81 years is a long time. It’s almost Lincolnian where it can be described as four score and a year ago. When one reaches this milestone, one might expect to just look back and enjoy the view.

Well, not for Roberto V. Ongpin, president of Alphaland Corporation. RVO, as he is called, is still unstoppable at 81. Totally energized with his wellness treatments at the Aegle Wellness Center, he is busier than ever, expanding the development in beautiful Balesin Island and his latest project, Alphaland Baguio Mountain Lodges in Baguio City.

Last weekend, he treated many of the Ongpin clan to his 81st birthday weekend with a wonderful dinner party at the Balesin Sala. His lovely wife Monica flew in from Italy for the Christmas holidays, along with their son Stephen, his wife Laura and two sons, Sebastian and Benjamin. Stephen’s siblings Anna, Michelle and Julian, were also present, along with a slew of Ongpin cousins. Among the other special guests were former VP Jejomar Binay and family. For the delight of all, OPM hit maker Ogie Alcasid sang a couple of songs and even did a duet with VP Binay.

The Balesin coffee table book, “Unique in the World,” was then given to all the guests as a wonderful souvenir present. This is a magnificent book for which RVO has written a foreword saying: “I hope you enjoy this book, which is intended to record for posterity the unmatchable beauty of this island.”

Balesin’s animal kingdom is also growing. Apart from the exotic birds at the Aviary, dear member Pinky Tobiano has donated two large exotic tortoises along with additional birds. The arrival of five Shetland-cross ponies has also delighted the kids in the island. A new bunny farm is now open near the main Clubhouse.

2017 has been a very busy one for Balesin. In March, they took delivery of a second ATR72, thus increasing their ability to transport more than 500 people daily to and from Balesin, especially with its lighted runway making it a 24-hour aerodrome. A visitor recently commented that they must be the only destination resort in the world with its own night-flight capable aerodrome.

Balesin also built its first three Private Villas, which are available for sale to individuals and corporations. There are three of them comprising 8, 6 and 4 suites. All around designer Rico Sison has again done his magic to create these new jewels for Balesin.

As a special Christmas offering, Balesin has decided to reward its loyal Balesin members—who now number 1,400—with this once-in-a-lifetime offer. Each member will be entitled to invite a maximum of two friends or relatives who would like to become members but have found the cost too steep.

Until January 20, they will allow each member to nominate two individuals at a very attractive price, i.e., Php1.5 million for a Gold membership (now selling at Php2.2 million), which entitles the member to 7 free nights per year, and/or a Diamond membership for Php3 million (now selling at Php4 million), which entitles the member to 14 free villa nights a year.

As they have allotted only 100 memberships for this offer, it will have to be on a first-come first-served basis. For more information, check out www.balesin.com .

For RVO’s birthday weekend, I flew in from Clark Airport with buddy Rosan Cruz. We went there straight from the Marites Allen Feng Shui Extravaganza at the Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas.

For the coming Year of the Earth Dog, Marites shared her Feng Shui tips to auspiciously capture the wealth and health energies as well as the lucky directions and colors to use. Southwest-facing homes are in for auspicious wealth in both personal and business aspects. The Dragon and Snake-born signs have the wealth number 8 in their direction. Other lucky signs are Dog, Boar, Sheep and Monkey.

The Marites Allen 2018 Feng Shui Planner, 2018 Almanac and Animal Sign books have detailed Feng Shui tips and daily guidelines to help navigate the lucky stars. They are all available in National Bookstore and Frigga Shops.

Speaking of gentlemen not slowing down, artist photographer Rupert Jacinto presented yet another mixed media portraiture together with his elegant portraits of elegant women and distinguished men, held last month at the Peninsula Manila. The dual event was a photo exhibit and a combined book launch presented at the Gallery and Rigodon ballroom respectively.

The book launch was held at the Rigodon ballroom with the theme of “Gods of Egypt” in a black and white charity ball. Mark Choon, The Peninsula Manila GM, together with Guests of Honor, Senator Miguel Zubiri, National Artist Francisco Sionil Jose, Arsenio ‘Nick’ Lizaso, President of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the Faaabvlous Icons of 2017, Tingting Cojuangco, Criselda Lontok and Ingrid Santamaria opened the photo exhibit. The iconic photo of Tingting Cojuangco was awarded a UNESCO Women of Asia award in Japan in 1979.

H.E. Ambassador Ahmed Ezzat and H.E. Ambassador Effie Matityau unveiled the book cover facsimiles at the book launch with cover ladies, Linda Legaspi Rosal, Maru Go, Buena Sarmiento and Avon Morales. The event was co-presented by The Advertising Foundation of the Philippines, in support of the Love-a-Parish Program of the Sto. Nino de Paz Chapel. Sponsors were The Peninsula Manila, Titania Wine Cellar, Liquid Gold, Globe Platinum, Marriott Manila, Stores Specialists Inc., Fashion Interiors, Jun Jun Ablaza, Kandaya Resort and RJ100.

The Peninsula Manila started 2018 with another lavish New Year’s Eve party that lived up to its reputation for throwing the most beautiful and elegant year-ender bash.

The scene was vintage Cuban, reminiscent of the luxurious haciendas of rich tobacco and sugar plantation owners. The Lobby’s legendary New Year’s Eve Ball proved to be still the hottest party in town, with the sultry spirit of la Habana as the inspiration for 2017’s final send-off party. At the stroke of midnight, The Lobby became a sea of balloons and shiny confetti, as guests tooted on their horns, reveling in party favors and Champagne, signaling the start of a new year.

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