Techno-cally, we’re number three

WRY BREAD - WryBread By Philip Cu-Unjieng () - October 19, 2003 - 12:00am
A few weeks ago, Transparency International came out with its infamous report, placing the Philippines Numero Three in Graft and Corruption in the region. We were topped by Bangladesh and Indonesia. Hmm... I wonder if they bribed someone to leapfrog over us, and hey! Were we even trying? So, third in Asia, 11 in the world, with an estimated God knows how many billion of pesos wasted every year because of "Graft and Corruption." Now there’s a bank account that would leave Jose Pidal looking puny and insignificant. Then we can have fun watching all these individuals come out of the woodwork, claiming to be either Mr. Graft ("Ya, and I have proof, here is zee photo with my daughter, Steffi") or Don Señor Corruption, official signatories to the account.

Be thankful that in the world of watch retail, there’s another reason the Philippines came in third. I was speaking to Serge Choukron, managing director of Techno-Marine Asia Pacific. For him, the Philippines has exceeded all sales expectations in the region, with only Hong Kong and Korea ahead of us. To reinforce that, we were standing at the entrance of the Rizal Ballroom of the Shangri-La Makati, and their local distributors had taken over the whole ballroom to celebrate Techno’s second anniversary with the Florencios and to launch the new line. Siblings Raffy and Mia Florencio expanded on their jewelry business and have reaped dividends representing the watch line Frank duBarry founded, a line that’s become the word in stylish yet dependable time- keeping.

In the late ’90s, there was one fateful summer when the Techno watches were the rage in St. Tropez and all the other tony resort towns that dot the French Riviera. Several other watchmakers then jumped on the bandwagon, creating their own lines of "fashion watches." But it’s Techno-Marine that has stayed ahead of the pack, being daring, innovative and complementing its line with aggressive and highly-conceptualized advertising and marketing campaigns.

Serge expounded, "What is also amazing to note, is how the edgier, the more fashionable models, are the ones being picked up here in Manila. If the other countries are relatively safer and more conventional; here in Manila, the Techno wearers are those with considerable more flair, fashion sense and awareness of what’s ‘current.’ That encourages us to view Manila as a very exciting market for our future plans."
The Nightingale Still Sings
The image of Florence Nightingale tirelessly working the wards of the sick, maimed and unfortunate gets a revision of sorts. She’s still dedicated to charity work, but is now doing so bejeweled and in a ball-gown. If that sounds a mite contrary, then you only have yourself to blame for not being aware of how today’s Red Cross works. One of the most glamorous events of the European social calendar is the yearly Monte Carlo Red Cross Ball, traditionally held in mid-August. Hosted by Prince Rainier and his children, it’s a tradition started by the late Princess Grace.

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement continues to assist – without discrimination as to nationality, race, religion, beliefs, class or political opinions – the wounded on the battlefield, and to prevent and alleviate human suffering wherever and whenever it may be found. It’s a voluntary relief organization, not prompted by desire for gain.

Dependent on direct solicitation, corporate events and special events, the Philippine National Red Cross has taken its cue from other international chapters, knowing full well that in order to raise money for its more than worthy work, it needs to "steal from the rich" in order to give to the less fortunate. If that "stealing" comes in the form of events such as the Bvlgari Red Cross Ball, then so be it. In this case, the end more than justifies the means.

To be held on Oct. 25 at the Makati Shangri-La, the night will have a specially choreographed rigodon de honor showcasing fabulous designer gowns as worn by the dancers. Spearheaded by Zenaida Tantoco and Mario Katigbak, the ball will have cruises to Europe, vacation packages, art pieces by renowned masters and Bvlgari watches and bags for raffle prizes. Tickets to the ball are available at the Rustan’s Makati Customer Service Department.

The 2003 Fund Raising Committee intends to make the ball a fitting climax towards helping the PNRC reach its annual target of P300 million, needed to maintain the work carried out through 85 chapters nationwide.
Have You ‘Herd’?
One major pitfall of putting up a nightspot in the fair city of Makati is that if you’re after the glam, hip party crowd, you have to take the steps to be part of "the loop." Don’t look now, but more often than not, this crowd moves like a pack, infused with "herd mentality."

If it’s Tuesday, it must be Ponticello; Wednesday is R n B night at Absinth; Thursday is Yaku and/or Azzuro at Somerset; Friday becomes tricky with 12, Wasabi and Dreambar all contending; while Saturday continues the free for all with Temple, NuVo, Havana and Where Else leading the pack. The weekends then become a veritable search for where all the other "friendsters" have descended.

Catering to the crowd who go for "live music" is much simpler. If not Dish or Monk’s Dream at Rockwell, it’s Tavern or Merk’s at Greenbelt. And here, the crowd’s presence is more a function of who you have playing on the night.

With the late night party pack, things get a tad more complicated, as one is only "good," as long as one continues to be one of the "flavors of the month." When you are, it’s a matter of finding more chairs, more waiters and making sure no VIP is ignored or given short shrift. Plus having the tables with ashtrays set up outside your establishment, lest you want them moving on to another place… or city.

(E-mail the author at peopleasia@qinet.net)

BANGLADESH AND INDONESIA BVLGARI RED CROSS BALL DON SE FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE FRENCH RIVIERA FUND RAISING COMMITTEE GRAFT AND CORRUPTION HAVANA AND WHERE ELSE HAVE YOU TECHNO
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