A Glimpse of the Classy and Elegant 2017 ASEAN gala dinner in the Philippines

November 13, 2017- CNN Philippines has released classy, stunning and elegant photos of the 2017 ASEAN gala dinner in the Philippines.

(CNN, News Excerpt)

The special gala dinner of the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) put a spotlight on Filipino creativity and artistry.

“Normally, when you do APEC or the ASEAN, it’s always a feature of technology or intense architecture,” says production designer Gino Gonzales, who was responsible for the look of the center stage. “But this one, with the resources that we have, we thought we should put talent [at] the center of everything. So it’s all about our music, our dances, and just the performers. It’s just a focus on human capital and talent [since that’s what the Philippines is known for].”

The gala dinner, held at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay, had at least 1,500 guests with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte welcoming ASEAN heads of state, as well as dialogue partners from the United States (represented by President Donald Trump) and Canada (represented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau).

Upon entrance, the guests encountered a hall with a grand gazebo conceptualized by award-winning designer Ito Kish.

The welcoming area is divided into three parts, representing the past, the present, and the future of ASEAN nations. For the “past,” Kish designed a facade of a bahay na bato, made of tarpaulin mesh and metal connectors. “The first thing that crossed my mind was really hospitality,” says Kish. “[I thought of it] because it looks grand, it looks celebratory, and [it] represents who we are, from the Spanish era.”

The bahay na bato was also an answer to a challenge of putting something impressive in a wide area with a 40-meter clearance.

“You can’t come up with miniscule props or else it will just disappear,” says Kish. “I was always thinking of how to make it big. We have 20 Talisay trees that all came from Laguna and Batangas [brought in here at the venue], which we all started sourcing three months ago. I wanted to make sure they’re all 18 to 20 feet high so they’ll fill up the space.”

President Duterte welcomed the leaders under the bahay na bato, and led them to the garden of Talisay trees. From the garden, guests were also immediately greeted with the photocall backdrop: a 31-meter wall with 119 parols made of metal rods, which was meant to represent the future of the ASEAN.

“It really looks like a traditional garden party but the stars really ginawa namin nasa wall instead of nasasky,” says Kish. “We really added a story to the whole thing. That’s what I’m known for, creating a story.”

The whole area was lit by the parols, the dream-like silhouette of the bahay na bato, and a cluster of Bicol-made baskets, representing how the ASEAN region is woven together.

In conjunction with Kish’s design for the welcoming area, the dining and performance hall’s centerpiece had a hanging piece designed by Wataru Sakuma and MASA Ecological Development Inc., which is based in Tagaytay.

“There was a directive from [the show director] Monino Duque to put something that is sculptural, something that doesn’t have walls,” says production designer Gonzales. “He wanted a circular stage with almost a 360-degree view with something that was hovering. We asked Wataru to do paper discs in silver and gold. It’s really the idea of almost like an aurora borealis, the idea of having everyone under one sky. It’s a very simple thought.”

The design of the whole area was intended to be reminiscent of Christmas decors, welcoming guests to the country’s festive tradition of a long Christmas (some of the designs will also be sent to Malacañangafter the event as the palace’s Christmas decor). Outside the venue are five traditional giant parols from Pampanga hanging on tall cranes (five to represent 50 years of ASEAN). Poinsettias were also installed on the red carpet.

A positive impression was left behind by Filipino viewers in the Philippines and OFW’s in other countries.

The event has inspired countless of Filipinos. The Filipino dignity is said to be upheld by the ASEAN 2017.


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