A glitter-free, elegant Cebu weddingBy Thelma Sioson San Juan
Philippine Daily Inquirer
If there was a wedding I’ve seen that represented the style of today’s Filipino bride, it must have been the wedding of Cebu couple Kaye Luym and Javier Sala. It was nonchalantly elegant, simple, simply cool.
Apparently the couple, particularly the bride, didn’t want frills. There was no glitter—not in the bride’s Rosa Clara (she wanted off-the-rack) gown, not in the Arcy Gayatin gowns of the bridal entourage, or in those of the principal sponsors.
On the arm of her father Kelly, a beaming Kaye strode down the aisle of the Metropolitan Cathedral in Cebu, her hair gathered at the back with a vintage-looking peineta. Her tulle veil was drawn back to reveal her radiant face. The bride obviously didn’t want any veil covering her face—you knew right away this would be a nontraditional, if not hip, wedding.
The long ensembles of the secondary sponsors were either in green or blue. The Gayatin gowns were beautifully draped, embellished only with monochromatic fabric cutouts.
Kaye was in a strapless gown with voluminously layered skirt—the look was intricate yet simple. If the bride wants to wear it to another dressy event in the future, she very well could; today’s Filipino brides are indeed practical.
The church’s decoration was spare and green so that it brought out the cathedral’s ornate and rich architecture. My first time to see the cathedral, I didn’t know it was that beautiful, its altar majestic in gleaming gold.
Cebu’s style maven Teresin Mendezona tastefully used lush foliage—hedge-like fern arrangements flanked the entrance to the aisle, accented with white blooms. The aisle was lined with white roses and orchids nestled in green ferns. Medium-height trees were set up at both sides of the church.
The Radisson Blu’s vast ballroom was an elegant setting of tall crystal candelabras and white blooms. Candelabras have become wedding style staples—usually carved wood or faux silver; this was a rare instance we saw brilliant crystal candelabras. They were non-obtrusive and elegant, and with the dainty white blooms, lent the whole place radiance.
Kaye, our Lifestyle columnist, is Canada-educated and with friend Cybill, has an events firm in Cebu. She and “Javi” have been an item for about four years—one of Cebu’s young stylish couples—before they tied the knot. Kaye is an only child, and her mother Elvira’s brief remarks at the reception drew chuckles from the guests.
Elvira said how she and husband Kelly are so proud of their only child Kaye, who not only grew up well, but also “never got arrested or got ink on her body”—referring to today’s party animals and their tattooed bodies.
Indeed, Elvira and Kelly’s rearing manner of an only child—a daughter, at that—is something other parents might want to emulate. I remember Elvira telling me how, at the onset, they wanted her daughter to be able to fend for herself—“what if we’re not around?” she said—so they packed her off to study in Canada. Indeed, empowering a child to lead a responsible, independent life is the best thing parents can give their children, be they an only child or not.
Javi comes from a brood of three and his older brother, best man Mikel, had laughs recalling their basketball games and other jaunts while growing up. He’s the son of Jose and Susan (formerly Montenegro) Sala.
Indeed, it was heartwarming to see the union of two of Cebu’s old families—a celebration that was warm because the number of guests was just right, just kin and friends.
Everybody was elegantly formal; it must have been one of the rare occasions we didn’t spot any fashion victim.
Elvira was in a deep red Marchesa—a simple, unadorned sheath that’s subtly cut at the waist, thus emphasizing her slim figure. It was stark yet drop-dead glamorous. Her only accent: Hans Brumann diamond chandelier earrings which Mr. Brumann and wife Maria brought themselves to Cebu on the eve of the wedding. The jewelry is, in fact, an heirloom—the master jeweler reset the diamonds from Elvira’s wedding and engagement jewelry, into this pair of earrings.
It was a special day for Mr. Brumann—that Aug. 11 was his birthday, and he enjoyed celebrating it in Cebu with old friends like the Luyms. The Brumann couple danced the night away, and so did friends Marissa Fernan and Marco Protacio.
Marco is practically an adopted Cebuano—he was general manager of Waterfront Hotel and Casino for 10 years, during which he livened up Cebu’s social scene with A-List parties, including Inquirer Lifestyle’s Cebu edition of Face-Off. Marco left the hotel two years ago. He is joining Ben Chan’s Bench group—not the fashion retail unit.
Not known to many is the fact that the Swiss-born Hans Brumann adopted Filipino citizenship 40 years ago, when he was starting out as a jeweler in the Philippines. Through the decades, he and wife Maria have trained and supported jewelry artisans and their families. The couple support scholars.
That night Maria wore very special jewelry—the iconic award-winning Brumann design. It was a necklace of platinum wire diamonds in a white gold frame. The piece was well-received in a jewelry contest in Europe 40 years ago, where it stayed for that long a time and resurfaced only recently.
The Radisson Blu left no stone unturned to give Kaye and Javi a truly sumptuous reception: The buffet had various stations, from Italian to Cebu fare, Japanese, and seafood; the lobsters were a hit.
The principal sponsors were Emil Montenegro, Marco Protacio, Stephen Tan, Francisco Tan, Nobuhiro Onda, Roberto Aboitiz, Victor Luym, and the women—Chona Montinola, Teresin Mendezona, Marissa Fernan, Barbara Tan, Margot Osmeña, Carolina Montenegro, Carmencita Gotauco.
Best men were Mikel Sala and Tristan Aboitiz. Maids of honor were Kirsteen Lim and Cybill Gayatin. Groomsmen were Shigejiro Onda, Domingo Rojo and Daniel Rojo. Bridesmaids were Beverly Tiu, Anna Imperial, Carina Sala. Junior bridesmaid was Cassandra Montenegro. Secondary sponsors were Raymund Basubas, Marelle Sala, Miguel Osmeña, Rowena Lim, Petrious Dakay and Jen Wladichuk. Flower girls were Ema Onda, Isabelle Fernan and Natalia Escaño.
Celebrant was the Jesuit priest Ernesto Javier. Other participants in the matrimonial mass were Marielle Montenegro (lector), Manny Fernan (first reading), Rachelle Luym (responsorial psalm), Alfonso Montenegro (second reading), Bunny Ludo-Alcordo (prayers of the faithful), and for the offertory—Elvira Luym and Jose Sala, May Lim and Leslie Alajas, James Montenegro and Sandro Aboitiz.
The Philippine fashion industry knows Giovanni Sanna, the master tailor who manned the famous Pierre Cardin boutique in Manila in the ’70s. We had a surprise text message giving us the news that Sanna is now Dom Giovanni Vincenzo of St. Scholastica Monastery in Subiaco, Italy.
Sanna has been a Benedictine monk for 15 years now—a fact I don’t think is known to many.
In the ’70s, Sanna was closely associated with Manila’s icons like Chona Kasten. He was so well-liked, a good friend to everyone. Perhaps not many knew that he had gone back to Italy to be a monk.
We just knew about it after he sent his regards to Dom Martin, another Benedictine monk who was one of Philippine fashion’s bright stars in the ’70s and the ’80s when he was known as Gang Gomez. Dom Martin is now based at the Monastery of Transfiguration in Bukidnon. He sent his regards through San Beda Abbott Tarcisio Ma. Narciso, OSB, who ran into Dom Giovanni in the Italian monastery during a recent abbotts’ meeting there.
You get curious—what is it about the glitzy world of fashion that sends a few of its stellar talents to the monastery?