Destino Cares Foundation: The Journey Continues
By Emmanuel Rivera, RRT
Thu, 02 Sep 2021
September 1, 2021
San Leandro, California
“Find your bliss in family, friendship and service to others,” she used to say and fervently believed, “Life is too short. Enjoy the time we have together.”
‘Tis the prayer and mantra my late sister lived by.
Today, September 1st, marks ten years since she passed away while on vacation in Manhattan, New York while visiting my brother Tony with our late mom Cristina. And if you knew her, she would rather have us reminisce about the good times rather than dwell on the details of her hasty and untimely exit.
Maria Christine Rivera-Cesano was born on Christmas day in 1972---it is why we nicknamed her ‘Xtine, for she was the life of the party 24/7, year-round. In many ways, she was the party. She remembered everyone’s birthday, anniversary and special occasions. She found every reason to celebrate and often went above and beyond. For her, every day was Christmastime---no time limits like the age-old Filipino four-month holiday festival beginning in September until December (the BER months according to Filipinos) and spilling into the new year.
If you were feeling down, she somehow knew when to call or text words of encouragement. She found the right words with well-timed pauses in the conversation that made us feel a little better. Simply talking to her made even the most insurmountable problem seem manageable. Her kind and generous spirit and her legacy remain in our hearts and our minds.
For the record, Christine arrived in San Francisco, California by way of Dagupan City and Manila, Philippines on March 21, 1983. She attended Brookvale Elementary School, Newark Junior High School and graduated from Newark Memorial High School. She received her certificate in Esthetic Arts at Fremont Beauty College and massage therapy credentials at Body Therapy Center. She worked in top restaurants in the San Francisco, Bay Area.
After five years working in the spa industry, she learned the intricacies of running a business then later founded Destino Spa, Inc. (Palo Alto, California) along with her husband William “Bill” Cesano, a graduate of Hotel Management at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada. Together, they successfully catered to a discerning clientele from professional football and tennis players, Silicon Valley CEO’s and everyone in between.
Maria Christine Rivera-Cesano was a mentor and confidante to many troubled boys and girls. She offered a helping hand to those less fortunate. Organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous, SPCA-Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, AIDS Foundation, Second Chance were close to her heart. She, along with sister Charina and our mom Cristina, donated to Philippine charities like Home of Peace (Missionaries of Charity) in Dagupan City.
The journey continues through her nieces Keana Christine and Leila Rose, nephews Grant Samuel, Louis Vincent, Nikolus Isiah and new granddaughter Evangeline “Evie” Rivera and her mom Kirsten Walter Rivera.
Christine’s spirit will live on through a humanitarian project she inspired---the Destino Cares Foundation.
On behalf of our family, the late Hermie and Cristina Rivera and their children Emmanuel (yours truly), Antonio, Charina, Gerardo, Hermenegildo, Jr. (Jay), daughter(s)-in-law Bethany Robison-Rivera and Stacie Alvarado Rivera and Christine’s husband William “Bill” Cesano, Maraming Salamat…Thank You!
For all her success and hard work, she never forgot how fortunate she was in meeting our brother-in-law Bill Cesano and his father James Cesano.
“I’m reflecting on how a simple dream turned into reality over 8 years ago with the help of many loving people in my life. It literally takes a village to keep a business open and growing. I’d like to thank my husband and father-in-law for making my dream come true. Your endless support and love mean the world to me,” our dear Christine said in her Facebook post.
Some of the staff and management at Destino Spa were tennis buffs. They sponsored the annual Bank of the West Tennis Classic at Stanford University’s Taube Family Center in Palo Alto, California. Pictured (clockwise) above with Christine and Bill are star clients Venus Williams, Daniela Hantuchova and then-#1 Kim Clijsters (not pictured are Serena Williams, Ai Sugiyama and Jelena Jancovic).
The Philippine Star’s Joaquin Henson, considered the dean of Philippine sportswriting, featured Destino Spa, Inc. in a lengthy piece entitled An Ace to The Tennis Stars (Starweek Magazine August 27, 2006).
“The world’s top ladies tennis stars are raving about the treatment they get from Destino Spa, a Filipino-owned Bay Area pampering haven that has catered to their off-court feminine whims in the last two Bank of the West tournaments at the Taube Family Stadium on the Stanford University campus. Destino has offered the tennis stars the ultimate luxury by transforming the players’ lounge into a spa haven with flowing water fountains, aromatherapy candles, facials, massages and hair, nails, waxing and foot treatments… Destino was recently voted as the spa with the best massage and facial in Silicon Valley by Citysearch.com. A premier destination for physical rejuvenation and relaxation, it is located just minutes from Stanford University. Destino combines Eastern influences, ancient beauty rituals and rigorous service standards and offers a full range of spa services.”
Like many sports fans, particularly Filipinos, Destino Spa and staff are boxing aficionados. Pictured above are Senator Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao and his lovely wife Mrs. Jinkee Pacquiao sporting the Destino Spa logo cap. (circa November 2009)
Photo collage of Christine Rivera, Hermie Rivera, Jay Rivera, Andy Rivera and this writer leading up to the fight between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada on November 14, 2009.
Mrs. Jinkee Pacquiao enjoying a photo album from the collection of the Rivera family of her husband Manny Pacquiao (Nov.2009)
Maria Christine Rivera-Cesano: Her life and times…
Our thanks to Mr. Nelson Carrera for the last four collages in this article. His photographs are priceless.
Click here to view a list of other articles written by Emmanuel Rivera, RRT.
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