The Finger Finds Its New Best Friend at the Smart + Nokia N9 Launch with Marié Digby, Lamont Waters, Bianca Valerio, Jenni Epperson, etc.


When In Manila, the insane pace of life in the Metro means that most of us Manileños would rather step out the door without clothes than without our smartphones.  Taking the place of our laptops, address books, planners, cameras, and even flashlights, the smartphone is this generation’s Swiss Army knife, serving multiple purposes to keep up with the many hats that a city-slicker on the go has to wear in a day.  And since life isn’t getting any simpler, phones have had to: first they lost their bulk, then switched to QWERTY keyboards, then lost the keyboard entirely, until the touchscreen phone, once a luxury, became a necessity.


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The undisputed leader of the sleek pack is the iPhone.  Practically synonymous with “touchscreen,” the iPhone’s slim and sexy body, and idiot-proof interface (now improved with a virtual personal assistant, Siri) have made it a favorite with smartphone buyers.  For the longest time, the reign of Apple was unchallenged…but this is no longer the case. Companies such as HTC and Samsung have proven worthy opponents in the game of phones, joining Steve Jobs’ baby in cornering the market.


I confess I am a convert to the cult of Apple, toting an iPhone 3G (that has survived a swim in the toilet), but when I caught wind of a new contender to the touchscreen phone throne, my interest was piqued, even more so when I heard that said contender came from phone giant Nokia, whose penchant for innovation made us clamor for 7250s and N-series until Apple burst on the scene.  Despite my “defection” to Team Jobs, Nokia continues to have a special place in my heart–my first phone was the infamous “Brick,” the 5110, and even today I use a Nokia 2700 “Classic” as a secondary mobile–so when I got the invite to  the SMART Nokia N9 launch at Privé (hands down one of my favorite clubs), I RSVPed immediately with a resounding “Yes!”




I was not the only one.  A party co-hosted by a legendary cellphone manufacturer and the biggest cellphone service provider in the Philippines is guaranteed to attract scores of who’s-who, and the Nokia N9 launch was no exception.  Even before the party started, screens around the club displayed a steady stream of tweets by celebrities and media personalities, promoting the launch with the hashtag #N9, with most of them saying that they would be there to meet what Nokia called “your finger’s new best friend,” and speaking of new friends, I managed to meet one early on at the N9 event: fellow blogger Jonver David, who recognized me from the Guess? show for Philippine Fashion Week.  Following the principle of Barney Stinson, Jonver and I agreed to be each other’s wingman/woman for the night as citizen paparazzi, thinking that two heads would be better than one at spotting celebrities.  I confess, though, that we may have gotten a little distracted initially, due to the presence of illusionist JB Dela Cruz, whose crafty card tricks and amazing feats of legerdemain had my friend and I positively mystified.



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He’s enchanted to meet you: Talented illusionist JB Dela Cruz amazes onlookers with his feats of sleight of hand.  A devout Christian, JB is quick to stress that what he does is not actual magic, but merely clever showmanship.


It seemed that JB’s tricks had worked more than just mere stage magic, for as soon as he’d left our table, who should arrive but singer Marié Digby and basketball player/model Lamont Waters, together with Oxygen’s brilliant Brand Director, Jeff Bascon.



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Style that leaves you breathless: Oxygen Brand Director, Jeff Bascon, poses with singer Marié Digby and basketball player Lamont Waters, both fresh from their success at Oxygen‘s Philippine Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012 shows.



Hot on their heels was stylist extraordinaire Alyanna Martinez, who sported perfect red lips–if only I could get mine to be so polished–and, more notably, sexy Sam Edelman shoes so gorgeous (and vaguely Gaga) that I had to give them a photo of their own.



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Style from head to toe: The fashionable Alyanna Martinez sports sexy spiked Sam Edelman heels at the Smart Nokia N9 launch party.



Having a wingman definitely made my job a lot easier, for as soon as I got off the floor–a rather undignified position, but Alyanna was kind enough not to mind–Jonver pointed out Magic 89.9 Boys’ Night Out’s infamous Sam YG with media personality Paolo Bediones, looking tall, dark, and dashing in an impeccably cut suit.



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Nothing suits like a suit: Magic 89.9‘s Sam YG and media personality Paolo Bediones are stellar examples of how to wear a suit without looking uptight.



My wingman and I were holding our own quite well in the sea of boldfaced names, but the next one we spotted nearly floored me.  She was my fashion idol ever since I first tuned in to her show Good Finds on the Lifestyle Network, but never thought that I would see Jenni Epperson in the flesh.  My immediate reaction was to gush like the eighteen-year-old fashionista-wannabe that I was, but I soon regained my composure and photographed her with her daughter, the stunning Aryanna Epperson.



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Like mother, like daughter: The women of the Epperson family always dress to the nines.  Jenni Epperson in Topshop top, Doc Martens (not pictures) and leather leggings from a New York trip.  Aryanna Epperson in Forever 21 and Topshop.



I wanted to stick around and chat some more–after all, this was the woman whose snappy style commentary had launched my fashion aspirations–but the announcement came over the club’s speakers warning me that the time for circulating was almost up.  I returned to my spot near the front of the stage, but before turning my attention to the main event, I still managed to snag a photo of the rakishly handsome Carlos Concepcion who just happened to be passing by.


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Fashion Ink: Carlos Concepcion (with friend) sports a rather provocative tattoo.



Even if I wanted to continue circulating, I wouldn’t have been able to.  In keeping with the fun, down-to-earth image of the N9, the night’s hosts, Magic 89.9’s Tony Tony, Sam YG, and Mia kept the audience in stitches with their hilarious (and sometimes slightly dirty) repartée.  An example of how provocative they were: when the models started making the rounds with the Nokia N9 demo phones, Sam YG was quick to comment, “Feel free to finger…the phones!  Finger the phones, not the models!”



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A ‘Night Out’ on the town: Magic 89.9′s Tony Tony, Sam YG, and DJ Mia keep the laughs rolling with their clever innuendos.


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Do you wanna touch?: Nokia N9 demo phones on display by their gorgeous models.



“Fingering” of phones or models aside, a lot of fingers went a lot of places that night.  Leave it to Smart and Nokia to throw a one-of-a-kind event with games!  An all-celebrity cast of “victims” was pulled onstage to participate in a game where they were split into teams of three and made to feed each other using a single finger.



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Blondes have more fun?: F*A*S*H* host Bianca Valerio is one of the celebrity players for a special finger-feeding game.


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The power of strategy: Bianca Valerio and Aubrey Miles plot how to win the game.


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All’s fair in love and war: Aubrey Miles and Troy Montero share a moment of conversation onstage before they are put in separate teams.


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A good, clean fight?: The players are briefed on the mechanics of this “finger-food” relay. 


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Let the games begin!: Teams scramble to be the first to finish their finger food.


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Victory!: Bianca Valerio, KC Montero, and Rob Reyes prove they have the fastest fingers.



But this wasn’t the best (or worst, depending on your perspective) of it.  Sam YG was put on the spot–a spot I think other men would envy–in another “finger race”: three lovely ladies, among them The Amazing Race’s Michelle Ng, were given thirty seconds each to find the titillated host’s sensitive spots and make him laugh.



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Tickle his fancy: All Michelle Ng has is thirty seconds, and her finger, to get Sam YG to laugh.



As much fun as they were to watch, the “finger games” were by no means the main event.  After a short introduction by Nokia Product Manager Mike Smith, the N9 was finally, formally introduced to the public.  And what an introduction.  With a stunning eight megapixel camera, supercharged mobile browser (supposedly the fastest there is), and supremely sensitive touchscreen (in fact, the touchscreen is all there is), the Nokia N9 seemed to have all the makings of the next “It Phone.”  I admit that even I, a die-hard Apple fan, started reconsidering my iPhone 4 plans after the demo.



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The not-so-hard sell: Nokia N9 Product Manager Mike Smith easily convinces the audience that the Nokia N9 is all they could want in a Smart smartphone.


With my brain screaming “I WANT I WANT I WANT,” I tried not to hyperventilate during the raffle.  Sadly, none of the three N9s up for grabs–one in each of the three colors: cyan, black, and magenta–went home with me that night.  To console me, and the rest of the disappointed non-winners, Smart’s Louie Ang announced how we could take one home: get a Smart plan.  Hmm…



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Putting Smart in smartphones: Louie Ang, representative of Smart, fresh from his closing remarks speech on why you should get a Nokia N9.


With that, the formal event program was over.  However, the party was not.  Guests flocked to the photo booth, courtesy of Flipped Manila, to take their videos that would eventually be turned into unique photo flipbooks.  My friends and I–Jonver and I were soon joined by his friends Vergil Chua, Lawry Engcasto, and Gerd Perez–took our own turn at hamming it up for the camera (complete with my awful “white girl” dance moves which, believe it or not, were accomplished by a very sober me), before returning to the dance floor to enjoy DJ Mars Miranda’s serious beats.



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DJ’s got you falling…: Expert DJ Mars Miranda knows how to get a party started.



Luckily I didn’t have to leave the party early, because otherwise I would have missed another one of my idols, Tease’s Ginger Conejero, who smiled for the camera from her place high up in the VIP section.  She wasn’t the only one who arrived fashionably late: Brent Javier and Karen Pamintuan arrived just as the dancing was kicking into high gear, and soon after, they were joined by fashion institutions Tim Yap and Tessa Prieto-Valdez who was, as usual, dressed to turn heads.



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Couples’ Night: Entrepreneur/media personality Brent Javier with the gorgeous Karen Pamintuan.


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Baby please don’t Tease: Host of ANC’s Tease, Ginger Conejero, is a vision in pink.


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Showstoppers: Perennial best dressed lister Tim Yap and fashion icon Tessa Prieto-Valdez with me, the wannabe stylista.



I could have danced all night, but Cinderella had to get home before midnight.  Just before I called it a night, however, we retrieved our Flipped Manila flipbooks, and I couldn’t resist posing for a photo op with my pack of blogging party animals, and our gracious host, Ed Lorenzo.


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Gentlemen (and woman) of the press: Bloggers Gerd Perez, Jonver David, Frankie Torres (a.k.a. moi), Lawry Engcasto, and Vergil Chua with events maven Ed Lorenzo (third from left)


The phone built for blogging addicts, serial tweeters, and lovers of the arts and social scene couldn’t have had a better or more fitting launch party.  Smart and Nokia’s Smart Nokia N9 unveiling was much like the phone itself: fun, fast, socially savvy, and definitely a unique experience.   So When In Manila, and looking for a new phone to fit your metropolitan lifestyle, why not check out the Smart Nokia N9.  Your finger will never be the same.



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The Finger Finds Its New Best Friend at the Smart + Nokia N9 Launch with Marié Digby, Lamont Waters, Bianca Valerio, Jenni Epperson, etc.