Beautiful Lives

The invitation was for lunch at the family’s “farm” north of Manila.  But although I was familiar with the the posh enclaves in that northern city, the place was unlike anything I had ever seen there.  Or anywhere in the Philippines for that matter.  It even made the prestigious Ayala Land developments look hopelessly bourgeois.

I received a fax with the directions to the farm.  Upon reaching that particular country road, there would be a gate.  As it turned out, the driver pulled up at the wrong gate, however chic enough the property seemed.  We were directed by their houseboy further to the end of the road, to a far bigger gate.  The heavily-armed security guards made polite and discreet inquiries, and we were directed to a winding drive…

It was a surprisingly looooong drive set amidst verdant vistas of fruit trees, flowering shrubs, and undulating lawns which seemed to have been there forever.  Pellucid sunlight shimmered through the trees.  We finally pulled up at an enchanting house surrounded by a lovely garden which looked more like Normandy rather than the Philippines… After I left the car, the driver proceeded to a motor court thoughtfully located several hundred meters away where all the other guests’ vehicles were parked.

Our hostess greeted me graciously and I presented my little gift.  She explained that she had been in the kitchen personally attending to our lunch.  I was led through a foyer and on to a commodious living room with a high half-timber ceiling lit by a large chandelier.  It was a patrician Filipino interior but it also felt very French/Italian country, or rather, very posh French/Italian country.  Lovely paintings and objets d’art from renowned but dispersed Manila collections — some of which I recognized — decorated the reception room, and as I would later find out, the rest of the house.  My attention was riveted by a small photograph in an antique metal frame of our heiress hostess’ paternal grandfather:  a young and handsome Chinese industrialist in traditional Chinese robes [ who was the grandson of an immensely rich Chinese businessman who had owned much commercial real estate in the business hub of Binondo and Tondo ].  On the floor was a genuine and rare Persian rug from the early 1800s, at home in-between cleanings and restorations in London, one of several acquired from an aristocratic Persian collection in London after the 1978 Teheran Revolution.  On various side tables were select bibelots from all over the world, the incidentals of a truly jetsetting lifestyle.  Everything was in High Style…  To paraphrase Dominick Dunne, “there were paintings, and flowers, and furniture, on every wall, in every room.”



  1. R M Young said,

    February 28, 2014 at 12:35 pm


  2. Chit Pascual said,

    February 25, 2014 at 7:01 am

    Thank you for allowing me to join and read your blog. Is this a blind item? Sorry can’t guess.

  3. Reynaldo de Leon said,

    February 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    Thanks Toto, I’ll just wait for the next installment .

  4. bats said,

    August 29, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Give us a clue even just the first and last letter of the surname.

    By the way i was just reading the cookbook “Cocina Sulipena,” authored by Gene Gonzalez in page 106 of the book it was about Dona Rosario Arnedo Gonzalez and her much talked about cuisine almost all the guests you already have discussed here in your blog except for Francisco Dayrit ( the famed Pampango caterer ) and the Arces of Selecta.

  5. Myles Garcia said,

    August 27, 2009 at 5:52 am

    Chuidian? Yulo? Sycip? Teehankee?

  6. Kang said,

    August 27, 2009 at 1:02 am

    Palanca Tan Quien Sen? Lim Chai Seng? Yu Khe Thai?

  7. Chi said,

    August 27, 2009 at 1:00 am

    Syquia? Limjap?

  8. Myles Garcia said,

    August 26, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Ongpin? Yuchengco?

  9. Presy Guevara said,

    August 25, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    This was turning out to be a guessing party until Babblefish bursted the balloons. ROFL.

    BTW, Mestiza, I had a classmate named Maria Christina, any relation to Marina?

  10. Babblefish said,

    August 25, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Aling Dionesia Pacquiao?

  11. Carrier said,

    August 25, 2009 at 8:02 am

    Joe Concepcion and Marivic Araneta-Concepcion?

  12. kibosh said,

    August 25, 2009 at 7:54 am

    Kenny Young and Joanne Que-Young?

  13. Manny C. said,

    August 25, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Paulino Que and Hetty Kho-Que?

  14. Mestiza said,

    August 24, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    Justito Ortiz and Marina Pertierra-Ortiz?

  15. Paco said,

    August 24, 2009 at 9:51 am

    The Paternos?

  16. Alexandra Laguda Sotto said,

    August 23, 2009 at 8:34 pm

  17. Anton Sy said,

    August 23, 2009 at 12:39 pm

    This is so hard to guess if you don’t move in the same circles…

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