Robert Blancaflor, Event Stylist Extraordinaire

When they set their minds to it, Negrenses can rule the world. It is not uncommon to find them leading big companies, even industries. Negros Season of Culture celebrates stories of integrity, industry, and innovation. These bloom in the world of Robert Blancaflor.

His rise to becoming one of the country’s most sought-after creative luminaries in the world of events, is akin to the intricate phases of an orchid’s existence. From his humble roots in Negros, to becoming a banking prodigy in the heart of the country’s business district, and now a world-renowned event stylist whose exquisite taste is relied upon by the biggest names – comes a story suffused with growth, transformation, and profound beauty.

A Seedling Taking Root

Having travelled most of the world to experience the finer things in life, it was hard to imagine his inauspicious beginnings in a farm in La Carlota City, an hour’s drive southeast of Bacolod, capital of Negros Occidental. “I think living in a small city made a lot of difference,” Robert tells us. His face then lights up as he recounts memories from when days were simple, and happiness was enjoying the sweetest puto lanson, a local delicacy, while listening to the afternoon drama on the radio. He went to high school at La Consolacion College La Carlota and effortlessly finished top of his class. While pondering on his Valedictorian’s speech, his mother asked where he wanted to end up after college. “Mom, all I want is to work on Ayala Avenue – to work in a big building.” was Robert’s simple but honest reply.

Left with a choice to attend college close to home or give chase to his dreams, Robert went to the University of the Philippines Visayas to major in Accountancy. As part of the student government, he had his first taste of organizing events. Like a seed cracking out of its shell, Robert took root both creatively and academically during this period.

Stemming Out to Reach the Sun

After graduating and passing the CPA board exams, Robert carried on with his mission and worked at a small firm in Makati City, just a few blocks away from Ayala Avenue. “I remember always asking to be dropped off at Ayala then just walk the rest of the way,” he tells us. “On one of those days, I saw that there was an opening at HSBC. And I thought, perfect!” Despite being overqualified for a teller position, Robert saw it as an opening to navigate the corporate labyrinth where bigger dreams lay ahead.

One opportunity led to another, while Robert catapulted to become one of the youngest Vice Presidents of Citibank Manila at 27 years old. He worked on a handful of influential projects both here and abroad that have forever reshaped the way we do banking today.

Like a stem that has reached its peak, Robert felt as if he plateaued in the fiscal world. Without any prior warning, life’s serendipity steered him on uncharted paths. When his brother sought assistance in crafting his wedding, a dormant talent began to stir. With unflinching resolve, Robert embarked on an adventure into the enigmatic world of event styling. Much like a nascent shoot pushing through the fertile soil, he unfurled his innate abilities, basking in the nurturing sunlight of artistic expression.

Awakening into a Full Bloom

Realizing all he wanted at this point in life was to ensure an early retirement, Robert took the leap and embarked on his first entrepreneurial venture. He established 1816 Flowers in 1997, which specialized in floral arrangements, and later grew into the Robert Blancaflor Group, Incorporated (RGBI), which offers rental services for event needs.

Over the course of two decades, like an orchid’s symmetrical petals, the distinct balance of his business savvy and creative visionary guidance helped transform RGBI into an illustrious enterprise. His ardor for styling morphed into a comprehensive mastery, spanning the fine art of styling and floral arrangements to the intricate choreography of production design.

Robert's epithet as the "Original Event Stylist" pays homage to his seminal role in reshaping event planning into an art form. Celebrities, revered corporations, and international organizations, such as ASEAN, APEC, and most recently the FIBA World Cup Organization, adorn his impressive clientele. Amidst fleeting trends, RBGI's unwavering commitment to the use of authentic flowers imbues each event with nature's timeless allure. “The use of real flowers at my events are non-negotiable.” Robert proudly exclaims.

As Robert's career ascended to its zenith, his influence paralleled the resplendence of a fully blossomed orchid. RBGI is synonymous with legendary celebrity weddings, including the unforgettable Hayden Kho and Vicki Belo nuptials in Paris. Their acclaim transcends Philippine borders, with projects adorning iconic locales from Hong Kong to Paris, from Singapore to New York. In 2017, RBGI stood tall as a finalist in the Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year in the Philippines, a testament to their pioneering spirit.

Constant Growth: An Ever-Blooming Tomorrow

Robert's distinctive style, characterized by meticulous grandeur and an unwavering devotion to authentic blooms, remains a dynamic work in progress. In 2015, Eighteenth Floristry and Event Rentals Company emerged, swiftly ascending to the pinnacle of the Philippines' events rental industry within a year.

The horizon unfolded with boundless possibilities in 2017 when Robert unveiled a groundbreaking online platform, For RBGI, the objective is unambiguous - to tread where others falter, to transcend limits, and to craft events that linger eternally in memory. has now manifested into a physical chain of stores, one of which is in his hometown of La Carlota City. Offering a range of hard-to-find imported products with a restaurant offering top-tier international buffets on weekends, he shares with us his vision of transforming it into the first boutique hotel in the city.

As Robert Blancaflor's creative journey continues to flourish and evolve, he remains an unwavering source of inspiration in the pantheon of event styling. Just as orchids illuminate our world with their beauty, Robert Blancaflor has graced countless events with a whisper of elegance, etching an indelible mark on all privileged to witness his artistry.

Written by: Mayumi Espina

Photos by: Bem Cortez / Linda Lim

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