Revisiting the Cebu I missed | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

I had an all too short but happy reunion with cousins in Cebu. I went to see Annie Corrales, the daughter of my mother’s brother Federico. She was Miss Philippines in 1957.


Annie lived in Cebu many years ago, after she married the legendary Eddie Woolbright, hotelier, restaurateur, real estate developer, a businessman who wore many hats. Their lovely daughter, Alice Nell, today lives in the Beverly Hills area in a home with a breathtaking view.


“Daddy was the first developer here,” Alice says proudly. “They thought he was crazy to cut into the mountain.”


Alice and her husband, Dr. Ricardo Fernandez, have two children: Jonathan, a tall good-looking IT whiz, and Erica, who looks a lot like her lola Annie and is in college in Boston for a degree in psychology.


To make our reunion even happier, Pilita (another cousin) joined us. Her show for a doctors’ homecoming finished early and she gave us our own private mini show. It ended in a sing-along and a surprise from Malou, one of the helpers, who did an amazing “Usahay.”


It was a night of music, laughter and a lot of reminiscing.


Annie and her second husband, Douglas Mahrt, recently returned to Cebu for “balik buhay” after over four decades in Iowa, where Doug was into farming and livestock. Doug is very simpatico, friendly, with a ready smile, and the bluest blue eyes. Their daughter, Jennifer, lives in Iowa.


The last time I came to this fair city was for the inauguration of Dad’s at SM Cebu. That was many years ago. My host was Tito Eduque, that loveable gentleman with a twinkle in his eye, who always wore white. I miss him.


Eating out


This visit made me understand why people rave about “eating out” in Cebu.


Our first night was authentic Spanish at Gorli’s. We had tapas and paella. Delicious. Annie and I loved the ride in their open-air lift.


The next day it was lunch at Tavolata. Italian. Awesome. They have the best sourdough bread. And the company of Rosebud Sala and Margie Taylor was delightful.


Lunch at the Beverly (people still call it “Eddie’s”) was another must in our agenda. People come from far and away for its famous corned beef and cabbage. I have never tasted better.


In the 1950s, Woolbright opened Eddie’s Log Cabin near the wharf downtown. It was everybody’s favorite watering hole, the “I must be seen there” spot for celebrities and politicians. The popular haunt has since closed.


But Alice wants to do something with it. She is passionate about keeping her father’s memory alive. “Maybe a café with a display of daddy’s memorabilia. Something. I can’t let it just go to waste.”


More Cebu


Traffic in Cebu is pretty bad. Not quite like Edsa, but it’s getting there.


The talk of the town is Mayor Tommy Osmeña’s recent executive order which “covers all forms of reckless driving, particularly driving on the left or counterflow.” Owners are fined, but what has many people up in arms is the heavier penalty that requires the culpable vehicles to be impounded for 30 days, with no chance of appeal.


In the first week, some 200 motorcycles were “taken into custody,” along with over a hundred assorted automobiles.


This could be the start of something big. The howls from violators seem to indicate that Mayor O has hit a raw nerve. Good job!


I love Cebu. It is an exciting city, with a heartbeat. Especially at night. The IT Park skyline is impressive. To think it was once the Cebu airport.


But I abhor the graffiti. Every wall is marked. What an eyesore. Perhaps Mayor Tommy can address that, too?


About fake news


I caught part of the first day of a forum about Democracy and Disinformation, streamed live and attended by several hundred participants, including journalists and media practitioners. It was thought-provoking.


It is also frightening to learn how intentional the campaign is, and how we must guard against casually taking what it offers at face value. We must dig.


Peter Greste, a  journalist from Australia, spoke about fake news being “intentionally and verifiably false, and systematically implemented” and “the chilling effect of its manufactured legitimacy.” Think about it.


In his summary, John Nery, one of my favorite PDI opinion writers, gave a brief but unnerving definition of “fake news.”


“It is a DELIBERATE act of fabrication and manipulation; DISGUISED to look, sound and feel like the news; designed to DECEIVE.”


And therein lies the danger.


We are victims of relentless deception. How can one distinguish the genuine from the fabricated, the real from the conveniently created?


Through social media, we are exposed to the language of hate. We are bullied, threatened, verbally abused. I worry about the children. Can we hold Facebook, Google and the rest of them accountable?


There is a call to push back. But how can we uproot the seeds of doubt and fear now planted in our minds? How can we stop this malady from spreading further?


They say that truth is our best defense against disinformation. But who will tell it? And can we even tell the difference anymore?


We need some answers. Please.






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