A Rose at the ‘Tertulia’ in Intramuros

After the successful staging in 2022 of a fabulous ball and an awards night, the Philippine Heritage Society held a tertulia as it continues its support for local arts and culture, as well as the creative soul of Filipinos.

Britannica defines tertulia as a “type of Spanish literary salon that was popular in Spain from at least the 17th century and that eventually replaced the more formal academies. Tertulias were held in private homes at first, but from the early 19th century they met in clubs and cafés.”

The Philippine Heritage Society

Casa Blanca in Intramuros was the setting for Tertulia Flores de Mayo: A Celebration of Fashion, Arts Music on 30 May. It was directed by Nathan de Leon, who founded the society together with Sherwin Sozon, a businessman and opera singer who leads LyrOpera; and Tess Castro, a former bank executive who is now a philanthropist and heritage advocate.

Lubos akong nagagalak na naka-unang anibersaryo pa lamang ang The Philippine Heritage Society pero tumitibay na ang ating pundasyon, at tayo ay nakagagawa na ng mga kongkretong hakbang upang itaguyod ang mga pamanang sining sa ating lahi. At ngayong gabi nga, ating ipinagdiriwang ang Flores de Mayo sa pamamagitan ng fashion, arts at music (I am delighted that The Philippine Heritage Society, just on its first anniversary, is growing stronger, and we have been able to take concrete steps to promote our cultural heritage. And tonight, we celebrate Flores de Mayo through fashion, arts and music),” Castro said in her welcome speech.

The Philippine Heritage Society with co-founder Nathan de Leon (extreme left) and members serving as models at the Tertulia.

She continued: “Marami mang pagbabago sa panahon ngayon at sa ating mga Filipino, dahil sa modernisasyon at bagong teknolohiya, nanatiling buhay at matibay ang tradisyon na ito, na patuloy na sumasalamin sa ating malalim na pananampalataya, mayamang kasaysayan at makulay na kultura (Despite the many changes in today’s time and in our Filipino society, due to modernization and new technology, this tradition remains alive and resilient, continuing to reflect our deep faith, rich history and vibrant culture).”

An entertaining and elegant night

Hosted by JM Salamat, the night was a showcase of the best of Filipino creativity. World-class entertainment was provided by Ana Feleo of the LyrOpera of the Philippines, who performed Agot Espino’s “Kundiman sa Langit” and “Bituing Marikit” by Nicanor Abelardo.

The UP Filipiniana Dance Group swayed to “Binoyugan” and “Maria Clara Dance Pitik Mingaw.” There was the Marcy Band and Prinsipe Makata. Tenor Randy Gilongo sang “Kundi Man Mahalin” by National Artists Ernani Cuenco and Levi Celerio, and “Madaling Araw.” Co-founder Sozon sang “Kalesa” by Cuenco and “Ikaw ang Mahal Ko” by George Hernandez.

The highlight of the night was when the glamorous members of the group offered flowers to the Virgin Mary during the Flores de Mayo Fashion Walk segment. Led by this year’s “hermana,” Mache Torres-Ackerman, the awesome women were Chanel Sun, Sophia Yara, Jennifer Tipton Angeles, Minerva Racuya, Isabel Tiqui Dunn, Maricris Callo, Charo Laude, Ruby Chua, Loubelle Gardiola, Isabel Dennise Garcia and Aileen Geralde.

They were the muses of designers Frankie de Leon, Oskar Peralta, Ronaldo Arnaldo, Ole Morabe, Peri Diaz and jewelry god Gerry Sunga. The night also attracted such fashion luminaries as Oscar Atendido, Zardo Austria, George Yano, Raymond Villanueva and Pando Manipon.

Designer and muse as cultural protectors

A compelling designer-muse collaboration on that elegant night was between Lito Perez and entrepreneur and philanthropist Rose Tolentino Santiago.

“Pink Rose became a valued client even before the pandemic. Her favorite color is pink, thus Pink Rose is her nickname,” Perez explained. “She wore a fully embroidered terno reminiscent of the carnival queens of the 1920s. It is a baro’t saya and matching panuelo and long-train tapiz. The gown is made of embroidered American tulle and lace.”

Radiant in pink, Rose in a Lloyd Arceo terno ensemble

Within the realm of fashion and design, Pink Rose admires the works of Perez, considering him one of the finest Filipino designers.

“Lito’s designs reflect his deep love for Philippine heritage, showcasing the rich tapestry of Filipino culture through his creations. I appreciate Lito’s dedication to preserving and incorporating elements of Philippine traditions and aesthetics into his designs, as it serves as a testament to the beauty and uniqueness of Filipino artistry,” she enthused.

Alongside her spiritual devotion, Santiago is committed to preserving Filipino culture and traditions, ensuring that the younger generation never forgets their roots. In her admiration for Perez, she finds inspiration in his designs that celebrate the rich heritage of the Philippines.

As a proud Filipina, Santiago holds her cultural heritage dear to her heart. She cherishes the traditions and values instilled in her by her ancestors and believes it is essential for young Filipinos not to forget their roots. She emphasizes the importance of preserving Filipino culture, traditions, and historical sites. Through this safeguarding, she believes that future generations will be able to appreciate their heritage and maintain a strong connection to their identity as Filipinos.

In honor of the Mother

Pink Rose stands as a testament to the power of unwavering faith, deep cultural appreciation, and the enduring spirit of the Filipino people.

She was excited to participate in the “Tertulia Flores de Mayo,” as the Blessed Virgin Mary plays a pivotal part in her life. When her mother left her at a young age, she was overwhelmed with sadness and longing for maternal care. She sought solace in her faith and became a devoted follower of the Blessed Mother. In her belief, she found the comforting presence of a mother figure who would listen to her and understand the deepest thoughts and emotions of her heart.

In her expression of devotion, Santiago has embraced a selfless approach. She believes that her acts of charity and kindness are not contingent on counting donations or material offerings. Instead, she believes that her good deeds should come from the pure intentions of her heart. She sees Mary as the ultimate example of a loving and caring mother, who extends her protection and guidance to all, regardless of material wealth or status.

“The reverence and devotion I hold for the Blessed Mother stems from my acknowledgment of her divine role as the Mother of God,” Santiago professed. “For me, Mary is more than just a figure in religious teachings; she is the epitome of love, compassion, and nurturing. Through my devotion to Mary, I find solace and strength, believing that the Blessed Mother can take care of me in ways that no one else can.”