Casino Español de Cebu


The first Casino Español de Cebu was located on Legaspi St. esquina Zamora St. in a pretty green chalet, just enough for its few members in 1920, the perfect place for “un grupo entusiasta de españoles” who longed for watering hole at the end of a day’s work. It was a bright idea of the founders like the business brothers, Don Vidal and Don Ramon Aboitiz, Associate Don Manuel Moraz and a few others who are said to have contributed Php 10,000.00 each (a tremendous sum in the twenties) to start it.

Record are scanty as they were destroyed during the Second World War. Some older members say that the initial money was returned to the owners later, on installment.

But the inauguration on Legaspi St. was a joyous affair in January 1920, says one of Casino Español’s elderly senior members, Don Santiago Picornell, now 83. He was only eight years old when his father, Don Bartolome, one of the early offices, took to the opening, as every other member did his wife and children. The place, including the garden was packed with De Numero members mostly in all-white formal suits for the balmy afternoon. And Spanish chatter filled the air in a day now historical to the club as it looks back to it on Casino Español today.

The Clubhouse at present on Ranudo St. is actually more than a clubhouse now, because it has become a recreation and dining place for those in the community who are attracted to the old world mood. In this, Casino Español boasts of a difference.

The service has a personal touch because the cooks, waiters, the boys in the bowling ally, billiard table and the pelota, badminton and tennis court have known the members for years. In fact, the waiters know what food is preferred by what member.

When a member has come across a new recipe, if he feels so, he goes and shares the same with the cook. Or his wife does, too, since everyone is encourage to help make the Casino’s menu the best in the city. A member could also request the cook to come up with certain recipes, for the Casino Español is second home to all members.

Antonio Alvarez, managing consultant, says that the best in the restaurant is not necessarily its imported supplies, but assuredly its freshness and excellent quality, say of the meat and vegetables. The cooking has the taste of special home -cooked recipes as it is not commercial, and some of these recipes emanate from ideas among cosmopolitan members or members’ wives who have culinary talents, especially in Spanish cuisine. Casino Español is also home to the “dependents,” wives and young children of member. The small children with their yaya could play around the place the whole day and stay very safe, although it’s the father who sign for them when they eat at the Terraza, next to the pool. On Saturday mornings, groups of teenage kids in comfy get ups lounge in corner tables at the Terraza, kids around, laugh lazily letting the morning slip to noon.

To old employees, the place is also their second home. Carlito Occo, 53, a waiter, has been with the club for 34 years and remembers Don Quinito Ubago as the longest to keep the position of president. Carlito started as pin boy at the bowling alley when he was 17. “This place is just as if it were my home because I’ve spent most of a lifetime here,” he says. He says in fact, that his brother, who also works there, has been employed by the club for 26 years. Even a cousin is there, too.

While for years Casino Español had been open to members only, now it has function rooms for parties of wedding receptions as long as they are sponsored by any member. Going on inside Casino Español was sweet mystery to outsides for so long time. Now it is fulfilled discovery to many who get invited to any one of these functions. To the new generation, they see an amount of posturing in the way the function rooms had been names for atmosphere after the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and his book, Don Quijote-Cervantes Hall, Dulcinea, Sancho Panza, Don Quijote rooms- but it works happily for everyone. Even the young today are fascinated by Casino Español’s old graciousness during formal affairs, as flattering a setting as the sway of formal dress during cotillon de honor.

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Monday 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Tuesday 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Wednesday 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Thursday 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Friday 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed

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