Saturday, July 20, 2013

One week of farewells and music, including a concert of Johann Strauss waltzes organized by the Johann Strauss Society of the Philippines

At the Belgian National Day reception on Thursday

This week has been all about goodbyes, good friends and good music.

So many ambassadors and deputy chiefs of mission are leaving the Philippines, so my evenings have been been full of sayonara dinners with good music.

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BELGIUM'S NATIONAL DAY

The only exception was on Thursday night, which was the reception for the National Day of Belgium at the Raffles Hotel.

But at this party, I saw most of the departing ambassadors and their wives anyway, so it was sort of like a farewell as well.

ONE OF THE MOST SOUGHT AFTER INVITATIONS


Last night was the annual black tie dinner concert of the Johann Strauss Society of the Philippines.

This is a charity and cultural organization founded by Madame Kazuko Siazon, wife of former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Domingo Siazon (who was my old boss, at one time), and very ably headed by Madame Olga Severino Martel and Madame Fortune Ledesma.

This is one of the most sought-after society invitations because it's a small and exclusive affair, and most of it is just by invitation.

IMPRESSIVE GUEST LIST



The guest list is always very impressive.

Last night, almost every ambassador who was in town was present, while the non-ambassador guest list was headed by Washington Sycip, Nedy Tantoco, and other prominent personalities.





It was also a particularly special event as it served as a farewell for Austrian Ambassador Wilhelm Donko and his wife Yan, who are among the most popular diplomatic couples in Manila.



FORMAL BUT FUN AND FRIENDLY


For the annual JSSP dinner concert, everyone is always dressed to the nines, but the atmosphere is fun and friendly -- especially with Johnny Litton making so many jokes.

While it's a very nice chance to catch up with friends and acquaintances, the best part of course is the music.

Dr. Ernest Hoetzl, a prominent Austrian conductor, flies in from Vienna just to conduct the Philippine Philarmonic Orchestra, and he's been doing this for years.

STRAUSS FAVORITES



This year, the PPO played many Strauss favorites including the Champagne Polka, the New Pizzicato Polka, the Roses from  the South Waltz, and everyone's favorite Radetsky March to end.

The latter had an entire ballroom of bejewelled people clapping their hands in time to the music, as is the tradition also when this piece is played in Vienna.



I had a very early start today, so I had to leave in the middle of the dancing that followed after the performance.

But it was certainly a wonderful way to end another day in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



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