(STAR) By Ching M. Alano - You can tee off at the velvety green golf course snugly perched 2,000 feet above sea level. Or sip tea while basking in the cool breeze from the veranda of your cozy country home. Or enjoy the idyllic scenery you can’t find anywhere else in the world — can you imagine a lake within a lake within a lake? And when your spirits are overflowing but your stomach is empty, you can hie off to any of the many specialty restaurants in this exclusive residential enclave that’s been seeing a lot of action lately. The most recent was the “Lifestyle at the Highlands” fashion show last Sept. 22. Did we hear the highlanders shout “Lights, camera, fashion”?

Yes, Tagaytay Highlands was the postcard-perfect scene for a charity dinner fashion show presented by premium property developer Belle Corporation and starring the residents of the community — Daddy, Mommy, and the kids, too! But more on that a wee bit later.

TV host and Bb. Pilipinas World 2006 Karen Agustin welcomed guests and ushered them down the red carpet into the venue of the show.

The Sports Center’s basketball court was in for a different kind of action as it was transformed into a ballroom by the wave of Pido Villanueva’s magic wand. The soul behind Gardens by Pido, Villanueva dressed up and prettified the venue to showcase the high style at the Highlands. He adorned the place with touches of greenery and splashes of color. The scent of flowers and the gentle glow of candlelights lent a whiff of romance. On each table sat a long-stemmed glass filled with calla lilies.

But for the gourmets and the gourmands present that evening who filled the 40 tables to capacity, nothing could beat the aroma of good food laid out on the buffet tables. All the restaurants at Tagaytay Highlands — Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Spanish, Italian — came together to give guests one epicurean night they would not soon forget. Did we hear a thousand and one burps from the highlanders? For that, the guests had executive chef Robert Bolanos, who headed Highlands’ fine culinary team, to thank.

Halfway through dinner, the talented kids of Children’s Joy Foundation serenaded guests, highlighting the fact that beneath all that glitter and glamor lay a worthy cause. Guests felt a flush of sheer joy as they listened to the cherubic voices of the kids from the Children’s Joy Foundation, a beneficiary of this fashion-for-a-cause event.

And then came the main course of the evening — the fashion show directed by Raymond Villanueva. With his expertise and passion, he transformed Tagaytay Highlands members, some of whom have no clue about ramp modeling, into the most confident models on the catwalk. The “models” went through six backbreaking rehearsals in Makati for the show.

The pulsating music sent everybody’s pulse racing as Beth Tamayo appeared on stage and Luigi Lardizabal came out from the audience to open the first segment of the show: sportswear by Jack Nicklaus. Fit to a tee, too, were the colorful and gorgeous golf outfits.

Then followed the first kids’ wear portion with the Kids of Bayo showing off hip kiddie wear, modeled by the youngsters of Tagaytay Highlands. Of course, clapping the loudest were their proud parents.

Then it was the turn of the young ladies to grace the stage, modeling black and white outfits from Maldita.

Then came the British invasion via Debenhams, which provided outfits for all ages — children’s wear, teens’ and menswear. Debenhams was followed by Dolce & Gabbana perfumes showcased by the gorgeous Alice Fong, Max Factor makeup modeled by Beth Tamayo, Anne Klein watches, Cesar Gaupo shoes, and Wildflower bags and accessories, which are creations of Inky Nakpil.

Formal wear came next. First were the couture suits of Boyet Fajardo, which certainly suited dashing models Ariel Rivera, Aljo Bendijo, and Popoy del Rosario, among other male models.

And then everyone thought they heard wedding bells ringing when blushing, radiant brides Gelli de Belen, Hannah See, Beth Tamayo, Alice Fong, and Lianne Tiu, wife of Highlands president Jerry Tiu, glided down the ramp in Filipiniana-inspired wedding gowns by Renee Salud. It was a fitting finale to the show that gave a peek at the lifestyle of the Highlands.

“Highlands is fast becoming a wedding destination,” says Jerry Tiu.

Last year, celebrity couple Raymart Santiago and Claudine Barretto married and honeymooned at the Highlands.

“And we claim bragging rights to the fact that all our (female) members are very pretty,” enthuses Jerry. “I’m so proud of the fact that the Filipina is really so beautiful, and the foreigners at the show seemed to agree.”

“The women were so beautiful and gorgeous in their gowns and dresses,” gushes Belle Corporation chairman Willy Ocier, “that I even had to borrow Jerry’s glasses so I could see clearly.”

Budding models Mischel and Isabelle Ocier strutted their stuff. There was also Irene Tan-Luy, daughter of Lucio Tan. The Italian Bizzoto family, who has lived at Plantation Hills in the Highlands for a year now, modeled, too.

At the end of the show, Belle Corporation chairman Willy Ocier, with Tagaytay Highlands president Jerry Tiu and general manager Mabel Martinez, handed a generous check to the event’s beneficiaries — Bantay Bata and Children’s Joy Foundation.

After the show, the models were treated to dinner, where homeowners/members of the Highlands got to know each other better. Among the couples were Gelli and Ariel Rivera who decided to buy a piece of paradise at Highlands because they love the privacy of the place, among other things.

“With this show, we want to get our members out and let them have fun,” says Jerry. “We’ve scheduled other family activities, like our New Year’s Eve presentation of excerpts from Broadway plays until the countdown to New Year.”

Yes, expect Willy Ocier, who really doesn’t have to sing for his dinner, to land a singing part in one of the plays.

Surely, living in style is a breeze at Tagaytay Highlands.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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