Wednesday, August 10, 2011

From Chicago to Manila with Oprah

For once, I was only double-booked for the evening, instead of the more usual triple-booked Manila nights. At 630 PM I went to the Manila Polo Club to join many of Cathay Pacific's valued partners and biggest clients for the official launch of Cathay's new Hong Kong-Chicago route. This party also served as a sayonara party for outgoing CX country manager Ed Higgs, and a welcome for incoming country manager Martin Xu. It was a very nice party, short and sweet, with great food and a distinguished crowd.


The crowd just loved the Oprah impersonator who came onstage after a video of the real Oprah in Chicago was shown on a widescreen. And this impersonator really sounded remarkably like Oprah. I learned later that it was actually Jon Santos dressed up as Oprah, and he did a pretty good job.

Later on, I found myself standing next to the CEO of one of the country's biggest multinational banks, and we were comparing airlines and flights. "Hong Kong is probably the most convenient hub from Manila," he said. "And it's a great jump-off both for the States and for Europe."


Then he continued: "And I just love Cathay's early morning New York flight. From Manila, there's only a very short wait in Hong Kong both ways. It's the best way to get to New York."

I nodded. So many friends bound for New York take this very flight; and on one of these very flights not too long ago, two friends I'd been communicating with via BBM and email, just before boarding at New York's JFK, found themselves on the same flight back to Hong Kong from New York. They were even seated within rows of each other.

"Introduce yourselves please," I emailed one and BBM-ed the other, from Manila to New York, almost at the same time. This was after I'd realized that they were going to be on the same long flight back to Asia. I'd been talking to both of them via BBM and Blackberry email from Manila, and they'd both said goodbye from the lounge at JFK just as they were boarding.

"You're both my good friends, so you should meet. This is the perfect opportunity," I added.


They both replied, also at the same time. "Tell him I'm in seat 1A," one of them said; while the other said, "Tell him I'm in seat 6D." So I sent each of them the other's seat number and eventually one of them walked over to the other and they had a nice chat. I hope it wasn't about me.

And the funniest part perhaps was that immediately after they'd had a chat, they both settled down in their respective seats and messaged me again. "He seems like a nice guy," one of them BBM-ed, while the other emailed: "He seems like a nice guy." So it was basically a love fest between them.

Anyway, tonight we stayed at the Cathay Pacific party long enough not to win those business class tickets to Chicago. "Do you still need more Travel in your Life?" A friend standing next to me then asked amusedly, when I mentioned that I wouldn't at all mind winning those tickets. I smiled at him: "You can never have too much Travel in your Life." Among other things.


From Polo Club, we went the short distance to the Dusit Thani Manila, where Johnny Litton's 75th birthday bash was in full swing. The party took up the entire ballroom of the Dusit and Tito J -- as I affectionately call him -- celebrated a long and marvelously eventful life with all ages of Manila society. There was fantastic food, a great band playing good music, and a giant cake on the stage. It was really a lot of fun.

Not a few guests at the Cathay Pacific party at Polo Club had also joined Tito J's birthday party afterwards, and we all greeted each other amusedly with a "long time no-see." Meanwhile, I couldn't walk five steps without saying hello to someone, and there were a couple of people I hadn't seen in a while. Because of the crush of people, it was mostly cocktail party chatter, but wonderful all the same.


I sat for a few minutes with a major art collector, and we discussed the great Ramon Orlina show put together by gallery owner Jack Teotico, that I had unfortunately missed as I was abroad. But this lady had purchased a beautiful and unique piece. We then mused on the Ateneo Art Awards coming out tomorrow, taking guesses on who would be selected as the most promising artist of the year.

Several people also brought up our Travelife Italy Night on September 8, and our Travelife Gastronomic Tour of Italy from September 17-25. And, finally, not a few people wanted to know who were the friends I often mentioned, but only by letters, in this blog. They found some of the stories pretty amusing.

"What's the name of that guy again?" Asked one dear lady. I didn't know which guy she meant as she didn't mention a letter. And actually she'd even met one of them at a party although I was hoping she wouldn't remember and put two and two together. But it didn't really matter. I wasn't giving anyone's name away anyway.

"I can't tell anyone," I said apologetically. "If I told someone, then I would have to stop writing about these people."

And then I added: "But it's all just in good fun. Thank goodness I have a couple of friends who are pretty good sports."


So tomorrow is another fantastic and busy day with about a hundred meetings and events. And somewhere in between tomorrow's impossibly packed schedule, I'm going to find time to pack my bags. Yes, I'm off again pretty soon. Travelife is flying a ten-member team representing its magazine and television departments to a beautiful and interesting destination -- and we are all so looking forward to this trip. More on this tomorrow or the day after.

Join our Italy events this September.

with Margarita Fores
and the Embassy of Italy & Bacchus Epicerie
September 8 at Whitespace

TRAVELIFE Gastronomic Tour of Italy
September 17-25

For reservations and information, please contact:
Bernice or Rachel at TRAVELIFE
813-8400/ 892-2620


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