Tony Rodriguez celebrates abundance for Christmas

Enormous tree dominates the North Wing.

With the Philippines as a top economic performer among its Asean neighbors, and the Bellevue Hotels posting good revenues, decorator Tony Rodriguez has chosen the theme of abundance for his client’s décor.

The Bellevue Manila in Alabang is shining in tones of red, orange and gold to symbolize prosperity. Christmas trees are decked with apples, oranges and grapes, and woven bamboo baskets brimming with gilt flowers and glittery balls.

Roman urns are bursting with lights, golden branches, shimmering poinsettias and sparkling lights.

“When you talk about abundance, everything has to look full,” said Rodriguez.

While most Christmas trees around the city are in snowy white, gold or silver, the one at the Bellevue lobby is traditional green.

Each element—poinsettia, silk amaryllis, hydrangea, peony, orchid and fruit—is lovingly placed on the branches by Rodriguez and his crew.

The windows sport giant wreaths, with baskets overflowing with shimmery flowers and fruits. Swags of lights flicker on doorways and the staircase.

As if these weren’t enough, Rodriguez filled up the property with different kinds of Christmas trees. The main sinamay tree at the North Wing lobby is unique for its billowing accents. Rodriguez said it was inspired by the famous photo of Marilyn Monroe’s skirt blowing in the wind.

The Chan family: Dustin with fiancée Yumi Ichinomiya, Patrick and son Gabby, Ryan, matriarch Debbie, Bellevue chairperson Johnny, Alejandro, Denise and son Raffy, Chermane

Spiral trees, shining with metallic balls, line the façade of the North Tower. Rodriguez explained that the spiral is a symbol of new life or the change from seeking external gratification to looking inward and becoming spiritual.

Massive heart attack

He said his work for the Bellevue Group of Hotels reflects his own rebirth. In 2004, he suffered a massive heart attack and a stroke that left him wheelchair-bound. Instead of indulging in self-pity, Rodriguez immersed himself in Christmas decorating projects which gave his life more meaning.

Six years ago, Rodriguez met with the Bellevue owners, the Chan family, who have since become his loyal clients.

Bellevue Manila managing director Patrick Chan said that since the hotel’s inception 15 years ago, the company has worked with several artists for the Christmas season. The Chans were more than satisfied when they started collaborating with Rodriguez.

“We have the same mind-set on how things should look for our property—simple, elegant, traditional yet with creativity,” said Chan.

One of the reasons for their long partnership is that the hotel treats Rodriguez like family.

Rodriguez said that the Christmas projects have kept him alive: “I am humbled by the sincerity of the hi’s and hello’s from hotel management and staff every time I pass the doors and hallways. The appreciation of my work is overwhelming. A tap on my back, a handshake and a simple smile make me feel that the effort was worth it.

Tony Rodriguez (center)with his assistants, from left, Jimmy Valle,Alvin Malana and Alniño Malana

Detail of abundance-themed decor

“As if all these were not enough, Bellevue offered to host my flower arrangement classes. It’s been a lifelong dream to share my knowledge with the next generation.”

Chan echoed the importance of family in his speech at the recent Christmas tree lighting ceremony. He mentioned that after attending a parenting seminar, he was surprised to learn that a family needed a vision, much like a corporation has a mission statement.

Chan told Lifestyle that despite Bellevue Manila’s strong corporate market, the hotel exudes a Filipino family feel during weekends and holidays.

“Our weekends used to be quiet. In the past few years, the staycations have become a phenomenon,” he said.

This family market is one of the drivers of Bellevue’s profits.

Asked how he will spend Christmas, Chan replied that it will be an intimate gathering of the whole family to celebrate the blessings of this past year. —CONTRIBUTED


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