Gawad Kalinga hosts its own star-studded ball | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

TODAY, I want to write about a ball. But not that ball yet. This week, I want to write about the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Hope Ball.

GK, of course, is one of our best-known foundations, as it has built homes and communities across the country. The GK Hope Ball is a fundraising dinner-cum-auction that is fast becoming one of the must-attend events of Manila’s Ball season.

Now on its second year, the Ball continues to support the work of GK in Sulu. GK Hope Ball chair Beliz Balkir Crook flew in just for the affair, and GK founder Tony Meloto once again brought together a star-studded guest list.

The live auction featured an eclectic mix of exciting items. There seemed to be something for everyone, from a bamboo bike for the sporty set to a trip to France for the jet set. Designer Randy Ortiz presented a fashion tableau of his t’nalak collection using the Tausug Sulu weave.

The GK Hope Ball was sponsored by Lifestyle Asia, The Peninsula Manila, Rustan’s, One Meralco Foundation, KLM Air France, Cathay Pacific, Asia United Bank and Manny O Wines. Check out the wonderfully detailed blog of Rica de Jesus ( for photos on the auction.

Pearl celebrators

The GK Hope Ball also featured a sumptuous menu by a team of chefs, including chef J Gamboa. Chef J’s sisters all went to the Assumption and elder sister Malu is the head of this year’s silver jubilarians.

The Assumption homecoming or velada, is held every October, and it is the chance for many women of a certain age to don that infamous and iconic red plaid skirt once again. And that includes my own Assumption HS batch ’81.

As the Pearl celebrators, we were excited to get our groove on and hit the stage with our hip-hop and jazzy dances. We spent weeks mastering a seven-minute dance routine. It must have been sheer frustration for coach Vimi Rivera, who also happens to be the choreographer of the champion AC Dance Troupe.

Never mind. What we lacked in memory, we definitely made up for in gusto! Our model dancer was Pia Lopez-Lorenzo who patiently rehearsed her classmates before each practice session.

Pia and I also watched the international theatrical sensation, “Stomp!” now playing at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The West End sensation got the audience cheering and stomping, and even got a standing ovation. If you haven’t seen it, catch the last two shows today. (Call Ticketworld at 8919999.)

Our batch was just happy to bond once again and dance with our Assumption sisters. We were also reunited with our Assumption batch ’56, who were Golden when we were Silver, and now are Emerald to our Pearl.

The Emerald girls’ choreographer was Terry Aldeguer, half of the famous dancing duo Aldeguer sisters. My mother, Marixi Prieto, and her Batch ’56 classmates put up an incredible “Copacabana” number.

Velada time brings home Assumptionistas from around the world. Among the balikbayan are my best friends Isabel Lacson and Marichu Alcasid-Bednar. Marichu is the elder sister of top singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid.

At The Farm

After the Velada, we detoxed at The Farm in San Benito (, enjoying its current 30-percent off promo that runs until Oct.  27. Smart Infinity made sure we got additional perks when we checked in.

The Farm is truly a unique experience, combining integrative medical treatments with a breathtaking environment. We were lucky to attend a yoga class by Anna Carbonell who introduced us to Lady Niguma Yoga which centers on the seven chakras within us.

Anna also teaches in Beyond Yoga (3/F, Il Terrazzo, Tomas Morato Avenue corner Scout Madrinian St., QC, tel. 0917-5239663), which she co-owns with yogi friend Cara de Ocampo. Among their wide range of yoga classes are Jivamukti Spiritual Warrior and Anti-Gravity Yoga.

Yoga is so in that even Assumption teaches classes. Yoga teacher Maritoni Rufino-Tordesillas has a class for kinder and prep mothers to show kids and adults how to enjoy the practice.

After The Farm, our Velada batch visited Taal, Batangas to visit Our Lady of Caysasay in the Basilica de San Martin de Tours. The family of Marichu is from there so her mother Minnie Alcasid has been heading the restoration of the Basilica. Our Assumption HS ’81 Foundation will definitely support this project.

We visited the church and the nearby well where the apparition of Our Lady of Caysasay occurred. Afterwards, we had a wonderful lunch at Casa Conchita, run by Tony Alcasid (tel. 0917-5744322).

Truly, Velada time is a time when we can re-bond with our high school classmates, in a variety of events ranging from fun to charity. Charity is a big part of our Assumption heritage! But I don’t want to get trapped to segue into talking about the Red Charity Ball yet.

Fashion Week

Instead, let me talk about Philippine Fashion Week. Michael Cinco and fellow designer Oliver Tolentino are alums of Slim’s Fashion & Arts School (tel. 8873390, e-mail

Slim’s is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a gamut of activities. There’s an exhibit of student works until Oct. 25, and four days later, “Slim’s at 50” is on at Fashion Week.

Michael will be featured, along with alumni designers over five decades, ranging from Joe Salazar to Cesar Gaupo and even, surprise, surprise, Chito Vijandre. Michael will showcase his collection at the opening of Fashion Week tomorrow night at SMX, while Oliver will be showing his gala collection tomorrow as well, at the Samsung Metrowear Icon at Harbour Garden Tent in Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.

It’s going to be a busy Fashion Week, but after that, I’ll be finally be ready to start writing about that ball.

Follow the author at Twitter@tessavaldes or e-mail

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