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Meet the four Cebuanas you definitely want to be friends with

It Girls. The In Crowd. Whatever you call them, Krishtal Freeland, Stephanie Sharpe, Yasmin Sarlak and Alyssa Sacal are charming, smart, young and beautiful. We loved hanging out with them, and we’re pretty sure you would too.

Every city has their own set: It Girls. The In Crowd. Whatever it is you call them, there’s something undeniably charming about them. It’s not just the good looks–it’s the charm, the individual passion and the overall aura of fun. This year’s set is fun and interesting, passionate about their own individual efforts and about a shared love for Cebu.

One thing’s for sure, we certainly didn’t mind spending an afternoon with this batch of young women, and we’re sure the rest of Cebu would agree.


Krishtal Catherine Freeland, 26

Entrepreneur of Krish’s Kitchen | @krishtalcatherine

Krishtal Freeland wears her own cropped, ribbed sweater, and a brocade skirt.

Krishtal Freeland wears her own cropped, ribbed sweater, and a brocade skirt.

What makes Cebu different from other places around the world? Within an hour’s drive, you could be high up in the mountains enjoying the cool air or chilling by the beach.

Where do you usually hang out in the city? I usually just stay home and bake.

Favorite restaurants and dishes you recommend? Veal pappardelle in Abaca, egg noodle homemade basil tagliolini in Anzani, and the churrasco dinner at Mövenpick.

Favorite local escape? Bantayan Island would be one of my favorite quick escapes in Cebu.

Where would you go for a night out? You’ll most likely see me in Craft Cafebar.

Something you wish were in Cebu? A wider variety of international cuisine

Favorite local brands and designers? Local Crag and SOLTI Activewear

Favorite travel destinations? I’ve recently fallen in love with Siargao and El Nido. And for the international destinations, Anguilla in the Caribbean (British Overseas Territory) is still on the top of my list.

Book that’s currently on your bedside table? My MacBook

Something about Cebu you wish would improve? I know it’s not easy to solve, but I hope we’ll be able to fix the traffic situation because it’s getting worse.

The best part about living in Cebu? One of the best parts of Cebu would be that it’s so centrally located. You could enjoy being in a variety of beautiful places without too much effort, like driving to the beaches up north, the waterfalls and whale sharks down south, or just renting a boat to go island hopping.


Stephanie Sharpe, 25

Director of Marketing & Product Development at CATCMI Trading | @stephaniesharpe

Stephanie wears her own white button-down and shorts

Stephanie wears her own white button-down and shorts

What makes Cebu different from other places around the world? There’s beauty everywhere in the world, depending on what you are looking for, and it’s not difficult to find. But what differentiates Cebu for me are the people and the relationships I have with them, and that’s why this is home.

Where do you usually hang out in the city? At friends’ houses, Zink Studio or YogaNow Center, especially if you catch one of their classes at the Yacht Club as the sun is setting.

Favorite restaurants and dishes you recommend? There’s a Korean restaurant next to the Marcelo Fernan bridge on the Mactan side. I’m not too sure of the name because it’s Korean, but it has a big sign that says “Kimchi” next to it. They have the best Bibim Naengmyeon. I crave it every once in a while. Also, you can find me in Luncheonette every other Sunday brunch for their consistently delicious Reuben.

Favorite local escape? Either one of the many sand bars around Cebu, or somewhere in the bukid. It doesn’t actually take too long to get as far away from the hustle and bustle of the city, where you can be alone with the sounds of nature.

Where would you go for a night out? The Pig & Palm is definitely our go-to for Girls’ Night Out, but most of the time if I want to see friends for something more casual, it will almost always be Craft in BTC. Everyone goes there, and no matter how busy it is, it still has fast service.

Something you wish were in Cebu? Parks in the city. With Cebu’s rapid growth, it would be nice to have a park in the middle of all the buildings for people to have the option to just be outside.

Favorite local brands and designers? Hands down, SOLTI Activewear. Designed and made by Kym Maitland-Smith and her amazing team. It’s perfect for me because I work out as often as I can, and I love spending time outdoors, whether at the beach or on a hike. Everything is handmade by Cebuanos from 100% recycled material, so it’s as local as you can get. Everything is also reversible, so you have more options–perfect for someone like me who is trying to cut down on owning things. I’m completely obsessed with her line, and so proud to have a fellow Cebuana reaching for a more sustainable future.

Favorite travel destinations? Siargao is my little slice of paradise. I go there as much as I possibly can. It’s the most beautiful place in the world to me and no other place comes close. For something completely opposite, Whistler in BC is just as beautiful in the winter as it is in summer. You have to check it out if you like the outdoors.

Book that’s currently on your bedside table? A friend so graciously lent me her HBR’s 10 Must-Reads on Strategic Marketing, which is a nice change from the fiction novels I usually like to read.

Something about Cebu you wish would improve? I feel like a broken record when I say the road system. Not just for the cars, but the sidewalks as well. It would be nice to have the option to be able to walk from A to B safely. It would promote people to be more active and use cars less, which means less air pollution for us when we start walking everywhere.

The best part about living in Cebu? The fact that you are perpetually tanned here. I find dark skin one of the most beautiful features on anybody. I wear my tan with pride.

 


Yasmine Sarlak, 17

Student at Cebu International School | @homiesags

Yasmin wears a James Isara Diana top and Makiko Eve trousers from ASTO GROUP.

Yasmin wears a James Isara Diana top and Makiko Eve trousers from ASTO GROUP.

What makes Cebu different from other places around the world? There was always something about Cebu that had my heart, whether it may be the beaches, nightlife, adventure or the people. This place will always be my home.

Where do you usually hang out in the city? You can always find me in either Streetscape or BTC, probably eating. I used to hang around Kontiki in Mactan a lot earlier this year for my 6 AM dives!

Favorite restaurants and dishes you recommend? Antica is this small restaurant hidden between Canvas and the Lohas clinic in Paseo Saturnino, and they have hands down the best pizza I’ve ever tasted in my entire life! I recommend the parma ham and arugula pizza.

Favorite local escape? North Sandbar is my favorite place not too far from the city. It’s only an hour or so by banca boat, and it’s a great place to escape from the city with a group of your good friends and barbecue!

Where would you go for a night out? My go to place is always Craft. My friends and I call it home because we’re always there. It’s sort of like our comfort zone, and they always play the best music. They have the friendliest staff too, by the way!

Something you wish were in Cebu? I honestly wish we had a really cool theme park already!

Favorite local brands and designers? My favorite local brand would have to be SOLTI Activewear that my good friend Kymberly Maitland-Smith launched not too long ago.

Favorite travel destinations? I haven’t traveled too much, but within the country I’d have to say Boracay is always my favorite. I’m stuck between LA, Zurich and Paris though, if we’re going international. They’re all so different, so I can’t come to a decision.

Book that’s currently on your bedside table? Honest, my Psychology textbook and my Arts guide.

Something about Cebu you wish would improve? The roads. Please!

The best part about living in Cebu? That the mountains are so close to the sea. You can literally go on a road trip to the mountains for a hike, get back into the car for an hour or two and jump right into the sea.


Alyssa Sacal, 18

Student at Cebu International School | @lyssssx

Alyssa wears a Viña Romero collared seamless top from ASTO GROUP, and her own jeans.

Alyssa wears a Viña Romero collared seamless top from ASTO GROUP, and her own jeans.

What makes Cebu different from other places around the world? What makes Cebu so different is definitely the amazing people here and the beauty within the island.

Where do you usually hang out in the city? It depends. On a daily basis, you would usually find me and my friends either at Streetscape, Crossroads or BTC grabbing something to eat. If not, we’re probably at the gym—in Zink or Fitness Nation, possibly exercising or making chika. On weekends, if I don’t have any school or sporting event, I’d be at the beach by day and in Morals and Malice by night.

Favorite restaurants and dishes you recommend? Favorite go-to restaurants are definitely Nonki and Kanyoen because my favorite cuisine is Japanese! For Nonki, I basically love everything on the menu, from the sashimi to the cha soba to the spicy tuna maki. While in Kanyoen, everything except the red meat, since I don’t eat it. Other restaurants I really enjoy are tapas places—The Pig & Pam for the sashimi, kinilaw, grilled squid, chicken, and the dessert with goat cheese ice cream; and Gorliz for the pulpo and paella negra.

Favorite local escape? Sometimes on Sundays, I go on long drives to either Mactan or the mountains to escape the city. Usually the plan would be a nice Sunday brunch by the beach, or a long drive to Balamban to get some corn or fresh air. And boating to nearby islands, because boating is always a good idea when the whether cooperates.

Where would you go for a night out? Of course Morals and Malice!

Something you wish were in Cebu? I really wish that Cebu would have cleaner streets, better public transportation, parks and places to just “sit around and hang out.” This is something that I am really fond of when I visit other countries—walking around and just basking in the beauty of the city as you can get a glimpse of the culture, the people and the lifestyle by just strolling around.

Favorite local brands and designers? Barbie Alvez and Arcy Gayatin

Favorite travel destinations? I love the beach, so domestic destination would be Siquijor, as it became a tradition for my family to spend a week or so at our beach house every year. Also, I really like the remote island destinations that we usually explore by boat, like Islas de Gigantes. Internationally, I would honestly say Australia because I fell in love with it when I went there this summer! Other favorite destinations would be Santorini, Mykonos and Paris, which are beautiful places as well.

Book that’s currently on your bedside table? David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell

Something about Cebu you wish would improve? No doubt, the traffic and the roads! Oh, and the slow processing of everything, from license to travel documents, and event checks at restaurants!

The best part about living in Cebu?  The fact that it is such a tight-knit community! Everyone knows each other. Whenever you go to a place, you seem to know at least one familiar face who greets you with a smile. It’s nice how that (when there is no traffic) everything is almost ten to 30 minutes away, from the beaches and mountains to the places that I usually hang out. As I have lived here all my life, my heart will always belong here, along with all the people I grew up with, and the memories we’ve made. Cebu will always be home.

 

photography Dan Douglas Ong | stylists Blaq Mafia | hair and makeup Arnauld and Eunice Enrera | locale Zink

Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, Dec-Jan 2017

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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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