Saturday, June 21, 2014

Steff in Wonderland


“Steff in Wonderland”
Sun.Star Davao, June 22, 2014

With her desire to escape from reality even just for a night, Steffani Czanelle Cruz Go especially handpicked “Alice in Wonderland” as the whimsical theme of her recent 18th birthday celebration.

            “Let’s face it; the real world can be dull, harsh and ugly. In Wonderland, however, life is full of imagination, color, beauty and laughter. Even though Wonderland is a place full of nonsense, it is sensible to say that without it, life would lose its heart and “much-ness”, shares Steff, who is a 2nd year AB Psychology student at the Ateneo de Manila University.

For Steff, “Alice in Wonderland” is about growing up and, to survive in such a world, change is always constant.

“Like Alice, I, too have changed. My debut signals my transition to the challenging yet exciting world of adulthood. This milestone marks a beginning in which the state of my thinking is filled with new strength and maturity while maintaining parts of my childlike behavior”, declares the unica hija of lovely couple Tyrone and Aireen Go.

Quirky tea party

Steff’s Alice-inspired scroll invitation, handmade with loving care by Crafter’s Haven, was accentuated with a golden key to depict the key to Wonderland.

            As guests arrived at the Davao Convention Center on Steff’s birthday, their eyes feasted on the splashes of vibrant colors. The eccentric rabbit hole entrance was inspired by the Lotus Garden and creatively draped with oversized playing cards as well as lopsided signs that said, 'This way wrong way, tea party'.

Veejay Salonga of Decoratives of Janna and Hercs marvelously filled the party venue with amusing and quirky touches highlighting the Mad Hatter tea party theme.

There were gargantuan playing cards on the walls, clocks, garden flowers, mushrooms, fruits and various tea sets for the fabulous tea party. Each guest table showcased a giant mushroom, garden lamp post, frames, cards, teacups, clock, key, books and well-loved quotes from the beloved tale.

            On the other hand, the majestic backdrop drew inspiration from the rabbit hole, the portal to Alice’s amazing adventure, with its mismatched and playful elements.

Sweet and elegant

            Steff’s tiffany blue-tiered ball gown by renowned designer Erwin Lee Tan of K Davao was fully encrusted with crystals, stones, and beads. The breathtaking gown had a semi-halter neckline which matched the sweet personality of the debutante.

            “Even though my debut denotes that I am now a grown and mature lady, I felt like a young girl full of curiosity with my poufy blue dress. I loved how the cut and style of my dress along with the arrangement of the stones, made me feel that I was aging with elegance and grace”, smiles Steff.

            The ball gown transformed into a short cocktail dress without the bouffant skirt after Steff made a quick change during the party. “It was truly a gown that transported the wearer into Wonderland!”, describes the designer.

Otoi Mercado, Steff’s longtime makeup artist in all of her milestones as a teen, made his muse picture perfect with peach-blushed cheeks, nude lips, and her hair curled and gathered at the side.

Edible masterpiece

            Each layer of Steff’s birthday cake by Marjory Pang of Icing on the Cake was meticulously chosen by the birthday girl to represent different articles from Alice in Wonderland.

            As with the story, there was the checkered floor and the tiny door that can only be opened by the golden key leading to the beautiful garden bedecked with huge mushrooms.

            “The cake also had the Queen of Hearts who is the main antagonist of Alice’s adventures in Wonderland but I would rather want it to represent the people around me who have good hearts; the Mad Hatter’s hat which symbolizes all the “madness” of the world (both good and bad); the pocket watch of the white rabbit which signifies the importance of time and how we should live each second; and the teapot that stands for celebration and fellowship with the ones we love”, Steff details.

            Lastly, the top layer had the white rabbit which Steff describes as the one which navigates Alice. “For me, the rabbit symbolizes the guidance we get from God, our True Navigator, and our loved ones in our adventures throughout our life”, says Steff.

            “All these elements were made of sugar, each carefully molded to perfection to create a fun and colorful Alice in Wonderland edible masterpiece”, she shares.


            Steff’s special guests for her debut were her dearest friends, relatives, godparents and mentors from Davao Christian High School and Stella Maris Academy of Davao where she excelled academically and spent her high school and grade school years, respectively.

            In their personal messages and tributes during the 18 Roses, Blessings, Candles and Teacups, almost everybody had nothing but good words for the kind-hearted and fashionable Steff who has been such a blessing to many.

            More surprises came when her co-resident students from Ateneo de Manila University as well as close friends John Christopher Pontillas, Juan Daray and Moses Cam performed their song numbers.

            Even Steff’s only brother Kyle elicited a shocked expression from the debutante when in the middle of singing his song, “A Whole New World”, Steff’s seven-year-old voice crooning the same song magically played along his brother’s ala duet.  You can hear the ‘oohs’ and the ‘aahs’ of the guests who were also caught up in the moment, feeling and appreciating the close bond of the family.

         Capping the magical night was the debutante’s impromptu and heartfelt thank you speech to the guests, followed by Steff’s soulful rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway” hit while she expertly played the ukulele.

As I listened intently to the lyrics, the catchy song was indeed a very apt choice for this young lady who is now more than ready to spread her wings at 18.

            “I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
             I’ll do what it takes till I touch the sky
             And I’ll make a wish
            Take a chance
            Make a change
            And breakaway”—Kelly Clarkson, “Breakaway”

A million thanks to ace photographer Marlon Advincula for sharing Steff’s pre-debut and party photos.

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