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Where The Girls Are

With the popularity of music festivals like Coachella, the bohemian lifestyle is making a comeback. And in a time where there is a convergence of art, music and even fashion, individualism is even more rampant. Five ladies, of varied foreign descents, one being half-German, another half-Bahraini and the other half-American, could not be any more different from each other. What they do share in common is a concerted effort to promote Cebu. When this is the case, everyone is cheering them on.

With the popularity of music festivals like Coachella, the bohemian lifestyle is making a comeback. And in a time where there is a convergence of art, music and even fashion, individualism is even more rampant. Five ladies, of varied foreign descents, one being half-German, another half-Bahraini and the other half-American, could not be any more different from each other. What they do share in common is a concerted effort to promote Cebu. When this is the case, everyone is cheering them on.

Are these the same girls on that pageant night? On the boat ride to Talima island for our location shoot, sitting across from the five top winners of the recently concluded Miss Cebu contest, I could not help but wonder. Miss Cebu is the long-time project of the Cebu City Government through the Cebu City Tourism Commission and Cebu City Tourism Foundation Inc. From the second row where we were seated at the pageant, the girls looked a bit more regal, poised and mature. These girls in front of me now looked way younger, more uninhibited and raw. No perfectly coifed hair, no reservations, but with megawatt smiles. Then it occurred to me these were real girls, with real roles to play.

The One With the Answer

Mia Faridoon, in her sequined gown with a cascading train by Wendel Quisido, wowed the audience with an answer that garnered her the win. “As a mass communications student, I learned that the most effective tool

in transmitting your message is through word of mouth. If given the chance to be Miss Cebu, I will use my recognition to spread the qualities that I should exude as a Filipino. And, as a Cebuana, I can do this with my qualities, by keeping my values, by showing confidence and intellect on what I know, in ways of promoting nation-building. Being one, being proud of where we are and being proud of who we are. And I can start first as a Cebuana then as a Filipino.”

It’s hard to imagine a nineteen-year-old, wearing high heels for the first time, in front of thousands in the audience, come up with this answer within seconds. Perhaps it stems from her training and experience as a third-year student of the University of the Philippines. Or it could be that having been immersed in different cultures — she lived in Bahrain for six years — she has developed an astute sense of where she can be most productive and useful.

The Dark Horse

Her dark skin and fine Filipina features set her apart from most of the fair and foreign-looking finalists of the pageant. On stage, completely transformed in a Cary Santiago, Teffanie Lene LLamada was a vision in black. She even surprised herself by wining second runner-up. The twenty-one-year-old registered nurse is a different persona from the dusky and mysterious beauty queen she was on stage. While young people usually take up nursing so they can land work overseas, Teffanie sees herself rendering her services here in the country where she said she’s needed most. Her mission achievable, “I can help as much as I can, like joining medical missions and conducting free seminars. In the field of education, start with the children; inform them of the right precepts and moral values through recreational activities. Remember, children play.” She is also looking to teach special children.

Miss Congeniality

Vanessa Ammann, like other gorgeous young girls, is fun-loving and is not afraid to be herself in the world. She spent a few of her growing years in Germany but is based here now. She models part-time and has endorsed a nation-wide department chain and a telecommunications company. Vanessa is the daughter of councilor Queenie Ammann, and with her inherent charms and winsome personality, she has what it takes to someday be in politics. For now though, as the third runner-up of Miss Cebu 2011, she has her sights set on having her own travel TV show and promoting Cebu to the world.

Reluctant Beauty

Aiko Lyanne Serrano is a dead ringer for the Japanese supermodel Ai Tominaga with her sleek long black hair, almond eyes and slender silhouette. Her Oriental features are captivating, but she seems blindly unaware of this and comes off a bit shy and aloof. The twenty-one-year-old beauty recently passed the board exams for nursing. She has a quiet strength and does not believe that there are shortcuts in life. “The greatest tasks are achieved through pure hard work, perseverance and determination.”

Her Own Heroine

Contrary to what her name suggests, her life has not been a bed of roses. The nineteen-year-old eldest of four, Rosemary Gore has been strong and kept her family together after the passing of her American father a few years back. Rather than dwelling on her past, she stays optimistic of the future and sees herself as a “lucky soul.” She is driven and focused on training to be physically, mentally and emotionally fit for the US Navy where she is enlisted to join in July of this year. She breaks the mold and is exemplary of the new Cebuana.

With each her own story to tell, their lives here in Cebu have affected who they have become. And as the new ambassadors of Cebu, they carry the banner of positive change in the Philippines. But for now, at least for the shoot, they can just be young, carefree, uber optimistic hippies.

  • sittings editor: Katsy Borromeo
  • photography: Jan Gonzales
  • art stylist: Mikey Sanchez
  • fashion stylist: Sam and Mai Briones
  • fashion assistant: Pia Echevarria
  • hair and make-up: James Canete and Rj del Mar
  • locale: Talima Adventure and Waterpark



Janine Taylor, June Alegrado, Jackie Lotzof, Frances Siao, Ina Ronquillo and Christine Pelaez

The NUSTAR Ballroom, a magnificent venue at the NUSTAR Resort and Casino in Cebu, sets the stage for last night’s first-ever NUSTAR Ball.

Black was the color of night at the Zee table.

Glamorous guests from Manila and Cebu converged at the NUSTAR Ballroom, an exquisite venue within the NUSTAR Resort and Casino in Cebu. The evening unfolded with a seated 5-course dinner. The opulent feast started with Beetroot Salmon Gravlax, adorned with caper berries, caviar, set with delicate edible flowers; and a main course of Compressed Pork Belly with Crackling Skin and Baby Scallops. Another highlight was the auction of coveted items like Dior and YSL handbags, a limited-edition Bulgari watch, and an exclusive 2-night stay in Nustar’s opulent 3-bedroom villa—complete with a private pool and a dedicated butler. The charity evening benefited the Cameleon Association, an NGO based in Iloilo City created in 1997 that developed a global approach to act on the causes and effects of sexual violence against children.

Nora Sol, Beth Go, Frances Siao and Marylou Ong

Ina Ronquillo, Maryanne Aboitiz and Jackie Lotzof

Designers Jun Escario and Philip Rodriguez

Philip Rodriguez with NUSTAR Malls two power ladies: May Adolfo and Joanna Salazar

Lana Osmeña with Mariquita Yeung

PJ Castillo and Kaye Abad with Cary Santiago

Drew Sarmiento with LV Manager Adrian Decuigan

Cary Santiago with Eva Gullas

Manila socialites Julie Boschi and Ching Cruz with June Alegrado

It was a night of elegance, luxury, and unforgettable memories as ladies in long gowns and gentlemen in black ties danced the night away.


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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


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

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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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