New Year New adventures!


Barely two weeks into 2016, I have already broken three of my five New Year’s resolutions. Oh well, I guess two out of five ain’t bad.

I’m optimistic about the remaining ones. First, I plan to increase my fitness level and spend more time on the mat for my yoga practice. I want to rediscover my love for Ashtanga Yoga, the method that yogi Bela Lipat encouraged me to practice a long time ago.

These are exciting times for all yogis out there. Tim Feldmann and Kino MacGregor, internationally known and loved, husband-and-wife yoga teachers, are coming to Yoga Manila for a five-series weekend workshop on January 22 to 24. The event will be held at the Edades function room on the third floor of Edades Tower at Rockwell Center.

Kino and Tim founded Miami Life Center and have a strong following all over the world, with thousands of students learning with them in their travels and over a millions followers on social media. Both are authorized teachers of the Ashtanga Yoga method of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois of Mysore, India, and just about the closest thing to rock stars in the yoga world.

Yoga Manila is one of the pioneering yoga studios in the Philippines offering Ashtanga, slow flow and yoga for special needs. Visit for more information.

I’m also confident that my resolution to start painting again can be attained. So far, I’ve started with the newly popular, adult, paint-by-number coloring books. Hopefully, I will graduate to a canvas by the end of the year.

I was inspired by my aunt Marivic Rufino, a brilliant artist who is staging her 18th solo exhibit on February 2 at The Gallery at The Peninsula Manila. Entitled “Luminescence Dreamscapes 2016,” the artworks reflect the artist’s fascination with the nuances of light, radiant and luminous, in nature. The subjects in the transcendental realm are rare glimpses of luminescence and infinity.

​Mav is also so cool because I never call her “tita.” She studied painting in both the Western and Chinese tradition (Ling Nan) under various masters in Manila and New York, and her international shows have been held in Madrid, Paris, San Francisco and Manila.

Apart from painting, Mav serves as vice-chairman and director of Philippine Red Cross – Makati City Branch of Rizal Chapter. Our Red Charity Gala team has been fundraising for her chapter since we started seven years ago.

Mav Rufino

​Speaking of which, let me make a quick segue to this year’s upcoming Red Charity Gala in October. Co-chair Kaye Tinga, direk Ariel Lozada and I have started our meetings already to plan the event. We’re inspired by The Peninsula Manila’s Christmas Concert and are considering including some beautiful, classical, live music at our upcoming eighth edition.

Red charity gala team

​Kaye and I both witnessed the Pen’s classical music extravaganza over the Christmas season, “Celebrations: 32 Years of Christmas Concert at The Pen.” The best part was that it was not only an auditory feat but also a fundraising concert for the benefit of The Peninsula Hotels’ “Hope for the Philippines” fund.

To ensure a landmark fundraising concert, the hotel assembled a stellar cast and put together a memorable musical repertoire performed by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Ruggero Barbieri, sopranos Rachelle Gerodias and Brigitte Van Hagen, baritone Byeong – In Park, and the internationally renowned, fifty-voice choir University of Santo Tomas Singers. Freddie Santos was the concert director.

​The Pen’s classical charity concert was an overflowing, festive scene. The Christmas décor was created by resourceful Popsie Gamboa and her team.

Many of the charitable ladies at the concert also went to the 75th grand birthday celebration of consul Mellie Romero Ablaza held at their family’s sprawling estate, Amelia. A printed, silk chiffon scarf was part of the formal invitation, with a dress code statement I loved, “Life is a party, dress like it!”

Upon arrival, guests were invited to the Ablaza family chapel for a simple thanksgiving mass. Afterwards, ushers dressed in modernized barongs by Steve de Leon and Ablaze Artwear & Artcessories escorted guests to the main house where a grand exhibit awaited.

A tribute display to Ben Farrales, the “Dean of Philippine Fashion,” welcomed the colorfully dressed guests entering the main house. Mellie has been known for her unique parties and affable character in the social circles, and also as a standout fashionista. She credits some of her most notable pieces to Mang Ben, who has been a lifelong friend.

Jun Jun Ablaza, Mellie’s artistic son, lavishly styled a pavilion in the main grounds in a traditional Filipiniana motif. Native, woven cribs were hung on the ceiling surrounded by fresh foliage and tropical flowers. The dining tables were equally delightful with vegetables and fruits carefully placed together as eye-catchy centerpieces.

Hosted by Tedrick Yau, the program began with elegant Mellie expressing her gratitude to all. In her speech, she boldly stated her age and proudly shared her happiness. Afterwards, her grandson Santi Ablaza brought in a birthday cake.
As guests enjoyed the food personally prepared by Chef Jessie Sincioco, grandkids Alfonso, Agu, Amanu, Azi Ablaza Syquia performed a violin rendition of Christmas Carols.

Over lunch, a capsule collection by fashion designer Steve de Leon was presented. Entitled “Avante Garde in Filipiniana,” the fashion show was directed by Oskar Attendido, with the assistance of Michele Sison and Trixie Orobia, in collaboration with events guru Jett Carpio. The collection showcased an evolving persona of a Maria Clara look and Mellie’s only daughter Czarina Ablaza Syquia walked the runaway in a Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal look.

All of which brings me to the end of this week’s column, where I suppose I should reveal the three resolutions I have already broken. Or we can just reserve all of that for next week. Happy New Year!

Follow @tessavaldes on Twitter and @seaprincess888 on Instagram.

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