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Buck Sia: Facets of Geometry

A young visionary in the field of architecture plays with modern design and geometry. The result is an arresting interplay of shapes, space and form.

A young visionary in the field of architecture plays with modern design and geometry. The result is an arresting interplay of shapes, space and form.

As kids, we would tag along with our older sisters as they played house. Today, twenty years later, I am standing beside the same kid I used to play with, but now we are discussing something we both share in common: a passion for architecture and interior design.


Architect Buck Richnold Sia, a young player in the field of architecture, speaks about modern design with a passion way beyond his years.   After his BS architecture at the University of San Carlos in 2002 and a ninth-place in the 2003 architecture board examination, he went to work for four years for the famed Cebuano modern architect, Alex Medalla, before establishing his own practice. Zubu Design Associates put together a team of architects and designers who share his zeal for modern architecture and design.

One fine Saturday morning, Buck took me on a tour of one of his latest creations, a three-level house for a single doctor in her forties, perched on an eight-meter-high property in one of the gated communities in Cebu City.  The total lot area was only 250 square meters, with a frontage of only ten meters.  The lay of the land dictated his design to go vertical.

“The site was a welcome challenge for me,” says Buck, “With the difference of elevation of eight meters, a split level was obvious. I hate cutting,I really want to maintain the natural terrain. However, due to the garage, I had no choice but to cut the portion at the front of the site. It was minimal cutting, just enough for circulation and garage spaces. This way we saved on construction costs and, most importantly, I got a superb view from constructing at the topmost elevation.”

Given the space limitations, Buck managed to create a house with a total floor area of 250 square meters that fits in comfortably three bedrooms and 2.5 baths, plus a service area and a two-car garage with a good-sized storeroom on the side.

Buck describes his design model as follows: Massing, continuous band, faceted geometry.The rectangular plot of land has a difference of elevation of about eight meters, with the entry at the bottom of the lot. This left us no choice but to cut a portion of the lot to accommodate the garage and entry. Bedrooms are stacked one upon another.  Social spaces rest on the original elevation in the back portion of the lot. The atrium with a courtyard holds the main circulation space of the house; this binds the social spaces and the private spaces.

Massing and the Continuous Band: There are three levels on the massing of the house—the garage and main entry (negative space), the lower ground floor, which is treated with dark grey vertical grooves, and clerestory windows to create an illusion of floating of the third massing. The third massing is the social space interconnected with the masters bedroom. This interconnection is created by the continuous band through the canopies and walls. This strip may be skewed to counter the difference of canopy depth and/or the change of elevation. This feature is inherently seen on the west wall.

Faceted Geometry: There is an attempt to create a different approach of the traditional hipped roof. This roof is tilted from the front to the back and from the west to the east. This roof created four main triangular geometries with a skylight pierced in between two triangles. The piercing is just above the main circulatory space of the house. There is also a connection from the roof to the east wall.

The construction of the house was carefully executed by KG Design Builders in a span of one year.  The entrance to the house is an over-sized single door, a very simple design, made of wood, painted white with grooves.  It opens up to the massive retaining wall of the house showing just how high the elevation of the lot was, but Buck turned this structural piece into an architectural highlight by creating a checkered pattern of different depths of the solid concrete.

A small rock garden with potted plants softens the otherwise cold concrete wall.  To the left is a cantilevered spiral staircase that leads to the main house above.  Buck uses porcelain tiles with aluminum formable tile in nosing on the steps.  The risers are made slightly shorter than standard to make it a pleasant climb.  A bright apple green color is slathered on one part of the solid concrete banister, with a circular wooden handrail in dark wood stain.

The first level of the house leads to the two guest rooms with a shared bath.  Each of the rooms enjoys a good view from the natural elevation above.  In true avant-garde fashion, Buck puts the hallway lights on the bottom part of the wall instead of the usual location on the ceiling.

Another flight of stairs leads to the open-planned living and dining room, showcasing a playful mix of modern furniture pieces from different designers and furniture exporters in Cebu.  The sectional sofa with upholstered back and seat outlined by a linear wooden frame in wood-stain finish was designed by rising and well-acclaimed furniture designer Vito Selma.  A red yoda chair by Kenneth Cobonpue sits on a corner serving as a stark accent piece amidst the black and white pieces that dominate the room.  The dining set for six is part of the slim-line collection from Dedon.  A special high chair was created for the doctor’s young nieces and nephews who come visiting every now and then.

The kitchen cabinets done by RPJ Kitchen Craft in zebrano melamine with white synthetic stone top complement the black and white furniture.

The living and dining space is enclosed by sliding glass doors with aluminum frames on both sides to promote cross ventilation.  Landscaper Jaime Chua lined the walls with bamboo trees to add some green into this modern structure.  A special feature on the sliding doors is the installation of monsoon windows on one side.

“Monsoon windows are inspired by vernacular houses,” explains Buck, “I am sure it is also present in indigenous houses in the Philippines. The monsoon windows are awnings placed above the side glass doors at the left side of the house. This wall looks like it is floating with just glass connecting it.  There is only one monsoon window since I provided vertical grills with screen beside the main entrance. This will still create a cross ventilation in times of harsh rain and wind, when most of the windows will be closed.”

Being an avid collector of books and having to keep up with medical textbooks and references, the doctor particularly requested Buck to provide her with ample bookshelves.  On one side of the living room leading up to the master bedroom, an entire wall is dedicated to bookshelves in cut boxes of white and zebrano melamine.  This playful pattern is also reflected in the exterior of the house, a thing Buck loves to do with his projects: match certain exterior details with the interiors.

A shift of elements from metal and stone to wood can be seen as you enter the master bedroom.  The steps and flooring are made of engineered wood, while wood paneling on the wall also adds warmth to the room.  As you enter the bedroom, there’s a spacious walk-in closet on the right, opposite the shelf wall that stretches from the living hall to the master bedroom.  This also serves as the entrance to the master bath.  The irregular shape of the bathroom is made even more dramatic with the careful placement of mirrors and ledges.  Saloni tiles from Spain with a brown metallic sheen give a light contrast to the white tiles, The floor of the shower area features a shadow drain all around, with a rain shower above.

The architect made it a point to prioritize the view for the private spaces, hence, the master bedroom windows open up to expansive views of the city.   The headboard of the queen-size bed rests on wood paneled walls, but the rest of the area is painted white with soft cove lighting all around.  A cantilevered desk and entertainment area is also done in white melamine.  A complete contrast to the otherwise very modern interior is the client’s collection of paintings from reputable artists like Galan and Celso Pepito.  These paintings are carefully placed in various areas of the house.

Still in his early thirties, Buck has already built quite a number of modern structures. But there is more he wants to achieve.  When asked what his dream project is, he answers, “I don’t believe in dream projects and dream clients, although I have ideas of I want to implement in my projects. My ideas are rooted in modernism—mathematical models, continuity, spatial experience applied into architecture.  Ideal clients are those who listen and trust in ideas set out by architects; constant dialogue and relationship are key as well. What I dream for our built environment are proper cultural facilities and parks and open spaces.  I hope government properties will not just be bid out for business parks and commercial use.”

Buck is part of the progressive movement in Cebu, the same movement that has inspired him to create modern architecture.  He feels honored that his work has also inspired other architects and future architects of Cebu.

by Hannah Lim
photography Genesis Raña

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Events

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. 

***

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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People

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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Lifestyle

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Thanksgiving with the Woolbrights

THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING

The holiday season kicks off officially with Thanksgiving. A time to be grateful for family, friends and blessings. Although this is not usually practiced in our tropical country, there are, however, families like the Woolbrights for whom this is a time-honored tradition.

by Janine Taylor sittings editor Katsy Borromeo fashion stylist Mikey Sanchez food stylist Nicolette Gaw-Yu production manager David Jones Cua intern Danica Ronquillo hair and make-up Jessie Glova assistant Jojo Embalzado photography Joseph Ong locale Woolbright Residence

 

Eddie Woolbright was among the thousands of G.I.’s that landed on the shores of the Philippines during the Japanese occupation. After the war, a few enterprising American soldiers came back, including the 24-year old Eddie who made Tacloban his home, before settling down in Cebu in the 1950s and opened a restaurant and a hardware store downtown—Eddie’s Log Cabin and Eddie’s Hardware and Auto Supply, respectively.

Eddie’s Log Cabin quickly became the hub of social, political and even military scene. It was the first air-conditioned café in town, and more importantly, it offered American diner food including a soda fountain and an ice cream parlor. It was patronized by one and all for its reputation for good food and service.

It also didn’t take long for the fearless Eddie Woolbright to realize that the real estate in the sleepy hillside suburbs was ripe for development. “I will show Cebu what a good planned subdivision is,” Eddie had said, when the late Senator Marcelo Fernan, then a young legal counselor for Columbian Rope Co., took Eddie to see the property. Pretty soon, Eddie had purchased over thirty-three hectares of otherwise undeveloped land from the heirs of the late Arlington Pond.

“Buy land,” Eddie Woolbright was known to quote the late humorist Will Rogers, “because they ain’t gonna make more.”

With his added access to army surplus, he bulldozed tracts of land, and a decade later, Beverly Hills, the first major subdivision in Cebu City, was created, and marketed to the city’s growing well-to-do locals, with the subdivision’s connotations of Hollywood and colonial American aesthetic. Eddie’s belief in the business potentials of central Cebu city enabled him to see much growth in his investments in land development, water drilling, construction, and general trading.

ON THE COVER The Woolbright sisters, Joy, Karen and Alice don Jun Escario’s Holiday Collection, photographed in their home by Joseph Ong. Hair and make-up by Jessie Glova.

 

Eddie had nine children: Rick, Anita, Marc, Gilbert, Alice, Kathy, Kristy, Karen and Joy. All recall that each holiday was as important to them as Christmas. Turkey Thanksgiving dinners, for example, as it was known in the Woolbright household, began when Eddie’s mom, Nell, came to visit sometimes in the 1960s. Eddie would buy a butterball turkey from the American base in Clark and she whipped up a traditional feast complete with cornbread stuffing, cranberry jelly, candied yams, garlic mashed potatoes and her famous giblet gravy which was poured literally all over the bird, as they do back in her home in Oklahoma. Grandma Nell also taught the cooks at Eddie’s Log Cabin to make the famous Coconut Cream Pie, another Eddie’s Log Cabin standard. Kathy also recollects, “It was also dad’s idea that the restaurant and the hotel should serve breakfast 24 hours, and since I loved my Mexican omelet, sliced ham, buttered toast I enjoyed being able to eat breakfast any time of the day.” 

My dad taught me how to be humble. He told us stories about his younger days jumping trains, eating nothing but grapes for days just to go pick cotton. He had a hard life growing up and I guess he wanted us, his children, to know the meaning of hard work. He would say, “Nobody owes you a life in this world”. I didn’t understand it then but I do now. -Alice Woolbright

 

FROM LEFT ON JOY Nude dress, models own; ring and bangle by Gladys Young; ON ALICE Sequined LBD, models own; ON KAREN Grey pleated shift dress from Loalde; ring and necklace by Gladys Young.

Shortly after, turkey was introduced in the menu of Eddie’s Log Cabin, both Americans and Cebuanos, with a penchant for this wholesome meal, look for it when November came, and more especially on Thanksgiving Day. “Dad loved quality meat, and passed on this fondness to us, his children,” noted Karen, “So special meals always consisted of a good steak or the tender Prime Rib Roast. Of course, the year was never complete without a Turkey once or twice.”

As the sisters change into various outfits for the photo shoot in their childhood home, each one recalled the happy memories this holiday brings.  

ON KAREN Teal pantsuit from Loalde, belt by Gladys Young; ON JOY Plum cocktail dress, model’s own; ON ALICE Teal corseted dress by Jun Escario, belt by Gladys Young.

Alice, recalls disliking the giblet gravy as a child but since her dad would serve her at the dinner table she had no choice but to eat it. She adds, “He would get upset if we did not try everything.” Funnily enough, she now looks forward to the giblet gravy and can’t imagine turkey without it.  Her dad, she said, employed the same tactic with his customers at the restaurant so after a while, they ended up getting used to it, and will not have their turkey any other way.

Between brothers and sisters coming home from out of town and family members in the States, there was always some degree of traveling or entertaining company. Dad valued the family bond and holidays were the best time to reinforce that. –Karen Woolbright

Happy hour with the Woolbright siblings.

The family pet Chewy joins in on the annual Woolbright Thanksgiving dinner.

Joy Woolbright-Sotto fondly remembers watching her dad carve the bird. “He made sure that each one of the kids learned how to do it properly, with the white meat sliced thinly enough, and followed last by the dark meat,” she says. A feat she now does with ease. Future doctor Karen says that her dad would always carve the wings and serve it to her, which is still her favorite part of the fowl. Kathy though, considers turkey her comfort food. But she says that she loves the Coconut Cream Pie, which is also served on the restaurant’s menu, and that as a child she could eat half a pie in bed. 

 

Old fashioned roast turkey

Cebu in the 60s and 70s was a very small town, if you wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving, you went to Eddie’s. Eddie’s Log Cabin, like its owner was a trailblazer, the balut dice game originated there, many singers’ careers such as Elizabeth Ramsey’s were given their first break there.  

The torch has been passed on to his children, and they too celebrate it with turkey dinners and all the trimmings, ensuring that the restaurant still serves the traditional menu, down to the Coconut Cream Pie.  Thanksgiving will always be celebrated at their homes, and the Beverly Hotel, the last legacy that Eddie Woolbright gave his children to run.

Another legacy that Eddie left to his children was a love for food and Alice was quick share that she got it too, “I’m usually home during the day and I find myself in the kitchen trying to cook up new dishes to serve.”

 

Back at the Woolbright ancestral home, which is also now Alice’s home, the dining table has been set, evoking autumn and harvest, the candles are lit, the wine is being poured, the buffet table is groaning under the weight of the Thanksgiving repast. The sisters are seated at the table, each with a glass of wine discussing whose turn it is to carve. The annual Woolbright turkey dinner is about to start and I am glad to be invited to join them at their family home. Happy Thanksgiving, indeed.

 

(This article has already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s November 2011 Entertaining Issue, “The Gift that Keeps on Giving” on pages 72-77.)

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