Festive and vibrant.
This was how the President’s sisters Kris Aquino, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, Pinky Aquino-Abellada and Viel Aquino-Dee portrayed Filipino hospitality to spouses of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders at a tour and luncheon they hosted on Thursday in Intramuros, the Walled City of old in Manila.
As expected, youngest Aquino sibling Kris, a popular actress and TV personality, proceeded as lead host, as much as she did when she assisted her mother–then- President Corazon Aquino–in several state visits to the country.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd is the third among the five siblings.
Wearing a modern terno in striking tiffany blue with delicate embellishment in white lace, Kris proudly stood alongside her sisters under the scorching heat at the entrance of Fort Santiago, and personally greeted the APEC spouses representing Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan.
The Intramuros tour began with a brief but colorful program inside the centuries- old walls of Fort Santiago that included a traditional wedding dance from the Visayas, staged by 100 performers, under the direction of Dulaang UP (University of the Philippines) artistic head Dexter Santos.
According to a report from CNN Philippines, the Aquino sisters also toured the spouses to several cultural and historical establishments inside Manila’s Walled City, among them the 15th century San Agustin Church–the only building left standing after the bombing of Intramuros during World War II; and Casa Manila–a complex of specialty stores for locally made products.
At the Casa Manila, the Aquino sisters gave each spouse a personalized token.
The visit concluded with a sumptuous lunch inside the Marble Ballroom of Ayuntamiento de Manila in Plaza de Roma, which was built to serve as the Spanish colonial municipal council in 1599.
The Marble Ballroom is equally historic as the rest of the building as it was witness to many important occasions during the Spanish occupation, such as the arrival of then newly appointed Governor-General Manuel Crespo Cebrian in 1855.
The Aquino sisters, who according to an Instagram post by Kris forked out personal funds to make the tour and luncheon more special, indeed pulled out all the stops in organizing a truly Filipino affair, what with a Filipiniana bazaar showcasing bags and accessories designed by sisters Marga Valdes and Bea Valdes and the much talked about 20-minute musical intermission mounted by Kris’ friends from show business.
Singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid, whose rendition of Barry Manilow’s “Somewhere Down the Road” was especially applauded, led the roster of entertainers, namely Angeline Quinto, Matteo Guidicelli and Erik Santos. Santos had the honor of singing the finale, a rousing performance of “This is the Moment.”
“So happy that our guests loved their performance!” Kris gushed in her Instagram.
Joining her onstage to host the program was her actor-friend Derek Ramsay, who expressed gratitude for being given the “honor to be a part of the distinguished occasion.”
During the luncheon, Kris was seated with Singapore First Lady Ho Ching, wife of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, veteran actress Helen Gamboa, wife of Sen. Tito Sotto, and Lily Monteverde of Regal Films, among others.