The names that grace our next few pages are no strangers to Zee Lifestyle, but then again, that just goes to show much they’ve already accomplished. Armed with talent and a driving ambition, this crop of cool kids have been working and excelling in their respective industries to bring Cebu into the future, all while embodying a style statement that makes work look good. This month, we catch up with them to see what they’ve been up to and what they’ve got planned. It may not be all smooth sailing, but clearly they have nothing in mind but continuing on full speed ahead.
Actor, TV Personality
There must be something about guys who drive fast. In the case of Matteo Guidicelli, his clout as a three-time winner of the Karter of the Year award is matched by broad shoulders, a brooding gaze and an overall appeal that’s made girls squeal since he first emerged as a veritable boy wonder in the Philippine karting arena. “I used to fly to Manila from Cebu every weekend for races because all of them were in Manila or abroad,” he recalls of his beginnings. “Eventually my parents decided to move, then we started looking for sponsors. That’s when Penshoppe came in.”
That first print ad eventually gave way to several others, though that didn’t mean it came easily. “I was so nervous, I couldn’t move,” Matteo admits about his first photo shoot with Xander Angeles. “I didn’t know what to do or how to pose.” That didn’t stop the industry from taking notice, eventually booking him for acting jobs after he left Columbia College in Chicago two years into his course. “I realized that I wanted to be in showbiz, so I came back home.”
The move turned out to be a good one, with Matteo soon booking several acting gigs until he truly broke out in the primetime television series Agua Bendita. “It was such a blessing because it put me and Andi’s names out there,” he shares, referring to co-star Andi Eigenmann, who was also a new talent at the time. “Because the show was such a hit, I got offered more projects,” projects that’s included movies like Catch Me, I’m in Love with Sarah Geronimo and My Cactus Heart with former real-life girlfriend Maja Salvador, as well as the TV show My Binondo Girl with fellow Cebu native Kim Chiu.
“I consider myself fortunate to have worked with all these leading ladies,” he says, though it would be hard to think working with Matteo could ever be a chore. Most recently, he’s been heating up television screens with Jessy Mendiola in Precious Hearts Romances’ Paraiso, which follows the story of two people stranded on a deserted island. “It’s daring and it shows a lot of skin,” he admits, also saying that he does his own stunts. “I’m working so hard for it so I hope that everyone likes it.”
When asked about what the biggest challenge of being a designer was, Vania Romoff answers, “To get noticed and, when that happens, to endure.” She’s certainly gotten her share of attention since her debut at Philippine Fashion Week in 2009 and subsequent relocation to Manila. Now her creations grace the red carpet and magazine covers, sometimes on the designer herself. Of course it’s no surprise that editors are as keen on photographing Vania as much as her creations, with her statuesque Russian-Filipino beauty. There’s a laidback but sophisticated feel about her that is immediately noticed, which translates well into her creations. “I won’t do something I would not wear myself. It starts from personal taste,” she says, naming the undone looks of Parisian chic as her style influence.
Her personal taste has resulted in detailed creations that are flattering and comfortable. “The best compliment is hearing someone say they feel beautiful in my clothes,” she shares. It’s hard not to, what with the way she puts together pieces that are feminine yet simple, embodying an understated elegance that gives off a regal air, whether it’s the easy column dresses in soft fabrics or her collection of structured jackets.
It seems Vania has stamped the fashion scene with her presence, and the industry clearly approves. She was recently chosen by the Philippine Consulate General of the United States as one of five designers who participated in an International Fashion Tour, which allowed Vania to showcase her Spring/Summer 2012 collection on runways in Seattle and New York. New York, especially, was a venture out of her comfort zone. “I flew in alone and did everything myself,” she says, recalling her battle with the subway system and handing out invites in a state of anonymity. It’s reminiscent of how she started in Manila, running around the city in sneakers to meet clients and have meetings in coffee shops. She’s come a long way and certainly Vania isn’t anonymous anymore.
“I’ve been traveling for work and fun,” says Kryz Uy on her busy last couple of months. “I keep moving around and hardly have time to stay put in my own home because work just keeps coming in.” Her numerous followers must feel like they’ve traveled right alongside her, with her Twitter and eponymous blog getting constant traffic and her Instagram photos gaining as much as 7,000 likes. Besides the outfit updates and visual travel anecdotes, though, Kryz is also keeping busy as the creative director of What A Girl Wants, a boutique chain that is steadily expanding across the Philippines.
With its collection of trendy clothing, WAGW gives the fashion-inclined a chance to create their own Kryz Uy renditions, although the original still has a personality all her own. “Over the years, my style has evolved into simpler, more streamlined dressing and sleek fuss-free looks, but I always inject a touch of youth and quirkiness into it to make it more me.” It’s this lighthearted individuality that makes her a regular on Lookbook.nu’s list of biggest karma gainers of all time, though she still packs her closet with the classics—high heels, a crisp white button-down, denim cut-offs and a good men’s watch. “If I was an accessory, I’d be similar to Michael Kor’s oversized Tortoise watch. It’s classic yet modern, striking but not over the top.”
The busy schedule seems to have left her almost ambivalent about the future, as she shrugs, “Who knows what the future brings? Hopefully, more success and more travel opportunities.” She names Israel and Iceland as her dream destinations but these days, she’s excited about something closer to home. “It might sound cliché, but what Cebuana wouldn’t think it’s the most epic event of the year? WAGW is actually sponsoring the Baseline Sinulog party this year. Can’t wait for that!” Knowing they might catch a glimpse of her on the streets, her followers probably can’t wait either.
Interior Designer, Musician, Blogger, Entrepreneur
“Focus on work, visit Europe and design, design, design!” says Raleene Cabrera of her plans for the next year, which specifically include practicing interior design, booking singing gigs with her sister Rizza, planning a holiday revamp for her online vegan dessert store Skinny Sweets, and putting a lot more effort into her blog. She’s recently taken a more concrete step towards adulthood—moving into her own place that she redesigned with her team. “I live without household help and I’m trying to be more independent,” she shares before admitting, “but I’m glad that my dad and sister are just a phone call away for emergencies.”
Designing her own space is just the beginning of her career, her schedule now packed with visits to construction sites that have changed her views on dressing. “Being on-site is just not glamorous, so I am keener on utilitarian fashion nowadays.” She’s found a way to infuse her personality into her comfortable outfits. “I’ve been more into boots lately—high-heeled and casual ones. I find that they pull an outfit together and I can easily transition my look from work to partying. They’re also easier to walk in and I’m not worried if it suddenly rains in the city.” Besides the boots, she plays up her looks with accessories, colorful blazers and denim button- downs, which she says, “I always end up resorting to.”
Raleene dreams of visiting the Maldives and Iceland, but for a vacation that’s much closer, she names Philippine festivals as a great way to explore the local cities and cuisines. “It’s when everyone is extra hospitable.” She plays the part of the hostess herself on Sinulog, where her weekend itinerary gets just as busy as her regular days. “I usually invite my friends from Manila to stay in our home and my mom would feed them lechon everyday. Then it’s island hopping or swimming, and then clubbing at night. On Sunday, we’re usually at the street parties ‘til dinnertime, when I take my guests to Larsian’s before watching post- Sinulog gigs in the city.”
“Wear what makes you comfortable and what makes you feel sexy,” Holly Dychangco says on the best fashion advice she’s gotten. “But sexy doesn’t mean you have to expose yourself provocatively. Sexy is in the way you carry yourself.” Her confidence now comes by learning from some style detours along the way. “I did get very hipster at one point, while I was living in San Francisco. I guess the way the scene out there influenced me.”
Considering her return from the bay area was just a few months ago, Holly has been off to work and on the go with various opportunities. “I’ve been involved in the development of this new brand, Urbanfolio. It gives the design trends in Cebu a little push forward as we expose local design and talent through our television show.” The packed schedule called for a style evolution, which she calls simple and streamlined. “I choose comfort over extreme glitz and glam. Since I started working, the closet has definitely evolved to include a bit more professional clothing.”
Of course, her style isn’t the only thing that’s evolved. Although still comfortably affable, Holly’s definitely learned some things from the obstacles she’s been through. “All I can say is that the industry is a tough field,” she shares. “I learned to stay strong and push forward. There are people who try to bring you down, but I believe it’s a battle between you and yourself. I am my own competition, and it’s broadened my understanding of the industry and the ways of handling tough situations.”
With that, she looks forward to the future, “I have big, big plans. Fingers crossed, I will be launching a special line of furnishings and accessories, a new design collection. Also, a lot of traveling, hopefully in Madagascar or the Maldives.” She also espouses the offerings in our own backyard. “There’s food and white sand beaches,” she says of what to see in the Philippines. And then there’s Sinulog. “I’m usually the person dancing with the street dancers, covered in paint, or jumping up and down the crowd to the beat while the Sinulog parade is happening. I usually go where the beat takes me.”
A quick look at Vito Selma’s Instagram profile will have you wishing your passport saw just as much use, his profile description of “keep calm and sail on” being apropos to his collection of travel, fashion and design photos. “I have a goal of traveling to all the continents before I turn 30,” he shares. “South America is the only one left. I’d be happiest to travel around the continent, hoping to follow the route of Che Guevara, just not on a motorbike.”
The wanderlust seems to work well with his career, with Vito traveling all over the world for trade shows and client meetings. It’s an on-the-go lifestyle that has the furniture designer thinking his shoes best epitomizes who he is. “Shoes tell a lot of where I’ve been,” he says. “Good shoes are a great investment as you spend most of your time in a day wearing them.” The simple philosophy makes sense, capitalizing on the belief of dressing for himself and not other people. “I’m a very casual guy. I just learned to polish up after living in Milan.” The exposure to other cultures affects more than just his sartorial choices, of course. “Life is all about growth. I learn from experience and others, apply all that information into my future, decisions and designs.”
His future proves to include just as much wandering as his past, his schedule marked with a return to Paris in January for Maison et Objet, a meet-and-greet for his US clients and a Philippine launch for his 2013 collection in March. However, Vito makes room for philanthropy. “I’m working on a project with an architect and business designer to improve education in the country, especially in remote areas where there isn’t a lot of opportunities for children.”
The chances to give back prove the designer’s continued support for where he’s from, as does his appreciation for local sights. “Philippine architecture,” he answers when asked for a cultural can’t-miss. “People take for granted the history of design and architecture that’s in the older parts of town. I wish there was more investment in preserving these historically rich old homes and buildings.” Vito might see a different world from the rest of us, but his photos offer a little peek into it that, truthfully, still makes us a little bit envious.
Actor, TV Personality
After winning Pinoy Big Brother and taking on movie and television projects, Slater Young might have been shy as the engineer who was following in his father’s footsteps and working at the family business Hi-Speed Construction, but his current career path in showbiz has been teaching him otherwise. “It gets you out of your shell quickly,” he says on how the last few months changed him. “It gives you confidence, especially when you know that a lot of people are supporting you. The industry is built on relationships with the people you work with, so it’s made me a more sociable person. I still have a lot to learn though.”
The humble way he points out his own room for improvement is probably how he won over thousands of fans in a little over a year; then again, it could have been his bright-eyed boyish good looks. With already close to 300,000 followers of Twitter, Slater continues to charm audiences with more acting projects, including the new show A Beautiful Affair with John Lloyd Cruz and Bea Alonzo. Despite the national fame, though, his affinity to Cebu isn’t easily shaken, especially around January. “You can’t miss Sinulog. I’ll be there this year—the first time since PBB—and I’ll be ready to have a great time,” he enthused.
Like most Cebuanos, Slater takes a more laidback approach to fashion. “It’s usually just polo shirts and jeans,” he says of what outfit best reflects his personality. The minimalistic dressing had to be slightly altered though. “I didn’t use to mind what I was wearing as long as I’m comfortable,” he confesses. “But they told me I had to dress like a star!” Considering the fanfare that’s starting to follow him around, his disarming smile might have been enough to make him one anyway.
Fashion and Accessories Designer, Entrepreneur
“I’m definitely not sitting at home and watching it on TV,” Mia Arcenas says of her Sinulog plans come January, when she will be entertaining friends from LA. “My face paint, whistle and feather hat will be ready so I will be seeing you on the streets!” The exuberance for the festival is the kind of thing about the fashion designer and recent Bb. Pilipinas contestant that sets anyone who has qualms about meeting her immediately at ease. “I’m like a pair of comfortable high heels. Most people see me as intimidating, too high up there, when I’m really not.”
Perhaps more than her long legs and bronzed skin, it’s Mia’s air of confidence that makes her immediately stand out, but that’s just from having the drive to get what she wants out of life. “Every experience has definitely been a learning curve to knowing what I really want in life. Traveling around the world, working for the family business, school, and all the other circumstances I’ve put myself into add up to realizing my wants and needs.” That’s included working on her brand and focusing on apparel and accessories for the resortwear market.
As for her own style, Mia’s found herself backing on sound advice she received at an early age. “When I was about nine or ten, my mom always used to tell me, ‘build your closet; it’s about quality, not quantity.’ It is definitely important to invest on good pieces that will last years, instead of two to three washes.” Since then, her style has evolved into more solid-colored and quality pieces that she matches with her collection of shoes. “It’s more put-together, feminine but edgy.”
There might be some room for other style inspirations as she travels in the next year, which could include stops in Egypt, Turkey, Maldives, Bali and Tokyo. As for the rest of what’s to come, Mia is unapologetic about going after what she wants. “Nothing is set in stone, and you’ll just have to see what happens. But I’ve got high hopes and big dreams. They say big dreams take as much energy as small dreams, so why not go for the gold?”
- by Shari Quimbo
- produced by Melo Esguerra
- photography Dan Douglas Ong
- sittings editor Michael Sanchez
- locale Cebu Yacht Club
Ladies Who Support Ladies
Women’s Circle is an organization composed of Cebuano ladies who are successful entrepreneurs and top executives. They recently held a fellowship event at the Sheraton Mactan Resort, with special guests from the Women’s Business Council Philippines. Chairperson, Rosemarie Rafael and Council Secretary Cynthia Mamon both flew in from Manila to discuss alliances between the Cebu and Manila groups.
The half day event was organized by Perl Jacalan, Gina Atienza and Eva Gullas. Sheraton Resort through its GM Dottie Wugler Cronin supported the event as it is aligned with the hotel’s women initiatives. The successful event was made more fun with generous give-aways, notably Jo Malone perfumes, Sheraton bags, R&M Chocomanga and sarongs from Ferimar.
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.”