The Lenten season was about forgiving sins, breaking free from distractions, sparking more creativity and feeling grateful. Although a miserable failure with regard to the sacrifices I fervently offered, still I was delighted to help spread happiness where I could during Lent.
At the Balesin weekend with Ferrari cars, my Red Charity Gala (RCG) partner Kaye Tiñga and I gave gifts and toys to over 200 schoolchildren in Balesin’s village community school, funded by Alphaland Corp.
We are grateful to Roberto V. Ongpin, the generous Alphaland CEO, who donated a Balesin Gold membership at the RCG auction last year. With the proceeds from the RCG fundraising, plus the Gardenia sandwiches donated by sisters Digzy Umali and Den Casipit, we were happy to be back among the school kids.
Joining us to help distribute the snacks and juices were Balesin’s Evans Ramos and Luisa Banta, and Buddy’s Pancit Lucban owner Nova Veluz and her daughter Ysa.
Nova is planning to celebrate her 50th birthday on the island in November, and she promised to also give presents to the kids that weekend.
I was happy to be reunited with the ladies at the launch of the Hokkaido Tracks Resort Properties at One Shangri-La Residence in Manila. Spearheaded and organized by Team Philippines’ Demely Britania, the intimate event aimed to showcase possible investments in prime properties in Hokkaido, Japan.
As the international head of sales and marketing for Hokkaido Tracks, Demely welcomed developers, investors and entrepreneurs from the Philippines and other parts of Asia.
In attendance were Hokkaido Tracks president Simon Robinson and sales directors Paul Butkovich and Scott Tovey. Simon and Paul did a presentation on Hokkaido Tracks’ history, vision, mission and locations.
Fresh from a recent leisure trip to Tokyo with travel buddy Vina Francisco, I talked about my various experiences in Japan, especially our recent family vacation in Niseko, where we enjoyed powder snow skiing and snowboarding.
With flights directly to Chitose, Japan, on Philippine Airlines, more Filipinos are flying to Hokkaido, whether for skiing, shopping or just eating.
Among the guests were Matiaz Defensor, lawyer Alfredo Villamor, Cesar Martin Mauleon and his son Andrew, Tata Chua Saavedra and Andy Pallera. We sadly missed Japanese Ambassador Koji Haneda.
The event also had a raffle for the guests, the top prize a trip to Hokkaido with a free stay in one of Hokkaido Tracks’ properties.
For the Hokkaido Tracks launch and photo session at Balesin, world-class jeweler Jul B. Dizon loaned me several stunning jewelry pieces that included its newest collection of fine jewelry, designed by Lucy Torres-Gomez, the Kalachuchi Collection.
It takes inspiration from the beautiful and enduring flower, which, aside from being a symbol of warmth and hospitality, is also the official bloom of Ormoc City, Leyte, where Lucy hails from.
Each handcrafted piece showcases the kalachuchi cut in mother-of-pearl, 18k yellow, rose and white gold, and adorned with diamonds and aquamarines, the birthstone of March. The collection represents strength and serenity.
As a child, Lucy was fascinated with the kalachuchi. She told me that big kalachuchi trees with lush blooms were all over her Lola Carmen’s house in Cebu, where they would spend summer vacations.
Lucy’s message: “May the kalachuchi gently remind you of all that is strong, beautiful and wonderful about you!”
For the Balesin photo shoot, our stylists Sheryl Songsong and Charmaine Palermo pulled out clothes from Rustan’s. I was there the week before to check out Rustan’s Summer Escape 2019.
Rustan’s launched its second run of the Summer Escape Travel Fair, in partnership with HSBC.
A ceremonial toast marked the launch of the fair, led by Anya Katigbak-Cajucom, HSBC SVP and head of retail banking and wealth management marketing; Michael Huang, Rustan’s VP for store planning and expansion; and Jasmine Alansalon-Gonzales, HSBC SVP and head of retail banking and wealth management customer value management.
Surf and turf
Now that Lent is over, enjoy a hearty meal at Three Guys and A Grill (4354 Valdez St., Poblacion, Makati). The restaurant has partnered with Alaska Prime Seafood to bring three new, limited surf-and-turf sandwiches.
Check out its cheeseburger with buttered lobster, or pork sausage with lobster salad, or their beef sausage with spicy lobster gambas. All sandwiches are made fresh daily with lobsters flown in from Maine, USA. It’s the perfect Easter treat!