Photo Courtesy: PIA-10
Photos: Chyrel Cariaga|CIO|SM City CDO
The majestic 50-foot Christmas Tree at SM CDO Downtown Premier features a classic storybook theme with its sparkling frosty forest and golden reindeers. It symbolizes the Joyful Stories of Christmas that we love to share to our friends and loved ones.
It's the most wonderful time of the year!
The excitement every time a perfect Christmas melody is played sends a chill down our spine.
The lights that twinkle on every Christmas tree lighten up our spirits and remind us that the Yuletide season is just around the corner.
Those who are fond of uploading 'instagrammable' photos on their social media accounts would surely love the view of the biggest Christmas tree situated at the mall's event center.
The occasion was graced by Mayor Oscar Moreno, Regional Director of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Carina Faye Carino and other city officials.
The launching of the tallest Christmas tree sends a message that we have every reason to celebrate Christmas even amid the pandemic.
Photos courtesy Chyrel Macale, Steph Berganio, SM, and CIO
MISAMIS OCCIDENTAL-How far are you willing to go to do what you love?
For one fashion designer in Misamis Occidental, she did not stop with a dream alone; she actually made things happen.
Meet Cielo Cervantes. Cielo’s love for fashion started when was still a little girl. Greatly influenced by the dressmaking hobby of her grandmother, she picked up her own thread and needle and started to design and make dresses for her dolls. A few years later, she upgraded her skill by altering ukay-ukay clothes for her everyday wear. Cielo did not only find herself daydreaming about the endless possibilities of her interest but she also wanted to make a difference in what she wears. That was her armor to chase her dream in fashion.
Unfortunately, her interest was set aside when she took up Hospitality Management and got employed in Dubai for practical reasons. Though she was able to secure a good job, Cielo found herself to be less motivated with what she has been doing. After years of serving the hospitality industry, she packed her things and went back to the Philippines to once again chase her dream.
She enrolled in Slims Fashion and Art School in Makati City where she learned the trades and crafts in designing, cutting, sewing, and even marketing and enterprising her made-to-order wedding gowns and other pieces of fashion apparel. With her artistic skill, she earned the trust of some walk-in clients who bought a few of her designed pieces.
She went back to Dubai but this time as a master-cutter and pattern-maker at the renowned Dubai Design District. Her drive to challenge herself with more knowledge, techniques, and mastery in multi-cultural fashion paved the way for a few of her masterpieces to be worn by models in Dubai shows.
In 2016, Cielo finally returned to the Philippines for good to put up her own business—The Senina Fashion Shop. Despite the financial challenges and entrepreneurial birth pains she experienced, the support of her relatives and friends who became her first loyal and generous clients eased her burden of handling her business.
Her brand specializes in creating modern-day Filipiniana wardrobes for various occasions such as custom-made bridal gowns, gala uniforms for official functions, debutant gowns and dresses. Cielo keeps her concepts fresh and exciting by listening to her market and getting to personally know her clients. Her work ethics and professionalism allowed her to establish a name for herself in the local fashion industry and gave her the opportunity to showcase her creations in various platforms—fashion shows, exhibits, magazines, major prints and even in social media.
But as an event-dependent enterprise, Cielo experienced a drop in sales when the pandemic started because of cancelled big events such as weddings and gala shows. The production of wardrobes were put on hold. Closing the shop was the easiest option, but being one of the mentees who just graduated in the first batch of DTI-10’s online Kapatid Mentor Me (KMME) Program, Cielo relied on the mentorship program that taught her to rethink her business habits especially in this time when the fashion industry is greatly affected by the pandemic.
She shifted her focus to creating fashionable face masks including scarf masks, silk masks, and batique masks with turbans—all of which are comfortable, washable, breathable, and handcrafted to excellence.
The new direction of her business started when she sewed scrap fabric to face masks, which she then handed out to the frontliners for free. Seeing the face masks opportunity in the market, Cielo upgraded by using patterns and designs that reflect the Mindanao culture of modesty into her fashionable face masks.
She arranged an alternative work arrangement for her employees, where those at home can still earn by cutting the fabrics needed. The introduction of the fashionable face masks somehow augmented the day-today operation of the shop. Her loyal customers came back as Cielo has already established a brand of producing quality products, which now includes the fashionable face masks. With the shift to e-commerce, Cielo started building the online image of her brand and reached out to a wider market through popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Add to that, she also had the opportunity to feature her new designs for the new normal and talk about her experiences as in DTI Misamis Occidental’s Facebook live selling during the first Virtual Kahimunan Trade Fair and Go Negosyo’s Balik Kabuhayan Series.
From dressing up her dolls as a child, Cielo has now become a household name in the local fashion industry not only because of her determination to continue crafting her dream but also of her advocacy to help the local weavers in the community. As of this writing, Cielo has offered her services by training members of the Buenacama Agrarian Reform Cooperative on how to make face masks made from abaca hinabol, which are being weaved by the Malahutayong IPs Organization.
For Cielo, the times of crisis is not an excuse to go less in fashion. “It is even an opportunity to go for more.” (DTI MisOcc/PIA Misamis Occidental)
Escaping the Marawi Siege on May 2017 was more difficult for Yusoph Edris, 35 and a person with disability (PWD), with his family on May 2017. Three years after the liberation of Marawi, his family is now walking to rebuilding their lives.
His family used to live in Raya Madaya I in Marawi City with his wife, Epi Ibra, 37, and three children.
He said that his left leg suddenly swelled up to almost the size of a basketball in 2014. They thought that it was because of diabetes.
However, because they did not have the money to have his condition properly checked, they were only able to see a doctor in Marawi City. Without any other examinations, the doctor can only conclude that it might have been cancer and had recommended that he see another doctor in Iligan City, about 50 kilometers from Marawi, for second opinion and for amputation.
They did not have the money to take him to Iligan City, neither did Yusoph want to lose a leg.
“Before, he (Yusoph) wasn’t able to go out of our house in Raya Madaya for 20 years. The first time he went out was when we had to flee from the war in 2017,” said Anisa Yusoph, Yusoph’s daughter
On the day they fled from the siege, Yusoph needed to be carried by the shoulder by family members. He shared that they had to literally drag him to cross Pumping Bridge by foot in the midst of all the exchange of fires because they had no vehicle. When they catched a glimpse of men in black shirts, members of the Daesh group, they can only keep going.
While crossing the bridge, he begged his cousins who carried him to just leave him on the bridge and save themselves. They refused to leave him behind and continued to drag him just so they could cross the bridge together alive.
Fortunately, at the end of the bridge, a tricycle passed by them and saw that they had a patient with them. The driver offered them a ride out of the city.
Community and Family Services International (CFSI) first met Yusoph in their tent in Bito Buadi Itowa Evacuation Center in Marawi City in 2018 where he was temporarily relocated after the war. His family lived under a tent for almost three years.
CFSI’s Marawi Recovery Project (MRP), funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) of the Australian Government, granted Yusoph Edris livelihood support to set up a sari-sari store (retail store).
Using the profit they earned from the support, the family then started exploring more means to gain income by selling viands and accepting laundry jobs.
He and his wife is now able to earn as much as Php700 a day.
Yusoph was proud that ever since he received the support, he and his family is no longer dependent on the relief goods distributed to the IDPs and can now better provide for them. He can now also afford to buy the medicines he need for his aching leg.
CFSI’s MRP also assisted Yusoph in applying for a PWD ID. He shared that it was his only valid ID which he used to claim benefits and support from the government.
Yusoph’s family were then relocated to a sturdier temporary house in October 2019 by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in Barangay Sagonsongan, Marawi City. His wife, Epi Ibra, said that they are now more comfortable because they have their own toilet and a house made of concreate.
He also recently received Certificates of Live Birth (COLB) for him and his wife with the assistance of CFSI. He was able to use the certificates for hospitalization to see a doctor about his leg. Since 2014, he has not seen a doctor again for a check-up.
He also received crutches from CFSI MRP which not only allowed him to go out of the house, but also to personally go to government offices such as DSWD to claim IDP benefits for his family, as the head of the household.
“We hope that the war would not happen again, especially that it would be difficult to flee again, given the case of my father, Anisa shared, looking back at the war three years ago.
Epi said that they still need have Yusoph see another doctor for his leg and to get medicines to ease its aching. They are also affected by the effects of the province-wide quarantine imposed against COVID-19 but because of the support given to them, they were able to get by and is able to provide for the needs of their family.
“We are also thankful for the help from CFSI. Without them, we would not have been able to make it this far,” she said.
After surviving the siege and its ravaging effects, Yusoph and Epi, at present, continues to walk to rebuilding their lives for their family. (CFSI)
After running from their home devastated by the siege in Marawi and being temporarily shelter in a tent for about three years, Yusoph’s family is now able to become self-sufficient and is now walking towards rebuilding their lives (Photo by Riz Sunio).
Photo courtesy Caroline Veronilla official FB page
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