When the first Night of a Thousand was held two years ago, it seemed the effort of many months and forward planning. The truth is, the idea of the benefit dinner was hatched in 60 days. The event at the Dusit Thani Hotel generated millions for scholarships for high school graduates pursuing a career in education. Ramon del Rosario, chair of the Philippine Business for Education, happily acknowledged the women power that infused fresh resources for the 1,000 Teachers Program, aimed to support the best and the brightest high school graduates through college.
Del Rosario had been meeting with some of the country’s private sector leaders over the low public school standards. Although he had received considerable resources for the campaign, he felt more could be done. So he turned to the wives of PBEd.
“The first time I invited them to a meeting, the attendance was almost complete, except for one who was abroad,” he said. He asked what they could do to generate more awareness and participation in uplifting the condition of educators. “Before the meeting was over, the ladies had a plan of action.” They went to great lengths to organize a special evening, in partnership with LifestyleAsia, for benefactors.
Their meticulous preparations consisted of food tastings, discussions with chefs, sourcing ingredients for a Royal Thai dinner, and enlisting the internationally renowned UST Singers to perform.
The dinner was a success and to reprise it, Del Rosario once again engaged the spouses. This time, the women had two goals. Other than the scholarships, they also wanted to highlight the National Museum and create more interest in the country’s repository for art. “Jeremy Barnes, the museum director, is doing a good job in the restoration of the facilities,” Marivic del Rosario said. “He has the heart, the passion and professionalism to spearhead this effort and we want to support the work.”
The old Senate Hall has been undergoing painstaking rehabilitation in the hands of skilled artisans. “Even amid scaffoldings, tarps and debris, the architectural artistry of Juan Arellano was apparent,” said Anna Sobrepeña. “It was awesome to stand in the August Hall with Isabelo Tampinco’s sculpture and reliefs, even with all the dust around.”
The women made several visits to the site. “I can imagine the great statesmen who charted the course of the country in this place,” said Lizzie Zobel. Claro M. Recto, Manuel Roxas, and Manuel Quezon were members of the upper chamber of the bicameral body that crafted the legislation in the building originally designed to house the National Library. After its completion in 1926, eight years from the time construction began, the upper floors were appropriated for the lawmakers while the ground level was designated for the library.
Art and fine food
Today, it’s the home of some of the country’s prized art, including Juan Luna’s Spoliarium and La Bulaqueña. “These will be available for viewing during the cocktail hour,” said Marivic, who is the de facto chairperson of the women volunteers. “The reason for holding the dinner here is to bring people and show them what we have, and hopefully move them to contribute to the museum.” It will be the first time that the old Senate hall will be used for an event following the restoration work.
Different exhibition rooms will be opened to afford guests an opportunity to view the collections. Dinner at the Old Senate Hall will follow. “Margarita Fores will be taking care of the food,” Lizzie said. “She has gone through enormous effort to create special food. Her vision for the table settings is fantastic.”
A live band will provide music popular during Manila’s golden era. It is likely that people will get up to dance, which the women are enthusiastic about. “It’s a fun way to be part of a worthwhile cause,” said Mary Lou Hilado.
“People want to do something to help our country,” Anna said. “The One Thousand Teachers Program is a way to contribute to nation-building. Providing quality education for future teachers, who will join the public school to form young minds, is an investment to improved chances for quality of life.”
Making pledges this early are SGV, CVC Law Center, Metrobank Foundation, Ayala Corp, Planters Development Ban. “We are deeply grateful for all of it,” Marivic said.
For those interested to be part of A Night of One Thousand at the Museum, please call Katrina Luz at 09159302845 or email her at [email protected] or you may also call (02) 896 9537 local 248.