The Cebu chapter of the Consular Corps of the Philippines held a lively meeting over lunch at Salon Andalucia of the Casino Español de Cebu. Presiding was its chair Emily Benedicto Chioson, honorary consul of Israel.
Special guests were Anika Apalisok Fernandez, director of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) regional consular office in Cebu and Dr. Angel Espiritu II, DFA Cebu protocol officer.
Fernandez informed the group that the DFA Cebu office has been processing as many as 700 passport applications a day. She noted the applications had increased since the October 2013 earthquake and the Supertyphoon “Yolanda” that followed next month.
She said that with the reopening of the Tacloban DFA office recently the Cebu work load has been lessened. On the subject of protocol she said that it is primordial as it facilitates relationships between countries as well as people.
Protocol can be best defined as the application of good manners and courtesy on a daily basis. “It is a way of life,” she said with a smile, and handed the rest of the talk to Angel Espiritu who did a power point presentation.
Everyone wanted a printed copy of it. Among many things, he said that protocol is ruled by a code of international politeness, and its significance deals more with the prevention of chaos. That is where precedence comes in.
In the Philippines, what is the obtaining precedence? He asked his attentive audience—some of whom got it right and others didn’t. It is actually this:
The President, the Vice President, former presidents, the Senate president, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Chief Justice and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs. The list goes further down the line of secretaries, elected government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and countless more. Everyone has his place.
There was a primer on how to arrange a reception line, how to sit guests at a dinner table, even how to get into a car and where to sit. Also, how does one sit down, and what to do with our legs.
Then there was information about about what courtesies ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic corps are entitled to, and how to implement them. There can be a whole chapter on arrivals to and departures from airports.
Instead of a formal open forum there was the opportunity for those present to interpolate questions as the topics arose and evolved. They were readily answered by either Anika or Angel. Some of the consuls also shared their own experiences with protocol.
Among those present were the Cebu Consular Corps officers, such as vice chairman Jose Sala (Sweden) and secretary Carmel Durano (Poland). First to arrive was Julie Vergara (Austria), with her father Arcadio “Dodong” Alegrado, erstwhile honorary consul general of Austria.
The People’s Republic of China was represented by consular attaché Zhang-Ran. Among the former chair persons present were Enrique Benedicto (Belgium) Samuel Chioson (Portugal) and Armi Garcia (Russia).
Also present were Tamsin Booth (United Kingdom), Philip Go (Czech Republic), Candice Gotianuy (Norway), Grand Benecito (Romania) with his wife Genevieve, Eduardo Gonzalez (Mexico) with his wife Therese, and John Domingo (USA’s consular agent).
After the guest speakers had left there was a regular meeting to take up the business for the day. The plans was to hold a fund-raising event to fulfill the civic and charity goals of the organization.
Cebu launches Bohol book
A large crowd converged at the activity area of Ayala Center for the launch of a singular coffee-table book titled “Pagsulay: Churches of Bohol Before and After the Earthquake.” It has been written by Dr. Jose Eleazar Bersales. The erudite foreword is by famous church art historian Regalado Trota Jose.
Photos were taken by Fr. Generoso Rebayla SVD, vice president for finance at the University of San Carlos (USC) whose press has done the book’s printing; and Estan Cabigas.
Some of those photos were selected for an exhibit that preceded the launching program. Cutting the ribbon were Arts Council president Petite Garcia and Anne Chan-Climaco, marketing manager of Ayala Center Cebu.
Bersales said that 5000 copies of the colorful book have been printed. They were selling quite briskly, at P1, 999 per volume. Half of that amount goes to the fund to help restore the Bohol churches. It is a herculean task, and it has to begin somewhere.
There were messages from Fr. Re Ayla and Fr. Ruel Lucero, SVD, acting president of the Holy Name University in Bohol. The program was hosted in Cebuano by architect Manuel Guanzon.
Included were four “harana” songs by well known exponent Laureano Rugero with Fred Castro on the keyboard; and dances typical of Bohol performed by the USC Dance Troupe.
Members of the Bathalad group of poets recited their own poems about the Bohol Earthquake, all in florid Cebuano. Listed in the program were Jeremiah Bondoc, Nancy Nacua, Ernesto Lariosa, Josua Cabrera, Jona Bering, Lamberto Ceballos, Noel Villaflor and Marlinda Angbetic Tan of the Arts Council. She had splendidly coordinated the two-hour event.
About the book: it has 240 pages with 500 color photos on how the Bohol churches looked months, even years, before the 7.2 magnitude earthquake, and to what they were reduced in pictures taken just three weeks after the disaster.
The title “Pagsulay” was chosen because it is the Cebuano term for test, or trial. It is used in the context that the devastation has been accepted as a test of faith, marked by the characteristic resilience of the people of Bohol.
One photo in the book shows the parish church of Maribojoc completely reduced to pulverized rubble. On top of it all, unscathed, is the bigger than life statue of the Sacred Heart as Christ the King standing on a blue terrestrial globe, its robe of concrete a vivid scarlet.