Myrna Aquitana_LighthouseAs we celebrate the beginning of winter solstice (time of the year when the sun is farthest south) last Sunday, Marlou Colina gathered his loyal clients, family, friends and staff to a sumptuous Christmas dinner and merrymaking in the atrium-turned garden setting situated on the first floor of his salon’s building in Long Beach.

Gregarious Bona was the host of the evening, who welcomed all of us for taking our time from our busy holiday schedules to join in the celebration. Pastor Herbert Mirfaflor delivered his powerful message of goodwill and peace to our fellowmen.

Marlou gave a special award to his topnotched staff, Leilani “Ate Lani” Hollman who pursued a two-year career in Cosmetology and who has recently passed the US Board Licensing exam with flying colors.

Audience participation was encouraged when Bona sang the Christmas song “ Chestnuts Roasting Like An

Open Fire,” followed by Marlou’s dad who showed us his singing prowess.

A “Most Loyal” award was given to Erica who has worked with Marlou for the past five years.

Shown at the “Aguilang Bato Gardens” Christmas lunch reception were: Charlie Hilario, a friend, yours truly, Danny Bajet and Adolfo Maynes.

Shown at the “Aguilang Bato Gardens” Christmas lunch reception were: Charlie Hilario, a friend, yours truly, Danny Bajet and Adolfo Maynes.

Part of the merrymaking included games such as: produce a “Target” receipt, an American Express card,  a $100 bill, a 100 peso bill and a wedding ring  Additional games include the hilarious “dance contest” of four guys to a variety of  songs by: Ricky Martin, Madonna, Michael Jackson and Jennifer Lopez.

The choral contest included guest participation between five groups singing the Christmas song: “Three Turtle Doves.” Contest winners received bottles of champagne, Christmas mugs and coffee pots.

A bonus for the guests was viewing Marlou’s video presentation which showed his humble beginnings to his rise as a celebrity hairstylist for various Filipino artists such as KC Concepcion, Zsz Zsa Padilla,  Ai Ai, Jake Cuenca, Boy abunda, Enchong Dee. Kathrine Bernardo and Angeline Quinto. The video presentation highlighted Marlou’s achievements including receiving the recent Gawad Awards for “Entrepreneur of the Year in Cosmetology.”

In closing, Marlou recalled how on the third year of operating his shop, he met some challenges which made him stronger. With Divine intervention, he has “surpassed the test of time,” and is thankful for all the blessings bestowed on him and he thanked his Mom and Dad who were always there for him, along with his loyal staff: Lani and Erica.

In another part of town, on the same winter solstice day, above the hills near Occidental College, we were hosted at a lunch reception at the “Aguilang Bato Gardens.” In contrast to Marlou’s overwhelming guests, this reception was very intimate and exclusive with only a few selected friends including this writer. The other privileged invited guests were: Danny Bajet, Charlie Hilario, Conchita Rivera (who didn’t make it due to illness), Adolfo and Bojie (our surprise Broadway singer/entertainer).

The trek to the hills of “Aguilang Bato Gardens” was well worth it due to its lush Bistro-like setting with various whimsically-decorated Christmas trees and an impeccable lunch presentation where we savored delicious, warm Arroz Caldo, fancy flavored Adobo with lemongrass, Thai-inspired glass noodles, various Danish pastries, suman sa lihia, fresh fruits and overflowing wine and champagne.

These pre-Christmas merrymaking are most of all, celebrations of giving sharing and bonding with significant people in our lives.

As we herald into the New Year, may it bring bring good health, love and happiness to all of you. HAPPY NEW YEAR!