Cebu City – Food and Service
Across the street from our team hotel was a crummy little restaurant that raked in business from the U.S. and British teams. As they say in real estate: Location, Location, Location.
There was a steady steam of jaywalking to and from the hotel lobby, and anytime you wanted to find a companion, this was the logical place to look. At first the U.S. team sat at one or two tables in the back, and when they arrived, the British sat at another. When they first showed up, with their shaved heads, we wondered if they were skinhead thugs, but once we got to know them, there was a lot of socializing over meals. Bobby Breen, the British team leader, had been undergoing chemotherapy, so I guess his buddies shaved their heads to show support and unity.
Many of the Western players had a distinctly bland palate and were content to ingest the same convenient diet over and over, managing to find greasy Americanized dishes on the menu. Some guys went as far as to take taxis in search of fast-food burger joints, and Tom Meadows was delighted to discover a Dunkin Donuts in central Cebu. Just knowing it was there made him feel at home. My wife and I, on the other hand, went exploring in search of local delicacies. I may not be a gourmet, but I certainly enjoy a wide range of foods, so, followng a recommendation, we wound up at the Lighthouse Restaurant, touted as the finest in Cebu.
Arriving by taxi, we entered on a long red carpet under a classic awning. Inside was a bar, live music, and a great variety of food. The two of us ate as much as we could, with beer, for a total of about $5! Figure $25-30 for the same thing here in California. During our meal, several of the big-money promoters of the tournement, such as Ted Javier, Rene Tongson and Enrique Tansipek, walked into the restaurant. They were completely taken by surprise to find us eating there, which certainly didn’t hurt the class status of the American contingent.
Getting travellers checks cashed was a bit of a problem in Cebu. As amazing as it seems, our hotel would or could not change my currency, and the first few banks I went to were also no help. I had to go to a big commercial bank in downtown, not close enough for walking distance. When I got there, the teller asked for 2 forms of picture i.d.! I had my passport, which had been sufficient in many other countries I have visited, but because I had no intention of driving in the Philippines, I had left my license at home to prevent losing it unnecessarily.
I got a bit upset and demanded to talk to a bank officer, so I was shown over to a young woman v.p. She carefully explained the policy of the bank and asked if there was no other idnetification I could produce. On inspiration, I picked up the newspaper on her desk and pointed to my name in the list of competitors for the upcoming event.
Eureka! Suddenly I was a celebrity, which changed everything; my name in print was instant credibility, and from then on every time I needed to change money, I walked directly to the officers’ area and was treated royally! There were several big highs on the trip, but that particular incident was for me a defining moment for the kind of treatment we received.
Jeff “Stickman” Finder