FOR SEVERAL days, Cebu played host to delegates to the V Meeting of the Global Network of Magellan Cities. They came from Spain, Portugal, South America, Indonesia and nearby provinces.
The network includes cities touched by Ferdinand Magellan on his voyage to Cebu, where he landed in 1521. He died in Mactan, but the voyage led by Juan Sebastian de El Cano completed the first circumnavigation of the world.
The main purpose of the group is to make a big celebration in 2021 to mark the fifth centenary of Magellan’s coming to Cebu. It also will celebrate the coming of the Santo Niño de Cebu.
Events have been scheduled every year in the different cities of Magellan’s trajectory. They will become more intense from 2019 to 2022.
On their first day in Cebu, the delegates, led by secretary general Juan Manuel Nuñez de la Fuente, had a briefing at Cebu City Hall, followed by a welcome dinner at historic Fort San Pedro.
The Abellana National School students welcomed all with a series of colorful dances. Guests were introduced by Raine Baljak, the reigning Miss Cebu 2016, who hosted the evening’s program.
The official welcome address on behalf of the city was made by City Administrator Lucelle Mercado, who came in Filipiniana attire.
Award for Cobonpue
There were emotion-packed messages from Mayor Rama and Señor De la Fuente. The mayor also took this opportunity to present the city’s newly created Magellan Award to internationally acclaimed Cebuano furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue.
Seated with the mayor were Ambassador Francisco Benedicto, the Vice Mayor of Sevilla (Spain), Antonio Muñoz, and Anika Fernandez from the Cebu office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Among those present were Cebu City Tourism Commission chair Tatta Baad; Melva Java of the Cebu City Cultural and Historical Commission; Tess Chan, the first woman president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Hembler Mendoza, who heads the tourism office in Lapu-Lapu City.
Prominent among the guests were the honorary consuls of Spain, Anton Perdices with wife Maripaz; Mexico, Eduardo Gonzalez; and Sweden, José Sala and wife Susan.
Congratulated for the efficient coordination of the visit was lawyer Leslie Ann Reyes, Cebu City Hall’s protocol officer as well as international relations officer. In her team were Angel Espiritu and Elmer Labella.
Doing the translations was Cristina Monreal, who would join the group on the following days. They visited heritage sites like Magellan’s Cross, Basilica del Santo Niño and its museum, the Jesuit House, and the Yap-Sandiego house which dates back to 1603.
A whole morning was dedicated to visit Lapu-Lapu City, where Mayor Paz Radaza personally led the group to the Magellan monument erected in 1866 and dedicated to “las glorias Españolas.”
Mayor Radaza also led the group to a site where the Magellan Plaza will be built by Megaworld as part of a grandiose project. Present was Noli Hernandez, president of Megaworld Cebu Properties.
Ambassador Benedicto hosted a dinner at the Tsai Cheng restaurant with two guests of honor: former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Romulo, and Jerry Tundag, publisher of The Freeman daily.
Jerry has been awarded as one of Cebu City’s outstanding individuals during the recent Feb. 24 celebration of Cebu City’s Charter Day.
Present were Freeman society columnist Flor Ynclino; the University of San Carlos’ Fr. Roberto Ediza, who recalled his work in the Amazon and how he was visited by Ambassador Benedicto when he was assigned to Brazil; and Angel Espiritu, who was with the DFA in Ottawa when Frank was posted in Canada.
Present, too, were Ramon Sebastian, Felix Guanzon, Ernesto Uy, Ace John Blas who was with Albert Romulo’s party, and Eddie Lee with his wife Marietta. They run the widely read Filipinos community newspaper in Toronto, Canada.
Aside from Brazil and Canada, Frank Benedicto served his country well as its envoy to Singapore, Korea, India and China before he retired. He is very much visible in his hometown Cebu, concerned with multifarious business and civic activities.
Most of all, Frank enjoys supportive rapport with the Cebu media, meeting with them regularly to give them dates as well as to keep himself well-informed.