As we conclude the program (and mindful of the catastrophic plague which the world is experiencing on account of corona virus), I wish to express my thanks to Divine Providence for allowing me to celebrate my birthday right at the venue where the Banaue Heritage Hotel and Museum is situated and where the purchase of the artifacts displayed thereto would be considered as one of my two (2) bucket lists to be realized during my lifetime. The other one is to visit outer space. The latest and third (3rd) bucket list is for the situation to return to normalcy.
I wish to thank you for predominantly wearing red consistent with the color of Rex Group and the San Beda University where at this point in time I am one of the officers of the San Beda University Alumni Association.
I originally invited Father Aloysius Maranan, OSB, the Father Rector and President of the San Beda University, to preside the blessing of the Banaue Heritage Hotel and Museum but he begged off only yesterday on account of the Proclamation of the State of Emergency as he would not want to be included in any possible lockout.
Paralled with my role as one of the officers of the San Beda University Alumni Association, I would have extended thanks to Father as he had always provided us with time to bless the humble structures which were built by the Rex Group during the preceding seven (7) to eight (8) years.
I am, however, thankful that we are similarly privileged to seek the presence of Father Antonio Jr. F. Fangkingan to preside the blessing of the Hotel and Museum to be followed by the Ifugao ceremonial rites equally seeking Divine Intercession.
May I express thanks also to the local dignitaries in the persons of Mayor John Raymund Wesley A. Dulawan as well as the representative from the Office of Congressman Changalao – Chief of Staff Atty. Edmond Kindipan) for welcoming us to have a place in Banaue which is the site of the UNESCO World Heritage Site or the Eighth Wonder of the World – the Ifugao Rice Terraces.
The complex was originally owned by Dr. and Mrs. Schenck who initiated the collections of the Museum and placed descriptions thereto and that the same was originally called the Sculptural Museum. I was privileged to acquire ownership of the place predominantly based on the suggestion of Associate Fe Ida – wife of Egoy who was the adopted son and heir apparent of the Schenks with the title registered under his name immediately prior to the purchase and that his remains are thankfully buried within the premises of the complex to spiritually protect the occupants of the place.
Fe could have felt that due to my propensity to buy varying types of antique Cordillera items every now and then during the preceding several years, I was presumed to have developed a deep interest in the preservation of Cordillera heritage.
In view of the perceived purity of my intention to preserve the same, it was thought that logically I should be the one to purchase the Museum over that of other buyers. The decision to sell was done two (2) years ago thus it took me also two (2) years to complete the payment of the property drop by drop.
Due to the huge and diversified presence of numerous artifacts coming from the different parts of the Cordilleras which would serve as an immediate preview of the varying cultures of the Cordillleras as they move forward thereto, we named the complex with the help of Consultant Mari : “The Banaue Heritage Hotel and Museum -Your Gateway to the Cordilleras.”
To further impart artistic and cultural influences to the Hotel we have tapped the services of widely acclaimed be it here and abroad Visual Artist Leo Aguinaldo who is currently based in Baguio.
I am thankful to Architect Albert Pazon, 2Cs Construction through Architect Owen Calma, Electrical Engineer Senen Balingit and Son, Project Coordinator Eugene Bustamante for the renovation and face lifting of the erstwhile structure.
To operationalize the operation and management aspects of the project we have tapped the services of Mari Hilario of the Club Bulakeño fame.
To respond to the requirements of foreign travelers we have tapped the talents and services of a recommendee of Danda who is likewise a Rex book author, a top consultant of first-class hotels here and abroad in the person of Vic Alcuaz . Mr. Alcuaz is still desirous of further improving the structure to merit lending his name as consultant to the design of the structure.
Lastly, but more importantly the project would not have reached this far without the support and input of Don (with inspiration from Lenny), Danda and the Bufon family.
It may be asked on why I and/or the family have strong attachment to the Cordilleras.
At the outset on my part due to economic limitation the aspiration to visit Baguio had long been my dream. There were occasions in the past that I, together with friends would courageously go to Baguio without financial means.
In high class hotels, they would await when people would sleep where they would sleep in the cold baldozas and would wake up before those people would wake up.
During daytime they would visit Burnham Park trying to show to the outside world that the Manila rich kids had arrived in Burnham to enjoy life which admittedly was the height of fakery or dishonest showoffs in trying to level up with the affluent.
There was one occasion also when we hired a house in Aurora Hills without realizing that occupants were not in an orderly state of mind prompting us to leave immediately. Other challenges prevailed.
These challenges, however, provided with the impetus to work hard, to save and to aspire to have dignified existence with the support of Divine Help principally guided on my part by the Benedictine ideals of Ora et Labora.
In later life with the help of Divine Providence, business improved thus we were firstly privileged to put up a three (3) story residential house in Pucay Village.
Thereafter we were privileged to put up a nine story ladies dorm called Rex Hall as well as to accommodate the Rex Book Store Baguio which is beside both the St. Louis School and the Baguio Cathedral.
This time we were privileged to acquire the Museum displaying the rich cultural Cordillera heritage together with the renovated boutique hotel that would prayerfully merit the patronage not only of our citizenry but foreign clients as well.
Marami pong salamat. That in all things God may be glorified….