Wishes do come true! If you ask for them with fervent prayers, they will unfold and give you more joy than you hoped for.
The Red Charity Gala has constantly been on my list of prayer offerings, especially during my weekly Baclaran novena.
My awesome co-chair Kaye Tiñga and I have worked on this annual project for six years now, and we are always thrilled to bring something new to Manila’s fashion scene, at the same time raising funds for the Philippine Red Cross and Assumption HS ’81 Foundation.
This year’s gala was yet another roaring success.
Manila’s fashionable elite gathered at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel to enjoy a meaningful evening with all the fun ingredients the gala is known for. The night started with lots of Piper-Heidsieck champagne and Penfolds wines for the special cocktails.
Bench was the gala’s main presenter; cocktail tables featured huge cutout letters of the retail brand. Guests seemed to have their mobile phones out all night taking pictures.
Riza Mantaring, head of Sun Life Financial, one of our main sponsors, was there, fresh from completing the Chicago Marathon. Sun Life has always been supportive of the Red Cross, with Riza personally assisting as well.
Also mingling about were Kenneth and Cindy Yang, who channeled support through the McDonald’s Foundation. They marveled at the giant fragrance bottle made of white chrysanthemums at the Shang lobby, a tribute to Bench’s new fragrance, Zoe by Ezra Santos, who was also the featured designer of the gala.
I stood on a small platform to welcome all the guests, although none could miss me—given my sky-high hair creation, thanks to Salon Privat’s Danny Katalbas. My hair was too high to fit into the Rolls-Royce Ghost that Willy Tee Ten graciously lent to chauffeur me and hubby Dennis to the Shang. So Dennis ended up in the Rolls while I took a car with more “hair-room.” Upon arrival, photographers Marty Ilagan and Klay Tan magically took me “alighting” from the Rolls.
The foyer of the Rizal Ballroom featured a gorgeous setup from W/17, styled by the slim and stylish Andy Vasquez-Prada. He whispered that his weight-loss program had recently won in Europe as a “Biggest Loser” entry in the medical field.
The Remy Martin Cognac bar at the foyer was busy serving cognac-blend cocktails. It seemed a lot of fashion show-averse husbands hung out at the bar enjoying the special Louis XIII de Remy Martin.
It was a busy evening, given the cocktails and the number of participating sponsors, including Megaworld, Smart Infinity, Sta. Elena Construction, Sun Life, Swatch and TRESemmé.
Makati Shangri-La always used the occasion to showcase its latest cuisine, starting off the grand dinner with a parade of waiters and the Remy Martin ladies.
Just before dessert, my energetic co-auctioneer Tim Yap and I opened with a short auction to encourage more giving. This year, the entire proceeds will go to the victims of the recent 7.2-magnitude earthquake in Cebu and Bohol.
Trying to auction off five packages in record speed, we started with a His & Hers Package of an oil painting by Angelito Antonio, donated by Old Manila Gallery owner Alex Alcantara, and a leather bucket bag and wallet from Lancel. The eye-catching, elegant bag is made of smooth cow leather from Italy, and luxurious microfiber suede lining, with champagne-colored jewelry as accents. (The Lancel Belle Epoque is exclusively distributed by Riviera Luxury Retailers Corp. The Lancel boutique is at 2/F, Shangri-La Plaza.)
The Balesin Package was matched with a bottle of the special Louis XIII de Remy Martin. We added a Sun Life policy good for one year to make it more exciting. Thanks to Alphaland boss Babes Oreta, the Balesin stay was extended to three nights instead of two. This was too good to pass for lovely pair Jean Henri and Bea Lhuillier.
The “Wicked” Package, in which we highlighted the sponsorship of Smart Infinity and the offer for new subscribers to directly get tickets to the musical, was the next auction. Together with a beautiful South Sea pearl necklace from Jewelmer and an overnight stay at the Presidential Suite of Diamond Hotel, this amazing set went to Inquirer’s Paolo Prieto.
During the Smart Infinity segment, a Samsung digital camera was raffled off before the main raffle of a Samsung TV. Lui Rufino of Smart Infinity went on stage to promote the new sign-up campaign of the brand and award the winners.
National Book Store’s Xandra Ramos Padilla was ecstatic about her new camera and the whole Swatch family led by Virgie Ramos was cheering her on.
The Bali Package went to the hottest actor that evening, Derek Ramsay. He generously bid for two Business Class tickets to Bali on Philippine Airlines and a weekend stay at The Mulia, Mulia Resort & Villas, Nusa Dua, Bali. This package came with a Sun Life plan and a handsome Tumi luggage.
Villa del Conte owners Vince and Rhoda Aldanese graciously arranged for the Bali villas as well as Villa del Conte chocolates to all the guests.
The last auction item was another gorgeous strand of champagne, semi-baroque, golden South Sea pearl necklace donated by Jewelmer. Gracious sisters Alice Eduardo and Small Laude almost won the bid.
Before the main event, sponsor TRESemme awarded the top three ladies with the most radiant hair and gave them TRESemme hair products and lots of goodies. TRESemme ambassadors Raymond Gutierrez and Liz Uy, together with hairstylist Lourd Ramos, chose Den Casipit, Audrey Zubiri and Grace Baja.
The entire event is featured on the wonderful blog of Franco Laurel called The Happy Man. Also check out my personal website www.TessaPrietoValdes.com for guests and fashion show photos.
Centering on the fashion of Dubai-based designer Ezra Santos, the show opened with the introduction of Zoe and Zurie, his new fragrances for Bench, through a show featuring Bench underwear worn by tall Adonis-looking male models.
Expertly directed by Ariel Lozada and with fashion styling by Noel Manapat, the stunning collection of gowns inspired by Art Nouveau and “Divine Romanticism” was breathtaking.
Kaye and I have been getting better at starting the Red Charity Gala earlier every year. Next year, we might even start on time.
Special thanks to Robert Blancaflor Group, Villa del Conte, W/17, Gardenia bread and Goldilocks for all the goodies that guests took home.