The Ayala Center Cebu expansion inaugural coincided with the 25th anniversary celebration of Cebu Holdings Inc. (CHI), developer of the mall. There was a blessing ceremony officiated by Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. He was assisted by the Cebu Cathedral’s Msgr. Roberto Alesna and Msgr. Achilles Dakay, media liaison officer of the Cebu Archdiocese.
Jeanette Japzon, Cebu Holdings’ corporate communications manager, made an excellent host during the brief program that highlighted the morning affair. A special message was delivered by Tony Quijano, CHI board chair.
CHI president Francis Monera was all over the place greeting his many friends. They are still congratulating him on his recent marriage to Regina Gelsana Monera who was unable to attend the event.
From Manila had come Ayala Land’s Rowena Tomeldan, head of the commercial business group; Cora Dizon, head of business development; and Emilio Tumbocon, head for the Visayas and Mindanao.
From the Cebu end were Ayala Center general manager Clavel Tongco, deputy general manager Celeste “Bong” Dy and marketing manager Janice Pareño.
Cebu Holdings was well represented by Noel Alicaya, finance and control officer; Vera Alejandria, corporate communications division manager; and Cecil Urbina, head of Human Resources. Her husband chef Raqui Urbina owns the Café Laguna outfit that catered the excellent lunch served that day.
More CHI personalities present were Michelle Go, Ian Virrey, Fraulein Quijada, Judith Boholst, Heidi Mantilla; members of the board Fr. Roderick Salazar, SVD and Jun Muntuerto with wife Cherry; and corporate lawyer Julius Neri with wife Nelia.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama was present, eager to tour the expansion area, all four levels of it, and quite accessible to the original mall. Former regional director of Tourism Dawn Roa said that there’s an ample chapel in the fourth level that can accommodate 300.
Famous brands like Zara and Mango will have homes in the expanded Ayala Center Cebu. Yves Rocher is already open. By 2014, Rustan’s will have a four-level anchor store. One floor is for the supermarket, the rest of the three levels, for the department store.
Cary Santiago show
A few days later, at The Gallery of the expansion area, there was a fashion show featuring the Holiday Collection of Cary Santiago, Cebu’s internationally famous couturier, and certainly its most innovative.
On the ramp was a bevy of the country’s top models—tall, lissome and perfectly poised. Someone near me wondered why they don’t smile. Is it such a punishment to be on the cat walk?
The collection was mostly of black outfits, some of them adorned with ivory white. Much applause greeted them, specially the gowns frothy with endless yards of sheer black tulle.
At the end of the show, Bong Dy, representing Ayala Center, went up to present a bouquet of flowers to Cary who was literally mobbed by his clients and admirers. Everyone wanted a photo with him, thus the blinding flashbulbs from all manner of cameras, cell phones. Tablets, what have you.
Getting his share of the kudos was engineer Junjet Primor who had choreographed the fashion parade with characteristic flair. He was also in charge of sound and merciful enough to tone it down when advised it was too loud.
“Cary is really good, I just need one fitting and that’s it,” said Amparito Llamas Lhuillier who was among the earliest to arrive. On front row she sat with sister in law Marquerite Lhuillier, former governor and now Rep. Gwen Garcia, Carmen Campbell, Teresin Mendezona and Rep. Raul del Mar with wife Melanie.
Glimpsed: Johanna Maitland-Smith Lhuillier with her mom Lady Diane and jewelry designer (one of a kind) Miranda Constantinidou; and Rose Hennessy seated near Kingsley Medalla and his mom Pacita.
More: Irma Atillo with Pinky Chang, Marget Villarica, Iris Arcenas with daughter Mia and Alice Woolbright, Carlo Cordaro, Greg and Agnes Huettel, and Oj Hofer who was asked when will it be his turn to parade his collection at The Gallery.
Another day, Ayala Center Cebu presented the Freeman Lifestyle’s launching of the book “Romancing With Words—The Life and Works of Greg M. Marcado (1919-1967).” It was at the activity area.
The program was hosted by the incomparable Jude Bacalso and the Freeman Lifestyle editor Marlinda Angbetic Tan who spearheaded the event. Opening remarks were by Jose Bersales, manager of the University of San Carlos (USC) Press which published the book.
The rationale and some very informative insights were given by Erlinda Kintanar Alburo, the book’s author, and for many years the director of the Cebuano Studies Center at USC. She is now a member of the Cebu City Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission.
It was a pleasure to listen to veteran Cebu radio personality Virginia Peralta Vamenta as she took everyone down memory lane, and that dates back to 1947 when she first met Greg Mercado, and she fulfilled her dream of being a radio newscaster.
Photos from way back were also on a screen showing Greg with wife Nina and their sons, as well as other personalities, many long gone, from among Cebu’s pioneers in journalism.
US Consular agent John Domingo read a gem of an essay written by Greg. There were also readings of his short stories, “The Awakening ” and “Rajah Tupas.” Listed among the readers were Mike Lopez, Grace Lacamiento, Haidee Juezan, John Rey Saavedra, Joeberth Ocao, Clint Holton Potestas and Radel Paredes.
The response in behalf of the family was made by Greg Diaz Mercado, Greg’s articulate grandson and namesake who lives in the United States.