When I saw its size for the first time, “big” was an understatement.
My role as “dream maker” at the grand opening of City of Dreams Manila fascinated me. Designer Rajo Laurel was commissioned to design and create the gown. The team would include Rajo’s “house angels”—makeup artist Leo Posadas, hairstylist Nelson Cruz and Matet Esguerra from the House of Laurel. I knew nothing could go wrong.
I was to perform onstage with Ballet Philippines dancers for a couple of minutes in the opening sequence, then walk about a hundred meters to the casino for more people to see the gown. The challenge, though, was that I had to remain composed for an hour, and act as if the gown didn’t weigh 12 kilos.
It was considerably lighter compared to other gowns I have worn. Among many others, there was Furne One’s 50-kilo cape, Gerry Sunga’s 4.5 kilos of jewelry, and Cary Santiago’s 30-kilo outfit.
But my dream maker gown’s six-foot circumference and conservative estimated weight of 12 kilos were quite daunting.
Rajo’s biggest dress
Nonetheless it was a sight to behold. Rajo exclaimed, “It’s the biggest dress I have ever made in my entire life!”
Using his words, the gown’s inspiration was that of a mythical queen, creator and keeper of all our dreams. It utilized more than 200 yards of silk tulle, just for the skirt alone.
Several treatments on the dress—from gold leather laser detail to 3D appliqués, outlined with glass beads and Austrian crystals—were also added. It took around five months to make it.
The gown also featured a headpiece made of mylar, and also embellished with crystals and beadwork.
The gowns Rajo made for the Ballet Philippines dancers and models were done with a similar theme, which made them look like fairies and goddesses. To complete the look, our makeup and hairstyles were likewise exceptional. We all looked ethereal and heavenly. There was definitely no shortage of gold makeup and gold leaf!
I had to sit down most of the time because of the gown’s weight; I had to be assisted by six people, including Matet, Luminous Issa Casal and pretty Bernice Palanca-Go, just to get to the backstage from the dressing area.
American R&B singer-songwriter and former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland was on stage that time; after her performance, she exited at the opposite panel. With her five tall and burly bodyguards, she made her way backstage.
One of Rajo’s assistants, Michelle, was a huge fan of Kelly and couldn’t contain her excitement. I never knew that excitement could be contagious and, true enough, after a while, all of us were screaming with glee when we saw Kelly.
We told Michelle to go for it, approach Kelly, and ask to have a picture taken with her. After gathering some strength, she and Matet walked toward Kelly. By that time, I was already a fangirl shouting, “I hope she sees me! I hope she sees me!”
But of course, I forgot I was wearing the biggest gown around. True enough, Kelly my way and said, “That is so amaaazing!” And I was momentarily frozen with shock and awe.
Matet asked Kelly if we could have our picture taken with her. She went up to me and extended her hand so we could touch. It must have been similar to how my niece felt when she saw One Direction up close; it was exhilarating, to say the least.
Kelly was very pretty and graceful. I was starstruck. Before leaving, she looked at me again and said, “You’re so beautiful.”
Wow, I can’t even remember what words came out of my mouth. I just hope it was “Thank you.”
We also caught American R&B singer-songwriter Ne-Yo up close but didn’t have the chance for a photo opportunity, since we were up next onstage. Ne-Yo and his dancers had such boundless energy, they kept the crowd cheering and singing along to his hits.
Our segment in the program officially opened the doors of City of Dreams to the public. An extravagant fireworks display filled the night sky for more than five minutes. By the time it was finished, I was ushered from the stage to the casino lobby for the guests to get a closer glimpse of the dream maker and her gown.
Elegantly dressed personalities I saw included Leyte fourth district Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez, actress Iza Calzado, jeweler Candy Dizon, media personality Tim Yap, designers Pia Perey and Dennis Lustico, the forever bubbly Tessa Prieto-Valdes, and Pangaea Singapore creative director Sabrina Van Cleef Ault.
When all was done, I left right away because I had to rush home for mommy duties. Yes, this one was quite the Cinderella moment. In one night, I played a divine character, held hands with Kelly Rowland, was backstage while Ne-Yo performed, got photographed by numerous people while wearing Rajo’s biggest visual masterpiece, interacted with the most attractive crowd I’ve ever seen—and marveled at the sheer magnificence of City of Dreams.