Sri Lanka business delegation welcomed; Argao heritage documented | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Ambassador Francisco Benedicto hosted a dinner at the Tsai Cheng Chinese restaurant in honor of a delegation of prominent businessmen from Sri Lanka.


Leading the group was the Philippines’ Ambassador to Sri Lanka Vicente Vivencio Bandillo, who is actually based in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh.


Ambassador Bandillo is a Cebuano and a writer of note. Years ago, he was a bona fide member of the PEN Cebu chapter. The initials stand for Poets, Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists.


In the group were Ravi de Silva who represents Philippine Airlines in Sri Lanka and the Maldives; Hugh Sriyal Dissanayake, honorary consul of the Philippines in Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka; and his assistant, Nalin Perera.


Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella was present, as well as Angel Espiritu, who is in City Hall’s protocol office; photographer Loy Jurado; and Mila Espina, who made arrangements for the Sri Lankan delegation to exchange ideas with the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


Also present were Ethel Natera representing the province of Cebu of which she is the information officer; Jerry Tundag, editor of the Freeman newspaper; and Nelia Neri of the Cebu Sun.Star.


Handsome book on Argao


The book “Argao: In Search of a Usable Past” was launched under the aegis of the Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (Rafi) during a morning program at the auditorium of the Rafi building. Author is Swiss national Paul Gerschwiler.


The richly documented volume is more than just a table book aside from its numerous photos and illustrations; there is an erudite text which focuses on the municipality of Argao, south of Cebu City. It is so readable you can’t put the book down, and it is quite a heavy tome.


It harks back to the days of yore, with quite a depiction of the years before the Spanish colonization. Argao’s Spanish heritage is patent, just as its present and projections for the future. The idea is to learn from the past in order to forge a sustainable future.


Gerschwiler traveled the world for three decades. He was in and out of Cebu frequently until 1988 when he decided to settle down in Argao with his wife Mercy who hails from the nearby municipality of Sibonga, which also boasts of a rich heritage.


They were both present at the grand launch of the book together with Rafi president Roberto Aboitiz; vice president Jon Ramon Aboitiz; chief operations officer Dominica Chua; and Dr. Jocelyn Gerra, who heads the cultural arm of Rafi.


Present was Erlinda Kintanar Alburo who, with Doctor Gerra, edited the book. Who better than Linda? She is from Argao and brings with her years of experience as head of the Cebuano Studies Center of the University of San Carlos.


The photos in the book are to the credit of Victor Kintanar, also from Argao, who worked closely with the layout team headed by Joshua Cabrera.


A copy of the book was presented to Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale, who had words of praise for the author and Rafi’s role in having it printed with such thoroughness.


The book is available at Rafi, and later at Casa Gorordo, at P1,500. It will be made available in Manila at Solidaridad Book Shop on Padre Faura Street, Ermita.


Casa Gorordo Museum


Meanwhile, the next event at Rafi is the reopening of the Casa Gorordo Museum on Dec. 15, after months of dedicated restoration.


The house dates back to the middle of the 19th century. It is made of coral stone and hardwood, with a tiled roof that has survived countless earthquakes and typhoons. Casa Gorordo was the residence of the first native-born Bishop of Cebu.


As a museum, it depicts a bygone era with many of its furnishings having belonged to Señorita Telesfora Jaen, a niece of Bishop Gorordo who lived there well into the 20th century. We recall visiting her as children, to view her “Belen” which still exists. Maybe it will be mounted this year.


When Señorita Jaen passed away, the house went to her Revilles nephews. Rafi bought the house in the 1970s. Miss Pepit Revilles keeps the memory of her aunt alive attending the various cultural events held at Casa Gorordo throughout the year.


One of these is the traditional original Sinulog votive dance in honor of the Santo Niño de Cebu held on the Monday after the fiesta in January.


Another event is the annual fiesta of Parian—where Casa Gorordo is located—on June 24, to honor St. John the Baptist. After the procession, Pepit usually hosts a dinner at the garden of Casa Gorordo.

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