Presenting the Awardees from the 17th Philippine Tatler Ball
Since it was first held in 2011, the Philippine Tatler Ball has become one of the most anticipated events of the country’s social calendar. It is an evening of glamour and elegance, one characterised by the attendance by high society’s finest, from grand dames and captains of industry, to young belles and up-and-coming leaders.
But the Tatler Ball has become more than just a night of feasting and celebration. It has, over the years, become an institution that raises awareness and funding for worthy causes. Likewise, it has also become a venue where those who have risen to become stalwarts in their chosen fields are recognised for their achievements.
This year’s illustrious roster includes two gentlemen who have revolutionised the global jewellery industry with their commitment to sustainability and masterful craftsmanship; a designer whose work has graced catwalks both here and abroad; a great beauty who has risen from pageant queen to become an advocate for peace and creativity; a stylish woman who brings grace and compassion everywhere she goes; and a couple who, while known for their work in retail, are also admired for their work ethic and philanthropic zeal.
Jacques Branellec & Manuel Cojuangco — Diamond Awardees
Jewelmer – the company co-founded by Jacques Branellec and Manuel Cojuangco – has become synonymous with exquisite jewellery made with what are considered the most lustrous cultured pearls in the world: golden South Sea pearls. But beyond the luxe factor that their brand exudes, Branellec and Cojuangco’s joint vision has truly become a reality in more ways than one as it has served to raise awareness regarding the health of the environment, and has also been instrumental in safeguarding the lives and livelihood of the communities they work with.
Such has been Jewelmer’s impact that both men have received awards and accolades over the years. In recognition of their work and their initiatives for environmental protection and support for indigenous peoples, the French government has knighted both Branellec and Cojuangco into the Legion of Honour, a distinction that, on the occasion of Cojuangco’s conferment in 2017, prompted former French Ambassador to the Philippines Thierry Mathou to say, “[Jewelmer is] a successful business where you are the leader of the gold pearl not only in the Philippines but in the world... and you have transformed this activity to give something back to the community.”
Branellec himself once said, “If you innovate with the right intention, you will be rewarded beyond what you can imagine.” In combining expert craftsmanship with incredible creativity, these men have brought forth jewellery that can be cherished from one generation to the next. But by throwing a sincere concern to conserve the natural ecology of the islands and to care for the communities they work with, they have cemented a legacy to admire and emulate for years to come.
Rajo Laurel — Most Creative Force
Many Filipinos assume that when one is born into a political family, one essentially has a career in public service looming on the horizon. However, for fashion designer Rajo Laurel, this was certainly not the case.
The grandson of President Jose P Laurel opted not to enter the political arena, stating in late 2018, “You do not need [to be in] politics to serve our country. You can help our people not just by being in politics, but by being in the private sector, [and] by doing good on your own.”
Indeed, Laurel has brought honour to the nation through designs that incorporate distinctly Filipino patterns and textile choices. He takes inspiration from the work of those who came before him, yet puts something that is uniquely his own into every garment in his collections. It can even be said that Laurel is no slouch when it comes to research, having cited the books Curated by Federico de Vera, Mark Higgins and Gino Gonzalez’s Fashionable Filipinas, and the seminal work Philippines: An Archipelago of Exchange as points of reference for Archipelago, the collection that marked his silver anniversary in the fashion industry.
Donnie and Crickette Tantoco — Couple of the Year
Donnie and Crickette Tantoco have the sort of marriage that many others envy: a model and inspiration to those around them. Together, they have raised a family solidly grounded in traditional values and a strong shared ethic. As parents, they have raised their children to be fine and upstanding members of society who are making their own marks upon the world.
Individually, they are both stalwarts of the Philippine retail scene. As president of the Rustan Commercial Corporation, a position he has held since 1993, Donnie is a leader who believes in working alongside his people. Since taking the helm, he has utilised innovation, sound financial practice, discipline, and a strong moral centre to lead his company to success. Crickette, on the other hand, is a marketing maven who has turned global brands like Payless Shoe Source and Joe Fresh into longstanding favourites of local consumers.
With their own children beginning to spread their wings and leave the family nest, they continue to shine as a paragon of love and unity.
Margie Moran-Floirendo — Patroness of the Arts
Decades after captivating the world as Miss Universe, Margie Moran-Floirendo is still making heads turn – this time in wonderment with the work she has been doing in support of local arts and culture.
Moran, who stepped into the role of chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Cultural Centre of the Philippines (CCP) last year, has been a staunch advocate of the artistic community for many years. As president of the Southern Philippines Foundation for Arts, Culture, and Ecology, she spearheaded various initiatives for promoting and preserving the customs and traditions of Mindanao’s diverse ethnic groups. To make the rest of the country – and the world – more aware of the plight of a region ravaged by religious and political conflict, she also played a part in the publication of the coffee table books Mindanao: A Portrait and Mindanao on the Mend.
Between 2009 and 2018, she served as president of Ballet Philippines. During her nine year term with the country’s foremost dance company, Moran passionately helped promote the art of Philippine dance and pushed for continued support for programmes that would mould a new generation of world-class dancers.
For Moran, art is more than just self-expression or using one’s innate talents to create things. “Art is in our everyday life," she said in an interview done just as she assumed her current position at the CCP. "You need to have an artistic mind to be able to do critical thinking, so art is really a thought pattern.”
Lucy Torres-Gomez — Most Stylish Woman
Now the incumbent Representative of the 4th District of Leyte, Torres first came into public view in the ‘90s when she enchanted actor Richard Gomez in a long-running (and memorable) campaign for a popular shampoo brand. Interestingly, this led to a romantic courtship, and they have been happily married for the past two decades.
Time and experience have only served to refine Torres’ beauty. Tall and slender, she projects the vitality of youth tempered by the grace brought by maturity and motherhood. As such, she continues to be a muse for several designers, though she counts the work of Randy Ortiz and the late Joe Salazar among her favourites.
But Torres’ beauty goes beyond her looks. As a congresswoman, she has spoken for the plight of women – particularly working mothers with infant children – by sponsoring an amendment to Republic Act 10028 (Expanded Breastfeeding Act of 2009.) Likewise, through a number of livelihood initiatives, she has helped uplift the lives of Leyteños who were severely affected by Typhoon Yolanda even in the years following the disaster – a truly beautiful act from a woman who is beautiful inside and out.
- Photography Marc Nicdao
- Art Direction Anton San Diego
- Location Shangri-La at the Fort