Me and my Philippines: Cat Juan-Ledesma

    Beauty and lifestyle blogger and Try Local PH co-founder Cat Juan-Ledesma on her favorite beaches, shopping finds, and a special island called Danjugan

    Photos courtesy of Cat Juan-Ledesma

    Cat Juan at the Pinto Art Museum in Antipolo

    What are your 3 favorite local beaches?
    Danjugan Island, off the coast of Bulata, Cauayan, Negros Occidental, is one of the most untouched marine sanctuaries you can find. Camiguin Island. I remember countless idyllic trips to Camiguin as a child, so it will always hold a special place in my heart. Finally, Club Paradise, in Palawan has one of the most beautiful white sand beaches with crystal clear waters.

    Your favorite hotels and resorts?
    Amoritas in Bohol has excellent food and service and it’s super kid friendly. Mövenpick in Mactan, Cebu is a super photogenic resort with excellent service. For a staycation, Discovery Primea in Makati, Seda Hotel in Nuvali, or Crimson in Filinvest are our favorites.

    Your 3 favorite restaurants?
    Your Local for their salmon donburi and pomelo salad, The Girl & The Bull for buttermilk fried chicken, and Bread and Botany for all their yummy sandwiches and delicious coffee.

    What's on your Philippine travel bucket list?
    Batanes, Puerto Princessa and Cagayan Valley.

    Batanes by Oggie Ramos

    How would you describe your fashion style?
    Wear what fits your body type and what you're comfortable in. This means sometimes staying away from trends. 

    Who are your fashion and beauty icons?
    Lindy Klim and Jules Sariñana: tanned, bohemian, and effortless when it comes to their outfits. 

    Where do you shop? 
    These days, more often online. Zalora is my best friend. 

    Favorite local designer, brands and shops?
    Ooh so many! For swimsuits its Eight Mermaid, Muuno Swim, Soak Swimwear and Naked Sun Swimwear. For accessories and shoes Hey Jow, Cat & Kai Handmade, Pinky Toes, Filip & Inna, and Vela Manila. For clothing, Pink Lemon Store, Feanne, Shop Fontilea, Commonware, Mode de Vie, Caoros, and Wear Alice. 

    Favorite piece you’ve ever bought? 
    A tan leather jacket I bought with my husband during our honeymoon in Turkey. I always feel just a little more attractive with it on and it's the kind of investment piece that never goes out of fashion. 

    Essential beauty and body products?
    I love any product made by Body Food All Natural and Radioactive Mushroom in the Forest. Their perfumes, balms, soaps and scrubs are all world class. 

    What is Try Local PH and how did it come about? 
    A year ago, my friends Kristine Nolan and Chesa Zimmer Santos thought of bringing all the local brands together in one place so that's how Try Local PH started. We're so happy with how this movement has taken flight. It's better than anything we could have hoped for! 

    Cat with fellow Try Local PH founders Francesca Zimmer-Santos and Kristine Nolan

    Who are some up-and-coming local artisans worth checking out? 
    It's too hard to play favorites! We recommend checking out our #TLPHTurns1 campaign on Instagram for 21 local brands that are doing amazing things! You can also check out my blog.

    Your favorite local designers and artists?
    Mich Araullo and Chati Coronel would have to be my first picks. These women are incredibly creative and stick to what feels right for them. 

    You collaborated with Rich Earth Jewelry, selling jewelry for the benefit of Danjugan Island. What urged you to pick Danjugan Island as your beneficiary? 
    Because I've seen how tirelessly the people who are part of Danjugan work to spread word about conservation, particularly to the young.

    What is your connection with the island?
    Danjugan was a special place for my husband as a child growing up. He took me there while we were still dating and I'll have to admit it helped me seal the deal to spend the rest of my life with him. I want our children to have the same childhood we did, playing on untouched beaches. That can only happen if other people understand the importance of conservation. 

    Cat Juan-Ledesma on Danjugan Island

    What is the battle cry behind Danjugan Island?
    "We saved an island. Now we invite you to explore it." 

    Top things to do on Danjugan Island?
    Trek around the island. Snorkel around Typhoon Beach and count the giant clams during your snorkel. Check out the moray eels at the lagoon and kayak across the lagoons during high tide. Visit the bat cave, then hike to the lookout point to see the resident eagle pair. Have a cold beer while watching the most beautiful orange sunset. Wait for sea turtles to hatch and help them reach the water. Check out the big pieces of beautiful driftwood along the shoreline.

    About our insider
    Cat Juan-Ledesma is the co-founder of Try Local PH and communications associate for Beacon Academy. She is also the producer of The Parent Files on Industree TV and beauty writer for Calyxta.
    Visit Cat JL. Follow Cat on Instagram

    Danjugan Island is a protected marine sanctuary and its conservationn project is managed by The Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. It’s open to tourists for day trips and overnight stays. Rates start from P950 for the eco-tour.

    Interview by Celia Nachura

    Published July 2016