The entrance of the Water Snake, and all its portents of economic prosperity, was celebrated with particular relish all over Cebu, especially by its leading hotels and resorts. All were spectacular in their own special ways.
People’s Republic of China Consul General Zhang Weiguo and wife Chen Lianning were busy attending numerous functions, amid the clangor of cymbals, lion and dragon dances, deafening fire crackers and breathtaking fireworks.
Three of the main celebrations were held on Feb. 9, eve of the actual festivity. At the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel, the fun was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., led by general manager Alfred Portenschlagen. It culminated with the most brilliant fireworks ever seen in Cebu.
It was 7 p.m. for the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel. It started with the parade of giant chopsticks carried by staff dressed in red silk, descending dramatically through the grand staircase to the lobby for the ceremonies.
General manager Hans Hauri and wife Bo, both clad in brocade robes, led Consul General Zhang to a huge salad bowl for the yee-sang salad tossing. Together with other VIPs, they tossed the auspicious ingredients.
“As high as you can,” said someone, “for luck and prosperity.” Did some of that lettuce plus raw salmon reach the Swarovski prisms that dangled from the high ceiling?
Resident manager Julie Najar was at the forefront, as well as food/beverage director Stephan Wieprich, sales and market director Lara Constantino Scarrow and public relations officer for media Kyra Cabaero.
Among those present were Honorary Consul of Portugal Samuel Chioson, Bobit and Jessica Avila, Cathay Pacific Airways Cebu manager Grace Ho and Connie Cimafranca, Cathay’s marketing and communications supervisor.
Over in Mactan Island, it was the Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort and Spa that gathered a large crowd of revelers. They had the eye-dotting on the lion followed by its dance, and the yee-sang salad was also tossed with the corresponding stamina.
Welcoming Consul General and Ms Zhang were chair Yong Jun Park, president Justin Uy, CEO Jason Uy and general manager Edward Cho.
The Cebu Consular Corps was well represented by Canada’s Robert Lee and wife Anna; Spain’s Anton Perdices with wife Maripaz and their three children; and John Domingo, consular agent of the United States.
Also present were Tourism’s regional director Rowena Montecillo, Cebu Business Club president Dondi Joseph with wife Corinne, and Ronald Llamas, presidential adviser on political affairs, who like many guests wore red.
For Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa, the most propitious hour to mark the Chinese New Year was on Feb. 10 at 11:17 a.m. A large crowd of guests awaited the arrival of Consul General and Ms Zhang who had earlier been for a similar ceremony at SM City Cebu.
To welcome them were Christina Kuok with Constance Bartholomeau, the resort’s general manager Jurgen Doerr with wife Yasmine, director for sales and marketing Agnes Pacis, and communications manager Mildred Amon with her staff, among them Cassandra Cuevas who is assigned to press relations.
Watching the excitement were food/beverage director Jurgen van Workum and executive chef Joris Rycken, who indicated that the action would move to the Tea of Spring Chinese specialty restaurant. There, chef Bun Boom Hoe had prepared a fabulous lunch menu.
Mildred Amon was quite amused as Dr. Nestor Alonso scored every dish with superlatives. Also in the same table were Valeriano Avila with daughter Katrina, Divine Sanchez Ngujo and Ehda Dago-oc.
With Consul General and Ms Zhang were a full complement from the Chinese Consulate: Consuls Sun Chan, Liu Jinrong with wife Xu Lan, Huang Rhongzhi, Tan Huiqin, Wang Yanyan, plus consular attachés Zhang Ran and Fang Xun.
Next grand event at the Mactan Shangri-La will be the 20th anniversary gala and induction of the Cebu Bailliage of La Chaine des Rotisseurs on March 21. Ladies are expected to wear long gowns; the gentlemen, either tuxedos or formal Barong Filipino.
Michel Lhuillier, honorary consul of France for the Visayas, and wife Amparito Llamas Lhuillier, baili for Cebu, have prepared a two-night “chapitre” with focus on the historical heritage of Cebu.
The night before the Shangri-La event, Michel and Amparito will host a fellowship gathering at their beautiful hilltop home on Maria Luisa Estate Park. The food will have a Filipino theme, and that means succulent and aromatic Cebu lechon. Wines will come from their well-stocked private cellar.