It took Philip Cruz a long time to grow young

Three quarters of a life well-lived, happy birthday indeed

At a glance

  • As we gathered around the mammoth cake, his wife Ching as well as his closest friends, the original party boys of Manila like Iñigo Zobel, Tonyboy Floirendo, and Louie Ysmael, next to him, Philip Cruz, more grateful than wishful, blew the candles out.

Philip Cruz with son Maki and wife Ching

White is the perfect theme for your 75th birthday party, the third time you’re marking 25 years. Set off against white, all memories, all dreams of the future are at their colorful best, clear and vivid and celebratory.

From left, clockwise: Rosemarie Chu, Gina Yap, Susan Lua, Peter Williams, Lito Camacho, Pedro and Gina Roxas, and Susan Joven

No one knows exactly when the idea of a white party began, but there are claims it was the non-conformist Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria-Tuscany, who started it. Maybe, it was at his Miramar estate on Mallorca, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands, where he would gather a motley crew of painters, poets, and intellectuals and—dressed in white, the color of equality, in which he was a staunch believer—let them clash with their opposing ideas. 

Bong Revilla, Ding Borja, Bebot Bello, and Iñigo Zobel

But it does make sense to dress a milestone in white, against which to let the milestone shine, especially if it’s a milestone that belongs to someone like construction magnate Philip Cruz who, like his father, the pioneering F.F. Cruz, before him, thinks of white as a modest way to show discipline, but also achievement. 

From left, clockwise: Aliki Pappas, Le and Mari Lagdameo, Maritess Pineda and Marilou Tantoco Pineda

Remember what it was like when you turned 25, the age at or around which you became an adult, finally an adult after having faked and made it to adulthood since you turned 15 or 21.

Top: Chito Melo, Chavit Singson, and Dr. Jasmine Vergara; Bottom: Louie Ysmael, Jake Zobel, and Jed Fernandez

It takes a long time to grow young, so said Pablo Picasso, and so has Philip found out as, turning 75, he’s had three quarters of a century being young but wanting to get old, getting old but wanting to be young, accepting being old and, in the process, by the peace that comes with acceptance, staying young, younger than he thought he would be at 75 when he was two quarters younger.

Allana Montelibano, the author, Stanley Ng, and Leo Espinosa

His wife, Ching Cruz, restaurateur and one of Manila’s most glamorous, left no stone unturned to make the celebration worthy of the celebrator. She turned to Aliki Pappas, the Brazilian wife of Greek Ambassador Ionis Pediotis, to spruce up every corner of the Cruz home, including the guest toilets, to set the tables, to turn the whole place into a garden of white roses and baby’s breath, to even change up the artworks on the walls and the countertops for the evening.

Tina Cuevas, Nini Licaros, and Mia Borromeo

Two chefs, Freddie Tembrevilla and Mhel Siena, collaborated on the menu, serving up a menu worthy of the occasion, replete with truffle pasta, lechon, steaks and lamb chops, lapu lapu, and fresh lobsters from Palawan.
There were three sets of musicians—a soloist and a pianist in the living room welcoming arrivals, a dance band in the dining room playing the likes of The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” and the big band Arpie and the Multivitamins at the lanai for the after-dinner dance playing throwbacks to Studio 54 and the gems of Manila Sound.

From left, clockwise: Sec. Butchoy Taojo, Sec. Leo Magno, Tonyboy Floirendo, Charlie Gonzales, Mia and Bonito Singson, Thai Ambassador Tull Traisorat and Carlos and Priscilla Chan

The birthday cake was the longest I have ever seen, with 75 candles on it. As we gathered around this mammoth cake, his wife as well as his closest friends, the original party boys of Manila like Iñigo Zobel, Tonyboy Floirendo, and Louie Ysmael, next to him, Philip, more grateful than wishful, blew the candles out and led us outside to the lanai to dance the night away.

Top: Sec. Leo Magno, Peaches Magno, Bing Taojo, and Butchoy Taojo; Bottom: Gina Roxas and Nikki Prieto-Teodoro