Celebrating their family and their people

CTALK - Cito Beltran - The Philippine Star

He was Lolo first, magician second and resort owner last.

I assumed that as the chief executive of Bluewater Resorts, “Dodong” Alegrado, would be all business. But right off the bat he made it clear that he was familiar with what I wrote and without nary a thought he immediately asked for the low down on what I knew about “Gout”! Clearly he was a kindred soul in a common battle against pain caused by a common love for rich foods long banned by our physicians and spouses. He showed no interest in talking about the business or trade; he wanted to know how he could be rid of the curse called gout so he could carry on eating his favored meats like the Cebu lechon. After our short “consultation” I walked to my cottage chuckling at the encounter with the big boss of Bluewater Resorts Arcadio “Dodong” Alegrado.

Later in the evening he told his guests that he used to be able to “magically” stop the afternoon showers by checking the weather forecast in advance, but this afternoon, the heavens mocked him by literally raining on his parade; the 25th anniversary of a business that was not meant to be, a business that has expanded into 3 top class island resorts, owning 7 properties in 6 provinces, and a resort management consultancy firm. Today things may be all wet but he managed to be a sport about it and enjoyed the small company of people invited to the event. He stood with umbrella in one hand regaling guests about the past, the present, and his beloved family.

Each member would be called out, even the toddlers. There was Julie who worked more behind the scenes as president and CEO while her sister June was the bubbly global ambassador of the company. There were brothers, nephews, nieces, spouses and grandchildren, almost everyone having something to do with the many businesses, while others were abroad studying or being groomed for future positions. Finally it came time to recognize the officers and staff who’ve been with the company for a decade or two, all of them equally appreciated as much as the family members were. Among them were Rhyz Buac and Margie Munsayac, the company’s two senior vice presidents who’ve been through it all. As Dodong put it: “They are our secret weapon.”

That scene eerily reminded me of Anthony Hopkins in the movie “Meet Joe Black” as he gave his “birthday speech,” recognizing all the people that mattered, while showering them with verbal affection. Even before Dodong Alegrado spoke, I was already watching him with envy from a distance earlier in the evening. With no words spoken he sat on a white   chair, hugging and being hugged by his beautiful grand-daughter Izzara who stood beside him. It was the picture-perfect portrayal of the biblical phrase that tells us “Blessed is the man who gazes upon his children’s children.” Here before me was a man and his family who showed their “Pride of place,” proud of family and just as proud of what their employees and industry partners have achieved in 25 years.

In terms of big anniversaries it was quite different. Yes there were important visitors, a diplomat or two in the mix; many white skinned fair-haired people speaking different languages and dialects. But instead of  “expats” and “foreigners” I came to meet true “Cebuanos” who may have been “white” on the outside as in Dutch, British, German, Middle Eastern or French, but they were as Cebuano and as Bisaya, some born and bred on the island, and proud of it. This bunch gave a new meaning to the term “The Beautiful People of Cebu.”

There were also several well-known media personalities, a couple of local politicians and as the special treat, we listened to the talented University of Cebu Chorus. If that was not enough the evening would be capped by a memorable performance by Maestro Ryan Cayabyab and his extremely talented group of singers. Even the food was special, representing the 3 main Islands of the Philippines prepared by 3 sets of world-class chefs brought together for Bluewater’ 25th anniversary.

It’s amazing to consider that this chain of world class island resorts started out as a simple family vacation place and has grown to an internationally know family resort destination. I guess that’s what “Family” can achieve.

*      *      *

Someone once asked me why I was visiting a certain politician in jail. The same person asked what benefit was there in being a “spiritual adviser” to a repeat offender? That person is now also in jail but unlike the repeat offender, I have no access to the latter.

When Robin Padilla went to the state penitentiary, I could not find the courage to visit him because I did not want to see him in such a state, and I did not want him to feel bad. But after he came out I got to interview him and when I confessed my sentiments he readily excused me, but also emphasized that it would have made a big difference. That was a turning point for me and partly the reason why I dedicated 4 years visiting Erap Estrada on many Fridays to lead Bible studies with him. Some people felt it was a waste of time, some people openly disliked me for it, some people took it against me when I refused to compromise the confidentiality of our meetings.

There were times when I actually wondered what the point was. Maybe if someone knew and visited Robin Williams every Friday he’d still be alive. Maybe if someone spent time to pray with and pray for certain people in business and government, things would be much better. To paraphrase Patch Adams a.k.a Robin Williams: Death is not the disease we should be concerned with, it’s indifference.


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