‘Happy with tears’ | Lifestyle.INQ
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On the roof deck garden, Yuko Tsuji (fifth from right)with her Filipino friends led by host Virgie Ramos (beside Tsuji),withMatteo Guidicelli, Sandy Uy, Gila Garcia, Sheila Ramos, ShinjiOnishi, Ho YinWong, Kento Awano, Caroline Tsang, Rowell Santiago, Susan Joven

‘Happy with tears’

On the roof deck garden, Yuko Tsuji (fifth from right)with her Filipino friends led by host Virgie Ramos (beside Tsuji),withMatteo Guidicelli, Sandy Uy, Gila Garcia, Sheila Ramos, ShinjiOnishi, Ho YinWong, Kento Awano, Caroline Tsang, Rowell Santiago, Susan Joven
On the roof deck garden, Yuko Tsuji (fifth from right)with her Filipino friends led by host Virgie Ramos (beside Tsuji),withMatteo Guidicelli, Sandy Uy, Gila Garcia, Sheila Ramos, Shinji Onishi, Ho Yin Wong, Kento Awano, Caroline Tsang, Rowell Santiago, Susan Joven

In an age when everything is disposable, instant and fleeting, when messages and photos are easy to delete, there happened a dinner that gladdened the heart and made you realize that this isn’t a disposable world, after all.

 

On Nov. 22, a prominent Japanese flew to Manila just to celebrate her birthday here with an old friend.

 

Yuko Tsuji, member of the board of directors and CEO, Asia, of Sanrio Company, Ltd, celebrated her birthday at a superbly styled dinner hosted by a longtime friend of the Tsuji family, Virgie Ramos.

 

Ramos, a lifestyle mover herself, was like family to Yuko and her late husband, Kunihiko, the heir to the Sanrio fortune (Hello Kitty to many generations) and was its CEO at the time of his death three years ago, at a relatively young 60.

Rowell Santiago, Virgie Ramos, Yuko Tsuji, Matteo Guidicelli
Rowell Santiago, Virgie Ramos, Yuko Tsuji, Matteo Guidicelli

It was a friendship nurtured over the decades, fueled obviously by the fact that Ramos is a most avid lover of Japanese culture and way of life, having spent a portion of her youth in Japan—a hardcore Japanophile, easily.

 

When Yuko saw the dinner Ramos had prepared for her, she was close to tears—“happy with tears,” as she put it, certain that it was “the shiawase” that her late husband was bringing her way. Translated loosely, “shiawase” refers to happiness and good fortune.

Indeed it was as if the late Japanese tycoon had a way of entrusting his widow to their dear friend, Ramos, on her birthday, a happy-sad day. It was on her birthday three years ago that he succumbed to aneurysm and heart attack.

The honoree felt “happy with tears,” during the dinner that was happy with style. Gino Gonzales had used Latin American elements in the minimalist setting that was the Swatch+Swatch Center, to complement the Peruvian menu prepared so assiduously by Shangri-La at the Fort, with the affable general manager, John Rice, himself supervising the dinner. An open kitchen allowed the guests to view the preparations.

 

African masks and contemporary art enhanced the space. The male guests were given ponchos to don—actually rugs and tablecloths from H&M. How whimsical.

African masks and contemporary art define the ambiance.
African masks and contemporary art define the ambiance.

The female guests were given accessories—tassled earrings, floral headbands, chunky necklaces—with mirror chips.

 

Colorful cacti and clear acrylic cases (Muji) served as centerpieces. Rosemary and succulents from the roof-deck garden were accents on the kitchen table.

Colorful cacti in clear acrylic cases are table centerpieces.
Colorful cacti in clear acrylic cases are table centerpieces.

The roof deck, under a clear, starry night, had specks of gold and green lights strung on the talisay plants.

Indeed on her birthday, Yuko was with family who was—kawaii, happy and stylish. —THELMA SAN JUAN

Ponchos, fans, ladies’ accessories for the guests
Ponchos, fans, ladies’ accessories for the guests
Swatch+Swatch’s minimalist space welcomes Christmas with stylized “parol” of BenCab art.
Swatch+Swatch’s minimalist space welcomes Christmas with stylized “parol” of BenCab art.