Wedding anniversary

It was all sooooo effortless and yet so splendid…

For once, I arrived in time for the 7:30 p.m. invitation.  The 3 streets which the manorial house straddled were already filling up with all the latest, top-of-the-line cars and SUVs.  Just by the vehicles alone, one already knew exactly which crowd was attending the party:  the major Chinoy and Pinoy players of big business.

The extensive buffet dinner was catered by the Makati Shangri-La hotel, and it featured all the best selections from its 4 restaurants.  All kinds of wines and other liquor flowed freely from the very open bar.  French champagne, Scottish single malt, Johnny Walker Double Black, vintage Bordeaux and Burgundy, Louis XIII [ Treize ] de Remy Martin cognac, it was “bottoms up” “drink all you can” because the sky was really the limit.  Because it was drizzling, meaning that the ladies’ expensive Blahnik, Choo, and Louboutin heels would sink in the extensive lawn’s grass and their Hermes bags would get wet, the lady of the house spontaneously decided to hold it inside the house.  No problem, as the elegant house of embassy proportions, completely airconditioned, could easily accommodate the 200 guests in round tables of 10 between its living room and garden room, with more than enough space for everyone to glide through like a skating rink.

There were lovely, lovely flowers by Manila’s top florist placed discreetly on various tables and pedestals around the house.

After dinner, it was quite a treat to see many of Manila’s richest Chinoys [ Chinese-Filipinos ] and Pinoys belting out their favorite ballads and dance songs accompanied by a very talented band.  Interestingly enough, many of them actually had good voices.  The joking, the teasing, the banter, the mock verbal abuse among Manila’s inebriated business titans were very amusing.

The immaculate guest bathrooms were efficiently attended by alert and assiduous household staff who totally cleaned up after each guest.  There were various Hermes and Chanel cosmetics on Christofle silver trays and lovely, lovely flowers amidst the Carrara marble and the uberefficient German fixtures.  Hidden perfume burners emitted the most marvelous scents.

The party finally ended at 5:00 a.m..

There are many superrich people in Manila, but they might as well wear shirts stamped with “SCRIMP SCRIMP SCRIMP”  by the modest [ albeit admirable and conscientious ] way they live.  But for the superrich to live like the superrich, that’s style…

All I can say is that it’s really, really, really nice to be really, really, really rich and to have everything really, really, really new.   🙂   🙂   🙂

*unfinished*

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Hasta la vista, Don!

Don my friend,

Of course you were there, a good smoke on your right hand and a nice red on your left.  You were watching everything with your usual detached coolness.  You wanted to hug your mom, [ Tita ] Millie, although she was as calm and composed as ever.  You marveled at how your siblings Manolet, Ugi, and Mari, and your great friends Danding, Tats, Manny, Joey, Larry, Peque, and several others pulled it off… and how!!!  You wished that Ugi had gotten the living “molave” trees from Tanauan FARM FRESH to the chapel of the Ascension at the VE [ Villa Escudero ], but then, as with so much in Life, one just has to be thankful that they even got there…

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I cannot get over what a joke Life has played on you.  OhmyGod.  Was it that quiet, drizzly afternoon just before Christmas 2008 — my traditional pre-Christmas trip to the Villa Escudero to bring the Gonzalez Christmas goodies;  the Christmas gift exchanges between the Escuderos and the Gonzalezes for d-e-c-a-d-e-s — when you and I were discussing Holy Week 2008 in San Pablo and you were complaining about how Tito Ado insists on bringing out the spectacular 1800s Quiogue “calandra” of the “Santo Entierro” [ from Santa Cruz, Manila ] and how pieces of the magnificent “Tampingco-style” carvings literally fall apart during the Good Friday procession, year after year?  You swore, and fully expected, that after he would “pass on” [ well, well, well… !!! ], you would create an exact lookalike “calandra” in resin [ horrors, my dear!!!??? ] that could be used for the San Pablo Good Friday procession without fear of constant damage, constant worry, and constant repair on the family’s part.  You were just being farsighted and practical in caring for your Escudero family’s magnificent treasures.  Everyone thought that you would be Tito Ado’s “heir apparent” in giving life and style to the Villa Escudero [ of course in your own chic, casual style, not Tito Ado’s grand Beistegui fantasies … ], but what now???

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All of your friends now know that you were diagnosed with the “Big C” in July 2009, but all I knew at the time was that you were “not well.”  And I’m sure you wanted it that way.  The “Big Bang” came when during a lovely, lovely dinner party at Joe Mari’s sometime March 2010 [ by Jessie of “Le Souffle” ], Patis casually told me and Marivic over the dessert course that you were really sick with the “Big C” and that you were “terminal.”  Marivic and I, wide-eyed, nearly dropped our dessert forks in shock.  What, Patis???!!!  Oh-my-God…  After coffee and mignardises, I sidled over to Tats and discreetly inquired about your real situation.  She was frank but optimistic.  I liked Tats’ optimism and instantly adopted it as my own.  But still…  it didn’t change what was happening to you.

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To my horror, and to everyone else’s, we all got that TXT msg about your “going” [ weeks before it actually happened ].  A few hours later, I was at lunch at “Sala Bistro” in Greenbelt III with Tita Nening, Mary, and Marivic.  With my usual “perfect timing,”  I mentioned the TXT msg to them and Marivic was so upset that she closed her eyes because her stomach wrenched in pain.  “OhmyGod… ohmyGod…” she moaned.  I almost ruined our nice lunch with the bad news.  But then, we were exchanging the latest news, good and bad, anyway…

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Ugi told me that you were wishing that I would come to the villa and make “chica,” to gab comically about the latest goings-on in the city.  Hah!  As if Toto Gonzalez knows everything [ but does not!!! ] !!!  I always wanted to, Don, but I never knew your schedule between the villa and the hospitals in the city.  After your totally fun 55th birthday party last 30 January 2011, and all of us seeing you look so good, I guess most of us deluded ourselves that your “C” was finally on the way out and that you’d actually be OK!!!  Oh, but how mistaken we were!!!

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I came across Ugi after the services and he just had to remind me of his genius of a line:  “We love you for the Tiaong royalty that you are.”  You would have smacked him!

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I didn’t miss you because I knew you were there.  I know that you’re still around.  We should discuss the decoration of “Casa Consuelo” sometime.  My, those Gomezes will not recognize their ancestral house!  It has become so big.  Tito Ado, Manolet, and Ugi will have their hands full transferring all the household antiques from the AERA museum to “Casa Consuelo”!  So much for the piece-by-piece inventory you wanted to make, somebody else will have to do it now, perhaps one or two of your nieces and nephews.  And there’s that superproduction Tito Ado has lined up next February 2012 where we will all have to get dressed!  What are you wearing?  I know you’ll be there, alternately approving and disapproving everything as the day goes along…  As for me, I can’t decide whether to wear a “traje de mestiza” ala Maria Clara de los Santos or a “terno” ala Aurora Quezon “just like the good ol’ ‘bohemian’ days” … hahahah!!!

So how’s everything there?  How’s your dad, [ Tito ] Idong?  And your nephew Zack?  Lola Charing, Lolo Sening?  It must be fun to be together again.  It must be a riot to be watching everyone here from the other side.

Hasta la vista, Don!!!  This cancer and death business is a total drag, isn’t it???!!!

your family friend from wwwaaayyy back,

Toto Gonzalez

*unfinished*