The Diamond sparkles with history

I have always liked the Diamond Hotel Philippines, not only because its impressive 27-story structure lords over Roxas Boulevard and the adjacent Manila Bay, but also because the hotel comes up with interesting events that never fail to attract Manila’s fun denizens.

This 500-room property always catches my attention every time I drive by it, whether during the day or at night. Somehow, the building’s granite texture and art deco architecture seem to enhance its prominence, betraying its 26 years of service to guests, especially because it has recently undergone a facelift of all its guest rooms and public areas. Nobody feels the hotel’s age because one walks in to a fresh-looking, charming welcome.

The Diamond sparkles with history
Some of the hotel’s banquet staff are dressed for the occasion in vintage Filipino fashion.
Of course, I stay there for some peace and quiet, and I’m lucky they always give me a room facing Manila Bay squarely. There, I’m mesmerized by the panoramic view of the glorious sunset that everybody needs to be thrilled by, to compensate for the ill-effects of today’s stressful environment.  

Just the other day, the hotel invited me to a “Malolos Congress Wine Dinner” which, of course, intrigued me. What has that part of our history got to do with a lavish culinary event? Naturally, curious that I was, I immediately accepted the invitation.

After General Emilio Aguinaldo declared independence on June 12, 1898, the Malolos Congress was convened in Barasoain Church in Bulacan on September 15, 1898. Aguinaldo appointed 50 delegates, including an illustrious group of wealthy and well-educated Filipinos, to take part in that milestone event. Their task was to draw up the constitution of the First Philippine Republic. After being worked on and debated upon for several months, it was finally promulgated on January 21, 1899 and became the first constitution of a republic in Asia.  

Now, how did this historical event fit into the culinary showcase that Diamond Hotel Philippines invited me to? Their guest chef, Christopher Carangian, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, researched on the French cuisine served at dinner when the delegates celebrated the ratification of the Acta de la Proclamación de Independencia del Pueblo Filipino. He made sure that all the ingredients, down to the last condiment, were available. 

Paired with the hotel’s top-rated vintage wines, the Malolos Congress Wine Dinner came to be.

The hors d’oeuvres passed around during cocktails included Golden Roast Capon, Stuffed Crab Shells, Adobong Tagalog, Lamb in Paper with Potato Straws, Baked and Fresh Oysters. These were paired with Dom Potler Cava Brut.  

The moment the banquet staff, who were all dressed in vintage Filipino fashion, opened the ballroom doors for guests to be seated, there was a resounding cacophony of ooohhs and aaahhs, as the most beautiful dinner set-up unfolded in front of us.

The Diamond sparkles with history
The elegantly set-up dinner table, with antique candelabras as centerpieces.
The “woman’s touch” of General Manager Vanessa Ledesma Suatengco was very evident in the culinary event’s theme applications and its corresponding accoutrements. Each rectangular, eight-seater dinner table was adorned with three antique candelabras. Dinner linens were all elaborately embroidered. Even the seats, covered with white cloth, were draped with blue and red accents, clearly reminding every guest of the dinner’s theme.  

On stage were some of the hotel’s employees in period costumes, portraying roles of some members of the Malolos Congress, with a “General Emilio Aguinaldo” seated at the center. Adding to the magical ambience of the elegant Filipino dinner was the string band that played non-stop my favorite Filipino classic songs of yesteryears.  

Then the 7-course dinner took center stage. After the various hors d’oeuvres served at the cocktail area, a parade of the hotel’s waitstaff, dapper in their embroidered barongs, served the event’s pièce de résistance.  

First, the bevy of servers brought in Chicken Consomme, followed by a plate of Seasonal Salad. The appetizer was Fish in Bechamel Sauce with Philippine-style Croquettes, paired with Pebble Lane Sauvignon Blanc   

The first main course was Larded Braised Beef with Philippine Chicken Sausage, served with Cade d’Oc Cabernet Sauvignon. Pigeon with Mushrooms was the second main course, and served with Ardeche Pinot Noir. 

Of course, even after such delicious dinner fare, I still looked forward to dessert, for which they served Mocha and Vanilla Butter Ice Cream, paired with Clos de Verdot Moelleux Semillion Muscadelle. 

This dinner certainly was a beautiful and unique way to revisit our country’s history. To the best of my recollection, I don’t think any other de luxe hotel in the country has done something like this. No wonder sales and marketing director Sunshine Robles and public relations director Melanie Samonte kept on reminding me of the event. It truly was something to be proud of. The elegant manner in which it was staged, further enhanced by the soothing sound of Filipino classic melodies in the background, made Diamond Hotel Philippines sparkle even more!  

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Topics: Diamond Hotel Philippines , Vanessa Ledesma Suatengco , History
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