Monday, January 23, 2006


Vatel Manila is proud to announce that it has found a second home - The Terraces Dasmariñas - in Cavite. A 2.2-hectare property owned by the Ledesma family, it has the charms of a farm (the area is planted to several fruit-bearing trees like star apple and dalandan) and a garden setting.

Soon to rise on the wide expanse of space is a church plaza with a fountain (clearly inspired by town layouts made by Spanish settlers in their colonies in the New World) and several attractions designed to captivate the guests' imagination. Already, several Filipino houses based on actual structures from other places in the country have been built making The Terraces akin to a little Nayong Pilipino. Although totally distinct from Vatel's homebase of The Mango Farm, suffice to say that the development of The Terraces is inspired by TMF's own development as the premier farm/garden venue north of Manila.

The name The Terraces was based on the property's most attractive feature - an Ifugao house on top of a hill surrounded by terraces-like construction. This house - built according to specifications as those found in Mountain Province - overlooks the spanish plaza and gives a breathtaking view of the rest of the property. The development time frame is currently at 6 months, so we are looking at finally opening the property to guests and visitors alike by June of 2006. By the way, did I mention that this place was once called The Farm? ;-p

We look forward to welcoming you soon to The Terraces Dasmariñas!

Photos pending.

Friday, January 20, 2006


Vatel Manila's signature A-tent lords it over a recent event at The Mango Farm.

I can truly say that 2005 was a breakthrough year for me. Aside from the fact that we got over several medical issues at home (one of which appears to be rearing its ugly head once more), it was also a good year to start a new business.

Despite having so much to do on weekdays, the events production company, VATEL Manila was finally started last summer. We've had 2 projects since we opened and only last week, 2006 opened with yet another project in Cavite - the first outside Vatel's homebase of Antipolo - a 50th wedding anniversary.

However, that latest engagement found me recuperating in bed for the last 3 days. Don't you just hate it when you have fatigue written all over your face? Even if I am now able to return to my duties, I still feel that tiredness deep inside, as if it has invaded every lacuna of my bones. My mitochondrias must be hard pressed lately to make up for the lack of rest and sleep. At least I got compensated for my efforts, even if I had to do it for a distant Aunt.

So what am I looking forward to this year? More projects, of course. I am in constant search for that elusive "distinct style". My drawing board is busy at the moment with ideas being translated into set-ups. I want to take this chance to thank TMF owner Mike Santos for the chance to start Vatel Manila, and to work with him and the farm. It has been very fulfilling indeed. Another big thanks go to husband-and-wife tandem KJ and AM of Martha's Plate, TMF's in-house caterer. Here's to more projects in 2006!

For now, I want to learn how to make an effective and efficient system of ordering flowers and not have to run out of them again on the very night I needed them. Dangwa can be a very mind-boggling place. It follows the rule of "When you need 'em, you can't find 'em." I hate having to look desperate at 2AM.

Some can call it small-time inefficiencies. I call it birth pains.

Photos courtesy of The Mango Farm

Thursday, January 19, 2006


Vatel Manila has been busy the past year with some projects at the Mango Farm. Year 2006 also opened with a project in a farm in Dasmariñas, Cavite. This is the first time (and hopefully not the last) that I did a project outside my home base of Antipolo.

The event was the 50th wedding anniversary of the Ledesma-Osias couple and we were tasked to design the stage as well as to decorate the concrete chapel's facade with tropical colors. We also did the planning for the physical setup (where to put the tents, tables, etc.) Work was started a week before the event with me taking the 45-minute drive to The Farm (yes, that's what it is called). I took photos of the space before me, enlarged these for sketching purposes, worked on them overnight, and handed the draft plans to the farm engineers for execution.

Here are some before and after photos. MANY THANKS to the several Southville International School-based drivers assigned to me (Kuyas Bernard, Fernie, and Atel!), Chief Driver Sir J, Engrs Lawrence and Gerry, The Farm Manager Ma'am Siona and staff (kanamit guid sa pagkaon!), and to Stephen for accompanying me to the Farm and to Dangwa. Cheers!

A Farm staff picks dalandan to be made into nice, cold fruit juice later in the day
An Ifugao house, made according to the exact specifications of the real thing
A faux chapel on the farm grounds
View of the Ifugao house from inside the chapel

The covered walkway days before the wedding. I can almost hear Imelda Marcos barking orders to put the plants there, here, and here!
Engr. Bong Dulawan, the Farm's resident Engr (in buri hat), and some staff of the farm and Southville International School awaiting the arrival of Barbara's catering to do the reception setup. They didn't arrive until dawn the next day while people waited all night.

The anniversary couple arrived in a 25K-rented mini-chariot. They only get to use it for a mere 10 minutes. Sigh.
Behind the scene

The setup of Barbara's is wonderful! There has been a mistake in the fabric arrangements but it was too late to change. Not my fault though.

A closeup of the be-ribboned bamboo torches

The altar. The choice to use heliconias was made because the whole thing has to hang only on 3 concrete nails. The concrete was very very hard to penetrate, even with heavy duty nails. If we used larger tropicals, the whole arrangement would have fallen on top the couple in no time. Also, the use of tropical motifs was made because the couple is currently living in Hawaii. As usual, we made use of materials available in the farm like the jars, the potted plants, the tribal fabric. Our knowledge of tribal fabrics came to good use because otherwise, someone else would have made the singular mistake of choosing this large, wide fabric I saw in the stockroom, which is used to wrap the dead of the Ifugaos, as a cover for the altar table. Whew! Imagine the major faux pas if ever!

Another view of the altar

The pathway before adding the yellow bunting, yellow being the color scheme of choice. I used cream organza for ribbons to temper the loudness of yellow. Besides, it looked good on the bamboo. Thanks to Aunt Rosie for the rushed sewing of the fabric!

The pathway's look has changed!

The perils of the business: waiters do last-minute adjustments to the floral arrangements in the couple's gazebo

The stage I designed. The top photo was taken in the afternoon. The one immediately below was taken prior to the start of the program. All materials were sourced from the Farm's stockroom. I didn't want to spend more on things so resourcefulness and a lot of imagination were the order of the day.

My first cousin, Josephine Yap-Leitgeb, flew in from Singapore to attend the wedding anniversary. Here shown wearing a nice, green gown she found in Vietnam during one of her trips. The tied mini-bouquets are by Vatel Manila (orange and white roses).

Night starts to creep in. Thanks, Lord, for this chance to be of service.


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