Casino Español is the safest place to be on New Year’s Eve. No fireworks, and definitely no firearms—only the blare from an intrepid band that plays dance music till the crack down.
The festivity this year started early with Holy Mass, good for the next day, at 6 p.m., officiated by Msgr. Achilles Dakay. He frowns upon elaborate costumes in the congregation, which happily complies and does the changing later.
The doors to the grand ballroom opened at 7 p.m., to a large crowd of celebrators. The best tables were for those who came first.
A huge leg of jamon serrano was being expertly sliced, and when that was gone to the bone, another one, even bigger and better, was put on the carving board. Every table had complimentary bottles of Borsao red and white wine.
By 8:30 p.m., the buffet dinner was announced and laid out at the spacious Salon de Madrid. The club’s general manager May Ocaba had prepared quite a menu of Casino Español’s specialties and more.
An enormous, frozen whole tuna had been expressly brought the night before from General Santos. It was being diced into sashimi, and was going fast. The paellas were so tasty with fine condiments, they also went fast.
Rating high were the slabs of roast beef at two carving stations, while there was a choice of either roast or deep fried turkey. One just had to try them both. A large table groaned with scrumptious desserts.
Calories were quickly burned by those who were eager to dance, starting with Edgar and Cely Chiongbian. Enter the ever graceful Ellen Climaco who belies being over 80. Following suit was Laling Javier, at 90-plus as supple as a willow wand.
The dancing had to stop, for time was flying, and there was the costume parade to highlight the evening. The judges positioned themselves, and shortly after the presentation, submitted their verdicts.
Proclaimed winners were Coney Selma as Army Girl; Paz Pelaez as Princess Sofia, complete with sparkling diadem; Glenn Loop, American Indian; Tony Lozada, the sheriff; and Percival Llaban, Japanese ninja.
More winners were John Edward and Mary Angeli de las Peñas, painted in gold, as The Champions; Gabby Leyson and Tina Jordana as the Gravity couple; Bingen and Annette Mendezona as zombie hunters.
Best small group was that of the Hogwarts students, while the prize for best large group went to the cast of “El Dia de los Muertos,” which was right out of a Halloween night.
The prizes all distributed was cue for the band to resume, with just a few minutes to midnight. That’s when “Auld Lang Syne” was played, and there was a general kissing binge to the rousing sounds of “Feliz Año Nuveo!”
Present were Casino Español de Cebu president Luis Moro III with his wife Lynn; his father Quintin Moro who was in costume since early morning; Eddie and Therese Gonzalez with his sister Susan, and Terry Dahlman and their son Wade.
More: Gabby and Tessie Martinez, David and Betty Young with his sister Jane Llaban, Vandana and Haresh Sadhwani, Tessie Javier with close friend Vilma Ouano, Pedrito and Ella Uy, Sonny and Annabelle Alo.
Girlie de Guia sat with her son David Schafer and his fiancée Reena Yap; they’ve set their wedding on April 21 in Cebu. In a happy family cluster were José Enrique and Jill de las Peñas with their children Mary Ellen, Mary Elizabeth, Mary Angeli and John Edward.