What a woman can bring to the table

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
What a woman can bring to the table
A summer brunch tablescape of florals, fruits and eye-popping green placemats.

The two years of strict lockdown unlatched a new world for me that of tablescaping. If the lockdown bred plantitas, it also set the stage, the table if you will, for “platitas.” (In Filipino, “plato” means plate, which anchors all tablescapes.)

For many a platita, tablescaping was the balm for cabin fever. In my case, it was both a balm and a re-enactment of what I had wanted in between deadlines. The time saved from commuting to work, plus the absence of both obligatory and sought-after socials freed up time for me to be a homemaker. For the first time in our lives, my husband Ed and son Chino (who moved in temporarily with us during the lockdown) had two meals together every day. That was as rare as a blue moon. In many ways, as my mother Sonia has said, I was living a dream with every plate, saucer, flower arrangement and stemware that I somehow strung together like words in an essay.

Doing tables was also a way for me to “table hop.” During my trips, I would go to flea markets — whether in Luang Prabang in Laos or Linz by the Danube (Europe has great tiangges), or even in Tagbilaran in Bohol, and would buy teacups and plates, and hand carry my prized “loot” home, never mind if my arms ached and my wallet shrunk after the trip. And this was way before the lockdown.

Thus, on certain days of the lockdown, I would have a Turkish delight table, or a Mexican-themed mesa. Travel had come to a standstill for almost two years, but not my imagination. Tablescaping became therapeutic. And I wasn’t alone. There is a legion of us platitas.

A trio of Moroccan lamps, red roses, jewel-colored plates and gold cutlery make for a sophisticated tablescape. Long-stemmed red roses add more than a dash of romance.
Photos by Mark Chester Ang


So, when Alert Level 1 descended on the metro, I did my first in-store shopping. Since I wanted to limit myself to one venue at a time, my first destination was the SM Home Store in Makati and my appetite for table settings was whetted even more. A buffet of selections awaited. (SM Store has a personal shopper service. Customers can reach a personal shopper for SM Home in Makati at +63 933 817 8754.)

But before dessert, the main course. First, you have to choose the plates, which anchor any table. Then you could build everything else around them.

Since it is summer, I chose plates with pink flowers. They came with matching salad plates, bowls and coffee mugs. Plates look like queens when you put them on thrones (i.e., chargers), and I chose red chargers. Since the plates and chargers were in vivid colors, I chose beige napkins.

To make the plates pop, I picked some apple green placemats. I bought some flowers from the market and created spring bouquets. Nothing structured. I just tied them into bunches and put them in glass vases. I also bought summer fruits like mangoes, star apples and mangosteen and arranged the round fruits on a sungka board. I tucked some lilac statis into napkin rings from my collection. I decided to have this al fresco brunch in the lanai and served suman from my mother’s hometown in Oriental Mindoro. I stuck to my usual oatmeal.

Also at the SM Home Store, I spied some gold-rimmed plates that looked like jade to me (a steal for only P500 each), and salad plates that looked like sapphire (P329 a piece). The glow of candlelight is what makes a table romantic and classy, and I spotted a trio of Moroccan lamps. Flameless candles were on sale at the time, and so I bought one for each lamp. I put the plates on gold- colored plate chargers from my kitchen cabinet to highlight their gold rim. I picked cutlery in golden tones, also from SM Store. I chose black napkins from my linen closet and pearl napkin rings, also from my baul. Then off again to the market I went for red roses, which I felt would contrast beautifully with the jewel colors of the plates. I had some balloons left over from my birthday and I scattered them like pearls on the table as well.

My husband said that if the table looked like that and we were still dating, he would propose to me.

Now, that was a decent proposal! See what a beautiful tablescape can bring to the table?

(You may e-mail me at [email protected]. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)


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