The holidays may be over, but we couldn’t get over the exhilarating experience of watching “Celebrations: 32 Years of Christmas Concert at the Pen,” a benefit show held annually for the Peninsula Hotels’ Hope for the Philippines fund.
The Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by maestro Ruggero Barbieri, featured sopranos Rachelle Gerodias and Brigitte Van Hagen and baritone Byeong-in Park, and the 50-strong University of Santo Tomas Singers delivered stirring renditions of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” Strauss’ “Radetzky March,” Shostakovich’s “Festive Overture” and, of course, Handel’s “Messiah” and the premier performance of “Zadok the Priest” (aka the “Coronation Anthem”)—in commemoration of the Pen’s 40th anniversary.
Directed by Freddie Santos, the concert drew an SRO-crowd that kept shouting for more while applauding non-stop.
Providing generous support to the event was Nedy Tantoco of Rustan’s and the Stores Specialists Inc. (SSI) Group, no less.
‘Life is a party’
Honorary consul to Guatemala Amelia “Mellie” Ablaza marked another milestone by celebrating her recent 75th birthday with her famille and close friends.
On the formal invitation, inserted like a skirt on a sketch of Mellie was a printed silk chiffon scarf that served not only as the souvenir, but also as a symbol of the dress code to the party. The guests were asked to come in stylish silk prints and patterns.
Along with the dress code was a statement that captured Mellie’s joyful persona: “Life is a party, dress like it!”
Held at the Ablazas’ grand estate in Cavite, the affair opened with a thanksgiving Mass.
Ushers dressed in modernized barong by Steve de Leon and Ablaze Artwear & Artcessories then escorted the invitees to the main house where a grand exhibit was prepared.
The exhibit was a tribute to dean of Philippine fashion Ben Farrales, a dear friend of Mellie. She credits some of her most outstanding wardrobe to Mang Ben.
Guests marveled at the exhibit’s fashion showcase of Mellie’s dresses, all designed by Mang Ben.
The finale pieces were worn by Mellie’s only daughter, Czarina Ablaza-Syquia, walking the runway in clothes inspired by Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal.
For lunch, the guests proceeded to the pavilion, which was styled in traditional Filipiniana by Jun Jun Ablaza. The table had vegetables and fruits carefully placed together as centerpieces. The food was catered by chef Jessie Sincioco.
As the guests dined, Alfonso, Agu, Amanu and Azi Ablaza Syquia performed Christmas carols on violin.
Hosted by Tedrick Yau, the program was highlighted by Mellie expressing her gratitude to everyone who attended. In her speech, she proudly revealed her age, adding that she’s very happy with her life.
Then Mellie’s grandson, Santi Ablaza, entered carrying the birthday cake.
Directing the program was Oscar Atendido, with additional inputs from Michelle Sison, Trixie Orobia and Jett Carpio.
Never outdone, Mellie’s parties have
always been memorable, talked about by her guests and social spectators years après the event was held.
18th solo art exhibit
A woman of substance and stature, multitalented artist and writer Maria Victoria Rufino is holding her 18th solo exhibit, “Luminescence—Dreamscapes 2016,” at The Gallery of Peninsula Manila. It opened yesterday, Feb. 2, and will run till Feb. 7.
Rufino has mounted successful exhibits of her paintings and mixed media work both here and abroad, including the United States, Italy and Hong Kong.
Of “Luminescence,” she says: “My dreamscapes reflect a fascination with the nuances of light—radiant and luminous— in nature. Impressions of timeless vistas blend with memories of the future and déjà vu images of the past.”
Art critic Cid Reyes says she “is intimately connected with her medium… animates water, which is very neutral… but when she merges water and pigment, it’s like they were destined to meet each other.”
“Luminiscence—Dreamscapes” will feature 35 mixed media. National Artist Virgilio Almario and award-winning poet Marne Kilates will read a number of their newly written verses.
Sponsored by wines and spirits distributor Forth & Tay, the exhibit’s proceeds will benefit the Child Protection Network Foundation.