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Michelle Mulet Yu: The Chic Construct

It may be a man’s world, but that doesn’t mean a woman can’t be a commanding presence in it. At the helm of Landtraders World Properties Corp., Michelle Mulet Yu proves that femininity can be an asset in finding a place in Cebu’s growing skyline.

Michelle Mulet Yu

A black Dior straight dress with a pink and beige combo blazer from a Chanel autumn collection, accented with a pearl necklace and a forefinger ring,” Michelle Mulet Yu describes as one of the outfits she would put together for an important business meeting. “And a pair of Jimmy Choo’s.”

For people who think that fashion is merely frivolity, the Chief Executive Officer of Landtraders World Properties Corp. easily proves them wrong. “Running a real estate company requires power dressing,” Michelle declares. “Being a CEO means I am the embodiment of what the company represents. How you dress up reflects your character and in the business world, it is mandatory to dress the proper way to epitomize the image of your company.”

Michelle Mulet Yu

High-collared blouse from CHANEL, houndstooth mini-skirt from ZARA (Photography by Dan Douglas Ong/Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, February 2016)

Understanding the importance of appearances is just one of the aspects that has made Michelle a strong presence in the local real estate industry, where she plays an integral role in building Landtraders World to be one of the leading homegrown developers. “I feel responsible for the future of the company,” she reveals. “I make sure that all its objectives are being attained in both micro and macro management. In order to do so, I chart the course of the company by preparing both short-term and long-term plans and strategies, and making sure that they are assimilated and implemented accordingly by all my managers.”

Since its inception in 2011, the company has six high-rise condominiums in its portfolio: San Marino, Corinthian, Royal Garden, Soligrande, Parthenon and Corinthian Valley Residences. “It all started when my family had plans to venture into the pension house or hotel business in 2010. When the discussions became more serious, we finally decided to go into developing high-rise condominiums, considering the fact that we had several lots strategically located in prime areas of Cebu City,” Michelle recalls. “We have always believed that investing in real estate is the safest and has the highest returns. With this conviction, and Divine Providence, everything just fell into the right perspective.”

San Marino was the company’s first venture, and Michelle acknowledges that it’s a development that is close to her heart. “As the pilot project of Landtraders World, it opened up greater opportunities and made us focus on catering to a particular market. San Marino gave us more insight into the real estate industry, and made us more confident in pursuing this business model.”

Printed dress from DIOR (Photography by Dan Douglas Ong/Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, February 2016)

Printed dress from DIOR (Photography by Dan Douglas Ong/Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, February 2016)

It certainly wasn’t an easy rise. Michelle admits that getting into an industry where there were already a number of players was a challenge they had to overcome. “The answer was simple—find the market niche,” she says. “But looking for that niche was also very challenging and complicated. A lot of corporate research, interviews with real estate authorities and keeping abreast with current events are vital in achieving and sustaining success. After years of pre-development planning and research, we found the right product for the right market.”

These past years have seen a steady growth for the company which is expected to be cemented even further with the launch of Landtraders World’s seventh project—the Grand San Marino Residences across Robinson’s Galleria in the North Reclamation area. “Landtraders World will still continue to cater to the median-cost residential market,” Michelle says of their plans. “But soon we will be adding more of a twist to our development by incorporating the concept of ‘Small Office Home Office’ or SOHO. Also, we would like to undertake a larger development, with plans of doing a mixed-use commercial, office and residential project.”

In most of my business negotiations, I tend to get the upper hand because men don’t realize the strength I have behind my being a woman. But I am a good listener and very open-minded. I believe I earned the respect from my male counterparts because of this nature. – Michelle

With such lofty aspirations in the near future, Michelle’s days are understandably hectic. She starts by having breakfast with her husband, Janby and catches up on current events by reading the daily newspaper. “I’m at the office by 9AM, and spend an hour going through my emails,” she says. By 10, she’s in meetings with department managers, with her afternoons open for other meetings, site visits or going over documents. “The secret is being able to balance your time,” she explains about maintaining a balance between work and home life. “It’s not easy being a working mother. Any working mother can attest to that. Both our careers and families demand our time and commitment.”

White blouse and floral skirt from DIOR (Photography by Dan Douglas Ong/Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, February 2016)

White blouse and floral skirt from DIOR (Photography by Dan Douglas Ong/Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, February 2016)

To do this, Michelle makes sure to set aside time every day for her three kids. “Dinner time is usually when I can sit down with my children, and they can tell me about their day or bring up any concerns. It’s the most important opportunity for daily bonding with the family. Occasionally, I miss dinner with them, but I make sure to explain why during the next dinner.” The effort doesn’t stop there – Michelle also asks to have their kids drop by her office after school. “It’s a chance to show them that whatever we have now is a product of hard work, and I hope that inspires them to study and work hard as they grow up.”

Sundays are set aside for time with the family, and Michelle spends the day playing with the kids and making dinner. “I try not to miss school affairs and activities,” she adds. “This way, my children will feel that I am always 100% supporting them in their studies.”

How do you go into an industry with an already significant number of players? The answer was simple – find the market niche. – Michelle

Their family vacations become perfect chances to bond as well, with five trips scheduled every year. “Once within the country, twice within Asia and twice outside Asia,” Michelle enumerates. “We prefer to visit Japan, because their food is our favorite. On a few occasions, we’ve also joined cruises in Alaska, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, the Baltics, to name a few.”

Spending simple moments with her kids are among the best ways she unwinds after particularly stressful days, as are get-togethers with close friends over wine or coffee. “Having special romantic dinners with my husband every once in a while works too,” she says, before adding, “I also like opening my closet and looking at my clothes. That also helps me relax.”

Geometric-printed dress from VALENTINO, sunglasses from PRADA and satin pumps from MANOLO BLAHNIK (Photography by Dan Douglas Ong/Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, February 2016)

Geometric-printed dress from VALENTINO, sunglasses from PRADA and satin pumps from MANOLO BLAHNIK (Photography by Dan Douglas Ong/Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, February 2016)

“I’ve always been interested in fashion. It’s a passion,” Michelle says. “I don’t mind what design I wear, as long as it’s comfortable and I’m happy wearing it. She favors shopping at Chanel, Fendi, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Balmain, Hermes, Miu Miu and Dolce & Gabbana, and likes pieces by Ronald Enrico and Francis Libiran. Her favorite item in her closet, though, is something more sentimental. “The piece that means a lot to me, though, is a pastel dress given by my father-in-law. It was for our teng-hun, our engagement.”

We have always believed that investing in real estate is the safest, and has the highest returns. – Michelle

Her fashion savvy and decided femininity is something Michelle isn’t giving up, and she has found that’s just fine—even as she works in an industry that is, in appearance, a man’s world. “I think I fit in very well in the masculine world of real estate,” she says, and goes on to explain that being a woman can, in fact, be an asset. “Sometimes a woman can do things a man cannot. Women have more patience in dealing with details than men.”

“I am diplomatic by nature, but don’t be deceived because basically I am a dominant character. I can hide that, and work it to my advantage,” Michelle continues. “In most of my business negotiations, I tend to get the upper hand because men don’t realize the strength I have behind my being a woman. But I am a good listener and I’m very open-minded. I believe I earned my respect from my male counterparts because of this nature.” It’s certainly no question—Michelle Mulet Yu is ready to bring Landtraders World to soaring new heights, and she’s certainly dressed for the part.

  • photography Dan Douglas Ong
  • styling Blaq Mafia
  • makeup Emi Ayag
  • hair Mariel Fernandez

Originally published in Zee Lifestyle, February 2016. For back issues, subscribe via Magzter.


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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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