The number of attendees was a testament to the guests’ overwhelming support for the PAWS Animal Shelter which rescues animals in distress and provides emergency medical treatment, low-cost pet spay/neuter services to dogs and cats. Last year, the shelter also responded to over 1300 calls from beleaguered pet owners from matters concerning simple pet care advice to reporting cases of animal cruelty. From the time that the shelter opened its doors in 2002, over 500 rescued and rehabilitated animals have already been re-homed into loving families.
“It’s amazing what a group of volunteers can do when they are driven by a passion to help alleviate animal suffering,” says Nita Hontiveros-Lichauco, PAWS President. “While we see a lot of cruelty in our line of work, we also come across acts of great kindness and generosity.”
The unique charity dinner featured a separate buffet for canine guests. Menu items especially prepared by HOBBES AND LANDES included gastronomic delights for Man’s Best Friend, among them: Liver steak topped with cottage cheese, Chicken Liver Delight topped with parsley, Mini Herbed Fish Loaves, “Walk in the Park” Cupcakes, Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover’s Soul (premium dry kibble – made from all-natural ingredients available at HOBBES & LANDES Stores), Make-Your-Own Bow-WOW! Salad, Doggie Sugarless Doughnuts, Canine Carrot Surprise and Wiggly Tails Gelatin
Among the star-studded cast of attendees were the following:
- Vina Morales with mini pom, Arf-Arf
- Tim Yap and KC Concepcion with her dog (Pomeranian – Shih Tzu), Pres
- Dingdong Dantes and Karylle shih tzus Jack Sparrow and Kung Fu dressed in velvet coats by Samson & Mom
- Regine Tolentino, Lander Vera-Perez and their her lovely daughters in outfits that matched those of their male doggie "escorts", shih tzus Porky and Sparky who won STARS OF THE NIGHT along with Karylle's "boys"
- Agot and Manu Sandejas with their choco brown lab named Tyson and their beagle, Elvis
- Aliyah Parcs with chihuahua Holiday
- Heart Evangelista and Echo Rosales with Davies, their cocker spaniel
- Toni Rose Gayda with her poodle, Coco, and Brix, the Labrador
- Chico Garcia and his Chihuahua, Nairobi
- “Shall We Dance” judge, Edna Ledesma
- Reema Changco with her Golden Retriever Sasha
- Mrs. Kaye Tiñga (wife of Mayor Freddie Tiñga of Taguig) and her 2 kids - who regretted not having brought their pet dogs to the event
- FIGARO CEO Chit Juan
- FIGARO COO Reena Francisco with their pet chihuahua’s Lilo, Stitch and Malcolm
- Dr. Vic Atienza - Assistant Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry
- Dr. Angel Mateo- OIC of the Animal Welfare Division of BAI
Major sponsor, GLOBE Broadband, made sure that the affair was enjoyed by animal lovers by setting up a photo booth with fun "talk bubble" placards which pet owners could hold next to their dogs as their pictures were snapped.
The main program were hosted by PAWS celebrities, Patricia Bermudez -Hizon and DJ Crystal and memorable numbers were rendered by AKA (composed of Phil Idol finalists Arms, Ken and Apple), Audie Gemora who sang “I GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN” and asked the audience to pretend it was their dogs singing to them, Karylle & Agot Isidro-Sandejas.
PAWS gave out special awards to those who helped them in their work for the animals.
Vets in Practice Animal Clinic, Ms. Luz Tanchoco and Mr. Willie Chua received certificates of appreciation for their outstanding contribution to the animal rescue and fundraising efforts of the organization.
Inducted into the “Order of the Platinum Paws” for exemplary acts of selflessness in the promotion of animal welfare were Bodhi Vegetarian Restaurant, pet hero Sassy, and 5-Yr celebrity PAWS volunteer Pia Guanio.
Bodhi provides the organization with transport for its rescues and caretakers for its shelter animals.
The only pet awardee, Sassy, is a shihtzu who showed quick thinking and great courage when she saved the life of her human, Ma. Luisa Benguero. Sassy alerted neighbors and housemates by barking incessantly and scratching at doors until they followed her to the spot where Benguero fell from a ladder and fractured her neck.
Pia Guanio, on the other hand, raised the most funds for PAWS by naming the org as beneficiary during her participation in two TV game shows. The TV host also raised awareness by speaking up about animal cruelty in talk shows and is an active celebrity participant in PAWS fund raising events.
A TRIBUTE TO NITA
PAWS President Nita Hontiveros Lichauco received a surprise tribute for her for her unselfish dedication to helping animals. Nita's work for the animals dates back to the early fifties, and she is undoubtedly one of the pioneers of animal welfare in the country.
Friends from international animal welfare organizations even sent special video messages…
“You are a remarkable woman who stops at nothing to ease the plight of animals and always with such grace and nobility.”
Animal Protection Association of Australia
“It was wonderful working with you to get the Philippine Animal Welfare Act passed in 1998. It was like a miracle…a miracle that would not have happened without you”
“You are the most amazing woman and the most passionate campaigner who doesn’t just talk about the solutions but who actually gets it done. You have pioneered programs which has literally turned the misery of animals completely around and has made a profound change in the way Filipinos look at animals today. On behalf of every single animal who has you to thank for a new life, much love and bear hugs to you and your fabulous PAWS”
Founder & President
Animals Asia Foundation
Nita's husband, Alejandro "Ding" Lichauco, perhaps gave the most touching speech of all, saying that "Sometimes I think you love the animals more than you love me but that's ok," he said half-jokingly, eliciting a big "Awww!" from the audience.
"Your love is all encompassing and you have made me happy all these years. I am as grateful for that as your animals are,” he ended.
“There should be more support for animal welfare. The common argument is that people are more important than animals, but that is not even the point of animal welfare advocates. We have a responsibility towards the more helpless members of our society – and that includes the animals,” says Ilustre.
PAWS Program Director Anna Cabrera agrees, “If we don’t take care of the animals, the consequences go back to us. Take for example that because of irresponsible pet ownership, we have one of the highest incidences of human and dog rabies in the world.
“We feel that, over and above the health issue of rabies, we lose also an important part of our human-ness if we don’t practice extending compassion to those who need it most, regardless of species.”
“Dine with PAWS” was made possible through the generous support of Globe Broadband. Special Thanks also to Hobbes & Landes, Figaro Coffee Company, Gerry’s Grill, Fruits & Passion, Penshoppe, C2 Green Tea, The Body Shop, Intervet, Frontline, Axis Distribution Inc., The Philippine Star Pet Life Section, 360 Degrees Media & Bonifacio High Street."