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New normal socials

After almost a year through this Kung Flu pandemic, I’ve noticed a big change in social gatherings.

Adieu to grandiose all-star-cast parties where one hardly gets to talk with the other guests. After the usual best-beso, one would go to his group’s table and pass the time watching the party from afar and waiting for the buffet to be served, eat, criticize the catering, and find a good reason to leave before the program of dedicated songs, speeches, and the most cringe worthy part of the celebration — a good hour of old photos from childhood to present that really don’t relate to the captured audience.

Art Aguilar, Bing Zimmerman, John Sison, Philip Garcia and Bert Capay (front row, l-r); Bonnie Fuentes, Art Belcena, Bingbing Puey, Tito Maramba, Joaquin Torre, Lando Rodriguez, and Sonny Gaston (2nd row, l-r); Boy Montelibano, Bo Lacson, Chito Villanueva, Richie Garcia, Boy Parroco, Ramon Roces, Chop2 Chua, Tony Jalandoni, Randy Granada, Ed Villanueva, and Edmund Santibanes (back row, l-r)*
The Salle Bacolod Pioneer Class, first to graduate from Prep to High School, at the Palace in the Sky in Hacienda Garcia (front row, l-r) Randy Granada, Lito Lomotan, Sonny Gaston, Rolando Rodriguez, Tony Lozada, Tito Maramba, Manuel Puey, Art Belcena, Eduardo Jereza, Tony Jalandoni, Henry Villanueva, Bonnie Fuentes (2nd row, l-r) Bert Capay, Chito Villanueva, Richie Garcia, Boy Parroco, Bing Zimmerman, Edmund Santibanez, Ramon Roces, John Sison, Joaquin Torre, Philip Garcia, and Arthur Aguilar*

That’s not a party in my books, Dahlink. I always manage to do a French exit before this, although I manage to say Thank You to my hosts. Only when I’m home do I realize that except for a handful of friends, I never get to interact with the other guests!

Epiphany dinner chez Cristy Zayco (l-r) Omon Maravilla, Cristy Zayco, Chita Reyes, Trina Z. Tan, and ELG*

For Mamá, who was nicknamed Bacolod’s Perle Mesta by the national press, it was imperative to mingle and laugh with the most number of invitees to any occasion, otherwise, your standing in society plunges to “Unguest List”.

Well, we are really encouraged to stay home as much as possible and I follow this rule, albeit grudgingly. But it has served its purpose and I pat my back for having contributed to the decline of Covid-19’s onslaught in our beloved City of Smiles.

Danielle Sison, Earl Meliza, Randell Radan, Razel Dellomos, Diane Cedro, Monch Torres, Pauline Pedrogosa, Jowela Nillos, and Gizelle Tan (l-r)*

Nowadays, parties are more intimate for me because I stick to my select social bubble. My family hardly sees each other except when we bring food to share and a quick conversation through the windows of my car would suffice because we chat nowadays through Viber where we have created opus family inputs from birthday greetings to the latest additions of our burgeoning clan. I really prefer this because since I’m already hard of hearing, I get to remember the details in the conversation and if ever I forget, I go back to the chat and see what I’ve quickly forgotten. People are always afraid to pass on some juicy news to me thinking that I would write these down in my column. Helloooo, what goes one ear literally goes out the other.

Carl Sumagat, Frances Hom, and Anjo Dumancas (l-r)*

Besides my hearing problem, my memory is now limited to the disco era when fun was really being happy and the socialites had to make grand entrances in order to be noticed.

My brother Philip now limits his socials to gatherings with former classmates at his Palace in the Sky. They were La Salle Bacolod’s Premiere Class, who went from Prep to finish High School all the way. College years were still spent in Manila since courses in La Salle Bacolod were limited to Business during their time. But they get a kick at entertaining visiting old faces from Manila or abroad and when they’re oiled up with enough beer and wine, tease each other with their gallivanting ways from who had a crush on their sexiest teacher, to the one who poured sand into the Brothers’ van.

Their names also echo the small community that Bacolod was during that time, when everyone knew everybody and could wave to almost every car’s occupant as one drives down Lacson Street.

Fourth gen Garcia Cholo Tupas celebrating with Mariel Gayoso, Mary Rose Solidum, and Kim Palermo*

The last time I was up in Philip’s Pines (that’s my nickname to my brother’s Palace in the Sky due to the forest of conifers that border the villa) I encountered the groupy of my grandnephew Cholo. It was a merry mix of young ladies and gents, who were kind enough to share their pizza and wine when I realized I still haven’t eaten lunch. I could hear their laughter from below as they teased and cajoled each other. They were quite happy just enjoying the cool mountain air, listening to music, looking at the sweeping view of Bacolod, and playing with the peacocks and goats that dot the vast lawn of Philip’s villa. Later on, a young stud offered the damsels a ride around the lawn on his motorcycle and there were more squeals and laughter. I descended back to the city as the lights of Bacolod started to announce the coming of the night.

Last holiday party for me was an intimate dinner chez Cristy Zayco in Villa Valderrama where our Sunday lunch bunch was treated to all delicious homemade recipes, starting with boquerones and aged cheddar cheese, then moving to a giant paellera filled with imported chorizo, meat and seafood complete with the crispy crust of the paella, homemade ham which I didn’t indulge in since I got stuck to its delicious glazed pineapple and cherry sides, relleno del rey since we were celebrating Three Kings, my childhood favorite fruit salad in cream, pasta in garlic oil and Iberian chicken. Mon Dieu, I will take several months to lose all these unwanted kilos!

My prayer: Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, RSV*

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