Breathless in Hong Kong...
Naturellement, the way to enjoy Hong Kong is to know where and when the action happens. Yes, palanggas, there are tons of fun to experience and discover in this glitzy city of skyscrapers and colorful lights.
The concert we were all excited about was by none other than that world-class master jammer, ex-teacher, ex-lead singer of the popular band The Police, and highly acclaimed composer, actor and die-hard environmental activist, Sting. He was performing in Hong Kong to promote his latest solo album 'Sacred Love'.
Manille's young hip, and young-at-heart set wasted no time grabbing tickets for this brilliant singer-composer's one night performance.
Our gang's mega organizer was hotshot multi-faceted business entrepreneur, fun, smart and witty Al Tengco. He personally made the arrangements with his business associates in Hong Kong.
We couldn't wait to enjoy the comfy wide seats of our pal, Philippine Airlines. The one-hour 35-minute trip seemed so much shorter because of the excellent service from the crew that always had a smile for the passengers.
The trip was made even more enjoyable because half the crew were those Southern personas of charm, my fellow Ilonggos from Bacolod and Iloilo, no less.
Most of the group took the 8 a.m. flight so as not to waste the day but ace photographer Alex V.H., Choy Cojuangco and his wife, Marissa Echauz, Irene Marcos and her husband, Greggy Araneta, Bito and Menchu Mantecon were on the 3:50 p.m. flight. Arriving on the 8 p.m. flight from Manille was architect Anton Mendoza and his soulmate, good-looking model Marc San Diego.
Upon our arrival, Shangri-La's efficient personnel whisked Alex Van Hagen and moi off in their Mercedez limo to our hotel where we were welcomed like celebs. A personal touch that the eye-catching Kowloon Shangri-La does for its clients, dahlings.
Since we were in HK a day before the concert, Al Tengco organized a scrumptious dinner for all 18 of us at 8:30 p.m. in the famous Chinese restaurant called Lei Garden on the 1/F of the CNT Tower in Wan Shai.
After dinner it was ''let's party'' time at the lobby of the Conrad Hotel where most of the gang stayed. The others were at the Kowloon Shangri-La and the Ritz Carlton.
No sooner than you could bat an eyelash, Iigo and Maricris Zobel breezed in with glam gal Carol Garci, Al and Carl Tengo, Johnny Velasquez and Maripi Muscat, Debbie Yabut and Nicole Ortega, Ruby and Buddy Roa, Greggy and Irene Araneta, and lawyer Perry Pe without his wife, my palangga, Robina Gokongwei, ''who was not feeling too well'', Perry explained to moi.
Then, Concoy Tuason and wife, ultra-glam Doodi Menchaca, with their sons, ace underwater photographer Gutzy, with Sev and Daniel both vacationing from studies in Australia; and fun Lexi Tuason, showed up for a late-late night cap and to wish Maricris and Iigo Zobel a happy, happy silver wedding anniversary.
The following day, after a quick snack at the Grand Hyatt mezzanine, many of us dashed off to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center with empty stomachs since the service at the mezzanine of the Hyatt was horrendous. The Tiffin Bar's manager even raised his voice with one of the gals in our group who asked why it was taking almost an hour for our sandwiches, soup and water, to arrive, would you believe?
Anyway, I couldn't believe the jam-packed audience of 10,000 or probably more at the concert venue. And believe me not a single person was disappointed with the show.
On his second song, Sting had the whole center on its feet, clapping, yelling, howling, singing and dancing.
Backed up by two Afro-English gals with powerful voices and his fab six-piece band, Sting showed us his magnetism as a singer and brilliant songwriter and why he has been a mega performer for 30 years.
Sting started the show with 'Send Your Love', which was inspired by the 9/11 tragedy. Then he really got on the roll, getting the audience on its feet, clapping and dancing to hip rocking tunes like 'Fragile', 'Fields Of Gold', 'Magic', 'Roxanne', 'Englishman in New York' and, one of my favourites 'Desert Rose'.
When he did his hot Grammy-winning song 'Whenever I Say Your Name', singing it with the fabulous Joy Rose (one of his backup singers) who has a mind-boggling, powerful voice, the 10,000-strong audience went almost berserk. In fact, there were times you couldn't hear her with the applause, whistles and howls of appreciation of the concert mob, dahlings.
The review of the show in the South China Morning Post put it beautifully: ''Joy Rose brought the superstar to his knees, literally.''
After two hours and 20 minutes doing 14 of his songs, Sting was back on stage for not one, but two more encores, to the delight of the ecstatic crowd. He did the number one smash hit, 'Every Breath You Take', leaving the 10,000 or more of us fans completely breathless. ''An Evening with Sting'' was an unforgettable, memorable, one-of-a-kind experience, dahlings.
(c) The Philippine Daily Inquirer by Maurice Arcache