“I COULDN'T go more than 3mm,” says Manny Osmeña with pride, as we walked the seemingly endless decking that led to Ibiza Beach Club.

And so the answer to my earlier dilemma was yes, I could’ve pulled off four-inch stilettos quite safely, the space between planks measured by Mrs. O’s sleekest Chanels, at the behest of Mr. O.

The ironwood boards were then secured into place, Cartier Santos-style, with stainless steel screws imported all the way from Japan.

“Ironwood? Magkuno?” I clarified half in disbelief. The high-end wood customarily shown-off as swank dining tables, did in fact pave the lengthy path on which I tread. The cost alone made me dizzy, thank God I didn’t wear stilettos. “Nabasa naman ko,” was the simple explanation. Tinged with the sheepish bravado of a Cebuano challenged by the Big Boys, it was endearing.

His wines and I are hardly strangers. I had never, however, met the man behind the decisive script of a label.

If there were things I thought the chairman of the Manny O. Group of companies would be, endearing was not one of them. Dynamic, passionate, confident, with a my-way-or-the-highway swagger? Big yes. Empathetic, generous, humble, leave-it-all-up-to-God disposition? Hmm…

But, in a whirlwind of a night that only he could craft with impeccable flair, he was all this and more.

Slickly, an AVP makes a succinct rundown of companies, on top of the one that owns Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu. Among them, Sky Kitchen. At 20 years and still expanding, it turns out 26,000 meals a day.

One of five players in the airline catering scene, it is the lone outfit that operates out of Cebu. The biggest in Manila, it accounts for 60 percent of the business.

As the dust from the corporate flash bang settles, his narrative takes over, shifting the mood to a somber tone.

To a night of news-watching after Yolanda hit. To the pivotal moment that he, as we, resolved that something had to be done.

Without thinking twice, he rolled up his white linen sleeves, used revenue from the hotel as seed money, teamed up with Gawad Kalinga and embarked on the Yolanda Rebuild Program, a project providing typhoon-proof houses to victims.

This once self-confessed “money monster” altered his tune, his children can attest. “Between now and the time the Lord takes me home, I want to give half of what we have.”

With the spirit moving him, Manny O. now goes all in to help those in need, zealously getting movers and shakers, the likes of SM’s Tessie Sy-Coson and Metrobank’s Alfred Ty, to do the same. HopeNow Philippines’ latest project is Hospital on Wheels. The group’s charity arm is hot on the heels of raising funds for a fleet of all-terrain mobile hospitals for dispatch in disaster situations.

Costing around P100 million for the five-piece unit, Manny O. aims to raise funds for 10 sets. When not assisting in calamities, the mobile hospitals will attend to underserved areas, in partnership with the Department of Health.

“At the end of the day, it is not how much you make, but how much you give.”

With those parting words come a knowing smile. Now all-too familiar with his signature method of Dazzle and Disarm, you can picture it: Hyundai-driving Manny O. whips out his trusty iPad, pulls up a photo of a beaming Yolanda-survivor, points to her typhoon-proof home with the high blush of Cinque Terre, turns to his sports-car-loving golf buddy, and says, “Can your Ferrari buy that?”

You tell them Manny.

Ferrari-driving or not, I am compelled to dig deep into my pockets, all the way down to the bottom of my heart, giving him all that I got.