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balikbayanmagazine.com

november 2009

The Vow Fulfilled

An Eagle’s Eye View of Davao

Duterte & Duterte

Meet Davao City’s father and daughter team, Rody and Sara

Volume I number 9

US$ 5.00•PHP 150.00

All For Love of Country

The Asian Journal Publications opens another exciting chapter in its history through the Asian Journal Foundation


5 keeping a journal Southern Comfort By roger lagmay oriel, publisher

7 editor’s notebook A Home in the Country By Lito Ocampo Cruz, Editor-in-chief

11 Putting on the MonteRitz By Louie Jon A. Sanchez

24 FYI Come to Monteritz, Stay for the Lifestyle 29 All Systems Aglow By Marie Angeli Syjueco

35 our town The Vow Fulfilled: An Eagle’s Eye View of Davao By Louie Jon A. Sanchez

44 persona Duterte & Duterte: Meet Davao City’s father and daughter team, Rody and Sara By Marie Angeli Syjueco

48 A Call Centered on Hope By Louie Jon A. Sanchez

53 Presidio by the Bay: True to their Commitment By Rochelle C. Pangilinan

60 Towering High: Sta. Lucia’s Michelle Robles talks about La Breza By Marie Angeli Syjueco

64 All For Love of Country: The Asian Journal Foundation

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KEEPING A JOURNAL BY ROGER LAGMAY ORIEL, PUBLISHER

T

HERE’S SOMETHING UTTERLY MAGNETIC about Davao City, it would immediately make you want to consider it your second home. The scene is serene as it is. And the landscape is a perfect balance of the old and the new.

And the charm is everywhere, and not just that piece of durian we savored while touring the Magsaysay Park’s grand Durian Market, or the slices of rich, red pomelo we shared while walking around the Aldevinco Bazaars. Our associate editor, Louie Jon Sanchez, described the experience as sensuous. But the comforts of an endearing country life also dwell here. We went down South for this month’s issue to discover, not only the city, but also one of its premiere real estate developments, the Monteritz Country Estates. The generous executives of Monteritz, the sister-team of Kat and Christine Bernardo, who played main resource and tour guide person, hosted us. The three ladies brought us around the important sights of Davao City, and made sure we only brought home the best experiences and memories. But the real site to behold was Monteritz itself.

Cradled in rolling hills that would remind you of Italy, the country estates is now opening its gates to balikbayan investors. You can just see it for yourself in the pages of this issue. We also trooped the City Hall of Davao, where we saw for ourselves the Dutertes, in swift action. Hundreds of people lined up that afternoon, seeking the help and services of the local government. The amazing Vice Mayor, Inday Sara Duterte was on hand to receive us, as well as the people who had been seeking her assistance. Later on during the trip, we chanced upon Davao Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte at the lobby of the Marco Polo Hotel Davao City, where we were billeted. In a few minutes, we had an astounding experience of the man behind this city’s flourishing. We also met old friends like City Councilor Diosdado Mahipus, who briefed us on the city’s exciting economic landscape. Along the way, we also met pianist Neil Dalumpines, who for a time lived in California, and now makes Friday nights at the Marco Polo Lobby Lounge warm and cozy. Indeed, a balikbayan has come home for good and play good music. On our last night, our three gracious hosts prepared a banquet for us. We call it here a “banquet” because the word “dinner” does not give justice to what they had served us at the Monteritz’s very own Club House—grilled tuna meat and panga (jaw), lechon, sugpo (shrimps), talangka (crabs), kilawin and some other meat dishes. The banquet ended with individual servings of durian, and durian ice cream. It was “high blood pleasure”, as our editor in chief said, and above all, a meal we will never forget. The beautiful comforts of the South can really surprise and astonish, especially when you are in Davao City. It is a haven, and indeed, a land of promises, fulfilled. g

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Publisher & CEO | Roger L. Oriel President & Co-Publisher | Cora M. Oriel Editor-in-Chief | EVP ASIA | Lito Ocampo Cruz Associate Editor | Louie Jon Agustin Sanchez Contributing Editors | Malou Liwanag-Aguilar, Alma Anonas-Carpio, Jewel Castro, Cynthia De Castro, Gayle Gatchalian, Berry Pelaez–Marfori, Ruben Nepales, Janet Susan Nepales, Rhod V. Nuncio, Rochelle C. Pangilinan, Joseph Pimentel, D.M. Reyes, Althea Lauren Ricardo, Joel Salud, Aldus Santos, Ahmed Toledo, Walter Villa, Momar Visaya Contributing Photographers | Joe Cobilla, Philip Kimpo Jr., Ted Madamba, Raphael John Oriel, Miko Santos, Andy Tecson Art Director | Le Grande Dee Pedroche Assistant editor | Marie Angeli S. Syjueco photography editor | Andrew Tadalan Production Manager | Kristine Tan Vice President for Advertising | Noel Godinez Vice President for marketing | Genelyn S. Alcala Vice President for Sales | Sharon Ann Z. Bathan vP for Circulation & special events | Vince Samson Staff Writer | Billy dela Cruz Staff Artists | Edward Dy, Napoleon Laurel, Jr., Valory Lim, Bienvenida Salazar Circulation Manager | Arthur Sibulangcao Accountant | Ria Fabro balikbayan Magazine is published monthly by Asian Journal Publications, Inc. Distributed in the Philippines by East West All Media Services, Inc. 1100 88 Corporate Center, Valero St., corner Sedeño St., Salcedo Village, Makati City, 1226 Philippines. Tel. No. (632)893-1720 • Fax No. (632) 813-8746 Send subscription inquiries to subscription@asianjournalinc.com, and advertising queries at advertising@asianjournalinc.com. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage of retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Asian Journal Publications, Inc. regrets that no responsibility can be accepted for unsolicited material, which will be returned only if stamped, addressed envelope is enclosed. Printed in the Philippines. Distributed in the Philippines for newly arrived balikbayans at Duty Free Philippines, as well as at select hotels, resorts, restaurants and cafes and major bookstores and magazine distributors. Circulated at special events and through subscription in the United States of America. Asia Headquarters / Editorial & Advertising Offices Makati City: 2/F Units D&E Fort Palm Spring Cond., 30th Street, cor. 1st Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig, 1200 Philippines Tel. (632) 856–4921 USA Advertising Offices Los Angeles: 1150 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90017-1904. • Tel. (213) 250–9797 San Francisco: 841 San Bruno Avenue West, Ste. 12-14 San Bruno, CA 94066 • Tel. (650) 583–6818 New York: 5 Penn Plaza, Ste. 1932, New York, NY 10001 • Tel. (212) 655–5426 New Jersey: 2500 Plaza Five, Harborside Financial Center, Jersey City, NJ 07311 • Tel. (201) 484–7249 Las Vegas: 3700 W. Desert Inn Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89102 Tel. (702) 792–6678

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editor’s notebook By lito ocampo cruz, editor-in-chief

A home in the country “Land of the morning, Child of the sun returning…”

T utterance.

hese first few lines of the English version of our very own National Anthem speak so much about our history. Translated in the 1920s by Camilo Osias and M.A.L. Lane from the original Spanish poem, “Filipinas” by Jose Palma, it became a prophetic

The anthem had been sung in the language of Mother America, where many Filipinos first went during the initial wave of the Diaspora. Leave-taking, if we re-read the lyrics, is only the first step of the journey; what completes it is the return to the land of one’s roots, a coming home. This “child of the sun returning” is of course, the balikbayan. Historically, we have been a people of adventure, and we had conquered so many lands, quite a number of them, lonely planets of some sort. What keeps beating within us is the pulse of our own land, where our past, present and future hopes, dreams and aspirations continue to be lived and fulfilled. A balikbayan’s coming home is inevitable; it is a phase in his journey, a way to complete that heroic mission. Since the inception of Balikbayan Magazine, we had long envisioned the various homecomings of the balikbayan, some of them staying on for good. And is there an even greater way of staying on, and keeping one’s self rooted than investing on land? Day by day, many Filipinos in America are getting convinced that the only way to go is home. And many of them are now looking into real estate investments as they plan to come home. On the surface, it only seems that they are just making sound investments. But on a deeper level, it is a manifestation of nobility, and yes, love of country. Love of country is expressed not only because of investment, but also by the very gesture of a return to the motherland, after many years of absence in search for a better life. And we have to note the astounding developments of the Philippine Real Estate industry for their efforts at making this gesture possible. With the burgeoning developments in real estate around the country, a lot of balikbayans are being provided various alternatives and possibilities. Our recent trip to Davao City showed us the magnificence of Monteritz Classic Estates, a development by the Robern Development Corporation, a trailblazer in the booming region. At Monteritz, we met a balikbayan couple from California, and we saw how they enjoy life back here. “She misses Davao,” said the husband, a former American military man, who served during the war. “And I also enjoy it here, more than anywhere else.” Other developers too are at the forefront in helping balikbayans build their homes back home. After talking to Camille Villar of Vista Land in a previous issue, we sat down with Jerry Navarrette, president of Crown Asia, a subsidiary of Vista Land. He talked about Crown Asia’s condominium development, the San Francisco Bay-inspired Presidio. Also talking about another high-rise development in this issue is Sta. Lucia Realty’s Michelle Robles, who also shares her own experience of taking on the business from her father. The return of the balikbayan is an exciting phenomenon. Indeed, home is where the balikbayan’s heart is. g balikbayanmagazine.com | november 2009 | balikbayan    


Wherever we go it’s our town


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BY LOUIE JON A. SANCHEZ | PHOTOS BY ANDREW TADALAN | THE AJPRESS

HE WORD, “RITZ” itself, connotes all things classy, elegant. The word itself has provided a stamp of opulence in anything it touches. It has a hand like Midas; it turns everything to gold, all in wondrous glitter and utter brilliance.

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MINDANAO has also put on this opulence, has been touched by gold, with the steady rise of a trailblazing residential development at the Davao City suburb of Maa, that hilly and picturesque district known to have been site to the city’s crisscrossing indigenous and contemporary history. The district overlooks the vast Davao Gulf. So many migrants caught in the web of national diaspora found their way to Davao, considered then to be the potential boomtown. Today, Maa district is considered as one of the city real estate centers, and the one trailblazer that started it all was Monteritz Classic Estates. As Davao’s Premier Address, Monteritz Classic Estates is a modern and highly exclusive subdivision in the city. It is a project of the Robern Development Corporation, which prides itself for undertaking projects that later transformed into the city’s active zone. Monteritz stands in two quadrants of the Carlos P. Garcia/Maa Road/Magtuod Road junctions, and constitutes 45-hectares of gently rolling terrain, rising to some 200 meters above sea level.

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Monteritz Classic Estates is in a growth center zoned primarily as a residential district and is just 10 minutes away from Davao City’s main commercial center. It is convenient and accessible, and is in close proximity to schools like the Ateneo de Davao Grade School and High School, Colegio de San Ignacio and the Philippine Women’s College; the St. Francis de Assissi Church; the Davao Doctor’s Hospital; it is also near NCCC and the SM Malls. But in our recent visit to the development, we had found out that there’s more where the “ritz” is coming from. Closeness to nature, the peculiar serenity of the place, and its picturesque landscape make it really a glittering Davao City gem. And when the gates opened, we saw something comparable to a secret garden. The residential complex, embraced by local trees and bushes, has used up a side of its hill property to create a breathtaking vista where land, sea and skies combine. But that’s not all.

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FOR ONE, the winding roads around the village transport you from the usual Davao City scene. You are in Davao, and you are also away, amidst vast greenery and upscale living. While trekking the country estates, we saw the city, and the gulf, and it seems we had been gifted with a view that is magnificently postcard perfect. Monteritz not only provides one a home in the country; it also lends a scenic landscape easily accessible. All you have to do is go to your terrace or open your windows. It is not merely a place to retire, but a place where one can really begin life.

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There’s an artistic side to MonteRitz that made it so endearing during our visit. The streets have been named to artists, and so are the model houses being built on its hills. The painter Rembrandt is elegantly remembered in a peach colored, two-storey house with a quaint terrace by the attic. The spacious terrace at the second floor provides a homey moving space where one can enjoy not only the comforts of living, but also the views from the hill. It has three bedrooms, a guest room and a servant’s quarters. The Polish-bon American pianist Rubinstein is also here through a two-storey structure of four bedrooms and one servant’s quarters. The English Impressionist landscape painter Alfred Sisley is also recalled in another impressive house.

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AMENITIES included in the fully-operational clubhouse complex are the grand ballroom and function rooms for your most memorable occasions; the fully equipped gym and fitness center, covered basketball court with provisions for volleyball and badminton, a tennis court and swimming pools for your healthy lifestyle.

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ROBERN DEVELPOMENT CORPORATION, the visionary developer of Monteritz, is well on its way to paving the road for more developments in the Maa area: the district’s first commercial complex. Located at an 11,000 sq.m. commercial area complementing the Monteritz community, it aims to provide a healthy mix of shopping, dining and recreational facilities not only for the residents, but also for Davao City itself. Living in Monteritz Classic Estates is a perfect investment not only for Filipinos living locally or for foreigners but also for balikbayans. Moreover, living in Monteritz Classic Estates gives you a taste of country living while in the city. Its natural rolling hills and ridges, pristine waterways and heights that offer a discriminating view overlooking the city is like a paradise at home. g

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| fyi |

erched atop Davao City’s foremost residential zone is a sprawling 45-hectare (111 acre) property with a natural landscape of rolling hills and ridges and offering discriminating views of the city, the mountain and the sea. Monteritz Classic Estates, Davao’s first highly exclusive subdivision, is a unique package of lifestyle, convenience, good taste, and investment. Monteritz Classic Estates has a fully operational Grand country clubhouse with complete events, sports, and health facilities. These are the converge foyer, the Grand Ballroom and function rooms, the Bridgeway Café, overlooking verandas, and fine dining restaurant for events and occasions. While for wellness activities for the whole family, the clubhouse also has a fully equipped gym and fitness Center, covered basketball court with provisions for volleyball and badminton, competition-size swimming pool, children’s pool, tennis courts with lighting facilities, game room for billiards, darts and table tennis, Burgundy Spa with jacuzzi, sauna, exclusive locker areas, parks and playgrounds.

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With a first-class land development, Monteritz Classic Estates has superior infrastructure and amenities only found in premier residential communities such as: fully secured gates and sentry points with all entry and exit gates security-guarded and screened 24/7; a 20meter concrete main access road and 15-meter concrete secondary main roads; cement curbs and gutters; underground storm drainage facilities; complete street lighting and street signs; Davao City Water District water system with back-up overhead and ground water reservoirs; 2.5 meter high concrete walls surrounding the entire perimeter; and tree-lined streets, and elegantly landscaped pocket gardens strategically placed throughout the village. Monteritz is Country Living in the City Monteritz is a highly exclusive, 45 hectare (111 acre) gated community at the very heart of the city. It has all the pampering of a laid-back, suburban life at the bosom of one of the busiest cities in the country. The first choice of real estate investors, Monteritz is a prime property with highly favorable profitability indicators. Buyers are ensured of an accelerated appreciation of the value of their investment with: • The most accessible location. Monteritz occupies two quadrants of the Carlos P. Garcia (Diversion)/Ma-a road/Magtuod road junction, just a short 10 minute ride from the city’s major commercial centers. Major public transportation lines traverse the Carlos P. Garcia National Highway and Ma-a road. • The best physical attributes. Monteritz is distinctly characterized by its gently rolling terrain, rising some 200 meters above sea level at its highest, offering discriminating views

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overlooking the city and its environs. • Equitable pricing. Monteritz offers the best value for money with its superior development and the best mix of community and sports facilities plus a market value that steadily increases with the constant flurry of commercial activity in the district. Site Environment Ma-a is one of the fastest growth centers of Davao City. It has become home to a number of residential and commercial developments catered to mid- and high-end markets. Monteritz is at the forefront of premier residential developments situated in the area. The hilly Magtuod Area will soon be the site of a proposed civic center, cultural park, and some of the newest future landmarks of Davao. Location & Accessibility Monteritz Classic Estates occupies two quadrants of the Maa-Diversion-Magtuod Roads, atop Ma-a, Davao City. It enjoys a 170 meter frontage along the Carlos P. Garcia Highway (more commonly known as the Diversion Road). The main access roads are the Diversion road, Ma-a road and Magtuod road. Monteritz is accessible from Buhangin, Matina and Bangkal. Major public transportation lines traverse the Carlos P. Garcia National Highway and Ma-a road. The village is just a short 10 minute ride from the city’s major commercial centers. g For inquiries call telephone numbers (+6382) 298.00.58 / (+6382) 298.00.10 or Fax No. (+6382) 297.22.29 or e-mail at inquiry@monteritzestates.com, url: www.monteritzestates.com.


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BY MARIE ANGELI SYJUECO | THE AJPRESS

UST OF THE MANY SURPRISES that met us in Davao City, we cannot pass off this delightful discovery at Chimes Specialty store – a mini stand of exquisitely designed and superbly crafted luxury fashion accessories under the retail brand Color Theory. It was truly amazing to find earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and other accessories of semi-precious gemstones so sophisticated, stylish and beautifully made –which will easily stand out even over more known brands of similar items.

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Until today, the art of jewelry is still present, some made out of pure gold or silver, while others from precious gem stones found on rich earth soil or under water. Many different jewelers discovered and found expertise in this art. And the Color Theory Company of Davao City is just one contemporary jewelry retail brand known for its classy yet affordable luxury accessories. Known for its exquisitely designed and superbly crafted luxury accessories, Color Theory first emerged in the fashion accessories business in 2005. The company is owned by three travel buddies, K. Bernardo, A.V. Silvosa and C. Bernardo, whose careers were basically in the fields of architecture, accounting and management. Color Theory, with its luxury accessories made only with the finest semiprecious gemstone beads, crystals, freshwater pearls, sterling silver and gold micron-plated sterling silver findings sourced from the best suppliers worldwide, no wonder made a successful debut in 2004 in Davao City. Color Theory pieces are created both by machine and by hand with the strictest crafting standards. The value of each piece lies in its versatility and extravagance. The rich and vivid colors contrasting from stone to stone attract the beholder to touch and wear the jewelry pieces. Thus, Color Theory, with its first regular outlet at Chimes in Davao City, successfully found its way in the mainstream market. And to this day, Color Theory continuously has a growing clientele base. It has reached the US, Canadian and Australian market through accredited agents. g

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| our town | by louie jon a. sanchez | photos by andrew tadalan | the ajpress

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LL SENSES GET HEIGHTENED once you step onto Davao City soil. Of course, most of us only know about that peculiar thing that reminds us of the city—the scent of the city’s favorite fruit, the durian, which permeates the air even at the city’s doorsteps at the Davao International Airport. You won’t mistake it for anything else. But once you have traversed the wide, winding roads and the rolling hills of Davao City, the land of this sweet and creamy fruit makes you experience more than what seems apparent. The sight of progress and people, the sound of music and familiar melodies, the taste of food and bountiful harvest, and the feel of natural warmth in its history, ethnicity and modernity—all these embrace any visitor quite benevolently. After all, this land is a land of promise, where dreams of the many cultures that gathered in its land had begun. If the city now glimmers as it is, glittering amidst the serenity of nighttime, it is because of these dreams fulfilled. This rich, fertile land of indigenous lore, mystique and modern civilization had realized if not, most of them. In our recent trip to Davao, we had been initiated into the world of Davao City brimming with sensous experiences. An hour and a half plane ride from Manila. The city is cradled by the mountains, and indeed blessed by the sea. Surrounded by Cotabato in the West, Davao del Norte in the East, and Davao del Sur in the South, it is a city that rises to great expectations. Being the largest city in the world in terms of land area, it boasts of a life where the cosmopolitan fuses quite beautifully with the rural and laid back, and by turns, the Indigenous Christian and the Islamic. The landscape probably holds the enigma of this amusing mix; the rolling hills, and the moving mountains and lush greenery complementing the well-maintained urban vision for the city. One word that best describes Davao City is balance, and this was visibly clear once we started to drive around the locale from the airport. The city was a sight/site to behold; it is home to a people of warm smiles, indulging in gentle comfort. While it is a land of many migrants—mostly from Luzon and parts of the Visayas—the people had certainly made this their own native home. It is exactly this encompassing warmth that entrances any visitor.

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As in a T-boli abaca weaving, like the “sinamay”, the people compose a wonderful tapestry of colors, moving in different gradations, creating wonderful patterns that depict celebration, joie de vivre and primal faith and dreams commonly shared. A usual stroll during the day proves this quite easily. Experience is deeply rooted in the person, and it is not really surprising to discover that much of what could be pleasantly sensed in Davao City is a creation of its people. But Davaoland of course, is firstly, the land of the lumads, the local name for the indigenous tribal communities. The name in fact is a fusion of how the natives called the river that ran through the lands. The local writer Rogelio Lizada called it “a result of the phonetic blending of the words of the three Bagobo subgroups referring to the Davao River.” The Tagabawa Bogobos call it “Dabu”, and the Guiangan Bagobo named it “Duhwow”. The Obo Bogobos meanwhile call the river “Davoh”. Studies, like the one by Wilie Labawan in 1985 also revealed that “Davoh” also meant “beyond the high grounds.” “Clearly,” says Ernesto Corcino, author of Davao History, “the word Davao then is a toponym or a place name based on topographical location or physical features.” The lumads share a very colorful culture to this land. From the Bagobo’s epic story of Tuwaang who flew to the clouds to encounter the Buhong Sky Maiden, to the deep primal spirituality of the Mandaya, another lumad tribe, indigenous culture defines much of Davao and its history before the age of colonization. Much of it could still be seen in what could be considered as Davao living treasures—in the opulent manner of dressing by the Manobos, the tribe known for its intricate beadwork and jewelry, in the organized community living of the Mansakas, or even the artistry of B’la-an embroidery. The lumads continue to provide color and character to the Davao’s hinterlands and its queenly city. They are still very much part of the cultural landscape, standing proud like the Mount Apo, called “Sandawa” in local lore, referring to the glinting sulfur deposits at its peak. For intance, the lives of the Bogobos, who peopled most of Davao City proper, centered on the “Sandawa” for they traced their origins to the first man and woman, Toglai and

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Toglibon whose abode was this sacred mountain. And yes, this land is of the Muslims’ too, and their daily prayerful life and peculiar sense of community indicate that they have also built this city. They too have a long history with the land, much like the lumads. “The proud Moros of Davao Gulf were believed to be subjects of either the Sultan of Buayan or of Maguindanao,” writes Corcino. “Some of the Muslim inhabitants are believed to have come directly from the southern islands of Java, the Celebes, Sumatra or Jolo after the fall of the Madjapahit Empire in the early 15th century.” While much of history has written about conquests, it is undeniable that the Muslims have become an important economic and cultural partner of the lumads, and much lately, the early migrants from the other Philippine regions. Corcino continues: “Trading was also enhanced by the movement of Christians who drifted down the east coast in search of better job opportunities… The movement of these people fostered the development of trading contracts from one village to the other… As time marched along, trading grew among isolated villages, bringing ancillary effects, such as building friendships, sharing confidence and information and promoting culture in varied aspects.” This cultural exchange is very much seen in a visit or a simple stroll at Aldevinco Shopping Center at Roxas Boulevard, right across the Ateneo de Davao University campus. As the original trading Mecca of contemporary Davao, much of what flourished among all these cultures are displayed and sold here as mementoes of travel or as gifts. In almost all of the stores, the unique fusion is apparent— Manobo clothing as well as the popular kerchief called “tubaw”, “tinalak”, the abaca woven fabric by the T’bolis, intricately designed neckpieces, furniture with unique Islamicinspired capiz inlay, kulintangs and other indigenous musical instruments, and curiously, some barongs in piña and jusi. The cultural exchange transformed the traveler in me, and brought me to realize how cultures could criss-cross, quite peacefully in terrains, planes and moments of Davao City history. That it is utterly possible is something this shopping landmark has been trying to showcase.


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But real Davao history started at the break of dawn of the American colonization of the country. In accounts such as the one gathered by Rogelio Lizada, a fifth generation member of the Alzate-Bustamante-Suazo-Bangoy Clan, one of the earliest Davao settlers in 1848, a certain “man from Kentucky,” Capt. James C. Burchfield, a member of the forces which occupied the Philippines in 1899, dreamed of beginning a “prosperous community,” following the footsteps of his forefathers, who in America “carved out of the jungles” that became the Kentucky state. “After his service,” Lizada writes, “he applied for a 600-acre land with a ¾ mile beach front and traversed by the clear waters of Sirawan river in Daliao… He convinced other soldiers to stay. He asked his friends to come and look at Davao…” Building a plantation, and networking with the locals, Burchfield realized the vision laid out earlier by American Governor Edward Bolton: “It (Davao land) needs only American Capital and lion hearted American pioneers to make it one of the richest section of greater America.” The steady rise of plantations, and the continued development of the locale through the public education system encouraged other settlers to come and make Davao their home. The Japanese workers who worked in the construction of Kennon Road in the Summer Capital of Baguio City in Luzon, soon found themselves working in the Davao plantations. The Manila-based businessman K. S Ohta organized their moving down south. Soon, a Japanese community in the Mintal district rose. Lizada remembers: “I used to go to the place before and during the war… I saw then, that the stores were owned by Japanese. There was a big, well-equipped Japanese hospital, a Japanese school, barber shops, restaurants and bakeries selling varieties of “manju”. Nearby, the Bago-Oshiro experimental plantation that boasted of hectares of beautiful gardens and exotic trees. It was an expression of Japanese artistry, which was evident even in their place of work.” Davao had grown much since then, and it continued to evolve even after World War II. With the campaign for migration that started in the American period, Filipinos of different languages and backgrounds gathered in the land, cultivated it, made crops and infrastructure grow. The Ilocanos, Kapampangans, Pangasinense and Tagalogs are here. Davao has developed it own Bisaya, because of the Visayan-speaking settlers who co-mingled with other migrant peoples. The city remembers former President Ramon Magsaysay here, with a park. The migrants paid him homage for encouraging them to start their new lives in Davao, and many other key Mindanao cities. At the outset, we could surmise that Davao City is itself a melting pot of cultures. Its indigenous peoples continue to paint the native tapestry, the way the Muslims chant it with their traditions and histories. Capping it all is the phenomenon of migration, which made the culture livelier as ever. “We need to return to feeling the textures of life,” says the “sensuist” and poet Diane Ackerman. In her book, A Natural History of The Senses, she has explored man’s initiations into the wondrous, astounding and significant human experience of perception. I brought Ackerman with me in Davao City, and it seemed to have presaged the very sensuality of the journey. The pungent smell of durian welcomed my group, and it seemed to evoke everything that is the city. Driving around will bring you the same thing: people scrambling for durian in corner streets, and at night, places called “Durian Restaurants”. The “restaurants” though are just joints with tables and chairs, and a counter where that spiky kind of a fruit is cut open and served. But my group had its taste of durian in the morning of our arrival, and we went, where else, but to what is known in Davao City as the “durian market” at Magsaysay Park.

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From where we were billeted at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao, we drove for about ten minutes to reach durian shrine. It was an initiation for the sense of smell, and of taste, of course, these two that are very much interlinked as we know in popular science. What we sense as flavorful is actually created by what we smell, and my experience of the durian fruit makes this fact rather ambiguous, hard to tell. The initiation at Magsaysay Park was indeed an experience not like any other. For the smell, before and after the fact is already in itself a challenge. But the durian is more than just its fruit. It is also a world that is enveloped in wonderful folklore. According to the Bagobos, one of the native tribes in Davao, the fruit, apparently, was created—or re-created, that is, to avert the greedy ploy of some members of a kingdom, whose datu was old and ailing. The gods, who first gifted the tribe of this fruit, out of the death of the datu’s son, made the fruit, well, a little less desirable. But the beauty of the myth stems from the tree that grew from the boy’s very grave. It is a myth that could be seen in almost all civilizations, as if it is imprinted in the soul. Durian has transcended its being a fruit, and it has transformed into many different treats that had become trademark Davao City favorites. If you want candies, you can always turn to the city favorite, Lola Abon’s. The Lola Abon’s line of Durian candies, pastillas, tarts and many others has introduced durian to the family favorite Filipino sweets, long before ube had been turned into other different favorites. Durian too, had conquered the coffee lover’s heart, making the Mindanao arabica and Bukidnon barako, more creamy and flavorful. There’s also the Durian Cheesecake at Blugre Coffee, the popular Davao lifestyle cofeeshop. Seeing the whole Davao indulge in the fruit is an amusing experience, for this is quite unusual in this tropical world of the country, rich in fruit trees and sweet bounty. The Davaoeños are euphoric in the presence of the durian, as if it is their second religion. It is more than a past time, I surmise. It is dolce vita, the sweet life, in every big, meaty seed that they savor, much lest, devour. But for visitors, it is a rite of passage, a way of taking in, for the first time, the world of Davao City. The traveler’s hands must get sticky at times, and I certainly had to do what had become a surprising durian experience. A vendor, a boy in his early twenties, welcomed us to his stall. He had a table there, and a “mini-lecture” on durian was in order. “The best tasting durian is what is known here as the native one. Its spikes are finer, and the fruit’s meat, sweeter. The one we call arancillo has bigger spikes and had somehow grown quite irregularly in the face of the fruit.” He held one native durian, put it in the table and started breaking it open. Black ants started to crawl out of the fruit, as if it had really just been picked from the tree. “It has just been picked from the tree,” he quips, as if reading my mind. He pointed to the pick up right in front of his stall, and there we saw his companions bringing down piles and piles of durian. “There’s so much durian today, unlike last year,” he said, while continuing to cut the durian. Once the fruit was broken, the immaculately white meat and seeds emerged, waiting for our picking. Our group started to get their fair share. I picked the remaining one. “The proper way to eat it,” the vendor said, “is to eat the seed whole. You must fry to finish off the meat with your tongue. The seed must come out of your mouth clean.” “That,” he added, “is the true measure of being Davaoeño. If you know how to eat Durian, and you eat it well, you are truly authentic.” My companions are great with it, passing the initiation with flying colors. But I was too afraid of choking, I had to take the meat part by part. The smooth face of the seed started to be revealed, like a secret unraveled.

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Without me knowing it, I was becoming entranced by the unbelievable sweetness that subtly enveloped my tongue. Durian, at first, is just all meat, since the smell easily overpowers. But while it is being chewed, the creamy flavor started to tingle the taste buds. The durian is a master of subtlety, I must say, and it tries to keep to itself by being pungent and rather spiky. Inside, its sweetness is unique, somewhat milky as in the traditional dairy. But taste, like the other senses, is quite relative, and I can only rely on my attempts at description. In the end, the durian was still mystical. Before we continued our trek, the vendor told us there was one other thing we had to learn: the art of washing our smelly hands after eating durian. “You must get the spiky covering of the fruit. You let water run on its creamy and dry inside skin. That’s when you rub your fingers and palms to the skin, and let the smell stay there.” Continuing with the food trip, Davao City may be comparable to a table blessed by the sea. Seafood here is sumptuous, fresh, and not to mention, very affordable. And we had been amused in the number of times we ate out and enjoyed authentic Davao food. A culinary shrine in itself is the old Luz Kinilaw along Davao City’s Quezon Boulevard. It is a favorite among Davaoeños, and we’ve heard that even balikbayans make sure they come back here to partake of the glorious meals of the old Davao. The place is rather smokey since much of its dishes are sinugba or grilled. When we got to the place by lunch time, people were starting to come up its stairs to take probably their favorite dining spots. What is rather welcoming in Luz Kinilaw is its “window” display of all things sinugba--bagaybay, or tuna intestines tied in and wrapped around skewers; bihod or tuna eggs; buntot or tuna fish tail; panga or tuna fish jaw; and pusit or squid. All these mouthwatering treats went well with the typical toyo or soy sauce with siling labuyo and calamansi. The rice servings were more than enough to fill, and every bite of the grilled treats could really make one crave for more. But one must really leave room for more in Davao, for there are more tables to sit down in. At Yahong Restaurant along Torres Street, you’d certainly love the most sought after specialty--talaba or oysters topped with melted quesong puti and garlic. Aside from this, we tried out their amusing take on the popular dish, the crispy tuna. The tuna here was boiled until tender, and then deep fried until crispy. It’s like crispy pata, only healthier, I think. And you would even mistake it for one by the looks of it. What I loved though at Yahong is their adobong pusit. The dish is quite dry, whereas Tagalog or Luzon cooking is mostly soupy and

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reddish. This one swam in its sweet-sour ink, and was very flavorful with its hints of ginger. Another dish to live for in Yahong is their tolang (or tinolang) tuna, a comforting soup dish that we usually have with chicken. The pechay and string beans were crisp and fresh, and the broth tasteful. Another culinary destination along Torres Street is the Harana Family Restaurant. Harana is one of Davao City’s culinary institutions, having been put up while the city was rising to urbanity. The restaurant is a complex sporting a typical Filipino motif, with a main restaurant inspired by the bahay-kubo. Harana has a very homey atmosphere, calling to mind the comfort foods of lutong bahay or home cooking. The food in Harana was also a treat, a feast for the senses. Early on, we had been served platefuls of cut green mango with rich, luscious bagoong or shrimp paste. When asked for a drink, I immediately asked for recommendations, and was told to try the green mango shake. The shake was simply refreshing; I had to order another tall glass. From the menu, we had pinakbet, Davao style, chicken barbecue or inasal, and sinigang na hipon. But my favorite, fruity treat is still, the pomelo, which like the durian, grows aplenty here. Like the favorite fruit, the pomelo is everywhere and its countless stores line the various streets of Davao City. Davao world is perhaps, as round, as rich, and as plump as the pomelo. You could sense that beauty is indeed, everywhere. The sights too, had been worth the journey. An important destination in the Davao is its outdoor parks and activities which provide out-of-the-box experiences for visitors and locals alike. In the afternoon of our last day at Davao City, we joined kids from kindergarten and up for a stroll at the Davao Crocodile Park. Housing a state-of-the-art crocodile farming system, it provides an educational view of reptile life. The star of the show, of course, is the 18-foot croc named “Pangil” which had starred in different popular action movies. At Malagos, the Philippine Eagle Sanctuary is home to Davao’s pride, the fascinating Monkey-Eating Eagle. The extreme life is also in Davao, and you could not ever miss the Davao Wild Water Adventure at the still mythic Davao River. The experience could take four hours and could provide you with an in your face experience with Davao nature. Time’s of the essence however, had I choose the extreme alternative: The zip line at Zip City in Barangay Langub. The experience capped the trip by providing an amusing view of Davao Land by wire--green, bright and sparkling. From afar, the mountain that is Apo appeared majestic. the longest one minute of my life while on the zip line lent me once again the beauty of the city. g


by MARIE angeli syjueco | THE AJPRESS

Meet Davao City’s father and daughter team, Rody and Sara

| persona |

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nown as the PhilippineS’ most livable city, Davao City has experienced remarkable stability in the past few years. It flourished into a place of perfect balance. And its very own Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte has made major advances in developing Davao City. In our encounter with the Mayor at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao City, he humbly outlined the basic principles they had been taking to make sure they keep up with the world’s expectations. “We always have to be business friendly,” he said. “And after many years, we are proud that with the important steps we have undertaken, so much had been accomplished.” Rody was first elected as mayor in 1988, and has served four terms as leader of Davao City to this day. His strong and popular leadership holds the principles of comprehensive security, gender equality, democratic participation, quality over quantity, and professional service. Rody’s remarkable leadership has brought Davao City to what could be considered its golden years. The Dutertes have been serving Davao for many years since the time of Rody’s father, Gov. Vicente G. Duterte. Rody’s daughter, now Vice Mayor Inday Sara Duterte joins him in office. We also sat with Sara in our recent trip to Davao City. As daughter of the famous Rodrigo Duterte, she is definitely taking after his steps. And she told us one important lesson she learned from her father. “Keep your sense of humor,” she said. “He has a remarkable sense of humor. You won’t know whether he’s already joking on you.” Thus, we discovered the secret of the father and daughter tandem. As vice mayor of Davao City, Sara has been doing a full time job in public service. She sees to it that she could address the needs of their people. And she opens her office to their concerns. “I start at 1 pm and then the latest is 11 pm. But it’s not on a daily basis, only on Wednesdays for everybody and some on Tuesdays after our session,” she said.

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This is just one of Sara’s ways to reach out to the people. She said that she hasn’t been traveling that much around the country. “I dedicated my time this term into going around Davao City because a lot of them do not know me yet,” she said. She would soon run for mayor to continue what her father has started. Davao City is definitely a home to the Dutertes. They have worked to make the city an ideal place. And if you want to know Davao more, Sara is just one of the right persons to ask. She definitely knows Davao City by heart. Sara mentioned some of the places to visit in Davao like the Philippine Eagle, Malagos Garden, Eden Garden Resort, Crocodile Farm, and Outland Adventure in Hill town. For the nightlife, she recommends the more popular restaurants. “We have P 98 buffets. You’ll never find them anywhere else,” she said. The city council’s collective efforts are geared towards strengthening and maintaining the city’s tourism. “We’re coming up with the tourism code, the master plan for everything which involves tourism here in Davao City. We’re still doing that in the committee level so everything is still under discussion but so far our tourism efforts are bearing fruit. They physically promote eco-adventure tourism,” Sara said. While food could be considered an important factor to get to know a place, Sara shares that crispy pata is her personal favorite.

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For Davao City, barbecue is also a specialty. Davao City promotes its local cuisines especially in its biggest event, the Kadayawan festival. “During Kadayawan, we highlight indigenous people, tribes here in Davao City. So we showcase the food during the fiesta,” Sara said. And who would forget the durian? Sara said she doesn’t eat durian that much, but the fruit still has a special role in her life. “My mom was so fond of durian while she’s conceiving me. That makes up for it,” she said. Davao City has been attracting a lot of tourists. It’s one tourist destination that could even be considered a must-go in one person’s lifetime. Moreover, aside from all the recognitions the city has been garnering, Davao City has become the convention center of Mindanao, even the whole Philippines. “Usually when there are conventions of the different groups, they usually go to Davao, outside Visayas and Luzon,” Sara said. But the main highlight, Sara says, remains to be her father. People know him for his hip lifestyle and fondness for big bikes. He roams around himself at night and enjoys his southern comfort. “He has become also one of our tourist attractions. Usually when we have visitors, they really want to see the mayor and take pictures with him,” Sara said. Truly Rody and Inday Sara have fulfilled the city’s promise. g


on by louie jon a. sanchez | photos by andrew tadalan | the ajpress

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ho ya gonna call? We only get to watch it on television, that heartgripping rescue series where lives are saved because someone had dialed the three magic digits: 9-1-1. In a matter minutes, disasters at home or in public are aided, if not averted. The idea of being able to get rescued, come hell or high water, is simply a comforting thought. But in Davao City, make no mistake: it’s also 911, for all sorts of community emergencies, peace and order and other safety concerns. No wonder this city was hailed as one of the safest in the country. Aside from the fact that it is business friendly, everyone is being kept safe and sound 24/7. Its system and platform are the envy of many, a lot of local government units are now trying to replicate them. But the system in itself has a very amusing story. In our recent visit to their Central Communications and Emergency Response Center at the Davao City suburbs in C. Bangoy Street, we had been initiated into that vision of making Davao a globally competitive city by means of effective law enforcement as well as immediate rescue platforms in times of emergencies. balikbayanmagazine.com | november 2009 | balikbayan    49


Central 911 Chief Mario Verner Monsanto with the Davao Paramedics.

Davao 911 began in 1997, with current Mayor Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte initiating. “The idea started with a tie up between the Davao City Local Government Unit and the Davao Light and Power Company,” remembers Mario Verner S. Monsanto, chief operating officer of Central 911, when we sat down with him during the tour. “The concept brought up by Mayor Duterte was to help curb street crime and dispatch aid in emergency situations. We were able to create a mapping system based on existing light posts.”

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It took a few more years to improve the system and lay down the comprehensive platform. By September 2002, Davao City’s Central 911 was fully operational. It had linked not only with the local Philippine National Police but also with other emergency resources. “Thinking about it, the system did not only involve answering emergency calls and responding to them. It opened an avenue of involvement for Davao residents. It empowered them by participating in keeping the peace,” Monsanto adds. Today, under the Office of the City Mayor, Central 911 has more than 400 volunteers, trained in its fields of coverage—law enforcement support, emergency medical service, urban search and rescue, fire auxiliary service and K9. Through a central call center, emergency calls are cascaded to respective district action centers and police mobile units. The Central 911 receives about 40 to 50 calls per day. “All these calls are checked for veracity first by available mobile units. When it’s affirmative, that’s when we send what’s needed.” Adopting the 911 system in the United States and Canada, Davao Central 911 put in place a revised system and used what they call as the Emergency Computer Aided Dispatch (ECAD) which enables authorities to locate where distress calls are coming from. This system is also able to track the speed of response by the police. Monsanto placed the average to a decent 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the location of the call. “Davao City, as you know is quite a big city, and we are still putting up other response areas in other districts. This is part of our continued desire to improve the system, and to make the services available to as many Davao City residents as possible.” For any balikbayan or any visitor, amidst its history and geography, Davao City might be the safest place on earth. And with the rate it’s going, you might not have to place that call. g


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by rochelle c. pangilinan | photos by andrew tadalan | the ajpress

he City of Las Vegas is known worldwide for being the Entertainment Capital of the World, a major destination for anyone who loves gambling, shopping, fine dining and of course entertainment. However, Las Vegas is rarely acknowledged for its culture and architecture, and often builders usually look into other cities to draw inspiration from. For the team of Jerry Navarrette, President of Crown Asia, a subsidiary of Vista Land & Lifescapes, Inc., Las Vegas was one of the inspirations for Presidio at Lakefront City, a sprawling community of low to mid-rise condominiums located in Sucat, Parañaque City where the unit owners have an amazing view of Laguna de Bay, completing the ideal respite from the busy city life. balikbayanmagazine.com | november 2009 | balikbayan    53


“We knew the place is a good area. We went to a resort in Las Vegas which was off the strip but when you go there, they have a gated community and the commercial area surrounds it. So we sent our technical team to draw inspiration from that,” Jerry recalls. The name Presidio though was inspired by the San Francisco bay, and the cosmopolitan feel that the community exudes is also San Francisco-inspired. The buildings, decked in modern and Victorian architecture, are named after classical artistic masters of the Renaissance era: Renoir, Michaelangelo, Cezanne, Da Vinci, Monet, Rembrandt, Picasso and Bellini. In the middle of the community lies the Clubhouse, a sprawling complex complete with a fully-equipped gym, game room with billiards, table tennis and darts, function rooms, barbecue pit and a free-form swimming pool. And unit owners can simply chill out and relax at the Club Room, a fully furnished living and dining area, the first of its kind. Vista Land, known as the country’s largest homebuilder, first acquired the property where Presidio now stands in the early 2000. Construction began in 2004 and now, Presidio boasts of eight residential buildings, with two to be established later on. The buildings all have a unique y-shaped design which brings optimum lighting and ventilation where each floor has 13 units of 36 sq.m. for one bedroom or a 49 sq.m. for 2 bedrooms. With its strategic location, Presidio is easily accessible to Ortigas, Taguig, Alabang and Makati residents and it would even be more so by the time C6 is completed.

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Presidio is Crown Asia’s venture into vertical development, and the company’s first entry to the North American market on a much bigger scale through a road show which takes the team into various key cities in the US for two and a half months. A road show is scheduled this November. The first road show was in 2004 when construction began, and this proved to be a challenge for Jerry’s team to tap into the Filipino-American market in the US. “It’s a real challenge to convince Filipinos who have been there for so many years to invest in the Philippines on the basis of our plans, our promises and our name,” Jerry recalls. Jerry personally was an integral part of the road show and got to experience firsthand how difficult it was. “We held project presentations—we discussed the project, its location, its advantages, technical details, financial terms and conditions. I got to know their reservations, I got to know their sentiments, I got to know their apprehensions,” he says. Another challenge was that Filipinos in the US have acquired very discriminating standards. “Of course the standards of a first-world country is very different from those of a third-world country,” Jerry stresses, adding that despite the obstacles, they remained unfazed. After all, their boss was Senator Manny Villar, who have instilled in them the values of

“Sipag at Tiyaga” even early on when Villar, only a businessman at the time, started Camella Homes back in 1975. “’Sipag at Tiyaga’ isn’t only for show,” Jerry emphasizes, adding that Villar’s style of management remains to be a model for all of the top honchos at the company. “That is how he really worked.” And so Jerry and his team persevered and got the results they set out for. “We became very successful in tapping the Fil-Am market in the US even inspite of the global economic crisis,” Jerry says. “There was a slowdown for a while but now it’s clearly recovering. People in the US began to realize that it really is better to invest in the Philippines than in the US. We give them what is appropriate for their kind of lifestyle, their kind of financial capability, investable funds. We tell them what’s appropriate for them. Having a unit at Presidio is also much more ideal and practical than staying at a hotel when they come back to visit the country... and they enjoy the same benefits of staying at a hotel.” There is a lot in store for Crown Asia in terms of vertical development. Presidio was just the beginning. Soon, there will be a community of residential condominiums from North to South. “It is the collective effort of the group which brought us to where we are. We’re determined to be here... for good,” Jerry insists. “We never fail at our commitment. We have fulfilled our promise.” g balikbayanmagazine.com | november 2009 | balikbayan    59


Towering High talks about

La Breza

by marie angeli syjueco | photos by andrew tadalan | the ajpress

or over three decades, Sta. Lucia Realty has proven its expertise and credibility as developer in the real estate business. And Michelle Robles is not only a daughter to the company’s president, Exequiel Robles, but to the company itself as she practically grew up with it. Today, she is working as Sta. Lucia’s land corporate marketing director, and she definitely knows the company’s soul by heart. And she introduces us the first condominium building of Sta. Lucia in Metro Manila, the La Breza Tower in Quezon City.

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We sat down with Michelle and she related that she knew from the very start that she would be working with Sta. Lucia. “Ever since we were younger, we’re already exposed with this kind of business-real estate,” she said. Thus, Michelle finished her education with a degree in marketing. She started working for another company because she thought she needed the experience but eventually it is Sta. Lucia where she is destined to be. “I tried to work for something related to passion, like styling first for a bit. I wanted to pursue fashion but I knew that it wouldn’t be my lifetime career. And then I worked for an events company for a few months,” she said. Michelle never knew that she would be working for Sta. Lucia very soon, until she took the chance to work part-time for her father. “I did an event for Splendido and I realized that I liked working for Sta. Lucia,” she said. Thus, she decided to start working for the company. It is very evident how passionate Michelle is in working for the family business. While she has a small shoe business, she knows very well that Sta. Lucia is her priority. “I love designing shoes, and so I have a small shoe business. I have a partner who focuses on the operations. I made it clear that I can’t let go of my job as marketing director,” Michelle said. Moreover, after three years of working for Sta. Lucia and, of course, growing up together with the company, she definitely knows the company very well.


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Michelle definitely sees La Breza as an ideal place to live. “La Breza Tower is our first in Metro Manila. And I would definitely want to live here, because when you go out, everything is in an easy reach,” Michelle said. La Breza Tower is located in the entertainment hub of Quezon City, making it a prime spot of city life. It is practically a neighbor to the gigantic television network ABS-CBN. Thus, famous young actor and La Breza’s official endorser, John Lloyd Cruz considered buying a unit from La Breza Tower, and even thinks of inviting his friends in the show business to buy their own units at La Breza because of its convenient location. La Breza is also near top schools such as the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo de Manila University, making it an ideal halfway home for those students who live in the province but are studying in the best schools in the country. “Basically, it’s an ideal place to live for people from outside Manila who wants a place near their work or school,” Michelle said. La Breza Tower is also a perfect home for starting families. “These may be newly wed couples who want to start on their own and who want to live separately from their in-laws.,” Michelle said. And aside from it being a home, La Breza Tower is also a good investment especially for balikbayans. “They could own a condotel unit here, so that when they want to go on a vacation in the country in a place with a hotel environment, complete with amenities. At that same time, while they’re out of the country, they can still earn from it on a quarterly basis,” Michelle said. And while Sta. Lucia has always been known for its Spanish-Mediterranean architectural design that gives a homey feel, La Breza boasts of an elegant interior design, which sports a modernized Spanish-Mediterranean look. “We want a homey lifestyle, which matches a typical Filipino lifestyle,” Michelle said. Thus, the name itself says it all—life is a breeze at La Breza Tower. A convenient lifestyle where you’d feel so much at home, and still enjoy the city life when you go out. La Breza Tower is complete with amenities such as function rooms and fitness facilities like swimming pools and a gym, all of which help meet the lifestyle of people like Michelle who goes to the gym and loves the city life. “I go to the gym. I do yoga and boxing. And I need to go out with friends at night,” she said. “I’m a city person.” g

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The Asian Journal Publications opens another exciting chapter in its history through the Asian Journal Foundation FTER MORE THAN 18 YEARS of serving the Filipino-American community, through news and information, the Asian Journal Publications, publisher of the Asian Journal newspaper and Balikbayan Magazine, reached another milestone. And it is a milestone of remarkable feats, a fulfillment of the publications’ mission of paying the blessed years forward. The company continues to soar as it formally opens its doors to the world of corporate social responsibility. This after almost eight months of the successful gala of the Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra, which debuted under its auspices. In its Los Angeles offices recently, the publications has launched this visionary avenue of service to the Filipinos, the Asian Journal Foundation, Inc. Founded by Roger and Cora Oriel, publishers of Asian Journal Publications, it is fueled by a noble vision of cradling love of country. It is a non-profit organization in the US that aims to promote Filipino culture through arts and music. It will also support deserving students in the field of journalism and communication through a scholarship program. These projects have been showcased in the website asianjournalfoundation.com. “The site,” Roger said, “will be the portal of our corporate social responsibility in three main areas we have chosen—the Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra (FASO), The Journalism Scholarship, and the building of The Balikbayan Museum and Library. Our efforts of being patron of arts and culture, as well as supporter of education will be read around the world through the website.” The Asian Journal Foundation has a variety of programs which will promote Filipino arts and culture. The foundation will concentrate in three areas—the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra (FASO), the first and only one of its kind in America; educational scholarships to underprivileged but deserving Filipino students in the Philippines who want to enter the fields of journalism or communications; and the creation of Balikbayan Museum and Library in the Calabarzon area in the Philippines, a booming economic zone with must-see tourist destinations.

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It all started with FASO The goal of the foundation for Filipino artists is to maximize their full potential and showcase their God-given talents to inspire and benefit the world. Indeed, it is a challenge for Asian Journal Foundation to give to these Filipino artists the support they need to reach these goals. Despite the many challenges, FASO has successfully mounted its inaugural show last May. Fortunately, Roger and Cora, selfconfessed patrons of the arts, and Lito Cruz, editor-at-large, took on the cudgels to make the dream come true. Music lover and visionaries, the three friends decried the lack of a symphony orchestra that showcases the talents of Filipino-American musicians. They knew there were many outstanding Filipino musicians in America; all that was needed was for a management group who will take up the challenge to establish and sustain such

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an orchestra. The group passionately took up the challenge and immediately established the Filipino American Symphony Orchestra. The Filipino-American Symphony Orchestra (FASO) is the first Filipino symphony orchestra, outside of the Philippines. And it is just fitting that it is established in Los Angeles County--which has the biggest concentration of Filipinos outside the Philippines. With FASO firmly established in Los Angeles, mainstream America-and the world--will recognize, appreciate and enjoy symphony music played by excellent Filipino musicians based in Southern California. Asian Journal in education Another field where the Asian Journal Foundation would be actively participating is in journalism and communication


education. One of the Asian Journal Foundation’s key thrusts is education, and since Asian Journal Publications, Inc. is in the publishing business, it thought of nurturing young and talented Filipinos who have dreams of taking up courses in or related to journalism or communications in college. Five scholarships are up for grabs every year for incoming freshmen enrolling in courses in journalism or communication at the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, University of the Philippines-Diliman, St. Paul University and University of Santo Tomas. More projects coming With its relentless dedication to serve the Filipino-American community in America and back home, the Asian Journal will also put up the Balikbayan Museum & Library.

This museum and library will pay tribute to the amazing journey of the Filipino through Asian Journal’s 18 years of serving people through responsible journalism. The Balikbayan Museum & Library also aims to honor global Filipinos everywhere: their distinguished culture, their amazing sense of character, their unwavering passion and hard work, their struggles and their successes. The foundation’s logo clearly shows the noble vision: the Asian Journal Foundation seeks to bring harmony to the community. Bearing the colors of the Philippine flag, our insignia stands for patriotism. The three quills symbolize art, journalism, and music, and the colors of the Philippine flag connote nationalism. The quills were formed together into a flame to represent passion and love of country. These are the simple things the foundation stands for as it continues to celebrate and generate appreciation and love for Filipino culture and the arts, as well as education. g balikbayanmagazine.com | november 2009 | balikbayan    67


Balikbayan Magazine Vol. 1 No. 9  

Balikbayan Magazine Vol. 1 No. 9

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