The new formal

Published July 7, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Jullie Y. Daza

PBBM has 110 million reasons to fuel his confidence in a nation united and working together. At The Manila Hotel last Monday, the celebration was all about looking forward to another 110 years of peace, prosperity, happy moments to collect as elegant memories and histories.

What’s a grand hotel if it’s not, in Chairman Basilio C. Yap’s words, one to showcase “the true heart of the Philippines”?

At 110 years old, The Manila Hotel is looking younger with every anniversary, given that capiz chandeliers are shining brighter, wooden fixtures glowing warmer with age, guests moving about with a spring in their step. How to celebrate 100 plus 10 during slightly abnormal, differently normal times?

The answer was to pop the champagne and pour out the new formal.
According to Joey Lina, president of the hotel, the original plan was to limit the guest list to 110 names.

The venue would have been the presidential suite, whose size is about the same as the floor area of a house in Forbes Park. The problem quickly arose: Choosing 110 names maximum would be an impossibility, if not an outright formula for hurting sensitive feelings. The decision was quickly arrived at to use the Fiesta Pavilion, turn a cocktail party into a super fiesta.

Four islands of hospitality were spread out across the floor of a ballroom where not a single post, column or pillar is allowed to obstruct a people-watching audience. I had never seen such an array of finger foods, open-faced sandwiches, coin-size pizzas, slender rolls of Peking duck, plus delectably dainty desserts. But before guests could get themselves to the food and drinks – e.g., Four Seasons served in tiny glasses looking like pieces of a bejeweled sunset – they had to submit themselves to a test.

You guessed it. An antigen test to check for Covid-positives. I didn’t hear about anyone being sent home after a 15-minute wait.

Chairman Basilio and his guests – including Senators Cynthia and Mark Villar, Mark’s wife Emmelyn and sister Camille; San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora – were entertained by the Office of the President Chorale from Malacañang, dancers from Centro Escolar University, and soprano Lara Maige, a lovely figure to go with a beautiful voice.

Here’s looking to next year’s event: 111!