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On the brightest night of the year

Photos by JYD

  • Princesse imparts positive energy to wallets, purses, cellphones

    Princesse imparts positive energy to wallets, purses, cellphones

  • Princesse Fernandez presides over Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival at New World Hotel in Makati

    Princesse Fernandez presides over Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival at New World Hotel in Makati

  • Festive in red

    Festive in red

  • Throw the dice!

    Throw the dice!

  • Owee Cruz

    Owee Cruz

  • Chad Alarcon, Olga Azarcon

    Chad Alarcon, Olga Azarcon

  • Left: Joanna Suarez picks a red envelope, inside of which is a red string promising romance

    Left: Joanna Suarez picks a red envelope, inside of which is a red string promising romance

  • Marlyn Ong, Patty Chong, and Albert Yao

    Marlyn Ong, Patty Chong, and Albert Yao

  • Perla and Eckard Rempe, and Dick Quitoriano

    Perla and Eckard Rempe, and Dick Quitoriano

  • Mother and daughter, Princesse and Baby Fernandez, energize water in bowls.

    Mother and daughter, Princesse and Baby Fernandez, energize water in bowls.

  • Dr. Nemy  and Dr. Johnny Platon, with Randall Linhart of New World Makati

    Dr. Nemy and Dr. Johnny Platon, with Randall Linhart of New World Makati

From the Latin luna meaning moon we derive the word “lunacy”—moon madness, anyone?

At least once during the entire year it is okay to be moony-looney, for if you believe ancient Chinese lore and calendar makers, the night of the Mid-Autumn Festival is supposed to be the brightest night of the year when the moon is at its roundest and fullest. However, in my own experience since the festival attained celebrity status beyond Chinatown, even before the turn of the century, the yearly celebrations held on the eve of the full-moon night have always been blessed by rain. (That’s because September is smack in the middle of the habagat or rainy season, as we know it.)

So it was again this year, some rain and the usual abundance of traffic jams in the streets of Metro Manila. A merry sort of moonstruck madness was one way to overcome the stress, which it did, as soon as revelers arrived at the New World Makati’s Glass House to a warm and welcoming cocoon of bright lights and colors—red lanterns, round tables decorated with tulips and roses, goldenly glowing candles, and Chinese-red boxes upon boxes of hopia waiting to be claimed by winners of the mooncake dice game.

Princesse Fernandez, feng shui advocate, presided over the ceremonies in a flowing red gown that she and her mother, Baby, had found in a shop in Dubai. Princesse invoked blessings, prayed for everyone to share their gifts, energized a bowl of water to charge the atmosphere with positive vibes, and laid her elegantly shaped hands on the partygoers’ wallets, purses, cellphones, whatever everyday objects they considered precious and lucky.

A happy meal at dinnertime was only the prelude to the night’s special as every one of eight tables was cleared for the dice game. In old China as in the new one and everywhere Chinese communities are found, the dice game is the culmination of the festival, gathering family and friends for thankfulness for a rich harvest and the gift of sticking and banding/bonding together. Many tales are told of the origins of the mooncake, including those culled from mythology and history, but amid the click-clicks of the dice and the screams of anticipation and delight, the significance of the moment was not in the story-telling but in having a good time with kindred spirits and making the most of a maddeningly moon-merry night.