By TINA JACINTO HIDALGO
Amelia in Alfonso, Cavite is the realm of creative possibilities of the Ablaza royals. It was a gloriously sunny day that drew in a stylish set for Consul Louie Ablaza’s vintage cars-themed 81st birthday party. The enduring appeal of Louie and Mellie is not only about their famed celebrations, but of how well-loved and respected they are among those who matter most to them.
As de rigueur, Mass was held at their La Capilla del Sto. Niño de Familia Ablaza, officiated by Rev. Fr. Alfredo Rollon, Jr. and the blessing and inauguration of the garage building as a tribute to his birth mate, the Volkswagen Beetle launched in 1938, as well as the other classic cars in his collection.
Unlike a car museum where inoperable antique and pre-war vintage cars are displayed, Louie and Mellie called the space a garage since the 35 cars are kept in good running condition. With the second floor, which housed Mellie’s fabulous gowns in one room and Jun Jun Ablaza’s art in another, the entire building may very well be called Garage and Museum.
Guests admired the 35 vintage cars, each of which, as Louie pointed out, “made it through the Tagaytay ridge on its way here.” In his youth, Louie was a passionate drag racer who idolized Arsenio “Dodjie” Laurel, then a champion auto racing figure in the Philippines. Louie won 18 trophies from drag races.
The 19th and best trophy was winning the heart of his love of life, Mellie, for whom, he drove his own Love Bug, a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, all the way to Pangasinan.
He has raced more than 200 kilometers from Manila to Manaoag, Pangasinan. His rarest car is his VW Beetle 1938 and Ford Capri (the only one in the country). Among his criteria is that it must be rare. His absolute favorite is the Porsche 911, as immortalized in a portrait done by my husband Rupert for his “Faaabvlous” exhibit and book launch. In fact, Rupert’s portraits of Louie and Mellie were prominently displayed on the different walls of the Ablaza Garage and Museum.
The indomitable Jun Jun, trailed by his models of Formula One suits, conceptualized this as well as Mellie’s museum of clothes and accessories and his own museum, where all his elaborately embellished fashion pieces are on exhibit. A true artist, Jun Jun has mastered the essence of an escape. It was a labor of love as he goes the extra mile to make his parents proud of his stellar oeuvre for each and every fantasy. Chef Jessie prepared a menu rightly British in flavor like fish and chips in a paper bag. Champion violinist Jake Juleous Gacang regaled his audience with his winning pieces. Beauteous chanteuse Ping Valencia rendered two songs for Louie. Dancing continued to the last hour with the Marcy David band. The giveaway as well as the invitation was the miniature 1967 Volkswagen classic Beetle.