Seeing Stars at Mega Magazine’s Pinoy Pride Ball


I have written around four different introductions to this blog post and still I feel I haven’t arrived at “the one.”  Here’s my struggle — Where do I even begin writing about an evening that simply left me breathless?

Mega Magazine’s  Pinoy Pride Ball, held on the night of Philippine Independence Day at the Makati Shangri-La’s Rizal Ballroom, was a night of many spectacles. There were the guests, the fashion, and most especially the honorees and the global reach of their achievements. Truly, as we came together in celebration that evening, I can proudly say that it is certainly a wonderful time to be a Filipino.

Of course, in typical fashion, I managed to end my night with a bang. A literal one, as you will see later, where I almost died by confetti cannon. Nevertheless, I had a most marvelous time.

Cheers once again to my friends at Mega Magazine! Once again you’ve outdone yourselves… Mabuhay!

Don't tell anyone, but red carpets get me all giddy.

Couldn't help requesting my dear friend Cheryl Tiu for an instant portrait sitting "by clouds, many clouds." By the way, her gown is by Puey Quinones and is a modern tribute to our Philippine flag.

And then we were joined by our friends Cary Santiago, who has the most impressive knowledge about royalty from ancient civilizations, and the one-and-only Melo Esguerra, whose turquoise pendant I described as simply hypnotic.

Thanks to Sandie Castro-Poblador for offering to take my picture with Tita Mellie Ablaza, whose canary-colored Maria Clara I adored. Also, take note of how happy I look in my Barong Tagalog (I love dressing up in Filipiniana).

I have mastered the art of looking nonchalant when deep inside all I wanted to do was stay and listen to Pops Fernandez' interview. Hahaha!

I was thrilled ro reconnect with my fellow Atenean and super blogger, Lori Bautista, who was being honored that evening as one of Mega's 20 global Pinoys, here with her husband Bindoy and the bubbly Lesley Anne Tan.

My good friend and honoree, Reese Fernandez-Ruiz, is a breath of fresh air in this candy-colored gown by Rajo Laurel.

I shared a good laugh with my former fellow-anchorman at Junior Newswatch, RJ Ledesma and his wife Vanessa, as Heidi Ng recounted how she came straight to the Ball from the airport after a mesmerizing Russian vacation.

Xandra Rocha was just telling me how her gown was by Lulu Tan-Gan, when all of a sudden, guess who showed up? Lulu Tan-Gan!

Proudly representing the colors of the Philippine flag are Dette Tan, designer Maureen Disini, Daniel Teichert and the ever-gracious Frannie Jacinto.

Thanks to Melo for introducing me to the dapper Rafael Do Prado, who had just arrived in Manila from his native Brazil. Blinking game, anyone?

Hats off to Michael Carandang, another honoree, as he is joined by Kenn Natividad, Fergus Bugg, Francis Libiran and Arsi Baltazar.

I started chatting with Sidney Yap, only to realize we were surrounded by a bevy of young stars — Mikael Daez, Enzo Pineda, Rocco Nacino, Sheena Halili, Simon Ferrer and Joyce Ching.

Procter and Gamble arrived in full force that evening with my new friends Anna Legarda, Anama Dimapilis, Deidre de Padua and my good friend and college buddy, Clint Navales.

I felt dagger looks being shot behind my back when I stole Daniel Matsunaga from a group of giddy ladies for a quick picture. LOL!

Got to my table and was thrilled to discover that I was seated next to Dette Tan and fellow photographer Wyg Tysmans for dinner.

Fashionable men travel in packs, as proven by Chris Juan, Ronald Mabanag, Eldzs Mejia and Fold Canela.

As a general rule, I think bread baskets should be served PER PERSON. Can I hear an Amen?

As luck would have it, I ended up on the opposite side of the stage, from where Issa Litton and Tim Yap stood to host the evening's program.

Handsome couple Richard and Lucy Torres-Gomez presented the first batch of awards.

I resisted the urge to wave back at Bryan Boy, who received his award by way of a video message — I'll always credit his blog as the first one I ever officially subscribed to and which I continue to read to this day.

I thought it might be a good idea for every honoree to be given two assistants to carry around the towering Carlo Calma-designed award. Hahaha!

It was a pleasure to finally meet fellow blogger, Ingrid Go, of The Bag Hag Diaries. As she presented an award on stage, I loved how she appeared to be wearing liquid metal.

You can check out Ingrid’s blog here.

After the awarding ceremony, nothing could have prepared me for what we saw next.

Designer Furne One captivated us with a jaw-dropping, other-worldly collection called The Return of Mata Hari, which was reportedly worth seven million pesos.

It was as if a spaceship had landed, and all its passengers, for some cosmic reason, had a very refined yet edgy sense of chic.

One by one, these beautiful, faceless creatures started gliding across the runway…

…And, to my delight, even seemed to appear to fly.

She got to the end of the runway and suddenly, the entire ballroom seemed to be standing perfectly still.

Here is the infamous confetti cannon that I happened to be standing next to during the entire show.

All it took was one loud explosive boom. Now you see Furne…

And now you don't.

I immediately distracted myself by taking pictures of my shoes before I gave in to the temptation to strangle the guy who was operating the confetti cannon.

After the show, I caught up with Michelle Pe, whom I haven't seen since the time I stood as her escort during her 18th birthday celebration.

Shiela Romero is stunningly statuesque in this Rajo Laurel gown, as she enjoys a casual chat with Michael Carandang.

All I wanted was to take her picture, but call it Chic Overload, I started talking gibberish in the presence of the elegant and former Miss Universe Margie Moran-Floirendo, here with Virginia Lane.

I pulled aside Johnlu and Marilou Koa for a photo session right by the corner where the evening's awards were on display.

I was able to catch up with Mega Publisher and Deputy Editor Meryll Yan, who was totally rocking this Jerome Salaya Ang gown, featuring a skull detail which I found very intriguing.

I joined Tim Yap and Meryll Yan for a photo with Giselle Tongi-Walters and Joey Mead-King, both of whom I had the opportunity to photograph during my New York days.

While others wear camouflage to fade into the background, Tedrick Yau shows that you can also wear it to stand out in a crowd.

Furne One poses for a souvenir shot with Mega EIC Sari Yap, who first recognized his talent when he was chosen to be the first winner ever of the Mega Young Designers' Competition, now on its 18th year.

I couldn't help but compliment House of Amato's Rashid Ali on the "sharp" sensibility of his safety pin-studded bow tie.

Meryll happened to be passing by just as I was shooting her colleague and One Mega Group Associate Publisher Sophie Menor, thereby completing the portrait.

As always, I posed for our traditional photograph with my super dear friend Suki Salvador, who was impeccably dressed in an asymmetric Ivarluski Aseron jacket.

My second skull sighting for the evening served as ample reminder to appreciate life and to always live in the awareness of death.

Hope you enjoyed the photos! Have a good week, everyone!