Cebu gets a taste of Belgian royal splendor | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

AT THE RUSTAN’S launch of John Hardy jewelry: Michael Huang, Amparito Lhuillier, Kris Janson, Janice Leung and Godfrey Hung
AT THE RUSTAN’S launch of John Hardy jewelry: Michael Huang, Amparito Lhuillier, Kris Janson, Janice Leung and Godfrey Hung
AT THE RUSTAN’S launch of John Hardy jewelry: Michael Huang, Amparito Lhuillier, Kris Janson, Janice Leung and Godfrey Hung


A BRILLIANT diplomatic reception marked the celebration of Belgium’s national day at the ballroom of Marco Polo Plaza Hotel. Hosting were Belgian Ambassador Roland Van Remoortele and Belgium’s honorary consul in Cebu Enrique Benedicto.

Mila Espina emceed the brief program to highlight the occasion. Ambassador Van Remoortele said that it was 185 years since the creation of the Kingdom of Belgium.

Its first monarch was Leopoldo I of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, uncle of England’s Queen Victoria whose mother, the Duchess of Kent, was Leopoldo I’s sister.

Leopoldo had been married to England’s Princess Charlotte, Princess of Wales and heiress to the throne. She died in childbirth along with their firstborn. Leopoldo remained in England until he was offered to be the first king of the Belgians, as he wished to be known.

He married Princess Louise of France and founded a dynasty that continues to reign in Belgium.

Ambassador Van Remoortele said that this year marks the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between his country and the Philippines.

He also said that this is the 128th year of “El Filibusterismo” written by Jose Rizal as a sequel to his earlier novel, “Noli Me Tangere.” Rizal wrote “El Filibusterismo” while living in the Belgian city of Ghent.

He announced that of great significance in May 2017 is a large Belgian trade mission to the Philippines with Cebu in its itinerary.

It is headed by Princess Astrid of Belgium, daughter of Belgium’s retired King Albert and Queen Paola, born Princess Ruffo de Calabria. Princess Astrid is married to Archduke Lorenz of Hubsburg-Este.

Ambassador Van Remoortele paid tribute to Enrique Benedicto: “He is our honorary consul of long standing and he is outstanding. We are so lucky to have him. How could we ever replace him!”

There was loud applause from Enrique’s loving wife Helena, Cebu Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, Mandaue City Vice Mayor Carlo Fortuna, Justice Pompie Abarrientos (Enrique’s classmate at Cebu’s Colegio de San Jose Recoletos, now a university), Antonio and Edwina Veloso, Rosita Arcenas, and a good representation from Cebu’s consular corps.

John Hardy

John Hardy is a Canadian who, in the early 1970s, went to Bali and succumbed to the enchantment of the island. In 1975 he set up a jewelry concern using the native artisans. To this day John Hardy’s lines of jewelry are handcrafted. They are all over the world.

The brand has been brought to Cebu by Rustan’s, now available at Silver Vault in the department store at Ayala Center.

There was a celebration to launch it featuring an exposition of the latest collection of John Hardy’s designs.

Welcoming the surge of pretty ladies was Michael Huang, Rustan Commercial Corp. vice president.

He said they have carried the John Hardy jewelry in Manila for two years now. Here to promote the product was Godfrey Hung, general manager of John Hardy North Asia. He flew in from Hong Kong with Janice Leung, director of marketing and communications for John Hardy Asia Pacific.

She was great at explaining how the artisans weave gold or silver wires into the intricate bracelets and necklaces displayed. She herself was wearing some of the jewelry, encrusted with blue topazes.

Hotel marks 10

“Delight Your Senses–Timeless at 10” was the tagline for the 10th anniversary celebration of Marco Polo Plaza Hotel in Cebu.

They invited 500 guests but half of them could not make it, caught in traffic or unable to leave their homes because of torrential rains accompanied by an electric thunderstorm which lasted for hours and flooded Cebu City and neighboring cities.

Those who made it were warmly welcomed by general manager Julie Najar, resident manager Xavier Masson, sales and marketing director Lara Constantino Scarrow, banquet and catering director Tess Catipay, rooms supervisor Jude Pangan, communications manager Manna Alcaraz, PR officer Yvonne Silva and events manager Joward Tongco.

Najar gave an eloquent speech, packed with emotion. She has been with the Marco Polo in Cebu from the very start. There was also a special message from Alfred Ty of Cathay International Resources, chairman of Federal Land.

He led the toasts with other corporate VIPs—Fidel Malacca and Pascual Garcia; Vice Governor Agnes Magpale, and Hans Hauri, for many years the GM at Cebu Marco Polo until he relocated to Manila.

Mia Ali hosted the program, which also featured top-caliber entertainers Isay Alvarez and Robert Seña. The hotel’s executive chef, Stefano Verrillo, was congratulated for the truly magnificent buffet spreads, carving stations and dessert tables.