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On A Natural High

There may be lots of things to do in the city, but sky’s the limit for fun and adventure atop a mountain, and that’s where we find this weekend home.

There may be lots of things to do in the city, but sky’s the limit for fun and adventure atop a mountain, and that’s where we find this weekend home.

The temperament is noticeably different once you hit the heights of Busay Hills, the mountainous range that lines the vista of Cebu island. The air is cleaner and the weather is much cooler at over 1,000 meters above sea level, and it’s easy to drift into a cloud of tranquility and watch the bustle below disappear.

Buying a house up in the Busay Hills was a dream to businesswoman and mother, Coy, but was made a reality by her husband, Wilson, who said, that if they were going to get away from the city, they might as well go all the way up the mountains. He surprised her with a 7,500 square-meter property located in the Balamban vicinity.

Driving closer to the structure, the exteriors give off an “industrial” impression, from the amount of polished concrete, steel bar railings, and tall glass windows used. But the exacting elements are broken by the tugas hardwood double-door, and upon entering, the organic feel of the wood-plank ceiling. The use of many tall- and corner-windows and multiple open spaces give a sense of the outdoors wherever you are in this house.

Taking note of the homes around the area, Architect Ed Gallego drew plans for a structure that would be welcoming and homely, and require low maintenance but at the same time take full advantage of the surrounding nature. The result is a symmetrical, four-level, eight-bedroom house that stands on a little over a thousand square meters of floor space. It uses corner glass windows to take full advantage of daylight; glossy coating to finish the insulated concrete; and high ceilings for natural ventilation.

The main level has the living area, the dining room and the kitchen all within easy reach of each other. One set of wood stairs lead to the master bedroom and two bedrooms on the second level, while another set of stairs, enclosed in sliding glass walls, leads to the highest level, where the daughter’s library is located.

All the planning was done with the primary consideration of the children’s needs, Coy admitted, which were mostly privacy, and a place to chill and entertain. Daughter Diandra wanted her own place to read and have her quiet-time, so the library was built for her collection of books.

“We sourced as much of our furniture locally,” said Coy. “The interiors are still a work in progress, but it has already been enjoyed by friends since September of last year.”

“My favorite part of the house would be the masters bedroom,” says Fatima, one of Coy’s best friends, “when you open the curtains, you get a postcard view of the mountains.” Wesley, the second of the two boys, loves the basement the most, where he and his friends gather. This lowest level of the house has an entertainment area with a fully-stocked bar and two spacious guest bedrooms. A second kitchen is also being worked on for this level.

That’s the great thing about the multi-tiering of this house—a party can go on at different levels, and without interrupting each other.

The possibility of a landslide does not bother the homeowners because the land was shaped and matted with steel before any beams were constructed. “Stilts are dangerous because the land shifts,” said Coy, and although Wilson wasn’t very particular with the design, he was quite adamant about maximum safety. Having the grounds landscaped by family friend Prudence Salutillo added sentiment to this home. He worked with Coy on her other business, including designs for her Catholic book store Kerygma, the stalls of her House of Praise franchises, and other private projects like residential and church renovations. The homeowners entrusted most of the interior decorating to Prudence while Coy brought in more of her décor, especially inspiring quotes framed and hung on the wall, which she collects from her travels around the globe.

Now that the children are grown—with the youngest having turned fifteen recently—Coy chose to close her small bookstores and gospel music stalls, and go into a semi-retirement. “The kids think they don’t need you anymore once they reach a certain age but believe me, they will always need their parents’ guidance. I just want them to know I am always here for them, and this weekend house will always be a special place for us to spend time together.”

  • by Ian E. Baol
  • photography Adrian Yu producer David Jones Cua
  • sittings editor Katsy Borromeo
  • additional interior styling Rizelle Ostrea, PIID (Philippine Institute of Interior Designers)

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Entertainment

Arcane: League of Legends: Netflix Review

Rating: *****/*****

League of Legends a very popular video game that’s been around for over a decade has now been adapted into an animated series on Netflix.  The series, Arcane: League of Legends was just released on November 6, 2021 and starring Hailee Steinfeld.  As a person who doesn’t play LoL, I was very surprised by Arcane’s story and the quality of the animation.  The title theme song is by Imagine Dragons and soundtrack is very cool.

Rottentomatoes gives the series a 100% score!  Here’s what they say:

“Newcomers should be equally enthralled by Arcane’s compelling narrative, richly developed characters … “

 Critics Consensus

“Arcane makes an arresting first impression, combining a spectacular mix of 2D and 3D animation with an emotionally compelling story to deliver a video game adaptation that could become legendary.”

Well then, this is a must see for me!  Now out on Netflix

… zen

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Entertainment

ALBUM REVIEW: Red (Taylor’s Version) by Taylor Swift

RATING: ★★★ / ★★★★★

You probably don’t need to be reminded of why Taylor Swift has decided to release re-recordings of her previous albums, starting with Fearless (Taylor’s Version) last year and now with Red (Taylor’s Version). However, if you somehow missed one of the biggest music controversies in recent history, here’s a quick summary: in 2019, talent manager Scooter Braun acquired the record label Big Machine and as part of the deal acquired ownership of the master recordings for the first six studio albums by Taylor Swift. Swift has been trying to buy the masters to her songs for years but she’s been offered nothing but unfavorable conditions — therefore, as a countermeasure, she is re-recording all of her six albums and so far has released two.

It’s a bold move on Taylor’s part, but lucky for her, the re-recordings have done incredibly well especially with the re-recording of her 2012 album Red. On its first day of release, Red (Taylor’s Version) has broken two Spotify records: one for the most-streamed album in a day by a female and another for the most-streamed female in a single day both in Spotify history.

It’s hard to review an album like this when Red (Taylor’s Version) is, for the most part, just a recreation of the songs of Red. There are new songs, of course, but the majority of the tracks are simply re-recorded versions of her already existing songs. The Immaculate Collection by Madonna, this isn’t — save for All Too Well, there are no new instrumentals or parts of the song here, just plain re-recordings of her previous songs.

Unfortunately for Taylor Swift, some of the songs don’t really benefit from being re-recorded. The original version of We Are Never Getting Back Together, for instance, while far from Swift’s best song at least had the energy and emotion you’d expect a bitter break-up song like it to have. In the new version, Taylor Swift just sounds lifeless and bored, especially when it comes to her spoken lines.

It’s difficult to blame her when she’s expected to still give convincing performances of experiences she’s had over a decade ago. How do you expect a singer in her 30s to sing a song about how excited she is to be 22 and still make it sound as convincing as she made it when she was actually 22?

That being said, some of the songs also benefit from being re-recorded. There’s a sense of nostalgia added to many of these songs. Taylor Swift sounds older and, in a way, that adds even more emotional depth to some of her tracks. And for anyone not wild about these songs simply being re-recordings, Swift has six new “From The Vault” tracks which should be enough to tide you over.

All in all, Red (Taylor’s Version) doesn’t always work, but for Taylor Swift fans, it’s a way to listen to versions of her songs that are hers. It’s why the “(Taylor’s Version)” at the end of these songs are so important and it’s great to know Taylor Swift finally has versions of the songs she wrote which she can call hers.

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LADY CYCLISTS HIT THE ROADS AND SLOPES OF CEBU.

Cycling has been a growing sport and hobby for many years but it’s popularity has erupted since the Covid pandemic.  People biking to work and for recreation is an everyday sight in Cebu.  More and more are joining the ride.  Many are quite serious about cycling.  I know three ladies who are among those who’ve gone long distances across Cebu.

How did you get into serious cycling?  What was your motivation?

Blinky de Leon.  Event Host, Product Endorser & Influencer

“ I’ve been into cycling since I was a kid. A little backstory, I was around 10 years old when my dad surprised me with my first custom-made mountain bike. I still keep it until now, in fact I had it refurbished. It’s the most sentimental thing I ever received since it was his way/gesture to catch up with me after not seeing each other for almost 6 yrs. My dad is based in Germany and he also loves cycling and makes his own bamboo bike.”

 

“Just a year ago though, my friend Gazini randomly, out of nowhere, picked me up from home to bike with her to the South of Cebu. I felt really excited and motivated to get back on track because it’s very nostalgic and brings back so many great memories. And since then, the rest was history. We’ve been joining different groups, tried different routes and conquered different heights. I’ve met so many cyclists with very inspiring stories in the bike community who kept me feeling motivated too. I also look forward to the sights and the adventure that comes along with it.”

 

Yumz Mariot. Branding & Marketing Consultant

“I used to bike along with rock and wall climbing. I am lousy with ballgames which is why. Our usual route were Talamban and Mactan but one time, managed to ship gears all the way to Dumaguete for a quick ride to Valencia, the next town located at a higher elevation. Those were days when I did it for fun and what bike I was using did not matter.”

“Fast forward to 2021, a year after the pandemic lockdown began, I realized I have been lazy to do any fitness routine. Too caught up on juggling between house chores and Work from Home deliverables (I work as a Branding and Marketing Consultant), I started to feel my body needs to move as much as my brain does. A hysical fitness routine is as important as what I eat, or what I read or watch. So I decided to invest on a decent MTB, just very recently and got myself a much necessary restart. What motivates me even more is the area where I currently reside at. It is vast, fresh, green and safe for solo bikers like me.”

 

Prime Sarino. Digital Media Creative

“I started biking as a young teenager and I got the idea to start it as an adult hobby 3 years ago. I was already into running and I thought it would be great to venture into another outdoor activity to keep me occupied after work hours and weekends. I was set to travel for a year so I had to put aside the idea first but came pandemic. We were all forced to stay put and everything was put on hold. Cycling became my diversion. My cyclists friends invited me to quick and short rides. I enjoyed my first 50km ride and the sceneries and routes most of all. It also helped channel a positive mindset during the hard hit season of the pandemic. Not to mention it’s also another way to stay fit when we were forced into inactivity during the quarantine.”

Next in Part 2, we ask the ladies about their cycling experiences and memorable moments…

by: Zen

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