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August 18, 2013

Baguio Honors Former US Ambassador Harry Thomas in Farewell Golf Tourney

A tribute luncheon was held for outgoing United States (US) Ambassador Harry K. Thomas, Jr. at the US Ambassador’s House, just a few meters away from the Camp John Hay (CJH) clubhouse, as he bids the Philippines goodbye.

Despedida For Amb Thomas - CJH GC (10) 2

Amb. Harry Thomas with Camp John Hay Development Corp. Chairman Robert John L. Sobrepeña

The send-off lunch and coinciding golf tournament, hosted by CJH Group Chairman Robert John L. Sobrepena, was attended by a cross-section of local and national government officials, past and present; multinational executives; local and Manila-based businessmen; representatives of civic associations, academe, media and the growing Korean community; as well as  longtime Baguio townsfolk.

The well-loved US Ambassador, who says ‘he clearly loves Baguio’, will vacate his post as emissary to the Philippines sometime next month and has accepted a teaching fellowship at the Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona, USA, where he will build a home with Filipina girlfriend, Mithi Aquino.

He had his last tour of the challenging layout where holes have crazy monikers like the par 4 9th, which is called the “Crow’s Fly” because of a straight and narrow fairway.

Among those present at the tournament to bid farewell to the outgoing US Ambassador after the sumptuous luncheon tribute in his honor, which was prepared by chef Billy King, were Baguio Congressman Nicasio Aliping; Baguio Mayor Mauricio Domogan, Vice Mayor Daniel Fariñas and eight members of the city council [Bobby Ortega, Elmer Datuin, Fred Bagbagen, Leandro Yangot, Richard Cariño, Elaine Sembrano, Betty Lourdes Tabanda and Joel Alangsab]; former Congressman Bernardo Vergara; former University of Baguio president Herr Bautista; Texas Instruments executives Jed Hortaleza, Mar Bustos and Bogs Abudo; SITEL Phil. COO Michael Lee; former Navy chief Mateo Mayuga; AFP Col. Francis Lardizabal; Baguio Country Club’s Louie Sison; and opinion writer and publisher Babe Romualdez.

Also there to wish Thomas well were Mr. Susing Pineda, Dr. Pier Luigi and Vangie Vitalini, Rene and Liza Rondez, Nanette and Andy Filler, Bong Tabora, Jeong Sek Jun, Rudy Lockey, Park Jong Won, Dai Tsuchiya, Inoc Laranang and former Baguio councilor Bong Mandapat.

Mr. Sobrepena presented Ambassador Thomas, who wore a traditional Ifugao headdress, with a farewell token described as an Igorot wooden carving/artwork – a tribute to Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal. The artwork, which is made up of recycled materials, old narra wood, old coins and empty bullet shells, is a masterpiece of a local Cordillera native sculptor/artist.

The traditional Ifugao headdress, which is traditionally worn by clan chiefs during a special ritual, comes from the Ifugao people in Northern Philippines. It is a grass-woven frame decorated with feathers and ornaments such as tusks, beaks and wooden figures.

Host Bob Sobrepena scored 45 stableford points to win the send-off golf tournament in honor of Thomas. Mr. Jimmy Borromeo nipped former University of Baguio President Herr Bautista to take second honors, with the latter relegated to third place in the event that drew 53 players, mostly government officials and regulars at the par-69 golf course originally designed by American armed forces members before the last world war.

Texas Instruments’ Mar Bustos had the longest drive at hole 17, while Jeong Sek Jun had the closest the pin award at the 18th and Susing Pineda with the most accurate drive at the 3rd hole in the event hosted by the CJH Group of  Companies.

Other top scorers were: physician Ed Montenegro (43 points), businessman Andy Filler (43),  Bustos (42), former councilor and Department of Transportation and Communications – Cordillera director Bong Mandapat (41), lawyer Rudy Lockey (41), retired architect Park Jong Won of Korea (40), CJH DevCo director Peng Perez de Tagle (40), Dai Tsuchiya (40), Baguio Country Club director Luis Sison (40), physician Inoc Laranang (40) and Liza Rondez (40).

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Send off Golf Tournament for Amb. Harry Thomas (5th from right) hosted by Camp John Hay DevCo Chairman Bob Sobrepeña (middle), with CJH DevCo’s Rafael “Peng” de Tagle (to Mr. Sobrepeña’s left), CJH DevCo EVP Boysie Yñiguez (to Amb. Thomas’ right) and golf tournament participants.

Some 35 raffle prizes in the form of gift certificates courtesy of event sponsors CJH DevCo, CJH Manor, CJH Forest Lodge, CJH Golf Club, Le Chef at the Manor, John Hay Coffee Services, Mario’s Restaurant – Baguio and Hill Station Restaurant were given out.

Bon Voyage, Mr. Ambassador! Good luck and we wish you all the best!

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