Celebrate life as you get older!

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When life gives you lemons, ask for salt and tequila! But when life gives you oranges, ask for a bottle of La Maison Cointreau and whip up a cocktail drink that would make you win a global cocktail competition.

Cointreau, the French orange spirit brand established in France over 165 years ago, recently presented the Philippine edition cocktail competition of La Maison Cointreau to discover the best innovative talents in Manila’s hot cocktail scene.

The exclusive competition to create a drink with the featured liquor also brought forth the creation of other brands under the La Maison Cointreau roof. These were Cointreau, Remy Martin cognac, Mount Gay rum, Bruichladdich single malt whisky and The Botanist gin. Bartenders were challenged to focus on the unique aspects of each brand to create their drink.

The electrifying evening was at Belle and Dragon in Legaspi Village, Makati. Each of the seven bartender finalists prepped over 100 cocktails for guests and secret judges to sample with only an hour to work their stations. Lee Watson, competition master, shared his expertise on working with speed and ability to engage the crowd.

The winning cocktail for this year’s La Maison Cointreau was Gossip by Cedric Cello of Smith Butcher and Grill Room. The evening’s judges were Cheryl Tiu of Lifestyle Asia, Katrina Kuhn-Alcantara of Mesclun, and KC Queyquep of Remy-Cointreau.

Cedric won a cash prize of P50,000 and a trip to Phuket, Thailand to represent the Philippines in the regional finals. Good luck Cedric! Bring home the La Maison Cointreau trophy!

Life is indeed too precious not to celebrate key milestone birthdays. Obviously, the older the birthday, the more reason to celebrate.

Brilliant bridge player and businessman Manny Tanjangco marked his 80th birthday with a thanksgiving mass and celebration at the Manila Polo Club together with his family and dearest friends. Lovingly planned by the children and grandchildren of his late wife Ma. Paz Laurel, the elegant, black-tie affair featured an entertaining, big band orchestra that delighted all the guests.

The highlight of the evening was a dance number where all the children, their spouses, grandchildren and their friends joined in on a mob dance, with Manny and his sister Lita Banson showing off their dance moves with a Cha-cha and Foxtrot number. The evening was made more memorable with the participation of the beneficiaries from Tahanan ng Pagmamahal Children’s Home, a ministry very close to Manny’s heart.

Another recent birthday celebrator was Consul Louie Ablaza, who chose a colorful and lively barrio fiesta as the theme for his 78th natal day. The Ablazas welcomed guests once more to Amelia, the family’s beautiful property in Cavite. Fashioned by Louie’s son and event stylist Jun Jun Ablaza, the entire property was transformed into a barrio fiesta scene with artistic installations and colorful décor all over.

After the thanksgiving mass, guests were ushered to the open area beside the chapel where the barrio fiesta festivities began with different booths serving Pinoy favorites. A marching band played as guest continued to catch up with friends.

Hosted by Tedrick Yau, the lunch at the main pavilion started with Louie’s eldest son Marc and grandson Xavi Ablaza welcoming all the guests. The boodle fight was made extra special with the culinary expertise of wonderful Chef Jessie Sincioco.

As Ablaza party rituals, performances by the grandchildren always complete the family affair. Louie’s grandchildren Xavi, Santi and Rocio Ablaza performed an alayor, the offering of gifts. As a surprise addition, the five Ablaza-Syquia grandchildren, Alfonso, Agu, Amanu, Azi and Azia, danced while performing a putong or the offering of flowers.

The internationally renowned Bayanihan Dance Company, the Philippine’s national dance company, highlighted the afternoon with tinikling and pandanggo sa ilaw performances. Dancers even invited foreign guests to learn to dance the tinikling.

For businessman Babes Oreta, his 70th birthday was an Italian extravaganza at ballroom of The City Club at Alphaland Makati Place. Babes’ lovely wife Babot transformed the ballroom into an Italian vineyard, with actual tree branches hung from the ceiling and pretty hurricane lights adorned with grapes and leaves. The tables were topped with candelabra, grape vines and Italian wines and cheeses, among many others delectable goodies.

Powerhouse entertainers like crooner Martin Nievera and Jose Mari Chan led other artists in a veritable concert that had the guests spellbound, as the birthday celebrator basked in the love of all his friends and family. Babot brought together children Quinto and Maureen, and their spouses and children in putting together an enchanted affair.

But of course the cherry on top of the celebration was the presence of Babes’ close friends, family and business associates, as these were the ones that really put life, love, and meaning into all his happy years.

Closer to home, my sister in law Myda Prieto celebrated her golden year. For her surprise party, a flower power theme was chosen. Family and friends all came in 70s glory.

Secretly planned by her hubby Andrew, and with my kibitzing, we made sure to make the surprise as festive and fun as possible with lots of paper flowers and décor. Hearts & Bells created the cutest themed cakes and cupcakes. For orders, email them at heartsnbells@yahoo.com.

Myda’s actual birthday is yesterday, also the same birthday as my brother-in-law Philip Romualdez. I wish them both many happy years ahead of more blessings, prosperity and good health. Birthday wishes also to my Zumba Zbabes classmate Elena Coyiuto, who recently celebrated a wonderful birthday lunch at the new Canton Road Restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel at the Fort.

Life is meant to be celebrated even more when overwhelming obstacles are thrown your way. In the end, these challenges make life more interesting.

Follow @tessavaldes on Twitter and @seaprincess888 on Instagram.

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