Philippines, say hello to ‘Hola!’

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Local version of Europe’s magazine of royalties will not flaunt wealthy lifestyles but celebrate family values and personal triumphs

The Hola! Philippines team: Magic Liwanag, photo editor; Stephanie Zubiri, lifestyle editor; Jose Mari Ugarte, editor in chief; Rorie Carlos Manzano, fashion and beauty director; Paolo Manzano, publisher; and JM Castillo associate publisher

The Hola! Philippines team: Magic Liwanag, photo editor; Stephanie Zubiri, lifestyle editor; Jose Mari Ugarte, editor in chief; Rorie Carlos Manzano, fashion and beauty director; Paolo Manzano, publisher; and JM Castillo associate publisher

It was the day after the Million People March in Luneta, when thousands of Filipinos made known their outrage over the plunder of the nation’s money to fund the extravagant lifestyles of greedy politicos and bogus do-gooders.

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Showbiz royals Jasmine and Anne Curtis on the cover of the premiere issue

The Sunday Times Magazine was face to face with two very distinguished gentlemen who were eager to introduce what is now officially the newest luxury and high society magazine in the country. The publication is no less than the Philippine version of one of the world’s most celebrated lifestyle magazines from Europe—Spain’s original Hola! and its British counterpart Hello!.

The go-to glossy of royal-watchers and A-list celebrity buffs for the last six decades, Hola! Philippines is the 15th international edition of what is considered the global pioneer of luxury magazines.


With all that said, the question had to be asked. “At a time when lavish lifestyles are frowned upon by the general public, where do you see your magazine’s relevance in the Philippines today?”

Confidently—and reasonably too—Hola! Philippines’ editor in chief Jose Mari Ugarte told The Sunday Times Magazine, “While many of the wealthiest Filipinos come from government, there continues to be a good, reputable and respectable business community in the country whose lives’ success is what the magazine aims to celebrate.

Hola! steps into the aristocratic Roxas home with first ever exclusive photos

Hola! steps into the aristocratic Roxas home with first ever exclusive photos

Hola! Philippines is not out to flaunt lavish lifestyles but its goal is to give the public a peek into the lives of individuals and families whose hard work have made them leaders in their field.”

Speaking from the point of view of the magazine’s targeted readers, Hola’s associated publisher JM Castillo, ventured, “In spite of what is happening in the country today, we believe that the time is right to launch this magazine because the economy is on the upswing so that there is a consciousness of the better life. Take for example the young ones who work for the huge call center industry we have today—they have the spending power, and they want to know how they can also enjoy their lives.”

According to Ugarte and Castillo, the key to coming out with a relevant luxury and high society magazine is to be selective in the personalities they feature, which is also what sets Hola! magazine apart around the world.

Granted that there is no royal family in the Philippines to document like Spain’s Borbóns and Britain’s Windsors, the magazine will profile those who are considered “royalty” in their respective fields in the country, be it in business, show business or sports.

In the premiere issue, for example, which was out on the shelves on August 29, the beautiful and famous showbiz sisters Anne and Jasmine Curtis grace the cover, sharing their story on “Sibling Harmony.”

Sports royalties Anton del Rosario of the national football team Azkals and the first Filipino F1 racecar driver Marlon Stöckinger are also featured in succeeding pages, with their respective success stories.

“The closest we have to a politician is our feature on former President [and now Manila Mayor Joseph]Estrada’s daughter Jerika Ejercito, but it has nothing about politics in the story,” shared Ugarte. “She’s a beautiful young lady who overcame her battle with depression at one point in her life, and has now made it an advocacy to help others in the same situation through her very own foundation.”

The creative mind behind the highly successful men’s magazine Rogue, Ugarte further stressed that Hola! is a very wholesome and family-centric magazine that is backed by two of the country’s most influential business clans, the Aboitiz and Zobel families.

“As a franchise of a publication with a very rich history, we are guided by the pillars of Hola!, which is respect for the subjects in our content and the people who read the magazine,” Ugarte continued. “And with the Aboitizes and Zobels coming together for Hola!, it is even more certain that every feature will be dignified and that nothing scandalous will jump off our pages.”

What then will make Hola! Philippines different from other established luxury and high society magazines in the country today?

Besides carrying the signature look and editorial style of its European principals, Ugarte went back to the advantage of the Aboitizes and Zobels’ involvement in the publication in that very private families who have never granted interviews, much less welcomed any writer or photographer in their homes, have agreed to be featured in Hola!.

“We have a spread on Gina and Pedro Roxas’ home in our first issue, and they’ve never done anything like this before,” the editor in chief enthused. “And again, it’s because of this trust and friendship they have with the two families that made everything happen, so much so the public can look forward to more exclusives like this, that celebrate the beauty of life, in our succeeding issues.”

Perhaps Hola! Philippines has arrived in the country at the perfect time. When it can be refreshing, inspiring, and reassuring to know that there are still many Filipinos whose comfortable lives and success—no matter how lavish and great—were achieved with dignity.

Joining Ugarte in Hola! Philippines’ editorial team are Rorie Carlos-Manzano, fashion and beauty director; Stephanie Zubiri, lifestyle editor; Stef Juan, managing editor; Kitchie Cruz, online and social media editor; Red de Leon, art director; Magic Liwanag, photo editor; and Myta Santiago, editorial assistant.

Hola! Philippines is published monthly by La Revista Publications and is available in both print and digital editions, within Metro Manila and in key provincial retail outlets. For more information, follow the magazine on Twitter and Instagram (@holamagph), and Facebook or log on to www.holamag.ph.

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