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Love is in the details


By Jullie Y. Daza

Photos by JYD

  • Lobsterrrr—ific! Cakes and candles galore – more, more! Soup poured from a teapot. More teapots!

  • Benjie Yap, host, with Baby Arenas and MTRCB chairman Rachel Arenas. (Image by by Pinggot Zulueta)

  • Manny Samson (Image by by Noel B. Pabalate)

  • Freddie Santos holds a tiny cone of smoked salmon—delightful!

  • Jay Cayuca played for two uninterrupted hours, bravo! 

  • Rob Bradshaw, country manager of Cathay Pacific

  • Rickie Yap and Lucas Muniz, fresh from inaugurating Tim Hortons Philippines at BGC

  • Janet Yap, Edna Camcam, Benjie Yap, and Marivic Vazquez.

  • Fermin Reyes glows—look at his hi-voltage cake

  • Mellie Ablaza, Benjie Yap, AA Patawaran, Jin Perez, and Louie Ablaza at cocktail time

    “When the candles are lighted at 7:30, you will see how everything will seem like it’s been touched by magic!”

    That was Manny Samson’s promise to the few busybodies allowed to sneak in for a preview of his setup for a formal dinner in Manila’s loveliest restaurant, Champagne Room of Manila Hotel. Manny knows what magic means. As an expert in interior design and lifestylist whose objective is to coax an experience out of an event, Manny understands the role played by atmosphere, color and lights, music (by Jay Cayuca and his magic violin), accents and accessories, food and wine, and of course, the company (as in, whom to seat next to whom).

    For his friends Benjie Yap, Fermin Reyes, and Freddie Santos, how could Manny do less than the extraordinary? Manny and Benjie put their heads together and chose the theme, “Savoring the Menu of History,” by re-creating some of the favorite dishes of  President Manuel L. Quezon and Gen. Douglas MacArthur. After several trips to the Manila Hotel archives and reading up on the period, Benjie and Manny came up with an 11-course dinner—two pages long—which Freddie explained incorporated “timeless” cuisine with “timely” contemporary epicurean delights. Between the timeless and the timely came the most gossamer interlude: “Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams: Champagne Rosé.”

    Yes, indeed, pinkly tinted champagne at the Champagne Room! And lush, ardent arrangements of pink flowers filling up bowls and vases whether crystal, porcelain, or silver. Benjie whispered, “Manny borrowed everything from his house.” For every eight guests seated around the long table for 40, I counted six to seven floral groupings. Not only did the candles illuminate the table laid with a silvery, lacy tablecloth, they cast the entire salon in a dreamy glow. Toward midnight, when the servers came out with trays holding 40 dainty fondant cakes, each one lighted with a single candle, the ladies could’ve swooned!

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