Last Sunday, I woke up wondering what part of the world I was in. Twenty-four hours earlier, I had flown home to Manila from a wonderfully relaxing California vacation. Twelve hours after arrival, I had flown off to Cebu for work. Where could I be?
From my bed I could see a crystal-blue lagoon, surrounded by sparkling white sand. And then I remembered. I was at Plantation Bay Resort and Spa, in a spacious two-bedroom suite shared with gorgeous Divine Lee, a host on TV5’s Extreme Makeover Home Edition. What a fantastic way to start the workweek!
Cebu is like a second home to me, which is why the Cebu Pacific staff at the NAIA counter must have been extra helpful in allowing me to buy a ticket with just barely enough time to make the plane. After all, you have to help people get home.
After luxurious spa treatments at the resort’s Mogambo Springs Spa, and a delicious breakfast at Kilimanjaro Kafé, Divine and I were jet-lag free and ready to judge the alternative pageant, Queen of Cebu, together with her dashing boyfriend, Victor Basa.
The annual Queen of Cebu Pageant is a special celebration featuring gay contestants. The “girls” showcase their beauty and grace via elaborate costumes, including swimwear and evening gowns, and also share their intelligence in that beauty contest perennial, the Q&A portion.
Cebuano designer Cary Santiago is a producer of the Queen of Cebu, and funds raised go to worthy causes, so I am happy to support the pageant. After the romp, my Cebuana friends Abigail Ngo and Pauline Hofer showed us how to party!
First stop was Vudu, that classic place of the city, for the 50th birthday party of Jim Aboitiz, husband of my Assumption classmate Bernie. Vudu is right in Crossroads Arcade, and beside it is e-Games Café operated by my hubby Dennis’ company, PhilWeb Corporation. I should have dragged him here and called it a business trip!
Of course, beyond the partying, there were “Extreme Makeover” scenes to be taped. One of our co-hosts, Tristan Jovellana, had to fly home immediately after the taping for his wedding.
Divine and I have been bonding lately. Last month, we had a blast at the annual Fashion Week in SMX. Among the many fun shows was that of LA-based Oliver Tolentino, who has an atelier in Melrose Place and is another Pinoy who has also been featured in “America’s Next Top Model.”
Oliver showcased his stunning 70-piece collection at the Samsung Metrowear at the Sofitel Hotel’s Harbor Tent. He was honored as the Samsung MetroWear Icon of the Philippines by Metro & Metro Society magazines, in conjunction with the ABS-CBN TV network, and proceeds of his show went to Bantay Bata and Sagip Kapamilya.
Oliver asked Divine and I to model his creations, along with other muses like Kuh Ledesma, Tweetie de Leon-Gonzalez and Venus Raj. With all the models towering over me, I decided to entertain the elegant audience and sashay with the male model in front of me, who happened to be handsome Jake Cuenca.
Jake was part of the Red Charity Gala and he supports the Philippine Red Cross as well. Together with some of my Assumption classmates, we all graced Metro Society’s pages some months ago. For that fashion spread, I wore a stunning, bejeweled gown by Dubai-based designer Albert Andrada, another big name in the Middle East. Albert also joins Fashion Week every year.
This must truly be Oliver’s year, though. He also recently dressed Miss World first runner up Gwendoline Ruais. Cory Quirino, new country manager for Miss World, must be so proud of our Gwen’s success at the pageant.
Additionally, Oliver found time to launch his MaSAYA handbag collection for Rags2Riches, (visit rags2riches.ph) a socio-ethical endeavor to help the women of Payatas. Like his fellow designers Rajo Laurel and Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Oliver designed a handbag for the community, with all funds raised going to the nanays. This social enterprise has been featured on BBC.
A graduate of the Slim’s Fashion and Arts School, Oliver is just one of the many successful designers who are making waves in the international fashion scene. Dubai’s Ezra Santos and Michael Cinco were part of the [email protected] Presentation at Philippine Fashion Week.
Returning to the runaway after 25 years, designer Chito Vijandre created the largest waves at the show with his rich and opulent collection. Chito’s big comeback was so well applauded, making the Slim’s siblings, Sandy and Mark Higgins, feel like proud parents. Younger graduates Joey Samson, James Reyes and Martin Bautista are working with the Tanghalang Pilipino for their latest production of the season, “Emperor’s New Clothes.”
After gallivanting through Fashion Week and Cebu with Divine, it seemed only perfect to drag her to the opening of Jamba Juice at The Fort. The grand opening was right before the auspicious day, 11-11-11, and it was great to reunite with the Jamba Juice team that I had travelled to California with just a week prior. Jamba Juice executives Thibault de Chatellus and Dar Vasseghi flew in just for the opening!
Let me end with a quick round up of exciting things happening around town.
Rex Navarrete returns for two nights, courtesy of Catalyst Revolution, on Nov. 16 at the NBC Tent and on Nov. 25 at the Waterfront Hotel Cebu. (Tickets available at www.ticketworld. com.ph or 8919999).
The Ayala Alabang Camera Club (AACC) presents “AACC: Capturing and Creating Art in Abstractions,” a photo exhibit that ends today (Sunday) at the Home Zone of Alabang Town Center, Muntinlupa. AACC’s hobbyists and pros always show off Pinoy ingenuity for art through the medium of photography.
And lastly, it’s bazaar season. This weekend is the annual Assumption Bazaar at the Intercontinental Hotel, and today is also Rockwell’s Moonlit Bazaar, open until midnight, this weekend, Dec. 2-4 and 9-11, at the Rockwell Tent.