Thursday, March 31, 2011

Welcome to my Colorful World!

Friends have been asking me to write a blog and until recently, I thought I had no need for it. However, with our ever changing world and with my involvement in so many endeavors, it is now high time to have one.  I hope my readers enjoy reading my blog, as much as I enjoy sharing it with them.

I have been writing for the Philippine Star since 1996, when I was still based in New York.  It all started when I hosted a dinner for visiting friends, Max Soliven, (one of the founders of Philippine Star) and his girl Friday, Tess Santos, (now Tess Santos Coffill). Prominent New York based Filipinos and other interesting personalities, like China’s TV star and Cosmetic Queen, Yue Sai Kan, prominent New York Ophthalmologist Dr. Steven Perrone, Singapore socialite Tricia Lee, TLC Beatrice CEO Rey Glover, etc. attended the dinner party. Max Soliven must have been impressed with the way I put the party together with its impressive cast of characters that when the night was over, he invited me to be a New York correspondent for Phil. Star.  He gave me ideas on what to write about, but specifically mentioned theater (he loved Broadway), news worthy Filipinos, celebrities, new restaurants, cultural exhibits, and fashion.  Tess Santos suggested to put my articles in Star Mode, one of their Life Style supplements back then.  And so it came to be.  I became a Contributor for Star Mode. 

 Max Soliven with China’s Cosmetic Queen Yue Sai Kan, Gideon Gartner, CEO of Gartner Enterprises, Loida Nicolas Lewis, CEO of TLC Beatrice. 

Loida and her CEO Rey Glover surprise Max with an NYPD Uniform
Max Soliven with Tricia Lee, lawyer Tunting Cruz Matters, John Matters

One of my best friends in Manhattan, Yue Sai Kan, introduced me to film producers Arnold Kopelson and his wife Anne, who in turn invited me to their celebrity studded events.  On one occasion, they asked me to be one of the “extras” in their film, The Perfect Murder, starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow.  An interesting footnote: the film’s wardrobe department called to inform me that my escort should not wear a white bow tie as Michael Douglas was wearing one and I should not use a burgundy gown as Gwyneth’s gown was burgundy.  I was up in the clouds during the entire shoot at the Metropolitan Museum and did not notice the numerous takes of my ONE particular scene.  It was one of the most memorable experiences in my life! To be in the company of iconic STARS like Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow—WOW!!! Gwyneth Paltrow was so friendly, so candid and surprisingly, sat next to me in between takes. She told me her gown was Balenciaga and was bought on sale.; the diamond necklace and studs that she was wearing were rented from Cartier.  Michael Douglas on the other hand, was reserved and a bit aloof. 

Posing with Michael Douglas during the shoot of the Perfect Murder in New York’s Metropolitan Museum

 A candid shot of Gwyneth Paltrow in between takes

At a party in my honor hosted by Yue Sai Kan, socialite and civic worker Yasmin Khan, Opthalmologist Dr. Stephen Perrone, Michael Douglas, and my hostess with the mostest, Yue Sai Kan

 Myself, dressed to the nines, as I was the honoree-- in vintage YSL
 Producers Arnold and Anne Kopelson

Talented actress Kathleen Turner and Perfume man, handsome Jean Pierre Grivory

In the field of fashion, I interviewed Fashion maven Mary McFadden, Arnold Scaasi, (couturier to Barbara Bush) and Count Oleg Cassini, couturier to Jacqueline Kennedy when she was still America’s First lady.  Oleg Cassini was to the manor born and it showed in his comportment.  He was once upon a time engaged to Grace Kelly, way before she met Prince Ranier of Monaco. I stopped being a New York Correspondent for Phil Star when I came back to live in Manila in 2001.

Myself with Mary McFadden and mutual friend Ijaz Malik, who arranged my interview

In 2002, Mary Prieto decided to give up her column on etiquette.  Call it a fluke or a stroke of fate.  During one particular lunch with Max Soliven, Tess  Santos and Arthur Lopez, Jo Anne Rae Ramirez, (editor-in- chief of People Asia Magazine and Phil Star’s supplement Allure) broke the news of Mary Prieto’s retirement.  Right there and then, Max Soliven invited me to take her place, and the rest is history.  To this day, I give credit to Jo Anne Rae as the “Ninang” (Godmother) of my foray once again to the Philippine Star family. I called my column SAVOIR FAIRE, a French word found in the English dictionary and which means “knowledge of just what to do in any situation, finesse, graciousness, discretion, worldliness, poise, presence, the art to live graciously”.   It was an apt title for a column that would eventually encompass various topics, not just social graces and etiquette. And so it came to be.  Nine years ago, I became a columnist for Philippine Star.

About the Pictures on the Slides

My picture by the wooden door seems so apt in welcoming you to my world.  This was taken last year by renowned photographer Rupert Jacinto for his book FAABULOUS. It was taken at the Goldenberg Museum, the museum that is furnished with everything priceless from different eras in history, pieces acquired by Madame Imelda Marcos during their 20 year regime. 

I was in New York City at the time when Josh Groban had a concert in Jones Beach, New York.  I was a guest of Yue Sai Kan, ( China’s TV icon and Cosmetic Queen) in her fabulous 6 story townhouse and she was running an interview on him that was airing all over China.  I watched the whole interview and wrote about him in my column in Phil Star. He is oozing with talent, so candid, humble and so refreshingly cute.  What a sweetheart!  Next Day, we drove to Jones Beach and watched his concert. Awesome.

Clive Owen is the coolest actor I have ever met.  Every year, I get invited to the Shanghai Film Festival and 2009 was one of the best years in terms of Star power.  Clive Owen, Halle Berry, Quincy Jones, Andy McDowell, director Danny Boyle, (who had just won several awards for his film Slumdog Millionaire), Maria Grazia Cucinotta, (Italian actress who came out in a James Bond film, The World is Not Enough with Pierce Brosnan), Easy Rider Jim Fonda and some top Chinese actors were there.  I was wearing a strapless red gown with a train by Dita Sandico Ong, (using  Abel material) and everyone, including Halle Berry complimented it.  She is one beautiful lady with no airs!

I accompanied Quincy Jones to his press conferences and he was asked questions about Michael Jackson all the time. He produced the three top Albums of MJ-Thriller, Bad, and Up the Wall.  That was 2nd week of June.  In July, MJ was pronounced dead.  I will never forget the extreme sadness I felt.  He was one of my idols of all times and when I was living in NYC in the 80s, his music on MTV and in the discos we frequented were on top of my list of favorites.

2008 was another Star-studded year at the Shanghai Film Festival.  I met Liam Neeson, and his attractive wife Natasha Richardson, Suzanne Sommers, Hugh Jackman and his friendly wife Deborra, 6 ft tall Sigourney Weaver, Andy McDowell, Jackie Chan, John Long, (Last Emperor of China) Joan Chen, (Joy Luck Club) and many others.  I found myself alone in the coffee room of the convention hall during the press conference of the White Countess with Liam Neeson and had a good chat with him. He seemed like a loving husband as he told me that he was in Shanghai to give support to his wife whose movie, The White Countess was showing during the Gala Night. Sadly, Natasha died in a skiing accident the year after. 

I was the only journalist allowed to attend a one- on -one interview of Hugh Jackman for Chinese television by Yue Sai Kan (she is the Oprah of China).  That was a BIG treat.  Hugh Jackman was there to promote his film WOLVERINE.  I don’t have enough words to describe Jackman’s talent, his kindness and his sense of Christian values struck me as profound for someone in show biz.

Suzanne Sommers talked to me mostly about the books she wrote on how to keep youthful by taking Bio-identical hormones. Her book, Sexy Forever explains her advocacies.

Hobnobbing with the stars does not mean that one ends up good friends with them. They are in their own stellar world and you are just one of the meteors in their vast universe.   Most of them will not remember having met you. Natasha Richardson is one of the few celebrities who remembered meeting me one year after our first meeting.  God bless her soul.