Thursday, November 29, 2012

After the Ocean "Adventures" back in the Philippines

Back in Cebu City, now as a proud Yacht Owner !

9 months after I left Cebu City to pick up my Sail Yacht I was finally back. Almost 20.000 km and 10.000 US $. (for those which think, sailing is cheap)
From the six months after I sailed "off" I spend 87 days at other places on land, just 92 days were at Sea.

Right in Time for the Christmas Season and the "big Season Restaurant Business".

Not much time for sailing then, and the Place where i "parked" my yacht wasn't very ideal either.

Ok, it was safely tied up right next on a mooring to the huge Trimaran of Vice Admiral Aznar from the Philippine Coastguard Auxiliary, but to get there i had to drive at least one hour through the entire city and then pay half a Dollar for every person and myself to go 20 meters through a lot along the coast.
That would not be so bad, but the time until someone came to collect was annoying.

Also the surroundings of 5 star hotels and Resorts may sound tempting, but it was also connected with Jetskis zipping around one, motorboats towing parashooters or waterskiing, and a lot of Boats filled with tourists roaming around "sightseeing.

Mactan Island... if someone would have told me in 1986 that this would be filled with hundreds of thousands of Tourists annually from allover the world, I would have maybe laughed at him.
Back then they did not even had a cemented or paved road to the Airport and the only means of Transport was Tricycles. No Taxi !
Not that I mind really, but I like it quiet when sailing or sitting on my Sailyacht.
Again, a good friend, (PBM) Ben Gonzales and luck came into play.
Although my neighbour in the City, he still had lots of ties to his Birthtown Balamban, where he also served as Mayor for many Years.
So he suggested to move the boat and my business to Balamban. Wait a minute... a "fine dining City Resto" into a provincial, that can't be good.

But he grinned and said, "lets go, you will see".
Okay, said and done and next weekend into the cars to visit Balamban. As expected, nothing there, no Restaurant, no Pubs, only one German ( Peter, who became my friend later) and who ran a tip-top clean as a whistle Apartment complex and lodging house. 
He explained the situation. Balamban had a huge Japanese Shipyard, which employed ( now ) 14.000 people. Plus a smaller British Shipyard (now Australian) which build fast Catamaran ferries.
And those people need something to eat and some more quality entertainment, a place to dine and unwind.
Peter the German already had all hands full with his lodging and multiple other things, so the decision was made quick.
To move the Yacht to the Bay ( which was ideal) and the Restaurant also. What could go wrong ?

That was February 2002.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Intermezzo at Sea, another dream of Gunther Vomberg- Oceansailing

When I was 18 or 19 I had the dream to one day buy a Sailyacht and cross Oceanswith it.

Of course this requires Money. Lots of Money, hundred thousands of Euro, a Sailyacht usually costs the equivalent of a Family Home.
However, optimistic as I was and still am, I did not see this as a big problem.
So 20 years later everything became reality.
First the final Migration into a Tropical country, and then the Lucky purchase of a Sailyacht a German On a neighbor Island.
Originally I planned to build that Catamaran, but that is not that easy anymore.
As my friend, the prominent Catamaransailor Wolfgang Hausner, told me.
And he did build his Boat in Cebu in the late 70'.
However,as mentioned, luck came again into my life and I met a German, who had just the right boat for me.
33ft long, 18 ft wide and build in Germany by a renowned Yacht builder.

Only Problem- It was sitting in Crete/Greece since years. The Guy has had it build in 1995 , but never had the time to sail it all the way to the Philippines.

So we flew to Crete and I had a close look. Good and in very sound condition
( It was dry docked for years in the Port of Heraklion) Just a few bits "missing" (stolen over the years) but within a few weeks we could let it into the water.
That's the "happy day event- Last checks and the Rest is done by the Crane. In the end one sits happy in his Boat. Two things i did NOT like. The name Pangadoy( The last Deam) and the color. Yellow/red/ all love for the Philippines, but White is better.. I changed both in Thailand.
So I paid, got the Papers and first flew to Germany to buy some bits and parts.
The former owner promised to sail the boat down to the Middle east where i would join lateron for the Oceancrossing to the Philippines.

A few weeks later the Voyage to the Philippines began...Next Post.. :-)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Guenther Vomberg - First Restaurant in Cebu City.

My first Restaurant in Cebu City. (Photostrecke)

That's the first name, I changed it a few months later into "Crossover Forest Hills"
The Opening Day, I was so nervous again.

I also attached a small "Beergarden" to it. Not everybody likes to sit in a "fine Diner".
Good Live Entertainment - Thanks to my Fraternity brother and good friend Al Evangelio  who helped me to find Young Artists to perform in the Evenings. Some are Big Showstars now. But that is because of Al, not because they performed in my Place ;-)

Customers enjoined it a lot there.
Also some Foreigners came by sometimes, i.e. Juergen Maennchen, (still the best baker in the Philippines) or Dr.Oliver Hill. And always seen, my neighbours and good friends Ben Gonzales and Jun Calvo !
Marit Remonde and Al Evangelio. And lots of other regular Guest.
Flor Streegan, Randy Cabahug, Gino Gonzales..
An my Mother came also in 1999. :-)
 Also was a "Studio" for the TV Series 'Bastonero" in GMA

Guenther Vomberg and the Order of the Knights of Rizal

I thought that this Fraternity deserves an own Post.

So here its is, and a a few Photos also.

As mentioned in the Post about "The Final Migration", I came into contact with some of their illustrious members ( this is how we Knights approach each other officially.)

The Order of the Knights of Rizal is a fine and old Organization, one could say, older than the independent Republik of the Philippines.

The Republic of the Philippines established its only order of Knighthood through Republic Act No. 646 in Honor of the aspirations and ideals of the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. In English it is known as the Knights of Rizal and in Spanish, Orden de Caballeros de Rizal.
Its medal is one of the Philippine orders of merit and recognized by many Governments of the world.
    Order of the Knights of Rizal Medal.gif
    Philippine Merit Medal for KR
  • Order of the Knights of Rizal

This just to clarify the Order in short for so many believing it is just a "club" one can join and leave as it may suit him. And it would also explain why so many Prominent and distinguished Filipinos proudly wear their Order on official Occasions .

The Knighthood Ritual in Heidelberg 1995

 Group Photo in front of the famous Castle in Heidelberg - because of the International Convention of the Knights of Rizal, the City of Heidelberg showed the famous 'Castle in Flames" fireworks TWICE in that year. In memorial of Dr. Jose Rizal and Recognition of the Order !

A few years later in Cebu City, I was exalted to the third degree by our Illustrious Commander Supreme Justice Hilario Davide KGOR.

Who and what are the Knights of Rizal then ? And what are they doing ?

The Supreme Commander of the Order of the Knights of Rizal and the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines during the Re-enactment of the transfer of the mortal remains of our National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

This is a Question we are asked many times by Westerners with their goal oriented mindset. ( I have to admit I asked also )
The answer is not that simple, first one has to understand the Eastern (Mid and far) "Group Goal orientation" culture, whereas the individual sacrifices his personal "fame" and "reward" for that of a group (Family, Community, Nationality)
Hence being a Part (member) of a "Group" means far more than in the Western world.
So becoming invited as a Protege of two Knights  of Rizal is rather an expression of an honor given for ones achievements BEFORE the Invitation.
And not as an Invitation to become active in a Civic Club,as the KoR is a Fraternity and as such is as much "public and openly active" as similar Brotherhoods in the Freemasons or others.

As expressed in the Certificates issued to one when becoming Knighted or exalted to a higher degree.

Degrees of the Order:
1st  degree-  Knight of Rizal, KR
2nd degree-  Knight Officer of Rizal, KOR
3rd  degree-  Knight Commander of Rizal , KCR
4th  dgeree-  Knight Grand Officer of Rizal, KGOR
5th  degree-  Knight Grand Cross of Rizal, KGCR

President Aquino receives his 5th degree KGCR medal

It is a merit given AFTER and the Question of "how to become" a Knight of Rizal is false. One IS or NOT.

There are International Chapters in Canada, Australia and the USA which confer the Knighthood to simple hard working members of the Overseas Community, as well as ALL Ambassadors and Consuls are automatic members of the "Consular Chapter". (If they like, but so far nobody declined this.)

Nowto answer the Question" Who are the Knights of Rizal" one can simply look at the Prominence of its members on the International and local level of its members.
The Question "What are they doing" remains as secretive as in every fraternity. But if Illustrious Gentleman like them meet regular since over a hundred years,  protected by constitutional law R.A 646, it can not be simply ...nothing.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The final Migration 1998..

Finally settling in the Tropical Paradise !

The Years of the Company I formed with a former Sales Employee, the first Integrated Logistics Company in Germany named ALPHA EXPRESS was relatively uncomplicated and because both of us came from the Pioneer Years of Companies like DHL - we really had no problems to organize the Company to make ourselves...not needed.
But this is what they teach at the University. The best Managers are those, which have nothing to do.
So in 95 i saw myself closer to my goal to migrate finally. but i lacked a little of knowledge in the realization of my Plan, to open a Beach Resort/ Hotel.
The "Good Luck" as usual came in the form of a Thai Couple selling their Restaurant to go back home.
Cooking isn't that hard
Deal done, bought Restaurant, ran trough Seminars and Nightschools to get the basics in order to pass the "Cook" and " Restaurant Manager" Exams at the Chamber of Commerce. The Thais taught me and a befriended Guy from Sri Lanka how to cook their specialities ( it's not very hard actually ).

My Irish Pub
Two years into the Restaurant I also opened an Irish Pub next door, just because...
So 8-5pm Forwarding biz, then Restaurant and Irish Pub til late into the night...

I keep telling this story to my fellow Filippinos if they ask me why I am rich...they never ask again.

Not only the future work was to be considered, I also met a lot of very Interesting Filipinos and other affiliates in my activities as Board Member of the Philippines-German Association in Duesseldorf .
I missed the Philippines and this way I stayed a bit closes to the People.

This was very important for me, as I Realized in my years in Manila, that albeit I was living in the Philippines, I was not living WITH Filipinos.

In the many Philosophical Discussion with a former Ambassador and his friends I came into a circle of a Fraternity i have not heard of back then. The Order of the Knights of Rizal, which was formed 1911.
To my surprise one of my old friends in Manila , Hans Schoof from the "Heidelberg Restaurant" in Manila was also a very active Member there.

So in 1995 I was Knighted in where - Heidelberg of course As an extreme liberal minded Person that does normally not mean much to me, but the gigantic Resource of well educated and highly Intellectual People which are members of that Order is worth the encrusted procedures one has to undergo. Well, old traditions are also uphold at modern masonic Lodges. I guess, there are some Reasons for that.

So in 1998, after I sold the Company to my Partner I could finally pack a container and move to Cebu.
Why Cebu? Because in the past Years before I travelled extensive in the Cebu region and kind of liked that mid size city. Manila has also grown to fast and faced multiple problems such as water and power supply.
And I wanted a fresh start anyway.
First step, find an Apartment to live for a while as a "base". That was easy, a Banker I knew had a small house for rent in a Subdivision , just 40 sqm, more a Bachelor pad, but is was new and clean. Only Php 4000,- monthly, nothing could go wrong.

One of my new neighbours, a lawyer, there also knew about a business location for only 6000 Php.
Banawa did not seem biz like in 1998, but I was personally assured by the Congressman who lived down the road, Tony Cuenco, that this area is going to be the next 'Banilad" of Cebu.(.. don't listen to politicians !)
I was in an upstream of luck. All within a week. Without doing anything. Next the Building renovations...and my first Restaurant business in Cebu City..

Why tropical Philippines as Domicile ? The first years in Manila

Why did I choose to live in the Philippines ?

1985 to 1990

To be honest, when i came to the Philippines in 1985 on an Invitation of my Brother I had no real clue (yet) why.
Just heeps of money and time to"see the world" as  I have worked the past 6 years more or less nonstop for DHL in a Logistics career. ( I liked it then , but it's not a real life )

However, the first years in Manila were also the "learning years".
Trying to do business(es) such as Import of Cars and Export of manufactured goods wasn't hard, but also similar in time consumption and exhausting.
Plus the general Problems of being a relative "Newbie" to the country.
I also did not devote all my time for it, so in between Production circles and bulk Imports I also travelled a lot in the Region.
And extensively to Central America, where I almost "fell in Love" with Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
For those not happy in Asia- check those countries out !

However, as a Friend of mine so often used to say, - the Philippines is 51 % "love it" and 49 % "hate it". The 2 Percent make you stay or come back.
I would not set the percentage that close, but he brought the point pretty well over.

So in 89 I stopped almost all other "search and travel" activities and settled firmly in Manila.

It was as always and as most Foreigners experience, one gets mostly closer to other foreigners, in my case other businessman, some even "competitors" although we were friends. There were Germans, French, Italian,  Americans, Australians, the whole world.
That is nice and give's one a warm and cozy feeling, but I can not recommend that in general. ( Afterwards one is smarter )
The Reason is that one may live in the new home, but is still an "outsider" without real confidence.

And the communications in those"Expat" groups also mostly only revolve only around work, foreign politics, and (this is a downer for me) the negative sides of Living in the Philippines. Or nagging Criticism and the emerald boring question 'Why is..."
Inspite of all the complaining  everyone was living like a Millionaer or better.
We all had household employees, drivers (if cars), gardener, laundry woman and all the luxury of wealthy people in the West.
But as (Young) human nature goes, one is never satisfied of what one has.

One of those emerald subjects was also the "lack of big money", one wanted to have a pool, one a larger house in a better Subdivision, one a Sailyacht (that was me) or a fancy car.

The consent was, that one rather go back to his home country and make some "real money" in a short time and then come back.
As most of us knew the Profits of our manufactured goods abroad, this wasn't too unrealistic. To cut out the "Sales and distribution margin" abroad would really improve income by about 300 %

But the only one to finally do that step was me. Only problem - I had nobody to take care of the manufacturing in Manila and no real contacts for sale in US/Canada, so I decided to stop that fashion accessoire biz and sold the clients to a competitor friend.

That was 1990 and I was sure that after the reunification of Germany I would be able to gain a good foothold in the new open Eastern German Logistic market. So was the Plan, and I just wanted to stay long enough to buy that sailyacht and go back to the Philippines.
5- 10 Years max... and then retire to a minimum, because I never want to stop working in my life, I would die without work. (Say 2 hours a day is ideal)

So I flew back to Germany.With the firm Promise to be back forever in the Philippines latest 2000.