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QUARET 1_2018


in the GULF 2017


When greatness comes to the fore, it brings the rest of us with it. For 11 years, Illustrado has had the privilege of championing the world class Filipino sharing inspiring stories of our people here and around the world. For the last 3 years, our annual work has culminated in the 100, our selection of the best and the brightest from the region. Whether they are merely influencing the tastes and preferences of the community, leading and breaking the glass ceiling in their respective arenas, or even changing the world, these men and women are significant to us because they inevitably expand horizons for Filipinos like you and me.

Fashion: Ezra Santos Photo by Jef Anog HMUA : JRJ Visages

Just as the humble work of Overseas Filipinos have the capacity to change not only the lives of their families, but also their towns and provinces, and indeed even our country’s economy boosting the prospects of others in the process, we are all buoyed by the ripples our kababayans create when they do good and apply their best. Through the excellent works of our compatriots, we Filipinos show the world how we bring solutions, break barriers, conquer challenges, influence with flair, and sometimes just bring kindness and happiness, especially where it is needed. To our kababayans who push for greatness with bravery and brilliance, following pursuits bigger than their mere selves. Salamat.

What do a scientist, architect, world issue crusader, hip hop dancers, experimental musicians, fashion designers, public servants, entrepreneurs, including a mother and her autistic child, and a bunch of new media personalities have in common? Perhaps, nothing at all on the surface, except in this case, their mere ethnicity. But look a little bit deeper and you will see that all these people, from various walks of life, with differing causes and agendas, have the power to change our collective future for the better.

Thank you for your efforts and initiative. Thank you for levelling the playing field. Thank you for pushing the boundaries for us all, and for enriching the Filipino experience. Greatness comes in many forms and each of us has important role to play. So play well always, kababayans. Tass Noo Filipino! LALAINE CHU-BENITEZ


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Michael Cinco DUBAI





Audacity. Creativity. Curiosity. Inclusiveness. Pinoy Pride. We are Illustrado. That means “You” and “I.” If you have even the slightest morsel of ambition in your body, that undeniable desire to just do better, you are Illustrado. You are a part of a tribe of dreamers and achievers, visionaries and action stars, nerds, warriors, leaders, and community heroes. We are not the minority. We are the majority. And as different as we are from each other as individuals, we are one. For a whole decade now, Illustrado has had one battle cry: “Champion the image of the Filipino.” That voice has not gone softer nor quiter through the years. Quite the contrary: that voice has been emboldened by trials and tribulations. From the outside it looks as though we are all about the glitz and swankiness, but trust and believe, kabayan - #thestruggleisreal. This is not as much an enterprise as it is an authentic advocacy and an advocacy is not an advocacy if it

does not demand sacrifice. We are in it for the love of it, and we are in it for the long run. But as audacious, outrageous, and courageous as we can be, we cannot sustain this fight by ourselves. We need your energy, skills, and good ol’ Pinoy pride to aid us in the noble mission to give the Filipino identity the respect and admiration it deserves. We need you to keep this movement in perpetual motion. Wherever in the world you are, we need you to remember and enact your allegiance to our dear nation. WE NEED YOU. JOIN US. Sincerely,

Team Illustrado #GalingNgPinoy #TaasNooFilipino


In the picture: The team of dreamers and mavericks: Mon Benitez, Creative Director shaping Illustrado’s face for the world; Lalaine Chu-Benitez – Managing Director & Editorin-Chief – head visionary and community catalyst; Rony Aquino – Administrator – master of community relations; and Alwee Villarosa – Features Editor – storyteller and brand evangelist.











































g a m e c h a n g e r s The

GAME CHANGERS. Unsatisfied with the status quo, the intrepid leaders

with global mindset are transforming lives and moving hearts. While plenty of personalities thrive with mere spotlight, we recognize the works of the true movers and shakers who are determining the course of the future in different categories.


1 ‘There is no darkness so dense, so menacing, or so difficult that it cannot be overcome by light.” - Vern P. Stanfill Illac Diaz, might as well be called ‘Ilaw (light) Diaz.’ His endeavors have illuminated hundreds of thousands of poor families’ homes across the globe, and have also enlightened and inspired a generation of eco-warriors hoping to change the world for the better. Illac Diaz is the Founder and CEO of Liter of Light – a global grassroots movement committed to providing affordable and sustainable solar lights to people with

limited or no access to electricity. Starting modestly in the Philippines under the MyShelter Foundation in 2011, the initiative has since benefitted over thirty countries, recruited 1400 participants, and brought light to poor communities with some 350,000 bottle lights. Illac’s project won the Zayed Future Energy Prize (ZFEP) in 2015 at the first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. He has also recently facilitated a world record ‘The Largest Environmental Sustainability Lesson’ with the support of the ZFEP, creating a solar portrait in celebration of the


“Year of Zayed” with 1400 solar lanterns made through the efforts of 280 young students from around the UAE. A milestone he considers as a great honor. At the moment, he is also preparing for the Dubai Expo2020 as one of the grant recipients whose work will be showcased at the landmark event. A patriot with global aspirations for his country, Illac shares, “I would like to create a story of hope for the way young people see Filipinos; that as much as we receive so much charity and aid, we can also give solutions and contribute our share in making life on Earth better for people who need a helping hand.”



A leading authority on plant molecular evolution and genomics, with over 130 research papers to his credit Dr. Michael Purunganan is a distinguished Biologist, who, through his undertakings has contributed a wealth of knowledge to the domain of Science. He reveals: “In my science, it is always part of our contribution to humanity’s knowledge. But I am conscious that this is also part of the Philippine contribution to world knowledge.” Born and raised in Metro Manila, Michael earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry at UP Diliman and pursued further studies finishing his Master’s in Chemistry from Columbia University in New York City, and his Ph.D. in Botany from the University of Georgia. He serves

as the Silver Professor of Biology and Dean for Science at the esteemed New York University, USA, and is an affiliate professor here at NYU Abu Dhabi. He was also the director of the NYU New York Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (2010-2012) and the NYU Abu Dhabi Center for Genomics and Systems Biology (2012-2017). In his laboratory at NYU Abu Dhabi, Michael leads a group of scientists who study the different date palm varieties, investigating their origin, evolution, and genetic makeup, hoping that they may encounter new ways to enhance date palm fruits. His work has earned him the Khalifa International Date Palm Award, bestowed on him by His Highness Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan in 2015.

Photo by: Avery Randall Cefre Grooming: Rachel Clark ILLUSTRADO 18

Through his breakthroughs, Michael shares that if not for curiosity, hard work, and persistence, he would not be where he is today. He tells us: “What allowed me to achieve is not thinking I couldn’t do something – if I thought it was worth doing, I would go for it. Also, not taking shortcuts and always doing more than what is necessary to get the work done. Finally, always being focused on excellence and making sure our work is world-class.” Michael has these wise words to share with fellow Filipinos: “To compete in the global arena, you have to be ready to compete against the best in the world. And we Filipinos can do it, no matter what we do, if we put our minds to it and if we are never satisfied but always working to do better.”


3 You may not know it, but highly acclaimed Filipino architect Medardo Cadiz, and his group Cadiz International, are the prolific masterminds behind some of the most remarkable architectural developments in the UAE. As the driving force behind projects like the newly renovated Burjuman Center, Manar Mall in Ras Al Khaimah, and the awe-inspiring RAK Palace Majlis building, Medardo has several new developments launching later this year including the Deira Fish and World Market. “It’s magical what’s happening in the UAE. All the creative people, including the Filipinos, are busy innovating ideas and producing exceptional works that celebrate the multi-cultural makeup of the country,” Medardo attests.

As for his international projects, he and his group just opened the new Samasta Hotel/Lifestyle Village in Jimbaran, Bali – which was recently voted one of the top five best hotel/lifestyle and shopping developments in Bali. Also within the region, they and their Indonesian client won in the “Gold in Retail and Lifestyle” category from the prestigious FIABCI World Prix d’Excellence Awards in Paris France, for their work on the Serpong City and Bekasi Center. To be successful in the industry, it is most important is to be able to forge long-lasting relationships with clients, according to Medardo. Having strong

ties with clients like the northern U.A.E. Rulers and Crown Princes, Cadiz shares: “Have an entrepreneurial spirit. Do more listening than talking. Learn the client’s social and cultural values, their business goals and personality traits.” With his wealth of experience, Medardo has taken several young Filipino architects under his and his firm’s wing, mentoring creatives to become confident in expressing themselves in the global arena: “After working several years at our firm, the alumni of Cadiz International go out into the world to become successful architects in their own right. For that, we are very proud.” Photo by: Minileo Cadiz



Bong GUERERRO ENTREPRENEUR & INDUSTRY CATALYST A true Dubai society icon, entrepreneur, and fashion industry catalyst Bong Guerrero underlines happiness as a state of mind that is central to his success. “For me, it’s always important to be happy. To live simply. I’m quite simple in my way of living. I don’t need much. As long as I’m happy with what I’m doing, who I’m with, the people I interact with, and I get a lot of joy in my work, that’s what’s important.” And ‘simple’ could easily be the

uber understatement of the year when speaking about the man’s accomplishments which have made an indelible mark and steered the trajectory of the local fashion industry to international heights. As CoFounder of FFWD and Brag Events, Bong has been at the helm not only of the definitive seasonal style event in the UAE which has put the Middle East in the global fashion map. He was also part of the beginnings of the careers of several elite designers including Furne One, Ezra Santos, and Rami Al Ali, among others. The fact


that his other projects are well known in the fields of luxury and corporate events is mere icing on the cake. Still, despite being the leading man in the glamorous world he moves in, Bongs shares that his true vocation lies in being a creative force behind events that bring out the finest in people. He says that his upbringing in Ateneo de Manila has deeply ingrained in him the value of living for others. He shares, “Be a man for others. Because when you do good things for others, it always comes back to you.”


Michael CINCO FASHION DESIGNER Like his imagination, his career knows no limit. With a name so huge in the fashion industry and a brand so well acquainted with the world’s A-listers and royalty, Michael Cinco continues to inspire fashionistas and Filipinos alike. We asked him what his secret was - Michael voiced: “You have to stay true to yourself and design clothes that you love and want to wear. At the same time, remember that fashion is a business. Know your market.” With his works lauded on the runway from Dubai, to Manila, New York, London, Miami, Singapore, Los Angeles,

Sydney, and then Paris, the red carpets of Hollywood and Cannes, not to mention featured on TV in America, Asia and China’s Next Top Model, as well as countless glossies from pole to pole, Michael Cinco’s dream of becoming a truly global brand someday, seems inevitable. Inching closer to that aspiration, Michael has recently collaborated with COUTURÍSSIMO – an online brand that sells luxe couture dresses for less, which now has stores in Singapore, Indonesia and now in Manila carrying his prêt-à-porter line.

Photo by: Rozen Antonio


Amidst of these extraordinary opportunities, Michael notes what keeps him on top of his game, “It’s all about continuously learning over the course of one’s career. I believe that it is important to keep your skills sharp.” He also remains modest and recognizes the support that allowed him to achieve tremendous feats. “I always treat my team with so much respect and love. The best lesson I have learned in this business is to accept that there are people who are smarter than me with more expertise with what I’m trying to achieve. I always try to be humble, ask and learn from them.”


6 Extraordinary he is – ‘The One and Only.’ Heading a couture brand – Amato – as its founder and artistic driving force for the longest time now in the emirates, it goes without saying that Furne One is a consummate master of his craft. And over the years, what he has learned is this: “The fashion industry is a fast-paced world. It changes constantly. You must learn to adapt and evolve with it but also challenge yourself to swim against the tide and strive to create your identity.” Besides the extensive roster of international celebrity clients he has

dressed, the numerous awards he has received, and the many fashion weeks graced with his drop-dead gorgeous gowns and dramatic stylings on the runway, not to mention pride of place for his atelier at the Dubai Design District, Furne modestly remarks that being able to grant support through his business to others has made his career all the more rewarding: “I think that the achievement I am most proud of is providing employment for my staff. Most of them have become like family to me, and I am most proud to have been able to help them and their families through Amato.”

Photo by: Rozen Antonio


Never running dry of ambition, Furne notes that alongside talent and originality, designers should possess an innate warrior within them and that the mere thought of abandoning hope shouldn’t exist. Furne says: “Giving up easily will not get you anywhere. I believe that failure can sometimes be the best way to learn. I’ve had failures in my life, but I never failed to get back up and learn from them.” And that is why Furne is the powerhouse designer we know of today.


7 In recent years, the contemporary incarnation of Filipiniana style had made its way to the illustrious runways of the US, Asia and the Middle East. Thanks to Ezra Santos, a true modern day champion of the unique Filipino aesthetic, our fashion roots have been masterfully translated to the now, and have proven to be universally appealing, and indeed, both haute and hot.

brought a new edge to the couture scene, putting to the fore unique silhouettes, ethnic materials, and techniques that are at once historical and fresh for an international audience. Always driven by the quest for excellence, he shares, “Bring something new and reinforce it to the fashion world. Become an untradeable signature for every single masterpiece.”

By delving into what Philippine style can offer to the world, Ezra has also

Known to dress some of the most glamorous women from the royal,

Photo by: Rozen Antonio


elite and celebrity circles from the Middle East to Hollywood, with his distinctively elegant pieces the designer swears by the value of determination, talent, and a positive outlook. Ezra remarks, “More than just the hard work, I am certain about perseverance. Moving forward with passion in everything that I do, sums up to perseverance. He adds, “Attitude is essential. Whatever comes your way, your approach to every situation matters. Be it good or bad situation; this is the one thing that will keep you moving.


8 Industry forerunner and celebrated entrepreneur, Ishwar Chugani is a legend in the world of regional retail. CEO of Giordano Middle East, the globallyadored fashion brand, he is also a familiar face to Filipinos, having played an active role in supporting the community in the emirates over the years. Born and raised in the Philippines where three generations of his family have resided, and one of the brave business pioneers of Dubai since the 70’s, he is a unique mix of industry leadership, hardcore Indian business acumen, with a Pinoy heart and Manileno accent to match. Despite his successes, he remains humble: “My upbringing in the Philippines has kept me the way that I am. I am still myself.”

2017 has been an excellent year for Ishwar. The Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce (Philippines) has appointed him as the first Global Foreign Ambassador of Goodwill for the UAE. He was also one of the distinguished speakers at the MAPIC Conference – the world’s largest retail real estate conference held last November in Cannes, France. Moreover, Forbes Magazine has named him as one of the Top 20 Indian CEO’s in the Arab World in 2017, not to mention recognized in 2016 and 2015, as well. Through his significant ventures towards success, Ishwar shares a modest philosophy learned from his Filipino background: “Like any typical fun-loving


Pinoy, I like to enjoy life and meet new people. Due to this, I am able to manage different nationalities well, and I am easy to get along with. This philosophy happens to be the core of Giordano’s message – World Without Strangers.” For the success of his fellow kabayans, Ishwar hopes to see a more significant movement towards entrepreneurship amongst Filipinos in general: “My wish for Filipinos is to see them taking on more management roles in the companies they work for. The Philippines is one of the most fortunate countries in the world, with talented people who can successfully diversify into different global fields.”


9 What does it take to run one of Dubai’s hottest conceptual food spots du jour? CEO of Cuisinero Uno, Chef John Buenaventura has been leaving foodies raving with his restaurant’s original tapas creations. As a young entrepreneur putting his stamp on the local food scene while changing the game for Filipino restaurateurs who mostly prefer to be comfortable within the community niche, it has been sheer blood, sweat, and tears that lead him to where he stands now. Armed with fifteen years of hardcore culinary experience, John expresses that despite the long hours, the roller coaster

of entrepreneurship, and the hundreds of cuts and bruises, he couldn’t imagine dedicating himself to anything else. It requires sheer gumption to enter the culinary industry, let alone break the glass-ceiling. But John admits that his courage stems both from his fear of being mediocre, and his desire to embolden Filipinos so that they too can see the value in challenging one’s limits: “My bravery comes from the fear of being average and not making a mark or impact on society. We as Filipinos are genetically creative, hardworking, and awesome people! Get


out of the “okay na ko dito” mentality! Step out of your comfort zone, and set bigger boundaries. With the proper mindset and goal, we can do wonders.” Having achieved so many feats early in his career, nothing can curb this young chef ’s hunger to continue growing and excelling in his craft. He shares: “To grow, profit, and expand the restaurant in other fields relating to food and beverage, and to be recognized as the first Filipino Michelin star chef. That’s the ultimate dream.”


10 They look just like any other mother and son team, Elcy a doting mom, and Euan a fun-loving 16 year old, who dreams of becoming a Nat Geo wildlife photographer someday. But they’re not like any other. Euan, who studies and also works as an intern at an accounting and consultancy firm in Dubai is autistic, and together, their story has given a lot of families a bright spark of hope. Autism is a condition that is hard to deal with for any parent, Elcy shares: “There are very tough days when I just cry, but I could never think of giving up. If I don’t

stand up for Euan, who else will, right?” Upon learning of her son’s condition, she armed herself with knowledge, through taking ABA courses, attending workshops, and joining support groups to understand Autism as a whole. “We actively try to help create awareness to educate people about the condition so they would show more patience, compassion, and empathy to those touched by autism,” she says. Now through the support of his mom, not to mention his sisters who have been there all these years, as well as therapists,


family, and friends, Euan has made strides seem unthinkable for children with special needs. Apart from his studies and internship, Euan has awards for art, swimming, and badminton. He also ran the 4K Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon in 2016, is a member of the Boy Scouts of America and has participated in various volunteer efforts in the emirates. Elcy maintains, “As a parent, we should give these kids an opportunity to explore all activities possible where they can learn and see if they are passionate about it and maybe find their gift there.”


11 Guiding a roster of wealthy clientele in their commercial ventures within the Oil and Gas sector in the Middle-East, coupled with championing Filipino influence through his endeavors, Atty. Barney Almazar is not only one of the most successful young Filipino lawyers of his time, but also a leading proponent for OFW’s in the region. Barney’s numerous accolades over the years, too many to mention, include being commended by the Philippine Senate for protecting the interests of more than three million overseas Filipinos in the Gulf. In 2017, Thomson Reuters listed him as

part of its ‘Forty Under Forty,’ (forty outstanding legal professionals in Asia who are under the age of forty), for heading projects in the Middle East with a total of US$89 million in investment deals. Amidst his commercial undertakings, Barney’s service to the local Filipino community providing counsel, legal aid sessions, not mention authoring two books and providing an information portal giving access to critical legal information, is very significant. Wanting all Pinoys to excel in their chosen fields, Barney says: “We are great people with a vibrant

Photo by: Jef Anog ILLUSTRADO 27

youth and democracy destined to take part in world affairs. Through faith and self-confidence, Overseas Filipinos can eventually lead the success of our country.” With a strong desire to see the Philippines exceed in the global market, Barney hopes that countries would one day appreciate the Philippines, and invest in the motherland. Barney elaborates: “My hope is for the establishment of a strong economy that will last for generations so that working abroad will be a choice rather than a necessity.”


t r a i l b l a z e r s The TRAILBLAZERS. Here’s to the ones who picked the roads less travelled, and left a trail for everyone else to follow. With courage, audacity, and determination, they have surmounted incredible odds, made possible the impossible, and proved that the Filipino indeed can. And so the Filipino indeed will.


Ambassador Constancio VINGNO Jr. PHLIPPINE AMBASSADOR TO THE UAE Philippine Ambassador to the UAE, Constancio Vigno Jr. has been the Filipino community’s pillar of support since he assumed Head of Post in 2015, and last year was a significant year with landmark achievements under his able leadership. After years of negotiation, the Philippine and UAE governments have finally signed an MOU on Labor Cooperation in September 2017. With the Department of Labor and Employment as lead negotiator for the Philippines, the Philippine Embassy played a pivotal role, with diplomats joining the

negotiations and meetings leading to the signing. This year has also seen the embassy’s successful mass repatriation of some 1,500 distressed Filipinos, in coordination with the UAE government, a cause close to the Ambassador’s heart. He shares, “I hope that with the signing of the MOU on Labor Cooperation, there will be fewer cases of our kababayans needing repatriation.” A role model in his own right who maintains a close and affable relationship with the Filipino community, he is optimistic and carries out his duties for the nation while working towards

Photo by: Eros Goze ILLUSTRADO 29

his dream of an independent, unified, and self-sufficient country with many economic opportunities in the homeland. Ambassador Vingno also stands firm in the belief that Filipinos are indeed resilient, determined and hardworking, and that community action and skill building will elevate the status of the community. “It would also be best for the Filipino community, specifically the professional groups, to regularly conduct skills upgrading activities with the aim of uplifting the professional capabilities of their respective members, as well as the image of Filipinos in this country in general.”


Vice Consul Anna Guerra, Vice Consul Von Ryan Pangwi and Vice Consul Rowena Daquipil


Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes with Vice consuls Marianne I. Bringas and Elizabeth P. Ramos ILLUSTRADO 30



He’s easily the busiest Filipino in the emirates. With almost all of his waking moments spent in the service of the people, it’s typical to see him whizz through, albeit thoroughly, his duties as diplomat, as well as pull in double, nay, triple, maybe even quadruple duty during the weekends to fulfill his obligations to the community. He even finds the time to write a column to inspire Pinoys via Illustrado on a regular basis. But for Consul Paul Raymund Cortes super public servant and all-around ‘rockstar’, it’s just how he chooses to serve. He reflects, “I would like to be a positive

role model to my children, showing them in practice what it means to be a leader of the Filipinos here; what it means to be an inspiration for Overseas Filipinos to continually improve themselves and keep competitive in the global arena, and what it means to be a God-fearing soul in this sea of humanity.” On top of his drive towards constantly improving the Consulate’s service to the community, Con Gen Cortes is most upbeat about other achievements in 2017. These include the staging of Dubai Dubai Musikahan which opened doors for Filipino artists, the partnership with


Filipino Educators in providing pyschosocial training and services to the PCG staff, as well as their enhanced partnership with the community in mounting events that focus on Filipino communal spirit in Dubai. With his work intended to inspire, the Consul General says, “I hope Filipinos here can harmonize the visions of different organizations into a united one. I also hope we become more aggressive in showing the rest of the other ethnicities in the UAE the richness of our culture and our soul as a nation.”



AMBASSADOR Alfonso Ferdinand AGBAYANI VER PHILIPPINE AMBASSADOR TO BAHRAIN Philippine Ambassador to the Bahrain, Alfonso Ver brings with him a wealth of experience in Foreign Service before his first ambassadorial posting in the country. His first foreign assignment was as Vice Consul, then promoted to Consul, in Guam (1996 to 2002). He later became First Secretary and Consul General, then Minister, Consul General and Deputy Head of Mission, in Ankara, Turkey (2005 to 2009), before he moved to San Francisco, USA as Consul then Deputy Consul General

(2009 2012). At the Department of Foreign Affairs, he was Executive Director of the Office of Personnel and Administrative Services (2012 to 2015). As the head of the 60,000 strong Filipino community in Bahrain, the Ambassador has made his people’s welfare integral in his function. This year, a community center slated to further improve bilateral ties, is expected to rise in the country in time for the embassy’s 40th anniversary.




Ambassador Adnan Villanula Alonto comes from a family of politicians. He is the son of the late Senator Domocao Alonto and brother of Lanao del Sur Governor Soraya Alonto-Adiong. Since passing the bar exams in 1985, he has worked in different law offices in the Philippines.

Ambassador Narciso Castaneda has had a career in diplomacy that spans more than 3 decades. He has served in the United States, United Kingdom, South East Asia and Europe. As the Philippine Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman, his focus is on developing and sustaining mutually beneficial relations between the Philippines and Oman. He assures that the three main pillars of the Philippine Foreign Policy – the preservation and enhancement of national security, promotion and attainment of economic security and the protection of the rights and promotion of the welfare and interest of the OFWs – are always injected in all efforts done to maintain and improve the quality of service for the Filipino community.

In 1996, Ambassador Alonto and his family left for the US. He then worked in several companies as a legal professional until 2016 before accepting his assignment from the President as Philippine Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. With a little over two months in his position, he has already made strides in bridging the connection between the Philippine government and Filipino residents of the country. He says, “I am here to fulfill the mandate given to me by the President to ensure that the rights and wellbeing of our people are protected while they are working here in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

He desires to expand the economic relations between both countries and ensure that the needs and concerns of the Filipinos in Oman are attended to without fail. He says that the determination of the Filipinos inspires him to always deliver the kind of service the Filipino community in Oman deserve.




Beside every powerful man proudly stands a woman of grace, fortitude, and strength. Madame Yoko Ramos, the wife of Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Contancio Vingno Jr, is the perfect embodiment of that statement. She believes that the role of women, is integral to society and shares, “Filipina women, through the practice of various professions, contribute to the economic well-being of their families, as well as to the development of communities wherever they may be in the world, through their skills and talents. One of the traits that sets us apart is our positive outlook in life, regardless of the circumstances that we are in. In that sense, it is fair to say that we bring, wherever we may be, sunshine and joy of life.” Further encouraging Filipinas to make significant contributions towards their country and community, Madame Yoko says, “I urge my fellow Filipinas to allow the world to see the best and most beautiful version of themselves. With this, we should make it a point to empower one another by equipping ourselves with eagerness and a curiosity to learn something new every day.” On a mission to help uplift the image of Filipinos in the UAE through goodwill within the diplomatic, government and community network, Madame Yoko has also devoted time towards pursuing a number causes near and dear to her. She notes that being a part of projects such as the Philippine halal products launch in the UAE, the International Day on the Elimination of Violence Against Women event, as well as the Cancer Awareness Fashion Show, was not only fulfilling but enlightening. Photo by: Jef Anog


Leading the Filipino Ladies of Dubai, Madame Yasmin Balajadia Cortes plays a pivotal role with her team in organizing, planning and executing most of the cultural diplomacy initiatives of the Philippine Consulate General of Dubai and the Northern Emirates.


The charming and hard working spouse of the Consul General together with her team has held numerous successful projects last year, the most prominent of which were Dubai Dubai Musikahan, Ulirang Ama and Ina, painting and photography exhibits, as well as filmmaking workshops for Filipino students which brought often overlooked Filipino talents into the limelight. Madame Yasmin reflects, “These programs allowed us to reach out to sectors of the community that seem outside the margins of the Filcom’s consciousness.” She also says, “Through our programs, we have allowed Overseas Filipinos to bear greater pride in their culture, music, dance, film, photography, and visual art.”

The Filipino Ladies of Dubai


Diamonds by Liali Jewellery

A testament to the modern global Filipina, who is empowered and independent, Madame Yasmin shares her belief in doing her part in nurturing the Filipino community. She remarks, “The Filipino diaspora is unique in the sense that not only are we spreading the caring reputation of the Filipino people, we are also raising the next generation of global citizens. For this, Filipinos must be proud of themselves, assured that they have a special role in the history of man.”





At the core of his often-times arduous job, Eric Elnar, Commercial Attache for the Middle East and Africa at the Philippine Trade and Investment Center Dubai, finds solace in the fact that all of his efforts go towards collectively empowering the Filipino people, whether based back home or here in the Gulf region. Eric tells us, “In challenging times, I am always assured that my small sacrifice is for the Philippines. It is best summed up by three words in Filipino: Para sa bayan.” Of a recent outbound business mission

from the Philippines, Eric takes pride in having connected many exporter companies based back home with importers, distributors, and retailers from the UAE, Oman, and KSA. He too notes that bridging Philippine brands/franchises with regional partners like Sizzlin’ Steak, Hen Lin, and Razon’s was a huge milestone. Eric articulates that to further our horizons as a community, we must uplift each other. He shares: “Filipinos can do better at supporting our fellow kabayan’s livelihood, whether it be through job referrals or employment,

Photo by: Dar Ramos Photography


or supporting Filipino-owned businesses. If other nationalities can do it here, I am sure the Filipinos can too.” However, a facet of the Filipino ethos that Eric truly admires and which he believes can also lead us to prosper further is our resilience. He tells us: “We know how to live through difficult times and rise from them ever stronger. Self-sacrifice is inherent to us, especially for the good of our loved ones. We also do not give up easily, and we find creative ways to solve our problems.”


18 Entrepreneur, producer, and cultural innovator. Filipina-Iraqi-Canadian Reem Hameed is a rising force to be reckoned with within the country’s pack of successful “young blood.” Armed with degrees in Political Science and Law, and the Young Creative Entrepreneurship Award from the British Council –the feats she has been able to achieve so early on in her career are nothing short of amazing. As a media and tech entrepreneur running a world class production company – BKP Media Group – and a well-loved local personality on the Dukkan Show – a

podcast centered on the educational work of cultural understanding – with her partner OT, Reem says that her career has taken her places she could never imagine. Having been in the world’s corporate boardrooms, as well as its slums and camps, what Reem ultimately does as a human is rooted in the pursuit of global harmony. She remarks, “The work I do is embodied in love, art, cultural communication, and community. The fact that I get to do this every day with the people I love is the most wonderful gift and greatest achievement.

Photo by: Sam Allison


When asked what has brought her here today, Reem credits her multicultural upbringing, especially her Filipina roots, “I inherited tenacity, discipline, and resourcefulness. Most importantly, I inherited a love for people.” With a bright future ahead of her, she shares her hope for all Filipinos: “May we explore who we are with honest eyes and redefine our identity in our own light. Most importantly, I hope that we have discourse that will make space for future generations to accept who they are unapologetically.”


19 A legend in the Philippines, Ricky Carranza’s contributions to the Pinoy dance scenes across the world have inspired the masses and pushed the boundaries of street dance itself. His recent encounter with Filipinos in the emirates has not only brought entertainment but most importantly inspired a relatively obscure community of dance enthusiasts. Ricky, also known as ‘3ki Riki’, was a famous personality on dance shows “Penthouse 7” and “Dance 10” in his younger days. His natural talent for movement, as well as his hunger and ambition, made him into one of the most prominent dancers of the Philippines.

“I was always looking for more. Call it what you want – passion, craziness, or obsession. I wanted to learn and see more of that new style of dance – that funk style.” In his three decades of choreographing and teaching, 3ki Riki trained some of the most prominent Filipino celebrities, including Gary Valenciano. His dance career has taken him to around the world, backing up movements in Italy and even creating his label in Finland – “Style Dance Industry.” As a film director and producer, the Dubai screening of Ricky’s latest documentary, “Beyond the Block” supported by the

Photo by: Maija Astikainen ILLUSTRADO 38

Philippine Consulate General, and his inspiring presence via workshops, has energized and brought together the growing, but often unrecognized Pinoy street dance crowd. Ricky’s local involvement has virtually vitalized the spirit of street dance in the community, proving that indeed, Hip Hop is alive and well among Filipinos in the Middle East. Ricky’s ultimate goal is one of a strengthened culture united in the spirit of togetherness. His plans include producing numerous film projects, some in the UAE and laying out the groundwork for the Philippines’ first street dance institution.


20 Her list of achievements is long. Aside from being awarded as Gawad Urian 2011’s Best Actress, Fe Hyde won for her film Ang Paglalakbay Ng Mga Bituin Sa Gabing Madilim (The Journey of the Stars into the Dark Night) Cinema One Originals 2012’s Jury Prize winner, and Gawad Urian 2013’s Best Picture; for her film Dapol Tan Payawar Na Tayug 1931 (The Ashes and Ghosts of Tayug 1931) QCinema 2017’s NETPAC Jury Prize winner which was also selected to participate in the 47th International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018 under the A History Of Shadows Special Programme Category. “All of my co-produced films already had screenings in film festivals abroad,” she says.

“I am now aiming for school tours in the Philippines, especially in small towns where only a few have access to independent film screenings made by regional filmmakers.” A unique gem of an artist producer, masquerading as quiet homemaker living with her family in her homebase of Dubai, film has always had a special place in Fe’s heart. More that just to satisfy her childhood desire to act on the big screen showing the world Mindanao’s stories, culture, traditions, as well as struggles through filmmaking, has always been her dream. “I guess it is more of a cause or cultural work rather than a money-making film business,” she says.



21 Growing up, Danabelle Gutierrez didn’t have any prominent Filipina authors to look up to. And while she doesn’t think her work is important or that she is important enough to be looked up to, she thinks that what she offers people is a certain form of brazenness - in that her mere act trying to do the work, and putting the work out there where people get to see it - gets them to think, “Oh well, if she can do it, then I can too.”

“I think, sometimes mere completion is an accomplishment,” she says. “To be an artist is to be haunted by ideas and be led by inspiration. However, sometimes inspiration leads us deep into the woods and the brazen writers that we are, we participate, we go, and we follow inspiration. But then, inspiration leaves us right in the middle of the journey, and it’s up to us to find our way through. Hoping that, at some point, inspiration will come back and hold our hand and help us complete the work. And you


know, we’re lucky if we even make it out of the woods alive, empty handed, but alive. Of course, luckier still, if we get out of the woods with a great piece of art.” Danabelle who has been regularly featured as author/poet at the prestigious Emirates Lit Fest in recent years is the author of two highly-acclaimed poetry books: “I Long to be the River.” published in 2014, and “& Until the Dreams Come” published in September 2015. She was also awarded “Best Actress” at the Emirates Short Film Festival 2017.


22 Mario Cardenas is perhaps ‘the’ most awarded Filipino photographer of his time, racking up over 350 awards and nominations from countless international competitions, and gaining recognition in over 20 countries including the USA, Japan, Australia, Turkey, and of course the UAE. To name a few of Mario’s achievements, he earned the title of ‘Photographer of the Year’ in four different categories (Architecture, Book, People, and Special) at the International Photography Awards 2017 in the USA and received the Gold Award within the Portraiture Category at PX3 2014 in Paris. He also took home the Grand Prize at both the 2015 Black and White Spider Awards in the USA, and at

the Milset Photography Awards in the UK. On amassing awards so consistently through the years, we asked Mario what his secret is. He shares, “Each one of us has our own gift. The secret is being able to find out what our uniquely endowed “gifts” are, expressing them freely.” As an architect by profession with over 15 years of experience in the field, Mario was fortunate enough to have grown up in an environment where he was able to embrace his love for creativity and the arts fully. And with this positive reassurance, Mario was ultimately driven to pursue what he loved. With all these impressive accolades under his belt, Mario persistently aspires


to keep challenging his capabilities by entering future competitions not only an opportunity to better oneself, but to learn from his contemporaries and their perspectives: “There are so many talented artists around the world who continually churn out powerful and original works. I’ve noticed that as artists mature, their pieces become more aesthetically profound.” As an individual who virtually lives and breathes art, Mario can’t possibly picture a future without it: “I still can’t imagine not doing art or photography. Art is simply my purpose in life, and I will continue producing artistic works as long as my body and health would permit it.”


The TUAÑOS ENTREPRENEURS An entrepreneurial family with international backgrounds, and a methodical approach to work? To many people, they are the literal ‘Super Family,’ but for the Tuaňo’s, it’s just another family affair. Ambitious, highly capable, and success driven, leading Filipino entrepreneur, food innovator, and business community leader Jovy Tuaňo is the head of the family. He is a CEO, Founder, Managing Director, even a Licensed Real Estate Broker among other things. Currently, he is the the Director of Trade, Investment, and Entrepreneurship at the PBC in Abu Dhabi. The ‘Real CEO’ of the family, however, is soft spoken Power Filipina Janet Tuaňo, where all final the decisions must go through her. With 25 years of specialized experience in the banking industry, Janet works as a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA) at one of the UAE’s leading banks. A benevolent figure in the Filipino community, she too serves as an unwavering source of encouragement regarding future family endeavors. Bubbly, outgoing, and a prodigy in her own right, Joan Tuaňo is an uber

talented, amazingly articulate multi– cultural young woman. Her global education in Luxury Hospitality has given her the opportunity to work with some of the finest luxury companies in the world, such as the Ritz Carlton and Louis Vuitton. A real ‘intrapreneur,’ she is the Culinary Business Manager of the family’s premium meat business, La Carne. Soon-to-expand, La Carne has become the butchery of choice for meat lovers, as well as hotels in the capital looking for the best quality meats. Her recent achievements include launching Japanese Wagyu beef in the UAE for the first time. The youngest in the family, is Jose Mari Tuaño. He partakes in the family’s rituals of food and jazz music, and is well-versed in the field of economics, earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s specializing in the field. He is now a Carbon Emissions Trader at ACT Financial Solutions (Amsterdam). Jose Mari’s reputation as an active member of the student community at his alma mater, the Erasmus School of Economics, held him in high regard. In 2016, he earned third place for having one of the best theses in his program.


Maintaining a progressive and achievement-oriented family boils down to many factors, according to Jovy and Janet. The family’s methodical approach to success starts off with a lot of communication. “Ideas are shot nonstop between family members, all-day every day. Therefore, one must be able to support the ideas but also know how and when to focus,” Joan says. Jovy and Janet also highly value character building to ensure that their children’s individual talents are cultivated. “Nurturing each’s unique talent, profession, industry, and the gift of enterprise without comparing, stereotyping against others is important. Personal and professional growth is encouraged according to his/her Godgiven role and purpose in life. The exercise or practice of Entrepreneurship in the family is a school of thought over and above the business side of it.” For the Tuaňos, achievement lies within strong bonds and determination. Their entrepreneurial prowess, ability to make things happen, and what they have earned through talent and strong family ties demonstrates that a family that works well together certainly achieves together.




t h o g h l e d e r

u t a s

THOUGHT LEADERS. Here’s to the ones who have become the benchmarks in their fields, and proved that greatness has no racial boundaries. Not satisfied with competence, they aim for transcendence, and as a result have become the paragons of excellence in the Gulf region and beyond.



24 KINDNESS CHAMPIONS Compassionate. Selfless. Empathetic. Concerned. The word kind alone already encompasses a myriad of noble qualities. Meet these four benevolent souls that bring us pride through their kind-hearted acts that make the world a better place. Olga Barcelona and her business partner, Dawn Almario, have selflessly celebrated their birthdays giving gifts to underprivileged children among several areas in the Philippines over the past couple years. As a firm believer in

paying it forward, Olga considers that every single act of compassion is a step in the right direction for humanity, sharing: “There are many ways to help or volunteer. Start first within your inner circle – Through being an example to others, at least one of them will emulate your kindness.”

help build a school for a community in Malawi. During this seven-day trek, Olga lived with the villagers with no water and electricity. She recounts: “It was great for all of us who volunteered. It opened our eyes to the unfortunate reality that people in Africa are still in dire need of educational help.”

With her passion for doing good further ignited by world issues, Olga sees helping others as her true calling. During the pinnacle of conflict in Syria, together with friends, they gathered enough resources to make and sent 500 relief bags for refugees, as well as provided financial support to the refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece. Not long ago, she also volunteered to

Despite these saddening global issues, Olga trusts that through kindness, we can begin to resolve these matters. “It’s not hard to be kind. If everyone would think and act considerately, there will eventually be a ripple effect of kindness, and perhaps someday, factors like poverty and illiteracy would lessen.”



25 For humble entrepreneur and previous Women of Substance honoree, Leonila Bandigan, investing time into projects for the greater good is a regular pursuit. She says: “The act of helping people I don’t know brings me joy, inspires me, and motivates me.” Growing up with positive figures like her Inang, Leonila was imbued with kindness as well as moral values, and early on, ideas like assisting others in need became customary. However, she too acknowledges how seeing unfortunate circumstances helped form her generous philosophy: “One

time while watching TV, I saw big family, yet the only food on the table was a plate of boiled rice and coco milk. However, only one child would eat because he has to go to school, and the leftover will be shared by the whole family. I cried that day, and told myself that while I am still capable, a share of our income will go with those children.” While running several businesses in th U.A.E., Leonila extends a helping hand to a local church, providing resources and running their canteen


– where all income earned goes to the parish and the less fortunate. She is also sponsoring the education, food, and clothing of underprivileged children back in the Philippines. As of now, she has been able to send over 130 kids to the prestigious Don Bosco in Cebu, Ilo-Ilo, and Davao. Through it all, Leonila has learned this: “Be generous to everyone, whether you know them or not because there is somebody above who will reward you.”


26 While a sense of voluntarism was already engrained in Leo Barrameda’s character, it took a profound turn of events for him to realize his life’s purpose. Encountering a sense of emptiness in 2015, he found out about the Leila Wilmer Foundation. Upon discovery, he had initially offered to sponsor the education of five B’Laan students. However, after receiving support from friends, they are now covering the schooling fees of over 103 kids. Being able to do so was particularly rewarding, Leo describes: “It was a personal wake-up call for me. I realized that I was special because I could make a difference.”

2017 has been an excellent year for Leo. He conducted a series of seminars on financial literacy, personal branding, and self-development through E-gents – an initiative he founded to advocate positivity, through uplifting the community’s spirits and spreading awareness on societal issues of importance. This coming May, E-gents is planning an overseas medical mission, through E-gents Care, in the pursuit of benefiting the B’Laans, and over 100 households. Although running passion projects like these often require quite a bit of finance, he stresses that individuals


should not undervalue the power of one good deed. He expounds: “I am not financially blessed. You don’t need to be rich or popular to make a difference. Truly, it is the simple acts of goodness that will go a long way.” “Being kind is not imposed; to help others is not an obligation; caring for others is not a responsibility,” Leo explains. But parallel to this statement, he too trusts that there lies a Good Samaritan in every person: “I believe that everyone has the innate wish to help, but they just don’t know how.”


27 JR Papel is an accomplished multinational Coporate Executive, community volunteer, and philanthropist rolled into one. As Ateneo LSE (Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship) Alumni President, he and his team have created programs that provide continuous nourishment and support for the new breed of social entrepreneurs. “We have been providing extensive support to both enrollees, and alumni in their pursuit of their social enterprises like

Business Set up, Business Financing, Cooperatives among others,” he says. “This year we are working to expand even to Bahrain and Oman at least. We are doing this because our vision is not just to create financially literate Filipinos but create a new breed of social entrepreneurs or the entrepreneurs with a heart.” As a philanthropist, he founded the I-Fund and Yapak Charity Organization, a non-profit NGO


that provides financial, technical and structural support to top graduates per Ateneo LSE Batch in the UAE. And Yapak Charity Organization, an endeavor that collects used shoes and slippers for impoverished street children in the Philippines. As a Corporate Executive, he has been with the FMCG industry for almost two decades now, having been recognized regionally and globally for some pioneering efforts regarding Innovations, Product Launches, and Sustainability.


28 Some people are born to inspire others. But for Roman Guevara, a renowned life coach to countless Filipinos the UAE and back home, he was born to inspire others so that they too, can inspire others in return. “Through our words, through our speeches, even through our simple conversation, we can inspire people, motivate people, encourage people, that though life may be tough and challenging, and many times for some, very difficult, but still, we can overcome,” he says. “We can hope, and we can rise up.”

He does this through his organization aptly named Rise Up Philippines which hosts conferences and camps to help young people in the Philippines, especially in the provinces, to realize their God-given potential and believe that they can accomplish great things in their lives. Thousands have already graduated from the training conferences and camps, and many of them testify how through these events, they have been motivated to live their lives to the fullest. When Roman started to work Dubai, he has also established Rise Up Centers in various parts of the Middle


East and Southeast Asia, helping OFW’s in multiple ways. “We still conduct seminars and training programs concerning issues relevant to OFW’s and their families, covering topics like finances, love life, marriage, parenting, homesickness, stress, depression, health, legal issues, and spirituality,” Roman says. “Through our centers, we have also assisted many of our kababayans who have lost their jobs to find new ones, either in their present country of assignment or in the other countries where we have centers. We have also assisted those with legal cases and have problems going back to the Philippines.”



An acclaimed multi-awarded female global business leader, Engineer Mary Jane Alvero- Al Mahdi is the Chief Executive Officer of the leading multiresearch laboratory - Geoscience, Prime Certification UAE - with partners and branches in Europe, India, China and in the Philippines, Prime Innova Training Center and Prime Alpha Consultancy. She is a believer of change, strong willed, bold, resilient and an influential Filipina, being involved in raising awareness on Halal, food safety and hygiene to the food producers, manufacturers, and suppliers in the Philippines in accordance to the


United Arab Emirates food regulation, guidelines, and compliance. Her achievements gave her the recognition of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in 2013 by the Filipina Women’s Network Global FWN 100 TM. “I am successful because I am always in the pursuit of precision though I know all the while that I cannot achieve it. However I struggle for it,” she says. “Failing is an opportunity to learn the best. I rethink and change the path of my direction, mastering the flexible mindset and continuous evolution sustains my growth.”


30 Extraordinary professional Dr. Becky Desiderio is quite veritably a great combination of head and heart; an empowered woman who knows how to soldier on despite the challenges of the job. “Being a woman in this society is quite tough since the environment I am in is male dominated,” says Dr. Becky Desiderio. “To be a Filipino and a woman at that is tougher, with limited resources but with a dream and

passion to give back to the community, I was able to overcome the challenges and plant the Philippine-TMC flag in an Arab country singlehandedly since I was the sole person on-the-ground at that time. However, I feel I could have given more; I could have done more, I could have reached out to more kababayans. The redeeming thought for me is that I, a Filipina started the fire, carried the torch bravely and walked the path less travelled.”

Photo by: Jonas Sergio


CEO at The Medical City in the UAE, she carries the philosophy of Patient Partnership – and believes in the massive value of working with people. “I think, in every field or line of work, in every relationship, this is very important,” she says. “To communicate at eye level, to reach down and help people build their dreams and stand beside each other to build broken walls will eventually rebuild the walls of our nation.”

VANGUARDS OF BUSINESS As forerunners of entrepreneurship for the Filipino community in the emirates, the Philippine Business Councils of Abu Dhabi and Dubai exist to support both individuals and organizations succeed in their field of business, be it here in the UAE or the Philippines. The Philippine Business Council Dubai and the Northern Emirates (PBC DNE), amongst countless duties, provides avenues for business exchange among Filipino entrepreneurs, and other parties with a commercial interest in the Filipino market in the emirates. At its core however, the group endeavors to help Filipinos simply realize their


full potential. Chairman Bobbie Carella voices: “We volunteer because we want to help our people excel. Even through touching a single person, their success can be a shining example that others can emulate and follow.” This time around, aside from continuing to bolster ties with its South East Asian partners, the PBC also leads as Chairman of the ABCA (ASEAN Business Councils Alliance) and hosted last year’s ASEAN Golden Jubilee event. The organization also provided networking opportunities to Filipino business owners and professionals via its SoBiz (Social Business) initiatives, not to mention informative workshops with EduBiz (Education Business). 2017 also saw the second edition of the prestigious PBC Dubai Interface, supported by the Dubai

Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which gathered the emirates’ top industry executives and captains of business. The group is now preparing for the highly anticipated Philippine Food Festival. The role of PBC is more pertinent than ever, according to Chairman Bobbie Carella, especially with run up to Dubai Expo 2020. She shares: “By granting fellow Pinoys with aid and information, we hope to see a rise in Filipino owned and managed businesses, especially with Expo 2020 being two years away.” PBC DNE is headed by Chairman Bobbie Carella, Vice Chairman Lalaine ChuBenitez, and Directors Andy Minodin, Enrique Yamazon, Marlene Murphy, Ken Peralta, and Victor Manuel, the council also extends assistance to Philippine start-ups setting up in the country.





“As Filipino entrepreneurs and professionals, we would like to see our own people succeed, uplift the Filipino brand, and to prove that Filipinos are also competitive in the realm of business,” says Howell Perez, chairman of PBC Abu Dhabi. Besides having managed numerous business development workshops intending to help Filipinoowned companies exploit significant opportunities, they too focus on the growth of bilateral trade, investment and tourism, and establishing, plus maintaining networks with organizations in the UAE.

The executive team consisting of Chairman Howell Perez, Vice-Chairman Dr. Joey Villanueva, Corporate Secretary Mylene Escano De Guzman, Treasurer Christian Jay Redual, Director of Marketing and Communications Gau Raganit, Director of Trade, Industry and Entrepreneurship Jovy Tuaño, Directors of Events Ms. Teresa Keating & Dennis Castro, Director of Sponsorship Dr. Aileen Villanueva, Director of PR Jan Barlow, and Legal Advisor Atty. Barney Almazar, have organized numerous successful projects of which include the Spirit of Enterprise and Knowledge Workshops, as well as a medical mission


for the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, and various networking events. Stressing the importance of uniting Filipino entrepreneurs, Howell shares: “Working together as a single unified community can achieve great things. From ideas up to combining resources despite the challenging market - together we are stronger. We know the market because we are the market!” Through these initiatives, the group hopes that all Filipino businesses here in the UAE will continue to grow, innovate, and become the growth drivers, not only of our host country, but the whole GCC market.



Juliet SOLAS For nurse Sister Juliet Solas, a Dubai Excellence Awardee and respected figure in the Filipino community, volunteer work is a major part of her life. She is an active member of the Legion of Mary at St. Mary’s Church, an organization of lay volunteers who dedicate their time to help the poor, the marginalized, and those looking for guidance. Her work over the years include visiting the sick in hospitals, going to the jail to visit and provide spiritual counselling to inmates, as well as providing marriage counselling for couples. “As Filipinos, we value marriage and family, so marriage counselling and work with unmarried couples working and residing in Dubai has become a consistent apostolate that culminates each year, with a Mass Wedding of couples,” says Juliet. “This undertaking has been there for the last 25 years and by testimonies, the couples said their marriages have become stronger because it was sacramentalized. To some extent, this initiative has created a bond among members of the Filipino community, as more and more couples join the event every year.”


Sahron ‘Roy’ TAMANO As one of the few remaining pioneers and once a-two time President of the Maranao Community in UAE founded decade and a half ago, Roy Tamano continues to serve and tries to steer the group into achieving its basic objective of promoting unity and serving the welfare of the members, mainly coming from the Maranao tribe of Lanao provinces in Southern Philippines. He is also the Organizer and Chairman of the Filipino Muslim Basketball Tournament for its three seasons from 2015 to 2017. A first of its kind sports activity in UAE that unites most of the Filipino Muslim Expats here representing each tribe to promote unity through the world of sports. One of the turning points in his life was when he witnessed the start of the siege of Marawi by ISIS Terrorists when they attacked in the afternoon of May 2017. It made so much impact on him that he put it upon himself to participate in relief efforts. “There was too much suffering and shock for the ordinary populace who tried to flee by barefoot to the nearby town,” he says. “Upon my return to UAE, I and the MARCOM Group helped organize a series of Charitable Campaigns with the support of other Filipino groups in Dubai”.


Wafa QASIMIEH A Major Consultant in Cultural Administration at the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities – Government of Dubai, where she serves as a bridge to the community, Wafa Qasimieh is also a veritable ambassador of different international NGO’s such as SPMUDA INTERNATIONAL, wherein she represents the Philippines, Wafa Qasimieh belongs to the 100 Influential women in the world. Her projects are more humanitarian in nature such as sharing a helping hand to schools – putting up libraries, donating school supplies for students, among others. “I have more than 100 scholars from Elementary to College,” she says. “I also have Aetas that require monthly financial assistance, plus other projects here in the UAE.”


She continues, “I offer help to any nationality but yes, it is an advantage to give help to my fellow countrymen. As Filipinos, volunteerism is etched within us from our forefathers and lives until now. We carry it wherever we go. Bayanihan as core value is important; especially as a way of giving thanks that we are able to live in a place where people have a comfortable life. My big faith becomes my advocacy and my advocacy becomes my passion. We should do all things by heart.”




36 The old adage “no man is an island” rings true, especially for the Filipino organizations in the United Arab Emirates where they band together for a common aspiration. Collectively known as Filclub Dubai and Northern Emirates, the members composed of 95 Filipino organizations represented by professions, sports, geography and advocacy have as their major projects the Philippine Independence Day and Bayanihan

Festival Celebrations, attended by as much as 20,000 guests, where the organizations are united in the spirit of volunteerism. “Many Filipinos need support in their goal to achieve excellence while being part of a workforce away from home,” says Chairman Engr. Maria Fe Tata Dayot. “These support systems include professional enhancement, guidance,


moral support and some sense of belongingness. This is where volunteerism comes in, which I believe that everyone needs to be involved in. When everyone is involved in volunteerism, there is sharing, there is support for each other, friendships are developed, and there are the greater benefits of working together.” In the photo: FilClub Chairman Engr. Tata and Vice Chairman Ericson Reyes.


37 Behind some of the most prominent brands in the country and the region are formidable Filipinos who lead in the fields of marketing, communications, public relations and events. Here they share their branding hopes for the Philippines.

Arab, the Address Downtown Dubai, Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Intercon Hotel Group, and now the Palazzo Versace in Dubai where she is Director of Marketing and Communications, is just like being in her natural habitat. Her work allows her to express her ideas and creativity and bring them to life.

Rosemarie Tacorda has always wanted to create, contribute and collaborate. So being in the world of communications, where she had the privilege of working with some of most prestigious hospitality brands in the region including the Burj Al

Applying her keen marketing mind, in combination with her hopes of the Philippines and the Filipino people, Rosemarie shares, “I dream that one day, sooner if possible, that we become the greatest country in Asia as we once


were.” She adds, “It has to start with our mindset. We have to think quality thoughts. We have to regard ourselves as ‘able,’ ‘capable’ ‘determined’ and not victims of politics or other previous regimes that made the economy worse. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true. The past is the past, and there is nothing we can do about the past. Each one of us can only influence the future. So if we think we can make the Philippines better, we can. It starts with every one of us. Let’s make ourselves better individuals. Our collective success will have a ripple effect.”




Cleo ELEAZAR PUBLIC RELATIONS & EVENTS PROFESSIONAL Cleo Eleazar is proud to be a part of one of the most aggressively growing business initiatives in the UAE. As Senior Manager for Public Relations & Events seeing the successful launch in April 2017 of RAK Economic Zone (RAKEZ) – the consolidation of two fast-growing free zones in the emirate has been quite a feat.

Danelle Ruth Palang has been the driving force of Marketing and Communications for the Dusit Thani Hotel in Dubai for over four years now. As marcomms director, she is thrilled with the launch of the hotel’s newest outlet @ViewbyDusit – a terrace lounge which had guests on waitlist right after its opening. She says being able to transform a mere parking lot, into another potential Dubai hotspot, has taught her the possibility of creating something great out of nothing. A very spiritual person, she believes that her success comes from dedication, discernment, charm, and favor from above. For the Philippines, her dreams are also transcendent. She shares, “I hope for unity in diversity. Imagine if we just embrace our differences and uplift each other’s efforts and ingenuities even just by saying a kind word or giving a nod of support – that brand will outclass any campaigns in the world.”

Having played a pivotal role in the communications for Ras Al Khaimah Free Trade Zone since 2008, Cleo professes that hard work, resourcefulness; sociability, flexibility, and the ability to face adversity are the elements that allowed her to rise to the top of her game. “I have been beaten to the ground, but I rose because of persistence,” she says. “I understand that things don’t always go my way, but I keep moving forward by adapting to circumstances.”

Danelle says that all Filipinos are brand ambassadors of the nation. “Each one of us is our nation’s flag carrier. If we carry ourselves with pride and an unceasing desire to raise the bar; if we think first of what we can give rather than what we can benefit from; if we trust and rely on each other to make a consistently stronger brand, then the possibilities are endless.”

This vision also applies to her brand of the Philippines. “When we work harder on how we present our country and its people, it’s all going to change,” she says. “We’ll have more tourists and people from all around the world will come to know about the world’s treasure that is the Philippines.”




Ian BORROMEO PUBLIC RELATIONS PROFESSIONAL Working with a PR agency that represents the different tourism boards of popular international destinations like the USA, Slovenia, Thailand, Kyoto Japan, and Spain, among a host of others, is a privilege for Ian Borromeo. But what he is most proud of, is being able to handle communications for the Philippine Department of Tourism through AVIAREPS. “To serve my country, to deliberately remove the negative stereotypes of potential visitors, to show them that the Philippines can be at par with the world’s top destinations when it comes to infrastructure, technology, hospitality, science, engineering, history, culture and natural resources is an exhilarating experience,” he says.

Behind some of the most prominent brands in the country and the region are formidable Filipinos who lead in the fields of marketing, communications, public relations and events.

On his hopes for the motherland, he articulates: “My dream is not only to defy the norm but to rewrite our story. And in that new narrative, we are unaware of crab mentality, and incognizant of self-centeredness. We embrace change and welcome challenges with arms wide open, and we can walk side by side with the first class world.”

Here they share their branding hopes for the Philippines.



41 Through their academic endeavors, teachers are the torchbearers of today’s society leading the young towards a bright future. In the case of trailblazing educators Dr. Rex Bernard Bacarra of The American College of Dubai, and Dr. Rommel Sergio Pilapil of The Canadian University of Dubai, they also contribute positive change not only to the lives of the youth but also towards the community as ‘servant leaders,’.

The founding President of Filipino Educators in the UAE, recipient of the Presidential Award by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for Outstanding OFW-Individual Category and recipient of international and local academic and community awards too many to mention, Dr. Rommel has always considered service to the people of paramount importance. For the last two years, he has been running counseling programs for both the Assistance to National Section employees’ workshops, as well as for disadvantaged OFWs at the Philippine Consulate here in Dubai


and the Northern Emirates. He also built the Dr. Rommel Sergio Scholarship Foundation in the Philippines, which has, since its creation in 2015, benefited the ten towns of the Rizal Province. With great enthusiasm for teaching as well as social responsibility, Rommel says: “We enrich ourselves by teaching young minds. What is even more challenging (and fulfilling) for any educator is to possess the competencies to touch the learners’ hearts and transform their lives to become responsible and upright citizens of today’s global society.”


42 Among 2017’s triumphs, Dr. Rex Bacarra, notes that being asked by global group McGraw-Hill Education to be their Digital Faculty Consultant for Europe, and the Middle East and Africa, was truly fulfilling. The American-founded learning science company, and one of the three largest educational publishers in the world, also gave Rex the opportunity to share his expertise in the field at a London conference, bagging a first for Filipinos in the Gulf last August. At the start of 2018, Rex was also promoted to the Dean for General Education at the American College of Dubai. Still, according to him,

his most significant achievement regards being bestowed with the “OFW Bayani Award” (Hero Award) the highest award given to a Filipino expatriate by the Department of Foregn Affairs through the Consulate General, for excellence in the field of community service. He shares, “Great achivements are a result of great sacrifices that start off with a desire; mine being to leave a legacy of critical learning to future generations. I consider my most significant works to be the ones wherein I was able to share my skills with those who had less, and extend assistance to those abused.”


Exemplifying the ability of Filipino’s to shine in any arena while serving the community, both share how education can ultimately shape the world and its people. Dr. Rex articulates: “Our country’s redemption lies in the education of character. Instructions should focus not just on giving information but on critical thinking and character-building with consistency.” Dr. Rommel shares: “Education always promotes critical thinking, ethics, and well-being – all these redound to the positive psychology of happiness. Through education, imagine a society that operates on positivity and happiness.”



For almost two decades, one Filipinoowned nursery school has shaped close to 4,000 thousand young achievers with a combination of excellent academic building blocks, and a unique sense of Filipino care and heart. Shaping, nurturing, and educating the young has been the core pursuit of De La Salle Montessori’s founder, the late Remedios E. Chu. Since the nursery’s opening in 1999, DLSM has equipped a multicultural community of children with the necessary tools to become successful global citizens of the future, as well as active contributors towards society. What distinguishes a DLSM student is

their early exposure to holistic education – a schooling approach where equal value is seen in providing children with the academic fundamentals, as well as instilling within them practical life lessons, good morals, and cultural awareness. “By igniting in children a lifelong love of learning; teaching them to lead with dignity, follow with discernment, value diversity, care about the environment and the world at large, we are changing the world one child at a time,” says Ian Chu-Guerrero, School Director at DLSM. Recognizing that every child has the right to an education, DLSM has extended several charity programs over the years giving families and their young ones an


early break at education. For over seven years, DLSM’s Bright Start Program has offered children of various nationalities access to a nursery basics course, totally free of charge. Students and parents alike also get together annually for the “I Care” charity drive – wherein the proceeds go towards orphanages in the Philippines. Ian Chu-Guerrero attests: “The exercise promotes a global view of life among our pupils and teaches them to become more self-aware.” Educating the mind, as well as the heart, is so essential to the school. Ian expresses: “The effects of what happens during the early years of a child’s life lasts a lifetime. And with the right start, they can reach their full potential.”


Ateneo Leadership and

Social Entrepreneurship (LSE) Program VOLUNTEER EDUCATORS

Filipinos have always regarded education as one of the most important facets of life. Wherever they are in the world, they strive hard to learn more, to know more and to apply what they have learned – and in some instances, they make it a point also to help others learn more. A flagship Executive Education program of the Ateneo School of Government (ASoG), the Ateneo Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship (LSE) is a nonprofit six-month empowerment program that seeks to build the capabilities of Filipinos overseas to be change agents for their families, communities, and their home country. This capacitybuilding initiative consists of 12 fullday sessions covering four sessions each for Leadership, Financial Literacy and

Social Entrepreneurship facilitated by highly-qualified resource speakers from ASoG and the ALSE consortium. By the end of 2017, the program has seen over 1,993 graduates, from a total of eleven countries. Led by highly committed volunteers, the 2017 local secretariat is spearheaded by Benjamin Datinguinoo, Paul Moralde, Manuel Canlas, and Jr. & Leopoldo Garcia. The group is guided by its core advisers Jasper Adviento, Gina Valbuena, Armand Fernandez and Marian Celeste Carella. The group is futher supported by the LSE Alumni Association, led by JR Papel, along with the Alumni Council. “Volunteerism is undeniably far from easy, especially when the intention to


leave our home country is to explore opportunities for a better future,” says Gina Valbuena. “When you volunteer, your actions become focused outside of yourself, reaching out to where there is a greater need to serve without the thought of receiving in return. Though often an option difficult to undertake, this is an advocacy that every member of the Ateneo LSE community shares.” Jr Papel adds, “The best way to create the new breed of entrepreneurial Pinoys is to educate and sharpen their current skills, challenge the employee mindset and encourage them to become social entrepreneurs. This refining of capabilities will eventually prepare and sustain them for their return and reintegration.”


Kabayan NPO VOLUNTEER EDUCATORS A group of Filipino volunteers whose sole objective is to share their priceless time, skills, talents and professional expertise towards the betterment of kababayans in the UAE, Kababayan NPO (KNPO) has grown since its inception in 2015. The group which has trained some 5,000 graduates to date is composed of 60 volunteers coming from all walks of life. Lead by Elgene Bautista (President), Karen Bautista (Vice Pres), Jaymark Pangilinan (Audit), Jhoana gerologa(Finance), Charlene Josue &

Micheal Pangilinan (Marketing), and Essa Puentespina (Deputy VP), KNPO’s majority is composed of trainers, as well as other volunteers working relentlessly to ensure a seamless operation. “Education plays a vital role in our professional careers,” says KNPO President Elgene Bautista. “It helps open doors to better opportunities. With many Filipinos here in the UAE who would like to improve their skills but cannot afford the high cost of education, Kabayan


NPO is here to help. KNPO exists for a goal, and that is to live up its mission statement: Advancing knowledge, transforming lives.” KNPO’s work as an organization is greatly validated when their students have excelled. Among their projects including the CCNA Boot camp for which a student garnered a perfect score of 1000/1000, twenty-two of its Massage Therapy students also took the TESDA NCII certification and brought home an unprecedented 100% passing score.



Launched in June 2017, under the visionary leadership and advocacy of its Chairman, Lyndon Magsino, the Philippine Business School (PBS) has a mission to shape Filipinos to become global business leaders of tomorrow. The success of PBS can be measured not based on the number of programs they have rolled out but based on the number of successful Filipino business tycoons who are dominating the business world. Lyndon has envisioned that through PBS, Filipinos can be effective CEOs, CFOs, and owners of big global conglomerates.

“Recognizing the limitless and great potential, PBS paves the way to equip the hands and educate the minds of Filipinos to become industry ready, field experts, and global business leaders, believing that there is great potential in every Filipino to keep the competitive spirit and excel in their careers. When the time comes for them to make that daunting decision to either migrate to another country or come home to the Philippines for good, they have all the necessary learning and competencies to sustain a stable future not just for themselves but the nation as well.”

“Filipinos are under-recognized by most employers while being left behind in the business world,” says Lyndon.

In its pursuit of excellence, PBS continues to collaborate with top tier institutions both internationally and in


the Philippines such as the De La Salle University for its MBA programs. With barely a year in its operations from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, PBS remains positive that with perseverance, more and more Filipinos in the Gulf would recognize PBS as a premier and trustworthy institution. “PBS will continue to share knowledge, and perhaps be an example to our fellow Filipinos in thinking and striving to go beyond the glass ceilings,” says Lyndon. “To strive to excel in everything that we do so that other nations will see us as a nation of brains; where Filipinos are valued as influential in the workplace, in the Gulf and where success is not only possible but inevitable for everyone.”




Caroline MIRANDA Very determined and highly motivated, CEO and Managing Director of Dispatch Freight Caroline Miranda says that failure is part and parcel of establishing her own business – a freight and courier solutions company that serves some of the most prominent logistics brands in the country and has a growing network of 15 freight co-loaders operations centers located all over UAE Region and Worldwide. “I have learnt that failure is often inevitable,” she says. “I am realistic enough to know that sometimes these things happen. However, it’s how you recognize experience as a failure and what you can learn from it that will enable you to grow as a person and as a professional. I believe without failure you are unlikely to grow and experience what success feels like.” Her advice to Filipinos who want to be entrepreneurs: “Hustle is an act of focus, not frenzy. Hustle is about subtraction and addition. It’s not about doing more - it’s about focusing on the things you need to do to move your business forward.”



Cristina Calaguian founded Dagaz HR Consultancy and Recruitment Company in 2011 to guide and support people, primarily Filipinos, in pursuing their career goals and in the process, promoting equality, human rights, and inclusion. Its mission includes the recognition and contribution of People with Disabilities to the community and their rights to live. Its vision is a society that accepts and welcomes people with disability as equals. The company which is recognized in the field of recruitment and training in the region has, to date, facilitated some 2,000 job placements in the Middle East for prestigious clients in the hospitality, healthcare and industrial sectors. Her achievements in the field have accorded her recognition as one of the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World (Global FWN100TM), an accolade which, she considers, is just the beginning of her latest life journey which is laser-focused on her professional and advocacy goals. “What gives me the greatest satisfaction today is being able to support and mentor others in making the most of their full potential and opportunities, of encouraging them to shatter those false ceilings and believe that the sky is the limit,” she says. “Together, we will build a better community.”


Armand MANAPAT CEO and Design Director of AZM Uniforms Revolutionized Armand Zarris Manapat started his uniform designing career in 1996. Ten years later, he was commissioned to do the hotel and hospitality uniforms for the Doha Asian Games 2006. After his successful stint in Qatar, he moved to Dubai and progressively made his mark. Unique in his sector in the UAE, he has since designed world-class livery for a prestigious roster of clients, including the Emaar Hospitality Group, Uptown Cairo Golf Club, the private airlines of the royal family of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as Luneta Hotel in Manila. Just recently, Armand established two flagship stores in the UAE under the brand AZM Uniform Place.

ENTREPRENEURS It is not easy to establish a business overseas, but these brave souls took a leap of faith – and eventually succeeded in the process acting as Filipino entrepreneurial pioneers. Meet the rising stars of the

“I have seen businesses come and go, and from there I try to study and take some good learning points. With the knowledge that I have, I realized that even the most perfectly planned business, without the submission and trust in God, nothing will flourish and last long. I have submitted my business to God and fan the flame of my faith by praying that His ways will be my ways.” Ultimately, Armand dreams of one day designing and manufacturing uniforms for leading international airlines.

Filipino entrepreneurial community. ILLUSTRADO 67



As a young girl, she witnessed how her parents succeeded – and failed – in their business. Right then, Christine Joy Catolico-Tilja knew she wanted to have a business of her own in spite of seeing how challenging it could be. “I sold everything - from candies to food, to clothes,” she says. “I also worked during summer vacations. I accepted catering services and organized birthday parties for my classmates.” When she decided to leave for Dubai and eventually found herself jobless, Christine revisited her first love and established James Travel and Tours, named after her eldest child. Since she started in 2014, the company now has branches in Dubai, Makati and General Santos City. On top of that, Christine also has rental properties, twelve of which are in General Santos and three condos in Metro Manila. Christine shares what she likes the most about being her own boss, “To build a brand that adds value to the community and at the same time I get to spend more quality-time with James while growing up,” she says. “Success is a process – each experience, each mistake, each failure that I had made allows me to learn, be better and prepares me for the next chapter of my life.”





Marianne is a marketing consultant and financial planner, and Francis Medina, the Head of Market Reach and Business Improvement in Hilti Middle East, Turkey and Africa is also an entrepreneur and Philippine stock investor. Together they form ICEvents – a company with an advocacy to help Filipinos realize their entrepreneurial dreams. “ICEvents for us in not only a business, but it is also a partnership of six people whose common goal is to become an instrument of positive

change for Filipinos in the UAE,” says Francis. Since its inception, the company has been busy achieving several wins in the market and the community. They have partnered with notable speakers from the Philippines and produced highly successful and inspiring events, while their monthly run ExpatEntrepreneur meetings, as well as other financial literacy initiatives, have helped many entrepreneurial


Filipinos in the country. Marianne shares the team’s secret to building a successful business: “Collaboration and building strong relationships while combining passion with purpose. No business can be successful without a strong team who are committed to moving together towards one common direction. Skill, knowledge and strong faith should always be in the picture.”


52 Malou and Roberto Prado, founder of MPQ Tourism & Documents clearing service, have encountered shortcomings and failures in their business, sometimes experiencing a couple of months without revenue growth. This is quite ironic since presently, the company now has two branches and about 10,000 clients after almost five years in the business. “During those times, I already set myself to maintain my composure, attitude, energy and focus on resolving

it in all aspects for I always believe that nobody is perfect,” Malou says. “So we restructured our business marketing, changed our management towards our staff and recognized their ideas, and worked hand in hand with them to achieve our goals.” Robert adds, “Certainly, our success is not only because of us and our families but also because of those people who surround us, our friends and staff, our co-business competitors who give us the inspiration to go for the gold.”



53 Michelle Guinto’s journey in the business world is as colourful, as her dreams. Once a factory worker and a sari-sari store owner, she decided to leave for Dubai to work for her family. Her jobs were storied: a telephone operator, a caterer, a receptionist, a tourist clerk, a freelancer, and finally started her own small commercial brokerage company. That company has steadily grown in the last couple of years to also include a business in Dubai. “In August 2016, I was able to secure a five year contract signed deal between CMG Global Cargo Inc Philippines and Allied Pickfords Singapore with an estimated additional revenue of around 5 Million USD covering around 5,00010,000 shipments of Import & Export of Household Goods, among others,” she says. Along the way, Michelle has learned some valuable lessons. “Do not grab all the opportunities knocking on your door. Learn to do due diligence, evaluate the risk and stay focused. Give time for yourself, family, socialize with friends and always talk to God for He will never forsake you nor leave you.”



54 Business ventures nowadays are born not only for profit and passion but also to benefit various humanitarian and environmental causes. Here are two social enterprises which aim to better Filipinos through their business ventures in the UAE.

Its vision is not only to help OFWs access a unique investment opportunity and inspire entrepreneurship but also to bring change to impoverished communities. Since November 2016, EntrePINOY, the marketing arm and sole product distributor in Dubai, has been distributing - Bios Dynamis the breakthrough certified organic rice of the “Adopt A Farm” program.

“To ensure a sustainable end to end solution, EntrePinoy FZE endeavours to import these products and introduce it in the Middle East market, thereby helping our local farmers,” says EntrePINOY Chairman Sheryll Bacay Agbing. “With this, we want to find a solution to a problem and become change agents. We want to help find ways to provide opportunities for people to live well, see opportunities and create potentials.” Sheryll, together with partners Jessie Quintilla, Gertie Quebral, Hyden Restificar, and Chito Hernandez, have created EntrePINOY as a business for a social purpose as its primary driver.


“We would like to build a unique business model that will help transform a community and make a difference in the lives of Filipinos,” says Jessie Quintilla. “Regarding profit, we recognise the absolute necessity of profits to sustain the cause as well as the equally high necessity of having a purpose beyond profit or wealth. At Entrepinoy, we combine technology, community, and commercial strategies to maximise social well-being.” At present, EntrePINOY is preparing to launch its second project which will help revive the lost glory of ‘kapeng barako’ and will support local farmers in sustaining the famous coffee product.


55 Prominent husband and wife team Art Los Banos and Rachel Salinel Los Banos provide help not just to distressed workers in Dubai, but also to impoverished schoolchildren in the Philippines. This, they do, by bringing Filipino entrepreneurs and professionals in Dubai together through the first FEME (Filipino Excellence in the Middle East) Connect Directory, as well as it’s offshoot project FEME Forum. “One of our objectives is to connect Filipino entrepreneurs and professionals with one another to

create a network of competencies, talents, and skills, and we achieve this through the FEME Forums” says Art Los Banos. He shares that last year, FEME’s forum has seen companies coming together to talk about potential collaboration for mutual business gains. He adds that during the forum, the group was also able to turnover PAL airtickets to the Philippine Consulate General and to the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) to be used for the repatriation of distressed OFWs. In the future, Art and Rachel plan to have a social media presence


by highlighting entrepreneurs and multi-awarded professionals. “We will launch this project in the first quarter of 2018,” says Art. “We also want to host the 3rd FEME Forum in Abu Dhabi as there are many successful and driven entrepreneurs and professionals.” “We hope that more Filipino professionals and entrepreneurs support the advocacy of FEME Connect as this directory will provide them contact numbers of like-minded individuals specifically professionals in various industries,” says Rachel Los Banos.



Mariecar BLANCO JARA Some assignments and some interviews may be dull but for local media veteran Mariecar Blanco Jara of Gulf Today, it is up to her to squeeze out everything to make it relevant for the public. “Every day is a challenge in hunting and writing for the news,” she says. “Every assignment and every topic are a challenge on how to get these across interestingly and informatively. While one may be trained into becoming one of the best communicators, the message has to be sent across. It is the person’s character that determines it all.” She remembers one incident where her character was tested. When she was asked by her editor to go to the Zamboanga Peninsula to explore the effects of the Sipadan Hostaging on the tourism industry, she went full throttle in spite of the danger that lied ahead. Here in the UAE, safe from the risks journalists have to face back home, Mariecar has been known to be that type of a reporter who doesn’t shirk from asking the tough questions. She shares, “I ask God for guidance especially when I tread new territory in my line of work,” she says. “I do not know everything and I am not ashamed to share that I do this for He is my employer. He knows all.” ILLUSTRADO 74


“As a journalist for 18 years in Gulf News, I have published a myriad of human stories that I am proud to say that touched souls and influenced a lot of people,” Manuel Almario says. “I still remember Juan Briza who is a Filipino mechanic based in Dubai. Briza suffers from a rare congential disorder called dysmelia. He’s got no hands and no feet, but he’s full of courage and determination! Despite his disability, he didn’t quit. He is an abled mechanic, he persevered and helped his parents and his future is bright.” This kind of story, he says, melts his heart and feeds his determination to succeed. Being a Community Editor in Gulf News allows him to share that sort of inspiration and impact the local community, especially with the virality that social media offers. He gives a word of caution, however, in this era where fake news is so rampant. “With the popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, it is so easy to post and promote anything,” he says. “It’s hard to identify hard news from rumours, positive from negative, true from fake, as there are many exploiters endorsing one’s agenda. So we have to be extra vigilant, investigate and validate facts. Always go by the credible and big news organisations such as,, washingtonpost. com, to name a few. Don’t be deceived!”


Janice PONCE DE LEON A media practitioner for ten years now, Janice Ponce De Leon first worked as a TV producer for Probe with Cheche Lazaro after graduation in 2007 before relocating to Dubai to support her family in 2011. Here, she joined Gulf News, working as the only Filipino reporter in the Nation Section, covering various beats including the Community Development Authority, Asian communities, consumer-related stories for telecom and other utilities, issues related to safety, and anything to do with people and their financial concerns. “I’m very opinionated and inquisitive,” she says, “My favourite question is why. I could relate to Lois Lane when she said that asking questions is in her blood. My best friends call me the quintessential voice of reason. Why? I don’t understand until now.”

JOURNALISTS What does it take to be a storyteller? For these men and women of the media who put themselves on the line to bring us real facts, information, and the truth, it is all about integrity, dedication, and commitment.

“As a journalist and storyteller, it’s my responsibility to ensure that the information I provide the public is accurate, objective, fair, timely and relevant to them,” she says. “My goal is to write stories that positively influence policymakers and to empower the common man to make informed decisions. It’s very rewarding whenever I see my stories impact them.” ILLUSTRADO 75


59 A non-embedded war correspondent during the US-led war in Iraq in 2003, Maxxy Santiago is a Senior Correspondent and Consultant of ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau/ The Filipino Channel with 18 years of intensive experience, a Reporter of the Arab Times in Kuwait and founder/ program director/announcer of Pinoy Arabia FM in Kuwait.

in the Philippines, Kuwait and the US. Despite all this, Maxxy shares what she finds most fulfilling with her work, “The adrenaline rush, the rich experience and most importantly getting the stories of our fellow Filipinos aired across as they appeal for help, moving the concerned government officials to act swiftly are what keeps me grounded.”

Covering Filipinos caught in the conflict areas of Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen is one of the most notable works Maxxy is most proud of. Being instrumental in the freeing of the longest serving Filipino inmate in Kuwait who has been in jail for 20 years is also an achievement that she holds dear. All these, as well as her unique experience in the region, has earned her a myriad of honors

Maxxy adds, “As a journalist, it is my responsibility to report what is fair, honest and truthful. As a journalist, it’s not enough that I only report what has happened. My report should also move people to action; something good must come out of it. There should always be a ‘redeeming value.’ A journalist is not just a mere storyteller but most importantly a catalyst for change.”

Photo by: Nick Velarde, Mayo Gayares & Remar Toledo of Pinoy Digital Photographers in Kuwait (PINDOT) Makeup : Marlon Malinao of MARvelous Make-Up Artistry ILLUSTRADO 76



While many personal trainers are known to be Filipino, Renuel “Ren” Sanchez stands out among the majority within the highly competitive field. Aside from being a well renowned personal trainer, Ren is also the General Manager of the famous MMA Fitness chain of gyms in Dubai. Chasing his dreams since 2003, Ren graduated as an occupational therapist and started off his career path as a personal trainer at Greenhill’s Fitness First Branch (Manila). At a time where personal training wasn’t a popular field, Ren believed that he could help

change people’s lives for the better. “I’d rather help people avoid being sick than treat them at the hospital. I felt that I can change people’s lives and even motivate the people around them to lead a healthier lifestyle.” Ren is among the most qualified fitness experts in Dubai, racking up a number of achievements including certifications within various training methods from suspension training, viper training, and power plate expertise. He is a certified Muay Thai instructor and a Runner up for FF’s Middle East PT of the year.


Now as the General Manager of MMA Fitness, Ren has hired and trained many Filipinos under him, giving them the opportunity to work in Dubai. He believes that all Filipinos need to be on equal footing with everyone in society, through building skill and confidence, and he enforces that through world class standards. “You must believe in yourself if you want people to believe in you.” Where reputation and image matter the most, Ren states that “age or how you look must not limit your success; people will respect you if you are genuine and sincere.



taste m a k e r s TASTEMAKERS. Here’s to the deviants, the explorers, the style-setters, the innovators who push the limits of what is and should be. They see what could be, and in breathing life to their vision, they reengineer our reality.




Meet the unique, fabulous, and ingenious designers who spark creativity and innovation in both the regional and international style-spheres, breaking the mold of traditional fashion with their grandiose couture concoctions.

You can’t dull his shine. His glamorous creations are noted for their inventiveness, attention to detail, and beguiling fantasy. This, of course, is Yen AB of the couture atelier Yen Couture in Abu Dhabi,

2017 has presented a lot of successes for Yen as a fashion designer. Besides retailing in London, Los Angeles, Tokyo, and New York successfully for the second year, his ingenious designs were also featured on 2 American TV shows - HBO’s Insecure and CBS’ Watch Magazine. His pieces also made the glossy pages of Harper’s Bazaar and were donned on the red carpet at Cannes and the American Country Music Awards. On top of his ebullient attitude, the designer believes that the ability to conquer and rise above any negative


circumstance is critical to success. Yen says: “My mantra is rooted in never dwelling on a problem too long. Always trust your gut and work smart by having options and solutions in advance.” Of every facet of his profession, more than anything, Yen greatly appreciates how something wonderful can emerge from a mere sketch. He articulates: “The entire process of creating something from scratch intrigues me. That magical moment when something materializes out of nothing. That’s the reason I’m designing today.”


Garimon ROFEROS FASHION DESIGNER Before finally recognizing his dream, and establishing a couture atelier of his own, Garimon Roferos has been honing his gift for fashion all through his career, having worked under the wing of some of the industry’s most elite names - including Michael Cinco. Successfully spearheading his brand, Garimon Roferos Couture in 2017, his masterfully crafted gowns have gained acclaim from his clientele here in the Gulf and beyond. Recently, Garimon was also handed the honor of designing a gown for the Philippine President’s grand-daughter, Isabelle Duterte – which she wore for her debut photo shoot at Malacañang

Palace. Being invited to the official ceremony this January, he notes: “I understand that some may have found a way to make this controversial, but I love my home, the Philippines, and was grateful to have been bestowed with this privilege and in a very small way, give back to my country.” Winning a coveted award earlier in his career at the Concours Internationale des Jeunes Creatures de Mode’s D’Incitation, held in Paris, Garimon has proven that Filipinos can do more than fare well on a global scale. To make it, he elaborates: “Never stop creating new, innovative, and unique ideas.”



Francis ‘‘Izhcka” ZETA FASHION DESIGNER Anyone who has seen Francis ‘Izhcka’ Zeta and his work would notice that he is out-of-this-world. Uber-eccentric style, dramatic demeanor, and his amazingly grandiose couture fantasies all come into play. Anti-establishment and one who is just fashionably different but on-point, he expresses that being different was never something he strived for, but rather something naturally embedded within his personality. Izhcka is Creative Director at Jacy Kay Couture, serving as the brand’s foremost

artistic force. Evident from their long list of local and international elite clientele, they have proven to be a favorite in the market. When it comes to creating pieces, the eternally-elegant Audrey Hepburn has and will always be Izhcka’s muse. He tells us: “My design philosophy is classic Hepburn. It is something I always apply no matter the nationality of my client.” Izhcka realizes that being recognized in such a huge industry does not come easy, especially as a Filipino. Having


worked with a multitude of clients, who can be difficult at times, Izhcka stresses that having a flexible attitude is crucial: “Success as a Filipino doesn’t come easy. It comes with perseverance, tolerance, and a high level of calmness.” A further key to success he thoroughly credits is continually studying one’s craft. He says: “Continuing education, researching for the latest trends in color, garments, and style while maintaining the network of people necessary for success is a must.”



Harvey CENIT FASHION DESIGNER Head Designer and Creative Director at Al Aroosa Aniqah – a couture brand whose name rings familiar with Emirati women - Harvey Cenit never ceases to pique the interests of his clientele, with his fairy tale works of art that beautifully balance the delicateness of femininity, and modern couture’s opulent appeal. Bestowed with several awards this year, a significant highlight for Harvey was being able to dress up his most recent muse, the beautiful Filipina actress, Maxene Magalona, for the Star Magic Ball 2017. For Harvey, becoming an eminent figure in the world of fashion is no straight-forward procedure – he tells us: “There is really no known recipe for success. You just have to do whatever you are passionate about, take risks and don’t hold back. If you fail, learn from it, and accept constructive criticism. It won’t just make you better at work, but it will make you a better person too.”


Phio ENAJE FASHION DESIGNER Recently appointed Creative Director at newly launched fashion atelier, Nymph Couture, Phio Enaje brings a fresh perspective to the industry, with an extensive background in fashion merchandising. Designing in the emirates for over seven years now, he not only creates fabulous gowns but also dabbles in shoes and accessories. With a yearning for old Hollywood glamour, Phio’s design aesthetic unites the timeless essence of icons like Marlene Dietrich and Joan Crawford, with the refined woman of today who effortlessly exudes grace. Not swayed by today’s trend, Phio feels that achievement lies in staying true to oneself. He voices: “Backed with talent, passion, and perseverance, I have always followed my vision. This simple yet significant notion is an approach I apply to both my profession and life in general.”



Ryan PACIOLES FASHION DESIGNER Ryan Pacioles’ sixteen years in fashion have been finally rewarded with his dream come true debut at Fashion Forward Dubai in 2017, under the banner of Atelier Zuhra. Presenting a collection that was so well-received, Ryan voices: “Being a part of such a prestigious event in the world of fashion was an amazing experience and a true career highlight. It wasn’t only a great platform to exhibit my works; it was also a huge confidence booster.” Together with being a skilled designer, Ryan who initially started in Saudi Arabia believes that being a good person is equally conducive to prosperity. He shares, “My recipe for success is rooted in my core values. First, be Kind. Kindness will open doors to a lot of opportunities. Next is Excellence. Give your absolute best in every aspect of your craft.” ILLUSTRADO 83



Jun RICAFORTE FASHION DESIGNER Founder of Dune Abaya, the modest Jun Ricaforte’s impeccable eye for local fashion has won over the loyalty of several powerful women across the emirates. Designing such timeless and luxurious pieces that elegantly transition from season to season, his abayas have even been donned by some of the nation’s prominent sheikhas. A graduate of the New York School of Fashion Design and a former member of the Fujairah Royal Palace design team, Jun reveals what it takes to truly make it: “Great taste, professionalism in dealing with clients, and a genuine enthusiasm for what you’re doing are imperative. Know that it’s not all glamour. Be good to everyone in the industry, especially to your suppliers and tailors - they are the backbone of your business.” With his designs soon available at the District Venue Dubai and USH boutiques, he aspires to continue creating refined abayas, to someday, see his brand in the top elegant stores of the Gulf.




Don’t be fooled by his age, but Shelfred Cañaveras Surdilla has been rising steadily in the local fashion scene, ever since he arrived eight years ago at the age of twenty. As the Managing Director of Shelfred Le Couturier – Luxurious Modern Abaya, he was successfully able to transition from his modest beginnings as a garment finisher into the owner of a luxury abaya fashion house, through hard work and a sheer commitment to his craft. Shelfred mainly designs for the chic and fashion-forward Arab women of the UAE, as well as those within the Gulf region. However, his refreshing twist on the culture’s classic gown has made different nationalities embrace the beauty of the abaya – paving the way for the brand’s newer European audience. With the dream of expanding internationally, Shelfred advises budding designers to value good work ethic and to possess an unwavering sense of dedication towards all facets of one’s trade.


Resty LAGARE FASHION DESIGNER Rising Kuwait based fashion designer, Resty Lagare has been moving up in the global fashion arena in recent years, with 2017 being the pinnacle of his design career. Along with unveiling his couture collection at Fashion Week in LA, Phoenix, and New York, he also earned the incredible break of dressing up the finalists of Germany’s Next Top Model, as well as super model host Heidi Klum. Initially designing for fashion ateliers in Dubai back in the 90’s, Resty is now the resident fashion designer at Lovely Fashion in Kuwait. For two decades there, he and his team have been producing magnificent couture for members of the Royal Family, as well as local actresses and personalities.


His secret to success? Resty expresses: “Alongside good work ethic and constantly updating oneself with the latest trends, to thrive, fashion designers should also keep abreast with the latest social media tools that can help them market their creations.” Photo by: Nick Velarde, Mayo Gayares & Remar Toledo of Pinoy Digital Photographers in Kuwait (PINDOT) Grooming : Marlon Malinao of MARvelous Make-Up Artistry ILLUSTRADO 85



The best of international and local models that have walked on the region’s most prestigious runway have all been subject to this Filipino’s exacting scrutiny. As Casting Director of the Middle-East’s most eminent fashion platform, Dubai Fashion Forward, Michael Amazona Del Mar has been endeavoring to bring development, exposure, and a progressive direction to the regional industry. Alongside his career as Casting Director which has allowed him to work with some of the most prestigious brands in the world, as well as major international and regional modelling agencies, Michael has recently been trying his hand out in Show Directing, and also works as Managing Director at IKON Productions, a Dubai – based boutique agency he has co-founded, which specializes in turnkey solutions for events. Since receiving his first huge break in 2012 which would turn him from Model Booker to Casting Director, from fashion industry maverick Bong Guererro, Michael has been pushing to help raise industry standards. He views his work as a source of empowerment for many within the fashion industry – from models, designers, makeup artists and the various people whose roles make fashion and beauty what it is today, he advices that professionalism and competence are still the benchmarks for success. He says, “In fashion, your work speaks for itself, and it does not need any pedestal or sugar coating. If you deliver, then chances are you gain the respect of your peers. On the other hand, if you don’t then you are certainly replaceable.”

Photo by: Rozen Antonio



71 It’s no secret that Filipinos are under– represented in the international and regional modeling scene. But for the likes of Paul Kiefer, he simply pays no mind. He is an internationally recognized male model, with a mixed ethnic background (also the latest craze in the fashion industry) – who is also a familiar fixture in the local industry where he has graced many a campaign billboards and has been walking the ramp for several fashion seasons now. Starting off as a basketball player and professional break dancer

before his foray into fashion, Paul is also an aspiring photographer. The fashion industry is often stereotyped as a fickle one, full of beautiful, self centered models and bossy photographers. For Paul, however, “being pretty is never enough.” It’s not a matter of reputation and image. “I try just to be myself, stay true to my beliefs, and enjoy life’s many adventures. I don’t care too much what people think or say and just try to do the best at whatever I do.”

Photo by: Orlando Goncalves


Despite his mixed ethnic background, Paul identifies himself as more Filipino than ever. And in this world where everything happens at a fast pace, he believes that empowerment comes from within and that everyone can bring something new to the table. “I think that every person is unique and one of a kind. We all have so much to give. So just by bringing yourself into the picture, you are adding some change and contribution of uniqueness into the whole.”

73 Alex


Rozen ANTONIO Though often perceived as shy or soft-spoken, Rozen Antonio’s bold eye for beauty and stunning imagery speaks volumes. A go to photographer for highly revered designers Michael Cinco and Furne One, he is eminent for his ability to transform the simplest of things into the most captivating pieces of art. Apart from photography, Rozen runs his own company – Houz of Zen – where his team specializes in boutique event management and photography for both fashion and beauty projects. He’s worked alongside publications like Velvet, Ohlala, and the Art of Living, not to mention the brands Himalaya, Coca Cola, Lords, and United Colors of Benetton. With the evolution and access to modern technology, Dubai’s scene of artists is quickly becoming saturated. While it’s easy to get demotivated, Rozen takes on the challenge as an opportunity. “I persist, persevere and endure. There will always be rejection. But I never let rejection keep me down.”


CALLUENG For the sometimes enigmatic, but mostly wacky Alex Callueng, photography, he says, is just “an itch that needed to be scratched.” Alex left the corporate world to transition strongly into professional fashion photography in recent years. While it does seem like a popular career aspiration, not many have achieved the level of success that Alex has. Now several years into his career, Alex’s reputation has earned him many features from some of the best glossies including Vogue Arabia, Harper’s Bazaar Middle East, Grazia Middle East, and L’Officiel Middle East. When not taking photos, he pursues new creative ideas and motivations, now expanding into new mediums such as video. Alex voices his secret to staying in demand: “Don’t be onion-skinned. In this type of industry, you need to be able to stand up for your aesthetics, while staying open to constructive critiques.”


Jef ANOG Jef Anog’s background in theatre, poetry, and art has given him a sincere appreciation for the dramatic and beautiful. Starting off in Dubai as an accountant in 2010, it was only by chance that he encountered the many opportunities that helped him grow into the accomplished photographer we know today. Jef ’s most notable projects to date include shooting fashion editorials for Michael Cinco, Ezra Santos, Amato, and Mona Al Mansouri, as well covers for Eluxe Magazine – Paris, and Zahrat Al Khaleej. His works were even honored at an exhibit at the Philippine Consulate in Dubai. To those seeking to thrive, Jef expresses: “A great photographer needs to be positive, creative and passionate. As artists in the industry, we need to be consistent in having these characteristics.”


Now an entrepreneur, having gone independent of talent agencies and opening his own free zone company, his transition from numbers to the creative field he so loves, has gone full circle. Jef says: “My passion is my work, and my work is my passion. Every photo I produce is a mix of poetry, light, drama, and artistry that is excellently fashioned to tell a unique story.”


The Metrosapiens Creative stylist duo, Khel Recuenco, and Lester Ivan Cabatit A.K.A. The Metrosapiens, run an online hub for men’s fashion. While producing mainly style oriented content, their blog also includes hip flashes of travel and lifestyle as well a marketplace where people can shop their catalogue of curated looks. Besides being able to style individuals, The Metrosapiens also give presentations to Filipino organizations regarding basic styling and image improvement. These experiences, where they provide support to their countrymen through


their passion for fashion, is what they are most proud of. “We feel that most Pinoys tend to get overwhelmed when they hear the word ‘fashion,’ as it is something they cannot relate to - but it shouldn’t be like that.” Lester and Khel both believe that how we present ourselves as people is not only a potent form of expression. They share: “Fashion dictates how we define things. The whole philosophy of wanting people to feel good because they are confident when they look good is what pushed the creation of The Metrosapiens.”


Gweys Soriano The effervescent Gweys Soriano is a certified personal stylist and personal shopper, as well as an experimental shoe and bag designer. Confidence, personality, and style are three words people often associate with this lady who has, of late, become quite a notable presence in Dubai’s fashion scene. Captivating the producers of Vogue Arabia, Harper’s Bazaar, and Hia Magazine with her vibrant style, Gweys expresses: “I believe that in my own little ways I inspire our fellow countrymen. It just proves that we Filipinos can stand out too.” To become a name that rings familiar in an ever-diversifying industry, Gweys believes that individuals should be able to carve out their own identity, and foster connections with others in the business. She says, “I will not settle with being a reflection of others. Playing it safe never got anyone anywhere. The game is now truly about creativity, building relationships and what you bring to the table.”


Niche Modeling Agency AGENCY

76 The UAE’s first fully Filipino-owned modeling, production, and events agency, Niche Modeling Agency, was founded in 2017 both with the ambition to provide the market with local high caliber models and talents, and to challenge the negative generalizations associated with the industry and women in general. Underlining the value of their work, CEO Glitzy Al Banna shares, “Through the years, agencies like ours have provided a lot of work opportunities, not only for models, but for photographers, stylists,

hairstylists, makeup artists, etc. – many of whom are Filipinos. This is one of the reasons why we established our company. We were inspired to empower these gifted FIlipinos.” For the past six months, Niche Modeling Agency composed of Ingrid Aureada (Co-Founder & COO), Florence Sitiong (Co-Founder & CMO), Mark Anthony Palabrica (Head Model Booker), Sean Kaiser Conte (Model Scout & Head of Resgistration), Mikaela Dayao (Social Media Manager), and Lors Del Leon


Panganiban (Finance), have been working with big brands like Dior, Alexander Wang, Beaume et Merci, Amato Couture, and Michael Cinco. What’s more, their work has also graced magazine covers, as well as many fashion editorials. Working with a vast network of models, Glitzy shares, “A successful model needs to have a good personality, a professional attitude, good knowledge about the industry, and would know how to represent themselves properly.”


77 Pauline Moreno aka Dj Miss PM has been a strong fixture in Dubai’s clubbing scene since 2009, directing the flow of the party around many of the emirate’s prominent clubs and music festivals. But this lady’s not just about pumping up the bass, Dubai’s First Lady of Techno is actually growing up to be a teacher. Pauline’s versatility in music landed her a spot among Dubai’s finest. She’s known for her selection of Disco, Nu Jazz, House, and even Drums and bass. Her most notable recent gigs include DJ-ing at the Creamfields dance music festival, opening for Nicole Moudaber (a renowned dance

music industry figure), and playing at the DXBeach festival. In a place with an increasingly rapid influx of contenders, Pauline notes that talent is essential for elevating one’s game within the field. “You really need to be able to stand out and offer something unique to the market.” She believes that a mixture of skill, passion, and hard work are the keys to longevity within the ultra competitive clubbing industry. Behind all the clubbing and music, Pauline is also an aspiring teacher. Sidelining her music career for the


season, Pauline is currently focusing her energy onto the world of academia, presently taking a masters degree and teaching at an international school. “I suppose when you love what you do, and you do things with the best intentions, it’s worth all the effort and hard work.” Talent and hard work will not only determine your future, but will allow you to follow your bliss, and Pauline is the perfect example of that. Whether she’s getting the party started or pursuing her love of teaching, this is one lady who knows how to march cooly to the beat of her own drum.



Susan De GUZMAN CONTEMPORARY ARTIST, EDUCATOR Although she considers her work abstract with a lot of stories to tell, and contemporary that does not explain itself visually, Susan Villanueva finds pride in bringing a new form of work to the Philippines and the world. “It brings a wealth of knowledge and ideas about Philippine heritage,” she says. “Art has moved to a wider spectrum of how to deliver a message. From visual content, art has now become a vehicle for communication.” Her most recent project Pintados which was recently exhibited at the Philippine Consulate General of Dubai proves that her works are indeed a testament to her creativity, leading her to more exposure and for other Filipinos to witness her stunning creations. “Artists by nature are different from others,” she says. “Unknowingly, yes, it is important to be different. It pushes boundaries and provides innovative thinking. However, being different is innate for an artist. I guess being unique is something you can acquire depending on the exposure of one’s self. Each of us were born unique from each other.” In the near future, the artist, who is also known for being a notable educator of Emirati youth and respected faculty member at the Higher Colleges of Technology in Sharjah Women’s College, plans to bring the unknown part of the country’s heritage to the young generation. “This, perhaps, needs years of research as this is part of my project proposal for my Ph.D. studies. I want to see it through and be able to share it with the Filipino people and the world. I want to share this with countries with similar tribes, and relate the colors, similarities and their meaning.” ILLUSTRADO 94


Award-winning photographer and filmmaker Patrick Fronda has another feather to add to his cap, that of a leading content creator thanks to the runaway success of his social media page the “The City Vibes.” 2017 was a year of many new beginnings and accomplishments as Patrick launched his company Revolver Media, which produces high quality video content for various brands and creative agencies in Dubai. He also started “The City Vibes” which is now well-known for featuring mouth-watering videos covering the hottest restaurants in the emirates. Within seven months, his videos attracted a following of over 86 thousand, with Patrick and his team producing numerous videos that hit the million views mark. While pursuing his growth as an entrepreneur who deals in the visual medium, Patrick points out what’s vital for him when creating content. “I don’t like showing off my skills in my work. I want the story to stand out, not the applications nor camera that I used.” He also has a unique take on failure. He says, “I like failure... I’m addicted to failure. That’s where I get my knowledge and all the right information. After I fail, I study my mistakes and try one more time. Nothing can make me give up.” Patrick Fronda believes in his greater calling, seeking to make the most out of his life through his career. While Dubai’s filmmaking scene has a long way to go,


Hyku DESESTO ENTREPRENEUR, COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHER Her amazing body of work and the fruits of her labor say it all. “I always keep my eyes on the prize and never stop working,” says established photographer, brand ambassador, and all-round boss lady Hyku Desesto.

Photo by: Jessie Valle

Patrick continues to exceed the expectations of many, setting the standard and pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling, even through the commercial content he creates. “The UAE may not have an interest or plan to have a real platform yet, but I am here to build that.”

2017 was a fantastic year for Hyku. She has not only earned her right to become the official photographer for some of the region’s most prestigious brands, but she too covered the likes of Sir Richard Branson, Christian Louboutin, Olivia Palermo, and even Mariah Carey. Gaining recognition as an influencer, she was featured in Emaar’s Ultimate Wifi Campaign, and was chosen as one of Netflix’s 30 Girl Boss Ambassadors for the UAE & MENA. What’s more, she even guested in the TV Show Eisheldor on MBC / MBC Action. Hyku’s future is definitely not short of ambition. Her plans include launching her own brand, SoulTrap Studio, a creative platform that seeks to support and empower upcoming creative talent. ILLUSTRADO 95



Anna De Leon is a trained makeup artist and renowned beauty advocate in the UAE. Since 2009, she has been teaching women about skincare and makeup through her workshops and classes: ‘Faces by Anna De Leon.’ She also has her own brand of affordable, high-quality makeup tools, ‘Woman by Anna Makeup Brushes.’ 2017 has been a pivotal year in which Anna transcended her beauty niche. She successfully earned her blue belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu, after having been in the field for almost three years. Her hard work and rigorous training won her a spot in the World Masters Championship, where she competed in the USA. Her participation in the internationally renowned competetion landed her a story (including a billboard inclusion) within Samsung’s inspirational #dobiggerthings campaign, lauding her as a source of inspiration and empowerment. More than her achievements in sports and local pop culture, Anna’s cachet lies in what she represents for women, that you can be a beauty, compete like a beast, and do anything you set your heart to, at any age. “You are as old as you think and as young as how you feel,” says Anna. And in a field dominated by mostly men, she takes gender out of the question, and the only feminine thing about her in sports are her colored nails. She adds, “If I can carry a little person in my belly for nine months and continually raise her to be as fierce or even more than myself, then I can do anything.”


Anna defies the stereotypes of the modern woman, proving that, for women, there’s more than meets the eye. Fun, fearless and fabulous at 40, Anna De Leon continues to be an inspirational figure for many, constantly expanding the definitions of the fierce contemporary woman.

Christoper Lawrence Frostyle TRASMANO DANCER

82 For Christopher “CL Frostyle” Trasmaño, dance is not just about grace, fluidity or motion - but it is about culture. “Hiphop culture in general – especially dance culture – has had such a positive influence on the world,” he says. “One of the legendary bboys, Remind, once said - “We can stop Wars.” The culture which started in New York has now reached almost all parts of the world, and every year, hundreds of really high level international events are happening worldwide.”

Last year, this Pinoy who is the most prominent in the local dance scene known not only for his moves but also his unmistakeable hairstyle and ebullient personality became part of two landmark dance documentaries. The first one was “Beyond the Block” by dance legend Ricky Carranza, where he represented Middle East Pinoy hiphop. Then there was “Grit. Grace. Gold.” a HipHop film produced for Sole Dxb where he was the only Filipino among the “OGs,” as well as up and coming talents of bboying and hiphop in the emirates.


Nike also appointed Frostyle as brand ambassador in 2017, with his photos placed at the Mall of Emirates during the Nike Airmax’s 30th anniversary. He also became part of the FilClub and was instrumental in organizing the very first Bayanihan hiphop Dance showdown held at World Trade Center to give an avenue for Pinoy dance crews to showcase their skills. “I just want to touch lives and guide the young generation of hiphop dancers in the real essence of it all - to spread love, peace, unity, knowledge and to have fun,” he says.


83 Ryan Arbilo knows what sacrifice is all about. He grew up without a mother, knowing full well the extent of their hard work and the price that they have to pay raising their kids. This concept gave way to “Chicken Hands,” a photography exhibit focusing on the struggles of overseas Filipina housemaids who work abroad to provide for their families – a familiar circumstance for many Filipinos all over the globe. “I want to promote awareness of the socioeconomic situations of these women who felt the need to work abroad because of the poverty in their country,” he explains. “The women I pictured worked for more than a decade, mostly as undocumented workers and living in fear. However, they were always smiling, never complaining as they did everything their patron demanded with little to no pay. They are

working unbelievable hours for meagre wages so they can send money for their children left behind. They work tirelessly so their families can have the necessities of education, food, and clothing, among others.” Conceptualized in 2009 and exhibited in September 2016 at the La Maison Européen de la Photography in Paris and the Yuchengco Museum in Manila in 2017, Ryan considers “Chicken Hands” as one of his most prized possessions. “This is a great humanitarian calling for me, to somehow inspire our people and our governments to focus on finding a way for families to stay together and thrive above the poverty line and not have the need to leave abroad,” he says. Last year, Ryan’s artistry touched down in the Emirates with his first local project

Photo by: Rodolfo Arbilo ILLUSTRADO 98

“Tour de Force – Part 1” an exhibition of 13 photographic portraits featuring some of the most empowering Filipinos in the UAE, held at the Park Regis Kris Kin Hotel. Lauded as an inspirational event meant to celebrate Filipino strength, the exhibit came to frutition with the help of Unicef artist Cesco Concepcion. Ryan’s work has given a contrasting view of the lives of Filipinos outside the country. On one hand, highlighting our woes as a community, particularly the situation of our disadvantaged women overseas workers. And on the other, it is uplifting and inspirational, exemplifying what Filipinos can achieve and become beyond the motherland. Whatever the slant, it is clear that for Ryan Arbilo, his art sends a strong message, and that is his contribution to the people.


84 He believes that there is always uniqueness in the arts because humanity as a whole wants to see “a new language of expression” and that humanity always wants to see something different. “But, you have to remember too that whatever discipline you are in – whether a photographer, writer, musician, or painter – if you have one thing that’s original, you can make good art. It’s okay to copy in the beginning because most of us only find our voices after we’ve sounded like other people,” says Nathaniel Alapide. “However, if you continue to work on this skill, your uniqueness will shine from the work you do.”

And unique, he is. Nathaniel is wellknown for his ephemeral large scale murals created on the sands of Jumeirah beach, giving Dubai-watchers another thing to marvel about. Last year, he also earned the honor of having his first oneman-show in his hometown of Antipolo. On sand, his most memorable works are “La Gioconda” (Mona Lisa) and the mural of a “Tree” that he made in memory of his grandmother. “The Mona Lisa because every person that sees it knows who she is and they are always in awe seeing it, maybe because it’s something that they would not expect to see on the


beach,” he says. “The Tree because a lot of people can connect with its story. I think that it’s because everyone has a loving grandmother and we all want to cherish the memories and love that they shared with us.” The barefoot artist dreams ever so constant, “I want to go around the world and create sand art in every country. I want to share my art with the world and make our fellow Filipinos proud of who we are!” he says.



Kamil ROXAS Award-winning director Kamil has been directing predominantly for brands in recent years, always conscious in his effort bring the commercial a notch higher - to find the cinematic attributes of a story, build upon it, and then execute it. “When I first started I was very much into the form and the look, obsessing over the visual aesthetic of the film,” he says. “It did very well for me and set the foundation of how I would work in the next couple of years after that. However, now I tend to ground the narrative more on the performance and how it brings out the story, going for a more balanced aesthetic of beautiful images that feel more realistic – that harmonious sweet-spot of content and form. Recently I have been leaning heavily towards this approach when making the sort of commercials and films that I choose to make.” Director of the One of those Happy Stories, winner of the inaugural Conde Nast Traveller ME 2017 shorties film competition, Kamil finds that making a film out of genuine life experience, not tainted with any specific intentions, resonates a lot more with an audience. “I find myself more of a traveler and an observer of life, and from that experience, I’m able to draw a lot of inspiration and have it filter into my work,” he says.


Melon QUINZON PEREZ Melon Quinzon Perez started shooting weddings with her husband back in 2009 and established The MelRish Studio. After shooting several wedding and corporate videos and telling other people’s stories, she thought of telling stories of her choice and joined the 48hr Film Project in 2016. She says, “It was a chance for me not only to challenge my story writing and directing skills, I also thought it was a chance for me to contribute to society through film by addressing a problem society faces – and at that time, I felt that low self-esteem was a problem most people face due to social media pressure.” The short film, Aurora, won 1st Runner Up, Most Promising Director Award, Best Actress for Danabelle Gutierrez and Best in Writing. She also won the Best Director Award at the Emirates Short Film Fest in 2017. The film was also selected at the London Monthly Film Festival. Despite limited resources keeping her from doing what she loves the most, Melon is optimistic. “I have a vision that one day I will have enough funds to produce, write and direct one of those old stories sitting on my shelf and get support to put these stories into the big screen. For the meantime, I enjoy writing and directing shorts. Hopefully this 2018, I can create more films which will not only entertain but relay something that will leave the audience thinking.”


Ronald AWA Ronald Awa is a photography and filmmaking enthusiast. He started as a theatre director with a focus on national Filipino heroes such as Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and more. His enthusiasm for the art had made an enormous impact in the local filmmaking fraternity when he founded and created the Emirates Short Film Festival in 2012. The project which will be holding its 5th season has since received over 500 short films and other award-winning content produced by talents from the emirates. “Since 2008, I’ve been an active volunteer of the first independent film club in Dubai, The Scene Club, which was founded by my friend Nayla Al Khaja, who is the first female Emirati filmmaker,” he says. “In the same year at around March 2008, I founded the Emirates Group Photography Club which is still running with over 3000 members.”

FILMMAKERS They not only share stories, and elevate ideas, they champion an art with a burgeoning community despite the lack of an actual commercial industry in the country. Here are the Filipinos keeping the passion for filmmaking alive in the emirates.

As a filmmaker, his previous work includes the short action/romance film, Red Rose. He has participated thrice in the 48 Hours Film Project in Dubai, and other film/photography projects for Emirates Airline. He is also currently working on an ambitious collaboration with other Filipino filmmakers in Dubai, entitled Do They Come True which features the classic example of dreaming big. “Dubai’s local film scene has a lot of rich talent that I feel deserves a chance to shine,” he says. “I like stories that are stripped down to their raw human element, free from modern influences that usually tend to focus more on fancy robotics and CGI.” ILLUSTRADO 101


88 Producers Ape & Company and Animo Events gave the Filipino community its first full length feature film shot in Dubai, produced for OFWs by the OFWs in the movie ‘Lamentasyon,’ which delves into the lives and struggles of Pinoy expats. The film was directed by the multiawarded Archie Enriquez, fresh from his Best Director and Best Film wins at the fourth edition of Emirates Short Film Festival (ESFF) in February 2017. He shares, “It has always been my dream to have a full length film. I wanted to show that it can be done just from pure passion and joy, not for fame and money.

Filipinos are very talented, and that includes OFWs, they just need a venue to showcase it, and this is the start.” Jake Javier, producer and actor who refers to the film as a ‘labor of love,’ considers the film “a tribute to OFWS, especially here in Dubai and around the world.” For engineer, model and former GMA artist Dexter Dalisay who plays the lead role of Samuel, the film has special significance in that it allowed him to fulfill the path which he had to leave behind at GMA TV Network Philippines three years ago, to pursue a career in engineering.


He also adds, “Our role as talents for the Filipino community abroad, is as simple as providing entertainment. That may be very humble, but giving happiness to our kababayans, especially when they are homesick, gives me a truly immeasurable and indescribable feeling.” For the cast and crew, the film was also an exercise of empowerment. Jake states, “We can empower our fellow Filipinos by creating more films to express our talents. We look forward to the time when Filipinos in UAE will not only be known as excellent employees but will also be regarded highly for their artistry and creativity.”


89 Charming Filipino-American TV personality and sports announcer, Steve Patrick Moore was born to talk in front of the camera. From being an inquisitive and articulate high school kid making class presentations and joining quiz bees on TV, to taking up Broadcast Communication in college, Steve has grown into a host of worldclass sporting events. His gigs include the One Championship – the most massive MMA promotion in Asia, the FIFA World Cup beach soccer event in the Bahamas among other high profile events with turnouts of up to fifty-thousand people. He is currently a host at Physique TV, broadcasted in the Middle-East and Africa, and will soon be presenting ‘Trending Pinoy’ – a dynamic program for Filipinos all over the world. He shares: “I take pride in having Filipino blood, especially now that I’ll be

hosting a show for the community – showcasing what Filipinos have to offer the world. I would like to humbly consider myself as the jolly ambassador of trending stuff for and by Pinoys abroad.” As for what’s next, Steve aspires to make a name for himself in radio. It has been a dream to run a sports talk show of his own. In getting there, he expresses the prominence of confidence and aggressiveness – especially when it comes to us Filipinos: “I think we need to be hungrier and have that drive to want some more. To be able to succeed you need to be confident in what you believe and want. Chase the dream and be aggressive. I hope more Filipinos will have a higher sense of pride in any of the paths they take, have greater opportunities, and become pivotal parts of society worldwide.”

Photo by: Chrismar Osia



90 Since its launch on October 2014, Pinoy Arabia FM has generated a sensational following from across the middle east. Its 24-hour hits with regular guests from the Pinoy community provide just the right mix of entertainment and information. Spearheaded by DJs Ben Garcia, Randy Mendoza and Maxxy Santiago (who founded the radio station), with the help of DJs Darling Dude, Red, Spark and Raymund, Pinoy Arabia FM has, become a reliable source of information and entertainment for many OFW’s.

“We are here to entertain, educate, inform bring our thousands of listeners across the globe closer to home,” says Ben Garcia. “We believe in contributing something good and something positive to the community.” Randy Mendoza adds, “Looking back, we only had a few listeners, but now, we have thousands. The Philippine Embassy and other Philippine government agencies and have also taken notice. For instance, the Department of Foreign Affairs Overseas Voting Secretariat and COMELEC have made Pinoy Arabia FM as their media partner for the Overseas Voting info campaign. Aside


from gaining social relevance, we kept our listeners updated on Philippine and international affairs and not to mention the entertainment that we offer.” With almost four years on the air, Pinoy Arabia FM has indeed provided invaluable service to the Filipino community. “We keep Filipinos wellinformed, and for us, that is our way of empowerment,” says Maxxy Santiago. “If they are well informed and properly updated then, they can act accordingly in any given situation that may be in their midst.”

91 Louie Da Costa, Bluebird, Chikay and Maria Maldita are the A-team behind Tag Radio, the first award-winning multiplatform Filipino radio station in the UAE. Updating and uplifting the community are among many of the things Louie Dacosta does. She was nominated for many awards, and won Best Female presenter in 2014. “Amid the hustle and bustle of Dubai’s fast-paced atmosphere, we supply a healthy dose of positivity and good old Filipino humour.”

Bluebird a.k.a Lito Echavarria adds, “We also let our kababayans feel that they are not alone in this foreign land. We help them fight homesickness, and serve as a bridge towards other kababayans in the UAE.” Jonaphine Caraan-Menes a.k.a Maria Maldita loves to cheer people up. “I empower our kababayans by cheering them on after their long day at work. I do my best to show them a lighter side of life so that they can face the next day with a smile.”


Criticism is a normal part of being on air. Chickay recalls, “As I got older, I became stronger. Criticisms are something I find constructive and essential to my growth.” Bluebird agrees, “In my line of work I can’t avoid criticism. Most of the time, I consider it as a motivation and a selfevaluation also.” Despite life having negatives from time to time, the foursome continue to inspire Filipinos to be the best they can be. Louie says: “Simply put, we’re here to highlight the good and remind them to avoid the bad.”

Who would have thought that impromptu ‘just for fun jam’ sessions would serve to champion the obscure original Filipino alternative music scene in Dubai? But that’s precisely what happened with Tambay Jam – a platform of sorts created by a group of music-minded and zany friends. An online tambayan scene for Overseas Filipinos who love to jam, Tambay Jam, or more popularly known as TJ Squad, is a musical family made up of two bands - Pull Box and Umaioska. The tambayan is spiced up by artist friends (graphic designers, art directors, creative planners, photographers, video editors, digital artists) who happen to be musicians by heart. “Out of passion, we complete our expat time doing Tambay Jam,” says lead vocalist Joseph Laihee. “It’s our typical Pinoy bonding time with friends whom we consider family.” The group is composed of Joseph Laihee, Sharon Faye Panizales, Mac Antonio, Hany Del Rosario, Nino Vengco, Emmanuelle Toong, Phat G, Caix Panizales, Dan Tan, Rica Salario, Moki Salario, Mike Laihee and Bimbo Ancheta. Since 2015, the group has been encouraging the creation of original Filipino compositions, while promoting original Filipino music worldwide and endorsing local talents who deserve to be heard and recognized. In their own fun way, of course. “We aim to unite local musicians and influence them to continue creating original music,” says Sharon Faye Panizales. “So, what we do is invite local musicians, who have at least three original compositions, and feature their music. We interview and get to know more about these artists, then present them through our social media channels.” Of course, there are also challenges with the group. In handling online bashers and criticism, Emmanuelle Toong says, “We read. We absorb. We chew. We spit it out. Then we all laugh and make fun of it.” “Tambay Jam trusts in the power of music, thus we inspire our fellow Filipino musicians to continuously feed their passion for creating their songs and original music, even if they are away from home as working expats,” adds Laihee. “We strongly believe that Filipinos are born musicians, and our impressive music deserves to be heard all over the world.”




Junie SORSANO Junie Francisco Sorsano of ‘Buhay sa Dubai’ is the Filiino community’s go to for all things, tips and tricks in the emirates. As Dubai’s definitive ‘OFW blogger,’ Junie is always one step ahead of the latest trends, covering events, food outlets, personalities, even issues, while dishing out tips on living in the big city, with his distinctive Pinoy-na-Pinoy approach. Recognizing social media as a part of daily life, Junie uses his extensive background in social media to spread positive influence across the net. He has a knack for inspiring people with his highly contagious sunny personality, and says, “I believe that I help empower my viewers online by sharing positivity and success stories of our kababayans.” Junie’s unwavering presence as one of the pioneers of the platform has earned him many honors as well as brand deals through the years. Most importantly, his untiring positivity, despite challenges, has also earned him friends, and the admiration of the masses. Junie now trains up and coming vloggers and is working towards producing more online TV shows.


Nina CARPIO Pursuing her passion in front of the camera since 2015 via ‘Smile Like Nina,’ and having attracted over 10,000 followers to date, Nina Carpio is a role model to many who seek, not only to make it into the world of social media fame, but also to live an amazing life. From giving makeup tutorials, to documenting her travel adventures, and pursuit of fitness, Nina encourages audiences to enjoy life to the fullest, by surrounding yourself with beauty and adventure. “Live your life to the fullest by taking risks. Don’t be afraid to take leaps of faith into the unknown because it could be the greatest adventure of your life.” Beyond being adept at producing travel, beauty and lifestyle content, Nina also serves as a voice for Filipino beauty. 2017 saw the production and success of her Morena series, encouraging Filipinas to embrace their innate beauty and heritage. “I’ve received so much feedback saying that finally there’s someone who represents morenas, and highlights the beauty of being one.” Nina is a shining example of someone who not only has beauty and talent, but also substance. Where bloggers are often stereotyped as vacuous and self-centered, Nina understands the value that her work brings, “As bloggers we have been given an opportunity to be a source of inspiration and encouragement to others. And that is not a petty thing.”

YOUTUBERS They have jumped fearlessly straight from online pages to full color, alive and kicking, breathing video. Informing and entertaining Youtube audiences with their own brand of vlogging.



The Pink TARHA Some people think that a blog is just a blog, but when a blog can shine a light and make a positive difference on how a city is perceived – that’s just special. Lifestyle bloggers Janelle Vales-Yasay and Reina Rejano-Beriña of The PinkTarha have contributed so much to the positive image of Riyadh, KSA, that they have received tourism excellence awards from the Saudi government, not to mention a feature on regional TV MBC, as well as a slot in the Top 10 blogs in the Bloggers Abroad Contest in 2017. Their blog, which is a compendium of articles featuring restaurants, events, activities, shopping, travel, and how-to guides have become the definitive lifestyle guide for people in the kingdom. Recently the Pink Tarha has also launched its own Youtube channel and have also collaborated with various brands in the hotel, food and beauty industry. “We have also been more active in the community as we get invited to be inspirational speakers for women empowerment during workshops and students career days,” says Janelle. “By writing about our experiences and the new things happening in the city, we have encouraged people to go out and enjoy their time here.” She adds, “It’s tough being an OFW, even more so in a place like Riyadh, so knowing that there are fun things to do lets them feel that they can do it, too!”


Speaking on social media and people’s fixation on the number of followers at a time when fans can be bought and automated, Reina comments, “Hard work, originality and quality of work will always speak for itself. More importantly, those will build trust between you and your followers. If you put your readers’ interests above fame, glamour, and fortune, only then can you be a true influencer.” Photo by: Jun Muga



Ion GONZAGA An authority blogger and pioneer in the area of inspirational lifestyle since 2011, Ion has quickly become a household name - thanks to his memorable blog that’s easily relatable to Filipino culture. Through the years, Ion, who once represented the UAE at the World Bloggers Day, has racked up an enviable amount of awards and deals as well as speaking engagements as an authority in the field. Last year, Ion also launched a novel e-commerce enterprise, Eternitee, which produces stylish t-shirts with empowering and inspiring messages. He shares, “Until my content has relevance to the Filipino community, yes it makes an impact, and it empowers my fellowmen.” He adds, “My stories are mostly about my expat life - my typical day at home, at work, with family or friends, as well as the wisdom and the lessons learned from my struggles. These are the ingredients I use to create stories that bring positive changes in the lives of my audience.” He also professes, “Every time I receive comments and messages about how a blog I’ve written changed the way people live brightens my day. It is gratifying to know that there are people empowered by what I write and share online. One greatly influenced life can make a big difference in the world.”

While the web is littered with countless bloggers and social media influencers, only a few of them stand out as pioneers who have blossomed into bigger things. ‘Boy Dubai’ and ‘The Pink Tarha’ are the Filipino community’s leaders in this niche.


Pinoy AFTER HOURS Whatever their banter is about, Pinoy After Hours – an online talk show composed of some of the community’s talented and chattiest – uplifts and supports the Filipino community through what they do. Sharon Magsino’s background in public speaking and event hosting has made her quite the go to personality. Working with the Philippine Business Council in Dubai and Northern Emirates, and having lead the Toastmasters International Club as their former president in the past, Sharon is also a champion ballroom dancer, writer, and choreographer. Singer, dancer, choreographer, writer, host, and actor, Emil Barcenilla is a man of many titles. His recent achievements this year include playing the role of “Mang Gerry” in the landmark OFW movie “Lamentasyon.” His talents have always brought him towards the forefront of many opportunities among Filipinos, from winning ABS CBN’s StartQuest competition to being the first Filipino talent with a short documentary produced by Zee TV.

You wouldn’t be watching Pinoy After Hours if it weren’t for this one individual, Rey Delante, the man behind the talk show. A graduate of fine arts, Rey has two decades of publishing experience and is also a talented photographer and videographer. A diverse group of personalities, Sharon, Emil, and Rey share: “The three of us have different personalities, but we are united in the sense that we all want to inform, educate, inspire and entertain our kababayan audience.”

Besides being the head of Communications at MEANFID (Middle East and African Network of Filipinos Diaspora) and the Southern Philippines Muslim and Non-Muslim Unity and Development Association, Josie ConluRomulo is a people’s person, being an active member of Dubai’s Filipino community. What’s more, she too has founded the Oryx Gavel Club, an affiliate of Toastmasters International.Continue With the emboldening of the Filipinos a genuine responsibility for the pair, Micmaster Rick remarks: “Our little way

TATAK PINOY Hosted by the lively duo Micmaster Ric and Josie Conlu-Romulo, Tatak Pinoy has brought their flavor of Pinoy pride to audiences in the UAE, loud and proud! Enrico Cardoniga aka Micmaster Ric is well know for his booming voice and even bigger personality. The face of the Dayto-Day, he’s the company’s Advertising and Promotions Officer and is also a part time HSE lecturer. ILLUSTRADO 112


Tatak PINOY of empowering OFWs in this region is through publishing and featuring materials that would motivate them to excel.” To be a cut above the rest, Josie highlights the significance of carving out a unique identity for oneself. She articulates that when hosts foster a strong relationship with their audience, it moves them one step closer to proving that Filipinos indeed play an exceptional role in the global scene.

Dan Lester DABON “Life is not about a question of survival, but a question of purpose, and that purpose is to where I should come, what I should do, and how I should accomplish all the things I have dreamed for all the Filipinos.” Rising Social Media presence, Dan Lester Dabon only recently jumped into the lime light midway through 2017, and is already bringing smiles to the Filipino Community and beyond. With his newfound calling, Dan’s online talkshow: Dan on the Go showcases the many talents and inspirational stories from the Filipino community. He also keeps the netizens upto-date with the latest events and provides a peek to some of the best travel destinations.


Dan even finds time to participate in philanthropic causes. Four years ago he founded the League for Legacy Volleyball Tournament. Still enthusiastically running it each year, Dan notes: “Proceeds from the tournaments are for children with cancer at House of Hope in Davao City, a center supported by the Philippine President the City Social Services & Development Office (CSSDO).”

Meet the distinctive guys and gals of today’s Filipino social media landscape who exuberantly bring knowledge, entertainment, and also inspiration to the Filipino community.


Joy CAASI @joycaasi

Paul RAMOS @thestylechoreo Paul is like your fashionable bro that has always been close to you, except he’s online. He’s always in something pressed and crisp, with his hair ever so neatly coiffed throughout the day. He’s that guy you turn to whenever you need REAL fashion inspiration because he knows how to rock them suits and loafers and give them justice. He has managed to keep his name and content relevant to the industry. He has worked with multiple international brands like Montblanc and Lincoln, to name a few. With new players emerging from here and there, Paul comments: “living in the new age, filled with young and talented people, sharing their knowledge, personal style, experiences and putting so much time and dedication, why don’t we just support each other and inspire? Respect and love each other.”


Joy is probably not a stranger to you anymore especially if you’ve passed by Sheikh Zayed Road lately. Yes, she’s that girl, who even in cartoonized version, you will still recognize in Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 large format billboard. Asked if blogging is self-centered, Joy replied: “I think sharing experiences and sharing what you love doing has nothing to do with self-centeredness. Most people follow bloggers/Instagrammers because they were inspired by them to do creative things. And if they pick-up something good, doesn’t it make you feel good too?” She also shares: “I remembered one of my greatest mentors telling me when you share the knowledge of creativity, your creativity multiplies.”



In case you haven’t heard, fashion/ lifestyle blogging version 1.0 is now so 2000. Yesterday’s market of #OOTDs and #selfies has been replaced by a wider scope of interests which includes lifestyle, travel, even fitness. Style


Kier PASCUAL @locloset “I often wonder if I do, but whenever I receive direct messages from people saying that they are inspired of my work I think that somehow, in my own little way and through our exchange of messages, I am able to give them a little nudge and encourage them to do what I do.” Kier answered when asked if he thinks his work empowers other Filipinos.

bloggers have rebranded themselves as online influencers, masters of flatlays, and wanderlustconsumed adventurers whom you can stalk with just a click on the follow button. Here are the most influential Filipinos in the local and regional blogosphere.

He is not a stranger in the ever busy and competitive online world. 2017 was the year he really stepped out of his comfort zone. He did his first-ever solo travel of the country, where he found space for growth and even became a part of Du’s major campaign for GITEX. But beyond that, he learned bigger lessons — that being an influencer is not a new label for VIP, that true relationships are not based on the likes that you get or the amount of followers you have. To give way to other people who are hungry enough to do good things. And most importantly, to be genuine in this very virtual world. ILLUSTRADO 115

Patrick CALDITO @thatguynamedpatrick


Patrick or @thatguynamedpatrick as the Instagram residents know him is also a full-time food and lifestyle photographer for one of the finest F&B brands in Dubai. His work has been part of EYEM Exhibit in Berlin last December 2017. Dubai Tourism also turned their heads and put the spotlight on the works of Patrick in a collaboration last year.


Abeer refers to herself as a “bookstagrammer.” This girl has read a fair amount of books — from sexy, to satirical, thrilling, funny, polarizing, or simply amusing. The keyword is “read” because she doesn’t just use those tomes as props to make a nice Instagram feed. Through these books, she saw the world beyond our close confines, allowing her to learn more deeply about the human experience, and sometimes just getting valuable entertainment. In her own words, she shares: “It’s a wild world out there, and most people lose themselves when they get to the top. I don’t want to be that kind of person.” We live in exhausting times—why not escape for a bit with a book?

Some people say that blogging is a petty thing and that bloggers and Instagrammers are usually selfcentered. But Patrick thinks each one has their level of expertise. He says “yours may not be the one I’ll like and mine may not be the one you’ll like - so that defines the level of importance we give. We work on what we value most. Are we self-centered? I must agree partly since of course; you have to market your work. Competition in this industry is tough, so If you lose track, you’ll be left behind.”





Marjanne REYES

Junimar GECA

Anjo is a nursing graduate who pursued his passion for film and photography. A self-proclaimed artist and a daydreamer based in Dubai, Anjo says being in the cut-throat city allowed him to work on a lot of projects within the broad spectrum of filmmaking. He currently provides clips and photos for SALT as one of its content creators. A lot of bloggers and Instagrammers are incredibly creative people, and while some, but not all, may appear inward looking, a lot are just confident and carefree, driven by their passion and focused on their goals. Being good at what you do requires a lot of self-awareness, and to that, he says: “Push yourself to be better not just as an artist but as a person in general and most importantly, be yourself. Genuineness, that’s what the world needs.”

Marjanne has been successful in making herself her own brand. She has a clearcut, well-defined image online. And most importantly, people love her platforms and develop an affinity for her. Her online persona is consistent and that visible in each post and caption she puts out. Asked about how her work empowers Filipinos, she says: “Yes! People say Dubai is a place where Filipinos are known for working in average careers, but not everyone knows that Filipinos are naturally talented and adaptable. I strongly believe that if one person steps up, others will follow empowered by that person’s hard work and success.”

Our mothers told us never to play with our food. But Junimar can’t help himself. If you ever stumble upon the feed of this foodstagrammer, you’ll find yourself spending a lot of time scrolling through picture after picture of beautiful flatlays and photos that are so alive you’ll think you’re there at the moment. His eye for details and creativity sets him apart from many others. His advice for rising content creators? “Be real and always believe in great work.” He adds, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do. Good luck!”




LadyAnne BITAMOR ABIT TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE BLOGGER @ladyandhersweetescapes

Gelo SANTOS TRAVEL BLOGGER @iamdocgelo Doc Gelo has received countless recognitions as a travel blogger. The author of two travel books, his travel photos have also been published in many magazines and sites online. He documents and narrates his travel stories and gastronomic adventures through words and vivid photography, and shares helpful travel tips, suggestions and insights on his site which he considers his virtual home. Since it went live in 2007, his blog, Beyond Toxicity has wholly evolved into what it is now – a go to page for those with hit by the travel bug. Doc Gelo enjoys traveling to places that are rich in culture and heritage sites. He also likes to hobnob with friendly locals and sample native dishes. To date, he has already set foot in 36 countries in 5 continents.


Quite the image of a shy and timid girl, you wouldn’t guess that Lady Anne has wanderlust and has actually immersed herself in so many cultures in faraway lands. In 2017, her blog ‘Lady and Her Sweet Escapes’ was included in Feedspot’s Top 10 Dubai Travel Blogs, 10 UAE blogs Recommended by Expat Focus and Grafdom 15 Influential Travel Bloggers in the UAE. Her advice to aspiring and rising bloggers: “Stay true to who you are and be passionate in what you do. Use social media, not just for self-expression, but as a portal to help and inspire other people.”




Her blog started out on the backbone of fashion, a virtual scrapbook of looks for work and play, and evolved into a journal of travel pursuits and stylish lifestyle experiences. Faith shares a few words for bloggers and future global wanderers. She says, “Remember why you started in the first place. For me, it was a hobby that turned into something greater than I expected, and that keeps me grounded. Don’t be pressured into always keeping up appearances. Move at your own pace, and don’t treat it as a job. Live life too.”


Geny BALUYOT @genyvb

Everything seems easy until you try doing it yourself. Content creation is a creative process that requires a lot of hard work and writing captions isn’t easy as well. I recently received an informal invitation from a Filipino Community of investors and entrepreneurs in Doha to be a resource speaker on the subject of “Capitalizing on Social Media”.


Charles LIBAN @charleslibanjr

I believe in reaching out and sharing my knowledge to the next generation — for the reason that they will be our next leaders. One of my goals is to inspire the young Filipinos through my photos. I love to conduct photography lessons to the youth especially to those who are really eager to learn.

Jeremiah Del MAR



I do really hope that my work inspires other Filipinos — well, sometimes I claim it. Every time I take Pictures, I always look for the person who can’t even imagine his/herself as a subject of a certain picture, someone who can’t nail a photo, someone who can’t even afford to look at the camera when other people are watching and someone who doesn’t believe that he/she can give a “WOW” factor to my audience. That’s how I envision empowerment in inspiring my fellow Filipinos.


I believe that you don’t need to influence everyone around you to be considered as someone who empowers or has influence. All it takes is one individual who has looked up to you and you have an impact to and I would love to think that I have done that.


who utilize the platform to showcase their passion, talent, creativity.

Social media’s breadth is undeniable. The power it wields — to connect, and to have our voices heard by people

Meet the ‘nu wave’ of self-aware, self-promoting, filter-savvy

anywhere in the world, also comes with the potential

social media users who provide not only representation but

to bring out the worst in us. But it’s a different story for

also empowerment to Filipinos in the digital space.

Instagrammers Geny, Shackette, Charles and Jeremiah



fashion Fashion stands at the core of our very Pinoy priorities in this modern day and age. We love to look good, and we love to feel good! These are the fashion kababayans love, that not only guarantee a splash of style, but also Instragam likes! GIORDANO Trusted classics. You can’t go wrong with Giordano’s versatile pieces that go from sporty to work basics, as well as casuals. AEROPOSTALE Who doesn’t love a good hoodie or stylish graphic tee? Aeropostale’s hip and vibrant pop colored apparel is perfect for all the teenagers and youths out there!

H&M Trendy, affordable and diverse, H&M is every Filipino’s go to store for all things from basic to eccentric. Their colors pop, and their styles are fit for everyone! SPLASH Their sales are jaw dropping, and they always stay on top of the latest trends, all the more reason for Pinoys to love it!

FOREVER 21 Forever 21’s transforming seasonal and chic apparel is always at the top of its game. This label is also the hot stuff among many Pinoy Instagrammers and beauty vloggers!

CROCS The number one footwear brand for comfort! Crocs ensure

SHOE MART All shoe styles in one store for men, women and children. This Centerpoint brand is your one stop family shopping destination for all things footwear.

Cars Pinoys can get very car-obsessed. Chances are, there’s one Pinoy, or even two, in your life who just can’t help obsessing about ‘pimping their ride’, or showing them off with fellow car-enthusiasts. Here are the car brands that we as a community are head-over-heels with. MITSUBISHI Who doesn’t know and love the Lancer? True to form. Mitsubishi is all about affordable and reliable cars that stay on top of the latest trends within the automobile market. FORD No one does pickup trucks and four-wheel drives better than Ford. Whether you’re looking for macho design or looking to conquer the dunes, this is your go to! TOYOTA Toyota produces some of the most reliable, diverse and long-lasting automobiles that the market has to offer.

comfort wherever you go, perfect for long commutes, work hauls and casual hangouts. Pinoys just love these!

HONDA Affordability, safety and performance under one roof equals Honda. No wonder people love it so much!

SKECHERS Where fashion becomes fun and style meets comfort! Skechers blends athletic and casual shoe styles together with functionality and vibrance, fit for anyone’s wardrobe.

NISSAN Nissan is famed for its unique design concepts and affordability, earning it a special place among many who seek to find the perfect ride.


HERSCHEL In the early 1900s, Peter Alexander Cormack, a barrel maker by trade, and his wife Annie made the journey from Wick, Scotland, to Canada. The couple settled in the small town of Herschel, whose population today is a mere 30 residents. Three generations later, brothers Jamie and Lyndon Cormack adopted their town name, founding Herschel Supply Co. in 2009, an in fashion leading business specializing in trendy back packs. Never did the founders once think that the brand and its products would become such a global fad in the world of fashion today. A prominent style statement in the region, Herschel Supply Co. provides the everyday traveler with bags and accessories that have been thoughtfully designed to include details that aid in daily journeys. Featuring timeless silhouettes inspired by the world around us, each piece evokes a bit of nostalgia yet offers modern functionality. Galvanized by today’s love of everything ‘‘beachy”, their newest Spring 2018 Travel Collection is inspired by the lush islands of Hawaii. In this release, the Winslow garment bag was crafted to keep clothing in pristine condition while in transit. An integrated hanger bracket and garment cover makes it easy to pack and unfold upon arrival. The Winslow’s convenient trolley sleeve — also featured on the Bowen travel duffle — allows it to attach to Herschel Supply’s range of wheeled luggage styles, including the soft shell Highland carry-on, Campaign, and Parcel. The popular hard shell Trade luggage series is now offered in more colorways than ever before, with Iceberg Green and Woodland Camo as the new additions. Returning favorites such as the Chapter travel kit — in regular and carry-on sizes — feature a range of seasonal tones and prints, including Silver Birch Palm and Black Pineapple. ILLUSTRADO 123

Travel and Leisure Filipinos are global citizens, and not just because of work. We will hop on a plane at any excuse to travel and these are the brands that we turn to when wanderlust strikes!

JOLLIBEE The Philippine’s resident cheerful fast-food chain Jollibee has not only made Pinoys all over queue up for their unique take on Filipino favorites, it’s even brought joy to figures like Anthony Bourdain and Justin Trudeau.

EMIRATES AIRLINES Among many of the international airlines

CHOWKING Whilst we love our Filipino food, most OG Pinoys who came to the UAE when Chowking was just starting out have a special place in their heart for the restaurant’s well-loved dishes.

AIR ARABIA Air Arabia’s budget flights are too good to miss! Their

LITTLE MANILA Get a vibrant slice of back home street-style at Little Manila. As you’re treated with delightful comfort food, you’re brought back to the Philippines with the restaurant’s unmistakably Pinoy interiors.

FLY DUBAI Looking to go abroad fast? Fly Dubai has over 90 travel destinations across Asia and Africa for you to choose from, all with cheap prices!

DAMPA SEAFOOD GRILL Great food, friendly staff, and an inviting atmosphere. Dampa’s locally-celebrated seafood and their sociable staff that welcomes everyone with a smile makes this restaurant an easy choice among Filipinos.

that Dubai has to offer, Emirates Airlines stands on top for its elegant travel experiences and great value.

tourist packages will have you set, and they even have a rewards program for loyal customers!

JW MARRIOTT The JW Marriot hotel offers you unmatched

luxury services combined with an elegant hotel experience. Their many offers and easy accessibility make them quite the hotspot among Pinoys in Dubai.

ULING AT PARILYA Come to Uling At Parilya for the ultimate quirky Filipino street food experience. No muss, no fuss, just good food and good company.

DUSIT THANI The Dusit Thani hotel sits in the heart of Dubai, and is the perfect place to stay for those looking to do shopping, sightseeing and work in the middle of Dubai’s bustling downtown.

LA MESA A great venue to indulge your Pinoy food cravings. La

ROTANA HOTEL The Rotana’s wide variety of hotels and leisurely activities have earned it a favorite spot among many holiday goers, tourists and even thrill seekers.

CUISINERO UNO Filipino-owned, Cuisinero Uno has been

ASIANA HOTEL Asiana’s distinctive Asian flare and location within the center of Dubai has made it among one of the most popular venues for hangouts, dinners and events among the Filipino Community.

MISS WANG Miss Wang offers the total package – amazing PanAsian cuisine, hip underground ambiance and live music partygoers can’t pass up.

Also check out Filipino brands MPQ TOURISM and JAMES TRAVEL on the next page!

Filipinos love coming here for two reasons - awesome Asian streetfood inspired cuisine, and their super Instagrammable urban interior décor. A truly fun blog-worthy experience with friends.

FOOD Our love of food, among other things, is partly what makes us Filipino. Check out these great restaurants Pinoys can’t get enough of. MAX’S RESTAURANT The house that fried chicken built. Max’s is still among the favorite restaurants of Pinoys, serving authentic Filipino dishes together with seasonal specials and of course, its famous Fried Chicken!


Mesa offers an affordable Filipino-Pan-Asian buffet brunch that will have you coming back for more.

carving out a unique name for themselves in the UAE food scene with their original urban tapas that appeal to foodies around the Emirates.


WOKYO One of Dubai’s best kept secrets, Wokyo’s quaint yet inviting setting and hearty noodle dishes that burst with Pan-Asian flavor make it one of the hottest hangout spots in Dubai.

ITADAKI Craving some Japanese food? From their sushi platters to

their ramen bowls, dishes at Itadaki never disappoint in satisfying our desires for delectable Japanese cuisine.

OFF THE HOOK Seafood Restaurant, BARRIO FIESTA and TAPA KING are also fave brands that are part of this group!

ROVE HOTELS There’s no place like #Rove. Despite being a rather new development, Rove Hotels, powered by Emaar, are slowly becoming a favorite among locals and other expats, as well as Filipinos. Conveniently located in the heart-beat of bustling Dubai districts, Rove Hotels serve as the perfect temporary home base and doorway to the city for today’s new breed of eager explorers and city-goers. A part of the Emirate’s new and growing string of ‘millennial hotspots’, the company provides a social and cultural hub for international explorers, and even ties in with the art society - showcasing the works of local artists throughout their branches. Contemporary and stylish – they are hotels for the modern, creative, budget conscious, and socially connected generation.

Bringing a much needed smart and fussfree hospitality approach to the market, the hotels are lauded for their attention to comfort and convenience, easy access to modern amenities, affordable room rates, good food, as well as their naturally friendly international atmosphere. Valuing every one of their guests, the company thrives on providing uplifting experiences, and world-class customer service. Putting it simply, Rove offers the best of both worlds, presenting visitors with cozy accommodation and more, all in a cosmopolitan, cultural and flexible environment - that is Dubai. Rove hotels are not only an excellent venue for leisure; with their quality services within reach; they are even a great place for work and business. Offering open co-working spaces that

inspire and encourage productivity, all Rove Hotels also make connecting, socializing, and meeting with others easy. With their well-connected rooms, event spaces can be tailored to every need. What’s more, staying here can even get you perks all around Dubai! Since Rove’s recent integration into U By Emaar, a new loyalty program, spending at the hotels can earn you Upoints, which can gain you benefits from other businesses under the program. Locations: Rove Downtown, Rove City Center, Rove Healthcare City, RoveTrade Center, Rove Dubai Marina, Rove At the Park, Rove Dubai South Reservations: +971 4 561 9999 Visit their website:




Established by Malou and Robert Prado, MPQ Tourism aims to create unique and immersive travel experiences for customers, providing them with a range of world-class services. A leader in the travel management industry, the fully-Filipino owned business specializes in visa organization, documents clearing, consular services, fixing travel arrangements, as well as airline and tour packages. Always ensuring excellence within their work for customers, armed with experienced staff and exceptional data management facilities, MPQ Tourism is your perfect holiday partner.

Backed with over 20 years in experience, and having worked with over 500,000 clients within the Middle East and back home, James Travel tirelessly strives to bridge the gap between the UAE and the Philippines, and the rest of the world. Enriching lives through travel, the Filipino – Finnish owned Travel company, with offices in both UAE and the Philippines, James Travel inspires and encourages people around the world to step out from what’s familiar through offering enticing services including: corporate travel, MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events), educational/pilgrimage tours, worldwide holiday packages, visa processing, flight & hotel booking, as well as travel insurance.

Website: E-Mail: Tel: +971 4 355 8488 (Bur Dubai), +971 4 3441733 (Satwa)

MPQ Staff

Owners: Malou & Roberto Prado

LIALI Liali Jewelry is a Dubai based jewelry company with a chain of up-market boutiques. Today Liali boasts of 20 outlets in most of UAE’s landmark locations. The company specializes in diamonds, pearls, precious & semi-precious stones, 18k gold, as well as customized handcrafted jewelry. A brand supported by social influencers, the Liali brand embodies the soul of the contemporary woman. This DSF head on over to Liali and get your hands on the pieces from their new the Tessitore Collection. Buying anything over AED 8500 from their new opulent line, and get a matching ring worth AED 1600! Website: Tel (Main Branch – Dubai): +971 4 342 0909


Website: Tel: (Main Branch – Concord Tower, Media City): +971 4 454 9828, +971 56 708 6629

Partners: Christine & Pertti Juhani Tilja

Partner: Angela Margaritelli

Always Boiling. Always Fresh.

OFF THE HOOK Craving for seafood? Head on out to Off the Hook which specializes in seafood boils done Louisiana style and served with their unique sauce selections, which include OTH Special, Lemon Pepper, Garlic Butter, Olive and Herbs, Curry and Chili. OTH takes pride in preparing sumptuous meals in their most natural form possible - “real” seafood, minimally processed, and handled. Everything on the menu is reasonable priced, making OTH a real value leader in the seafood restaurant arena. Their selection of fresh catch include lobsters, crab, mussels, shrimps, salmon, king fish, sea bass, crab claw, king fish and squid, with

half a kilo price starting at AED 39 for 1/2kg. There are also value-for-money group packages starting from AED69. Branches: Abu Dhabi - beside ADNOC Petrol Station, Mariam Al Muhairi Building, Airport Road, Al Karamah. Dubai: G5 Centurion Star Building, Port Saeed, Deira, near Day to Day and DCC Metro. Website : Facebook : Instagram:



Come on over for the Philippines’ favorite comfort food! You can’t go wrong with Tapa King’s rice meal offerings anytime of the day – a great alternative to the typical hamburgers, hotdogs and pizzas. Tapa King offers tapsilog standards like Tapa King (house special), Tapa Queen (sweet and spicy) to Tapa Prince (sweet), apart from other sinangag and egg options like fried bangus, grilled chicken, danggit, tuyo and etc. You can also have bulalo, kare-kare, sinigang and other Pinoy faves that remind you of home-cooked meals. Finish up with a sweet ending of halu-halo, mais con hielo, or even leche flan to complete that meal.

True to its name, Barrio Fiesta is the ideal location to celebrate the legacy of Filipino cuisine. Founded as a cozy, mother’s kitchen over 50 years ago, it is recognized as the No.1 traditional family restaurant in Philippines and around the globe. Here in the UAE, Barrio Fiesta is a magnet for Filipinos seeking the dishes their mothers and grandmothers used to make back home. In Dubai, the restaurant has been serving traditional dishes for over a decade. Though taste is always subjective, when it comes to classic Filipino cuisine, most agree that nobody does it better than Barrio Fiesta. The restaurant has a lavish buffet starting from AED 29 and Boodle Fiesta for 2 at AED 69 and also accommodates bookings for parties and special events.

Branches in Dubai: Al Ghurair Centre , Burjuman and at Shindagha City Center Tel: +971 4 576700, +971 4 2943930, +971 4 3578847

Branches in Dubai: Bur Juman and in Ramada Deira. Tel: +971 4 359 4158, +971 4 2740444


Beauty and Grooming

sports and fitness

Alongside gaining loyal customers through providing high-quality products, these beauty and grooming brands are beloved for championing the idea that where there is diversity, there is beauty.

Alongside a growing national awareness for better health, working out has surprisingly become a hot trend over time – check out these brands that have been facilitating Filipinos, and UAE residents in general, on their fitness journeys.


For all ages, races, and genders, MAC cosmetics is ‘the’ covetable beauty brand.


An affordable favorite with fabulous makeup, skin, and hair products that fare well against industry giants. Look and feel good at an accessible price.


Whether you’re looking for a fragrant body care product, or a swanky candle, Shopping at Bath & Body Works is always a pickerupper!


More than just their nail treatments, Strawberry has gained a rep for cutting-edge hairstyles and brave hair color. Looking for a transformation? Head on out to Strawberry!


Filipino-owned Brusko Barbers is taking over the grooming scene here in the emirates! The concept-barbershop is adored by online influencers.


With their amazingly scented products known for their unbeatable formulations, Lush almost always guarantees a luxurious beauty experience.


More than just a global beauty brand Dove has always been known for their promotion of ‘real beauty’. No wonder they’re such a prominent choice!


Housing some of the best casual and most fashion-forward footwear brands in the market, Athlete’s Co. is the ideal hub for every shoelover out there.


The no. 1 sports retailer in the UAE, offers a great deal. Frequented not only by athletic individuals, the store also appeals to sneaker heads and athleisure enthusiasts too.


When athletics meets lifestyle, Stadium happens. A one of a kind brand, the crossover from sportswear into the fashion-sphere happens in all of its outlets across the emirates.


Trainers go hardcore at MMA fitness. The Pinoy managed facility incorporates elements of Mixed Martial Arts into workout programs, allowing people to get ripped through an exciting fusion of disciplines.


Guavapass is praised for offering versatility to those looking for more choice in their fitness regimens, from Pilates to spin classes. What’s more, members even get to enjoy promotions from the company’s partners!.


Fitness First is easily one of the region’s most trusted fitness centers. Operating in over 66 clubs around the Middle-East, the company has and will continue to be a first choice for many.


World-class makeup, cosmetics, haircare, and fragrance products, L’Oréal is considered a progressive brand in the market.

Armed with world-class certified personal trainers, energetic class instructors, and innovative fitness programs, Gold’s gym is redefining the fitness industry one person at a time.




Ever since its creation of the renowned multipurpose Nivea Crème in the 1930’s, Nivea’s product lines for body care have greatly expanded, and are now continually catering to all our skin-deep needs.

Locally-loved, Bounce, the UAE’s premiere trampoline park, is a great venue whether you’re looking to host an activity-fueled party, or are finding new enjoyable ways to break a sweat.


A funked-out urban space that combines a gym, lounge, and a café, TribeFit is the only local sports center that values connecting people in their pursuits to get in shape, in what they call “Social Fitness”.

Derived from their background in herbal research, Himalaya offers a natural beauty alternative. Their formulas using natural herbs, are a great choice for nature-worshippers. ILLUSTRADO 128



ACADEMY FEARTURES • progressive curriculum • customized workaouts (for one on one students) • GAME simulation drills • film breakdown sessions • homework on days off • decision making (ADVANCE) • basketball iq

skilLs covered • building interest • BALL handling • footwork, speed, agility • strength, conditioning • court awareness • read and react • offensive and defensive skill • focus • character behavior

program designed By:

alex calLueng High School Coach Metro Manila College Assistant Seniors Coach Metro Manila College

050 459 3956


Luxury brands Dubai’s dazzling lights and glamorous lifestyle can only be complemented by items of luxury! Add a touch of elegance to your life with these with these 10 luxury brands: LIALI JEWELRY

Passion, vibrance and elegance rolled into one. Liali’s versatile jewelry has made it one of the most loved brands by Filipinos in the UAE!


Lifestyle Fine Jewelry’s are affordable, yet chic, and ideal for all occasions and gift giving, too!


Gold, diamonds, pearls and amazing service are among some of the dazzling aspects that make Puregold the classy and elegant brand we all know today.


Affordable premium jewelry with character and style fit for all kinds of fashionistas and trendsetters!


Malabar Gold products combine the classic beauty of gold jewelry with trendy, modern aesthetic.


This luxury brand of perfumes ticks off the highest of highs in all forms luxury and sophistication.


Not only do their chocolates taste divine Patchi also makes the perfect gift for loved ones and also makes a fine, decadent addition to events.


From amazing raffle draws to luxury products from well renowned worldwide brands, Dubai Duty free will ensure the best travel retail experience.


Among the most sophisticated, classy and timeless watches, these are a must for everyone’s wardrobe!


Phillip Stein watches and accessories combine class, style and new unique technology that benefits the body, mind and spirit.


Brands that serve In a rapidly expanding city with a growing amount of people, service is now more in demand than ever. These are the best services that we all know and love: CAREEM

Taxis in Dubai are quite hard to get, and that’s where Careem comes in. Book a Careem, and you’re guaranteed a ride fast and easy!


For generations, LBC has continued to serve the Filipino people with their solid service – a sure way to get your things home!


Whether with Skype or no Skype, Etisalat and Du have kept us kababayans connected to friends and families abroad with their reliable telephone and internet services through the years.


The Filipino Channel’s vibrant spirit and cheer plays a big part in bringing us closer to home.


It’s the number one classifieds app in the UAE! This app has aided many in finding property, cars and even jobs.


De La Salle Montessori has continued to provide high quality education to many kids and infants over the years, championing some of Dubai’s best and brightest.


Belhoul Hospital offers one of the widest range of medical services and specialties all under one roof!


Your friendly neighborhood Pharmacy. Easily the most accessible one out there, you can guarantee they’ll serve you where and whenever you need it!

THE MEDICAL CITY The Medical City Dubai (T M C Medical Services LLC) is the only True Filipino Owned Healthcare Facility in Dubai with all Filipino Staff and Doctors. The first branch of The Medical City Philippines here in the Middle East, with the largest network of Hospitals and Clinics in the Philippines, distilled 50 years of experience in hospital operation and administration in the

establishment of its world-class healthcare organization. We embrace the same philosophy ‘‘Where Patients are Partners,” engaging and empowering them, that is to satisfactorily meet their Health Care Needs. Website: FB Page: Tel No: 04-3434265

THE FILIPINO INSTITUTE The Filipino Institute (FI) established in 2015 by Gabriel John Rimando is a training facility committed to providing professional programs to make a difference in the lives of Filipino expatriates in the Middle East. FI offers short courses in photography, accounting, human resources and office administration, care giving, IT skills training, guitar and Arabic language classes, among others. Students can choose from basic, intermediate and advanced courses designed to update their skills and knowledge, help them advance their career, and give them a competitive edge in the job market. To date, F1 has already produced 29,000 graduates in the UAE, and has also expanded into Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. Website: E-Mail: Tel (Main Branch – Dubai): +971 56 113 0989 ILLUSTRADO 131

Retail and Online Stores Department and online stores are often your best friend, with everything you need without the inconvenience of having to run around from store to store! For all your daily needs and shopping sprees, here are 10 platforms which are growing in popularity:

Banking/Finance With all the financial institutions and branches across the UAE, it’s pretty hard to find the perfect banking partner! These are the 10 best finance brands that Pinoys regularly turn to: WESTERN UNION

Money transfer is synonymous with Western Union. For decades, it has been the number one go to brand among many in the Filipino community.





Shop for free? Really! Your friendly marketplace for sharing, Gver allows you get free preloved and brand new stuff and give away items you don’t need. Best thing - all you pay for is delivery! An online store with over 600 worldwide fashion/lifestyle brands and fast delivery. Need we say more?

SOUQ.COM’s wide variety of products and crazy deals grant you the thrill of shopping in the convenience of your home!


Jaw dropping deals and flash sales hit you left right and center as soon as you enter the site! This online shopping platform will have you racing FTW!


Lulu Hypermarket is just one of the few places in the UAE that gives you access to products from home and all across Asia – at a decent price too.


the holy grail of department stores among Pinoys in the UAE! This rapidly expanding chain of stores covers all your daily and lifestyle needs (and more).


One of the biggest names for electronics in the UAE offering the best deals on gadgets and gizmos!


Cobone is your best friend when looking for deals from meals, family fun, beauty and leisure. They have you covered.


Zomato helps you scout out the best restaurants and eateries across Dubai, from big hits to hidden gems!


No need to call for delivery! Talabat is the largest online food ordering platform in the Middle East, with hundreds of restaurants to choose from.


As one of the leading names within finance, and one of the longest running banking institutions, Al Ansari exchange serves millions of customers with reliable and efficient service. With over 35 years of experience, and close to 150 branches spread across the emirates, UAE exchange is one of the most accessible financial institutions across the country!


ENBD has constantly guaranteed simplicity and ease, rolling out a wide variety their tailor made banking experiences.


RAK Bank has continued to serve its customers with pride and reassurance. They offer assistance on various fields from education and business, and partner up with brands for added bonuses!


From all plans personal and business, ADCB has you covered. This bank also has a range of rewards, offers, and guarantees fast money transfer to over 14 countries.


One of the leading Sharia compliant banks within the UAE, Emirates Islamic bank has a wide range of tailor made banking solutions, and many exciting promotions too!


Since day one, Ayala has improved and enriched the lives of many Filipinos, creating integrated and sustainable communities across various population centers in the Philippines.


Whether it’s township development or business processing and outsourcing, Megaworld has been the leading name within its field, guaranteeing high end quality.


Filinvest has been at the core of property development, upholding the Filipino Dream and loyally building over 160,000 properties for the community.

MAPÚA OPENS PHILIPPINES’ FIRST FULLY ONLINE ENGINEERING GRADUATE PROGRAM Mapúa University, the premier engineering and technological school in the Philippines, is offering the first fully online graduate engineering program in the country, the Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering (MEP-IE) beginning January 8, 2018.

The program will follow Mapúa’s quarter system enabling the student to complete the MEP-IE program in less than two years (seven quarters). Students should earn 36 course units to complete the program and earn the degree.

The MEP-IE is designed for graduates of engineering, technology, or business. It seeks to overcome geographic time zone limitations, thus expanding the university’s reach globally. This online program is part of the internationalization and digitalization initiatives of the University.

According to Mapúa University, president and chief executive officer Dr. Reynaldo B. Vea, the program was chosen because it would not require physical laboratories and it has a wide range of applications.

The program caters to current professionals who do not have the time to attend regular class sessions, giving the convenience and flexibility to study at their free time. Because of the chosen platform, MEP-IE is open to any qualified and interested student anywhere in the world, especially overseas Filipinos seeking to upgrade their knowledge and technical skills. Aside from recorded lectures and examinations, students will be required to submit a capstone project, integrating and applying their learnings in the field.

“Our recent experiences in offering specific courses not only in the blended instruction mode but also in the massive, simultaneous real-time delivery of lectures have given us the confidence to offer an entire program study in a fully online mode,” said Dr. Vea. By next year, more fully online programs for all major master’s degree offerings in engineering and information technology are set to be offered. To know more about and to apply for Mapúa University’s fully online Master of Engineering in Industrial Engineering program, visit ILLUSTRADO 133

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Profile for Illustrado Magazine

Illustrado 100_JAN 2018  

When greatness comes to the fore, it brings the rest of us with it.

Illustrado 100_JAN 2018  

When greatness comes to the fore, it brings the rest of us with it.