Gong Xi Fa Cai! We eagerly welcome the Year of the Earth Dog that is predicted to be full of energy, and signals a fresh start for us to set new goals.

In Chinese mythology, the Jade Emperor hosted a race to choose the 12 animals that would be part of the Chinese Zodiac. The dog became the 11th animal of the zodiac, second to last in the race. In Feng Shui, the auspicious number 11 is associated with faith and psychics.

This Year of the Dog, be on the lookout for new ventures and keep in mind that dog years are also said to be a time of change. To start the New Year with positive energy, we hosted a dog-themed party last weekend. Thanks to other generous friends, everyone went home with giveaways from Bench, Dunkin Donuts, Gardenia, Watsons, Freeway, Tahanan Books, SM and Swatch.

Guests who came with their pet dogs to the CNY party received wonderful gifts from Bow & Wow. Our first doggie winner was Toqa, the handsome American Akita dog of Isabel Sicat. Toqa is also the name of the project of Isabel and her good friend Aiala Valdovino. It is a sport resort brand whose primary purpose is to situate sustainable high fashion in a tropical locale.

Toqa is defined as a fashion company, but its design and research component functions as performance as well. Each year the creative directors move to a different island, create one full collection, and stage a show. The collection’s textiles originate from rescued deadstock, meaning fabrics that are no longer in production, and will be manipulated to reflect the character of the island.

For example, Manila’s power mesh fabrics are dyed with Tang. Because there is a finite amount of raw material for each season, each collection will only be produced once, and when the deadstock runs out, no more will be made. These pieces are disguised as clothing, but are really art objects: reflective of a particular exploration of a place, and a particular moment in time, never to be repeated again.

February 24 is the international debut of Toqa, Season One: Manila, Luzon, in partnership with the Inaugural Manila Biennale in Intramuros. The collection will include bike outfits created from the collection’s fabric scraps aka basahan tela. Reserve a seat for the fashion show at www.toqa.tv or follow them on Instagram @toqa.tv. The show is made possible by Martel Home, Vitacoco, San Miguel Corporation, JCat Beauty, UMAP, Manille Liqueur, Toyo Eatery, Forever 21, Engkanto Brewery and Krispy Kreme.

Our Best in Chinese Costume winners got Crystal Dragon Restaurant gift certificates at City of Dreams Manila. The hotel ushers in abundance, happiness and good fortune in the Year of the Earth Dog with auspicious CNY specialties at its premium Chinese restaurant Crystal Dragon until February 20. 

City of Dreams’ Charisse Chuidian invited the Inquirer Lifestyle family to enjoy the Crystal Dragon’s Lunar Chinese New Year a la carte menu. For the prosperity toss, we used our chopsticks to mix the ingredients together and then tossed them up while saying “Lo Hei!” while wishing out loud to bring in good luck. The “Yu Sheng” salad or “Lo Hei” originated from the Cantonese phrase’s meaning of “tossing up good fortune,” a traditional Chinese New Year ceremony from Singapore, Malaysia and China.

For groups of four to six, the “Happiness” and “Abundance” five-course set menus at Crystal Dragon are ideal for celebrating with family and friends. For inquiries, call 800 8080, e-mail guestservices@cod-manila.com, or visit www.cityofdreamsmanila.com

For more good luck to flow in the Year of the Dog, make sure to declutter your closet to make way for new clothes. For the launch of One Closet, a gown rental social enterprise, I gave some of my old gowns to add to their collection. Hosted by Joby Belmonte and Butuan’s radio and TV host, Jam Magno, the successful affair at Robinsons Place Butuan included a fashion show to showcase the different designer gowns in the rental shop.

One Closet was conceptualized by 14-year-old Isabela Blancas after she was struck by depression. Coping with adversity, she thought that by focusing less on her own problems and doing something good for those who have less would help in her healing.

The concept is simple, One Closet asks for donations of pre-loved gowns and formal dresses and then rents them out to the ladies in Butuan for all kinds of formal occasions. Part of the profits of this social venture will help poor children in Mindanao with their educational needs. One of its beneficiaries is a convent in Buenavista, the Sisters Disciples of Jesus in the Eucharist, that helps abused young girls.

The donated gowns in One Closet’s collection include those from top fashion designers of the country such as Rajo Laurel, Oliver Tolentino, Cherry Veric, Veejay Floresca, Charina Sarte, Michele Sison, Philipp Tampus, Martin Bautista and many more. For those interested in donating dresses and gowns, contact Fred Blancas at +639178632070 or frederickblancas@yahoo.com.

The producers of the international tour of Disney’s “The Lion King” are thrilled to announce that the Manila season has been extended by an additional two weeks. New seats have just been released and are now available for purchase through TicketWorld.

The Lion King is presented by Michael Cassel Group and Concertus Manila in association with Disney Theatrical Productions and will now run from March 18 to May 6, 2018 at The Theatre at Solaire. The Manila production’s presenting sponsors are Globe and Visa.

Joey Verzo, managing director of Concertus Manila, told me that “The Lion King” smashed Manila’s box office records on day one of the priority booking period, selling over 14,000 tickets and eclipsing the previous record of a single day of sales for a theatrical production. For further information, visit TheLionKing.ph.

On a final note, congratulations to a couple of my Girls Run for Breakfast teammates. First to Raeanna Cranbourne who just got engaged to Choloy David. And to Lara Parpan, who just celebrated her golden birthday.



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