Transforming into different characters is one of the thrilling challenges of changing costumes. The complexity increases when the chameleoning needs to be done in a day.
Beginning at the eve of Chinese New Year and ending almost 24 hours later, I went through four extremely complicated costume changes. The first fashion marvel was a green, serpentine, beaded gown, followed by a Parisian, pearly lace dress from the Roaring ’20s, and then onward to a Mardi Gras-inspired, carnival queen outfit, and finally back again to a silvery and tempestuous snake ensemble.
The first gown, replete with beads, tulle and other embellishments, arrived from the atelier of Cebuano designer Ronald Enrico just in time for the Chinese New Year fete at the Mandarin Oriental, Manila, the 17th time the hotel has hosted these festivities. My co-host, eventologist Tim Yap, couldn’t help admiring my furry, twisted headgear and sky-high green, floral shoes, both from Mark Tenchavez of Shandar Shoes and Accessories.
Charisse Chuidian, Mandarin Oriental’s brilliant director of communications, arranged for a super-long, BMW 730Li to transport me to the hotel. I was accompanied by my interior design partner Tessa Alindogan.
The Mandarin Lounge was already full when we arrived. Famed geomancer Master Joseph Chau was ready to give his blessings and ceremony to attract good fortune for the New Year.
Makati Mayor Junjun Binay and his pretty daughter Alexi headed the dotting-of-the-Dragon-eyes ceremony, while other guests followed suit with colorful lions. The décor was awesome, with a digital wall featuring a snake slithering down as the New Year countdown began. As in previous years, Enchanted Kingdom supplied elaborate fireworks.
At the Mandarin Ballroom, guests enjoyed a sumptuous buffet, their first and therefore most auspicious meal for the Year of the Snake. Drinks were provided by Moët Hennessy. Joseph the Artist, a prize-winner on “Talentadong Pinoy,” treated all to a jaw-dropping display of live sand art.
Among the guests were blogger and Inquirer columnist Ingrid Chua Go and fave fashion designer Rajo Laurel, who is now also a most-followed blogger.
William Tee Ten, head of Ford Global City, won a two-night stay at the Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou, the newest luxury hotel of the group, with two air tickets from Dragonair.
After a late-night party, nothing perks me up better than brunch at Spiral, the crème de la crème of hotel buffets, at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.
To get in the mood, best friend Rosan Cruz and I wore Roaring ’20s-inspired outfits, which seems so in tune with the hotel’s art deco feel.
As if the usual Spiral buffet is not extensive enough, executive Chinese chef Chee Wah Mok prepared a special Chinese menu to welcome the Chinese New Year, from delectable appetizers to delightful desserts, all washed down with French champagne. Dragon and Lion dancers regaled diners as they collected ang pao throughout the resto.
Dubai-based designer Albert Andrada showed off his Orient Express collection in a fashion show over lunch. Lucky diners won a custom-made cheongsam from the designer, and other prizes from Shu Uemura and Kiehl’s. The special Chinese menu is available until Feb. 24.
How better to spend the post-lunch afternoon than watching a stirring game of polo? Wiggling out of our outfits and into Mardi Gras costumes, Rosan and I hied off to the Manila Polo Club for the annual Fila Polo Cup, this year themed to a Brazilian beat.
Polo is a sport where men on horses compete to score goals, while women in hats compete to score men. Fila head princess Cris Albert and I did the ceremonial ball toss to get the men and horses off and running.
Hosting duties fell on the excellently named Fabio Ide, one of Fila’s endorsers.
And just in case there was not enough entertainment on the field, the sidelines included performances by Guarana, the Escola de Samba de Manila Dancers, the Maracuja Dancers and Astroboy, again from “Talentadong Pinoy.”
In polo, there is a Low Goal and a High Goal, and there are teams with men whose names read out of a Madrid phone book. There is no other place in the country where calling out, “Inigo!” will get three or more hunks to stare in your direction.
Fila chairperson Butch Albert and his Blue Team won both the Low Goal and High Goal matches, cheered on by Fila endorsers Georgina Wilson, Borgy Manotoc and Tim Yap.
The Fila first couple had much to celebrate, as they also recently celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary at Las Flores Restaurant at The Fort.
The perfect end to the first day of the Year of the Snake came at the Chinese New Year celebration at Discovery Suites in Ortigas, Pasig City. Once again, I achieved record times in the costume-change department, as I slithered into my green serpent gown, courtesy of Rajo Laurel from ages ago.
Jun Parreño, COO of The Discovery Leisure Co., is making a lot of auspicious noise to welcome in the exciting year and the new projects of the Discovery Group. Accompanied by CEO Ruben Tiu, the pair welcomed their guests, including Pasig Mayor Bobby Eusebio and his wife Maribel.
Feng shui master Andy Tan gave a short talk about the Year of the Snake, with tips on how to enhance good fortune. Later, Ruben and I shared one lucky Dragon at the Dotting of the Eyes ceremony.
The Discovery Group is really making a statement, with the premier hotel in Boracay, Discovery Shores, plus Country Suites in Tagaytay, both making a name for themselves. Already their Discovery Primea along Ayala Avenue is changing the skyline of the city.
Jun is also introducing various improvements to their mainstay Discovery Suites. For instance, there is a new business suite package that targets discerning corporate guests with various add-ons from the hotel’s Terra Wellness Spa, 22 Prime Steakhouse and others. It’s all perfect for the Year of the Snake.