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The Age of Innocence

Straight-talking, athletic and gorgeous, Phoebe and Megan Smith take on the challenge of this cover story which entailed two separate shoots, several styling sessions and a trip to Bridges Salon to achieve a mahogany shade on Megan’s hair and a copper shade on Phoebe’s. The Smith siblings, young and self-aware, transport back to the age of innocence – where cynicism is a long way off and experiences are still fresh.

Straight-talking, athletic and gorgeous, Phoebe and Megan Smith take on the challenge of this cover story which entailed two separate shoots, several styling sessions and a trip to Bridges Salon to achieve a mahogany shade on Megan’s hair and a copper shade on Phoebe’s. The Smith siblings, young and self-aware, transport back to the age of innocence – where cynicism is a long way off and experiences are still fresh.

It’s not for the whole world to see,” Megan Smith quickly replied when asked about the controversy of the bikini-donning and cigarette-smoking seniors from an all-girl Catholic high school that resulted in their being banned from marching in their graduation rites. “It all boils down to family and unfortunately, not all families share the same morals. School is important, but you come home to your family and you can learn the most from them.”

Eighteen-year-old Megan tries to keep her values in order and herself in check especially since she aspires to become a teacher. Her former fourth-grade teacher, the late Germaine Legaspi-Chu of Cebu Learning Center sparked this passion. “She just had this way of making each one feel special,” Megan shared.

She also looks up to and has a great relationship with her teachers in Cebu International School and is currently enrolled in the CIS International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Inching closer to her goals, she has been accepted as a scholar in Winthrop University in South Carolina this fall.

We turned to fifteen-year-old sister Phoebe, who said, “I believe rules are there to protect you to a certain extent. If my mom wouldn’t allow me to post photos on Facebook wearing my bikini, she has her reasons. Sometimes, you accept people’s friendly requests even if you don’t know them and they can just easily save your images.”

She shares her sister’s values, rooted firmly on the foundation of family. “I find family and the people around me very important,” she said. “I value my education as well as the incidental life lessons that you pick up outside of school. Since I’m young and trying to find out who I am, the people around me have a big effect on what I learn.” The result of an unconventional approach to education encouraged Phoebe and Megan to love learning. They were exposed to various schools and methods of teaching at Discovery Camp, the missionary school Joy Christian Academy, Cebu Learning Center, Kolbe Academy home school program, and now, Cebu International School.

Smart, stunning, and young, showbiz is bound to knock on their doors soon. As opposed to her sister, Phoebe is willing to enter the dizzying world of the Philippine entertainment industry. The pressures of society to look and act a certain way don’t faze her as she maintains a healthy self-image: “There’s a lot of pressure from the media on how you should look like. Filipino girls are petite and having American blood, I’m not naturally skinny. I think you should put your health first and if I want to lose weight, I will do the healthy way.”

Both Phoebe and Megan are into sports. When they were very young, they started dancing ballet but traded in their tutus and ballet shoes for shin guards and cleats. They played for the Giuseppe Football Club for four years before joining the CIS soccer varsity, CIS Dragons. They have competed nationally for the Alaska Cup and the RIFA Cup, and locally for the Thirsty, Mizuno, and Aboitiz Cups. The frequent hours spent practicing and competing on the field give them a sense of purpose, build their character, and demand discipline. “I learned how to be a team player since you can’t win on your own,” said Phoebe. “I learned how to manage my time, stay focused, and not fall behind on schoolwork,” added Megan.

They like to keep busy and stay out of trouble. Megan confessed that they are diligent with their school responsibilities and are both not the type to party crazy. It’s refreshing to hear that these two girls are in no rush to grow up either. “I would just like to go back to when I was younger. There is so much ‘drama’ now and I’m not into that,” Megan shared. Drama like cat fights, underage drinking and partying, and an obsession with boys are portrayed in popular teen shows like Gossip Girl and 90210.

Quite the contrast, during Christmas, the kids stuff baskets with goodies and they deliver these to the homes of the less fortunate, singing Christmas carols door to door. They are also more involved in encouraging the other children to participate in the Children’s Mass at their church, CCTN, a schedule set for every Saturday and organized by a group of moms. The girls had started attending it eight years ago.

Their favorite memories have more to do with the earlier days of simple joys. Phoebe recalls her days in kindergarten and how she loved taking long naps. Megan recalls swimming in their grandparents’ pool where they would spend summers in Taylorsville, North Carolina where their dad, Tony is from. For him staying true to their American roots would give the girls a more grounded lifestyle without household help and drivers. Family seems to be at the heart of the girls’ well-rounded existence.

Tony travels around Asia for his work as the general manager of the HongKong-based company, Furn-Tech International. Phoebe describes her dad as cool and chill and said that she would like to help him out in the family business someday. The girls are close to their mom Tippi who is busy running the family-owned furniture agency, Design Editions, while pursuing her passion for dancing at the same time. She is proud of how she raised the girls and how they turned out.

Tippi said, “If Megan was a book she would be a mystery novel, full of suspense and wonder. Megan is more private and a deep thinker. Phoebe would be a romantic comedy, full of love and laughter.” Tippi and the girls are even friends on Facebook, bragging rights to moms these days, if they’re as lucky.

When the conversation quickly turned to boys, we were told that Tippi had cleverly put up a ‘16-date system’ for the girls, which only allows them to go on a legit date when they turn 16. A legitimate date for them would mean that the guy gets to pick the girls up in a car from their house and take them out for dinner. Before the girls turn 16, boys can only come over to the house to have dinner with the entire family.

Along with an older brother, Ian, who is now taking up post-graduate studies in the United States, Phoebe and Megan share interesting family dynamics with their parents Tony and Tippi. Theirs is an American home with a blend of Filipino and American Southern values.

  • sittings editor Katsy Borromeo
  • production manager David Jones Cua
  • photography Jan Gonzales 
  • make-up artist Jonas Borces
  • hair styling Francis Lee of Bridges Salon 
  • hair color L’Oreal Professionals INOA
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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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