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Confessions of the shoeaholic sisters

Celyn and Trifina Sala, the visionaries behind homegrown shoe brand Sala Chaussures, talk about why wearing fabulous footwear should be an everyday habit

2016-08 FS Sala Chaussures

Sala Chaussures’ Celyn Sala (Photography by Dan Douglas Ong)

Sisters Celyn and Trifina Sala have been into shoes for as long as they can remember.

Paying close attention to fashion trends, they saw the emergence of the edgier “IT” shoe several years ago. They also noticed how customers became obsessed with getting that perfect fit: “Shoes with just the right arch and silhouette, heels that weren’t chunky, shoes that elongated the leg.”

With specialization and customization came higher production costs, so it got harder for shoe lovers to find pairs they liked at affordable price points. That’s when Celyn and Trifina asked themselves: “Why don’t we just make our own shoes?” Soon after, their shoe company Sala Chaussures was born in 2013.

A homegrown business in Cebu, Sala Chaussures features limited-run shoes with a dose of decadence. Every design is extraordinary, always with that added element—whether it’s an extra large bow in front or satin ribbons at the back. Singular and impressive, their designs are both wearable and affordable.

“We consider what our buyers would be willing to spend on our shoes. We ask ourselves: ‘Are we willing to pay this much, for this shoe?’ If not, then we’re probably overcharging. We believe that creativity doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive,” they share. “That’s why we try and make our shoes as creative and extraordinary as we can possibly imagine without sacrificing affordability and wear-ability.”

The Frangipani pumps in pink (Photo: Sala Chaussures)

The Frangipani pumps in pink (Photo: Sala Chaussures)

It takes months for a Sala Chaussures shoe design to grow from conceptualization to production, so Celyn and Trifina focus on designing shoe collections rather than keeping up with the ‘seasons.’

They first settle on a theme, from a variety of inspirations: family trips, old photographs, scenes from nature, and mythological stories, among other things. Next, they select key features, characters, and colors that will form the basis of their collection.

The Capulet, which comes with blush and black ribbons that can be mixed and matched (Photo: Sala Chaussures)

The Capulet, which comes with blush and black ribbons that can be mixed and matched (Photo: Sala Chaussures)

For their Shakespeare-inspired collection, they focused on their favorite characters: Oberon and Titania from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Juliet from Romeo and Juliet, and Viola from Twelfth Night. Choosing the colors and features that would best represent these characters now forms the basis for their designs: “We sit down with our shoemakers to explain the idea behind each design. For example, how we want the lace ribbons in our ‘Capulet’ design to look like corset ribbons, or how the wings of the ‘Titania’ should look like fairy wings,” they explain.

The sisters launched their company with a Greek-inspired collection. Now, they are working on their Silk Road collection, inspired by a recent trip to Uzbekistan. “Expect colors and shapes reminiscent of what Marco Polo might have seen on his travels along the Silk Road,” they say. “Admittedly, we’ve been spending more time on this than our other collections because we want to get everything just right.”

They are also debating on designing a collection inspired by Norse or Philippine mythology. What would you rather wear, a shoe inspired by Valkyrie or Bathala?

Since launching their company, the Sala sisters have faced challenges, the biggest yet most fulfilling of which was developing prototypes for their shoe designs. There are times when first attempts at executing designs are so different from what they envisioned. Disappointing and costly, the sisters also see these mistakes as valuable opportunities to learn and improve.

“It’s such a special feeling, seeing your designs come to life,” they admit. “From conceptualization, to paper, sketching and re-sketching, to picking the materials, to the first attempt, and re-doing the attempt, and finally seeing the prototype you envisioned in your head—it’s one of the best parts of running this business!”

Another challenge is convincing customers to wear heels and pretty shoes on a daily basis. The Sala sisters commonly meet customers who say, “That’s so pretty, but where would I wear that? I don’t have anywhere special to go.” Their answer? “It doesn’t matter. Wear it anyway—to work, to coffee, to cocktails, to the grocery, wherever.” Wearing the right shoes, the pairs you love the most, should be a habit, not a once in a blue moon occurrence.

The Titania, one of the brand's signature winged pumps (Photo: Sala Chaussures)

The Titania, one of the brand’s signature winged pumps (Photo: Sala Chaussures)

Over the years, Celyn and Trifina have observed how their customers often request for certain designs more than others. This prompted them to develop the Les Classiques Collection: classic staples that they began producing in more colors. They also tweaked the designs by making flat or block heeled versions of them, for example.

The Les Classiques Collection was launched at the HoliCOW Gallery-Store in Crossroads, during the HoliCOW x Sala Chaussures Parterre Party trunk show in April. Reaching out to customers in Manila, the sisters have also partnered with the Fifth Rack concept store in BF Homes, Parañaque.

When asked if they plan to open their own shoe store soon, they answered: “Eventually, definitely! When the time is right, we’d love to own a little boutique. Somewhere customers can browse leisurely, try on shoes, and maybe sip on a cocktail.” [Pictured is Celyn Sala. Trifina could not make the shoot as she was out of town. -Ed.]

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photography Dan Douglas Ong makeup Nicko dela Peña hair Gino Fonghe


Filipino graphic designer makes history, joins Switzerland’s Museum of Avant-garde among genre’s greats

PJ Ong of Inodoro, an internationally renowned graphic designer, is the first Filipino whose work will be part of the permanent collection of Switzerland’s Museum of Avant-garde

CEBU CITY — In a groundbreaking achievement, Cebu-based graphic designer and art director PJ Ong of Inodoro Design Studio, is set to become the first Filipino artist permanently exhibited at Museum of Avant-garde (MA-g) in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

Cebu-based graphic designer and art director of Inodoro Design Studio, PJ Ong

Ong’s recognition at MA-g places him among over 250 avant-garde artists, including iconic figures like Pablo Picasso and Marcel Duchamp, signifying a profound milestone in museum history.

“Avant-garde,” is a term that refers to pushing the boundaries of artistic expression.

“I am extremely honored and humbled. It is a remarkable milestone in my creative journey, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a prominent platform. The acknowledgment, especially considering Switzerland’s exacting standards in art and design, is truly fulfilling,” said Ong.


Part of a stellar contemporary collection

Under the museum’s Contemporary Collection, Ong will join global contemporary agencies such as M/M Paris (collaborator of Icelandic singer-songwriter and composer, Björk), WORK Pte Ltd (brainchild of the “Godfather of Singapore Graphic Design,” Theseus Chan), Bedow (Stockholm), BVD Stockholm AB (Stockholm), Socio Design (London) and Milkxhake (Hong Kong), among others.

Ong’s music packaging design for the Filipino harsh noise duo, White Widow, will be featured in the museum. The band’s album “The God Uterus Dissolves” — released under Melt Records — features an unconventional cassette tape packaging incorporating a hand-crafted wire mesh, elevating it into a unique and bespoke collector’s item.

The museum’s selection process for its Contemporary Collection involved three categories: Graphic Design, Photography, and Illustration. Swiss-Canadian Fritz Gottschalk, a prominent figure in contemporary graphic design, led the Graphic Design category.

“This is profoundly validating for me as a graphic designer. Being part of a museum’s permanent contemporary collection is a lasting testament to my capabilities as an artist,” said Ong.

‘Poetry you can touch’

The graphic designer from Cebu City further defined the album as a “deliberate departure from the ordinary,” stating that it was a testament to the artist’s and band’s dedication to pushing boundaries and offering the audience a unique and immersive experience.

“Careful consideration was given to every detail, including choosing a premium supplier for the cassette tape. Opting for a screen-printed cassette, where design elements were applied directly to the surface, gave it a contemporary and visually striking result, helping us reinforce the design narrative,” said Ong.

“From the cohesive placement of elements to using symbols instead of track titles on the spine and customizing fonts, every aspect was carefully thought out. Rather than opting for the conventional wire mesh treatment on print, I took a bold step by incorporating a hand-crafted wire mesh, adding a unique and sensory dimension to the album — almost like poetry you can touch.”


Profound honor

Established in 2003, Inodoro Design Studio under Ong’s leadership has garnered global acclaim for its bold design philosophy, spanning music, fashion, architecture, culture and technology. In becoming the first Filipino whose work will be on display at the MA-g, Ong stated that it is “particularly humbling.”

“Traditionally, these privileges are given to individuals who have amassed decades of experience, attained mastery in their craft, or even as a posthumous acknowledgment. To be among those selected is a profound and unexpected honor,” he said.

“Museums typically focus on visual artists, and for a graphic designer, especially within the realm of commercial work, recognition can be more elusive. I appreciate the challenges of this less conventional route and I am committed to proving the significance of graphic design in the broader artistic landscape.”

Art enthusiasts can anticipate viewing Ong’s work with “The God Uterus Dissolves” at MA-g, scheduled to open to the general public in 2025.


About The Museum of Avant-garde (MA-g)

The Museum of Avant-garde compiles an original body of work from private collections, providing a unique perspective on the cultural and artistic significance of avant-garde movements. These movements, synonymous with transformative ideologies and daring experimentations, played a pivotal role in challenging political and societal conventions. For more information, visit


About Inodoro

Inodoro is the creative moniker of graphic designer and art director PJ Ong, a prominent figure in the Philippine design scene. Established in 2003, Inodoro Design Studio, based in Cebu, Philippines, has garnered international recognition for its bold and distinctive design, with a focus on thought-driven imagery and iconic visual language. The studio specializes in identities, custom typography, graphic design and art direction. For more information, visit

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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.

Loot bag from Jo Malone, Sheraton, R&M Chocomanga, gift card from Maayo Clinic, sarong from Ferimar.

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.

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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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