The day after Labor Day would have been spent quietly resting at home, had not one of Manila’s most beautiful and enduring personalities, Louie Cruz, sent another of his famous, hurried invites via text message.
Did I really think Louie would pass up the opportunity to bring his friends and lovers, I mean, loved ones, within wine-filled walls for his birthday? Certainly not.
The party was originally cooked up by the talented partner of Louie, Mike Sandro (I just witnessed him fire-dance last week in Boracay; there seems to be nothing this man can’t do), who tried to keep it a secret in order to surprise Louie—but he should have known better.
Louie, of course, got a hold of his plans and ended up texting people he thought were in town to gather for a “simple get-together at Titania Wine Cellar in Makati (one would think one is transported to a wine cellar in Paris) owned by the energetic wine guru Tita Trillo.”
The food was scrumptious, prepared by the birthday celebrant himself: The beef tongue, beef ribs kaldereta, Korean noodles, and chicken Thai curry kept people going back for thirds and fourths, and waiters could not seem to refill wine glasses with premium wine fast enough from Tita’s cellar.
Always a master at matching people and personalities together, Louie stood and moved amongst the wining and dining crowd, the delighted and comfortable chatter, as classic piano pieces serenaded the souls and ears of everyone present.
Among the people who enthusiastically sang Louie a very “Happy Birthday” (in English, Filipino, then Chinese, no less) were a group of 20 Roman Catholic Chinese priests from mainland China, aunt Charito Estella with son Luigi, cousin Chinggay Lopez, Nenet Sarmiento Schmid, Karen Batungbacal de Venecia, Borgy Torre, Chiqui Veneracion, Taimy Cruz, Gigi Mabanta, Ters Olbes, Baboo Mondonedo, Rusty Lopez, Taj Tajanlangit, Jean Saburit, Rico Mangad from Germany, Ron Gomez, Vera Novales Diokno and son James, Marissa Araki, Resty Vergara and Robert de Dios.
We do not know what our dear friend Louie wished for as he blew the candles. But standing there, radiant and fresh as a debutante, surrounded by good food, happy people and loved ones, he looked like he had nothing left to wish for.