TAGS: anthony ng, arci munoz, ceviche: a peruvian gastropub

Photography: Stephen Capuchino

Among the restaurant rows in the Banawe area in Quezon City lies Ceviche: A Peruvian Gastropub, which wows diners with its vibrant and aesthetically-pleasing atmosphere. One can’t help but admire the colorful murals on the wall, most notably that of a beautiful woman donning a radiant headpiece while sipping wine. She resembles in appearance and persona one of the establishment’s owners.

The co-owner turns out to be actress-musician Arci Muñoz, who welcomes the StarStudio.ph team one fine Saturday afternoon with a warm and cheerful greeting. She then proudly introduces her business partner and significant other, Anthony Ng.

Instantly, we see the contrast between the couple. While Arci is outgoing and fun-loving, Anthony is reserved and self-effacing. But as they sit down for an interview, we realize how they complement each other like partners-in-crime. For starters, they express how much they value having each other, both as restaurateurs and as sweethearts.

HER GREATEST BLESSING
“Uy, namumula ka!” Arci exclaims, teasing Anthony when he’s asked to say something about her. He takes a moment to reply until he flashes a shy smile, and goes on telling us some of the actress’s attributes that he admires.

“She has a very deep foundation,” Anthony begins. “She has a religious side. She has a God, and that’s very important. She is one of the most passionate persons na kilala ko. Talagang passionate with her music, with her art. She paints. Not a lot of people know that. She paints really well. She thinks she doesn’t, but she paints really well. She also wants to be better at what she does, and I think that’s admirable of her.”

Whether Arci is on screen giving life to various characters, or in gigs rocking out with her band Philia, or next to an easel creating her next artwork, she makes Anthony take his breath away, as if he’s looking at a beautiful painting in a museum. And there’s much more that he appreciates about his loving woman.

Photo from Instagram (@ramonathornes).

“Food, it’s [something] we get along [with] very well. We love to eat a lot,” Anthony says, as Arci smilingly listens to her boyfriend. “She is one person who will never run out of energy, when we’re abroad, especially. I think it’s a good thing. Very spontaneous kasi siya. Ayun, just to name a few.”

When we turn to Arci, the smile on her face looks sweeter, apparently because she’s so touched by what Anthony just said. She starts describing her boyfriend with a heart-melting declaration.

“Ang perfect mo, eh!” she beams, looking at Anthony. Then she tells us: “He brings out the best in me.” Then tears start falling down her lovely face as she continues talking about the one she calls her home.

“He really pushes me,” she says. “Kapag gusto ko nang mag-quit, he’s the one there for me, always really supportive. ’Tapos, ang dami kong natututunan sa kanya, about sa business, sa responsibilidad natin sa buhay.”

Arci, who’s quite religious and prayerful, considers Anthony as God’s greatest blessing to her. “God only knows what I will be without him in my life,” Arci says, while shedding tears of joy.

AN EXTENSIVE PROCESS
Back in July 2017, Arci publicly announced that she was dating Anthony, whom she had known since 2014 through a common friend. That friend simply thought that the actress and the businessman would have an instant and easy chemistry, hence the introduction.

“She saw that it might just kind of work,” Anthony says, on why his and Arci’s common friend introduced them to each other. “She knows how she [Arci] is, and she knows how I am. She knows our similarities and our opposites, which kind of balanced things for the both of us. She arranged something for us to meet. That’s how it kind of started.”

After a nice first meeting over dinner, Arci and Anthony immediately formed a friendly bond. They started calling each other and sharing every detail that went on with their day. However, for Anthony, it was “in worse times where we really got to develop the strongest kind of attachments.” And that was when Arci’s father passed away in February 2016. Anthony was there to comfort and support her.

Photo from Instagram (@ramonathornes).

“You are open when you’re there sa situation,” Anthony says. “Nakilala ko siya [lalo] noon. I got to know the person at her worst. That, I think, makes you really get to know the person intimately.”

Arci chimes in, “Kaya, siguro, very strong ’yung foundation ng relationship namin because we really started out as good friends. We had a good start, but also went through a lot of obstacles. Pero sa daming nangyari noong time na ’yun, I think whatever is meant to be will be.”

For the actress, their relationship had to go through a long process, and she believed it was divine intervention that made it all happen. “’Yung time na I’m going through a lot, binigay Niya sa akin ’yung the best na tao na sa tingin Niya makakapag-comfort sa akin during those times,” Arci says in reflection.

Arci had to deal with her father’s passing while promoting Always Be My Maybe, in which she played the lead role for the first time. She starred opposite Gerald Anderson in the romantic comedy directed by Dan Villegas and released by Star Cinema in February 2016. The movie project was a lot for the debuting lead actress to process, but Anthony was with her every step of the way.

“Sabi ko lang, if I could help this person make it through this one, this is gonna propel her to greater things,” Anthony says. He then recalls telling Arci: “Life is hard. If you want to honor your dad, make this one your best movie. Boost your efforts. Your father wants to see you successful and happy. It’s going to be a blockbuster!”

And little by little, after having each other’s back for quite some time, their beautiful friendship blossomed into something more serious.

Arci can’t remember exactly when she fell in love with Anthony, but she knows exactly what her state of mind was when she finally felt her feelings for him intensifying.

“Siya na ’yun!” she recalls telling herself. “Hindi ako lolokohin nito. Mahal na mahal ako nito, kaya ’yung naramdaman ko, ‘yun na, he deserves the best in the world.”

Photo from Instagram (@ramonathornes).

On the other hand, Anthony felt his love for Arci deepen when he was starting to think of her welfare more than his.

“That’s when you know naman,” Anthony says. “Love is sacrifice and self-giving. Na-realize ko lang na ‘Hey! I’m doing things for her.’ For her more than myself and the people around me. That’s when you know. Pag ang focus mo her, and ’yung kabutihan niya and everything, you already know. That’s real love right there.”

A SPECIAL BOND
When it comes to special moments they share together, traveling is the first thing that comes to their minds. Anthony is a businessman who travels a lot, but only for work. It was Arci who opened his heart to the excitement that traveling has to offer.

“She really pulls me out of my comfort zone,” Anthony says. “When both of our schedules would allow, she plucks me out [to] have my proper dose of fun.”

Photo from Instagram (@ramonathornes).

Indeed, Arci makes it a point to find her way to inject amusement into the hectic and harried world of Anthony. He, in turn, mentions otherwise simple activities, such as trying out Arci’s cooking, watching a movie, having an interest in cars, and doing the grocery are some ways for them to bond.

“It’s really super fun when you do it with the person you really love,” Anthony says, his eyes shining.

On the other hand, Arci tells us how she appreciates her and Anthony’s bond over music. Despite her kind of music not being his cup of tea, he tries hard to like it by attending one of Arci’s gigs.

They also both enjoy caring for their pets, or “babies” as Arci calls their furry companions. They take turns in taking care of Arci’s pet beagle, 13 cats, and 3 German Shepherds, as well as Anthony’s 11 Shih Tzus.

Photo from Instagram (@ramonathornes).

“’Yung mga simpleng bagay, ‘yun ’yung mga na-e-enjoy namin,” Arci says.
As Arci has said in her interviews with the talk shows Magandang Buhay and Tonight with Boy Abunda, her relationship with Anthony (whom she fondly calls Anton) is the first in which she finally felt like a girl. In her interview with StarStudio.ph, she expounds on what she meant by that statement.

“Sa dati kong relationship, masaya ako kapag nakita ko ’yung person na mahal ko,” Arci explains. “Siguro naman ganoon tayong lahat. Kaya si Anton, parang kaparehas ko siya. Naparamdam niya sa akin na deserve ko rin ’yung mga ginagawa ko sa mga taong ’yun. Chicks ako, eh! Hindi ko ’yun naramdaman ever. Laging ako ’yung nagbibigay, laging ako ’yung patient, ’yung nagpapatawad. Pero sa kanya, iba. Finally, naramdaman ko na I’m a lady.”

Arci then asks Anthony why he treats her that way. He explains that when he was growing up, he was taught to uphold traditional values and gentleman ways. He learned from his father that while on a date, he shouldn’t let the lady pay for the meal and that he must open the door for her. He makes it clear, though, that courting Arci was more than making those gestures.

“I would really love naman someone like her,” Anthony says. “She’s [my] treasure. The point is, when you have something valuable, you better take care of it.”

Arci mentions some things that Anthony does to make her feel valued, like buying flowers even when they’re not celebrating a special occasion and getting food when she’s hungry.

“Kasi pag madaling araw, lagi akong nagugutom,” Arci says. “Ginigising ko siya. ‘Mahal, gusto kong chocolate!’ Alam mo ’yun? ’Yung mga simpleng bagay na ginagawa niya, sobra kong na-appreciate, na never may gumawa sa akin. Heto, sobrang alaga. So, chicks ako. Sa kanya, sobrang feel ko talaga na chicks ako.”

Photo from Instagram (@ramonathornes).

For Anthony, the best part about being with Arci is actually super simple. Every day is a busy day for the businessman, so coming home to his loving woman excites him no end.

“She’s sometimes there sa bahay, especially when she cooks a nice meal, that’s the best part, grabe!” Anthony exclaims. “You have a good meal, you’re with the best company. That’s the best part for me. Kasi dati, ayoko umuwi. Mag-isa, tired. I usually come home to my dogs. Now, I have a wonderful reason to go home. She really gives color to my gray schedule.”

On the other hand, the best part for Arci is that she finally found her soulmate, her best friend. “Hindi na ako lost,” she says. “I found someone who I know I can spend the rest of my life with. That’s the best part.”

Photo from Instagram (@ramonathornes).

A lot has changed for both Arci and Anthony ever since they began their relationship. For Anthony, he has learned a lot about himself, stuff that he didn’t know he had or can before.

“Spending time with her let me also learn things about myself,” Anthony says. “When you spend time with someone, especially in a commitment, you will actually learn a lot about yourself.”

For her part, Arci acknowledges: “I met Anton during one of those tough times in my life. But Anton brought out the best in me. He guided me. There was a time that I got really lost. I got into a rebel phase. He straightened me out. Hindi lang sa faith, kundi sa family, sa trabaho, paano ko haharapin ang everyday challenges in life. He taught me to look at everything on a brighter side. Malaki talagang pagbabago ang nangyari noong dumating siya.”

STARTING CEVICHE
Indeed, Arci learned a lot from Anthony, one of which is running Ceviche: A Peruvian Gastropub. When asked how Arci got into the restaurant business, she immediately points to her beau, while reiterating that one of the things they have in common is food!

“Pareho kasi kaming mahilig sa pagkain,” Arci says. “Pero, before ko pa kasi siya ma-meet, meron na siyang [chain of] restaurants. So, siya ’yung may alam sa business side. Ako talaga, wala. Mahilig lang talaga ako kumain! Ako lang ’yung nandiyan kasi mahilig ako sa food. Eh, siya din. Isa ’yun sa mga pinagkakasunduan namin. Food! Sobrang foodies [kami].”

Anthony confirms that it was, indeed, their love for a variety of cuisines that inspired them to co-own a restaurant. In the past, he and Arci frequented a restaurant that has the same Peruvian concept. When it ceased operations, Anthony and a friend of his made a deal to buy it and keep its one-of-a-kind theme.

“It was already a Peruvian restaurant,” Anthony recounts. “Pero, ang ginawa namin, when we took it, we tweaked some of the items. We added some things. We changed the concept a bit.”

Arci interjects, “Pero siya talaga ’yung sa business. Marami talaga siyang business. Hetong Ceviche, parang hobby niya lang ’to kasi gusto niya meron kaming tambayan.”
Aside from having their own hangout place, the actress-turned-restaurateur says they also wanted to introduce a restaurant with a one-of-a-kind concept to the community of Banawe, which is known as a top dining destination among foodies.

“Parang wala pa kasing restaurant na may ganitong theme sa lugar,” Arci notes. “Maraming restaurants, pero ’yung ganitong klase—’yung puwede kang uminom, mag-hang-out with friends. Wala.”

The restaurant relays a homey vibe to its customers, according to Anthony. He adds that everyone comes as they are, no matter what they are or what they look like. That’s the reason why they have customers who have become regular patrons. They feel welcome at Ceviche.

“Natutuwa ’yung mga tao kasi marami kaming choices ng drinks,” Arci points out. “Pati food, maraming variety, so talaga, basically, ang nag-push sa amin ’yung mga friends [namin].”

The support they get from their friends inspires them to continue with the business. In fact, Anthony says their friends look after the business for them when they focus on their other ventures. “Huwag mo isara!” Arci recalls one of their friends saying.

When asked about their favorite dishes, Arci and Anthony recommend Pollo A La Brasa (or the Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken) and Ceviche De Pescador (or the Mahi-Mahi Fillet in Citrus Juice and Yellow Chili Sauce). They proudly talk about authenticity because they source the core ingredients used to cook Peruvian cuisine from international suppliers.

The couple shares a lot of memorable moments in managing the restaurant, including how they came up with ideas and concepts for the restaurant (the design, the menu, and many others) with their friends, and hosting birthday parties for their loved ones.
“At least, merong place na pag kailangan naming mag-gather, alam na namin kung saan,” Arci proudly says. “Meron na kaming headquarters.”

The first-time restaurateur also tells us that the experience has taught her patience. “It’s not all the time that you get what you want from people,” she says. “When we opened this, we just really wanted a place to hang out pero, sometimes, it doesn’t really go your way. Pag nag-business ka, siyempre kahit gusto lang namin ng tambayan, siyempre gusto rin namin na kumita. Alam mo ’yun? Patience lang.”

For a longtime business owner like Anthony, opening a restaurant has taught him to be more open-minded. “You’ll be more forgiving sa mga service issues ng ibang restaurant,” Anthony explains. “Open-minded ka na restaurants can’t really perfect ’yung service na lang. Mas kalmado ka na as a restaurateur yourself that it happens. Also, humility is part of everything. Not everyone will enjoy what you enjoy. ’Yung panlasa mo is not the panlasa of everyone. Not everyone will agree that you have the best dish. You have to be humble about what people will say about your product. With any business naman.”

For a scrumptious virtual experience in Arci and Anthony’s beloved resto, scroll down below and check out these delectable best-sellers!

Art Direction: Alfred Amado