Calling it a “time of wisdom,” the Cebu city government went down memory lane last night and honored 75 “families of distinction” who have contributed to the growth of the city and made Cebu their home.
The list of guests in the testimonial dinner read like a who’s who in Cebu’s history, politics, business and social life.
“Wherever these families were 75 years ago and even beyond, they have done their share in making what Cebu City is now,” said Mayor Michael Rama, whose clan was one of the awardees as descendants of Sen. Vicente Rama, the father of the Cebu City Charter.
Plaques of recognition were handed out to family representatives who were called to the stage of the grand ballroom of the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Lahug.
The list included clans of the Aboitiz, Osmeña, Cuenco, Go, Gasiano, Diola, Almendras and others.
The testimonial dinner, which also honored outstanding individuals and institutions, was the main highlight of the 75th Charter Day celebration.
“We believe that this time is the time of wisdom, the time of praise, the time of harvest and the prime time of life,” said Dr. Lourdes “Odette” Jereza, chairperson of the selection committee, who explained the rationale of the search for 75 families.
The project “Pinanggang Sugbuanong Banay” started in September 2011 with the acceptance of nominations based on two criteria.
The family must have residency in the city since 1937. And at least three members must have made significant contributions to the city’s development.
“Like trees, we grow in different directions but our roots keep us together in Cebu City,” said Jereza.
The Osmeña clan was represented by former Cebu City vice mayor Renato Osmeña and his nephew, Mariano, son of former Cebu governor Emilio Osmeña. Noticeably absent from the affair was Rep. Tomas Osmeña, former mentor and now chief critic of Rama. The former mayor said he had another commitment that evening. His wife Margot, a city councilor, also didn’t attend.
Corazon Luna Rama del Prado, the only surviving child of the late Don Vicente Rama, received the plaque on behalf of the Rama clan. She was accompanied by celebrity couple Anabelle Rama and Eddie Gutierrez and lawyer Mikel Rama, the mayor’s son.
Businessman Xavier “Txabi” Aboitiz received the plaque for his clan. Others who came forward to be recognized on behalf of their families included:
Antonio Cuenco, former south district congressman; Msgr. Achilles Dakay and Fr. Carmelo Diola.
Businessman Joseph Gaisano and Consul Enrique Benedicto; Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Almendras Magpale and her brother Rene Almendras, the secretary of energy; Rep. Rachel “Cutie” del Mar of the city’s north district. Businessman Augusto Go and his wife, Elizabeth Go, received the plaque for the Go Tiaoco clan; Michel and Amparo Lhuillier with Margie Lhuillier.
Nominations were received from barangays, informants and based on a review of published articles. Every month, six to seven families from the roster of 75 will be formally recognized from March until January 2013. They will be feted in a clan reunion, memorials, lectures and photo exhibits. City Hall-sponsored reunions will be held every third week of the month. Plans are ahead for a coffee table book so that “the families will leave their trademark, a legacy that will last forever.”
At least 63 of the 75 families confirmed their attendance in the dinner at noon.
“We were able to reach all of them, but 63 have so far confirmed their presence at the testimonial dinner. But we are confident that all of them will come,” said Glenda Gabuya, OIC of the Cultural Historical Affairs Commission (CHAC), which led the search.
The P400,000 testimonial dinner was a major outlay in this year’s P3.9-million Charter Day budget.
The city welcomed all members of the invited clan regardless of their number.
“The mayor didn’t want to limit their number because he said that this is supposed to be their night,” said Gabuya.
The awards were handed out by the mayor and city councilors Sisinio Andales, Noel Wenceslao, Ronald Cuenco, John Philip Po, Raul Alcoseba, Leah Japson, Ritchie Osmeña, Edu Rama, roberto Cabarrubias and Edgar Labella.
There were no representatives for the Abellanosa, Gothong, Kabahar and Ludo-Luym clans.
Councilor Rodrigo Abellanosa in a text message to Cebu Daily News said the mayor invited him to accept the award for the Abellanosa clan “but I declined because it will be awkward to do so after he declared it improper for a city councilor to receive a Charter Day award—whether for ACT or for the clan. What’s the difference to him? I do not want to put him in a double-standard situation.” /By Doris C. Bongcac, Chief of Reporters