luxe Room at the Bayfront Hotel Cebu.

Early of 2022, Charlton also opened the hotel’s in-house dining feature.  For seven years, Bayfront Hotel Cebu was catered by a third party food concessionaire.  But, again, Charlton foresees that the Filipino market will be more critical to food and taste.  I asked, why is this?  Charlton explained that with travel becoming more affordable and accessible, people will get to experience different kinds of food and dine in different restaurants.  Hence, people will now learn to benchmark, not only from local restaurants, but also from their dining experiences around the Philippines and overseas.  Therefore, Bayfront Hotel Cebu needs to step up its game in dining.  With the opening of Caja Kitchen, Bayfront Hotel offers more selections of Asian and Filipino comfort food fusion with international cuisines.  With Caja Kitchen, Charlton turned a Filipino menu into an international dining experience. I asked him how he came up with all these.  Charlton  explained that dedication to make his guests happy and satisfied is the key motivation why he does not stop thinking about innovating and reinventing everyone’s hospitality and dining experience. 

Caja Restaurant: Bayfront Hotel Cebu’s in-house dining facility.

In September of this year, the Bayfront Hotel Cebu in North Reclamation Area is officially celebrating its 8th year of wonderful and excellent hospitality service; while the Bayfront Hotel Cebu in Capitol turns 1!  Great and exciting anniversary promotions and packages await its patrons and guests!  Please visit the social media pages of Bayfront Hotel Cebu to know the amazing anniversary deals!

With my last question, what does he have in mind now.  Charlton just smiled and said, “Well, who knows?  Another Bayfront Hotel Cebu shall rise soon!”.  After this interesting conversation, I can say that Charlton is truly a man who can foresee the future; may it be in business, in the market, with the trends, and with new experiences.  

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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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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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