PeopleAsia editor in chief and Philippine STAR-Allure editor Joanne Rae Ramirez celebrates her birthday, given by Angola Consul Helen Ong (third from right) with (from left) Chris Badiola, Marian Ong, SIA’s Jigs Reodica, Bulgari’s Mario Katigbak, STAR’s Büm Tenorio Jr., Rene Puno, Mayenne Carmona, SIA GM Lee Yong Tat, Ann Puno and Joji Bautista with PeopleAsia’s Gian Guerrero and Jose Paolo dela Cruz, Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, SM’s Chito Manalo, Joy Rustia, Nikki Tang, Marissa Concepcion, Joel Rustia, Bob Miller, Ito Curata, Ed Ramirez, Glenn Gale, PAL president Jaime Bautista, Turkish Airlines GM Erhan Balaban and Lexus president Raymond Rodriguez.
When elegant Helen Ong hosts a party
THE PEPPER MILL - Pepper Teehankee (The Philippine Star) - April 16, 2019 - 12:00am

Music filled the air when Angola Consul Helen Ong opened her lovely home in North Forbes Park to celebrate the birthday of PeopleAsia editor-in-chief and  Philippine STAR-Allure editor Joanne Rae Ramirez. And what started out as an intimate dinner for the party of 27 soon became a night of singing and dancing, set to the tune of the most iconic OPM and foreign hits.

The night began on a serene mood, as the gracious honorary diplomat, with her daughter Marian Ong, started to welcome Joanne and her friends to her art-filled home, which, according to her, was one of the first abodes to rise in the upscale gated village. A fixture in many society gatherings, Helen shared with the group that she only throws these kinds of gatherings for those “closest to her heart.”

The elegant table setting.

True enough, there were personal touches everywhere. The elegant table setting was laden with fine china, crystal and exquisite cutlery, juxtaposed against a medley of carnations, gerberas, roses and other flowers of subdued spring colors. Dinner — catered by no less than PeopleAsia “Women of Style & Substance” awardee chef Jessie Sincioco’s eponymous restaurant — was a feast to savor, as well. Among the sumptuous dishes served were the delicious pan-fried goose liver, seared scallop and sautéed mushroom salad in creamy balsamic dressing; the seemingly simple yet flavorful clear essence of beef with dumplings soup; and the melt-in-your-mouth grilled US Black Angus Beef Fillet Mignon. Of course, there was also Chef Jessie’s irresistible cotton-soft cheesecake that was served with fresh fruit.

Soon after Joanne had blown the candle on her birthday cake, the guests — led by Allure assistant editor Büm Tenorio Jr. — started moving into the living room area, where a pianist played soft music, and later, accompaniment for the guests who gamely belted out tunes such as Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang, You, Ngayon at Kailanman, and more.  

As VST & Co.’s Awitin Mo at Isasayaw Ko started playing though, the well-heeled guests fell under the spell of the lyrics! They decided to cut a rug and began to dance the night away — showcasing their skills in cha-cha, swing, boogie and everything else in between!

A walk in the park

For this year’s Art in the Park, now on its 13th year, I actually got up early on a Sunday morning to attend this most-awaited affordable art fair (this year’s price cap was P50,000).

Thousands who trooped to the Jaime Velasquez Park in Salcedo Village, Makati City were welcomed by The Enigma of Scent, a special fragrance installation designed by Filipino artisan perfumer Oscar Mejia.

Cessie Colayco, Anju Bautista and Trickie Lopa.

The Space in Which We Stand by painter and avid photographer Zean Cabangis graced the fair’s special edition postcards. Several pieces by Cabangis, displayed at the booth of the Museum Foundation of the Philippines Inc. (MFPI), immediately sold out a few minutes after the fair opened.

Meanwhile, young artist Yeo Kaa reprised her inflatable piece Alone But Not Lonely, which, together with several pieces of life-size candy-colored bench sculpture that she called lapin (the French word for rabbit) and anime-like young girls and boys, became the most photographed in the fair.

The otherworldly creations of Leeroy New embodied in his Aliens of Manila project, played “upon the idea of offbeat characters who thrive on the edge of the urban landscape.” The artist spent the day assembling his aliens for a performance in the early evening.

Dindin and Lucia Araneta.

The trio of Soulful Mood played mellow jazz tunes throughout the day while the Bleu Rascals, Philippine representative to the 28th International Blues Challenge in the US, entertained the crowd at night. The art fair also offered a wonderful selection of food by  Justin Golangco of Bucky’s and The Alley’s SideChick, paella from Yuan Ongpin, fare by Cibo by Margarita Fores and 8Cuts Burgers.

The art fair continues to earmark a portion of all sales to the MFPI to support its mission to create awareness for the National Museum and in developing and promoting Philippine culture and art.

Art in the Park was organized by Philippine Art Events Inc. for the benefit of the MFPI. 

(Visit, www.facebook/artinthepark and @artintheparkph on Instagram.)

At home in Binondo

Binondo, Manila is historical and bursting with old-world charm. It couldn’t have been a more perfect location to house the newly renovated, state-of-the-art service center of one of the leading insurance companies in the country — AXA Philippines.

AXA Phi l ippine s president and CEO Rahul Hora.

Officials of the insurance company inaugurated their modern AXA Service Center in Binondo, the company’s first branch to consolidate life and non-life insurance products and services to promote better service to its customers. With the official unveiling of this revamped facility at the Wellington Building, the company’s customers can now avail themselves of its wide menu of products and services in life insurance and general insurance under one roof.

AXA Philippines president and CEO Rahul Hora said,  “This is an important and historic moment for all of us.  We’ve been dreaming about having a facility catering to every single customer wherever they may be in the Philippines. The first step to that dream is happening today and now we can truly say AXA has got everything covered for its customers and it can protect all that they value.”

Chairman Solomon Cua added, “The opening of our service center sends a very strong message that the company is serious in having a very close working relationship with the agencies, its people, and its customers and that we truly mean business.”

Chairman Solomon Cua, chief of commercial business Nicasio Rollan and head of GI partnerships Emmanuel Que.

Following the blessing of the office premises, various members of AXA’s senior leadership team each delivered their congratulatory messages, inspiring the men and women that comprise the company’s Binondo workforce.

(Follow me on Instagram @pepperteehankee.)

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