IN 2007 Amigos de España en Cebu, presided by Amparito Lhuillier, presented the book “81 Years of Premio Zobel” during a luncheon meeting at the Casino Español de Cebu. The book had been launched in Manila by Georgina Padilla Zobel who came to Cebu for this occasion.
Ambassador Delfin Colome came, as it was during his assignment in Manila that he helped for the book to be published. He was now assigned in Seoul. Little did I know that it was the last time I’d see him, as some time later he died of cancer in Korea.
With Georgina had come the book’s author Lourdes Brillantes who years back had written the Spanish version, Georgina’s best friend Marylou Prieto Lovina, Gaspar Vibal and his mother Esther Vibal of the Vibal publishing house.
Georgina and I made sure the book is displayed in various outlets. One afternoon as we were discussing this in my house the mailman delivered an envelope which I opened. “What is it?” Georgina asked. “You look pale.”
It was a rather substantial check, a divident from VECO, the electric company. And it had just been mailed. The next day I went to VECO and requested that the next time there was a dividend I’d pick it up at the office.
From there I went to Honda Cars and made a down payment for a new vehicle; the one I had was already 15 years old. I sold the old Honda to my niece Ana who has it in Malitbog and still runs quite well.
In 2007 I had the opportunity to visit Chengdu, capital of the Sichuan province in China. Cathay Pacific flew a group
of Cebu travel agents and media friends to Hong Kong, and from there, on Dragon Air, to Chengdu. Escorts were general manager in Cebu Eddie Kong and Jewel Sanchez.
Chengdu’s history dates back 2,500 years and many vestiges of its past are still being uncovered. Our sightseeing also took us to see the panda bears, hot springs, and various restaurants to sample excellent Chinese cuisine.
Before returning to Cebu we had a day and a half in Hong Kong. I dedicated an entire day to Kowloon, to visit the Swindon book store, browse through Chinese Arts and Crafts, and listen to the string quartet during high tea at the Peninsula Hotel.
In early July 2007 the Cebu Consular Corps teamed up with the Zonta Club of Cebu II to present a fundraiser titled “International Night” at the ballroom of the Casino Español.
Members of the corps, their spouses, children and friends participated in a parade of costumes of their respective countries. The Zontians who had done something similar in Bacolod also donned a collection of costumes from many countries.
The event was sponsored by Landco Pacific represented by Alfred Xeres-Burgos, while Augusto Villalon represented the Monterrazas realty development in Guadalupe.
Receiving the guests were Cebu Consular Corps chairman Sammy Chioson (honorary consul of Portugal) and Betty Young, president of the Zonta Club of Cebu II. The event was a sell out days before it took place.
Myrna Cruz Tan was the first on the ramp, wearing a Zulu costume. Then came Elena Young in an American Indian costume, followed by Teresin Mendezona in Spanish ruffles, then Cecilia and I in the costumes of Aragon, Spain.
Genevieve Benedicto represented Romania; Nellie Chiu, the Slovak Republic; Moya Jackson, United Kingdom; Tim Wright, Scotland, Janet Ugarte, Mexico; June Alegrado, Austria; Armi Garcia, Russia; and Haydee Benedicto, Turkey.
A Filipiniana section had Marilou Cañizares, Cita Chan, Elvira Luym, Rachel Espiritu, and Mariter Klepp. More international costumes were worn by the following: Jane Llaban, India; Chinggay Utzurrum, Malaysia; Cynthia Dagus and Elsa Basubas, Vietnam; Liza Young, Afghanistan; Thea Graham, Canada; Mairetta Malinao, Ghana; Petite Garcia, Russia during the Czars; Odette Jereza and granddaughter April, Mexico; Minnie Yuvienco, France; Flor Miel, Peru; Miriam Kim, Korea; Nany Velez, Egypt; and Lydia Sia, modern China.
Roland Suarez and his musical ensemble coordinated with emcee Vince Escario during the show, and later played dance music for many who stayed on until midnight. The consuls had a pretty sum for the Crippled Children Society, and the Zontians for their various charity projects.
July was Spanish month at the Casino Español de Cebu which invited the new Spanish Ambassador Don Luis Arias Romero who came with his wife Doña Soledad and their son Javier.
Since it was his first time in Cebu I arranged and escorted them to pay courtesy calls on acting Mayor Michael Rama (Mayor Tommy was abroad), Governor Gwen Garcia, and Cardinal Ricardo Vidal. We also took the opportunity at sightseeing—Magellan’s Cross, Basilica del Santo Niño and Fort San Pedro.
There was a formal dinner at the Casino Español, prepared by chef Ipar Miranda. Presiding was vice president Gabriel Leyson as the president, Jose Saoa, was abroad.
Ambassador Arias and family were billeted at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel where they attended the opening of Sabores de España, the hotel’s annual Spanish food festival. General manager Hans Hauri welcomed them with his usual courtesy.
Gema Luisa Pido was congratulated for preparing the menu that was served at the opening and during the 10 days the festival lasted.
In August 2007 the Province of Cebu celebrated 438 years since Spain’s King Philip II made it a Spanish province. The festivities were led by Governor Gwen Garcia. One of them was the unveiling of two portraits in oil of the Cebu governors during whose terms the Provincial Capitol’s building was started and completed.
One was Sotero Cabahug, represented by his daughter Guadalupe Cabahug Latonio. The other was Buenaventura Rodriguez, represented by his cousin Carmen Rodriguez de Martinez who recalled the inaugural of the building.
President Manuel Quezon and family came in the presidential yacht to Cebu just to attend the celebration. Many people lined the street leading to the Capitol and posted themselves at the entrance to watch the arrival of the VIP guests.
They cheered when some guest looked similar to a movie star, as they did when Don Alvaro Pastor stepped out of his vehicle. “Charlie Chaplin, Charlie Chaplin,” they yelled.
His wife, Doña Sofia, who had quite a sense of humor, struck a pose as she stepped out, and announced she was Zasu Pitts, a very popular comedinne of the 1930s.
It was a story in the family that President Quezon asked Governor Rodriguez who owned that house under construction right on a hill behind the capitol. Before the governor could answer, the president declared, “It is an eyesore.”
The house in question was the castle being built by Doña Genoveva Villalon.
It was burned down during the war, and painstakingly rebuilt for many years, well into the 1950s.
Many beautiful and graceful houses were lost during the war, and what remained has slowly deteriorated due to termites, climate, and often, through lack of interest in preserving these relics.