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Always lots of fun |

Sunday Lifestyle

Always lots of fun

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez-Ventura - The Philippine Star
Always lots of fun
(Seated from left) Luz Cruzin, Barbara Gonzalez Ventura, Dulce Aristorenas; (standing from left) Benn Almazar, Kathleen Mojica, Fides Raya, Joey Avenezuela, Ricki Arches, Butch Tan, Joel Co, Raul Jorolan, Chito Zaldarriaga.

When Raul Jorolan, once McCann-Erickson’s creative director for Coca-Cola, led me into his wonderful penthouse I almost lost my breath! He was, in a sense, hosting our McCann-Erickson Coke reunion, an event that had been planned and postponed for a while. Four who lived close together arrived together. Butch Tan, an account executive then, with his daughter Jessie, picked up and brought home Dulce Aristorenas, then producer of our ads, now with yellow and almost white-blonde hair and me, now with purple hair to cover my whites. A rather colorful group, I have to say.

At Raul’s we were greeted by Bill Ibanez, that night the oldest among us, whom we hadn’t seen for more than 40 years. He was the creative director for Rubie razorblades and also part of our Coke Group when we were busy turning the market around. Joey Venezuela (now Avenezuela) was one of our pals at the agency. Baby Enriquez, another producer, was also there, taking pictures with her Huawei, which she claimed she bought because of its camera, a Leica. “We all know how good that is,” she said. I heartily agreed because Huawei is my phone too for the same reason. I use it to photograph the rosaries I sell.

Benn Almazar from Creatives was there. Luz Cruzin from Finance took charge of the food and drink. I brought too many bottles of Shoju, which I love.

Then arrived Chito Zaldarriaga, plus about 20 pounds extra, so that now he looks like a real man instead of the skinny teenager he was when we worked together. He was followed by Ricki Arches, one of my dear friends, who became president after Emily Abrera. Kathleen Mojica came, our dear copywriter, especially of the Royal Tru-Orange ads that were shot by Lino Brocka, with the then-young Ledesma boy as talent buying singkong suka at the start of the commercial. Finally Fides Raya, an account executive then, and Joel Co, an artist, showed up.

Of course the group was not complete. Jojun and Patty Loanzon couldn’t make it. Jojun was walking their big Labrador when the dog saw and chased a cat, winding his leash around Jojun’s legs and throwing him off so he hit a corner on a concrete step and something else that needed three stitches on his lip. We all missed him. As we missed Tessie Tomas Pullim, our creative director once, who retired and became an actress and, after filming Dirty Linen, went rushing back to the Isle of Man where her husband Roger had decided to retire. Annie Eleosida, another astounding creative director, who is now married to an American and lives in the United States, was also missed.

We most of all missed George Balagtas, our then funny and often outlandish boss, who passed away maybe three years ago. We remembered Patsy Monzon, among us the earliest to depart into another life.  Linda Barretto who migrated to Las Vegas and passed away from there.  Roger Rigor, who is also in the US now, teaching.  And Leah Luna Tan, Butch’s beloved wife, who also joined the angels recently. Many of us silently regret not ever having the time to thank her for saving Butch from old bachelorhood. But that’s life! You win a few, lose a few.

I learned a lot of lessons that night. You work with people, you get to know them and love them. We remembered our Coke clients who led us to the verge of tears. Jake Felix, who made me do a summary of our account’s cost estimates on my birthday night. What brands were part of the account? Coca-Cola, Sprite and Hi-C. As time went on we added Mello Yello, Royal Tru-Orange (I can’t remember any more brands but maybe there were more).

For me, the unforgettable day was when our Coke client entered my room and said they were going to stop advertising — well, no, not really, they would cut their budget in half. I was so shocked I went out and cut my then long hair in half. “Do they know what they’re doing?” I asked. Coke is among the world’s most famous brands. It doesn’t offer anything but refreshment. If they stop advertising they surrender their hold on refreshment, turn it over to the fruit juice drinks to overtake their memorability and market share. Fruit juices, water and iced tea will take the lead in refreshment. And that’s exactly what happened for a long time.

We worked in advertising together when the times were good. When traditional media was used, even though you couldn’t trace how many people had seen your ad. Now, you can advertise on cell phones and count the number of people who see or ignore your ad. In that context it’s probably best to have events, sampling, I don’t know anymore nor do I much care because we are all old, those of us who once worked, laughed a lot, and traveled a lot — always together.

All we know is we had fun, lots of fun. That is the only thing worth remembering!

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