Within the quiet walls of the National Museum’s National Art Gallery sits the hallowed but empty room of what used to be the Session Hall of the Philippine Senate. The generous mid-day sunlight streaming in from the massive windows interplays with the shadows within that carry the weight of history in this proud, almost mysterious setting.
“The Senate has held its session in this historic hall since 1926,” the plaque reads. Even though the Seat of the Senate is currently in the GSIS Building in Pasay, with a room steeped in such history in the repository of the country’s cultural legacy, it seems quite fitting, then, that a short distance down the corridor, we find one senator’s efforts in preserving Filipino history and heritage encapsulated in an exhibit called “Hibla ng Lahing Filipino: The Artistry of Philippine Textiles.”
It is even more fitting that in the midst of this old Congress building, a few whispers away from the glorious former Senate Hall, we are to meet with the main proponent of “Hibla,” who also happens to be the only female senator to top the Senate race twice, and the only woman to become the Senate majority leader.
Behind Senator Loren Legarda’s stature is her tireless effort as a public official. Serving the country through the Senate, she is chiefly responsible for the passage of a number of laws that she authored, among them the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Act (RA 9501), the Barangay Kabuhayan Act (RA 9509), the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003), and the Climate Change Act (RA 9729). Her concern for the welfare of women and children championed with the Anti-Violence Against Women and Children Act (RA 9262), the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act (RA 9208), and the Anti-Child Labor Law (RA 9231).
The list is longer and far more encompassing; and her work never stops. In fact, stockpiled on top of her already overwhelming number of responsibilities, the senator also chairs the Committee on Climate Change, Committee on Foreign Relations, and Committee on Cultural Communities. In 2008, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction appointed her as its champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaption in the Asia and the Pacific region.
Walking With Loren
A flurry of activity mildly interrupts the stillness in the air in another room where the production people wait. Senator Loren arrives with her staff and it seems that even with the simple act of walking, the lady senator is multi-tasking, conferring with her staff before she reaches the other end of the room.
Time is precious for the busy lawmaker and, at barely even lunchtime, one can sense she already has fulfilled several duties for the day, and is set on tackling the next ones on her agenda. Central to this day’s to-do list for the senator is a photo shoot for Kultura and Zee Magazine’s cover story. Wasting no time, the senator rushes off to change and, with a lot less time it takes for a model to be primped up for the cameras, the senator returns with a different outfit, simple hairstyle and make-up.
The shoot is fairly quick but marked by some discussions about composition, art direction and how she generally looks in the photos. Senator Loren, a former broadcast journalist and an award-winning anchor and producer of two of the country’s most popular and respected news programs, clearly knows the power of an image, whether it is a clip on television or a photograph. She has been, after all, a commercial model in her teenage years—seemingly a lifetime away, really.
If there is anything this exercise has shown us, it is that she is a woman who knows what she wants and is not afraid to speak her mind. Although confident in front of the cameras, having been around them for a good part of her professional life, the lady senator nevertheless also discovers something new about herself during the shoot. Used to being photographed a certain way, the senator is genuinely surprised with a picture of her taken head-on. The photo, her face to the camera, exudes quiet power. Hers is not a pose, it is a declaration; the shot near-perfect that it almost needs no words.
Weaving Her Story
Born Lorna Regina Bautista Legarda to Antonio Cabrera Legarda and Bessie Gella Bautista in 1960, she is the eldest and only girl in a family of three children. With the blood of newsmen and public servants running in her veins—from her paternal great grandfather Potenciano Cabrera, the first Mayor of San Pablo City, Laguna to her maternal grandfather Jose P. Bautista, an editor of the pre-Martial Law newspaper, The Manila Times—she seems truly destined to find herself answering a higher calling; of treading the same path. But for this achiever, she becomes both a newswoman and a public servant.
There is a veneer of perfection to Senator Loren, and there is no doubt this something she aims at in everything she does. A woman fighting in a man’s world, so to speak, she is tough and demanding even, but to an extent that she would also impose on herself. A former vice presidential candidate who, according to a May 6, 2012 article by Philippine Star columnist Babe Romualdez, “no longer has any ambition for higher office,” she has just recently filed her Certificate of Candidacy for the senatorial race in 2013. She aims once again for a job not for the meek, one that could cower a lesser man even, and she’s glad to do it again.
But a rarely seen softer side to the lady senator comes by way of an article called “The Loren Legarda I Know,” written by none other than her younger son Leandro (Lean) Legarda Leviste in his column for the Philippine Star in May this year.
A “mom before anything else,” he begins, Lean also lightly reveals that his mother “sometimes thinks she’s Martha Stewart,” owing to her penchant for planting her favorite herbs in their garden and playing “interior decorator in the living room.” Painting a more human figure of Senator Loren than anyone ever could, he lovingly describes her as a micromanager in the kitchen “even though she can’t cook, because she can do just about everything else,” and calls her on her lack of rapport with technology—although she now apparently “swears that the iPad… changed her life.” Like many of us, sad movies make her cry, romantic ones turn her to mush, but she “avoids action flicks at all costs—except if they’re starring George Clooney or Harrison Ford.”
But perhaps the most personal aspect the son reveals of her is the senator’s extreme closeness to her mother. Senator Loren was once quoted to have said, “I am a mother first and foremost,” and it is evident that her own relationship with her mother has greatly shaped how she’s has cultivated her own bond with her sons.
In a Philippine Star column by Joanne Rae M. Ramirez dedicated to Mother’s Day also in May this year, she quotes the senator as saying, “My mother Bessie was my best friend. I am so much like her. But she died so young, at 61.” Yet the senator has never lacked for a mother figure thanks to her “yaya” of 50 years, Felicidad “Fely” Balagtas, whom she considers her second mother.
Nanay Fely, as she is to the entire family, has given up “a life she could have had to be with us. Her life is us,” Senator Loren was quoted in the article. As such, even her own sons Lean and Lorenzo (Lanz) have grown up under the grace and care of the woman the senator describes as “no longer just my ‘yaya.’ She has become my partner in life.”
Of all the many facets of Senator Loren’s private life and public persona, it is the strength as a woman that becomes quite immediate to anyone who meets her, owing to the influence of such strong women in her life. One also gets the sense that the senator’s strong empathy with our history and our people is because she has had first-hand lessons from her own mother—the love for our culture chief among them it seems. In fact, the “Hibla” exhibit houses rare pieces from Senator Loren’s own collection: several Baro’t Saya with Pañuelo ensembles of Bicol “pinukpok” abaca fabric worn by her late mother; as well as a T’boli upper garment, a Maranao “malong” and the B’laan ensemble that the lady senator proudly wears during important Senate sessions.
Even more so, during the shoot, Senator Loren points out that her background in one photo is T’nalak, a fabric from Cotabato, and her accessories comprise of gold earrings from Butuan and bracelet from Kalinga—“North to south,” she says, clearly proud to be central to a single image that represents the diversity of artistry of our people.
The Fabric of Philippine History
In 2009, the month of October was declared as “National Indigenous People’s Month” through Proclamation No. 1906. Fittingly, along with the “Hibla” exhibit in the National Museum, Senator Legarda spearheaded the launch of the HIBLA website, which they held during the Manila FAME Design and Lifestyle Event at the SMX Convention Center on October 17, 2012. The site aims to further promote awareness about our traditional arts and crafts, and would prove to be an easier access for younger readers. Another highlight at the event, which closed on October 20, was the Hibla Pavilion of Textiles and Weaves of the Philippines.
“[It was] an exhibition aimed at showcasing our rich and colorful heritage through the Schools of Living Traditions (SLT), a program I supported to ensure that indigenous techniques on textile-weaving, basket-making, beadwork and embroidery are passed on to the next generation,” the senator said.
Highlighted in the exhibit were the Ivatan and Gaddang traditional weaving, Antique abaca/bariw mat weaving, Iraya Mangyan traditional nito basketry, Hanunuo Mangyan weaving, Panay Bukidnon panubok embroidery, Subanen pulaw weaving, Ekam Maguindanao mat weaving, Ata Talaingod liyang weaving, T’Boli t’nalak weaving and Blaan mewel weaving. By celebrating the artistry and grandeur of these weaving traditions, the senator steps up the focus on not just an awareness campaign, but on finding solutions to threats to these traditions, including apathy that could be a factor in their extinction.
“I have visited various provinces and communities in our country, and every visit leads to a discovery of the rich heritage of the indigenous peoples—the intricately woven fabrics, the songs, chants and dances that narrate the story of your ancestors and the distinct way of life they strive to preserve,” the senator notes on the Katutubo: Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines website. With unwavering pride for our heritage, this wonderful tapestry created by every cultural contribution of every indigenous community, Senator Loren works tirelessly to “promote this cultural inheritance and improve the welfare of its stewards,” as she states.
In 2011, the senator tells Philippine Star columnist Wilson Lee Flores, “There are 15 million indigenous peoples out of our over 100 million population in the Philippines. I care about them, because they’re marginalized and the most vulnerable also to climate change. They and their traditions are who we are as a people.”
The senator champions the cause of 110 ethno-linguistic groups nationwide “because they are among the poorest of the poor and the most marginalized. I champion their cause not only to hear their voice, but also to promote their culture and traditions, the heart and soul of the indigenous peoples,” she tells Flores.
In her interview with Flores, Senator Loren declined to talk about politics. She insisted, “The only politics I want to talk about is advocacy politics — how we can improve the lives of women, children, indigenous peoples, how to promote arts and culture, the environment, disaster risk reduction, nature, planting trees.”
At the shoot, she also waves off an interview with a smile, preferring that we visit and read up on all her office’s achievements and projects from her website and various links that detail them in full. Mind you, the wealth of material isn’t just about her work with our country’s indigenous peoples, but also her widely known environmental advocacies, what she’s done for the rights of women and children, education, good governance, as well as various foundations and programs. Action over words; it is much better to show results than to make verbose promises of things to be done.
Helping the plight of indigenous people is only one aspect of how Senator Loren hopes to preserve our national heritage. They have shaped our story as a people, reflected our courage in their music, our dreams in their art, our glory in dance, our knowledge in their skills; our self-worth seen in their resilience.
Yet, it is not only these indigenous peoples and their cultures that are in danger of extinction. An October 7, 2012 article that appeared in Philippine Daily Inquirer by Augusto F. Villalon detailed the “shocking state of heritage in the Philippines” as described by Dominic Galicia, an architect and the new editor-in-chief of BluPrint magazine. In it, Galicia laments the disappearance of certain architectural icons that speak of our heritage from the streets of Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Yet, he accounts being impressed by some measures taken to reverse this, especially that more people seem to be acting on their realization of the importance of heritage conservation.
To the communities she supports, defends and champions, Senator Loren is foremost in that list. Leading by example, she hopes to inspire the new generation through her own actions how truly important it is that such cornerstones of our culture are passed on, kept alive and lived.
- by Annie S. Alejo
- photography Jo Ann Bitagcol
- creative direction and styling Melo Esguerra
- locale National Museum’s National Art Gallery
- Special thanks to Kultura Filipino
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Congratulations to Our New DOT Secretary! The Story of Cebu’s Power Couple
Congratulations to Our New DOT Secretary!
The Story of Cebu’s New Power Couple
Whether it’s spearheading progressive efforts in Liloan or spending weekends with their kids, Christina and Duke Frasco do things as a team. On their ninth year as a wedded couple, they share a side of themselves we haven’t seen before.
Republished from Zee’s Digital Issue dated January 2018
by Gia Mayola photography Dan Douglas Ong sittings editor Shari Quimbo hair and makeup Arnauld stylist Vanessa East
Despite it being a day for family, Christina and Duke Frasco gamely accepted our Sunday-scheduled photo shoot. Not that they had any choice, considering that most days found their schedules fully packed.
The dynamic couple is hard to pin down for a reason. Christina is the mayor of Liloan, a first-class municipality in Cebu. On the other hand, Duke was appointed Cebu Port Authority Commissioner by President Rodrigo Duterte just last year, willingly giving up his position as Liloan’s vice-mayor alongside his wife. While they have a lot on their plate because of work, having three young children is an added responsibility.
Driven by her administration’s goals for sustainable and inclusive development, Christina has introduced various innovations to public leadership, focusing on stakeholder participation in community governance and equitable access to government service.
She established the Liloan Community Action for Reforestation and Environmental Sustainability (LILOAN CARES), which brings community stakeholders together to periodically engage in environment programs. She also put up a Green Points System, which grants incentives to businesses that implement environment-friendly measures. Additionally, she has introduced an engaging approach to recycling in schools, and prohibits the use of plastics on certain days of the week. She has also founded Operation Second Chance providing rehabilitation and livelihood to drug surrenderees, and the Liloan Leading Empowered Action Against Drugs Summit (LILOAN LEADS), among many others.
On his end, Duke is a dynamic and engaging leader who thrives under pressure and focuses on realizing long-term goals and sustainable development. His governance has garnered him multiple awards—The Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) of the Philippines Award 2014 for Public Administration, from the Junior Chamber International (JCI), Inc. and the Gerry Roxas Foundation.
With his first two terms as mayor, Liloan elevated from a third-class municipality to a first-class one. He boldly spearheaded a comprehensive overhaul of the municipal tax code, and the modernization of local business processes.
THE LOVE OF LILOAN
Goal-driven and full of ideals, the couple has helped develop Liloan into what it is today. The municipality is one of the most progressive in Cebu, even establishing the Liloan Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) Federation during Christina’s term, the first in the country spearheaded by a local government unit. Liloan prides itself in having the first LGU-established gender-neutral public restroom in the country.
“Our dream is to become a city,” Christina divulges. She envisions Liloan as an ideal place to live, study, work and invest. “In preparation for that, we are focusing on improving public infrastructure, opening up and improving road networks, and ensuring strict compliance with our Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Land Use Plans to ensure that development is regulated, deliberate and sustainable.”
This year, Liloan is launching tour packages that will feature its cottage industries and various tourist sites. Health services are being professionalized, scholarship programs expanded, and more investments channeled into its law enforcement and disaster response programs.
“We are also enhancing our community governance programs focused on protecting the environment, providing economic opportunities through livelihood, and reaching out to all sectors and stakeholders by incentivizing participation and compliance with our laws and regulations,” Christina adds.
Duke shares that every now and then, he offers input to his wife. “I advice Christina on various matters, especially regarding the projects started during my term, such as our scholarship program and purok system,” he says. “Being the party chairman of our local political party, I am also in continued contact with our local leaders.”
THE PORT AUTHORITY
Beyond Liloan, Duke is enjoying his new position. “Since the thrust of the Cebu Port Authority spans the entire Province of Cebu, I am grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to improving the transport of people and goods throughout Cebu, through the continued improvement of existing ports and establishment of new ports.”
New ports, such as the plans of moving the Cebu International Port north, off the coasts of Consolacion and Liloan to decongest the city.
“A port is always a welcome development considering it will further boost the economy of Liloan and Consolacion, and the entire Northern Cebu,” Duke says. “It provides livelihood opportunities for our people, which are relevant factors for cityhood. Moreover, the more ports, international or domestic, that we develop here, the better it will be for the people of Cebu.”
The addition of more ports will complement the project he has been working on the past year, the ferry boat system. He laments the terrible traffic that Cebuanos experience each day, comparing the travel time it takes from Liloan to Cebu City ten years ago and now. The ferry boat system includes developing ports in strategic locations in the Province of Cebu, connecting ferries or boats that can accommodate 80 to 200 people per boat. That includes room for motorcycles and possibly vehicles.
Duke expects this to be a game changer for the Cebuano. “Hopefully, it will relieve us of the stress and frustration we experience each day going through Cebu traffic,” he says. “I can just imagine our fellow Cebuanos feeling relaxed on a boat, feeling the sun and sea breeze on their faces, as opposed to the honking of horns and uneasiness of sitting in a PUJ or in your vehicles, not knowing whether they will arrive on time at their destination.”
Aside from his work with the Cebu Port Authority, Duke is also involved with his family’s business Titay’s as the Chief Financial Officer, and as a member of the Board of Directors.
A GREAT PAIR
It’s evident that the two make a great pair. They met back in June 2007 at Gwendolyn Garcia’s—Christina’s mother—inauguration as the re-elected Governor of Cebu. Duke was among the officials invited to attend, having just been elected into his first term as the Mayor of Liloan. Christina had just recently passed the bar exams and became a lawyer.
“I suppose you could say that we met at a time when both of us were at a turning point in our lives,” Christina recalls. “It is a blessing that our paths crossed at a time that it did. I was taken by Duke’s charisma. To me, he exuded kindness and humility. Of course, bonus sad gyud na guapo kaayo siya (it’s a bonus that he’s so handsome)!”
“I thought she was beautiful, elegant and well-spoken,” Duke adds. “When we were introduced, I was speechless!”
They’re naturals in front of the camera, effortlessly settling into the poses the photographer asks them to do. At one point, they’re locked in an intimate embrace and looking into each others’ eyes. Duke sweeps in for a kiss that makes everyone in the studio coo.
“I couldn’t help it,” Duke defends himself with a laugh, holding Christina closer as she giggles.
“He can’t resist me,” she tells us with raised eyebrows.
The couple comes from political families, and it’s interesting to note that neither of the two had initial plans of running
for office. Duke was in the audit and finance industry in the US, working for global consulting firm Protiviti right after finishing his double degree in Business Administration (Finance and Business Law) and Accounting at the Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
“I had no plans at all,” Duke admits. “My father, who had been Mayor then Vice-Mayor, died unexpectedly. The barangay captains of Liloan contacted me because the wanted to have me run for the position. It took me a couple of years before I finally decided to come home and run for Mayor in 2006.”
On Christina’s end, she had spent nearly ten years focused on building her career as a lawyer. After graduating from Ateneo Law, she practiced litigation, international arbitration and corporate law with one of the top-tier law firms in the Philippines, Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & Delos Angeles, being the head of its Cebu office.
“I knew that I wanted to make something of myself out of my own achievements, outside of and away from politics,” Christina shares. “I must say though that being exposed to public service at a young age led me to an inclination to help others. I always felt a sense of duty to my country, because that’s what I saw in my family as I was growing up.”
Despite initially having no plans to follow in their family’s political path, they both express a deep appreciation and admiration for their respective families’ contributions to Cebu. “He was Mayor of Liloan for close to a decade, but served Liloan all his life,” Duke says about his father, the late Panphil B. Frasco or Dodong Daku. “He was a man of the people, and Liloanons still speak of his kindness and humility to this day. I also greatly admire my uncle Gerardo ‘Dodong Gamay’ Frasco, for his pragmatism and wisdom, which has guided our family to carrying on the Titay’s legacy spanning 111 years.”
“For me, they have set the bar to which I would like to contribute to Cebu as a Cebuano,” Christina says of her own family. “For his statesmanship and brilliant legal mind, my grandfather, former Governor and Deputy Speaker Pablo P. Garcia. For her passion towards community development and social justice, my grandmother, the late Judge and Cebu CFI Community Cooperative founder Esperanza F. Garcia. For her great love for Cebu and legendary work ethic, my mom, former Governor Gwen F. Garcia.”
As two young personalities in government, they hope to be able to empower people through education. For ten years now since Duke’s first term and continuing though Christina’s current term, they have a scholarship program that has benefitted over 6,000 students.
They believe that an educated population is an empowered population, capable of becoming financially independent and discerning in their choices. “For us, this is key to breaking out of the bonds of poverty and patronage,” Christina affirms.
The Frascos hope to introduce innovations to governance, like reducing redundancies and bureaucracy through the use of technology, and being more connected and transparent through the use of social media. They also support the call for Federalism, believing that it will give local governments more leeway and funding in improving local infrastructure and creating more locally-relevant projects for the people.
Considering that standpoint, it’s no surprise how vocal the couple has been in their support for the controversial President Rodrigo Duterte. “President Duterte has political will, and he is a law and order President,” they say. “We believe that his extensive executive experience sets him apart as a leader because he knows the value of enforcing the law in order to have a stable society. At the same time, he recognizes the necessity of governing in a manner that is compassionate and responsive to the needs of the people.”
In the face of many conflicting views toward the President’s brand of leadership, both Duke and Christina acknowledge that opposition is necessary for a working democracy, but hope that Filipinos can come together and support his national agenda of building a stable and peaceful society. “We owe it to our country to set aside what divides us, and to unite behind our common goal of attaining a better life for our countrymen and for our children.”
Aside from their daily responsibilities, the couple also fosters their own advocacies. With education being high on Duke’s list of priorities, Christina also extends efforts for the empowerment of women and children. “The promotion of inclusive development as well—giving equitable opportunities to vulnerable sectors such as the LGBT and the youth,” she adds.
Being in the government means a lot of responsibility for the couple, and a typical day for them is being up 6:00 in the morning to have breakfast with their children before school, then going to their respective offices for work.
For Duke, work is either at the Cebu Port Authority to attend board meetings, or at their Frasco Group Office to attend to business matters. He also attends to pressing concerns in Liloan if need be, which shows how he is still dedicated to it even if he is no longer its Vice-Mayor.
Christina is either at the Municipal Hall to sign papers, attend meetings and meet constituents at the office, or scheduling visits to Liloan’s barangays and puroks.
To keep from getting too stressed or burnt out, Duke says, “I go to the gym and I run. I also like to Netflix and chill.”
Christina, on the other hand, makes time to paint and experiment with new dishes for Duke and their kids. She mentions that, if their schedules permit, they try to devote their weekends to their kids—watching movies, eating out, and traveling. “When Duke and I get home, we also make a conscious decision not to talk about work,” she finishes.
A COUPLE AT WORK
While some people might find the idea of a married couple working together as a possible hindrance to getting things done, the Frascos think otherwise. To them, it is an advantage because their vision and values are aligned. “We are able to enjoy our victories together, and we’re able to lift each other up in tough times, knowing that we will have each other’s back,” they share.
Duke and Christina are celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary this year, and it’s no question that the romance is still very much alive between them. They share that their marriage is anchored on their love for each other, their love for their family, and their shared goals for the future.
At the same time, they emphasize that retaining a sense of individuality is also important, along with having a healthy respect for each other’s differences. Compromise is key, and they constantly make sure to keep their values and goals in check, adjusting each other’s expectations as necessary and working out their differences.
Considering all that Duke and Christina have accomplished at a young age, we had to ask if they had plans of running for higher office. “We have great plans for the future, not just for ourselves, but also for our family and for Liloan,” they said. “As Cebuanos, we would like to continue to contribute to the development of Cebu. However, we also realize that ultimately, it is for the people to decide whether they would want us to continue to serve. As for the rest, it is in God’s hands. So we are focused on doing as much as we can in the here and now, with the opportunities that we have been given, for which we feel very blessed.”