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
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…
#CebuPride: Cebuanos in Multi-awarded Pride-Themed Films
Multi-awarded International Gay Movies with Cebuano Lead Casts
By: Allain Dumon Fonte
Pride-themed movies are starting to invade the film industry as people become more accepting and are more intrigued on the stories about LGBTIQ. Many have shared the intensity of emotions and laughed with the craziest jokes on gay-themed movies. In the Philippines, these kinds of movies were questioned as to their morality and their message to the society. The strong influence of the country’s religious standards had branded gay-themed movies as sex-oriented and nothing more. Yet, with Thailand’s more tolerant culture, Thai BL (Boy’s Love) movies and television series have created a new perception to the viewers; and that is gay-themed movies are remarkably alike to all other movies – there is romance, comedy, drama, and the continuing struggle of living like normal people. Hence, Thai BL TV series have a massive following all over Asia. At the end of 2019, they became available in Netflix and are being watched by millions of viewers all over the world.
The Philippine film industry is not that far from Thailand’s. Some of the LGBTIQ-themed movies and television series are slowly getting a following in Asia and are now accessible to viewers worldwide. A few of these pride-themed movies that casted or directed by a Filipino have already been receiving nominations and awards from Golden Globe, The Berlin Film Festival, the Venezia Film Awards, and even the Emmy’s…and the Filipinos in these films hail their roots from Cebu!
1. Lingua Franca
Lingua Franca is a film directed by a Cebuana, Isabel Sandoval. Sandoval also plays the main character of the movie, and she even wrote the screenplay. Lingua Franca tells the story of Olivia, an undocumented transgender woman in New York who works as a caregiver to a senile old-lady of Russian-decent. When Olivia is challenged to attain legal status in the US, she is left with a “marriage-based green card”. While in search for her groom-to-be, she becomes romantically involved with Alex, Olga’s grandson.
The film is now available on Netflix and has received positive reviews from the media. Stephen Dalton of the Hollywood Reporter wrote Lingua Franca is a “heartfelt personal statement rooted in timely, gripping issues that obviously resonate deeply with its author, notably trans rights and Trump-era immigration anxieties”.
Isabel Sandoval graduated summa cum laude with the degree in psychology from the University of San Carlos in Cebu, Philippines. In New York, she pursued graduate studies in Film at NYU. She is now currently residing in NYC, and already has award-winning films under her belt like Apparition, Lingua Franca, Senorita, Ritwal, The Unstoppable, and Judgement.
2. The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
This television series was aired in Netflix and has gained so much popularity because it showed the murder of world-renowned fashion designer, Gianni Versace, by a serial killer, Andrew Cunanan. Based on Maureen Orth’s book Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History, this television series has 9 episodes of suspenseful scenes, and is star-studded with casts like Ricky Martin and Penelope Cruz. However, the main actor who played Andrew Cunanan is Darren Criss who gained his popularity after being a regular on the top rating TV show, Glee. Darren Criss hails his roots from Cebu, Philippines.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story received positive reviews from critics. At the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, it received 9 nominations, and won 3 awards, including Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for Darren Criss.
Criss was born and raised in San Francisco, California, USA. Criss was raised as a Roman Catholic and attended roman catholic schools. He later moved to Michigan where he studied Bachelor of Fine Arts major in Theatre Performance and minor in music at the University of Michigan. Criss’s father, Charles William Criss, is a banker and served as CEO of the East West bank in Honolulu, Hawaii. Criss’s mom, Cerina, is a native of Talisay, Cebu, Philippines. When he was younger, he visited Cebu a couple of times with his mother. Darren Criss is very proud of his Cebuano roots and wants to portray Filipino characters in films and in theatres to promote visibility of the Filipinos in the American films.
3. The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela
The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela premiered at the 2008 Berlin International Film Festival where it grabbed the Teddy Award for Best Feature Film. It was also awarded the Grand Jury Prize in the 10th 2008 Cinemanila International Film Festival at Malacañang Palace’s Kalayaan Hall. It starred Raquela Rios also known as Minerva to her Cebuano friends. Raquela is a local of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines. The film is directed by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson.
Raquella Rios is a native of Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines, and she went to the University of San Carlos in Cebu, studying sociology and anthropology. Before finishing her studies, Raquella left the Cebu and went to Iceland after being casted by Icelandic film director, scriptwriter, and producer, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson for the movie The Amazing Truth About Queen Raquela. She is now based in Bangkok, Thailand as a fashion stylist and wardrobe assistant to some local Thai movies. Raquella is also an activist for sex workers rights and trans rights in Southeast Asia; pushing for the recognition on the choice of their gender and the right to change their birth names.
There are still plenty of pride-themed films in the Philippines that gained recognition all over the world; yet these movies mentioned are special because of the talented Cebuanos that have brought Cebu to world. They truly are #CebuPride.
37 Years of High Fashion; Arcy Gayatin leaves a Legacy of Edginess and Elegance
Arcy Gayatin: A Legacy of Luxury in Fabrication
By: Allain Dumon Fonte
The brand Arcy Gayatin gave the Queen City of the South a distinct reputation in the fashion industry. The fashion line of Arcy Gayatin sets the bar higher each year for clothing luxury and fabrication techniques.
Araceli “Arcy” Ancajas Gayatin is the daughter Galileo Ancajas and Remedios Zanoria Ancajas who founded Cebu’s home brand, Gal’s Bakery. Arcy went to the University of San Carlos and studied Political Science. And just like Dr. Muccia Prada, who completed her Ph.D. in Political Science and established the luxury line of Prada, Arcy also got in touch with her artistic side and started her own fashion line. However, it was not Prada that influenced Arcy. Arcy was introduced to fashion and tailoring at a very young age by her mother, Madame Remedios Anacajas whom they dearly call Mama Eme. Mama Eme was running a tailoring business back then. It was called Arabel; named after Arcy and her sister Belma. Ara from Araceli and Bel from Belma. In those years, Arcy was fascinated by fabrics and was intrigued by how to manipulate the fabrics to come up with fashion-forward designs without compromising comfort and taste.
After 37 years of creating haute couture pieces for the most fashionable personalities in the Philippines, Arcy Gayatin is now laying down her sketchpads and pens to rest. As she enjoys her retirement, may be on a cruise to the Bahamas or a holiday to the Swiss Alps, Arcy Gayatin has left the fashion industry a legacy of elegant and edgy clothing ensembles that understand and define the shape of women; without compromising comfort and good taste.
To salute the lady who brought Cebu fashion to the world, a retrospective exhibition of Arcy’s incomparable masterpieces can be seen today at Ayala Center Cebu’s The Gallery; curated by fashion editor and writer, Clint Holton Potestas, and interior and fashion designer, Jul Oliva.
BALANCE. Arcy Gayatin is known for her perfect symmetrical lines when fabricating. She knows how to balance edginess and class; understanding well the strength and the finesse of a woman.
RHYTHM. Arcy’s expertise in draping and fabric manipulation can be seen in how she achieves rhythm between architectural lines and soft fabrics like silk and cashmere.
TEXTURE. With her thorough knowledge on fabrics, Arcy Gayatin has achieved the perfection of fabrication by working on different types of fabrics and creating a single piece of art out of them.
HARMONY. The simplicity of the silhouette plus the intricacy of the details create a wonderful harmony, making Arcy Gayatin’s design a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
The photos below show an up-close look at the intricacy and the exquisite craftsmanship of Arcy Gayatin’s fabrication techniques:
THE SPIDER WEB: one of Arcy’s genius fabrication techniques.
MATCH and PATCH: Arcy’s unique fabrication craft by patching layers of different types of lace and lace patterns
PLEATS: The perfection of symmetry in pleats on silk.
LA ROSE BLEUE: U.P. student, Danielle Alessandra Deutsch, inspired by the artistry of Arcy Gayatin, designed this midnight blue dress. The cabbage rose made from layers of silk organdy gave this evening ensemble a romantic appeal.
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