Cesar Montano charms thousands of Zamboangueños

By Nickie Wang

Cesar MontanoIf the elections were held on Oct. 11 in Zamboanga, and Cesar Montano was running for a political post in the province, he would have possibility won the majority of people’s vote.

But the big day was an annual festival and not a political event. It only so happen that thousands of Zamboangueños were celebrating the culmination of Hermosa Festival, and Buboy (as he is fondly called in showbiz) was fortunate enough to be the man of the day. In fact, Defense secretary and presidential aspirant Gilbert Teodoro was also there, but resounding cheers by a ten thousand crowd for Buboy was simply a tough act for him to follow.

Buboy arrived in Zamboanga City early morning. He flew all the way from Cebu to meet the entertainment press in Zamboanga International Airport. Right at the airport, we couldn’t help but to stay on the side and just follow Buboy because almost everyone there was cheering Buboy’s name, they even chanted Singing Bee, Singing Bee.

The title of the primetime program had become some sort of a mantra that morning. That alone proves that the actor and host is a prominent personality, he is indeed a superstar.

He went to Zamboanga not to do an early campaigning; he is not even eyeing any government seat in the place because he has already expressed his intention to run as governor in Bohol.

Apart from joining the locals in celebrating the annual festival, Buboy was in the province to have an official visit at the canning factory of Ayala Seafoods Corp., maker of Mega Sardines.

After a hearty breakfast in a hotel in Zamboanga City, Mega Fishing vice president for sales and marketing Mark Tiu Lim, who was with us attending to our every small need, discussed the activities ahead of us that day.

First pit stop

Having set the standard for excellence throughout the years, Mega Sardines has been the recipient of many major certifications in the industry. Ayala Seafoods Corp. is a HACCP compliant and USFDA approved, not to mention being the only local sardines canning factory that is EU and ISO accredited.

Buboy almost served us as our tour guide when we arrived at Mega Pier in Cawit (yes, the Mega Fishing owns a pier and 55 fishing vessels equipped with sonar fish finders).  He directed us to the state-of-the-art fish pump that hauls tons of tamban fish from the fishing vessels and into the thermal bins, meaning there’s no manual work involved. Mega Fishing has this unique process called “from catching to canning.” And we saw how the company performs the process.

At the pier, Buboy was mobbed by fans and employees. The actor stayed for a while for the people who were asking to shake his hands and take pictures with him. The actor greeted them with small talks and all smiles.

Chilling inside the ice plant

Chilling inside the ice plant

After the tour at the pier, we headed to the ice plant. According to Tiu Lim, the company had to build its own ice plant to accommodate the demands of the whole factory. Mega Fishing solves its problem in big possible ways (before a pier, now an ice plant, tin can production might be the next). The plant is the biggest in Mindanao and supports local ice demand in Zamboanga.

Then, we headed to the canning factory. As usual, Buboy was mobbed by excited employees waiting for him. We thought that the factory has a different sound that echoes throughout the plant. But when we got inside the factory, we found out that the machines were actually quite and the strange sound we heard from the outside was the cheers of hundreds of employees that couldn’t help but scream even with just a glimpse of Buboy who was the first one to enter the factory,

Dolly Anne Carvajal, Nickie Wang, and Manila Bulletin's Kaye Villagomez

Dolly Anne Carvajal, Nickie Wang, and Manila Bulletin's Kaye Villagomez

Right inside the canning area, we saw how the fish are packed and cooked, and how sanitation and hygiene are strictly observed along the process. We had to wear a suit similar to the gown worn by doctors and nurses (as described by the author who wore it), a cap with hair net, and a pair of boots. Before entering the area, we were asked to wash our hands and remove jewelry or anything small in our body that might fall inside the cans (who would want a diamond earring in his sardines?).

Confident about how the factory operates business, one of the officials told us that anyone can visit the plant and have a tour inside the canning facility anytime. The official even said that Ayala Seafoods is the only sardines’ factory that allows guests to see the nobbing process (removal of heads and tails) up to the cooking and packing of the product.

When we were told that Mega Sardines is the best in the market, we were quite skeptical. We were told that once we have toured the whole place, and compared the taste and quality of other brands, Mega Sardines will be the only sardines we would tell our families to buy (the author did when he got back in Manila).

Buboy’s dream for Bohol

After about two hours of touring the entire plant, we had the chance to have a small chat with Cesar Montano before he headed to a parade (but we still accompanied him in the motorcade). He was still accommodating despite being under the sun for hours, talking to a lot of people and the usual picture taking opportunities with eager fans.

Buboy is determined to run as governor in the island province of Bohol in 2010 elections. He will be up against congressmen from the province who are in their last terms. “The incumbent vice governor of Bohol is also a strong rival,” he said.

In a previous interview with the Standard Today, the actor said, “The island of Bohol is a tourist zone, I’m in [the] film business. Movie is a great and a very powerful medium to elevate the tourism of an island.”

Now Buboy’s plans for the province expands by including building decent hospitals, regulating the fishing industry, and focusing on upgrading the education system.

“I want to bring the quality education in Manila to Bohol, and hopefully we could build more preparatory schools. One of the problems in Bohol is the unregulated fishing in some marine sanctuaries. Alam naman nating nakakaapekto ito sa marine ecosystem ng probinsiya. Ilan yan sa mga gusto kong pagtuunan ng pansin kung sakaling mahalal sa pwesto.”

His gubernatorial bid is his second attempt to enter politics. Buboy, Cesar Manhilot in real life, failed to secure a senatorial seat in 2007. After formally filing his certificate of candidacy, Buboy will have to leave Singing Bee, his current television show aired every Saturday and Sunday.

“It’s so sad because we are extended for another season and I have to quit showbiz for the mean time to dedicate my time campaigning,” he said.

Apart from his political plan, Buboy is busy with the pre-production process of his two films, one being Dagohoy and the other one a drama movie.

The Entertainment press in a junket in Zamboanga (Image: Ian Farinas)

Members of the Entertainment Press in a junket in Zamboanga (from left): Mario Dumaual, Lea Salterio, Kaye Villagomez, Salve Asis, Ian Fariñas, Shirley Pizzaro, Dolly Anne Carvajal, Bot Glorioso, Jojo Panaligan, and Nickie Wang (Image: Ian Fariñas)

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