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Social Set

Social climbing  in the digital age



Fashion models of the 1960s to 1970s: (front, from left) Frannie Aguinaldo Jacinto, Babygirl Baluyot Fricke, Jojo Kierulf Zabarte, Peching Zulueta Gomez, Monina Arnaldo Lacson, Genny Baltao, Via Marquez Hoffmann; (back, from left) Ping Valencia, Yogi Dominguez Zaragoza, Charito Aguilar and Lanie Aquino.

When one elder female cousin who grew up in Manila lived with us in the province, she introduced me to a new way of regarding women. Manang Glo (Angco), a certified public accountant, was a good storyteller and she filled our lazy weekend afternoons with stories about the rich and famous, mostly women of the upper class. Society girls, she called them.

It wasn’t that high society alone mattered to her, for she was a brilliant young lady who knew her numbers, politics, world affairs and music. But she probably saw through me and fed me what she believed would make me happy, aside from the pancit con caldo, of course, and she was right.

Perversions and inanities

Manang Glo thus called my attention to the pages where there were more of such women in pictures, the smartly dressed ones, the legends and the icons. She named them to me from left to right: heiress Chito Madrigal (then Vasquez), best dressed-lister Meldy Cojuangco, La Divina Chona Kasten and so on.

While I started reading the society pages and columns in my elementary years, it was only when I was in high school that I had my favorite society columnists. One was Amelita Reysio Cruz, who kept me updated on the lives of socialites like Minnie Osmeña, who was busy campaigning for her dad with the Osmeña Pearls in between separating and remarrying, and Prissy Sison, who wore her hot pants with aplomb. Later, I became enamored with the writings of the “Conde de Makati,” or George Sison, who loved to write about the shopping sprees of the lady in the palace by the river, among other perversions and inanities in the high places.

Glo Balauag Angco and I.

Digital society

Today, though, one can just go online and, with a little click here and there, voila, appear the lifestyle sections of digital publications, where one can read the columns of Maurice Arcache, Johnny Litton and Pepper Teehankee, all replete with do-gooding and partying stories about Helen Ong, Mellie Ablaza, Nene Leonor, Fortune Ledesma, and all other such coiffed and bejeweled ladies, most of them honorary consuls, who, in the past 20 years, have been enjoying a bonanza of mentions in the society columns. Of course, I should add here that if you click, you get to read Party People by Agile Zamora and Cebu Charms by Honey Jarque Loop.

Vivienne with dad, Lucio Tan

Now, if you want to be on a first name-calling basis, Facebook, somehow, has become an equalizer, allowing a go-getter or the merely curious to make friends with someone whose family name is Cu-Unjieng or Kalaw or La’O or even a Zobel. Although I have since realized that not every Elizalde or Zobel or Aboitiz would accept my friend request. I have been lucky with Dedes Zobel, but that’s because she’s really inclusively sweet and will accept anyone who will care to read about her many pro-environment, pro-under privileged and pro-art causes. As for Sofia and Gaita, who have yet to accept my friend requests, well, I am following, err, stalking, them now but that’s just between us.

International Socialite Minnie Osmeña

Ladies who Zoom

Bragging aside, I must tell you that I am chummy with Conchitina via Yahoo Mail and even, cross my heart, in person or so I believe; I have Zoomed with Mikee, the champion equestrienne; and Louie Y is ever reliable via Messenger when I need to ask about the club scene or the matter of fatherhood. But I wonder when Tessie and Robina and Vivienne will ever give me their now-masked nods. I could hear my confidante Edu Jarque saying, “I don’t think so,” although I have this strange feeling that he’s telepathizing me, saying, “But maybe you can mention them and if you must put their pictures, they have to look their unperturbed best.” If only he would introduce me to Betty.

The quintessential grand dame Chito Madrigal Collantes.

Anyway, if all I need is to be updated, all I have to do is go to Frannie Jacinto’s wall and take a peek at all those photographs of the Karilagan models of yore, now ladies who Zoom, club women or simply matrons growing old gracefully and even more beautifully.

Glam icon Meldy Cojuangco


Most charming Tantoco

It’s all in a day’s name-dropping, of course, and while I am excitedly anticipating Mado’s acceptance of my friend request despite the odds being closer to his blocking me, well, there’s Gemma (his very distant relation by affinity) and Karla who have mindfully fed me in Kashmir, Monica who never fails to greet me on my birthday and Christmas Day, and yes, I am FB friendly with Tokie and the most charming Tantoco, Michael Christopher T. Huang, on any given day so I think I’m happy where I am. This despite Marina unfriending me.

Suave gentleman Michael T. Huang