F&B World - - EDITOR’S NOTE -

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.

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