Happily ever after: The Ceremony

The venue at Hacienda Solange for the garden wedding of Philip James C. Pornel and Roselle Jane Siao; the newlywed Philip James and Roselle Jane Pornel; the groom Philip James C. Pornel waits for his bride with his Dad Elmer Felix Pornel and twin brother Patrick John C. Pornel; and the bride Roselle Jane Siao and Mom Lita Siao walk down the aisle for former’s wedding date.

Like the fairy tale pumpkin that turned into a beautiful carriage, the gardens of Hacienda Solange in Alfonso, Cavite, was transformed into a perfect venue for the wedding of my goodlooking nephew PHILIP JAMES C. PORNEL to beauteous ROSELLE JANE SIAO. Rain stopped and fog lifted in time for the ceremonies.

The groom, a cabin crew at Philippine Airlines, is the son of ELMER FELIX PORNEL and my late sister MARIAN CASTIGADOR-PORNEL while the bride, formerly a community engagement specialist at PLDT, is the daughter of ROLANDO and LITA SIAO.

Pastor Vic Quisumbing officiates the vows of the bride and groom; the vow is sealed with a kiss; the groom Philip James C. Pornel with family members: brothers Joseph Felix and Patrick John, nephew Josef Joachim, Dad Elmer Felix, and brother Michael Jacob and his son Noah Sebastian; and the bride with Maid of Honor and Bridesdmaids.

The ninongs and ninangs led the family members, relatives and friends in witnessing the blessings of Officiating Pastor VIC QUISUMBING and the exchange of “I do’s,” which was sealed with a kiss!

Some principals sponsors, like FULBERT SY-FORMENTERA, AMALIA MAGALIT, ANGELOCHINGCUANGCO, EVANGELINE KIM, ELLEN BERNABE-TOLENTINO and my sister MARY CASTIGADOR-SPICAK, were unable to make it for one reason or another. Nevertheless, they sent their love and kisses to the newlyweds!

The groom with Best Man and Groomsmen; the bride with mom Lita Siao and sisters Princess Siao-Ollik and Rosali Ann Siao-Contis; Principal sponsors José B. Castigador Jr. and Tetchie Arellano; and Principal sponsors Dante and Magnolia Panlilio


While Principal sponsors yours truly and Vilma Tupas, Melvin Pornel and Josephine Reyes, and Rey Arellano and Elsa Pobre walk down the aisle,  Ninong Ceferino Cando readies his speech for the newlyweds.

Ring Bearer Josef Joachim P. Pornel; Bible Bearer Noah Sebastian H. Pornel with his mom Mikko Hidalgo-Pornel; Coin Bearer Nathan Caleb Senires; and Flowergirl Kiara Audrina Contis.

Let there be light…

The cocktail scene at Biz Bar that followed the Christmas Tree Lighting at the Lobby of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo

No less than the Governor of Iloilo, Hon. ART DEFENSOR, and his First Lady COSETTE RIVERA-DEFENSOR led the ceremonial switch on of the Christmas Tree at the Lobby of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo. Voila, the lobby and the hotel glowed with dazzling lights in keeping with the holidays.

Amid the string music of Cuerdaz, General Manager of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo, tres charmante NATALIE LIM, welcomed the guests from the media, government service, society and professional sector.

Iloilo Governor Art Defensor, Courtyard by Marriot General Manager Cleofe Albiso, Richmonde Hotel Iloilo General Manager Natalie Lim and First Lady Cosette Defensor; the Christmas Tree at the Lobby of Richmonde Hotel Iloilo; and GM Natalie Lim of RHI with Jessie Garcia and wife Dr. Pauline Garcia.

The formalities was followed by a fun cocktail party at Biz Bar where everyone enjoyed on Open Canapes of Salmon, Blackened Tuna and Tuna poke, Arabic Skewer with Condiments, Chicken, Beef and Mixed Seafood, Tahini, Babaganous, Doum, Assorted Sashimi with Condiments, Pork Saltimbocca, Crab Cake with Green Curry, Chicken Cordon blue, Blueberry Cheesecake, and Assorted Fruit Jelly Glass.

Sparkling bubbly and fine wine complemented the good food and the interesting tête-à-tête. Thus, putting everyone in a good mood!

Later in the evening, a singing couple Mr. and Mrs. SMITH serenaded the guests with soulful jazz, standard and Christmas songs.

Joe Marie Agriam of Cream Magazine and blogger Antoine Greg Flores; my nephew Patrick John C. Pornel and yours truly; Mark Paul Inayan and Sale and Marketing maven Josette Palma of RHI; and FM Aumana, Seth Christian Palomar and Queenie Pearl Lazarte

Indeed, it was an enjoyable night of fine wine, good food, delightful ambience, fun company and enchanting music!

Yumminess at the Christmas Tree Lighting cocktails

Merienda Cena at The Mansion

The artists of Velez School of Music welcomed the guests with rondalla music; COO Noel Sinclaire Sy, GM Gemma Lee and PR Nonoi Ybiernas’ Bel Haley, Baby Layson-Porras, Pinky Layson-Rojo and Chona Layson-Bondoc; and Jake Cocjin and mom Ruth Tirol-Jarantilla

One busy afternoon, Metro-Iloilo’s most veritable food lovers took time out for Merienda Cena at The Mansion. The rebranded hotel presented a Filipino-inspired fare that included Pancit Palabok, Kinihad, Kutsinta, Fresh Lumpia, Tea Ensaymada, Pancit Molo, Turon with Langka and Sago’t Gulaman at the Lobby Restaurant.

Sarah O. Peña, Pane and Pangging Rosales and Solinda de la Cruz; mom and Son Myrna and Michael Koopmans; Bo Parcon, Au Palomar and yours truly; and Benedict Uygongco and John Guevara

Of course, everyone was in good mood because the dishes were tasty and well-presented! Guests were welcomed by COO NOEL SINCLAIRE SY, General Manager GEMMA LEE and PR man NONOI YBIERNAS, amid the rondalla music of the artists of Velez School of Music. The threesome power team made sure everyone was enjoying the food, the music and the conversations.

Rex Victor Gardose, Nonoi Ybiernas and Jasmine Castelo; and Bo Parcon and Lenz Amata

Merienda Cena is the latest offering of The Mansion. According to the management, more are coming in the next few months! Surely, we will wait for them! (Photos by Ray Tabafunda)

Tea Ensaymada, Turon with Langka, Kutsinta and Fresh Lumpia; and Pancit Molo, Kinihad, Pancit Palabok and Pan de Sal Stuffed with Pulled Pork

Sarah O. Peña celebrates (Part 2)

The celebrator Sarah O. Peña with Drs. Karen and Paul Francia; with Oscar Chua; with  Alan and Prima Sweeney, Terry Sarabia and Fanny Uy; and with Marilou Buscar, Elena Javellana and Lee Palmares.

The early birds to SARAH O. PEÑA’s birthday bash at her family’s place de maison were served with hors d’oeuvres and beveragic delights by roving waiters. During dinner, the guests also chose from many selections from the buffet courtesy of caterer to the rich and famous DING MONTELIBANO.

The 18 Christmas trees and holiday carols set the mood for the night’s partying. When not exchanging views on social weather, current events and social media, everyone engaged in “kodakan” for their Instagram and Facebook accounts.

As nothing but smiles could be seen all around, it was a very happy birthday indeed! (Photos by Ray Tabafunda)

Sarah O. Peña with Lee Sarabia, Don Sarabia, Jessica Buckley and Wendell Wang; Dr. Risa Peña, Atty. Rita Peña and Sarah Peña join (seated) Red Sarabia, Erik Castelo, Angela Debuque and Lemuel Tonogan; Leo Malunes, Atty. Charmagne Malunes and Atty. Rita Peña; and Jasmine Castelo, Engr. Zinnia Teruel and Helen Stummer. 

Sarah O. Peña celebrates (Part 1)

The celebrator Sarah O. Peña with daughters Dr. Risa and Atty. Rita and hubby Judgee L. PeñaNoel Mirasol, Sarah O. Peña, Sheilla G. Tiongco, Dr. Risa O. Peña and Judgee L. Peña; and Dr. Risa O. Peña with Au Palomar, Nelly Weiss and Jane De Joya 

It’s an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for woman of style and hardworking businesswoman SARAH OPOLENCIA-PEÑA to host fun parties.

Rightfully so, Metro-Iloilo’s fashion figures and society shakers gathered for her birthday bash held at the well-appointed PEÑA Family residence in Ledesco Village. The celebrator was more than flattered by their presence.

Maritess Lim, Fanny Uy, Sarah O. Peña, Charrie Lui, Toni Lui and Jane and Robert Uy; Sarah O. Peña with Sandra and Ray Gomez; and Sarah O. Peña with Cecile and Gary Gison.

Oh, well, her ever-supportive husband, sugar baron JUDGEE LOPEZ PEÑA and their lovely daughters Atty. RITA, who jetted in from Cosmo-Manille for the event, and Dr. RISA were there to help her received them. Soon- to-be engineer RISA did not make because of exams. (To be continued. Photos by Ray Tabafunda)

Sarah O. Peña with Chick and Lando Layson; and with Dr. Risa O. Peña, yours truly and Nonoi Ybiernas

In holiday mood

The set up at Matchstix by La Flamme Bleue for the Volvo Club Iloilo Christmas Party; Club President Sandra Mae Sta. Rita with Vince Sta. Rita; Club Vice President Grace Llorico with husband Bob Llorico; and Jong Ebrada with wife, Club Secretary Ping Poral-Ebrada.

The members of Volvo Club Iloilo, led by its hardworking President SANDRA MAE STA. RITA, took time out to celebrate the holidays with a fun Christmas party at Matchstix by La Flamme Bleue! They came in red, green and silver colored outfits.

The chefs of the restaurant cum culinary school prepared an array of fusion dishes. For appetizers, the club members enjoyed on Mini Tacos, Pizza Rolls and Okonomiyaki. The Green Salad whetted their appetite for Annatto Rice, Abodo Glazed Ribs, Roasted Chicken, Spicy Wings and Pasta. Overflowing Fruit Punch complemented the yummy victuals!

The exchange of gifts highlighted the gathering amid sips and spills of scotch whiskey and fun conversations on social weather.

The night ended on a high note with promises of future get-togethers!

Club Business Manager Michael Koopmans, who spearheaded the preparation for the party, with his mom Myrna Koopmans, Club Board Member Atty. Eldrid Antiquera and Club Treasurer Joy Zabal; Club Board Member Buddy Silva and wife Mina Moein-Silva; and yours truly with Club Board Member Paul Yap.

Fab and happy

Mayor Joe Espinosa III; yours truly with Dr. Lex and Hon. Candice Tupas; Hon. Jay Treñas; and Antoine Greg Flores, Marie Desdemona Bretaña Martinez and Ira Jucaban

Après the fantastic opening of City Time Square, the special guests, led by Mayor JOE ESPINOSA III, were ushered to Fat & Tipsy for dinner. There we were treated to a sumptuous array of appetizers, main courses and after-dinner hors d’oeuvres by owner MARIE DESDEMONA BRETAÑA MARTINEZ who made us all feel welcome.

Fat & Tipsy is the latest addition to Metro-Iloilo’s nightlife escapades. From there, we watched the long lines of patrons and the curious checking on the shops, cafés and restaurants.

Raymart Escopel and Gigi Sy; ABS-CBN Iloilo Station Manager Clifford Nollido and lawyer Sedfrey Cabaluna; Antoine Greg Flores, Gigi Sy, Ira Jucaban and Keith Censoro; and yumminess at Fat & Tipsy

Naturellement, we did not miss the Field of Lighted Roses. There were endless “Kodakan” moments! Moving around, yours truly spotted City Time Square General Manager GIGI SY who was here, there and everywhere making sure everyone was safe and happy, and everything went as planned; tres charmant LEX TUPAS and his wife Iloilo City Councilor Dr. CANDICE ALMUSIN-TUPAS; Iloilo City Councilors JAY TREÑAS and JOSHUA ALIM; bubbly friends ANTOINE GREG FLORES and IRA JUCABAN; blogger RAYMART ESCOPEL; and more people like them.

Yours truly by the Field of Lighted Roses, the latest attraction at City Time Square; the Lighted Roses upclose; and the Field of Lighted Roses.

Pro•Friends go gift-giving

Golden Pillar Group and Go Land Marketing with the teachers of Tigum Child Development Center and Tigum Elementary School; Success Unlimited Marketing distributes give out loot bags to the Day Care pupils of Brgy. Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo; Diamond Group and PRO-FRIENDS Iloilo employees pose after the successful CSR Activity in Brgy. Ungka, Pavia, Iloilo; and Apex Group and PRO-FRIENDS Iloilo employees with the elders and indigent residents of Brgy. Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo.

‘Tis a season of love, giving and sharing! Rightfully so, Pro·Friends, its employees and marketing teams – Golden Pillar Group, Go Land Marketing, Success Unlimited Marketing, Diamond Group and Apex Group — went to various barangays in Pavia to distribute gifts and bring cheer to kids and kid at heart.

These and more were part of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Well, why not? After all, the zest for life is on its side.

Day Care Pupils of Tigum Elementary School thank PRO-FRIENDS Iloilo for the gifts they received as part of its CSR Activity; Success Unlimited Marketing agents distribute loot bags to the kids of Brgy. Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo; Diamond Group agents give out water bottles to the kids of Brgy. Ungka, Pavia, Iloilo; and the elderly and indigent residents of Brgy. Balabag, Pavia, Iloilo enjoy the food prepared by PRO-FRIENDS Iloilo and Apex Group.

A fun opening

Anelyn Jemera, Fr. Marvin Fabion, Dominador Co, Dr. Catherine Tan and Mayor Dennis Superficial of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo snip the ribbon for the opening of 88 Street by Grumpy Cat; Iloilo City Councilor Jay Treñas and R. Leoni Gerochi; and the interiors of 88 Street Grumpy Cat.

Grumpy Cat gets another address. From Foodville, it is now in 88 Street at Atria District Park. It is owned and managed by Dr. CATHERINE TAN, who also manages Textus Plus Gadget Clinic. It recently had a blessing and opening.

With Fr. MARVIN FABION leading the prayers and blessing, special guests DOMINADOR CO of the Office of the Mayor of Iloilo City and Mayor Dr. DENNIS SUPERFICIAL of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, snipped the ribbon with Dr. CATHERINE TAN and her mom ANELYN JEMERA.

Gila Oquendo of Chinabank Iloilo and Joe Marie Agriam of CREAM Magazine; yours truly and Antoine Greg Flores; and Anelyn Jemera and Dr. Catherine Tan.

The invited guests enjoyed on sumptuous dishes and the modern interiors with photographs of “old” Iloilo City.

88 Street by Grumpy Cat is the latest addition to Metro-Iloilo’s booming food industry. Please check it out. It is open from breakfast to bewitching hour!

Cheesy Beef Nachos and Cheesy Wings; Hawaiian Pizza, and Carbonara and Bolognese Pasta; Shrimps in Butter and Garlic and Sizzling Adobo na Kanding; and Baked Chicken


A flamenco number; Walo Yap, Noel Mirasol and Mark Viterbo; Diday Chua, Ong Hoc Seng and Charrie Lui; Paul Tinsay, Lolit Wong, and Jade and Jun Montinola; and Sandra Ferrer and Solinda de la Cruz

The guests came in their Spanish-inspired outfits to complement the ambience of Abre Salòn at Casa Real de Iloilo. Rightfully so, the dishes prepared by the caterer to the rich and famous DING MONTELIBANO also added Spanish flavour to the event.

Special guest dancers, Señor JUAN ANTONIO de los REYES and Señor ANGEL GÒMEZ, brought the house down with their highly-expressive hand clapping, percussive footwork, and intricate hand, arm and body movement – indeed world-class performances. Retired flamenco dancer GUILLERMO GÒMEZ RIVERA enlightened everyone with the pre-war Abre Salòn history and events in Metro-Iloilo. Recognition and citation were also presented to LANGGA UYTIEPO, the widow of PANCHO UYTIEPO, a flamenco pioneer in Metro-Iloilo. These and more were much to the delight and applause of the audience.

Yours truly with brothers Alfred and Charlie Hofileña; Tristram Javellana and Langga Uytiepo; Markus and Eva Dunneisen; Jessica Buckley, Prima Buckley-Sweeney and Alan Sweeney; and Rafael Jardelez Jr., Avon Tinsay, Dialita Jardeleza, Prima Buckley and Cecilia Beckley

The Spanish-inspired dance numbers of Abre Salòn were a culmination of months of preparation including a flamenco study trip to Spain by some members of the school. (Photos by Ray Tabafunda)

Yours truly with Precy Andrada and Sandra Gòmez; Ivy Gurrea, Niera Totengco and Vedette Ong; Bo Parcon, Pepoy Tancinco and Katrina Loring; Sarah and Putli Fuerte; and Joel Roth and Bobby Rodriguez


Beverly “Pangging” Rosales; Joji “Pane” Rosales; the opening number; Fanny Uy, Norma Rosales and Lolit Wong; and Guillermo Gòmez Rivera, Fides Cuyugan-Asensio and Marite Asensio-Hofileña

The ANNIE DIVINGRACIA-SARTORIO School of Performing Arts celebrated the Spanish influence on Ilonggo culture with cocktails and show called Abre Salòn at the historic art deco Casa Real de Iloilo.

With euphoria and nostalgia, the event had flamenco as the piece de resistance! Socialites, professionals, students, dance enthusiasts and young misses regaled Iloilo’s perfume set and art lovers with a 45-minute action-packed performance which left everyone asking for more. (Photos by Ray Tabafunda; to be continued)

Pito Guevara, Baby Layson-Porras, Chona Layson-Bondoc, Claudine Bondoc, Lulu and Kristine Yap, Chinky Rolida, Bel Haley and Pinky Layson-Rojo; Mary May and JM Tiongco; Gila Ybiernas-Oquendo, Nikko Cid, Nono Palmos and Nonoi Ybiernas; couple Joemarie and Mafelou Agriam with Susan Uy Reyes; and Nap and Lynnie Denila

Bulak and Tata Loring; Lut Camiña and yours truly; Irma Lim and Patricia Lim; JR Bondoc and Katrina Loring; and the menu prepared by Ding Montelibano for Abre Salòn

The Glow at The Mansion

CEO Noel Sinclaire Sy welcomes the guests to The Mansion Christmas Lighting Ceremony; Iloilo City Councilor Dr. Candice A. Tupas, BPRI President Nena Sy-Lim and DOT VI Regional Director Atty. Helen Catalbas led the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas Tree; and the buffet table groaned with hors d’oeuvres at par with the best hereabouts.

As they say, “It is the time of the year to be jolly!” So, The Mansion launched its brand of Holiday Celebration with a simple yet elegant Christmas Lighting Ceremony. The intimate cocktail party gathered 50 A-Listers in business, society and government service.

Iloilo City Councilor Dr. Candice A. Tupas, Judgee Peña, Alfonso Tan, Iloilo City Councilor Jay Treñas, Nena Sy-Lim, Sarah O. Peña and Noel Sinclaire Sy; Gerardo and Marissa Hortillas with Rafael Jardeleza Jr and DOT VI Regional Director Atty Helen Catalbas; Carlo Araneta, Iloilo City Councilors Jay Treñas and Dr. Candice A. Tupas, and yours truly; and Nena Sy-Lim, Helen and Alfonso Tan and Patrick Lim

Amid the string music of the artists of the Velez School of Music, the well-heeled guests enjoyed on Tex Mex Nachos, Pulled Pork Sliders, Egg and Chives Open-Face Sandwiches, Shrimp Cocktails with Arrabiatta Sauce, Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese Bruschetta and Grilled Chicken Teriyaki Skewers. For the sweet treats, there were Caramelized Pineapple Tart and Homemade Pineapple Tart. All were complemented by Piña Colada, Sparkling Red and White Wine, and Teeling Scotch Whiskey.

Sheilla Marie Golez-Tiongco with daughter JM Tiongco; Nena Sy-Lim with Maridel Uygongco and Generosa Uygongco; Pane Rosales, Susan Uy Reyes, Pangging Rosales and Solinda de la Cruz; and Jane and Robert Uy and Noel Sinclaire Sy

Après the Welcome Address of CEO NOEL SINCLAIRE SY, who outlined the Hotel’s mission and vision in the coming year, Brightside Properties and Resorts, Inc. (which owns and operates The Mansion) President NENA SY-LIM and special guest Department of Tourism Region VI Regional Director Atty. HELEN CATALBAS  led the ceremonial lighting of the Christmas Tree and decor. Goodlooking CARLO ARANETA was the program host.

Tata and Bulak Loring; Nonoi Ybiernas, Sandra Gomez, Nena Sy-Lim and Noel Sinclaire Sy; and Pepoy Tancinco, Bo Parcon and yours truly   

Representing Mayor JOE ESPINOSA III of Iloilo City were City Councilors CANDICE ALMUSIN-TUPAS and JAY TREÑAS, chair and co-chair, respectively, of the Committee on Tourism of the Iloilo City Council. (Photos by Ray Tabafunda)