IT'S been 23 years since McDonald’s Session first opened its doors in our beloved City of Baguio, my parents’ place of birth, and mine as well.
Sometime in the mid 1980’s, we heard that SM had purchased the old Pines Hotel on top of Session Road. With a small bakery and grocery, as our only source of livelihood, we felt that our “days were numbered” by the coming of SM.
Thus, we were on the lookout for other business opportunities. In 1988, Coronel Ramos told my late brother Dennis that McDonald’s was looking for a franchisee for Baguio. So we applied, and we were blessed to be accepted. Like over thousands of franchisees worldwide, I went through the same rigorous process of training in preparation for our store. For almost 2 years, I worked in every station of the kitchen, did counter and lobby work, and went through the whole Management Development Program.
Simultaneously, we searched for a possible site for our store. After protracted negotiations with the 7 siblings of the Lam family, we finally had a good site.
I also “concluded” my training at Hamburger University in Oakbrook, Illinois, USA. There, I was awarded class “Archie”, the first Asian Owner-Operator, to achieve that top recognition.
In early 1990, construction of the building started.
Then, the July 16, 1990 earthquake struck! Where was I at that time? I was in the Makati office of Leo Burnett, the ad agency of McDonald’s, planning out the opening of the store. I remember rushing for safety underneath the long conference table together with Arlene Manalo, the marketing head of McDonald’s Philippines. With the intensity of the earthquake, we thought Manila was the epicenter.
With communication lines down and little news coming into Manila, we only found out much later, that it was Baguio that suffered greatly from the intensity 7.7 earthquake. Several major buildings had collapsed and all roads to Baguio were cut off. What added to our anxiety was that we had no news on the safety of our families. Only after about 3 days were our pioneer Team McDo Baguio managers and I, who were all training in Manila, able to climb back up to Baguio thru Naguilian Road. Lin Salcedo Lapitan, now our current operations consultant, was in our small group of around 8 people. On the way up we faced an exodus of people, with fear written all over their faces, going out of our heavily damaged city.
Naturally, construction of the McDo building stopped. The project was in limbo. If native born Baguio people would give up on Baguio, who else would come and invest in our city? Thus, after a few months, our family decided to pursue the project and convince Mr. George Yang about it.
Thus, on March 26, 1991, McDonald’s Session, located in the first new building in Baguio after the earthquake, opened its doors to the people of Baguio.
Time flies! In 1991, I was only 37! Today, I am 60. Actually, almost 61!
Sadly, after 23 years of operation, with a lease contract expiring, but with lots of good memories, we will close our doors on Monday, June 16, 2014.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 says: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven; a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot.”
My Dearest McDonald’s Customers,
On behalf of our family, we thank each of you for allowing us to serve you at McDonald’s Session for 23 years!
We also thank the Lam family and the Yang family for 23 years of friendship and partnership!
To lovingly end this chapter in our lives, we have prepared the following “Closing Activities”, as we invite you to join us in “Pasasalamat for 23 Years” of McDonald’s Session:
June 1-15, 2014
* Feel free to write or post pictures on the Memory Wall at the 2nd floor of McDonald’s Session. (my own memories could fill up the wall, but as my daughter reminded me: “pls. leave space for others”)
* 9-10 a.m. and 2-3 p.m. daily - Picture taking with a McDonald’s Character. Your chance to add a few more good memories!
* 3 p.m. - Buy 1, Take 1, Burger McDo for the first 200 customers.
June 10, 2014:
* “Eat All-You-Can” for Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner
(Get your tickets now! Limited tickets are available.)
June 15, 2014:
* 7 p.m. –Thanksgiving Mass
* 8 p.m. – Free McDonald’s souvenir for the first 500 customers.
WE WILL CONTINUE TO SERVE YOU AT McDONALD’S:
Sunshine * SM * Assumption * Center Mall*
Bonifacio* City Hall-Insular* La Trinidad
AND BY GOD’S GRACE,
MAY WE SOON SERVE YOU AT A NEW SESSION SITE!