Maximum capacity ballroom and a waitlist of over 250 people
We finally finished our Gawad Kalinga Hope Ball project last night -- and what a truly successful event it was! Over 370 people -- the maximum capacity of the Peninsula ballroom -- paid 5000 pesos each to come to dinner last night and enjoy an evening of wonderful entertainment, great food and exciting bidding for once-in-a-lifetime luxury goods and travel experiences. And the amazing part is that we had a waitlist of 250 people waiting for cancellations for one of the 370 seats.
GK communities in Mindanao and also had an evening full of goodwill in a ballroom full of Manila's elite, dressed in their very best. This ball was certainly one for the books in terms of food. Thank you to our genius Chefs of Hope, who worked all night in the kitchen to come up with a fantastic five-course dinner that even the most finicky ball guests raved about and ate with gusto. This was truly a labor of love for Glenda Barretto, Myrna Segismundo, Jessie Sincioco, Claude Tayag and Peninsula Executive Chef Freddy Schmidt.
A GK Hope Ball Dinner way past midnight
I was quite busy all evening so I barely had time to sit down with my own guests at the Travelife table -- much less eat dinner. But the Travelife guests, too -- many of whom regularly dine in the world's best restaurants -- were simply all praises for the food. Since I was walking around the whole evening, I requested Peninsula to hold my food for the evening and just serve it to me after the event in the privacy of my suite; and it's a testament to their excellent service that exactly as I finally stood up from my chair and prepared to leave the venue and go up to my hotel room, a waiter approached me and asked if he could now bring my dinner up to my room. Thank you to Stephanie Chong, Peninsula Director of Events.
So I had my Chefs of Hope dinner way past midnight, up in my suite with my high heels off and joined by good friends who had flown in from Hong Kong just for the event. The dinner was just wonderful, as everyone had said.
Fantastic volunteer spirit
Everything went exactly as planned or even better. The GK Hope Ball Secretariat and the Travelife team, together with the ladies from Rustan's, a co-founding sponsor of the ball, worked very efficiently to ensure that registration went smoothly. Pinky Antonio, who organized the program of the ball and also all the major logistics, did a fantastic job with the venue and the program. Rita Neri, Manila's top event planner, helped us out greatly with the auctions; and her entire team was in full force to ensure that the silent auction and live auction went well. Frankly, I don't know what we would have done without her.
Meanwhile, the auction -- one of the many highlights of the show -- was so exciting. Most of the items we had went way over estimates, and got a lot of people in a happy mood. It was a great pleasure doing this auction with TJ Manotoc, my auction partner-in-crime. Thank you too to TJ, Mikee Cojuangco, Johnny Litton and Tessa Prieto-Valdez for volunteering their emceeing services.
The entertainment too was world-class and so enjoyable. Stephanie Reese, the first Filipina to perform at Carnegie Hall, and Bo Cerrudo did very inspiring numbers; as did The Company. The Company was the perfect end to the show as they sang a medley of well-loved songs that got everyone in an upbeat and even happy-sentimental mood. The song "Seasons of Love" from the musical Rent was the perfect way to end the GK Hope Ball.
Same time next year
And finally, kudos to my friend Beliz Balkir-Crook, chairperson of the GK Hope Ball, who founded this project and event from literally nothing, all out of her desire to help her less fortunate Muslim brothers and sisters in Mindanao. This ball was her brainchild, and many people decided to help out with this project after meeting her and getting inspired by her.
After everything was over, I was hanging around the Peninsula lobby at about 3 am and was saying good night to Beliz when she said, "Meeting on Tuesday or Wednesday, okay?"
"Meeting?" I asked.
"Yeah. To plan for next year." She said with a smile.
And that was how our wonderful ball, made a reality by so many amazing volunteers, ended.
Thank you to all the famous Philippine beauty queens who helped out
at the GK HOPE BALL as ushers
Those are the top executives of Cathay Pacific Airways and Peninsula Manila awaiting the lucky recipient of the Peninsula Tale of Three Cities luxury suite package coupled with business class tickets for two persons on Cathay Pacific Airways.
A donation from Imelda Marcos from her famous shoe collection!
That's GK founder Tony Meloto and GK Hope Ball Chairperson Beliz Crook
with the wonderful singers of The Company
Photo of Manny Pacquiao's donated boxing gloves and the certificate for the four floor tickets to his upcoming match in Dallas in November. Two gentlemen from the U.K. won these tickets and are so looking forward to going!
The first course of the GK Hope Ball all ready to be served!
That's Mikee Cojuangco with four of the five Chefs of Hope
The beautiful GK Hope Ball centerpieces
Guest of honor VP Binay at the GK Hope Ball
Beliz making a speech
How the Peninsula ballroom looked like before the guests arrived
The live auction of a painting by National Artist Arturo Luz
PS: These photos are from the GK Facebook Page, which posted a blow-by-blow account of the ball, and from the photo posts of Girlie Rodies and Tanya Nevelos