For many Pinoy parents, the “firsts” are always celebrated — whether it’s baby’s first kick, first word, or his first smile. Some mark the occasion with a cake or a photo with those milestone cards (flat lay, of course). And when he finally gets to his first year of life, it’s only a matter of choosing whether you want an intimate or grand party.
In the case of entrepreneur Wilbert Tolentino, 42, who runs a chain of health spas, entertainment centers, and an online web marketing company, he chose the latter. He decided to hold one party for his son's baptism and first birthday, and he felt that a party for royals was apt for the theme; after all, his son's name is Willard King.
And it was quite the party with a million-peso price tag. We found out about it after several people sent us the on-the-day edit video of the celebration. And we wanted to know more.
“I wanted an event that was entertaining and will leave guests in awe,” Willard tells SmartParenting.com.ph through email. “I wanted to make sure that they’ll leave the party with great memories.”
Wilbert had one month to prepare for the party held last March 2018. He worked with his beauty queen friends, Jamie Castillo of Kisses and Smiles Events and Kristine Caballero-Aplal, an events host, to make the party come to life.
From the start, it was clear that Wilbert was not going to scrimp on the details (or expense). Instead of physical invitations, he put up a website to update the guests about what to expect, complete with a list of sponsors (since it doubled as his son’s christening) and a countdown to the actual date of the party.
His target was 300 guests, but “the party was too fabulous for us not to be able to share it with more friends,” he says in jest. In the end, he had close to 400 guests.
His son Willard was first baptized at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Shrine, where Wilbert’s family, closest friends, and 52 (!) pairs of ninongs and ninangs attended. Then, everyone went to the venue of the party — OasisManila.
The pavilion where the party was held was set up to look like a castle, complete with pillars and banners. Guests were welcomed by royal jesters — stilt walkers, jugglers, mimes who dressed up as knights, and street magicians.
Upon entering, boys were provided with shields, swords, and crowns, while girls were given tutus and tiaras. They were led to a “knight’s long table” adorned with more crowns and gold goblets filled with chocolates.
In the middle was an elevated stage with a set of stairs leading to a carriage with life-sized horses. It was one of the highlights of the party—adults and children could sit inside and take photos.
Another highlight was the customized 6-layer cake, which used projection mapping technology to project videos and images of Willard and his family on the surface of the cake. According to the supplier, Cake Mapping Philippines, they can project the visuals on any cake, but usually, only one layer is edible.
Kids were entertained with a song and dance number (all the guests were encouraged to join!), balloon twisting, magicians, and games. The adults also participated in a number of games and took home cash prizes amounting to Php160,000.
Instead of a photo booth, Wilbert hired a roving photographer and also had a separate photographer and videographer for the same-day-edit video that was shown at the party.
Willard’s celebration was obviously on a grand scale — definitely not your typical first birthday party. Wilbert admits it costs a whopping Php2 million to execute. But he doesn’t have any regrets, knowing that all the guests went home happy.
As for Willard, he was amazed by all the spectacle, as the photos from the party proved. And though he probably wouldn’t remember exactly what happened, his dad made sure everything was well-documented so his son can reminisce when he’s older.
“I just want him to know that I will do everything to fill his life with so much happiness and love. He is loved by many,” Wilbert says. “Because of him I am trying to be the best version of myself and I hope he grows up as a fine man who is willing to help and share his blessing always to others.”
Finally, we couldn’t help but ask: Is he planning to throw a similar party in the coming years? “Thinking to throw another big party when he turns 5,” Wilbert says.