Sinulog dance, Cebu chocolates, lechon at Asean welcome dinner
By the end of the night, it was evident that the Cebuanos know how to put together a festive and vibrant dinner show.
A Sinulog dance performance by award-winning troupe Lumad Basakanon paraded Cebu’s centuries-old devotion to the Señor Santo Niño to more than 100 delegates and guests, who attended the third Senior Economic Officials Meeting (SEOM) for the 48th Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Economic Ministers Meeting and Related Meeting.
On one table where delegates from Brunei Darussalam were unfamiliar with the dance, Cebu’s Chocolate Queen Raquel Toquero Choa explained the spiritual and cultural significance of the Holy Child.
Choa was invited to showcase Philippine chocolates especially during the breakout sessions of the meetings.
Youngest son, John Paul, painted on canvass using melted chocolate, which presented another use of chocolates.
“This Asean event is an opportunity for us to share the best of Cebu. I share my chocolate creations as a way of telling participating countries that we make the best chocolates… that we don’t need to export to European countries our cacao beans because we can transform these beans to high-quality products,” she said.
Quickmelt tablea by Ralfe Gourmet, which Choa is president and co-founder, were handed as giveaways to delegates.
The hotel lobby was transformed into a performance stage with world-renowned singer Anna Fegi leading Cebuano talents in a cultural and contemporary presentation.
Security was tight the whole week.
For Thursday night’s welcome dinner, only those with red stickers on their clothes and those with formal invitations were allowed entry to the venue, Raddison Blu Hotel.
A feast for the palate
Dinner was served at 8 p.m., as guests and delegates were serenaded by the Lapu-Lapu City Ukelele Ensemble and the Cebu City Classical Guitar Quartet.
A Cebuano Street Food Corner, which featured Cebu lechon (roasted pig) and fried crablets, was a gastronomic destination that evening.
At the carving station, whole Visayan grouper and US-certified prime slow roast beef were served.
Live salad ceviche and sushi stations completed the feast.
The dessert selection was endless, but the variety of homemade durian, ube and chocolate chip cookie ice cream took away the crown for the most-served sweet treat that night.
At the beginning of the dinner show, Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Anna Maria Rosario Robeniol, who serves as SEOM chairperson, delivered a speech to welcome delegates to Cebu.
She expressed optimism that sustained discussion on economic cooperation will bring about positive outcome in terms of Asean’s relationship and cooperation with neighboring countries.
She enjoined delegates to experience the wealth and warmth of Cebu.
“I hope you witness for yourself how this city morphed as one of the oldest settlements conquered by the Spaniards to a sprawling, dynamic industrial city,” said Robeniol.
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