I have a long-standing “love affair” with watch brand Swatch and its Philippine distributor Virgie Ramos—who is and will always be my fairy “watchmother” when it comes to my timepieces and most especially my charity work.
My well-traveled gold Swatch cuff is my current favorite; I wore it to my DandTLove20 European “honeymoon” and everywhere else in between. This is why I’m so proud and excited to share a big milestone for Swatch Philippines and Tita Virgie—the launch of the Swatch & Swatch building and the immortalization of “Sabel,” BenCab’s artistic masterpiece, in the form of a Swatch watch.
BenCab’s paintings are visual delights; though he has had previous collaborations with Swatch, “Sabel” is kind of special. She has been his muse, with a bittersweet backstory of strength, determination and hope amid life’s struggles.
Sabel was a character that BenCab first painted on canvas in the 1960s. She was inspired by a real-life woman scavenger in his neighborhood in Bambang, Manila. He used to see her poring over garbage cans, gathering big plastic bags and wrapping them around her back to protect her from the rain.
The Swatch Sabel is a beautiful, emotional art piece on your wrist. Let’s not forget that it’s also an international design for Swatch, a grand way to celebrate art and 25 years of Swatch Philippines.
This milestone is also marked with the opening of the Swatch & Swatch building, a perfect venue that showcases the creativity and excitement the brand has inspired over the past 25 years. Located at 918 Arnaiz Ave., San Lorenzo Village, Makati City, it features two floors of retail and special-event spaces, plus a roof deck.
Level 1 is called The Pulse Floor and this was where the launch was held. Several “Sabel”-inspired pieces were on display, and a Swatch video retrospective continuously played on a large LED screen.
Fashion meets art as well, with 25 top Filipino designers showcasing their “Sabel”-inspired creations, including the work of our Red Charity Gala 2014 featured designer, Jojie Lloren. Other iconic Swatch watches were on display, such as The Philippines Centennial Watch by Jaime Zobel; watches by Keith Haring, Kiki Picasso, Akira Kurosawa, Christian Lacroix and Jeremy Scott were a few of the 50 iconic watches on exhibit.
The event was hosted by my fellow Swatch endorser, Luis Manzano; Anne Curtis and Billy Crawford, both Swatch ambassadors, provided the entertainment; and guests were served a gastronomical feast of 25 dishes.
The Retail Hub on Level 2 showcases BenCab’s artwork, and also displays the latest Swatch collections (Sistem51), including those for the holidays.
On sale are the limited- and numbered-edition Swatch Sabel, select limited-edition “Sabel” prints from the BenCab Museum, and the limited-edition print series of the black-and-white “Sabel” geisha.
Raising a glass to 25 years of inspiration, collaboration, talent and art were Luis Manzano, Swatch Philippines president Virgie Ramos, BenCab, Swatch international creative director Carlo Giordanetti, Swiss Ambassador Ivo Sieber, Anne Curtis, and muses wearing the “Sabel”-inspired creations.
Capping the night was an amazing fireworks display with live music by Louie Ocampo.
Swatch & Swatch opened to the public on Nov. 5.
Visit and like Swatch Philippines on Facebook (www.facebook.com/SwatchPH). Tel. 8871898.
A year after ‘Yolanda’
Yesterday, Nov. 8, marked the first anniversary of Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” We remember the tragedy, devastated to learn that there are still many families left homeless, living in makeshift tents and struggling to get back on their feet.
There are many organizations passionately working in procuring funds to help build homes for the survivors; one is the Assumption Alumnae Association Inc. (AAA) through the Assumption Cares program.
For Assumption Cares, it’s not just about providing a house for shelter, but making a first step toward recovery. Assumption Cares has turned over more than 100 homes to survivors in Mercedes, Eastern Samar, and has been working hard to put up more dwellings and community centers. It is also rebuilding damaged structures such as schools and churches.
Though homes are the primary objective, Assumption Cares sees the need to have a developmental plan that would help rebuild the community through livelihood opportunities. In the pipeline is a teacher training program for 700 teachers and 100 more homes by next year.
Hats off to the hardworking Assumption Old Girls led by Assumption Cares chair Gina Gabaldon-Hechanova and her core group composed of Maricris Cardenas-Zobel, Gina Africa-Aboitiz, Mielle Esteban, Mely Diaz and Connie Gomez-Valdes; and AAA president Marily Ledesma with Millette Tanada-Ocampo and Dida Cosio-Salita for their passion, hard work and dedication to see this project through.
Gratitude as well to the AAAAF-Spain, Ambassador Bienvenido L. Tan, Ambassador Bienvenido Tantoco Sr., Jose Concepcion Jr. and family, the Aboitiz family, ITCSI, the St. Joseph Foundation and the Assumption Old Girls in the Philippines and all over the world who made everything possible.
Helping out in the Yolanda-ravaged areas is a personal mission and I’m ecstatic that my friends and family share this task with me. I thank them for being very passionate and generous!
Our goal for the DandTLove20 of raising funds to build 20 houses for Yolanda survivors was achieved through your help. Assumption High School ’81 successfully raised P1.6 million to build 20 homes for 20 families in Port Kennedy, Mercedes, Eastern Samar.
‘Shop and care’
If you would like to help out and have fun at the same time, you can “shop and care” at the Assumption Alumnae Association’s annual Assumption Bazaar. From 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the grand ballroom of Hotel InterContinental, you can shop for Christmas gifts, food, clothes and more!