For anyone who knows me – you know that I’m a jeans, t-shirt and sneakers kinda guy. I prefer to dress comfortably lest I be labeled as a metrosexual. Not that I have anything against metrosexuals, but I just enjoy the anonymity of regular citizen fashion as opposed to the semi-flashy casual-collared and leather-shoed wear.
However, I can dress for the occasion as need be, and do adhere to the strict dress codes, although my gift of gab and fine reputation does allow me to bend the rules to my favor at times – like say, getting into Establishment with a pair of sneakers when the place calls for more appropriate footwear.
Anywho – when Rogue Magazine’s Managing Director Katrina Tuason extended an invitation to attend the Black Tie Brawl at the Renaissance Hotel ballroom, she insisted that it’s strictly formal attire. She knew I loved my jeans and tee look, but she kept texting me constant reminders – “Don’t forget it’s formal, and you’re sitting on my table.” Aaaahh – the pressure to not embarrass my ‘date’.
I went deep into my closet to raise my formal wear from the dead, found my tux shirt, the bow tie (damn, I haven’t tied this in 10 years!) and brought out the sleek black Cashmere suit. The last time I donned a tuxedo was in the United States more than a decade ago. You hardly wear a tux in the Philippines, or maybe I just don’t get invited enough to parties where you could wear a tux. And well – the transformation from plain Joe to Joe Black was quite a change indeed.
“Wow, JJ! You look like James Bond.”
“Huh? James Bond? Excuse me, I’m Bruce Wayne. I’m a brat billionaire, and don’t need government to pay for my gadgets.”
I arrived an hour past the 7pm call time just right in time for the table seating. I doubled-down on the Maker’s Mark Kentucky bourbon whiskey to catch up, and eventually made my way to my seat beside Rogue Magazine Editor-in-Chief Jose Mari Ugarte, his lovely wife and ExcelAsia CEO Rita Trillo-Ugarte, Design Editor Miguel Mari and his better-half Managing Editor Carmela Lopa, photographer Mark Nicdao, Rogue covergirl Angel Locsin and her pretty friend, whose eyes left an impression, but sadly her name escapes me.
Our table was just right behind the judges and committee panel of executives from the Games and Amusement Board (GAB) and just an arm’s length away from the ring. Really up close and personal with the possibility of blood, sweat and tears splattering on the Mustard Crusted Beef Tenderloin in Whiskey Pepper Sauce. (Kudos, to Renaissance Hotel Restaurant Director Javi Berenguer-Testa)
Razorback opened the festivities with a rocking version of the Philippine National Anthem, followed by a rude awakening of Voodoo Who Do?. Then, the ring girls were introduced – Rogue cover girls Sanya Smith, Ornusssa Cadness and Rogue mannequin Mia Ayesa – and the heat factor in the Renaissance ballroom making things a little sweaty under the bow tie.
Without further delays – MC Boyet Sison gave the lowdown on the rules, and got the fights underway. Eight bloody bouts from Pinweight to Heavyweight with a main event Flyweight championship were listed on the card, organized by URCC big boss Alvin Aguilar.
Large quantities of Maker’s Mark makes it hard to remember who beat who right now, but there was a submission by rear-naked choke, there was a KO induced by a flying knee to the face, there was a TKO by strikes.
I do recall going 3-0 on my picks for the first three fight. I recall cheering on Charlie Angel to beat Alvin Ramirez, just because we had an Angel (Locsin) on our table and because if you added an S to his name, he would be Charlie’s Angels. Of course, the Angel won.
Then, the Kentucky bourbon hit hard when I got depressed when Bimbe Perez of my home gym Elorde MMA was outclassed and eventually submitted by Eric Kelly of Yaw Yan Ardigma. That kept me quiet from jeering (as opposed to cheering.)
The Flyweight championship main event went the full two ten-minute rounds, and even needed an extra five-minute tie breaker as challenger Jilmar “Stonecold” Tangayan of Cenojas MMA and Kevin “The Silencer” Belingon of Lakay Wushu went all-out toe-to-toe with URCC Flyweight champion Kevin Belingon eventually retaining his title.
The after party at Cinna Bar of the Renaisssance Hotel was equally festive. Single malt crazy with The Macallan. Got KOed myself when I hit the sack at dawn. (I don’t recall if the sack hit me back).
That same morning, the remnants of Bruce Wayne were ready for the dry-cleaners, and hopefully it wouldn’t take a decade to unearth again.
Oh wait – for sure, in next year’s Rogue’s Black Tie Brawl.