Monday, July 25, 2011

Beijing Beauties

Speaking of career choices, Ms. YUE SAI KAN has that knack of swimming through unchartered waters, braving  the high waves and emerging unscathed and victorious.  As an example, In the mid 80s, CCTV offered her to host a TV program to educate the Chinese people about the Western world.  She had never done this in her life before but she nonetheless dared venture into it.  Her show, Looking East, which segued to One World was a huge success and made her a famous TV personality.  Her signature hairdo, a short page boy with bangs was copied by all the young  fashionistas in China. Then in the early 90s, she decided to quit TV and introduce cosmetics to the women of China who were just barely out of their Mao pajamas.  The cosmetic field was another one of those unchartered waters to Ms. Kan  but then again, her strong instincts and tireless work ethics guided her to success.  Today, she is undoubtedly the Cosmetic Queen of China, an icon and authority on beauty.   So it is just fitting that she put something related to beauty on her plate: a beauty contest, having accepted to be the Official National Director of  Miss Universe/China 2011 from Mr. Donald Trump.  Running a beauty contest is something new to her, but her track record of succeeding in her endeavors will prevail.

Flying to Beijing to witness another milestone in her life was a must.  Aside from taking in the cultural and shopping sights of Beijing, (the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Silk Market, etc.), attending the pageant with a walk down the red carpet  and  attending the post pageant party hosted by Chateau Margaux were a big treat.   

On our first night  in Beijing, Ms. Kan invited me and bosom friend Jojo Zabarte to a dinner at the Humble House together with her other guests who flew in from abroad- Jerry Whitlock, Chairman and CEO of Whitlock Packaging CorporationWarner Brothers CEO in Japan William  Ireton and his Filipino wife Charo,  judge and trainer of the beauties, Supermodel Lu Sierra, judge and world class photographer to the beauty contestants,  Fadil Berisha, judge and Ms. Universe of 2007Riyo Mori,  Judge and Super model Petra Nemcova with her fiancé English actor Jamie Belman, among others.   The beauties were presented to the dinner guests that night and although they were not dolled up as they would be for the contest, we already picked our favorites. 

Andrew Tjoe, Chairman of Humble House which is anything but humble, welcomes Jerry Whitlock, Chairman/Ceo of Whitlock Packaging with a coupe of champagne

Director of Ms. China for Ms. Universe Yue Sai Kan(in yellow) hosted the dinner for her guests who flew in from all over the world:  Josephine Zabarte, Mayenne Carmona, Jerry Whitlock and New York based make up artist Yuko

Beauty is its own excuse for being

Riyo Mori, from Japan,  Miss Universe 2007 was one of the judges. 

a happy Yue Sai Kan relaxes with friends during the dinner at Humble House:  Michael Rosenthal, Senior Adviser to Ms. Universe/China Jojo Zabarte, Yue Sai Kan,  Lu Sierra and Fadil Berisha

The next day, Yue Sai booked a van with a tour guide that took us to the Great Wall. It was a bright sunny day in the high 90s, (Hot! Hot! Hot!) but we had a lot of fun. We were a motley group of different Nationalities. Jamie Belman, (Englsh) Jerry Whitlock, (American) Michiko Graf (Japanese) Petra, Olga, Alexi, Olga Nemcova, (Czech) Cecile Infantado, Jojo  Zabarte and Myself, (Filipinos) and our English speaking  Chinese tour guide, Lily.

Jamie, Alexi, Olga and Petra

Cecile, Jojo, Jerry, Mayenne and Michiko enjoying the view of  The Great Wall.

On our way back, a few of us dropped by the Silk Market and did some shopping.

July 10, was the Pageant Night. We dressed up to the nines to honor Yue Sai who worked so hard to make this pageant an affair to remember.    I had fun meeting the many guests that arrived for the pre pageant cocktail and the After Glow Party hosted by Chateau Margaux.  

The Pageant was entertaining and not lengthy.  It was a tight competition among the three ladies that vied for Ms. Talent. I thought the lady that played the Chinese flute would win. But it was the belly dancer who got the prize!   

The girl most likely to succeed as she was everybody’s choice, Lou Zilin, was crowned the winner ! 

Beauty Parade

Two Beauties: Yue Sai Kan crowns Ms. China for Ms. Universe 2011, Lou Zilin

Chateau Margaux  Red and White wines overflowed during the after pageant party. Wine connoisseurs had a real treat.  

Meanwhile Ms. Yue Sai Kan was once again enjoying the accolades heaped on her by all her friends and admirers for the success of her new endeavor! 

Formula 1 Racer Ho Pin Tung and myself

Lu Sierra, Supermodel and trainer to the beauties, world class photographer Fadil Berisha, and Riyo Mori, 2007 Ms. Universe

Amigas para siempre- Mayenne  Carmona, Yue Sai Kan and Jojo Zabarte

Chic in jeans, boots and tuxedo, Cowboy Jerry Whitlock with Ms Universe 2007 Riyo Mori

English actor Jamie Belman between Alexi and future sister in law Olga Nemcova

Yue Sai Poses with Ms. Universe  2007 from Japan, Riyo Mori, Thibault Pontaller of Chateau Margaux, and Pageant Judge Super model Petra Nemcova. 

Petra Nemcova with her fiance Jamie Belman: so in love!

Lou Shonlu is an up and coming Chinese movie Star

Petra Nemcova with Ms. Rumania Julia Verdes

Aspiring Hollywood actress Monique Shea who I know will be famous one day. Here with her stylist Hobin and hairdresser Slava

I mistook handsome English actor Jamie Belman for Leonardo di Caprio that evening

Warner Brothers CEO in Tokyo, William Ireton and his Filipino wife Charo, with Tina and Rupert Jacinto, (Manila’s top society photographer)

Yuko, New York based make up artist, Rupert Jacinto and 3 time Grammy winner, hip hop violinist, Miri Ben-Ari

Jerry Whitlock poses with Ms. Charity,  Gao Xue Yun, 2nd runner up, Zhang Ya Mei,  and Ms. Photogenic, Chen Meng Yi 

 4th runner up Yi Na, and 1st runner up Xiao Jia Qin  

The Kan sisters, San-San and Vickie are proud of sister Yue Sai’s success. Jerry Whitlock share in their euphoric moment

Friday, July 15, 2011

On the new Photos in my Slider: Memories are Made of These

Just think of the many events that happen in your life 24/7, year in, year out. As long as the memory stays sharp,  the events are stored in your cerebrum that flash like a movie screen every time you want to think about them. But when the memory fades which inevitably happens, there is your treasure trove of photographs, the existing proofs that these events actually happened.

I was going through my drawers where my photos were neatly filed and I was so thrilled to see my photos with celebrities. While my memory is still sharp about the circumstances of the why and the when of each event, I scribbled notes behind each photo. I decided to add them to my slider to share my memories with my readers.  

As I said before, hobnobbing with celebrities does not necessarily mean you end up being good friends with them. They are in their own stellar universe and you are just a meteorite which passed their galaxy for that moment and perhaps they will remember you or not at all. 

Tall, Tan and Handsome Julio Iglesias

Julio's charm and good looks can melt even an iceberg.
Exactly 20 years ago, handsome Spanish crooner Julio Iglesias came to Manila to visit his very  good friends Jorge and Stella Araneta.  The gracious Araneta couple invited some friends and me to a small luncheon party at the Manila Hotel where Julio was billeted. During the lunch, Julio asked me to host a party for him at my apartment.  Why me, I thought. Is it because I tried to speak to him in Spanish and he was charmed by that? 

I was stunned by his request but Jorge answered for me, "Of course, she will host a party for you and she will invite all her beautiful friends." 

And so it happened. I hosted a small dinner party for Julio Iglesias at my Ritz apartment and I made sure to invite interesting and beautiful people. For posterity measures, we took a lot of photos with him and this was one of them. He was so so gracious and charming and this photo shows how he can melt even an iceberg.  Julio enjoyed the party so much that it went on and on till the wee hours of the morning. 

Viva Valentino!  

Thanks to French FashionTV Maven Marie Christiane Marek, I had an interview with optimum designer Valentino. 
I was in Paris in July of 2006 during Fashion week and my friend Marie Christiane Marek, TV host of French Fashion TV, invited me to the Valentino Show. 

On top of this generous gesture of Marie Chrisitane (I met her thru fashion designer Jeannie Goulborn), she arranged an interview for me with Valentino backstage before the show.  I was on Cloud 9 during the interview and more so during the show as I had the opportunity to casually meet Oprah Winfrey, Elizabeth Hurley and a few other celebs that occupied the nearby seats where I was seated. 

Marie Christiane Marek sat with my invited guest Vicky Schmid (wearing a pink linen Valentino, while I wore a layered Vivienne Tam) and me during the show

Oprah gave me the thumbs up when I told her that I was her biggest fan
Reserved Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas is every inch the Mega Star that he is

When I was living in New York, Producer Arnold Kopelson whom I met thru my good friend, Chinese celebrity Yue Sai Kan invited me to the shoot of his film The Perfect Murder, starring Michael Douglas and Gwyneth Paltrow. We had to be formally dressed and mingle in the crowd as it was a party scene at the 
Metropolitan Museum.  Michael was nice enough to pose with me but unlike Gwyneth Paltrow who was so charming and friendly and mingled with us in between takes, Michael kept to himself.  Michael attended a  "despedida" party in my honor a few weeks after the shoot, and he was more relaxed and friendly, as the picture shows. 

Mr. Blue Eyes Ralph Fiennes  

Ralph Fiennes was one of the guests of honor at a dinner hosted by celbrity Yue sai Kan at her posh Shanghai apt. 

He was in Shanghai to film The White Countess with Natasha Richardson as his leading lady.  Yue Sai Kan, "the hostess with the mostest" gave a dinner for the cast of The White Countess at her luxurious home when I was visiting Shanghai and staying at her home.  Ralph (pronounced Rafe) was friendly, down to earth and had an adventurous palate. He tried all the Chinese dishes on the lazy susan.  I was seated next to him and noticed that every time we spoke, he looked at me with his crystal blue eyes like nobody else was in that room but me. 

Sweet and Soft Spoken Natasha  Richardson

Natasha Richardson is a genteel soul who will be sorely missed. She is one of the friendliest, most down to earth celebs I have met
She was at the same dinner party where I met Ralph Fiennes.  She was so friendly, so conversant, so down to earth.  She told me all about the nice silk dresses, accessories and bags that she bought at the Shanghai markets.  I felt an extreme sadness when I heard of her passing. I was with her on at least 3 occasions and she always remembered me.  I  am sure her family and friends are missing her. 

How is the weather up there Sigourney?  

Sigourney is funny, and oh, so natural

She laughed when I asked her that because in spite of my high heels, she towered over me.  Tall and statuesque, Sigourney Weaver looks exactly how she photographs. So natural looking, I don't think she ever tried botox or any cosmetic procedure.  With Sigourney, what you see is what you get. 

Hugh is Huge!  

Hugh is wolverine in sheep's clothing. His spirituality is surprising for someone so famous
He is Wolverine in Sheep's clothing.  I met him during the Shanghai Film Festival in 2007 where he promoted his film Wolverine. I attended the one -on- one interview he gave Yue Sai Kan for her TV show and believe me when I tell you that this man has no airs and has his head on his shoulders.  He didn't think anything big about being voted by People Magazine as the Sexiest Man Alive, "although it is flattering, I will not let it change my life."   No second thoughts,  He is one of my fave celebs. 

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Andrew Lloyd Weber Serenades Us with his Love Songs

Even if my date for the evening was lady friend Cecile Infantado, the evening was romance filled with the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber.  Take it from me, it was worth braving the torrential rains and trek all the way to CCP to watch and be serenaded by a group of 8 talented singers from Down Under.

It is not yet too late. Go to Ticketworld (8919999) and get your tickets for the Andrew Lloyd Webber Show at the CCP.  Man of the hour Francis Lumen and his partner, Bambi Verzo made sure that their Gala night, although rained out, had all the IN crowd in attendance. Canapes from Bizu and good wines kept the guests happy during the cocktail hour.

Favorites of the evening were the hit songs from Phantom of the Opera (Music of the Night) Memory from Cats, I Don’t Know How to Love Him from Jesus Christ Super Star, Don’t Cry for Me Argentina and You Must Love Me (Evita), Any Dream will Do from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, and other songs from  Aspects of Love, Sunset Blvd., StarLight Express, Woman in White, Requiem Mass that were not too familiar to us but nevertheless were melodious so they were enjoyable as well. 

 You will come out of CCP with a song in your heart and probably reminisce the love filled times of your life. 

Producers Francis Lumen, Bambi Verzo and Phil Star columnist Johnny Litton

Frances Lim, Washington Sycip, MinnaVohra, CitiBank Pres. Sanjay Vohra, Bert Lina of Fed Ex. 

PAL’s top honcho man Jimmy Bautista and Mrs. Josephine Bautista, and moi

Salome Uy, Coni Hau and Claudette D. 

It was great to see friends of yesteryears-Tito, Mary Ann and Gino Salcedo

Soprano Leo Valdez, Inquirer’s Lifestyle Editor Thelma San Juan, Via Mare’s Glenda Baretto, Joseph and Bambi Verzo

Cosmetic Dentist, my date for the night, Cecile Infantado and with her-- the operatic voice, Allure’s pride, Bum Tenorio

Hunk Model Abs Abelkare, Maripi Muscat, Camille Santos, Karen Santos, and Tatler’s Anton San Diego 

Moet et Chandon Gourmet Dinner at Paparazzi

MOET et CHANDON at Paparazzi

A memorable evening of gourmet food and vintage champagnes was celebrated by Moet et Chandon at the Paparazzi restaurant of EDSA Shangrila.  The team of chefs at the Paparazzi headed by Chef Salvatore de Vincentis presented a world class Euro-Asian fusion menu.

Meet Chef Salvatore

Chef Salvatore de Vincentis and his team put a lot of thought conceptualizing the evening’s menu.

The first course was a Japanese dish that mixed Hamachi with a sauce of avocado, crispy rice and yozu vinaigrette. This was served with Moet Imperial Brut.   

Next dish was a small plate of seared scallop, topped with shaved vegetables, toasted almonds, golden raisin and caper sauce. The sweetness of the raisin, the crunch of the almonds, and the subtle sourness of caper played with ones palate with a delicious twist.  

The lobster tail dish that followed served with orzo pasta, black truffle and lobster emulsion could have won in any culinary contest.  This was served with Rose Imperial champagne, known as the glamorous champagne. 

To refresh the taste buds, a frozen green apple champagne meringue was served before ushering in the piece de resistance: a roasted Australian veal loin garnished with braised veal cheek, apple onion goat cheese tart and carrot puree.  A Grand Vintage 2003 Moet was served . It tasted crisp, profound and spicy!  

For those with sweet cravings, Tropical dream was the answer. It was a “tropical egg” toasted coconut, tapioca pearls (sago), exotic sorbet, lychee and sesame wafer.  For chocolate and macaroon lovers, an artistic sculptured tray, ice bucket, a tulip glass -all made of everything chocolate (dark, light, white) was so delicately molded.  With the sugary delights, a Grand Vintage Rose, 2003 (described as passionate, dense and gourmand) was served.  It was a 5 star Michelin dinner worthy of the highest accolades.

Tropical Dream

Moet’s PR Charlyn Joaquin, Carol Uson with hubby, Moet’s Brand Development Manager, Randy Uson and statuesque beauty Suzette Hahn Lopez

EVER Bilena’s product development lady and epitome of their beauty products Kristine Gabriel with yours truly 

Nina Daza Puyat, editor-in-chief of Appetite Magazine with her colleague, food editor Miguel B. Yambao

Oozing with talent Kate Torralba, dress designer, pianist, singer, stirred our appetites us with her love songs

Coosome threesome- business men Jonathan Crespi, Richard Tiu and Spark editor Carla Sibal

Opera singer Stephanie Reese, blog writer Mayenne Carmona and businessman Antonio Ressano

Michael Balinga and Ariel Esquillo, both enjoying the vintage Moet et C