Paco Rodriguez and Joseph Michael Yu redefine the lounge and bar scene
By Deneb Batucan
GOING inside Cebu’s newest watering hole, Morals & Malice, is an experience in itself. The interior design of both the Morals Café and Malice Bar overwhelms the senses and excites spectators. And having tasted their titillating craft cocktails and delicious coffee and pastry pairings, one should know that this establishment is nothing short of world class.
And yet one wouldn’t mistake two budding young entrepreneurs as the usual suspects behind this wonderful place that’s a haven for both bar aficionados and coffee lovers. Paco Rodriguez and Joseph Michael Yu are in fact the millennial half of the four owners of Morals & Malice, alongside world-class furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue and coffee connoisseur Glenn Soco. They run the show at Morals & Malice, introducing the Cebuanos to outrageously delicious craft cocktails and delightfully warm cups of coffee along with exceptional customer service.
Dynamic and diverse individuals, these budding businessmen are two different kinds of awesome in their chosen fields. Paco handles the marketing and public relations aspect of the business, while Michael runs the operations and finance side.
While the two Ateneans share their love for their hometown, Paco and Michael have two different stories altogether.
As a kid, Paco was a karting champ, having placed tenth in the World Finals in 2008 in Italy and fourth in the Asian Championship in 2007 that took place in Japan. Now a young man of 21, Paco is not only one of the partners of Morals and Malice but he also works for their family business, Asian Marine Transport Corp., as the head of the equipment and logistics department.
For such a young person, Paco has a lot on his plate. But he doesn’t mind because he’s learning a lot. Being well-traveled at such a young age have shaped Paco’s perspective and has led him to learn so much about the world. And what he has learned from his travels have been the inspiration that led him to create something new for the Cebuanos.
“Being a Londoner for three years (he studied in HULT International Business School in London), I was exposed to the widely practiced craft cocktail culture in the city. Often my friends and I go to these speakeasy cocktail bars, try something different every time, and I’m always amazed at the different ingredients, flavors and how these drinks are made. I wanted to bring this experience to Cebu,” Paco said.
Malice Bar has a great selection of craft cocktails — these are drinks that have up to ten ingredients which they make sure are endemic here in Cebu to showcase the flavors of the Queen City.
What Paco loves most about his job is that he gets to meet new people every day. He hopes to keep on exploring and see what else he could do to make Cebu better and turn it into true world-class destination.
On the other hand, Michael describes himself as an “entrepreneur who likes the challenges in setting up a new business and the dynamism of operations and development.”
Aside from being the operations and finance director of Morals & Malice, Michael is also the managing director of Prestigio Hotel and Apartments, one of his family’s businesses, which they opened three years ago. Being one of the owners of Morals & Malice, Michael has delved into another industry where he could practice his business know-how and knowledge in hospitality.
“Like in our hotel, we make sure our guests in Morals& Malice are welcome, well-attended, comfortable and are given an authentic experience of what our city has to offer,” Michael said.
Like Paco, Michael is a well-traveled individual who enjoys going out to places with good music and well-crafted drinks. One of the most memorable places that Michael had the privilege of going was The Bungalow in Santa Monica, California. It had the right mix of people, music and design which completely expressed the essence of what people look for in California.
“I believe this is what Morals and Malice brings to the industry in Cebu. With our crafted drinks having hand selected ingredients by our mixologists, Kalel Demeterio and Lee Watson, paired with Kenneth Cobonpue’s unmistakably Cebuano designs, one cannot help but taste and feel Cebu,” Michael said.
Like the theme of Morals and Malice — contrasting and complimentary with a café and bar — Paco and Michael are two different guys that have seemingly meld into one, producing a world-class business that’s definitely a must-see for Cebuanos and foreigners alike. And with their love of the business and their jobs, surely Morals & Malice will not only bring in patrons from Cebu but from all over the world.
Photos: Alfred Gregory E. Bartolome
Grooming: Carlo Damolo and Jerwin Bastatas
Locale: Morals & Malice