PIA annual charity event returns to fashion show feature with Hollywood designer Oliver Tolentino

(L-R) PIA Executive Director James Lim and Founder Lisa Yuchengco

By Harvey I. Barkin

SAN FRANCISCO – This year, Philippine International Aid (PIA) marked its 31st year and 17th annual prestigious auction-charity event with a fashion show featuring Beverly Hills- and Makati-based designer Oliver Tolentino.

PIA partnered with Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cora and Pablo Tellez to present Giving hope to the children 2017 last November 19 at the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Embarcadero.

According to Omni Hotel GM and PIA Executive Director James Lim, the event attracts about 600 to 800 every year. Last year’s anniversary event featured a concert by Martin Nievera and son, Robin. It netted $116,000. Previous designers who were front runners for PIA charity events included: Patis Tesoro, Criselda Lontok, Ben Farrales and Rajo Laurel.

PIA began a rehab center for 7- to 14-year old prostitutes at the Caritas Manila compound in 1986. PIA started a scholarship program with nuns to get them away from pimps and into grade- and high- schools. The scholarship program is open to low-income children who want to go to school and is not based on academic performance. One child per family is accepted and the parents sign a contract to keep them in school, not sell wares on the streets and not to spend the money for anything else.

PIA’s board members are all volunteers. Their Off-the streets-off-to-school scholarship for low income children solicits only $150 per child or 40 cents a day. The $150 takes care of tuition, books, supplies, field trip costs, uniforms, shoes, meals, transportation, dental and medical check-ups. Christmas packages for the children’s families are also included.

This year’s event will benefit low-income children for the June – April 2018 school year in the Philippines. Sponsors will get letters and photos from the children and copies of their reports cards from assigned social workers.

Last year, PIA helped more than 55,000 students with $4.1 million in scholarships and grants. Some of their scholars come from: the Davao School for the Blind; the T’Boli children of SIKAT, South Cotabato; the Aeta children of ACAY Missions, Bataan and Manila; Alay Kapwa Education Foundation, Cavite and Cebu; Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish Pre-school, Alabang, Catholic Ministry to Deaf People, Manila, Cavite and Bohol; Katilingban Para sa Kalambuan, Zamboanga and Richmond Area Multi-services, San Francisco.

Of the 1,034 students they have helped put in public schools, eight have already graduated from colleges in school year 2016-2017 with degrees in Civil Engineering, Banking and Finance (2), Business Administration (2), Marketing, Tourism and Food Technology.

Their core programs provide educational assistance to more children in the Philippines than any other U.S.-based charity. As board member and 2017 Chair Sonia Delen said in her welcome remarks, “Not the quantity but the quality of support.”

The charity event’s bazaar and silent auction preceded the live auction and fashion show. KTVU/Fox Channel 2 newsman Lloyd Lacuesta and media consultant Diane Dwyer opened and closed the fashion show. Maddie B provided the entertainment.

Vendors present at the bazaar included: Jade Chocolates, House of Silvanas/Beyond Borders, Donor Transplant Network, Bunso Breads, Auntie Em’s Fine Foods, Filipina Women’s Network, Save a Tahanan, ABS-CBN Foundation, J. Hilburn, Mode by Vargas, Lola Vics, Coffee Adventures, Feed 2 succeed, BluZARIA, The Bay by Brooklyn, Mango Tours, PAL, Stella & Dot/My Clutter Fix, Sugar Patch, Philippine American Writers Association/Hinabi, Designs by Denise, Filipino Food Movement, Rock-a-Bye Babe, Jewelmer Joaillerie and Anne Hunt Archer.

There were over 130 items for the silent auction. Items included jewelry, painting, objet d’arts, apparels, handicrafts, golf lessons, martial arts gift certificates, dinner, cases of wine, night stay in hotels, tickets to Hawaii and Alaska. Even before all bids were in, the Tuscany Culinary Escape (worth $3,800), 2-nights stay in Club Paradise Palawan (worth $125) and lechon from Tastebuds restaurant (worth $300) were already sold on-line.

The eight lots in the live auction were moved quickly and efficiently by auctioneer Chuck Dukas. The 3-day, 2-night stay at the Silverado Resort and Spa with a guided wine-tasting tour (valued at $1,800) sold for $1,100; home dinner for 10 -12 guests cooked by Chef Lee Opelina (valued at $1,200), for $1,000; 8-day, 7-night stay at the Wailoloa Beach Villa valid until October 31, 2018 (valued at $3,500), for $2,200; 2 economy class PAL tickets from SFO to Manila with an overnight stay at Primea Suite and dinner tasting menu at Flame restaurant valide until October 31, 2018 (valued at $2,500), for $2,000; 2 Lodge tickets to the American Music Awards at Microsoft theater in LA, including transportation (valued at $1,800), sold for four packages at $1,200 each; 7-day, 6-night stay at Amagansett, East Hampton with 2 Delta Airlines economy tickets to New York and no blackout date (valued at $4,000), sold at $3,000; African safari 7-day, 6-night stay at choice hotel with 3 meals daily, 2 game-viewing daily guided by professional rangers, up to 2 years to use the trip and with no blackout date (valued at $6,000), 3 packages sold at $4,400 each; and 1 PAL business class round trip ticket from SFO to Manila with 2-night stay for 2 at the Manila Peninsula Premier Suite and breakfast buffet at Escolta restaurant (valued at $6,500), sold at $4,000.