Elizabeth Sy, president of SM Hotels and Conventions Corp., hosted the second anniversary of the Radisson Blu Hotel. Actually, it was a double celebration, for, as she said, “it’s Christmas, too.”
An elegant crowd, mostly clad in blue, gathered at the Radisson’s spacious lobby for the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas tree by Elizabeth, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, and Jose T. Sio, chief financial officer of SM Hotels and Conventions.
Lyle Lewis, the hotels’ general manager, welcomed such VIPs as Thomas Monahan, executive vice president for development of the Carlson-Rezidor Hotel Group, and France’s former ambassador to the Philippines Thierry Borja de Mozota, who’s based in Paris and came to spend a holiday in Cebu.
“This is the youngest guest at the party,” said Mariquita Yeung, cradling her fair-haired little grandson, Harrison Ryder McKowen. “So cute,” agreed Amparito Lhuillier, who flitted up the stairway to the Santa Maria ballroom for the Christmas concert.
Lyle Lewis gave the welcome remarks in his capacity not just as the hotel’s GM but also as the vice president for the Philippines and Japan of the Carlson-Rezidor.
The program had been splendidly planned by Nes Jardin, creative director of SM Hotels and Conventions. It flowed ever so smoothly; all one had to do was follow the sequence of the printed program.
An ensemble from the Cebu Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) played the first movement—allegro—from Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto. Conducting was Reynaldo Abellana, with March Hamlet Mercado as concert master. They accompanied every number that followed.
On stage was powerful tenor Ervin Lumauag who rendered “Una Furtiva Lagrima” from Donizetti’s “L’Elisir d’Amore.” As he exited, up came the country’s foremost diva, soprano Rachelle Gerodias, to sing “Una Voce Poco Fa” from Rossini’s opera “The Barber of Seville.”
Together, Rachelle and Ervin sang “Gesu Bambino,” by Pietro Yon. Next was “Panis Angelicus,” the prayer by Saint Thomas Aquinas set to music by Cesar Franck. Ervin sang it with the Mandaue Children and Youth Chorus, which has collected awards here and abroad.
The chorus, directed by Dennis Sugarol, delighted the audience further with “When You Believe,” by Stephen Schwartz, and a medley of Christmas carols.
The finale was “The Light of a Million Mornings,” with Rachelle, Ervin, the Mandaue Chorus and the special participation of the University of Cebu Dance Company.
Before the applause died down the drapes behind the audience parted to reveal a fabulous buffet with various stations—Peking Duck, Hainanese Chicken, Prime Rib, Cebu Lechon, Christmas Ham, piles of lobsters and shrimps, salmon and tuna sashimi, and more.
Seeing to everyone’s comfort and ease was Lewis as well as the Radisson Blu’s executive assistant manager Zenaida Alcantara, sales and marketing director Ann Olalo, communications manager Rica Rellon, her assistant May Jimenea and events director Zoe Montenegro.
Executive chef Marco Amarone was all over the place, making sure replenishments were constant. He indicated that the other side of the spacious hall offered wall-to-wall desserts. Fried ice cream, anyone?
Glimpsed about: Rey Villar and Christina Bautista of SM Hotels and Conventions; Cebu City Councilor Edu Rama and wife Jaja (nee Chiongbian); Marguerite Lhuillier recently arrived from a trip to India; doctors George and Puri Oñate, with Fanny Ancajas Ramos; Glenn and Honey Loop with her brother Edu Jarque.
More glimpses: Fe Sala Villarica and Dr. Vivina Yrastorza in search of a quiet nook, like others who found the band blaring too loudly; Greg Heuttel and Agnes with June Alegrado; Rosebud Sala and Carmen Campbell, who were off to another party.
And still more: Mariter Klepp, Aida Uy, Zenaida Chua, Nelia Neri, Cookie Newman, Albert Arriba, Jude Bacalso who emceed the show, Vince Escario who emceed the earlier part of the program, Mayen Tan who was off to the Cathay Pacific party to celebrate 20 years of service to Cebu.
Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Lifestyle editor Thelma San Juan and Look magazine’s Lou Gonzalez had come for the occasion. They were in the lively group of Marissa Fernan, Arcy Gayatin, Eloisa Fernan, Nonie Uy, Elvira Luym and Irma Atillo who had brought her dancing shoes, and found a ready partner.