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Girl Wonder: Ayla Gomez

A part-time model, online store entrepreneur, and bag and accessory designer, Ayla Gomez may be a laidback boheme with an invitingly easygoing deameanor, but Zee Lifestyle finds out nothing about her success is accidental.

A part-time model, online store entrepreneur, and bag and accessory designer, Ayla Gomez may be a laidback boheme with an invitingly easygoing deameanor, but Zee Lifestyle finds out nothing about her success is accidental.

It’s a windy afternoon just off the holiday season, and the team is trying to keep the makeshift white background for the photo shoot from flying off the rooftop of Harold’s Hotel. Once we have the billowing sheet under control, Ayla Gomez emerges on the balcony for her first shot. She’s smiling shyly and comfortably quiet, carrying her outfit in the kind of cool girl nonchalance that everyone tries so hard to emulate. She brushes her long hair off her face and bobs along to the music of Two Door Cinema Club. “I listen to a lot of indie bands, some folk, old school rock, chillwave, house, and of course, we can’t resist some pop,” she shares, before listing Vampire Weekend, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, Feist, Toro Y Moi, Girls, The Drums, The Horrors and Kings of Convenience as bands she’d seen live and loved. Finally, the photographer motions that the shoot is officially starting, and we see her relaxed charm turn into steely confidence once the camera starts clicking.

She moves in front of the camera with an ease that comes from years of experience, having worked as a model for various magazine and newspaper editorials since her first photo shoot for the cover of Zee Lifestyle’s February-March 2005 issue. Then, she had just graduated from high school and preparing for her move to Manila to study early childhood education in De La Salle University. “I think I look younger in this one than in that first shoot,” she laughs. “I think I was a lot stiffer then, and really conscious about how I looked. I definitely wish I knew my angles and facial expressions more— basically just how to work the camera.”

Today, it’s clear that she’s learned to do just that, moving and posing fluidly through each layout. It might have helped that the photographer Emman Montalvan is a childhood friend, and the one who got her into modeling in the first place. “He was my neighbor during college. He was taking up production design in Benilde, and he would ask me to model for him for his school projects.” She’d since done campaigns for Spruce, a consignment store in CDO, since 2010 and Sueno de Espadrilles in 2011, and did a photo shoot for Vanilla Label by fashion designer Vania Romoff—though she admits she doesn’t see modeling as a main career choice. “I never really signed with an agency, because I didn’t really think of it as a job. It was just something to do every now and then.”

Of course, that’s not to say she doesn’t enjoy doing it. “The best part is getting all dolled up and being styled, and who doesn’t like a good photo of themselves?” she laughs. “I enjoy doing different looks, which I normally wouldn’t wear or think of putting together. I have definitely learned how to dress, and picked up a few tips here and there from stylists and make-up artists.” She does admit that she has a lot to learn, but also dares to dream when thinking about who she would model for in the future if given the chance. “I’d have to say Marc Jacobs, Topshop because I frequent that store a lot, and Zac Posen! I love his gorgeous gowns,” she gushes. “I also would really love to model for a great Cebu gem, Cary Santiago. There’s really nothing like his intricately detailed dresses and the workmanship that goes into each one.” After the interview, she sends an email to add, “I would have to add Chanel and Roberto Cavalli!” that was ended with a sheepishly cute “hehe.” That little exchange showed off the bright and bubbly persona that emerged from the reserved Ayla infront of the camera. Off-duty, she transforms into someone who answers questions with a flurry of sentences that are excitedly strung together. “Most people think I’m shy and very quiet, which I can be at times. But I’m very easygoing and I love to goof around.” The open and animated way she shares her life stories projects a youthfulness that seems to defy her age of 26. “Honestly, I still feel like I’m 21 inside, and sometimes even younger when I’m with my nephews. I won’t lie though, I’m also a bit freaked out about the idea of turning 30.”

In truth, she’s further from her 30’s than she thinks, which makes her list of accomplishments even more impressive considering she’d just emerged from the younger half of her roaring decade. She’s started two online stores, models for various brands, and is the marketing manager for her mom Melinda Garcia’s Club Serena Resort in Moalboal. “I’ve been going there since I was a child,” she says of the family property. “It’s my happy place, specifically underneath my favorite tree next to our beach house.”

Whether it’s her dad Quintin Gomez waking her up on weekends by bringing the family’s dogs into her room or the elaborate Theme Park birthday parties she had in her backyard and later at theme parks, Ayla’s been gifted with a childhood of normalcy that attests to how much family plays an important role in her life. “My best memories were from when our whole family would spend Holy Week together at the Moalboal beach house, my tito’s farm in Bohol, or at our close family friend’s ranch in Bukidnon,” she recalls fondly. Of course, time has seen the group of cousins growing up and having their only families, which means less time to spend basking in the sun and playing shato, but Ayla still looks forward to the Christmas holidays spent at her grandmother’s house. “Every year she serves a huge feast, but the staples are always roast beef, turkey, lechon, and her famous callos and bacalao.”

Her familial ties carry over to her business life, when she opened The Lost Nomad with cousin Paolo Sarmiento. “Like how most things start out, it was over drunken talk,” she jokes about the beginnings of the brand. “Whenever my cousin visited Manila, we would always find ourselves talking about how cool it would be to collaborate and work on a store that sold bags.” After more discussions over coffee, the duo dove right into the project, looking for manufacturers that could create their concept of usable but stylish travel bags. Created to represent the modern day nomad, The Lost Nomad’s collections are on display on the website www.thelostnomad.com.ph, which show the collection of roomy duffels in bright primary colors, or clutches and backpacks in prints that bring to mind exotic locales. Their bags marry form and function, deceptively compact but in truth providing a good amount of space to carry travel essentials, while maintaining a design that maximizes on beautiful details and quality materials.

The inclination to designing bags stemmed from a recent realization that she’s turned into a shoe and bag lady, the kind who immediately gravitates to those specific accessories when entering a store. “Every girl turns into one sooner or later, I think,” she laughs. “I guess that’s where designing bags really started, with my love affair for owning nice-looking bags that didn’t hurt the pocket too much.”

Her first creation and current favorite is the Hatra, a weekender bag made of colored canvas and faux carabao leather accents. “Paolo and I discovered that there aren’t a lot of stores that sell nice affordable weekenders of good quality. So our first design was one that showcased a certain style. We made the blue and red for the more classic traveler, and the teal and yellow with stripes for those who like color and prints.”

“The Lost Nomad for me is laidback, but has a good sense of style and what looks good without sacrificing functionality,” Ayla says about the brand. “It’s a store that will hopefully inspire you to travel and explore beyond the four walls of your personal comfort zone. It’s also about spontaneity and the awesome stories a good adventure can bring.”

Creating The Lost Nomad, though, might have proved less of a challenge than it would have been for most, considering Ayla already had experience with putting up The Little Pinky Store after she graduated from college. The store boasts of a collection of quirky accessories, the kind that immediately adds a sweet kind of spunk to any sort of outfit or room. “Having a lot of time on hand after graduation helped me realize I had more of a creative brain than I originally thought,” she says. “The items that I sell are generally a reflection of my personal style and things that I would wear myself, or would like to have in my own home.”

Actually, The Little Pinky Store feels very much like an extension of Ayla’s closet, a collection of her own designs and items picked up from her travels that properly encapsulate the alluring character that she makes up for the brand. “A TLPS girl is most definitely someone who likes the sand between her toes and the sun on her skin, has a knack for traveling, a fun outlook in life, likes to dress up and wear cute little things. She loves color, bold prints, appreciates good music, food and handmade things,” which sounds very much like Ayla herself.

“My personal style would have to be a little boheme chic—sometimes feminine, sometimes masculine but mostly casual. I love the way Kate Hudson, Rachel Bilson and Alexa Chung dress.” The laidback look is evident in her daily uniform of denim shorts and a white tee with flats, and her closet filled with pieces from Zara, Topshop, Renegade Folk, Lulu Swing, Spruce, H&M, Urban Outfitters, and clothes found while rummaging through tiangges and local markets. For nights out, she sticks to keeping it simple but fashionable in a sense that best represents her personal look. “It’s always jeans with a plain top, topped off with a great bright or printed blazer, then some sexy black heels and a few bangles,” she enumerates. “I take literally ten minutes to do my face—just some mineral foundation, a subtle smoky eye with eyeliner, and maybe a red or nude lip to balance it off.”

When traveling though, her The Lost Nomad luggage will always have a bikini and pair of shorts packed, along with her favorite pair of Keds. “Unless of course I’m going to be in New York for the winter, then it’s just all sweaters and socks,” she adds. “I’m a very organized packer and actually take pride in my packing skills!” She breaks out in laughter before saying, “That sounds funny. Anyway, I know how to make a lot of things fit into a small maleta. I’d like to say I pack a few days before the trip, but that’s really not true. I’m good at packing, but also hate the idea of it, so I usually just start the day before and finish a few hours before I have to leave.”

It may not be a surprise considering her line of bags, but it must be said that Ayla loves to travel. “It has a lot to do with how I view life now,” she shares. “I used to be quite close-minded when I was a lot younger but now I’m more open to trying new things, discovering new places, and am more accepting of other people’s views and ways of living.” She has fond memories of trips around Europe, including her irst time in 2005 with her grandmother, aunt and a large group of cousins. “We ate frankfurters in Germany, visited Disneyland and went up the Eiffel Tower in Paris, chowed down a whole paella in Valencia, Spain, visited relatives in Barcelona. The list just goes on from that trip!”

The wonder at new places clearly hasn’t stopped with age. Just last year, a trip to New York to visit her brother led to her first experience with snow. “It was always a childhood dream of mine. Happiest day ever!” she gushes. As for big travel plans and extreme destinations she wants to have on her passport one day, Ayla lists down Angel Falls in Venezuela, Corsica, the Maldives and Africa with her dad. “I’ve always wanted to go on a hot-air balloon ride over the Serengeti. I would also say Antartica, although I don’t know how well I would do with the bone- throbbing cold winds.”

For now though, Ayla is happily content to stay put, though she shuttles between Cebu and Manila, where she’s based. “I love Cebu because my family is there, and that you can easily go to the beach for a day out. And in Manila, there’s always something new to do or go to. There are also a lot of art events and galleries, plus the concert scene is getting better. Plus my dad and my boyfriend live there too.”

Having been with her boyfriend since her sophomore year of college, Ayla is happily committed to someone who supports her endeavors and allows her to let out her goofy side when they’re together. “We’ve been dating for six years now. Yup, that’s quite a long time but it doesn’t feel that long. So that should be a good sign,” she says as if expecting the usual awe that comes from hearing about long-term relationships at a young age, especially now in the age of social media. “I think in a way the internet can be bad for dating because some of the mystery is gone because you can easily look someone up on Facebook. But then, it can also save you from going on a really bad date by doing a little research first. But what would I know about how it is now? I’ve been dating the same guy for years,” she laughs.

That might be true for the dating scene, but that doesn’t mean Ayla isn’t as online as the rest of the population her age is. “I haven’t been as active on Facebook as I used to,” she admits. “Looking back at my old status’ makes me cringe sometimes, like I really said that or why the hell would I post that?” She laughs before adding, “But I am active on Instagram! I love taking photos, so go figure.”

At the enthusiasm over her Instagram profile, there’s a glimpse of how young she actually is—part of the generation of 20-somethings who are now comfortably shuffling between addressing grown-up responsibilities and indulging in bouts of responsible immaturity. Of course, she’s recently gotten a lot more laidback. “Lately I find myself wanting to just be at home and spend time playing with my nephews or hanging out with my cousins,” she says of her days in Cebu. Now, she’s also gotten into archery, though her plans include concrete ones to address her growing business portfolio. “I want to take a short design course at Parsons for The Little Pinky Store and The Lost Nomad,” she says. At the mention of opening an actual store in the future, she turns giddy. “That’s the big dream! As of now, online is the best thing, but we’re definitely going to make that happen in the future. Fingers crossed!”

  • by Shari Quimbo
  • sittings editor David Jones Cua
  • photography Emman Montalvan
  • make up Angela Montalvan
  • hair Romero Vergara
  • assistant Jessie Egos
  • fashion stylist Dominic Sy
  • assistant Lor Yutico
  • locale Harold’s Hotel Rooftop

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Cebu’s Young Professionals Share Fond Memories with Their Dads

WANTED: WORLD’S GREATEST ‘FRIENEMY’

by Allain Dumon Fonte

Each person has a unique relationship with their father.  Fathers become the world’s greatest ‘frienemy’ because they are usually strict and uptight while we are growing up; and as we mature, they become our coach, our drinking buddy, our conspirator against mom, and sometimes, our dads become our wingman.  For many of the generation XYZ and early millennials, bonding a strong relationship with their fathers can be challenging because their dads are the typical breadwinners who are always away for work, business trips, and office meetings.  However, these young professionals appreciate very much the tireless and selfless efforts of their fathers to provide more than what the family needs.  

In 2006, Jeffrey Rosenberg and Bradford Wilcox of the United States Health and Human Services for Children published a research about the importance of direct father-involvement in the mental health of children.  According to Rosenberg and Wilcox, “children who grow up with involved fathers are: 39% more likely to earn mostly A’s in school, 45% less likely to repeat a grade, 60% less likely to be suspended or expelled from school, twice as likely to go to college and find stable employment after high school, 75% less likely to have a teen birth, and 80% less likely to spend time in jail.”  

Yet, these group of Cebuano millennials and young professionals will prove this research otherwise as their share their fond memories and unforgettable moments with their dads.  Some of them lost their fathers at a young age while others developed closed relationships with their fathers after their dads retire from work.  But no matter how short or how rare they spend their time with their dads, these young leaders attribute their success and are incredibly grateful to their fathers for molding them who and what they are now.

Atty. Elaine Mae Bathan

Atty. Elaine Mae Bathan (Professor of International Human Rights Law and Assistant Dean, School of Law, University of San Jose-Recoletos)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: I am the youngest of 5 siblings with significant age gaps. I grew up with daddy being away for work, but he gave up his promising career in broadcast media in Davao to bring our family safely back to Cebu during the martial law. He also gave up his position in Manila to spend time with us. His greatest gift to us was his devotion to our family and always putting us first before himself. He strived to provide for our family, and we continue to enjoy the fruits of what he labored. To this day, we value family above all things and continue to live the legacy he left behind. 

I have been fortunate that even when Daddy was sick, he lived long enough to see me become a lawyer and continue his passion in broadcast media through my radio program. To this day, I feel a part of him in me every time I go on board or when I am asked to speak in front of an audience. Each time I take the stage, I make sure I give my best knowing that Daddy is comfortably watching over me in heaven. All that I do and all that I will be will always be in memory and honor of the man worth my tears but has never made me cry, my dad.

Drew Weigel Sarmiento with his dad, Congressman Edgar Sarmiento

Drew Weigel Sarmiento (International Disc Jockey, Fitness and Wellness Blogger, Entrepreneur)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: The most recent unforgettable moment with my dad is when he was first elected and formally proclaimed as the Representative of the First District of Samar. I remember how before his hand was raised, he approached the image of Our Lady of Fatima, prayed first silently and alone in the Provincial Comelec office which brought the entire room to silence. That to me was unforgettable because it showed his deep faith and character. That moment showed how important his faith is and that his public service is centered of being God fearing and sincere service to others.

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: My siblings and I got him his favourite libation. I personally got him sportswear since he is a fitness fanatic.

Lianne Sala’s Family: (from right to left) Nito (Dad), Josie (mom), Ivan (Brother), Pilar (sister) and Lianne

Lianne Sala (Musician, Artist, and Founder of Sistemang Filipino Incorporated)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: Hiking up a mountain with him and some educators when I was about 11. But also, the few moments we get to discuss faith or culture. 

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: We shall celebrate Father’s Day with his favorite dishes, and gift him with a mix of printed literature.

Jeric with Dad Richard Cervantes, and mom Jennifer Aznar Cervantes

Jeric Anjo Aznar Cervantes (Singer, Musician, and Jet Ski Racer)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: my most unforgettable moment with my dad was when we went camping in Kalanggaman Island in Leyte.  We traveled by boat and jet skis and camped there.  It was one of the best experiences.  We did not need cellphones or other distractions, just some good old-fashioned camping with the family.  My father has always taught us to be nature lovers, and indeed he has influenced us to be explorers of nature!

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: My dad is not really into receiving gifts since he is mostly the one giving gifts to people.  But, if there is one thing that I can give to my dad on Father’s Day, it would not be anything material.  I am giving my dad a letter to thank him for being the best dad in the world, and for teaching me and my siblings to value and love nature and this world we are living in.  I believe that it is the best gift.

Dr. Vida Redulla-Manapsal with her dad, Dr. Vidal Redulla

Dr. Vida Redulla-Manapsal (Medical Doctor)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: My dad, having 4 daughters, used to let us play “beauty parlor” while he took a nap. We would color his nails with crayons, put clips in his hair, etc. One time, in the middle of his nap, he got called to the hospital for an emergency. He took out the clips and went out. He could not understand why the resident doctors with him kept snickering. Turns out he had forgotten that each of his nails was a different Crayola shade. He did not get upset at all but rather he just laughed his head off. He still talks about it now.

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: I unfortunately was not able to buy a gift for my dad, so I am giving him the gift of time by paying him a visit. I am so glad it is now safer to do so since I and my parents are fully vaccinated already.

Atty. Wilbert Dumon with his dad, Former Provincial Board Member, Hon. Victor Dumon

Atty. Wilbert Dumon (Senior Partner for Dumon, Dumon-Fernandez, and Associates Law Firm)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: When he rushed me to the hospital when I was 6 years old after I had an accident at my grandfather’s ancestral home. I can still remember him carrying me in his arms.

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: I will give him all my love and attention as he is getting older together with my mom.

Bee Urgello

Bee Urgello (Supermodel, Fashion Blogger, and Financial Advisor)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: My most unforgettable moment with my dad was when he finally accepted me as a trans woman. I will always be thankful for that gift of love. No gift or moment can ever surpass that for me. 

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: It is always a struggle to find gifts for my dad every occasion. What can you get someone who can buy anything he wants? I cannot afford to buy vintage cars or aircrafts (hahaha).  The best gift I can probably give him aside from lunch or dinner are quality time and being an obedient and loving daughter.

Rowell Ucat visiting his dad

Rowell Ucat a.k.a. Medyo Maldito (Social Media Influencer, Songwriter)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: I remember the day when my Papa taught me how to ride a bicycle; at that time, he was my hero. He also taught me to appreciate the adventures in life. 

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: Father’s Day this year is also my Papa’s 16th death anniversary.  I am thinking a lot about him and reflecting on some of the memories we shared while I was growing up.  Since he is no longer with us, I will celebrate Father’s Day with my mama (who also stood as my papa) and by giving mama an iPad so she can watch more of our videos in a bigger screen. Happy Father’s Day in heaven, Papa!

Meme Dakay and her dad Mr. Benson Dakay

Mary Ann Rose “Meme” Dakay (Jewelry Designer, and Vice President-Operations and Creative Director at Shemberg, and Chief operating officer and New business Development at Shemberg marketing corporation)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: My most unforgettable moment with my dad would be when we flew to Paris together and explored the city! It was my first time there; I was 14 years old. He made me try a lot of his favorite food in the city.  It was definitely a father-daughter bonding trip!

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: A tribute about him on what an amazing father he is!

Rayland Duarte

Rayland Duarte (Proprietor and Managing Director of Sushi Mashita Co.)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: Most memorable moment was probably the phone call that I had with him. I was dead frustrated about my work, and I felt that I was not in the right place.  He told me to quit my job and its okay. You belong wherever you are happy and where you can utilize the talents you have. Money will always be money. Time is more precious my son.

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: Since he is staying in Manila, and I am in Cebu. I asked my friend to arrange a food delivery service to give him a Father’s Day surprise.

Atty.  Georgia May Herrera-Klepp

Atty.  Georgia May Herrera-Klepp (Television NEWS Anchor, Notary Public, and Partner at BOHR-SC attorneys at law)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: My dad used to travel a lot and he would make it a point to travel with just a hand carried bag. He hated waiting for his luggage at the airport. When I was pregnant with my first child and the first grandchild child in the family, Aidan, my dad was still in the U.S. for a long vacation trip.  He came home surprising Andy and I with boxes of gifts for Aidan. He hand-carried a sheep rocking chair because he already exceeded weight allowance from all the stuff he got for his first ‘Apo’. He even brought home a highchair that he said should be left in his house for Aidan to use when he comes to visit.   My dad is not big on words or display of affection, So I think that was the sweetest my dad has ever done.

Georgia Herrera’s father, Former Vice Governor of Bohol, Atty. Julius Ceasar Herrera with her husband, Andy Dumon-Klepp

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: There is nothing materially I can give that he does not have already.  He knows how loved and grateful I am for everything he has done for the family. The best gift that I give him every day and forever is my service to him.  Sounds weird but YES to always be sure to help him and to do what he asked of me. To take care of him and my mom just like they did when I was growing up.

Doyzkie with his siblings and his dad, Jose Buenaviaje

Doyzkie Buenaviaje (Blogger at Tasty Cebu PH, Marketing Communications Manager at Clover Creatives PR & Events and Owner/Blogger at Doyzkie Buenaviaje)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: When we were kids, my dad brings us everywhere! And when we were growing and studying, we were not able to travel as much. Just a few years back, my dad and I started a tradition to travel somewhere for his birthday, which falls really close on Father’s Day. The trip on 2019 before the pandemic happened to be the most unforgettable because we did a tri-country backpacking for 15 days, and I love how he enjoyed the experience. My dad is friendly, and he easily got along with my local friends on my favorite cities I have been. When we got back from the trip, he had so many stories to tell his grandchildren.

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: I got my dad a comfy sneakers to use for the upcoming adventures we shall be going when it’s safe to travel again.

Lakambini Chiu with dad and sister Kim Chiu

Lakambini Chiu (Managing Director at Julie’s Bakeshop and Managing Director at Potato Corner US)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: Unforgettable moment is when he give us the opportunity to live in this beautiful World that God has created. 

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: I will give Him back the opportunity to be grateful and thankful for what we have, and what we are now. And that is what you call TIME…

Chef Gerard Apurado presenting his famous FATHER’s EGGS pastry that is only available at the Plantation Bay’s Bakeshop by the Beach

Chef Gerard Apurado (Pastry Chef at Plantation Bay’s Bakeshop by the Beach)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: My father would always invite me to spend time with him over a bottle of beer—It is safe to say that  most of my wisdom came from my father, he has always been a streetwise (I’m sorry mom!) and probably the most unforgettable moment I had with him is our conversation right after graduation, and I can still remember his words, “as you embark in this new phase in your life, and when you found a job, I would appreciate if you don’t give me money, spend your money for yourself and your experiences for I am still well and able to finance myself, it’s never your responsibility to raise me”. Those words struck me.

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: I would not give any material things, when travel eases, I will visit home and spend more time with him over a bottle of beer again. I have always missed having those conversations with him. Time well spent and substantial conversations with an important person in our lives is something all of us long for.

Kris Janson with her dad

Kris Tiffany Janson (Former Financial Analyst for San Miguel Yamamura Packaging Corp., Beauty Queen, Ramp and Print Model)

Q: What is your most unforgettable moment with your dad?

A: I have so many fond memories of my Papa and I cannot easily pick but what comes to mind was when I joined my first pageant because he went all out in supporting me. Back then social media was not the top priority when you would think about promoting or advertising a product or the candidate you support. He printed out photos of me to show to his workmates and to ask for support.

Q: What will you give your dad on Father’s Day?

A: I will send him prayers like I do every night. I know he is in a better place, and I hope that he is proud of me and the woman that I have become.

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People

EXCLUSIVE: Never Been Released Behind-the-Scenes photos of Zee Lifestyle’s Emerald Issue Cover Shoot

Photographer Jan Gonzales, Margie Lhuillier, June Alegrado, Kryz Uy, Mia Arcenas, Amparito Lhuillier and Alice Woolbright

We celebrate the strength and resilience of womanhood in this year’s Mother’s Day by looking back at these never been seen before behind-the-scenes shots of  Zee Lifestyle Magazine’s Emerald (20th Anniversary) Issue cover shoot featuring the “Leading Women” of Cebu.

***

LEADING WOMEN

To celebrate the 20 beautiful years of Zee Lifestyle as the ultimate source of lifestyle news in Cebu, we handpicked 12 strong and stylish women of Cebu from every age group. These women show us that independently building one’s strength of character and living one’s passion knows no age. From the beginning, Zee has always been empowering women, providing the Cebuanas a platform to express their beauty and confidence, share their passions, engage in economic and political participation which yields to viewing women with equality and respect that we deserve.

photography Jan Gonzales
creative director Melo Esguerra
art director Doro Barandino
sittings editor Shari Quimbo
beauty director Romero Vergara
makeup Arnauld, Janice Barillo and Nicko dela Peña
hair Jessie Egos and Jake Arias
fashion styling Clint Potestas
production assistants Patty Taboada and Katrina Labra
locale Marco Polo Plaza Hotel Cebu

Twelve women, two sets and one afternoon. That is how the Zee Lifestyle team decided to celebrate the title’s 20th anniversary issue—with a challenge that, in some ways, is one of our biggest productions yet.

The idea came along when publisher Eva Gullas and editor-at-large Melo Esguerra were discussing a cover story that would best represent the magazine’s history. From commissioning artistic depictions on Cebu to playing with the anniversary’s emerald theme, no idea had stuck until Melo suggested putting a series of women who had already been on the cover of Zee, again on the cover all together.

Oj Hofer and Margot Osmeña

Kryz Uy

Coming up with the list of names, of course, was no small feat. Our covers from the last 20 years have included several strong personalities—from philanthropists and politicians, to actors, and names to soon watch out for, our pages have seen them all. The challenge, then, was to come up with a list of women who had been driving forces in their respective fields when they had first appeared on the cover, and remain as powerful players even today.

Amparito Lhuillier, Kryz Uy, Alice Woolbright, Margot Osmeña and June Alegrado all wearing MIRANDA KONSTANTINIDOU

Photographer Jan Gonzales and creative director Melo Esguerra

With input from editors, both past and present, we rounded up 12 women from different age groups, fields and industries, who are all strong and passionate at whatever it is they do—Amparito Lhuillier, who remains the doyenne of Cebu society as a picture of elegance and class with her continuing efforts in business and social causes; the always-stylish Marguerite Lhuillier, herself an example of sophistication in all her efforts, whether business or otherwise; Margot Osmeña, who as a Cebu City Councilor has spearheaded many urban projects directed for the betterment of living in the city; hospitality mavens June Alegrado and Alice Woolbright, who are deeply involved in the rise of their brands, Bluewater properties and Beverly Hotel, respectively; Christina Garcia Frasco, the current Lilo-an Mayor advocating impressively progressive efforts in the area; former model Fiona King, now a major player in homegrown real estate with projects like Bloq Residences; the fitness enthusiast Danessa Onglatco who has espoused wellness with the opening of Yogahub; restaurateur Carla Yeung-McKowen who is behind the city’s hottest dining outlet, The Pig & Palm; designer Mia Arcenas, whose signature resort wear and accessories are representative of Cebu’s laid back lifestyle; Kym Maitland-Smith, who juggles efforts in swimsuit design through SOLTI Activewear and is building awareness for the vegan lifestyle; and Kryz Uy, whose online presence was a strong one even before fashion blogs were on anyone’s radar.

Kymberly Maitland-Smith

Makeup Artist Romero Vergara, June Alegrado and Hair Stylist Jessie Egos

An impressive bunch, for sure. These women properly embody the characteristics that Zee Lifestyle looks for in one who makes the cover—beauty, yes, but also elegance coupled with individuality, and always a strong drive to succeed in whatever efforts they are directed.

This, it turns out, was the fitting tribute to the years Zee has been Cebu’s premier lifestyle bible, as well as a sign of the things forthcoming. Our 12 cover stars may have been on our pages before, but if their current efforts are any indication, our pages will continue to see more of them in the future. And as continuing purveyors of what Cebu has to offer, Zee Lifestyle will happily be seeing them in the years to come.

FROM LEFT Marguerite wears CARY SANTIAGO; June wears PHILIP RODRIGUEZ; Mia wears MIA ARCENAS; Kryz wears ELIZABETH HALLIE; Amparito wears MONIQUE LHUILLIER; Alice wears PHILIP RODRIGUEZ; Fiona wears VANIA ROMOFF; Margot wears PHILIP RODRIGUEZ; Danessa wears OJ HOFER; Carla wears ALICE+OLIVIA; Christina wears DINO LLOREN

(This article had already been published in Zee Lifestyle’s December 2016 Emerald Issue, “Leading Women” on pages 140-155.)

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Culture

La Liga Henerales: Shaping History Awareness Back Again in Cebu

La Liga Henerales is a community of young talents passionately promotes historical awareness through periodic costumes carefully researched for its authenticity and accuracy and promoted as well in events and schools.

Only few individuals before were into pursuit in this historical awareness project until the age of communication where internet is convenient in the palm of our hands through our gadgets. New information travel fast and data is retrievable, yet also possess a disadvantage with the plethora of different social media platforms carried by various makers as well. In a daily basis, historical backgrounds are unearthed making its trend until now as new discoveries are released, but the idea of these information being shown and shared is as close as not valuing or commemorating to its sources leaving this information just a trend.

There is a certain community of Cebuanos that are taking a quest to rewrite and restructure what was in the past, filling the gaps in facts with further research of variable sources that are made debatable but sticks to it true cause, to unveil the truths of our heritage and our origins, as Cebuanos and as Filipinos as well.

La Liga Henerales is a Cebu-based, non-profit organization composed of a group of talented, committed and respectable individuals from different walks of life, schools and profession whose primary aim is to promote both, Cebuano and filipino culture and heritage that was depicted before in pre-colonial and colonial eras via re-enactment with costumes vested in proper research and investigation to achieve authenticity. They also push their cause on schools and other social gatherings promoting and spreading awareness about our local, and national heroes that we look up to. With these said, they also portray a closer look of the lifestyle of the past to where they perform stories, perform forgotten dances and rituals and portray their individual roles, vital in the fight of our country’s future during those challenging times, and in honor to spread awareness of the lost practices we had in those times.

The Founder

Combining passion and education. Louis Villaflor re-enacts his way patriotism through his periodical costumes and expresses his love for Cebu and Philippines as a culture-centric country.

Louis Kenneth Villaflor, an entrepreneur and an avid history enthusiast and costumer, founded the group on the purpose of re-educating the youth about real local and national history, he saw the opportunity to combine his favourite hobbies which is costuming and story role-playing and the process to instill the historical awareness and value among the youth and in schools, along with a group of fellow enthusiasts who shares his passion about research and history, they took it among themselves to be purposeful in the advocacy in spreading historical awareness in schools or events by wearing periodically correct costumes and sharing the stories and its value to the youth.

Behind the Garments

With the its senior expertise of fashion design and a teacher of the field, his passion also of history caters also in his designs as he pushes through sustainable fashion and historical awareness combined.

Meet Rodney “Pee-Wee” Senining, who has been in the fashion industry since the late 90’s, strives  in concepts of avant-garde, innovation and cutting edge-fashion forward design. And also a teacher of Architecture, Fine Arts and Design of University of San Carlos, he had grown into research of books like the holy grail in the Library Resource Center and is always fascinated of the periodical times and how to preserve it; Hence, his interest had grown for the affinity of Periodical Costumes and Sustainable Fashion.

 Being part of the group La Liga Henerales, he was tasked to instantly be their mentor for the young talents and as the organization is still new and developing with limited funds, resourcefulness and research were done to come up with a good output of photo shoot and was quite proud of it and still promise on the next editions of pieces to be more historically accurate. Even as teacher for Fashion Design in SAFAD, his expertise comes hand in hand with the members as he helps them do research as well. His passion and interest somehow led him with enough knowledge to key the insights of the significant periods and historical backgrounds of it.

Historical Awareness in Cebu

The strength and progress of a country is anchored on how well they know and honor its history. The means of historical awareness in Cebu is almost non-existent among the Cebuanos, although we push forward in tourism and promote beauty through sceneries and other aspects of culture yet never commemorate deeply on historical icons such as our other local heroes, and ancient cultures as well that is almost been forgotten in an urban Cebu. Nevertheless, as long as communities’ like La Liga Henerales are now evolving in a learning state by real discovery by multiple resources, this will always reflect of how we appreciate love, patriotism and honor to our country and would look forward to progress.

 

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