Bea, Julia, Gerald go solo and other behind-the-scene happenings at glitzy ABS-CBN ball
For a fleeting moment, the hubbub of camera clicks and clamoring press people waned and turned into hushed murmurs when Julia Barretto, hand in hand with her handler, emerged at the media hall, where interviews with select stars attending the 2019 ABS-CBN Ball were being conducted.
It was as if no one expected her to drop by—at least not in our area, designated for media outfits not affiliated with ABS-CBN. After all, Julia has been embroiled in perhaps one of show biz’s biggest controversies in recent years. Her being shielded from potentially prying questions would have been all but expected.
Yet, there she was—looking quietly elegant in her white, sampaguita-embroidered Rajo Laurel terno—as she moved from one group of writers to another along the photo wall stanchion.
No one dared to bring up Gerald Anderson. Or Joshua Garcia. Or Bea Alonzo. Or anything related to the issue. But she was asked about what it felt like to go solo on the red carpet. “It’s empowering, actually,” she said, as she walked past us. “Uhm … it’s empowering. Thank you, guys.”
And then she was off.
Julia’s ex-boyfriend, Joshua, on the other hand, had already announced days prior to the ball that he wasn’t particularly keen on inviting anyone to go with him. And indeed, the young actor—wearing a black Joey Espiritu barong—arrived on his own, and was all smiles as he curtly told the press that he was “happy” and “looking forward” to the event.
Gerald didn’t have a date, either, but wasn’t exactly on solo flight. The actor turned up at the media hall with Nash Aguas, Elmo Magalona, Yves Flores and Jerome Ponce—his costars in the upcoming series, “A Soldier’s Heart.”
They were his “soldiers, bodyguards … everything,” quipped Gerald, sporting an emerald green Joey Espiritu barong, his buzzcut starting to grow out.
While some celebrities looked like they were merely going through the motions during their compulsory media parade, Bea reveled in hers.
The actress caused quite a stir as she emerged evoking a sultry Spanish señorita in her black, asymmetric frock inspired by the Balintawak dress.
She was upbeat, self-assured as she worked the lenses: One minute, she was casting wistful glances and tilting her shoulders in a way that accentuated her Jun Escario outfit’s oversized right sleeve; the next, she was pulling off silly faces and wacky poses. Every so often, she put the thigh-high slit to good use by thrusting her left leg forward.
Like Julia, Bea said going to the ball by herself was “empowering.” “I just realized that it’s my first time to actually walk on the red carpet alone again after 10 years,” the acclaimed star said when asked by the Inquirer about her decision. “And it feels great … liberating and I’m enjoying it.”
On the official live stream, the annual event—held at Shangri-La at the Fort—looked every bit the glitzy parade it was touted to be, with some 300 actors, music artists, executives and other show biz personalities sauntering down the red carpet hall decked with flowers and foliage.
Things weren’t as leisurely behind the scenes, however.
At first, the celebrities arrived at the media hall in trickles, allowing reporters ample time to ask about their “modern Filipiniana” out fits—the ball’s theme this year— and maybe even squeeze in a juicy question.
But as the night wore on, the stars started to pour in, sending the external media scurrying about, trying to get as much material as they could—live tweets, photos and all sorts of social media executions.
Needless to say, the bigger the stars, the less time they had. They had other television commitments, we were apologetically told; they had to be on the red carpet in “x” minutes, someone hollered. And as it all happened, minders managing the celebrity traffic intermittently issued firm requests to ask our last question—at times, before we could even ask our first.
Luckily, we more or less managed to secure sound bites from those who mattered.
Maymay Entrata and Edward Barber, who looked luxe in their ornate, matching Manila Cathedral-inspired ensemble by Amato couture, said she and her screen partner are happy to attend the ball together.
“We’re looking forward to having fun,” Maymay said, before disassembling the stanchion herself, so they could be whisked away and escorted to their next engagement.
Liza Soberano—who was coming out of a hiatus to recover from a finger surgery—said she was feeling excited and nervous to be back. “It feels weird, in a way, to be working again like this after taking a break for a couple of months,” related Liza, who wore a cream, crystal-encrusted terno by Patricia Santos.
“She really needed that break. She had been working nonstop after ‘Bagani’ and ‘Alone/Together,’” pointed out Enrique Gil, who made sure to fix and poof out Liza’s sleeves before posing for the cameras.
Loisa Andalio jested that the inspiration for her maroon Amanda Jazz dress was her boyfriend and escort, Ronnie Alonte, who reciprocated her sweet nothings by declaring: “Forever na ’to!” But before he could even bask in his smooth comeback, Ronnie winced and let out a yelp. Loisa, with her dangerously high and pointed heels, accidentally stepped on Ronnie’s foot.
Opting for a deconstructed barong-suit, Iñigo Pascual, who was celebrating his 22nd birthday, teased Maris Racal, saying that the orange Julianne Syjuco gown she wore made her look like a kwek-kwek.
Behind us, real-life sweethearts Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo were doing some last-minute touch-ups, before heading for the red carpet: He meticulously tousled his hair; she whipped out a compact small mirror to see if she had lipstick on her teeth.
And as they walked together, holding hands, toward the artists’ holding area adjacent to the medial hall, Daniel led Kathryn to a decorative metal pane on the wall and told her to fix her bangs. “Oh, it’s a little messy,” agreed Kathryn—who was in a sparkly and intricately designed magenta gown by Michael Cinco—as she straightened out her new fringe.
The event was, indeed, as swanky as could be. But it’s not all there is to it, said Ylona Garcia, pointing out that the ABS-CBN Ball’s primary goal is to raise funds for Bantay Bata 163’s “Bantay Edukasyon”—an initiative that hopes to provide education to abused, neglected and underprivileged children.
“Being glamorous is fun and all. But there’s way more than that,” she said. “What Bantay Bata is doing can make a huge impact.”
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