When In Manila, there is a ninety-nine point nine percent chance that you are stressed. Between work and the infamous Philippine traffic you have to fight to get to work (or do it), there is very little time to sleep, much less enjoy some leisure time. Unless, of course, there is a long weekend–a blessing to busy city slickers who want to find time to enjoy the finer things in life. November 5 fell on one such weekend, thus providing prime opportunity for residents of the Metro to relax in the company of fine art and culture. Perfect timing, then, for Imperial House of Furniture‘s twentieth anniversary celebration, commemorated with the unveiling of a work of fine art–Spanish porcelain company Lladro‘s latest sculpture: the “Cherub of Love.” Held at The Atrium of the EDSA Shangri-la Mall, “One World, One Love” was touted as a celebration of international talent and, well, love, which would have as its main event a live demonstration of the carving of “The Cherub of Love” by its creator, Spanish sculptor Ernest Massuet.
I have to admit that, at first, the prospect of watching a show dedicated to porcelain figurines–the sorts of things that as I child I was always warned not to touch but did so anyway, resulting in not a few accidents–sounded slightly, well, boring. I love art, but figurines seemed more “home decor” than fine art, and whenever I was in a room full of them I was always seized with a fear of breaking something and then having to pay for it. Factor in that The Atrium of EDSA Shangri-la Mall is not a small place (it’s where the carousel and the fountain are; in front of Rustan’s and Tiffany & Co.), and that it would be full of Lladro’s different “themes” of figurines, plus another reason I’ll say more about later, and my anxiety levels were just about through the roof. Still, I went: “One World, One Love” was supposedly a “cultural variety show,” and while I don’t have much enthusiasm for breakables, variety shows appeal to me. Cultural ones, for this girl who once wanted to be a diplomat, are even better.
They were still setting up when I turned up at “One World, One Love.” The event was slated to start at 2pm, but I wanted to get a few shots before the place got crowded. At the sight of all the figurines, however, that old bull-in-a-china-shop fear of breaking something surfaced, becoming worse when I was informed that some of the statues were priced in the thousands. Eep! Instead of making the rounds, I sent my designated “photographer,” Pastor Danny Liuson, to take the shots for me–walking through the exhibit would be bad enough without having to point a bulky camera in the direction of the very expensive, very breakable objects.
Beautiful breakables: Lladro turns figurines into high art.
…Which were, in fact, very beautiful. As I cautiously made the rounds of the exhibits, I noted that Lladro’s work bore little resemblance to the mass-produced knick-knacks I had seen collecting dust in the corners of houses I visited. These were not merely figurines: they were sculptures, made to be displayed and viewed. Some of the sculptures were of animals, and these I found looked rather lifelike. My favorite had to be the koi, which looked, down to the “motion” of their poses, a lot like the ones that swam around in the fountain at my school. Lladro work was definitely not in the same class as the mass-manufactured, cheap figurines I got as party favors at baptisms and weddings. And obviously, they weren’t “cheap” or mass-produced at all: as I came to learn later on in the program, Lladro figurines are hand-sculpted, and thus command a higher price for their uniqueness.
Still, while Lladro’s sculptures were gorgeous, a whole program (“One World, One Love” started at 2pm and ended a little after 7pm) spent just staring at them would admittedly be rather boring for me. “One World, One Love,” however, turned out to be far from boring. The program was divided into three parts: an Asian Cultural Variety Show, a European Variety Show, and finally a Christmas portion, since we were fast approaching December. While the performances were going on, Ernest Massuet worked on his sculpture of the “Cherub of Love,” while Lladro‘s Asia-Pacific Manager, Gwelie Daniellou, and Lladro representative Juan Martinez Gregorio, provided commentary and translation. It was from this commentary that I learned why the “Cherub of Love” was so special: it was inspired by an actual baby, Ernest Massuet‘s daughter, whose birth had sparked the design and creation of an infant statue that would be the inspiration for the “Cherub of Love” itself.
Men of the hour: Sculptor Ernest Massuet and Lladro Marketing Director for the Asia-Pacific Region Juan Martinez Gregorio.
Watching someone carve a sculpture wasn’t as boring as I’d thought it would be. I was amazed how fast the sculptor’s work went. When he started, he made a comment that he would try to get the scuplture as finished as possible, given the short amount of time, but his hands practically flew as he did his work. In around two hours, the basic figure of a kneeling child playing “Loves me, loves me not” with a flower–which looked more like a giant version something I’d make out of Play-doh for a diorama in grade school–was molded, chipped, scraped, and polished until it looked like a baby.
…and after: The completed Cherub of Love pieced, based on sculptor Ernest Massuet’s infant daughter. Cue the “awww.”
Okay, so he didn’t get the sculpture that finished by the end of the night: there were still no flower garlands around the head and arms, and no miniature flower in the cherub’s hands, as these things require a different variety of clay to make. Still, in the span of two and a half ours the sculptor had more or less finished “The Cherub of Love”–all it needed were the aforementioned flowers and a little glaze to make it look like the finished sculpture, which was given a special unveiling after the demo one was finished. To top it all off, they even released butterflies. In the mall. Admittedly, when they did that, I ducked.
Of course, the live sculpture demo was only part of the program. Since it probably would be a bit unnerving for the sculptor to have close to a hundred pairs of eyes on him as he was working, the cultural variety show was being shown on a separate stage. And despite the variety show not being the “main event,” having little to do with sculpture or Lladro, there was obviously a lot of effort put into what was shown onstage. There were handbell ringers, violin performances, opera arias, duets, native dances, and even a deaf chorus à la Glee’s “Imagine.” The latter part was not just something put in for artistic value: as part of their twentieth anniversary celebration, Imperial House of Furniture planned to donate part of the proceeds from the pieces sold at the event to the D.E.A.F. Foundation.
All the world’s onstage: Multicultural performances at Imperial House of Furniture‘s “One World, One Love” event.
A silence so loud: A still from the D.E.A.F. Foundation choir as they perform an interpretative sign-language “dance.”
Not only had Imperial House of Furniture attempted to make their presentation multicultural, but they had also managed to make it star-studded. Also rendering special numbers that night were the hosts of Net 25‘s Chinese lifestyle show, CHINoy TV, who was covering the event. Also adding to the glamour was stage legend Cocoy Laurel, who sang a rendition of Edith Piaf’s La Vie en Rose especially for Lladro’s Asia-Pacific Manager, Gwelie Daniellou, who was of French descent. My mom, who was with me, was ever-so-slightly kilig at this part, because during her teenage years Cocoy Laurel was apparently everybody’s crush. As for me, I was stricken with a case of LSS that still hasn’t gone away. “Des yeux qui font baisser les miens…“
Hosts of CHINoy TV rendered a mix of Chinese and English songs.
Cocoy Laurel wows the crowd with his famous stage presence, as he performs the famous French love-anthem, La vie en rose.
The performances were not non-stop, of course. To add to the fun was a trivia game, hosted by the night’s emcee, Imperial House of Furniture‘s Marketing and Sales Manager, Rebecca Shangkuan-Chuaunsu, quizzing the audience on Lladro funfacts and their knowledge of the world’s different languages. Also, there was a signing event, where Lladro pieces purchased throughout the course of the program would be autographed by Ernest Massuet himself.
A signature piece: Sculptor Ernest Massuet with Lladro‘s Asia-Pacific Manager, Gwelie Daniellou, during the autograph portion of the program.
To cap the event, representatives of Imperial Group of Companies, Ms. Carmen Garcia and Ms. Irene Garcia (daughters of its founder, the late Mr. Nemesio Garcia, and now both at the helm of the company), presented D.E.A.F. founder Rev. Aimee Ada Coryell and Lamoiyan Corporation President Dr. Cecilio Pedro with donations for D.E.A.F., after which, Dr. Pedro rendered the benediction in song form, “The Lord’s Prayer,” accompanied once again by the D.E.A.F. choir.
Gifts of thanks to Rev. Aimee Coryell from the D.E.A.F. Inc.
Representatives of Lladro, Imperial Group of Companies, and D.E.A.F. Inc onstage during the turnover of donations to D.E.A.F.
With that, the night was over.
Earlier I mentioned that there was one other reason, aside from the abundance of breakables and my klutziness, that I was nervous about the “One World, One Love” event. This reason is why I was invited in the first place: not just to blog for the event, but to perform as part of it. And not just any part, apparently. I was the finalé, the soundtrack to the egress of the show. On the same stage on which Cocoy Laurel had blown the crowd away, I was tasked to end it all with a bang, quite literally, performing Katy Perry’s “Firework.” Those who know me know that I am an alto, whereas Katy’s autotune-enhanced single is high even for sopranos. Still, I managed.
The beginning (and possible end) of my singing career: I act as the finalé for Imperial House of Furniture‘s “One World, One Love” event.
…Barely. Thankfully the Lladro sculptures were so beautiful that I am sure they distracted from my less-than-perfect performance.
With that, the night was over. As my mother was part of the tech crew, I had to stay on whilst the guests left, and I got to chat with Ms. Gweilie Daniellou after the show. The sculptor, Mr. Ernest Massuet, however, was not as available for comment–guests stayed behind to snap photos with him and Mr. Juan Martinez Gregorio, and who could blame them? As you can see from the photos, both men were quite good-looking. (Hee hee!) The photo opportunities, of course, proved quite a satisfying end to a jam-packed program. Marrying fine art to cultural performances, Imperial House of Furniture‘s “One World, One Love” program was definitely a highlight to the long weekend.
So When In Manila, and looking to scope out some gorgeous art pieces for yourself or for gifts, why not pass by the Imperial House of Furniture in EDSA Shangri-La Mall and check out the lovely Lladro pieces for yourself? While they may be a tad bit pricey, the craftsmanship and quality that goes into them make them a definite investment piece. And, after all, like John Keats (or Mary Poppins, take you pic) put it, “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.”
Imperial House of Furniture, Gifts, and Porcelain is found at Unit 425, Level IV, Shangri-La Plaza Mall,Shaw Boulevard corner EDSA, Mandaluyong City, Philippines.
Their Website: https://www.imperial-house.com/
D.E.A.F. Inc.’s Website: https://www.mccidonline.net/deafinc/welcome.htm
All photos courtesy of Danny Liuson. Used with permission.
Lladro Unveils Its “Cherub of Love” at EDSA Shangri-La Mall with Imperial House of Furniture’s “One World, One Love” Event.