Spanish cultural festival goes south

HIS excellency Don Ignacio Sagaz, Spain's Ambassador to the Philippines, and his lovely wife Sra. Aurora Lapuz de Sagaz, recently came for the Casino Espaņol de Cebu's Dia de la Hispanidad.

With them was Javier Galvan, director of Instituto Cervantes in Manila and a frequent visitor in Cebu.

Before the celebrations started, there was a preview of the imposing new structure that will house the Casino Espaņol in early 2004. The basement parking, several floors, walls and a lot more are already in place.

Casino Espaņol president Edmundo Misa welcomed Ambassador Sagaz and Sr. Galvan, as did the vice president, Manuel Guanzon, who is in charge of the committee within the board.

Also joining the welcome party were former president Luis Moro, who is now director of cultural activities, Jose Sala, who is also with the building design committee, and other officers like secretary Edgar Gica, treasurer Angel Veloso, house chair Bunny Pages and sports director Michael Miranda, who gave his cell phone more than an occasional glance.

The reason? His wife, Ruth, was delivering their second daughter at that moment.

Witty homily

The actual observance was held at 6 p.m. at the temporary quarters of Casino Espaņol in the Garcia-Escaņo mansion. Ambassador and Mrs. Sagaz were in places of honor during the mass officiated by Msgr. Achilles Dakay, who gave an emotive as well as witty homily.

On display was a replica of a statue of Our Lady of the Pillar as venerated in Zaragosa, Spain. Around it were masses of white flowers sent in by devotee Edwina Johnston Veloso.

After the mass, there was brief program, during which Ed Misa made a toast to Spain and Ambassador Sagaz responded with a toast to the Philippines as he presented Ed with a book about "Islas Filipinas." Needless to say, Cebu figures prominently in the book.

There were more toasts made, especially "Viva Casino Espaņol," at the various areas of the celebration-the terrace, front porch, bar, dining salon and the Cervantes hall upstairs.

Gema Luisa Pido, the Casino's food consultant, and club manager Rudy Rubi, were congratulated for the excellent spread-tortillas, paellas, cocretas, pave asado, etc.-and for the efficient service. More than 20 cases of Gabriel Palmer's excellent wines from Valdepe¤as were available and when that ran out, he just went to his Bona Vi¤a shop to get more.

Next morning, Ignacio and Aurora Sagaz were on a tour that brought them to Magellan's monument in Mactan, plus enough time to spend exploring the Shangri-La resort there.

Out to welcome them were assistant GM Daniele Vastolo and front office manager Gwen de la Cruz.

They were back at their splendid accommodations at the Cebu City Marriott Hotel by 5 p.m. in preparation for what awaited them in the evening.

This was a Filipino dinner at the home of Teresing Mendezona, organized by the Arts Council for Ambassador and Mrs. Sagaz, Sr. Galvan and members of the Barcelona Guitar Quartet who arrived that day.

Helping Teresing were Arts Council president Petite Garcia, vice president Vivina Chiu Yrastorza, the quartet event chair Chinggay Utzurrum, Herme and Fe Villarica, Marissa Fernan, Elvira Lu Ym and Jaime Chua.

Call it a coincidence, but when the full moon rose to drench the terrace in silver moonlight, the arrival of the Barcelona Quartet -- Jaime Abad, Teresa Folgue, Francisco Pareja and Jordi Paredes -- was announced.

With niceties exchanged and chilled white wine sipped, dinner was announced. Place cards told everyone where to sit in tables draped in midnight blue satin and heaped with masses of orchids in every color imaginable.

Lanterns formed by exotic sarongs lit up the table with subtle reflections. Ornate porcelain from Imperial China drew compliments from everyone.

There were more exclamatory remarks at the sight of the buffet, where a flowing fountain tinkled through nacre shells and more orchids, and a typical Cebuano spread was laid out.

The buffet was topped by a crispy lechon flavored with a stuffing of aromatic herbs, rendering liver sauce redundant.

On the third day of Ambassador Sagaz's visit, he made official calls to Gov. Pablo Garcia and Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama, who presented him with the golden key to the city.

Afterwards, the ambassador and Mrs. Sagaz had to leave that evening as a poetry reading in honor of Pablo Neruda awaited them in Manila.

Great delicacy

Javier Galvan remained for the Barcelona Guitar Quartet concert held at the City Sports Club Cebu near Ayala Center, which was filled to capacity. Javier happily said that this was one more time the Arts Council and Instituto Cervantes collaborated in bringing the best of Spain to Cebu.

The performance that ensued more than corroborated that. With great delicacy of touch, the quartet went through four "Danzas Espa¤olas" by Granados-Andaluza, Zambra, Villanesca and Aragonesa, followed by Albeniz-Cadiz, Cordoba and Sevilla.

The second part of the program featured works by Manuel de Falla-"El Amor Brujo," Danza Espa¤ola I from "La Vida Breve" and three selections from "El Sombrero de Tres Picos."

The last piece had the most fire in it, and such was the applause from the audience that the artists obliged with two encores.


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