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At Bon ApPETit, pets and humans dine for a cause

Janice de Belen with Saint Bernard Adam, Gelli de Belen, Taki Saito, and chef Giana Gonzalez at the doggie buffet. Photos by Joey Viduya, Mervin Cruz, Joana Tengson And Arne Sarmiento

It was the best party ever, for me, at least. I got to take Puppy, my eight-week-old Bichon pup, with me to the event, which was filled with dog lovers and foodies — who are also staunch supporters of The Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

I have been attending PAWS events for almost 15 years now and when I started covering these pet events, I remember I would be the only media guest around. At the latest PAWS event last Sunday, July 23, there were over 300 guests and 150 dogs — and lots of other media folks, too.

That the event was held at Viking Venue at SM by the Bay was another welcome development for the pet lover in me.

“This is the first time pets were allowed to dine together with their owners inside a buffet restaurant,” said Rich Ilustre, PAWS director.  “Pet Express and PAWS collaborated to provide pet lovers and their dogs with the ultimate food adventure experience, and it was a roaring success.”

 

 

A family that eats together

Lunch was served by 12 noon as the doggies couldn’t contain their excitement upon seeing the setup just for them. While the pet owners feasted on international dishes at the Vikings buffet, dogs of all shapes and sizes trooped to the pet buffet to enjoy unlimited servings of Alpo Chophouse (Ribeye), Bacon Beggin’ Strips and Beef & Vegetables. 

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Chef Giannina Gonzalez of Whole Pet Kitchen and Angela Colet of Swell Sweets Cake Lab also prepared an impressive array of mouthwatering canine dishes like Jack’s Lasagna, Salmon and Yogurt Risotto, Buffalo & Veggies Good Dog Grub, Savory Liver Sticks, Banana Pupcakes, and Honey Peanut Butter Balls.

It was hard for doggies (and their humans) not to crowd around PAWS celebrity volunteer Taki Saito, who heaped serving upon serving of gastronomic delights into the doggy dishes of the four-legged guests.

Because the event was a fundraiser for the PAWS Animal Shelter, dog-loving celebrities like Alice Dixon, Janice de Belen, Gelli de Belen, Aiza Seguerra, Liza Diño, Audie Gemora, Mr. Fu, Steven Silva, Alexa Ortega, Mikey Bustos, DJ Coki, Carlo Orosa, and Sen. Risa Hontiveros came with their pets to lend support.

And most touching for me was the presence of 90 year-old PAWS founder Nita Hontiveros-Lichauco, who welcomed the guests.  

PAWS executive director Anna Cabrera showed the amazing transformation of five rescued dogs: Choco, Cambry, Tamby, Crispin, and Sid. 

“We hope that people will continue to help us spread the word that prevention is better than rescue,” shared Cabrera. “That we must work very hard at providing low-cost spay-neuter and at educating the public about responsible pet ownership if we want to see an end to the problem of pet homelessness.”

Artists against animal cruelty

The highlight of the event was the unveiling of PAWS’ newest campaign, “Artists Against Animal Cruelty.” Award-winning director and screenwriter Jose Javier Reyes is PAWS’ celebrity spokesperson for the campaign, which aims to encourage artists from the entertainment industry to speak out against animal cruelty in the making of films, TV shows, commercials, and theater plays.

Of course, it being a Sunday, guests were entertained by Isabella Gonzalez, together with her dogs Miss Daisy Butters and Mira. The trio filled the ballroom with smiles as Isabella asked pet owners to dance with their dogs as she sang the Fred Astaire classic, Cheek to Cheek — the coolest end to a super-fun event.

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Bon ApPETit was made possible by the support of Pet Express, Alpo, Purina Philippines, Vikings, Smart, Whole Pet Kitchen, Swell Sweets Cake Lab, Victoria Court, Ezydog, Doggie’s Choice, St. Francis Pet Cremation, Dogs & More, Manulife, Acuaverde Beach Resort, Betterdog, Boomerang Booth by DJ Coki, SM by the Bay, and the STAR Pet Life Section.

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