A Notch Above The Rest: The 18th Philippine Tatler Ball Awardees
BEN CHAN: DIAMOND AWARDEE
The Diamond Award is the highest recognition given at the Philippine Tatler Ball, and retail magnate Ben Chan couldn’t help but register his elation at being honoured. “I never dreamt I would one day get a Tatler Diamond Award, more so to receive it as well as an honourary knighthood from the government of Italy—all in one weekend!” said the creative force behind fashion and lifestyle brand Bench.
READ MORE: The Curious Case of Ben Chan
He was expansive about the responsibility that comes with accolades: “I realise that they were given to me for a reason: that apart from just running a business, I also have a higher purpose.”
Impeccable in a classic black suit ensemble, Ben was walking his talk: his brand’s vision has always been “to impart a sense of pride and inspiration to the Filipino people.”
Receiving the award this year also meant being inducted to a distinguished roster of past recipients like Josie Natori, Washington SyCip, and former President Fidel V Ramos. For more than three decades, Ben has been developing a true Filipino homegrown brand with which an entire nation easily identified. When the brand grew and became global, Filipinos toasted and shared in its success. “I always want Filipinos to be proud of Bench because it is a true Filipino brand that has the power to unite people, create communities, and be a part of nation-building,” said Ben, who saw the Diamond Award as another impetus to keep at it. “In many ways, a lifetime achievement award is just the beginning,” he declared.
SOFIA ZOBEL-ELIZALDE: PATRONESS OF ARTS AND CULTURE
She has been involved in the arts all her life. Her passion lies in dance, the art form she has always promoted and supported through her studio and foundation.
“I’m trying to get Philippine audiences to really appreciate [dance], understand it more, and support the arts and culture in general. So, [whatever the form of art], I think I’m doing my best to help create awareness and appreciation,” she said, luminous in her gratitude for the award.
Her patronage of arts and culture extends to diverse areas. Apart from mounting dance productions and sponsoring dance scholars, Sofia has also recently been assisting in bringing in talented artists from abroad and high-level choreographic works. “I do this to let our younger generation see what’s being done abroad, inspiring them to keep getting better and lifting the bar of dance in the Philippines,” she explained. “I would like to keep up with the times when it comes to the arts and continue to help the Filipino dancers to find their identity but stay current at the same time. Dance must be quality and current, and at par with what the world is doing.”
JOANNA PREYSLER FRANCISCO: MOST STYLISH AWARD
Joanna Preysler-Francisco was unaware she was developing a unique sense of style as she was growing up—and this style never veered much from her own comfort. “I never thought of myself as being particularly fashion-conscious. I have always led a very active lifestyle and ever since, what I wear must complement what I do, not hinder it in any way,” said Preysler-Francisco, recipient of the Most Stylish Award.
An avowed “sporty tomboy” when she was young, Joanna is, today, a true denizen of fashion, establishing successful brands such as Boutique, Tint, Carbon, Eterno, and Othello. Her supportive husband, Raul Francisco, accompanied her throughout her fashion journey as a creative as well as business partner.
Together, they also made a foray into the field of art when they launched Provenance Art Gallery in Shangri-La at the Fort in 2016. Joanna claimed the award was “so timely!” She just turned 50, and at this beautiful juncture she has been finding herself “most comfortable in my own skin and living a life that I am proud of.”
At this age as well, her own definition of style finally came to her. “What makes a woman truly stylish is when she is comfortable in her own skin, confident about who she is, and when she is aware of her limitations when it comes to age, body type, proportions, and being appropriately dressed. When a woman is authentic and not contrived, that is truly stylish.”
JOEY AND MARISSA CONCEPCION: COUPLE OF THE YEAR
The Couple of the Year, Joey and Marissa Concepcion, took their award seriously. To Marissa, it represents a lot of responsibility; to Joey, it is a true measure of success.
“With this award, I feel like we have to be a model for other couples. We must be more understanding and in tune with each other,” Marissa said. Joey likewise put to words their synergy, saying, “Family for me is success, and not the other way around.” The award, he added, is a statement on the importance of marriage. As the entrepreneurial adviser of the President of the Philippines, chairman of the ASEAN Advisory Council, and CEO of RFM Corporation, Joey is always on the go. Marissa is equally out and about, running her businesses on top of hosting dinners and social events.
READ MORE: Monica Concepcion at the le Bal des Débutantes
The couple have become true partners in life. “Marissa is very supportive,” Joey lovingly said of his wife. “Whenever she is free, she always attends my activities here or abroad.” Marissa, for her part, keeps an open mind. “Every day is a learning process and every day Joey and I try to make things better. So as much as possible, we do things together.” Joey agreed. “I think that teamwork is essential.”
The two have very well discovered the formula for harmony. “Joey leads, I execute. That’s the tandem that we play,” Marissa elaborated.
“It’s a different award,” Joey proudly said of their most current accolade. “We were not awarded for what we do in public; we were awarded because of how we balance our life, of how we give priority to our family and our marriage.” And this, he said, is exactly what he hopes to see his children carry on as well.
ALICE EDUARDO: MOST CHARITABLE FORCE
She has built a formidable name in the construction industry—her mention calls forth major landscape changes in the city. “Woman of Steel” and “Woman in a Man’s World” are just two of the titles often accorded to Alice Eduardo. She is the founder, president, and Chief Executive Officer of Sta Elena Construction and Development Corporation, which has been responsible for significant construction projects in Manila and surrounding provinces since 1995.
READ MORE: Alice Eduardo Talks About Living Life To The Fullest Amidst The Demands Of Profession
Alice is also known to have a heart of gold, one that shares all the blessings emanating from her hard work. Her charitable side was honed early on in her life. “My mother has inspired me to have a giving heart,” she said. “I have seen her acts of charity up close while growing up.”
Through giving, Alice finds greater meaning in what she is and what she is doing today. “Giving brings a true sense of connection to others. Working for something bigger than us is a source of deep and lasting fulfilment,” she elaborated. Some of her favourite humanitarian projects are Tuloy Foundation (a residential institution for the abandoned youth), the Paediatric Oncology Isolation Ward of the Philippine General Hospital, and a dormitory for the relatives or caregivers of cancer-stricken patients.
Being acknowledged as Most Charitable Force “is a humbling experience as I am but one in a line of this tradition,” Alice revealed. Her clutch of personal achievements notwithstanding, she admitted feeling a bit uneasy about the award. But what put her at ease was “the realisation that this moment can inspire others.”
READ MORE: Scenes from the Philippine Tatler Ball 2019
- Photography Patrick Diokno
- Videography Kamille Ann Manginsay
- Art Direction Anton San Diego
- Make-Up Johnson Estrella
- Hair Patty Inojales; GROOMING BY JEFF VALENZUELA
- Creative Design Justine Arcega Bumanlag