Tessa!

Red Charity Gala delivers smashing fashion–and Piolo Pascual

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SUN LIFE New Business manager Vangie Tiu; Junie and Riena Pama, chief operations officer, Sun Life Asset Management Co.; Sun Life advisor Ann Gaerlan, Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Sun Life Philippines chief marketing officer Mylene Daez-Lopa, Sun Life advisors Glenda Mercado and Santino Ongsiaco; Sun Life’s Digital Marketing specialist Tara Cabullo

The Red Charity Gala has once again delivered a winning combination of stunning fashion, fabulous food, flowing wine and champagne, generous friends, and, best of all, lots and lots for charity.

I am, of course, tooting my own horn, but none of this would be possible without my co-chair, the philanthropic beauty, Kaye Tinga.

PDI FAMILY Charlie Rufino, Alex Prieto, Tessa Valdes, Marixi Prieto, Dennis Valdes, lawyer Opap Villongco and Cary Rufino

It’s hard to imagine that Kaye and I have now produced three Red Charity Galas, all of them at the top-of-the-line Makati Shangri-La Hotel, all of them showcasing the top talents among the many fine Filipino designers, again, all of them raising funds for the Philippine National Red Cross, Assumption HS Batch ’81 Foundation and various other charities. Our team includes director Ariel Lozada, and with such professionals on board, it’s all been a blast!

After back-to-back Dubai-based designers, this year’s show features fashion phenom and creative Cebuano, Cary Santiago. Cary was once based in the Middle East, like his two predecessors, Furne One and Michael Cinco, but his journey went through Beirut and Dubai, with final finishing in the Mecca of fashion: Paris.

I arrived at the Shang lobby in style, on board the coolest red Mini Roadster by British United Automobiles. The Roadster is a Mini Cooper Coupe but set up like a sports car, with only two seats and a droppable roof.

REMY Martin Team: Sunny Ku, Eric Kahn, Noel Sebastian, Sea Princess, Country Commercial Manager for Remy Cointreau International Joey Pineda, David Lim

You can just imagine the scene as I crossed Edsa in a Mini Cooper convertible, with the top off to accommodate my elevated hairstyle and feathered hat, the latter thanks to Hat Momma’s Marilou Laurena. My voluminous ball gown, by Cary, of course, surprisingly fit in the spacious seating area of the Mini.

My dashing hubby, Dennis, drove in separately. His ride was a brilliant red Mustang, lent to us by Ford for the weekend. There’s nothing like the deep vroom of a V8 to wake up the macho in a hubby.

Miriam Quiambao

The cocktails, sponsored by Sun Life Financial, were in full swing when we arrived. This innovative insurance company has just launched its latest campaign, stressing the importance of having a financial advisor to help us navigate our personal financial needs.

Sun Life’s brand endorser is the “finance” wizard, Piolo Pascual, who no doubt helps countless women with their needs. Joining him are Patty Laurel, Ogie and Regine Velazquez-Alcasid, and little ol’ me.

At the foyer of the ballroom, Tresemme, Unilever’s newest hair brand had an elegant display of their latest products. Tresemme allows women to have salon gorgeous hair at home. Très bien, one might pun.

Special gift Tresemme gift packs were given to selected ladies who supported the Red Charity Gala. Unilever also gave special gifts, iPads (!), to three lucky ladies of the evening: Small Laude, Beng Dee and Nikki Tang.

CARY Santiago muses Small Laude, Kaye Tinga, Sea Princess and Cris Albert

The champagne for the night was Piper-Heidsieck Brut, providing just the right foundation for the sumptuous, five-course dinner. Along with Remy Martin VSOP cognac, I’m sure the crowd had a gastronomic feast.

As we dove into our halo-halo desserts, Smart Infinity introduced its latest Plan 3500, arguably the most flexible plan ever created. Four variants cater to different styles of mobile users, with the P3,500 monthly fee fully consumable across all of Smart Communications’ services. Smart Infinity raffled off a Samsung S3 with a Plan 3500, won by elegantly attired Alice Eduardo.

Charity auction

PAGCOR president Jorge Sarmiento, wifeWawie, daughter Mika and Dennis Valdes

Every year, society man Tim Yap and I host a charity auction to get the crowd’s juices flowing. I always try to keep it short, but it’s a struggle when people want to bid more to give more.

Our biggest donor of the evening was generous businessman Scott Weismann, who won two bids—for a Lancel bag and an Alphaland Balesin Island Club weekend package. Considering he also bought two tables, I’m sure Scott will be among the top donors for the Red Cross this year. And to think that neither prize stayed with him for long! He gave the Lancel bag to his lawyer and the Balesin package to the ever-voluptuous Ruffa Gutierrez.

MINI Cooper Philippines head Willy Tee Tan with lovely Owee

Remy Martin’s Joey Pineda and Noel Sebastian, impressed by Scott’s generosity, decided to give him a gift he could take home and enjoy for himself—a baccarat-crystal bottle of the ultra premium Louis XIII Cognac. Even here, Scott avoided the stage and asked a friend, Samantha Carbonel, to accept the prized bottle.

Other winning bidders included Fila’s princess, Cris Albert, who won a pretty Jul Dizon Jewellery ring and VIP tickets to the J Lo Concert on Nov. 26; and beloved brother-in-law, Philip Romualdez, who won a pair of Business Class tickets to Bangkok courtesy of Philippine Airlines, a weekend stay at the Shangri-La Resort and Spa in Boracay, and a Sun Life package.

FILA princess Cris Albert, Maurice Arcache and Virgie Ramos

After the bids came the bods. Fila put in an explosive, high-energy opening act, kind of the sorbet before the main course. The dancers climaxed by presenting Fila’s endorsers: Fabio Ide, Tim Yap and Georgina Wilson.

And then came Cary. The fashion maven focused on true craftsmanship and exquisite attention to detail, staying away from glitter and bling. There’s a slew of photos on various websites and blogs, such as StyleBible.ph and Valorie dela Cruz’s www.valoriemarie.com, with photos by Klay Tan. YouTube has videos of the Red Charity Gala by Marty Ilagan.

I’d say more but there has already been so much coverage and I’d rather leave space for photos, which do Cary much better. Suffice it to say that his creations were sublime, with fashion styling by Noel Manapat, and hair and makeup by Patrick Rosas.

TRESEMME brand ambassador Kelly Misa

Many thanks again to all—wonderful sponsors Smart Infinity, PLDT-Smart Foundation, Megaworld, Fila, Mini Cooper, Sun Life Financial, Philippine Airlines and Preview Magazine. Many thanks also to generous supporters Remy Martin, Piper-Heidsieck Champagne, Villa del Conte, Luxe by Goldilocks, DAS Shoes (www.facebook.com/DASmyshoes) and Robert Blancaflor Group for the floral arrangements. And as always, every year we are indebted to PR guru Edd Fuentes for his assistance.

After every Red Charity Gala, Kaye and I look at each other and wonder if we can muster up the energy and creativity to do this once more. Can you guess the answer?

Follow @tessavaldes on Twitter or e-mail her at seaprincess@inquirer.com.ph.

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