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Cebu marks Israel Friendship Day, Belgium National Day

By: - Columnist
/ 06:10 AM August 13, 2017

Israel-Cebu Friendship Day was celebrated with a diplomatic reception hosted by Emily Benedicto Chionson, honorary consul of Israel, at the Manila Room of the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, with the presence of Israeli Ambassador Effie Ben Matityau.

The evening’s special guests were Rose Fostanes, the first “X-Factor Israel” grand champion, and Cebuana soprano Izarzuri Vidal, who sang a repertoire of art songs.

Meanwhile, the National Day of the Kingdom of Belgium was celebrated with a grand reception at the ballroom of the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, and attended by a cross section of Cebu’s government leaders, businessman, consular officials, and prominent members of the community.


Hosting were the Ambassador of Belgium Roland Van Remoortele, and Honorary Consul of Belgium Enrique Benedicto.

In his speech Ambassador Remoortele said that this was a happy occasion tinged with a measure of sadness. This was his last such celebration in Cebu as in a few days he would leave, having completed his tour of duty in the Philippines.

But he promised to come back, as a tourist, and perhaps next year for a special project. His many friends in Cebu like Enrique and Helena Benedicto, and many more, would gladly welcome him.

Gov. Hilario Davide III and his wife Jobel were present. In his speech, the governor reminded all that Belgium’s National Day marks the occasion in 1830 when the country became independent with Leopold of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha as its first King.

Among those present were Ambassador Francisco Benedicto, Enrique’s elder brother who years back was Belgium’s first honorary consul in Cebu; Rep. Raul del Mar who made a quick change of attire to attend the birthday party of his cousin Carmen del Prado at the Cebu Country Club; and the Arts Council’s Dr. Vivina Yrastorza, planning out an evening of music.

Swiss food fest

The Marco Polo Plaza Hotel opened its 11th edition of the Annual Swiss Food Festival at its Café Marco on July 30, two days ahead of Swiss National Day on Aug. 1. General Manager Brian Connelly welcomed one and all as typical Alpine music played in the background.

Guest of honor was Gregor Fritshce, first secretary and consul at the Swiss Embassy in Manila. “I’m just here in the Philippines for three weeks and already I am in Cebu in this highly impressive hotel that is the Marco Polo,” he enthused.


In his speech, Gregor pointed out that 2017 is significant as it marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and the Philippines, dating back to 1957.

Diners during the Marco Polo’s Swiss festival could participate in a raffle draw whose major prize was a Cathay Pacific round trip ticket Cebu-Zurich-Cebu. Janice Nabua of Cathay Pacific said the draw would be this weekend.

Attending solicitously to the guests at the opening brunch were Marco Polo’s director for sales and marketing Lara Constantino Scarrow, communications manager Hanna Alcaraz, and her team, Febe Campañon and Barbie Burchards.

Spanish food fest

The next culinary journey at the Marco Polo in Cebu has a Spanish flavor—Sabores de España, also on its 11th year —from Aug. 17 to 20. As usual, Gema Luisa Pido, acknowledged authority on Spanish cuisine, is preparing a delectable menu with the Marco Polo culinary team.

For one thing, there is her jamon en dulce, which has been curing for some weeks now. It is made from an old family recipe which Gema gladly shares with the Marco Polo.

Dim sum place

After a 20 year hiatus, the Ding How Dimsum House reopened at the Robinson’s Galleria in Cebu. First opened in 1969, Ding How introduced to the Philippines the famous and well-flavored Steamed Fried Rice, which has been revived along with other famous dishes it introduced way back.

Genial hosts were company chairman Sonny Kokseng with his wife Mildred, president Raymond Kokseng, business development manager Christopher Kokseng, marketing manager Steven Kokseng, Helen Uytengsu and her daughter Lorraine.

Jaja Chiongbian Rama of Big Seed who was in charge of the event hosted the opening program.

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TAGS: Belgium National Day, Cebu, Cebu-Cebu, Israel Friendship Day
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