“If you want an accounting of your worth, count your friends,” said Merry Browne. Marking another milestone can be quite daunting. I had been hoping to turn another year old quietly, but my friends convinced moi otherwise. Après much contemplation, I gave the go-signal to celebrate my birthday.
My super friend, Shangri-La’s area general manager Alain Borgers, and Shangri-La Makati’s corporate communications maven Lesley Tan pulled all the stops to make it the most superb bash, dahlings.
We agreed to hold the party at Isabela, Makati Shangri-La Hotel’s newest ballroom. It was a bit sober compared with previous birthdays in deference to the calamity brought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” But it was enjoyable and fun. As I’ve always said, “it’s the people who make the party.” N’est-ce pas?
My good friend Carla Reyes Tengco was my co-hostess. She was also the taste purveyor, carefully selecting the dishes that went into the menu.
The guests were ushered to the buffet area where delicious food was well-prepared by area executive chef Paul Lenz.
On the buffet spread were the divine amuse-bouche, which was poached king crab in beer with dill and fennel salad, scallop tartar with salmon caviar, and bonito flakes on little porcelain spoons.
Others: This ingenious “black soil” made of crushed squid ink bread crust, with white asparagus; Mediterranean cuisine was well-presented in the “Heating Lamp” station, filled with chicken shawarma and garlic sauce. Guests, likewise, enjoyed the lamb samosas and shrimp katafi with bell pepper and tomato sauce.
There was a risotto and ravioli station that all my guests kept going back to for seconds, as well as the popular roast US beef carving and the traditional Peking duck stations.
Executive pastry chef Romain Renard tapped into his Parisian roots to showcase delightful desserts such as orange blossom panna cotta, chocolate and caramel mousse, coffee crème brûlée, white chocolate pot de crème, coffee and hazelnut mousse, mixed fruit and berries, chocolate and raspberries coulis.
Then at the stroke of midnight, the birthday cake was wheeled in and all the invitees serenaded moi with a birthday song led by the renowned Blake, who are making waves thanks to their Asia managers, my great pal Anton San Diego, editor in chief of Tatler, and singer Pops Fernandez.
Drinking and dancing continued in a lounge place with wiz DJ Gerard Henson, no less, palangga.
Elusive personalities came to celebrate with me, such as the well-traveled Baby Araneta Fores, Lisa Araneta Cacho Marcos, Linda Oledan, Veana Fores, Lorrie Reynoso, Vicky Zubiri, Maricris Zobel, Carol Garcia, Maripi Muscat and Margarita Fores.
Also joining in the fun were Anton Mendoza, Monch Cruz, Chut Cuerva, Marcel Crespo, Ipe Cruz of Rogue Magazine, Tim Yap, Marco Lobregat.
Leading the dance floor were the sisterhood consisting of Ching Cruz, Tina Cuevas, Agnes Huibonhoa, Fe Rodriguez and Susan Joven.
Other great friends were there: Inno Sotto, Ian Giron, Andres Vasquez Prada, Pepito Albert, Al Tengco.
More beautiful well-wishers: Agnes Desiderio, Rhoda Aldenese, Anna Angara and Helena Belmonte.
Conversation was eclectic, ranging from politics to fashion and scandals. And if the floor could only talk, the conversation topics would be front-page material, believe me.
There was a dining room area, which the banquet team led by Wilfredo Co and Rico Cruz set up with assorted tables. The bar and cocktail section looked super sleek and inviting, with stacks of Moët & Chandon bubbly, thanks to the adorable Olga Azarcon, Moët Hennessy Asia-Pacific Philippines chief representative, and Richard Alarcon, Moët Hennessy Asia-Pacific Philippines representative; assorted liqueur and spirits, and Montes wines from Ralph Lim Joseph’s Philippine Wine Merchants.
Everything was perfect: service was superb, as expected of Shangri-La, Makati, n’est-ce pas, and all my invitees had loads of fun.
Many took to the dance floor, really the space between the dining and cocktail areas, and it just went to show how everyone was so relaxed and really living life to the hilt, which is what life is all about, palangga.
Yeah, it was truly an unforgettable milestone, and a beautiful ending to mark the beginning of another year of love, joy and friendship in my blessed life.
Naturellement, what completed the celebration was a big hug from my best buddy and soul mate Alex Van Hagen.
Now, can one ask for more?