I?VE been to beautiful homes and apartments in the US, Europe and Asia, dahlings. But my dream house is the magnificent new home of beauty queen Amparito Lhuillier, a woman of substance, style and class, and her husband, business magnate and French Consul of Cebu Michel Lhuillier. Their house has a breathtaking view of Cebu?s twinkling lights, Mactan Island and a mountain.
I was in Cebu for the successful launch of the Macau festival at Marco Polo Plaza.
Being the renowned hostess that she is, Amparito wasted no time to invite 12 of my friends to a divine sitdown dinner, in my honor.
?It?s a belated, advanced birthday dinner for you, Maurice,? she told me over the phone in Manila before I jetted off to Cebu. Advanced because I?m being honored at afternoon snacks on the third of March and belated because my birthday was Dec. 22.
Driving up the mountain through phase 4 of Maria Luisa subdivision, one sees this humongous house all lit up like a flying saucer on top of Busay Mountain.
Our hostess welcomed us and, before Lynn Romero, Marco Polo director of sales and marketing super-smart asset, could join the other invitees for Dom Perignon champagne cocktails and canapés, I asked our hostess if she could give me and Lynn a tour of this gorgeous home, which took five years to finish. It was a privilege to be given a tour of the Lhuilliers? inner sanctum. It took us 30 minutes to tour the house.
There is a sprawling bar in the patio facing the emerald-blue swimming pool, a Jacuzzi close to it and manicured lawn with a view of the city below. Aside from the two or three living rooms, the sprawl has a dining area and covered patio, a kitchen that can make any hotel turn green with envy, a storage room for her silver, Amparito?s modern office and guest?s room, which is designed like a grand suite of a five-star hotel and displays paintings and antiques.
On the left wing is where the Lhuilliers have their grand master?s bedroom with an incredible ante room. On the second floor, there are four grand suites for her children, Monique Lhuillier and her husband Tom Bugbee, who were visiting from Los Angeles; Yvette and her husband Franck Warnod from Paris. There is an elevator to bring the luggage up and ?for our future old age when we will need it,? our hostess told us laughingly.
After cocktails we sat down for the excellently prepared dinner by executive chef Robert Lilja of the couple?s popular signature restaurant, The Gustavian. Other restos they own are Ola España and Pino.
Our host made sure we sipped the best of his collection of red and white wines from his own cellar.
Dinner was a healthy Artichoke and Salmon Salad, followed by the superb Portobello mushroom soup, with walnut and potato bread on the side, the refreshing Melon Sorbet and champagne, and the to-die-for main course, Angus Steak Florentine, topped with Prawn Green Peppercorn Sauce. Since I don?t eat meat, the chef whipped up a thick sushi with delicate sauce and spinach. For finale, it was Mango Lemoncello with Pistachio Triffle. Our hostess said the china and crystal ware from Royal Doulton were designed by Monique Lhuillier, no less.
This colossal mansion was designed by architect Teng Jacinto, under Amparito?s guidance. The interiors were done by architect Conrad Onglao. Stylish working socialite, the simpatica Rosebud Sala, also helped out.
The guests included popular furniture designers and twin brothers Alex and Andre Klepp with good-looking wife Georgia K; Louie Thevenin, director of Les Amis de la France, French Cultural Institute and Language Center which Michel Lhuillier funds completely, and his wife, tall, sultry beauty Honeylet Samia T., formerly of Shangri-La Makati, and the vivacious, adorable Teresin Mendezona, Cebu?s foremost party stylist.
After a fantastic evening with the Lhuilliers and friends, we said our ?thank you?s.?
It?s no wonder the Queen City has Amparito Llamas Lhuillier as the reigning Queen of Cebu?s alta sociedad, dahlings.
Coca-Cola, with the world brand Bench, kicked off a fab happening, dahlings, when it launched one of the biggest tie-ups of the year in a one-of-a-kind fashion show. Tons of guests waited in anticipation at Unit 901, Quadrant 5, Block 6, along Bonifacio High Street. The venue was transformed into a hip underground warehouse club for the formal introduction of the Coke Smile Ambassadors, role-model teens who must inspire the youth to live a life of ?smiles? and optimism, palanggas.
Present at the event were Coca-Cola hotshots like Kandy Anand, Export Corporation?s business unit president, and David Lyons, president and CEO of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, who gave a short speech, ?assuring everyone of the company?s commitment to continually share positively.? Then the gentleman with the Midas touch, brilliant Ben Chan, president of Bench, joined the two for a toast ?to the partnership of smiles.?
The Coke Smile Ambassadors were all members of ?ASAP? ?09? Enchong Dee, heartthrob and member of the ?Maruja? remake; TV sweetheart Kim Chiu of ?Tayong Dalawa?; and youth icon Shaina Magdayao of ?Komiks Presents: Dragonna,? dahlings. These three youthful faces will remind everyone how beautiful life is when it?s lived ?with smiles, and with a Coke in hand.?
And you, too, can share the happy spirit, palanggas, by checking out the newest Coca-Cola sari-sari stores, public markets and Coke sales offices and redeem your prizes and smile shirts at any Bench stores.
Someone asked me, ?You mean this is only for the youth?? ?No, palanggas, it?s also for the young at heart,? I answered.
Enrique Zobel Memorial Cup
The 5th prestigious Enrique Zobel Memorial Cup was successfully held at the favorite stable of the horse-y set, Manila Polo Club. Presented by awesome PGA Cars Inc., the event gathered over 200 chi-chi polo watchers, dahlings.
At the low goal match between the Whites and Blacks, the latter dominated the game and bagged the cup. Final score was 7-3, dahlings.
In the high goal, the Grays played well but the Reds reigned supreme. After 6 chukkers, the White team had the final score of 13-8.
A parade of chic-class cars was also held. Porsche?s and Audi?s lined the field named after the late Enrique Zobel. Everyone enjoyed the program and the occasion was capped by sumptuous cocktails.
The Zobel Cup was also sponsored by San Miguel Corp. and Wine Depot.