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Hermès hip-hoppin’ away

Rhythm of the Pony shakes up an idyllic ‘barn’

Hermes’ Rhythm of the Pony

It’s rather hard to imagine a mix of heritage luxury and hipness—in a barn. But that was exactly what Hermès pulled off for its Manila friends and media Thursday night (Nov. 23, 2023) in the suburbs of Sta. Elena Golf and Country Club, at Lakehall Nena’s Sanctuary, the modern tropical idyll that’s becoming one of the more popular destinations today.


Bathed in Hermes orange, SSI head Anton Huang (right) and Rico Tantoco, the man behind Sta. Elena Golf and Country Club

Rhythm of the Pony, the event, celebrates Hermès’ equestrian history that began in 1837 in Paris with saddle-maker Thierry Hermès, the horse and carriage serving as its symbol through six generations—arguably the strongest branding in the luxury industry. We remember how an Hermès’ celebration in Paris immediately before the world lockdown featured a stable set up in a section of a historic home in the city, a handsome horse drawing the guests to it.


The star of Rhythm of the Pony

Thursday night, the figurative pony became a rallying point for dance and festive dining. Dancers led the diners to get up and line-dance to the rhythm of the horse. What rhythm? Hip-hop, pop dance, K-pop… name it, was this K-pop meeting Hermès? Not quite. But whatever, it shook up the place.

The place was a barn. Lakehall’s tropical interior with its panoramic windows that brought the outdoors in was covered up in Hermès orange, its dark lighting slashed with orange hues, to conjure a barn complete with haystacks, huge horses made of “hay,” and fresh produce on the tables.

Fresh produce on the table in a ‘barn’

Dinner started with Crepes Duck Confit (with pine nuts and fine herbs), followed by foie gras with black truffles, potato mousseline, morsels, porto jus, decked with crispy parma ham, a rich concoction made to look like a dainty composition in a cocktail glass. The fish entrée was simply delicious—red snapper with charcoal roast beetroot, carrot, orange beurre blan. Dessert was an eye-popper—Davao chocolate and raspberry apple sphere, a feast for the palate as it was for the eyes.

That sugar level was enough to raise the energy the rest of the night. We made the drive back to SLEX still in awe of the dance moves of Donnie Tantoco, the Rustan’s president himself whose regular work-out anyway is K-pop dance; SM Supermalls president Steven Tan; and Nena Tantoco, one of our favorite Filipinas—the compleat woman—after whom Nena’s Sanctuary was named by her children Donnie and Crickette. Hermès manager Mario Katigbak himself couldn’t just remain a bystander; deeper into the night, he had to do the swing.

We didn’t see SSI CEO Anton Huang, Jr. make a move to the dancefloor. No need for that. Anton has made his move elsewhere—he told us before dinner that SSI indeed has seen a robust 2023. Sales have risen 20 per cent, to almost PhP19 billion, across product categories. Now that’s the rhythm.—Thelma Sioson


At Hermès’ cocktails, in all-orange ambiance, Mario Katigbak and Stephanie Chong— the luxury brand’s heads in Manila who put up the event— with Rustan’s VP Michael Huang and wife Kathy Yap-Huang


SM Supermalls president Steven Tan, TheDiarist editor Thelma Sioson, Hermes general manager Mario Katigbak


Donnie and Crickette Tantoco, Rico and Nena Tantoco

Anton Huang, Steven Tan, Donnie Tantoco (From IG Anton Huang)


Taking a pause from the Hermes Rhythm, seated, Rico Tantoco, Philippine Star Lifestyle editor Millet Mananquil; standing, from left, The’s Thelma Sioson, Nympha Valencia, Tina Cuevas, Philippine Star columnist Frannie Jacinto, The columnist Mia Borromeo, Manila Bulletin Lifestyle editor Arnel Patawaran

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