SMX Convention and the Negros heritage

BACOLOD, the City of Smiles, just got bigger and merrier with the opening of SMX Convention Center at the third level of the new wing of SM City Bacolod.

Our city is indeed lucky because SMX Bacolod is the first and the largest of its kind in the Visayas. It has modern meeting facilities and services of international standards, including a pre-function lobby, six meeting rooms, and three function rooms that can accommodate 4,500 people.

I say the SMX inauguration was elegant, with all the well-dressed guests and all the fabulous shows celebrating the best of Negros Occidental.

“We did not just open a premiere convention center, we also celebrated the best of Negros – its heritage, culture, and commerce,” Dexter Deyto, vice president and general manager of SMX Convention Center, said in his speech.

“We are bringing to Bacolod City the international standards and acclaimed service that the SMX brand is well known for,” he added.

Before the program proper, we stayed at the lobby for a few minutes. Later we were ushered to the Function Room 1 for a showcase of the best in Negrense art, dubbed, "Maayo Gid."

The moment I entered the function hall, my attention was caught by the antique images of Jesus Christ of Nazareth and St. Veronica on top of the caro. The images are owned by the late Napoleon and Juliet Gonzaga, and are now under the care of their daughter, Elsie Gonzaga.

On one side were antique furniture, as well as old but dazzling gowns of the society belles of Negros Occidental—the once prestigious and exclusive Kahirup Club. At the back were the art pieces done by the truly creative artists of Bacolod.

Later, the divider of the Function Hall 2 was opened, revealing a runway whose the backdrop is one of the best tourist destinations of our province—The Ruins of Talisay City.

While watching the fashion show, it seems we are really at The Ruins because of the life-sized fountain at the center of the catwalk. A string band played and was followed by a ballet performance of MMB School of Dance, owned by my classmate, prima ballerina Dr. Mary Ann Morales-Base.

The fashion show featured both our local models and Manila-based mannequins led by Miss International 2013 Bea Rose Santiago.

The models sashayed in beautiful gowns made by our very own finest fashion designer John John Ditching, and Bacolod Circle of Young Designers (BCYD) members John Rondain and Steve Genzola. The finale of the show was the showcase of gowns by one of Manila's best, the famous Renee Salud. His gowns were made of silk from OISCA farm in Bago City.

After the fashion show, the partition for Function Room 3 opened and it was time for partying. We were welcomed with the drumbeating of Ritmo Verde as cocktails were served. The performance of the winner of 2014 Electric MassKara was electrifying.

The SMX opening was attended by Elizabeth Sy, the president of SM Hotels and Conventions Corp. She is the daughter of mall magnate Henry Sy Sr., who is the president of SM Prime Holdings, the holding corporation for all his vast empire. In 2011, Forbes Magazine listed Henry Sy as the richest man in the Philippines.

Joining Ms. Sy were Deyto; Peggy Angeles, senior vice president for operation; Neil Rumbaoa, vice president for marketing; and JB Ongsingco, SMX Bacolod branch manager.

Also gracing the occasion were Bacolod Mayor Monico Puentevella, first lady Josefa Puentevella, Negros Occidental first lady Dr. Marilyn Marañon, and other government officials, as well as the private sector, the business and artists communities, and some of the elite families of Negros.

Bacolod was indeed smiling when the SMX Convention Center opened.

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