No, the Emperor of Japan wasn’t there, but Ambassador Makoto Katsura and his wife Yasuko Katsura as well as Consul Okasima Toschio made us feel he was there to celebrate his birthday and the long years of friendship between Japan and the Philippines.

Ambassador Katsura cited how the cultural and economic ties between the two countries continue to accelerate and even hopes to recover the No.1 slot in tourism arrivals in Cebu, which is now presently held by Korea. Well, our stakeholders have been working hard to sustain this partnership.

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On behalf of Gov. Gwen Garcia, the equally vibrant lady chair of the Province Tourism Committee, Board Member Agnes Magpale, was the best person to give the response considering that she has been privy to many projects of Cebu and Japan, specifically, through the East Asian Inter-regional Forum where Tottori, Japan has a bilateral partnership with the Province of Cebu.

I Love You, Goodbye

This Metro Manila Film Festival entry (I Love You, Goodbye) fits how some of us feel about the retirement of two exponents of tourism in Cebu, namely, Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Patria Aurora “Dawnie” Roa and DOT Usec Phineas Alburo. In their own realms, both contributed greatly in placing Cebu in the local and global map, working 24 hours or more, to attend to multifarious projects. They are both hard acts to follow.

To Dawnie, our love and gratitude.Yes, gratitude! Despite the stressful nature of her work where she had to cope with sometimes unpredictable circumstances, she opened opportunities for the tour and travel key players not only to make them active partners of the industry, but also to help them sustain their projects, be it professional or personal.

Phineas was always around to support and give advice.

University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) remembers him to be one of us who organized our Hotel and Restaurant Management (HRM) and Tourism departments. Very cool-headed and approachable, Phineas will still be active as a consultant in tourism. So, it is not yet goodbye for Phineas, but till we meet again. Dawnie is getting invitations to lend her expertise as consultant. So, our paths will cross again.

When I retired (though not completely, since am still connected with USJ-R as cultural and community consultant and adviser of the original USJ-R Dramatics and Cultural Ensemble-Amparito Lhuillier scholars), I realized who my genuine friends were.

Up to now, they are my loyal supporters. Phineas and Dawnie will surely rediscover the same and sadly, they might find out that some of those who had a great time with them in the prime of their leadership, will fade out to seek other shelters.

That’s what life is all about! On the more positive note, both Dawnie and Phineas are taking their time to enjoy what they missed when they were both buried in work, work, work!

Meanwhile, Lita Urbina and friends are tendering a “despedida merienda” for Dawnie at 4 p.m. today at Laguna Garden.

Morning becomes Rica

As refreshing as morning dew (said a media colleague) is the new DOT 7 Director Rica Bueno (meaning rich and good).

She faces the Year of the Tiger with a rich background in tourism and good attitude. Dawnie is vouching for her ability and creativity and thinks she will be “a good tourism boss.”

Some describe Dawnie and Rica as completely different, yet, complementing each other. While Dawnie is very vocal and strongly assertive but gets things done, Rica, some observe, is calm as cucumber and a silent, indefatigable worker, who knows her job perfectly. Well, if Manny Pacquiao will have it, “you know,” will see how things go! I am convinced that tourism in Cebu was and will be in good hands.