The Cultural Center of Cebu had a soft opening at its premises within the University of the Philippines (UP) Cebu college campus along Gorordo Avenue. Started 18 years ago, its completion is to the credit of current Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.
Governor Gwen thought of inviting former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Romualdez Marcos to preside the ribbon-cutting. It was quite a long silken swath for Mrs. Marcos, Governor Gwen, Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, UP president, to cut.
And there were more: Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, Ilocos Norte Vice Governor Rodolfo Fariñas, Honorary Consul of Russia Armi Garcia and Russian sculptor Gregory Pototsky. He unveiled his “Dandelion” sculpture in front of the building after the blessing prayers by Msgr. Roberto Alesna.
Architect Tessie Javier was among the elegant crowd. She is part of the team tasked with completing the center, which will be functional in time for its grand inaugural come November 25.
Governor Gwen has been congratulated for the terrific success of the recent EATOF confab held in Cebu. The initials stand for East Asia Inter Regional Tourism Forum. Most of the activities were held at Cebu International Convention Center (CICC).
EATOF was formed 12 years ago, consisting of member provinces in different countries of East Asia, with Cebu one of the most active. For this gathering, delegates came from Gangwon, Korea; Jilin, China; Tottori, Japan; Tuv, Mongolia; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Luang Prabang, Laos; Quangh Ninh, Vietnam; Sarawak, Malaysia; Seam Reap, Cambodia; and Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
The opening ceremonies at CICC were well-attended. The venue also served as site of a trade fair, with booths from the participating countries. Local products and crafts were also on exhibit.
There were three intense nights with Governor Garcia hosting various festivities. One was a welcome reception at The Capitol Building. Guests gathered at the front terrace for cocktails and canapés, awaiting a wondrous display of fireworks.
The action moved to the second level for dinner and the program. Teresin Mendezona decorated the place with masses of yellow orchids, and Café Laguna served a stupendous buffet.
Spectacular dances from various municipalities of Cebu province were presented, as well as performances by some of the participating delegations. Korea presented the most beautiful, with lovely ladies in diaphanous white floating about like swans.
It is all a matter of breath control, said Junjet Primor, who does most of the
choreography for presentation at Cebu Capitol.
National costume night
Next evening, delegates were asked to wear national costumes to the festival held at CICC. This was another occasion for more dance presentations.
The finale evening was held at the grand ballroom of Marco Polo Plaza Hotel. GM Hans Hauri, resident manager Julie Najar, food/beverage director Stephan Wieprich and other hotel top brass were at the foyer’s red carpet to welcome all.
First to arrive was Vice Governor Agnes Magpale who said there’d be a slight delay since the group had been on a cruise to scenic Camotes Island. Eventually, Governor Gwen came and everyone ascended to the ballroom.
It was decorated with flaming-red roses on all tables and the long buffet spread.
“I have prepared a heritage menu,” said Jessica Avila, Marco Polo’s consultant for Cebuano cuisine. The poached shrimps with a dash of chili were delicious. It went perfect with rice cooked in coconut leaf baskets, so typical of Cebu.
It was a fun evening, with more dances and performances by Cebu groups and the delegates. Everyone gathered onstage to sing the EATOF hymn, whose lyrics are by Sam Costanilla. Music is by Gani Villarojo.
Liloan Mayor Duke Frasco and his wife Christina, Governor Gwen’s daughter, were among the happy group that stayed on for dancing up to 2:30 a.m. Some delegates went straight to the airport as most were scheduled to leave first thing in the morning.
Completing the week’s hectic pace was the visit of Harry K. Thomas Jr., Ambassador of the USA. For him, Governor Gwen Garcia hosted a luncheon at the social hall of the capitol.
With the ambassador and Garcia at the presidential table were Deputy Speaker Pablo Garcia (the governor’s father), Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, Mayor Nelson Garcia, US Consular Agent in Cebu John Domingo, Ambassador Francisco Benedicto, Robin Dialo from the US Embassy, Honorary Consul of France Michel Lhuillier with his wife Amparito, and Mariquita Yeung, the governor’s best friend.
Provincial board member Peter Calderon delivered the welcome remarks, while Governor Gwen herself introduced the American ambassador. He said he had learned quite a number of Cebuano terms in the four hours he had been in Cebu, and pronounced some of them, like init.
Well, it was a sun-drenched ceremony he had attended earlier. The ambassador said he enjoys Chicken Joy, mango cake from Red Ribbon, halo-halo, and “I wear a Timex watch made in Cebu.”
He also speaks very good Spanish, having learned it in Peru. He smiled as he said, “Tengo una hija, profesora de español, en Carolina del Norte.”
The Philippines is very much a part of the USA, he stated, adding that 4.5 Filipinos live there, not counting the TNTs. The US Embassy in Manila has the second largest visa section in the world.