A SPECIAL ISSUE
The scene, I thought, was ironic. Raki Vega, a principal vocalist in Hong Kong Disneyland and a lead in its newest top crowd- drawer “Mickey’s Wondrous Book,” was trying hard to hold back tears as she talked about missing her loved ones. She was perhaps the saddest person in the happiest place on earth— but she wasn’t the only one.
There was also Ronny Fortich who has been the musical director for the famed amusement park since it began 10 years ago, and principal vocalist Gian Magdangal who lives away from his seven-year-old son. Then there are the many other Filipinos who are making families other than their own happy and duly entertained.
Last Nov. 17, though, the entire Pinoy cast and crew members living in Hong Kong Disneyland couldn’t be any happier than a kid allowed to let loose in the park when they enjoyed an early Noche Buena that was thrown and hosted by the company. It’s the first time such a festivity was held throughout its decadelong run, and the recognition of the Filipino talent as well the timing couldn’t have been any more perfect, as Hong Kong Disneyland is celebrating a milestone: its 10th anniversary.
They say that food and travel go together like love and marriage, but I believe the equation wouldn’t be complete without good service. The hospitality industry is responsible for this. From food and accommodation services to arts and entertainment, the business of making people happy is one that Filipinos seem to really thrive in. And it was very evident during the “A Happily Ever After Christmas Celebration,” when the five Pinoy chefs in the Disneyland kitchen served us a delicious Noche Buena feast of sinigang na hipon, sweet- style spaghetti, pancit bihon, queso de bola, leche flan, glazed ham, and lechon, and the performers kept us in good company with their rendition of traditional Christmas carols that got the executives on their feet and dancing to the jolly tunes.
The highlight of the party, though, was when individuals were called on stage and treated to a big surprise: an unexpected visit from their families. Dance captain Marvin Naadat was floored when his wife Lhedda and daughters Maia and Mavie flew in from Singapore to spend the night with him. So was Fortich, who was tricked into thinking he would be playing music for his favorite singer, only to see his whole family entering through the doors. Like “Mickey’s Wondrous Book” and the “Disney in the Stars” fireworks, Disneyland sure knows how to put on a show.
In this F& B Report issue, we scoured the whole country for stories that perfectly marry food and travel— from the coconut crabs in Batanes to the Tausug cuisine in Tawi- Tawi. The team also headed out and brought home features from neighboring Japan to the far regions of Africa and Scandinavia. Yet while we have savory dishes and equally delicious landscape photos, what our pages don’t show are the generous people who have made these stories possible and truly memorable, like the Abads who showed us the beauty of Batanes and Pacita ( both the artist and the lodge), and the many Filipinos I met in Hong Kong Disneyland who have left more of a mark on me than the mascots.
This issue is rightfully called special because of all of you.