An annual event in Manila is the St Andrews ball, organised by the Manila St Andrews Society. Ostensibly it’s to celebrate St Andrews Day (30 November), but really I think it’s just an excuse for a good knees up. And a good knees up it was.
The ball was held at the Manila Polo Club. I’ve been past the Club on a number of occasions, and I’ve always wanted to go inside. It has a grand entrance and you can just peek at a nice driveway and manicured lawns through the entrance. That was definitely one of the deciding factors when I saw the event advertised. It is also more reasonable than some of the other balls (tickets were 3500 pesos each) and the word ‘haggis’ was included on the poster. I couldn’t pass up another opportunity to munch on some haggis (we’d missed the Burn’s supper in January this year).
Being a Friday night, traffic was, well, to put it the Filipino way ‘very traffic’. In other words ‘very heavy traffic’. It took us about 20 minutes to find a cab, and then about half an hour to travel maybe 3km. I don’t think we were the only ones who suffered as the room wasn’t quite full when we arrived at 7:50pm (we were meant to be seated for dinner by 8). People kept filtering in and eventually there must have been about 250 people there. I never thought I would see so many kilts in one place in Manila.
There was a lot of ceremony, lots of food, free flowing booze and ceilidh dancing. A great night. We had a bit of a delayed start – we weren’t eating until about 10pm. This was after a demonstration of Scottish dancing by some local children (they were fantastic), the chieftan’s address (sadly he couldn’t be there, so it was read by Roy Espiritu who gave up his piping duties for the night) and the piping in of the haggis.
Starter was tomato and basil soup (tasty) followed by haggis and neeps (they forgot the tatties. They did rectify their mistake by bringing us cold scoops of potato), and then onto fillet steak, chocolate pud for dessert and a cheese selection. Very indulgent. There was wine and whisky on the tables and you could order beers and other drinks from the waiters. They even made me freshly pressed apple juice!
Plenty of ceilidh dancing followed, in amongst a performance from a band called The Spirits (a Celtic fusion dance band apparently). Plenty of fun. We lasted until about 1am, but the party was still in full swing when we left. I’m sure there were plenty of sore heads in Manila on Saturday morning.