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Expats in Cebu–what they love about their second home

By , Cybill Gayatin

It is no secret that Cebu has become a hub for expats the world over, and we couldn’t help but notice how the average import’s profile has changed over the years.

They are younger and, dare we say it, cooler, which is really a testament to the fact that, in this town, not only can you make a good living, you can make a good life, too. They hold different passports and work in various fields, but they are all here to pursue a love—whether that’s a something or a someone.

Here, we talk to a few who have gamely answered our questions on what’s to love about their newfound home.


GEEV Andre Bahrampoori

Name: Geev Andre Bahrampoori

Age: 35

Ancestry: Persian/Swiss

Profession: Director of food and beverage at the Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu

Where are you from? I grew up in Chur, the capital of Grisons, Switzerland.

What brought you to Cebu? My professional career path as hotelier brought me here. I lived and worked in Belgium, Thailand and Indonesia, and now I’m here in the Philippines.

What do you love most about living in Cebu? Every day, I enjoy the great sea view and relaxing sea breeze from our hotel. This is a novelty for me as I grew up in the mountains. Cebu’s surroundings are very beautiful, but what I like most about Cebu are the Cebuanos—a warm, friendly, polite and happy people.

What do you miss the most about home? Obviously, my family and friends and sometimes the cold weather, home-baked bread and homemade strawberry jam. But I do consider our planet my home and I am very happy in Cebu.



Name: Delphine de Lorme

Age: Always young!

Ancestry: French

Profession: Artist and interior designer

Where are you from? Paris.

What brought you to Cebu? Adventure and exoticism.

What do you love most about living in Cebu? It takes 45 minutes to ride horses in the mountains or 45 minutes to be on the beach.

What do you miss the most about home? The art exhibitions, French culture, theater, and my amazing Paris!



Name: Christoph Schiessl

Age: 32

Ancestry: Austrian

Profession: Founder of Tubo Cane Juice, diving instructor, German teacher

Where are you from? Vienna, Austria.

What brought you to Cebu? I first visited Cebu in 1992 to visit my grandfather, then decided to live, study and work in Cebu seven years later.

What do you love most about living in Cebu? I loved Cebu from the very first day I arrived. I love the people in Cebu, the laid-back lifestyle, and the ocean. What keeps me here is the increasing quality of life in Cebu City—the unlimited opportunities for business and the variety of indoor and outdoor activities Cebu has to offer. Cebu City has a lot to offer, including an enormous variety of restaurants, shops, hotels and good nightlife. I always say that Cebu is the only place in the world where I can dive with sharks in the morning, have a Japanese lunch, go shopping to the mall, watch a movie, go to the gym, have a French dinner and then still go to a club at the end of the day.

What do you miss the most about home? I miss the fresh air and water in Austria. The pollution here is getting pretty bad.



Name: Kumiko Onda

Age: 39

Ancestry: Japanese

Profession: Wife, mother and nail artist

Where are you from? Tokyo, Japan

What brought you to Cebu? I followed my husband who runs factories here in Cebu.

What do you love most about living in Cebu? It’s a child-friendly environment. Cebu is such a great place for raising children. Whether it’s a fancy restaurant or private party at someone’s house, children are welcome almost all the time. The cost of hiring babysitters is very minimal. It takes only 30 minutes to get to some world-famous resorts where children can play all sorts of water sports. And then when you are stressed out, there are so many spas waiting for you!

What do you miss the most about home? Friends and family, of course. Technology like Skype and Facebook certainly help, but sometimes you just need them to be with you. Oh, and I miss good Japanese food, too!


ROBERT Vecchioni

Name: Robert Vecchioni

Age: 48

Ancestry: Italian-American

Profession: Yoga instructor and acupuncturist

Where are you from? The US.

What brought you to Cebu? After several visits to Cebu, it was an easy decision to relocate from Manila.

What do you love most about living in Cebu? There is so much to love, including island hopping and visiting the plethora of beaches in and around Cebu, the mountains, great restaurants, and of course, Cebuano people and culture.

What do you miss the most about home? Easy access to public amenities such as museums, libraries and parks.



Name: Grace Ho

Age: 26

Ancestry: Chinese

Profession: Cebu manager, Cathay Pacific

Where are you from? I was born and raised in Hong Kong.

What brought you to Cebu? I was fortunately appointed as the manager in Cebu for Cathay Pacific following some other assignments in our Hong Kong headquarters and the Tokyo office.

What do you love most about living in Cebu? It’s hard to select one single thing, as I am already deeply attracted to the blue sky, lechon, the big smiles and fun nature of the people.

What do you miss the most about home? Hong Kong-style iced milk tea, authentic dim sum and Chinese desserts. Indeed, good food plays a big part in my life. Talking about home, I actually consider Cebu my home now. I believe that’s the way to truly engage and enjoy a place.



Name: Daniel Walls

Age: 27

Ancestry: American

Profession: Tech entrepreneur

Where are you from? I was born in the US and grew up in Virginia, near Washington, D.C. I went to university in Germany and have lived in Thailand, Taiwan, and finally found a place to call home in the Philippines.

What brought you to Cebu? I knew I wanted to live in Asia again, and the Philippines seemed like the perfect mix of English-speaking talent, beach, sun and fun to grow a tech startup. After traveling around for several months, discovering the beauty of this country and exploring my options, I thought Cebu seemed to have all of the amenities of Manila with less traffic and a more relaxed pace of life.

What do you love most about living in Cebu? There is not one deciding factor for me, but somehow Cebu has this incredibly subtle addictive quality to it that won’t let you leave. I think that the combination of the genuine friendliness of the people, tropical climate, the close proximity to everything, and the fact that every day you can observe positive growth and improvement in the lives of those around you make living here very enjoyable. The Philippines is on the ascendant, economically speaking, and with proper urban planning, I expect Cebu to be a very modern metropolitan city in 10 years.

What do you miss the most about home? Cebu is becoming a melting pot of cultures, but there is much to be desired when it comes to the music scene here, compared to many parts of the US. There are a lot of talented local musicians; however, sadly most of them find themselves playing cheesy pop covers. I wish Cebu would promote the local music scene more, especially for original bands, with things like open mic nights, musician meet-ups, jam and practice rooms, and larger, more attractive venues for established bands. When an audience is willing to pay a decent cover charge to see a band play, musicians can make their passion their focus, not just a hobby.

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Tags: Cebu , Cebu City , expats

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