Every day is a blessing and a precious gift from God. Among the many special days in a year, I am most grateful for January 19. Not only is it the birthday of our elder daughter Annika, but it also is the day of the helicopter crash of my hubby Dennis while he was on a business trip in India in 2004. 

When I got the news of Dennis’ mishap, I was then pregnant with our youngest Athena, who is now 13. Dennis’ miraculous, full recovery is a constant reminder to be always filled with gratitude and to celebrate life and all its blessings.  

Annika Valdes in Bhutan

We are so proud of our Annika, who turned 21 yesterday. She is currently discovering the wonders and beauty of Nepal and Bhutan before continuing her Junior Year at Chapman University where is she taking up Film.  

Over the Christmas holidays, Philippine Tatler editor Anton San Diego and long-time friends Patty Chilip and Ling Ling King jointly celebrated their birthdays at Manila House. These three friends have been rejoicing in the gift of life, especially after their own helicopter crash in July 2015.   

Manila House’s roof deck was transformed into an all-white lounge, while the Avenue Bar was set up for dancing with the Sabor Latino band. Family and friends were there in full force to greet the lovable threesome even in the midst of the Christmas mayhem. 

Celebrating life via the most unique and fascinating theme parties is the signature style of travelling buddy Tim Yap. He recently partied with so many beautiful mates in Arthaland Tower. With the theme, Lava Red, guests came in outfits that would seemingly illuminate the darkest room.   

The inspirations behind the party included Ms. Universe Catriona Gray’s lava walk, and all the patriotic energy needed to welcome the year of the Fire Earth Pig. Thus was born Tim’s Lava Red party, the hottest party to start the season, one to inspire passions to last throughout the year.  

Everything about the party revolved around “Hot.” Yaparazzi Events converted Common Ground, a co-working space, into a lava red venue. Tim’s partner Javi Martinez was on top of it all, and put together the elements, along with Barbie Pardo and Tess Villareal. Mia Cabawatan-Lazada of Bloomwoods made a giant, flame, floral installation for the photo wall and DJs from all over flew in for the music.  

The buffet included seven lechons from Elarz and for giveaways, Elarz canned lechon, a special hot sauce made by Caramba, lipsticks from VICE cosmetics, Close Up Red, and tinted sunblock from Belo to jumpstart summer. Our #tropafrica gang was reunited at Tim’s party where we planned our next destination. Also present were the lovely sisters Cris Albert and Ana Abad-Santos. 

We were with Fila’s royal couple Butch and Cris Albert also earlier this week as they celebrated their 25thwedding anniversary with a very intimate dinner for 16 at Elbert’s Steak Room. Indeed, this year is all about love. At the dinner celebration, Butch and Cris expressed their love for family, friends and especially God, for all His blessings.  

Dennis and I are already planning our #DandTLove25 celebration, our silver wedding anniversary that will have an African flair to it. We will be incorporating the photos of Dennis from all our safari trips in Africa.  

Some of Dennis’ framed photos were part of the Kartini Gallery that recently opened in Madison Galeries in the Alabang area. The art market in the Philippines is now experiencing a glorious era where gallery owners and artists collaborate and create wonderful spaces and share their stories with the world.  

This is the story of Kartini Gallery, born out of the passion of entrepreneur Nina Malvar for the arts. At the opening last January 12, Nina told me how she finds it “a joy to create an art gallery as an arena to showcase culture and to collaborate with artists, despite the tremendous and difficult challenges.” But she also added that “passion inspires hard work and people notice.”

Nina has long been a champion of up-and-coming and experimental artists. She founded Mission Artists Philippines to collaboratively join the works of art masters and emerging artists through Kartini’s art exhibitions. Kartini’s oeuvre showcases the masterful renditions of Filipino artists in painting, sculpture and photography. Mission Artists Philippines who have exhibited in Kartini Gallery include Nune Alvarado, Leonard Aguinaldo, Rodney Martinez, Bert Monterona, Ronald Castrillo, Waldz Villanueva,  Arnaldo Mirasol, Jojo Garcia, Mon Villanueva, Victor Espinosa, Mark Kiram Tolentino, Lloyd Tronco  and Dennis Valdes.  

Kartini also features an exquisite collection of Asian furniture and artworks, including paintings and tapestries, sculpture in wood, brass and natural jade stone, antiquities and home accents sourced from various parts of Asia. The artworks of world renowned Vietnamese artists are also featured, such as Le Thanh Son, Truong Tuan Kiet, Nguyen Thanh Binh, Hoang Phuong Vi and Dao Hai Phong.  

Since its opening two years ago, the Madison Galeries has become the favorite neighborhood mall in Alabang Hills. Madison Galeries offers residents easy access to basic necessities as well as entertainment and leisure. Unlike the usual commercial malls in the south, this mall is a promising lifestyle destination that offers shopping and pampering services as well as an events venue for rent.

At the Madison Galeries grand opening, numerous guests and celebrities like Dingdong Dantes, Johnny Litton and Mayor Jaime Fresnedi joined the festivities. An al fresco buffet party and live music welcomed all. Additionally, guests received special giveaways and gift certificates from the restaurants in the mall. 

I am all excited for the upcoming Year of the Earth Boar on February 5. For our annual Chinese New Year party, the food-and-grocery app honest bee will be hosting the extravaganza, complete with Lion Dancers, a Chinese lauriat buffet, fortune tellers and the Feng Shui forecast of Marites Allen. May the Year of the Boar bring all the luck and happiness for all!  

More pics on Instagram @seaprincess888.

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