Cathay Pacific had three good reasons to toss a grand bash at the Niña ballroom of the Radisson Blu Hotel. One was to say godspeed to Camilla Taylor, its Cebu manager for two years, in the process of which she made countless friends.
Another was to give a rouging welcome to Maggie Wong, Camilla’s successor, a most articulate and dynamic young lady.
Third, was to launch Cathay’s daily flights from Hong Kong to Chicago in the US starting Sept. 1. CX Cebu daily flights to and from HK don’t coincide with smooth connections to Chicago, but Cebu passengers will get free layovers both ways.
The party was a huge success. Excellent buffet fare was served, and wine from Manny Osmeña, who was present, flowed all throughout. Richie Mendoza’s dance group performed quite a show, cabaret style.
Highlight of the evening was a raffle of dinners and overnight stays at the Radisson, plus a round trip ticket Cebu-Chicago-Cebu which lucky winner was lawyer Paul Alcazaren from the Bureau of Customs.
Greeting the guests and putting them at ease were the top Cathay Pacific staff in Cebu, such as Connie Cimafranca of marketing and communications, Lulu Son of reservations and ticketing, Jewel Sanchez of passenger sales, Janice Nabua of airport services, and Henry Francisco of cargo services.
There were toasts, speeches and gifts. Maggie Wong received a top-quality mad- in-Cebu minaudiere, which will come useful for what is predicted as an intense two-year stint in Cebu.
On the other hand, Camilla Taylor was presented with a photo book, actually a compendium of memories of her time in Cebu. She also got a typical Cebu gift—a hefty guitar which she promises to take lessons in, and strum, the next time she sees us all.
Cebu City councilor Margot Osmeña, who heads the Tourism Commission, was present, as were the consul general of China and Mme. He Shijing, honorary consul of Canada Robert Lee with his wife Anna, and honorary consul of Romania Grand Benedicto with his wife Genevieve.
Albert Chua’s Four Seasons quartet performed jazz music at its best, its relaxing tones reminiscent of the Chicago lifestyle of a certain era.
To bring Chicago closer to Cebu everyone had a chance for a photo-op at the ballroom entrance, the result of which seemed to have the city’s skyline as a background. There were fancy hats, boas and what not to put on to further jazz up the picture.
There was a taste of Chicago, too. Every guest was given a tin of the famed butter-crusted popcorn. Recyclable, too.
What would make Cebu closer to Chicago would be making a trip to what has been nicknamed the US’ “windy city.” There is an introductory promo with a most attractive price on economy fare: US $840, round trip. Make sure you buy it before Aug. 31. Validity is from Sept. 1 to 15, 2011; then from Feb. 1 to March 15, 2012.
Maggie Wong is familiar with Chicago. When she lived in the USA she often drove there to feast on its famous deep-dish pizza. Other specialties are the Italian beef sandwich, and the Chicago style hot dog. It uses Vienna veal sausage, pickles, onions, tomatoes, mustard, and under no circumstances ketchup!
Connie Cimafranca tells us that the first skyscraper ever was built in Chicago in 1885. Also that Chicago is the third most visited city in the USA with 45 million visitors annually.
Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport is the second busiest in the world handling an average of 65 million passengers a year. Significant travel between Manila and Cebu to and from Chicago is expected by CX. Illinois, relatively close, has the largest Filipino population in the USA – 111,000.
Chicago offers more than 200 live theaters and as many art galleries, plus 7300 restaurants. It is also home to the Magnificent Mile – a shopper’s paradise; and the wood field Mall, the city’s largest shopping complex.
There are other attractions like the Museum of Science and Industry, the Arts Institute of Chicago and the Shedd Aquarium. Every year between March and September there are as many as 200 free festivals. The Chicago Blues Festival attracts 750,000 people to join.
Grand Park is Chicago’s festival center. One event is the 10-day Taste of Chicago gastronomic experience, with more than 70 local eateries participating. The park also offers myriad cultural events, the best of which feature blues and jazz musicians.
Chicago is hot and humid during the summer. In winter, the temperature is below freezing, notably in January and February. On average, more than 90 cm of snow is produced every year.