A large and enthusiastic crowd attended the beauty pageant presented by the Cebu City Tourism Commission (CCTC) to select this year’s Miss Cebu, at the Pacific ballroom of the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel.
The choice went to Raine Baljak, 19-year-old daughter of Merce Abellana, herself a beauty queen in her time, one of Cebu’s 5 Prettiest in 1986 and remains so up to now.
Raine was crowned with a newly crafted (in Cebu) gem-studded tiara by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, and her predecessor Miss Cebu 2015 Wynona Buot.
Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella and CCTC chairperson Tetta Baad pinned the sash on first runner-up Tracy Maureen Perez.
The rest of Miss Cebu’s court of honor includes second runner-up and crowd favorite Shaila Mae Rebortera, third runner-up Merl Gayo, and fourth runner-up Felina Joyce Lim, who was chosen Miss Friendship and Miss Photogenic.
Raine Baljak was also the best in evening gown, by Dino Lloren, and ABS-CBN Kapamilya Star of the Night.
Other contestants who paraded in various segments of the pageant were Caira Rosales, Dara Calagos, Cheska Mamac, Anna Marie Saldon, Dee Llenos, Bea Raboy and Vida Reya.
Judges were fashion designer Christian Espiritu, actor-director Rowell Santiago, photographer-model Jo Ann Bitagcol, stage designer Gino Gonzalez, and Robinsons Land president and CEO Frederick Go.
Best evening gown
The appreciative audience was entertained during the program by Cebuana Tria Bascon, an Awit awardee; Danielle Mae Ozaraga; and Thor Dulay, “The Voice” finalist.
Program hosts were Miss Earth 2008 Karla Henry and actor-model Clint Bondan Wachsmuth.
The evening showcased Cebu’s best designers in the evening gown section of the pageant. Jun Escario was cited the best for the dress worn by Raboy.
Aside from Jun and Dino, participating were Arcy Gayatin, Albert Arriba, Philip Tampus, Oj Hofer, Ditas Rodriguez, Marichu Tan, Ren Manabat, Wendell Quisido, Harley Ruedas and William Manahan.
Congratulated for the success of the pageant were CCTC’s Jaja Chiongbian Rama, who chaired the event, and popular Cebu couturier Philip Rodriguez, vice chair.
They got full support from CCTC chairperson Baad, and Cynbeth Orellano, OIC and executive director of the CCTC office.
Add to them the members of the commission assigned to the various committees working on the event since October of last year, to ensure the smooth flow of activities.
Among them are Cebu City Councilor Margot Osmeña, Arts Council president Petite Garcia, Joan Tiu, Joseph Gaisano Jr., Marissa Fernan, Enrilen Benedicto, Alice Queblatin, Mary Ann Solomon and Jaime Sy.
The next grand event at the ballroom of the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel will be on March 8, when the Cebu chapter of La Chaine des Rotisseurs holds its annual induction gala. “It has a French theme,” said general manager Grant Jefferies at the food-tasting held at La Gondola, the hotel’s Italian restaurant.
Actually, the evening’s theme is Gastronomy and Wine, an Everlasting Love Story. Present to appraise the menu were La Chaine’s Cebu Baili Amparito Lhuillier and board members Teresin Mendezona, Vivina Yrastorza, Nestor Alonso and Dave Sharpe.
Joining them were the hotel’s Gerra Longakit, conventions and events manager; Arnel Apares, marketing communications manager; and Christine Lindo, executive assistant.
Michelle Cantini, the Italian F&B director, gave the cue for the chefs to appear and be duly introduced: corporate chef Mark Muelden, executive chef Jeff Pelaez and corporate pastry chef Bencit Labourex.
An assortment of freshly baked breads was laid on the table with various spreads. First course was a lobster bisque that was pronounced delicious, followed by a slab of foie gras on toast, and a seafood medley with risotto on a clam shell.
After a lime sorbet with a dash of vodka came the main course, an emu steak that was perfectly cooked. Dessert was Cebu cocoa and calamansi parfait.
It was stressed that, save for the foie gras and the emu, all the ingredients were locally obtainable. Loud applause met the chefs when they emerged from the kitchen to listen to any pertinent observations.
It was also mentioned that the high-quality cocoa beans used are grown in Cebu, and obtainable from Raquel Choa who has her chocolate shop not so far from the Waterfront in Villa Aurora, Mabolo.
Amparito Lhuillier and Jefferies stated that they expect 120 guests to attend from among La Chaine’s Cebu members, their families and friends who’d like to experience this epicurean coup.
To underscore the French theme, there will be a floor-to-ceiling reproduction of the Eiffel Tower—coated with chocolate. Entertainment between courses will evoke Le Moulin Rouge, performed by Dance Sports Cebu directed by Edward Hayco.