A diplomatic reception was hosted by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation Nikolay Kudashev, his wife Elena Kudashev and Armi Lopez Garcia, Russia’s honorary consul in Cebu, at the Waterfront Cebu City Hotel.
The occasion was in observance of Russia’s National Day, and to celebrate the country’s 35 years of diplomatic relations with the Philippines. A photo exhibit was opened at the hotel’s foyer to depict these historic years.
A brief program, emceed by Mila Espina, was highlighted by toasts and speeches by Ambassador Kudashev, Consul Garcia, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Vice Governor Agnes Magpale. Both the mayor and vice governor spoke about how impressed they were by St. Petersburg during their respective visits to the Tsarist Capital.
Among those present were Dmitry Yudin, first secretary of the Russian Embassy; Armi’s supportive husband lawyer Jesus Garcia Jr. and his sister Nelia Garcia Neri; Rossana Reynes, who had served as tour guide to Ambassador Kudashev; Ambassador Francisco Benedicto; Cebu Holdings president Francis Monera; and architect Maxwell Espina, vice president of the Arts Council.
Also present were University of San Carlos (USC) president Rev. Fr. Dionisio Miranda, SVD; and Misha Anissimov, who coordinates the Cinema Program at the Fine Arts department of USC. He is of Russian descent, his ancestors having fled to China after World War I, and to the Philippines (in Samar) after World War II. They eventually relocated to the USA, but Misha has decided to come to Cebu.
Livening up the evening with his special brand of music was prominent businessman Wilson Ng, rendering Russian airs. Easily recognizable was the “valse brillante” from “Sleeping Beauty” by Tschaikovsky.
Japan envoy in Cebu
Ambassador of Japan Toshinao Urabe made a two-day visit to Cebu with his wife Etsuko Urabe. They were billeted at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, personally welcomed by resident manager Julie Najar and Cielo Reyes.
Japan’s Counselor and Consul in Cebu Yoshiaki Hata had prepared an efficient itinerary for Ambassador Urabe, which included courtesy calls on Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Governor Gwendolyn Garcia.
Ambassador Urabe visited the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, where a hospital building has been funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica). He also saw the marker of the Japan-OECF funded facility at the Mactan International Airport, and strummed a guitar at the Alegre factory in Lapu-lapu City.
The Japanese ambassador recalled that in 1954, at the age of four, his father was assigned to the Japan office in Manila, and he was enrolled at the kindergarten of the Jose Abad Santos Memorial School.
Eventually, his father was named Ambassador to the Philippines in 1969 (up to 1974), a position Toshinao Urabe has been destined to occupy since March of this year.
There was a press con at the Marco Polo where Ambassador Urabe spoke about the measures taken up to assuage the calamity in Japan caused by the tsunami, and how the Filipino government and people have responded with sincere solidarity.
He also spoke about the investment opportunities Cebu offers Japanese businessmen, and about job openings for Filipinos in Japan. These are mostly for nurses and caregivers. Language is an important issue, hence the need for them to take up a six-month course.
This was a good occasion to announce that the fifth Japanese Film Festival in Cebu has been scheduled for Aug. 2-7 at Cinema 4 of the Ayala Center. To be shown are nine contemporary films that reflect a thriving industry.
Man from Down Under
Next ambassador to visit Cebu was Rod Smith of Australia, to preside “Australia in Cebu,” described as a business reception and networking evening, at the Niña ballroom of the Radisson Blu Hotel.
The rationale was given by Ross Bray, senior trade and investment commissioner of Austrade Manila. In his speech, Ambassador Smith compared Cebu to a busy engine room for its tremendous potential in trade and much more.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Joy Augustus Young was present, as well as Kiel Enrique, who handles communications at the Australian embassy; Eva Yazon, senior business development manager of the Australian Trade Commission; Arts Council trustees Elvira Luym, Teresin Mendezona and Marissa Fernan; and Ho Kok Fai, the Radisson’s new Food/Beverage director.
The best Australian wines, red or white, were served. There were various buffet spreads. One of them offered the finest Australian cheeses and crisp melba toast to spread thick slabs on. At the carving station, according to your preference, juicy Australian roast beef was being sliced, thin or thick. Maybe the recipe for the delicious lemon meringue pie had also come from Australia.
Cebu expects more ambassadors to visit in the near future. On July 21, the National Day of Belgium will be celebrated with a reception at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel. Hosts are the Ambassador of Belgium Christian Meerschman, as well as Belgium’s Honorary Consul in Cebu Enrique Benedicto and his wife.
On July 22, also at the Marco Polo, Ambassador of France Thierry Borja de Mozota will attend the celebration of France’s National Day, hosted by the Honorary Consul of France Michel Lhuillier and wife, and Alliance Francaise de Cebu director Louis Thevenin.