Beneath the dazzle, sparkling generosity

No less than the President of the Philippines, Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., and the First Lady, Liza Araneta Marcos, graced the dazzling and enchanting night that was the Asian Cultural Council 60th Anniversary Gala that took place at the Maynila Ballroom of the Manila Hotel, known all over the world as the Grand Dame of the Pearl of the Orient Seas.    

As early as six in the evening, the fashionable and bejeweled guests arrived in their best finery and moved around socializing with friends, associates, and fellow art patrons who had not seen such a resplendent affair in the last two years.

The reception room leading to the ballroom was elegantly festooned with Capiz lanterns that paid tribute to Filipino craftsmanship. It gradually filled up, creating a tableau of power and privilege seldom seen and gathered in this part of the world, with no less than the members of the American ‘royal family,’ the Rockefellers, hogging the limelight, alongside our very own homegrown Filipina and international citizen, the multi-talented Ms. Josie Natori.

Ernest Escaler, chairman of the ACC Philippine Foundation, Inc., welcomed the guests, making mention especially of the trustees of the New York-Asian Cultural Council and the various trustees of the ACC Asia-Pacific chapters who had come to Manila, especially for this milestone celebration.

Natori, the worldwide chair of the ACC, shared in her message that she never “dreamt nor imagined that I, a Filipina, would one day stand in here being the chairperson of Asian Cultural Council.

“It’s an honor and a privilege and a gift to preside over an organization that for 60 years has been advancing cultural exchange, interactional cooperation, and mutual understanding with Asia and the United States.”

She thanked John D. Rockefeller III, “who initiated and built the ACC headquarters in New York. There have been over 6,000 grants in 16 artistic disciplines in 26 countries. Today, we are in Hong Kong, Manila, Taipei, and Tokyo, all represented here tonight. I would like to acknowledge the presence of distinguished members of the Rockefeller family: Wendy O’Neill, chairman for the last 10 years—I’m terrified to follow her footsteps—Susan Rockefeller and David Rockefeller Jr.

“For sure, the impact ACC has in the Philippines is immense. Over 300 grants have been given to us, Filipinos,  including nine who became National Artists.

“We are truly grateful to the board of ACC Philippines that has made possible for the increase of the amount of grants to Filipinos for the last 23 years.”

Finally, she thanked President Marcos for his presence and “our First Lady, Liza Araneta Marcos, whose unwavering support for ACC made this evening a reality.”

A much-applauded part of the evening was the musical program that featured Philippine folk songs performed by Filipino musical talents Bituin Escalante, Poppert Bernardas, and the Philippine Madrigal Singers, and the dance showcase “Vaudeville to Bodabil,” with the Alice Reyes Dance Company doing Philippine modern dance proud before the awe-struck audience of society doyens, business magnates and leaders of government and civil society.

As the dinner was a fundraiser for the society’s arts exchange programs, the various tables were honored with the presence of their patrons and friends, led by First Lady Liza, Isidro Consunji, Zenaida Tantoco, Mercedes Zobel, Ching Cruz, Dr. Joven Cuanang, Alice Eduardo, Ernest Escaler, Consul Agnes Huibonhua, Anton Mendoza, Malu Gamboa Lindo, Maria Isabel Ongpin, Louie Locsin, Masako Ushioda, Isabel Caro Wilson and David Rockefeller Jr.    

Gold Sponsors were Ulticon Builders and Charlie Gonzalez; Bronze Sponsors — First Gen Corporation and Federico Lopez, Mr. Geometric Proportions, Mike and Charmaine Lagman, and Aboitiz Foundation with Sabin Aboitiz. Silver Sponsors are Ayala Corporation with Fernando Zobel de Ayala.

Donors were Jesus V. del Rosario Foundation and Universal Cultural Foundation, Inc.

Chef Gaita Fores prepared the delectable dinner of Tinola of Gifts from the Philippine Seas, Braised Grilled US Angus Short Rib Bistek Tagalog, Coconut (Three Ways), and Cebu Fresh Mango and Mango Glass in Buco Shells Cadena de Amor.