Cebu Arts Council turns 50 with Gala Filipina

August 22, 2009 - TO LAUNCH The Arts Council of Cebu’s 50th anniversary, the Cebu Consular Corps held a ball dubbed Gala Filipina at the ballroom of Casino Español de Cebu. More than 300 attended, most of them in Filipiniana attire.

Wine can be an excellent ice breaker, and it was being passed around courtesy of the Honorary Consul of Latvia Ralph Lim Joseph from his Ralph’s wine shop. The ballroom was beautifully decorated. A whole wall had a backdrop depicting the 19th century Casa Escaño in Malitbog, southern Leyte.

Tables were draped with embroidered jusi. Centerpieces were of red and pink roses, with glowing candlelight diffused by lace shades. Teresin Mendezona gave the idea and so did Pinky Chang of Pink Flora.

By 7:30 p.m., many had arrived and Vikki Hermosisima announced that the brief program was about to begin. Welcome remarks were delivered by the Honorary Consul of Spain, chairman of the Cebu Consular Corps.

Arts Council president Petite Garcia spoke about the efforts of the organization in keeping culture and the arts alive in Cebu.

To continue doing so, there is a need to raise an endowment fund. The community, which is more prosperous than it cares to admit (that’s Cebu for you) should really rally to this cause.

The sole sponsor of Gala Filipina was Cebu Holdings, Inc. (CHI, and a part of Ayala Land). Its president, Francis Monera said they were happy to be part of this event. Actually, they have been part of the Arts Council’s events for many years, with cultural performances scheduled at the Ayala Center mall’s Onstage Theater, and at City Sports Club Cebu.

Three brief presentations followed. One was about the CHI 20th anniversary, while another was about the Ayalas’ concern for ecology. The third was about Amara, an urban development in the municipality of Liloan, north of Cebu City.

Amara’s various phases have been sold out and a new one is about to be launched. “We will have more projects,” said Jay Visco, head of Ayala Land’s marketing and sales in Visayas and Mindanao.

By 8 p.m., dinner was served in three adjoining salons. There were salad bars, buffets with the Casino’s specialties, four carving stations of the finest Angus beef, fruit platters and heaps of tempting desserts. GM Ed Tongco and everyone in his staff have been praised and congratulated.

Highlight

Filipiniana music was played while guests dined. By 9 p.m., the evening’s highlight was ready to start – the entrance of officers and members of the Consular Corps as well as officers and trustees of the Arts Council with their respective partners.

I was first with my wife Cecilia, and we managed quite well despite a pinched nerve, primary osteoarthritis and tendonitis just below my left knee, of all places. No one noticed the slight limp, or did they?

Then came Honorary Consul of the Russian Federation Armi Garcia, vice chair; Eden Pardillada; Honorary Consul of France Michel Lhuillier, treasurer; Amparito Lhuillier; Honorary Consul General of Austria Arcadio Alegrado and daughter June Alegrado; Enrison and Mylene Benedicto, representing their parents Honorary Consul of Belgium Enrique and Helene Benedicto.

Honorary Consul of Germany Dr. Franz Seidenschwarz and wife Elizabeth; Honorary Consul of Portugal Samuel Chioson and his wife, Honorary Consul of Israel Emily Benedicto Chioson; Honorary Consul of Romania Grand Benedicto and his wife Genevieve; Honorary Consul of the Slovak Republic and his wife Nellie; Honorary Consul of Sweden Jose Sala and his wife Susan; Consular Agent of the United States John Domingo and Maria Lyra Tagalog.

The next group came from the Arts Council with president Garcia taking the arm of architect Maxwell Espina, vice president for internal affairs.

They were followed by VP for external affairs Dr. Vivina Chiu Yrastorza with son Jose Ma. Luis Yrastorza; secretary Mariter Klepp and Jaime Chua; trustee Elene Chiongbian Young who was chair of the waltz with Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama; trustee Marylou Neri with Rodney Rodriguez; trustees Annie Osmeña Aboitiz and Winglip Chang; trustee Marlinda Angbetic Tan with her son Ian Irving Tan; and trustee Teresin with Marco Protacio.

All couples later reentered the ballroom in formation for the opening waltz – Roses from the South by Strauss. This was a three-minute arrangement splendidly choreographed by Sandro Guillo.

Many did not even go back to their seats after the waltz for Roland Suarez and his group immediately segued with a stomping boogie-woogie.

When Roland took a breather the music didn’t stop thanks to the great coordination of ace DJ Bong Suzara. On days that followed, Gala Filipina was the talk of the town. (Inquirer)

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