Consul General Zhang Weigou hosted a reception to celebrate the 63rd founding anniversary of the People’s Republic of China. It was held at the ballroom of the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel, beautifully adorned with numerous red silk lanterns. A wall-to-wall mural depicted the Great Wall of China.
The arrival of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia signaled the start of the program. In his welcome remarks, Consul General Zhang cited how China has become the world’s second largest economy.
He also mentioned how Governor Garcia has been a frequent visitor to China, and that diplomatic relations between his country and the Philippines have existed for the past 37 years.
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama was out of town that day but he was represented by his protocol officer Bryan Echevarria who came to the event with Angel Espiritu Sr. He is the mayor’s assistant for international matters. Mayor Rama’s recent visit to Xiamen was pointed out.
In her eloquent speech, Governor Gwen said that for the past eight years, she has invariably attended occasions such as this one. The People’s Republic of China may be 63 years of age, but China by itself has a civilization and heritage dating back thousands of years.
Governor Gwen was a bit nostalgic. Having been elected to three terms, this is her last as governor of Cebu. Her track record is unmatched. In the next elections she will run for Congress, representing one of her family’s districts in south Cebu.
The program featured a performance of Chinese Kung Fu by a group of girls, dances from Mongolia, lute music, displays of intricate paper cutting, and the unfurling of rice paper scrolls with festive Chinese calligraphy.
VIP guests included Ambassador Francisco Benedicto; Lim Liu of the Asociacion Benevola de Cebu, which runs the Chong Hua Hospital; and the chair of the Cebu Consular Corps, Honorary Consul Armi Garcia of the Russian Federation.
The local diplomatic corps present included Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Korea Augusto Go; Honorary Consul of Canada Robert Lee, with his wife Ana; Honorary Consul of Germany Dr. Franz Seidenschwarz, with his wife Elizabeth; Honorary Consul of Belgium Enrique Benedicto, with his wife Helena.
More: Honorary Consul of Slovakia Antonio Chiu; Consular Agent of the United States of America John Domingo; newlyweds Javier and Kaye Sala, representing his parents, Honorary Consul of Sweden and Mrs. Jose Sala.
A delectable menu of Chinese dishes was served at the buffet, and plated to the presidential table. He may be Austrian, but the Marco Polo’s executive chef Karl Beter did himself proud with the exotic cuisine.
There to collect congratulations were the hotel’s top echelon led by general manager Hans Hauri, resident manager Julie Najar, Food and Beverage director Stephan Wieprich, Tess Catipay, and Cielo Reyes who was greeting guests as they stepped on the foyer’s red carpet.
Chinese food fest
We’d see them all next day at noon, plus Lara Constantino and Kyra Cabaero, for the hotel’s launching of a Chinese food festival, which is running until Oct. 7 at the Café Marco. China’s Consul General Zhang graced the occasion, duly acknowledged by general manager Hans Hauri.
The food fest is titled “Culinary Impressions of China,” masterminded and prepared by the father and son team of celebrity chefs Gene and Gino Gonzalez. They come to the Cebu Marco Polo every year with varying themes, and always score a hit.
The opening program was highlighted by a performance by Chris and Sheila Manlunas, principal dancers and teachers of the Cebu Center for Dance. Dressed in red brocade, they nimbly came down the grand staircase to the music of Tschaikovsky’s “Tea” from The Nutcracker Ballet. They finished the dance on the marble floor, a feat in itself.
Instead of a ribbon to cut, there were gongs to play on as the guests filed into the luncheon area. Hans Hauri reminded all that the festival coincides with the mid-autumn celebrations fostering family unity.
Chef Gene Gonzalez told media friends how he had conceptualized the menu for this festival. Some dishes may evoke the various cuisines of mainland China, but he did draw inspiration from what he has tasted in the China towns of various Southeast Asian capital cities.
And so we enjoyed the suckling roast pig with chive cake; chilled tofu with century eggs; minced duck in lettuce wrap; Tiger’s Eye rice; lemon chicken; Dimsum dumplings; creamy noodles with salty ham.
Thai preview at Marriot
Speaking of exotic Oriental cuisine, over at the Cebu City Marriot Hotel general manager Bruce Winton and communications manager Charlene Go hosted a preview of its Thai food festival at the Garden Café, Sept. 29-Oct. 14.
Here to prepare the dishes is chef Tor Sakuntahan from the Renaissance Hotel in Phuket. He was around to explain some of those dishes like the tangy shrimp soup, the green-colored chicken curry, the oozing prawn patties, and the sweet/sour fish flavored with a thick tamarind sauce.
Yummy, some of us said; Bruce Winton was quick to say that’s a word that travels well. The Thai food festival at the Marriott is on for lunch and dinner, the latter having a more extensive array.
It was announced that Cha-Cha Rama is going to be The Marriott’s director for sales effective this month, that a new executive chef is forthcoming, and that the new F/B director is an Argentinian lady who has spent the past years in Valencia, Spain.
Sounds—as in smack!—like we’re going to have some fine paella.