The invitations have been sent, the wines have been ordered, and the country’s leading fashion designers have kept their right eyes on the ball to create the most glamourous gowns and tuxedos of the season. But before we let our distinguished guests from the country’s social and business circles get on their way to the grand ballroom for the 14th Philippine Tatler Ball, let us take you on a nostagic ride through the past decade and let you relive the ball’s best moments. 

A Night to Remember

Clearly, there will be no point in doing this blast from the past if we do not start with the very first Philippine Tatler Ball. On November 2002—two months after the magazine celebrated its first anniversary—Makati Shangri-La’s Rizal Ballroom was brimming with the country’s top socialites, tycoons, policy makers, stars, and style icons. Despite the heavy downpour of rain, the 300 invited guests made their way to be part of the grand celebration. With guests like Alex and Marixi Prieto, Beth Day Romulo, Rikki and Beng Dee, Michel and Amparito Lhuillier, Paz Yuchengco, Nancy Tambunting, Ronnie Concepcion among many others, it was a glittering night of style and substance, of glamour and pride, and had a dance floor fired up by the performances of Pops Fernandez and Joseph Sabor of Sabor Latino. 

Colours, Shades, and Filters

From black-and-white and sepia, and all the way to the colourful palettes of Moroccan tapestries, Philippine Tatler Ball has done it all. In its early years, guests have looked forward to what the theme would be in order to match in advance their long gowns and make-up to the visual feast.

The first Tatler Ball (2002) had a signature booth designed by Old Asia, where guests waited to have their photos taken a la “Men in Black.” Everybody had a blast donning stylish black sunglasses and having a go at the MIB look. 

This time around in the second Tatler Ball (2003), it was Moroccan inspired. We still remember standing guard at the ballroom’s doors were the staff of the hotel, all garbed in desert tunics—and similarly dressed were the “servants” who later brought in co-host Tessa Prieto-Valdes on a hammock. There was a booth as well that year, created by Toni Rodriguez with the help of Rustan’s, complete with exotic Moroccan décor.

On the third Tatler Ball (2004), gentlemen in their dapper tuxedos and ladies in their elegant gowns gathered first in the mezzanine of the ballroom and engaged in merry conversations while admiring on the walls the blacklit sepia photographs of personalities who’ve graced the pages of the magazine.

A-listers, Business Moguls, Style Mavens, and Honourable Countrymen

From guests of around 300 in 2002, the list grew in numbers over the years. The years have been kind, where despite having to say goodbye to some guests, more relationships were built throughout the years. We are pleased to have enjoyed each night with our dear friends and partners from the social and business circles. 

Among all those who have walked down the red carpet of the Tatler Ball, we would never forget Chito Madrigal Collantes, Mary Prieto, Imelda Ongsiako Cojuangco, Anita Magsaysay-Ho, Bonnae Gokson, Washington SyCip, Jose Concepcion Jr., Mely Hechanova, Josie Cruz Natori, Betsy Westendorp-Brias, Antonio Alvarez II, Diosdado Banatao, Amb. Bienvenido Tantoco, Sec. Albert Romulo, Former Pres. Fidel V. Ramos, and (then Representative) Pres. Benigno Aquino III. 

Also, everybody’s eyes were always on those lovely couples like Paing and Mely Hechanova, Amb. Jesus and Marge Tambunting, Raul and Menchu Concepcion, Fernando and Kit Zobel, Jaime Augusto and Elizabeth Zobel de Ayala, Lani and Conchitina Bernardo, Lito and Kim Camacho, Francisco and Lisa Bayot, and Rico and Nena Tantoco.

Belles of the Ball

Indeed, the Tatler Ball would be lacking with luster if not for the stylish ladies standing tall and proud for the cameras with their gowns by top Filipino fashion designers like Rajo Laurel, Ito Curata, Inno Sotto, Michael Cinco, Monique Lhuillier, and the late Joe Salazar.

Among the belles of the ball that captivated the eyes of men are Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi, Audrey Puckett-Chiu, Felicia Atienza, Kaye Tinga, Margarita Forés, Jessica Kienle, Hindy Weber-Tantoco, Susana Madrigal, Nina Herrera-Huang, Bea Zobel Jr., Bea Valdes, Isabelle Diaz Daza, Dawn Zulueta, Nanette Medved-Po, Mandy de la Rama Santos, Tina Maristela-Ocampo, and Stephanie Kienle-Gonzalez.

Exemplary People

Every year, the ball serves as a venue for Philippine Tatler to recognise certain individuals who are deserving of distinction for what they did and who they are. Some of the numerous recipients of the prestigious Philippine Tatler Ball Awards are as follows:

The late Chito Madrigal Collantes has done it all. She has continued the legacy of her father, the eminent Don Vicente Madrigal, with great success. Hence, she was the first to receive the Pinnacle Award in the first Tatler Ball in 2002, together with her long-time friend Mary Prieto. 

Meanwhile during the fifth Tatler Ball in 2006, Former President Fidel V. Ramos received the Pinnacle Award as well. With his social status and political achievements, not to mention his integrity, values, and staunch dedication to public service, he exemplifies what the award is all about.

Nedy Tantoco’s support for Philippine arts and culture has made her earn the Patroness of the Arts award in 2002. Later in 2008, she received the Most Charitable Force award for her philanthropic efforts from which numerous Filipinos have benefited, and whose lives have changed for the better.

Similarly, Doris Magsaysay-Ho received the Most Charitable Force award in 2004 for her unfailing contributions to different foundations such as the Asia Society Philippine Foundation where she serves as a chairperson, as well as the Heritage Conservation Society, Clean and Green Foundation, First Philippine Conservation, and Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation. 

Among the country’s National Artists for Visual Arts, sculptor Arturo Luz and painter Benedicto Cabrera both received the Most Creative Force Award in 2008 and 2006, respectively. Another recipient was the Cebuano industrial designer Kenneth Cobonpue (2011), known for his exceptional work with natural fibres and indigenous materials that have received distinction from international award-giving bodies.

Life of the Party

When the programme is over, guests let their elegantly coiffed hair down and sway on the dance floor. And with the guest list complete with certain individuals who add a splash of vibrancy and quirkiness to the ball—like Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Maurice Arcache, Tim Yap, and Johnny Litton—the Tatler Ball is the happiest place to be in. 

Remember when Philippine musical theatre performers Isay Alvarez, Bituin Escalante, and May Bayot had a showstopping “Dreamgirls” performance during the sixth Tatler Ball in 2007? The crowd was wild and the ladies were channelling their inner Effie White and Deena Jones from their seats. 

And who can forget Gary V.’s applauded and rousing performance during the 12th Tatler Ball in 2013? As soon as he went on the dance floor, guests surrounded him and enthusiastically joined him with the beat.

Perfect Ten

If we’re to pick our most favourite Tatler Ball, it might still be our 10th in 2011. With its roster of awardees, the belles of the ball, the riveting performances, the divine Spanish cuisine menu, and the staggering amount of funds that were raised for the chosen beneficiary, it has got to be that one. An added factor in the celebration was the fact that Philippine Tatler celebrated its 10th year in the publishing industry and has grown from “optimistic beginners to the leading chroniclers of luxury lifestyles in the country,” as said by its publisher and managing director Irene Martel Francisco during her speech.

The end of the hallway leading into the ballroom was adorned by a huge Tatler “T” figure made of flowers, courtesy of Mia Cabawatan Lozada of Bloomwoods.

The success of the 10th Philippine Tatler Ball was evident in the record-breaking 7.3 million peso-donation that it has raised for the benefit of Habitat for Humanity Philippines. Fernando Zobel, chairman of the Capital Campaigns of Habitat Philippines, together with Habitat Youth Council representatives Isabel Martel Francisco, Simon Tantoco, Pedro Roxas Jr., and Kevin Yang (photo above) were present in the ball to stress to the guests the importance of providing a decent home for our countrymen.

(Find out here what were the other foundations and causes who have been beneficiaries of the past Philippine Tatler Balls.)

After this blast to the past, head over to our #phtatlerball15 minisite to catch up on all the coverage from this year’s biggest society event.

Tags: Philippine Tatler Ball, Society, Phtatlerball2015, Philippine Tatler Ball Award, Belles Of The Ball, Tatler Events