Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A diplomatic sayonara party full of smiles and laughter

With the wives of the Ambassadors of Canada, Israel, Singapore and the Netherlands
and Honorary Consul Agnes Huibonhua

Two weeks ago, the wives of ambassadors stationed in the Philippines gathered at the official residence of the Ambassador of Singapore in Forbes Park to attend a luncheon hosted by Madame Mano Hirubalan, wife of Singaporean Ambassador VP Hirubalan.

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The lunch was a sayonara party for six ambassadors' wives, all members of the Spouses of Heads of Mission (SHOM) group, who are due to leave Manila shortly and return to their home countries.

Wife of the Ambassador of Pakistan

At the same time, this was a pre-event party for the fashion show organized by the SHOM, in cooperation with some of Manila’s most prominent ladies, to raise funds for two SHOM charities.

The fashion show, which was held yesterday at the Marriott Hotel, featured 22 ambassadors and 21 wives and honorary consuls walking down the runway.

Wife of the Ambassador of Iraq


Meanwhile, Madame Hirubalan’s lunch was a truly merry affair.

There was a lovely salad-and-dessert bar in the living room foyer and a hot food buffet with a seafood and vegetable tempura cooking station in the terrace, where four large round tables were set.

It was a diplomatic function, but a relaxing and casual one, so it was free seating.


Wife of the Ambassador of Vietnam

I took my sweet time talking to friends in the living room, so almost every table was full when I got to the terrace.

Luckily, I snagged the last seat at the cornermost table, where the Ambassador of Turkey and the wives of the ambassadors of Chile, the Netherlands, Pakistan, and Panama were already seated.

Wife of the Ambassador of Britain
It’s quite sad to say goodbye to dear friends you have shared many good times with over the years.

But in this small world of people constantly on the move, this is not likely to be a last goodbye.


Wives of the Ambassadors of Singapore, Switzerland and Pakistan 

Madame Yan Donko of Austria, who was the first departing ambassadorial spouse to make a speech, gave a very memorable one.

“You must be expecting me to say that I will miss you all,” she said.

Then she added: “But I won’t say this. I left China when I was a young girl. It was very hard to leave all my family and friends behind. And since I met my husband, we have been moving around in different countries, so I’ve grown used to saying hello and goodbye. But what I would really like to say is that I will try not to miss you all.

Everyone laughed.

And this set the tone for a very lighthearted and enjoyable farewell lunch, in just another day in my never-endingly eventful Travelife.

This originally appeared in The Diplomatic Travelife column in the The Business Mirror.


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