Taking creative inspiration from her rich Cebuano culture aside from her Italian influences, Susanne Verallo, with her namesake fashion label, aims to put Philippine artistry in the spotlight and produce “bold and daring” creations that tell remarkable stories.
She aims to stay true to her heritage in each of her striking pieces, which she deems fit for women who are not afraid to make a statement and most importantly, stand out.
Playing with confident colors and geometric shapes, designed and handcrafted to be “effortlessly versatile and impeccably fashioned”, as Susanne describes it, her modern and mindful twist on shell jewelry and accessories gives the brand a classic yet youthful aesthetic.
Established in the year 2015, SUSANNE VERALLO has been partnering with local independent artisans to support their livelihood and to showcase the unique beauty of Philippine artistry.
With Cebu’s abundant and diverse natural resources, it is very much why the Queen City of the South became home to the country’s shell-craft industry. As crafting things out of puka shells began in the year 1980’s, handcrafted sea shells species came into the picture to produce exquisite designs that flood the pages of magazines in today’s modern world.
Susanne is very much lucky to find this exquisite resource in her homeland for her equally exquisite designs, and all the while staying true to her advocacy of sustainability. Altogether with her brand, they maintain an effort to counter such problems of pollution and exploitation of resources by making use of shell offcuts and overruns salvaged from other shell-craft companies. With this, she hopes to raise environmental awareness and enhance the value of this precious yet limited natural resource.
Mainly, the designer finds a lot of inspiration from culture. “My first collection of clutches was inspired by the Pop Art movement of the 60’s, and my second upcoming jewelry collection takes inspiration from the tribal traditions of the ancient Visayans”, she shares.
Working closely with artisans and patronizing local craftsmanship has given her the opportunity to fully observe and explore the various possibilities of the craft. Without any formal training in fashion or jewelry design, and now treading into that path, Susanne heeds to her furniture and product design experiences and studies, applying the same meticulous attention to detail in research and execution with each piece.
For artists like Susanne, she believes in giving meaning to each of her pieces, which she hopes would in turn gives them intrinsic value that others can appreciate. Inspired by different jewelry brands that made use of indigenous materials and techniques, giving birth to mostly chunky, matronly, and typically tropical sorts, she stressed that these elements made her clients love her pieces more, as they are versatile and modern, yet still proudly Cebuano.
Despite finishing her masters degree in Milan and having explored European designs, Susanne chose Cebu as a home for her art. “I believe our own traditional crafts coupled with our unique indigenous materials are more than capable of competing on a global scale”, shares Susanne.
Since her first collection release in the year 2016, she has generated interest from the international market with her handmade jewelry. Despite the influx and popularity of this generation’s fast fashion, a growing era of slow fashion – handmade and sustainable designer pieces– has put her collections in the spotlight.
Showing her designs and the beauty of local craftsmanship to a large international audience has been, by far, the greatest achievement for her brand.
From her early childhood creativity and drive, she always ambitioned to become a fashion designer. But when this took the backseat as she pursued a more serious career of interior and furniture design, she confesses that the dream never really left her thoughts, as it is realized in today’s present time.
Her dream to be able to combine both her passion for the arts and earn from it as a living was finally an opportunity afforded to her, and with that, she made it all come true. “What draws me to fashion is that it’s a very personal way of expressing one’s self, even more so with accessories. You can say a lot with your outfit, but I believe it’s the jewelry that punctuates it”.
The Uncommon Traditions that Mexicans and Filipinos share when celebrating the Day of the Dead.
Dia de los Muertos
By Allain Dumon Fonte
The 2nd of November is All Soul’s Day, a holiday that is very important to many Filipinos to remember our loved ones who passed on. This is also widely celebrated in Mexico as “Dia De los Muertos” or in English, “The Day of the Dead”. And Mexicans celebrate the 2nd of November grander than they celebrate Christmas. Well, you can witness it from the Disney movie, “Coco”.
As All Soul’s Day or Dia de los Muertos is about to end, here are some interesting traditions and superstitions that Filipinos and Mexicans share:
1. IT IS NOT ON THE 31st OF OCTOBER
Dia de los Muertos or All Soul’s Day is not practiced on October 31st or on the Hallow’s Eve as many other western cultures practice; but we celebrate it on the 2nd of November. We celebrate November 1st as All Saint’s Day or the Day of the Holy, while in Mexico they call it Dia de los Innocentes or Dia de los Angelitos to commemorate the children who died too early in life.
2. THE RITUAL
Both in Mexico and in the Philippines, we visit the grave of our loved ones and we clean it well. This is a ritual to honour their resting places and to let them know that they are never forgotten.
3. FLOWERS INVITE SPIRITS
In Mexico, they believe that the scent of flowers attract spirits. So the flower offerings are invitation to their dead loved ones to visit the living families. While in the Philippines, we believe that flowers offered to the dead exalt the souls and somehow fill in the sadness that we feel when missing our dead loved ones.
Most of the time, Filipinos choose all-white flowers to offer because white is the absence of colour, which means the absence of Joy and happiness. White also symbolises purity of soul which we hope our dead loved ones will attain as they journey to heaven. While in Mexico, they have the yellow Mexican marigolds as the official flowers of the dead that will guide them in their journey to the afterlife.
4. THE LEGEND OF THE MONARCH BUTTERFLIES
Both cultures believe that monarch butterflies are dead loved ones who visit us and show their appreciation that we have not forgotten them. A presence of monarch butterflies also means that our dead loved ones are always there guiding us and looking after us.
5. A PICNIC IN THE GRAVEYARD
Spending a night at the graveyard and picnicking with the rest of the family may sound very creepy to many; but to both Filipino and Mexican cultures, picnicking and spending a night at the cemetery is a must to show our love to our dearly departed. It is the only time in the year that families gather and tell stories of the dead loved ones and how colourful or how great their lives were.
6. FOOD FOR THE DEAD
In Mexico, they have what they call “ofrendas” or an altar where the pictures of their dead loved ones are displayed and offered with flowers, candles, and their favourite food. Very similar to the Filipino culture of cooking the favourite food of our dead loved ones and everyone in the family enjoys the food for dinner.
My family tradition involves me driving all the way to Colon street and buy that famous Snow Sheen’s “pancit canton”. This is my granddad’s favourite snack. Sadly, the old Visayan Restaurant is no longer there. My late uncle and my late grandpa love their sweet ad and sour fish. We also set up an “ofrenda” on their graveyard and eat their favourite food while picnicking in the cemetery. We do not spend a night in the cemetery; but while we are picnicking there, we usually play the songs of Pilita Corrales and Susan Fuentes that my late grandpa used to listen every afternoon while enjoying his coffee, pan de sal, and pancit canton.
What about your family traditions? Share your thoughts by commenting to this article.
MODEL: Michael Joseph Mortola Enriquez & Alexis Wingfield
PHOTOGRAPHER: Gianne Paolo Anciano
HMUA/DESIGNER: Hazel Ocaba
STYLING: GPA Lifestyle + Clothing
Catch Ted Lasso the Emmy Award Winning Comedy Series on Apple TV+
Rating: *****/ *****
The multi award–winning comedy series airing on Apple TV+ is one of my favorite shows. Ted Lasso starring Jason Sudeikis is about a fun good-natured American football coached hired by a British soccer club (AFC Richmond in London) to become their new coach. In spite of the fact that Ted has no experience or knowledge about British football/soccer, his positive demeanor and charm helps him overcome the animosity of the team’s players, staff and fans. Eventually Ted wins over the team and the locals as they fight for position in the English Premier League.
The show won the 2021 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and 7 Emmy Awards in its 2 seasons and Season 3 is just around the corner. You can catch Seasons 1 & 2 of Ted Lasso on Apple TV+
PANDEMIC DIARIES: Twelve Months Later
Photos taken by Pablo Quiza around Cebu City during the months of March, April and May 202
AS WE APPROACH ONE YEAR under pandemic times, we look back at March 2020 with fascination. And awe. We had 12 months of lockdown and survived the so called new normal. We lived with masks and alcohol even today. Carless roads and dark malls. Those were the early days of March, April and May.
It stretched to October and past Christmas. No Sinulog. Virtual parties on Zoom and virtual mass on You Tube and FB Live. We debated on the best meds to take if we get sick and whether to wear masks (please do!). We scampered for face shields and anti-viral sprays. Vitamins C and D and zinc. Later, we survived being swabbed and we learned the difference between a PCR and an anti-gene test. The latter cost less.
We dreaded the declarations of IATF mandated from Manila. And we got mad at the police chief who had a birthday party while his people were busy locking up everyone violating the lockdown. Most horrifying of all, we needed to produce IDs! Are you a resident of Barangay Lahug or Banilad? Are you employed and why are you still working? Everyone suffered thru endless checkpoints. Most sad of all are those using motorbikes, they seem to get the raw end of the deal since those with cars are not as scrutinized. We managed to trick the system by putting a big handwritten note in front of the car: COMPANY CAR, and zipped tru the police desks in the middle of the road. Don’t even think of travelling, by plane, boat or bus. The collection of the required documents is enough for one to get exposed to Covid.
We learned to shop online, order groceries and necessities thru delivery. We slowly moved towards cashless payments. Gcash and banks like Union Bank and China Bank with friendly apps are heroes for making life easy for most of us to spend what little cash we have to spend on Lazada or pay the VECO bill. Oh and we binged on K dramas on Netflix and You Tube, kamsaminada.
As 2021 enters, there are some good news. For those obsessed with news, you already know that 7,000 vaccines arrived last March 2 in Cebu, with more expected in the next few weeks. The death rate is not as high among those who caught this pesky virus, which tells us that doctors in the hospitals have some proven expertise in dealing with Covid. More cures should be in the horizon.
Meanwhile, lets continue dreaming of the day when we can cross borders again, even if its just Bohol or Boracay, Bangkok or Hong Kong. Ready those luggages and bags bought during the 3/3 sale in Shopee in preparation for the day when we can take the ferry or the plane for new adventures.