Eighty-one years old is a long time. It’s almost Lincolnian, in which it can be described as four score and a year ago. If you reach this milestone, it’s cool to just look back and enjoy the view.
Well, not for Roberto V. Ongpin, president of Alphaland Corp. RVO, as he is called, is still unstoppable at 81. Totally energized with his health treatments at the Aegle Wellness Center, he is busier than ever, expanding the development in Balesin Island and his latest project, Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges in Baguio City.
Last weekend, he treated members of the Ongpin clan to his birthday weekend with a dinner party at the Balesin Sala.
His lovely wife Monica flew in from Italy for the Christmas holidays, along with their son Stephen, wife Laura and two sons, Sebastian and Benjamin. Stephen’s siblings Anna, Michelle and Julian were also present, along with a number of Ongpin cousins.
Among the other special guests were former VP Jejomar Binay and family. To the delight of everyone, Ogie Alcasid sang a couple of songs and even did a duet with Binay.
The Balesin coffee-table book “Unique in the World” was then given to all the guests as a souvenir present. It includes a foreword from RVO: “I hope you enjoy this book, which is intended to record for posterity the unmatchable beauty of this island.”
Balesin’s animal kingdom is also growing. Apart from exotic birds at the Aviary, two large exotic tortoises, along with more birds, were donated by member Pinky Tobiano.
The arrival of five Shetland-cross ponies has also delighted the kids on the island. A new bunny farm is now open near the main clubhouse.
Last year was a busy one for Balesin. In March, it acquired a second ATR 72 aircraft, thus increasing its ability to transport more than 500 people daily to and from Balesin, especially with its lighted runway, now a 24-hour aerodrome.
A visitor recently commented that Balesin must be the only destination resort in the world with its own night-flight capable aerodrome.
Balesin also built its first three Private Villas, which are available for sale to individuals and corporations. There are three of them, comprising eight, six and four suites. All-around designer Rico Sison has again done his magic to create these new jewels for Balesin.
As a Christmas offering, Balesin rewarded its loyal members—who now number 1,400—with a once-in-a-lifetime offer. Each member is entitled to invite a maximum of two friends or relatives who would like to become members but have found the cost too steep.
Until Jan. 20, it will allow each member to nominate two individuals at a very attractive price, i.e., P1.5 million for a Gold membership (now selling at P2.2 million), which entitles the member to seven free nights per year, and/or a Diamond membership for P3 million (now selling at P4 million), which entitles the member to 14 free villa nights a year.
Since the offer is open to only 100 memberships, it is on a first-come, first-served basis.
For more information, visit www.balesin.com.
For RVO’s birthday weekend, I flew in from Clark Airport with buddy Rosan Cruz. We went straight to Balesin from the Marites Allen Feng Shui Extravaganza at the Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas.
For the coming Year of the Earth Dog, Marites gave her feng shui tips to auspiciously capture the wealth and health energies, as well as the lucky directions and colors to use.
Southwest-facing homes are in for auspicious wealth in both personal and business aspects. The Dragon- and Snake-born signs have the wealth number 8 in their direction.
Other lucky signs are the Dog, Boar, Sheep and Monkey.
The Marites Allen 2018 Feng Shui Planner, 2018 Almanac and Animal Sign books have detailed feng shui tips and daily guidelines to help navigate the lucky stars.
Available at National Book Store and Frigga branches
Speaking of gentlemen not slowing down, photographer Rupert Jacinto presented yet more mixed-media portraitures along with his portraits of elegant women and distinguished men, held last month at the Peninsula Manila. The event was a combined photo exhibit and book launch presented at the Gallery and Rigodon ballroom, respectively.
The book launch had a “Gods of Egypt” theme.
Hotel GM Mark Choon, guests of honor Sen. Miguel Zubiri, National Artist Francisco Sionil Jose, Cultural Center of the Philippines president Arsenio “Nick” Lizaso, and the Faaabulous Icons of 2017, Tingting Cojuangco, Criselda Lontok and Ingrid Santamaria, opened the photo exhibit.
The iconic photo of Tingting Cojuangco received a Unesco Women of Asia award in Japan in 1979.
Bangladeshi Ambassador Ahmed Ezzat and Israeli Ambassador Effie Matityau unveiled the cover facsimiles at the book launch with cover ladies Linda Legaspi Rosal, Maru Go, Buena Sarmiento and Avon Morales.
The event was co-presented by The Advertising Foundation of the Philippines, in support of the Love-a-Parish Program of the Sto. Niño de Paz Chapel.
Sponsors were the Peninsula Manila, Titania Wine Cellar, Liquid Gold, Globe Platinum, Marriott Manila, Stores Specialists Inc., Fashion Interiors, Jun Jun Ablaza, Kandaya Resort and RJ100.
New Year’s bash
The Peninsula Manila welcomed 2018 with another lavish New Year’s Eve party that lived up to its reputation for throwing the most beautiful and elegant year-ender bash.
The scene was vintage Cuban, reminiscent of the luxurious haciendas of rich tobacco and sugar plantation owners. The Lobby’s legendary New Year’s Eve Ball proved to be still the hottest party in town, with the sultry spirit of la Habana as the inspiration for 2017’s final sendoff party.
At the stroke of midnight, The Lobby became a sea of balloons and shiny confetti, as guests tooted on their horns, reveling in party favors and champagne, signaling the start of a new year.