Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Christmas comes early and dinner with a queen

I've just come from a really nice evening at the Dusit Thani Manila, where we had a press conference for the 12 families decorating Christmas trees for the hotel lobby, for charity. Each of the 12 families has been assigned a space for a tree in the lobby and it's up to us to create or decorate it any way we want.

People can then vote in the lobby or online for the best Christmas tree, and the Dusit Thani Manila will donate P50,000 to the charity chosen by the owner of the winning tree. That's a pretty nice and original idea, I believe.


Anyway, I thought this evening's event would just be a regular cocktail party but it turned out to be more like a nice get-together of family and friends. There were different generations of families present and lots of us know each other, so the press conference had the atmosphere of a reunion. There were kids everywhere; and just lots of laughter and fun.


I'm quite honored to be included in a pretty stellar cast of individuals and families including the families of Senator Manny Villar, former Speaker Jose de Venecia, US Ambassador Harry Thomas, RJ and Frannie Jacinto, Grace Glory Go, Arnold Vegafria, Emerson and Lingling Yao, Rhoda and Vince Aldenese, the Llamas brothers who are responsible for bringing in almost all of the big-name concert acts to Manila (they told me who they have in mind for a big concert in Manila sometime, and I was so surprised I almost fell of my seat), Vicky Belo and the Tesoro family.


When I walked in, I first spotted JDV and his sons Joey and Christopher. Christopher told me about their beautiful Christmas tree concept in honor of his late sister KC, and it will have lots of butterflies.
Then I saw Frannie Jacinto and her daughter, both in fetching green outfits. Their tree is going to be all about music. "I'm still planning it, but I'm thinking angels with musical instruments," Frannie told me.

Camille Villar was also there representing her dad, while Grace Glory Go came with her son Vernon and his lovely wife. They'd just returned from a dream honeymoon trip to Tanzania with one of the top safari companies in the world. Apparently they had an incredible time and they stayed in some pretty amazing hotels.

The US Embassy was also there in full force for Ambassador Thomas, with a whole bunch of very sweet kids. "What's your tree going to be like?" I asked them. One of them smiled at me and said: "It's going to be a team effort."

The food (tapas, tempura, and a great roast) was good, too, and perhaps that's why everyone stayed so long. But finally it was time to say good night, although about half the families were still around. We had great "family portraits" with everyone around a sofa, laughing most of the time.


On the way out, I stopped by one of the tables where Rhoda and Vince Aldanese and Arnold Vegafria were seated. Arnold had his professional entertainment team with him in another table, while Rhoda had style guru Arturo Go and a couple of other design heavyweights seated with her, and they were going to help her with her tree.

"Wow. I'm up against the Dream Team," I teased her, but only half-jokingly. It was true. My creative director Bryan and I had basically sketched out our idea for the Travelife Christmas tree on a scrap piece of paper; and here was Rhoda with her Dream Team in full force just for the press conference.

But after seeing all my old friends, and so enjoying meeting new ones, I thought the set-up for this Christmas tree project is going to be so much fun. We're given six hours to put everything up sometime in November, and I can almost predict that it's going to be a happy jumble of families, friends and Christmas trees in the Dusit lobby prior to opening day. All for charity and a great way to kick off the Christmas season.


And then when I got home just now, I had an email confirming my invitation to a formal gala dinner with the new Queen of Malaysia in Langkawi, Malaysia next week. Yes, I'm changing my travel plans and going to Malaysia to see the Queen. I'm flying to Kuala Lumpur for a luxury stopover -- someone is actually closing a department store for a private shopping trip -- and then it's onwards to Langkawi for dinner with the Queen.


I also got an email from someone, reminding me that we'd seen the movie "About Last Night" starring Demi Moore and Rob Lowe together somewhere in the world in the late 80s. Actually, I'd forced him to watch it with me -- it is a pretty girly movie, after all -- and he'd just gallantly agreed.

Reminds me of the time I watched the opening night of the Sex and the City movie in Manila last year. Another friend had been literally forced to take me -- he is so not into girly movies -- but he'd very nicely done so, picking me up after one of my events in Rockwell Tent, and then we'd caught the last show in Rockwell Cinema. One of the very few times I've seen a movie in a movie house, and one of only two times last year. However I'd had to promise never ever to tell anyone he'd agreed to see the first night showing of Sex and the City as he said it would ruin him forever. He'd never hear the end of it from his friends.

"I read your blog about your favorite songs, and for some reason I remembered how we'd watched About Last Night together," my About Last Night movie companion wrote me. I liked that movie when we'd watched it, and for a very long time I had the movie soundtrack playing in my car. There were no iPods then.

This got me thinking about the 80s again. And about our great 80s party AIESEC: ONE MORE TIME this Friday at the Peninsula Conservatory. But that's another story. And one you definitely shouldn't miss. Reserve a ticket with Bernice at Travelife: 8138400/ 8922620. travelife@travelife.biz.

Travelife Magazine's
Oct-Nov 2011 Issue


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