After almost half a year of intense planning and preparations, the Red Charity Gala 2017 was an incredibly successful affair last Saturday at the Shangri-La at the Fort. An unforgettable evening of elegance, style, and philanthropy, the ninth RCG featured the collection of fashion designer Joey Samson.

It’s hard to imagine that Kaye Tinga and I, the co-chairs of RCG, have been working together for close to a decade championing our twin causes: celebrating the best Filipino creative talents in fashion and at the same time raising funds and building awareness for the Philippine Red Cross and the Assumption High School Batch 1981 Foundation, the event’s main beneficiaries.

Bench, our main presenter, had a special exhibition of the brand’s 30 years in the retail industry at the main foyer of the Grand Ballroom. Now an international brand, Bench has several stores all over the world and has acquired other brand names as well.

Our new director this year is Robby Carmona of Saga Events, who worked with our line producer Maggie Gineta to produce a seamless show from cocktails to dinner to the auction and finally, the fashion show itself. The hallway to the ballroom had the elegant display of several auction items arranged by the country’s premier event design firm, Moss Manila.

Seen viewing the display was Hollywood star Steven Seagal, accompanied by Gov. Chavit Singson. My towering headpiece, done by Basement Salon stylist Danny Katalbas, was barely taller than this incredibly tall action star.

Next to the exhibit was a fully stocked and extremely popular open bar, serving specially made cocktails by Remy Martin and the Botanist Gin. Thanks to all the spirits, everyone was more than eager to bid at the live auction over dinner.

Belo Babies Gabbi Garcia, Gill Cuerva and Derrick Monasterio enjoyed having a 360-degree selfie at the 360 Selfie PH booth. Handsome couple Justin and Cristalle Belo-Pitt worked that moving camera like a pro. We are grateful to Sharon Ong and her team for adding an extra fun activity at the cocktails. Check out www.360SelfiePH.com for details.

Amazing soprano and Inquirer Brand Ambassador Lara Maigue serenaded the guests as the doors to the main ballroom were opened. Over a thousand purple tulips were beautifully arranged on the tables’ centerpieces. Master florist Robert Blancaflor has supported RCG from the very first gala and we also congratulate him for celebrating 20 years of event and wedding styling.

Over dinner, co-host Tim Yap and I conducted our annual very lively, highly participative auction. Tim and I make every effort to extract exorbitant bids, and we do hope that guests don’t mind if we take a few extra minutes as all the proceeds do go to charity.

We had an exciting array of lots, including two iPhone X units with a one-year free Globe Platinum 3799 subscription plan, original Ramon Valera sketches from León Gallery, a weekend stay at Crimson Resort & Spa Boracay including air tickets from Air Asia and luggage from World Traveler, a precious jewelry set in gold, rubies and diamonds from Royal Gem, a long-weekend stay at Bluewater Sumilon Beach Resort for eight, pearls from Jewelmer, an Omega Seamaster watch from Lucerne paired with a Remy Martin Louis XIII cognac, a Viking Range gas cooktop matched with a City of Dreams staycation package, round-trip business class tickets for two to London including a three-night stay at the Shangri-La at the Shard London, an Emperor sapphire and diamond necklace, and finally, a six-night safari package in Botswana provided by A2A Safaris with Linda Farrow aviator eyewear and Discovery Leisure Company’s surprise Palawan travel package.

A big thank you goes out to all the top bidders, including Maureen Disini, Dawn Zulueta, Tootsy Angara, Myrna Yao, Mimi Siy, Alelee Aguilar-Andanar, Grace Ang, Vicki Belo, Small Laude and Alice Eduardo, to name a few. For the Jewelmer auction piece that the family of Dr. Aivee Aguilar-Teo won, their donation will be shared with the Jewelmer Foundation for the benefit of the livelihood of their pearl farmers. We are grateful to both the Aguilar and Branellec families for their support.

After the fundraising auction, we snuck in a presentation of Sun Life’s Women of Legacy and a short, fashion capsule collection presented by Bench.

And then it was the pièce de résistance: the presentation of Joey Samson’s androgynous, gender fluid, haute couture collection dubbed “PilgrimAge,” depicting one man’s journey to nostalgia as portrayed by a mood, a moment, a patina, a place, an individual, a feeling. The suite fused old style glamour with hints of the romantic and lady-like form, harmonizing extravagant detailing with traditional silhouettes for a look that is contemporary yet beyond time.

In the rousing grand finale, a celebratory round of applause greeted Joey as he sashayed down the runway, met by Ben Chan, Kaye and me.

The Red Charity Gala 2017 was presented by Bench, in cooperation with co-presenters Globe Platinum, Jewelmer, Megaworld, and SunLife Financial. Major sponsors are A2A Safaris, Creamsilk, Emperor Watch and Jewelry, Fuentes Manila, Leon Gallery, Lucerne, Moss Manila, Philippine Airlines, Remy Martin, Robert Blancaflor, Royal Gem, Shangri-La at the Fort and Volvo. Check out www.redcharitygala.com for more photos of the affair.

Additional support was provided by Abitare Internazionale, Adworks Manila for the beautiful invites, Air Asia, Bluewater Sumilon Beach Resort, City of Dreams, Crimson Resort & Spa Boracay, Discovery Leisure Company, Dusit Thani Manila, The Manila Hotel, Viking Range, W/17 and World Traveller.

Special thanks to media sponsors Inquirer Red, Lifestyle Asia, Philippine Daily Inquirer, and Philippine Star with Alcoplus, Auro Chocolate, Bakers Maison, Cova, Cupcakes By Sonja, Gardenia, Goldilocks, Linda Farrow, Louis XIII, McDonald’s, Mint College, Pond’s, Ryan Villamael, Simple, The Bellevue Manila, The Botanist, The Peninsula Manila, and Zarah Juan.

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