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Dreaming Up A Diva: Carla Bruni-Sarkozy

Zee Lifestyle gets an exclusive sneak peek at the new face of Bulgari’s Diva Collection, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy as we follow her storied life as a model, singer and fashionable first lady, and discover why her very presence is enough to turn heads.

Zee Lifestyle gets an exclusive sneak peek at the new face of Bulgari’s Diva Collection, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy as we follow her storied life as a model, singer and fashionable first lady, and discover why her very presence is enough to turn heads.

It’s the hush that falls over the room when she walks in, and the furtive glances thrown her way as she passes by—some admiring, others a little envious. It’s the grand welcome given by her equally beautiful and important group of friends, mostly belonging to elite circles, as she is whisked away out of reach beyond a velvet rope. Perhaps it’s in the flick of her hair, or the soft way she says hello as she cuts across the crowd. Maybe she revels in it or perpetuates it; or maybe she isn’t even aware of the effect she has as she makes her way to whatever it is that merits her presence.

Make no mistake—there are different definitions of being a diva.

More often than not, though, it is the attention she generates around her that most significantly earns the title. In some instances, she is put on a pedestal not necessarily for some quirky behavior or talent, but rather because she needn’t do anything as she already exemplifies inspiring qualities that make her stand out from the rest. Such is the appeal of Turin, Italy-born Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who renowned fine jewelry and fashion brand Bulgari has recently named the face of its new “Diva” Campaign.

Like a cat with nine live, this glamorous lady has lived quite a few already and, at 45 (she doesn’t turn 46 until December this year), she shows no signs of slowing down. A model in her young adult years, Bruni’s big break came when she was 19, when Guess president and creative director Paul Marciano picked her to model with Estelle Lefébure in campaigns for the brand. This was in the 90s, and Bruni was then reportedly among the highest paid fashion models.

She eventually switched careers and bcame a singer/songwriter, going on to record her debut album Quelqu’un M’a Dit (which translates to Someone Told Me) in 2002. In one of those intriguing instances when musicians allow rare glimpses into their personal lives, it has been said that the second track in the album entitled Raphael was written for Bruni’s then-lover, the married philosophy professor Raphaël Enthoven, with who she had a son, Aurélien Enthoven, in 2001. She later told Vanity Fair that the relationship was broken off in 2007 because Enthoven thought there was no commitment involved.

Just months after she parts ways with Enthoven, the 39-year-old Bruni would meet the recently divorced French president Nicolas Sarkozy at a dinner party, hosted by advertising mogul and left-wing political adviser Jacques Séguéla. While he was clearly beguiled with her, she would only later reveal to Vanity Fair that she fell in love at first sight, saying his youth and energy surprised her. She lauded his charisma, noting that it is something that doesn’t translate on television.

Their whirlwind romance ended in marriage on February 2, 2008 at the Élysée Palace in Paris—her first, his third. In a life of rare highlights, Bruni found herself even more in the public eye, but in a different capacity. Aside from having an office and staff fin the Palace, she accompanied the French president on state visits, including one to the United Kingdom in the same year they were married, which was marred by a controversy on the eve of their arrival with the publication of her nude photograph, taken during her modeling days, by Christie’s auction house. The photo would reportedly later sell for $91,000. All the controversies would pale in comparison to their joy, however, when she and Sarkozy welcomed their daughter Giulia in October 2011. The young addition to the couple’s life would be the stepsister not only to her son, but also to Sarkozy’s two boys with his first wife and another son with his second.

While there is undeniable interest in her public persona as the wife of the French president—which naturally comes with a lot of criticism—Bruni threw herself into charity work, which included HIV/AIDS causes, animal rights and others. Like all women public figures, from the late Princess Diana to the current USA First Lady Michelle Obama, there would be much interest in Bruni’s wardrobe and personal style. For that much-talked about visit to the Queen of England, the British apparently praised Bruni for her “perfect curtsy and her demure, Jackie Kennedy outfits,” reported Vanity Fair. The magazine article also quoted Lagerfeld, who often used Bruni as a model, as saying, “She’s imaginative, clever and educated. She knows how to behave.”

In a New York Times Style Magazine (T Magazine) blog by Alainna Lexie Beddie, published in July this year, the former French first lady was quoted, “Of course, what I would want to wear in a public situation changed because when you actually have the honor of representing a country, you try to achieve a higher level of elegance to make them happy and proud, you know? But my personal style is basically pants, shoes and T-shirts.”

If Bruni’s charmed life has been fodder for the media, her past has been just as colorful. The legal daughter of Italian concert pianist Marisa Borini, and industrialist and classical composer Alberto Bruni Tedeschi, Carla Gilbera Bruni Tedeschi is of French ancestry on her mother’s side. In 2008, the same Vanity Fair article revealed Carla, her sister (actress and film director) Valeria and brother Virgino (who died in 2006, reportedly from complications of AIDS) grew up in a vast estate. Their family fortune came from the CEAT manufacturing company, founded by her grandfather Virginio Bruni Tedeschi.

In a dramatic turn of events in 1996, when Bruni was 28 and her father was gravely ill, he revealed that he wasn’t her biological father. Her real father was Maurizio Remmert, a classical guitarist who also belonged to a wealthy Turin family. Reportedly, Maurizio had an affair with Carla’s mother when he was 19 and she was “twice his age.” It lasted six years and bore them a daughter. Remmert would later move to Sau Paulo, where he is a grocery magnate.

The family had moved to France in the mid-70s, at a time when the Red Brigades were kidnapping wealthy individuals. In Paris, Bruni attended an Italian school, but she couldn’t wait to start her own life, so she tried modeling after her brother’s girlfriend suggested it to her. “Modeling meant I did not have to rely on my parents or a man,” she says in the same Vanity Fairinterview.

When Sarkozy came down from power in May 2012, some people thought Bruni would also be done with him— perhaps an assumption she’d brought upon herself when she was famously quoted for saying that monogamy bored her. Even the list of her reported past paramours, aside from those already mentioned, is worthy of attention; Bruni has supposedly been involved with Eric Clapton (who was said to have written in his memoirs about how hard he had fallen for the then 21-year-old), Mick Jagger (to whom Clapton had reportedly begged not to steal her away; later Bruni would claim she was never his girlfriend officially), actor Vincent Pérez, former French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius, among others.

“I think most women are like me, contradictory and ambivalent,” Bruni said to The Guardian in a June 2013 article entitled Carla Bruni: Sarkozy and Me. Of course, her being contradictory would also translate to controversies over things like her reported intervention and exertion of influence over Sarkozy with regards to the extradition of a woman leader of the Red Brigades terrorist movement (which existed from 1976-82) to Italy for “humanitarian reasons.” Yes, the same Red Brigades that would have kidnapped Bruni’s family had they chosen to stay in Italy.

Then, there are the things she would say to the media—for instance, she’s had to explain herself for a 2012 quote about feminism in a Vogue article—and even people supposedly alluded to in her songs (one of which was purportedly about François Hollande, the Socialist who defeated Sarkozy in his presidential re-election bid). In her defense, she would tell The Guardian, “I never really write like that. It’s hard to explain, but when I write, I don’t have such a precise idea in my head. I don’t say, okay, I’m going to write a song about X.”

Naturally, one so fascinating will never escape the interest of the media. These days, the former first lady has gone back to making music, while her husband “practices law and makes speeches.” With the succeeding French president quite unpopular and Sarkozy being hinted to return and save the nation, Bruni is busy with her own matters: working on her fourth album Little French Songs. When asked about her freedom to pursue her music once again, Bruni told TIME Magazinein a recent interview, “It wasn’t such a lack of freedom at all, really. But of course, I couldn’t go on tour and I couldn’t do as much as I wanted to do as a musician but, you know, time flies. So five years flew, and here I am and I can go back on tour.”

Courting more attention, one of the tracks, Mon Raymond, is rumored to be dedicated to her husband. She calls him “pirate” and an “atomic bomb,” in which the former describes a different side of his stately persona, while the latter “means someone looking hot, sexy… and an explosive type of person,” she says. Bruni also told The Guardian, “They’re not used to being muses— men. They’re used to being the artist. The minute you put them in the muse position, they go ‘what?’”

On her end, if there’s anything Bruni is used to, it’s being a muse.

This makes her perfect for Bulgari’s new Diva campaign, where she stars in the brand’s haute joaillerie ad campaign shot in Rome by noted photographer Terry Richardson. Of Bulgari, The Telegraph quotes the now 45-year-old diva as saying, “Bulgari is, for me, the symbol of passion, and of this vivid and colorful Roman gaiety.”

Of course, there’s a parallelism between Bruni, who was born in Italy but raised in France, and Bulgari, the Italian luxury goods company that has been owned by the French firm LVMH since 2011—making this a perfect partnership of sorts. More than that, however, the brand has found its diva personified—one who has remained who she is, even after all her experiences in the fashion, entertainment and even political circles. “My personal style’s never really changed,” she tells T Magazine blog. She’s the kind of woman who warns against overdressing for formal occasions and ending up looking like “a Christmas tree,” and who lauds the simplicity and elegance of the black evening dress, the economy of a tuxedo and a nice pair of earrings, and noting there’s nothing wrong with dressing casual at times. The very woman who has been photographed wearing the most luscious, jaw-dropping jewelry from the prestigious brand, but is never outshone by them.

Perhaps we’ve seen people who think they are divas—we run into them at parties and social gatherings, we see them trying hard to make and keep such an impression. The real difference between them and someone like Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is that this lady simply is—in the best sense of the word.

Q&A with Carla Bruni Sarkozy

What is your personal relationship with jewels?

An item of jewelry is not like any other object. It is more intimate than anything else. Physically intimate of course, because it adorns the body, right next to the skin, often close to where the heart is beating, like a drop of perfume, at the hollow of a wrist, behind the ear, at the base of the neck. But it is yet more intimate for having a meaning, a significance that goes beyond it. Jewelry belongs to the world of feelings, it touches matters of the soul. It declares a passion, betokens love, carries a memory, symbolizes a belief, seals an engagement, awards an honor, protects from misfortune… From the simplest of rings to the most sophisticated necklace, an item of jewelry always has a personal story to tell. This is an idea that pleases me. I love it when things have a story.

What does Bulgari represent to you?

Bulgari is for me the symbol of passion and of this vivid and colorful Roman gaiety. Colorful… like the stones of the 70s bracelet that my aunt wore when I was a child. I loved that bracelet. I loved its joy, its fantasy. I dreamed of one day possessing such a wonder of my own! I was told that like me it came from Italy to Paris. Perhaps that was part of why I loved it too. I later discovered that the treasure I so coveted came from Bulgari… Is it chance or this bracelet that brought us together?

Which Bulgari “facet” intrigues you most?

What a lot of stories have been told by Bulgari since it began! How can one not marvel simply at the sound of this name that fascinates and bewitches? This name that more than any other evokes Rome, its Dolce Vita and the golden age of the Cinecittà. Three murmured syllables and we are already dreaming! We dream of the tumultuous and legendary love affair between Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, we imagine ourselves a heroine of Visconti, we see Anita Ekberg running barefoot through the narrow streets to escape the paparazzi, we see ourselves in turn as Monica, Silvana, Sophia, we run laughing down the steps of the Piazza di Spagna…

And which one of jewellery- making in particular?

The passion of the master jeweler who teaches his art to his apprentice from generation to generation. The same of Sotirio Bulgari, the Greek silversmith who arrived in Rome at the end of the 19th century and passed his skills on to his sons. It is the meticulous work of the jeweler, the polisher, the setter…

As a model I have had the opportunity to work with the leading Haute Couture and Haute Joaillerie houses and to wear their creations. I have come to know the different crafts and gained an infinite appreciation for the master craftsmen, for their apprentices, for the seamstresses referred to in haute-couture as “petites mains”. With love of their craft, with a yen for perfection and with humility, they all contribute to the creation of unique and exceptional pieces. With my Foundation, we have also developed a program aimed at showcasing these magnificent crafts and encouraging school leavers into these professions. For some of these crafts are disappearing. And without craftspeople, the story ends, the magic is extinguished.

But thanks to companies such as Bulgari, for whom beauty and excellence rhyme, these ancient skills are preserved, traditions are kept alive. You only have to see the delicacy of a Bulgari jewel to realize that the crafts here are a fully-fledged art form. Each piece of haute Joaillerie is a total masterpiece of purity and finesse. And what originality, what creativity!

How did you feel about representing the image of Bulgari High jewellery?
It makes me very proud and very happy to have been chosen to represent the image of Bulgari for Haute Joaillerie. In a way, this fine jewelry house is already familiar to me. I feel connected with its romantic history and with its Italian soul which breathes life and joy and I sincerely hope to honor it.

  • by Annie S. Alejo

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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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What Makes an Empowered Woman? Let’s take it from Megaworld Hotels and Resorts’ Managing Director, Cleofe Albiso

What is an empowered woman made of? Managing Director Cleofe Albiso of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts, the Philippines’ largest homegrown hospitality chain with 4,000 room keys and 11 hotels, composes her thoughts and shares that its grit, resilience, and love. 

Cleofe Albiso, Managing Director of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts  

Settling in on her new leadership role at the start of the new year, Albiso looks back even way before joining the organization during the last quarter of 2019 as its Group General Manager. It comes as a surprise when she shares that her years takes her back from being a pre-school teacher in Cebu using her degree in Bachelor of Science in Education major in mathematics finishing Magna Cum Laude. After a while, and with doors opening for her to join the corporate world, she finds herself earning her years in sales and marketing where she has gathered decades worth of exemplary experience being part of the country’s biggest telecommunications group and international hospitality brands. 

With the highs and blows of life and as well as business, she shares that “An empowered woman needs to have grit”. The will to persevere and continue with passion has become her brand of leadership in serving not just clients and guests, but as well as taking care of the people she works with. Through her dedication, Albiso has since continued to climb the corporate ladder and was also recognized as the first Filipino General Manager of a Marriott International branded property in the country, the Courtyard by Marriott Iloilo that is also one of Megaworld Corporation’s many other operated international hotels in the Philippines. 

Fast forward to today, she looks at the future with gratefulness as she embraces the opportunity to empower the lives of 2,000 employees present across 11 hotels and not to mention 3 more properties opening this year as well as in 2023. She shares that “My responsibility can only be best tackled by filling my heart with gratitude and keeping my purpose in close check when times get challenging.” 

More than ever, she has come to understand that “Resilience is her way of life.” She explains that challenges come and go along with every solution that solves each one of them. Safe to say, what she considers as the biggest one yet would have to be this pandemic.  Albiso hopes that after a two year pause and struggle of the industry “My constant prayer is for our fellow Filipinos to help us recover by patronizing homegrown brands for them to explore the Philippines and travel again.” She said that in doing so “this will mean more jobs for the hospitality and tourism practitioners and boost confidence in the total industry to go back on full swing once again.” 

Admittedly, despite being one of the industries at the frontline of the pandemic, she can still say that “The culture of appreciation in our very own organization has been better strengthened during these times”.  The company lives by the Circle of Happiness. She explains that “Our organization operates with a culture that reminds us to love ourselves, our families, our work, our community with the love of God at the center of everything we do.” This pandemic has better reminded them to strive to take care of the wholistic well-being of each employee from physical to emotional and even mental health.

On top of that, Albiso gathers that what allows them to thrive is their team’s collective ability to take care of their key stakeholders, execute efforts geared towards sustaining the business, and making people stay and work passionately.  She further adds “We are a work in progress and there are many more business and service facets that we are focusing on improving” and humbly claims that “The best years for Megaworld Hotels and Resorts are yet to come.”

When asked about what her best advice to fellow women would be as they reach for their dreams, she said “I only found genuine fulfillment when I started having a relationship with God.  It is only by accepting that we cannot do things by ourselves that we become dependent on our creator.” According to her it is important “That we do not give credit to our talent, creativity and hard work (alone) but give glory to the one above us who have blessed us with all that.”  

At present, their properties are continuously looking to hire qualified applicants for vacant positions in front office, security, information technology, food and beverage, sales & marketing, human resources and engineering for Belmont Hotel Manila and Savoy Hotel Manila within Newport City in Pasay across NAIA terminal 3, Kingsford Hotel Manila located in the Entertainment City of Paranaque, Hotel Lucky Chinatown in Binondo, Twin Lakes Hotel near Tagaytay, Eastwood Richmonde Hotel in Quezon City, Richmonde Hotel Ortigas in Pasig, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo in Iloilo Business Park of Iloilo City, Belmont Hotel Boracay or Savoy Hotel Boracay located at the Newcoast Boracay and Savoy Hotel Mactan Newtown in Cebu.

For more information about how you can be part of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts, kindly email careers@megaworldhotels.com. You may also inquire about your future stays through salesinquiry@megaworldhotels.com or connect with them through any of Megaworld Hotels and Resorts’ and its properties’ social media pages. 

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