CULTURAL POTPOURRI| Clarice’s Dream Hotel & Resto

IN A CONVENIENT location along Acacia Street of the Juna Subdivision in Ecoland, the new C-Tree Hotel formally opens today amidst Davao City’s festive Kadayawan celebration.  C-Tree Hotel has 24 guest rooms with zen-inspired interiors so perfect for the on-the-go business and leisure travelers to the City.  “Our family rooms are so well thought of in its design to compliment the bonding moments of family members.  We also have two function rooms at the fourth level, with a capacity to service from 50 to 100 persons and are fully equipped with state-of-the-art facilities just perfect for your special social events, product launches, seminars and meetings,” promoted the friendly C-Tree Hotel GM Arvin Dizon when he invited Davao’s lifestyle writers to a dinner at C-Tree Hotel’s Cafe Clarice last August 14, 2017.  Yes, it was a busy Monday with the formal opening of the Kadayawan Festival and the streets of Davao was a scene of a horrible bumper-to-bumper traffic.

C-Tree Hotel proprietors Christian and Clarice Gabucan with chidlren

C-Tree Hotel proprietors Christian and Clarice Gabucan with chidlren

But how could I refuse to go when it was dear Arch. Sylvia Puyod-Rieta who personally invited and insisted for me to attend the media night at C-Tree Hotel.  It’s her niece’s dream hotel which is being launched after all.

“The C-Tree Hotel is owned by Christian Canonigo Gabucan and his dearly departed wife who happened to be my young niece, Clarice Puyod Pagcaliwagan-Gabuco.  Clarice was the daughter of my sister, Evelyn “Byen” Puyod Pagcaliwagan-Welch who is now settled in the USA.,” informed Sylvia as she continued, “Clarice’s inspiration right from the start to put up her dream hotel and a restaurant started when she lovingly and passionately designed the interior of a condominium unit.  At the same time, Clarice had a passion for cooking and baking which she got from her mom, Byen, who is the Puyod family’s chef. Byen was then teaching at her own shop called the ‘Marcela Culinary Arts Shop’ which was named after our dearest mother, Marcela ‘Lily’ Ledesma-Puyod, a Negrense gourmand.”

Sylvia recalled that Clarice’s dream to have a restaurant cum tea house was instilled in her by her aunt Sonya Puyod-Gehrlein who is based in Los Angeles, USA.  “It was Sonya who brought her to the different tea houses in California for Clarice to have a good idea and inspiration of putting up her own in Davao City,” revealed Sylvia.  Indeed, Clarice and her ever supportive husband, Christian, put up the C-Tres and Zabs Restaurants in Davao while running their advertising firm at the same time.

Christian and Clarice drew up the plans of their dream hotel and resto with the help of Clarice’s brother, Arch. Neil Pagcaliwagan, with their loving aunt, Arch. Sylvia Puyod-Rieta, as Consultant.  “Unfortunately, in the middle of construction, Clarice so unexpectedly passed away last December 12, 2016.  She left her dream hotel and restaurant unfinished.  Despite and inspite of the tragedy, Christian and Neil vowed to pursue and realize Clarice’s dream of finishing the dream hotel.  Oh yes, you should have seen how Neil so loved his sister that he truly worked hard to finish the project through all the gnawing pains of such a great loss in his life.  The C-Tree Hotel is both his and Christian’s loving tribute to the wonderful and amazing woman that Clarice was in their lives and in her kid’s lives.  They wanted the hotel to be Clarice’s living legacy for her children,” narrated an emotional Sylvia.  “A Japanese businessman offered to buy the hotel twice at a very good price, but Christian refused to sell it.  It is a precious remembrance of Clarice as a loving wife, sister, daughter, granddaughter, niece.  We helped put our acts together to make her dream come true.  No amount of money could pay for the love, passion and hard work Clarice invested in realizing her dream.  I personally designed the Cafe Clarice making sure that all of Clarice’s specifications were put into it.  Oh yes, your memory Clarice lives on forever in our hearts.  The C-Tree Hotel is a work of our undying love for you,” emphasized Sylvia.

Dining at the Cafe Clarice is one wonderful culinary experience.  Young Chef Josam Gabucan Barbadillo is also a member of the family who has put his heart into his culinary creations to make both the Gabucan and Puyod-Pagcaliwagan families and their big family and friends, plus of course the patrons of the C-Tree Hotel truly proud of Cafe Clarice.  The young chef has worked for years in fine dining restaurants like Prasimo in Hawaii, New York and Chicago.  He then moved to Australia where he managed five restaurants owned by the Walkabout Group of Companies specializing in Outback, Fine Dining and Tapa Style food.

Chef Josam came back to the Philippines to help her aunt Clarice fulfill her dream.  And the young chef’s brand of European and Asian Fusion cuisine is truly a new culinary experience Davaoeño foodies must try.  His tuna tartar, prawns ceviche, Thai beef salad, and chicken teriyaki and ending with that Malagos chocolate bomb (a must eat one-of-a-kind dessert treat) were such satisfactory gustatory treats for me looking for something new to taste in Davao City.  And chef Josam’s food presentation is truly an art form.  I’ll surely go back for more especially since the food is so reasonably priced.  It’s a treat for families.

My best wishes, C-Tree Hotel and Staff, on your opening day.  I know Clarice is happy and will be with you in spirit.  Congratulations, Arch. Sylvia Puyod-Rieta, Arch. Neil Puyod Pagcaliwagan, business proprietor Christian Canonigo Gabucan and chef Josam Gabucan Barbadillo.  More power and love to all of you.

Posted in Lifestyle