“OMG! It’s Christian Louboutin!” That was my immediate reaction when I first met the amazing, world famous shoemaker at the recently held Philippine Tattler Ball.

Luckily, Tatler editor Anton San Diego had given me advance notice that we would be in the same table, so I made sure to wear a pair of Louboutins that night, paired off with a voluminous, floral gown with a long train of giant, colorful, silk flowers, all by talented fashion designer Cherry Veric. To top that creation, hat designer Mark Shandar made me an astonishing floral headpiece.

Such an ensemble couldn’t fit inside an SUV, so I had to do final arrangements to my attire at the hotel lobby, aided by good friend Ginggay dela Merced and sis-in-law Ria Prieto.

For the first time in 16 years, the Philippine Tatler Ball was held at the Grand Ballroom of the Shangri-La Fort, Manila, a welcome change of scene for the more than 500 guests. After enjoying the cocktails at the foyer, guests were ushered through a hall of photos with the magazine’s partners and sponsors.

The tremendous success of the much-anticipated, annual fundraiser couldn’t have been achieved without magnanimous support from main partners Mercedes-Benz, Gulfstream Aerospace and Santos Knight Frank, as well as supporting partners, HSBC Premier and Albany. This year’s beneficiary was the Child Protection Network Foundation. Irene Martel Francisco, Tatler’s managing director, spoke about the cause, which does vital work in preventing child abuse.

Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi and Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez were the evening’s beautiful co-hosts, both in stunning Rajo Laurel creations. They adeptly guided the audience through the program, which included a special performance by songstress Regine Velasquez whose finale was an energetic number that ended on the dance floor. Kudos to the two Stephs on getting the audience refocused after that, as they segued to dinner, the special awards and auction.

Joris Rycken, executive chef of the Shang Fort, executed a marvelous, Instagram-worthy, five-course dinner creatively punctuated with Chinese influences. Nicolas Feuillatte Brut champagne flowed all night, enjoyed by our table, which included gorgeous Heart Evangelista-Escudero, Rustan’s Marites Tantoco-Enriquez and Swiss watch owner Philippe Charriol.

Much-deserved recognition went to six awardees this year for their unstinting contributions in their respective fields. The 2017 awardees were Cary Santiago for Most Creative Force, Tootsy Angara for Most Stylish, benevolent couple David and Katherine Bradley of the Child Protection Network for The Philanthropy Award, Senator Loren Legarda for Patroness of The Arts, and Nedy Tantoco for The Diamond Award.

The exhilarating auction, which had four covetable lots up for bids, was expertly facilitated by the lovely hosts, aided by Atty. Mike Toledo and Dr. Randy Francisco. The lots were an oil portrait by Mia Herbosa, an oil on canvas painting by Betsy Westendorp, an IWC Schaffhausen Portugierser Automatic watch, and one-week stay at Valfond, the Bradley home in Provence, France. The lots and other donations brought in over eight million pesos.

A popular spot for the night was the “Philippine Tatler cover” selfie booth, where guests gamely alternated between glam and wacky poses. One wonders if any tried a jump shot in their gowns.

Meanwhile, other guests flocked to the dance floor as the 8 Track Band performed time-tested favorites. At midnight, DJ Emel Rowe took to the decks and kept dancers’ energy levels high until the wee hours.

It was truly an epic weekend with three major celebrations. Aside from the Tatler Ball, the Bench 30th Anniversary Show, “Under the Stars,” was on. The latter was a night when heavenly bodies gathered and shimmied together on one massive stage.

“Under the Stars” included the country’s hottest stars showing off their sexiness, such as Lovi Poe, Solenn Heussaff, Maine Mendoza, Enrique Gil, Julia Barretto, Paulo Avelino, Richard Gutierrez, Tom Rodriguez, Coleen Garcia, Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla. Special international guests were flown in just for the anniversary spectacle. These included Bench and Bench Body endorser, Austrian model Ivo Buchta, supermodel Trevor Signorino, and the world’s hottest Math teacher, Global Benchsetter Pietro Boselli who got the loudest applause too.

All told, over a hundred models, celebrities, beauty queens and special guests participated in the grand show. Joining them were acrobatic performers flown in from Canada, and a troupe of gymnasts including German model-gymnast Daniel Morres, Christian Berczes, Christian Kiel and Tobias Peter Wolf. I personally enjoyed this part of the show the most.

The Bench Anniversary Show was a collaborative effort between Bench’s main man Ben Chan, stylist and Bench creative consultant Noel Manapat, long-time Bench collaborators fashion director Robby Carmona and production designer Gino Gonzales, and international production team Les 7 Doigts de la Main, headed by creative director Gypsy Snider. Congrats to all, especially Ben, on putting on the most incredible show.

A third celebration was the opening of a new restaurant just outside Tagaytay, Trattoria Mario Mio. A partnership between entrepreneur and lawyer Babes Oreta and chef Paulo Nesi of L’Opera and Balducci fame, the new resto offers al fresco dining with wonderful Tagaytay weather, especially at this time of the year.

Trattoria Mario Mio is located right on the Aguinaldo Highway on the way to the Tagaytay rotunda. So if you are hankering for some good pizza and pasta, swing by the new trattoria in Monteluce, a township development of Major Properties in Silang, Cavite, which is also owned by Babes’ family.

Joining Babes at the opening celebration were good friends, including Robbie and Helen Delgado, Felix and Grace Ang, and Greggy and Irene Araneta. I must especially congratulate Greggy on finally getting PhilWeb’s green light to start operations from PAGCOR, after 478 days.

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