How to Rock 80: Inside Consul Louie Ablaza’s Extravagant Retro-Themed Birthday Bash

  • September 19, 2018

Consul Louie Ablaza turned octogenarian with a retrospective luncheon and afternoon dance extravaganza that included Elvis Presley singing and a live band dishing the 50s and 60s to a crowd in poodle skirts and slick-backed hair

It was a blast from the past when Louie Ablaza celebrated his 80th birthday. The honorary consul of Zambia marked his milestone with a retro rock n’ roll party at Amelia, the Ablaza family’s sprawling estate in Alfonso, Cavite.

The Ablazas are known to host grand and well-curated themed celebrations. Preparations for their parties entail great attention to the smallest detail. It begins with unique, personalized invitations. The privileged recipients received a box that opened  to reveal a 1950s diner complete with a battery operated miniature jukebox playing “Rock Around the Clock.” That immediately sets the mood for his retrospective luncheon and afternoon dance extravaganza.

Xavier, Rocio, Santy, Mellie, Louie & Junjun Ablaza, Czarina, Azia, Dr. Jofe, Alfonso, Azi, Agu, Amanu, Alfonso, Agu and Azi Syquia
Xavier, Rocio, Santy, Mellie, Louie & Junjun Ablaza, Czarina, Azia, Dr. Jofe, Alfonso, Azi, Agu, Amanu, Alfonso, Agu and Azi Syquia
Mellie & Louie Ablaza, Rev. Fr. ALfredo Rollon, Jr. SVD
Mellie & Louie Ablaza, Rev. Fr. ALfredo Rollon, Jr. SVD

Audrey Hepburn and James Dean

The  big day started with a solemn thanksgiving mass officiated by Rev. Fr. Alfredo Rollon, Jr. at the hacienda’s pristine white chapel. Immediately after, guests moved to an outdoor cocktail reminiscent of the 1950s American picnic parties. The set-up included mobile cuisine in a food truck prepared by Chef Jessie Sincioco, who personally served mini burgers, French fries, and onion rings. There were cookie jars, baked pasta, and a savory roasted calf as well.

Manila society sipped Moët & Chandon from champagne flutes as they reminisced bygone years in their best 1950’s or 60’s attire. Attires inspired by Jackie Kennedy, Audrey Hepburn, Marlon Brando and James Dean had the ladies in circle skirts with petticoats, capri pants, hair bows, oversized sunglasses and big coifs. The men mostly channeled the slick back haired rebel boys in greaser fashion; others came as preppy Ivy Leaguers.

The stylish Ablazas were dressed in Steve de Leon creations. Louie looked dapper in his plaid vest, while the rest of the family experimented with vintage fashion. Mellie Ablaza looked ready to boogie in style in her wide printed skirt; Jun Jun Ablaza sported a unique black and white fusion of 60’s pop fashion and op art; Czarina Ablaza-Syquia was coquettish in cat-eye sunglasses and a vibrant, red poodle skirt that matched her daughter Azia. Dr. Jofe Syquia and the Syquia boys all wore matching bowling shirts; Rocio Ablaza looked charming in her printed white dress while Xavi and Santi were all preppy.

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The imaginative Junjun Ablaza dreamt up the party's decoration
The imaginative Junjun Ablaza dreamt up the party’s decoration
Czarina & Dr. Jofe Syquia
Czarina & Dr. Jofe Syquia
Rosh Barman Charl Canillas, Junjun Ablaza, Thomas Anselmo, Ezra Ballonado
Rosh Barman Charl Canillas, Junjun Ablaza, Thomas Anselmo, Ezra Ballonado

A Speech of Hit Songs 

A sumptuous lunch followed in the adjoining Grand Pavilion lavishly decorated interior by the imaginative Jun Jun Ablaza. Phone cameras went clicking away as guests stood against the hundreds of phonograph records everywhere. A razzle dazzle of blings cascaded from the high ceiling and tables were covered in black and white checkered fabrics. Disco balls served as centerpieces, echoing a fabulous dance hall from another time.

The programme was hosted by Xavi Ablaza, one of Louie’s handsome grandsons. Louie warmly welcomed his guests and amused them with titles and lines from songs incorporated in his speech. “When I was younger, so much younger than today,” he said as he looked back to the year 1955 during his teenage years. The celebrant shared about his 45 RPM copy of the rock and roll song “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets, a treasured souvenir of his youth, which was the same song in the whimsical boxed invitation.

He compared dancing to rock and roll music as freestyle, a more upbeat and open way of expressing our joy for life. The man of the hour encouraged everyone to join him and his family for an “Afternoon Delight.” It was more than just a party for his 80th birthday, he said, “but a celebration of joy for life.” It was a thanksgiving for the great blessing of extended lives with family and friends to enjoy the days, months, and decades ahead.

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Mellie Ablaza with birthday boy Louie Ablaza
Mellie Ablaza with birthday boy Louie Ablaza
The cake was also designed to fit the 1950s retro theme
The cake was also designed to fit the 1950s retro theme
Guest Elvis Presley, George Sarakinis
Guest Elvis Presley, George Sarakinis

Elvis At the Party

A delectable course lunch, prepared by Chef Jessie was served for the attendees. The appetizing entree of baked duck confit and mushrooms in filo pastry was succeeded by a cream of asparagus, carrot and pumpkin soup. The strawberry sorbet was the palette cleanser before the rich main course of grilled tenderloin steak in creamy cognac pepper sauce and pan fried parrot fish in pommery mustard sauce. Linguine a la créme and a peach melba for dessert rounded out the lunch fare.

Half way through the sweet finish, Dr. George Sarakinis suddenly appeared in a glittery suit and took over the microphone. He gave a show stopping rendition of popular 1950’s songs. It was the impetus for everybody to push their plates aside and hit the dance floor. When Elvis Presley impersonator Nonie Yambao took center stage, he had the crowd grooving to Jail House Rock, Blue Suede Shoes and other hits of the King of Rock and Roll.

Atty Mike & Connie Toledo, Junjun Ablaza, Beth Victoria
Atty Mike & Connie Toledo, Junjun Ablaza, Beth Victoria
George Yang, Ramon Orlina
George Yang, Ramon Orlina

Back When They Were 20

The party lasted till late afternoon with a live band playing a string of familiar 1950’s to 1960’s upbeat music. Louie and Mellie joined the fun at the crowded floor. It was a step back in time to when they were in their 20s again—agile, robust and vibrant, swaying to the tunes of the Bee Gees, Chubby Checker, The Platters and more. Truly, it was more than just Louie’s 80th year. Beyond a celebration of age, the occasion was a rockin’ and rollin’ affair to celebrate the Joy of Living.

Among his friends and people dear to his heart who completed his family’s joyful occasion were HE Ahmed & Mme Mervat Ezzat (Egypt), HE Effie Ben Matityau & HE Lizia Lu ( Israel), HE Jaroslav Olsa, Jr. ( Czech Republic),HE Rolando Guevara Alvarado ( Panama ), HE Kok Li Peng ( Singapore ), HE Harald & Mme. Susan Fries ( Sweden ), HE Dr Aman & Mme. Shamaila Rashid ( Pa-kistan ), Mme. Ihoko Haneda ( Japan ), HE Jerril Santos, HE Lani & Mme. Conchitina Bernardo, and HE Jose & Victoria Zaide.

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Evie Costa, Helen Ong, Mayene Carmona, Fortune Ledesma, Frank Evaristo
Evie Costa, Helen Ong, Mayene Carmona, Fortune Ledesma, Frank Evaristo
H.E. Igor Khovaev, H.E. Ahmed Ezzat, H.E. Dr. Aman Rashid, Mme. Shamaila Rasmid, Mme. Mervat Ezzat, H.E. Rolando Guevarra Alvarado
H.E. Igor Khovaev, H.E. Ahmed Ezzat, H.E. Dr. Aman Rashid, Mme. Shamaila Rasmid, Mme. Mervat Ezzat, H.E. Rolando Guevarra Alvarado

How To Create the Mood and Atmosphere:

  1. Jukebox replicas playing Rock Around the Clock were sent with the invitations.
  2. Guests were requested to come in their versions of rock and roll attire.
  3. Hotdogs and hamburgers were served from a food truck, the mobile cuisine popular from that era of ice cream trucks and roach coaches.
  4. Hundreds of vinyl records, the 78 RPM discs that played music of yesteryear bands and singers, decorated the premises.
  5. A band was hired to play boogie and chacha music.
  6. There was an Elvis look-a-like singing to the dance music.