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And the gorgeous black jacket?


Times matter...

Events, people and times that construct, shape and form our society - Brought to you by Aruba Luxury Living™ Arubaʼs global and primary luxury media production.

The jacket is made from the biggest piece of tube I ever found, it is from an industrial machine - like a bulldozer... sorry I don't remember the name of the truck - and as soon as I started playing with that piece - as I do with all of them, for them to "tell" me what they will become.... I ‘draped’ it as a cape on me and knew it was going to be a jacket, a masterpiece for everyone to see how versatile this material is and how fashionable it can become! Just so you know every piece bends in a different way, behaves in a different way, so they really tell me what they will become. It is a great message:

“This is a runway piece made out of trash! Just using imagination and craftsmanship!” The Reader - Mannequin “I have been working on a Mannequin project for a long Well mostly have kept Mannequins in my workshop and I have worked on a few

With the official launch of

Aruba Fashion Week, the

of them on and off. time. Well mostly have kept Mannequins in my workshop and I have worked on a few of them on and off. I still have a few I have to work on. Last year I finished ‘The reader” which was in the exposition of Het Glazenhuis in the library. Vicky Arens happened to see it and she liked it and asked if she could have ‘The reader’ for Cosecha to display necklaces. And so ‘The reader’ has found a place to stay for a while and of course I am happy she has. I like decoupage which is the craft of decorating objects with paper cut-outs, the cut-outs are applied with decoupage glue. I chose the cut-outs from books and magazines, since I am a librarian and love reading, combined with silver paper. She stands on a piece of a trunk, driftwood I found on the beach and painted silver with acrylic. My brother helped me to assemble the pieces.” - Gina Jie Sam Foek.

Aruba received a whole new fashion landscape!

Print Volume 1

© 2017 Aruba Luxury Living™



Style/Luxury/Lifestyle/Philanthropy/Social entrepreneurship

17 Aruba Luxury Living™ profile: Desiree Sporkslede’s 10Besty’s 19 Aruba’s end-of-year fashion platform: Aruba Fashion Week 24 Local Fashion Designer Gigliola Gomez’ global audience 27 Bonaire based blogger on how blogging has changed her life 29 Aruba Luxury Living™ catches up with Aruban supermodel, Ilonka Prawidko - Toppenberg. 34 Professional dancer Alydia Wever: “Dance is noy only movement” 40 Meet 9 year-old artist: Liam Gomez 43 Caribbean Sea Jazz founder Erik Jan Eman on living his passion 49 Jean Paul v/der Kuyp on his great passion for the ‘underdog’ 54 Marilyn Richardson, Director movie Siñami Stimabo on the power of forgiveness 59 Professional Photographer Mayo Stoppels, “Soy la Pirata del Caribe - I am the pirate of the Caribbean” 63 Chinese-Aruban singer Ma Li, “Now they call me China Latina” 66 Singer Lucre Houtman on wanting to inspire others as she rocks the “Amy Winehouse Back to Black” tribute

Enjoy this new edition of Aruba Luxury Living™ - Aruba’s PRIMARY LUXURY Web Magazine & media platform! Xo, Team ALX - page 11 & 12! Aruba Luxury Living™ | T: (297) 5924797 | E: | A Dionne Jasper Productions media product | E:


Prototype version

The current product is a printed edition of the published articles of the Aruba Luxury Living™ online platform exhibiting Aruba’s people, brands, creative minds, executives, entrepreneurs, philanthropists and social entrepreneurs. The current magazine is a prototype - a mock-up - to present how the actual printed version will look like in order to be able to express our brainchild to potential advertisers and investors and convey the design, structure and substance of the magazine. All reported articles are original ©copyrighted material produced by the Aruba Luxury Living™ – a Dionne Jasper Productions produced media product – editorial team. None of the luxury brands currently pertaining to the island’s luxury portfolio exhibited herein has officially entered a business agreement with the magazine at the time of its print. Dionne Jasper Productions



GINA JIE SAM FOEK Editor & photographer

A Caribbean woman who carries with her a blend of different cultures. Gina Jie Sam Foek was born on Aruba in ’62 and has lived in Holland for 17 years. She now lives on Aruba and has been doing so, for over 34 years.“I was fortunate to travel to different other places, meet and work with people from different backgrounds.” She is a senior librarian at Biblioteca Nacional Aruba. She is also in charge of the library’s Public Relations, she’s the Web Editor and in charge of other special projects. “I love Photography, painting, reading and writing and a lot more.” She writes on her blog: “The waiting experience.”

GWEN JIE SAM FOEK Photographer

MAYO STOPPELS Photographer “My photography style is natural & timeless. When you look at the images in a couple of years they will evoke the same emotions as they do today.” Apart from loving photography, she is passionate about maximizing other people’s images through her work. “It’s extremely satisfying and rewarding.”


Born in Amsterdam, Holland and living the island life for most of her life, she entered the fashion industry as a model, for the Aruba Moda, modeling institute. She is a woman of elegant taste who lives style, fashion, and design. She managed several Spa & Beauty businesses for many years and pursues her passion through he lens of her camera. She studied Tourism Hospitality management and also has a degree in Sports Massage. She holds also has a degree in Sports Massage. She holds a Dutch citizenship and is a contributing photographer for the Aruba Luxury Living™ .


Maruta, known in Aruba for her years of experience in the arena of beauty and cosmetics, has been working in the field for 28 consecutive years. During these years she has worked for top brands like Chanel, Elizabeth Arden, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Clarins, Dior and Guerlain. Today, she has her own beauty institute, called Maruta’s Beauty Institute.

DIONNE JIE SAM FOEK Founder & editor Bringing a unique understanding of the creative, social & commercial side of the islands’ heart & lifestyle, Dionne Jie Sam Foek is one of Aruba’s leading creative media producers and writers. She entered media productions in 2004 in TV broadcast. In 2009, she founded her company, Dionne Jasper Productions where she worked on various media production projects ranging from Radio, Style TV programs to Newpaper. In 2014 she started designing a luxury online platform called Aruba Luxury Living™ from her home office just when Aruba, - besides hard news websites - only knew print lifestyle magazines. She studied both Tourism hospitality management, the English and Papiamento language. Born in Amsterdam - Holland, raised in Aruba, she holds a Dutch citizenship.

FRANCO SNEEK Art Designer & Photographer Franco Sneek is an Aruban Art Designer & Art Photographer, born and raised in Aruba. At the age of 19, he parted to Holland to further his studies in Graphic Design & Photography. He attended the Free Art Academy and Graphic Liseum in Amsterdam and graduated in the year of 1995. At that particular time a well-known company in Aruba, ‘Aruba Experience,’ hired him to return to Aruba and become their Art Director in the department of Design & Photography of the company. Franco managed this department for 15 years. Since 2011 he owns his own Art & Design company in conjunction with a Photography Studio under the name ‘Living by Design.’


My core self

“10 Best moments” Aruba Luxury Living™

Desiree Sporkslede

NAME: Desiree Sporkslede


Best spontaneous decision: To move to Aruba shortly after I graduated as an Art teacher at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences - a section today known as ‘Willem de Kooning Academy’ was by far the most spontaneous decision I made in my life. I was only 22 and oblivious as in what would happen next. Best way to express yourself: The language of Art is essential to me. It can be anything, writing, dancing or painting that gives you extra freedom. It’s a form of soul searching that lightens things you usually keep inside and much more because it allows you to imagine. Also to express myself I simply like to talk, no what’sapping, twittering or any of that. Just talk to me in person. Best meal: Friends say I’m an excellent cook but my favorite dish is easy: Freshly caught fish or lobster on the grill. Add some sprinkles of sea salt and lemon and...Voilà! Best Style Icon: I don’t have a specific Style Icon as in fashion. I wear cheap kokriki & awara seeds from the bush with Dior Tribal earrings and feel marvelous. But I admire many wonderful people. Like Malala, a human rights activist from Pakistan. She miraculously survived a terrorist gunshot in the head. Today she still fights for girls all over the world to get an education. That’s an Icon. Best thrill: Wonders of nature. But can be challenging! I remember a Scuba night dive where I drifted away from the group. It was quite a distance to swim back to the boat without moonlight. To be alone in the dark ocean was a humbling experience. I couldn’t stop thinking of ‘creatures’ (like sharks) out there hunting for their prey. experience. I couldn’t stop thinking of ‘creatures’ (like sharks) out there hunting for their prey. Best poke myself moment: I believe non-violence is the


right attitude, no matter the circumstance. But unfortunately when I was younger, I once lashed out to a girl with my leather handbag until the strap broke. She had it coming and I thought I had no choice. But I remember I felt extremely embarrassed and ashamed for losing control. Luckily it never happened to me again. out to a girl with my leather handbag until the strap broke. She had it coming and I thought I had no choice. But I remember I felt extremely embarrassed and ashamed for losing control. Luckily it never happened to me again. Best sing-along song: Bob Marley’s; Three little birds! Best spot to be: My perfect place? The beach. It feels so good. Even technology has found the profound relationship our brain has with water. Scientists say the ocean has like a meditative of calm, serenity, harmony and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life in the moment. It is on top of the list of what they call ‘Mindful Living’ today. Best “under the tree” christmas gift: Besides my mothers’ food her presence is the ultimate Christmas gift. Mom ‘personifies’ Christmas for us at home with her baking, cooking, decorating and singing out loud beyond her vocal range. Best 3 songs on your music playlist: Nina Simone Feeling good, for episodes of ‘high’. Marvin Gaye What’ goin on. When you think turning old wounds into wisdom-Pearl Jams’ Black and Skunk Anansi’s Hedonism.


“We are just heating up the engines, as we wait for you at Aruba Fashion Week 2017!”


Words: Dionne Jie Sam Foek Images: Dionne Jie Sam Foek, Gwen Jie Sam Foek & Mayo Stoppels (Alphabetical order)

ORANJESTAD, Aruba - With an unusual rising atmosphere of creation for the past two years where local citizens are following their passion for creation, fashion and the arts, it was the addition of the official launch

of the Aruba Fashion Week in late December 2016, that ushered in a whole new fashion landscape where local and international fashion designers, producers, writers and fashionistas experienced an epiphany of this wonderful world of design. Founded by Angel León, spectators enjoyed the final design creations of seventeen talented designers; fifteen international and two local designers. The AFW2016 kicked off December 1st through the 3rd bringing international press, bloggers and photographers that covered the amazing event. This years’ edition is also scheduled to take place December 1st through the 3rd and is expecting renowned international designers such as Agatha Ruiz De La Prada, Hernán Zajar, and local designers such as Rhonna Lemmingha, Elisa Lejuez, Gigliola Gomez, among others. The open spaces of Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino and The Ritz-Carlton Aruba will be the runway for the collections. Taste and enjoy the island at the AFW2017 .

By Natalia Mazzei Zubillaga

No pise la grama by Daniela Panaro

Custo Barcelona

Custo Barcelona Custo Barcelona

Petit Pois by Viviana Gabeira

Agua Bendita


By Natalia Mazzei Zubillaga

Designer Maria Moschiano

OBdeC Studio by Jewelry Designer Olga Borges Otayma Zerpa Designs By Gigliola Gomez

By Gigliola Gomez

Designer Liliana Avila Maria Moschiano

Eliza Lejuez

Custo Barcelona


“Fashion design has been a passion ever since I can remember.� 23

FASHION DESIGNER GIGLIOLA GOMEZ CONTINUES TO CAPTURE A GLOBAL AUDIENCE As she presents her Spring Summer collection at The Hotel of South Beach in Miami, Florida

MIAMI, Florida - Fashion Designer Gigliola Gomez adds another milestone to her design career, as she conquers new territory presenting her Spring Summer collection on March 17, 2017 at The Hotel of South Beach Miami, Florida. Giogliola remains focused on her goal in taking her designs accross the globe and so capture a global audience. She was our July 2015 Cover Star girl when she spread her design wings out to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Amsterdam. Attracted to fashion from a very early age, the talented Fashion Designer debuted internationally exhibiting 15 unique designs designs inspired


by her Caribbean island atmosphere Aruba at the MBFWA 2015 show. As of that day that Gigliola Gomez’ island inspired collection with signature design – The Orchid Flower – launched on that Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Amsterdam platform, her career took a whole other level. The flowy, elegant and romantic collection that took about 6 months preparation was inspired by the colors that surrounded her. An inspiration, that led her to create the prints from scratch that would allow her to get the right

color combination. The signature design – The Orchid Flower - for this collection was her mother’s favorite flower. Meanwhile the designer has launched nine different collections including The Woman Cruise Line 2017 which she launched at the Aruba Art Fair and The Mystique 2017 Resort Collection that she launched at the 2016 Aruba Fashion Week. As a family woman, being a wife and mother of two boys, Gigiola still manages to keep a tight focus on her design goals. She designs from her home studio where she maintains the perfect balance between her family life and professional life. This is where her new designs are born, drawn and created. “Fashion design has been a passion since I can remember.” To find out more and follow her latest developments visit


Bonaire based Blogger, Christen Chantalle

“BLOGGING HAS CHANGED MY LIFE IN A VERY POSITIVE WAY” Already having spotted her formerly on the web, we had the pleasant privilege of meeting this Caribbean blogger, Christen Chantalle at the Aruba Fashion Week. This Bonaire based Blogger simply followed her passion and started her Christen Chantalle blog using her own bloggers’ domain name christenchantalle.

“It has led me to become more confident and daring” A journey that has opened many new doors unto her and has given her a personal growth that Christen very much enjoys. The Dutch born blogger reports all her fashion escapades on her blog and she shares her passion for fashion, travel and storytelling.


Flamingo Beach Renaissance Private Island, Aruba

Born in Holland, Goirle, this Caribbean based blogger presently residing in Bonaire reports all her fashion escapades on www.christenchantalle.blogspot. com. Here, she shares both her passion for fashion, travel and storytelling. Everything starts with passion. Once we follow our passion, we discover much more potential and opportunities along the way. Chantalle shares that blogging has changed her life in a very positive way. “It has led me to become more confident in myself and also more daring. Next to that I am more self aware, my writing skill improved as well as my creativity. “I love that I can share my own look on fashion and share “my side of the story.” It is a platform on which I can express myself, connect and meet with people from all over the world, in addition I also get to attend great events. Having read about the Aruba Fashion

Christen at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Amterdam - Amsterdam, Holland, July 2015

Week on Facebook, Christen quickly made arrangements to visit our island and experience the fashion and design days in Aruba. “I think around August I saw the first announcement of the event

and I was immediately super excited! The event was great! This was the first time that I have attended an event by myself. Normally I drag my boyfriend - in this case fiance - with me. So it was really pleasant to experience this event by myself. The people where great and the event was very well organized.” Christen has also been twice to the Curaçao Swim Fashion Week which began in 2015, right after she started her blog. “Here they showcased different beachwear brands which is totally appropriate for the Island setting. So it was the first show that I attended. Next to that I have also been to Mercedez-Benz Fashion Week Amsterdam where they had a specific Caribbean show. Aruban Designer, Gigiola Gomez also presented her designs. And now the Aruba Fashion Week. Oh and I have experienced the Paris Couture Fashion Week from the outside.”


After a stellar showing around the globe walking the runway for Chanel, Valentino & Salvatore Ferragamo, just to name a few….

Aruba Luxury Living™ catches up with Aruban born supermodel:


ORANJESTAD, Aruba - It is unthinkable to get ‘discovered’ while riding your bike in the streets of Amsterdam and end up with a successful modeling career. But this is exactly what happened to the Aruban beauty Ilonka Prawidlo-Toppenberg at the time she was studying in the Netherlands. Ilonka travelled the world as a professional model, something she had never ever imagined growing up in Aruba. Designer debuted internationally exhibiting 15 unique designs


Ilonka Prawidlo-Toppenberg was in Aruba recently to celebrate her parent’s birthday. Hubi Toppenberg celebrated his 80th birthday and Ilonka’s mom, Frida, celebrated her 75th birthday in March. Ilonka and her sister and their families came to Aruba to celebrate life, their parents, their love and marriage and their health and vitality. Both mom and dad still play tennis and have active lifestyles. ALX got the opportunity to catch up with the

Aruban Supermodel to find out where she is right now in life. What are your ties with Aruba and why do you keep coming back? “I was born in Aruba and lived here till I was twelve, then we moved to Holland. My father went to study. My roots are here, my parents live here… so I come back to my island at least twice a year and I feel completely Aruban although I live abroad. It is as if I live between 2 worlds, France and Aruba, and it always takes a couple of days to readapt to Paris. Each time I leave I feel like I left a piece of me behind. I recharge my batteries with positive energy when I am here.” Ilonka moved to Paris in the late eighties where she still lives today. She married French man, Jean Michel Prawidlo and they have three children, Jade, Lanna and Liam. What is it like to live in different cultures? It wasn’t easy in the first years in Paris but I have since found my ways and I call it home now, even though it’s my second home. The French are more reserved and French culture is much more individualistic than the Dutch or Aruban

culture. It’s hard for me to get used to that even now. As they say, the French complain and criticize a lot. And they are known for always going on strike ;-). But I am Parisian; Aruban and Dutch mixed together which I also passed on to my children.How do you see Aruba now in 2016? “I see Aruba completely different compared to let’s say 25 years ago. Aruba has developed so much; you can get and do anything on Aruba nowadays. I think it is great. Also for the people who live, here you can develop and educate yourself in every way. Such abundance of opportunities. Aruba has a lot to offer”.Should we be careful about something while all these changes are taking place? Well, I think Aruba is becoming more conscience of the challenges with waste management and environmental issues. I hope Aruba will develop more facilities for the elderly and disabled and handicapped population. I am not really up to date with the political developments so I can’t really say much about that”. Ilonka who remained active in modelling till after the birth of her second daughter, decided to dedicate herself to raising a family but today has a new profession. Ilonka, what is Sophrology and why did you choose this profession? “Sophrology is a method that uses breathing to restore or bring about, harmony between body, mind and spirit. The word Sophrology is based on the Greek words: SOS: harmony, PHREN: consciousness, LOGOS: study of science. It can be described as the study of our consciousness in harmony. It offers visualization exercises, static and dynamic techniques and strives to create an alert mind in a relaxed body. It teaches you to think positively. It is used by all kinds of people to reach balance, also professional athletes. It is also used in hospitals and very helpful for people that are in stressed or experience anxieties. I came in contact with it during a difficult time in my life and was looking for stability. It changed my life and I would like to help other people with Sophrology because I know it is really beneficial. You can really heal yourself by breathing better, anchor in your breath, bring your heart rate down and ease yourself. One will experience more balance and rest. We are too stressed nowadays. We could use more focus”. What do you plan to do in the future, career wise? “I educated myself in this work field over the last few years. I will start offering Sophrology this year, I rented a small space in a clinic and we will see where it goes.


son. I learned so much that you don’t learn at school. I learned from the different cultures I lived in USA, Italy, Japan, France and I learned to be independent and strong, to be comfortable on your own because it is a bit of a ‘lonely’ profession.” What about rejections? “It is difficult and hard to handle rejections. You have to learn not to take it personally. It is all about being the right ‘face’ on the right ‘time’ and ‘setting’. Any advice for young aspiring models? “Go for it!” Chase your dream. But be realistic. I gave myself a year at the time, if after a year it doesn’t work out, evaluate and maybe try something else. It was a demanding career but also a very enriching experience in my life in which I have travelled the world and met a lot of interesting people.Where are you in your life now? I am in an energy flow where I want to create a next chapter in my life. The children have grown up and I want to start my Sophrology practice in Paris. I am looking forward to be actively involved in life, in the community, in the work field.

I will start offering Sophrology this year, I rented a small space in a clinic and we will see where it goes. I also studied EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique. This is a technique with tapping 9 times on energy points; it has the effect that acupuncture has. This also releases stress and I plan to combine the two. I would like to specialize in treating children. To me a stressed child will be a stressed adult. In France the demands on children are high and this brings about stressful situations. Children get performance anxiety, sleeping problems and other anxieties. I am interested in working with children who are victims of bullying, which is a problem in France, especially in schools. What did you want to be when you were little? “I wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t do science so I couldn’t go to Med school. So, I let go of this dream”. You have been a model for many years with a wonderful career. Probably Aruba’s most well-known model… How do you look back on your model career? And what did it teach you? “I was a model at the perfect time, because a modeling career nowadays is much more difficult. career nowadays is much more difficult. I am really thankful for my career and all the opportunities and all I have learned working all over the world as a model. I see it as a life les-


Ilonka Prawidlo - Toppenberg walking the runway along fellow supermodel Linda Evangelista

practice in Paris. I am looking forward to be actively involved in life, in the community, in the work field. Best childhood memory? “Sinterklaas celebration” (a typical Dutch tradition). This was such an exciting celebration. My mother would make all these handmade gifts and surprise us. The table would be filled with gifts and surprises.” You practice African dance. Why African dance? What do you like about it? “Practicing African dance, which I do with my daughter, is like a “mindful” experience, I go in it with my whole body, it consumes me, I forget about the world and am completely in the experience of the here and now. I cannot think about anything else, it gives me so much energy. I am so happy I discovered African dance”. How do you feel about food and weight-body size? When I was modeling I was very disciplined about my weight because it was my job, but I love and enjoy food and it is very important to me.

How do you feel about the terrorist attack in Paris? Are you scared for your children? “It was very traumatic. We all knew people who died, so it came very close. The ambiance is still “loaded” in Paris; you can feel the effects of the attacks. came very close. The ambiance is still “loaded” in Paris; you can feel the effects of the attacks. There was panic for a long time. People were fearful. I think it’s a problem that needs urgent and close attention. When French citizens turn against their own country, the system isn’t working right. I believe it is a core problem. It is a complicated situation. A week after the attack, we felt like going out again because we believed that we needed to go on with our lives but by being more careful. We don’t want to give in to this fear because that is what they want, to terrorize us. We will go on and celebrate life!!” If you were the interviewer, what would you ask yourself? “Where will you live in the future? I probably will not be living in Paris. I see myself living somewhere where it’s sunny and warm. I am an island girl after all.”

“Go for it!” Chase your dream. But be realistic. I gave myself a year at the time, if after a year it doesn’t work out, evaluate and maybe try something else.” 31



D “Dance is not only movement, it is a language, a form of communication; you want to communicate and touch hearts.”

Words: Gina Jie Sam Foek Images: Rafael Barragán edited by Ryan Oduber.


“I believe art is therapy, it can help you in so many ways. I also believe in the power of art for the whole community, to strengthen the ties and lift it and take things in a different direction.”


EXPRESSING FEELINGS THROUGH DANCE “RIBA MESUN AWA” A performance that is an expression of many memories, feelings and experiences and is about dealing with emotions and pain. By professional dancer and choreographer Alydia Wever.

Meet professional dancer and choreographer Alydia Wever. Dedicated to modern contemporary dance, Alydia is a dance teacher at Scol di Baile Diana Antonette - Antonette, being her mother, a well-known dancer; her teacher, inspiration and great example who is about to celebrate 50 years of her career as an artist, dancer & dance teacher. “She inspires me alot, ever since I was a child, even in her womb I was already in the dance and studio atmosphere. My mom dedicated her life to dance and culture and she has taught me many forms of dance. She gave me folklore, ballet, different techniques and dance styles that have enriched my talent and diversity. Majored in musical theater in Boston and later

continued to New York to pursue her career and develop as a dance producer. “This is where I realized what I wanted. I learned different types of modern dances which is the basis of what I work with today. It is something very personal, that you make your own.” “I am very thankful for those six years, they have formed me into my own.” Alydia returned to her home island in 2004 and spends workdays in the dance studio where she was raised and teaches her students the art and expression of dance. “Dance is not only movement, it is a language, a form of communication; you want to communicate and touch hearts.”


Production multidisciplinary dance: “Riba e mesun awa” After the production of her multidisciplinary dance: “Riba e mesun awa,” we spoke to Alydia to find out more about the story behind the performance and what moved her to produce ‘Riba e mesun awa’? (Translated: Above the same waters). To Alydia, the performance is an expression of many memories, feelings and experiences and is about dealing with emotions and pain. The kind of emotional pain cancer brings… We seem to live in a society where we are confronted with cancer too often. Unfortunately, we hear about cancer so much more nowadays and it comes really close. Family members, colleagues, friends and neighbors have to go through tough treatments to try and survive. For many Arubans, they have to seek medical help abroad and the treatment becomes even more traumatic than it already is because you have to leave the island and your support group and go on a very challenging journey. For many a life changing experience. “We have these common experiences, maybe we don’t talk enough about them, but we all have to deal with them in our own way and express certain things. That’s why the title ‘Riba e mesun awa’ was chosen, which is a common saying in Papiamento,” Alydia explains. (Proverbs and sayings contain truths about a culture. They are short statements of wisdom or advice.) Alydia chose to express her emotions about her sick grandfather and sister, who in the past had to go through cancer treatment in Cali (Colombia), in her own unique way, through dance. She believes cancer comes from many things, not just food, environmental circumstances, lifestyle or other factors but she considers the fact that cancer may come from past traumas, pain and sadness that we may not have looked at or emotional problems we haven’t really solved. Painful memories which reside somewhere in the body and create an imbalance.

students presented strong monologues in between their moves. Dancers we will undoubtedly hear much more from in the future. undoubtedly hear much more from in the future. Some parts of the performance were filmed elsewhere and were projected on the wall of the living room. These documentary fragments were filmed and edited by Alydia’s life partner, Ryan Oduber. Alydia says she had never expected to dance and perform in her own living room and sees it as quite an undertaking and an emotional experience by opening up her house (read: sanctuary) but also a dream come true. “It’s wonderful to raise a glass with family and friends afterwards. And about creating a stage,” she says “It took days to clear the room and afterwards put everything back in its place. Creating a stage in your living room is a project in itself.” Alydia looks up to the strong women in her family, her mother, who struggled to raise 2 girls by herself and a grandmother who is now 93 years old and still lives independently and takes care of Alydia’s grandfather.

“I feel it’s more of a spiritual crisis we are in and I say this because of my own experiences and things I had to go through. It is very important to talk about important issues because it liberates you. We struggle with shame and guilt and anger. But the dance performance is about letting go….and about releasing painful feelings. And also about making different choices and choosing to be different than before.” “I believe art is therapy, it can help you in so many ways. I also believe in the power of art for the whole community, to strengthen the ties and lift it and take things in a different direction.”

She describes herself as an emotional and nostalgic person and a daydreamer. “I have wonderful childhood memories and I always want to go back to my childhood. I hold memories of my sister, of us cuddling...I remember all the places we lived…I find it interesting that I look back on my childhood that way…as in ‘all was good, all was well.’

Alydia danced ‘Riba e mesun awa’ together with other great dancers, Kevin Gumbs, (graduated at Utrechtse Dance Academy and graduated in 2013 and currently is a student Arts Amsterdam dance teacher Department), Eva Croes (student Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor De Kunsten), Garienne Cham, Samantha van Eerden, Orwin Gerald (Will start soon in Arnhem), Rochelle Jacob and Janice Sint Jago (Dancer since she was a toddler). All local dancers and dance

This is not Alydia’s first performance. Many will remember for instance “Expression 2001’, ‘Energia interno’, ‘One in soul’ and ‘Muhe Frida’ where she brought Mexican artist Frida Kahlo back to life.


“I have wonderful childhood memories and I always want to go back to my childhood.”

Communication There came a time though where the dancer, choreographer felt that dance alone was no longer enough, she felt like she wanted to add more to this expression. “Dance will always remain the essence of the message that is being told but through multimedia it can turn more into a film, a three-dimensional film.” Directed by Ryan, ‘Riba e mesun awa’ continued further in a short film and successfully made its debut later that year at the Aruba International Film Festival (AIFF). The artist couple combine talents and skills, stories and views to come to a total picture both on and off screen.



It all started out of a gift of love, when Liam picked up a canvas to make a Valentine’s Day gift for his mom. This was just the beginning of an incredible outburst of creativity and the discovery of a passion that runs very deep through his being. “I told my mom, if you can buy more paintings for me, so then when I started painting, I got a lot of ideas and ideas of the colors that I see around, like yellow, green, blue. Then I just get the idea and I paint.” Liam likes to use big brushes, and uses different techniques. “I did not go to classes, I just thought myself and I am still learning.” Liam has since then been exploring

different techniques and while at it has created quite a following. Liam has a particular abstract style that seems rather unusual for a kid his age. Many established artists have visited Liam’s home studio to admire his work. Most of the walls at his parents’ house is filled, from top to bottom, with his work. Liam has already has exhibited his work in various different exhibitions where he also sold some of his work. He recently had an exhibition at Cas di Cultura – Aruba’s Cultural centrum, La Cabana Resorts & Suites, Aruba Art Fair and Coffee 4 U. “I want to exhibit in New York because they have a lot of artists there and I want to be one of them,” the young artist says.


Clothing art by “Liam Gmez” Liam has also created a line of shirts, t-shirts and baseball caps. The first time he participated in an art exhibit he sold out the collection presented. His mother - fashion designer Gigliola Gomez - is often inspired by his choice and use of colors. His father displays Liam’s work weekly at his firm. Liam continues to create his work on a daily basis and at times for hours and hours at the time. Liam Gomez Art can be seen on display in his studio/gallery at Malmok and can be visited by appointment. “My advise to other children is that they do what they like, that they enjoy it and have fun while they are doing it.” Find out more about Liam and visit


As a young boy he used to sneak into musical events - particularly the North Sea Jazz Festival - at that time in the city of The Hague, Holland.



“I am living my passion, I donʼt see it as work”

Erik Jan Eman Founder Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival


Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival’s founder: Erik Jan Eman


Having been raised as a young boy with a passion for music and living next to a congress center where often he found himself broke and sneaking into events, like the North Sea Jazz Festival, explains why Erik Jan Eman – Caribbean Sea Jazz Festivals’ founder and director – turned out to be the visionary and founder of Aruba’s biggest annual Jazz festival which this year is entering its’ 11th consecutive edition. Erik Jan, originally born in Groningen, The Netherlands, moved with his mother to the city of The Hague when he was 4 days old. He lived in The Hague until he was 23 years old. During his high school years, he began playing the keyboard in a small band and later he found his calling in with the bass guitar, which till today remains his favorite instrument. At age 15, Erik was diagnosed with Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a tumor that spread all over his body, Erik was in and out of hospitals seeking a treatment for the rare disease. Having an Aruban father, Erik often travelled to Aruba to visit his


father and every time he did so, he noticed a turn for the better in his health. By this time 8 years of battling had past and the tumor had spread through out his spine, he decided that a change of atmosphere would be the wisest choice. Erik moved to Aruba permanently and stopped seeing doctors. A year later when he revisited the hospital in Holland the doctors told him that his tumor had disappeared and the only things remaining was scar tissue and a fighting spirit within him.

“When I arrived on the island, I did not know that within a year my health would improve, so I said, from now on I am only going to do what I like. I lived as if there was no tomorrow and I enjoyed every single day.”

American musician, guitarist and singer-songwriter, George Benson

Dutch smooth jazz, funk alto saxophonist and occasional singer Candy Dulfer

Music “Shortly after I arrived on Aruba, I met musician and composer Martin Buitenweg who at that time had just finished conservatory and I had just bought a bass guitar. I told him, “Come, lets’ play, I am very good,” Erik says with a chuckle, revealing how much he has learned from Martin.We started playing for Coco Loco Band with Tuyo Herrera. Later we got a contract with ‘The Cellar Café.’ It was there that Erik locked eyes with a beautiful blonde named Martha wearing a North Sea Jazz T-shirt whom he later married and today the couple has two boys.

enced at concerts in the Hague only grew bigger. He wanted to share that experience of live high quality music entertainment with the island that saw him recover, and so in 2007 CSJF was born.

Martha plays a major role in the organization of Caribbean Sea Jazz festival till this date. “The band ‘JEMM’ was born at that time and stands for: Jose, Erik, Martin and Monique. Monique later went back to live in the Netherlands and Mirugia de Cuba took her place, whose name also begins with an M. “We also played at ‘Cheers Cafe’ Friday and Saturday’s Happy Hour. And together with a saxophonist, I also played at the Papiamento Restaurant. For years the band toured the ABC islands.”

“It was a vibe that I also wanted to share here, in Aruba. I wantedto give other people the same feeling and experience ‘To walk around, enjoy good music, art, mingle and have good food.”

“It was the moment I heard that the North Sea Jazz was leaving The Hague and moved to Rotterdam in 2006, that I became upset and said “Oooh no…!” When I used to live in Holland, we used to go to the North Sea Jazz Festival every year. We lived on the same block the festival took place and we used to sneak in. So it became a part of my life.”

Entrepreneurship Having always had the desire in the back of his mind to one day organize musical events, Erik started his own business in 1999 called, ‘The Entertainment Group,’ providing professional light and sound systems. “The existing companies of light and sound systems were expensive and so I thought, I won’t be making any profit by subcontracting. I decided to start my own business.” Later it became a fusion with a Dutch company and the name was changed to: ‘Purple Entertainment Group.’ Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival Years had past but the love for Jazz the young boy experi-

Colombian musical group; Grupo Gualao


Grammy Award-winning jazz bassist, Richard Bona

Liv Warfield, titled “Portland’s Most Soulful Singer”

“The first few years, Erik encountered an immense financial loss. “I barely had any sponsors but a year after, I did it again. This is when Harry Koeman – a local entrepreneur – came to me and said, “You are either crazy or brilliant.” “I know you’re in debt, so I am going to help you with it.” “After 3 years Aruba Tourism Authority (ATA) began to show more interest. This entity saw the value of the festival in Aruba’s Tourism and its attraction for visitors. CSJF started receiving financial support from the government; a support that has gradually grown with the festival.” The support received is extremely valuable helping the festival bring better artists and improve the quality of the event, consequently the quality of visitors. For the first couple of years the festival took place on the Cas di Cultura plaza. Three years ago CSJF moved to the Renaissance Seaport Market. For details on this year’ festival, artists and schedules, visit Erik Jan considers himself an intuitive entrepreneur, who followed his passion and instinct, which has worked for him. He has a great team, within which each member uses their own strengths. “I design the stage, art gallery, food court set up, book the bands, close all sponsor deals and the festival’s floor plan. The “Team” takes over and implements it. For the CSJF we have people come over from the Netherlands to assist.” When asked what he likes the most of the CSJF, he answered, “You might come in to see one of the headliners, but then you can also get blown away by an unknown upcoming band, dance along with local musicians who get the opportunity to share the stage with more famous artists, and also taste our national dishes you had never heard of. The idea is to make the festival a personal experience no matter how big it gets, to accommodate each person in the arena. The feeling when it all comes together is amazing. You get to do all of that for your fellow Arubans and people who are coming to Aruba in search of that personal experience.


American Popping dancer, Marquese Scott

American singer and songwriter Prince Royce

The fact that we also get to meet superb musicians, legends if you will, and introduce them on our island is the icing on the cake.” “During one of my trips to New York to set up a press conference for the event, legend guitarist Mike Stern and trumpeter Roy Hargrove from New York, joined us and later jammed together with singer Roberta Gambarini, it was awesome!! I am living my passion; I don’t see it as work. I really see it as a result of being a cancer patient, because I said, “No way! From now on I am only going to do what I like.” Erik also co-owns the ‘Casibari Café’ where music and entertainment is a norm.

“Director of “Corporacion con Animo,” Jean-Paul van der Kuyp:

“I GIVE MY ALL TO THIS IMMENSE BATTLE AGAINST ADDICTION; TODAY I AM A CONQUEROR.” Living a victorious life and spending our time and energy for the betterment of the weaker citizens is an extreme satisfying feeling. It brings a sense of purpose and of great reward. A time, that Jean-Paul van der Kuyp, could not imagine spending any better, than to aid in the process of restoration of fellow community members.


Jean-Paul van der Kuyp (1969) born on Aruba is living in Colombia since 2007 and is the Director of “Corporacion con Animo” - a treatment center dedicated to the rehabilitation of those who have problems with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. We had the privilege to interview Van der Kuyp for this week’s edition. When asked what his passion is, Van der Kuyp said, “I have a great passion for the so called, “Underdog Citizens,” something that remains with me. If I can be part of the process where a weaker person can have a better life, I totally go for it. Also in sports, I would like to see Barcelona lose against a lesser club like, Atletico de Madrid.” Van der Kuyp, has all the experience and heart to feel what a person who battles addiction goes through. Raised in a Christian home - he describes himself as a responsible father, dedicated to his work and in search for a successful life in both health and finances. “Today, I can say of myself that I am a responsible and honest person. I keep my word and my promises.” Van der Kuyp explains that people end up in addiction for various reasons and according to him most people have an addiction. “The problem starts when the addiction starts to bring negative changes in our lives and we cross the lines. A person may fall into drug addiction because he or she is curious, and the other is addicted because it is in their genes, there are also victims due to peer pressure, and then there are those who are addicted to prescription drugs such as, painkillers or tranquilizers.

eight, when he started smoking cigarettes. “The problem got worse when I was thirteen years old and started smoking Marihuana and at, the age of sixteen, I was using Cocaine.” In the year 1991 he went through his first treatment at Hazelden in Minnesota, USA. Before this, he used to attend N.A. meetings (Narcotics Anonymous) but at that time of his life that was not enough. “Unfortunately, afterwards I relapsed and the drug use became worse. At a certain moment I moved to The Netherlands to seek a better life, which turned out not to be the case. In The Netherlands I came to know really difficult times and hit “rock bottom.” I was homeless living in the streets. I have also been in prison because of this disease called addiction. I am convinced that from every moment that I was ‘sober and clean,’ I gathered a piece of the puzzle called recovery.”

Personal journey For Van der Kuyp, his addiction problem started at the age of


“Thanks to Jody Klescewski whom till this day carries the unbelievable, gigantic and formidable work called addiction treatment.”

Change “The moment that I made a decision that I would give it everything in my power, to make sure to not continue another day as an addict was in August 2007 when I was imprisoned in Aruba. I can still remember, as if it was yesterday, when I called home and my mother answered the phone. I asked for my father and told her to tell him that at my release on the 13th of September of 2007, I wanted to go to Colombia for another treatment. And it is at this time that change started to take place in my life.” “From 1991 till 2008, I have been through nine treatments, maybe more including treatments while in prison in The Netherlands. But real “treatment” occurred in my life that evening in August, when I made the decision from deep within my soul, that I will do whatever it takes, not to live another day as an addict.” After finishing his treatment in Colombia, he took hold of the cause as a new man and rented a farm where he started helping others through the twelve-step program. “I really did my best to push forward and contacted the Hazelden Foundation – where I had taken treatments in the past – and they helped me with all our literature.” Expansion At a certain moment, there were seven patients on the farm. Van der Kuyp, who was determined to follow his calling, opted to legalize the institution and went in search for a bigger farm. “Today I can call myself the proprietor of a spacious 2 acres land with a farm that has a capacity to accommodate twenty patients and is expanding.” “I am very passionate about what I do and at the same time, I can say that it is a huge challenge because I work both with poor people with little education, as well as, with wealthy people who are well educated. I see it as a calling, but also as a debt that I owe to a Higher Power, I call Christ.” When asked about his experience on the leadership role he holds today, Van der Kuyp answered: “In regards to responsibility, it is a great one because we are talking about the restoration of


a human being, but I can place myself in another person’s shoes and that gives me a heads up in my responsibilities. When it comes to leadership, I still make mistakes and I am not perfect. I am not in search for recognition of a role model; I just live day by day and give it my all.”

“One thing I can say, I give my all to this immense battle against addiction and today I am a conqueror.”

Family Van der Kuyp, is married and he and his wife have a son together. This happened when he finished his own treatment. “My wife is a hard worker who has not personally known addiction but has all the right qualities to take care of our family and her responsibilities at Corporacion con Animo. Our son was born nine months after the passing of my father and is a blessing in our lives. My family represents success and prosperity to me in every aspect.” He adds; “I have a very large family, I see all my patients as family members and all who fight the battle against addiction from day to day.”

no longer believed in me. I accepted that I was a chronic addict and that it was only a matter of time only a matter of time that it would be finished, either by means of an accident or a heart attack. ”We asked Van der Kuyp when should a parent or the family stop helping? “It is very difficult to find the exact moment to take action when a loved one is being self destructive. To stand aside and do nothing is also not an option. Some people were helped when the family united and took action, and some said, “you go figure it out,” and even this approach delivered results. But when a loved one lives on the edge of self destruction, and is a risk for the well being of others, it is my opinion that legal actions should be taken.” Corporacion con Animo has treated various Arubans and all their contact info is available on their website, www. The program consists of different phases and they work with Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Addiction Counselors.

“With this team we cover all addiction disorders.” In regards to the financial aspect, Van der Kuyp tells us that in Colombia, addiction is recognized as a Psychological hindrance, and so is recognized as a disease. “We have found a way through a legal process to have insurance companies cover the medical expenses and we have won the case.”

A father who never gave up “I thank God for the father He gave me. There were so many moments of severe sorrow that I cannot understand why he never gave up on me. My family and even I,

“If an Aruban – who does not have the financial means – it is always possible to start seeking help through N.A., the Christian communities or other organizations that deal with this problem.”


L.G. Smith Blvd, The Boutiques Palm Beach, Aruba297 588 0000 | |

“FORGIVENESS IS NOT FOR THE OTHER PERSON, BUT IT IS FOR YOURSELF. UNTIL YOU DO NOT FORGIVE, YOU ARE NOT FREE” - Marilyn Richardson, Writer, Producer & Director of the movie “Siñami Stimabo.”


After years of hurt, bitterness and imprisonment: Through the production of her first film, Writer, Producer and Director of movie ‘Siñami Stimabo,’ - translated: “Teach me to love you,” Marilyn Richardson, shares her message:


It’s not a common thing for one to get to direct a film based on their own life story, but while working on the production Siñami Stimabo — a drama/comedy - that Richardson wrote, produced and directed she was able to do just that. From a very young age, Marilyn had a passion for the arts and entertainment, its’ production; making movies, music and writing scripts. She however never imagined at that time that she was about to live the script of her very first movie that she would ‘one day’ take to the big screen. Already in the production of Siñami Stimabo part two, the director sat down with us and shared on this deeply personal film. A portrayal of a family on the rocks that is a reflection of her own life having experienced sexual abuse throughout her younger years and her battle to let go and forgive. “There is hope in tragedy,” Richardson says. “The story about Marilyn is about sexual abuse, and a woman who sought a way out of her agony and pain through the consumption of alcohol. In the movie, her character is called Esther.” Marilyn (47) experienced sexual abuse for 17 years. Deep depressions lead her to take illegal prescription drugs and alcohol consumption from the age of seventeen Even though she went through several psychiatric treatments and spent a year and three months in a psychiatric institute while living in the Netherlands, she continued on this destructive path until the age of twenty-five. “The drinking of illegal prescription drugs and alcohol,” pictured by Esther in the movie, was something that nobody knew about, because Marilyn isolated herself and kept it hidden from everybody else. During this period where Marilyn experienced sexual abuse and lost trust


and confidence in almost every figure with a protective role that was supposed to make her feel safe, Marilyn tried to commit suicide numerous times but none of the suicide attempts were successful. We asked Marilyn, what she would say to someone who has either been through this, is going through or is not yet free from traumatic experiences. “Talk!” Marilyn stressed. “First of all, it has to be brought “to the open.” Start talking about it and bring it to the light. The worst thing you can do — that will almost always lead to suicide — is to keep quiet,” Marilyn, emphasized. “Isolation is your worst enemy. It is the place where an individual is being tormented with negative and ugly thoughts. You need to talk! Even though you may feel that many people have disappointed you through life, there are a lot of good people out there who can help, but you need to talk.” Marilyn herself started talking about what happened to her at age thirty-five (35). “See, you don’t just talk about these things. It is very hard because of the severe emotional pain, depression, anger and shame that it brings. It took me about 10 years before I started talking little by little and it had to be literally pulled out of me,” Richardson said. “But it doesn’t need to take so long.”

Only when you start talking about it, will you begin moving towards finding freedom for yourself. The important thing is for the vict im to feel free. Because it could be that the authorities have punished the abuser or he/she is still walking around free. But either way, until the victim has forgiven his/her abuser, he/ she is still imprisoned in her heart. And freedom has to happen for the victim’s life to be restored and to be able to receive a new perspective in life — one full of light. The thing with forgiveness is, that it is a choice. You don’t always feel it. And you think that when you forgive the other person, everything is wiped away and he/ she continues to walk around freely. This is not true! I held on, and I did not want to forgive. This kept me imprisoned throughout the years. One thing I can say: “If you choose to forgive — even when you don’t feel to do so — speak it out. Declare that you choose to forgive such and such person by calling forth their names and God will do the rest.” “I am free” After a difficult therapeutic process of approximately 8 to 10 years, Marilyn can today say that she is truly free. “I believe I have been free for a while already, 2 to 3 years. But it was only recently, about three weeks ago, while we were shooting a scene of the movie that I met one of my real life abusers that I felt that confirmation. For the first time in my life, I was happy to see him and went over and greeted him with a hug. Something, I could not do in the past. That is when I said, “Yes I am free! Freedom is an awesome feeling.” Through the message of this movie, Siñami Stimabo, Richardson wants the world to know, that there is hope in tragedy. “Whatever it is that we may have been through; forgiveness is our only way to freedom. Forgiveness is not for the other person, but it is for yourself.” Out of all the psychologists Marilyn had been in therapy with, there was one that Marilyn connected with. She was a female psychologist, who had similar experiences. “The other psychologists all knew how to give me all the “theoretical steps” to be able to experience healing, but because they had not lived a similar situation themselves there always remained a gap and no connection could be made. I had the best psychologists there are in Holland, yet there was no connection. For healing to take place, the victim needs to feel he or she is understood and needs to feel safe. Bring someone who knows the pain and knows what the person is going through and has already overcome. Someone that he/she can connect with and look up to and who can help the victim to cross over,” Marilyn explains. Besides having written, produced and directed the movie, Marilyn also made all the music tracks of the movie. Three of the songs, vocalist Vera de Peralta sang and four of the songs were her son, rapper Malaghy Richardson sang who is artistically known as “Freddy Richardson”.



“SOY LA PIRATA DEL CARIBE” - Mayo Stoppels, Professional Photographer


THROUGH THE LENS AND HEART OF MAYO STOPPELS “After I lost my eye, I didn’t like the way I looked in photograph’s” “As we develop and grow we become more expressive. I like to take various photo-shoots of the same person over time and capture the transition in my images.” Today she tells Aruba Luxury Living™ in confidence, “Yo soy la pirata del Caribe” - I am the pirate of the Caribbean. Stoppels was involved in a car accident at the age of 18 and as a result of this accident she lost one eye, something she had never imagined that would happen to her. Ever since the accident, she has one prosthetic eye, this is the reason she refers to herself as “La Pirata del Caribe.”

Most of us know her with her Canon gear in her hand focusing through her lens and beautifying others in the way she best knows how. Having now the privilege to have her before our cameras in one of the most extravagant settings we’ve ever seen her, reflecting not even a millimeter of the extravagant heart this beautiful human being has within. A wife, mom and a creative talent whose work many of us have seen. But who is Mayo Stoppels? There is a popular saying that says, “The eyes are the window of the soul.” We find this to be specifically true for this fine human being. Mayo started professional photography almost four years ago, but she had a passion for photography ever since she was a young child, specifically for portraits. “There are many photographers who like for instance landscapes, which of course I do as well, but my passion is photographing people. I like bringing out the true person but also the mysterious side,” Stoppels tells us during our interview that took place at her family dining table. On mysterious, Stoppels elaborates that all people have a place inside which they guard and keep to themselves. An intimate space that Stoppels likes to bring out. “I like the combination of bringing out the true person, yet allowing them to have that intimate space as well in the portrait.”

“After I lost my eye, I didn’t like the way I looked in photographs and today it is my objective and one of the most satisfying feelings when people ‘like’ themselves in my work. I like to see people happy when they see the portraits.” Life has a funny way of presenting us crossroads and then setting us off on a new path. Mayo was a Therapeutic Masseuse, but had to take time off from work due to pain in her forearms. This is when she decided for a change in career and went for professional photography. Her husband, Johan who is also in the business of Marketing & advertising encouraged her to go into full time photography.


ing her studio at home gives her time with son Luke after school as well as the opportunity to maintain the family meals on schedule. Something, that they value very high. A passion for photography can already be seen in Luke. “We do not tell nor push Luke into photography but we let him flow freely in what he likes so that he develops into his own being. Mayo wants to develop herself into a Fine Art Photographer. She has great admiration for photographers like Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino. Her dream is to one day own a professional camera of the “Leica” brand. “The brands’ price is very high, a camera with lens is about 3oK US dollars,” she says with a giggle.

It was in 2014 that Destination Aruba Magazine hired an international photographer from Spain, Barcelona for the magazine that Mayo assisted her husband in the entire production. The time came when the photographer had to go back, that Mayo got the opportunity to do the cover shoot. “I am very thankful first of all to God, because we cannot move a finger without God and that He has given me this blessing. Even though I was new on the market, many people placed their trust in me and supported me through my journey.” She is a wife, mother of 25-year-old son Julian - who studies abroad - and 11-year-old son Luke and a full time professional photographer. She tries to keep all three responsibilities in balance. Hav-


“I am very thankful because even though I was new on the market, many people placed their trust in me and supported me through my journey.”



- Ma Li Professional Singer at the release of new reggaeton song, ”Vente conmigo.”

After 10 years absent from the music industry


Featured as our June 2015 Cover story, Ma Li is a professional singer and violin player born in China Xian and living in Aruba over 17 years. Coming from China, speaking only Mandarin at the time, her talent has taken her to a list of countries where she performed over a decade. Now after being 10 years absent from the music industry she returns in duet in Opositivo’s reggaeton “Vente Conmigo.” “I sing different types of music and right now I am taking the challenge to sing Spanish. Being from China it is a bit difficult to sing Spanish, I don’t speak it well but I try to sing exactly like a Latin and now a lot of people tell me, right now you are “China Latina”...! I also love to sing Papiamento; I love all kinds of music, I believe music has no language.”

“Music is my passion. Right now, I don’t really perform at night but I am putting all my energy and time to focus on recording good music.” One of her projects is also to record a Papiamento song with local artists. “Maybe Chinese mixed with Papiamento.” For our previous literature on the talented singer read

“Vente Conmigo” was recorded in Caracas Venezuela in Venezuelan Pop duo Chino y Nacho’s recording studio. A video lyric is already available on YouTube named: “Vente conmigo Opositivo ft. Ma Li (video lyric)” linked at:https:// and a full video clip we will also see in the near future. The song is being promoted right now in Miami, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia. Ma Li will soon also release a song in Chinese, “A lot of people never listen to Chinese songs, they always make fun of our language, but you know China has like 200 dialects, mostly people speak Mandarin and I will soon be releasing a song in Mandarin. Very romantic, I would like to have more people hear the Chinese language because it’s beautiful.”

Above: Ma Li on Media Tour in “El Gordo y la Flaca” show in Miami, Florida. Right: Ma Li featured on the Aruba Luxury Living™ June 2015 Cover page.


SINGER SONGWRITER LUCRE HOUTMAN ON WANTING TO INSPIRE OTHERS AS SHE ROCKED THE “BACK TO BLACK AMY WINEHOUSE TRIBUTE” Music is a form of expression where you can share experiences that inspire others”

Born in Costa Rica and moved to Aruba, when she was three years old and started singing at the age of eight. It all began when her elementary teacher encouraged her to participate in a local singing competition called “Voz y Landia” where she won first place in her age category. It was then that Lucre discovered and connected with her passion for music. In her teenage years Lucre was also a member of her

local church choir. Her official performance was at the Aruba “Quota Annual Jazz Wine & Cheese Party” and ever since that day her singing career evolved. Lucre went on to become the lead singer of the popular “Let’s go Latin” show of the Sonesta Aruba Resort & Casino where she combined her passion for singing, dancing and acting.


Princess Cruise Lines and was “I show later contracted to perform in Asia people who I at the Grand Hyam and enatt Hotel in Jakar- courage other ta, Indonesia. She performed at the musicians to play their Grand Hyatt Singapore, the Inter- part in sharcontinental Hotel ing life’s and performed at messages corporate events through for Singapore Airlines. She music and the also performed arts.” in China, Beijing at the Shangri-La Kerry Centre and the prestigious Shangri-La Hotel in Pudong. Including Shanghai’s elite lounges such as “CJW” in Xintiandi, JZ Club and Brick Wine Bar & Lounges. She was later contracted to perform in hotels in Europe, such as Spain and Holland. Houtman also modelled, worked on radio and TV commercials and used to be a host for a TV show.

She performed in most of Aruba’s five star hotels as well as hotels in neighboring islands, such as Hyatt Regency Resort & Casino, Marriott, Radisson, Renaissance, The Westin, Continental and Wyndham Resort. Local venues include, Rembrandt Café, Chaos Café, Arowak Gardens, Bugaloe Beach Bar, Havana Beach Club, Garufa Cigar Club and Cocktail Lounge, as well as Tierra del Sol Resort & Golf and Mr. Jazz Nightclub by Grammy Award Cuban artist “Chucho Valdez.” Lucre also participated at annual musical events with musicians from abroad at the Caribbean Sea Jazz Festival, Soul Beach Music Festival. Carnival Tumba, Calypso and Roadmarch contests were other regulars for the singer/songwriter. While being part of the “Abstract Dawn” band she opened for international acts like Jamie Foxx and DJ Tiesto. Her extensive vocal repertoire includes a host of genres, from Jazz, Funk, Latin, R&B, Pop, Lounge, Reggae, Disco, Dance and Electronic. Lucre’s multifaceted talents are almost as diverse as the list of countries where she performed over the past decade. She performed as a singer for three years on the


Identity is the most important power that determines our actions


Photo: Emanuell Smith

After working 9 years in the field of education and much personal equipping along the way, Sharleen Tromp launches InSync Aruba. InSync, which stands for ‘Working Well Together,’ is an organization that teaches individuals to better understand one another so that healthy relationships can be built whether it be in the corporate arena, organizational or institutional arena, family or friends’ arena. Born in Aruba on December 15 1971, Sharleen Tromp is a Certified Personality Trainer & Communicator, certified at the CLASSeminars Training Communicators Around the Globe. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Pedagogical Didactic Teaching and is an international Masters Graduate from La Red Business Network in Coaching “Principles and Val-


ues.”It all happened a few years ago when Sharleen herself experienced a period when she was going through what she refers to as, an ‘identity crises.’ It was in 2006 when she was about to finish her bachelors’ in financial management while working part time as a Senior Accountant at Deloitte in the Netherlands that she started to question if this is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Sharleen who was then making yearly financial reports for companies told ALX, “You basically meet with clients and work on their administration and prepare their yearly reports. Since I was finishing my last year in financial management while working in the field at the same time, I could get a real taste of what my professional life was going to be like and

I started getting an inner struggle where I thought, I just went through a four year study and I am not sure I want to continue in this direction.” One evening, she dreamed that she was at a two story building school and she was entering a classroom as a teacher. “When I finished my studies in the Netherlands, during this period of confusion, I had a meeting with the Aruba House in The Hague. During that meeting I was advised to apply at the EPI College in Aruba. EPI College is a vocational education where I could be accepted since I did not hold a pedagogical didactic degree yet at that time. It was at that moment that I remembered my dream.” Sharleen applied while being in the Netherlands at the EPI College in Aruba but somehow her application was never received. Without getting any feedback she packed up all her belongings and flew back to Aruba. After two years practicing her teaching skills at EPI College, Sharleen got a study assignment in 2009 and went back to the Netherlands to get her pedagogical didactic degree. CrossRoad To finish her pedagogical didactic degree, her thesis was to create a ‘SMART Product.’ Here, while being in a phase of discovering her own identity and understanding the students when they do not know what they want or where their focus should be, she created a ‘SMART Product’ called ‘CrossRoad.’ This tool helps youngsters discover their gifts, talents, their strengths and their weaknesses. It gives them a personal look into their own profile and allows them to settle in it with acceptance. They get to gather themselves on paper in a professional profile bringing a sense of ownership, while eliminating confusion, fragmentation and giving them an organic, personal direction to the path that they should go. “My own battle to discover who I was became a passion to help others to discover who they are. Identity is the most important power that determines our actions. We will act to our views of who we truly are, whether these views are accurate or not. Once we know who we are, we must learn to be ourselves. Trying to live in a way that is inconsistent with our true nature will create a life of frustration, stress and disappointment. We must learn to embrace our deepest needs, desires, strengths, fears, values and beliefs in order to create harmony and tap into our tremendous potential.


“To me, happiness is to discover our individual purpose, maximize it and serve others with it … it is leaving a legacy.” Building healthy relationships in the workplace Different from the “CrossRoad” product InSync Aruba now released a second product called, “Building healthy relationships in the workplace.” This is a personality training workshop that Sharleen gives to companies, organizations and groups that covers the four different ‘Personality types.’ This workshop brings together a comprehensive overview of the personality types that speak to anyone who wants to understand their team member, engage and connect with them.


In a colonial Caribbean feel

COSECHA EXHIBITS HARVEST Authentic ‘Made in Aruba’ products

In a completely renovated and restored building, local artists have a selling point and get to exhibit their craft in a whole new way.

Cosecha is an artist’s shop located in the center of Oranjestad, Aruba. The word ‘Cosecha” means ‘harvest’ in Papiamento and is a figurative speech for the production and artworks of local artisans. We had the opportunity to take a look at the store and inquire about the story behind Cosecha. Authentic ‘Made in Aruba’ products provided with the national ‘Seyo’ – translated: seal – for quality. On display right now, wonderful painted driftwood, beautiful accessories with an exotic tropical touch, handmade glass beads, bracelets, earrings, rings and necklaces with semi-precious stones and pearls, handmade dolls, beautiful abstract prints


on glass, recycled art, miniature houses and much more. The interior is predominantly clean crisp white. Some displays are made of recycled palette wood. Wooden shutters give the store a colonial Caribbean feel. Behind the scenes a lot has been going on for quite some time. A firm lobby by local artisans for more support by the government was the push to start the Craft store project. Local artisans wanted their locally handmade products to be distinguished from imported mass produced products sold on markets. Considering the growing demand of the tourist for genuine and authentic local products, the government of Aruba saw a certification seal as an opportunity to fortify the position of the artisans.

We had the opportunity t speak to 3 of the artisans who have their craft on display: Carmen Tujeehut - How did you obtain a Seyo Nacional di Artesania? I took a mosaic course years ago and made different artworks but about 2 years ago I started decorating wooden crosses with pieces of tiles, shells and other materials and people liked them. So when I heard of the Seyo Nacional, I wanted to know if my work is really worthy of that nomination. I took some of my crosses to the Seyo board at Instituto di Cultura and after a few days I got a phone call that I had obtained the Seyo Nacional, which means that among other things they are authentic ‘Made in Aruba’.

“I decorate crosses because of my Faith. I want to show God’s love for us and I hope that the buyer, by seeing the cross will remember that and bring him closer to the Father.” Carina Molina - How did you get into recycled art? “I have always worked with my hands and in anything I do I always try to recycle and reuse as much as possible. A few years ago I came back from a trip to Argentina and my husband, Fernando, picked me up with his car full of flat motorcycle tires. He had been helping a friend who had one flat tire after another, so when I asked he said: “that’s trash, you can throw it away.....”

“When I held them in my hand I knew they were not trash and that’s why I love to call what I do “from trash to treasures” I have started with necklaces and then I went looking for bigger pieces to create belts, handbags, attaches, etc. With time I have added all kind of recycled rubbers like shoe soles, industrial weather straps, and any other black piece that I get my hands on.”


Aruba Luxury Living™ - Media Kit!  
Aruba Luxury Living™ - Media Kit!