Palace gathers tycoons, diplomats for reception
Camille Diola (The Philippine Star) - January 11, 2013 - 3:02pm

MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno Aquino III on Friday bragged about the achievements oif his administration last year during the traditional New Year reception at Malacañang on Friday, calling 2012 "a good year for the Filipino people."

"We saw economic growth surpass expectations. We witnessed the signing of a peace deal and the restoration of public confidence in our judiciary. 2012 will be a difficult year to match, that alone exceed," Aquino said in a short speech before the toast, reiterating highlights of his New Year public message last December 31.

The semiannual Vin d'Honneur diplomatic gathering that dates back to the administration of President Manuel Quezon was held this year at the Palace's Rizal Ceremonial Hall and presided by Aquino and the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto.

Pinto, an Italian, as the country's senior diplomat or dean of the diplomatic corps also offered the traditional toast to "a new year of hope, peace, and progress" before a sea of guests in gowns, suits and barong Tagalog.

The elaborate reception featured native Filipino dishes and ingredients but presented in contemporary techniques such as fried black sotanghon lumpia mounted in ceramic soup spoons and tocilog and tapsilog meals wrapped in banana leaves.

At the event were senators, representatives, cabinet officials, Philippine Stock Exchange chair Jose Pardo and Philippine Daily Inquirer chair Marixi-Rufino Prieto.

Business magnates Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and Lance Gokongwei, Bank of the Philippine Islands president Aurelio Montinola III andJollibee founder Tony Tan Caktiong as well as shipping tycoon Doris Magsaysay-Ho and painter Betsy Westendorp graced the affair.

Justices Marvic Leonen and retired Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban were also present at the gala, according to the Palace's communications arm.

All Supreme Court justices are also invited to the event, however, former Chief Justice Renato Corona and Associate Justice Antonio Carpio declined to participate in it last year.

Vin d'Honneur, from a French phrase which literally translates to "wine of honor," is also held during Independence Day on June 6.

ALL SUPREME COURT AQUINO AQUINO AND THE PAPAL NUNCIO ARCHBISHOP GIUSEPPE PINTO AURELIO MONTINOLA AYALA AND LANCE GOKONGWEI BANK OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS BETSY WESTENDORP CHIEF JUSTICE ARTEMIO PANGANIBAN NEW YEAR YEAR
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