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Ever After: The Mia-Jacques Wedding

This wedding in picturesque Brittany attended by close friends and family was the perfect backdrop to start a new chapter in their lives—Marie Irisha Arcenas, the Cebuana designer and favorite Zee cover girl, weds her prince charming Jacques Christophe Branellec, the Jewelmer scion.

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Some girls are just born with it—beauty and brains, as the expression goes. When she graduated from Los Angeles’ Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in 2010, Mia Arcenas was determined to “build a business empire,” as an Instagram post of hers stated not so long ago. Her future groom, Jacques Branellec, seemed to be on the same trajectory. At an early age, he was spending school holidays at the Jewelmer Pearl Farm in Palawan cleaning oysters.

So when their paths collided, it was at a time when both were concentrating on building their careers. But destiny, and Jacques, was persistent, and soon it became clear that this was a serious affair. 

The groom’s mother Francia had always told him 32 was a good age to get married; and she was a little worried that Jacques wouldn’t make the deadline, until he brought Mia home. Family is a very important part of both Mia and Jacques’ lives—in fact, when Jacques proposed, he’d actually proposed first to her parents Dindo and Iris, who immediately burst into tears. 

“When Jacques proposed, minutes after I had said yes, he added, ‘by the way, the wedding will be in France!’” Mia recalls with a laugh. “I had no time to grasp everything that had happened and what I had agreed to.”

The wedding was specifically going to be in Saint Pol de Leon, a coastal village in the Brittany region of France where the Branellecs are from. With about a year to plan out the event, the couple decided to split the tasks equally to make sure everything would be taken care of. “I did all the creative planning, while Jacques took care of the technical and logistics side,” Mia shares. “The biggest challenge was communicating with the suppliers since they all spoke in French!”

On his part, Jacques was busy working out how their family and friends would be there. “My main challenge was making sure everyone got to where they needed to be—from the airport to the hotel, from hotels to the wedding events, and back, and around everywhere.”

It all turned out alright, as the four-day event began with a happy bunch of friends and family from around the world gathered in Roscoff one bright June afternoon chattering in front of the postcard perfect Brittany coastline. Roscoff is a rustic town in the northwest region of France, an hour’s drive from the airport in Brest or a three-hour train ride from Paris. Not exactly in the tourist path, it is famous for its oysters, caramel, the Breton striped shirt, and the creamiest, most delicious salted butter that you can ever taste.

The locals were probably wondering about the festive group that had converged—aside from the bride’s bevy of extended family from Cebu, there were guests who flew in from Italy, Australia and other parts of the world. After all, Jewelmer has made a name for itself as the best purveyor of golden South Sea pearls in the international trade, after the groom’s father (also named) Jacques Branellec settled in Manila in the 1970s and founded the pearl farm with Manuel Cojuangco in the south of the country—long before there was an El Nido or the Spratly Islands.

Mia had decided early on that she was going to create her entourage’s dresses, and her own wedding gown. “It was the most amazing experience!” Mia exclaims. “Jacques, from the beginning, pushed me to create my own dress. He said it would be even more special and unique, especially since I’m a designer and not many brides could do the same. He was right!”

The festivities started with the civil wedding, attended by close family and friends. Jacques came dressed in his Philippine Coast Guard uniform, and Mia created for herself an ensemble of soft tulle, with a floral brooch and a satin sash in the same pale blue hue.

As the guests started coming in, the couple hosted welcome cocktails on an outdoor property. It was prettily set up with white tents and long tables filled with cheese and patés, and champagne and rosé all sourced from nearby vineyards. Guests toasted the soon-to-be-married couple, and cheered as they gamely performed their famous duet—Mia sang, while Jacques played his saxophone. They looked gorgeous in white, Jacques in a crisp shirt while Mia wore her long-sleeved top with a soft tulle paneled skirt with embroidered elements that hinted of their story: Jacques and Mia, gugma, je t’aime, the saxophone, gumamela flowers, and hearts.

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The wedding ceremony itself had guests taking private trams through a scenic five-minute ride to the centuries-old church Eglise Notre Dame. Father Bernard Holzer had flown in from Manila to officiate the wedding ceremony. It was a personal and solemn affair with the bride’s cousin Matteo Guidicelli and maid of honor Holly Dychangco singing a beautiful, angelic rendition of The Lord’s Prayer.

“I couldn’t even comprehend how I felt,” says the bride’s mom Iris Arcenas as she recalls seeing Mia walk down the aisle. “All I could think was that my only child is now a bride. There was just so much joy and happiness, that her prayers were answered and that God gave her the man of her dreams.”

For the wedding, Mia wore a form-fitting dress with intricate lace details, while Jacques had a three-piece Jun Escario suit on. 

It was a festive sight after the mass, a scene that featured ladies in elegant gowns and gentlemen in their summer suits, had overflowed to the town square. The-wishers then proceeded to the reception at the Penfao manor, where the celebration lasted until the early hours of the morning.

Design

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 www.ma-g.org.

 

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 www.inodoro-design.com.

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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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