“Our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it.”—Khalil Gibran
How quickly the year has gone by! It’s November. Time stops for no one, so we should truly embrace the present moment with complete appreciation of all the blessings and opportunities at hand.
Just before my first trip to Japan after the pandemic, I was able to join the 43rd Masskara Festival in Bacolod City last month. From the moment we landed, we were greeted with an explosion of color and famous smiling faces of a cast of thousands.
The first family came in full force to support the festivities, with the first lady Liza Araneta-Marcos and sons Vinny and Rep. Sandro Marcos leading the guests of honor at the MassKarade Ball. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. hosted a special Sunday lunch with the rest of the important guests.
The maverick Mayor Albee Benitez and his team of homegrown event planners made sure all details went smoothly. The indefatigable and very good friend, Masskara honorary chair Jojie Dingcong, did more boots-on-the-ground and hands-on work for all events during the culminating weekend. With all the success and exceptional planning, I heard Jojie was immediately reappointed as full-time chair by the good mayor for many years ahead.
At the MassKarade Ball, the first lady and her sons graced the first of the events, along with Manila’s who’s-who that jetted in to experience the sights and sounds that Bacolod has to offer. Big stars were present, like Derek Ramsay and Ellen Adarna Ramsay, Pops Fernandez, Korina Sanchez-Roxas, Dr. Vicki Belo and Dr. Hayden Kho Jr. with their cute daughter Scarlet Snow Belo. In time to attend the Bacolod parties, top cosplayer Alodia Gosiengfiao and I flew there from Cebu after the Belo Cebu opening.
Big names in business were also present, like Kevin and Michelle Tan of Megaworld, Air Asia president Ricky Isla, financial whiz Andrew Gan and Chavit Singson.
The Bacolod social set showed their hospitality. This included the grand matriarch of the Ceres Group, Olivia Yanson, Ginnette Dumnanca, Chole Cuenca-Chua, Gingin Locsin, to name a few.
But more than the glamour the charity ball brought in, is the fact that it was hosted for the benefit of Operation Smile, to operate on more than 60 indigent children with cleft lip and palate deformities. Additionally, Mayor Benitez projected the city may have exceeded their goal of bringing in P5 billion for the city, and proof is that they are fully back into travel tourism with the festival theme “Balik Yuhum,” which means “Bring back the smiles”!
Glamour and romance
Because I was in Bacolod enjoying the Masskara, I missed the fashionable event of DiaGold, a luxury Cebu-based jewelry brand. After its mother business opened in 1967, the DiaGold brand was launched in 2008 in the Cebu market as home to the latest exquisite unique designs of diamond jewelry products, from earrings, necklaces, pendants and bracelets, to rings and wedding rings. DiaGold is derived from two distinct words: diamond and gold. Simply put together, they form luscious diamond pieces in 14k and 18k gold settings.
To showcase their finest jewelry, DiaGold invited some of the country’s best fashion designers (including Cebu’s finest, of course) to interpret the spirit of glamour and romance in DiaGold’s latest collection.
Francis Libiran presented artistic creations from his Spring/Summer 2023 collection that takes inspiration from objects that entice the artistic mind, intricate mosaics and the beautiful human connection of sexual passions and intimacy.
Jun Escario gave his stylish interpretation of chill sophistication. Modern-day women’s fashion from Michael Leyva had clean silhouettes and jewel tone colors.
Meanwhile, Joey Samson’s Arlecchino collection showed the many faces of Harlequin, a character from the Italian commedia dell’arte or Italian comedy. Inspired by the goddesses, Cary Santiago designed a three-piece black and white ensemble that spoke of beauty and grace, featuring Grecian draping with soft and fluid fabric, complete with a helmet inspired by Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war.
I was able to shop for some special promo items at the DiaGold launch and brought them to Japan, since I am now into real jewelry. I was glad to also buy some designer outfits from the DiaGold fashion show and support our local designers.
I proudly wear Filipino whenever I am abroad. For Halloween here in Tokyo, I wore a stylized kimono that Boy Kastner made to resemble a Japanese cosplayer. I was happy to see birthday boy Nix Alanon and Rajo Laurel and enjoy Halloween in Shibuya.
Borlongan in Paris
In the art scene, Filipino artist Elmer Borlongan is making waves in Paris with his first solo exhibit there. “When Time Stood Still,” recently opened at the Galerie Geraldine Banier, featuring 15 paintings and monotypes produced during COVID.
Elmer is best known for his distinctive use of figurative expressionism. His work is characterized by stylized figuration, bald heads, large eyes and elongated limbs.
The show is part of the Philippine embassy event to celebrate the 75th anniversary of relations between the Philippines and France. Art critic Beatrice de Rochebouet says Elmer’s work “is imbued with strong and disturbing messages that resonate with our world in crisis. A mature artist, very attached to the culture of his country, he has a full place in the troubled times in which we live.”
Enjoying the beauty and culture of Japan, I have come to truly enjoy the now with great appreciation of everything happening in my life at the moment. The good always trumps the bad, and if there is nothing else to do, go out for some ramen, sushi and sake, as well! INQ