Balai Isabel

A bachelor in a big house

Tonight was Round 3 in my neighborhood Christmas cocktail party/ open house circuit. This is an informal group of neighbors who have signed up to each open their homes and host a cocktail party for other neighbors on one evening during this Christmas season. About 15 people have signed up to host a cocktail, and the basic principle is that you are automatically invited to everyone else’s house once you sign up as a host. And as host, you can do whatever you wish as far as entertaining goes, and invite other people as well if you’re up to it.

It’s a really great idea and such a fun experience — plus a nice way to get to know more people living around you. It’s also made me feel closer to my neighborhood and more secure about living here.
Round 1 of my neighborhood cocktail party circuit:
“The most beautiful house in Manila”
The host tonight was a very cultured and interesting gentleman who lives alone in a massive house that reminds me of a beautiful lodge somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. His home can easily fit 250 people at a sit-down dinner and 500 people perhaps for cocktails — so you can imagine just how large it is for one bachelor and a couple of house help.
This reminds me of my neighbor’s house
Since I love decorating houses, I can tell you that I was walking around at the end of the evening imagining what I would do if this was my house. I also told my host: “If this was my house, I’d have a party every single night.” He smiled at me with a been-there-done-that kind of smile. Then he said: “Yeah. I used to do that. But I eventually got tired of it.”
It was a lovely home filled with very interesting art and architectural accents, and everything was lighted up beautifully. Perhaps the most stunning feature of a pretty stunning house was the staircase made of metal and wood, that was an artwork in itself. It had thick geometric log-style metal banisters that ran into each other. “I feel like I’m walking down the stairs of a modern art museum,” I said to everyone.
This reminds me in some way of my neighbor’s staircase
But first, when I got there with my friend T, we were ushered through a dramatically-lit driveway and massive entrance. Inside, in a living room with a ceiling as high as other people’s three-storey apartments was a lovely Christmas tree. But that wasn’t the only Christmas tree, as there were lots of trees in different parts of the house. There were so many, in fact, that I lost count; although I did notice there was even a giant blue and silver tree in one of the basement lounging rooms.
After getting food, the neighbors all sat down in the dining room to chitchat.

“I didn’t know you’d have so much food,” one of them said jokingly to our host. “In fact, I told my husband that we should eat first before going since you’re a bachelor and so you probably won’t have food.”
Our host said: “Well, I certainly know how to dial and order.”
He’d ordered food from various restaurants around Makati, and everything was set up nicely in his state-of-the-art kitchen.
As a nice touch, he’d also hired a pianist for the evening — which made all of us joke that once again the bar for entertaining had been raised quite high and the rest of us down the entertaining circuit line were now under pressure to “keep up.” This did start out as a neighborhood party, but now here we were with pianists and so many Christmas trees in one house.

“What are you going to do for yours?” I teased another neighbor seated across me. She was up for the cocktail hosting in about two weeks’ time. She laughed. “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll sing.”
But I think the worst pressure will be on me, as I’m the last host on the circuit. I never intended it this way, but it just so happened that December 18 is the only night I found convenient to host, and it was the last option date.
So far we’ve had pretty amazing houses and parties, so I guess I’m going to have to think of something fast. Nevertheless, I’ve already invited some good friends to join my Christmas cocktails — and they’ve said yes — so that I’ll have a nice mix of friends and neighbors.
In the meantime, I’m really enjoying attending our neighborhood cocktails and getting to know everyone. Plus, these open houses really jumpstarted the Christmas spirit for me. Just another evening in a never-ending and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

Travelife Magazine’s
Oct-Nov 2011 Issue



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