ONE of the surprise gifts I received last Christmas is a handsome coffee table book sent to me by the society philanthropist mother-and-daughter team of Flora Bangayan Chua and her equally lovely offspring, Sheree. Both Flora and Sheree Bangayan Chua serve as members of the Board of Directors of theBest Dressed Women of the Philippines.
The book entitled “Best Dressed Women of the Philippines 2020” was published by The Society for Cultural Enrichment, Inc. Because of the pandemic, the much awaited and well attended annual social event of a Manila fashion show, The Best Dressed Women of the Philippines or BDWP, could not be mounted last year.
Instead, the Philippine Cancer Society and the BDWP decided to publish a coffee table book featuring 2020’s Best Dressed Women of the Philippines, Extraordinary Men of Influence, Women of Elegance and Influence, Style Icons, Women of Style and Philanthropy, Trendsetters, and Ambassadors for Life, among others. The book was launched last December.
“In early 2004, the Philippine Cancer Society (PCS)—then deep into its pioneering efforts to help cancer patients with their diagnostic and treatment protocols and free chemotherapy for indigent patients—came to the attention of Angola Consul Helen Ong who saw the need for the private sector to lend a helping hand to such a noble cause and advocacy.
Consul Ong could have continued enjoying the good life, her regular travels abroad, and savoring Manila’s social scene, posh parties and elaborate functions. But amidst all these, she heard a defining call: why not be one of society’s privileged philanthropists and use her connections with the affluent to help the needy?
Thus was born The Best Dressed Women of the Philippines or BDWP as visualized and conceptualized by Consul Helen Ong and promptly registered with the Bureau of Trademarks of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines,” wrote Rosemarie Custodio Basa, the Editor-in-Chief of the book in her Foreword.
The BDWP has made history as the longest running premier fashion show for a cause in the Philippines. For additional funds and exciting events, selected women known for their kindness and support for the PCS, the “Ambassadors for Life” were created for them. In 2012, with the need for more funds, the BDWP also added “The Extraordinary Men of Influence” with the goal of giving recognition and honor to the country’s exemplary men “who have helped shaped their industries and professions in the Philippines and the global landscape.”
“Struck by the global pandemic that has quite literally changed everything about the way we live our day-to-day lives, the weak have gotten weaker and the poor have gotten poorer. However, this pandemic, like most crises, have also brought out the best in us. The brave have gotten braver and the call to action has never been louder and clearer.
God has called upon the more fortunate among us to do whatever we can to help those who are less fortunate. Which brings me to the main reason and driving force behind this book and why we have decided to share inspiring stories of dozen of Filipinos who have been benevolent enough to tangibly share the beauty and joy of their lives with others in a manner that will yield quantifiable results.
This is not just a book, but the compassionate and collective efforts of over a hundred women and men who have decided in their hearts that no pandemic can prevent them from reaching out and helping. With the publication of this book alone we have been able to raise hundreds of thousands of pesos that will go directly where it is most needed—in the noble hands of the esteemed Philippine Cancer Society, which will use the funds to help sustain the numerous existing programs as well as implement new ones to help save the lives of millions of cancer patients, particularly during desperate times,” informed Angola Consul Helen Ong who serves as Chairperson of the BDWP.
Included in the BDWP 2020 coffee table book are proud Davaoenos namely Dr. Maria Lourdes “Malou” Garcia Monteverde (the Honorary Consul of Mexico) along with her beloved husband, Dr. Tomas Monteverde III given recognition as among Men of Exemplary Influence in the country. The other prominent personalities of Davao who were graciously selected by BDWP in the past include Margie Moran Floirendo (2006), Rhodora Bendigo Nograles (2009); while for the Men of Influence were President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (2015), Dennis Uy (2017), Christopher Bong Go (2018) and Salvador Medialdea (2019).