Text and Photos By JULLIE YAP-DAZA

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James Dean drove and died in a Spyder like this.

On July 7, 2019, Louie Ablaza turned 81. He was born in 1938, the same year Ferdinand Porsche created the Volkswagen Beetle. The Beetle became the star of the era, a cute, smaller-than-compact, all-weather car driving through the deserts of Africa for Hitler’s armies with no need for water in its radiator.

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Mellie and Louie Ablaza

Louie shared his knowledge of the history of VW and other Porsche-designed cars at his birthday party with a car-racing theme, “A Cool Classic since 1938.” The celebration began with cocktails in his garage in Amelia, the resort built for his wife Mellie. “Don’t call it a museum,” he said, because each of the 44-plus vintage cars in it is in tiptop shape, glowing in their waxed and polished colors, ready to go. Most of them are Volkswagens, with a sprinkling of Datsun, Toyota, Nissan, plus a silver-and-blue Ford Thunderbird thrown in.

Unknown to his guests, Louie has collected not just beautiful cars, but 17 trophies during his car-racing days, when his idol was Dodjie Laurel.

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Sexy! A girl passenger wouldn’t mind what make and model this is.

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Creamy, compact, cute, and every inch Beetle-handsome!

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Tres Guapos and Mini Cooper: Santi Ablaza with classmates Ranbir and Dias from New York

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Mark Ablaza and his father’s pet Beetle, a ’52 model

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Ford Thunderbird

On that coolish day in Alfonso, the town after Tagaytay, the ladies came to Louie’s party dressed in floral prints topped with the most important accessory of the day: a hat. Wide-brimmed or pert and pretty, the hats were a good idea for those who chose to stroll from the chapel after the birthday mass to the garage. Cocktails followed, then lunch prepared by Chef Jessie and her crew, who had arrived two days earlier in eight trucks loaded with catering paraphernalia to serve 350 guests.

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Czarina Syquia at long table with ambassadors

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How to style a car racing party

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How to style a car racing party

Louie jokingly compared himself with his VW collection, his pet being a 1952 Beetle modeled after the original ‘38. ”Reliable”: 21 million units produced since 1938. (VW has announced the end of the Beetle line by end-2019.) “Old but operational”: vintage, perhaps, but with loving care and maintenance, they’re never out of work nor style. “Still capable of running at top speeds”: four-wheel beauties, motorcycles, racing cars, they belong at the top of vroom-vroom brands; e.g., Bugatti Veyron Super Sport does 267.8 mph.

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Benny and Nene Pe Lim

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Thelma Gana, with hat fashioned by her daughter

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Joy Rojas, Marites Tantoco Enriquez, Gerry Rojas

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A mural of hats makes head-y prop for Carlo Rojas

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JunJun Ablaza and models, geared up for racing

Zoom-zoom ahead, Louie!

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