The call came in at 5pm last Friday. My editor asked me if I’d be willing to cover an event from 10am-5pm the next day. (What??! On a Saturday?!) Seeing my weekend disappearing before my very eyes but not wanting to disappoint my editor, I weakly agreed. After we ended the call, I immediately called Kaie, my favorite fellow food writer, and convinced her to get dragged along.
Dubbed “Happiness Treats from Hershey’s,” the event was held at the Westin Philippine Plaza’s Imperial Suite, a $2000/night “room” that has housed foreign royalties and was reportedly a favorite of the Marcos family. This media event was being held to promote Hershey Philippines’ ongoing photo contest. (If you’re reading this, you should join. BIG prizes await those who win.)
Since Manila media are notoriously late, Kaie and I entertained ourselves by hamming it up with the Hershey’s mascots. Take a look at our antics.
As if clowning around wasn’t enough, I coerced Kaie to give it her all for the photo shoot. (All media people invited to the event were required to “join” the Hershey’s Happiness photo contest).
By this time, it was past 12noon, and I was hungry. Just as I was about to sneak off to the dessert table and snitch a cookie, the presentation started. Hershey Philippines’ executives introduced the photo contest and then… LUNCH! (Thank God!)
Since this was a chocolate event, I pretty much polished off my meal in no time at all. No way was I going to get left behind on dessert ”“ all that chocolate! Most people I noticed, had in fact, eaten with one eye on their plate, and the other glued to the dessert buffet. The sweets we salivated over were all made with Hershey’s chocolates, and executed masterfully by pastry chef Roland “Chef Mac” Macatangay, whom I met when he was still at the Shangri-La.Swoon we did over the chocolate panna cotta and the mini flourless chocolate cakes, both garnished with a strawberry half and a dollop of whipped cream. Hershey’s Kisses were the edible playground of Chef Mac: he used them as flourishes on chocolate cornflake patties (which I couldn’t get enough of); as pralines on a white chocolate canvas; and as a topping for fudgy chocolate chip (bull’s-eye) cookies drizzled with white chocolate. Too. Good. There was one non-chocolate dessert, a mango sago concoction served in a shot glass. It was the only dessert left standing. Everything else had been wiped clean. This may have been the first ever event I’ve covered where the dessert was totally obliterated. (!)
While I was discreetly trying to lick my dessert plate clean, the day’s winners of the photo contest were announced. Surprise! Kaie won 2nd place and I won first. Imagine that, acting like clowns won her an overnight stay at the hotel, and for me, a P20,000 travel certificate from Cebu Pacific! Woohoo, we rock!
Other members of the press decided to spend the rest of the afternoon either in the salon, at the spa, or swimming. I chose to stick around the suite and chat with Via Mare owner, Glenda Barretto, who served us merienda (snack). I got to watch Hershey’s chocolates again came into play: the puto bumbong and bibingka (Filipino rice cake) had chocolate in the batter and chocolate was grated on top after baking. The rice cakes went down well with the hot chocolate (made from Hershey’s cocoa powder, naturally!) and salabat.
Soon after, we all went home in our chocolate-induced bliss loaded with gift packs that held — what else? More chocolate!
The Hershey’s Happiness photo contest runs from Aug. 15-Oct. 23. For more information, visit http://www.hersheyshappiness.com.ph