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Rendezvous with Kim and Matteo

He likes to drive fast. She is the girl-next-door. With a TV series in the making, the interstellar pop-culture pairing of Matteo Guidicelli and Kim Chiu makes for a perfect on-and-off camera rendezvous.

The Hyatt’s Presidential Suite was draped in the almost blinding radiance of the five o’clock sun. The vast backdrop of a glistening Manila bay appeared through the panoramic glass wall, and a young man who we recognized as Matteo stood up.

The twenty-one-year old flashed his megawatt smile and extended his arm politely for a handshake. Yes, Matteo has all the makings of a matinee idol—the face, charm and undeniable mass appeal. It is no wonder that he has become a promising star of his generation—having appeared in some of ABS-CBN’s most successful projects to date makes it harder to believe that his brush with show business only happened four years ago.

Speaking with an inviting yet ready confidence, Matteo explained how it all began, “I didn’t expect myself to get into showbiz because I was racing karts.” Although he would be too humble to admit, the name Matteo Guidicelli really first resounded as the young boy wonder that broke into the kart-racing arena. In his early years of racing he won two divisions making him “Karter of the Year” in the Philippine Karting Championships in 2005. “I used to fly to Manila from Cebu every weekend for races because all of them were here in Manila or abroad. Eventually, my parents decided to move here, then we started to look for sponsors for racing. That’s when Penshoppe came in. It all started from there. I never thought I was going to be in billboards ever.”

“I did my first photo shoot and I was so nervous that I couldn’t move.” He recalled that pro photographer Xander Angeles had such a hard time with him since he didn’t know what to do and how to pose. “When I work with Xander now, we laugh about it all the time,” he candidly shared.

With billboards lined along highways, Matteo’s career kicked off and caught the attention of manager Jojie Dingcong, who decided to take him on board. At 16, Matteo tried his hand at acting. “At first, my parents didn’t want me to do it and I didn’t even know how to speak Tagalog. But I told them gamely, let’s try it.” Although show business had obviously grown on him, he had to take a short break from it to pursue his studies. He was attending college at Columbia University in Chicago: “My course was supposed to be for four years; I left after two. I realized that I wanted to be in showbiz so I came back home.”

At this point in the interview, Matteo had to step out to try on a pair of jeans. He came back to the room and said, “It’s too tight,” while he checked himself out in the mirror. Then he looked at us and said with a naughty grin, “But I’m going to wear it anyway.”

Energetic and good-natured, he continued where he left off, saying that he got back from the US the same day he had learned of a new project through his Star Magic co-managers, Johnny Manahan and Mariole Alberto, no less. This certain soap happened to be called Agua Bendita, which aired in February 2010 starring Andi Eigenmann.

“Agua Bendita was such a blessing as it put our names out there. Andi and I were both new, the show was number one and it got extended so many times. And because the show was such a hit, more projects came.” Following the success of the show, Matteo recorded a single that was digitally released through starrecords.com and shot a movie called Catch Me I’m In Love with Sarah Geronimo, among others. “I consider myself fortunate to have worked with all these successful leading ladies—Maja Salvador, Andi, Sarah and Kim,” he added.

With the quick spurt of his acting career, Matteo’s parents, Gianluca and Glenna, see to it that they are around to guide and support Matteo as he braves the choppy waters of the industry. When it comes to their son’s love life, though, everyone wants to hear what Mom has to say but her reply was a simple, “Whatever makes you happy…” Then she paused before adding, “but Mama knows best!” she chuckles.

By this time, Matteo’s soon-to-be leading lady had already settled in by the adjacent room. Amidst the live chatter and the music permeating the atmosphere, she sat serenely yet distinctly on the make-up chair, a contrast to Matteo’s more upbeat vibe.

Kim Chiu is a name that warrants no introductions, her endorsements alone make her one of the most visible stars out there. She fascinates many with her shy demeanor and equal parts sexy and mystery. We watched how the make-up transformed Kim’s naturally doll-like face into a screen siren.

It was only five years ago that Kim won over TV viewers’ hearts to clinch the top spot of the 2006 Pinoy Big Brother: Teen Edition with would be, off-and-on screen romance Gerald Anderson in third place. Today, she is one of the brightest stars in the movie and TV arena, having won the German Moreno Youth Achievement Award at the 57th FAMAS Awards and garnering nominations in various academy awards for her breakout performances in the movie, I Love You Goodbye, and the drama series, Kung Tayo’y Magkakalayo.

Because of her very solid fan base, Kim endorses several brands–from fashion to food, telecom to real estate. In a rare opportunity for a Chowking commercial, Kim was thrilled to be able to share the spotlight with her two sisters, Kam and Twinkle. She credits them as her role models and has picked up Twinkle’s joie de vivre and Kam’s determination along the way. Kim is very close to her family, but  especially to her sisters (she also has two brothers), with whom she often goes on shopping sprees whenever they visit from Cebu.

As the proud “ate” and eldest of the brood, Kam shared with us, “In Cebu, Kim’s simple joys were going to mass in Santo Rosario and being “cashier” to her aunts store. She was very shy growing up, we really didn’t expect her to become such a talented actress.” Kim herself said with an almost nostalgic air when asked how she feels about what she has attained: “Until now, it’s something I still find hard to believe. One day, I was just joining a reality TV show and the next thing I know, I am able to do all these other things. Thankfully, my projects have been successful. And I’m still here, and it feels good to be in a place I never would have dreamed to be in.”

But if fame has a price, Kim has paid her full share.  Last year proved to be chaotic and painful for her, as the simple Cebuana was caught in a supposed “love triangle” that left the unstoppable Kimerald phenomenon to a screeching halt and Kim crying on national television. Although it was painful for her to watch from the sidelines, protective sister Kam had this to say about her little sister and her love life, “ She is wiser now. She has learned from everything she has been through.”

COALESCENCE

But Kim seems to be above the speculations and is obviously excited about her upcoming project. The much anticipated Binondo Girl, is a teleserye where Kim likens her character to Disney’s Mulan: “Funny, and family-loving”. She stars with fellow Cebuano Matteo Guidicelli as one of her three leading men (the other being Xian Lim and Jolo Revilla).

It is not the first time, either, that Matteo and Kim will be working together. Matteo’s first acting project, a sitcom called Go Kada Go in 2007, also featured Kim Chiu who was fresh off her Pinoy Big Brother victory. It only took a few more years before they were reunited by a fortuitous turn of events, both of them now fully invested in their acting profession.

Unknown to most hotel guests, two of the most recognizable faces on TV passed through the premises unnoticed, from the Presidential Suite on the twelfth floor towards the plush quarters of the Music Bar downstairs where we would have our shoot. Surrounded by the curious silence of onlookers who were part of Kim’s and Matteo’s entourage, the photo shoot commenced.

Kim’s slender frame transitioned fluidly as she commanded emotions and movement—be it a charming smile, a sharp gaze, or playful girlishness. She made it all look so easy as members of the crew watched intently.

When asked about co-star Matteo, Kim said, “These last few days of the

workshops were fun. Because he’s also from Cebu, we naturally talk in

Cebuano, we joke in Cebuano. Some things are just funnier in your native tongue.” And Matteo’s take on Kim? “When I first met her, I saw this skinny, talkative and funny Chinese girl but look at her now. She’s very beautiful and has grown up a lot.”

Of their hometown, the young pop princess misses many things. “Of course there are my friends and former classmates. And then there’s the food—Larsian’s barbeque, Cebu lechon, mangoes, rosquillos, and of course her grandma’s  Lumpia Chai home-cooked, the chinese way. Kim is very close to her grandma and until now, Kim stays with her in their home when she visits.

Both agree that leading their independent lifestyle in Manila differs greatly from the laidback pace of Cebu. As for Matteo, he said, “Whenever I’m in Cebu I make it a point to see my friends and of course, family.”

He continued to compare his new base and his hometown: “When I’m in Manila, I’m working, and running everywhere, then there’s the traffic. But when I’m in Cebu I can relax. Sometimes I don’t even have to know what time it is and just go to the beach. Cebu is really like that for me.”

Nestled on a love seat, Kim showed the first sign of exhaustion, and the more playful yet wholesome Matteo got her guard down when he grazed her face with his hand and made her laugh at a joke that only they could hear. Click, went lensman Paolo Pineda’s camera. We knew we had it. With this sort of unrehearsed chemistry, it is only a matter of time before Binondo Girl spells another prime time TV hit with both stars shining even brighter.

sittings editor KATSY BORROMEO art styling MIKEY SANCHEZ fashion assistants KARLA YNZON,  ALYANNA GERONA, ANDRE MARCHADESCH hair and make-up HAIDEE FERNANDEZ photography PAOLO PINEDA locale THE MUSIC BAR OF THE HYATT HOTEL AND CASINO

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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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