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PIA Press Release

Cebuanos giddy over their "coming out party"

CEBU CITY (6 December) -- Four days before the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit gets going here Sunday, Cebuanos are starting to feel agog over what they call their "coming out party."

Everything in this Queen City of the South is in a frenzy.

Construction crew putting the finishing touches to the brand-new Cebu International Convention Center is working round the clock with the personal supervision of Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia herself.

Hotels, from five stars to pensions, are starting to get filled. Media men from various countries in the region have begun to pour in. Even the posh Shangri-La Mactan Island's Resort and Spa where the leaders of the participating countries will be billeted is a beehive of activity.

At least 16 leaders, including those from rich countries like Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and China, are coming for the big affair.

One can feel the enthusiasm of the Cebuanos as they go about their daily routine in anticipation of this rare opportunity of hosting an international event.

Ricardo Andal, a cab driver of 10 years, considers the four-day summit as an honor for Cebu which has always played second fiddle to Manila in terms of hosting events of this magnitude.

"At least now we will be able to show the world what Cebu can offer," Andal said in Cebuano.

Although griping about the traffic, Felix Algones, shared Andal's view. "We are affected but it is okay because this is for the visitors," he said of the dry runs that marked the early preparation for the summit.

Algones said that Cebuanos are warm and hospitable people and "we are only too willing to welcome the ASEAN delegates and the other guests, including the foreign journalists."

No less than Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeņa echoed their sentiments. "Whatever inconveniences you experience, let it be. We have to show our best effort to behave and cooperate," he said.

There are also those, however, who don't exactly share most of the Cebuanos' sentiments. And most of them are not from Cebu. They are members of militant groups coming mostly from Manila who have vowed to make a scene during the summit for their own ends.

But the city mayor, as well as the common Cebuano folks, will not be deterred. They won't let protesting visitors get in the way, much more shame them in their own backyard.

In the words of 12th ASEAN Summit spokesman Victoriano Lecaros, "It's their coming out party and they won't let anybody spoil it." (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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