Saturday, October 20, 2018

Table styles we love

Dinner settings are the era’s articulate forms of self-expression
By: - Lifestyle Editor
/ 05:03 AM July 25, 2018

From Christmas past, a muted setting of metallic silver and glass, with a touch of green, put together by Gino Gonzales for Virgie Ramos. –THELMA SANJ UAN

When it’s doom-gloom outside and the prospect of sunshine is iffy, you can scroll through  your photo collections for cheery images.

Our collected images of pretty,  elegant table settings  give us not only style ideas, but also fond memories of table talk, and the gracious host or hostess who put together the moment.


Meal settings are the era’s articulate forms of self-expression. These are you. Even the stylist you hire must reflect your taste, if not your preferences and pretensions.

Photos of meal settings tell us about the people who put them together and those who will share the meals, their moods and mind sets.


From our collections of images, we picked out:

Babette’s Paris

The Paris apartment of Babette Aquino Benoit, for years, was the go-to halfway home of visiting Filipinos, from artists and designers to businessmen and government officials.

Babette has gotten so used to entertaining in her Paris flat in Rue du Cirque, to the point that for many of her friends, a visit to Paris wouldn’t be complete without cocktails or dinner in Babette’s flat.

All in fun Halloween hats at dinner hosted by Virgie Ramos (center, in black), are, from her left, clockwise: BenCab, Annie Sarthou, Elmer and Plet Borlongan, Sandy Uy, Rowell Santiago, Nestor Pagulayan, Sandy Higgins, Ambeth Ocampo, and the author.

Her place’s architecture is from the past century, so old world, and its furniture and accents well chosen period pieces.

The cocktails and dinners she hosted hewed to the classic elegance of the setting—fine silver and crystals, no matter that they contained fresh lumpiang ubod, adobo, kare-kare,  name the Filipino’s cravings away from home, and Babette has surely served it.

Very classic, with some personal touch, like fresh blooms here and there.


Babette, whose RTW line at Rustan’s drew a clientele in the ’80s, has now moved back to live in Manila, and plans to start a fashion  line.

Carol’s taste

Carol Masibay Garcia, whom people know as a beauty queen (Mutya ng Pilipinas), has been decorating the homes of friends for some time now. They rely on her taste and  good eye for paintings, art objects and other fine collectibles.

Small trees from the garden serve as centerpieces for Teresin Mendezona’s dinner setting at the Fernan home.

We couldn’t wait to see her home and how she’d host dinner.

Her home, we’d find out, was a class act, and the dinner, a gracious class act.

Her living room was done in monochromatic beige or ecru— so clean, uncluttered, simple, with her favorite collectibles and art objects as décor. She picked out most of these from her travels.

Her dinner setting was nothing over the top—also monochromatic ecru. It was natural, with a bowl of collected seashells as centerpiece, and feminine, with fine embroidered napkins and lacework.

Dinner host Marissa Fernan (right)with guest Annie Chen

It is said that style is in the editing. Carol is one host who knows how to edit.

Virgie’s surprise

Surprise! Always. That characterizes the dinners retail mover Virgie Ramos hosts, and a guest could never fully guess just what’s in store for dinner, be it Halloween, Christmas or a friend’s birthday.

From the décor to the table setting, it’s as if Virgie Ramos, who’s done the Philippines proud with how she’s built the Swatch brand in the country, could just pull out from her bag of tricks.

Teresin Mendezona (center)with Philip Rodriguez, Eloisa Fernan –PHOTOS BY THELMA SAN JUAN

Her dinner settings have wit and whimsy—in the use of centerpieces, placemats, or napkins, for instance, even in the laborious fun details.

But always, her touches are personal, fun, tailored to the personality of her honoree.

Fun and naughty now, and in the next bent, her dinner could be an elegant oriental setting, with interesting collectibles for dinnerware.

A guest inevitably feels how  Mrs. Ramos has taken the time, the effort and given the dinner preparation a good thought to give her guests a good time. (She usually plans her dinners with leading scenographer Gino Gonzales, her collaborator.)

Elvira Luym, Nonie Uy, Jaime Chua were among the guests in the Fernan dinner.

That’s the ultimate style—giving of oneself so that friends and family can have good memories.

Cebu’s doyenne

Teresin Mendezona is a miracle style worker—she could create something beautiful out of nothing or simple stuff, be it coconut husk or blooms in her garden.

This is why there’s no way one could typecast her dinner settings, whether they’re the dinners she hosts at home or styles for friends, or the grand setups she’s done for weddings or big events such as Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) functions.

Carol Garcia (center) with guests Margie Floirendo, Mario Katigbak, Alice Eduardo, Small Laude, Pops Fernandez,Melba Solidum

She was the first event designer I saw form  dendrobiums into clusters and hang them as chandeliers.

Her style is marked by innate taste, spontaneity and ingenuity, whether she has the pricey phalaenopsis or dendrobium or her garden’s colorful blooms to work with.

Cebu is right to call her its style icon. Hands down.

Seashells serve as centerpiece in Carol Garcia’s natural setting.

Carol Garcia’s table setting of elegant ecru with white blooms

A Christmas vignette by Gino Gonzales for Virgie Ramos blends green wreath, metallic silver containers and wood.

Whimsical Halloween setting of Virgie Ramos’ dinner

Carol Garcia sets her picapica.

Hors d’ oeuvres in Babette Aquino- Benoit’s Paris living room

One day, last year, Korina Sanchez, Juliana and Lucy Gomez, Margie Moran- Floirendo as guests of Babette Aquino Benoit in her apartment

Babette Aquino Benoit in the foyer of her Paris apartment

Classic buffet setting in Babette Aquino Benoit’s Paris apartment

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TAGS: home and entertaining, Table styles
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