A blessed Christmas to everyone! May your world be filled with warmth and good cheer this holy season, and even more so in 2018. It has truly been a stellar year of love with a couple of engagements and multiple marriages.

For several weddings, I was honored to be a ninang, even if accepting the role implies my membership in an upper age bracket. Early this year, travel buddy Divine Lee wed her Cebuano beau Blake Go. Months later, our Tropafrica leader Malu Gamboa married Mon Lindo in an intimate ceremony.

Last week, I was doing the ninang role again for one of my baptismal godchildren, Dianne Pelonia, who married her longtime boyfriend Mark Salvador.

Newlyweds Dianne and Mark SALVADOR with parents Linda and Rolly Pelonia

Love ruled in 2017 as several friends and family announced their engagements. Favorite co-host Tim Yap proposed to his partner Javi Martinez on his birthday last January.

Closer to home, our eldest son, Bryan Prieto, proposed to his fiancée Tinkay Crespo on his birthday, Sept. 14. Bryan’s surprise proposal party was held at the Swatch + Swatch Building, with Swatch grand dame Virgie Ramos hosting the event.

Tita Virgie also hosted her annual, fun-filled Christmas party last week. Amazing brightness greeted guests, the façade decked out in green uplights and Christmas lights.

We posed by a forest of real Christmas trees at the foyer. An assortment of fruits, ham, cheeses, chips and dips awaited guests as they entered the cocktail area.

The food was overwhelming —from the pastas, prime ribs, and the spread of scrumptious sweets, to the gold candy buffet and desserts.

Always ready to treat her guests, Tita Virgie allowed each guest to create our own Swatch X You design as our giveaway. For over 34 years, Swatch has been creating the world’s most innovative watch designs, and now it was our turn!

Inspired by various experiences, styles and creativity, Swatch X You is the truest form of self-expression. It was cool to design my own Swatch, with their stylish straps, watch heads, loops and pins.

Gold balloons were draped from the ceiling of the Ramos home, creating a golden balloon roof of gold hats, trinkets and accessories, all ready for guests to wear and to be in with the “Black & Gold” theme. I could truly feel the holiday vibe with overflowing food and drinks.

Music was in full blast—DJ Gerard Henson spinning back-to-back with a band that led to jamming sessions with Matteo Guidicelli, Louie Ocampo, Vice Ganda, Billy Crawford, Mikee Cojuanco, Anne Curtis and yours truly.

For our finale, Billy and I performed our winning number at the first “Celebrity Duets” show many years ago.

Before the night was over, Tita Virgie awarded the Best in Gold Costume, which ended with a tie—Vice Ganda and I winning the grand prize.

This festive season means much more than Christmas parties and gift giving. May your Christmas be filled with true miracles and meaning at this beautiful time.

For the tree lighting ceremony of The Peninsula Manila, the hotel hosted the Make A Wish Foundation (MAWF) kids to join GM Mark Choon in the annual ceremony.

The Peninsula staff also prepared merienda as well as a Christmas cupcake and gingerbread man decorating activity.

The Pen has been working with MAWF since 2000.

The Peninsula Manila GM Mark Choon with Make a Wish Foundation kids during the tree lighting at the Lobby

Jeffrey Solares, director of the Manila Symphony Orchestra, along with members of the Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra, performed at the affair. They’ve played for the hotel for four Christmases now, part of their outreach programs as well.

Before leaving for the holidays, I squeezed in another fun Christmas party at the residence of Bench boss Ben Chan. It was a reunion of sorts for the media group that went with Ben to Denmark—a memorable and enjoyable trip.

May this Christmas end on a cheerful note and make way for a fresh and bright New Year.

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