August 8, 2022

HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRIPE-VINE: OUR NEW ABNORMAL

If there’s one highlight of the inaugural dinner that hit the sweet spot with me, it would be how exuberant, nourishing music resounded through the halls of Malacañang Palace that auspicious night. Now I’m not ignorant of the fact that this new administration has a ton of pressing problems and issues to face, and I’m with the citizenry in wishing our 17th President the very best, as his success is the success of us as a people, and as a nation.

But recognizing that music is food for the soul, and acknowledging its deep connections within the brain – driving our actions and emotions, and even influencing our brains to create a sense of unity, that few other art forms can provide as effectively – then on that particular night, we were treated to a quality “feast,” and our souls were “full.” Plato is quoted as saying, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”

CECILE LICAD at the Maharlika Hall, after her performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

After the dinner that the First Couple hosted, we were all asked to ascend to the Maharlika Hall, where conductor Rodel Colmenar and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra were to regale us with a very martial, celebratory Brahms excerpt. Then, upon the special repertoire request of the President himself, Cecile Licad took to the Steinway grand, and performed Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. Licad was masterful, taking us on an emotional roller-coaster; and it was wonderful to watch the rapt audience hang on to every note – led by the First Couple on one side of the hall, and President BBM’s mother, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, with her grandchildren, seated on the first row on the other side of the hall.

Could just imagine how Cecile Licad was thinking this was some form of “coming full circle.” We’re all aware of the role former First Lady Imelda Marcos played in supporting and furthering the career of the talented Cecile during her start; so, I loved how after the concerto, Cecile took turns hugging the First Couple, and then the former First Lady. Back to the Heroes Hall, and a show band led by Mel Villena provided the night music, and I spied Isay and Robert Seña, Cris Villonco, and Ima Castro among those who would be guest singers during the set.

PRESIDENT BONGBONG MARCOS and Vice-President Sara Duterte during the inaugural dinner.

Disingenuous is the social media post I saw earlier this week about the Cabinet meetings of Presidents Aquino and Duterte on the first day of their respective terms, alongside a picture of BBM applauding Cecile after her performance. The implication being that all BBM’s presidency will be about, is carousing and partying. There was a swearing-in of the Cabinet officials on the afternoon of the 30th; and we are not privy to what’s been going on behind the scenes. We haven’t even hit the two week mark of his Presidency, so why are we already second-guessing and belittling his work ethic? Plus, it was an inspired classical music piano performance, and not some disheveled, incoherent, late-night carousing. And as it happened, there was a first meeting of the new Cabinet on July 5.

Let’s have some parting words from singer-songwriter Billy Joel, who said, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” This from the man who penned Just the Way You Are (and no, not the Bruno Mars song of the same title); which at one point in his life, was President BBM’s go-to song when requested to sing at any function.

Manila’s grande dame turns 110

This week marked the 110th anniversary of our grande dame of hotels, the Manila Hotel. Just reflect on it, the doors of this majestic hotel have been open since 1912 – so imagine the countless who have walked through the portals of the hotel, who have dined in its F&B outlets, have sipped coffee in the grand lobby, and have made the bar their favorite watering hole.

AT THE MANILA HOTEL’S 110th anniversary, (from left) Denice Sy-Munez, Sen. Cynthia Villar, and Belgian Ambassador Michel Parys.

Most everyone will have their favorite Manila Hotel story. My elder sister, Libet C. Virata, had her wedding reception at the Champagne Room. One of the last big events I attended pre-pandemic was accompanying Issa (Litton) as she hosted the PTC Christmas Party at the Manila Hotel Tent in December of 2019 – this before, I became connected with its sister company, the Manila Bulletin. I vividly recall chatting with Monchet Olives and Trish Valles in one of the side rooms of the Champagne Room, adjacent to the Tent. And I remember how, when I’d travel abroad in my teens, I would use the Manila Hotel as my personal yardstick for just how grand a hotel was the one we were staying in.

The 110th anniversary, an extremely well-attended affair, was a truly wonderful coming together of the private sector, of national and local government officials, and the diplomatic community. The photo I have of the night beautifully exemplifies this co-mingling of Philippine society; and how the Manila Hotel is now so much more than its historic structure, but is also emblematic of the Filipino achieving, and creating things that will stand for posterity.

HEARD IT THROUGH THE GRIPE-VINE: OUR NEW ABNORMAL

If there’s one highlight of the inaugural dinner that hit the sweet spot with me, it would be how exuberant, nourishing music resounded through the halls of Malacañang Palace that auspicious night. Now I’m not ignorant of the fact that this new administration has a ton of pressing problems and issues to face, and I’m with the citizenry in wishing our 17th President the very best, as his success is the success of us as a people, and as a nation.

But recognizing that music is food for the soul, and acknowledging its deep connections within the brain – driving our actions and emotions, and even influencing our brains to create a sense of unity, that few other art forms can provide as effectively – then on that particular night, we were treated to a quality “feast,” and our souls were “full.” Plato is quoted as saying, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”

CECILE LICAD at the Maharlika Hall, after her performance of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

After the dinner that the First Couple hosted, we were all asked to ascend to the Maharlika Hall, where conductor Rodel Colmenar and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra were to regale us with a very martial, celebratory Brahms excerpt. Then, upon the special repertoire request of the President himself, Cecile Licad took to the Steinway grand, and performed Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. Licad was masterful, taking us on an emotional roller-coaster; and it was wonderful to watch the rapt audience hang on to every note – led by the First Couple on one side of the hall, and President BBM’s mother, former First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos, with her grandchildren, seated on the first row on the other side of the hall.

Could just imagine how Cecile Licad was thinking this was some form of “coming full circle.” We’re all aware of the role former First Lady Imelda Marcos played in supporting and furthering the career of the talented Cecile during her start; so, I loved how after the concerto, Cecile took turns hugging the First Couple, and then the former First Lady. Back to the Heroes Hall, and a show band led by Mel Villena provided the night music, and I spied Isay and Robert Seña, Cris Villonco, and Ima Castro among those who would be guest singers during the set.

PRESIDENT BONGBONG MARCOS and Vice-President Sara Duterte during the inaugural dinner.

Disingenuous is the social media post I saw earlier this week about the Cabinet meetings of Presidents Aquino and Duterte on the first day of their respective terms, alongside a picture of BBM applauding Cecile after her performance. The implication being that all BBM’s presidency will be about, is carousing and partying. There was a swearing-in of the Cabinet officials on the afternoon of the 30th; and we are not privy to what’s been going on behind the scenes. We haven’t even hit the two week mark of his Presidency, so why are we already second-guessing and belittling his work ethic? Plus, it was an inspired classical music piano performance, and not some disheveled, incoherent, late-night carousing. And as it happened, there was a first meeting of the new Cabinet on July 5.

Let’s have some parting words from singer-songwriter Billy Joel, who said, “I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.” This from the man who penned Just the Way You Are (and no, not the Bruno Mars song of the same title); which at one point in his life, was President BBM’s go-to song when requested to sing at any function.

Manila’s grande dame turns 110

This week marked the 110th anniversary of our grande dame of hotels, the Manila Hotel. Just reflect on it, the doors of this majestic hotel have been open since 1912 – so imagine the countless who have walked through the portals of the hotel, who have dined in its F&B outlets, have sipped coffee in the grand lobby, and have made the bar their favorite watering hole.

AT THE MANILA HOTEL’S 110th anniversary, (from left) Denice Sy-Munez, Sen. Cynthia Villar, and Belgian Ambassador Michel Parys.

Most everyone will have their favorite Manila Hotel story. My elder sister, Libet C. Virata, had her wedding reception at the Champagne Room. One of the last big events I attended pre-pandemic was accompanying Issa (Litton) as she hosted the PTC Christmas Party at the Manila Hotel Tent in December of 2019 – this before, I became connected with its sister company, the Manila Bulletin. I vividly recall chatting with Monchet Olives and Trish Valles in one of the side rooms of the Champagne Room, adjacent to the Tent. And I remember how, when I’d travel abroad in my teens, I would use the Manila Hotel as my personal yardstick for just how grand a hotel was the one we were staying in.

The 110th anniversary, an extremely well-attended affair, was a truly wonderful coming together of the private sector, of national and local government officials, and the diplomatic community. The photo I have of the night beautifully exemplifies this co-mingling of Philippine society; and how the Manila Hotel is now so much more than its historic structure, but is also emblematic of the Filipino achieving, and creating things that will stand for posterity.

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