Last December 13th, I hosted a dinner for the dignitaries of Secours Populaire Français. I didn’t host like an emcee, I played “hostess” — like I organised the dinner party. Danny Rayos del Sol (the real host), president of Mirasol Outreach Foundation Inc. (Mofi) had asked me to put together a thanksgiving dinner celebration fit for a First Lady and a top figure in the French political scene. It was the Holiday season. I was doing the APEC Chair auction. Traffic was insane. Most restaurants were already booked. And then I remembered the most perfect place to have this special dinner would be at the Maria Luisa’s Garden Room at the Makati Garden Club. I called the restaurant’s Ms Susan Fernandez and right away she prepared a wonderful plan for this very special dinner.
You’ve seen in my 2015 retrospective, that Sophia’s trip to France was rather unforgettable. She participated in Secours Populaire Français’ summer camp for French and foreign children in Gerardmer, France. Sophia and three other children were chosen by Mirasol Outreach Foundation to represent the Philippines. You may read about it here.
In December, the leaders of Secours Populaire Français came to the the Philippines to inaugurate the newly rebuilt school they had generously funded in Busuanga, Palawan after Typhoon Haiyan damaged it. Sophia and I could not attend the Palawan events due to her school midterms and my UNICEF obligations. So I focused on putting this fabulous dinner together for our French guests and local foundation partners.
Here’s the story, in pictures.
From Busuanga, the team flew back to Manila. We met at the Peninsula Manila. From L-R, Mofi’s Danny Rayos del Sol and Amy Loste, SPF president Julien Laupretre, DepEd secretary Bro. Armin Luistro, Valerie Trierweiler, Riza Muyot, SPF national secretary Ismail Hassouneh, me, and Chari Trinidad.
My girl at 12, talking about her experience as a delegate to Copain du Monde. She wore a Just G lace top, Uniqlo skirt and she borrowed my Joyce Oreña necklace. She also added a tiny bejewelled headband. (She styled herself.)
In Busuanga, Palawan, the SPF dignitaries and Mofi representatives witnessed the inauguration of two newly constructed buildings for the Concepcion National High School (CNHS) and a 200-sqm Busuanga Multi Purpose Hall. Because of the new facilities — eight classrooms, a 120-square-meter fully equipped library, and fully functioning toilets and water supply – enrolment has tripled in the last year.
So, you see, we really had a lot to be thankful for. SPF is a French non-profit organization set up in 1945. Its aim is to fight against poverty and exclusion in France and throughout the world. It brings together people of all views, circumstances and origins who wish to live in solidarity. SPF has been responding to emergencies around the world. When Sophia was at Copain du Monde in Gerardmer, she was in camp with children from Nepal, Haiti, Japan, Israel and France. SPF’s contribution to the Philippines came immediately after Typhoon Haiyan ravaged much of our country.
And it was appropriate to end 2015 with this beautiful celebration at Makati Garden Club to honour our French donors and partners.
Flashback to August of 2015, Valerie randomly picked Sophia and danced with her to the tune of Rihanna’s Diamonds but in French. After the dance, she took off her necklace and placed it around Sophia’s neck.
Our heartfelt gratitude to Maria Luisa’s Sandra Fernandez and sommelier Edouard. And to SPF, we are very grateful for the immediate assistance and generous contribution given to the communities in Busuanga. Maraming salamat.